Tag Archives: free spirit

A Celebration of Life for a simple musician

I have just returned from a “Celebration of Life” for a musician who was a major player in our church’s music department. I really didn’t know him. I just knew him through his Sunday and concert performances. We did not know one another beyond occasional “hellos” as we passed.

He was one of the first persons I remember seeing the first time I attended a service with this congregation. He was on the platform with his long hair flowing, his jeans, and a mustache and beard…or maybe it was a goatee…I don’t remember now. This was almost six years ago.

I saw him talking with some of the other musicians on the platform and some of the men and women in the gathering around him. I had arrived a little early and the service had not yet begun.

I suddenly felt like I had entered some kind of time warp, like I was back among the flower children of the 60s. There were sandals on the men, long hair, and tie died shirts. I wondered where the previous forty+ years had gone.

At first I felt uncomfortable. After all, this was a house of God. As a child, two of the first things I learned was to wear my “Sunday best” and to read a plaque above the door which said, “This is the House of God. Enter in silence.” That is what you did.You entered, you bowed your head in prayer, you responded at the appropriate time, you sang at the appropriate time, but to talk to a friend? NEVER! Not in God’s house.  Yet here he was laughing and talking as he prepared for the service.

Everyone quieted down and the service began. All of a sudden I realized I was home again. As I looked around the congregation, I realized these “hippies” were not the only ones. There was a wide range of clothing from suits to jeans, T shirts to shirts and ties. The musician was just one of a rainbow of people in that congregation.

As a person who has since early childhood felt like the perennial outsider, I realized that the entire congregation was filled with people who probably were perennial outsiders themselves. But here, there was acceptance. Here there was safety to be ourselves. He certainly was the epitome of that idea.

There was camaraderie, there was fellowship, there was love. Sunday after Sunday he was there to sing songs about that love and friendship and building bridges. He would take rock and roll songs (my childhood minister would have had apoplexy at the thought) and help the congregation to see the connection between the music and the message. He was a good musician. He had several bands throughout the years, but I don’t think he was ever really much known outside Ft. Worth. But then again, I really didn’t know him.

His music reached people’s hearts. As I looked around the church I noticed that it was completely filled downstairs, and there was a good amount of people upstairs in the balcony as well. Music was not his whole life. He was also a teacher. I’m sure many of the people assembled were members of his faculty.

Actually, he was struck down at school. He was on the faculty of a special school that deals with behavior problems. There was a fight and he stepped in to break it up. Suddenly he fell, the victim of a brain aneurysm. When he was admitted to the hospital, it was discovered that he had four aneurysms altogether. They could have ruptured at any time but the extra emotion and physical exertion it took to break up the fight was all it took. His body endured a twelve hour operation but it was too much to last much longer. He was taken off life support a couple of days later.

He was a simple man, in my opinion. I don’t recall ever seeing him at church in anything other than jeans and a long sleeved shirt or on rock and roll Sunday, a tee shirt. He would sing his heart out with his songs.

The hospital where I volunteer takes in everyone including the homeless. Many of these patients also have long hair and various amounts of facial hair, not always trimmed. At first I was put off by them, kind of like my first reaction to the musician. Then one day it struck me that they could very well be like him. I tried to imagine him in one of the hospital beds. It was then that I was able to see the Christ Spirit in all of these men. It was the musician at church who first showed me the Christ Spirit within himself. I could see his self rather than just the shell of him. That was the musician’s gift to me. There are a lot of people who will miss him. I will be one of them. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Floating nowhere

For quite some time now I’ve had a “video” playing every so often in my mind. It’s never far from my consciousness. I know the object is me, I just don’t know what I want to do about it.

I picture a somewhat battered wooden rowboat drifting not too far from shore. It has an anchor, but the rope holding the anchor is very short so it can never dig into the bottom into the mud to secure the boat to keep it from floating.

