W.O.R.D.S: God, Goddess, Godde (or Cleaning up Pee)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): An alphabetical search for questions.*

Granted, it’s easy to live connected to the Source when the sky is

Open and the sun is shining, and the flowers bright. But when life

Dumps reality on your head a hundred times a day…

Damn it!

Every day is a lesson in remembering what we so easily forget.

I’m a mother. I’m more familiar with bodily fluids, especially little boy pee, than I ever could have imagined. This past week as I was down on my knees once again wiping up my son’s attempt at aim, I thought:

I’m more than this!

There’s a question that has been nagging at me for a while: How can one be spiritually-minded — in the moment, at one with The All … however you personally choose to define it — when there is all this life?

Oh, I’ve heard it before: Make folding laundry a meditation, pick up those little stinky socks like its a service of love for the greater good, pay the bills with non-existent money as an invitation for more “wealth” to come your way.

When you’ve bent down for the 9th time in 5 minutes to pick up another red, plastic foot-lancet, when the bug hits when the deadline is looming, when the officer is at the meter at precisely the moment the time expires, you’re not exactly ready to come over all Rumi.

In Christian circles, such as the one in which I was raised, any sadness, overwhelm, despair, frustration, anger… any “negative” emotion, was a clear indication of one’s lack of faith. “Pray harder,” “Take it to God,” “Ye of little faith…” In non-Christian, new(old)-age circles, this attitude tends to manifest in language such as not living in the moment enough, not mindful enough. “Just pray!” becomes “Just meditate!”

I rebel against this attitude. I don’t find it helpful because it feels like just another reason to feel bad about one’s “imperfect” self; that I’m not trying hard enough, that I’m not enough. But I am human after all, and I am going to get frustrated at life’s little annoyances.

And to those who will say, meditation/praying does work: I know this. Journaling, creating mandalas, walking are my forms of meditation and they do calm me. But I do not want to feel I am not doing it enough or right, or that if I was doing it better I wouldn’t feel the way I do. That demeans my feelings, my emotions. I refuse to judge my emotions.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to feel calmer, less anxious, less angry, and less grossed out by yellow-stained bathroom floors. And that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to live knowing I’m part of a bigger purpose; part of a bigger Something, a pulse in an energy with which we are all vibrating.

If I could know, really know, in my deepest depths that I am connected to everyone and everything on and around this planet, both living and beyond, would that late payment charge bother me? I really can’t say.

Source, spirit, god, goddess, godde, nirvana, transcendence, love… these, in my opinion, are all one-in-the same: something one can experience. That opening of the heart when one realizes we are all connected. It can happen, it does happen, to some more than others. It is what makes us part of the divine.

But what makes us human is the constant forgetfulness that keeps us asking questions, keeps us on our toes… and in the end makes even cleaning up pee an opportunity to laugh at our human inability to aim correctly all the time.

