Category Archives: friendship

Self-Care crunch

I am in a really big jumble right now. I have so many deadlines and responsibilities upon me, but mostly I want to focus on my inner journey and growth. I have so many creative ideas and juices flowing and it’s frustrating to have to set them aside when I have finally we reawakened them.

My husband and I have been on a tremendous journey the past seven years and we feel as though all of our hard work is about to break open and this change that we have put into motion is about to come to fruition and it is an exciting and scary time.

I can get overwhelmed in times like these, and I remember that I have forgotten my morning self care ritual of yoga and breath work for about two weeks now.

I had a nice morning off feeling my way around my home and the responsibilities and things that need done over this weekend and I believe that starting tomorrow morning I will be getting up and doing my yoga stretches and my morning breath work and we’ll see if this helps me to handle the forthcoming challenges and give me the energy to do all the good that I want to do.

There are deadlines for my current career as well as applications and job interviews for the next chapter in two possible locations. There are conversations with the distraught 13-year-old about not wanting to move. There’s blaming and there’s doubt and it’s muddy, but I am a Warrior of the Light and I will continue to be attentive to the signs that keep leading me along this journey.

I think it’s safe to say that alcohol has not been a contributing factor to my success in life and now it is time to break free of those chains and take my training wheels off for good.

Perhaps when I get through the deadlines I can get focused and carve some time for adding the regular writing into the self-care mix.

Day 110

I just had an amazing growth experience in Colorado and am still reeling from the amazing positivity and energy there. I visited some people dear to me and I felt welcomed and inspired.

According to Doreen Virtue, a popular spirit healer, “1, 11, 111, and 1111 in Angel Numbers all mean: ‘”Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts are manifesting instantly into form. Focus only upon your desires and not upon your fears.”‘

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I could not bear to be inside earlier today and I had so much to do. Sometimes, even with the best plans, deadlines approach faster than expected. I took on a lot this year because I thought if I could handle the administrative licensure while working full-time last year, I could do anything. I tell you what I know for sure, and that is that sacrifices must be made to follow dreams. I am thankful I am able to do just that.

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I have had much encouragement from the universe in these past months and I am watching and listening carefully.

100 days of sobriety

I got a little off schedule with posting. I’ve been “working” on a draft for a week, but mostly, I have just been laying low. The production was a wild success and I have been getting reacquainted with reality. And having free time.

Right now I don’t quite know what to make of the time that was spent in rehearsal for three months, but I do know I am not spending it drinking. Staring at walls, maybe, but not drinking.IMG_1545

I was cleaning out the fridge this weekend (okay, so maybe more than staring at walls) and noticed that I have a little split of champagne left over in there for a guest. Before that would have been GONE the second I didn’t want to go to get wine one night.

I have been noticing the beer in there as my husband still likes to have one once a week or two, but it struck me to see see that this is Shiner CHEER, their winter holiday blend. It’s in my fridge – IN APRIL. Come to my house, I can offer you a beer!

Today marks 100 days of sobriety. Other than being kinda bored with seltzer water, I feel like I’ve got this. Now I just have to work through the awkward small talk moments on my own at social gatherings and I’ll be a pro. I am definitely not there yet, but I know with time I can do it. Practice, practice, practice.IMG_1558

Cheers! Have some bubbly with me!

I just returned home from some time at my mother and father’s house in Texas. My little brother hosted my son on a wild game hunting trip on the land he leases just 12 miles north of Mexico. It was a wonderful trip for my son and, as it turns out, for me.

I can hardly write for wiping my tears. I’m trying to be discreet as I am not alone and these moments are so personal to me and because I have so little control sometimes, I love for my moments alone to be alone. It just so happens that my study is in the heart of the house.

A house that I have grown to love so much. It cradled me in its arms and spoke gently to me. We grew together and it will be the hardest thing to leave behind when we pack up and head to Texas. Because we have to.

I believe it was Monday night that everyone went to sleep and I still had plenty to think about so I jumped into a Master Class through Mind Valley Academy to embrace my energy body. Since my session with Grace I have been chipping away at educating myself and the classes I’ve found are not lining up with my schedule. It was well explained and I was able to feel the warmth of my energy between my hand as Jeffrey Allen described. I coaxed that block from my sacrum and I replaced it with fresh new expansiveness.

