Friday’s Focus—Keep Your Monkey to Yourself

Don’t invite other people’s monkey’s to your circus. In other words, don’t let other people’s attitudes affect your day. I woke up early this morning to get some coffee at a local popular cafe, which at 7:20 a.m. was already filling up with tourists. I exchanged a bit of chitchat with the girls behind the counter and moved on to the next table for the milk and lids.

I stayed near the edge of the wall to keep the majority of the table available to the other patrons. As I searched the canisters for the soy milk, I had no idea that this guy had come up on my right and in the 12 inches of space I left between me and the wall, had put his coffee down. It wasn’t until my elbow made contact and I heard a “grff.” that I realized someone was there.

Startled, I looked over and saw that I had knocked this guy’s hand enough to spill a little of the coffee he had, on the table. I quickly gave him a once-over to make sure nothing was spilled on his light-colored clothing (which, thankfully, was not). As I profusely apologized, I caught the micro-moment of annoyance on his face. That nailed me. He was not very friendly about the mishap but brushed it off saying it was alright and reached beyond me for some napkins. I gathered my things and ducked out of the cafe feeling bad and well, like an idiot.

It was not my fault that this guy found the smallest nook to be able to place his coffee’s down without even saying “excuse me” or anything else to alert me that he was there. What happened was exactly why I chose that end of the table and left the rest of the table open and available.

I came to realize that whatever was behind that micro-moment really had nothing to do with me. I don’t know what was going on with him or what monkey’s were in his circus but I was damned if I was going allow his attitude to ruin my day when I really did nothing wrong. It could have been so easy to let this morning’s exchange fester and turn into a full-blown, “I’m such an idiot, I should have known someone was going to try and squeeze into that space,” but I refuse to take on whatever he was dishing out.

I wanted to share this experience in today’s Focus as a reminder that not everyone’s attitude and annoyance have to do with you. Each one of us has our own story and circus, and it’s enough to deal with our own monkey’s without taking on someone else’s.

#takingitdeeper

Being in Balance While Counting to Zen

Two weeks into the New Year and I am beginning to feel the realignment of balance and the recognition of coming back to a new normal. A new normal for me.

Each morning, as I sit quietly in the predawn, there is a sense of unfoldment, teasing me in its reveal.

The release of previous holds on me are shifting in ways that are creating a deeper understanding of past patterns and situations. Looking back at them, I see how necessary they were in order to build the ladder to the stars that are now aligning.

I continue to pray and listen to a response as I sit on my mat and count to Zen, riding my breath while it moves in and out of this body I have reclaimed.

It’s not enough to just feed the body.
It’s not enough to just feed the soul.

The soul needs the body to give birth to its dreams and the body needs the soul to live and experience those dreams. The feast is an interconnected ying-yang circle of continual flow. Another relationship where one shouldn’t live without the other is the balance of the head and the heart. I say shouldn’t because many of us only live in one or the other, perhaps too afraid of making the connection or simply not knowing how. No judgement. Just acknowledgment.

There are so many things I already knew up there, but as the dots begin to connect, I now know the same things down there, adding color and texture to the monochrome that lay there before. I can’t help but sigh and drop my shoulders as I relax into this realization of deeper knowing in my heart, and wider understanding in my mind. A brand-new landscape, for sure.

I’m excited at the hints I’m seeing of what’s ahead. A work in progress, that’s me but aren’t we all? We’re just at different stages of the artist’s vision. As the day deepens believe me, the loftiness I start the day with is something that needs constant attention because it’s so easy to be pulled one way or another and before I know it I’m taking another deep breath and counting to Zen. But circles aren’t always perfectly round I remind myself—that’s not the important part. The important part is that there is a circle and that the connection remains.

And tomorrow I will sit again, curious at what will unfold but knowing that whatever it is, I will be adding a new rung to the ladder that I’ll use to climb and reach the stars.

Castles in My Mind

Inspiration struck early this morning driving me from my sleep and directly to my computer. I had no idea what was buzzing in me to get out but I just knew something was there. I settled down in the peace and quiet of a new day in this New Year and opened to a blank page. Immediately I was a witness to what my fingers typed. Words were dictated through me. It was one of those magical moments when I truly felt like a vessel and I was happy to be at least cognizant to realize that what was happening was because of something bigger than me. It is a haunting reveal that has come from somewhere deep and wide. I wasn’t going to post this but then I changed my mind and so here it is:

I hold the key but you hold the door.
Which gets me the freedom I so long for?

The walls around me are made of stone and brick,
I’ve tried to knock them down but still, they’re too thick.

I plead with you and beg you to release me; let me go,
but I fear that I’ve failed to convince you as your silence tells me so.

We did have our memories, our smiles, and our joys,
but you’ve changed, as have I, and I’m no longer your toy.

