Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Day Six of The Four Agreements: Dreams

The leading Agreement for today is one of those under Don't Take Anything Personally. The card has an orange sky with billowy clouds along the bottom. A man's head and neck come up from the bottom edge. He is clean cut and has his eyes closed. Around his head are several items:  a book, a ribbon, a cross, a star, Saturn, and a  hand with a symbol on the palm. I've seen the symbol but have no idea where or what it means. The words say:  Everyone lives in their own dream. Yeah, I do believe that.

The back side of the card has three stars at the top. "All people live in their own dream, in their own mind. They are in a completely different world from the one we live in."

Very true. We all have dreams of things we want to accomplish or see happen. We also have our own way of seeing the world around us. I believe that's where sayings like 'seeing through rose colored glasses' come from. Our perception of the world differs from anyone else, even loved ones and family. That's because experiences help color that perception. Life can get complicated when someone thinks everyone sees the world the same way they do. It certainly can't be boring at that point.

More importantly, we see ourselves in our worldview in a particular way. That's why some people dress in a particular style. One of my sons was thin in high school and shorter than many of his classmates at first. He took to wearing several layers of clothing. His perception of himself was one of disliking his body size and layering shirts gave him a sense of being larger and more comfortable. These days, he's long out grown that mental image of himself.

It's not just visual ways in which we perceive ourselves. Back in the early 1990's, I was taking journalism in college. We wrote articles and then presented them as if on television. Our segment was taped and then played back for us. My first thought, upon seeing myself was, "I need a new bra." Yeah, later that afternoon, I went shopping for one and tossed the one I wore that day in the trash.

My secondary thoughts were of how much my mannerisms mimicked my dad. It upset me at first because we weren't close at the time. I still remember it. See? I had the chance to see myself as others see me and was surprised at what I found out.

I guess that's all of my thoughts for today. I deliberately wanted to stay away from how race and culture affect our world dream. It is a valid thing. I just don't want to come off as preaching. I'd like to let you come here to read my meanderings and remain in the world of your own making.

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Day Five of The Four Agreements Cards. Express Your Own Divinity

The card for today is under the Agreement: Always Do Your Best. Today's image is of a woman with long dark hair and wearing a red sleeveless dress. She is sitting in a meditation pose in the center of a giant lotus like flower that's white and purple. Beneath her are circles of green and behind her head are circles of yellow. I take it the green is the Earth and the yellow is the Sun. The words are in a light cursive and say, Express; your own divinity.

The back side of the card says this: You don't need the acceptance of others. You don't need knowledge or great philosophical concepts. You have the right to be you, and express your own divinity by being alive and by loving yourself and others.

Sigh. The editor in me wants to fix that last sentence. That comes with being an editor in that you see mistakes in everything. It's hard to read for fun without finding those tiny things irritating. In this case, I haven't lost the message here. It's one I needed to learn and still struggle with occasionally. How do you not have philosophical concepts when you have an opinion? We all have those. I believe the card's author means you don't need to be Socrates or have a PhD in Philosophy to believe in yourself and the goodness of those around you.

Having the right to be you is God given in my mind. It's those people who don't think you have that right who are the problem. They're the ones who have a mental image of themselves and want everyone else to change and be like them. People expecting the world around them to change to suit themselves and everyone else be damned are hard to like, let alone even love. I've lived long enough to know these folks need to be loved but it's damn hard to give it to them. They usually want something in return. I admit this is something I'm still working on.

Some days I wake from a night with not much sleep; others I'm sick or my body hurts. Sometimes my soul hurts. Depression hangs around, blocking out the sun with its dark hands. On those days, it's very hard to love myself. Those are the times when a card like this comes in handy. I may just write the back message on my bathroom mirror and leave it for a while.

So that's it--a couple of my philosophical concepts and opinions. Thanks for sticking it out until the end of this post.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Day Four of The Four Agreements: Become a White Magician

I have missed a post or so but have been mulling over the cards so far. Today's card comes under the Agreement, Be Impeccable with Your Word. Okay, I like the theme here but not sure going forward because the front of the card says: Become a White Magician. The image on the card's front is a blue woman with large blue eyes. A bird sits on her forehead and a stripes flow outward from her mouth. Given the card theme, I assume this indicates breathing or speaking. There is a waning half moon in the background and stars of differing styles all over the place. The bubble shapes along the bottom remind me of stylized clouds.

The back of the card says 'All the magic you possess is based on your word, and you cast spells all the time with your opinions. You can either put a spell on someone with your word, or you can release someone from a spell.'

I'll be honest that I'm not a fan of this card. I don't consider myself any kind of magic user be it a magician, wizard, or witch. It's hard for me to think of casting spells when I'm skeptical of their existence in the first place. I do believe in miracles though. Perhaps for me this card means miracles or truths.