While my mom was taking an afternoon nap and my sweet husband was driving our ten-year old around on the golf cart, I sat on the back porch rocking. I am interviewing for positions in education again this summer in and around Austin and I saw myself driving to the Lake on the weekends to visit my mom. Her respiratory issues are just not good.

She has taken such good care of herself almost her whole life and smoking, combined with toxic chemical exposure, has really  done a number on her ability to breathe and live.

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Cannot be any accident that I have discovered my breath this year. I rocked on her porch, strolled over to the pond and just let all of my thoughts and feelings wash over me. The bitterness from getting the raw end of the deal was absent. Suddenly I felt like I was the lucky one. My boys are 13 and 10 and my brother’s first son is not quite 8 months old.

So I redoubled my efforts and got a few more applications in to other districts while I was there. She had very little energy, having battled bronchitis for three weeks and so there were no big outings or anything so I had plenty of time to do it. Things were very low-key with my Dad and oldest being gone and there was plenty of down time.

I am back home now decompressing and processing the moments of the past few days, which included a digital video interview for a HUGE position in Austin and some crazy little details and connections being revealed that may or not be synchronicity, or as I always called it, as a young girl with a favorite book, Serendipity (1974).

I have been looking to purchase this book for myself for a number of years and I went ahead and bought a first edition, just like the one I used to have. Many of my childhood toys and keepsakes were missing from my grandparent’s basement when my mother and I returned from her first tour in the service. I have always been sad to have lost those things.

About three years ago my mother found “my” Raggedy Ann doll on Ebay, bought it and sent it to me.

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I will be so curious to peel back the cover and see the name of the original owner of Serendipity and that little girl (?) and I will share a moment of acknowledgment that “Knowing who you really are will bring you happiness” as is the theme of the book. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my connection to this book has been steadfast my entire life. I look so forward to re-reading it. Perhaps the next time I head down this spiral, I will treat myself to my other favorite: Flutterby (1976), with the moral: “Be just who you are.”

At any rate, I am feeling a certain pull to the area. Perhaps a real connection to the idea that this is finally the real move that is due. It was no trouble at all to be present in my own skin without being inebriated or drinking at all. Maybe I am ready to surrender to the idea that my Mom is certainly not perfect, but she has done the best that she could for me. Maybe I can learn to forgive her for things that hurt me.

I guess she has probably had to forgive me hurts over the years.

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Independence Day 2016

I bumped into a yoga instructor and holistic healer on social media. It was a bizarre meeting, but we have many things in common and she is conducting a Nourishing Awakenings women’s nature retreat just a few hours from my home. Fire walking is involved and I am very seriously considering going. I contacted her about it and in our conversation it came up that I am trying to get my family to Austin and we’re saving money and all of that and of course, that’s exactly where she was on her travels as we spoke. Anyway, I have saved this much since quitting drinking…I continue to want to reinvest it…2017 word = truth. This could be my celebration of my SELF. My real self. This event takes place post 100 sober days…walking on fire…hmmmm…Just all seems so serendiptous.

We shall see – I have until the musical I’m directing closes this time next week to make a final decision, so the timing could not be better.

This post is a reflection of me at 81 days. Getting clearer and clearer.

Tonic and Lime, please.

10 weeks. 70 days.

For ten weeks I have not allowed alcohol of any kind to pass my lips. Strange that even though my last drink of choice was red wine, the drink I miss the most is BEER.

Ice cold draft beer.

It’s a great time to live in Memphis as there are craft and micro breweries popping up all around town. There are a fair number of outdoor events and the food truck craze is full on here. Couple that with spring weather and a nice afternoon in a hammock…a beer is an excuse to take a break and I sure do forget to do that.

img_4848That one time I spent TEN WHOLE MINUTES resting in my son’s hammock. I likely had an afternoon beer after I snapped this proof that I do stop moving sometimes.

 

When I was looking at how to quit drinking this summer, one of the options I thought to give myself was to allow only beer when out and about at festivals and concerts. In my mind, I was pleased with the image of being “that” kind of drinker. That image appeals to me, but the jury is still out … not sure if I even want to think about what might be in store for me – someday. Gotta concentrate on today.

