listenandpurr

Listening to oneself and to one another. From the Leo.

Karen: “Will you marry me…?” Karen: “…Of course! I think?”

I’m drinking tea and contemplating life this morning…what’s new? This is what I do every morning. The major difference of this morning compared to most, is that I woke up 20 minutes early to devote adequate time for such contemplation (hah)…

I enjoy working with a team or in pairs. I am well aware that *we* can accomplish more than *I* can, in basically any setting, and I still find myself thinking…witches

Do I want to continue my journey of life solo or with another person(s)? When I ask myself that question, I am unsure if it is a yes or a no. I know I can’t imagine shacking up with another person. I should elaborate, I am more than capable of living with people, in fact I have never lived alone. I mean sharing expenses, sharing a bank account, and making joint decisions that will impact both of our futures. I do not see it. And it isn’t in an “AHHH, I WILL BE ALONE ALL OF MY LIFE!” kinda way. It simply hasn’t happened yet, perhaps never will, and I feel that I would be okay with that. I know it is a bit of a joke to imagine my life without heartfelt connections, but it sure is taking me a long time to get how to do it right. haha.

I wrote the above on morning after my (now) ex-boyfriend and I broke up. Days before Valentine’s Day. It was more like a “re-break up,” really.

Like a “we tried this once and broke up, but let’s try again just in case it works this time, oh damn…it didn’t,” up. It is a behavior that most who have entered such relational unions may be familiar with. I feel okay and it was the right thing at the right time. In fact, the timing made me chuckle.

I remember when I was in 9th grade right around this time of year. I pestered my classmate Andrew Dowler about what he was going to get his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. He didn’t seem too concerned. I, unaware of my pestering invasiveness, on the other hand, felt it necessary to gather every last detail about his plan as to ensure that he get her SOMETHING GOOD (or at least something I deemed as good). He ended up writing her a poem and buying her flowers, which I thought was really quite nice…not that it was any of my business. Ahem, well, the next day when I asked him how the gift-giving went, as though it was anymore of my business than it was the day before, he told me that he read her the poem…He gave her the flowers…

And?

And that she broke up with him.

I was a bit stunned. Andrew delivered this information in a calm and cool way. He seemed okay, but I was still stunned. Broke up with him!?! On Valentine’s Day???? My 15 year-old self was shocked. Couldn’t she have waited 24 hours??? There I was, perplexed, but Andrew didn’t seem worried about it at all. He had accepted it and moved on (…moved on to date my friend Alyson. Alyson, who I had immediately told Andrew had been broken up with and was now available, hopefully for her to date). I learned a lesson about prying that day, in short, don’t. At least not after setting up your friends. I was brought back to that memory today, days before Valentine’s Day, the day “my Valentine” and I break up. And like Andrew, I’m not too worried about it.

This recent break-up has me thinking about it in a way that is different from several of my other break-ups, though. Plus, we are in February and most people associate February with Valentine’s Day. The day of love. Capitalism wreaking havoc and the encouraging of loneliness to all “not-coupled,” aside, Valentine’s Day is a good time to both appreciate those we love in our lives, whether it is your significant other, your children, your co-workers, or yourself, and it is also a time for us (me) to reflect on what is blocking you (me) from allowing love into your (my) life. Ending relationships isn’t a new things for me, but this one was different than several others in the following ways:

1rst. I wasn’t the one to do it – pretty self explanatory, I was dumped. This is NOT to say that my heart hasn’t  been broken or that my exes haven’t moved on before I did…oh no, but in the past my break-ups have either been mutual or I had just been the one to do the official breaking up before the other got the chance.

2nd. There was no emotional, mental or chemical abuse prompting it – which is definite progress.

3rd. I thought that we were going to be together for a long time, like, a long time…

Hold the phone, this was an unfamiliar feeling for me. I had envisioned a long-term future with one other person who I had dated years ago. Okay, more like enmeshed-ated years ago. It was completely co-dependently fueled and not at all grounded in reality. Anyway, this time around I was simultaneously happy and terrified at desiring long-term with someone. I am still not sure which the dominant feeling was.

4th. WE STILL LIKE EACH OTHER – this is a good thing, but it also is what make amicable break-ups so hard. It can be hard to know that a relationship is over when you still enjoy the other person.

Regardless, we broke up … because it was the right thing to do.

I initially beat myself up over this. Broke up AGAIN? What is wrong with me?  This gentleman is a kind, gentle, person who loved me dearly. He is handsome, loves cats, and will always be gainfully employed. He could fix my computer, car or nearly any other device that broke that I would normally leave around the house waiting for it to fix itself (that doesn’t seem to work, btw). We have great conversations, he is insightful, and smart. He snuggles like a boss and is overall very sweet.

Sounds like a real doozy, doesn’t he? Not at all! He is great! There is a core difference between him and I though. One that I didn’t realize until the night we had our “break-up” discussion. I think love should be celebrated and shared with many and he thinks love should be cherished and saved for one person, one person who feels the same way that he does.

The humorous and, time will tell, ironic part of our thinking is that we both are “alone” now. Lacking romantic love in our life. He wants to put all his eggs in one basket, so to speak, and I want lots of baskets, or one really big basket with lots of eggs in it and I want to share my eggs..(okay this is getting real strange). And here we are apart, both basket and egg-less.

