Sep 30, 2005

30 days to serenity

September has been a month where things came to a head for me.

I don't function well when I'm tired. Ever since childhood, I've always gotten cranky when tired. After a weekend of little sleep, I got cranky at work last Monday, and the person I was cranky with (a regular co-worker) took it so badly, that my bosses were told.

So I had a meeting with my boss and his boss last Tuesday. Two very nice men, but I found it scary. I was afraid of losing my job.

I had a day off the day after. A day to reflect and rest up. But I found that I was so upset, I couldn't face going to work.

This year hasn't been much better than 2004. I tried to distract myself in March with my trip to California, but too much new and different plus the loss of my cat meant I didn't get my batteries recharged like I needed. I was looking forward to a peaceful summer vacation where I could completely suit myself, only to have it spent attending Grandma's funeral and to her affairs.

And then I gave up the key to Grandma's apartment. My last connection to her and Grandpa was severed and it hurt more than I expected.

I've been so wanting to take some time off work, but have no vacation time left. So feeling like crap, knowing I'd been overwhelmed, I called in sick. I was glad I did. I woke up angry Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (that is, I woke up, thought about the situation, and instantly got pissed off at my co-worker). Not good. Certainly not the right way to start the day if the idea is to not lose my cool at work.

So I spent my days at home tyring to think through my own behavior and how to handle the situation, only to realize that my anger was getting in the way. Finally, I realized I need to write off some of my steam first, and in so doing revisited past hurts from my childhood, and realized that some old wounds now need addressing and healing. Some of my reactions echo how I felt back when I was in school and being bullied. I don't know why this is coming to the surface now; maybe Grandma's death has removed a barrier in me or something.

Saturday morning was the first morning I woke up and didn't instantly get irritated.

I haven't written about this sooner, because I admit to feeling like a failure. I'm supposed to be so spiritual, using affirmations to get my life in order, but then I fall back on old, destructive ways and Kaphlooey!

But it wasn't for naught: The wounds that are surfacing need healing. It's time to put the pain of the past to rest. That I choose such dramatic methods, seems to be my usual modus operandi. But I have been thinking lately that it's time to address my temper.

In the past, my temper served me well. It let the people around me know that I wasn't happy with how they were treating me, and that I certainly wasn't going to go down and cave in to their abuse without a fight. My resulting distrust of people trying to get close to me, know my weaknesses or failings, was useful back then, too, but now that and my anger are only getting in the way.

I'm also tired of flaring up over little things. A cup bangs against the side of the sink as I'm putting it in the sink, and I cuss up a storm at it. That's an over-reaction. I don't want to raise my blood pressure or become an irritable old woman. Grandma was always so sweet to everyone and that definitely made it easier to get treated nicely back.

So I pored over my metaphysical books, battling with my loss of faith in that good things are meant to be the norm, and battling with my fear that maybe this isn't fixable. Maybe I really blew it.

But after five days at home, digging through my own library, catching up on other reading (and constantly getting reminders and guidance from various sources, including old magazines and Dr. Phil), writing out my thoughts, I found an affirmation in a Joseph Murphy book (see below), and I also rediscovered my faith. God had not left me, I was not alone. (Normally, I'd talk to Grandma about such things.)

I returned to work on Monday and my boss was happy to see me. My co-worker was skeptical about my new resolve to do better, to keep my negative feelings in check and always treat others well and without "bitchiness". I can understand his skepticism, but I'm not depending on his co-operation. I'm depending on myself (and God) to create a new habit for myself. It takes 30 days to create a new habit, so if I can keep reminding myself to stay on an even keel, be patient, and treat everyone with a smile (and to a smile) for 30 days (I started Monday Sept. 26), I'll have accomplished a lot, and by then, even my co-worker may notice.

I'll be having a meeting with Personnel on Monday. I've been thinking about asking for an anger management class or at least some kind of customer service training. I want to know how other people manage to handle customers fairly, nicely and patiently, no matter how they themselves feel. I have never been able to hide my feelings, to keep my emotions out of my voice, so this is all foreign territory to me. I definitely have something to learn.

What restored my faith

The affirmation that brought my faith back was hiding in my PDA, and is from Emmet Fox's "Diagrams for living", p. 104:
God in me is stronger than anything I have to meet. God has given me dominion over my circumstances. I let nothing in this situation frighten me for I know God is with me.

What I'm using for 30 days

The affirmation that I read and try to focus on with all my mind and heart is Entitled "Prayer for Controlling the Emotions", and is from Joseph Murphy's "The Amazing Laws of Cosmic Mind Power", p.151:

I am always poised, serene, and calm. The peace of God floods my mind and my whole being. I practice the Golden Rule and sincerely wish peace and good will to all men.

I know that the love of all things which are good penetrates my mind and casts out all fear. I am now living in the joyous expectancy of the best. My mind is free from all worry and doubt. My words of truth now dissolve every negative thought and emotion within me. I forgive everyone; I open the doorway of my heart to God's Presence. My whole being is flooded with the light and understanding from within.

The petty things of life no longer irritate me. When fear, worry, and doubt knock at my door, faith in goodness, truth, and beauty opens the door, and there is no one there. "O, God, Thou art my God, and there is none else."

Sep 16, 2005

Idling at work

I thougt today would be busy, but no. So I'm just waiting to leave for the weekend. The whole department is going on a weekend trip (seminar) so I'm packed and ready to go. For the first time I don't feel like I forgot anything ('cept my camera, but sometimes taking pictures is an interruption, not a pleasure).

