Essay, Reflections

The “Value” of a Gift…

For all of my adult life, I have chosen to walk hand-in-hand with the “just getting by financially” crowd, and I have no idea why.  I know that it doesn’t stem from lack of talent, or even ambition, because I have plenty of both.  Numerous “investigations” into this facet of my life plan have led to some interesting possible excuses and explanations, but all of them have one common denominator: the primary obstacle to financial security in my life is, and has always been, me…

The why of this only becomes relevant when I am looking for ways to change it.  I understand that now (2017 America) is neither the time nor place to change my path, as everything in the state and economy is rigged against such success, but perhaps that makes it the perfect time to explore why none of my previous efforts to change it worked.  After all, there is nothing to gain, and little left to lose these days.  And as my working life becomes more difficult to sustain, the questions swirl in the background of what I should expect next…

One of the most common recurring themes revealed by previous research is a tendency to self-sabotage, to underrate my own value, to seek the least productive path, financially speaking.  When asked to rate my own value (as in setting prices for work I do, or services I provide), I always go low.  Perhaps I am lacking in self-confidence, or self-esteem, as most people assume, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.  Rather, I feel I am protecting myself from unsustainable expectations; after all, “you get what you pay for,” right?

The “problem” for me is that I have always believed I must “earn” my way.  Every acquisition of resources need be by “fair and equitable exchange.”  It doesn’t mean that the monetary value of the exchange be equal, but that the perceived value to both parties be equitable.  For those who value money (businesses, for example), actual dollars have been exchanged.  For those needing services, a barter might suffice, providing both parties receive something they consider as valuable as what they are offering.  That makes any transaction more difficult in its subjective assessment, but also ensures a more “even” exchange, providing both parties are open and honest about what they perceive as valuable…  It is also a test of integrity, to see if one party will try to “take advantage” of another…

In a society based on the selfish pursuit of all things “me,” such integrity is often hard to find.  For me, personally, I always choose to err in favor of the other; give more, take less, thus ensuring my conscience is clean.

But is it?  Really?

By under-valuing myself, am I being fair to me?  Could it not be said that I am taking advantage of myself?  How can I label such exchanges as fair and equitable if I refuse to fairly assess my contribution?  Am I not placing unsustainable expectations upon myself?  After all, if I am doing my “best” as my integrity demands, while asking for “less,” have I not just created a scenario where my needs will never be met, no matter how determinedly or diligently I work at it?

Disturbing thoughts…  Made more disturbing by their reflection in my reality.  For I have proven, time and again, that no matter how hard I work, I simply can’t get ahead.  There is no safety net in my life, no financial cushion to fall back on; there is only the knowledge that if I stop moving, the entire house of cards I’ve built may well collapse.  And while that collapse may cripple me, it will be unlikely to shield me from the consequences of it happening.  Eventually the piper will have to be paid, one way or another…

I recently ran into a friend who has a debilitating and terminal illness; less than 6 months ago, he was in a hospital, and medical wisdom determined he would likely never leave.  But he survived, thanks to new (and expensive) treatments.  Being a laborer by trade, he is unable to work, and yet he has been denied disability benefits (which would have likely only paid him a third of his “working value” in a best case scenario).  Furthermore, he told me he has to wait two years to appeal the decision.  And while it is common knowledge that all disability claims are denied at first, and later paid out retroactively when approved, it baffles me how this is supposed to work?!  With a home he needs to live in, and expensive medical care he needs to survive at all, what is he supposed to do in the meantime?  So, like many in his position, he has turned to criminal activities to provide a subsistence income.  Where is the integrity here?

I am not so foolish as to believe that life should be fair.  Nor do I assume that doing right means you will be properly rewarded.  And I realize that very few control almost all of the available resources to hoard for themselves, and use those resources to mop up what’s left for themselves, making sustainable living an impossible dream for most of us.  But still…

I love crafting, and all things creative, so I used to make things and try to sell them.  I wasn’t so much trying to make a living, as I was trying to get my hobbies to pay for themselves.  Such efforts were disastrous.  Not only did I undervalue my merchandise, just trying to get rid of it, but I invested a small fortune (for me, anyway), in opening the channels in the first place.  I found that if you under-price things, most will not buy, but if you over-price things, none will.  I would find myself at craft venues, reaping in praise, but only selling items $5 at a time.  It was necessary to have these low prices on some items simply to make up the cost of the booth.  And there was never a profit in it for me.  So I would wind up selling stuff to friends, and online, at below cost prices (not even covering materials, much less time invested), or giving stuff away as gifts, simply to get rid of it.  And now my tools rust in a damp basement, unused for years, because what, after all, is the point…?