Enough egg analogies, to be honest, I am resistant to making a commitment and anything long-term and he is terrified of what that means for his life and his heart. I can’t blame him for that, I don’t know if I would be able to date myself. For reasons un-related (or related?) to my resistance, I am interested in varying degrees of openness in my primary romantic relationship. He wants no part of that. I want someone who can handle my incessant fears and he wants someone who is sure that they feel the exact same way that he does: you are mine, I am yours, we want it that way. Neither is wrong, they are just different. Very.

So as I approach Valentine’s Day, I want to celebrate all forms of love that exist around me. This is because I like VD and although I don’t have “a love,” to share it with, I am not going to get down about this. Instead, I must remind myself why I don’t have “a love,” because I think there is enough love to go around. My own heart needs some attending to…

Now is my time to re-formulate what it is that I want and that I need in a romantic relationship. Figuring this out will save me time, energy, and pain. That isn’t to say I am in a hurry to enter another relationship. I am pretty occupied with school and work. I also think one of the most full-filling love-fests one can have is with oneself (seriously, read “Sex for One,” by Betty Dodson and you may agree). It is also important to give this some thought because I am 50% of why my relationship ended so it is my job to attend to that 50%.

I was reading this morning and everything that was coming up was about *committing* myself to…myself. I could go on and on about what the other person should have done differently in this relationship. I can make a mile long list of qualities I want my next romantic partner to have. That isn’t the job though! My job is to make that list, read it over, and then work at attaining every attribute on it.

Well damn.thingstodo

The last couple of day I have been irritable, unsure of the next best move, fearful of what I am or am not doing right when realllly my answer is…to attend to myself. To bring my energy back to where it belongs – me. To my own heart, head, and body. This, arguably, will always be my answer. I have a problem? What was my part in it? Because I undoubtedly had a part in it? What do I want the others parties in this problem involve to do? I will go do that.

I don’t know how long this will take. Growth and change always take much longer than I would like them to. I was talking to a friend this morning and she said she is ready for a marriage with herself. I LOVE THAT. Although my relationship with marriage is a bit strange (surprise)…perhaps we could benefit from couples therapy? Anyway, I find much of what marriage represents awesome, I am thankful people make the commitment and I know it has worked out for a lot of couples, millions. I also have no interest in doing it and can see how it could go terribly, terribly wrong. I crave commitment but I don’t want to do it, hm…commit

OK, so if I “marry” myself I am practicing a commitment with a person I (…can become) comfortable doing it with – me. I am contemplating getting myself a promise ring. The idea is so hilarious to me and yet so perfect. Symbolism is so powerful and the whole idea of a promise ring is something I want to learn how to do – show someone, before it happens, that I want to get on board with them. That I am in it to win it, that although NOW is not the time to take the plunge, but to state the obvious…I want this, I want you (I want me?)

The fun, but strange, part is that all of those thoughts and feelings must go inward. I must “marry” myself. I laugh when I think about it, but it is perhaps how I am going to eventually be capable of fully committing to another person…If that is what’s in my stars. It is also time to chill out! Enjoy my own company, I spend literally all of my time with myself so I mine as well learn to do it in a way that serves me and is most enjoyable.

Now, I realize that the majority of you are probably married or coupled, I hope it is clear that I am not slamming marriage or commitment. I am really thankful that people choose to make the commitment, top of the list, my parents. Life is hard and to go at it with another person who has your back is a fantastic thing (see the beginning of this post…). I know that we need other people. I also think living a solo life has its perks. In short, it is all good.

I think that appreciating and respecting how another person chooses to enact love is extremely important. I think finding people who have similar expressions and receptivity to love is also important. Knowing what love looks like, what it feels like, your connection between love, sex, and life-style choices, like, for example, how are we going to arrange the kitchen? Or the BDSM dungeon? They are all important. Are we going to bring children into this world and what do we want to show them about love? All good areas to address. Not necessarily easy, but good.

Hallmark hasn’t written that card yet, no box of chocolates will do these questions justice (although…it is good to at least try with chocolate) the answers are something that needs to be played out every day. Something that we express in our every interaction with all those we come into contact with, ourselves included. Who we choose to develop whatever degree of intimate relationships with, is up to us. It is up to me. And it is my responsibility to tend to my own psyche and heart so that I can be in a position to give love to another person(s) and to receive it in a way that I feel is consistent with my soul’s longing.

Woah.

My ex-boyfriend and I broke up. I have accepted it and it is time to move on. I am not too worried about it.

A week late. This is the best I could do for Valentine’s Day, or VD, as I affectionately refer to it as. Sure, this holiday is a great excuse to scarf down chocolate covered strawberries, but it also to spend time with people you care about. It can be really amazing and can be celebrated and practiced every day. If you feel you are allowing love blocked from your life no prob, I do it too, we are all works in progress. If you have love in your life, I commend you, and hope you EAT IT UP!

berri

I added this picture because I want to eat all of these.

<3Karen

“Kindness is the mightiest force in the world…”

I read the above quote this morning. And heard the above quote again this evening…

And I saw this on my Facebook page yesterday…

Notice a theme here? Obviously someone is trying to get a message to me. Yesterday, I took it as a reminder to be kind to other people. We have no way of knowing what a person has experienced that day or throughout their life that prompts them to act the way that they do. Much of the time, while not necessarily the easiest, it is more beneficial and loving to choose the kinder, softer way with people. I had an experience last week with a group member from one of my classes that reminded me of this.

I had had a bit of a rough start with him and rather than stew in annoyance towards him (which, truth be told I did for about 30 or 40 minutes)…I decided I was going to love him. He was my group member and I was going to feel good towards him. A week later, last night, much to my surprise he was very pleasant to me and talked and talked to me (I did NOT prompt him with a question, he was the gentleman who “shamed” me for asking him a question last week). I believe he thought about his behavior towards me throughout the week, apparently became comfortable with sharing with me and when given the opportunity…did. I would say we had “a moment.”