Prompt: “I always forget…”

~~~
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)
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Danger: Toxic levels of self-bashing

This post is a bit of an off-shoot for me but as I write it I will somehow figure out how to make a journaling prompt out of it. And I also know many of you will relate to what I am about to say.

I got rejected.

By a home-cleaning professional.

Let me explain. I don’t like chaos or clutter. My preferred living arrangement is tidy and beautifully decorated; OK, it’s more eclectic than beautiful, but everything has a place, everything in its place. That’s how it is supposed to be, however, I have two young kids: Clutter Happens. I am a Virgo: I don’t like doing the same things over and over.

I JUST vacuumed this rug, did you HAVE to bring a plate of rice crispies (a plate? of cereal? seriously?) in here and lick them up like you’re a dog? Seriously?!

And I hate, hate, hate to clean. I was absent the day they were giving out the cleaning gene. Consequence: My house is a mess! Yes, I go through when I can no longer see the floor daily and pick up the socks, toys, shoes, wrappers, escaped rabbits, backpacks, papers strewn around and get the house looking marginally like somewhere I might enjoy living. But to be honest, once the rabbit-trapping game is over I have no energy left to get out a dust rag. In fact, I don’t even have the energy to even see the layer of dust that is holding the piano together. In other words, if you come over you may be impressed by the cozy furniture arrangement, art on the walls, and homemade pillows on the couch, but please don’t look too closely at anything. Let’s put it this way, there might as well be a Spider Safe Zone sign on my front door. No arachnid need fear for their life here: my home is your home, Mr. and Mrs. Legs. Dust bunnies are also welcome to multiply to their dust bunny delight.

Most of the time I turn a blind eye to my greasy microwave and be-crumbed counter corners, but once in a while it all comes uncomfortably into focus and I tearfully bemoan my lack of housewifery skill. That’s when Hubby and I have the conversation we have had countless times before: Let’s get a cleaner. OK, OK, I’ll make some calls… but I never do. Why? That is a mystery only my therapist can help me unravel. But at last this week when I admitted it was crazy to be putting myself under so much pressure to do something I detest and frankly, suck at, I made a call.

So, she came over. I promised not to clean up before she came. The house wasn’t in too bad a shape to my eyes. Well, it was tidy, at least. Still it felt like she was peering into my unconscious and finding it to be a scary place. She looked around, we decided on a number of hours and what exactly she would be expected to do. Thanks for coming by, hear from you soon about starting date? Yes, nice to meet you too. Yes, goodbye.

Two days later I got The Call. She was going to have to pass on the job. The time slot she was planning to give to me didn’t open up as she was expecting and she had to be honest with herself about her own schedule and energy level. OK, no problem. I understand. Good for you for looking after yourself. Bye.

Suddenly I feel rejected. Was my house even too dirty for a house cleaner?? Seriously, do I suck that badly? I was taking it personally. Because I’m not very nice to myself.

As I scrubbed my kitchen counters and swept the floor this morning I realized there was a bash session going on in my head that I hadn’t been invited to:

You are a TERRIBLE housewife! You can’t even keep the counters clear? Look in that corner! And under there! And, oh, good job on cleaning the oven… I can still smell the smoke from the burnt piece of, what was that? Last week’s pizza? And what the hell is that mush in the back of the fridge? Ugh!

On and on it went as I wiped and de-crumbed. It was kind of like having a drill sergeant in my head: What is it, Young? Scared of a little cleaning? You wuss! You failure as a woman! Drop and give me 50 scrubs of that floor!

But then I stood up straight and fired back at that ugly, yelling fathead. I don’t HAVE to be good at this. So there!

Just because I’m a woman it doesn’t mean I was born knowing how, or liking to scrub toilets. It’s not required. No one expects me to know how – or want – to paint a picture, build a house, fill potholes, or solve global warming. But for some reason cleaning house (and cooking – don’t enjoy that either) is a requirement of my gender. I pay someone to do my taxes, fix my car, and cut my hair, why should I feel any different about cleaning my house? Worst of all, I put this expectation on myself.

Someone once said: Don’t get good at what you don’t want to be doing. Right then, I won’t! I want to be writing and studying. I want to be a happier, less stressed mom and wife. I want to live in a clean house that fills me with contentment not reminders of my “failure.” I want to be authentic! Do what you love and leave the rest to someone else. I’ll make another call. Someone out there is looking for work. I can be a happier failure as a housewife, get my own much-enjoyed work done, and help someone else. Score!

And here are your Prompts (told you I’d find something to journal about!): What are you getting good at but would rather not be? What’s your drill sergeant saying? Do you believe him/her?

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Finding my rhythm

Children don’t know about rhythms, not the ones we adults recognize, anyway. Their internal beat is like one from another culture – African, Asian, Alien – that is not the 4/4 we Westerners are used to.  Time is of no consequence. Play always, eat whenever, sleep only when legs will no longer run.  Until my children are old enough to tune into the boring beat of responsibility, I must attempt to live with an erratic pulse.

