Sunday, June 30, 2019

Summer Renewal, Epicurean Light, Magic and Meaning Whilst Embracing the Micro.

In 2016 I wrote that Summer was my Winter Season (click HERE.) This has been generally true for me, however, in 2017/2018, Spring became a first time favourite, which (surprise!) has moved into Summer 2019. Summer has now become this year's top spot which has never happened to me in my adult life. I am officially an "All Seasons Gal." Each season has had it's turn to shine in my life and become a well loved source of joy.

What changed? 


Back in February I kept running into the word "Transformation." I sensed change was upcoming which was scary and hopeful all at once. All the signs intuitively were pointing to a birth of sorts. But in order for birth, there must be death first or necessary endings. Luckily, many of my endings were not as painful as the anticipation of them. And the renewal that swiftly swept in made up for any losses three fold. "It takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives."- Marianne Williamson

Speaking of loss, the picture of the mirror above was a garage sale item I found for a buck and it's solid bronze. My youngest broke it on it's way into the home, my husband trashed it, I rescued and glued it and my daughter glittered it. I love it even more now. It contains a story and a context belonging to us with mystery from the owner before. It is lovely. Reflected within are the truths of messy mistakes glittering life and refracting with even more astounding beauty.

I have learned to accept my Stoic leanings but balance them with much needed Epicurean pursuits. I have found an explosion of magic and meaning, mystery and logic, and the paradox of beauty in darkness and light. Of course, those aspects were always in my life, but the Litha sun has basked them into full bloom.

Temperate weather has probably helped as our weather has been fluctuating between rain and sunshine and averages around 20 degrees C. On my front porch, which faces south, and is always about 7-10 degrees hotter, it is pure perfection for when I need heat, and I can walk off the deck for cooler temps. Which equals sensory delight. The wild roses are releasing my favourite fragrant scent and the bees are in abundance this year. I am in absolute awe of the nature surrounding me. 

I have taken the time to watch the gophers walk up to me curiously on hind feet, the birds chirp happily a few paces away, the ants busily making their nests...I have witnessed coyotes, buffalo, Canadian geese, deer, eagles, ravens, horses, cows, beavers and a snowy white owl...all in one weeks time. Oh and a frog the size of my hand standing in the middle of the road on a late night walk beneath the waning moon. These happenings have swept me away with gratitude for the wild place I belong to. 

Of course, aspects of my introverted self still suit winter, but I think I have become balanced enough to finally suit all seasons comfortably. And I am also ok with the fact that some years I will be drawn into differing seasons, but now as the wheel of the year turns, I am finding peace in what IS. "We do not grow absolutely, chronologically, we grow sometimes in one dimension and not in another or evenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one room, childish in another, the past, the present, the future mingle and pull us backward, forward or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells and constellations."- Anais Nin. 

I've reconnected with some beautiful friends from Jr/Sr. high school and discovered other connections that help round out other aspects of self. The world is full of beautiful people. Some suit us for parts of our journey while others need a break.

I've also severed some ties that encouraged me in my winter introversion, and admit-tingly supported me to be a bit of an intellectual snob at times (not a lot but there were a few fleeting realizations. Although that is completely on me as no one can force us to become what we are not.) Perhaps I was too concerned about being "frou frou" or lacking substance? I'm naturally deep so swimming in the shallow end is not something I am used to. Maybe I was shirking away from sunlight because I felt the shadows held more appeal? But life is BOTH yin and yang. I was not scrutinizing the downsides of thinking too much. Ha, maybe I am still thinking too much... I was holding on to things that held me back while also containing others. I took solace in being stoic all the time. Stoicism is still a beautiful and needed aspect of balanced living. Intellectual pursuits are worthy and wonderful. But there is something to be said for mysticism and innocence. As Harry Potter exclaimed with wonder, "I love magic!" Yes! The magic of BEING begets so many moments of ordinary bliss. If only we re- train ourselves to pay attention to the micro world. 

Ritual and spontaneity need a marriage of respect. I have recently discovered both in ways I did not behold before. We all have the power to create. We can create with our words because words are powerful entities on to themselves. They build worlds, challenge beliefs, strengthen resolve, and enable life. The invisible becomes visible with an utterance of a word. If that is not a bit of magic, then what is?

