Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 14: At A Loss

Strangely, while Tater and I were practicing a guided mediation from How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life my mind was a buzz, but now that I'm trying to think of what to blog I'm at a complete loss.
(Image provided by Dan Shirley.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 13: A New Approach

For the last couple of days, I've been taking a different approach to dealing with the stress of my divorce. Rather than ruminating about it and worrying about handling it perfectly, I've taken to deliberately forgetting about it for short periods of time.

For example, I woke up this morning with the awful thought that maybe the ex hasn't changed the locks after all. I remember vaguely that the lock was stiff because of some work we had done to realign the door. Maybe I just didn't try hard enough to turn the key. We tossed around the idea of trying it again, but I realized that would accomplish nothing positive so we stuck to the original plan: we went to Multnomah Falls.

Then we went and had amazing 30 minute massages at Beyond Bliss. Talk about letting it all go! That was probably the most therapeutic thing I've done since the separation.

Naturally, the issues of the divorce don't just go away because I stop thinking about them for a while. For instance, I still want to get the last of my stuff from the condo, but now I fear that I am completely at the mercy of the ex to make that happen and I hate it. I can't wait until I am fully out of his grasp. But right now I'm not sure how I should proceed in negotiating the release of my things. So I will wait until I do. This exemplifies the crux of the internal battle that has waged war in my soul during this process.

For me, one of the biggest challenges of this whole divorce process has been knowing when to stand up and fight and when to relax and let things unfold. This continues to be a mystery to me, but for now I intend to do as Baron Baptiste suggest "let go and let good." I'm going to trust that it will all work out in the right time and the right way and that I will be guided when and how to act. Hopefully, it will work out that way.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 12: Retail Therapy

Today my mom and I had planned to go to my condo and get the last of my stuff from the ex's clutches, but it appears that when he sent me the following e-mail, "After further thought I am not okay with your plans to come to the condo while I am not around to remove articles from the house. I am not arguing with you about this", he really meant, "Don't bother coming over to get the last of your stuff like we discussed a couple of weeks ago. I changed the locks and you're not going to be able to get in."

My mom and I were both frustrated, but this latest play from the ex deck. We tossed around the idea of calling a locksmith, but that just sounded like too much work, so we -- like the rest of America -- soothed ourselves with some good old fashioned retail therapy.
(Thanks to Svilen Mushkatov for the image.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day 11: Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing us all many blessings to be thankful for today and in the years to come.

(Thanks to Bill Davenport for the image.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 10: Balance

This morning I did yoga instead of meditating. I have to say that, so far, though I find value in yoga, meditation and prayer, I really enjoy the mental after effects that come from practices yoga. It calms my buzzing brain and heightens my awareness.

One of the poses in my routine this morning was tree pose. Normally, this is an easy pose for me, but this morning I found myself wobbly, searching for balance.

Actually, this is something I've been searching for for a long time.

(Thanks to Michael Lorenzo for the image.)

Day 9: Cheating

It occurs to me that I've been cheating over the last few days.

After I started mediation last week, I quickly became frustrated with the concept of letting go of my thoughts. I wanted to make sure that they went to good use so I turned to prayer. I think I believed like it was a way to control the outcome of my thoughts.

But according to How Not to Be Afraid of Your Life letting go of my thoughts is the point.

(Thanks to Felipe (Aladim) Hadler for the picture.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 8; Chaos

I woke up late this morning and didn't have time to meditate. So, I picked a mantra to focus on periodically throughout the day. By the end of the work day, I was a wreck. I was fighting back tears and my mind was swirling.

(Image provided by Robert Kossakowski.)

By the time that I got home I had started to calm down enough to go for a walk, make dinner and watch True Blood, but after it ended the flood of thoughts was back. So I locked myself in my room and prayed and mediated on my breathing. I feel much more relaxed, but not completely free.

For tips on calming the chaotic mind see:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 7: No Longer Enemies

Tater and I often walk around the short trail in the small park next to our house in the morning. To the right there are two fields one with horses and one with llamas. To the left there is a "compound" with a rottweiler and a bulldog.

