The Mystery of Spiders

All my life, I nurtured the idea that I was terrified of spiders. I dared not even utter the word. There were, indeed, a couple of traumatic events involving arachnids when I was quite young, but they were not really about the spiders. They were about me not having control–being in an adult cousin’s arms when we hit a large web, with her gripping me tight as I struggled to get down and standing there screaming. Heck–that would unnerve anyone.

Arachnids are frightfully magnificent creatures, aren’t they? What is it about them that freezes hearts and sets a dread pulsing through the body? Some species of arachnids are poisonous, but so are many humans I have encountered. Perhaps it is those eight thin legs, carefully moving in perfect rhythm. There is something about eight legs, isn’t there? Why? There is also a perception (though hopefully fading) that blondes are stupid and have lots of fun. It is all in the frame.

spider-web-2

When was the last time you watched a spider at work on a web? The wonder of her producing such strong, fine filaments within her body and knowing how to weave them into an intricate pattern is beautiful in its mystery. That is it, isn’t it? Spiders are mysterious. They live in dark places that humans cannot easily know. What is unknown is frightening. And what humans fear, unfortunately, they hate.

They fear loss of power, loss of control. I have a lifelong issue with relinquishing control for real reasons that no longer serve me. That is the root of agoraphobia–unable to venture into the unknown with its countless factors, with humans both friendly and vicious. This seed was planted long ago, and it is my work now to dig it up, as I can, and open up to possibilities.

I am learning to embrace the questions, to fall in love with the questions. I do not have to have the answers. Just be present, deeply in right now, and accept.

Recently I saw a small, beautiful spider in the shrubbery out front. She was camouflaged so that her abdomen looked like a fearsome predator with its colouring and shape. I watched her work on her web and patiently wait. Patience. This is something else that challenges me. She has since moved on, but fragments of her web remain.

I have become a champion of spiders. Not too long ago I found a rather large spider inside, and I got a glass jar, gently urged her inside, and took her out and released her in a place more suitable than the bathtub.

It was never the spiders I had to fear. It was the darkness inside myself. And light can dissipate the shadows.

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The Recluse as Activist

I do hope this new year has begun well for everyone. All those with whom I am connected in my WordPress community have so many good things to say, often, and you say it quite well.

Then there is me. I have been on a bit of a hiatus again. I have been working to re-focus myself after an… oh, how shall I say it… extremely unpleasant interaction during the holiday season.

That, however, is not the point here.

Can a recluse be an activist, doing powerful good? Absolutely!

I present this thought-provoking essay from the poet David Budbill that explores this idea.

http://www.davidbudbill.com/210/the-hermit-and-the-activist

Keep shining your lights, however you relate to the world.

Cleaning

Mopping, sweeping, hoovering, dusting, scrubbing, rinsing, clearing out–no matter what type of dwelling one lives in, cave or castle, cleaning must be done, however imperfectly. 

When I moved into what had been my mother’s house, it was filthy. It had been neglected for several years. The cats living here, who received a brief once-a-day visit to give them food and water, had, understandably, taken over. 

Cleaning is an ongoing chore. That is just the way it is, but I want everything done and sorted now. Now. Or at least I used to. My mind seems to get overwhelmed quite easily these days so that survival and basic tasks for the cats and I take precedence. 
There are three households crammed into this one dwelling. When I arrived, I found every shelf, cabinet, drawer, and closet choc-a-block with…stuff. Clearing all this out is also an ongoing process. 

Cleaning can also apply to our thoughts and our perceptions. Holding onto old ideas can create a cluttered, disordered mind–and life. 

I had always thought I was destined to be something I defined as “great”: a virtuoso pianist, a renowned writer, a respected healer, someone beloved. Perhaps part of it arose from efforts to survive abuse, and part of it may well be my fatal flaw. But whatever its source(s), this perception has dominated me for many years, and not for the better. Quite the opposite. 

Illusion. There is no “one day” or “maybe some day.” Now, I’m not saying there is no place for hope, and, granted, my outlook is likely different than those held by people who have never had to deal with mental illness. 

But a meaningful life is lived in this very instant–in choices, in awareness, in attention paid to a tree and the graceful flight of a bird through a big, big sky. 

Pain does not make you creative. What it does is focus your attention. However, pain is not required for you to do this. Take a moment, get still, and focus on one of your senses. For example, what do you hear? Creaking floors, perhaps, or birdsong. Car horns, or if you are lucky, a waterfall. Maybe even– if you concentrate hard enough–grass growing. 

The mystic Meister Eckhart (1260-c 1329) said: “This I know. That the only way to live is like the rose, which lives without a why.” 

Indeed. Completely being is enough. Engaging with oneself is the point of it all.  Anything left stagnant, or hoarded for a sense of false security, or gathered then forgotten can distract at best and cause harm and terrible pain at worst. 

So as this house is put in order, it is time for a mental and psychical cleaning for me, too. Time to see clearly. I am not something great. I am. 

