Freedom of Mind, Body and Soul

Freedom has always been an elusive concept for me until lately.  When I was young I knew I was in a prison of sorts, and was even aware that some of that was within my own mind.  I put it down to conditioning, and wrote in my diary that I had to pull the old tape out and put a new one in.

I had a sense that I needed a teacher to help me put a new tape together, but since I couldn’t see one in my world, I decided I’d do it on my own.  I didn’t succeed, and I didn’t understand that my decision to do it on my own was about not wanting to trust anybody ever again.  I also didn’t know, of course, that I had already dissociated myself from so much of what I’d experienced.

When I was 19 and wanting to leave everything behind, I had come to also believe that there was a geographical component to my experience of imprisonment.  Somebody said wherever you go, there you are, but I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.  I was sure by then that my freedom could be found outside of myself, that if I put myself in a different country and continent I’d respond differently to life.

But I didn’t, and the prison that stopped me from experiencing the real quality I yearned for wasn’t geographical. You have to have a healthy enough foundation – in the form of self esteem, entitlement, beliefs, learned behavior, socialization – to be able to go out into the world and build something that doesn’t fall apart.

If you don’t have it, it can seem as if the whole world is against you.  I did that for a while, but it only kept me a victim.  The only way out – straight is the gate – was to rebuild my foundation, and take it really seriously.  That meant facing myself.  If you haven’t been born into a family environment where you were protected and nurtured enough that inner freedom developed instinctively, you have to fight for it as an adult.

It’s been a long and often rewarding but sometimes arduous battle but it’s so worth it.  My foundation is a lot stronger now.  I’ve had more than ten years of being listened to and heard, protected, held, loved, given attention, celebrated, applauded, taught how to put boundaries down, how to listen to and express emotions healthily, how to meet my needs, how to take myself seriously.

I’ve had to play my part, of course.  I’ve had to be willing to take it seriously, to face uncomfortable and painful truths, take on demons, re-experience old traumas so I can finish the business and really move on.   Bring all of it into my consciousness and see what’s been driving me.  You can’t change what you can’t see or you won’t acknowledge.

My self esteem, entitlement and socialization skills have grown as a direct response to that experience, which has been consistent and trustworthy.  And the walls of my prison are melting away.  As they do, I’m beginning to understand how in a way, freedom has come, partially, from outside of myself in the form of the experience of that all-encompassing unconditional love and teaching I’ve received.  But that came to me as a direct response to my inner yearning for it that has burned at me all my life.

Man is not an island.

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The End Of The Oprah Winfrey Show Era

I didn’t get to see the last Oprah show yet, but there’s the most beautiful photo of her in the paper today, crying, her arms outstretched.  I bet the whole audience was crying.  What a phenomenal woman.   She’s been compassionately alongside so many people’s lives in their journey, inspiring us, giving us hope, teaching us that yes, we’re worth it and yes we can!  No matter what the odds.

She’s shown us with her brutal honesty about her own challenges how we need not be ashamed of our own.  How we can step out of history.  And most of all how every single one of us has equal importance and equal rights to a life that’s fulfilling, inspiring to us, that our dreams can come true.  Something she said years ago really sank home for me – she said people worship celebrities, herself included, and lose  their own sense of who they are.  They make comparisons between themselves and these super- successful stars that just aren’t real.

Don’t live for me, she said, live for yourself.  Become your most important person to you.  One of the things I’ve loved about her the most is that despite her phenomenal power, influence and wealth she’s remained at core trustworthy and who she’s always been, except that she’s grown within herself.  Her ego hasn’t bloated, she hasn’t become obsessed with her wealth and power.  She’s stayed true.  Her goal seems to be to help people create a better life for themselves, and she’s got more and more skilled at it.

Another thing I’ve loved about her is her amazing capacity to embrace the biggest idea possible and to encourage others to do the same.  To even help them along the way.  That ability is rare and I think it’s a pearl of great price.  Her generosity of spirit towards life and people is too fabulous for words.

Something that seems to have really blossomed in her over the past couple of years is  her extraordinary capacity for joy, to have fun.  It has a richness and a depth to it that makes it so profoundly meaningful.  Now that has truly inspired me!  I saw a show where she did a shoot for Ellen DeGeneres.  It was a cover for Oprah Magazine.  She wore a fabulous, sensuous red dress that embraced her full figure and didn’t try to hide anything.  She looked stunning and had such a ball with it.

This passionate woman has got heart and so much soul.  I think she’s changed the world and the way women look at themselves, she’s broken down a lot of the myths about what we can’t do.   I’m glad I’ve lived in this time that she could be a part of my life.  And I’m very glad it’s not over, that she’s still going to be around, on OWN.  At a time when she could easily rest on her laurels she launched out into something new, and even risky.

