Looking for answers to life's questions

Archive for March, 2012

In Search of Personal Freedom

I have been collecting butterfly memorabilia for many years now. I especially like the butterflies that are with Angels. Butterflies signified freedom to me and freedom seemed to be at the top of the list of what I wanted in my life. There are a lot of directions I could go with this subject as it could fill an encyclopedia. But the direction I will take today is the one that speaks to me the loudest right now. What is personal freedom?

I have gone from wanting to fit in the box to railing to get out of it. It’s the box of conformity and I will obviously never fit. I really don’t think anyone really does fit but we all try to an extent so we have friends and jobs and hopefully a family. Having lived all over the world, I have always been the odd duck in the crowd. It took a few years of maturity to realize that I liked the freedom not fitting in brought. It reared its head fully in my marriages but I wasn’t mature enough to know how to fully achieve that freedom. Why does maturity take so long?

When I write my lists of things I want in my life, freedom is at the top of the list. I will always enjoy good company but never again want to be the property, not partner of someone. But that seems to only touch the tip of what freedom looks like to me. Owning my own home and decorating in my own style was next on the list along with meaningful work. Well, right now, work is out of the question. The Bells Palsy left me with something the doctors can’t quite figure out how it came to be. It’s called Vestibular Integration Dysfunction. In essence, my eyes stopped working together and I no longer know where I am in space. That’s part of the cause of the inability to stay upright or to turn my head from side to side to check traffic without becoming dizzy. It’s why I don’t dare drive a car right now. I just went to a new chiropractor for an adjustment and after the second visit he gave me the heave-ho. He says he can’t help me and is afraid to cause more damage.

So that leaves me with good health off the list for now but still a true goal. But health is more than the absence of disease. Being critically overweight is not healthy. It doesn’t feel good either. I walk everywhere and do a lot of physical work inside the house and out but it’s not enough. So that ties into the other part of personal freedom. How can I be free when I’m physically addicted to food and spending money I don’t have with credit cards. I have to support the eating habits with credit cards and I keep changing sizes so that means more clothes. Now, I’m not a big clothing shopper, just enough to get by, but every time I use that credit card to buy food, clothing or lunch out, I’m further away from true freedom. I’m owned not by a man but by a bad habit. Hard as I try, I keep falling back into the habit of not taking good care of myself when another road block arises. I get frustrated so I look for a way to soothe myself. If I can’t do something physical like work in the yard, I reach for something to eat. Or go to the mall and treat myself to breakfast or lunch. That will all keep me chained to the debt and not able to buy my own home.

I know these things intellectually. How do I practice them personally? True freedom is being debt free and free of addictions of any kind. Easier said than done but like the butterfly, I will not be free with those things holding me down. My dad used to have this saying; “I buy you books and I buy you books and all you do is chew on the corners”. Well, I’ve read every book out there and I’m obviously still chewing on the corners. I’m free of a man but not free from myself. That’s the next big hurdle. I want to be that butterfly in my own garden. I want to know how you see and achieve personal freedom.

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Expression

It’s the nuances of expression that we rely on to read the people who pass through our lives each day. Each face tells its own story. You can read a lot about a person just by looking at their face. Some have a soft smile that says all is well. Some faces look weary and you can tell life has given them a lot to handle. Some faces say “don’t mess with me”. I love to read faces almost as much as reading books.

I have found that the lack of the ability to share a smile with someone or a kiss on the cheek is something that has been quite taken for granted. It made me a bit sad when I realized I couldn’t give my son or daughter a kiss on their cheek when saying good night. The hug would have to do. The pucker doesn’t pucker. Good thing I’m permanently single.

I’m not a particularly vain person and have always been happy with my face. It’s of average symmetry with a little extra fluff around the jowls and some deepening wrinkles but for the most part, not a bad face, except for the fact that it no longer works.

My face has had some electrical therapy on the paralyzed side so it no longer droops. But it doesn’t move either. It doesn’t blink automatically so I have to remember to blink it to keep the eye moist. That also means I can’t wink. How I love to wink, especially now that I can’t. It’s like sharing an inside joke with your face.

But what I miss most with this half paralyzed face is my smile. I work very hard at it but the face just won’t co-operate. That’s how I tell my story when we meet. Yes, life has left me a little rough around the edges but I’m really glad to see you even if I don’t know you. That’s what my smile would say if I had one.
I rode the bus home this week after having a rough breakfast meeting with my ex-husband. After a 2 hour verbal tug of war with him, and a lot of walking to the bank, notary and fax center as well as shopping for the few groceries I could carry, I was tired and ready to get home. The bus was completely full. Just as a few seats emptied, a couple got on with their grandson. He was around 3 or 4 and had to sit on grandma’s lap first then moved over to grandpa. I so wanted to smile my trusty “you are so adorable” smile at him but it just wouldn’t materialize. Out of a bus full of strangers, one small boy that couldn’t figure out why my face was crooked was what I cared about. He’s the one I wanted to explain it to but of course that wasn’t possible. Now grandma, she had a nice smile and I carried it with me all those blocks from the bus stop home. Her smile said that little boy made all of the hard stuff worthwhile.

So how do we express ourselves without the face? A lot of the people I see don’t speak the same language. Nor would I verbally say what I feel to strangers or oftentimes even to family or friends. But the face can express lots of emotions that all languages can understand. Maybe my lack of expression was why it took 2 hours to end the tug of war. Expressions are how we decide if we want to get to know someone better. That’s what my face would say. “I want to get to know you better.”