I thought: Kindness…Check. Had kind thoughts towards man I originally was full of annoyance with, treated him with patience and look what happened! All is well in the world…!!

Eeeer, not quite. I mean, all IS well in the world, but not in regards to this topic. I realized that this morning.

I attend a recovery group that provides about 25 meetings each week. There is a 10AM meeting on Fridays which I enjoy going to. Well, 9:30 came round’ and all I wanted to do was lie in bed….but I felt compelled to get up, make myself some tea and go to this meeting, so I did.

I got there a little late, hair greasy as all get-out and barely verbal, but I was there. The woman who was leading read the preamble and we introduced ourselves. She then announced the topic for meeting…Kindness. Ah, I thought, here it is again…She briefly introduced her reasoning for choosing kindness and then read the page from a book with the above quote in it. She then passed to the person sitting next to her and so on. I listened to each person in the group discuss kindness and what thoughts came to them – mostly regarding anger and their difficulties with being kind to others and to themselves. I listened intently and then it was my turn to speak…

Something happens at these meetings, I know that angels are in these rooms and when near strangers share their experience with each other it breeds love and creates even more safe space to share openly. I pondered my thoughts for a few seconds, mentioned the Dalai Lama quote and started to talk about the choice between fear and kindness and…then BOOM, tears.

I had barely spoken and I became a, not quite blubbering mess, but certainly one who could not stop crying! I did not know  why I was crying but I have accepted that when you are in touch with your feelings crying just happens, so I went with it.

I spoke about the many people in the room who quickly “go to” anger. That was not me in the least.  I have a difficult time getting angry but when I do, I do a decent job managing it. Sure, I get angry, but my “go to” is definitely fear. I am terrified of angry people and fear the reactions of those I voice my anger to (I voice it though, I have an Aries moon! Sometimes I cannot help it :)).

There are “angry” people everywhere and everyone gets angry at some point and I want to be able to work with get along with them. I want to be unafraid of “angry” people. Where does kindness fit in here? One of my challenges over the years has to re-learn what it means to be truly kind and loving to others. How can I go from being “nice” i.e. a sheepish, push-over who allows others to manipulate her to someone who can live with self-respect in a way that I am comfortable with myself amongst “angry” people?

There are a range of ways to do this. But for me, they generally include having clear boundaries, not accepting unacceptable behavior (from anyone including myself), and the biggest and perhaps most difficult thing for me to learn, separate myself from those who are being unkind, be it temporarily or long-term. Doing what I say I am going to do is loving, not accepted people’s unacceptable behavior –  is kind. Having less fear is a natural reaction to practicing this.

Pheeew!! I’m glad I’ve got that figured out!

“The Hermit”

…OK that is not true. I have been experiencing an array of unkind feelings about myself. I have been feeling really under-accomplished lately. I have been spending most of my time alone (my friend did a Tarot reading for me and my “present situation” card was the Hermit) practicing loving my own company and making progress in areas of my life as to not feed the “under-accomplished” feeling. Perfectionism can be a good excuse to procrastinate and not get anything done at all thus perpetuating and validating my under-accomplished feelings. I also have been getting mad messages from the Universe with regards to just how ingrained in my psyche these feelings are. Which brings me to this evening, the second time I heard the above quote.

I’m a bit of a head case so I went to two meetings in one day. I also almost did not want to go this meeting. I wanted to walk the dog and then relax and watch Netflix. But I want to be a dedicated member of the group and knew it would be helpful for me to go so I went. Different place, different people…difffeer’guess what the topic was? …Kindness….

Guess what she read?

The exact same reading as this morning.

Okkkaaaaaay Universe. I GET IT! BE NICE TO PEOPLE!…I didn’t think I needed much more insight on this topic? I rarely know what I actually know though so I listened. As I sat and listened I thought… “obviously I do not get it, what am I missing here? Why is the message of kindness coming into my world the second time today and the third time in 36 hours????”

I flipped through the book to find a page to read when it was my turn. I chose a reading under the topic “Criticism,” because it seems like a related topic. When it was my turn to speak I shared that this was my second meeting today about kindness. And then I read this:

“During the entire process of…(making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself) I felt a nagging suspicion that I wasn’t doing it right. With [some] help, I finally realized that the problem wasn’t that I had done my Fourth Step wrong; the fact was that I had the same sense of inadequacy about my whole life. Whatever I’m doing, I’m inclined to feel that I am doing it wrong, that my best is not good enough, and that simply is not true,” and ended with:

“Let me realize…that self-doubt and self-hate are defects of character that hinder my growth.”

Annnnnnnd…tears (surprise). Again. The pause and take deep breaths between parts of the reading, tears. Tears that would not stop, either! It took me about three times as long as it normally would to read the page. Tears happen all the time at these meetings and everyone is understanding and quiet but I could feel a sense of confusion in the room…or, rather, I sensed my own confusion.

Why was I crying again???? I felt the Universe strike lightening right in front of my face as if to say “DO YOU GET IT NOW, KAREN?” Kindness to other people is not your major problem, IT IS KINDNESS TOWARDS YOURSELF! Like the author in this reading, I believe that I am inadequate in every area of my life and it is absolutely not based in logic or reality. It is a lie my defected self has told herself in the past and I am over it. I am ready to move beyond this thinking. Which is why I was so upset, which is why it has felt so BAD to feel under-accomplished. BECAUSE I AM SICK OF FEELING THAT WAY!

