Solitude, Why the Crazy Cat Lady is the new Guru

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Remember when we were kids and we’d see that lady checking out at the grocery store with 20 cans of cat food, one bag of kitty litter, ten lean cuisines, and a bottle of wine? I remember thinking, “Please God, don’t ever let me become a Crazy Cat Lady.” Well, here I am and all I’m missing is a cat. Thing about cats is that there’s always one that needs a home and they can smell out a solitary cat-less person from ten blocks away. Cats are magical, that’s why they are our masters. But I digress.

The thing about slowly becoming a Crazy Cat Lady is that there is no one around to disturb you. You have all the time in the world. You can spend hours talking to God, talking to shrubs (see my last blog post), meditating, working out, buying yourself a yummy gyro, and talking to friends who are also slowly evolving into Crazy Cat Women. The other perk is that you never have to share your wine.

Solitude has been sold to us as this terrible state of loneliness that eats the soul and withers the mind when in fact it’s a great place to heal, set internal boundaries, face down your personal demons, and really get to know yourself. You can’t know yourself in a crowd, but sit quietly alone and all of YOU will show up, the good and the troubling. I no longer fill my days. I wander through them. I cry, I reach out, I go to therapy, I see where I went wrong, and I see where I went right, I savor, I take deep breaths, and I simply exist. This is the most Zen I have been allowed to be in my entire life.

I no longer believe that time is money, that I need to keep my nose to the grindstone, or that the person with the most toys wins. Instead, I believe in watching squirrels hide nuts and chase each other up trees, I believe I can hear God in the wind when it blows through the forest, I believe in random miracles and intentional miracles and…just all miracles. I believe in appreciating mountains while not feeling the need to climb them. I believe in the magic of pedestrians who don’t look when they cross and I believe in the drivers who manage not to hit them everyday in this beautiful metropolis I live in. I believe in God because I see God in every person and structure and breeze that lifts every leaf in every tree.

The first step to following the teachings of the Crazy Cat Lady is to let go of social norms, stop caring about what the neighbor thinks, and just coexist. Meet your friends at the corner café and talk about art and music, or physics and spirituality if you’re feeling particularly saucy, and definitely talk about your cats because they’re magical, remember? Lastly, love yourself and all the people you come into contact with because in truth, everyone is fighting their own battles and no one gets off this planet alive.

Cheers my beloveds. Everyday is a new adventure. Meet it with all the grace and authenticity you can muster.

Wear your comfy shoes. Your fantastic just as you are. There is nothing you need do…except feed the cat.

Grief

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Grief is not an emotion that will be ignored. It can’t be healed or pushed down or forgotten. Grief raises its ugly head and howls like a mangy old dog that refuses to die. It clutters your dreams with living memories, holding hands with you, reminding you what warm skin felt like just before waking you again to your aloneness. Grief is an unwelcome friend, always by your side, always calling up memories of the one lost, the one missed, the one you would give everything to see and hold again. This is grief and its not going anywhere. I have cried out shame and trauma, rage, and depression but grief has me at a standstill. It says, “No woman. This is where we are.” This IS where we are. I am grieving. I am in the season of grief. I have known love and now I must grieve my love without end. Time will not heal this wound. I will travel new places, find new understanding, know new love, but this love, this grief will always be at my elbow whispering, “Do not forget.”

I love. I see you. You are my heart.

God  bless you,

E

Beautiful Object

Concept By Anonymous

The beautiful object waited quietly in the corner shop window. Someday she knew a collector would come and choose her from among all the other beautiful objects that sat around her. One harmonious day when the sun was glinting off her well polished surface she saw the collector she had been hoping for, the collector who had come to appreciate her, and choose her from among all the other beautiful objects. When he looked on her, when he chose her, when he took her home, she was filled with a shimmer that shined from the depths of her heart. Joy glowed out through her beautiful exterior illuminating her many miraculous colors.

The collect wrapped her carefully in paper and held her carefully in his arms as he carried her home. Once home he took her from the box and held her in his hands. He turned her over looking on her with pride and then placed her with love upon a shelf where he could see her always from anywhere in the room. The beautiful object was filled with joy to be so loved and appreciated and to have been chosen from among so many other beautiful objects.

