Finding the Spirit; Here’s your sign

So, I’m a big believer that the universe talks to me.  Some people would say this is God.  When I first started praying in AA, I got all hung up on who I was praying to.  Was it a grandfatherly man with a white beard?  An earthy, motherly figure?

Then I considered that a higher power could probably look like anything it wanted to.  This really opened things up for me, because I can imagine seeing my higher power as anything I need to in any given moment, and it is still the same higher power.  The image changes, but not the essence.  Sometimes it looks like an older brother/sister, sometimes a mother/father, sometimes it’s an alternate version of me or an ideal version of me, sometimes it’s just the wind or the trees or the stars.

Whatever it is, if I plug into it, it talks back.  The trick is, I have to have my eyes open.  And I have to initiate contact somehow.

Praying, meditation, art, writing, these are all ways that I can “get in touch”.

And then I just have to watch and listen.  And, most importantly, follow my compass.  Pick up on leads when they appear.

This blog was a lead, a voice that was whispered into my ear on a dark, lonely night when I was asking how to keep from going insane.

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My last post was about how I needed to get back in touch with my spirituality, how I had faltered and needed to take a step back towards the light.

I said that I needed to commit to something, but I felt that I needed to start small so that it doesn’t feel unmanageable and I risk being discouraged and throwing up my hands on the whole thing. I said I could commit to meditating five minutes a day.

That was Friday.

Now it’s Tuesday.

I had to work this weekend (I work one weekend a month), and my husband was sick with food poisoning.  And my daughter has been very fussy lately, teething and crying a lot and waking up a lot at night.  Needless to say, it was kind of a crazy weekend.

I did not meditate.

And Monday, I did the very thing I was trying not to do, which was throw up my hands on the whole thing.  I was thinking, “Whatever, I suck, I’ll come up with another plan.  Later.  Sometime.”

And I didn’t have a blog post for the weekend since I didn’t run nor did I meditate, and I thought, “Whatever, I suck, I’ll write about something later.  Sometime.”

And I was sitting here this morning reading other people’s blogs and feeling melancholy about the whole thing.

And I got an email.  From someone I know from AA.  She was my sponsor for a while and remains a friend, a relationship that has become one of my most treasured.

We are both busy and live on opposite sides of the city, so we only meet and catch up two or three times a year, but she is wonderful about unexpectedly dropping a text or email with a piece of wisdom or inspiration, usually uncannily when I need to hear it.

So this morning I received an email from her with a link to a guided meditation on a meditation app, saying “I haven’t listened to it yet.  I’ll wait for you to try it first.”

You try and tell me that’s not the universe talking to me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go meditate……

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Sunday morning run ramblings; Texas heat

Occasionally, there are days when inspiration fails.

Running solo is a special weekend treat for me, since most of my workouts these days are done with a jogging stroller.

However, my husband has some extra things going on with his work right now, which entails him being gone weekends and odd hours (which means his parenting services are unavailable during those times).

Thus, although I usually prefer to get up early and hit the trail before seven in the morning, today I ended up hitting the trail at around four in the afternoon.  This would be okay, except that I live in South Texas and it’s still around 90 degrees at the hottest part of the day.

Honestly, I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to running.  Heat greater than 80 degrees usually deters me from running outside.  So does cold less than 50 degrees.  Also, I just don’t run in winds greater than fifteen miles per hour.  Period.  Sometimes, I gauge the windiness by how far the trees are bending outside, and if I don’t like that, I don’t go.

Today, however, I thought, “But what will I write in my blog?  I feel thoughtless and uninspired.  I must run to get the creative juices flowing.”  I guess I should have considered that running in 90 degree heat might have just the opposite effect on me.   And it did.

So instead of blogging about all the wonderful thoughts I had on my run, I vow that later this week I will revisit the original focus of my blog, religion and meat (“wait, WHAT?” you ask?  You can read about it in my first post.)

And for now, here is a haiku:

Baking skin

My head pounds with each footfall

Thoughts crushed underfoot

Sunday morning run ramblings; into the arms of change

I am listening to the wind howling outside, sipping on a giant cup of coffee, and staring, bleary-eyed, at my computer.  Sunday mornings are usually run days, but today there is a tropical storm buffeting the coast of Texas; I am not on the coast, but close enough to the coast to get some of the outer wind and rain from the storm.  I can handle a bit of rain, but I just do not run in winds over 20 mph unless something is chasing me, so I do not feel too bad about sitting this morning run out.

This leaves me with the dilemma, though, of having to come up with blog-fodder without the stimulation that sweat and a pounding heart can bring forth.  I got up very early this morning so that I could take care of some work and decided it was also a prime time to write in my daughter’s journal.  I do not write in it nearly as often as I’d like, since my journaling sessions generally don’t go less than an hour and a half, but I try to get to it a few times a month.

