Friday, December 30, 2016

Pat Me On The Back

This post may be difficult to read.  I don't believe it will be difficult to write.  Remember my last post, where I wrote I edited out the negative stuff? Well, now you get the negative stuff.  It's limbo time between Christmas and New Year's.  Why not?!

A year ago I set my intention to recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I have worked SO hard this year.  Remember when we thought I had recovered by August?  Hah! I hadn't even remembered the EVENT.  I'd just gotten the set up.  Ages 0 - 5.  The EVENT itself happened when I was four, maybe five.  Wasn't until this month that I remembered it.  Oh, it was real.  Just in case, I asked two of the four involved if they remembered it happening exactly as I did.  They did. Ha!  No false memory in this brain.  (Three of the four perpetrators were 'normal' children, my siblings.)

Today, dear friends, the event that seared shame into my heart and my mind, got relived.   It got both relived and REWORKED.  Ah, there's the healing.

Let me tell you what it's been like living inside this body since I was five.  I have lived in a world where one misplaced trust means I will be humiliated beyond belief.  Beyond terrifying.  I didn't have a clue where this came from.  Figured I was abnormal, which made me feel more ashamed.  Oh, dear.  I have spent my life trying to act normal though I don't feel normal.  Meanwhile feeling pretty numb.  Except around my sweetheart.  I would have been fine if he hadn't died.  Truth is, I really needed to get to the heart of this.  Love needs my open heart.

Five years old.  Maybe four.  Kids at that age don't understand cruelty.  They get ensnared in the "It was my fault; I brought this on myself." loop and desperately try to find a way to control it from happening again.  But it could happen again.  I was powerless and helpless the first time it happened.  It was entirely unpredictable and unexpected.  It. could. happen. again. at. any. time.  Any. time. I. let. my. guard. down. and. trust. people.   Women.  The perpetrator was my mother.

I became reclusive to hide my shame.  I doubt my family even noticed, but in 1985 I hadn't any friends to invite to my wedding if I'd wanted to.  I have one best friend, and many online friends now.  But one, maybe two people to call when I die to show up at my memorial service. 

I have spent my whole life covering up a shame I didn't earn, or warrant.  Yet it got heaped on me.  It lived inside me, closer than my heartbeat.  Hey. That's why they call my outlook a 'disorder'.  Yet I think of how many children suffer at the hands of their parents.

I read an article about how some parents have taken to publicly shaming their own children on digital media.
Shaming Children on Social Media Has Got To Stop!

What's really fascinating about trauma recovery, that I want to tell you, is that healing requires really, really reliving the trauma.  But instead, in a totally safe and loving environment.   Can you see why it takes time to feel strong enough to face something like that?  I gather that the closer to the trauma, the easier it is to resolve.  Oh well.  Fifty eight years passed.

There I was in my counselor's office today, five years old in feelings, words and deed. I kicked my feet out.  Whoops!  They're a lot longer now.  What is cool, is that once you are reliving it, YOU get to change how it all turns out.  You can make them stop and be sorry.

This is how I did it.  I instructed them to turn away, with their backs to me, and hang their heads in shame.  Then I made them hold hands in a circle, heads down in shame.  They had to circle and sing

Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.

All. fell. down. 

Masterful Flo!

I'm kind of curious how life will unfold from here.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

On This Day A Savior Was Born

I've written this post over a few times, pretty much editing all the negativity out.  Hope you don't mind!  Any deflation we feel over the holidays is temporary, right?!  Well, now that it's almost over, I'm back.

I am so grateful I didn't visit my birth family this year.  I do give my best effort to be F-U-N when I'm there.  Because who wants to be around someone who can't be cheered up unless a certain someone comes back to life?  But here, with absolutely no pressure to BE happy, I've found real joy bubbling up within me.   And gratitude.

The sights and sounds of Boston. 

Ha!  Notice the selfie? I'm feeling quite at home in Boston.  Not surprising since it was my home for two years, my sophomore year at Boston University and my year off working in a needlepoint design studio overlooking the Public Gardens.  I DO feel as young as I did then, except when I look in the mirror...

Yesterday I walked over to the Pop-up Holiday Village at Boston's Government Center to find Christmas gifts for the hotel staff.  I found six miniature tangine pots at a Moroccan shop, all different colors.  The shop keeper invited me to haggle, so $8 a piece went down to $6.  Then I wandered through Quincy Market behind Faneuil Hall, and around behind to the outdoor Public Farmer's Market, where I bought two boxes of blueberries for $3.  On my way back 'home' along the waterfront, I picked up a large lobster roll for dinner.  I couldn't even get my mouth around it, so some big chunks of lobster are Christmas dinner tonight.

I hadn't a clue what gift to put IN the Tangine pots for the staff, so late yesterday afternoon out I went again.  Peppermint Meringue Kisses at the bakery just beyond the Tea Party Museum were perfect.  So, together with Starbuck $5 gift cards and candy canes, I packed six little bags with tissue and played Santa Claus this morning.

Afterwards I listened to this video. The child born 2,016 years ago sparked my spiritual life 35 years ago, but Matt Kahn is my spiritual mentor this week.  Also Eben Alexander, M.D., who wrote 'Proof of Heaven'.   This is a link is to one of Matt Kahn's YouTube videos.

Merry Christmas !

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sources of Inspiration

A fellow blogger requested stories about people who have inspired us.  Just passing this along. .  She's begun publishing them in her blog.  Neat!  I myself haven't contributed my story.   I feel embarrassed to admit I didn't meet my first inspiring person until age 29.  I suppose I could write about him.  His tenderness introduced me to heaven on earth.  But, when I say I have no stories of inspiration from birth through age 29, I have to specify exactly what inspires me.