Which brings me in a long, typically roundabout way, to the point I originally wanted to make.  Just this week a co-worker made a piece of jewelry partially inspired by a suggestion I’d made, that I absolutely fell in love with!  I wanted it, though I have no use for more jewelry.  Still, I want to encourage and support her efforts, as she does amazing work!  I asked her what she would charge for it?  The price, while reasonable, was far beyond what I can afford these days, and I told her that.  She offered me a “discount,” suggesting I pay her whatever I thought I could and/or should; a typical dilemma among my co-workers…  I struggled all day with how to respond.  I didn’t want to take advantage of her generosity, but I really couldn’t afford to buy it at all, being a non-necessary item.  I could sense her confusion growing as the day dragged on, and I did not make an offer, but I honestly didn’t know what to do…

Finally, I sought advice from another co-worker with whom I have often discussed this very dilemma.  I thought we were zeroing in on an appropriate offer, when she suddenly turned and walked away from me.  I was stunned and disheartened by her “abandonment.”  A little while later she reappeared, and when I questioned her about her abrupt dismissal of our conversation, she plopped the necklace on my desk and told me it was a “gift.”

I could not respond…

It was not her willingness to purchase it for me that rendered me mute, for she is often thoughtful and generous in the giving of things.  Rather, I later discovered, I was paralyzed by my inability to imagine how I could “make it up” to her.  For while she often gives graciously, she does not receive well…

A familiar theme…

So…  While there was much value in this gift she gave me, I found myself swamped by the many forms it took.  There was the necklace itself, which I love.  There was the revealing of the nature of exchange, as Lisa views it, revealing a worldview automatically biased against myself.  There was the acknowledgement that receiving is something I do not do well; I am so uncomfortable with it that my insides still cringe when I remember her dropping that box in front of me.  And there is a profound understanding growing in me that, though I may consider myself empowered and capable of manifesting whatever I truly desire or need, it does me no good whatsoever if I cannot receive the fruits of those efforts graciously…

Truly a valuable “gift” my friend has given me…

20170520_092432

Standard
Conversations, Reflections, Stories..., Visions

“A Lesson on the Evolution of Rocks… and things.”

The Teacher led us to a rocky ledge, basking in the early morning sun, and bade us sit and make ourselves comfortable.  “Steady your breathing and claim your space,” she instructed us.

After some time had passed, she sighed deeply, and began to speak…

This stone I’m sitting upon is warming beneath me…,” she said.  “It’s almost as if it’s absorbing my own heat energy and reflecting it back to me.  Why do you suppose that is?”

No one responded…

Hmm…,” she mused aloud.  “Rocks evolve in a crucible of heat and pressure.  When the proper levels of each are achieved, they transform themselves into entirely different form.  Same matter, maybe (?), but a totally different expression of it, with different qualities, different strengths, different weaknesses…  The same, but different…”

She paused a moment, seemingly lost in thought.  Silence reigned upon the rocky knoll…

So the question then becomes, for me anyway… [a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth] … are the rocks then feeding me (by warming me), or are they feeding off me (by draining off my heat energy in the first place)?  Is the growing heat beneath me reflective of my healing or my weakening?”

Silence held the listeners’ tongues…  Laughing, she turned to look at each of us in turn…

Did you all follow me up here to listen to me talk to myself?”

One seeker spoke up, hesitating and awkward…  “I feel only good coming from the rock I’m with.  The experience is pleasant, comforting, blissful…  I feel more grounded, more centered, more… whole somehow…  I think the rock is helping, rather than hurting me,” he concluded quietly.

Ok, then,” the Teacher responded.  “From your perspective the rock is serving you…  Beautiful!  Wonderful!  How empowering and validating it must be to be loved in this manner!…”  She turned and looked sharply at the speaker.  “But why do you suppose the rock should choose to serve you this way?  Does it gain nothing from its interaction with you?”

Another seeker spoke up…  “Perhaps the good feelings are merely a side effect of the draining of energy…?  Some predators drug their victims so they don’t realize they’re in danger until they are too weak to respond,” she suggested.

Ahhh…,” responded the Teacher.  “In which case, the very rocks upon this Earth may be our enemies, draining us, enslaving us to fuel their evolution…?”