A Poem About Salvation… For All Involved

Today is not a good day for me to think. However, I have been thinking a good deal lately about this poem by Thomas Lux, which I love. I thought I would share it with you.

salvation

Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy

by Thomas Lux

 

For some semitropical reason

when the rains fall

relentlessly they fall

 

into swimming pools, these otherwise

bright and scary

arachnids. They can swim

a little, but not for long

 

and they can’t climb the ladder out.

They usually drown—but

if you want their favor,

if you believe there is justice,

a reward for not loving

 

the death of ugly

and even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,

rats) creatures, if

 

you believe these things, then

you would leave a lifebuoy

or two in your swimming pool at night.

 

And in the morning

you would haul ashore

the huddled, hairy survivors

 

and escort them

back to the bush, and know,

be assured that at least these saved,

as individuals, would not turn up

 

again someday

in your hat, drawer,

or the tangled underworld

 

of your socks, and that even—

when your belief in justice

merges with your belief in dreams—

they may tell the others

 

in a sign language

four times as subtle

and complicated as man’s

 

that you are good,

that you love them,

that you would save them again.

Disconnecting to Re-Discover Life

I had intended to share another’s well-written post about how the explosive growth of social media has led to more actual disconnect in our lives, but the text wasn’t copied. 
So I’ll jot down my own thoughts. They may not be expressed in a way that as many people will relate to, but here they are. 
We sit in chairs, stretch out on sofas, lay across beds and stare, seemingly emotionless, at screens whilst online profiles are becoming more important than our real-life presence. Instead of yo-yos, balls, and little metal cars, children stay glued to tablets and iPhones and grow soft and inattentive to the here and now. 
Our own, real selves are so beautiful, so deserving of attention, and we have so much to share. The sharing of it makes life livable. Yet the exponential growth of social media platforms slowly drains the life from our authentic selves. 
Life is no popularity contest. In the end, how many virtual “friends” or “likes” we have is of little importance compared to our souls. 

I am not here to slam all uses of social media. As one who lives with agoraphobia and crushing depression, sometimes it is the only way I can connect. Yet there must be balance.  

Face-to-face and hand in hand is natural, best. We are all doing the best we can, and social media just doesn’t always get that across, you see. 

So check your online profile, and write a new blog post. Just don’t forget to reach out in real life to others and, perhaps most importantly, to yourself. 

A Little Bit of My Self…

~~Hello, all.

It is good to be back on WordPress, talking to you. This is where I belong, writing posts that are a semblance to a diary.

I am better here than on facebook, writing short posts that nobody reads, because the people I am connected to are mostly people I had special moments with, but then those moments passed, didn’t they?

time and golden spiral

Moments always do pass, you know, though they will come round again in some way.

So my focus is now on WordPress, and the good people I have met here, and if I write something I like, then I can share bits of it at other places. I do not like facebook anyway, for several reasons.

As I type this, a cat is stretched on my lap, with her head on my hand. Ah…the best way to write.

I now live with five loving cats, having “inherited” the two sweeties still living in what had been my mother’s house when I moved in this past August with my three cat friends. I go to sleep at night with cats snuggling against me, their steady purrs comforting me as no human touch ever has, and I wake with affectionate kitties happy to see me who know instantly when I am awake and come quickly to greet me.

I have always had a special connection with animals. With Nature, too–the natural world. Struggling with bipolar since I was 8, along with severe borderline personality, obsessive-compulsive, generalized anxiety and panic, post-traumatic stress, and agoraphobia, I have always made most humans uncomfortable. As a child, I was most at home with animals and nature for my companions, and based on a lifetime of abuse, I still am.

However, I can now recognise that not all humans are like those I have lived with–that some are much kinder, much more open-minded, with broader experiences, patience, and understanding–and I am working on reaching out to them, and being a source of support for them, as well.

When I stopped a problematic pattern of drinking several years ago, I trumpeted about that on this blog. But the drinking was not the problem. My shattered mind and self are.

shattered person

I have previously failed to write about my mental illnesses, which begged the question have I really, deep down, been ashamed of them, as all around me are? I release any stigma I myself may hold about my conditions, some of which are genetic, and many of which became ways for me, a frightened child, to survive. Therefore, I mention them now, unashamedly, unabashedly, because they are part of my life.

And I am again having trouble leaving the house, even being unable to collect the post from the box at the end of the driveway. The move, the spate of injuries, dealing with problems of a neglected house–all just have overwhelmed my mind and, consequently, my brain. I cannot remember things like I used to–instantly pull up details because I pay attention to everything–so I am learning to be patient with myself and say, “That’s all right. I’ll get it later,” rather than rooting at it like a terrier, driving myself into further distress.

I am learning to be gentle with myself, which is something I have never done before. So. There. Now you know. I will not go on and on in every post about these illnesses, but I probably will mention them again and their effects, because this is a huge part of my life. But not all of it. Not all of it.

Faery and Cat

I am a good listener, and it pleases me to send light and love to animals and humans. I am not a superstar, sought-after healer and counsellor, but, as is stated in the prayer of St Francis, I do seek to comfort rather than be comforted, to love rather than be loved. Although when the cats hang out with me and give me gentle, tickly kitty kisses, I feel very good and blessed.