Tenderhearted people.  I wonder if it's different for you? There are so many sources of inspiration.  After all, historically, inspiration was something from God.   Don't get me wrong.  I love God.   Yet nothing comes close to human tenderness.

I was curious.   When did 'tender' as a word come into existence?  As a value?  I rooted around in an online Etymological Dictionary.   'Tender' in the English language first came along as an adjective in the 1200's.


adjective 1. "soft, easily injured," 1200's, from Old French tendre "soft, delicate; young" (1000), from Latin tenerem (nominative tener) "soft, delicate; of tender age, youthful," centuries before.

Tender defined as "kind, affectionate, loving" did not develop until the 1300's.

So...when did 'tender' and 'hearted' first get put together into one word?

The first word connected with 'hearted' was 'hard'.  This was the period when 'tender' meant "soft, easily injured".

Hard-hearted, on the other hand, came into vogue as a desirable quality.

Originally "obdurate, unfeeling," in 1200, grew to mean "bold, courageous" by 1400. 

The meaning of 'hard-hearted' has evolved to mean "incapable of being moved to pity or tenderness; unfeeling". 

I guess in some quarters, hard-hearted is still inspirational...

Not until 1530, were 'tender' and 'hearted'  joined as one.

adjective 1." compassion for another's distress" 2. "easily moved to love".

Good thing 'tenderhearted' came along, or I wouldn't have the right word for what inspires me. 

Me, I didn't encounter 'tenderhearted' until adulthood. Mom was a hard hearted alcoholic, with nary a tender bone in her body.  Dad was an engineer.  Good at fixing things, not feeling feelings.  And even with the inspiration my late husband brought, I lost sight of 'tenderhearted' after he died.  Turned out deep down I had the 'If you knew me, you wouldn't love me' syndrome that kids from neglectful and abusive homes have.  If you relate, go to   It's where my recovery started.

Some say Jesus brought Inspiration.  To the degree Jesus helps us feel loved, I agree. This IS good news.   More moving for me, inspiration comes from the good news tenderhearted people bring. The news I now bring myself.

"To know you is to love you."


Who or what inspires you these days?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Anybody Nostalgic This Season?

I should know better than write while I'm sick.   You'd think feeling sick would make me wistful and nostalgic, but not so.  Me, I have this content feeling, like I'm right where I ought to be.  How about you?  Seasons past tugging at you?

Last month has been full of the usual winter prep - cleaning gutters and gardens, getting my house trim painted, setting up birdfeeders, winterizing the RV, mouse proofing.  Mouse proofing the RV has gone splendidly so far.  Nary a tiny black pellet!  I've one supersonic device plus mothballs underneath the RV's sink, where they built two nests last winter (and amply peed and pooped).  And a container of mothballs in an exterior compartment where they stored acorns last year (peeing and pooping amply there, too).  Plus a cake pan of mothballs under the RV itself.   I also put a super sonic repeller in my garage, and nary a poop there, either, next to the five airtight bins of bird seed.  Gotcha!

Different story in the basement.  There, tiny teeth have gnawed through a long, fuzzy draft stopper - you know, the ones you wedge by a door.  Somewhere, there is a little nest with wee ones.  Maybe not yet.  My ears don't pick up any squeaks.  I hope there's time to dissuade the little guys.  I'm buying another super sonic rodent repeller, and they're not cheap.  Thought I'd show you which one. 

In the midst of the chores, I had a lovely Thanksgiving.  I thought of you, sending blessings to you all.  I hope you felt them!  My family kept the meal simple - dinner at my father's assisted living home. Everybody was healthy and happy.  Can't ask for more.

Now on to Christmas.  I'm really excited about my Christmas plans this year.  I've bowed out of the annual family celebration my sister generously hosts.   Too many years of extraordinary widow loneliness and orchestrated cheer.   This year, I'm moving forward, creating the spiritual oasis I need.  This year I need to feel closer to a Greater Love.  'Tis one reason for the season, right?  Besides, I had great fortune on Cyber Monday - a hotel room at reasonable cost in Back Bay Boston the week before Christmas.  On Christmas Eve and Christmas, I'm treating myself to harbor front luxury.

Since my spirit's calling out for clarity and company, I've been musing about what Greater Love means to me.

Greater Love. God. Infinite Light. Love Consciousness. Higher Power.  Whatever one calls ultimate reality.   I'm feeling lucky, warm, grateful.  These are my beliefs:

I believe Greater Love (GL) inhabits our bodies.  It really hit me yesterday.  BIG SOURCE GL cozies up inside each one of us, and considers it an honor to experience life through us.  No matter how hard it is, we're not alone.

There is no secret passage, no entry fee for GL to come inside.  Conception...Maybe first gulp of air...That's all that's required.   Look at a baby and tell me you don't see Greater Love.

My number one job is to love the person who GL slipped into when I was born.   I'm here for her.

Might you call this a certain sort of nostalgia?  I don't feel nostalgia for the full glass.  I've even stopped seeing the glass as half full or half empty.  Perhaps, as another wise blogger wrote, I'm coming round to saying "It's a beautiful glass."

What's going on for you this season?

Sunday, November 13, 2016


The last thing I want to do is radiate my suffering out to others, so this post is how one lady's blisters and callouses are doing. 

It's been a particularly blistering campaign.  (No shit, Sherlock.)

No place for tender tootsies, right?

A waitress and I got into it before the election, when I heard her claim that HC believed that aborting fetuses right up to full term was alright.  Well...she used stronger words than these.  Sounded a lot like something her opponent would say.  I'd sat quietly in my booth eating my breakfast, while she ranted.  Her customers agreed; Hilary was reprehensible. You've probably encountered this stuff on Facebook, but here it was, in the middle of my breakfast.   The owner chimed right in.