The student did not respond…

Seems curious to me,” mused the Teacher, “that we have so many ‘stone masters’ in our collective human history, if we are indeed their slaves.  Perhaps that is part of the shared delusion the stones create to bend us to their will…?”

Silence settled once more upon the small group.  The sun warmed as it rose higher in the morning sky.  The humans warmed,  absorbing its heat and light.  The rocks warmed, creating a haven of peace and serenity, soothing city souls…

“It seems to me,” a third seeker began, “that everything in the Universe, in Nature, revolves around the principle of exchange…  From the grossest planetary matter, to the tiniest sub-atomic particles, all forms freely exchange energy.  Each expression of matter may use that energy differently, but we are all using the same energy…  Why, then, would this be any different?  Why cast it as an either/or question?”

He looked directly at the Teacher…  And continued.

“Can we not suppose, perhaps, that the exchange of heat energy between us and the rocks is of mutual benefit somehow?”

Interesting question,” the Teacher responded.  “Perhaps we could explore that a bit…?”

When no objections were voiced, she began to speculate aloud…

So, the rock absorbs my heat energy to use for some internal process, and then returns that heat energy to me, making me feel good…?”

No one in the small gathering responded…

But is there then a purpose to this exchange, beyond the mere cycling, or recycling, of energy…?”  Chuckling softly, she continued, mostly to herself.  “Talk about the proverbial waste of time…”

“Unless…,” the third seeker began.  “Unless the rocks transform my heat energy in some manner before returning it to me…?  In which case, it’s not precisely the same energy…?”

Smiling broadly, the Teacher looked directly at the third seeker…  “From which we might conclude that we also transform such energy before passing it back to the stones…?  Or other beings we might encounter along our way?”

“Like bees!,” another seeker exclaimed.  “We, as humans, have mobility that the stones do not innately possess.  I mean, they move, of course, but not nearly as easily as we do.  Perhaps our mutual exchange allows us to carry the stone-transformed energy elsewhere, while leaving some residue of our travels behind!  Such an exchange would benefit both parties, empowering, informing, even directing the evolution of all matter…”

Another seeker jumped in, excitedly… “Gently pushing us all in the same general direction…”

And yet another seeker found her voice…  “Both pushing us forward while reigning us in, so no one form alters too dramatically in a single step!”

All eyes focused on the Teacher…

She sighed deeply, drawing in the early summer morning, then lay back upon her warmed rock.  The seekers waited, expectantly, though none could voice their need.

The same… but different,” she murmured softly.

Soon the Teacher’s gentle snoring became part of the ambient summer soundscape…

 

Standard
Reflections

“Just Unplug, dammit! Do it!”

I had a dream the Monday before yesterday of which I recall very little.  All I remember is a feeling of frustration as I struggled to make sense of what someone was telling me, and a voice yelling at me as I woke up: “just unplug, dammit!  Do it!”

I don’t know about all of you, but when I hear the term “unplug” in this context, I interpret it to mean get off the internet; take a break from all things electronic, including email, cell phone, games, tv, even blogging.  I wondered at the purpose of unplugging, and figured it had to do with tuning in more to my natural self and the rhythms of nature.

Two days later (on Wednesday) a massive windstorm blew through my city (winds of change, perhaps?), taking down trees and power lines and leaving some 200,000 households (including my own) without electric.  For those of us with forced air gas furnaces, that also meant no heat.  And, of course, no internet or tv…  Unplugged, indeed…

Luckily for me, our house has a woodburning stove, functional and useful, though usually only used for “fun”.  In addition, I have quite a stash of candles (because I love them) and flashlights (from my camping days), so it seemed we might fare better than some.  After all, they were going to be out repairing the damage, right?  And I could easily live without the internet and social media for a day or two, so I was eager to prove I could “survive” this test.

My only concern, really, was my phone and keeping it charged, because we don’t have a landline.  But my workplace never lost power, and they allowed me to recharge there.  I also have a car charger for backup, and a friend lent me a portable charging unit just in case.  All was well…  At first, anyway.

But who knew it would take the power company two and a half days just to assess the damage and develop a plan for restoring power?  And that it would then take several more days, and the helpful intervention of crews from multiple other cities and provinces of Canada to actually make the repairs?  Or that the weather would snap back from “early spring” to “dead of winter,” with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees?

