Archives for posts with tag: solitude

Week of Daddy's Funeral Oct 22 14 021

Photograph courtesy of K. Farwell

Funny how you can have one dream—or a similar variation of the same dream—over and over again. For about a year now I have been having a repeated dream involving trying to live in the home of my childhood leaving it to find another place to live. The characters in the dreams are sometimes my parents, sometimes my ex-husband, and always friends whose names I cannot remember.

This morning I had an “ah-ha” moment when I finally realized what these dreams have been trying to tell me. I was on the way to pick up a friend to take to church with me when I realized I was singing along with the radio, and the words I was  singing  were: “I’ll be home for…..” . That is as far as I got. I couldn’t finish singing the song. I realized I no longer have a home to go home to for Christmas or any other time. My dreams have been trying to tell me I am truly “emanicpated” from my childhood. I am an adult; I have no living parents.

Instead of being sad, I started smiling. God has been kind to me; I now have a home…..my own home…..and I don’t have to go any further to “feel at home.” I can stop looking for the “dream home”—-the home of my childhood and/or the mystery home I have been seeking in my dreams. Realizing I am exactly where I am meant to be—-that I am finally home is like taking a deep breath and relaxing. I don’t have to “go out and seek my fortune” or pursue any other material goal. I am home. I can rest. I can take time to nurture my soul. I can be at peace. The antagonistic characters in my dreams are just figments of my imagination who no longer exist in my current reality.

Have I come to the end of the “fairy tale?” You know, the part where you live happily ever after? I doubt it. Accepting where I am as I am is a bit more realistic than believing I can find the perfect person and/or the perfect place to make my life complete so  I can “live happily ever after.” My happiness is my own responsibility, and I know I will continue to have “good days” and “bad days.” However,  I am very lucky indeed to have a comfortable home, good friends, a church family, and a loving God  to walk with me through those days. May God bless and keep you.

 

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Photograph entitled “On Vacation”  courtesy of K. Farwell

Have been on vacation—–and working at remaining on vacation since I came home. Being on vacation when you are retired is a bit different than being on vacation when you are still employed. Many would ask, “What’s so hard about taking a vacation from being on vacation?” Let me try to answer that. First, you are forced to stop using Internet and cell phones because the almighty AT&T doesn’t work in your remote location. Being out of touch with calls, texts, and e-mail gives you a sort of freedom—–you know, the kind you had when you were a kid and none of those things were in anyone’s imagination yet except, perhaps, in the imagination of the author of the Dick Tracy comic strip. Next, you walk through numerous outlet malls and feel no compulsion to buy anything, but then you hit the local Salvation Army Thrift Store and you discover wonderful and affordable clothes. Shopping there is fun because you do not need to feel guilty about buying anything because all the money actually goes to support the needy and hungry in our nation.

Finally, you get to spend quality time with your father exploring family history and hearing stories from him of  experiences that have given shape and meaning to his life. Then you get to meet a charming gentleman from across the pond that is your father’s weekend caretaker….and you are delighted to see how he relates to your father and not surprised when the caretaker confides he has a background in counseling.

The real challenge is coming home and remaining on vacation. You only communicate with select people by phone, and you slowly start getting involved in Facebook again. You avoid all the meetings and volunteer activities you’ve been involved in—-at least for a few days.  You visit the local casino and support the local economy—–but don’t get a “2X Royal Flush” until you arrive home and are playing with computer money. You enjoy a summer storm until the electricity goes off for four hours but realize it is precisely that lack of electricity that gets you to open your windows, walk outside and visit with a good neighbor you haven’t really talked to since the last time the neighborhood electricity went off.

Well, today I go “back to work.” That means I get the privilege of facilitating a women’s craft group where we get to play with the creative process and communicate about challenges we are experiencing. I won’t call it  group therapy, but what we do can certainly be considered therapeutic.  I will begin going to meetings again and touch base with the people I sponsor.  I refuse, though, to try to straighten up and organize anything including the “lived in” theme that engulfs my home. I know exactly, well almost, where everything is located in all the chaos. I think my comfort with clutter is one of my last ditch efforts to thumb my nose at society’s dictates.

Today’s theme does not seem to be focused on spirituality or recovery—–but my day by day living is actually grounded in these concepts.  This foundation allows me “time-outs” whether I am on vacation or not in which I can pause, take a deep breath, and appreciate the miracles contained in the present moment. If I did not have those  moments, all that I do would eventually become meaningless and empty because I would be so self-absorbed I wouldn’t even be aware of the magic of creation or the love that empowers it. That would be a miserable place to be indeed. God bless and keep you.

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Image courtesy of amenic181/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, here I sit again in self-imposed isolation listening to the noise of the snow plow break apart the stillness that envelops the neighborhood. The school across the street is quiet and empty. My dogs have no children to bark at as they pass by our yard. Yesterday’s frozen precipitation is, of course, still hanging around and challenging outdoor movement from place to place.