When we walk by the dogs Tater goes ballistic, pulling at his leash, barking and yelping. I hate it because he usually ends up choking himself. I've tried bribing him to sit calmly in front of the dogs with treats, but he would just get anxious as soon as we started to move again. I've tried letting him meet the dogs but he just tried to fight them through the fence. I've tried walking with a squeaky toy to distract him, but he ignored it.

So this morning I decided to try something new. I prayed that God would let there be peace between the dogs. Testing the effect of my prayer, I let Tater approach the two dogs who stood waiting anxiously behind the fence.

At first their hackles were raised and they were growling and barking, but then dogs started running back and forth along the fence. After a few moments of this, I let Tater off the leash and the dogs played and ran back and forth for at least a half an hour. I haven't seen Tater have that much fun in a long time. He actually wore the rottweiler out, but he still didn't want to leave.

Now all I have to figure out is how to get Tater to walk by the dogs without wanting to play all the time!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 6 post 2: Reputation

I think God is calling me to go to church, but I'm afraid to go alone and I'm afraid to tell my roommate where I'm going. Plus, I'm not sure where to go.

I found myself talking to God about this today and asking him how I can be a christian and still be cool. (I've always been afraid that believing and obeying God will result in me becoming a total dweeb.) I had to laugh when he gently reminded me that I've never been cool!

(Thanks to Miguel Saavedra for the image.)

Day 6: Challenge

Practicing today was more difficult than I anticipated. I woke up lazily, started reading some verses on prosperity, meditated and prayed. I anticipated having the entire day to stay in my room and practice, but before I knew it I was up and attending to things: Tater needed to go potty, the dishes had to be done, the roommate wanted waffles, I had to go to the library. By the time I got back I was exhausted so I took a nap. When I woke it was time to make cookies. Then I got sucked into How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. When the movie ended I took Tater for a short walk and then made dinner and then my mom called. Whew!

(Thanks to Alison Oxley for the image.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 5: Remorse

I received the following text today from my soon to be ex-husband "Lawyer said the papers should be ready soon." This means that we should be getting close to finalizing the divorce. I should be happy. This is what I've been saying I wanted for months. But I'm not happy. I'm sad that our marriage failed.

I'm sorry for all the awful things I said and did to him. I'm sorry I married him. I'm sorry I hurt my friend by dating him, her ex-boyfriend. I'm sorry I let him treat me so poorly. I'm sorry that my parents paid thousands of dollars for a wedding we all knew was doomed. I'm sorry I didn't trust God, didn't run to God, didn't ask God for guidance and wisdom and love.

I wonder how differently this would have all turned out if I had. I wonder how my future will be different if I do.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 4: Prayer

I learned to pray in Sweden. I would steal away from the rest of the Bible school students and hide in the bathroom, the closet or somewhere in the woods and write to God in my journal. But when M left it broke my heart and I stopped talking to God.

That was 10 years ago. I've attempted to pray on a few occasions since then, but I haven't felt like I was actually talking to God again until this morning.

I thought I could get away with just meditating, but it felt like there was something missing, so I decided to pray.

To help me get back into the groove I'm listening to The Power of Simple Prayer by Joyce Meyer. There are parts of the audio book that are a bit over the top for me--spiritual warfare particularly--but I can relate to the basic concept of being friends with God and I'm looking to developing that relationship over the next month and a half.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 3: Choose Your Own Adventure

When I was a kid I used to love getting strep throat and I got it a lot. I loved it because it meant going to the doctor and getting the yummy banana flavored medicine and it meant that I got to read the choose your own adventure books in the crowded waiting rooms. Fortunately the wait was usually long enough for me to follow almost every scenario before seeing the doctor.

Today, it occurred to me that real life is a lot like a choose your own adventure book. It's a series of choices from "What should I wear to work today?" to "Who should I marry?"

I find this concept both comforting and overwhelming because it implies that I have some control, but what if I make the wrong decision. But it's not really about making the right or wrong choice. Is it? It's about understanding that different choices have different outcomes. This is true in the realm of the mind as well.