For the first full day and a half, my roommate was here to keep the woodstove burning, and though cold, it was survivable here.  I missed my electronics that first night, but then hardly thought of them again, except for keeping my phone charged for emergencies.  By Friday morning, her asthma (aggravated by the fire) forced her to leave, seeking shelter for her and her dogs at her daughter’s.  And while I received many such offers of shelter, none could accomodate my cat, so I chose to stick it out here, with him.  After all, how long could it take with all these extra crews on site?  And I could surely survive another day… or two.

How blindly optimistic of me to assume I had the necessary survival skills, and supplies, to make it through…  Repairs didn’t even begin until Saturday, and it was late on Monday before our power would be restored.  Just in time for the blizzard blowing into town last night, keeping us holed up for the next three days supposedly…

I share all this with you for two reasons.  First to explain my absence and lack of response to comments and emails; being off the grid has left me way behind, and I may, or may not, catch up.  My apologies to you if I don’t get around to acknowledging you here.

Second, I want to share a few things I learned over the last few days of being totally, and literally, unplugged…

*  Frontier style living is hard work!

I know… “Duh!”  But it looks so easy when other people do it.  Yes, I expected it to be physically challenging, especially with my disabilities (severe joint pain in my lower spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet).  But I had no idea how challenging!

Take hauling wood, for an example.  How easy it looks to pile up a few pieces in your arms, carry it in, and stack it neatly by the stove.  The truth, though, is that it is incredibly dense and heavy, with sharp, uneven edges, and the bending, lifting,  and carrying it upstairs taxed me to my limits.  I thought my job was painful on my body, but this was a whole new level of pain…

And when you order wood, and tell them your stove can only handle pieces 12-14″ long, and you mostly use your woodstove for fun, you tend to be content just eyeballing the delivery, and saying, “yeah, that looks pretty good.”  But when your survival depends on it, and you discover that every 3rd piece is too long to fit in the stove, suddenly you wish you’d actually checked before accepting delivery…

Ditto on the tendency to be lax in protecting said wood.  When fire is just for pleasure, maybe you don’t regularly check to make sure the tarp covering it is in place.  But that’s one of the first things you notice when hauling wood for survival; wet wood doesn’t burn well…

Speaking of which…

Starting (and maintaining) a fire is not as easy as it seems, even with modern tools available.  It is a skill that must be learned, and a survival situation is not the best time to start learning how…

I received a quick how-to lesson before my roommate left Friday morning, and I thought to myself, “simple enough!”  It’s about the proper ratio of fuel, air and flame, she told me, and I, being a strong, intelligent, independent woman, thought I could figure it out; sure I might fail at first, but I learn quickly.  Usually…

But I failed to get the fire really going on Friday night, and finally had to give up and sleep, trusting my blankets and cat would keep me warm enough.  They did not.  Freezing, I had difficulty sleeping, and more difficulty getting up.  It was 40 degrees in my house (I will likely never complain again that 68 degrees is too cold…lol!)  Getting that fire going was essential to my survival.  So taking the lessons I learned the night before, I headed out for supplies and a hot meal before tackling it again.

This time I did get it going, and kept it going, and I felt a renewed sense of confidence and competence.  But after about 15 hours of a strong, steady fire, it was still only 46 degrees in my house.  I had thought that, once going, I could sit by the fire and relax.  Maybe meditate or something similar to take advantage of this down time…

But no…  I had to boil water for dishes and bathing, haul more wood, try and feed myself, and prepare for when darkness settled once again.  And when I did sit in front of the fire, I was fraught with worry every time it faltered.  Not exactly the relaxing time I expected.  And eventually I had to sleep, which meant trusting I could restart the fire on Sunday…

I woke on Sunday to a bed of hot coals, and the fire roared to life when I added fuel and air…  Then it faltered on the wet wood.  I would not succeed in getting the fire truly going again.  Period.  Not Sunday morning before work, nor Sunday night, nor Monday morning.  And, as the temperature in my house continued to drop, and the estimated time of restoration of power kept getting pushed back (until it passed the expected start time of the incoming blizzard), I genuinely started considering other survival plans…  It was no longer a joke or a vacation from the grid…

* Stubbornness is both a curse and a gift…

It was stubbornness that allowed me to haul wood when my body said “you can’t do this!”  It was stubbornness that allowed me to linger on, against hope, believing that I was not meant to die this way.  It was stubbornness that got me to actually use the bathroom when I could no longer hold out (because it was too cold to face), and stubbornness that allowed me to dress and undress.

