more pearls than whine

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Dreaming when the moon is full ... and more

Living in the Moment: I've noticed that when the moon is full or waxing to full I sleep hard and dream epic, if not always sensible, adventures. It's not quite lucid dreaming, because it is a degree less vivid and less "present." If I'm going to oversleep, it will be during full moon nights.

Last night I dreamed I saw my daughter's father, who I haven't seen since 1978. I know he's white haired now, but in my dream he still had dark hair. Although I could feel the hug in the dream, it wasn't truly solid, as a body would be. Different. Why did I dream this? I think it was simply because of the moon.

Weird one: I saw a floor that was being repaired ... a plank floor painted gray which had holes in it, carefully cleaned out and ready for patching. Curiously, the area below the floor looked like it was made of plaster. Why would I dream this? It doesn't seem too important, but I could try all kinds of guesses: Things aren't always what they seem, be careful where you step ... but I don't know that it had any real significance.

I can't sort out the rest of the dreams from last night. I didn't write them down and they got colder as the day wore on.

Stuff: I've noticed that we spend half of our lives acquiring stuff, and the other half trying to get rid of it. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to get rid of it. Stuff is not my friend.

Art: Wonderful quote I found and I don't know where I found it so I can't attribute it to the person who said it, but ...

The value of your art starts and ends with you.

Now all that is needed is to believe it and trust yourself.

I LOVE my Jack Russell

Living in the Moment: Kizzie
We've had our five-year old Jack Russell for four years now. We inherited her when my daughter moved to Boston. At first we were reluctant caretakers, but it didn't take long before she wrapped everyone around her paws. She's not 100% Jack Russell (the rest terrier), but close. (Her ears usually stay up, which is not typical JR. She has the shorter legs and a smooth coat and brown and black markings. She's smart and loving and totally wonderul. We're all besotted.

I never "got" having a dog as a family member. I used to think they were groveling things ... 'stop begging me ... it's shameful.' I didn't get that it was a simple outpouring of love. I never got it until Kizzie.

Her presence has put more love into our home than I would have thought possible ... a natural therapy dog. Her official name is Kismet (my daughter named her), but we call her Kizzie, Kiz, Kizzie-May, May Girl, Baby Girl, and so on. My husband, who is very practical and not given to flights of fancy, said to me one day as an aside, " Do you know why she's called Kis-May? ... Because she's French." I totally did a double take.

Changing the Past: Gypsy and Andy
Gypsy was a beagle who was kept outside and I never developed a dog-person relationship with her. I was probably 11 when we had her. I cared about her, but from afar. One day she nipped my little sister, who was probably about aggravating her. Well, my mother had her "put to sleep," because she couldn't take a chance on the biting anyone else. I cried and cried. If I went back, knowing what I know, I think would have given the dog a lot more attention and really gotten to know her. I think she was a really nice dog.

Andy was a silver miniature French poodle, my mother's dog. He lived with the family for about 17 years. When he came to live with us, I must have been in my early teens. He used to jump up and jump up and get way too excited to see you ... well, I thought that at the time. I remember walking him on a cold winter night and looking up at the stars, but I don't remember giving him credit for who he was. He was my mother's dog, after all. If I went back knowing what I know, I would have bonded with Andy, given him plenty of love and attention, and appreciated him for who he was. He was a great dog. Very smart and full of love.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Putting my toe in the water

My First Entry - I doubt that I'll include this much every time!
I only recently discovered this wonderful avenue of expression. Where was I when this was happening? Everything is timing, right? I guess I wouldn't have been ready before now.

Anyway, I have some different ideas I want to explore and have been writing them in my head since I flirted with the idea of keeping a blog.

Keeping an online journal is ironic for me ... I have a hard time writing anything down on paper, especially letters to people. It might be evidence. It might hurt someone's feelings. Who knows what it might do. It's a bit of a mental block (understatement). This blog is a way for me to go past "what other people think." I think I've gone beyond those childhood fears mentally, and maybe I have, but emotionally it's a different matter. Maybe I just need to look at things in an entirely new way.

Changing the Past: It has been maybe 20 years ago that I read a book by Ken Grimwood called Replay, which is about a 42 year old (apx) man who has a heart attack, dies and wakes up in his 18 year old body fully conscious of everything that had happened from 18 to 42. It happens again and again, but each time he wakes up in an older body (19, 24, etc.). You get the idea. What he does each time is fascinating in itself, but it had a strong impact on me. It enabled me to look at my past from an entirely different viewpoint. I've been thinking about this again lately. It's kind of addictive ... imagining a whole different life, imagining what I might have done differently. It's kind of like having a bird's-eye view ... a little more objectivity.

Generally, I avoid looking at my past. I didn't have the worst or the best childhood, but I wasn't all that pleased or proud of what I'd done or what I hadn't done. By changing the past, it almost feels as though I truly did change the past ... I could see what could be changed, what I might not have been able to do anything about and even forgive ... others, but especially myself.

Here's a mild example. If my 58 year old consciousness went back into my 13 year old body, what would I have done differently? I would have been a better student, for sure... hmmm, 7th and 8th Grade at Franklin Junior High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. Whew. Was I clueless! I had no confidence whatsoever. Some people remember all of their teachers. Not me. I'm sure I have selective forgetting -- probably because I've avoided thinking about my youth forever. However, different moments do pop into the forefront.