Finally, I blurted out "This is a lie!".   And more.  But she claimed it was true.   "Right there, in the third debate!" she said.  Well, I'd watched every minute of the third debate and didn't recall HC making this claim.

We agreed to disagree, hugged, and I paid for the breakfast and the blisters.  I resolved to look up the debate transcript and did, to be sure.

I found HC's response when DT put such horrible words in her mouth.



She had voted against late term abortion, but didn't say so.  She made this longwinded rebuttal, staying in her head.  Doesn't she know the head is the least tender organ of the body and abortion requires a tender touch?


I returned to the Diner and talked to the owner, telling her I'd looked up what was said in the third debate.  That HC had voted against the very thing she was being accused of.  But the legalese dance she did sounded somewhat calloused.


Anyway, I resolved that my tootsies needed a more tender breakfast environment to settle into, so my blisters could heal.  Going one better, I resolved to boycott this Diner.  Grow callouses! For days I took my tootsies to a different breakfast place.  But yesterday my hands played seesaw with the steering wheel, and lurched my car over one lane.  Into the offending Diner.

"You want home fries with that?" the owner asked. 

"It doesn't come with home fries."

"That's O.K.  You want home fries, you'll get home fries." 

I knew she wouldn't charge me.

Tears started to come.

I hurt.  I'm scared.

But the villain isn't people's blistering banter.  The villain is preferring to grow callouses rather than bleed every once in a while.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Bully Rules

Golden Sprinkles from Golden Boy
Bully season is here.  Here's how it works.  First, pee on the folks you don't like.  If they don't like it, sue them.  If they get up and move, carpet bomb 'em.

You need a bully to stand up for you when you've had your dignity, power and voice stripped by another bully named 'Circumstances'.   Right?

Is it true? There was never a time for me, up until age 18, when some mean, thin skinned bully didn't rule my life.  I mean, that's how the people around me offloaded their pain.  Life was simple.  Old-fashioned might makes right.    Black and white.  Villains and victims.  Me and the people out to get me.   Winners and losers.  'Fair' was something pictured on Saturday Evening Post covers but really rendered on shoot 'm up TV.   When my brother was upset, he'd chase me and wrestle me to the ground.  He'd twist my arm behind my back and grind his elbow into my ribs.  Or he'd wave a knife in front of me.  I should stop egging him on, our mother said.  My big sister looked so far down her nose at me that she confused me for either being nobody or Flossie the cow. My nervous wreck of a mother oozed either stale cigarette and alcohol breath, or contempt for the kids and husband who'd failed her.  

No doubt I would have bullied a younger sibling, but we ran out of siblings. So I survived by dreaming of a time when I'd be famous, and all the bullies would apologize to me.  I'll bet some of yesterday's voters feel Donald will deliver what the bullies have coming.  An apology from them may be the least of it.

I really didn't see it coming, that the bully to top all bullies would be elected president.  Only Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong-un remain, to prove that they are really the world's top bully.  Am I forgetting someone?

I volunteered yesterday, giving rides to democratic voters, so they could support the presidential candidate who was merely careless, cagey, and greedy, and not a bully.

Everyone at the Democratic headquarters was excited she would be our next president.   By 10:30 p.m. I had slunk to bed, afraid to wake up.   Hoping for a miracle.

Now thanks to 279 electoral votes, every parent will have to explain to their children why their president is vulgar, mean and thin skinned.  If only Donald was just a fencepost...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hallowed Ground, Here and There

Have you ever been able to write a post without feeling like you're in your skivvies teetering on a rock ledge, rope in hand, about to fling yourself out over the water and let go?

Halloween almost escaped me this year.  How did it go at your house? A 20% off coupon texted to my cellphone that day got me moving. In five hours I cleaned the gutters, cleared the leaves off the driveway, and decked out the entryway with spiders, skeletons, spider webs, torches, and glowing orb.  Door bell rang maybe a dozen times, with groups of two to six.  Only once did I scream.  Trump does that to me.

I've linked this blog to my real name, finally, in one tiny Facebook 'closed' group.   Now that I know I am not the curse I thought I was, I hope someone may relate to my story of extreme childhood emotional neglect, and believe they're not cursed by it forever, either. 

Speaking of getting real, I actually confided in someone I know this week that I'm in counselling, recovering from developmental PTSD.  I stop at the Diner on my way and she owns the place.

"Terrific!  My God!" she said.  "Do you know how many of us have trauma in our lives?  I'm writing a book, so people can see behind the person they think they know when they see me." 

Not an easy life she's had, immigrating from Kosovo nearly thirty years ago.

We agreed, our public persona and private self can be a real disconnect. 

I don't want that disconnect any more. I am what I am.

The other big news is that yesterday my big sister defied every piece of advice our dead momma uttered.  She chalked her sentiments on a brick wall outside Wrigley Field.  Posted her graffitti on Facebook, too.   I am so proud of that woman.  For eight years now, she's worked that hallowed ground as a Cubs usher.  Every year - love with heartbreak. Wow. They really did the city of Chicago proud this year.  Congratulations!

If you have come to my blog for the first time, feel free to nose around.  Rest assured, I publish each post with a prayer...."Please God, let there be comments!"

Sunday, October 30, 2016

When Do You Get Out Of Yourself?

When do you get out of yourself and start helping others?

Me with Nana, 1953
I texted this question to my spiritual director - the woman who introduced me to so many forms of healing on Kauai last year.

We had lunch earlier this week.  I'd been asked by the Hawaiian Kahuna ( 'Kahuna' as wise woman of Hawaiian spiritual authority, not as in 'Big Kahuna') to give a testimony, to the woman I now sat across from, about the Spiritual Retreat 'Deep Within' she ran one year ago. 

I did not go easy.