I get what the message is really. What you say impacts others positively or negatively. You can brighten someone's day or relieve loneliness by talking with them. You can cause them pain with harsh words or accusations. You can release guilt or anger with an apology and forgiveness requires a conversation to be fully complete. Love is often described as putting someone under a spell in love songs. That's just a way of expressing the happiness of bringing two people together.

Words can take away things and destroy lives as in legal documents or slanderous remarks. Bullying is a destroyer of lives--both online and off. Words can be warm and loving in the form of thank you cards and long letters. Heck a phone call to someone does so much for them--a thousand times more than a text. Not when you want something or it's expected like on a holiday. Just a call to ask, 'How are you?'; say 'I miss you."; or 'Thank you."

Say, that reminds me. I haven't talked to my aunt in over a week. Where's my phone?

Friday, January 5, 2018

My Day 3 of The Four Agreements

Yes, I know it's nearly 1:00 a.m. but I haven't slept so am still counting this as the post for January 4th, 2018.  I do get insomnia occasionally but since the new medications have taken over, the time between those 'spells' is longer. It is still easy for me to switch days and nights. I feel dangerously close to the switch right now; probably because of the bleak reminders January brings now. Two years ago Mom died; three years ago, I stood at the funeral of my childhood best friend. It was a nasty, biting cold that day, which made me clench my body--numb from the frigid air and the grief. The quiet and solitude of night time is what I take comfort in. I get in my best writing then too. Go figure.

At any rate, today's card for The Four Agreements is the agreement: Always Do Your Best. Well, yeah...that one's kind of a "duh" thing at first glance. Then the card has an image of a bluebird bringing a work to a nest with two chicks in it. The words are 'Do your best because you want to." Yeah, I agree but that's so easy to say, isn't it? It's harder to live by.

The card's back says this:  You do your best when you are enjoying the action or doing it in a way that will not have negative repercussions for you. You do your best because you want to do it--not because you have to do it. Not because you are trying to please the Judge and not because you are trying to please other people.

I bet most, if not all, of us understand this completely. I think back on when my husband and I ran a business. I worked 60 to 70 hour weeks and didn't care. I loved my job, the books we produced, and the entire creation process of publishing. I enjoyed interacting with many authors and staff. Because the office was in our home, I would duck in there anytime I was bored or there was nothing to do on television. I made it through many nights of insomnia by editing and formatting books. I found no drudgery there because it was something I wanted to do. So why did I give it up?  To go to New Mexico and become my mother's primary caregiver through her cancer and death. I've always said family comes first and it was my time to 'walk the talk' so I did. You know what? I grieved the loss of the business too...because it was something I wanted to do, not had to do.

I've also experienced something in a recreational group I've been a part of since 1989 or so. There is a reward system in place for people who contribute their time and skill to the organization. I have reached two of the top honors there. I do more now than I ever did back then. My work is typically better than what I used to do then because I've learned much. However, the perception is that--because I have the highest award--that I don't need recognition for anything else I do. I have seen others quit when this happened to them.I did take a haitus but it was over the drama of a few people, not anything to do with recognition. I missed being a part of Amtgard and, when a dear friend of mine also achieved this high honor, I returned after traveling to be there for her ceremony. So, here I am back and still doing much with no expectation of getting anything beyond a "thank you"; sometimes I don't even get that. I do it because I enjoy doing it. I live for the smiles on peoples' faces and their hugs.

I won't lie and say I wouldn't appreciate an award. I would. Because I have no expectation of recognition, I do them because I want to. I do my best because I want to; because I love the creative process--just like with the lost business. Without my writing, my sewing, my crafts, my cooking, and those things which are a part of who I am I would be a lost soul. I don't mean to sound like some angel because we both know I'm not. I still make mistakes. I still stumble. I still try and I still love.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Day 2 of the Four Agreements Cards: Embrace Your Freedom

Today's card has a pair of birds on a branch. One is red; the other blue. They are looking opposite directions but the blue one has its wing over the shoulder of the red one. The Agreement for this card is: Don't Take Anything Personally. The card itself says 'Embrace Your Freedom'.

The reverse side message says, 'You gain a huge amount of freedom when you take nothing personally. No spell can affect you regardless of how strong it may be. If you live without fear, if you love, you will be happy with your life.'

The first thing which drew my attention is the reference to a spell. Do they mean magic spell? Perhaps by spell, the meaning is one of a time period as in "I'm going to sit here for a spell." or "That illness took her down for a spell." I think this is the better explanation for a life situation, though I suppose the magic element could be important for some folks, just not me.

