Who’s hiding behind your walls?

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Today I have contributed a post at Stories That Must Not Die.  It is a brief synopsis of alcoholism and growing up with two parents who were haunted by that very beast.  Click here to read the story.  My post here was prompted by the post at STMND combined with a conversation I had yesterday.

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There are moments that sneak up on you and make you realize how much a life growing up with two alcoholic parents has insidiously ingrained itself into your way of being.  My endearing character traits and my flaws are directly related to the life I lived as a teenager and a young adult.  If you read my post, you’ll understand that ours was a very loving home but I grew up much more quickly than I should have and learned, very young, how to build walls around myself.  I created a hard outer shell to keep myself soft and emotional on the inside but tough on the outside.

It was during a very interesting conversation with a male friend yesterday that the subject of dating came up, specifically dating websites and the basic instincts of humans regarding the laws of attraction.  He had taken a rudimentary stab at what qualities I would say I look for in a man and he was off the mark, but he was also guessing from a man’s perspective on what he thinks a woman would want based on the opposite of what a man would want.

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I had all-but forgotten about the primal instincts of men and I am not saying that in a negative way.  In my quest to protect myself and build my walls, I had potentially buried the softer, more feminine side of myself and let the tomboy be the dominant, protective personality.  It was how a teenage mind dealt with a difficult situation and potentially how I have removed myself from the desirable end of the dating pool. That simple awareness was like an awakening.  It is a rare but divine twist of fate that can take an outside force and use it to help you discover an inner truth.

Our conversation really opened my eyes.  I will never try to be someone I am not just to go on a date but perhaps that little girl inside of me is a part of who I really am and I just never gave her a chance.  I built my walls so high that she had no choice but to peer over them and wonder what was on the other side.

Walls are only effective if you know who you are protecting and who the real enemy is and, in this case, I became my own worst enemy.  I may have protected myself from a big part of who I was really meant to be but at least there is still time to find her and give her a chance.

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Removing the obstacles – a lesson in housekeeping

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clutter

I would never describe myself as a minimalist.  I do love some of the comforts I have afforded myself.  But the bits of collected stuff that seemed to have congested my life have been eradicated, tossed, vanquished.

I live in a small home that suits my needs and the needs of my dog.  We have a vast amount of space outside and ample room inside to be quite comfortable.  I have never been one to have rooms just for the sake of having rooms.  Our life is simple, our life is comfortable and our life is manageable.

The largest room in our 600-square-foot home is the kitchen.  This is why I chose this house.  I remember standing on very high snow banks to peer into the windows before I began renting.  As soon as I saw the kitchen, I knew this was meant to be my home.  My kitchen is my haven.  I love to bake and I love to cook.  And even though I am currently cooking for one, creating food is a passion and not just a necessity.  When I finally bought this home from my landlord, my renovation money was easily focused on the kitchen.

Over the years the clutter began to accumulate but, it wasn’t just the physical pieces that had been stashed into the corners, it was the collected bits of memories and regrets that had also been piling up in the invisible spaces in my house.  These piles of intangible things had been standing between me and the life I was willing to move towards.  It took a small dumpster and a great deal of courage to rid myself of the physical and mental obstacles in my life and be able to live free of the clutter that had been threatening to topple over and bury me under its weight.

After a few hundred dollars and several hours of intense labor, I was finally free of the clutter – all of the clutter.  The physical reminders of a life that had failed and the mental reminders of things that were never meant to be were finally gone.  For the first time in a long time, I felt free.  I truly felt that the life I wanted now had a way to find me without having to circumvent all of the barriers I had created.

A little Spring cleaning can go a very long way and it can eventually clear the path that you were meant to follow.

 

 

 

 

I didn’t want to exhale

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I missed you a lot today.

Some days are so much worse.

Lots of funny little memories

flooded back and overwhelmed me.

I thought I could smell your perfume,

Lily of the Valley,

and though it was faint,

even in the dead of winter,

with no blossoms to be seen anywhere,

I knew it was you,

and I didn’t want to exhale.

lily-of-the-valley

And when the smell of Spearmint gum

overwhelmed my senses,

sometime later in the afternoon,

it was like sneaking into your purse again,

to get a piece of that very gum,

and I didn’t want to exhale.