"It cracked me open. (We'd had a woman's tribal ceremony, Hawaiian style.)  It was a shattering experience. I flashed back to my mother touching me and all the body abuse flooded in.  I freaked, flooded with shame so real it made my skin crawl.  I went into a tailspin for two months, barely making it through the holidays, my shame was so vivid. It forced me to go into therapy for PTSD.  I am not going back for your next retreat."

She apologized she didn't recognize my reaction at the time.

"It's not surprising.  When I'm stressed I lock down and look calm, cool and collected on the outside. No one has a clue."

"Well," we agreed, "the retreat served its purpose - it went Deep Within".

I suppose I could look at it as my rite of initiation - my demons showed up and I faced them.  I'll still pass on her upcoming retreat:

The Big Island Fire Goddess Pele Retreat

Can you recall crises revealing new wonders in your life?  I'd love to learn if your crises have had their upside.   Because of last year's crisis I have come to finally love little baby me.  I see her and go "Awwww.  She's a little wonder."

Glorious Wonder today. 

Getting back to my question:
When do you get out of yourself and start helping others?

I texted my answer along with that question.  "When you go deep within and link to the lifeline we're all connected to, which opens our eyes to our own value.  And when we link, we agree to our own value and speak from it.  This LOVE lifeline draws us into situations and toward people struggling along the same lines we have.  I believe you would say we're all struggling along the same lines?"

"Yes...this is perfect"  she replied.  "We are all learning who we are.  How we are all connected and what our gifts are so that we can help others as well.  We call those to us with the same or similar vibration."

Well.  hmmm.  This vibration thing.  Maybe I should consider dating again...

Friday, October 21, 2016

'Snorty and Messy' Here. Hi!

"Unwrap yourself, dear. Be yourself.  Let people get to know you" my better angels are telling me.

I went bike riding this week.  Twice.  75 degrees possessed me to pull my bike out of hibernation and don my gear.  The spandex bike panties had a bit more to hold in than two and half months ago.  I picked my brightest, roomiest shirt to divert attention, you know?  I'm sucking in my tummy best I can up there.

Oh my, was it worth it.  Indian summer.  I kind of surprised myself that I had the gas in me to do 40 miles.  Haven't been on that thing in 2 1/2 months.   15 miles by myself on Monday just to be sure I could join the cycling group ride 25 miles on Wednesday. 

This is how it went.

I show up for the ride. "J", the married man who 'innocently' invited me to dinner early this summer, turns his back on me.  "Hello, J...!" I call out.  The guy is deaf.  But "B" is there, and other nice folks.  So "B" and I have a lovely chat about his knees, after I ask him about his bike trip to Italy and France.  Apparently his knees started protesting his riding 300 miles a week, so he nixed the cycling trip through the Alps.  I thought no 70 year old should be cycling through the Alps in the first place, but I didn't tell him that.

"B" is a nice guy, in a cycling fanatic kind of way.  I went out with him once this summer, and before dessert arrived, he had decided I could be his new, um, partner.  There being less compatibility than a deer and a car between us, I told him in no uncertain terms that dating was NOT going to happen.  Group rides only.

I broke that little rule a tiny bit on Wednesday, when he suggested he and I make a detour through this private yacht club on this private peninsula on Long Island Sound.  I'm going to say No on such a wonderful day? 

He really is quite nice.  But group cycling only, I repeated, when he asked me out again.

Back to"J".  Midway through the ride, at our food stop, I went over to him. "J!  How are you?" 

"Shh" he put his finger to his mouth.  "I'm not talking to you."

"You didn't get back to me when I texted you!" I replied, paying not one iota of attention to the "Shh".

"Shhh! I'm not talking to you" and he turns his back.

Just in case you can connect these dots...Here they are. 

Dot #1.  He's very friendly.  He suggests we go riding, just to two of us.
Dot #2. He's married. 
Dot #3.  I ask your advice.  I back out of going on a day trip with him. 
Dot #4.  He remains friendly. 
Dot # 5 He asks my advice about his niece. 
Dot #6  He goes to Israel and when he returns he tells me he has something he brought back for me.  What is my cell number. He's going to call me so he can give it to me.
Dot #7   I don't hear and I head off to Maine. 
Dot # 8  I realize my phone isn't working and I've missed his call, among several, so I text him an apology with the reason.
Dot #9 I don't see him for 2 1/2 months, because I'm not cycling.
Dot #10  Wednesday... "Shhh!"
Dot #11  I text him when I get home, saying "Hope the Shhh doesn't last forever.  It took three technicians and 2 hours at the Microsoft store last weekend to discover my phone was missing notification software.  NOW I'm getting my messages."
Dot #11  Nada.

I think I'm  very happy with the "Shhh!"

Well, that's that for cycling, I think.  Now that chilly weather is on its way, I'll hang my bike shoes up and find another way to whittle my bulge off.

My doctor is quite pleased with me.  "Your numbers never looked this good!" he said last week.  I like good numbers.

I happen to be taking an online course to learn how to date 'smart'.  I did tell you that.  Can't quite claim dating's for me, but it has great discussions in its secret FB group.  People are really opening up, writing about their hopes and dreams.  I love the intimacy and warmth!  The dating concepts are straightforward: be real.  Speak from your heart. 

Sounds like a primer for making friends, except for the sex part, which is pretty important to a lot of folks.  This course is where exercise called the Gift Circle came from.  You contributed?!  That, itself, is worth the price of admission.

Did you know, though, that one of the women in this course used her Gift Circle responses to craft her online dating profile?

I'm waiting to hear what kind of responses she gets.

Have a super weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Gifts of the Circle of Friends

Hi guys.  Feeling Velveteen Rabbitey here.   The Gift Circle I described last post - where friends reveal what they treasure about each other - is really rubbing the fur off my belly. Oooh!

Here's what my closest friend wrote.  Her answer deserves a whole post. 

