Saturday, July 31, 2021

Special moments

Time for just one thought today. I think the COVID period of our lives has made especially apparent that elusive sense of 'time'. It reminds me of this winter, also marked by lockdowns here, but also a grey, overcast winter. There are moments when one feels in the thick of it; can't see the end to it. Then, one morning, one walks out into the kitchen into bright sunlight. The memory of those grey days can be hard to locate. And there it is - this moment. A wake up call, that this moment is good.

Hard to be so 'present' in the hard moments. Bogged down if you will by being in the middle of a process, be that a hard winter, a COVID lockdown, a medical issue.

Yet, the invitation is there to be present in all of the moments, to bow down to this moment, however difficult. 'And now this.'

In the course of a life there are moments that shine out as needing more attention that others; days when the sun shines down upon you. My eldest son shared some wonderful news last night over a family dinner out at a restaurant (what a novelty these days!) and as I hugged him goodbye and congratulated him yet again he said to me, 'We are so happy'.

Whilst the goal is to be present in all of the moments, not to be too swayed off course by any moment - I highly approve of savoring the happy moments. Drink them in and be nourished by them.

Friday, July 30, 2021

A Day in the Life

 I thought I would try, without any undue pressure on myself, to try to jot down at least a thought, or an impression most days. Even when time is short, perhaps a feeling, or a small slice of insight.

I have noticed a considerable uptick in talk on podcasts about psychedelics; measured comments with much care on doing them in the right place with the proper care. All the same it is being reported there are considerable benefits from using psychedelics to tap into the psyche, the sub-conscious, and possibly making talk therapy more lucrative for the patient from this loosening of the sub-conscious.

In my case, from those times when I felt something was really wrong, a deep discomfort from within myself, to now, it took a lot of private processing and so I don't immediately reject the assistance of psychedelics.

I don't reject thinking things through. As humans we seem to protect ourselves with these outer coatings and shells, denial, so thinking it through, reading, gathering material, researching a topic, is all good stuff.

At the end of the day we have intuition; as much personal power as we can muster. We have choices; some choices. If we lead from the heart we can't go too far wrong.

There are hardships for people, difficult times. We all have them at the same time as we hang onto respite - a cool breeze later in the evening, some sunshine forecast for later in the week. There's an innate knowing that it's nearly never all bad; that you can have more than one emotion or one thought at the very same time.

Whatever ails a person, whatever must be endured, there is always the opportunity to put one's head out the door or window and gasp at the spectacular show out there; be it a chaotic street in Bombay, or the lush peace of Tuscany or simply a bird tweeting on the tree in the backyard, it's quite the show. We are lucky to have a seat at this theater we call life.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Give and take

 A correspondent once wrote to me about the intention of a hug. Some hugs, she said, felt like something was being taken from you. She wanted a hug that felt like someone was giving something to you. 

I haven't thought about that statement since then, except to say that for some months, perhaps a year or more, I have noticed that I walk away from my husband's hugs wanting. It's an odd sort of feeling, to connect and yet to feel disconnected. I have wondered if it had something to do with the fact that he has  lost considerable weight. 

The only way I could describe it to myself until recently was that I wanted it to feel like a 'bear hug'. I wanted to be enveloped in the hug; protected; nourished. I am not sure that he is taking anything from me, but nor do I feel that he is giving me anything either. I think he wants the momentary connection, understandable, perhaps a neutral thing, neither giving or taking away. All I know is that it doesn't fill me; it doesn't satisfy the 'wanting'.

For a couple of years now, certainly all last year and this year, my husband has wanted a certain outcome in his business. It has been a transition thing and the transition hasn't gone exactly to his plan. He has worried this, strategized; tried to get things to go his way. 

It's all understandable and I realized in the past couple of days that retirement of a sort (he does have several other avenues of investment and projects to undertake) equated to him as a form of death before he died. He gets purpose from his business activities and can't seem to begin to imagine a life wherein we lived in a smaller house, traveled regularly to the country; put the focus on a much less stressed life together whilst at the same time having our own pursuits and interests. 

