A Window Into My Life

Right now is a time of transformation for me, and I’m already feeling lonely. The time has come, or so it seems, for me to find a new community of friends, and I don’t know yet where or how I’ll find this community, given that I’m not moving into a new place yet. In August I graduate, though after that I won’t automatically be a nutritionist, so I’ll have to decide if I want to stay in Maryland and get my extra 700 or so hours of supervised clinical time in so that I can become certified in this state, or I can move somewhere else and follow whatever that state’s requirements are. The cost of living here is so ridiculously high, because all the politicians live here, that I can’t imagine staying. I was all gung ho on moving to Arizona, since my best friend expressed a desire to go there, and it seemed like a sign. There’s nowhere else I can think of where I’d have a reason to go. Although now that I think of it, I suppose I could move closer to my sister in New Mexico. I’m not crossing Arizona off the list, but I will say after reading this blog about how it’s 120 degrees and scorpions sleep in your bed with you, I got scared.

Back to the present time, since I do have at least eight more months in this state, and I want to make them the best eight months I can. I broke up with my boyfriend last week, which means I need to find a new community of friends. We’d made friends who I was having a lot of fun with, but it’s the kind of situation in which they’ve known him for longer, and it feels less comfortable asking them to hang out with just me. We only dated for four months, and prior to that I had my own group of friends who’ve since all gone their separate ways, and due to two of them forming their own relationship, and one of those having been interested in me while the feeling wasn’t mutual, there’s no chance of that group getting back together. Oddly, the two who are in a relationship are going to see me as a student nutritionist in clinic, so it’s not like they dislike me, but it’s not like it could go back to the way it was either.

I don’t know that I’d want it to go back to how it was anyway. I’ll have to exercise the law of attraction and manifest a group of like-minded friends who have similar interests, who want to be healthier and more positive, and a desire to live a more spiritual life. The problem is that then I have to take the action, and being in grad school I don’t have much time to develop much of a social life. The easiest thing to do is go to AA meetings, a welcoming environment where it’s easier to find people who like to be social. But if I truly want to meet like-minded people with similar interests, I’m probably going to have to move to a trendier, more expensive part of the city, like Takoma Park in DC, or whatever the hipster part of town is in Baltimore. There are yoga studios everywhere, including one near my house, which I can’t afford, and my former friends go there anyway. There’s meditation in Bethesda which I tried already, and no one ever talks to you, plus the traffic is too much there. Also, it’s Buddhist meditation, and I’m moving away from Buddhism, though I believe in the philosophy of mindfulness, acceptance, and being present.

I can’t say I’ve ever considered myself a full-fledged Buddhist, but I guess I’d say I take beliefs from different traditions, and meld them into my own. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of guided meditation during which I envision my spirit guides and ask them to help me, and I bought crystals and tarot cards to help guide me. It’s uncanny how the right tarot card appears when I ask a question. For example, a few days ago I asked the question: What can I learn from my love life? and I got the card “Caught in Ruins,” a card with a picture of a man and woman inside a prison, which made me laugh out loud and want to cry at the same time. But after reading the card, it turns out that there’s no roof over the prison, that the limiting thoughts and behaviors are self-imposed, that I have the power to change and stop perpetuating my old beliefs and patterns. I’m just not sure exactly how to do that yet, though I’m focused on honesty.

The problem I have with relationships is that so far, about every five years, I go through a transformation, and whoever I’m dating or married to at the time no longer fits my life. I find it hard to grow with this other person in my life. I feel constricted, suffocated, like they’re somehow holding me back, and I feel as though they don’t understand me. The path they’re on seems uninteresting to me especially because it’s often unexplored, dated, conventional. The key is to find someone I can grow with, and I just haven’t found that person yet.

Back to the tarot cards, another good example happened the same night, when I asked the cards what I needed to learn about my career path, and I drew the card, “Wishes Fulfilled,” which was a good feeling. Last night I asked the cards what I needed to learn right now, in this moment, while feeling lonely and wondering where I’ll find a new community, and lo and behold, I drew the card, “Sangha-Community,” which read that I need to find a new community. Too bad the cards don’t tell me where to find this community. I think ultimately the idea around the cards (and meditation for that matter) for me is to use my intuition, to follow my gut and do what I know in my heart is right.