The anchor gets tangled in underwater plants at times but the plants can never hold it for long. Sometimes the weather is calm, other times it gets very stormy and the boat gets blown further away from the shore.

There are no oars in the boat. There’s absolutely no way for the boat to be steered. It is at the mercy of the weather.

The boat itself is a little worse for wear. It is feeling its age. It could use a good coat of paint. Barnacles are abundant. It has been broken many times in spots from banging into piers and rocks  and repaired, but the injuries are obvious and have weakened the structure of the boat.

At times the boat seems to be able to contemplate the effects of not having much of an anchor. It’s peaceful to be able to float around the cove and go hither and yon whenever it decides to let the breeze blow it. At those times it feels a sense of relief and  feels sorry for other boats it has seen which are so firmly anchored that there is no chance that they will ever move.

But then when something happens to the another boat, it notices that there are other boats nearby that can be relied upon. They tend to float nearer to the anchored boat, protecting it, and remain there as long as needed. It is then that the old rowboat looks wistfully upon the scene and can only imagine the sense of security the other boat might feel.

With such a short anchor, if the breezes turn into gales, it is helpless. It can only float as best it can while it is battered by the storms. It is often swept far from the shores. This has happened so many times that the boat just accepts its fate and eventually the winds die down and the waves once again bring the rowboat back closer to the shore where it feels more comfortable.

When it was first built, it realized it would never be a sailboat that could sail gracefully through the water. It would never be a yacht with all the fancy trimmings. It definitely would never be a speed boat. It accepted its role and welcomed the occasional times when it could be of use.

But as it became older and more worn, it found it harder to believe that it hadn’t been entirely abandoned and it became resigned to its fate.

It doesn’t know its fate but is becoming more unsure each day that it will be able to face many more storms. It can only “let go and let God” but it doesn’t find the security in that philosophy that it once did.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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Dreaming for the good, releasing the bad

Good morning. The weather is continuing a cool trend. It’s 59o but if you have on a jacket, we can still sit out on the glider. The prediction is for warmer weather again  this weekend. Let me tell you what’s going on.

dreams

I very seldom dream, or at least I very seldom remember any dreams. Last night I had a very vivid dream and woke up quite upset. I dreamed I discovered my ex, while we were still married, in, to put it nicely, a compromising position with another woman. She then insulted me with an unmentionable hand gesture when I confronted them.

What upset me was the feelings of betrayal I was experiencing. I was actually experiencing them deep in the core of my chest as I dreamed. They were much deeper than I ever remember feeling when I was actually going through my divorce experience. A confrontation like that  never happened in real life so I was not remembering history.

Betrayal

Betrayal trauma is a response to extreme anger. Fear and anger are the two sides to the fight-flight response, and as such are our strongest and most basic  psychological emotions. When I am in an emotional situation, I freeze. I do not fight nor do I have an urge to run.

I have a very difficult time displaying any anger. My husband had a very easy time threatening me with his outbursts…or attacking me verbally or physically.  The more angry he got, the more I retreated. While I was going through my divorce, others would get mad at him for me since I couldn’t get mad myself.

My husband committed adultery. I would not doubt that he was unfaithful to me not only while we were dating (he admitted to being with a prostitute) but also shortly after our wedding. A traveling salesman who hangs out in bars, even when he is in his home town, has ample temptations and opportunities. Not only did he have all the qualities of an alcoholic, he, in my opinion, was a sexual addict as well. Now as long as I was the center of his addiction, it didn’t bother me. It was when I began to lose trust in him, like I did in April following our January wedding, that I knew I was in for a long, lonely ride.

We had been married less than three years when he was transferred a third time and we moved to this state. He said something a couple of times that I should have confronted him with, but I let slide. He mentioned being happy to move here because Texas was a no-fault state if a couple divorced. He said it in a way that on the surface appeared to be teasing, but looking back I think in reality he was probably telling the truth. I was very uninformed and unknowledgeable about divorce so I really didn’t say anything. It  didn’t occur to me to think that he was actually contemplating divorce. By that time we already had a son. I thought we were a family…troubled, but still a family.