So, my WordPress group, thank you.

Until next time… ~~

 

 

 

 

 

Right Here, Right Now

birds on wire     ~~Hello. Not that I expect anyone has noticed, but please allow me to say that I have been out of touch in all sorts of ways for, well, awhile. I have experienced a series of occurrences that even a wild-eyed fiction writer could not make up, because nobody would believe it.

Someone else may find these events to be casual or merely mildly annoying, but for me and the illnesses with which I struggle, they have been a deep test.

I decided to make a move back to the area where I grew up, where I never belonged and was clearly made to feel unwelcome, because there were two distinct advantages to doing so at this time. I am living in what was my mother’s house for an unspecified, temporary period, until the executor of the estate tells me and the cats to leave.

Three days after I moved in August, the United States was treated to a solar eclipse. Later that week, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. I am now living on the Texas coast, but thankfully the cats and I remained safe and dry, though effects were felt all around me as  people were forced to evacuate when flood waters from Houston drained south, toward the Gulf of Mexico.

I seriously injured my dominant hand (the right), and I still have pain and trouble using it. Joints all over my body, but especially in my hands and toes, became inflamed and painful. I injured my back. Then a couple of weeks ago, I managed to stick myself in the eye with a rose bush branch, creating a serious injury for which I am still being treated, though my sight has returned, thank God.

The central air conditioning unit in the house stopped working–during very hot September days–and my phone fell apart. I still am without a phone, though I hope this week to get another one–an older model that will nonetheless do what I need it to do.

Through all this, the cats and I have been reeling from the move. We still are. I struggle to live in this very moment, which is the only way to feel safe, while darkness from the past and dread of future events threaten to take me under. (Last night was difficult.) I know that harboring such vague shadows is fruitless, and I am learning to acknowledge these dark waves that have tortured me without becoming involved with them. The one way to be secure and live serenely is to have fierce presence in this moment, in the now.

A combination of spiritual practices, Yoga (I am a lifelong practitioner), and Tai Chi are helping me stay in the now, right where I am.

victorian-perseverance-header2.jpg

So I have been out of touch, incognito, flying under the radar. I have been thinking about the best way to establish some communication again, how to present a new post, and I finally decided the best way to proceed is simply to do it.

I love the month of October. May it bring peace, comfort, and joy to us all.

Om shanti shanti shanti. Namaste.

Until next time…~~

Don’t Look Back 

~ In 2015, I closed down Facebook as I did my blog. I have recently been carefully active on the giant social media site again, though I limit my time on it, for the sake of tranquility. 

By chance, I have come across several people who were dear to me, which by normal standards, was a very long time ago. I, however, perceive time differently than most. 

I made the rare move of reaching out with requests to connect. How silly of me. 

These people do not remember me. One even warned me off, thinking I was stalking him and trying to pick him up over the Internet, because he was engaged! I almost laughed. As if I would. The very idea!

The mind reels. 

None of those people even knew me back then. No-one did. In fact, nobody really knows me now, except my three cat friends. 

Which is fine. I don’t need anyone to. What I do know is that living in the past is worthless at best and harmful at worst, and I don’t do it anymore–except for my odd slips this week on Facebook. 

One cannot return to what was. Nor is it helpful to long to do so. Being right here, right now, is the only way to live with any semblance of peace. Until next time. ~

I Am Really Cooking Now

 

To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet.

~Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon, 1825

 

silence

 

~ I have been alone–really alone–for awhile now–a couple of years. There has been much time for me to think and consider and see. Days snaked around the clock face while the incidence of sleepless nights increased. And I am left sitting, face to face with myself.

The exterior world has been volatile, but this has been so all my life. No security anywhere, except inside myself, and that has grown increasingly sporadic. My feet feel unsteady, as if I need Velcro to stay grounded these days. The depression has been indescribable and debilitating, and venturing outside has been impossible, save for absolute tasks of survival, like obtaining food once a month.

My mother said to me once, “You’re a scrounger.” She thought me a worthless beggar, demanding to be given things I do not deserve. She told me so in various ways all my life. So be it.

The truth, as I see it, is that I have worked hard throughout my life, both in the context of the American vision of doing a job for profit, and in the larger sense of first, surviving and second, trying to build some sort of social network.

Therefore, in the spirit of soldiering on, if nothing else, I will begin cooking for myself again. Not just heating things up or throwing together starch-heavy, MSG-laden processed box mixes but really cooking good food. I used to cook a variety of healthy dishes and make many things at home. I worked all day then shopped, cooked, and cleaned up, while an ex-husband sat drinking.

That is the way it was. Life was unpleasant, but the food was really nice. I was a good cook. Perhaps I still am. Vegan, plant-based foods are best made at home and served hot and fresh. So I will give it a go.

Perhaps cooking wholesome food for myself will do more than feed my body and help me structure my time more constructively. It might nourish my soul as well.

Best wishes until next time. ~