The days pass, she was happy and he watched her from afar, moving through his day, through his life, seeing her from the corner of his eye, and smiling. Yes, she was a beautiful object, and she knew in her heart that he loved her and she loved him. But the days grew longer, she saw him less often, and dust begin to gather upon her beautiful exterior.

After what seemed like an eternity she heard his return and her heart lifted. In time he came to her and taking her gently in his hands he wiped the dust from her eyes, from her head, from her beautiful exterior, and held her so lovingly that once again she began to glow with joy, and hope, and love, and light. Then without ceremony he sat her down again upon the shelf.

A long time past before he touched her again. She grew sad and lonely on her self. She wanted to see him, to be held by him, to be touched by him, to have the dust washed from her eyes, and from her glowing exterior. She wanted to be beautiful, and to be bright, to be loved, but he was gone missing somewhere in the world. The dust grew thicker and thicker until she could no longer see the sunlight coming in the window and it could no longer pierce the filth that clung to her beautiful sides leaving her un-illuminated. And yet she longed for the moment when he remembered that she existed, for the moment when he came and dusted away the dust, and held her in the light, and loved her for her beauty, for her fine lines, and for the way she lit up when he looked on her.

One day he came home and he held under his arm a thing carefully wrapped in paper. The beautiful object could not see yet she heard the paper and she felt his appriciation through the dust, thought it was not directed at her. She felt him grow closer and her heart began to glow. She felt the light that would pour through her when he cleaned away the dust, when he held her in his hands, when they were once again reunited, and he appreciated her the way she deserve to be appreciated.

But when he came to her he pushed her aside and he placed before her a new and beautiful object. He did not take her from the shelf, he did not dust her, he did not clean the dirt away from her eyes, or hold her in his hands and appreciate her. instead his eyes were focused lovingly on the new beautiful object that glowed with sunshine and with light, basking in the warmth of his attention.

With time the beautiful object became completely blinded by the dust and debris of her life on the shelf and she even began to forget what it was to be held, to be touched, to be loved, to be looked at, and appreciated. She languished in blindness for many years. On the last day that she would spend with the collector who had shown her such love, she thought only of the memory of sunlight and the way she used to glow. She felt no hope, she felt no light, she felt no love, she only felt a sudden longing for movement forward toward something new, something unknown.

The movement came, the unknown followed. When the dust was finally washed from her eyes and the light again poured through her beautiful sides she found herself in a new place, held in new hands, dusted with new love. New eyes regarded her with great appreciation for her beauty, for her unique lines, for the special figure that she was. And her heart bloomed again as it had of old, and she felt love pouring through her, she felt light shimmering inside her, and she felt happiness pouring over her. Everyday the new collector held her, dusted her eyes and lifted her to the light mesmerized by the way the sunshine played through her miraculous colors. Once again, the beautiful object who had hoped, and wished, and longed, began to learn trust, certainty, and peace. And she learned that she had value not because of the joy she gave but because of the joy she felt inside herself when the light filled her and she remembered what it was to glow.

Glow on beloved brothers and sisters. You were born to be the light.

Normalizing Trauma

Trauma is a very human experience. You can’t live on planet earth and not experience trauma at some point in your life. And the longer your life is the more likely it is that you will experience trauma. There’s different levels of trauma. There is a trauma that is emblazoned on your mind and triggers feelings of panic and depression. And then there are types of lesser traumas that trigger grief sadness or a mild sense of melancholy. These lesser traumas will not leave you in bed for weeks at a time or contemplating suicide like PTSD level trauma. Lesser traumas are the blues, they are the times when you remember something or sometime that hurt you.

As we go through life we either seek help and healing or we push down our traumas deeper and deeper into ourselves until they morph into an illness we didn’t see coming or become a state of permanent melancholy diagnosed as depression and treated with a pill. The important thing about trauma is to recognize it. In all it’s forms it must be recognized, it must be spoken about, it must be brought into the light, and it must be healed. According to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk MD, in his book The Body Keeps the Score, trauma is stored in the body. Only by releasing it from the body are we able to find healing.