My conundrum here is what to do now. How do I be more kind to myself? I eat a healthy diet, I practice self-care…I feel like I like myself. How do I deal with all this internal, mostly decades old, gunk that is causing these feelings of self-doubt and hate to creep up?

By recognizing them, by giving them some time and space to sink in (because who the heck wants to admit they feel this way???) by treating myself the way I would treat another who expressed these feelings to me. It is a sad belief to have about myself and I would be sad for someone else. I can listen patiently to myself and provide an opportunity for sharing such sadness, which is what I am doing now. I understand that operating with the belief that I am basically doing everything not quite good enough is illogical, but calling myself illogical (i.e. insulting myself) is not going to force these feelings away. Also it is not kind. Giving voice to these feelings, chuckling with myself about how untrue they are and taking some time to recognize areas in my life that offer me assurance that I am doing things right.  Then re-learn my perception of myself and surrounding myself with people who love and support me -that is a good place to start.

I had written a blog on Monday night in reaction to Top 40 radio that I was listening to on my car ride home. I am tempted to post it even though it lacks continuity and is filled with me complaining. The point I was trying to make is: I was listening to sappy love songs and “love/hate” songs on top 40 and I was feeling reallllly badly about myself so I changed the station to Christian rock. It was top 40s fault that I felt bad…but only because I was already feeling bad.

Tonie Braxton appears when I Google image “sad woman listening to love songs.” Hah!

I was already feeling “under-accomplished” and fearing the future and probably a handful of the things before I was listening to Top 40. When one is already feeling down about one’s entire life a song about romance is the easiest thing to make one feel way worse (regardless if one wants romance in life or not)….In other words, it wasn’t really Top 40s fault…

But my experience that night and my thought process that followed led me to be able to connect those thoughts to my kindness message. Top 40 love songs pushed me over the edge, I normally can listen to them for hours, but this self-doubt, self-hate and unkindness towards myself is currently at my surface and making me generally vulnerable. It is ready for me to recognize it, face it and remove it. Recognizing an area that needs attention is huge, dealing with the extreme discomfort of the recognition is hard, telling other people is NO FUN (albeit helpful) and removing the area, if it is not serving you, is life-changing and necessary for growth.

When I am successfully able to work through these feelings that are probably causing way more issues in my life than I am probably aware of, I anticipate amazing things. The more we love ourselves and the better we treat ourselves the more truly loving and better we are able to treat each other. I am not talking about superficial niceness or waiting for someone to leave so we can talk about them behind their back instead of to their face, I am talking about the type of kindness in the quote, “the mightiest force in the world,” kindness.

This process has been uncomfortable and a very long time coming. Growth has been likened to peeling an onion or bark falling off a tree, with each new layer that is removed more layers are exposed to address.

If you remove a layer-prematurely the onion/tree underneath is vulnerable and will die. The outer layers are removed at the rate that is safe for the survival of the whole. I take these “new” realizations as validation that I have dealt with my outer layers and is it simply time to deal with the more vulnerable layers underneath.

This doesn’t make it easy but it offers me an explanation that I am right on time. I also look forward to treating myself the way I want to treat others and kicking ass with kindness through life! I think kindness is like an infection that is easily spread to others. I have no desire to run for president (I’m way too old to start that process anyway) or volunteer in Uganda to save the world, but here is my feat, I want to treat every person I come into contact with, starting with myself, with kindness. I want this to be one of the ways I contribute to bettering this world because it is truly effective.

If we all treated each other better this world would be a better place.

Period.

It may be simple, but it isn’t always easy, and before I can be truly kind to others I must learn to be kind to myself. So I will continue to begin with myself. And let ya’ll know how it goes 🙂

Cross-species kindness in action! LOVE IT.

.If you haven’t and would like to, please visit and “Like” my “Listen” Facebook page: Listen207

Where was I on this day? Re-visiting the start of 2014.

january1

This time last year I was in the middle of a series of event filled weekends which included the following: a late night visit to the E-vet, a car collision in Missouri that I caused, experiencing a concussion, the stroke and death of my Grandmother, my first experience with the Missouri Justice system, a whole lot of bills and AWESOMENESS.

It can take time to be able to see and understand the reason why things happen as they do, especially things we initially perceive as bad. Sometimes it takes a week, sometimes a year…

Approximately 1 year ago I was driving on my way back to Nebraska after visiting a friend in Kansas City. It was dark out, I was hungry, tired and in an unfamiliar area. I decided to get off the Interstate and go to Chipotle. It was late and I wanted to get home but I will attribute my decision to my growling stomach and to Chipotle’s allure.

I got off the exit and veered right and immediately realized I had gone the wrong direction but I saw a U turn sign so I quickly merged into the left lane with the intention of making the U-turn.

Quickly. Like, I didn’t look, quickly. Like I didn’t follow the very basic safe driving rule we are taught in Driver’s Ed class: look before you change lanes.  But in that moment when I was in a hurry and wanting to make a legal U turn to make my way to Chipotle I skipped safe thinking. I blindly merged choosing speed over rules, my growling stomach over safety.

To say “it happened very fast” may sound like a cliche but is the complete truth. It happened very fast! I collided into another vehicle, I heard a quiet skid against my car and felt my head smack into my door. I pulled over and got out of the car. The driver of the other vehicle was an 18, maybe 19 year old young-man named Nathan. I asked him if he and his friends were okay and they were shaken up, but physically unharmed. Good. And then I looked at my own car, my crunched, now un-drivable car; let out a dramatic gasp, quickly called my work to let them know I wouldn’t be coming in the next morning (very interesting play out of where my priorities are) and then started to panic over what I had done. The police came, Nathan’s parents came and I sat in my car crying like a 5 year old.