No-fault divorce is a divorce in which the dissolution of a marriage requires neither a showing of wrong-doing of either party nor any evidentiary proceedings at all. Laws providing for no-fault divorce allow a family court to grant a divorce in response to a petition by either party to the marriage, without requiring the petitioner to provide evidence that the respondent has committed a breach of the marital contract. Laws providing for no-fault divorce also limit the potential legal defenses of a respondent who would prefer to remain married.

No fault divorce just lets either party say, “See ya,” without having to even attempt to work things out. I don’t think I would ever have filed for divorce. I grew up without a mother. For that reason, I was adamant that my son would not have to grow up without his father. That in itself was not reality because in real life my ex left the house on Monday morning and didn’t return until Thursday night. My son had very little contact with his father anyway. Towards the end, he didn’t return until Friday. I called the airport one time and talked to security. They keep track of cars that are in their lots for several days. It was Thursday night and my ex’s car was no longer in the parking lot. He had told me he would have to stay another night and would be back on Friday.

Instead of getting mad, I just let myself turn and sink more inward. I realized the truth and chose not to deal with it. My life long pattern was depression so it felt very familiar to me. The more the anger turned in, the more I handled it by doing less and eating more. It was a vicious no win situation. He was drinking and I was eating. Only because God was with me did it not end in a violent disaster. A few months before the end, he had come home even more drunk than usual and I found myself on the floor with his hands around my neck choking me. I was ready to let him kill me, but at the last second, I could not do that to my beloved six year old son. My cousin happened to be visiting us. I called out and that seemed to break my ex’s rage. He let go.

Later I found out that my cousin had not even heard me, but my action was enough to diffuse the situation.

After over twenty years I am puzzled as to why such a vivid dream would be occuring now. Earlier that evening I had been in a philosophy class that I’m taking called “Lessons in Truth”. As we discussed the material, I discovered that much of what we had covered in the first two lessons, I already tried to incorporate into my life as I was growing up. I was learning that my beliefs had put me much further along my spiritual path than I could ever have guessed.

We discussed the idea that all suffering is the result of believing ourselves to be in bondage to “all things of the flesh”. We have a choice of remaining in that level or growing through various stages to a spiritual understanding that we know we are one with God and are free from all suffering.  Now I know this is pretty heavy stuff and I’ll not go into it any further.

What I realized during the class and as we all chatted afterwards was that I was feeling a sense of what I had not felt in decades. That was a sense of joy! I was feeling trully happy. S &*T! I was FEELING. That in itself is something I don’t often allow myself to do…non-chalant soul that I am.

Since I had brought up joy and opened the space where I carefully control all my feelings, it also allowed me to bring up other feelings. Stuff I had never allowed myself to handle. By having these feelings come to me in a dream, I was able to recognize them for what they were, acknowledge them, FEEL them, and then release them in a rush of liberty of allowing them to leave.

This class has eight more sessions. Eight more lessons. If all of them are this powerful, I’m wondering where I will be by the middle of November. It should be very interesting. Namaste. Attic Annie

eight-ways-to-recharge-your-spirit

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I learned to be helpless but no more

Hi...come sit down for a spell

Hi...come sit down for a spell

Hi. Welcome to my front porch. I’ve given up the attic for a while in favor of cool enough mornings sitting outside while the porch is in the shade. Did you ever think about the number of people who NEVER just sit outside to relax?

I’m venting today about my lack of ability to comprehend all things mechanical, technological, chemical, or  physical. Among some people I am considered intelligent, I guess based upon my writing ability, and the fact that I am a fairly decent speller. It always amazes me when that observation is made. When it comes to anything else in the world, I view myself as a completely helpless individual…or at least I used to think that way.