This Spring and Summer have taken us adventuring with the shadows behind us and the sun in our smiles. Moments of storms and light reflecting crystals. "No matter how thinly you slice it- there will always be two sides."- Baruch Spinoza.

 I hope that I will always find the light in the darkness and the beauty that can come with life's storms. But I also hope that I won't just let my sufferings define me. What tiny moonbeams or star flecked skies do I ignore because I am searching for the fireworks? I have had to ask myself whom I am without my cultural expectations of self, and whom am I without my suffering?

I have had two Lyme flares since the Spring but they have been fleeting. When they do come around I have asked myself to respect my body's demands, but to also not define myself from past flares. And when I do come out of a flare, to then quickly focus my gaze towards the micro world. The picture below I would have NEVER posted before without make up in a flare, but the sun healed and it was a symbolic moment of embracing what is and averting my gaze to what can BE. 

I have spent the last decade plus learning about sensory overload, boundaries, chronic illness symptoms and management, dyspraxia, learning disabilities, and my shortcomings. All of these were needed lessons and moments. I still plan on maximizing some of those truths learned in the future. But there is a time for whimsy, childlike belief and wonder. 

Each day I wake up with anticipation, eager to learn the lessons and joys of the gift of living. Not all seasons can be like this of course, I know that due to my own past of hardships, but when they do come, it is not a bad thing to celebrate the ordinary minuscule that often gets overlooked. There is so much wonder to behold. I have taken time to watch clouds roll by, feel the home made ice cream melt on my tongue with peppermint tang, sense the sun warming up my body from the outside in, watch the bees buzz in a flower, and stare at the rainbows made by window crystals. These are not wasted moments. I still get needed organizational aspects of life completed, but they are enriched by the micro magic.

What will people think if they catch you cloud watching or focusing dreamily on a flower? What will be their reaction when they witness contentment, magic, wonder or childlike actions? If you are worried that they will leave you based on this kind of living, why are they invited to witness your sacred life in the first place? Feed your soul the food of dreams and stories. After all, your story is your epic life. Your moments are now and they won't last forever.

"I know it's a drag, I know it's a grind. I know that a dollar ain't worth a dime. Just trying to keep up with the Joneses at the end of the block. I know you get tired, I know you get down. I know you get sick of this soul sucking town. Let's make a little lemonade if lemons is all we got 'Cause I'm stuck on you, you're stuck on me. I never gotta wonder where my honey be. I ain't saving all my sugar for a Saturday night. Seven days a week I got an appetite. Sunsets like a tangerine, let's find a road we've never seen. Don't waste another mile or a minute not kissing me. Life is short, make it sweet
Open sky, glimpse of heaven, take the top off the CJ-7. Let that surfside Santa Ana wind mess up your hair, And let that windshield frame the ocean, Radio keep coast-to-coasting, If we don't get where we're going baby I don't care. I'm already there. 'Cause I'm stuck on you, you're stuck on me
I never gotta wonder where my honey be. I ain't saving all my sugar for a Saturday night. Seven days a week I got an appetite. Sunsets like a tangerine, let's find a road we've never seen. Don't waste another mile or a minute not kissing me. Life is short, make it sweet. Days will be long but the years will fly right by. We'll never be as young as we are tonight. Baby ain't that right, yeah. 'Cause I'm stuck on you, you're stuck on me. I never gotta wonder where my honey be. I ain't saving all my sugar for a Saturday night. Seven days a week I got an appetite. Sunsets like a tangerine, let's find a road we've never seen. Don't waste another mile or a minute not kissing me. Life is short, make it sweet."- Old Dominion Lyrics

With deepest gratitude to dreams, stories built from magical words, mystery and the micro. May you find your little joys to sweeten daily life.

P.S. Happy Canada Day. 


Friday, June 14, 2019

'The Unicorn Store', Trauma, Picture Posts, and The Beauty of Being Loved as You Are.

This post was inspired by the "The Unicorn Store"but amongst it is picture proof of a brilliant, unique life...from my daughter's 16th party to Library Castle builds to Birthdays, Trips, Selfies, Room Decor Switches, Window boxes and Local Broadway Plays.