Now, in my near 16 years of driving I had never been in a car collision and certainly not in Andrew County, Missouri so I waited in my car for the next move (yes, crying like a 5 year old). When Kirk, the police office was finished questioning Nathan, I took my turn in the police car to give him my information. I gave him my version of the event, my insurance; we talked about where I would be sleeping for the night and once it was clear that I was “fine” he handed me a paper. A Citation for getting into a car accident. I chuckled a bit surprised, sniffled, and waited for AAA to come (completely thankful I had purchased AAA literally days before).

At some point I found myself with Nathan’s Dad. I apologized to him for almost harming his son. He was very kind. He motioned to my crunched car and said to me “We all get into accidents. This can be fixed.”

I still get overwhelmed when thinking of that moment. He was so understanding and kind to me. I had almost harmed his child and here he was consoling me over it. He reminded me that we all have accidents, we all make mistakes, mistakes (and) cars can be fixed.

Pleasant moment aside, we were all ready to leave the scene. Eventually Bill, my tow guy came and rigged up my car. He was very nice and assured me that his Auto Shop would “only fix what was absolutely necessary” and I told him I just wanted my car to be drivable and safe. He took my car keys and dropped me off at a nearby Motel 6. I feared going to sleep because my head hurt and I had seen enough freaky medical shows that it occurred to me that if I fell asleep I may not wake up but alas, I did fall asleep and awoke the next morning. The sun was SUPER bright and I felt terrible but a friend of mine had agreed to pick me up so I was hopeful and I had reading material to occupy myself.coffee2

I headed over to the Denny’s next door and [scene it] drank black coffee, ate oatmeal and read self-help books. My friend picked me up and I rested the remainder of the evening, thankful that it was over.

This is what I wrote on Facebook when I got back from Missouri that night (private message me for E-vet details if you so desire, seriously crazy few weeks…):

January 19th, 2014: “I am SO glad and SO grateful that I am learning to pay attention to the Universe and messages that I receive. Therefore, I am glad that I know [the dogs] Bella and Jack and Vicky, E-vet employees, Mano for giving me a ride in the middle of the night…Corey my AAA rep, Terry from WFM for covering for me [at work] today, Ann Warner for her kindness…James Bowers BECAUSE HE IS FANTASTIC and a great taxi driver and I love him! Nathan and his friends for being nice, Bill the tow guy, Kirk MPD, Motel 6 for their free coffee and cheap rates…and the Uni for looking out for me…Thank you Universe…but PLEEAASSE set up a calm next weekend!”

And the Universe did. My Team Leader gave me the next 5 days off because I had had a CT scan done and it showed that I had a mild-concussion and was unable to work (thank your brain for what it is doing RIGHT NOW). I did nothing other than listen to Youtube and clean (more like purge) my room. Over the week I nearly recovered from my concussion and proceeded with life. The following weekend though I received a phone call from my mother when I was at work. She told me that she was in the hospital in Burlington, Vermont. My Grandmother, her Mother, had had a stroke.

OK, the Universe heard my request but apparently I needed to ask for a calm couple of weekends? Long story short the next day I was on a plane to Burlington, VT to visit my grandmother for the last time.

I have been very sheltered throughout my life. I was always provided for and all in all had very few “bad” things happen to me. It has been a surprise for me to learn that I am a very sensitive, possibly fragile, individual. As a “sensitive” and “fragile” individual it would be easy to be afraid of living. I cannot be afraid of living though. Living life, truly living life, and allowing myself to have experiences has helped with this.  I cannot be afraid of facing the repercussions of having an auto accident, of mildy bruising my brain (at least mildly and only one time…), of missing work (and…the low paycheck that results from that!) of a loved one dying, of the bills that ensue when such events happen (which is a problem given that low paycheck detail!) and of the myriad of emotions that will inevitably come up during EACH PART of this. It is in the process of dealing with such events that the magic in life can happen though. Magic might seem to be hiding, but it happens.

When one is responsible for a car accident in Andrew County, Missouri, one goes to court (who knew?) I missed my first Court Date because I was in Vermont with my family. I called to explain my absence and a woman, the only person in the Court House apparently, answered. She explained to me that she couldn’t help me because it wasn’t her department but I was not to worry because everyone would miss their court date as the Court House was closed due to weather (Um, thanks Universe!) Apparently Missouri was getting snooowed on and no one wanted to leave their house because of the horrible road conditions so she was literally the only person who had driven to work. Obviously a bit bored and desiring conversation she asked me what I was doing in Vermont and I told her. We talked about life, mothers, sickness and death.

I flew back to Nebraska and a couple days later my Grandmother passed away peacefully.

I re-scheduled my court date, it is difficult getting a person on the line so I called the Court House relentlessly trying to get information as to what was best for me to do and on February 18th, showed up to my court date. judge-judy-2I was given the advice of the lawyer on site, I paid a rather small fine and was put on probation for 6 months (I had to contact the court house twice to let them know I was in the same residence and I was not allowed to get into another accident in Andrew Country, can do). I left the court house elated, I was beyond excited, we had fixed the mess I got into, my car had been repaired, I paid my fine (literally) I asked for help and ALL the right people came into my world and provided it.