"When we first met, you struck me as quiet, easily overlooked, needing [your husband] to support you and perhaps be your compass. You were an artist and maybe a bit “arty” – almost a definition rather than a person.  Over the years I got to know more about you and to like you more and more.  But again, I would describe you by what you did, not who you were.  You were strong and adventuresome – cycling in Europe, taking mosaic classes in Mexico (Mexico?!), spending time in France, camping alone in ME., travelling to the Easter Islands, scattering ashes in Hawaii. And trying to find a soul mate, only to be disappointed time and again.  You were a seeker, but I didn’t know what it was that you sought.

Now I know – you were seeking Flo and you are finding her.  I have been blessed to accompany you on part of this journey and I have seen a scared little rabbit ( 12 years ago) turn into a  beautiful, compassionate, caring friend. The rabbit is coming out of her hole, trusting people more, opening her eyes and looking deeply into mine, daring to be present to others, instead of needing to protect herself at all costs.  You’ve become a person, not a definition – unfinished, as we all are – but someone who is able to feel real feelings and not hide from them, who is coming to love and accept the real Flo and slowly to trust her own truth, even if its scary or different.  You are grounded, Flo, rooted like the plants in your garden. 

 ...I see your core qualities as strength, courage (alone in Maine with the bears!), trustworthiness (I know you’d never betray a secret); faithfulness (nor betray me), a true sense of spirituality and transcendence, which informs your life. And an enormous amount of love, which you’re just discovering and starting to trust.  I think the best way to describe you now is to say that you’re real.  When we talk, we truly “share” and that happens rarely in our world.  That’s why I’m so grateful for your friendship. (Is that a core quality?  If not it should be.  True friendship is a real gift because it implies acceptance.)  Another core gift of yours – you are non-judgmental. There is so much love in you and I’ve seen you begin to open yourself to that, to allow yourself to  feel compassion, trusting you won’t be hurt. When you smile, I feel the love as I never did before and it’s life giving.  Thank you for being my friend. "

Isn't this amazing?  I am easier to read than I thought! 

And being braver and realer....Just this week, I fessed up to a man who wants to be my friend, that with me, comes the elephant in my room - she's snorty, messy, and impolitic.  She comes out with me.  He laughed.  How real you are!  Of course I want to be your friend.

I'd like to bring out Ms. Snorty, Messy, Impolitic.  Do you want to meet her?  You wanna love the fur off of her, too?

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.   The fall colors are striking here in New England.  Tomorrow I'm heading to western Massachusetts to visit my father and my brother, who just had major surgery.  Can't wait to give them hugs!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

No Better Use for Love

You voted with your clicks.  I'm humbled by over two hundred visits and several comments this past week.  Thank you!  (And yah, it could have been the sexy title, too.)

I was beginning to feel underwhelming, you see.

No prepared theme today.  I'll see what comes out.

I'm taking this course about 'Deeper Dating'.  Actually it's called the 'Lifelong Love' course, with 'Deeper Dating's author, Ken Page.  How I got into this course with a title like this?  I followed some people I admired in. 

I'm kind like the blindfolded birthday gal playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey these days.  Round and round I spin.  Feeling my way in!

About this 'Lifelong Love' course -  One way to look at it, is to say 'nailed it'!  And this lovely period has reached its conclusion.  BooHoo.  (For those still grieving, I do NOT belittle grieving At ALL.)

Another way to look at it is to be the discoverer.  Simply tweak "Deeper Dating" into "Deeper Relating".  I've got this tail.  Now where is this rump?

Deeper Relating.  You guys know it.  It's that delicious social ease that comes with being absolutely known and absolutely loved through and through. 

Do you know, as a kid I had this idea that only extraordinary people could pin the tail on the donkey's rump?  I mean, considering we all were blindfolded, only people with this mysterious, extraordinary, extrasensory 'gift' that could nail that tail.  Then, for awhile I pouted.  I thought the winners cheated.

But then I met a whole different type of people.   You know what these people do?  You guessed it.  Once they have taken their turn and taken off their blindfold, they help the next player find that donkey's rump.

'Extra' ordinary 'gifts' and cheating have nothing to do with nailing that donkey's tail.   Unless you count teamwork as extraordinary.

So, back to this Lifelong Love Course.  We've gotten to the part called the Gift Circle.  It's where we students pick folks who know us well, and ask them to tell us what qualities they treasure in us.  The idea of Deeper Dating is that love develops through sharing our core gifts, the qualities we feel most vulnerable about.  So many of us don't recognize where our core gifts lie.  (Like being blindfolded with the tail in your hand?)  I've asked my best friend.  I'll share her reply with you, if she gives me permission.  (Ah!  It just popped into my mailbox!)  I'd like to set up a Skype session with a couple other women. 

So asking is the first half of the Gift Circle.

The other half of this Gift Circle involves telling what qualities we treasure in them. 

I've been thinking about what qualities I treasure in you. 

You have this delicious quality of attention.  Towards yourself, towards others, toward what you love doing.  It's this kind of attention that feels into others, into one's own interests and one's self. It observes with care.  All is treasured.  It laughs.  We all have foibles, so here we are.  This quality of attention is the spark that glows, not to light up the room all by itself, not to extinguish itself when it lights the next candle, but to glow along with everyone else, until the whole room is bright.

This is a good use for love -

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

- Howard Thurman

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Impulse Control - Stay? Go? Hide?

Referring back to Christopher Reeve's comment above - I wouldn't have gone into the ocean unless I lost my playmate in the shallow end of the pool.  But this week, though the ocean remains compelling, keeping this Blog going was not.  The reader count of last week's post only inched to 25, f i n a l l y, so Blog Oblivion appealed.  I'm lonely.  I have had trouble keeping up with  all my friend's blog posts recently.   Sorry!

