GRATITUDE MORNING

It’s so easy to let moments, minutes and hours slip away on me. This morning I am practicing discipline not to do that. So here I am, fresh from a good night’s sleep to count my morning blessings.

  1. I always look forward to waking up in the morning when I go to bed each night. I am excited to see the sunrise and light up my sunroom.
  2. The sun came out at 6:30 this morning though the clouds hid it shortly after.
  3. The greenhouse is lush with abundance. There’s cucumbers and bitter melons hanging on the vine. Some of the pepper plants have reached the ceiling. There are peppers to be picked. I harvested 2 ripe Black Krim tomatoes for breakfast.
  4. I am enjoying my morning cup of tea with ginger.
  5. I am grateful that I have the strength to get up, dress up and show up and that I can live up to my word.
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NEVER ENOUGH TIME and NO GOOD TIME

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It’s almost a month since I’ve been here. It feels like a very long time. I’ve lost that sense of hominess for this space. That’s what happens when you get lost on your way home. I guess I will have to work my way back. Life feels so busy at this end of the toilet roll. Time speeds away on me. There’s never enough of it and there’s never a good time for a visit here. There’s always that ‘oh, maybe tomorrow.’

I’m finally sick of that refrain. I decided right this minute, I must find the words and rhythm again. I must find the way back to myself again. So here I am, laptop on my lap and feet up on the stool. I’m tired having baked 6 loaves of bread and done the cleaning. The loaves are cooling on the rack. I’ve ate 2 slices for sustenence and energy. It is that time in August when I start to feel a bit of autumn melancholy. The sun doesn’t show up at 5 or even at 6 am. I miss the early light but at least on most days, the sun shines at 7.

The weather and the world are chaotic. Still there are many things to be grateful for. I would be in a better space to name them all but I am at the end of the day. I’ve bagged the bread. They are now in the freezer. The garden is watered, whatever needs to be watered. I’m ready for supper and that glass of wine. And tomorrow if I time things right, I can return with my list of gratitude. I hear the call to the table.

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WILD WRITING – Slop Bucket in My Head

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Once in awhile I take Laurie Wagner’s free mini writing course on Wild Writing. She recites a poem. We listen and then write nonstop for 10 minutes. It’s a good practice. The poem I listened to this morning was Today’s Sermon by Cheryl Dumesnil. The poem, especially the first line ‘is slop buckets knocking against each other‘ really resonated with me. I feel somewhat like a slop bucket carrying everyone’s messy and tragic stories. Sometimes I feel like a mop sopping it up. Yes, I haven’t let go of the things that I should have. I can still hear the words of the neighbour from whom I sought commiseration. I’m still there, not letting go. I was in utter anger and distress at the time.

“Oh, Lily, you are just ripe for her. That’s just what she wants. That’s what she thrives on. I don’t know what I can say but you brought it on yourself. I don’t mind you coming over to visit but don’t bring your drama. This stuff is very hard on me.” A stillness came over me. I guess it was lightbulb moment. I said I was very sorry. She said she believed me.

The strangeness and stillness of the moment stay with me. Why strange? Because this woman have been living in my ‘hood for 20 years. We are in sight of each other but have not spoken or known each other’s names. That is until last year. By then we knew just that much and that was all. She had knocked on our door one day in October, gave us a card and burst into tears. The card was the funeral service for her son a couple of months prior. We did not know him or of him. She did not want to divulge the cause of death. We provided commiseration, hugs and offer of tea. The purpose of the visit was made clear moments later. Could we look after her house and plants when she will be away over Christmas? We gladly did. It was the right thing to do.

Then not long after I received a phone call asking me the name of my ‘ troublesome’ neighbour. She was at the polic station filing a complaint against her. Later, we listened to her long story for over an hour. Then we never heard from her again till late in December with offer of being ‘friends’ on FB. We accepted. Then the day before she was leaving for the Christmas holidays, a text message for me to come over for instructions. It was no small thing what we did for her. We checked her house every day for almost 2 weeks in the cold of winter. She has lots of plants to water all over the house. She just barely got back when I received at text at 11:pm telling me that her daughter had just died. I had not known she had a daughter. I wonder why she need to tell me and so late at night.

I texted condolences the next morning. I did not think it was appropriate for me to bother her at this time about returning the key. I did not have to worry about it for too long. She phoned me, requesting house sitting services again to tend to the tragedy. This time she will be away for 7 days. So how can one refuse in light of this? This was still in the middle of winter. She did thank us through a text message but did not come to retrieve her key as I had requested. I gave her time but in the end I delivered it into her mailbox. I texted her first of course.