By the way, the tarot cards are the Akashic Tarot Cards from Sharon Anne Klinger and Sandra Anne Taylor. Lately I’ve been drawing a lot of cards to do with writing and publishing, which has always been my dream. The problem with my writing is that it doesn’t offer help to anyone else; I’m just offering you a window into my life. Yesterday I listened to a podcast interview that Oprah did with Sue Monk Kidd, and Sue Monk Kidd said something along the lines of—or rather, this is my interpretation of what she said—which was that it took her being vulnerable and honest to put her writing out there. And that is MUCH harder than it may sound, for me. Kidd’s first book was a memoir, decades before she published The Secret Life of Bees… So maybe the ticket for her was to write fiction, which some may say is thinly disguised memoir.

That being said, I’m not going to not become a nutritionist, although I will say I’m already becoming discouraged. When I started, I’d gone to the orientation in which they told us there were all kinds of jobs everywhere, and you could make $95k, etc. But last semester I was sitting at lunch with some of my classmates, one of whom casually mentioned in passing that this wasn’t a career path you follow for the money. Then last night someone posted on our private Facebook page that she talked to an RD (registered dietician) who told her she’d never heard of a CNS (certified nutrition specialist), and that basically it’s much harder to find a job for a CNS than an RD. A lot of comments followed that revealed this is not the easy career path I thought I’d chosen.

So I may end up writing about nutrition at some point. Whatever I do, I find it hard to imagine balancing a relationship, career, social life, and physical exercise all in one life, since I’m imagining myself spending all my free time writing a nutrition blog. But this is not exactly how manifesting the life you want works. Haha!

One thing I’ve learned is that the idea is to follow actions that come smoothly. Not without action or work, but to explore different avenues, and when doors open, they’re meant to be. If I have to force something, it’s probably not meant to be. I just have to remember to take it one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, and try not to project into some unknown future. My biggest fear may be coming true: that I’ve chosen the wrong career path, again, and now I’m even deeper in debt than before, six figures this time. It could be that I tried to force something instead of following my passion to become a writer. But on the other hand, if my biggest fear is coming true, it’s because I’m making it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I do love nutrition, and have already been spending way too much time on my first two clients, out of sheer interest, so that’s worth something, right? My deepest interest lies in spiritual matters and finding one’s purpose, so maybe I can somehow tie that in with writing and nutrition… Everything happens for a reason, so it could be that I needed to take this winding path to come back to my origin, and maybe I can somehow tie these things all in together.

I really have no idea how I’m going to do that. But then I guess that’s what life’s all about.

PS: I feel that it would make more sense to separate this into three different posts: one about career, one about relationships, and one about community. In each post I’d explore each topic in more depth. But, I have homework, and then work, so I’m going to publish this meandering post as is.

 

Advertisements

The Meaning of Life and Other Light Topics, Like Death

Where do you go when you die?

A week or so ago I had a dream that someone held a gun to my head, and in that moment I knew death was inevitable, so I just closed my eyes and said, Go ahead and do it. I don’t remember feeling fear so much as feeling that whatever was about to happen next was simply inevitable. After that I remember a feeling of flying out of my body and being nothing but mind, or spirit, or whatever you want to call the stuff that is you which is not physical.

I believe that dreams are a doorway into the subconscious or the soul. Somewhere deep down we know things we can’t always easily access. This dream for me is about transformation. Growth and rebirth. On some level while the transformation is happening we know it but we don’t always feel it, not right away. It’s not until one day I realize that I no longer think about that obsession that used to haunt me. Or I find that I no longer react or feel a certain way in certain situations.

Change can be terrifying. At the time it can be scary leaving the comfort of the known reality we’ve been living in, even when that reality was no longer the direction in which we needed to grow.

Often I wonder where my mom’s soul is. Where her mind is, her thoughts. Her face is so clear to me in my mind’s eye. The memory of her is so fresh, how smooth her skin was the last time she kissed me good night. I can hear her words in my head. I remember the scent of the perfume she wore when I was a child, perfume that she hadn’t worn in years. Is she now in some kind of parallel universe, what some might call Heaven, is she aware of what’s going on in this world now? Was I in some other world prior to this, and now have no memory of it? Sometimes I have random dreams about faraway places, and sometimes I dream that I am some other person, or a mere observer inside someone else’s life, and I wonder, Is that my mind making that up, or is that a memory of a previous life? Is it symbolic of not being an active participant in my life, or a scrambling of the brain to show me a story like a movie, or something else?