Pancakes in the Trunk
I remember having to give a speech in my 8th grade class. We were to tell a humorous anecdote so I went through my parents' books (They belonged to Book of the Month Club) and found a "Treasury of Humor." ... Well, I found a humorous story that had something to do with pancakes in a trunk. I don't remember it, but I thought it was very funny at the time. I remember getting up in front of the class and telling the anecdote. No one laughed. Blank faces stared back at me. At the time I figured it was all me ... I couldn't tell a joke. I was a failure. Funny how we get erroneous messages. Sure, my timing was probably off and the humor may have been too obscure for the audience, but looking at it now, the other students were probably more concerned about having to get up there and take their turns at comedy. I'd like to think that. But I've allowed that experience to keep me from telling jokes ... because I think I'm going to be really bad at it - (maybe that's true, but maybe it isn't). So, I don't tell jokes. But, I admire stand-up comedians and I imagine making an audience laugh has to be incredibly rewarding. If I had it to do over again knowing what I know, I might choose better material, I might be more comfortable with the audience, and if they still didn't laugh .... well, maybe it wasn't me.

I've looked for it but have never been able to find that pancake joke.

This is a huge subject which will need more than a few lines, but I'll introduce it here. Could I have kept my mother from drinking? Probably not, but maybe I could have engaged her more person to person ... gotten her involved in something more outside of herself so that she had less time to turn within. Could I have influenced her to let go of smoking? Probably not. Maybe if I became "allergic" she would have modified her habits. It would be hard to go return to 1960 and have to experience all that secondhand smoke. Blegh!

How I Became ... No Longer a Smoker
If I went back in time conscious of what I know, I definitely would not pick up one cigarette. I don't remember exactly when I started. Maybe when I was 16? It was "forbidden" and therefore alluring and seemed like an exotic thing to do. I remember smoking Newports and Kools in the early days.
That first poisonous inhale was really quite awful. It made me dizzy. I Remember it vividly... I would definitely take that back. Generally being an addictive personality, it's easy to figure out what happened eventually. Cigarettes became my best friend, or so I thought. I switched to nonmenthols and "lighter" cigarettes over the years.

In 1987 I actually ceased to smoke for about 8 months. I knew I needed to stop smoking ... hey, it's just not healthy. I told myself that if I reached a certain weight, I would stop. I had pneumonia (the only time I ever had it) and reached my goal weight (which I'd set too low). I got on the scale one morning (before I had a smoke) and looked down at the dial and thought, "Oh, Shit." It was the impossible weight. Time kind of stopped in that moment. I Knew that it would never be easier than in that moment. It was as if "Spirit" was giving me a gift and I had only to accept it. I didn't have a cigarette. I accepted the gift. So, I breathed in air or drank water when I wanted a cigarette (and I hyperventilated for a couple of days). I sat with my smoker friends at work during lunch ... And it did Not bother me.

Things went well for a while. Moved, was in a different environment and having coffee one day with a neighbor who smoked. I played a little mental game that day and lost ... "I should be able to be moderate. I should be able to have a cigarette without getting carried away." I Knew I shouldn't have picked up that cigarette, but I did it anyway. In a week I was again a serious smoker. I must have still had something to learn.

I learned to be a considerate smoker. I went outside to smoke. But I was full-blown smoking. I had thrown away that gift ... painless "quitting."

In 1993 I was still smoking, but knew I needed to change that status, but how? Some people are moderate and not addictive people and have no problem "quitting" habits. For others it is nearly impossible. It has nothing to do with logic or reason. The addiction is emotional. It's your so-called "best friend." Illusory comfort. I know I have a hard time starting something, but once I do, I'm okay. But addictive I am.

During this time I had gone back to college and was taking summer school courses. I had 2 cartons of cigarettes in the car. I Knew I needed to stop smoking ... hey, it isn't healthy and I'm getting older, but stopping didn't appear to be in the picture. I had some conditions, too. I didn't want to be a bitch right after I stopped and I didn't want to start eating everything in sight. One week in June of 1993 I had three incidents happen, and I can't remember the second thing, but I remember the other two. I went to a Tae Kwon Do meet to watch my son perform. I went outside for a smoke at one point and a small boy of about four years old looks up at me and says very calmly and matter-of-factly in an adult manner, "Why do you smoke?" I mumbled something in reply, but I recognized that I was getting a "heads up" ... a bit of golden-tongued wisdom. "Spirit" was using what it had at hand to get through to me. Summer school went from Monday through Thursday. The third thing happened on Friday morning. I woke up with a sore throat. I never have a sore throat in the morning. I remember standing at the sink in my bathroom and Knowing that the only reason I had that sore throat was to make me pause before I automatically pick up a cigarette. And miracle of miracles, I had the choice in the moment ... where it felt like time stood still again ... to accept the gift.

For three days I sat numbly, forgot to breathe, then hyperventilated, drank water. There was no desire to have a cigarette because of these things:

  • I didn't quit. I simply became "no longer a smoker." There was nothing to fight, nothing to push against.
  • Smoking simply wasn't an option. No matter what, I could never have one puff.
  • It was Not my best friend. It was a false friend.

The Student Center at the college allowed smoking in one section at that time. That fall when I left that building and walked across campus, I noticed the back of my throat tasted like car exhaust. I realized it was from the secondary smoke and decided not to work in or frequent smoky environments in the future.

My system doesn't tolerate cigarette smoke any more. I choose not to eat in restaurants where smoking is permitted. I'm matter of fact about it, but that's just the way it is for me.

I have compassion for anyone with an addictive personality and a smoking habit. Although it has been almost 12 years since I last had a cigarette, I know that I am a "Smoke-aholic." To this day I can never have one puff, no matter what my treacherous mind might want to tell me. And it hasn't tried so far. If it did, I would be right back where I was. So, smoking is simply Not an option.

I've gotten carried away, naturally. This is kind of interesting! Maybe there are pearls ... or maybe not.