Author Archives: aj0011

ALICE AND FINDING MOTIVATION

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When I was a working actor, after I got hired for a play or TV show, I would launch myself into research for my character. As soon as I got a script I went right to work. I felt purposeful and dedicated. The road ahead was fairly straightforward. My job was figuring out how to get from point A to point B.

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But now that I am, in effect, retired, structuring my days, and making time  for the things I want to do is totally up to me. I have this blog, The Pet Sitter (which is my autobiography), a commitment and dedication to the iWonder Sisters, books to read, journaling, cards and runes to continue to learn about – lots of stuff to do. However, finding the motivation to plow ahead and get things done is often very difficult for me. There are days I have an agenda and yet can’t seem to get going with anything. And this goes beyond my dealing with depression. It has to do with belief, and feeling purposeful. I often have neither.

As you may have read, for 2017 I got myself a beautiful new planner. And I love my planner. It gives me a certain structure, ample space to write notes and ideas as they come, and forces me to plan ahead a bit. It is not a straight jacket, though, and I still will plan work for the next day and feel too draggy to do it.

I am learning a lot about myself during this process of creating better habits for living. One of  the things that I am beginning to get is that habits are repetitive. Creating new ones to replace those that do not serve me well takes time and patience – as well as the ability to give myself some leeway. To not beat myself up if I flounder on a particular day. But creating a life “style” takes practice – just like learning to play the violin takes practice. And motivation to change the things that don’t work anymore. Change may be life’s only certainty, but I know I can sometimes go into change kicking and screaming inside. But resistance to change is an act of futility.

I have had to learn to relax and go with the flow – as I create it and step into it. I have had to learn that for me, I have to force some things in order to get the impetus moving. Motivation may not always come first. At least that is my personal experience. Especially when the work at hand is not handed to me, rather created by me.

I am learning that I can find my belief in what I am doing just by doing it. And motivation comes from that belief. Within the believing in what I am doing is born the motivation to continue doing it. That’s where I find my motivation. 

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Being a perfectionist sucks! It means that if I don’t get it right the first time I will sometimes let it go and give up. But failing is when you learn. Failing is great! It teaches you that if you believe in what you are doing trying again is where you find your motivation. It makes me think of all the wonderful writers who sit alone in a room with a computer and a blank screen staring at them, with nothing but an idea. And sometimes not even that – just a deadline. But with the first sentence the idea comes alive and belief germinates. And with belief, the motivation to continue. And these wonderful writers write and rewrite, and rewrite, and on and on until it feels right and done.

Whether I am one of these wonderful writers remains to be seen, but in the work of writing I am no different than they are. So for me, finding my motivation to go on writing, journaling, meditating, reading, working with my cards and runes, comes from the belief that it all matters. To me. If there is no belief there can be no motivation. That is my revelation for today. It might not be your prescription. But it is definitely mine.

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ALICE AND LETTING GO

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ALICE AND LETTING GO

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I may have written something about this before but now I can’t remember. However this time I am talking, not about letting someone else or something else go. I am talking about letting myself go.

I am not a good Jew, but I have inherited the Jewish guilt syndrome. I am a worrier, and I in the past felt guilty about everything. Thank you Mom! But it is time to let that self go, and I am ready and willing.

My mother always told me by word or deed, that I was responsible for her misery. And my mother was the most miserable, unhappy, unfulfilled human being I have ever known. One could feel, physically, her depression. It was palpable. I mourned for her when she was living. I felt a terrible sadness for her. But I was never able to make her happy. She wanted me to reflect her life as some kind of validation, and I just could not give that to her. She even once wrote me a letter and said that I was nothing without a husband. As angry as this letter made me, it still hurt to hear my mother tell me I was nothing and had no hope.

Letting go a part of yourself that you have carried for so long is not easy. Freeing yourself from things that do not serve you, but that have been an ingrained part of you for most of your life to date, is painful. For me, it is like unchaining myself. I am not sure who the girl in the photograph is – my mother or my chained self. But I do know that I am those butterflies being set free. If it is my mother, I can understand her grief and sadness at freeing those beautiful creatures. They can continue their journey now, of becoming, of adventure and growth. They can spread their wings and share their beauty. For now, it belongs only to each of them.

Freedom is the greatest thing you can give yourself. And only you can give it. When it feels like others have taken it from you, it is only because you gave it away. If it is my mother setting me free at last, it is her final act of love. It is finally an act of love. I can love her back now that she doesn’t hate me anymore. In my dreams and meditations she has been asking me for forgiveness. I can forgive her now, and in doing so, let her go. She can move on and so can I. Each of us takes her freedom and runs with it.

Thank you, Mom, for letting me go and helping me to let you go. We are both free.