The other interesting thing about diving into your trauma work is the reality that your family lineage also holds ancestral trauma, trauma from wars, traumas from sudden deaths, traumas from loss so terrible that they have left a ripple of pain running through your family that shows itself as alcoholism, domestic violence, drug abuse, isolation, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, and even the total avoidance of love, of feeling or interaction with others. Not being seen and not being heard is one of the cruelest forms of child abuse and yet millions of children suffer at the hands of parents completely incapable of feeling.

When we recognize the trauma that we are holding, when we honor it, we subsequently normalize it so it is no longer the skeleton in the closet ready to jump out and disrupt our lives. When we realize that nobody on this planet is playing the victim, and that hurt people hurt people, then we can open our hearts and extend love to even those individuals who seem so bent on trying to create pain. Find forgiveness for yourself and all people, practice self compassion, find a good trauma therapist who will help you uncover your pain and heal it. And honor your path. It wasn’t easy to get where you are but good or bad, you made it.

We are all humans having a human experience in a world that is very difficult to traverse. Let’s normalize mental health issues, let’s really talk about how we’re doing instead of always playing at “JUST FINE .” Let’s normalize the beauty and pain of living. Let’s do this hard thing together.

All my love goes to you as you walk this world. I am your sister in this moment and every other,

E. E. Orme

Surrender

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I surrender. My war is fought. I lay down my resistance and pray for mercy. I pray on my knees in the carnage of my lost ambitions, a broken home, smashed family photos, the scent of an uneaten dinner rotting in an oven that will not be warmed again. I surrender this life to my creator, I surrender every hope and dream I’d had for it. I no longer hope for anything other than the momentary peace that comes between sleeping and waking, work and rest. Even in rest I am nagged with the why’s of my life, with the what if’s, the should haves, and the why didn’t I’s. My brain is a prison when I let it run free, fighting the war again and again that I strive everyday to set down and surrender.

So I breathe, I pray, I meditate on my knees and silence the bitter places that would stand up and scream for justice when I already know there is no justice, there is just-his version of events and mine. And so I breath, and count my breaths letting the grief subside until I am strong again and capable of moving on with my half finished life. And I do move on, as the strong do, no matter how shattered. Loss comes and loss goes, grief comes and lingers longest, time will not heal this wound but living well will deaden the sting and I plan to live well. I have trained to live well. I have surrendered my past, am free and fully intend to live so well that I will become a picture postcard of sunshine and gratitude to all the people who have lifted me up and held me tight. You know who you are and a million times, thank you.

I got this-I will keep going-I love you.

No More Masks

This is the last mask I will wear, the one called wife. It was never mine by choice but came hidden in a box with a ring.

How it clung to me, hid me, bent my will and my purpose until I no longer knew myself; my dreams drifting away on far flung currents.

Your joys became my joys, your interest-my interests, and I smiled because I loved you, did my duty by you and the family. But the family shrunk away until it was just you and me and the boy.

What was fun? I washed my 1000th dish, smashing it just to hear it break. What was joy? I fold away another mountain of laundry that will appear again the next day.

The boy made me laugh and in him I remembered joy and fun. He was full of monkey tricks and more wisdom than I will ever fathom. Such a mind behind those chocolate brown eyes, such a heart of strength and love.

He is grown, and you are gone, and this mask called wife lays in tatters, torn as it was from me by a hundred punishments. But you were not the only villain. In pretending that we were happy I committed the ultimate betrayal, the betrayal of myself.

The Ice Cream Man Eats Children

ice cream man
I’ve always liked the Ice Cream man. I like the songs he plays and the memories of childhood they evoke. I even like the little white mail van he drives with pictures of ice cream colorfully pasted on the sides. This is why I was a bit confused when, while walking the dog, I found my son hunkered down behind a garbage can. When I asked him why he was hiding he said,

“The Ice Cream Man eats children and he doesn’t wear pants.” At that moment the offending vendor was busy selling ice cream to other unwary kids.

“How do you know he doesn’t wear pants?” I started with the more easily explained question.

“I snuck up on him once. All he was wearing was a wife beater and a pair of blue boxers.”

“Oh dear!” At that moment a little blond girl walked over and asked Duncan why he was hiding.