When I was growing up, there were always those around me who could do things better, faster, and easier than I could. My father often made me aware of that fact. When I wanted to learn to sew, I was told, “Wait until somebody can show you. ( I heard, “You’ll break the sewing machine.”) Of course in our household there never was a time when anyone sat down with me. When I wanted to have my first party, I was told, “Wait until your sister has time to help you.” (I heard, “You’re too dumb to entertain your friends socially by yourself.) When I wanted to learn how to cook, I heard, “Wait until somebody has time to teach you.” (I heard, “You’ll only ruin the food and make a mess.” )

I got a new red bicycle for my tenth birthday. About three years later I decided the paint wasn’t bright enough any more. I completely dismantled it by myself in the garage in order to paint the fenders properly. Why I thought that had to be done, I’m not sure. Anyway, I painted the bicycle parts bright red enamel. I can’t remember how I got my hands on the paint. Then, I was stuck. I did not have a clue as to how to put it back together.

Instead of asking either of one or two mechanically inclined uncles living within yards of me to help me re-assemble it, or trying to help me himself, my father loaded the parts into the car after three days and took it to a distant cousin for her husband to reassemble for their daughter. I just said, “I can’t put it back together. Do with it what you want.” End of story. End of bicycle. Of course I cared. I just didn’t know how to say it.

I found the older I got, the more helpless I became. Because my father hired a housekeeper/child minder when I was four, and because I was frequently ill with asthma, headaches, and allergies, I was never expected to do anything for myself. My aunt would bake but only when I wasn’t around.

When you don’t do anything for yourself long enough, you learn either you don’t have to because others are better and faster at it and don’t expect you to perform, or you are not able to help yourself in the first place. It’s called learned helplessness. I found three very interesting articles about this topic you might want to investigate if you feel the same way.

http://www.noogenesis.com/malama/discouragement/helplessness.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness 

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.marcossalazar.com/images/2008/09/29/depression.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.marcossalazar.com/2008/09/post-college–1.html&usg=__4XND2SFXpPKDTQ-nnCmNtGP89e0=&h=269&w=200&sz=48&hl=en&start=99&sig2=l6erPUmBmSZZvd0lE6SFMg&um=1&tbnid=r74EJ1MMQum7fM:&tbnh=113&tbnw=84&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlearned%2Bhelplessness%26ndsp%3D20%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7GCNV_en%26sa%3DN%26start%3D80%26um%3D1&ei=CM2KStmmGYe6tAOev-XUDQ

I apologize for all the long links. I’m still trying to learn how to hyperlink.

Learned helplessness can be a large part of depression

Learned helplessness can be a large part of depression

I now have realized this “learned helplessness” was my main reason for not making it through nursing school. I was like the dog in the article. I had been shocked too many times with no way to control the situation. I had no confidence in myself. There was no such thing as self-esteem on my horizon. I can identify with the person in the above picture. Although I would cover myself, I have been in this state many times in my past. My favorite fetal position.

I have come a long way in my thinking of my abilities since joining the church that I now attend. The church has five principles. Two of which apply to this blog. 

  1. We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.

Now I’ve had trouble accepting this principle. One of the criticisms of this principle by fundamentalists is that we DARE to put ourselves on the same level as GOD. How can we be so bold as to think so highly of ourselves? I can actually have some control over reality just by the way I think? I didn’t think so.

I found an article which really makes sense to me. This is an excerpt:

It is of considerable significance that, in the middle of this description in Psalms 104 of the working, creating God, there is a reference to human labor. Verse 23 reads, “Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until the evening ” (RSV). The Bible suggests that human labor must be seen as part of God’s ongoing creative activity. By our work, we become co-creators with God!