I fantasize about a time when I, the Writer and Business Woman, will have my own rhythm by which to structure my day. Writers are always interested in the working habits of their fellow wordsmiths as they try to unscramble the secret code of being a writer. One thing comes through from these stories: There is no one way to practice your craft.

The two stories I recall (and I have no memory of where I read them or to whom they refer) offered just two possibilities. I’m guessing this first one sounds downright luxurious to most of us. The writer in question would arise at a fairly normal hour, say 7AM, eat breakfast, walk the dog, and then go back to bed! Wow. She would then get back up a few hours later and write into the night. The second author was a mother (ahhh, someone I can relate to). She would get up crazy, crazy early, like 4AM (oh, no longer relating), work until the kids got up, get them off to school and then write for a couple more hours. After that I don’t recall how she spent her day – I would guess zoned out with exhaustion.

For how differently these two women scheduled their life, one thing is consistent: Discipline.

I am learning to structure my days in order to be more efficient and productive, but it is difficult. So many times my mood and energy depends on how many times I was yanked out of REM sleep by a Mama! or how the wake up-breakfast-school departure went off. Some days I can sit in front of my computer all day with not much more to show than some meaningless babble on Facebook. On these days I need to give myself permission to sit on the couch with my journal or a good book (and consider it research). I’ve written before about the benefit of the spaces in between work, but it is hard to remember the creative benefit of stopping once in a while. I also have to remember that doing a load of laundry or meeting a friend for lunch will not kill my career. The Work From Home police are not going to come and check up on me to see if I took a break to have a cuppa.

But efficiency is the name of the game. My goal is to set time limits on myself. Half and hour to journal before the work day begins, another half an hour to email (and OK, Facebook – for business purposes). Two hours to write whatever piece I’m currently working on, and then my blog. Another day it might be writing an Examiner article or preparing for an upcoming workshop. Whatever it is I’m working on, I have to block out the time in advance and be fair to myself. Don’t work at it until I’m ragged but turn to something else to always keep it all fresh and exciting. I must take breaks and most importantly, schedule in some FUN!

I’m still struggling to get the hang of this working from home thing. Time away from the computer still feels like I’m slacking. But I dream of the day when my day will run like clockwork from bed-rise to beddie-byes. I will churn out words like John Grisham, I will email and do paperwork as if I was my own legal secretary, and I will make beds and pick up toys with the spit-spot of Mary Poppins. And then at 3:30 precisely, I will shut down the computer and put on my Mommy hat.

Rhythm. Sometimes it is hard to keep in time with a new and unfamiliar one. But if you keep at it, eventually the beats, the rests, and the cadences will click with your own and you’ll be able to dance.

Prompt: What does your ideal day look like? Does it have a rhythm?

The Value of Doing Nothing

I have sat down to write multiple times this week to no avail. I’m just spinning my wheels. Maybe I’m just distracted by the gifts in the closet that are one game of hide-and-seek away from being discovered. Maybe it’s the sudden smack of brutal cold temperatures. The drafts snaking under the 100 year old front door and window casings make sitting long enough to type anything a test of endurance. Or maybe it’s the stare of that deformed limbed thing in the corner which is masquerading as a Christmas tree – this year’s answer to the justification question of buying a cut-off-at-the-knees tree for the price of a cart of groceries.

Yup, that’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it.

As of 3:30PM today the Christmas break begins and unless I shove the kids off to Grandma’s there will be no work happening here until January. I keep saying to myself, no one is MAKING you write your blog or Examiner.com articles. Give yourself a break! But here’s the thing: I’m here at home not earning a penny, a penny that might have gone towards a tree that doesn’t look like something out of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I feel a certain responsibility to do what I am here to do – write, even if there are no pennies rolling my way for doing it… yet.

It’s hard for me to sit still. I don’t mean physically sit still because that I’m great at! What I mean is, I always feel compelled to be doing something constructive. I put these expectations on myself. Hardly anyone reads this blog but if I go a few days without posting something I start hearing my inner boss-lady clearing her throat. My Examiner articles are earning me literally pennies a day and I wonder on a daily basis if it is worth my time. But then my ambitious student-self who insisted on pursuing an Honors degree instead of just a plain ol’ BA reminds me I should not give up on something that could be helpful in the future, and more importantly, helpful to others. An essay written for a contest was almost abandoned also as I weighed the chances of actually winning. But finish and submit it I did because I am a writer and that is what writers do, win or not!

What I have a hard time remembering is that sometimes it is the spaces in between work that prompt true inspiration. It will be in those moments when I am sitting still (or with journal in hand), when the brain is turned off that the magic will happen.

Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.

Alan Alexander Milne (1882 – 1956)
Source: Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A. A. Milne

All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.