Based upon the limited recovery reading I have had time to do, it doesn’t sound like a “healthy” relationship with alcohol is likely in the cards for a girl like me. The data indicates that I’ll be fine with a beer or two at first, but that after time, and a short one at that – I’ll be chasing 12 packs and kegs again because those addiction pathways are deep and not easily mended by a little sobriety thrown into the mix.

So, I continue to choose NOT to drink. Went to a concert Saturday night for a college and life-long favorite, Ben Folds. Ordinarily, I’d have “pre-gamed”having at least two drinks before I even left. Then I’d have spent half of the evening wondering how I was drinking so fast and when I could get another drink from the bar without missing my favorite song. Or, I’d have spilled all over myself and been an embarrassment. That last part’s not entirely true, but it has happened before. At minimum, the drinking at the concert would have been automatic. It may well have been my first sober concert ever.

Turns out that I was perfectly happy drinking a tonic with lime. They actually didn’t have lime wedges, so the bartender used lime juice and it was DELICIOUS! It’s like I play a little game with myself – where I used to call it a “treat” to have an alcoholic drink (even though I would have four or more daily), I now reframe it and call my “non-alcoholic replacement drink” a gift to myself. Something about allowing that psychological process to happen is helping to shift things for me.

I have always struggled with self-talk. My inner critic is a blazing ASSHOLE. My mother was (is) very critical. She’s wicked smart, but because she had me at 15, she lost out on many opportunities to advance herself. She made a wonderful career in the USAF and obtained her Bachelor degree in journalism, but she still has untapped potential. She is an authority on just about everything. So, I carry that with me and it’s loudest when I am not perfect. You know, all the time. 

Strangely, I find it easier to silence that critic now that I am free from alcohol. There’s less happening in my brain to confuse the issue. Things are far from perfect and I have a heaping lot of mess to sort through yet, but I can much better discern bullshit from truth.

Good thing, since my 2017 word is TRUTH.

I’m getting plenty of it.

 

New Imaginings

I wept at the beginning of yoga this Saturday. The instructor created a really great flow that happened to work well for me and I was more able to get out of my own mind and just BE in the pose and spend the time with myself. I cried in meditation too. After weeks of not being sad or anxious at all, really. I don’t know if I have managed to put a spell on myself or what, but I feel a gamut of emotions, but they just wash over me, like the tide. Eb and flow.

Nothing rattles my cage much and I think that my calm affects the entire home. I do not say that to be egotistical, but realistic. We ALL affect one another. I have worked so hard and studied so much to change and help my youngest son  and while that has been a noble cause and much progress has been made, I promise that my work on myself will go further.

I am intentionally creating a better life for myself. I had a vision of what I thought it would be and there has been a peeling away of many unnecessary layers in recent years and this is the last big one. Underneath this one is the truth of who I am. I have always known that I am a treasure to be sure, but trauma has a way of dulling one’s shine.

There are many resources available these days which link addiction and trauma and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Of course, an additional connection I also share is the link between giftedness and all of those things. I think back to Grace saying I have been running from crazy all my life. It’s true.

No one taught me about my gifts.

No one explained “giftedness” to me. I thought I was supposed to be smart at everything and get perfect grades. When others in my class of “Talented and Gifted” kids succeeded in ways I could not, it never occurred to me to consider the ways I excelled in which they did not. Looking back at that now, it seems silly. But that is how retrospect works, I suppose.

I am grateful to be able to read articles like this one now. I feel like I have misinterpreted myself all these years. It looks like the work of Stephanie S. Tolan will be some interesting reading  for me as I stumble through this latest discovery. I find the link between my giftedness and low self-esteem as this article describes in studies. I visited her website, but found that my primary interest is with her blog, The Deep End.

I remember my giftedness being fostered when I was in Germany in the Department of Defense schools and I recall some off campus programming once my parents were stationed in Florida. Unfortunately, those exploratory courses (the two I remember best were about government, specifically electoral college and latex mask-making) gave way to honors academics. No longer were creative outlets or alternate teaching methodologies relevant or seen as appropriate offerings. Kids like myself suffered.

