Monthly Archives: July, 2011

What is the Universe Trying to Teach Me?

So what is this week trying to teach me? What lessons do I need to learn or re-learn? My therapist keeps reminding me that the people in our lives and the events of our lives are sent by the universe to help us learn the lessons we need to learn and do the work we are here in this life to do. I remembered that last night as I lay in bed contemplating the turn of events with Chauncey’s surgery.

Of course, I thought I had everything planned out well. We got Chauncey to Summit Veterinary Center plenty early and checked that there were no emergencies, and that Chauncey should have no problem having surgery which then meant that I would be able to arrange for his return home, in all likelihood, today, a day with no other commitments, and have him comfortable before having to go through surgery again tomorrow with Sasha. But the best laid plans and all that, and after I left Chauncey, three emergencies came in.

Now I have no problem with the emergencies being treated first. That is only right and proper. Chauncey keeps moving in and out of emergency situations, but so far, he has managed to get through each episode of being unable to move and get back to moving reasonably well. There has been damage to his back legs, but surgery should prevent further damage before he becomes paralyzed or incontinent or both. So Chauncey certainly was able to wait for his surgery. And I know that the families of the three emergencies were grateful for Summit’s care and concern. I just wish the universe had waited for those emergencies until another day, but that wasn’t to be.

And so here I am again, on Tuesday early afternoon, still waiting to find out if or when Chauncey will have surgery. Meanwhile, I don’t know what to do about my commitments for tomorrow as I don’t know if Chauncey will coming home tomorrow or Thursday or when. I think this lesson is trying to teach me a number of things.

First, I need to be more flexible and go with the flow. I need to be open to changes in plans and shifting of energies. I didn’t do that particularly well yesterday, as I did my usual knee-jerk reaction of tears and frustration, missing Chauncey and wishing I could spare him the added time away. Of course, if I lived closer or had easier transport, I could have brought him back home and then taken him back today, but in reality, I’m not sure that would have made things any easier for either Chauncey or me. And so he is in a kennel in a holding pattern and the rest of us are here at home wondering.

Next, I need to learn or practice patience. I don’t have all the data, all the information I need, and I can’t get that information at the moment so I need to take lots of deep breathes and stay focused in the present moment, and just wait for the unfolding of events. My lengthy remodel has done wonders towards teaching me patience, but I have in reality never been a particularly patient person so obviously the universe finds that I still need work on developing more patience. With that comes trust as well, that those at Summit are taking good care of Chauncey and looking after him and that they are doing what is best for all concerned.

I also need to deal with my control issues. I can’t be in control of everything. I have enough trouble being in control of me. So I can’t control whether or not emergencies happen. I just have to adjust to the changes. And I can’t control the schedule. I can only do the best I can to rework my schedule so I’ll be ready for whatever happens. I’ve gotten a substitute for my bridge class tomorrow so that those folks won’t get canceled at the last minute. I’m looking at ferry schedules so that I know what my options are, and since Chauncey can’t be picked up until afternoon at the earliest tomorrow and since Summit is open 24/7, I’m looking at getting Sasha home first, mid-afternoon, and then going for Chauncey. That will allow me to tutor my student and keep my therapy appointment as well as being here for Sasha, before going for Chauncey. The drawback is that it will make a very long and late day for me, but if I can arrange the transport (and I’ve already proposed this to Leigh), it should work. Now, with that plan in the back of my mind, I am ready to shift depending on when Chauncey has his surgery and when he is allowed to come home.