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Life’s Witnesses

I went to a funeral this past Friday. It’s the first one I’ve gone to in years. It was for the woman who was our landlady for the first years we moved to California. Her mother lived in the house next door to us most of the years I lived there. Her mom was in her late 90’s when she passed. Our sweet landlady lived to 3 months shy of 98. Her baby sister who was taking care of all the festivities was 84 years young. You wouldn’t guess her to be a day over 70 and more agile and active than I am at 63.

The chapel at the memorial gardens was filled with friends. Neither of the sisters had children but their lives have been filled with friends who became family. Usually by 98 most of your friends are already gone. These 2 women had almost 80 good friends to support their journey through life as well as each other.

It brought to light how small my community of family and friends has become. The divorce made it so much smaller but then, there was no solid family connection there anyway. You can lose a lot of friends when couples part and move away. I’m still trying to keep in touch with them by e-mail. Also, being a child of a military family meant I met lots of people but managed to keep so few close other than in my heart. I work hard to keep close contact with my family but most have busy lives and their own agendas.

Being ill for so long with Bells Palsy has also reduced the size of my world even more. Having no home of my own for a year and a half kept me from opening my circle wider. I’ve always thought of myself as a gypsy and love traveling and meeting new people, learning new customs and trying new foods but I also finally want to find that place where I feel at home and can open that home to a wide variety of fellow travelers through life. I’ve often wondered if the gypsy life is part of what always made me feel like I was dropped on the wrong planet. I never quite fit anywhere and am still searching for that place that feels safe and nourishing to me.

I don’t expect to make it to 98 and not sure I’d know what to do with myself with that much time but it certainly could be interesting to give it a go. I know for certain that I would love to have a place where friends could congregate and exchange ideas and information not to mention share a glass of tea or wine. Everything tastes better when shared with a friend.
Bells Palsy has given me time to reflect and make some very necessary changes in my life. I plan to live the rest of it on purpose, with purpose. I’m reducing the opportunity for people to bring conflict into my environment. Nerve damage tells me too many and too much have gotten on my nerves and I had none left. That’s what Bells Palsy is for me. One seriously damaged nerve. But it’s healing, slowly. We are betting that by the time the pension issue is settled and the house is sold, I will be fully recovered. Why didn’t this go away in a few weeks like it has for so many others? Everyone says when they hear I have Bells Palsy that “it goes away, doesn’t it”? Well, usually but not always. But it’s not the worst thing in the world. To die with no friends to witness your life would be the worst thing in the world for me. It’s something I want so much to remedy.

I have friends and family quite literally scattered throughout the world. If my face stays paralyzed forever, I’ll make the best of it. Not being able to drive to visit the friends and family in this country or fly and drive to see those in other countries is the part I most desperately want to have heal. I want to drive myself to a spiritual center or a writers group or a class. Till that time comes, I take the bus where it will get me and be ever grateful for the family I have close by to love and assist. I will give encouragement to those that are struggling with tougher dilemmas. There are plenty of those to go around. They make me feel like my life is a piece of cake. It’s all about perspective.

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Inner Peace

It’s been a long, long week for me. One extra day last month meant an extra 24 hours of waiting to see if I would finally get a check in the mail. I’ve been officially divorced 8 months and separated for 12. In all that time there has been no income other than 6 months of social security. The first months check didn’t count because the entire thing went to pay the vet bill for my sweet Schatzie. I miss my dog so much. I miss the ex-husband not so much. That pretty much sums that up.

Anyway, the check still hasn’t come and seems not likely to show up for at least another month but I’m housed and fed and getting well in spite of it. I am also trying to put our home back on the market hoping it will sell this season. Even when the market is good, our house is located in a not so fast moving area. The ex-husband is dragging his heels and I guess I understand why. He’s afraid the miracle will happen while there is still 3 feet of snow on the ground and he won’t be able to get all his massive amounts of stuff out before the closing. There is nothing like projecting problems that could be easily solved. If I have any illusions that I have control over anything, they are quickly dispelled.

Being a well-practiced worrier, I have found that the most worry had to offer me was a serious stomach and head ache. No real solutions ever come of it. My journals have been filled with what ifs. If I took a clear look at the reality of my life today, the ulcer would eat a hole in my stomach.
Instead, I remind myself moment by moment some days that everything is falling into place perfectly in its correct timing. I remember that I have always been taken care of by that unseen force in the Universe whatever you chose to call it. So I take another deep breath and pick up my shovel and dig another hole for another plant. Bet you thought I was going to say the hole was for the ex-husband. Fooled you. Planting bushes, trees, or flowers brings me back to earth. My mind isn’t in tomorrow or the next day. My mind and thoughts are in the moment and I am at peace. It’s how I meditate and pray.

I have 5 more of the 14 bushes left to plant. But let me be clear. I’m not in control here either. I’ve done this before. Many of the plants I put in the ground 2 years ago did not thrive. I failed to make sure the conditions were right for that variety to survive. Just like the marriage,the plants couldn’t handle the harsh weather. Too much cold and too much wind left most of them shriveled up or dead. So this time I went to the nursery and asked lots of questions first. Now as I plant these bushes I feel more at peace about their survival. I stay calm and focused on creating a healthy environment for them.

I am also working on doing the same thing for myself. My ex-husband ask how I could manage to dig with this constant dizziness then realized I used the shovel like a cane. It gives me balance. Interesting, isn’t it. I’m looking for balance in my life as well. So when I dig, I don’t focus my attention on what frustrates me, I focus on giving these bushes the best chance at wonderful life and I am at peace with the world. Wonder what I’ll do when I no longer have my sons’ yard to garden in? What is it you do to find that peaceful place in yourself? Just looking at options.

From my heart to yours,