Some people have a compulsive personality. They feel compelled to control, to do things perfectly, to only do those things that they can do perfectly. They want to control their world and they feel anxious when they lose control. They are willing to work hard, are incredibly conscientious and don't seem to notice when relationships become unbalanced, or when friends and family leave them to their insatiable drive to achieve.

My father, who was a hotelier, had no interest in Christmas or any other celebratory day. Despite Christmas Day being one of the few days when the business wasn't open, he insisted one year, on opening on this day to trade. I feel sure it was a day when we lost money since people chose to spend the day at home, but his argument had been that if he opened every day people would be able to rely on us as always being open. I think it's fair to say our feelings on the matter didn't rate at all.

It was long before I interrogated my parents' opinions and choices. All I knew was that the day felt soul-less and sad.

I have read material that advises someone like me, who tends to put up with a situation silently to avoid any conflict, to express one's needs. I took that advise about a week ago. My husband came to bed about the same time as me, which is to say before midnight, which these days is a most unusual outcome. He likes to work until the middle of the night generally. He gave me a bit of a rub and quietly I said, 'I get lonely, you know.' Just as quietly he said, 'Well, that's not good.' 

But, it didn't make a pinch of difference and it won't make a pinch of difference. He is compelled to do what he does, and if I am honest, he has always had that compulsion.

I have to think that this was the initial attraction. I was kind, I was quiet, I was sweet. I understood his drive because I had seen it all my life. Both parents felt compelled to work. I got used to looking after myself from a very early age. The situation was never balanced, so why ask for it to be at this late stage of the game?

Something is arising within me, if only that I am being honest with myself and allowing the range of emotions to be felt.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


 I listened this morning to a podcast about resentment. It was no surprise to me that I do some things right. When people hurt me, and you have to be pretty darn close to me to do that, there really is no sense of resentment. I tend to see the overarching big picture. I tend to think not only of all the elements that went into them becoming who they are, and the issues around that, but also several generations before them. Maybe it is all the reading I have done, but I feel previous generations surround me and am aware they influence us all. 

In any case, people make mistakes, missteps. We all do. We're just people, in some ways more stupid than the four legged creatures. Expecting perfection is just madness.

I, on the other hand, do get sad. I have been sad lately. I think when you come to really know just how difficult it is for people to let go of compulsions and addictions, it can make you sad. Shuggie Bain made me oh so sad. I don't think you can read that novel and not feel sad. I am so grateful for a book club that pushes me through novels that might otherwise not be finished. 

I have to admit that the sadness came too from a sense of understanding the pain of those characters. I have never experienced that sort of poverty described but I am betting my forebears have. I too have seen that sort of desperation up close. I grew up on the top of a working man's pub and I saw very sad and desperate people every day.

My parents bought an outdoor play set one day. I don't know if it was for my brother and I, or for the children of the patrons of the hotel who had access to it. Either way, one day a mother who was off to drink in the women's lounge (they weren't allowed by law to drink in the main bar) brought her children out to the playset. I must have been a little older than the children and she told me that if they misbehaved I should smack them.  WTF?! 

Shuggie Bain was set in Scotland in the 1980s mostly and my story is from the 1960s. Yet, it's the same sort of story; a family in distress; neglected children. Addiction. It was tough to watch it, to be around it.

I've never been sure if I was born an introvert (my eldest son says that I am only an introvert when I want to be, since I do fine in social situations) or if my circumstances made me an introvert. I just longed all my childhood for privacy and for a normal home life; a house, a shared meal.

In the podcast this morning, the question came up, 'What's your emotion of choice?' Sadness? Anger? For me, it would be sadness. Happily, whilst I can have a day where sadness can envelop me, I can't stay there too long. There's a sense of claustrophobia about sadness and one has to get up and leave it behind. Almost like, 'look, thanks for dropping by, again, but I have things to do and places to go...'

I think I can admit this here. I am really never bored. I have this incredibly rich inner life that keeps me quite entertained. Should that become too much, I retreat to that golden silence when I close my eyes and discover all over again, that stillness and silence is where the magic lives.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


 To attend a dharma group is one of life's most lovely activities. It's quite possible, should you attend, you wouldn't say a word, simply listen. You might feel compelled to say something and if you did it would be words from deep inside you. Nothing else seems vaguely right in that setting, trust me.