The last part of this lesson, at least as far as I’ve figured it out at the moment as I’m sure there are many more lessons here, is that life also unfolds according to the choices which I have made and continue to make. No one forced me to move to an island. I made that choice and overall, it has been an excellent decision. But that choice has ramifications. The island doesn’t offer everything, especially medical care for humans and animals. So there will be times I have to go off island. And it was my choice not to replace my aged car and in fact not to keep up my own driving skills to the point where I could get myself on and off island safely and comfortably. So that adds another level of complexity to the situation, a complexity brought about by my choices, my reclusive nature, my fears even. I lose a measure of control in situations like this because I need to rely on others to help me with transport. Again, this is the result of choices which I have made. And of course, the most obvious here, I have decided to have furry companions, and as a result I have responsibility for their well-being. I am very fortunate to be able to afford medical care for them, as otherwise, both Chauncey and Sasha would have to be mercifully let go, but that means that I have to deal with the consequences of these decisions. Chauncey’s surgery simply cannot be done on island. Thankfully, Sasha’s can! So I have to make choices and do my best for them, even if that means an extra day or two in Tacoma for Chauncey, as well as two surgeries in the same week.

And on top of everything else, I need to remember that there is a blessing and a trap in everything.  Poosa has gotten to meet both the UPS driver and the FedEx driver because Chauncey isn’t here to eat them alive.  And the house is quieter, since Chauncey is the major barker.  So my constant nasty headache is happier with the quieter atmosphere.  Of course, I’d rather have all the noise and confusion and have Chauncey as well, but since he can’t be here at the moment, I need to focus on the positives involved.

I am not thrilled with the way this week is unfolding, but I can see that I do have lessons to learn and growth to try to accomplish. I need to watch out for my knee-jerk reactions. I need to realize that the universe will throw curve balls and emergencies will happen, so thinking I’m in control of everything is really bogus. And I need to try to go with the flow without so much fear and panic. I have to continue with the plan, adjusting as needed, understanding that each choice has ramifications either now or in the future.

The universe will continue to provide me with the opportunity to learn what I need to learn. The faster I can pick up on those opportunities and actually learn the lessons, the sooner I can move on to new lessons. Such is the nature of life, I guess.


neighbor’s house sold
new neighbors
new property lines revealed
old neighbors building
fences blocking
deer access
dogs howling somewhere
my dogs nervous
aging pets
two surgeries
in one week
changes, changes

some changes
bring joy
learning to text
daughter is closer
tweeting brings
friends and support
new art hanging
on my walls
automatic sprinklers
watering my yard
new dog
enters our family

change happens
life flows
nothing remains constant
whether it brings
joy or sorrow
change will happen
requiring flexibility
learning new skills
adaptability patience
change doesn’t ask me
for permission
it just happens

Light, a Poem

my life spent living
in a black abyss finally
meeting a kindred spirit
united in our pain
sorrow loneliness
surrounded by clawing tentacles
trapped by beliefs
which determine
dreadful realities

one day I notice
the faintest glimmer of light
calling, beckoning
I begin to reach forth
inching my way
slicing through years
of abuse, pain, loss
each day stretching
sometimes sliding back

onwards I crawl
like a newborn
daring to believe
in a new reality
the light grows slightly
more inching toward
the edge of the abyss
lifting myself
barely over, slipping
but struggling free

I glance down
way back in the darkest
part of the black abyss
I see my friend
still trapped in her black reality
I stretch out my hand to help
she grabs but then I start
sliding back down into
the abyss which
would be death to me

I have to let go
my light is for me
guiding me to my path
to a different reality
I can not bring her along
she must find her own
light to guide her out of
her abyss to her new reality
once she finds the courage
to embrace different beliefs

I am sad
feeling another loss
never giving up hope
that one day all lost
souls like me will begin
new journeys to the
paths they were meant
to find
I hold my friend in my heart
hoping she climbs free soon

Being True to Yourself or What I’ve Learned in the Last Couple Days

I have learned and grown so much in the last few days, thanks to the help of my therapist and friends, both those who know me in person and my internet friends!  I am grateful especially to Leigh, my friend and contractor, who called this morning from Canada where she is celebrating Canada Day and a dog’s birthday with her partner.  And I am also very grateful to @fumanchucat, @wordblender, and @LydiaSchoch, who have all helped me to a much healthier perspective.  If you have twitter accounts, you should follow these great people.

