Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Patience, Grasshopper

...continued, from here...

Within six months of getting into recovery, I'd gotten a really good job, left the relationship I was in, and moved out, first living with a roommate in her home for 15 months, and then truly on my own.

By and large, other than working, my life now was about recovering myself ~ who I was and what I wanted, doing a lot of deep, hard personal exploration.  I read every recovery book available at the time and began to get a grasp on my issues, primarily my co-dependency and love addiction.

By 1990 I'd quit that really good job to study horticulture and organic gardening and farming.  This was the first time I'd consciously moved toward something that felt dear to my heart.  At the end of the coursework and internship I was doing, I realized I wouldn't be able to support myself doing what I really wanted to do, which was to live in a rural area.  I needed to look for work again and it was going to have to be administrative work if I hoped to make it on my own.  But I was finished with Santa Cruz.  The Loma Prieta earthquake pretty much destroyed the Santa Cruz I had known.  And too, Santa Cruz had become home, and it was definitely time for me to leave home.  I found an even better job in San Francisco, and moved there in January 1991.

I went to some 12-step meetings in San Francisco when I first moved there, but never really felt at home as I had with my recovery family in Santa Cruz.  Eventually I started seeing a therapist and would continue for about a year and a half.

The job I was doing, which I was excelling at in terms of what I had been hired to do, was extremely difficult in what it required of me personally (a lot of travel, countless presentations to groups of people, sucking up to incompetent superiors, office politics...).  Add to this that I was now digging into my past in therapy, weekly dredging up all that old painful shit.  I became very depressed.  My therapist never suggested or even mentioned antidepressants.  I wondered, later, how much progress I might have made had I been in therapy while I was on medication.  Nevertheless, I quit therapy (not an easy process, as most therapists try to keep you coming back by making you feel guilty for following your own intuition).  And later that year, 1993, after reading Listening to Prozac, which had just been published, I got myself on Prozac, via a psychiatrist at Kaiser who I only went to for the meds.  That book made me realize that I'd been depressed (with dysthymia, chronic low-grade depression) for many, many years, likely my entire life.  I've been on Prozac (actually Fluoxetine now) ever since.

My starting to take Prozac was another watershed moment for me.  Within three months I'd begun to feel like a real person, for the first time.  All the old stuff was still there, but it was in the background now and I could move forward with my life.  About a year later, fall of 1994, I quit that soul-sucking job.  Probably the best thing about it had been that I was paid enough to be able to put money away to live on for a year while I figured out what to do/where to go next, and to get me started in a new life when I finally did move.

Meanwhile, in my last couple years in San Francisco, I continued reading whatever self-help materials were being published, while moving in a more spiritual direction.  I went to a couple of workshops at California Institute of Integral Studies and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin.  I began making weekend forays into Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, and eventually into Humboldt County, looking for the next place.

And I found what I was looking for in Humboldt County, in summer 1995.  When I relocated here, on Labor Day Weekend that year, I had a great cabin in the mountains to move into and a job waiting for me in Garberville.  I refer you to this post, Back to Scratch from July 28, 2014, for details of my time in southern Humboldt.  And this post, Good Ideas from July 30, 2014, that fleshes out more of my initial journey into Humboldt.

So, the thing was, moving to rural Humboldt County was the first time in my life that I had zeroed in on what I really wanted to do and where I wanted to go, I did the research and the due diligence, and I made the move.  I had a tremendous amount of creative energy at that time, a huge backlog of things I wanted to pursue, and the personal/emotional empowerment to do it.  This was the first time in my life that I'd felt truly free to create the life I wanted.  That's why I took on so many things at once when I lived in southern Humboldt.  I'd been champing at the bit to live my life my own way, and I felt terrific, in every way.

Monday, October 20, 2014

More, Better, Different

...continued, from here...

By the early 1980s...after I'd left Santa Cruz in 1977, camped on Maui for a few months, gone back to Santa Cruz briefly and then down to Los Angeles briefly, then went to Europe for a couple months, and back to Maui to live for two years...I was remarried and relocated to Boulder where I was now living.

I'd had no clear idea who I was during all that time.  I felt comfortable nowhere, I couldn't stay focused for very long on anything, had nothing to call my own and nowhere to hang my hat.  I felt utterly alone even when I was with friends, disconnected from myself and from life in general.  I felt like the perpetual outsider, a chameleon always trying to fit myself in to others' lives.  With no sense of identity, it was a lot less painful for me to go through the motions of married life again than keep trying to tough it out on my own.   Which was one reason why I found myself remarried.  The other reason was that I needed to return to the mainland, and I had no financial resources of my own at that point with which to do it.