That’s pretty inspiring on its own.  Thanks Oprah, for everything you’ve done so far, for people, for men, women and children.  And thanks for what you’ve done for me, how you’ve inspired me, reminded me of all that’s good in life, taught me to keep reaching and never give up.  To me you’ve embodied unconditional love.  I wish you the best of luck for what lies ahead of you.

Btw, I’m busy making my own life important to me, but I still want to meet you.

Asperger’s Syndrome, Will & Grace and Love

A couple of days ago I saw a movie about a child with Asperger’s – a kind of autism.  The parents were talking to a doctor, wanting to know how they could make the child be normal in the world, and move on.  They actually weren’t that concerned about their child; more about themselves.

The doc wasn’t much impressed.  He said “you have to find the world that your child is in, and go and join her there.   Let her show you what her world is.  Love her, protect her, let her know what it is to feel completely safe.  Then very very slowly coax her out.  Very Very slowly.  You go at her pace, not at yours.  You wait for her to tell you she’s ready.”  It made sense to me.

On much the same subject, the other night I watched an old re-run of Will and Grace.  Grace’s man of the moment broke up with her on the night she thought he was going to ask her to marry him.  Big trauma.  Off she went to bed to weep and moan.  Will, Jack and Karen all gather in the flat to try and pep talk her out of her misery.

She refuses to be cheered.  They pile on the pressure in their inimitable ways.  Then yank her out of bed, and shove her in the shower, all getting hilariously drenched while they hold her there.   Until she loses it.  And in great high drama points out that they’re all pretending to be happy but it’s BS, because Will can’t recover from his last relationship, Jack is a sad sack, and Karen a drunk.  She on the other hand, is the only one telling the damn truth to herself and letting herself be real.

She gets back into bed and crawls under the covers, muttering leave me alone.  Then Will comes to the door and stands there, willing to be real.  Says you’re right.  Gets into bed with her, curls up.  Ditto Jack.  Then Karen.  Finally they’re all curled up in bed giving each other comfort and just being real.  It was gorgeous.

They fall asleep.  Come morning, Grace wakes up, looks at her lovely friends who let her be and joined her where she was.  She gets out of bed feeling happy and okay with the world.  Gave me goose bumps.  I love educational TV.

This blog is in general about the pursuit of dreams.  Mine are to establish myself as a vocalist, script & blog writer & novelist.  I need help with some things, mostly equipment.  If you’d like to help,  Click here to read more about my dreams and what I need.

2010 World Cup Soccer Final and the Big Event in my Heart

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Here on the edge of Africa, on July 10 2010, the eve of the 2010 World Cup Soccer Final, millions are holding their breath in expectation.  Outside,  it’s white and grey, wintry cold and raining.  The street separating me from the ocean is wet; cars adorned with flags of every description swoosh by.  Tomorrow, tomorrow.

But for me today is much more important, and inside my heart it’s summer, the sun is shining, and I have a much bigger event happening.  It’s called friendship.

This blog is dedicated to friends who just accept you for who you are.  They don’t care if you’re a fruit-loop or a downright raving maniac.  They don’t see your vulnerability and your spectacular failures as something shameful.  They sure don’t see it the way you see it!  You don’t have to hide anything from them.  They don’t hide their vulnerability from you.

You don’t have to run any more when you have friends like this.  Let me tell you something, I’m one very, very lucky woman.

No Country for Old Men and Pandora’s Box

I’m reading No Country For Old Men.   It’s so beautifully written.   Nothing is over-explained, and the characterizations are amazing.   I adore the main character, Sheriff Bell.   The title, I guess, is about how the criminal element was bad enough when he was young, but it still was comprehensible, it wasn’t evil.   Now, when he’s an older man, the crimes committed against other humans are beyond evil.   Miraculously, he doesn’t lose his warmth and sensitivity to that in life which is good.

I guess many people have a No Country part of their life, some element in which the world looks or is alien and inhospitable.   The challenge is to find a way not to let it overwhelm you.

I’ve often gotten irritated with people who say just look at the bright side, don’t worry be happy.   “Positive thinking will change your life.”   It strikes me as untruthful at some level, unreal; feels more like denial than a real coming to terms with what’s troubling them.    It always comes accompanied with a kind of smugness too, a saintliness that just doesn’t ring true.

And there’s also the very real possibility that they plain don’t want to hear what’s going on with you.   Not really.   And probably that’s because they’re terrified of opening up their own Pandora’s Box, and they’re afraid you’ll lead them right to it.   Do not stop, go straight to jail.

But on the other hand, it doesn’t work burying yourself in what’s troubling you either.   Then you just become a whingey whiny gloom and doom person who everybody avoids and with good reason.   And you hate yourself, along with the whole human race.   Many people seem to think those are the only two options.

I woke up this morning thinking, where’s the balance?   I guess it’s different for everyone, but for me it lies in listening to myself and taking seriously that part of me which is troubled.   It’s no use trying to talk myself out of what’s scaring me, or joking about it – because it doesn’t work.   You just push all the stuff you’re scared to look at under the surface.