I bribe you, I beseech you, I cry out your name
but the walls they still hold me, prisoner in this cell of my pain.

One day it comes when I give up and give in.
As I collapse to the floor,
I wonder how much more can I take; will I ever win?

With one last effort I raise up my head
replacing failure and exhaustion with a prayer in its stead.

I lean on the wall from my weakness and pain,
and as I rise slowly, I see each stone has a name.

The names are Crazy and Lazy and Stupid and Slow.
I remember—all these words—I remember, I know.

I stared at the words finding more with each turn.
Each stone, each piece, their insults sting and they burn.

Slowly, I recognized the writing on the walls.
It was me who wrote them, and thus built this here space, my words lining the halls.

Enough! No more! I shouted, my words echoing back
as my fists I pounded out a full-fledged attack.

I found a crack in the wall and dug my fingers in deep;
I pushed and I pulled now fully awake from my sleep.

First one stone then another, soon the sun shone its way in.
I poked my head through the hole finally seeing from the darkness within.

The stones now fell faster breaking free of their walls,
as I pulled and I tugged, opening a hole in these halls.

At last I stepped through and crawled on my knees,
as the birds sang their songs and the sun shone through the trees.

Still dazed and confused, the sweetest air I now breathed,
I didn’t understand any of it, most of all the why me?

I picked up a stone, its carved words read clearly now,
I finally understood at the whys and the whens and most importantly the how.

The room I was in was a prison of my making,
and when I cried out to you it was really me I was forsaking.

I believed in those words of hate, shame, and fear
and I surrounded myself with them, I see it all now so clear.

There was never a door, I didn’t build one you see,
but what I still had that made the difference was in my holding the key.

I was once my own prisoner with my beliefs as my walls,
but I decided right then I’ll never go back to those halls.

I found in me the freedom to use kinder words,
no longer fearing I’d be looked upon as being absurd.

I picked up each stone from my past years’ abode
and threw them far and away from what used to be my home.

The rubble left behind of my dismemberment,
holds no sadness or shame, instead happiness and content.

Onward I walk now with more freedom than I’ve known,
my past will stay past and only good thoughts will I own.

I know as you read this, you saw your story in me,
so remember dear reader, you too, hold your key.

Ram Dass Was Right

Watching my husband deal with his illness has taught me more than just dosages and side effects that people going through chemotherapy have to deal with. As a partner, a witness, and being a survivor myself, if you ask anyone who’s had it, cancer can be one of life’s biggest teachers–if you allow it.

It was many years ago that I had my own struggle with cancer, and now, I find I’m on the outside looking in at another cancer battle. I know this fight is not about me, but I can’t help but see the lessons that are here for me, too—as a wife, caregiver, partner, nurse, woman, daughter, human being.  I cannot speak for my husband but we talk a lot about what he’s going through and what lessons there are for him in all this. It was after one of those conversations I realized that the lessons that illness can teach, aren’t necessarily limited to those directly suffering from it.

I’ve learned things about myself, some good and some not so good. I’ve finally learned where my limits are and that it’s completely okay to say, “No.”

No, I can’t do it
No, I’m not going to worry about this
God, you can take this one.

So I didn’t and God did, and because of that, I am trusting more and having faith that things will get done and whatever way it falls, things will be alright. Really.

I’ve learned how uncomfortable people are with the word “cancer”, and because of that, I have become more aware of other people’s unspoken fears.

I’ve learned that sometimes, the deepest unconditional help and love can come from the most unlikely people, so I’m learning to stop being judge and juror.

I’m learning to accept help with grace and not taint it with feelings of failure because I couldn’t do things myself.

I’ve learned how genuine the human heart can be and that there really are good people who put others first when they see someone needs help.

I’ve learned that when someone is in pain, or afraid of the unknown, or just plain feeling like crap physically, emotionally, mentally, it doesn’t matter what my deadlines are, what I’m wearing, how much I weigh, or how much the cable bill is this month. I’ve learned the most important thing is to be present with that person right there right now.

I’m learning to be out of my comfort zone and being okay with it.

I’ve learned it shouldn’t take an illness or the death of someone to find ourselves realigned and reawakened. Sometimes this has to happen—we have to get shaken up—in order to wake up. There will always be that call to make and that book to read and that TV program to watch, but there is a rhythm to life and relationships that seem only to get noticed in times of fear and problems. I’m learning to be more aware, more present, and to get more out of my head and into my heart.

Finally, I’ve learned to thank the circumstances that have surrounded my family for the past few months, because without them, I wouldn’t have learned to dance to this new rhythm and Be Here Now. As long we’re alive, we never stop learning and I don’t know what future lessons will bring, but right now, I can tell you that if you asked me what I know, I’ll say I know nothing. If you ask me what I’ve learned, I’ll say a lot.

To be continued.