This is an essential part of what it means to be truly human.Whether we are a marketing person for a computer services company, a lab technician, a production manager for a biochemical firm, a homemaker, a weatherman, a school teacher, or a doctor, in our work we are co-creating with God. We are contributing to God’s continuing work of sustaining creation. This gives our work tremendous significance in God’s sight. 

http://www.urbana.org/whole-life-stewardship-reflections/the-significance-of-our-work

The second principle which I have discovered to be life changing is this:

      2.  Through thoughts, words and actions, we live in the truth we know.

In my book discussion group we have been studying two books of Eckhart Tolle. The first one was The Power of Now and the one we are reading now is the same one Oprah discussed  with him, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. They are not easy at first to understand but when it starts to sink in, what he says really has the capability of changing how I view myself in the world. All I have is right now, in the present. I can do nothing about the past. I no longer have to hold onto the beliefs which have previously shaped me into what I am today. I am a capable, loving, sharing person who has strong beliefs in what is right and not right for me. I can stand up for myself and do for myself. If I don’t succeed the first time, I do not have to call myself stupid. I just have to want to try again, if that is what I choose. That is MY truth. I am capable of doing many things I never used to believe of myself.

Oh, what brought about this topic? I have a three handset V Tech 5.8 GHz digital answering system. The first one I bought started acting crazy after several months so I took it back to the store and got a new replacement set. Now this one, a year later, is performing in the same way. I can’t make or receive calls because I get the message that another handset is on or I am out of range when I am within two feet. After checking and rechecking and switching and reswitching handsets and letting the darn things rest, at least the one on my desk is now functioning again. I am expecting some important phone calls and I think I can leave and the answering machine will work. As to the other two handsets, the message still says another handset is on or I’m out of range. The WILL NOT let me connect to the world.  I am not helpless in solving this problem. After talking with my neighbor, her relative experiences the same thing. The darn things won’t hang up properly.

What does this have to do with my blog? I can tell you. I can fix the problem. I can’t return them to Circuit City like I did the first time, but I can throw the suckers into the recycling bin at Goodwill down the street. I have confidence in myself that I can resolve this problem. I am learning not to be helpless…so help me GOD! Tomorrow IS another day, Rhett. I can survive!  Namaste` Attic Annie

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I always wanted to be the “Perfect Nurse”

Welcome to my porch. We have a few hours before the sun gets too hot to sit out here. The porch is shaded in the morning and is nice if there is a breeze.

Last night I watched a Netflix movie made for television about Florence Nightengale. She was one of my heroines while I was growing up. I admired her and Clara Barton and Dorothea Dix…all women with strong convictions to help others.

During the many times I was ill as a child I read and reread stories about those women and the Cherry Ames series about the adventures of a nurse. There were twenty seven titles in all, and I think at one time or another I read almost all of them. I was going to be a nurse.

The Perfect Nurse…my mother

The only picture I had of my mother was one of her in her nurse’s uniform when she graduated from the school of nursing. In a way I guess I idealized her. I pictured her as the perfect nurse. I wanted to be just like her. I would stare at her picture for hours and see myself in the nurse’s cap and uniform. I was going to be the second Florence Nightengale.

When I was growing up in the 50s, it was still a time of limited careers for women. A young girl was encouraged first to find a husband and raise a family. “Go to college to get you an MRS. degree,” was said with a snicker. Until that happened she was encouraged to be a nurse, a teacher, a secretary, a sales clerk or a telephone operator.

I would play “hospital” with my dolls. My aunt would keep a supply of old sheets in the linen closet to be used for bandages. I’d get in there and tear the sheets into strips and almost mummify my poor sick babies. Whenever we played in the neighborhood, I was the one who took the kids with banged up knees upstairs to tend to their wounds.

When I was thirteen I volunteered at a nearby hospital every day during the summer all day long. I was in the first class of teenage volunteers. There weren’t a great deal of guidelines as to what we could and couldn’t do, so we found ourselves doing many more things than are presently allowed. I was even allowed in the surgery suites to observe surgery. I did that for two more years.