I have to to give myself to permission to stop.

Calm your brain. Meditate. Doodle in your journal. Pet the cat. Take a shower. Mindless tasks can have the same effect. Even folding laundry or mopping the floor, if done without the pressure of a time limit or while thinking of all the other things you have to do, can de-stress and re-inspire you.

So, if you don’t hear from me for a while just know I am getting re-inspired by doing absolutely nothing! Ahhhh!

The many hats of me

I need a haircut. The shaggy, steel wool mop that haloes my head is reflected in the screen of my laptop as I sit on the deck this glorious late summer morning.

I also need to finish organizing the new office which until 3 days ago was the kids room. Boxes of books, old files, and decades-old computer stuff, retained “just in case” (or rather “just too lazy”) were crammed away in a closet. Now, due to the room rearrangements, they have resurfaced and are demanding my attention. I need to make curtains for the new kids’ room. I need to hang out the laundry that’s slowly rotting in the washer. I need to put away the clothes that have been sitting in a basket for a month. I need to empty the dishwasher. I need to put two years worth of photos in the kid’s albums. I need to listen to another session of my journal workshop instructor training. I need to dig through the heap of shoes on my closet floor and take half of them to Salvation Army (so I can justify buying more). I need to be brainstorming article ideas and getting out queries. I need to pay the bills…

I need to not be sitting here writing this blog.

Ever since I began this blog-ourney I have neglected everything else around me. I send my husband to bed with a “I’ll be there soon,” and then not show up for another 2 hours. I don’t even give the TV my full, undivided attention. And next week I start work. I wonder how I can possibly divide a 24 hour day into so many increments. I feel writing this blog is important (I’m not sure exactly why yet) and I don’t want to give it up. But, really, how does one wear so many hats?

The Mom Hat: The shabby one with the unidentifiable stains. It has a big brim and droops in various places. It’s worn out and really needs to be replaced but no other hat will ever fit quite as well.

The Wife Hat: The one most often forgotten in the closet even though it is nice-looking and can be fun to wear. It should be worn more frequently.

The Housewife Hat: This one’s dusty; hard to get clean. It’s very large and kind of overwhelms the wearer. It gets in the way of other more agreeable hats.

The Administrative Hat: The one decorated with numbers and letters. It’s an annoying but essential little hat worn for protection of one’s assets.

The Employee Hat: This one’s new and very smart. It is a good one to wear in public due to it’s professional appearance and lack of accouterments.

The Writer/Artist Hat: The one with a veil behind which one can hide. This hat fits the wearer well and is the preferred one in the selection, but other more practical hats are usually (or should be) worn instead. It is very colorful but does have some ink stains.

The Single Gal Hat: Rarely worn, or ownership even acknowledged. It is bright, stylish, shapely and attractive. If worn more often it could revitalize that which is dull, monotonous, and all together too blah.

I really do need a hair cut… maybe then I can cram two (or three) hats on my head at once.

Green snot and fruit flies

Today I am sick. Husband is sick. Children are sick. Green snot sick. Pull those puffy red things out of the back of your throat and put them on ice for a few days sick.

My eyes hurt looking at this white screen but I will attempt to write a few words.

About fruit flies.

They have to be the most determined little buggers (pun intended) in the insect world. I put every fruit and vegetable in the fridge, take out the garbage, and clear the sink, and still they find something to feed their disgusting little selves on. Walking into my kitchen right now is like trekking through the jungle; you swat through swarms just to get to the coffee pot.

This situation does wonders for my already damaged house-wifey self-esteem. I would never get awarded for my cleaning prowess; cleaning is what I do when I’m procrastinating on some other project in order to get to that project in order to get out of the cleaning. But bugs? Gross.

Tonight we are experimenting with a paper cone, soda bottle and vinegar. So far we have caught 103 (out of 3.2 million).

It’s a start.

Put the blog down and step away from the computer

I should have known. I know what I’m like.

This blog, the blog I insisted was not for me, has me and won’t let go. Each time I walk past my desk it calls out to me. I check 50 times a day to see if anyone has happened upon (out of the 2, 010,030 possible google hits) my silly dawdlings. Or I mess with the layout, the colors, or the wording of my profile. And I plan to polish up my rusty photoshop skills to make an artistic banner for myself. And photos? Oh, the possibilities.

I don’t have time for this! I am in danger of neglecting my other responsibilities. I have two incredibly – to put it nicely – active children whose wills do not match each others’ ways, one hard-working-comes-home-starving husband, and an old house that is in perpetual danger of crumbling into the sea of strewn toys and piled high laundry baskets.

And what about the very reason I began this blog – my writing? OK, yes, I’m getting valuable daily practice, but no publishing gonna be happening just because I have a pretty blog page.

No, I must organise, prioritize, departmentalize. If I’m going to be charged with neglect it would be better to have an under-nourished and under-dressed blog than children fighting over whose dust bunny collection is largest.

Then again, my blog doesn’t back talk, produces no dirty laundry, and goes to bed the moment I ask it. Hmmm