In the early 80s, I did the est training for the second time and took most of the est graduate seminars and workshops.  By the mid-80s, I had returned to Santa Cruz (from Boulder), divorced my second husband and was living with another man.  I was simply unable to be with myself yet.  I had no sense of myself out in the world, making it on my own.  I felt so beaten down (figuratively mostly), so unsure of myself, still horribly shame-bound, and immensely uncomfortable in my own skin. 

I continued doing est work during this time, and also took major weekend workshops from one or another of Werner's spin-off trainers.  The thrust of all of this "technology" was to empower you to be your best self, to be more than you had been, better than you ever were, and altogether different from your former self.  Sounded great to me...except I didn't know who I was to begin with.  So in the end, all that work on myself just made me feel like I didn't/couldn't measure up.

In addition to those trainings, at the same time I listened extensively to Ramtha and Lazaris, two channeled entities who took the personal-growth movement by storm in the mid-1980s. In retrospect, I imagined I could take on those teachings and become a spiritual person without having to do the deep work on myself that proved necessary in the long run, work that I still didn't know awaited me.

I'd always had strained relations with my mother.  Although I had married and left Los Angeles in 1971, even from afar her negative influence (her cold dismissal, her invasive needling, her schizoid behavior and attitudes toward me, her neverending strident opinions on everything I was or did) followed me insidiously wherever I went and whomever I was with.  In 1987 a major personal event happened.  It was a dinner out in Palo Alto with me, my man, my mother and stepfather, my step siblings and their spouses. Consider for a moment the fact that I had become the stepdaughter for my mother once she'd married my stepfather in the mid-1960s.

At this dinner, after a couple of drinks, my mother just laid into me at table, she pulled every punch she had to get to me, to humiliate and disparage me in front of my family (this was certainly not the first time she'd done this), to push me away, to let me know that she thought I was sick and not normal.  I stuffed my rage momentarily, and as we walked out of the restaurant, I asked her what it would take for us to have a relationship based in the present (instead of her constantly bringing up minor mistakes I'd made 25 or 30 years earlier, as she just had).  She turned on her heel, barked "I'm not going to make you any promises," slapped me across the face, and ran out of the restaurant screaming, "I never want to see you again for as long as I live."

Something snapped inside me that night.  The following week, I got myself into 12-step recovery programs.  I still wouldn't realize for years to come that my mother was truly mentally ill (and no one else in my family would ever see that), but I had just groked that alcohol was always present when she became especially abusive of me.  So I began my recovery journey in Adult Children of Alcoholics.  Getting into recovery was a watershed moment for me.  From Adult Children I branched out to CoDependents Anonymous, Survivors of Incest Anonymous (yes, I was), and the Augustine Fellowship (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous).  I really worked these programs.  I went to one meeting or another most days of the week and sometimes twice a day, for three years.

This period in recovery was the first time I was able to begin to see that my problems weren't of my own making ~ i.e., that I wasn't innately defective as had been hammered into me.  That a lot of abusive stuff had been done to me, mostly emotionally and psychologically, but physically and sexually as well.  That my interpersonal difficulties and problems with intimacy were the result of my mother's madness and the fact that I'd had no positive role models for anything.  I also realized, now, that I wasn't alone; although people's stories were different, here were rooms full of other people who felt as sick inside as I did.

I read John Bradshaw extensively during this time, and got myself into a 30-day in-patient treatment program based on Bradshaw's work on dysfunctional families, at the end of 1989.  I did this deep, painful work on my own, meaning I had no family support for working on major family issues.  My family was then and always would be in denial about everything.  My mother had brainwashed them into believing that I was a bad seed, a constitutionally bad person, that I had been born with egregious character defects.  And they believed her ~ she was larger than life, not someone to take issue with over anything.  It was her way, or the highway. 