I’m writing wildly, without censorship. I am writing wildly for clarity and healing. Obviously I was wrong in the assumption that I could count on her returning comfort and understanding. My drama was only one fold while hers was 3. I’m doing accounting but I am not mad or angry or even disappointed. I am just puzzled by the reception I received from her. She clearly showed me that we all see the same thing so differently. So I thanked her for a lesson learned. After all this tapping and bitching I’ve been doing, I discovered I do like myself. I like being open and vulnerable to others’ cries. I don’t think I am able to tell someone in their hour of distress not to bring their drama along.

I can live with the sound of slop buckets slopping in my head. I can sit with this discomfort, let it slop over onto the page, and or let it splash as art onto an index card. It’s much better not to sit with it. Being a drama queen is not such a bad thing. It’s not some terrible sin. It’s discharging distress. It just might save my life. But the next time someone knocks on my door, I’ll be more discerning. I like to help people but I don’t like being used.

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THE FLUTTER OF WINGS

I’m as grouchy as can be. I’ve taken a tylenol thinking if it doesn’t cure irritability, it might help my headache. It’s a sunny, warm 27℃. It feels hotter but the deck is still comfortable enough. There’s a strong breeze to cool things a bit. I enjoying a cuppa of decaf and a load off my feet when I heard the flapping of wings. I looked up and caught sight of a bird with things hanging from its bill on the edge of my deck cover. It made a few trips but my camera is not good or fast enough to capture the beautiful sight. This was the best I could do.

The distraction distracted my grumpiness and headache away. I think the nest is built and there are little ones in it. The mother is bringing food and checking on up on her babes. A chirp and I look up to see her sitting on the downspout of the eavetrough. I will not investigate but enjoy the show from where I sit. I do not have to know and see everything.

Nature heals and is much more potent than a doctor’s pill. It does not have any negative side effects – unless you put yourself in a path of a tornado which we’ve had in June, somewhere in Saskatchewan. The bird is still making return trips. It’s funny to see that it runs into the deck post and drops its load. Perhaps, it is still building. I can see that it’s long grassy looking things it’s carrying.

Thank you, my little feather friend for taking my mind to a higher and peaceful space. Happy nest builting.

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LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF ANGELS

Saturday. Five days have passed since my drama with my crazy neighbour. I’m almost back to normal but I will never be the same again. I am stronger and smarter. I know I cannot let my guard down with her and in no way can I engage with her. Knowing and saying all this is no guarantee though. I am human. I can slip up. Accidents happen. What cannot happen is I get reactive and angry. It can kill me. I remember all the emotions that ran through me. I was on fire with no escape. After 5 days, the fire is out. I’m left with a dull sorrow wondering how someone could hate me that much for no reason known to me. We live next door to each other but not in each other’s lives.

No, hate is not too strong a word. And no, it’s not a misunderstanding. I’ve lived beside this woman now close to 15 years. It was like this from the beginning. And if you ask me what’s it all about, it’ll be hard to tell you. And you probably think I’m the one causing the trouble. If it is not one thing, it is another. It never stops. I joined a support group with Narcissist Negotiators with Rebecca Zung. I was looking for support but I got trashed by some of the members. I was mocked for growing vegetables in the front ‘messy’ yard. My yard was a huge eye sore for my neighbour. She calls my raised garden beds coffins. She comes into my yard to ‘weed’ and mess around. Her driveway runs along beside my property but she feels she can plant little pine trees right next to my raised bed on my side. She claims she has inches beyond the driveway and she has right to access.

I am sure it all sounds very trivial and I agree. But she has thrown rocks at me because she didn’t like the way I landscape. She removes all the mulch we put around the cedars growing on our side. So we put in a little fence to keep the mulch on our cedars. She enlisted her boyfriend to pull it out. After these episodes we called the police liaison for help. They do help. It keeps her in check. Summer times are bad because we are outside more. Therefore more encounters of the ugly kind. Winters are not trouble free either. She used to shovel all the snow from her long, long driveway onto my yard. She has even thrown it over the back fence when she first moved in. I have asked her not to since I get water damage in my basement from the melting snow in the spring. She calls me crazy and talks over me. But now she can’t because of the cedar trees and raised garden beds. More reason for her hate.