So, not taking things personally is hard. How do you truly do that when you feel anger or hurt? The stinging stuff stays with you. It's easy to say, "I am not going to take that thing personally." However, to truly mean it, you have to let go of the pain and the resentment. I doubt it means we should close ourselves off from feeling anything. That would lead to a hollow existence. We do need to feel it, experience it, and face it so we can let it go. It's the facing it that trips me up. Not facing it means we're comfortable with our little angry cave we've crawled into. Facing it means you cannot deny your unpleasant feelings. It means you must accept your role in the creation of the spell, whether that means turning a blind eye to someone's hurtful nature or finding some sense of purpose in eternally being a victim of hurtful words or actions. Facing it means being willing to open yourself to rejection and fearfulness.

That facing it is a leap of faith. Faith that you will find love; let yourself be happy, reach out to someone to talk with or just share a hug. Yeah, that sounds all touchy-feely. So be it. Needing others isn't a weakness; it brings you comfort and strength.

Today, I've mulled over the things I've taken personally and realized there are many. Some are so old, they are silly now. I've let those go. Some I've already freed myself from by cutting harmful people from my life. I know I can't change those people. Why should I spend energy and time on them by trying? I can't stop my mind from revisiting the old hurts but I can say honestly now that they don't matter. There are still a few I must face but I already feel lighter.

I like the birds on the artwork of this card. Perhaps the two of them in the midst of a rain storm would be a better choice.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Four Agreements Cards and 2018

This Christmas, I received several gifts which are aimed at helping me care for myself. Because of them, I've decided that 2018 is my year for self care. The gift is a small TV which is wall mounted at the head of my treadmill desk. I can watch shows or YouTube videos while I walk. The second gift is a daily devotional guide. I'm thankful for this because I do miss going to Church weekly.

The third gift is the reason for this post. It's a set of 48 cards called The Four Agreements based upon a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. The cards each fall under one of the four agreements and then have a bit of wisdom for the day and a short explanation. I'm going to do these each day and, for the first run through the cards, will post here.

If I miss a day, I'll pick up the following day, continuing until I've completed all 48. After that, I'll go through them again on my own. I just want to share them the first time on this blog so I get in the habit of visiting them. I'm counting on posting to also be a way for me to hold myself accountable.

So, today's card falls under the Agreement: Don't Make Assumptions.
The artwork on the front is of dandelions and has the words, 'Say goodbye to sadness and drama'. The back side says this: All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally. The whole world of control between humans is based on that. Take a moment and consider this.

My first thought at the mention of sadness is the death of my mother. On January 14th, it will be two years. The drama surrounding her cancer, her care, and family was burdening. I admit that now most of that drama has decreased significantly. There were moments when I needed to take control of things surrounding Mom's cancer:  her medications, limiting contact with crowds because the risk of pneumonia was great, shopping for the same reason as limiting crowds, and driving since her reflexes were slowed to the point of making her a dangerous driver...there were many more. I struggled with making those control decisions; she fought to keep them; friends and a few family members couldn't understand and eventually I had no strength to give them because what I had left belonged to Mom.

It's interesting that today's card  says to say goodbye to the sadness and drama. I'm still questioning whether I did the right thing for Mom here and there. I assumed I was doing right by her at the time. I've been told I did the best I could under the circumstances. Maybe so but I wonder if I could've done better. What if my assumptions were wrong?

After working on this post, which took me longer than normal because I keep stopping to ponder it all, I've made a decision. I accept that I did what I could and whether that was good enough or not no longer matters. Yes, I am sad that she is gone from my life.However, that sadness is no longer going to control me. I choose to celebrate her with smiles of the good times and happy memories instead.

I love you Mom. Even though this card has dandelions instead of your favorite sunflowers, they're still a sunny, bright yellow. I'm off to go find a mature dandelion and blow away my sadness with the seeds as I send them away from me through the air with one breath.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Robed in Fantasy on Etsy

Did you know I'm a garber, a costumer? I love to sew and have been since I was in the 8th grade, when a neighbor taught me to sew in exchange for hanging out with her niece for the summer. We were friends for years and hung out whenever she came to town. 

One nice thing about sewing is whenever I write myself into a corner or get stuck on a scene, I just move the office chair over to the sewing machine and make something. It's creative and often my mind works out the problem while the fabric is transformed into a garment. Then I'm ready to jump back into writing. It's a back and forth thing sometimes but works for me.

I sometimes sew commission costumes. Most recently was the 4 piece suit for the Beast character from The Beauty and the Beast movie. It was so much fun. Here's a photo:

Now, I do sell costuming at events and online through Etsy. If you're interested, my shop is called Robed in Fantasy. This is a pirate poet shirt I listed this morning. https://www.etsy.com/listing/568438391/3xl-burgundy-pirate-renaissance-shirt

Let me know what you think and leave me a comment below if there is something you do that's creative. I believe there are many more of us out there than visible on the surface.