(Pictured below window boxes my hubby constructed- they make such a difference!)

"... Thank you... thank you forever... You’re gonna be her best friend and play checkers whenever she wants. And don’t let her go searching for people who can’t love who she really is. You’re gonna be there for her and listen to her’re gonna love her exactly like she is- even when she thinks there’s nobody who can love her like that in the whole world.”- Brie Larson's Character in the Unicorn Store

"Mom, I tried to relate, to tear up or garner some emotion, but mom, I just couldn't really relate at all to that movie ( the Unicorn Store) or the quote you cried at. I guess I know that I am loved. I know I have special qualities that make me more loveable from my family even if the rest of the world may differ. I have my brothers as best friends and you and dad as confidantes. I just couldn't really relate." ( My daughter expressed this to me after hearing Brie's quote above.)
(Pictured below - their castle landscape that took up the entire Library to which half is not pictured. It was amazing.)
(Pictured below - decor for my daughter's 16th Extended Family Party)

I was a bit shocked at her response...and my opposite one to which I had to choke down buckets of tears. In fact, I spent an entire afternoon thinking upon why I had such a strong reaction TWICE upon viewing and she was so chill. Her statement sunk in and I realized that we successfully set her up to feel valued and loved. From 'unschooling' to constant slumber parties with her siblings to 4 a.m in depth conversations when both of us were sick and couldn't sleep to her father arguing philosophy and faith stances to learning about her sensory/ anxiety needs. She has become a person already at 15 that I did not even begin to explore myself until about age 26. If I am being honest, I STILL struggle with that concept sometimes...of being loved for whom I am. I can't get over the fact that my husband and children witness my quirks, stupidity, meltdowns, oddness, chaos, and of course good qualities too, but they still think I am worthy.

I didn't really experience that love until I married my husband. I still doubt it. Every day I ask him why he loves me. I don't get it. I'm high maintenance and know it. I struggle to see the beauty which is why I preach it constantly. I am often blogging or telling people they are worthy simply because they exist. It is a life long lesson of mine that I believe for others...but for myself...that has been tougher.

(Pictured below more of her 16th party and the Red Carpet Lego set the boys made for her.)

( Traditional Brazilian dinner at Grampy's)

(My Paternal Grandmother who I take after A LOT. I adore her.)
This is not to be confused with the fact that I wasn't loved. Honestly, I was adored and doted on by many relatives and friends growing up. The fact that I didn't feel truly valued for who I was lies in multiple sources of blame. One being myself. I masked. I knew what society asked of me to a degree, and rose to be that person, despite the inner Being inside of me. How could they love a person they barely were shown?

Another aspect was religion and attending a conservative Christian School, summer Jesus Camps and Sunday School...whom I was inside was clearly NOT Ok. I was told that over and over again. Or that I was only worth it when Jesus redeemed me- some found comfort in that- I did not. Jesus was my best friend but I didn't even feel he loved me for whom I was because of my "sin nature" that was naturally a part of me via Autism, personality ect. Being told this was "sinful" took it's toll. (Yes, I have gone through multiple stages of growth in religion and philosophy since then and know what was meant ect so please do not bother setting me straight in the comments. See old posts for more but I am beyond that now...however, it did play a part for younger me.)

My personality also was not conformist...I was quirky. My talent presented in unusual ways. I was naive yet an Aphrodite (click) type, a highly intuitive, rare INFJ(click), a perceived dramatist as an Enneagram 4 (click), accidentally magical (which scares people) and I was socially inappropriate. Basically a nightmare for anyone who was set in a role to "guide me."

(Picture below- my daughter /father in the local play "Annie")

My parents were amazing but I always felt adopted. Which sounds harsh but it was simply because I could not fully see where I fit. More on that later...Or that I was in the wrong time period. The 1940's appealed to me and I would often escape in my imagination. I think I could have completely gone inward and been fully happy but I would not have had the life I have today, so I am thankful that life worked out the way it did. I didn't fully connect to most relatives unless I was sick and needed that connection to stay alive. And that statement right there is probably why Autistics are thought to lack empathy or are considered selfish. Because who would say that? Honesty is a lonely word. Many people do not understand that you can be loved and give love but not feel connection. And I still had connection- but it was not the typical kind that felt love in a most normal way or believed it. I was empathic and gave love but most of the time it was misunderstood or thought as insulting- which baffled me as I was so innocent.