“I don’t trust the Ice Cream Man!” With that he waved us both away from his hiding place.

My son still wrestles with the suburban rituals he’s been thrown into. He was raised in a tiny cabin on a hill some thirty minutes from the nearest town. In our wild old life there was no such thing as pavement, garbage men, or ice cream vendors. The only people bold enough to visit our rural farm were unwary Mormon missionaries and brave Jehovah’s Witnesses.

We had lots of wild visitors: raccoons, rats, deer, possums, cougars, lynx and even a bear. When a hard winter rolled in we’d invariably lose power. On these days Duncan and I would haul firewood from the barn to the house on a large red sled. He’d walk behind picking up the wood that fell off while I’d drag the sled over the snow towards the house. It wasn’t fun but it built character.

Four years ago we moved to the Wow House (so named because it earned ten wows on Duncan’s home-search scale). It is a large suburban home in a lovely neighborhood. The Wow House came with pavement where Duncan rides his scooter and a garbage man who I appreciate more than I can ever say. Though I miss my horses, the 90 degree view of the Cascade Mountains and the deer I fed in the winter, I am happy. Life at the Wow House has been wonderful. Only one week after we moved in Duncan looked up at me and said,

“Mom? I think we used to have it pretty hard!” I don’t remember saying anything in that moment. What I do remember is smiling at my insightful little boy who’d slept beside the wood stove when it was so cold that the heat from the fire couldn’t reach our bedroom.

We are molded by our experiences. We are made by what life hands us, shaped by the twists and turns that lead us into today. I loved my years on my farm but they were hard, rugged and filled with impossible beauty and never ending solitude. Maybe this is why Duncan is now so suspicious of strangers selling treats. When you’ve had to melt snow to flush you’re toilets then home delivered goodies might seem too good to be true.

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Shunning: Psychological Torture

Unmarried mothers were shunned and left to fend for themselves
Recently I read an article reporting that between 1925 and 1961, 796 children were placed in a mass grave in one of Ireland’s Catholic run, Mothers and Babies Homes. The article stated that the mothers received little care and some women even gave birth unattended. Why were they so mistreated? Because they were seen as “a threat to Ireland’s moral fiber.” These children were the victims of an outdated morality that would rather shun its unwed mothers than support and love them as valued members of their community. The Mother and Baby home closed its doors and sealed its mass grave (a sewage tank buried on the grounds) in 1961.

In 1991, a Catholic girl at my high school had an abortion so her parents would never know she’d had sex. The 90’s were a sophisticated modern decade. We had free choice, free will and the right to make all the mistakes we wanted. Casual sex was the norm and most everyone I knew was going at it like rabbits. And yet, this girl chose to have an abortion because if her parents knew she’d had sex and conceived she would have been shunned, outcast and disowned. Her abortion was not a choice made in free will, it was a decision born of fear, the fear of being outcast, shunned and forsaken by the people who should have loved and supported her no matter what.

Everyone passed the hat to help raise the abortion money. Everyone contributed to the death of this “embryo.” Everyone participated in this act so that a girl could keep her family. No one asked if she wanted the baby? No one asked if she even thought of it as a child growing inside her? I remember how sick the whole event made me. I stood back, watched and wondered what kind of parents raised a child in such fear that she’d rather commit murder then admit to having a sex life, disorganized as it was.
mother and child

Over the millennia, billions of woman have been cast off, incarcerated and killed for moral reasons while their children have been aborted, cast out, hidden away, called basters and abused because no man stepped forward to claim them. Shunning is an atrocity. It’s a manyfold evil that leads to heartbreak, legalized acts of murder and a shame that taints our history and threatens our future.

If all life is sacred and we are the children of an all loving God than why do situations like this ever even occur? I try to forget this memory, this time in my life. I would like to put it on the shelf with all the other outrages and deaths that ran like a red thread through my early existence yet this death refused to stay buried. It welled up inside of me, rattling its cage because of the unconscionable cruelty that created it. Conditional love was the killer and this girl and her unborn child were its victims. Be good or you’ll end up on the streets, be clean or we’ll disown you, remain pure or everything you know and love will be taken from you.