I also try not to sit down with any set-in-stone ideas about what I am going to write.  I try to take a very “channeling the spirit” approach, beginning with a thought or an idea and just letting the rest take shape by itself.  It turns a bit preachy at times, but the point isn’t to be preachy, just to pass on personal knowledge, to try to provide insight that I had to get the hard way, or to give her some guideposts that might be specific to her personality, since she may take after me a bit (heaven help me!).

I started off telling her how fussy she has been lately…. This is not so that I can point to it when she is older for a good guilt trip…. It’s just been an overarching theme in our lives for the last week.  I theorize that she is ready to walk, has been for several weeks now, but is not for whatever reason.  Perhaps she hasn’t mastered the muscle skills yet, but I think it might just be a confidence issue.  I think that it is frustrating to her, this inherent understanding that something new should be happening but it isn’t yet.

I went on to write about how this has happened often in my life, how I have learned, the hard way, of course, that change is usually something that is going to happen whether or not you want it to, and it will overtake you whether you fight it tooth and nail or surrender to it gracefully.  I can count multiple times that I have gone the kicking and screaming route, draining myself of energy that could have been used in much better ways, determined for some unknown reason to resist with all my being.  I have two traits that I think have affected how I react to change.  One, I am not open to new experiences (that’s actually one of five basic personality traits on a personality test).  Two, I am very stubborn and don’t like to be told what to do.

Thus, I have been less than graceful in the past at accepting change.  Basically, I have often waited until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change.  But I have learned, I hope, from these experiences….. I can tell when I am ready for change because I become anxious, irritable, restless… It’s as if I no longer fit into my own skin.  If I choose to fight change and prolong the process, I will remain in this anxious, irritable, restless state indefinitely, until I am forced to relent or the change just takes over completely without my cooperation.

But if I recognize this signpost early, I can start taking baby steps towards the change.  It is not always comfortable, but it gives me some modicum of control and allows me time to adjust as needed and embrace the change as it is coming.  It is a much more relaxing way of doing things.

As I was writing all this in my daughter’s journal, I started thinking about how this translates to the human race in general.  I have often lamented the way we seem to prefer to do things: take action only when something has become an emergency, avoid prevention, wait for someone else to take the lead, waste all our energy on fires so we are too burned out to handle long-term problems.

I have worked in organizations that run on this mentality.  It is nightmarish.

My being a product of the society I was raised in, it is counterintuitive for me to look forward and begin walking towards change before It is thrust upon me.  And as finite creatures, I can see the merit in waiting/fighting change.  There are only so many hours in the day, only so much energy we have to use, only so many things we can focus on at once.  Along that vein, it makes sense to wait to pay attention to something until it has become an acute problem.  But sometimes I wonder if things might actually be the other way around.  That the reason we don’t pay attention to something until it is an acute problem is because we choose to spread ourselves so thin that we can’t afford to pay attention to anything that is NOT an acute problem.

The world is moving pretty fast these days, and continues to move exponentially faster as the population grows and technology advances.  I think it is human nature to want to push our limits, to want to do more, be more, understand more.  And that’s all well and good.  What bothers me is when we get trapped running in circles.  When doing more becomes an ends instead of a means to an end.  When we become convinced that we must do more and have more just because.  Because we’re supposed to.

Watching the world around me, I feel a sense of collective anxiety, irritation, and restlessness.  Like we’ve kind of missed the point and we know that we have, but we don’t want to recognize it because that would mean that we would have to change.  That’s the problem with change, even if it is change for the better, it is often not welcome because it is uncomfortable, not to mention it suggests that there is something wrong or not as good with the way things already are.

I think this is why there is such a market for self-help and mindfulness and meditation and yoga these days.  Goodness knows I have entire days when I continually have to remind myself just to be present.  The fever pitch of life sometimes makes me feel like I am just throwing things into a void into a vain attempt to feel “okay”, and it never really works, or it never really sticks, anyway.  I feel a recurring urge to throw away my smartphone and destroy my clothes and junk my car and go and live in a commune, and I don’t think I am the only one.  There is a part of me that knows that somethings wrong and that change will become necessary one day.  But I am still waiting, waiting for the moment that change becomes easier, and who knows when that will be or how bad things will be by then.

This all sounds pretty apocalyptic, but please understand, I am not a doomsday prepper, just someone who’s always had a guilty conscience but didn’t really worry about it until I had a daughter.  She is the reason that I want to embrace change sooner rather than later.  She is the reason I blog.  Which isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing.  Maybe it is the first step towards surrendering… with grace.