How many others are out there who also feared their gifts, not seeing them for their promise but instead seeing a burden? How many years did I keep drinking because I thought I had found a “delicate balance” and didn’t want to upset it into “crazy” territory? All the while, I was creating new, negative pathways in my brain and I had no idea. Why do they not teach us these things in school? How much of this can I teach in school?

Where can I go to turn this into a career? This is very much where my FLOW STATE gets rolling…theatre, drama, film, trauma, giftedness, writing, speaking, yoga, play, addiction, energy, therapy…I want to be able to delve into this more regularly. I wish I could teach workshops to teenagers or even elementary school kids. I have so many ideas and so much I could offer if I could just figure out the HOW…

Until I figure out what I am going to do for “the rest of my life,” I very likely will engage in Reiki training and yoga teacher training as early as this summer. I just booked my trip to Colorado Springs and Greeley to check out their teacher fair in April. My oldest is moving into 8th grade next year, so we’re cutting things close for our dream of moving from where we have lived for almost twenty years. We keep trying and had some interviews for Germany, South Korea (Department of Defense schools) and two positions in Austin, TX last year. Still working that angle again this year, but expanding to Colorado.

Worst case scenario, I see Colorado for the first time and also a former colleague and maybe even my best friend from seventh grade (we’ve seen each other since then, but not after 1991). Best case scenario: we have the possibility of a completely different everyday reality.

Cheers! I’ll drink to that!img_8375

 

Energy Healing

(Monday, January 23rd) This morning I woke up my new thirty minutes early and I set down my blanket and I went through my morning breath exercise and then spent a whopping minute or two stretching. Seriously, I just had to do it half-heartedly, didn’t I?

Well, that’s okay. There’s a lot going on right about now and I am making a lot of really great progress on my journey, so 6 minutes of self-care in the morning is still 42 minutes a week that I wasn’t getting before.

I switched out the essential oil in my diffuser in my classroom. I had settled into a routine with Peace and Harmony for a couple months and it was nice, but I was feeling the desire to get through some of these gloomy winter days with a little Cheer Up Buttercup. Perhaps fueled by the power of suggestion, since we just finished The Princess Bride in film classes.

I left after my last class to make it to my first energy healing session. I have never spoken to anyone who has ever engaged in this type of work, but I have been interested in picking up on the moods of others less and have wondered about energy shielding. It can be challenging to be a sensitive soul such as I. My emotions can get all out of whack and I don’t know what stuff is mine and what is someone else’s. Nothing pleasant about being in a heap of tears when someone with whom you work somewhat distantly, announces their retirement. In fact, it’s awkward.

I have always been this way – in high school I described “seasonal cries”and it’s just been something I have grown accustomed to, though it can be inconvenient, I know it is a gift and I’m open to discovering more of the magic than the detrimental qualities.

I was comfortable from the beginning and the practitioner and I got to talking and come to find out that besides the mutual connection we shared that got me there, I taught her son two years ago and of course, it was a very positive and close experience. I was probably much more at ease because of those shared connections, so I am grateful for that added bonus.

There was at least an hour of eyes closed aromatherapy and energy work. I have very little idea, really, as my eyes were closed under the cloth that held the oils, but there were moments of sensation in various chakras – a warmth in the seventh, or crown, a need to expel some of the mid-January by-products of allergies when she was working with the fifth, or throat chakra, a tingling foot… And the feedback she gave me afterward made me weep with the possibility of healing that could come about were this the truth.

(Thursday, February 2) After the session, Grace touched my shoulder and said softly, “You are complete.” During the feedback she asked me if I believed in past lives (sure, why not?) and told me that she thinks I might have lived in Scotland or Ireland or somewhere where there was lots of stonework and that I may have been killed for being “crazy” and that I may have come into this life running from that label or diagnosis (neither her words). And then she added that perhaps my mother had been my child then and so she had wanted to protect me from that as well because she had seen me die.

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” has always resonated very deeply with me as have the Salem Witch Trials and many things Gaelic, my maiden name is McCormick, after all. All of that moved through me in the second she said it and all the suffering I had felt in being hindered and unsupported and unloved by my mother vanished in an instant and I wept.

I serendipitously started The Artist’s Way on my first day of sobriety (after years of putting it off – this story sounds so familiar). I leafed through it again this evening more than a week after Grace mentioned it and I see that I had underlined Julia Cameron’s  third in a list of twenty “commonly held negative beliefs” that plague the artist.