Injustice should never be forgotten and like the mass graves that hold 796 Irish children, this memory will not be buried because conditional love is an evil that has no place in this world. When we practice unconditional love, acts like these don’t exist! Unconditional love does not reject, instead it accepts. It does not shun but gathers its loved ones together because unconditional love creates a community so strong, so entwined in love and acceptance that when the unplanned, or unexpected occurs it reacts with compassion, acceptance and a coming together that reflects what community was meant to be. In a loving and open community there’s room for the unexpected surprises life hands us.

Stories like the mass Irish grave and the girl in my high school remind us why shunning is such a devastating and horrific act. When you practice shame and exile, you abandon both the mother and child to the mercy of the streets or institutional care. We must, as forward thinking people, support the women and children of our community so tragedies like this never happen again. We must gather around new life and love it for coming instead of condemning its existence. After all, if we are all part of a divine plan than surly every life is divinely created, divinely loved and must therefore be unconditionally loved and protected. My prayers go out to all the souls who suffered and died in shame and isolation. Each loss is a failure to teach the beauty of unconditional love and unconditional support in community.
pregnant belly

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The Dance Between Light and Dark: In Theory

Dance between light and darkThere exists in all of us a potential for light or dark action. All action is energy flowing in reaction to the catalysts that drives us forward in our lives. The question is, do our actions and reactions embrace a light and higher motive or a dark base motive. When a horn honks do we go into rage or do we chose peace, change lanes and avoid the dark hostility that rages behind us. In every moment of everyday we have the opportunity to embrace light and dark choices. Do we confront, argue and fight or do we free, release, and forgive those who would trigger us into likeminded darkness.

Rage, hostility, pain, anger, self-harm and regret are all members of a dark emotional family which feed on one another and anyone who crosses their path. Take one step into anger and you are inches away from pain and regret. Take one step towards forgiveness and you are on your way to healing and joy. As one emotional family sucks you dry another lifts you up and frees you to move forward in life. It’s all a matter of which one you choose.

How do we identify which is the light choice and which is the dark. Light will always feel light in our heart and darkness will always feel heavy like a rock in the stomach. In light action the Ego says little. In dark action the ego says many things. It condemns our failings, our humanity and everything and everyone who crosses our path. When the ego is empowered there is no room for love, friendship and peace because it craves material gain, power and isolation of the individual it haunts.

The ego is darkness in flesh and it prowls around our souls waiting for a bad day, a disappointment, for something to regret. Power is corrupting and the ego loves power, profit is bottomless and the ego will never let you know contentment. Isolation makes you independent of love, of nourishment, of physical touch and the ego loves isolation; for a solitary mind is easily preyed upon. Isolation leads to the end of relationship, the end of love, of communication and of healing. We heal in love, we are understood in communication and we are in love when our energies stream and pour from one heart into another. In love and joy, the ego cannot thrive.

When darkness has won and a soul is lost in self-loathing, addiction and self-harm that soul slips into a darkness so heavy that the light cannot be seen or felt. In reality the light never leaves us. It is all around us asking to be heard, seeking to be seen and loving us whether we know it or not. None of us is ever so lost, fallen or sinful that we cannot be redeemed. Free will has the power to open our eyes to the brightness of a new day, a new life and a new way of living. Every moment of every day we are given the opportunity to forgive, to be forgiven, to be of service, to be of god, to be of hope and light on his earth.

If you’ve fire walked you’ve felt the flames, if you’ve fallen you’ve felt the stones and know how they bruise. We’ve all fallen, we’ve all known pain and we’ve all been given the opportunity and support to rise again and be reborn in a love greater than any we’ve ever known.

Let the white light of the Universe
enfold, protect me
and bathe me in its healing love.
Let this journey be a tool
to bring peace of mind,
love, joy and kindness back to my life.
Cleanse my soul of hurt and bitterness,
resentment, vengeful and judgmental thinking.
Give me balance and serenity
to face each trial with faith,
an open mind, love and kindness.
When I get lost, let the sun shine down
white light to show me the way back
to the path of Love.
Amen.

A Prayer By Susan H.