I wrote this on Facebook February 18th:”had good coffee and company this morning…I was on a country western radio station requesting “john deer green” by Joe Diffie (wtf? I’m so weird)..I started crying at the Andrew County court house when I met a woman I spoke to on the phone on February 5th (quite accidentally) about life and my dying grandmother and I am no longer considered a hardened criminal in Andrew County. all in all a good day. I am very grateful and lucky but I am also very tired…”

So true. And so much goodness. In ways that I never would have expected. I did not even mention what started these crazy events, my Sunday night trip to the E-vet where I locked myself and Bella the dog out of the car which prompted me to purchase AAA DAYS before my car collisions or my GEICO rep who completely handled my medical bills mess because I erroneously billed my health instead of auto insurance for my CT scan (bill you auto insurance if you need medical assistance due to an auto accident, may seem obvious but it wasn’t to me at the time)…

But anyway, now it is a year later. I had forgotten how beautiful the first 7 weeks of 2014 were. How traumatic and eventful but also how hopeful and positive. There is goodness in every experience, it may be extremely difficult to find it but it is there and once you pin point it it becomes possible to see all the goodness. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t sadness, or horror or that things are always fair. If you can find the goodness though, it makes the horror bearable. Bill, the tow guy, was my angel, Nathan’s understanding and kind Dad was my angel, the woman at the Court House who I spoke to on the phone, was my angel. I told her in person that my experience with the Andrew County Courthouse had been great and that everyone was so helpful, she of course thought I was nuts but appreciated my gratitude and confessed that she rarely hears that (not surprised).

When I picked up my repaired, albeit crunched, car the cashier at the Auto Shop was completely surprised when I insisted to speak with the folks who fixed and made my car safe and drivable for a reasonable price and THANK THEM for doing so. I no loner feel over-attached to my car. I am just happy to have it and that it runs.

The Universe provides you with what you need. It is our jobs as inhabitants of the Universe to recognize what it is providing, to answer when we are called and do what we are pulled to do. To be open to the cues and messages and go with them even when they seem scary or strange. And to trust that eventually the events that occur will make some sense. That whatever experience we are navigating will come to an end and we will be better because of it and better able to deal with the next series of events that happen.

That isn’t to say that it won’t be sad, or that it won’t completely jack your life, force you to re-visit and change what you prioritize, make you go “what the heck now?” or that it won’t be terrifying and appear completely nuts at time.

But trust. The. Process.

Because all we have are each other and our experiences. And what we take from our experiences cause us to build a life, to establish a platform for the remainder of our life to go forth from, and those parts of life create the space for more experiences. If we aren’t living, we aren’t expanding and we are doing ourselves and the Universe an injustice. We are being gifted this time in this form. We are being gifted a chance.

live-life-dog

Let’s be more like this dog.

So do it. Do whatever “Living life” means to you – and it means A LOT of different things to A LOT of different people – aaaaannnndddd want to throw up the entire time you are doing it until you don’t want to throw up anymore or at least until you don’t even notice because it will seem so normal and natural. And then here we go! Ready for the next experience that makes us uncomfortable :). That is living.

I know that writing this is part of me “living life.” I know that because I feel sick when I think of posting it, because I have cried for nearly half of the time I have spent typing it and laughed for nearly the other half. Seriously! I am re-visiting events that were difficult and then sharing what I feel the Universe has shared with me. The points of it all. The preparation for the next thing. It is scary and it is nerve wracking but I believe that someone will benefit from me sharing these experiences that happened on this day, this month, a year ago. If not, hopefully someone will at least laugh at my musical taste (John Deer Green by Joe Diffe? What makes one compelled to do what one is compelled to do…hah!)

Thank you.

If you haven’t and would like to, please visit and “Like” my “Listen” Facebook page: Listen207

Shout out for anyone who wants to be added to my email list.

Hi Everyone! I read Amanda Palmer’ book “The Art of Asking” and I have been inspired, in an effort to connect with people, to send monthly emails. A message I got from her book is to nurture a few (2-2,000!) connections rather than throw out the message everywhere and hope that a few people who get it will want it (which has its place, too…). I digress, I am going to use direct e-mail contact for those who are interested and continue posting silly pet-photos & morning messages etc. to my Listen FB page.

***Please send me a FB message or comment with your email and I will start sending emails in January!**

For those who want to be added to the email list, the emails will include: a direct copy of my blog posts or messages I feel like sharing (MORE cute animal photo, resources that I find useful etc.) I am thinking 2 or 3 emails a month. Yaah!!!

connection

Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk

To borrow/be gifted her book: Mosaic  SUCH a cool website!!

Thank you!! If you haven’t and would like to, please visit and “Like” my “Listen” Facebook page: Listen207

“Allow yourself to open up to others” OK…

I believe just about everything in life is a process. Nature clearly delivers this message to us through how its contents grows, change, dies and begins again. Natural selection, leaves changing color, “dying” falling off and nourishing the next bunch… caterpillars turning into butterflies, holy crap, the examples are endless. Human experience is no exception. . Everything we experience can be divided up into a set of steps, not necessarily linear or in a way that appears to makes “sense”…but steps that when thrown together, make up a process. Each part of this episode necessary for the next step to occur. i.e. To live life.

My life is a series of processes, both literal- my heart pumps blood out to my appendages and vital organs, my neurons are firing and communicating within my nervous system at every second and figuratively -in the cosmos and energetic world, unlocking ones life purpose etc. I know that my Listen service/business plays a part in my process of unlocking my lifes’ purpose (how very dramatic!!) Included here are the series of events leading up to starting “Listen;” continuing to develop it and all that happens while operating it. They are all steps necessary for the next one to occur.