This isn't a place to talk about how lovely the weather has been lately, not in that chatty way we do,  sometimes to avoid saying anything deeper. We might talk about the weather, as in, 'I felt the breeze on my face as I was walking in the park this afternoon, and it felt so good to be alive in this moment'. There are lots of times in dharma group where people want to share their gratitude for life.

As well, there are moments where people choose to share their deepest fears. I am not sure that I have shared this before. One day, a woman, a brave woman, shared that she wasn't sure what love felt like exactly. She was kind and had experienced kindness, but feelings of love had been elusive  for quite some time.

I did wonder how the the leader of the group would react. In spiritual circles, love is so often spoken of, as if we should have access to that emotion all the time, and if we don't, we need to meditate on that more. Even people on the street will talk about love in such throwaway terms, who has the courage to question that we should be able to access the emotion moment by moment? What sort of a person are we, we secretly ponder, if we struggle to hold on to feelings of love, in spite of circumstances?

She didn't miss a beat. Acknowledging that her views weren't popular in spiritual circles, she admitted that she too didn't always feel love towards her fellow humans. People disappointed her, and love wasn't necessarily felt. Sometimes, she offered, it is enough to offer kindness. Kindness was enough.

It was, I feel sure, a very special moment for the woman who had opened the discussion. I am not at all sure she would have received the same sort of non-judgmental, or honest answer from family, friends or strangers. 

This is what is so enticing about a dharma group! The urge to speak one's truth is encouraged. 

And, this is what I love about this anonymous blog. I feel I can speak my mind here. I was a little alarmed over the past few weeks that my stats seem to be saying that there are thousands of people that come here in a week. I don't understand it or follow it since I have used up my storage capacity, or something, but week after week, it shows that it's not just the handful of readers I had thought. Nonetheless, I feel such peace here; such acceptance; the raw expression of my authentic personality.

Sometimes, I have written to sort of save my soul; to express that which I felt could not be said; pure venting; anger, the drive for security or connection. That sort of writing does not work out so well for me. It's a form of expression but there's no real pleasure in it.

In my childhood I had lots of time on my own and what came naturally to do was to write. Simply putting words on a page was an innate pleasure. I often read a book and quite apart from the story marvel at words beautifully strung together. Douglas Stewart wrote of the poverty of Glasgow in the 1980s. As Agnes walked past a group of women he compared the huddling of women whispering as like penguins sharing thoughts.  I thought that a stroke of brilliance. Instantly, I saw the women, the way their bodies moved into the other to share snide remarks. One imagines him on a plane coming up with the paragraph, stretching perhaps to make the writing the best it could it be, but experiencing delight at the creation of the paragraph too. (A fitting Booker Prize recipient!)

In life, I get so tired of social convention, even between people wed. All that cajoling, agreeing; the quiet and gentle veneer that hides a myriad of thoughts and emotions one dare not share for fear of reprisal, judgment or rejection. Here, you get me, my authentic self; not just the violin but the whole orchestra of an internal life.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Character building

Imagine for a moment a family which struggles. Let's put some details around that. Imagine a man looking to gain some autonomy, a man that was raised on a farm by a father that went to war; a father damaged psychologically and unfit to raise the boy. Survival of the spirit demands that the man leave the family farm and make it on his own.

The man has good intentions. He wants to succeed and he is willing to work very hard to make that happen.  There is no issue with perseverance here. He's a hard working man. The farm may require the clearing of much of the land, but he'll do it a tree at a time if necessary. He will get up early and come in late if that is what he needs to do.

He wants to do right by his children. His birth family demanded that he be responsible from a young age and he has taken on that hard work ethic message. There is a great deal of anxiousness around his responsibilities and he exhibits this with flare ups and angry words. Success is a standard that must be met, not just by him but also by his offspring. It's natural to him to expect the children to focus on work, on achievement, on grades, on the higher education he never had, but wanted.

In this environment, those children with a relatively easy scholastic aptitude and an inbuilt sense of their place in the world, most likely the first born child, will fare all right. There are issues, because that hard work ethic is likely to plague the first born child's life also, but the scholastic aptitude and the attention given to the first born are assets.