ALICE AND HER NEW PLANNER

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I have a long history as a list-maker. I would make lists of things I wanted to accomplish, which would be followed by a schedule that no sane person could keep up with. Invariably after a few weeks, the schedules would be tossed out and a dismal feeling of failure would engulf me. I was basically setting myself up to fail. And it was all a part of being afraid to succeed. That may sound ass backwards, but that’s how it was.

Since moving to New Mexico I have stayed away from schedules. But recently I have felt that I needed to start naming things: my feelings, my passions, my desires, my goals – and begin to takes action about realizing them. I live in my head way too much. So I spent a good bit of money and bought this AWESOME planner by Tools4Wisdom. And it is really fab!!!

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It contains October, November, and December of 2016, and all of 2017. It has sections to write general goals, weekly goals, appointments, priorities, and notes and ideas as they come. At first I was a bit overwhelmed with its size  and how many things I was being asked to write, but last night before bed I began”the work” and started writing in it.

I am committed to practicing with it every night, setting up the next day, and being kind to my reluctant and procrastinating self. Sometimes coming out and naming things can have a very motivating effect. You begin to see that your wants are not always your deepest desires and passions. I have learned in all my years on the planet in this human experience, that there is a big difference between wanting and needing. And, while I want a shitload of stuff, my real needs are very basic, and lots more profound.

I am thrilled with my new planner and feel that it is really going to help me figure some things out. I have always worked on myself, but this will get me out of my head and more productive. I am clearly ready for this new challenge else I would not have spent the money and delved right in. And I might not have written this post.  Yay!!!

ALICE AND REMEMBRANCE

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Several years ago my cousin Jackie jumped from the roof of her mother’s high rise apartment building in Philadelphia.To me, it was a very violent, angry and desperate act and even after all the dramatic threats of suicide she had made, I was in shock when her husband called me to tell me she had died. I had spoken with her only a couple of days before, and while she was in distress, something she always was, I never thought she would actually do it. We had had a bit of a contentious conversation that day, and I neglected to say, “I love you”, as we hung up. I always ended our calls with “I love you”. But not that last one. It made me think that maybe if I had…

Jackie and I were not close growing up. She was a few years older than I and our interests had nothing in common. It wasn’t until I was taken ill and moved back to the States from England, that Jackie and her mother, my Aunt Blanche,  reached out to me.  I welcomed the contact and Jackie began to call me almost every day. I was and am a good and compassionate listener and so Jacks spilled out her despair to me all the time. I also knew she was a pathological liar and that truth was only deeply buried inside all her stories. But she was in a lot of emotional pain and I remained sympathetic. She also had a heroine-addicted daughter, who eventually died in a fire that she accidentally started while she was high, and that destroyed Jackie. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the parental guilt she lived with, and the grief.

Jackie became addicted to a sedative that her psychiatrist, knowing she was addicted to it, continued to prescribe for her. She OD’d on it a few times and had to be taken to the hospital. I felt her cries were for help and attention, but she wasn’t getting any of it. For me her pain was palpable, and I listened to her every day trying to relieve some it. But it is impossible to help someone who is hell-bent on self destruction. She didn’t want help. She just wanted an ear and I gave her mine.  Eventually, as her husband said, “She was successful”. She jumped off a roof and her pain was gone.

Lately she has been much on my mind. I wanted to commemorate her birthday in some way and let her know I miss her. My landlady gave me some tealights and I lit one after another all this past weekend. I talked to Jackie. I felt her here. Knowing how much I love her. The ritual felt so good. It felt good to remember, even though it wasn’t entirely a happy memory. I honored Jacks. She deserved that from me.

 

 

ALICE AND THE LIFTING DARKNESS

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For several months now I have been dealing with a deep depression that felt – as they all do – like it would never get better. I have also been dealing with some physical issues as well which was just adding coal to the proverbial fire. But just this week, I was put on oxygen for my breathing problems, and what a miracle it has been! I have more energy, I feel I am thinking more clearly, and the depression has begun to lift. I am coming out of the hole of darkness. And I feel lighter within myself.

This would all be wonderful in itself, but I also feel more creative and eager. I feel some poems coming. I feel The Pet Sitter calling me to write it at last. I feel more committed than ever to the iWonder Sisters and iwondersisterhood.com. I feel videos coming and much more. Kimm  and I have a mission with the website and a message for women that we feel is so important. We are doing interviews regularly now and sharing even more wisdom from people with whom we resonate. It is a very exciting and expansive time for us and both Kimm and I feel a real re-dedication to us!

Now, with this renewed energy, I am more ready than ever I was to leap forward with projects – both creative and organizational and strategic. What a huge difference a little added O2 can bring. I have to  say, as an aside, that there is so much paraphernalia that comes with oxygen – tubing, tanks of O2, a huge and heavy air converter – just a shit load of stuff. In our little casita, with no real storage, my gear is all over the place.