With all that said, I have been feeling stagnant with Listen. Stagnation is not a preferred state as we are not meant to stagnate. At point I feel uncertain with the direction that I want Listen to go in and in deciding what is the best way to reach the people who will best benefit from the services that I have to offer.

I brought this pickle to a coach/mentor and I was advised to “allow myself to open up.” My initial reaction to this is to freeze. Why? Because I don’t want to open myself up! I would prefer a list of tangible tasks I can do to conjure up business from the comfort of my external home. Not the case, this, like basically everything else, is an inside job. If I am to proceed with Listen I must proceed with internal growth. The process of internal growth.

Which involves!! Allowing myself to open up. Back to the freezing…I have (a probably irrational and learned) but what I see as an innate fear, along with millions of other people, of “opening myself up” to others. The visual that hits me is me in an operating room of sorts and involves exposed internal organs causing MASSIVE opportunities for infection, both physical AND emotional. The emotional infection/reactions include, one or several of the following: others laughing, insulting, disagreeing with, thinking I’m perverted or possibly worse, ignoring me or writing me off completely.joker

The rational, logical part of me knows that this fear is irrational and illogical. I will not end up in an operating room while many others laugh at me. It will not happen. The trusting, loving part of me know that this fear is blocking me from truly moving forward in life. From continuing on in my life/soul process and reaching those who needs the service that I have to offer, someone to listen to them. I will still wake up in the morning, I will still eat three meals a day I will still live a satisfying life. Buuuut if I want to become the best person that I am meant to be, the person that the Universe has SET ME UP to become and all that it asked of me is THE LEAST bit of cooperation on my part and I will become her…then I must pony up and do my part in this process!

Others speak the angels messages to me. “Open yourself up to others,” is my message.

This is not new though. I have heard it before. It has been a challenge for me for as long as I can remember. This time it is being suggested to me as a business move. As necessary to not only continuing my internal, emotional growth but to allow clients and interested parties to become involved in Listen.

What does “to become involved in Listen,” mean? Anything from “Liking” posts to reading my blog to sharing their experiences with me via Facebook/conversation or having a Listen session. And more! We shall know as time goes on.

What I want to present to the world through Listen? A safe environment to talk to someone. To encourage kindness, trusting oneself and others; promoting self growth through: internal work and in relationships with oneself and with romantic partners. More specifically, how we deal with issues under the sexuality/sex umbrella. You talk, we talk, I listen to you, you listen to yourself. Anyone who wants to watches silly duck videos.

In a nutshell: Listening and talking and LOVING the self and others (emotionally and physically/sexually!)

Easy?….No.

Simple?…YES.

If I am to reach people, whether it is to brighten ones day with a duck video (showing that at the end of the day, people are completely capable of doing the loving thing, such as being lowered into a sewer to save the life of a baby duck) or while having a 15-30-90 minute open, judgement-free conversation about, for example, their current inability to orgasm or ones affinity for butt-plugs…

THEN I must put out to the world that I am open to doing that. Both happily post baby duck videos and to be available, ready and willing to discuss butt-plugs.

…and to snicker but only a little but (hah, I mean bit) because baby duck videos and butt plugs are important. They are essential to the process. Whichever process it may be. Whether it be loving animals and eventually being able to love ourselves, a reminder that how we treat our most vulnerable is so telling into the potential of how we can treat each other and that sex (having it/not having it, involving others/not involving others, FUN healthy acts! and/or taboos like butt plugs) are a major part of EVERY persons life. Our relationship with sex affects our relationship with ourselves with in turn effects how we treat our partners and everyone we come into contact with…and animals and the planet and so on.

The funny thing here is that people already know that I am comfortable discussing such issues. I have been told by a complete stranger out in public that they were HIV+ and didn’t know how to tell their new partner. When I conducted (confidential, not in public) HIV tests somehow I would end up taking 20-30 minutes with clients who really just needed to tell someone their embarrassing and/or frightening story as to how they ended up where they were doing what they were doing: in an office with a perfect strange getting tested for HIV. There are less intense examples, I make it no secret that I am a former heterosexual, turned militant lesbian turned “gay/’happy'” bisexual (if you are interested: Read about it) and I will tell you about it if you ask and listen to your story as well.

Still, opening myself to others is the next step in my own process. Releasing judgements I have about my interest in emotional and sexual health and wellness; believing that these subjects are important and really believing that my involvement is important in addressing them.

Haha. That’s it! I’ll get to work. I’ll participate in some light “Orgasm for Two,” coffee table reading or Google search more tear-inducing baby duck videos. All in a days work! 🙂

And what you have all been waiting for, to see the duck video…go here.baby-duckReading takes time, energy and can (unfortunately or unfortunately…) invite one to think about things, sometimes differently than they did before…We all have our audience to reach and if mine involves you – awesome! THANK you, I hope you are receiving what you need- if not -okay! THANK you and I hope you are inspired to look elsewhere.

If you haven’t and would like to, please visit and “Like” my “Listen” Facebook page: Listen207

#25-#29

#25. I gave…someone the opportunity to give…This one I am still on the fence about. I worked at a Holiday Market on Saturday and intended to gift my time (7 hours). My former “boss” refused. She said that she appreciated my help, my time and giving her the opportunity to share what she collected for the day. She told me my gift for the day was helping out. We had a pretty intense moment of “battle over giving” but she was sincere and I wasn’t going to fight.