I’m okay with not knowing the answer, and making a choice to believe what I want about it, with the knowledge that I don’t really know. My belief is that she’s an angel, she’s always with me, and we’ll be together again one day. It’s a comforting thought that brings me serenity. Of course, there’s no way of knowing for sure, not without dying, and I appreciate my life too much to do that to myself on purpose. That will happen anyway one day; I’ll get the answer soon enough.

The last time I kissed Mom, the last time when she was still conscious, it was late, for me, and we’d stayed up watching the Olympics. We’re not a kissy-kissy family—usually we just hug, but for some reason that last time, I’d walked over to her and kissed her cheek, and she kissed mine. She’d been sitting in her chair wrapped up in her blanket and she’d looked so tired, but determined to stay up and watch the Olympics. Earlier I’d asked, How does everyone remember Usain Bolt? When everyone cheered him on, because I barely remember yesterday, let alone the Olympics four years ago, though admittedly I never watch the Olympics. She told me how he’d been a gold medal winner for the past eight years. She’s always knew what was going on, in the news, in sports, in her community. She paid attention. She paid close attention to what was going on in the news, and she read books of all kinds: books about politics, current events, historical fiction, science fiction, nonfiction, just plain old fiction. Over the year or two prior to her death I’d catch up on the news before seeing her so that I’d have a clue what she was talking about because I spent most of my life under a rock of self-absorption. The Thanksgiving before she died we all spent together, her, my sisters, and me: “The Girls.” I’d caught up on the news which I’d tried to do anyway but to me at the time it was usually either way too stressful or else just plain boring, so I got the basics and went down to my sister’s in Virginia where she and her husband and kids lived at the time. My other sister and Mom came to visit from North Carolina, and just before the meal someone decided we should each talk about something we were grateful for. Mostly we were grateful to have that time spent all of us together, since it was rare now that we live in different states. And the talk about politics began, and I stayed silent for the most part. I agree with their viewpoints, so what’s the use in preaching to the choir? Everything would be fine in the election, no way would the world—my world, anyway—ever go crazy in my lifetime, so who cares?

The next morning Mom was getting ready for the day, fixing her hair in the bathroom, and I came in to talk to her, and somehow we landed on the topic of conversation itself.

“What do you like to talk about?” she’d asked me, since she knew I wasn’t big on talking politics, or much of anything else.

The meaning of life, I would say now, without hesitation, and it was the thought that popped into my head then, but for some reason didn’t seem appropriate. It felt like the wrong answer, something she’d laugh at and say, Oh, is that all. At the time I hesitated more before speaking than I do now. Now I’m becoming more like, This is what I think and if you don’t like it, oh well. I’m not 100% there but well on my way, finally, to not worrying as much about others’ reactions. For the record, Mom would be happy to discuss the meaning of life, so why I’d hesitate has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.

Instead I answered this: “I don’t know, just random, obscure things, like what they talk about on Radiolab,” I’d replied. Radiolab is my favorite NPR radio show similar to This American Life but better, in my opinion.

“The esoteric,” she’d replied.

I’d told her about how my ex’s brother believed humans were created by aliens and that our lives were a video game just for their entertainment, and what a fascinating belief that was to me. At the time I couldn’t articulate much beyond that why it was so fascinating to me other than to say that the brother clearly is insane, but at the same time who am I to say someone else is insane just because they believe something different from me? If everyone in our culture held that belief, or even just a percentage of us, it might not seem so odd. Don’t all religions have their own creation myths? And how can I know for sure that we weren’t created by aliens for their entertainment? I have no idea who created us or why. These are all things I would say to her now, and can still say to her, am saying to her now with these words on this screen. I choose to believe she’s reading this, or hears what’s in my head, that she’s proud of the woman I’ve become. And by the way she’d be happy to see that I’m someone who today devours the news because this shit is crazy, and I can’t wait until the movie on all this comes out, but I’m still not someone to argue with others about what’s going on, who does what, or why. I do like to think about how all this is going to end, but no one ever thinks it will be in our lifetimes, because even though we know on some level life as we know it inevitably must come to an end, we can’t really comprehend it. Most people don’t like to talk about it.