I felt so out of place all the time. However, I knew I was loved and I was given A LOT. I attribute most good things to the constancy of my childhood. I still get the support I need like amazing birthday parties for my children that would not happen otherwise without my relatives. But it would be a lie if I said that I felt like I belonged fully. It's not sad to me anymore, because I see clearly the reasons of why and how. And no one is to blame fully, even myself. It's complicated.

The adults in my life were also a product of their time and 'Aspergers Syndrome' was a foreign word, while 'Autism' was associated with Rain Man. Dyspraxia and learning disabilities were only diagnosed in the very, very obvious, and instead I was pressured to continuing 'trying.' I had to try everything I was terrible at which only made me conclude whom I was deep down was NOT ok.

The adults thought they were setting me up to be capable. In an ironic way they were- I come across "normal" to get many things in life, however it comes at a personal cost. It was and IS a double sword of bliss and trauma.

My husband became my mirror. He reflected the love I always wanted to see but never fully did. He saw the sacrilegious girl, the one who questioned faith and societal standards. He saw a girl who was quirky and weird because I couldn't hide it all the time and being lovers I became more comfortable showing the sides of myself I kept hidden my entire life. He embraced my witchiness, the parts that were oddly innocent sitting beside the completely opposite jaded pieces. He saw intelligence where I only ever saw inferiority. I don't get sanctioned by him for what I read, watch or listen to. He doesn't make me feel less or wrong if I explore an idea...he trusts me to be ethical in the end. He doesn't get scared by my non conformity or my random moments of weird obsessions. He is a breath of fresh air that brings me home to myself...

In the film "The Unicorn Store" the main character also has two loving, supportive parents. They were THERE for her in the ways they could be and generally amazing parents. Yet, she still struggled with her brokenness and constantly looked for a companion that could love her unconditionally in a way she understood. That is probably why I cried. I related to that.

Again, there was true abuse in my history (not physical and not from my parents) and there was daily misunderstanding and undermining, but there was also immense beauty, protection (yea it's a juxtaposition) and me not realizing who I was. Nobody took the time to explain my differences. I felt alien. Adopted. Alone. Waiting to find out I was the Little Princess of some long lost person who could explain whom I was. I couldn't figure it out. In my twenties these pieces finally started clicking through therapy, diagnosis of Aspergers and Dyspraxia, INFJ persona and all the Typology explanations...each one I began to form a picture of myself and frame my history in a way in which I could finally step forward. Becoming a mother also mimicked the journey...I struggled the first six years until I found my groove and the role of a lifetime.

Recently, I excitedly said to my husband, "I have a bit more energy. Maybe I should get out there in the world more? Be less Hermit ish? Maybe there is something I can do...." And he astounded me by gently saying, "You have many gifts to give to the world, and you already do so in the life you live now. If you want more we can find a way to support that, but honey, I don't think that could be a good idea. The world is a terrible place right now. The comments online alone would destroy you. The politics are cruel and accusatory, everyone is explosive and correcting each other. Even on that "Unicorn Store" reviews people mentioned how selfish the main character was. But we both thought she was sweet, innocent and gave in her legitimate way and needed support the way she heard it. I just think out there... would not suit your soul. Of course I do not want to lock you away or treat you like a forbidden, fragile jewel. You have choices, you have autonomy, you worked for whom you are. But can I just say, from my perspective, that your Hermit life encourages you to thrive. You have an innocence and intelligence not only naturally but BECAUSE you purposefully avoid the crazy opinions and random violence. You are you and it's OK. It's ok that you are sensitive and need to mostly stay in the house. Many great minds in history were shut ins or Hermits. You are rare. Maybe in today's age, being a shut in is harder because it's more obvious and more connected, but you manage to do it. Yet, you still stay semi informed. I mean, look at your blog babe. You don't link it to your other social media sites, you only send it to a select list, and you try to hide it from most of the world. If you feel passionate about a topic you may pin it for others but when it gets popular you step back. You do not like to garner attention from those seeking to deconstruct, destroy or criticize because you had 20 plus years of that kind of attention. You deserve the rest of your life without that daily input even if you deal with your share of human struggles."