You probably think I’m punishing myself reliving the shit in the retelling of the stories. Not true. The bite and sting of it are all gone. I can see that I contributed nothing to her treatment of me. I respect our boundaries. I do not tell her how to garden or landscape. I do not go onto her property to ‘weed’ or spray whereas she has done unto me. No, I cannot make peace and talk it over with her. She does not allow me to speak. She talks over me. Communication is important but in this case it is not possible. Talking with her is very dangerous for my health. The only tools I have is the police liaison and total disengagement. Once upon a time I would have found that sad. Once upon a time I thought it good to know your neighbours. Once upon a time is a beginning of a fairy tale that no longer works for me.

It is Sunday morning and cloudy it is. It was so sunny and hot only yesterday. Like the climate this new world of ours is stormy and unpredictable. I don’t like it much but it is what it is. We’ve all contributed to the making of it so let’s not cry over spilt milk. I read a wonderful quote from someone’s Instagram post this morning. I was in that peaceful space for a very short time, just before my mishap with the neighbour. I guess it was my practice run. Maybe I add add on a few seconds each day.

“How wonderful it must be to speak the language of the angels, with no words for hate and a million words for love.” ~The Angels’ Little Instruction Book

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THOUGHTS CAN KILL

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Here I sit on a Thursday night tapping away on my keyboard. I’m tapping to save my life. I’m what you call a highly sensitive person. I never knew my condition had a name with signs and symptons before. Now I do. It helps to have an explanation and that I am not the only one. There are even articles and books explaining me! I have all the 8 signs according to the article by Arcadian Counseling site. They are:

  • You’re very emotional. …
  • You’re very compassionate and generous. …
  • You’re sensitive to criticism. …
  • You feel different from everyone else and sometimes alone. …
  • You’re sensitive to external stimuli. …
  • You overthink and worry. …
  • You’re intuitive. …

For sure the signs describe me. My thoughts and feelings are very strong. They affect me deeply and not in a good way. My episode with my crazy neighbour is still with me. I like and want to let go but the thoughts and feelings keep reverberating through me. They are strong enough to kill me. I’m not proud that I am such a seemingly petty person. I feel like such a failure letting her get under the skin when I know the only way to deal with such a person is total disengagement. But hey, I am not a machine. I am not foolproof. I am actually a fool in many ways.

I hang on to bad relationships way past the best due date to the point of self-harm. Yes, like someone said I brought it upon myself. She said I was ripe for the picking. She saw that, too and took advantage of my compassion and generosity. It wasn’t the guy she texted late at night about her sad story. It was me. I’m not really doing a show and tell. Really, I’m not. I’m hoping by putting it on the page, I will stop all this tape playing in my head. I do have a jukebox in my head but it’s not playing the right songs now. It’s spewing forth poison and I need an antidote. Have you ever felt this way? Or am I the only one like this after all?

The counseling site does offer some helpful suggestions:

  • See your sensitivity as a positive, not a negative
  • Remember: there is nothing wrong with you and you are not alone
  • As much as possible avoid negative people, places and situations
  • Set firm boundaries with people who take advantage of your compassion and empathy
  • Practice regular self-care through exercise, meditation, and mindfulness
  • Give yourself the same empathy and kindness as you do others

Sometimes I feel there is much wrong with me and I am very alone. It is good to know that there isn’t and that I am not alone. I know I have trouble setting firm boundaries. I’m more compassionate and generous to others than myself. I am quite hard and stingy with myself. Now I wish I hadn’t given away my acoustic guitar. But I had bought myself a Gibson. I thought it good to share some of what I have. It makes me sad and angry that my friend let her grandkids play and it’s destroyed. It was a beautiful instrument. I know. A gift is something without strings attached. Being human, I still regret my decision. For sure the strings are long gone.

So comes the end of this post and evening. Like I said before, it’s not a show and tell or blaming. I’m trying to save my life, working on letting go. Am I being dramatic? Life is hard. I do the work every day. I slipped and let someone trip me up. I allowed her to do it to me. There’s the rub that’s hard to erase. My anger is more towards myself than anyone else. Ultimately we responsible for what we bring to ourselves. I accept my part in it. My huge lesson learned. Now I hope I can find peace and sleep. tonight.