I got tired last night, decided to go to bed early and instead get up early and pack in the morning. Even though I bugged myself during the night by waking up and saying to myself, "Do this! Remember that! Pack those!" and thought that maybe I should just get and pack already, I stayed in bed until the alarm went off a little past 5 am. I got up, did my usual doddling (which includes e-mail and news), and had an easy start to the day. Eventually, I was fed, showered and dress and tossing things into the living room that I wanted to remember to pack. The night before I had tried on clothes and had those picked out.

To my own amazement, I was packed and out of the house and on my way to work by 8:15 am. Usually, for weekend trips right from work, I'm strung out and show up late for work, and feel I forgot something (and usually have).

It was well worth tossing and turning for, but yes, I do need to figure out how to calm that brain of mine down. For those of you who have been missing astrology here, my Gemini Moon is one reason for a busy mind, but also Mars in Cancer retrograde can be very sensitive to stress (my stomach can tell you all about that).

Ah, yes, astrology. Perhaps it's time to rename this blog. My interest in charts has dwindled mightily, which doesn't bother me at all, but does surprise those who know me. My interest has dwindled before.

There are decisions to make if I put this particular hobby on the back burner: Redoing my website, deciding whether or not to continue the void-of-course calendars, and whether or not to keep participating in the fledgling Bergen Astrological Club, which I thought I would help start, then bow out, but the thing's looking like a non-starter.

The last meeting had one participant: Me. Good thing I have a Gemini Moon and can have whole conversations with myself. ;-)

Well, weather keeps changing today: Sunshine on one side of the building, rain on the other, and still more than half an hour to go before we're out of here, on our way to the train station.

Trains in Norway... There's only one line out of Bergen, due to the topography here. It's so darned hard to lay tracks across fjords so deep no one knows what's at the bottom. So they laid one track about 100 years ago across the mountains from here to Oslo. Manual labor, every inch of it. Prior to that, there really was no land connection that anyone used regularly; all connections were easier by sea, but that made Scotland closer to Bergen than Oslo was. Weird, really, that Norway's second largest city has only one railway connection. So we're going on that one track, up to the mountains, just on the other side of the watershed. It'll be cold at night (oh, I did forget something: A nightie. Oh, who cares.) and changing weather. I managed to pack for all eventualities except heat.

One thing's for sure: Without my cat there's a lot less fur on my clothes. Makes it easier to keep my black and dark blue clothes nice, but there are times when I'd rather have the cat. No, I don't want another pet. Not at this time. I don't know if ever again. I sometimes wonder if the 14 years I had with Sammy were a healing process, considering everything she taught me, and so to have another cat just wouldn't be the same. Sammy wasn't just a pet; she was a friend, a spiritual guide, an anchor for when I tried to float away. I'm a better person because of that pure goodness on four legs. I think a lot of pets do that sort of thing for their humans.

OK, I think I'm done idling for now. Someone sent me a bit of work to do. Yay!

Sep 13, 2005

Walking with the living dead

Shutting a door hurt. It really hurt. I breezed through the first 6 weeks after Grandma died, only to crash and burn something awful last week. By the time Friday came around, I had found hell again, that old familiar short-tempered and sulky me, and I just wanted to wall myself in.

A friend called Thursday and asked me to visit with him and his family for the weekend. I accepted. Good mental hygiene.

So, knowing I was going to be gone from Friday evening on, I bought a fresh bouquet of flowers and went to visit Grandma's grave.

She wasn't there. I mean, I go to her grave, and Grandpa's right next to it, and I can feel them there, I can talk to them and they answer back, and it keeps the loss and loneliness from getting under my skin.

But they weren't there this time. They were gone, moved on.

That hurt as much as giving up the key. No, it hurt more. I felt entirely homeless and abandoned.

So I crashed, and kept spiralling down.

I called my friend Friday night and said I wasn't coming. I was on the phone for half an hour and said 10 sentences. If you know me, you'll know that that is not a good sign. My talking is a barometer. I'm silent only when sleeping, sick or miserable. (Well, I haven't blogged much lately, have I.)

My friend called again Saturday to see if I'd had a change of heart, to see if I was all right. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the clouds were decorating the blue sky perfectly, and the temperature was actually pleasant and summery. I had a nice, short talk with my friend and felt inspired to go take a walk. I did not feel inspired to visit anyone.

I recharged my camera, and took myself off in the sunshine of a late afternoon. I noticed that autumn had arrived, and I was wondering when the heck did that happen? I also wished I had someone to walk with, companionship.

That's when Grandma showed up next to me, and next to her was Grandpa, and walking right in front of me like she always did in life, was Sammy.

All my loved ones on the walk with me. I was delighted. Then I had questions. Grandpa appeared to me as he had looked when I was little. Grandma kept appearing to me as she looked on a photograph with Grandpa, where the two of them are laughing themselves silly. A delightful photo. But why those ages now?

Grandpa's choice was to appear as he looked when he first met me, because that was one of his happiest moments. (He met me in the hospital when I was a newborn, accompanied by Grandma.) Grandma chose to appear as she looked when my mother was a baby.

"But that was one of the worst periods in your life, Grandma," I said. Grandma was widowed while still pregnant with my mother and she also had a toddler; earlier, Grandma had lost 3 siblings at various ages, and had even had a couple of miscarriages. And yet she managed to soldier on, and ended up very happy. So however bad things seem right now, it's all temporary, and I will get through it. She just wanted me to know that, and that's why she chose that age.

A real life kid startled my dead cat, breaking the "magic", so I said goodbye to my spirit companions, grateful for their being there for me. I had a fabulous walk and thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures, a hobby Grandpa introduced me to.

And so I realize I am not abandoned. My loved ones are definitely still here for me, and I will not dwell in hell forever.