If, in the mix of the family, there is a child that has a difficulty, maybe a reading difficulty or a more soft and anxious disposition, there are likely to be considerable issues. Since academic success is the measure of a child in this family, a sense of Self will be damaged and a need to prove one's worth will be high on the agenda.

Such a child is likely to try very hard to attain academic success, or any success, in the eyes of the father. A sporting achievement might be useful here, or simply hard work; taking on responsibilities beyond the age of the child.

Imagine in this family, there is illness that falls upon the family. The empathic member of the unit, the mother becomes chronically ill, terminally ill. Imagine that she is encouraged to travel the world in what might be her last year(s) of life, leaving behind children away at school but also children at home, at the local school. 

Imagine this young and vulnerable child, academically challenged, not at all failing but struggling to get those super duper scores to impress the father, now asked to take on much more responsibility than a child of his tender years should be asked to do, without the softness of his mother to offer him the succor and support he so needs. To survive, he must, he realizes intuitively, control his emotions; keep on keeping on.

In these early years of life, born into this family with this disposition and these challenges, to not display one's emotions, to keep one's head down, to work hard, to keep aiming high and to try everything in one's power to impress makes sense. It is a child's primary goal to survive one's childhood and so the child does what he needs to do.

In adulthood, and as the boy ages over time, the strategies are not nearly so successful. There is some semblance of  flexibility with his own children in terms of what success looks like, but academic scores are still what matter. It's only when his own children begin to exhibit significant signs of creativity that he is forced to surrender to the notion that there is more than one way to live a successful and happy life. 

Hard work, long hours, relentless striving with not much recognition of day or night, weekday or weekend is his life. It goes beyond need to work. This is a striving that has a life force of its own. And, a logic of its own. Certain tasks are avoided, sometimes for decades, whilst other tasks are undertaken with a microscopic precision; the details sometimes far more important than the overview demands. The big picture is not able to be seen.

When I think about such characters for a story I find myself wanting and yet unable to get them to a place where damage is healed. If a person strongly believes that the way they live is the right way to live, what can the family do about this? Where would a therapist begin if such a man ever agreed to evaluate his thinking and strategies? This is all so unlikely.

I listen to a podcast of two psychologists shooting the breeze about various issues relating to treatment of personality disorders and it was interesting to hear what they had to say about a personality such as I have painted above. For one thing, a year's therapy was seen as a minimum, 50 sessions. The goals would be to reduce the high standards, re-scripting, which largely means re-parenting, or chair work; looking at what a healthy parent might have said or done in certain circumstances.

Another interesting treatment strategy would be for the person be set a goal but in a shorter time than they would allow on their own. The idea is to break down the perfectionism whilst also getting tasks achieved.

Pushing the notion that emotions are a good thing was another strategy; not just anger which comes so naturally to someone who has been traumatized in childhood but a whole range of emotions; re-evaluating vulnerability as a way into true intimacy. No small task.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Sexual types - kinky/energetic

I came across a test lately, via a podcast for the Heal Documentary that spoke of 5 sex languages; not the love languages we have known of for some time, but sex languages. I did the test. It turns out I am in equal parts 'kinky' and 'energetic'.

I could explain this in a couple of ways. Yes, I am kinky in that I love to be in a power dynamic. It's a great turn on for me. At the same time, I love anticipation, games; a bit of mind fuckery, together with, at times, feeling transcendence into a sacred union.

What I don't like is a quick wam bam thank you ma'am style of sex. Granted, when young this happened endless times and with a high libido, it's not a bad thing. But, as I aged, I found this kind of sex, well, soul-less. 

For someone who feels a physical/sexual urge and is good to go, we kinky/energetic types must seem like hard work. I acknowledge that.

Yet, there is so much to be had when the time and effort is taken to form a union that can be, not every time of course, transcendent.

I could write more about this, but evidentially there are countless posts in this journal that speak of arousal of the mind before the body, of transcendence and union, that I fear I would just be repeating myself.