I was blown away. I thought he would encourage me to get out there more. He is always sharing political stories with me, much to my chagrin and annoyance at times. He enjoys our discussions on Philosophy and we do share our home (SEE HERE) so I thought he would encourage me to get out there. Isn't that what most of society tells us to do to have worthy lives?

But here is the thing. I guess I do have a worthy life. And the fact surprises me even when I say it and believe it. I am living at my best in a way I can manage. I still give and I still do "the grown up" thing when I can. I challenge myself in ways that do not destroy me... but he is right. For 25 plus years, I was constantly challenged. I was told to get in the boat and that my fears were 'irrational' when they were logical. I was undermined and the messages I received were contradictory at best. Plus, there was so much fear. Fear of demons, of sin, of saying the wrong thing, of being around people who smoked or swore, fear of girls who enjoyed kissing, fear of men who gave me benign attention, but worst of all...fear of myself. Fear of whom I was. Fear of my own sexuality, being, choices, mistakes and non conformity.

(Pictured below- my daughter comforting me because I was overloaded and exhausted during a trip and needed her help to overcome when I should have been helping her was touching...)

Hearing my daughter not being able to all...showed me that I have successfully given her what I always longed for. I wanted safety and home most of all...something cozy, expressive, and full of love and full it bursts with identity... with colour that hugs and design that that my loved ones within will know, without even seeing me in person, from the home itself, that I love them. Next, I wanted unconditional love. Rainbows, sparkles, sunshine, outbursts of song combined with rationality, logical discussions and belonging. I wanted to stop being told I was dramatic for my choices. To stop being told that I am wrong. To stop being told that my life choices or views were not "realistic" yet there they were in reality. How does that work??

Well, apparently I succeeded at the magic, based on the constant hand made cards and words my children make me. (A sample pictured below.)

I wanted the paradox because I AM  the paradox. A little girl mixed with woman...I can be both. I am both. I wished for meaning and I found it in a place that I never would have imagined. MYSELF and my spouse...and then the children I never thought I would have. I never thought I would have people who would see my sacrilegious, my pagan, my quirky, my disabilities, my limitations, my yuck, my bodily functioning, my illnesses, and my flaws and love me FOR them in essence. BECAUSE of them not in SPITE of them. That beauty enables me to wake up every day with hope.

I still struggle. Each day I end up asking my husband why he loves me again. He always responds, even when he is angry at me because he knows that there is part of me that will always be a little broken that way. That may be sad sometimes...when I am triggered, reminded or run into people who refuse to see me for whom I am...but in general, it just IS. We all have broken bits inside. Trauma is matter how small or large. But the lucky part of life is that sometimes...with the right circumstances, love, words, people, art or inspiration, those broken cracks can be places where the light filters in.

"... Thank you... thank you forever... You’re gonna be her best friend and play checkers whenever she wants. And don’t let her go searching for people who can’t love who she really is. You’re gonna be there for her and listen to her’re gonna love her exactly like she is- even when she thinks there’s nobody who can love her like that in the whole world.”- Brie Larson's Character in the Unicorn Store...

If you can give ONE person that type of love described in the quote above, you have made one of the biggest achievements possible in life. Love her/ him/ them exactly as they are.

Song Choice: "This is Me"- The Greatest Showman "...We are glorious. Yea thats what we've become. I won't break me down to dust. I know that there's a place for us...When the sharpest words want to cut me down, I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out. i am brave, I am bruised, I am whom I meant to be...I'm not scared to be seen. I make no apologies. this is me. And I know that I deserve your love. There is nothing I'm not worthy of."

P.S.The Unicorn Store scared me a bit the first time- I kept waiting for something terrible to happen. It wasn't magical to me and a bit sensory overloading...however, I loved Brie Larson's depiction and my husband thought she was brilliant...which is lucky because he kept saying, "I can't get over how much she is like you when you are at home..." So I guess he likes oddities as stated above:)