Right now, I'm in one book group, another online course about 'Deeper Dating', and finally addressing the weeds in my yard.  This week I prepared the area for a 14' tall sculpture to be installed.  The sculptor delivered it last Wednesday.  Beautiful!  I meant to post about it - took lots of pictures - but I started writing today, and this came out instead.

Vote!  You want posts about 'Deeper Dating'? Pictures of the sculpture? What I write here?

I'm still reading  The Brain's Way of Healing , and starting to read Eckhart Tolle's 'A New Earth' for next month's book group meeting.  I'm amazed how the brain never stops responding to the stimulation we give it.  How much the brain can grow new capabilities, like sight for eyes once blind, like grasping new spiritual ideas or emotional outlooks.  Clearly, I'm evidence of how much one brain can grow to overcome emotionally traumatic injuries.   You're evidence too, of amazing growth.  How many of you, widows or divorcees or retirees or whatever, could easily step back into your old life, given who you have grown into?  Sometimes I wonder if my late husband could recognize all I've become if he popped back in.

Neuroplasticity in the brain and in our spirit helps me realize that no experience can finish us off.  Yes, our bodies will finish us off, but we have amazing say in how it all shapes out in the meantime.  As a kid, I used to hear "Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out!".  But this past year and a half, I'm coming around to believing it's required that my brain fall out, if it means coming unstuck from beliefs and identities that bind me.  The world opens up. 

Hah!  I'm becoming so open-minded, my heart's showing!

Still, I felt increasingly disheartened this week, given how long it takes to write one post, that I talked it over with my friend. 

"I write about what excites me! I used to get more hits!  Do I belong here? "

Maybe you need to uproot your blog, out of 'Widowhood' category?

"No"  I said.  Widowhood was my portal.  IS my portal.  This is still about one woman getting her wheels rolling after the emotional hub of her life dies and she's in the ditch.  Bottom line: Widowhood is merely the current wrapping for the precious gift all of us are inside - flawless 'love' beings working out the conundrums of ordinary life.

"So write! "

....So my "Go and Hide' impulse lost out to 'Stay'.


Speaking of conundrums and impulse control, are you excited about watching the first debate two days from now?  Hah!  My eyes will be glued.  I wonder...Who will lose impulse control first?  Who will out-disdain the other? 

Such a conundrum.   Do you think we'll come out of this election inspired?

I started chatting with the woman sitting next to me at the Diner this morning.  "Who are you going to vote for?"  I asked.

"Hilary, of course!" 

This led to an animated discussion, during which I said "Me too.  I'm afraid to put my Hilary bumper sticker on my car, though.  Afraid some volatile Trump supporter will take her or his key and scratch their opinion of my preference down the length of my car."

We agreed we'd seen few, if any Hilary OR Trump stickers or lawn signs.   Are you as intimidated as me?  My decision's been made, but I'm not advertising it.

I'm curious.  Are there many political bumper stickers or lawn signs where you live?  Have you decided who you are going to vote for?  I'd love to know!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Writing My Experience

"I love you" I spontaneously said as I hugged my counselor at the end of our session two days ago.  "I love you, too" she said, her eyes suddenly red and swelling with tears.

At least I think I heard her say this.  I do know her eyes suddenly got red and glistened.

Such is the filter of my mind, screening out incoming 'feeling' data.  But not entirely, not this time. This was the first time in 63 years and 135 days that I believed I was reading love from a woman.   Yes, this woman has a pure agenda of love, marveling at who I am, and wanting to enhance my life.  How natural it is to love back love.  How I wish my readers who comment could manifest; you are love vessels, too!

My brain was exhausted with the effort it took, during the session.  I had to continually bat away my 'knowing' and tolerate my stress of 'not knowing'  to 'experience' with my heart.  The book I'm reading, "The Brain's Way of Healing" by Norman Doidge, has convinced me that tiny, incremental decisions made through a sensory organ - in this case, my eyes fixed on hers - recruits neurons and synapses to forge new neural pathways - neuroplasticity.   No baby arrives with a mature nervous system; it requires input and loving attachment to a consistent caregiver to develop more than instinctual survival impulses.  The brain...well, it grows and develops until the day we die.   So in Somatic Experiencing Counseling, one slows down one's awareness to detect the tiniest options of choice.  Options of 'being' you didn't realize existed, because your brain is held in thrall of habit.  This is what traumatized patients have to do - create new pathways in the injured nervous system and brain.  It takes the spark person to person - love to love, but reading non-fiction sure does open my mind. 

I'm writing differently today, with only the tiniest bit of editing.  I can't tell you how many times I want to blurt out some new insight online.  Then I inhibit myself.  #1 - time doesn't allow.  #2 - It will sound too term-paper-y were I not to process my experiences to rubber hits the road experiences.  #3 - Inner experience is so individual, mine will carve my readership into an even tinier audience... approaching zero.  So I wait, until all but the last inner processing is complete, to 'make sense' in a post. 

No more.  You get what you get.  I will trust myself to write in the midst of learning, because this is where excitement lies for me.  Mistakes?  Part of learning.  Comments are welcome!

As expensive as the New York Times paper delivery is in my state, I can truthfully say it has proved to be a good parent for me, if a good parent's job is to emotionally mature their child.  This morning, two fascinating articles propel me further in my quest for emotional maturity.  One, in today's Sunday Review How Intelligence and Rationality Differ , and the second Where's the Love? in the Social Q's column. 

The first article differentiates between I.Q. -  raw intellectual horsepower, and R.Q. - which measures "the propensity for reflective thought - stepping back from your own thinking and correcting its faulty tendencies."  Unlike I.Q., R.Q. can be improved, and those with a high I.Q.  are "if anything, more prone to the conjunction fallacy."  (My I.Q. is partway up there, as I discovered with a professional I.Q. test in my 30's.  My husband had countered that my family's pegging me as the 'dimwit', was wrong. )  The problem with people like me, who work hard to figure things out, is that we trust what our minds conclude way too much.  It's like we build grand citadels inside our minds with kindling from early personal experiences, when all we had to work with was lies.