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The Dance between Light and Dark: In Story

A dance between light and dark the storyHow many days have I laid here lost between sleep, thirst, hunger, wakefulness and regret? To awaken, to truly open my eyes to this new day feels too heavy, too painful. The rocks beneath my body have left permanent imprints in my flesh and yet I dare not move arm or leg, hand or foot to find comfort. Pain is the sole reminder that I’m still alive. A light lingers in the corner, illuminating one small space in the endless darkness. It finds me where I hide in memory so heavy that to really see its glimmer I must open my eyes and then open my eyes again. Hell’s road may be paved with good intentions but its exit is barred by the lies of false prophets and a forked tongued god.

“You don’t have the right to live!” the voice croons gently in my head, every syllable a bullet in the brain. “You can’t ever go home!”

“What is home?” I question, but the voice interrupts.

“You’ve made your bed!”

I fall back into my bed, into a darkness that does not sleep, the voice coming and going, a murmur one moment, a scream the next. The hours pass in slow monotony until I recall a playground with a swing set. The memory is bright, its light pierces the dark that swarms like flies around me. I am warmed by the memory, my body jerking on its sharp rocks, my eyes opening to the corner where a glimmer still waits.

I remember more bright days filled with sunlit kisses and hugs that lasted all day. I remember smiles that lit my world and the warmth of my grandmother’s kitchen. I cry when I remember her, so beautiful with her silver hair and bright blue eyes. Shifting on my rock I raise my hand to catch the spark of light. How glorious the warmth feels on my fingers, its gentle rays sliding to me from no discernable place. I watch the play of light over my skin but my hand is dirty and the shame of filth is too great to bare. The game ends and I am lost again in regret. Grandma scolds me, her voice imperious with contempt,

“The dirt of childhood is easily washed. Yet, the filth and sin of the fallen can never be cleaned away.”

“Did she really ever say that?” I ask the room but my mouth doesn’t move. The thought lives only in my head. Grandma never spoke like that. Lifting my hand again I catch the light, determined not to lose it this time. Always in my heart there is a place for forgiveness. I forgave the one who hurt me, I forgave the people who watched but said nothing, I forgave the doctors who patched me up and handed me back yet where is my forgiveness?

“Do you deserve any?” The heavy question breaks through my thoughts but the voice isn’t mine, it’s an evil thing; it’s not me.
“You aren’t real. I am!” my words rattle the room. The light brightens. I cup it in my hands to hold it close. The closer I hold it the brighter it becomes.

“You are love” the light speaks softly, “born of love, in love, of love and so loved that you shine always, always, always even in the darkness…” I rest back on my hard bed but do not close my eyes. This truth must be absorbed, held, understood in order to feel real. The dark voice returns, shouting out edicts and condemnation that I refuse to hear because the light is with me, it is all I see and all I chose to think on. It’s soft whisper resonating gently through my soul.

“I am love, born of love, in love, of love, so loved…” and lifting my head I roll to my side, moving through the pain to my knees until the light encircles me. It is warm, loving, never failing in its comfort.

“Light be with me always.” I speak my words as a prayer feeling the darkness shrink away with many whining, whispering complaints. That dark voice, with it’s imprisoning words of judgment slides to an incoherent echo. The light draws me in and I am comforted by its softly spoken words.

“Turn to me and I am there. Find me and you find the way home. hear me and know that I am the light of love as you are the love that seeks the light.”

With these words the light and I are one kneeling being, free to stand, free to walk, free to find care, to find comfort, to live and laugh where the voice that judges the fire walkers and the fallen is silenced and blinded by its own darkness. I’ve walked the long cindered mile. I’ve taken the stony path and slept in a bed of my own making but these bruises, scars and burns have molded me, hardened me, opened me up and made me strong in the knowledge that love awaits me and brings comfort to us all.

Let the white light of the Universe
enfold, protect me
and bathe me in its healing love.
Let this journey be a tool
to bring peace of mind,
love, joy and kindness back to my life.
Cleanse my soul of hurt and bitterness,
resentment, vengeful and judgmental thinking.
Give me balance and serenity
to face each trial with faith,
an open mind, love and kindness.
When I get lost, let the sun shine down
white light to show me the way back
to the path of Love.
Amen.
A Prayer By Susan H.

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