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BITTER MELON, SOUR GRAPES

I am having some difficulty letting go of my neighbour encounter. I still have that bitter and sour taste of the worst kind. I’m bitter because of my own stupidity of engaging with a mentally sick person and letting her get under my skin. It’s hard because she is not the kind mentally ill that gets lock up but the kind that gets special considerations. Life is not fair, never is and never will be. I better just suck it up and be more conscious and wary. I am of the vulnerable sort that gets taken in by sad stories and tears. They know I am a sucker bearing gifts of sympathy, help and sometimes money. I once gifted a friend under a guise of a loan of a couple of thousand dollars. She had asked me to cosign a huge loan for her. I couldn’t do it. I felt guilty refusing so the loan/gift. She rewarded me by asking some time later, How much was it that I had given her? She could not remember. The things that sour a relationship.

They say to be truly generous you give without expectations and no strings attached. Obviously I haven’t reached the truly level. I would like some gratitude and remembrance. I hate being the lone caretaker of a relationship. But then, I brought it on myself. I have no one else to blame. Another time, another friend, and another incident. This friend wanted to pay me back for my kindness to her. She often hung out at my place because all she had was just one room while she was getting her computer science degree. She wanted to pay my train fare to visit her in Toronto where she got a new job. I declined the free rain fare but took up the visit. The first thing she said to me when I stepped off the train was: You’re going to cost me a fortune just in toilet paper to keep you.

Not a very auspicious beginning. It had no good beginning. I ended up flying home in not too many days. And yet I still try to maintain the friendship for a few more years before I packed it in. I truly have a hanging on problem. I brought it all upon myself. Now that I have spilled all the bitterness and sourness onto the page, I hope I can start a new page. I am a good person. I need to value myself, time and energy better. I do feel so much better having unload some of the shit. And though I felt the least inclined to exercising today, I went. The mobility class at the YWCA was excellent. Working on hip movements chased all those ugly feelings emanating from that wretched neighbour woman. It helps to surround oneself with positive and kind people. I was doing something good for my body and soul. The negative stuff are now just water under the bridge.

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I BROUGHT IT ON MYSELF

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I can honestly say that today is not a wonderful day. It is hard for me to be happy for no reason or any reason. Certainly I am in no mood to be happy for you, whatever circumstance in life you may be in. I sound like a person with a bad attitude. You can safely say that I am a bad person altogether. It would not bother me.

What I know for sure is I am my own best friend. No one knows me better. No one can take care of me or can make me feel better. And when I am feeling the worst and need a shoulder to cry on, that’s the worst time for me to seek solace from another. It’s the best time to be quiet, not do anything but know that I am ok. There’s no need for action. What else I know for sure is I am human. In the heat of the moment, all good sense run out the door. And I react and do what I told another not to do. And because I know she had the same, experience I sought solace from her. She was kind enough, soft spoken enough but told me that I brought it on myself.

Can I say that I was a little surprised? She went on to say she was happy to welcome me again but not to bring my drama. I can understand that. Really I can. But I had not known her well at all when she knocked on our door a few months ago with her drama, her tears and plea for help. We welcomed her with hugs, offered her tea and gave her help. Not once but on 3 occasions. I remembered hours on the phone listening to her trouble with the same crazy neighbour. I gave her advice of not engaging with her at all. I told her to seek help from the police liaison. I told her all this, and yet I went against my own advice yesterday. I am human, damn it and I engaged, yelled and screamed. I was so frustrated and angry I thought I was going to explode. I thought talking with someone who had a It similar experience would help.

I had no tears and only want to ventilate. I did receive an ear and some soft spoken Christian lecture of where I had erred. It didn’t understood or comforted but it didn’t anger me either. It was rather sobering and eye opening. I am thankful for the encounter. It made me realize how naive and Pollyanna I am. I am always willing with open arms, tea and an ear to another’s distress. I cannot think fast or see far enough to form judgements to lecture. Soothe first is my motto. I am not sorry that I am a Pollyanna or that I am a feeling, reactive person.

I am not happy that I had this episode. I feel bad, as if I had a psychotic episode. My stomach hurts and my thoughts are galloping in tandem with my erratic thoughts. It’s not at all good for my health. Here’s my advice again on dealing with someone like my crazy neighbour. Do not engage. Do not look at her. You will never win. There’s no winning here. I use win for lack of a better word. And here’s why you/ I cannot win.

  • She does not allow me to speak. She will talk over me. She even talks over the police.
  • She’s fixated and hates me and my yard. My raised beds are coffins. She plants pine trees in my/her yard. My solar panels brings down the neighbourhood’s property value.
  • She is always right. She’s very clever and fast changing stories. She has accused me of giving her a parking ticket. When I asked her how I could do that when she parks in her own driveway, she said it was her mother that I gave the ticket to for parking on the sidewalk. She refuses to bring her mother to talk to me when I asked her to.
  • She accused me of sending her a letter last year and she still has it. When I ask her to show it to me, she refused and keep refusing, talking over me the whole time.
  • She accused me of redirecting her mail, writing on them that she has moved.