I feel so much gratitude that my insurance covers me for all this, that people – especially Kimm – have been so supportive and curious about it all. I had to have a bronchoscopy 2 weeks ago, which was under general anesthesia, and I was a nervous wreck about it. But Kimmie was there every step of the way and I felt so cared for. The hospital staff were so sweet, as was my doctor, and I didn’t die. I came through it just fine, with only a few rough days afterwards. I am one blessed cookie!

So, in a strange way I feel reborn. I feel refreshed and renewed. I feel hopeful and happy. My little family – Kimmie, Chloe, Dobby, Maxxidoodle, GG, and Dharma – inspires me and holds me up. I only hope I do the same for them.

ALICE AND DEPRESSION

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I am sure that I must have written about this before, but at present, I am in a terrible depression and feel horribly lost. There is a lot going on – some health issues that concern me a lot – a time of reassessing things, feeling in flux and out of control. But at the end of the day, I know this dark place all too well and it is a painful place to be. Nothing gives me joy and things that did not too long ago, no longer do.

The little, crazy family that Kimm and I have created for ourselves feels a bit detached from me. I love our family, and still feel supported, but none of that can eclipse this emptiness. I haven’t been meditating, or writing or doing anything really. I saw my therapist yesterday, and she gave me 3 options while waiting for this depression to lift. One was to just bide my time. Knowing that everything is constantly changing and nothing lasts forever. But that doesn’t work for me. I get too caught up inside my own head, and change is too slow. Two was to give myself a project – like knitting or some such – and just knit until there is emotional movement. The last one was to work on things that have given me joy in the past and even if I only write a sentence, I have accomplished something and am less out of control. I have taken charge.

Number 3 appeals to me the most, as I have a couple of proverbial irons in the fire already – like this blog – and I really don’t want to let them go. Being proactive seems to me the most positive thing for me. The best solution. So here I am, and I do feel better just being on my site and writing. Just the other day, I wrote a “Simple Contentment” piece for the iWonderSisterhood.com website and I had a good day then too. So a bit of pushing myself out of this dark comfort zone is the answer for me.

And yes. When one is in a deep depression, the darkness becomes a comfort. One doesn’t want to do anything! Making any kind of move takes a monumental effort and often that effort feels too impossible. But one thing I do know from my own history, is that I am a survivor. I can only sit around with my head in my hands for so long before I say “Enough!”. Today is the day I say “Enough”.

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Not that tomorrow I won’t find myself back int the dark pit. But probability says I won’t. Because I have reclaimed my Self. This brief entry is enough to give me some control over things. Depression is a living, breathing entity, but I can choose to no longer be part of its agenda. Kahlil Gibran so beautifully says in The Prophet “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.” Perhaps my depression is merely an inversion of my true joy, and that joy lurks just under its surface. Like my joy is just standing on its head. I like that image.

ALICE AND 2016

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Well, it’s only been 5 months since my last blog post! Ha! So much to talk about, but I’ll keep this one brief.

As you can see, our family has been added to by 2 new fur babies. Dobby, the brown chihuahua, came to us in October, and Maxx, the white chiweenie a month later. They are both rescues from death row, and have brought more joy to the casita. They keep Kimm and me on our toes, and bring us so much love. Just when I think I have no more to give, I find an endless well full of love and compassion. We adore them and they seem very happy with their family.

As for me, I have been up and down. Had to raise the dose of my antipsychotic, loxapine, twice, and had to lower my bupropion because my insurance wouldn’t pay for the dose I was taking. So I got depressed as well as paranoid. Just saw my psychiatrist yesterday and she found a way to raise my bupropion that my insurance will cover, so hopefully I will be much better soon. The extra loxapine makes my tremors a lot worse, but the paranoia is gone so it’s a fair trade. At least that’s how I feel.

Kimm and I still freelance write, but work has been slow and we have been very tight financially.But just this week we launched a new business – auntie kimm Bakes Chloe’s Doggy Delights. We are going to run with Kimm’s recipes for dog biscuits and sell them. When my Social Security and SSI come, we will buy Kimmie some dog bone shaped cookie molds and begin the process.Right now we are taking private orders, but we hope to be in stores as well. We are excited! And we are giving a portion of our proceeds to help animal rescue teams in New Mexico. Like the one from whom we got Dobby and Maxx.

I have also been having some physical issues that I hope to get resolved soon. Breathing issues and leg and hip issues. I am getting an MRI on my spine next Saturday and a CT scan on my lungs the following Monday. A bit nervous about both – especially the MRI.

Thus begins our 2016. I hope to have enough gas money to get back into therapy and money to take Chloe to the vet and groomer when she needs it. And I want to deal with my teeth, which are falling out one by one. I want a cash flow that makes life a little easier for us. And I hope my “episodes” become next to none. They are very enervating. And I have been way too tired lately.