Most people don’t like to talk about death, and when I bring up my mother, if they haven’t experienced death of a close, loved one, I sense that they want me to stop talking, but I don’t. Or maybe they just don’t know what to say, like how I was before Mom died. We are afraid of death, of everything about it. To talk about it seems morbid. People who haven’t experienced it themselves seem to think maybe it’s too painful for me to discuss, or it may seem that I’m obsessed with her or death in general. But it’s not that, and I don’t feel hopeless or depressed about it. Rather, it’s my way of acknowledging Mom’s life and the impact she made on me. When I tell my classmates to watch their blood pressure or post an article on Facebook about how importance of quitting smoking, it’s not to preach or wallow in regret about how or why Mom died, but to learn from her death and try to illuminate to others on how they might live a longer, healthier life. Responses range from fear about dying, and how they might prolong their own lives, or I may get a comment about how when your time comes, it comes, and if smoking doesn’t give me cancer, something else will because we can’t live in a bubble. I agree with both, and still find both responses amusing. No, you cannot avoid death, but yes, you can make choices to limit your chances of dying a slow, painful death of suffering. Most importantly, we can make choices to feel good in a healthy way today. Because today is all you got.

purpose

I want to find some newer songs to post, and not those that are 10+ years old, but these are the ones that pop into my head… My favorite verse is this: “I want life in every word / to the extent that it’s absurd.” As a side note, I like how the person who made this video (aka 3BeStillMyHeart3) calls it another of her (or his or their) “pooey” videos simply because I like the use of the word “pooey,” though I wish this person wouldn’t be so self-deprecating. I can relate to how this person feels. Maybe she needs to join CODA. Just saying.

Transformation

transformationThis transformation that I’ve been experiencing over the past little while is something I’ve had the joy to witness in someone else I met about six months ago. This young man started going to CODA meetings just before me, and every week he’d share about how downtrodden he felt, how depressed he was, how he could not get out of his funk. It was hard to watch, and at times I thought, Pull yourself together, man! Because that’s what I do when other people don’t learn their life lessons at the same time as I did, or immediately after I did. I forget how I spent most of my life depressed and focused on why me, and why did life turn out this way, and what was wrong with me, and why couldn’t I be like everyone else who seemed to have their shit together or at least okay with the fact that they didn’t, and how life dealt me a bad hand, and that I didn’t have what it took to survive or thrive in this life. That was the attitude I’d had for most of my life, up until a few years ago.

This young man who I’ll call Ben not only has a new outlook on life, but he even looks different. He looks awake. It’s such a blessing, a treasure, to watch this person change. In support group meetings people say they can see the change in you before you can see it in yourself, which is true. When I was new, after some time people said I had grown, and now some people even think I’m confident, though I might have them pretty well fooled. But maybe I do have more confidence now than I did before.

Everyone who lives in my area seems so nice now. I’d dreaded moving back to this town north of DC because I’d decided I preferred my old hood down in PG County (Prince George’s County, near the University of Maryland) with all the lower income people who are friendlier and artsier and more academic. But up here in my new old town located north of DC they were always snooty to me when I lived here before. But something happened and everyone got friendly. When did y’all get so friendly? Surely all Marylanders are totally closed off, devoid of eye contact, too busy with their lives to give a damn about yours. Somehow they were all friends with each other at the gym but no one had time for me, and ditto for those in 12-step meetings. But now suddenly people have time for me. What happened?

I’ll tell you what happened. What happened is that I changed. My perspective changed. It’s not that everyone suddenly became friendly; it’s that I became more open. And it all started with my recovery program, and then got put on the fast track with Mom’s death. My life feels so different, in a positive way today. I want to explain to you how this happened so you can do this for yourself. I want you to know everything I did, everything that happened, so that you can try it for yourself. I want you to know that it is possible. Change is possible, and life can get better than you ever dreamed possible. Just believe in it. Have faith. Know that it will happen, and sooner than you think.

Listen. If I can do it, anyone can. I spent my entire life, starting in childhood, feeling sorry for myself. And I’ll write all about this in my upcoming post(s), and I wrote a bit about it in my previous post. Here’s a hint: you don’t have to be in a 12-step program, you don’t have to be religious, you don’t have to do everything I did for this transformation to happen for you. I believe that. I know it, because I know others who’ve grown and changed without these things. So stay tuned.

Here’s a song that helped me get through hard times after I left my marketing career to find myself, when life felt mucky, like quicksand, to trudge through each day, when I felt so lost I didn’t know what to do.

Here’s a clue: There is hope.