What bothers me is that this sort of material - sexual types - is the sort of information that needs to be available to people. Those not of the other's sexual type, the kinky and energetic particularly, can feel like hard work, or out of the mainstream, or just plain wrong for not being able to be aroused and wanting penetration simply via some stimulation of the body, at a moment's notice.

A few years ago I wrote a draft post that I never posted and I came across it today by chance. I will publish here because it goes some way to describing what I mean. There's a certain level of devotion that an energetic sex type naturally gravitates to, I believe, because that's part of the sacred union desired. It's in line, I also think, with the notion of dominance and submission, because if that's your bent, you flourish in that sort of bond.

If your partner happens to be a sexual type, such as mine is, there can be considerable miscommunication and missteps. In such mismatched relationships, it's important that both partners do their best to accommodate the other. It's the only solution, as I see it; to incorporate both styles into the mix.

Anyway, here's what I wrote back then:

More than anything else what struck me about the meditation retreat I was on last week was the devotion of the couple running the retreat. John (I will call him) lost one of his legs to cancer over 40 years ago and uses crutches to get around. He has been with his second wife for 17 years, an attractive and slim able bodied doctor. Together, they make a formidable team and have provided assistance to thousands of people over the years looking for guidance with their cancer diagnosis, their physical pain and their emotional pain. Meditation is a big part of that plan though it is John who is the expert on that subject. Rachel (I'll call her) acknowledges that she is no great meditator despite all her practice over the years.

As the days began to meld into each other I became more and more impressed observing their relationship. There is no doubt that this is a great love affair that has no possibility of burning out. He is a courageous man, strong willed, forceful and somewhat intimidating to a person like me, but in a group he has a star quality. We all knew that we were in the presence of a very special man, a man who had studied, met and practiced under the tutelage of world spiritual leaders. We all knew that we needed to try our best; that if he, with all his ailments and challenges could achieve so much, well then what possible excuses did we have?

He had a tendency to make his way into the room, the top of the circle, when we were seated. He would get comfortable in his chair and immediately Rachel was there with the jug of water and a glass. She didn't fuss around him. He'd not have tolerated that and I'm sure she learnt that lesson many years ago, but she was at the ready with anything he might want - an umbrella when it rained, a reference, a word. She sat slightly behind him and to his right. Somehow she had worked out the balance of keeping the sessions lighter when the material got too dense at the same time as not interrupting his flow; occasionally challenging him in a way that he tolerated until there might come an occasion when he corrected her. 'Could you not cut across me...' and insisting on having the floor until his point was complete. She deferred immediately.

It was obvious that these two people knew each other's every nuance, and that over time she had managed to get a little movement, a little softening in what he would allow. In our last session together she openly praised him for his willingness to accept questions in teaching sessions, something rather new of late, it seems. At one point he talked about how easy it was for people to blame someone else, and with his dry sense of humor added 'For me, that is usually Rachel' and she immediately shot back 'And I like to take responsibility for everything so it works well'. 'Yes,' he added, 'it's a rather good arrangement actually.' Of course, we all laughed. They fit together like a hand in a well fitted leather glove.

In our final session we were asked to give our final impressions and when it was my turn, the second last person to speak I spoke, naturally enough, of the inspiration I had drawn from watching their marriage in practice. We had spoken on occasion of 'sacred love' and they embodied that, I said. I spoke from the heart and it simply had to be said.  The material, the meditation sessions, the learning, the food, the silence, were all fascinating, but the love and devotion is what really impressed me the most.

It is thought that there are two portals into the Higher Self, a sacred place; one is a particular type of meditation practice and the other is sacred love. When those elements are combined the results are mindblowing.

And there it is in black and white. I want more than the average bear. I want to be "mind blown". And now I have an excuse. I am a kinky energetic.

Monday, July 5, 2021


 There are various models for explaining the brain. It feels right to me to think of each person as having parts. You might have heard someone say something like, 'There's a part of me that wants to go and there's another part of me that's want to stay home.' 

There are parts of oneself, on any given day, or in any given moment that feels insecure, or jealous, or sad, or delighted, or boisterous; sure of oneself or not sure of anything. It ebbs and flows, emotions move along, almost as if buffeted by unseen forces.