That event that happened with my mother in 1987 was the beginning of a nine-year split from my family.  In 1996 I initiated contact again, when I was in a much better place, and we had relatively peaceable relations for another four years until she went off on me again in 2000.  I was out of touch once again until a very brief time in 2003, which would be the last time I had any contact with my family.  My mother died in 2013.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

That time spent in recovery programs gave me a new lease on life, or at least supported me enough emotionally to begin to get my life together.  Until that time, as I said earlier, I'd had no innate sense of being able to take care of myself.  I thought I needed to be in relationship, I thought somebody would take care of me.  I know this thinking was probably common among some women in my age cohort, because that's the way a lot of us were raised.  But for me, it was also having been raised with relentless conflicting messages that left me unable to move forward, paralyzed  ~  "You can do anything you want to do in life!"  "I forbide you from doing that!"  "You're talented, you're smart, you have so much self confidence!"  "How could you be so stupid?  It's your own damn fault.  You made your bed, now lie in it!"   For this highly sensitive person that I am and was, that continual litany of psychological abuse completely incapacitated me.  I was already in my late 30s by the time I got into recovery.  I'd lost a lot of lost time floundering around in life.

To be continued, here...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Journey Begins

For as long as I can remember, I've been a self-reflective person.  I've come to see it as my karma that I was borne and raised by an increasingly-insane mother, in a dysfunctional family where I got all the blame, shame and scapegoating.  So self knowledge has been a major theme for me this time around as I've journeyed through the muck of who I was and where I came from to whom I've become...and what was rightly my stuff and what was foisted on me by others throughout my life.

The tale I'm going to tell you is, in effect, that memoir I spoke of a couple months back.  But told from the inside out, in the voice of the real me who was trying, in so many painful fits and starts, to find out who I was and what I wanted in life.  I was raised in a situation where everything I wanted to do or be was prohibited or discouragingly criticized.  So by the time I left home, I had no idea what was me and what wasn't.  I was running away, but I had no clue what I was running toward.  It took me a very long time to get some ground beneath my feet.

There's really no difference to me between personal growth, self development, and spiritual awakening -- I see them on a continuum.  My trajectory through personal growth, which began in the early 1970s, led eventually to self development (aka attempts to fix myself), which empowered my self understanding and eventual spiritual maturation.  You could liken my path as from the occult, like Astrology, to mindfulness of right-now reality, as in Buddhism.  Including pretty much everything in between.

I graduated college with a degree in psychology.  I'd never planned to be a psychologist; rather, I'd hoped to begin to learn some things about myself.  The field of psychology in the late-60s/early-70s was all about rat behavior, social and industrial psychology, physiological psychology, and abnormal behavior as in psychoses.  Nothing humanistic, transpersonal, self-awareness or Jungian about it.  My personal curiosity about myself and what made me tick, though, had begun and would never end.  

Instead of launching into a career after graduating, in 1971 I married my first husband, and we relocated to Santa Cruz from Los Angeles.  I worked at UC Santa Cruz and took my first personal growth-type workshops through UCSC's Employee Development Department.  Re-Evaluation Co-Counseling was offered, and through that I began to delve just a little bit deeper into myself.  Also, a good friend at the time soon became involved with the San Francisco Zen Center, and my visits with her inspired me to read Alan Watts.  I also read other pop psychology authors of the time, including Ellis, Maslow, Rogers, Assagioli, Perls.

My nascent soul stirring made me realize I wasn't happy in my marriage.  I didn't know who I was or what I wanted, only that I didn't want to have to dumb myself down by playing the wife in a planned-childless marriage where there was no true intimacy.  There had to be more to life, and more to myself.

We separated and then divorced in the mid-1970s, and I began what would become a 35-year journey of ongoing transitions in my personal life:  geographic changes (from Santa Cruz to...Maui, back to Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Norway/Denmark/England, Maui, Boulder, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Humboldt County), relationship changes (including a second five-year marriage, a three-year cohabitation, and countless shorter-term attempts at love relationships), travels (to Europe as mentioned above, and Bali in 1984), job changes and a career arc, and many house moves within most locations.

During the early part of my journey, in the late 1970's, I was into the occult and sampled Eastern philosophy.  I'd had my astrological chart done for the first time (a totally right-on analysis of my life and what I was/would be up against throughout my life (MANY squares and oppositions in my chart), that set the context for what was to come), I studied Tarot, I threw the I Ching compulsively. There was an Arica House in the Santa Cruz mountains and I went to group sessions there for a while.  I read a lot of Eastern masters of the time ~ Muktananda, Baba Hari Das, Sai Baba, Krishnamurti, Swami Satchidananda.