Anyway, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, I have a very wounded little girl inside me who is easily triggered.  I am getting better at seeing the triggers, at least, but I can still get side-swiped.  I think the reality is that we all can be triggered by various factors and usually the trigger does not even know they are the trigger, and my reaction certainly has nothing to do with the person doing the triggering, but rather with my past, etc.

In any case, the reality is that I am a very warm-hearted, kind, empathic, giving person who has an enormous energy (something my therapist is working on me to recognize since I don’t see me that way, but rather as the scared little girl residing in me) and a not inconsiderable intelligence (had to admit that after years of being called the stupid one when I gave birth to two genius children, and also succeeded academically to the point where I have 2 bachelors, 2 masters, and 1 PhD, and no, I am not going for another PhD for balance, thank you!).  The energy and the intellect make me threatening to some people, especially those who don’t know me.  Ok, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me (or them for that matter).  And if people find me intimidating, then maybe we aren’t a good match or fit, but that doesn’t mean I should change or run like a scared rabbit.

And in the particular case I wrote about in my last blog post, the fact is the there is a major language barrier between me and the guys doing my yard work–I speak no Spanish and they speak no English.  They also are living in constant fear to begin with so all of our society is potentially threatening to them, but this is not my problem to deal with and changing me, even if that were appropriate, wouldn’t really help.

Leigh also helped me to remember that this is an isolated incident.  Most people who are working on my remodel and have been for 2 1/2 years (the remodel that will never end because I keep adding to it!), love to work for me.  They find me eccentric, off the wall, kind, usually patient, etc., and they get to do things, like building cat walks, etc., that they normally don’t get asked for.  If they have to paint, well it is purple or pink or orange, etc., not the same old beige/white.  And most of them now know me well enough not to be intimidated by me.  I’ve explained to especially Leigh, contractor extraordinaire, Daryl, plumber magnifique, and Gary, electrician fantastique, that I do have some health issues around my Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disorder, chronic pain, chronic sinusitis, and my depression that take their toll.  They, of course, also have days where they aren’t feeling up to par, and we all feel comfortable enough now to say that from the get-go on any given day so that particular crabby or grumpy days aren’t taken personally by anyone.  One of my carpenters doesn’t start days well, so we’ve learned that I should just let him get into his routine and not even greet him until he’s had several coffees, smokes, etc.  That is just how he is and that’s ok also!

But it is a luxury to be able to get to know these wonderful people well enough that we all feel able to express and work around own our own issues, etc.  That can’t happen with my friend’s business primarily because of the language barrier.  So I’ve had to put the ball back in her court.  I will not have fear driving anyone who works here.  I am very sensitive to people and their emotions and I need positive energies coming into my space (which is different from someone having a bad day, obviously).  Heaven knows I am governed by enough fears of my own that I don’t need more being added.  So if these people can relax and know that I’m very pleased with their work and I’m not going to get them fired, etc., and they can just enjoy working here, well and good.  But if they are so intimidated by me that they live in mortal terror of what I might say or do, then they aren’t the right people for the job here.  

Yes, I’ve expressed frustration and on my bad days I probably haven’t been as tactful as I might otherwise be.  Just like everyone else, I’m human with my own set of weaknesses and foibles.  I know this, and I work to combat it, but the reality is that I’m only sure on bad days that I can “hold it together” for a few hours at a time.  That is why my schedule is set up where I’m not gone from my home for more than a couple hours at a time and that is why I’ve set things up so that I have complete solitude on the weekends to regroup.  It is the only way I could survive, as an introvert, having my home torn apart and rebuilt.  I’ve also set things up so people don’t show up until after 9AM (10AM is even better) and they are gone by 5PM.  That is the limit of my abilities also.