It was also stubbornness that convinced me it was better to avoid eating and drinking, than to face those dreaded bathroom runs, which allowed me to weaken and become dehydrated.  It was stubbornness that kept me here in survival mode, rather than abandon my cat to seek shelter elsewhere; I abolutely refused to do so.  And it was stubbornness that cut me off from my loving “community,” as they became more vocal and vehement about my leaving the house.

Stubbornness is a double-edged sword…

Philosophy, politics, economics, even spiritual practices (like meditation, yoga, or going to church) have no place in survival mode, but the need to believe in some higher-order Other does…

As the situation developed from bad, to worse, to sometimes seeming hopeless, I found my interest in all things non-essential wavering, and finally dying off.  I no longer cared what Trump and his cronies were doing, or what new disasters were befalling the planet and its inhabitants.  I didn’t meditate, or remember my dreams; only focused on how unrested I felt, as the cold made sleeping difficult, and I desperately needed rest to continue.  I no longer worried about the long-term damage being done abroad, or who was responsible for it; I could only focus on the next thing I needed to do to survive, on what had to be done before the long night, and its bitter cold arrived…

And as my confidence in my own competency wavered, I found myself reaching out in prayer to elementals and the Universe, seeking help and strength to survive.  And it did help, much to my surprise.  Maybe these spiritual beings did not directly intervene, but the asking gave me the strength to carry on…

***  ***  ***

So I’m sitting here today, snuggled with my cat and multiple blankets with the heat working, yet still unable to feel warm.  I ache deeply, not just in the usual places, but in my shoulders, arms, hands and head; and I’m dealing with muscle cramping from dehydration, yet am still unwilling to drink a lot (lol!).  I am trying to take this momentary reprieve to consider what I’ve “learned” from being unplugged, and discovering that much of what drove me before still feels irrelevant.

I’m so far behind in emails and reading, not to mention catching up on others’ blogs and comments, but it doesn’t seem to motivate me.  Instead, I’m staring out the window, contemplating the increasing snow and wind, wondering what I need to do to prepare in case the power goes out again.  So laundry is going while it can.  And I’m trying to talk my way out of the pain I feel, knowing that the arduous task of shovelling out is looming…

And keeping my phone charged, of course…

And it occurs to me that survival trumps all other motivations, and renders everything outside my immediate world irrelevant.  And I wonder if all my sense of self – my confidence and independence, my compassion for others, my “enlightenment” and understanding of the world, even my ethics and morality – aren’t just distractions, “false flags,” perpetuated by my own ignorance of what truly matters.  For I have discovered that, as survival gains primacy in my life, all else falls to the wayside…

I think I may actually be “unplugged” now.   Dammit!  😀

Standard
Essay, Reflections

The Ethics of Writing – A Personal Dilemma…

When should I write?  What should I write about?  What part of my writing “belongs” to the public who may read the words, and what part belongs solely to me?  Who decides when or what I should write?

These are some of the questions plaguing me today…

I know that I have not been consistent lately in keeping up with this blog.  Nor have I been able to keep up with other blogs I regularly follow.  I have my reasons, of course, and my excuses, but today I’m looking a little deeper into the why’s and wherefore’s…

It’s been said by many that a “real” writer (author) writes every day, inspired or not.  I don’t disagree with that sentiment on principle, but feel it applies more directly to those who wish to get/be published, than to those of us writing only for personal reasons.  Lately, though, I’ve received several gentle nudges from people questioning my silence.  Some were quite moving (a fellow blogger wrote a tribute poem for me).  Some were kind of wistful (“I miss reading your blog entries.”).  Some were suggestive (“you should write about that!”).  And others were damn straightforward (“I really wish you’d write more.  You should be writing, Lisa; it’s what you were born to do!”).

All of them share common characteristics – well intentioned, motivating, loving and honest.  All make me want to write more.  But the internal screen remains blank…

It’s not that I don’t have things to say, even, because I talk plenty in conversation.  I read voraciously.  I opine endlessly.  And I seek answers in words to questions not yet posed by my conscious mind; my journal is full of them. Yet I do not commit any to this forum, in spite of the many partial drafts in my draft folder, or the finished pieces. (NOTE: Even this entry has sat in my draft folder for about a week now.)  I couldn’t quite bring myself to publish.  Why?

No simple answers, I think, and yet not overly complicated, either.  I was warned late last year to keep my words to myself, to not attempt to influence people, as we had moved into a pivotal era of human evolution.  Each person needs to decide for themselves where they stand, and what matters most to them, and it was important for me to step back and let that happen.  Thinking about that now makes me wonder, because it assumes I have some influence, where perhaps I have none.  So is this whole silence thing merely an ego trip for me?