I'm learning that my heart-mind is more reliable indicator of truth than my mind-mind.  Some folks call our mind-mind our ego.  What do you call it?  I call it my constructed self, constructed of lies and half-truths.  The grand citadel is a sham!

The second article's author, the New York Times' etiquette columnist Philip Galanes, prods me in his article.  Today in his column, a father is seeking advice on how to prod his fat 9-year old daughter to get thin.  Mr. Galanes responds to his ideas  "I have hoped to find a kernel of compassion for you... I can't find the love in your question.  As a Dad, your job is to build your daughter up. Let her know she is awesome just the way she is. (There are enough creeps out there who will try to make her feel bad...)....Please get smart on this issue before you do any harm to her."  Holy jiminy.  There wasn't a non-creep IN my family growing up.  Out with the creeps!  Mr. Galanes's compassionate answer rips right through this father's self-serving self-righteousness.  At least I hope it does, and this father can take his advice to heart.

I have a theory that maybe 20% of people did not get the assurance of their family as a safe, loving, and affirmative haven.  Terrorized by insecurity, they reach for certainty, be it any dogma - liberal, conservative, hedonistic, ascetic, cynical.  My theory is that politicians who spout certainty are attractive for people unnerved by nuance and uncertainty.  Once in this dogmatic space it is really hard "stepping back from your own thinking and correcting its faulty tendencies".

Synchronicity in my life, like these New York Times articles, gives me faith that the mysterious road into my heart, and away from my 'mind', is indeed the road of sanity.  I know I now feel a reverence for life and know I am fine, just the way my heart leads.

Have a super day.
Love, Flow

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Oh, goodness. A Serious Post on the Heels of Vacation?

A few days into my vacation in Downeast Maine, I knew I wasn't going to do everything I wanted to.  Better than growing my leg muscles, or finishing the books I brought, I decided the best use of my time was exercising my perspective to make IT - my perspective - larger.

Have you ever heard of this acronym?  M.I.R.R.O.R.
It comes from a book I'm listening to for my book group, called

The Brain's Way of Healing:  Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity

by Norman Doidge, M.D. 

If you want to know what I did on my vacation, besides revere and revel in the scenery, this acronym M.I.R.R.O.R. nails it.  M.I.R.R.O.R. is a change agent for the brain.

  • Motivation
  • Intention
  • Relentlessness
  • Reliability
  • Opportunity
  • Restoration

Every time we successfully erase a habit, or tackle a thorny issue head on, or learn a new language, we're creating new brain circuits and eclipsing others.  This method takes this a step further with the final 'R':  Restoration.  I'm only 20% into this book, but Dr. Doidge has told of two diseases - chronic pain and Parkinson's Disease - whose normally intractable symptoms have yielded to the patient's own mental effort.  It takes very particular efforts.  He describes specifically how, yet it's not a 'one size fits all' cure. My understanding thus far, is that pointed mental exercise can replace many or most patients' impairments with beneficial function.  It calls for knowledge, time and effort, not money, and can substantially lessen reliance on medication. 

M.I.R.R.O.R. operates on the notion  of 'Competitive Plasticity', meaning that the circuits we use in our brain crowd out the pathways we don't.   Only so much room in our brains, evidently.  New habits can replace old ones, we've just got to go at it patiently.   And relentlessly.   The first impairment described: chronic (not acute) pain. The brain learns to actually crowd out the pain signals and eventually the brain relents, making pain-free signals second nature.  Though the original physical cause remains, referred pain 'vanishes'.  Some people can get completely off meds.   The second: Parkinson's Disease.   Using conscious deliberate walking and movement that utilizes another part of the brain, the 'second-nature' motor circuits hobbled by Parkinson's Disease are overridden.  But only when conscious effort is employed; the new movement never becomes second nature.   Plus, only some, not all of Parkinson's symptoms can be influenced thusly. 

It's hard.  The trick is accomplishing this herculean brain shift while you're in that brain fog that pain and illness heap on everyone.  

Hah!  Brain fog sound familiar?  I can walk into another room and forget the reason I came in.

M.I.R.R.O.R. is exactly  the method I've been using to shift my ingrained beliefs.  Well, not the only one.   But during this vacation, I altered my perception about a core value: 'JUST DO IT!  Whether you feel like it or not!'   I went from believing that overriding feelings to 'just do it'  was useful, to believing it's no such thing, in social situations, anyway.  In fact, it's more than useless.  It's a brain malfunction.  My brain malfunction to fix.   Although I didn't know to call it the M.I.R.R.O.R. technique until I started reading this book afterwards, that's exactly the technique I used. 

I experimented on a few social occasions.  When I concentrated on putting my feelings first  -  NO anxiety.   It took complete concentration, staying in touch with my feelings.  When I succeeded, my care for others started flowing. 

The difference between using my 'default' impulse and my new 'forced' impulse was stark.  My default made anxiety surface.  Putting my feelings first made my anxiety go away.

What the???  Is my anxiety is telling me I'm off-course with this 'Ignore your feelings and DO IT' ?  I thought all this time that approach was the very definition of social courage.  It's what I was taught...

("Think about it, Flow.  Everyone in your family was either miserable or making you miserable.  So your inherited value makes you miserable, too.  They were wrong!  Instead, use focused sensitivity to tune in to your feelings.  You especially need them in social situations!" )

(I never learned this from anybody!)

("Wail all you want.  You're learning it now and I'm proud of you.")

My trauma counselor asked the other day, when I was exalting in my Maine breakthrough:   "Wonderful!  Yes!  You get it!"