I think, for her, the efforts I put into getting myself to the market (requested day off from usual day-job, woke up early on a Saturday, etc.) and selling her items were enough. She is appreciative of that in and of itself. She did not need my service to be free to feel like she had been given something.

We talked about scarcity and my money fears that I am working to over-come in general and through this challenge and after our discussion I felt…okay…about re-arranging my giving plan…

nobags

Portlandia episode “No Bags”

#26. Oops, I gave it again. So day #25’s “gift” didn’t have my full confidence in its legitimacy so I basically did it again. Sunday I worked from 7:30AM-6:30PM at my “day-job” (I came in early, oops!). I worked the 11 hours I was there (aside from 2 breaks). I know, and many of you may feel, that it is my job. It is what I am “supposed” to do. I believe this. I also believe that it is  my time and my energy. I was still giving something in the process. I attempted to be as patient, kind and as helpful as I could to my co-workers and customers even though it was busy, loud and generally crazy the entire time I was there. I started my day caring for aforementioned two dogs and they were adequately attended to in my absence because I have an awesome pet-sitting “partner” and I continued working for others until 6:30.

Many people, arguably everyone, can sympathize with this. When I was finished with work and my pet-sitting deal, I was ready to eat, do nothing else and then go to bed. I had given all of my energy (energy that isn’t used pumping my heart and keeping me unconsciously breathing at least…!!) and I needed to re-boot: eat and sleep. I can get so caught up in doing things it doesn’t occur to me (see #25) that every act I participate in can be an act of giving.

This was a gentle reminder to continue to take care of myself whilst “giving” of myself to others. I have been learning over the years how to do this and I usually do a pretty good job. Typically when it comes to paid work is where I get out of hand. This, of course, is because I want to make as much money as possible. I can get over that thought. I will be taken care of, I will always have “enough.” See: my reasoning behind doing giving challenge to begin with!:)

divine

Here is it!

#27. I gave an Advent Calendar!!! My best friend has a kid and every year I send him an Advent Calendar for Christmas. I know he loves getting mail and who doesn’t love getting (Fairly traded, Divine!!!) chocolate???

#28. I gave hugs. For real. Apparently we “need” at least 8 hugs! a day.

#29. I gave cranberries. Fresh, Maine cranberries! I used to work at a cranberry farm which basically guarantees me a lifetime supply of cranberries. My roommate needed some for his stuffing and I brought cranberry sauce to one of my Thanksgiving feasts. They were given to me and I gave them away.

#and the next day was Thanksgiving 🙂

Thank you for giving your time to read this post and any other posts about my Giving Challenge journey. It has been fun and I hope you are receiving the messages you need or are inspired to look elsewhere. If there is nothing else I leave you with please remember this: Try a fresh cranberry (fruit cake can’t take all of the holiday food frenzy attention!) As always, if you haven’t and would like to, please visit and “Like” my “Listen” Facebook page: Listen207   Thank you!

 

#20-#24

#20. I gave almond milk. I have a weakness for a sale. Last time almond milk was on sale I bought about 15 boxes. No one needs that much almond milk so I gave 5 to a friend of mine. She thanks me for it every time I see her.

My day: I find out I am nominated for Team Member of the year at work *I did not end up getting this, but that is okay!* and that I was accepted to GRADUATE SCHOOL…

turkeygiving

photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary

#21. My mother, three friends and I scrapped together $180 to Sponsor a Turkey from Farm Sanctuary. Tofurky generously matched the donation so $180 turned into $360!!! I am so grateful to those who pitched in! I was hoping for as many contributors as possible…I was not anticipating Tofurky being one of those contributors! 🙂

#22. I gave $ to a friend through GoFundMe. My friend’s cat, Phoebe, ate a lily on Sunday and has been at the vet ever since. They weren’t sure if Phoebe was going to make it. Good news: She is improving, bad news: they have estimated $5,000 in vet bills! Rachel and Jen are fundraising to cove expenses and any excess money they raise will go to a local shelter. If you would like to help Phoebe go to Phoebe’s fund page I obviously love cats and dearly hope that Phoebe makes a speedy recovery. There sure is an animal theme here…*update, Phoebe is doing great!!!*

chi

This isn’t one of the actual dogs…but darnit look at cute this Chiweenie is!

#24. I gave pet-sitting! When I started to do the Giving Challenge I decided that the first person to ask me to pet-sit would get this service for free. This would be regardless of what the animal is, who is was for and for how many days (yikes!!!) I had decided I would do it and that it would be good for me! Shortly after this decision my friend Vicky contacted me. She is going away for the weekend and needs someone to watch her dogs. Super simple dogs, a bit dramatic at times, but they are very easy to get along with and are very small (so you can pick em’ up at any moment, it is impossible for them to pull the leash, etc.).

When I told Vicky that I was giving this service she replied that she was very thankful, she felt I was already doing it for free (because my rate is so low) and that she would happily pay more. It got me seriously considering upping my rate (only $5/day but $5 is $5!) and accepting that my time and care for a person’s animal and house are worthy of this additional compensation.

Shortly after this another friend asked if I could watch her cat and house over Thanksgiving. So I will be cat-sitting a couple of days after I am done at Vicky’s.

I believe the idea that abundance attracts more abundance, the idea that we get back all that we put out there (and more sometimes) is so true. I “give” away pet-sitting to a woman who then encourages me to increase my rate – knowing full well that that means she may pay more next time I pet-sit her dogs…and then I am asked to cat-sit for 5 days (for trade/pay)?? and we have a SWEET massage-trade so my pay-off is very high…