My senior year the counselor recommended me for an Army scholarship. It would have paid for all college classes and nursing training in exchange for military service. I figured my suicide attempt might figure in so I wrote a letter explaining about my father, and I was fine, etc. in case the topic came up. I took the train to Chicago along with girls from other high schools for an interview and a physical. I checked “yes” on the questionaire about my suicide attempt which I now considered ancient history of four months before and attached my letter. When I went in for the interview, I saw my letter in the waste basket. I fished it out and gave it to the interviewer in the next room. Of course I wasn’t accepted. That and my by now less frequent asthma problems kept me out. God was watching over me. Had I been accepted to that program, I would have found myself in Viet Nam before my enlistment was up! I admire those nurses greatly. I just know I could never have kept up with them.

I was so singularly focused on being “THE nurse” that no other choice was ever considered. Instead of going to the same nursing school as my mother, I chose to go to college. First semester was basic core subjects. Second semester we added introduction to nursing. It was then that I found out that the hospital where we would be training was over an hour’s ride away. In order to be there by 7:00, the student nurses had to be on the bus by 5:30 A.M!!! If you think they could go back to sleep, you are wrong. They had their classes on the bus. I don’t THINK so! That’s one of the things they don’t tell you when you sign up for class. I can’t even remember much of those hospital days. As a freshman, it was only once per week but that was too much for me. The cold bone chilling winds across the Illinois farmlands and the lack of ability to think at that time of morning was too much for me. I started looking around for another school.

I visited a friend one weekend and was going through her college catalog. I came upon the nursing education section. “That’s it! I’m transferring.” I wrote to them and was told I would be accepted if I took organic chemistry and biology during summer school. All was settled. By this time I was making all decisions for myself. I was on a scholarship that paid for everything so my father had no say in what I did. I entered the nursing program in Chicago.

It was summer in Chicago. Hot time. Summer in the city. I was staying at the un air-conditioned YMCA hotel downtown. There were loads of kids my age attending various schools. I didn’t pay much attention to organic chemistry. It was way over my head. Biology was OK. I didn’t know anyone to ask for help. I guess I really wasn’t much interested in help. I mean, I was staying at the Y M C A for gosh sakes! It was 1965. The 60s were just getting started. Who had time for school?

I guess I’d better get to work. I’m still cleaning out closets and throwing stuff away in anticipation of my house selling soon…even if it is outdated. There is a family out there who does not feel the need to do immediate surgery on the ol’ gal. They will treat her gently and over time bring out the greatness in her. The real estate agent yesterday said she has “great bones”. I agree. The house and I have a great deal in common even if I am several years older than she is. Have a good day. Thanks for visiting. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Connecting with God

I joined a church new to me about four years ago. I knew when I first walked into the building that I had arrived. The philosophy of this particular group of believers is that there are many paths to ONE God. That is ONE GOD not ONE way.

I always had a problem growing up about unbaptised babies not being able to go to heaven. In my small home town during much of my childhood the biggest difference of the religious folk was whether you were Lutheran or Methodist. The older I got in elementary school I discovered some of my friends were Catholic. They couldn’t eat meat on Friday and had to drive into the next biggest town to go to church.

The older I got, the more diverse the religion of the townfolk became. However, to my knowledge, as of this day there are no churches other than Christian based in my home town.

My freshman year of college I came home at Christmas with the news I was dating a young Jewish man. That did not go over with the family at all. Surely this kind young man would be admitted to heaven but my family certainly didn’t think so.

I often wondered about the billions of people who have lived on this earth who had never heard of Jesus Christ. Why would they not be admitted to this wonderful heaven that had been promised only to us? I could never resolve just basing it on “having faith” that that is the way it is.

After I married, I tried unsuccessfully to find a church that my husband would like. It never happened and he stopped going to church with me so I stopped going also. When we split, I spent the next twenty years unchurched. I would often say when asked that I felt I was very spiritual but not very religious. The rote recitations of creeds on Sunday didn’t resonate with me. My voice was hollow.

Any way, when I walked into my present church it met all the criteria that I had for a new congregation, but most importantly, I discovered that almost everyone was a free thinking spirit like myself. I was finally home and I knew it.

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