"But I'm still bracing for impact (without this method)..."

"Is there a part of you now that isn't bracing?  Even ONE molecule?"

"ONE molecule. Yes."  I announced.  "An elementary molecule."

"Where is that molecule?"

"In my brain stem.  Instead of being captive to a fight-flight-freeze reaction, ONE molecule is staying here, feeling safe."  ( Hah!  PTSD.  You are toast!)

Doesn't it feel sometimes like we're acting on a wisp of hope and strength?  Well,  ONE safe molecule can open a world of options.

Later..."I feel like a heretic putting my feelings first" I wailed to my friend.

Her response?  It's not only you, who has difficulty putting their own happiness first.  For generations, women have been taught to put others' feelings and happiness above their own.  And men, too!  Our particular western culture has valued rational intellect over irrational feelings for what...centuries?  It's hard to be true to your feelings!


In this afternoon of my life; sensitivity is IN! 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Come Round the Campfire

I'm no novice at camping, but I am at building a campfire.  Took a deep breath...looked at the directions, took my ax to split the logs, built the teepee of kindling, lit, added bigger logs...

Much better than the first time three years ago.

'Smores are good, and my spirit's getting nourished even more.  Somehow, here, I'm not ashamed to set my intellect aside to become a student of my heart.  My heart's whispers - they're my weakest signal at home.  I used to hear my heart whispering and painted what I heard.  Back, as an art student, I had idealistic fervor that art could bypass anyone's prejudices and head straight to the heart.  "Here's my soul"  my art blared.

But people passed it by, so I figured i wasn't blaring it loud enough.  And since I believed good art is art that sells, and I needed to put food on my plate, I turned to making art people bought.  Until I couldn't stomach making that 'art' anymore.

Now I'm thinking "What the h***".  Let my heart's sensitivity show.  Blare what my soul whispers here:  that all hearts really beat together, beneath all the 'circumstances'.  If I ignore my fears I can glimpse this.   Here.

My muses inspire

I ran into my 'Maine' friend, the artist Elizabeth Ostrander, this afternoon.  She has a few pieces in the show opening tonight and invited me.  If there's any artist who reveals the tender soul in her work, it's Elizabeth.  I head to her show in a few minutes.

Peace in your heart.  I want her brave soul, but I'll have to find mine, instead.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Greetings from Maine

Hah!  Heaven may be a state of mind.  Maybe for you.  Me?  I get mine in Maine.   FAR far far downeast in Maine.   Any further, I'd be bobbing and dipping in the swift current with the seals, between Lubec and Campobello.

Forgot my passport and my wetsuit, so right now I'm hunkering down across the street from this lovely sight, to pen a few lines in Lubec's Library.

Wanna come to Maine with me?

Here's the view beneath my campsite #7.   If I stay here, I'll be 12 feet under the 25 foot tide in a few  hours.

Hey!  I've got a new man with me! Right below my campsite, built entirely of rocks. 

There he is, down below, on the left, just below my site.

Inside my 'Ritz on Wheels', I'm a snug as a bug in a rug.

This afternoon, across the street in Lubec, I get to watch the seals frolic as the tide shifts.  There, on stilts, is one of Lubec's old sardine packing plants, vacant for decades.

One reclaimed sardine factory has been transformed into a restaurant and motel on stilts.  Great food!

I wish I could package the soft sea breeze and easygoing accent and send them to you.  Maybe lobster?  By the time I leave Maine, I will have eaten so much lobster, next year is soon enough for me. 

Five days in, I'm nowhere near through.  Eight days to go, in heaven here.  I've got plans, this trip, same purposeful plans I have every time I come:  Get quiet enough to hear my soul's yearnings.  And Get close enough to God to hear her vast whispers over the Bay. 

Every year, I find She's spread herself out on Site 7, more than willing to share.    (It helps that there's no Wi-Fi or cell service at Cobscook Bay State Campground.)  I bring home a slice of heaven every year.

Wish you were here.  Lobster?  Crabs?  Blueberries?  Sea breezes?  Marshmallow s'mores, anyone? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Happy Instead

Today's a very special day, and I want you to be part of it.  This day is a remembrance filled with love - the day we tied the knot.

We'd be on vacation every August 17th, usually camping in Maine, so anniversary dinner was steaming crabs over the campfire, or  ordering lobster at a roadside stand.  No candlelight, no flowers, but, oh so romantic, under the stars!  Ten out of the last eleven I've toasted our marriage under the same stars. Not this year.  Our campsite isn't available until August 27th.  And it MUST be THAT campsite.  Any new guy in my life would have to understand my little ritual.  And adore camping.

I guess at this point in my years, I'm mining my memories and taking the long view.  This is my story, the story of love beginning with day One.   A picture is worth a thousand words, so I've drawn my memories.  I hope you enjoy them.

That's me, on top of the triangles, as naked as the day I was born.  The triangle below is what's inside all of us, that large pool of motivations, assumptions - The unconscious. 

Day One didn't start out so well.
Birth - April Fool's day, 1953.  Uh, Oh.  Those eyes are Momma's

  Boo Hoo? Oops. Those eyes are still Momma's
Hello, someone?  Momma and Poppa are scaring the crap out of me
I had to grow up anyway...

  Hello? God?  You there?


Yes!  yes!  Yes! August 17th, 1985

 This is great! ...Uh...

Have you seen my love?

Where'd you put Love?

Oh. Crap.  In THERE? ...

Ooh?....OOH?  Ooh?...Look here!

Hi...You..are you me?  

Hi you who!  It's me.  It's him. 
So how can I be sad?

The nicest people in the world are all in my heart, reading this!

Wherever you are, may joy tickle your funnybone,
love enter your heart,
and 'Sad' get drowned out with 'Happy'.