As I sat down to meditate this morning I created an intention to dwell on something positive and I realized that I can choose my own thoughts and what I choose to ruminate on will affect the quality of my mental life. Then I realized that I have been making myself miserable by dwelling on the negative.

This concept was driven home for me while I listened to Julie Moraga speak about Emotional Intelligence at a workshop this afternoon presented by the Oregon Columbia International Association of Business Communicators. A few minutes into her presentation she said "It's your choice. You choose how you're going to feel."

Naturally, in order to do this she said you must be aware of what you're thinking and you must be willing to pause and replace your thoughts with more useful ones. Herein lies the challenge, but that is one of the reasons I've decided to meditate every day for the next month and a half.

I know I'm not really supposed to have any expectations, but I do anyway. I'm really hoping that this practice will help me become more aware of what's going on in my mind so that I can begin to consciously choose more fruitful adventures in the future.

If that doesn't work, maybe I'll at least make my mind a more pleasant place to wait while I watch the adventures of my life play themselves out.

Oscar Wilde Got It

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, there passions a quotation." --Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 2: Just Got To Be Me

In high school, I had a poster of four penguins hanging on my wall. Three of the penguins looked exactly the same in their black and white garb, but one had on a bright pink scarf with purple polka dots. Underneath the penguins were the words "Just Got To Be Me."

And that is what I am setting out to do with this new habit of meditation practice. According to Shunryu Suzuki suggests in Zen Mind, Beginners Mind I'm on the right track. He says the point of practicing zazen is not necessarily to reach enlightenment, because not everyone does. Rather the point of practicing is to connect with our true nature, our true selves and that is what I seek -- to get to know my true self.

I've spent my whole life comparing myself to others and trying to make myself into a mold that will come out on top to no avail and I'm exhausted from my futile effort. Now it's time to finally do as my old poster suggests.

So, this morning I woke up early and this time I skipped the coffee and went straight to the pillow. This was good because it didn't disturb Tater and he slept through most of my meditation. One less distraction!

Despite this, my meditation session was still fraught with noisy thoughts and sore muscles. So afterward I followed a morning flow practice from The back bends and shoulder stand left me feeling a little more relaxed and limber.

Unfortunately, the rest of the day was uneasy emotionally. Most likely because I was tired from staying up late last night watching The Starter Wife and getting up early to meditate. I even gave in and bought a pack of cigarettes this afternoon.

I know it's only been two days, but I had hoped to be transformed into my true "pristine" self by now. But maybe that's not the point. Maybe the point is to meet myself where I am and to observe what I do and why with compassion and curiosity. Like observing an animal in their natural habitat. For now, that is the tactic I will employ.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 1: Observe Yourself

I was so excited to get up and meditate this morning that I kept waking up during the middle of the night thinking I'd missed my alarm.

However, the meditation itself was far from enlightening. My mind was incredibly busy for just waking up. I tried focusing on my breath, but my internal chaos wasn't the only distraction I had to battle. There were plenty of external stimuli to keep my mind busy. For instance, my back was sore, the cup of coffee next to me kept taunting me and Tater kept scratching at the door.

But listening to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind I remembered what I had read before: It's not necessarily about having a clear mind. It's about observing your mind and getting to know yourself. And that is what this is all about: getting to know myself.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I finished listening to Eat, Pray, Love as I was driving into the parking garage at work. This cathartic book tapped the emotional pain I've been stuffing and instigated the release I've been needing and it couldn't have come at a better time. It was like her words translated the moans of my soul.

Of course she's beautiful and she falls in love at the end of the book, which is a little annoying, but I really resonated with the search for spiritual balance. In fact, this was solidified by a vision I had after practicing a heart opening yoga pose on Saturday morning.

After coming out of camel pose, I saw myself walking up the hill behind the Bible school in Sweden. The sun shown high in the sky on the rock walled cow pastures as I crested the hill. I was alone and I was smiling. At that moment it hit me. I missed communing with God and myself as I had in Sweden and it was time to finally figure out how to get that communion back in the real world.