I’ve worked hard at finding out what works for me and what doesn’t, and of course, that is an on-going process.  But what I can’t do, no matter how tempted I was during the last two days, is deny who I am.  And why should I?  I am a good person, as are most of us, and I know I’m not the right fit for everyone, but those who do fit well in my universe are unquestionably loyal to me as I am to them.  I understand their issues and they understand mine.  I do have to work at some communication issues, because, as you may have noticed from the way I write, I speak in long convoluted sentences, eventually coming back to the point.  And actually, since I know this can be a problem, I used this as one of my gauges when I met my current therapist.  Could she keep up with my convoluted thought process?  The answer is, of course, yes, as she is also very bright.  So can my doctor, and so most thankfully of all, can Leigh!  Because where I get in trouble, and that has been the case with my sprinkler system and my friend’s business in general, is when I think I’ve been very clear about what I’ve asked for, and the other person has nodded and/or said a few appropriate words back, but then down the road I discover that they only grasped a phrase here and there, but not the entire picture.  So I’m trying to learn when I need to back up and use less convoluted sentences, etc., but what I love about Leigh is that she can keep up with me and then she can “translate” it into proper form for whomever is doing the job.  I tend to give way too much information, way too detailed explanations, etc.  And Daryl and Gary can also keep up with me and that trio has done so much for me as well as my home that we have wonderful relationships.  I can’t expect that everywhere, but when I find it, it is a pearl beyond belief!

And another pearl of wisdom from this time @fumanchucat, is that I need to stop worrying about what others think or how others perceive me.  Yet another pearl came from @wordblender who also has similar intimidation issues and she said that others have said she is angry or whatever when in fact she isn’t, she’s just painfully shy but because of her size she can come across as angry and scary.  I think this is really important because the way others perceive me usually is not what I’m feeling or being at the time, as those who know me realize.  Frequently the perceptions have much more to do with the person doing the perceiving than the do with me, as is true for triggers as well.  So living my life based on other’s perceptions of me is a slippery slope to invisibility, a place I’ve been most of my life.  I am not going there again!

As I discussed quite awhile ago, I am a 4 on the Enneagram personality type, and that is the artist, the individual, the melancholy.  It means that I am either up or down, with rarely any middle ground.  That melancholy is a plus as it fuels my art, whether that be poetry or quilting or weaving, etc.  It also makes me the drama queen.  And the trap is that it can easily slide into depression, the slide being made easier by the thyroid disorder and the chronic pain, but of which have depression in their own right as side-effects.  And I’m understanding this a lot better which is why I’m much more open about it and share with those around me so that they don’t take things personally which were never so intended.  And add that to my big energy (whatever that means–I’m still trying to figure that out) and my intellect, I can see that I could be considered intimidating to some.  Of course I still find that bewildering since I’m so scared myself, but I accept that it is a fact.  In certain situations I try to scale back the energy when it is appropriate, but that simply is a part of who I am and I need to be ok with that also.

Anyway, that’s where all this has led me at the moment.  I’m going to work on not being so scared of the world, and staying true to myself, and finding like souls who truly “grok” me, as my new dog Oliver does–talk about a scared rabbit–he is terrified of his own shadow, poor guy, but he has bonded to me unbelievably and he knows my heart already.  He knows when I yell at Chauncey to stop barking that I am not a threat to him (or Chauncey).  He knows I will protect him even when I’m rearranging furniture and making loud noises, etc., because he sees into my heart–he doesn’t just see the surface of big energy and intellect, and believe me I am grateful for everyone who in in Oliver’s camp.

Meanwhile, today is a beautiful day here in the Pacific Northwest!  I have my laundry well in hand; I’ve given Chauncey his weekly bath; I’ve picked a bunch of strawberries for my breakfast (which I’ll get now!), and I have two days of solitude to enjoy.  I will see Ron, my Saturday UPS guy, who will be bringing me a cat litter scoop as mine broke yesterday, but that will be the extent of having anyone here.  I will putter around, do some watering, write some poetry, relax, and regroup and that will be lovely.  I am at peace now having processed this all for the moment and again, many, many thanks to those of you who have helped me see what the real truth is!  Have a super day wherever you are!

How Others Perceive Us

I am having a rough time dealing with some feedback I received from a friend in an e-mail.  I know the friend loves me and she was just being honest and writing from her heart, and I do appreciate the honesty as I’ve always said that no matter how much the truth hurts it is much, much better than lies or deceptions. But honesty can still hurt a lot.