Also during this time, I took est (Erhard Seminars Training) for the first time, and while I was on Maui, in 1978 I took psychology courses at Maui Community College taught by an instructor whose work at the time was steeped in Ira Progoff's Intensive Journal Work.  So I wrote my heart out for the better part of a year, looking deeply at my life for the first time, writing about pretty much every nuance of every early relationship, every event, and every steppingstone and intersection I'd negotiated in my life up til then.

The legacy of my childhood and adolescence, having been raised with the particular set of circumstances that I had been, was that I felt wholly defective.  I wasn't like anybody else, at a time when conformity was something one strived for and being one's natural self was shunned.  I came of age feeling shameful and sick inside.  Which is why I kept moving.  I was looking for a connection with people and/or places where I felt like I fit in.  Although there were high points and short-term alliances with individuals and groups of people, I wouldn't truly feel good about myself, inside, for another 25 or 30 years.

But by the late 1970s, it was still early days of my self-knowledge.  All the personal growth work I'd done thus far had been undertaken in an effort to understand myself so I could FIX myself ~ i.e., fit in, be "normal," conform.

To be continued, here...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Start of Something New

I finished this sketchbook/journal yesterday.  Technical Illustration was a vintage textbook, now it's something you can use for your own drawing.  The book is 7 x 10 inches, filled with 128 pages of heavy 80# drawing paper and four cardstock pockets.

And with this book, I'm starting to sell hand bound journals on my Sales Blog.  Technical Illustration is listed here.  I'll be listing a few of my earlier hand bound books as well as forthcoming books.  Now that I have a paper cutter, I can make books to sell.

I decided that I only wanted to sell books via my Sales Blog ~ i.e., that I don't want to sell at Etsy.  I hate competing, even if it means my market is a lot smaller by doing my own sales thing.  So be it.  You can tell your friends where to find my books.

About shipping books ~ all will be shipped by USPS Priority Mail, both domestic and international.  There's an automatic $6.50 shipping charge that will be applied to all book sales via PayPal.  International buyers will receive a separate invoice from me for additional shipping.  If you're in Canada, total shipping cost is $20.50, meaning I'll invoice you for an additional $14 after you purchase the book.  If you're elsewhere, the total cost to ship to you is $25, so you'll be invoiced for an additional $18.50 following your purchase.

Have a good late week.  xo



Monday, October 13, 2014

Hey...Cut That Out!!

I was in a bit of a tiny booklet frenzy yesterday, and made this batch to give away.  Check out those paint chips in the mix ~ perfect for little booklets.  I'll be getting me some more of those.

Finally, I got myself a paper cutter.  Two years of book arts cutting everything by hand, with the tools below.  Got to the point where I couldn't do it anymore because of the tension in my neck from holding the ruler down so the paper wouldn't shift.

My new cutter is a Dahle 15E.  I did a bunch of research on paper cutters, so if you're looking for one and haven't had one before, ask me what to look for.  I definitely knew I didn't want a mass-marketed consumer product like those made by Swingline, X-Acto, Fiskars and many others, and I even considered a way-more-expensive professional guillotine.  In the end I settled on this very-reasonably-priced, German-made, metal-based model from Dahle's less expensive line.  And I'm totally happy with it.

So I made those booklets primarily because I was hankering to cut some paper!  Now I've got a sketchbook project in the works, in the style of the journal I made last month in the NorBAG workshop I took.

If you're in the U.S., hope you have an enjoyable Indigenous People's Day today.  I refuse to call this legal holiday what they still call it in this country.

Peace.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Blast from the Past


I'm showing off two pieces of early work today.  The first is a handwoven throw made entirely of hand dyed, hand spun merino/silk blend top.  I arranged the warp and weft threads so that one corner of the throw, which measures about 30 x 60 inches, is completely lavender, and the diagonal corner is completely pea green.  The parts between slowly gravitate toward one color or the other. 

I love this piece...and if I weren't sharing my home with BeeGee or some other feline, it would be thrown over the back of my pea green couch.

This piece is a scarf knitted from mohair and silk, two singles plied together.  The basket weave pattern, which is really just enormous 10x10 seed stitch (ten stitches, ten rows), gave this scarf a summery feel.  I only wore it a couple times, though, because it itches.  I can't wear wool or any other animal fiber any longer, and haven't been able to for maybe 10 years.  Unfortunately, I still do have a few hand spun, hand knit sweaters that I rarely, if ever, wear now.  I can't bear to part with them; they're the last and best hand knit pieces I have.