I could go on forever. And that’s the trouble. Once I’ve engaged, it’s hard to break off. She makes me so angry I keep going back and back, screaming, yelling to no avail but to make myself ill. And I do feel ill. And I have brought upon myself. She is mentally ill. I’m not. She can’t stop but I CAN. BUT there should be something in place so that someone like me should have to be subjected to her antics. It’s bad for my health. The police said that it is not fair to charge a person with mental health. Is it fair to me that she allow to do this to me? It’s going on towards 13-14 years at least. Yes, right. I have to remember I’ve brought this on myself. I really have by thinking less and taking care less of myself than another.

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OBSESSIONS, FIXATIONS, ENVY and OTHER VICES

Sunny Sunday. I hope it’s not a tease and stay for awhile. I’m trying to get a bead on the day and not let it run away on me. I feel like I’ve been on the last of the toilet roll and time is spinning away faster and faster. At the same time, I’m that gerbil on the treadmill to nowhere. It’s no wonder that I’m feeling a little angry and edgy. I know you’re not suppose to go to bed that way. What do you do though when you do? I tried very hard to let go last night but I’m a hanger on type of a girl. I failed and gave in and let myself be. I worried that it was going to be a restless, wakeful night. BUT it was all good. I stay put and practices relaxing each part of my body. The sandman came and took me away.

It rained overnight. Not much but it was enough. It shouldn’t have surprised me but it did. I don’t want to blame the weather for my moodiness but it is better than blaming myself. There was no good reason for it except for physical fatigue. I find gardening very rewarding physically and mentally but it is also very taxing. If I step outside, and I do, I can lose myself for hours in tending to all that is growing. It is hard to stop. I’m a bit obsessive in all things that I love to do. I’m trying to find a healthier balance in all that I do.

I find it hard to put down any book by Jodi Picoult and John Grisham. Having read Picoult’s Salem Falls and Grisham’s The Chamber, I’m hooked on courtroom drama. It’s good that I’ve finished the books now and I can tend to neglected areas I’ve been avoiding. It’s hard to overcome myself. It’s so easy to fall into the pits of least resistance. I wonder at the attraction of famous people. Why are we so curious about them? I don’t think I envy their lives or their glamour but I am guilty of wanting to know every little detail about their lives? Perhaps it is maybe I think so little of mine and myself. Could that be it?

I left to do a few things. One thing led to another. Now I find myself at the end of the day. I’m gathering my thoughts to wrap up this post. One thing for sure is I am happy that we had this time together. I took a few hours away from working on things. I took the time and trouble to sauté my first Sunburst squash for lunch. It was delicious. I watched a comedy called New in Town, starring Renee Zellweger. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. I should do this more often. It interrupts up my obsessive thoughts and eases up my feelings of anger for awhile. It gives me an opportunity to examine the reasons for my feelings. It’s all good.

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ON MOVING ON

I’m beginning the week on the right foot, trying to fulfill my self-made commitment of showing up here 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m still feeling pretty relaxed and chilled. I don’t feel compelled to do much of anything. But I do want to move on and not linger, wasting time and energy. It is the hardest thing, this moving on. It is so easy and comfortable being stuck in the habitual. There’s no surprise involved. No loss or gain. Status quo. I’m lucky that I am basically a wallflower but I have a point where I could scream if I don’t break from the same old, same old.

When I get to that point, I push myself outward and forward even though I am scared shitless. That’s how I’ve managed to travel to some distant shores. I clutched my bottle of lithium all the way to Scandinavia once upon a time. I can’t remember how long ago that was. I experienced Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland under their influence. Those pills slowed me down and made everything taste terrible, even the water. They made my poop green. I don’t know why, my then doctor put me on them because my later doctor felt they were unnecessary. One was male and the second one female.

Life is hard, strange and wondrously fascinating. There have been many obstacles along the way. I have struggled and had to work hard to keep going. Some days I can hardly move but I have never stopped trying. My philosophy is if you can put one foot in front of the other and do your best, everything will work out somehow. That’s the way you can move on, no matter what. And here I am sitting here tapping. I’ve found the sweet spot again today. From experience I know it won’t be like this every day. Those cloudy days will come again and again. In the same way, the sun will come out and shine again and again. That’s how life is. I’m moving on to another day.

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