In her e-mail dealing with a project I hired her to complete, namely a sprinkler system for my yard, she expressed her frustrations with the project, which I certainly share as it is not going well, and then she said in response to events on Tuesday that she thought I ought to know that while she knows I have a generous and kind heart that I come across as mean and hard, and that I am so strong that the guys think I’m yelling at them.  She says this has always been a problem but that it is just the way I am.  Tuesday apparently one of the guys threatened to quit and my friend’s husband said I was so grouchy he wouldn’t stay around. 

This all came as a major shock to me as one, I said nothing to the guys filling the trench (after the electric conduit had been run and the day before another supervisor had promised me that it would be no problem for the guys who dug the trench to come back the next day to fill it, but that turned out not to be the case after all) and only made a simple request of my friend’s husband in I thought perfectly respectful language (the guys were dropping rocks on my plants and I was surprised and amazed by that but obviously wanted them to know that wasn’t a good plan).  But apparently, this is not how I am perceived and that really bothers me.

I have worked really hard over the last few years especially, not to be snappish or crabby and on my bad days (which I certainly do have battling depression, a thyroid auto-immune disorder, and now surgery recovery and a low grade fever), I try to stay away from others so that I don’t have to work as hard to overcome feeling like crap.  And when I do have to be around others I also work extra hard to try to compensate for feeling horrible.

Obviously I have been deceiving myself about how successful this plan is.  And I know my frustration with how badly this project is going and how little I know about it was all too apparent.  The schedule for installation had to be changed primarily because no one told me what the schedule was until a couple days before my surgery, and then they were surprised that I didn’t want major yard work going on the day after my surgery.  I certainly would have told them that much earlier if anyone had told me what was on the schedule, but unfortunately as much as I love my friend, her business is very disorganized and communication is poor, and I’m trying my level best to be supportive and understanding, but I suspect my frustrations have shown through at times and now I have guys who don’t want to work here and others who are working here only grudgingly, and I feel horrible that I upset anyone especially since by my very nature I try so hard never to hurt anyone.

I don’t know what to do.  I wish school were still in session so I could chat with my students.  They really get it!  When I’m not feeling well or having a tough day, I’m honest and let them know and we work through it and if I’m not at top form they are exceedingly forgiving.  Of course, the reciprocal is also true.  When they come in tired or hungry or upset I do my level best to be understanding and compassionate and help them out also.  Lesson plans change to accomodate life, and that’s how we work.  My students are in alternative education for a reason–the regular system let them down and didn’t work for them, and the same is true for me, so we have a common bond of respect and understanding.

But maybe I’m just fooling myself.  Maybe others also see me as mean and hard but just aren’t as honest as my friend, who really showed a tremendous amount of courage by telling me how she and her workers see me.  I’m still so upset since the very last thing I would ever want to be is mean and hard.  I’m trying to process it all, and I’m very glad I don’t have to see anyone until Monday.  Hopefully by then I will have figured out something.  But until then, I’m going to try to calm down, have a quiet weekend, and recover.  

I did have my second post-op doctor’s appointment today and my splints came out–unpleasant but over relatively quickly–and he didn’t seem at all concerned with my low grade fever (just under 100, when my normal temp is a degree below normal), but I know that means I need to rest more.  Turns out I still have to go back one more time, in 3 weeks, and I hope that is the last.  I got a ride today from Island Girl Transport and that worked well.  My internet service is exceedingly slow (the online tech said he’d never seen numbers as low as mine!) and I’m hoping someone will be out tomorrow as I can’t see Netflix streaming or do much on the computer, but maybe, in addition to setting sprinklers in my yard, a task I actually rather enjoy, I will read the weekend away.

That’s it.  If anyone has any thoughts about how to handle the perceptions of others or how others see you, I’d be most interested to hear them.  I obviously have a lot to learn, but then that’s life, I guess!