So I'm embarking on a spiritual quest starting tomorrow. I'm going to sit for 30 minutes a day until January 1. I'm also listening to a variety of audio books on meditation and prayer to help me figure out what methods resonate with me. I'm looking forward to this new journey.

I pulled out my shall from the wedding and covered one of my meditation pillows and stuck it up against the wall to make it more inviting. I intend to go straight there from bed in the morning. I also intend to do yoga a few times a week and to walk almost every day.

I plan to chronicle my experience here each day.

This Weekend

For an uneventful weekend, a lot happened:
1) I learned that my parents are dating again. (They divorced approximately 3 years ago.)
2) Tater turned 3.
3) The ex informed me that he doesn't think he'll be able to refinance the condo and that we'll probably have to sell.
4) I managed to make it through my first phone conversation with him sans cigarette before, during or after since we split last may. (Boy do I wish I had one now.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Are you my lover?

Lately, I remind myself of the little bird in Dr. Suess' Are You My Mother?

Only instead of looking for my mom - I'm fortunate to have a fantastic mom who's always there for me when I need her - I seem to be asking "Are you my lover?" to just about every relatively attractive man I encounter. (In my head of course.)

This surprises me because I was recently reminded that I'm better off without a man at this stage in my life. In fact, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude the other day for my divorce because it's the impetus I've needed to finally pursue my writing.

But I'm so new to this writing stuff. And I'm still trying to figure out who I am. A partner would most likely just get in the way of this process because at this point in the game I'm still apt to give away my whole self to try and keep that someone interested.

So I'm not sure why I seem to be "on the hunt" when what I really want is to solidify my independence before I get involved with someone else. Hopefully, at that time when I'm finally ready to be myself and be in a relationship, I'll be able to find someone amazing!

Until that time, I guess I'll just have to appreciate potential suiters from a far and be thankful that my heart is not completely petrified.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Other Favorite Thing From Today: Country Music

I was just befriended by Jayson Rettig on Facebook. I went to middle school with him and it turns out his a very talented musician. Check out his MySpace page to listen to his soul stirring songs.

I Never Thought I'd love a Show About Vampires, but I Do

Tonight we watched the latest episode of True Blood, a new show on HBO about the south where some vampires are trying to assimilate into main stream society because there's now synthetic blood that they can drink instead of humans.

It's based on The Southern Vampire Series with Sookie Stackhouse. There are werewolves, shape shifters and exorcisms. Oh my! It's gruesome and sexy. I'm riveted by each episode and find myself longing for the next one almost immediately. If you don't get HBO download it from the Internet or get the DVDs as soon as they come out.

My roommate just ordered the first two books in the series. I can't wait to read them when he's done.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Newest Crush

I went to Wordstock on Sunday. It was incredible! Five dollars for a whole day of soaking in the musings of some of the most talented authors from both in and out of town.

I was so high from the experience, I was falling in love with everyone, from the AV guys at the stages to the authors themselves. That guy who wrote House of Sand and Fog is totally the hot professor that all his females students would want to do, but truth be told it was the gay guy who really stole my heart!

Marc Acito read a chapter from his new book Attack of the Theater People and it was funny and poignant in a natural way. Not like those works that seem like the author was trying so hard and you have to work with them as you read it or listen to it in order to really enjoy the piece.

I was truly inspired by him. I would now like to write funny, cynical chic lit. I'm finally willing to admit it: I love chic lit. I've been known to love real lit to, but my heart has always gravitated toward chic lit. Who didn't love Bridget Jones' Diary, Dirty Girls Social Club and Sex and the City.

However, during this torturous process called divorce, I find that your traditional chic lit just doesn't do it for me. It's too hopeful. So I want to write things that reach those of us who have been burned by love, but I'm tired of self-help and depressing, so I want it to be funny.

Now I just have to learn how to make people laugh on paper.

P.S. Congrats to Marc who's blog was voted as one of the best 50 chick lit blogs.