It's been a busy week for me with more to do today.  Looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

I saw a new chiropractor yesterday, another of the few in Fortuna.  The other practice here, the one that I went back to as a Medicare patient after seeing my old practitioner in Eureka, suddenly decided that effective November 1 they would no longer be billing Medicare.  I would have to pay for service upfront, and then get my own reimbursement from Medicare.  What kind of patient care is that? 

So I switched, and I love my new guy.  He's the best chiropractor I've had in at least 20 years.  Way better than the practice I just left.  Glad I got on board before his practice gets inundated with other seniors who don't want to pay out-of-pocket upfront for chiropractic when Medicare reimburses chiropractors 80 percent of the cost.

I've been pondering a post about my 40-year journey through New Age Spirituality and why I eventually became a Buddhist.  Next week for that.

Have a good weekend.  xo 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing zine, October 2014 ~ back and front covers
This is my second zine, also created last week.  I did work out my technical issue with this one, so now I'm good to go. 

Gone Fishing, inside pages 2 & 3
I finished a couple of noteworthy books over the weekend ~ Infrared by Nancy Huston and Rust by Julie Mars.  Rust was especially fantasticI only wish the Humboldt Library system had more of Mars' books; I'll have to request through inter-library loan.

Gone Fishing, inside pages 4 & 5
Currently I'm reading The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black, and enjoying it a lot.  Beautiful, well written, first novel for this author.  The atmosphere and ambiance remind me of Peachtree Road, my favorite book by Anne Rivers Siddons, which would be worth reading again.

Gone Fishing, inside pages 6 & 7
Wrote a meditation haiku this morning ~

Calmly abiding
Thoughts hovering overhead
In peace I remain
  
Have a good week.  xo

Friday, October 3, 2014

Zine Fever

International Cats Zine, back and front covers
After weeks of zero inspiration and little creative energy, I finally made my first zine...two, actually.  This is the first one, International Cats.  For the uninitiated, tiny zines like this one are made from a single sheet of paper, folded to open like a regular book, with eight page surfaces.  The background for this is fabric that I scanned.
  
inner pages 2 and 3

inner pages 4 and 5

inner pages 6 and 7
I had a bit of technical difficulty with this one, something you likely don't notice at all.  Yesterday morning, in working out the bugs on a test piece, I created my second zine.  I'll upload that next week sometime.  Meanwhile, I've already started mailing these out.

It is an absolutely gorgeous fall morning on the North Coast.  Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, the air feels luscious.  It's supposed to be 81 today, which is HOT for us, and which can be stultifying here in Rose Cottage in the early evenings.  Right now, though, 8:15 in the morning, it is glorious. 

Hope you have a beautiful weekend.  xo

Monday, September 29, 2014

Coming Home

I began meditating not long ago...meditating as in establishing a daily practice that I am committed to.  Practice as in carrying out or performing a particular activity, method, or custom habitually or regularly, not as in practice makes perfect.  There's no perfection in meditation; there's only the practice of meditating.

I'd tried meditating many, many times previously.  But always, I thought there was somewhere I was supposed to get to...like a rock solid inner quietness where my mind would never wander.  But I could never get there.  So I'd stop meditating.

Or I would meditate on certain thoughts, particular thoughts that I imagined would change things in my outer world...things like, money would flow easily to me if I just thought it into being, or could truly let go of thoughts of lack or need.

I'm older and wiser now.  I know the mind does its own thing largely, and that this is the human condition.  I know that even people who've meditated for years still struggle with quieting their minds.  I know that we each have our own path in life and that the key to happiness is learning to simply be with what is, not in trying to will things to be different than they are.

I used to approach meditation like I approached working out...something I had to do, something I forced upon myself, something I felt guilty about if I didn't do, or didn't do often enough.  And when I had less apparent time to do it, it was easy to find reasons not to meditate.

I have the time now.  In fact, all I have now is time to meditate ~ whether that's actually sitting in meditation, or practicing mindfulness as well as I can in the rest of my everyday life.

I like meditating...but it's really not about whether I like it or not.  It's about having a time (thrice daily) and place where I can come home to myself, where I can touch in with my body, with whatever aches and pains are present, with my breathing, with my aliveness.  A time and place where I can viscerally grasp that I am a spiritual being in a human body...that I am on the right path, and that there is no wrong path.