Those smells keep us connected,

like two worlds coming together

if only for a brief moment.

And no matter how far away you may seem,

those lingering scents make me know that you are here,

standing close to me,

always here when I need you,

and I don’t ever want to exhale.

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If I lived in Boston, I would say Buddha is ‘wicked smaht’

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I’m sure we can all recall the many times in our childhood we were told to treat people the way we would like to be treated.   Do unto others.  It made a great deal of sense, it still does, and made us all (hopefully) more socially responsible and more polite human beings.

But somewhere along the path of treating others with respect and courtesy we may have drained our personal well of kindness and empathy and saved very little compassion for ourselves.  We spend so much time worrying about how we treat others that we fail to treat ourselves with the same dignity that we would impart to a stranger.

buddha

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 It is instinctual to be concerned for others, to help those who need our help, but how often do we reflect on our own needs and drink from our own well of compassion?  We need our own help just as much as others may count on us for support.  There is a vast difference between wallowing in self-pity and allowing yourself a few moments to feel the pain of what is bothering you, to process it and to understand that giving yourself time to heal is, not just okay but, a necessity.

We need to do unto ourselves and give the same common courtesy to ourselves that we were taught to give others.  To do anything less would be a grave injustice. As Buddha so wisely says, it would make us incomplete.  Denying ourselves that level of self-compassion makes us unworthy of being able to understand the message behind the emotion and renders us unable to truly share the gift of empathy.

It is better to give than to receive.  But it is acceptable and necessary to give to ourselves as well as give to others.  Compassion is not something you can only share with those around you.  Compassion is meant to encompass everyone, including you.

 

The best part of waking up…

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I woke up on the right side of the bed today.   I am generally a happy person and most days wake up that way but today the sun seemed to be shining a little brighter, my smile was a little bigger and the morning seemed to hold the promise of a great day ahead.

The best part of waking up, contrary to a catchy tune about Folgers Coffee, is just waking up.  The thought of a new day, a new story in my head or just a new experience is enough to make putting  my feet on the cold floor worthwhile.

sunrise

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Perhaps it is the precious extra moments of daylight we have each day or perhaps I woke from a great dream of which I have no recollection.  Regardless of the cause, I will embrace this euphoric state and enjoy my day.

What is making you smile today?

 

Screw the other two percent!

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I’ve finally gotten to the point in my life that I can be proud of my accomplishments instead of picking them apart to find the most minute flaw.   My cake decorating days were rough!  I would spend hours putting together a three-tier cake designed specifically to match the request of the bride and, although she thought it was perfect, I always found the tiniest blemish and was disappointed in myself for not making it perfect.

At least I know I came by this mental mutation honestly.   When I was in high school I was a good student, especially in math.  I would bring home a test with 98 percent and my dad thought it was funny to ask “what happened to the other 2 percent?”  Despite the fact it was said as a joke, to an impressionable fourteen year old girl, it felt like a failure to me.  Unfortunately I have carried this with me along the way and although it has made me strive for that 100 percent even more, it has also made me extremely self-critical.

With my writing, something is different.  I have more confidence in my words than I have had in any other area of my life.  Perhaps with age really does come a sort of wisdom, or just maybe that elusive two percent was never meant to cause me so much concern.   Either way, I give myself that little punch on the arm when I’m really proud of something I’ve written, and not just in theory, I really punch myself in the arm…….

   

I hope you are able to be proud of your accomplishments.  Your successes should never be measured by anyone other than yourself.

Your biggest obstacle

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smell

Take a moment to breathe.

Close your eyes and inhale deeply.

Let the scents of life permeate your brain,

and then move forward.

Stop building walls that impede you from progress.

Stop creating lingering shadows

by standing in your own sunlight.

Get out of your own way.

Life wants to you win.

Only you can choose how you play the game.

Ignore the things that threaten to hold you,

to keep you from where you want to go.

Don’t be the one thing

that keeps you from your dreams,

that keeps you from living

the life that is meant to be yours.

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