In some ways, the quiet stillness accompanied by the “tick-tock” of the clock on the wall is like being in the presence of an old and comfortable friend.  This friend gives me permission to be lazy, to be productive, to be creative—-to be “me” in any way I choose. That brings a smile to my lips—-in typing that last sentence I realized I always have the opportunity to choose how I want to exist in any moment.

Today I choose to wrap myself in God’s love and to make choices that are healthy for me. I have no deadlines, no appointments, no obligations, and no list of things I have to do. I am left with the choice to do what I must to survive my reality—–and that is to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him.  In the beginning of my recovery this turning things over 12 step stuff was just “a phrase often repeated.” Now after all these years and many miracles later this “turning over” comes from my heart, and  I enjoy releasing my will and my life to God. Of course, I still have times when I stubbornly hang on to my futile self-centered attempts to control, but even then I find myself begrudgingly handing things over to him.

I have started practicing a new ritual in my life. It is one of my early morning rituals, and it is much more meaningful than making coffee or cooking bacon.  I walk to my dining room, face the east, and look at a framed counted-cross stitch my mother did for me. I am looking at the words my mother so painstakingly spelled out:  1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. These special words describe God’s love for me and for everyone. Then I bow and release my “will and life” to God. In return, as I fold my arms in front of my chest, I literally feel God wrapping his arms around me and hugging me. Prayer and personal, private sacred words—-words that affirm and represent the love shared between God and myself—–are very important components of this early morning ritual. This ritual is both comforting and powerful. It puts my day “on track” and keeps my soul and heart open to God.  It empowers me to follow God’s will rather than my own throughout the day.

As I sit typing in this quiet stillness, I am not alone.  God is by my side; his presence is here. My four dogs are relaxed, warm, and sleeping, and I am happy.

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Photo, courtesy of Joshua Burgard

Today’s quote:

“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”

—-Paul Tillich (1987)

               Days of Healing, Days of Joy, meditation for March 12, San Francisco, Harper & Row.

Somehow, it seemed appropriate to approach this topic on this the sixth day of my self-imposed solitude. I’m not sure I am counting correctly since a friend drove me to and from a meeting last night where I got to spend some quality time with “my people” talking about a spiritual approach to recovery.

Being around people who were smiling and laughing as well as sharing profound and serious insights integral to  their recovery was a well appreciated break from being with just my four dogs. And, thankfully, I have not been totally isolated.  After all, I have had my mobile phone and the Internet to keep me in touch with friends and family. Plus, I was lucky enough to have friends drop by two or three times.

My biggest reason for my self-imposed solitude was to avoid venturing out into the ice and snow. Some might call my reasons just plain fear; others might even go so far as to call them a phobia. I just remember driving down hill on ice in Kansas City and sliding off the road—-finally stopping only inches from a telephone pole. That was back in the seventies, and I’ve had several successful “snow and ice” driving escapades since then, but I prefer to remain at home if possible when ice is involved. This is especially true since I have been diagnosed with osteopenia, which means  I have bone density lower than normal but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis. I am naturally a klutz with little or no balance and have intermittent vertigo, so when I throw those things into the equation,  I do tend to be overly careful about avoiding ice.

Enough about why I have experienced self-imposed solitude voluntarily for so many days. I really want to focus on what, for  me, is the difference between solitude and loneliness. When I experience solitude, it means that I am happy in my own skin doing what I am doing and am totally comfortable in my surroundings. I can experience loneliness in the exact same environment, doing the exact same activities—-the only thing that has changed  when I am lonely is my emotional status and/or attitude. When I am lonely, it is like there is this big void deep within myself that needs filled, and no matter how busy I stay or how much or often I eat, or how many video Internet games I win, I still feel restless and driven. In the old days I would have lit up a cigarette and poured a drink, but those behaviors are long gone from my repertoire,  by the grace of God.

So, how do I alter my attitude when I am aware I have shifted into loneliness? Prayer helps, both the speaking and listening kind. Listening to calming music helps. Talking to friends helps. Mostly, for me, it takes realizing the enemy is “desire”—-especially since it is a free-floating non-specific, restless desire. At those times I have to talk to God and to listen to God. I need to realize all that really matters is being in relationship with God. Then everything else falls into place. I can live life on life’s terms in solitude as long as I realize God’s love and compassion are always present. Some would say that is not solitude because I am in relationship with God. I won’t argue that, but I know when I don’t allow God to be there with me to fill the “restless void” I get stuck in being lonely and restless.

I will close with a quote from the same source and page as the one this evening’s blog began with: “It may be said the road that runs between loneliness and solitude is the highway of recovery.”  I think I agree with that, and I am grateful my recovery has gifted me with solitude and the ability to  return to it whenever I choose to do so.

Please comment and share your thoughts about being the difference between being lonely and being comfortable in solitude. May God bless and keep you.