In mid-winter, as it is for me right now, I can feel my spirits rise anytime the white and grey clouds, as heavy as a dozen blankets forcing me down, part. The moment they decide to allow a patch of blue sky to be seen, it's an 'ahhhhhhh' moment for me. Nothing has ever changed the simple fact that I don't feel right under thick, dirty, dense clouds multiple days in a row. There's a good reason why those down South migrate up to Queensland in the winter.

I digress. So, these parts tend to get in the way of a content life. Let's take it for granted, since people have been saying this for thousands of years, that we are all born with a strong sense of Selfhood. You might have heard of it as 'the Self' or the 'Higher Self'. This isn't a part but rather the core of us.  It can't be broken, we are told, which I think is a most comforting thought.

This core of us has a number of noble qualities: compassion, courage, calmness, creativity, curiosity, confidence, clarity and sense of connection.

Logic tells us that when we don't feel we have one or more of these qualities at our disposal, it's a part, a Manager, that is speaking for us; trying to do the right thing by us, for sure, but probably mucking things up.

When I look at the list I feel I have many of these qualities; some in abundance, which is to say, possibly too much of that quality. I have so much compassion, most people think of me as an out of control empath. Some people call it a 'highly sensitive person'. The thing is I can often feel another person, or animal's distress. I can remember the face of a homeless person years after I saw them. I can pass a tree and actually feel a union with it. It takes up a lot of my life to process this quantity and depth of feeling.

I am courageous. I haven't been tested in so many situations, but I have been tested and I know I have courage; growing more all the time. 

I am calm, almost all the time. It wasn't always so, but I am calm. Yes, I can be internally distressed, aware of a swath of feelings, but it would be hard to tell if you saw me.

Creativity seems to be emerging more and more. I can feel more myself when emerged in some form of creativity. I need that.

Curiosity: that was never ever an  issue for me. I am the curious cat. I am curious about everything.

Confidence: now there is an issue there for sure. There's a part of me (note that) that tries to manage the possibility of judgment and failure. I know this. I am starting to talk back a little to that Manager. 'I get that you don't want me hurt, but sometimes I have to at least try. I want to try.'

Clarity: That's a hard one to assess since we all look at the world through our own eyes and have our own perceptions. That said, I feel clear about so much now. I wasn't clear for a long time but I did my research and I get what went down, why it went down. Even from a world view, there's no one force or period of time or leader that led to the state of the world as it is right now. It's the forces of thousands of years and the makeup of the human that led to now.

Connection: This ebbs and flows. I was at a concert yesterday afternoon and there was a line in a song that went something like, 'We are all walking down the track together' along with lots of drum work to accompany the singers, and I felt an intense sense of connection to all mankind; to the business of living life on this planet. And yet, on a moment by moment basis, I can still feel quite alone. I know this is where the work still lies even though I feel so much more connected than I used to.

Maya Angelou, the voice of wisdom without a doubt, spoke of the Virtues. Of all the virtues the most important was courage, since all the other virtues required courage.

Aristotle spoke of 12 virtues: courage, moderation, liberal spending, charisma/style, generosity, ambition, patience, friendliness, honesty, humor and joy, modesty of ego, and sense of justice.

I like Aristotle's list because it encompasses a whole person in a whole life. What point would there be, for example, if one had all the virtues without a sense of humor and joy: wit? And where would someone be without some sense of style or charisma? To be individual, to express the essence of you, and to feel comfortable in your own individual being makes life full and whole.

Someone recently said in a podcast, and unfortunately I can't remember who said it right now, that our society is at risk in not being able to be clear about what is true. For sure, we all own our own truth, but there is Truth too. At our core, we know what's right and wrong.

I think this is why people have been meditating for thousands of years. I really do. In that quiet space, silent and still, there's room for introspection, for reflection, for knowing one Self; for exploring the forces of  a life, good and bad; for inspecting the flow of emotions; for fostering calm and strength; for gratitude and clarity.

It makes sense to accept as a given that there is sadness and loss in every life; not to fight that reality. Seeing that as a given, we can land more fully on happiness, joy, contentment and peace; whenever and however those moments come, we can notice them, give our thanks, and not be perturbed when they leave again.

We are more alike than we know. We are all just walking each other home.