I’ve been warned that failure to maintain a regular publication schedule here will cost me followers, as people get bored and frustrated with waiting.  I counter that argument by reminding my friends that I got into blogging not for the followers, but because I wanted a forum to connect with like-minded Others.  But the truth is, I’m still picking up stray followers, even when I’m not publishing anything at all, which leads me to question the significance of followers at all…

I mean, no offense to anyone here, but the truth (I believe) is that most of my “followers” are not so much following me, as they are buying into that blogging rule that “to get followers, you have to be a follower.”  I recognized that early on, and since I didn’t come here to build up a huge site, I have been careful to only follow those blogs I am genuinely interested in reading.  And I am grateful for many I have met here at WordPress, even carrying some of those connections over to other social media platforms.  But the bottom line is, I don’t think any of my followers are truly harmed by my prolonged silence.  Or so I tell myself, at least…

I find myself remembering my ghostwriting days, when I would receive a small fee for writing someone else’s book, and I would get no credit or rights to the published work.  It worked as a source of occasional income, but it was fraught with its own ethical pitfalls.

In most cases, I never met the “actual” author, and I preferred it that way, really.  I would simply receive a packet of information, a synopsis of what the work should be about, and a deadline.  It was my job to sort, organize, draft and edit the manuscript, then later make whatever changes the author or publisher needed.  Not difficult, until I encountered (what to me seemed) glaring errors in data collection or conclusions.  Then I had to make a choice: write what the author wanted (even though I strongly disagreed), try to convince the publisher to convince the author to revisit the data, or simply alter it myself, and hope for the best.  I tried all three at different times, but it was the first and last that proved the most significant for me in terms of learning.

In the first scenario, I found I couldn’t live with myself comfortably after sending out knowingly flawed work, even though my name and reputation were nowhere near the published product.  Even now, that bitterness taints my tongue everytime I think of that particular book.  In the third scenario, I learned a lot about what I now call multi-dimensional writing – a situation where particular words and/or grammatical structure are used to convey different meanings depending upon the readers’ preconceived biases and expectations.  In other words, I would carefully construct the text (using connotative and denotative meanings, word order, idiom and specialized jargon) to present data that the author would recognize as their “own,” while allowing others, like me, to interpret differently.  It is a skill I still use today; anytime you encounter an oddly phrased bit that makes you want to reread it, you’ve likely found an example of this.

Why does any of this matter?

Because a dear friend of mine recently discovered “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, and brought it to my attention.  (NOTE: This title has now crossed my path three times since I wrote this, from three separate, unconnected in space, sources.)  I read this book back in the late 1990’s, though I didn’t remember much about it other than the first Agreement: Be impeccable with your Word.

But she had the audio version, and really wanted to share it with me, so we went for a long drive and listened to it.  (We actually were going somewhere, not just driving around to listen to the CD.  Lol!)  Once I heard the words again, I realized how deeply I had been impacted by them originally, as everytime we paused to discuss, we would find our words repeated in the next section.  It was uncanny how much of what I practice and believe, especially about language and writing, is reflected in the words of that book!  It is a source I highly recommend to any writers out there who wonder about the impact of their work…

And suddenly I better understood my recent restrictions on writing anything at all; if our words truly do influence our environment, as I believe they do, then using them carefully and sparingly in times of great conflict makes sense.  And maybe it’s not even about whether or not I reach or influence you, but rather about how I influence my self!  Because I am not immune to my own influence, you know; the more frequent and convicted my words, the more likely I am to believe them, and act accordingly.  It’s a self-determining path, and I have strong convictions these days…

But I “needed” to remain open to possibilities that had not yet occurred to me.  And I could not do that if I was busy convincing myself of what I already believed.  So silence called to me…  And I listened.

Of course, it didn’t help that my usual “channels” for gathering information were clogged with unwanted information.  Every time I tried to meditate, or lately sleep, I was assaulted with disturbing and/or terrifying imagery; “lost” strangers, animals suffering and dying, the Earth moaning under inconceivable destructive pressures, snipers taking aim at people, and most recently, babies being tortured.  I couldn’t concentrate enough to get beyond the images, so the “source” of my creativity dried up…

But that is finally shifting, as more positive images begin to take root in my subconscious mind and heart.  I am emerging from my long silence with more detachment, less need for meeting expectations, and a greater desire to write sparingly about what matters most to me.

Consider yourselves warned… 😉

Standard