“I will go crazy.”

I told her about the respite and psych nurse Barb and how she called me an anomoly and that it sustained me for years. Someone cared enough about me to think of me as different or defying classification. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have saved myself a lot of road.

I told her about the psych ward and how I was so scared and isolated and alone. Actually, the feelings part came later in thinking about it. But I did share that I now know that I am not any of the diagnoses that were placed on me, but that I have some different gifts that can sometimes wind me into a tizzy, but that I have learned to breathe through those sorts of things now.

But, alas, it was an adventure.

I stalled on reading (and annotating and re-reading and aha-ing and the like) as I got into “Week One” and realized that I am over-committed just now with a family, (more than) full time teaching and directing a play in the evening. I figured I’d get back to it in early April when I could better pace myself with new demands on my time.

The session seemed authentic and true and so positive and affirming. I think working with energy further is something I am as interested in as exploring yoga and meditation. I also am considering trying out the “morning pages component of The Artist’s Way. The breathing exercises haven’t taken a real hold just yet and I do want to expand the writing anyway. It’s been relatively recent that the writing valve has even been open at all.

Looks like my second and third chakras could use some enlivening. Most the others are in great working order and she said I am most certainly “grounded.” We are dealing with the sacrum (second) and the Solar Plexus (or third). She suggested magnesium in epsom salt baths (already a regular), spicy foods and that yellow and orange were my colors.

I immediately set about being attentive to the yellow and orange and healing the chakras and jewelry and pigeon pose to open up those hips and stretch that psoas. I had been led to an orange tea just a few days before, we had been buying clementines – it was just a little uncanny how I seemed to intuitively know what I needed.

 

 

What everyone else is doing

I gave a bit of thought today to a conversation I had with a friend this weekend about drinking. It was my annual (11 years strong for me) Girl’s Getaway Weekend, wherein we sit around tables and scrapbook (or grade papers – we’re all in education) and “catch up.” We were talking about Colorado and how beautiful it is. An article that said Colorado Springs is ranked by U.S. News as #5 Best Place to live was the conversation starter – prompted by the introvert’s best app to start a conversation, Facebook. My husband posted the link as we have a bit of a (secret) dream to move there.

As I looked longingly at those beautiful mountains, I showed my friend and we talked about all the awesome stuff there would be to do and see there. She mentioned something about beer and it was at that moment that I blurted out, “I quit drinking.” We talked a minute about it and I shared the reasonable reasons I am quitting: better health, clearer mind and the reality that when my husband has his heart valve replacement surgery, he’ll go on Coumadin and therefore won’t be drinking (he really doesn’t now – never has been a heavy drinker), so I “may as well.” His surgery could be a year or two from now or maybe he could squeak by a couple more years, but it WILL happen.

I told the truth that in my ideal world, I might be able to have a beer or two someday, but that for now I am not drinking anything in an attempt to re-program my brain and I am doing just fine. In fact, my anxiety has actually lessened. {BREATHING} She discussed her drinking patterns (social drinker) and how when she was on a Paleo diet for CrossFit, it was a little annoying for her to attend social functions where people were drinking, not because she “needed” to drink, but because she wanted to do “what everyone else was doing.”

Do not get me wrong, I do not fault my friend in any way, just like I know she would not fault me if I admitted that as an introvert, I kinda “needed” a little buffer to enjoy the crowd. I wasn’t ready for a full disclosure, talk about the messy stuff, confession and though I don’t think I projected that, we made no real big deal about the “big quit” and left the conversation with a “Good for you!”

As I have ruminated since I have been home, I will be adding something to my arsenal of tools. I have never really wanted to do “what everyone else is doing.” There’s a rebel in me that will resist the things that are mainstream. A couple examples from my life:

Case in point #1:
Person: “Oh my gosh, my schedule got changed and now I don’t have study hall with anyone I know! What am I going to do?!”

Me: “Maybe you’ll STUDY.” I chose that day to sit alone in the cafeteria in an effort to find deeper waters. I was a 15 year-old sophomore.

Case in point #2:
Person: “Everyone’s reading this great new series about an orphan wizard and it’s so wonderful.”

