iChart

January 25, 2010

iChart

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

One of my favorite expressions is: “I have enough; There is enough; I am enough.” Trouble is, I’m not sure I believe it.

Why is it so hard to believe? Is it that I’m so used to negative messages?

“I’m not worth it; life sucks; I’m alone; I’ll never work again; my body is terrible; I’m dumb; people are no good; I’m incompetent; I’m not lovable,” etc. I see messages like these. They push me toward a life of resentment, discontent and self-hatred. They drive me toward acting out in all kinds of completely insane ways. It’s a miracle I haven’t ended up pushing a shopping cart, wearing six coats and muttering to myself about how it’s all Dick Cheney’s fault.*

Just for today, I’ll be reminded that messages of self-worth may not be the first things I notice, but I can look for them. I can start (of course) with gratitude for the things I am blessed with. I can stop trying to control things (the things I can’t control might be good starting points). I can ask for help. I can receive help when it’s given.

I can breathe.

As my perspective is changed, I find serenity. As my serenity improves, I find connection. As I become connected, I find an end to suffering. When I stop living in suffering, I become open to a life of freedom, joy, love and peace.

Happy trails!

J.

PS * Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Blennophobia

January 16, 2010

Water

Water

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version IV) is filled with the thousands of mental illnesses, disorders and neuroses currently available. One of the more interesting choices is Lachanophobia, an irrational fear of vegetables. Current research indicates that less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the population suffer from Lachanophobia. The book also lists Blennophobia, the irrational fear of slime. A slightly larger population segment suffers from Blennophobia, about 1/5th of 1 percent of the population. Sadly, I am one of the 1/2000th of 1 percent who suffer from both.

Years ago, my friend Michael and I went out sailing on a very large lake in Wisconsin. We were on a little sunfish sailboat, and it was a very windy day. It wasn’t long before our boat capsized, and we discovered it was great fun getting it right again. Soon, we were deliberately capsizing the boat, trying to pearl the front end to get the boat to cartwheel. and in general enjoy trying to drown one another.

During one of these capsizings, the boat went all the way upside down, rudder-up. It was difficult to right it, and when we got it righted, we saw why: the sail came out of the water hanging from the mast in shreds. Apparently we’d hit a submerged bramble or tree or something.

There was no way that sail was going to work again. There was nothing for it but to swim the boat to shore. Trouble was, we were a long way out. We jumped in, and I pulled on the cleat in front, doing the side-stroke, while Michael pushed from the back, kicking his legs.

This went on for what seemed like hours. We grew cold and tired, our arms were hurting. Hell, everything was hurting, and the shoreline never seemed to get closer. We got pretty crabby, no pun intended.

Suddenly, I felt something brush against my leg. My first thought was: this is not good. I really don’t like touching things underwater—tall weeds, I would have to say, being the worst. A nightmare, in fact. I can’t explain this, but there you have it.

I said “There’s weeds or something down there.” Michael was very concerned for me. He said “Shut up and keep pulling.” Then a bunch of somethings brushed my leg. “That’s it.” I shouted, and I scrambled onto the boat. Michael said “I’m not pushing your sorry ass, get off the boat and pull!” I said “There’s no way I’m going back in the water if there’s weeds. Not going to happen.”

Michael jumped on and moved forward, cursing. I was ready. We grappled and twisted, yelling foul names and pounding on each other. He got me off balance and knocked me into the water. I went in deep, into a LOT of weeds. Very, very tall weeds. “Wisconsin Killer Weeds,” I believe is the technical term. I screamed underwater, and swam back up in a desperate panic. Michael stopped me from getting on board, so I wrapped my arms and legs around the bow, refusing to loosen my grip. Michael kept yelling “You’re totally psychotic!”, trying to pry my fingers apart and using his feet to try and scrape me off the boat like a barnacle.

We argued and fought, screaming and laughing ourselves sick out on that cold windy lake for a long time. We no longer cared about getting the boat back, we were so focused on causing the other person misery. Finally, I heard a sound. “Knock it off!” I yelled to Michael, who was busy gnawing on my knuckles to loosen my death grip. We went quiet and I turned and saw, far off, three men standing on the shore of the lake. They looked like bugs, but we could hear them yelling something. “WHAT?!?” Michael yelled, and we hear a voice across the water calling “Saaam Duuuufff!!!”

Michael said to me, “Sam Duff?!?” I was half underwater, clinging to the boat while those cursed weeds were still tormenting me by brushing against my back, but I said “Never heard of him.” Michael stood up on the boat and shouted “There’s no Sam Duff here!” And we heard three faint voices yell in unison, “STAAAAAANNND UUUUUP!”

I unwrapped my feet from the boat and swung them under me and immediately hit soft sand. I planted my feet and stood up — we were in three feet of water.

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version IV) lists another interesting irrational fear: Phronemophobia—the fear of thinking. Now, when I’m lost in worry, I can remember to just STAND UP. Sometimes the water is nowhere as deep as I thought.

Dog With a Bone

January 2, 2010

Dog With a Bone

Dog With a Bone

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

I hope you found joy, connectedness and peace of mind over the holiday season. I did, and I am grateful for it. But I have to add that, personally speaking, it was not easy to do.

Perhaps it’s the pressure I put on myself. Do I think I need to be finding joy, connectedness and peace of mind because it’s the holiday season? Maybe that’s what stresses me out. I wish I could keep things simpler, but that still defies me. However it goes, my favorite part of the holidays continues to be the part where I thank god and say “that’s done for another ten months.”

I was thinking about simplifying things while playing Scrabble. I wanted to spell G-O-D on the board. It didn’t fit, so I had to reverse it, and spelled D-O-G instead. I was frustrated because the D ended up on the triple letter score instead of the G, which led my opponent to gloat terribly.

It got me to thinking about that famous palindrome*, GOD-DOG. I thought, what if a dog were my Higher Power? How bad would that be? Could I learn how to live life happy, joyous and free just by following a dog’s G.ood O.rderly D.irection? I Googled it (of course) and it turns out I’m not the first person to have pondered this. I mashed the ideas I found together, and came up with a new life plan:

If a dog were my Higher Power…

When the people I love came home, I would run to greet them.
I would never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
I would be in ecstasy every time fresh air and wind hit my face.
I would take naps. Lots of naps.
Whenever I’d rise, I would yawn, stretch out, and smile.
I would run, romp, and play every day.
I would thrive on being loved, and let people touch me.
If people touched me in ways I didn’t like, I would let them know.
I wouldn’t bite someone when a simple growl would do.
If I saw a ball – any ball – I would play with it.
On warm days, I would stop and lie on my back in the grass.
On cold days, I would stop and lie on my back in the snow.
On wet days, I would flail around in the rain and not mind a bit.
On hot days, I would drink lots of water.
I would lie under a shady tree.
When I was happy, I’d dance around and wag my entire body.
If someone I love was having a bad day, I’d sit close by until they felt better.
If I were near water, I’d be in the water.
I would delight in the joy of a long walk.
When I walked, I’d hardly be able to restrain myself from running.
I would eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
I would stop when I’ve had enough.
I would be loyal. Incredibly loyal.
I would look the people I love right in the eye.
I wouldn’t be fussy. I’d just make the best of whatever is going on.
I wouldn’t pretend to be something I’m not.
If what I wanted were buried, I’d dig until I found it.
I would always be grateful for each new day.

Happy trails—and Happy Twenty-Ten!

* PS Here’s another palindrome for you: “Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?”