Me: “Not interested. Let’s see if it stands the test of time.”

(Fast forward fifteen or so years, and I still haven’t read the Harry Potter series OR The Hunger Games OR Divergent or really anything else that mainstream media got to first – forgive me. Game of Thrones? Nope. Not even Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill or Sex in the City. I’m hard-core this way.)

You get the idea. And so, this not drinking thing is simply like anything else. I choose not to do it just because everyone else is. Because the reality is that it’s a myth. Not everyone else is. I think it just seems like it. I feel as though it is healthy to question your relationship with alcohol. If I drink tonic water or tea at a function where alcohol is present I want to look at it as if I am giving someone else permission to do the same. We should look for one another the way I remember doing as a Camel Lights smoker in college and a bit beyond.

People are forever watching their diets or their exercise routines and yet, some, sabotage themselves with destructive habits such as chugging wine, smoking or eating dessert every night. Except, the eating desserts every night doesn’t have nearly the social stigma that excess alcohol consumption has, and besides the addictive nature of both substances and the similarities in the sugar content – over-drinking is the more taboo. Smoking cigarettes isn’t taboo so much as simply gross.

I wonder if that assessment of the way the various substances are perceived varies from location to location and even from person to person.

Moreover, alcohol is GLORIFIED in the entertainment industry and sizeism is still rampant. Huh? How about we acknowledge that they are basically the same and neither condition is shameful? Neither “addiction” reflects weakness or even failure. We all just do the best we can. Even that kid in the back of my classroom who has a knee-jerk negative comment or reaction to nearly everything I say…the best he can.

Tobacco advertisements have been regulated in the U.S. I think it might be time to consider such regulations for alcohol indoctrination. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean everyone should be doing it.

If you are considering a change and you think you really could just do it if you could talk yourself out of your desire – try the advice of one of my favorite comedians, Bob Newhart, in his turn as a therapist in this 1970s skit. Whatever is troubling you, remember that you are stronger than the tools you use and STOP. IT.

It could just be that easy if you let it.

Still sober and still here

It has been over two weeks since I have stopped drinking now and my life has been full of activity so I have been able to edge out thoughts of drinking quite easily. I understand that this is not the experience of everyone who leaves drinking behind, but I put off quitting for quite a long time because I thought it was going to be this really challenging ordeal and it simply hasn’t been. I tell you this to perhaps give you the courage to give it a go.

I have just begun to read lately about the pathways in the brain that alcohol impairs and I am fairly certain that I should have had some pathways with some deep dependencies, so I am realistic in understanding that I am nowhere near “out of the woods,” but my word of the year is TRUTH and this is mine.

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I will be going to my annual scrapbook/paper crafting/ladies weekend at a local lake. We have been going away over the Martin Luther King Jr weekend for a number of years and this year we will be missing one of my best friends. We always car-pooled and bunked together. We were the introverts of the group so we had a bond, a connection. Both of us had been chronic “Type A” people and the last few years we talked a great deal about what really matters in this life, and it’s not being busy. It’s being present.

She just died in September after a battle with brain cancer which responded to treatment enough to give her years to live instead of the months that her initial prognosis indicated. While we were very close and our families celebrated birthdays, camped out and spent summer days together, our lives did not consist of the everyday routines as they had in the past when we taught at the same school and lived in close proximity. While I have certainly mourned, this will be the first trip where her absence will be palpable.

When she was being moved to hospice and I was rushing around trying to take photos of her from her scrapbooks to include in the memorial service video I put together, I felt a strong sense of shame. Here she was dying because of something completely out of her control, being “cheated” out of the second half of her life. She left an adoring husband and two boys, aged 15 and 13. Before dying she was trapped inside her mind and aware that her brain was shutting down and robbing this English teacher/reader of her words.

 Meanwhile, I was still inflicting damage to my perfectly “good” brain. I was shutting my own brain off, damaging it beyond repair…

I will always miss my friend and be forever grateful for the lessons she taught me right until the end.

Ah. There are those tears again…

Red Tent

A few years back, at the height of my career crisis, I contacted a soul friend I had met during my first few years of teaching. She and I were never close friends, but there was always a connection for me. The way she carried herself and treated others was in line with my true being.

I felt so grateful to have landed where I did as a first year teacher. So many of the faculty were warm and inviting and it felt like a family. She left the school to see if grass was greener at a local private school that was just starting out. In fact, several of our teachers went over that way and though I was intrigued, I played it safe and stayed where I was. Six years into that gig and grooming had begun in earnest for when I would step into the Theatre Director position upon my mentor’s retirement. Plans were derailed and I was sent to another local school as the numbers for the classes I taught were down since most students were told “Art” would be an “easier” class. Not especially bitter about this anymore, as I see the changes in the dynamic at that school now and I might be in a much tougher position than I am now had things “worked out” according to plan, but it broke my heart when I got the call while I was on maternity leave.

I kept an open mind and started a new position at a new school and I LOVED it. I had an opportunity to create my own film program from scratch and I would never have to step into someone else’s program and feel the pressure to fill a legend’s shoes. I took this and ran with it until I managed to build my program from 87 students to 425. It got so large that I could hardly oversee the training in the lower level courses and there was an administration change. The vice principal had a history of putting “targets” on those she did not like (or was jealous of or threatened by) and the last year before I left was my year. She had little power before the principal retired, but when the new blood came in, she was able to poison the well, making my life miserable.

I found a private school through a former student/friend (she is now a former student and a former “friend”) and after a year, it was clear that nothing I would be able to do would keep me employed there, if I even wanted to be. I was at one of my lowest points as an adult. We had sold our 3,000 square foot home with the pool, downsized and moved the children out of the schools they loved because I couldn’t stand the hostility of the place with the horrid vice-principal. And here, where things were supposed to be better, they were falling apart. I was drinking a LOT. The truth is, this time is likely when my drinking escalated to dangerous status.

I called my friend, Mary, and we met for coffee. She had since left the private school and later was rehired with our county school system at another school and then left there for a position at the University in town. I knew she must have been feeling some of the same things I was about our employers (both private and public schools). Talking with her made sense. She understood my tears and frustration in a way that many others never do. I tend to be a little intense at times and when I am upset, this is intensified too. There are lots of tears in this well.

The basic gist of our conversation was a reminder that I am going to be okay and that I am on the right path to my own soul growth. I felt understood and that was really necessary for me. As a seventeen year old, I moved from my high school home and went to college 1600 miles away. I made close friends in college, but I never joined a sorority or anything like that (I didn’t want to “buy” my friends) and so I walked away from college years later with life-long friendships, but certainly no “ride or die.” This has always haunted me and really hurt me to the bone. There were times while I was in college and my over-active thinker would be going ninety to nothing and I remember feeling so isolated – that I had burdened my friends enough and I had no one else to call.

To feel understood at a soul level is actually critical to our spirit and I don’t feel I currently have enough of that. My friend mentioned that she has held “Red Tent” gatherings in the past and was looking to get them going again and I was intrigued. Fast forward three years and my friend has now left her University job to further explore a healing field and yesterday was a Red Tent morning. She invited over 15 women and as it turned out, there ended up being a nice intimate gathering of five of us there in total.

She asked everyone to share what was going on with them and in my true fashion, I blurted out what is going on with me, including that I quit drinking. This isn’t some proclamation that I am making all over town, so I was a little surprised, but safety has a way of luring our secrets out. Before the morning gathering, I had only told three people that I come into regular contact with about my new normal. Now, it is seven.

In the course of the morning we talked of heartbreaks with our children, careers and life in general. I guess because we all knew our mutual friend, we were able to trust that we were among safe women. Women who build up and not tear down. I was able to share parts of my past with a mom struggling to help her daughter find balance. We had ideas for other ladies about things to consider for the trials they are currently facing. We all left feeling supported and SEEN even though we barely scratched the surface of our inner dealings.

I don’t know when she will host another event – but I know that I am looking forward to it more than I looked forward to this first one (for me) since I now know what kinds of wonderful soul messages I may gain (or even help another go home with). If you are looking for a soul friend, and do not happen to have a “Mary” of your own, reach out to her – she is truly a blessing!

If you are curious about the Red Tent Movement, take a look at this website and see about starting your own Red Tent gathering.

We all want to be seen and heard and, as Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

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