When a child comes to you troubled, you don’t dismiss her, you don’t lecture her.   You hold her, you let her talk, cry, do whatever she needs to do.   You let her know that she’s safe and you love her and you’ll protect her, help her figure things out.   You embrace her, but within that embrace you give her space.   You let her know that you think the world of her.   You take all the pressure of the world away, and let her have the experience of unconditional love.

Out of that embrace she will emerge when she’s ready.   Then she’ll want to hear what you have to say about a strategy to help her resolve whatever’s troubling her.   Furthermore, she’ll naturally start seeing anew that in her world which is exciting, she’ll want to engage.   Happens with boy children too, I’m not excluding them!   Just using he/she all the time is clumsy.

I’ve seen it work with real children, and it works for me as an inner dialogue.    My whole childhood and young adulthood was characterized by people not bothering to listen to me.    It just caused a lo9t of real pain and confusion, so I’ve done that experience, thanks.    No more for me.    I want to be conscious of what’s bothering me.      And I also want to be able to remain conscious of that in my world which is wonderful.    This kind of inner dialogue lets me have both.    I’m always reassured at some level with “real”.   When things are packed away or covered up I get real uneasy.

I prefer to look at the stuff that bothers me, even when it terrifies me.   Pandora’s Box, once it’s opened, can be terrifying.   All sorts of ghosts and things that you didn’t even know existed come whooshing out at you.   It’s horrifying to see that your life is out of control in ways you’ve seen in others but never imagined was true for you.

But challenging as it is to face those ghosts, they have much more power when you can’t see them than when you expose them to the light.    Better to let them out because you will get through the terror to a place when they can’t bother you any more, they have no power to hold you hostage.

I prefer to try and live my life like Sheriff Bell, at a real level and metaphorically.   He sees what is terrifying to him, and he deals with it.   But he doesn’t let it poison his entire world.   At least I hope he doesn’t.   I haven’t finished the book yet, and didn’t see the movie.   Well no matter how his fictional life ends, I won’t let mine end badly.

And as to Pandora’s Box, I read the other day that the last item to emerge from it was Hope.

Without hope I have nothing

I have to be so vigilant, to make sure that I don’t mistake the shadow of my past for my present reality, and that I don’t allow my pig-parent to have any authority – the part of me that tells my life is over, things have got too bad for me to ever recover.  I’m too poor, I’m sliding down a slippery slope into a hole I’ll never be able to get out of.

This part of me is still so strong, and it makes my life seem unbearable.  Without hope, what do I have?  None.  I can’t let it be my truth.  I can’t afford to.

I feel vulnerable today.  Sore that it’s taken me all this time to dismantle all the crap I believed was true about me – it all fits into the category of worthless and undeserving, but that category has a million sub-categories, it’s like a disease, invading every fibre of my being, mind, body and spirit, causing every part of me to distort or dis-function.

Usually seeing it so clearly makes me angry. Today I just feel sore.  I ache for the infant, the child, the young girl, the young woman, the woman that I was who was trapped inside the cage of her own ignorance about her deservability.  Like a bird trapped in a cage, flying manically from one side to the other, flinging itself against the bars.  Bruised, injured by its own desperate bid for freedom.

Intellectually – and sometimes in a way that’s deeper, I know that every second of my life has value, but sometimes it’s hard not to see how much of it has just been wasted.  It’s been such a long journey to even get to a place where I could accept responsibility for my own destiny, let alone do all the work needed so I could function properly and healthily, and do something meaningful with my life and the things that come naturally to me.  I’m just sore today.

Unconditional Love and Money

Money or not enough of it is just in my face.  The R500 I was offered as down payment to sell the timeshare ended up being R250. I wouldn’t have agreed to do work for payment that might never happen if I’d thought that was the deal. It was a huge shock. Thought you were going to be safe? I’ll show you.

So now I have R350.  $50 separating me from the street.  I’ve still got a couple of days’ worth of food, and money now for another 10 days. That makes two weeks. I haven’t been able to sell my furniture yet, but it’s still a possibility, and I can sell my fridge. Beyond that, I can’t let myself think about it, it’ll paralyze me.

I know essentially this is not about the money, it’s about my self-esteem, which is directly linked to my entitlement, but a lot of it plays out in the arena of money, so sometimes it gets confusing. I guess the self-esteem comes first, but I’ve seen communities rescue people from the mess of their lives – bankruptcy, tragedies – and give them the money they need to get on their feet.

I’ve seen those people accept that money. I haven’t thought there was anything wrong with it – in fact it’s been pretty moving. So did it rescue them from a journey they’ll have to take anyway, did it enable them to ignore the wake-up call, or did it help to repair self-esteem? I haven’t figured it out yet.  The only thing I can be sure of is that the criticism, you are nothing, you are dirt, you are pathetic – it comes from me. It’s still very alive, and very powerful. It’s a demon I haven’t conquered yet.

I don’t want to be rescued from my challenges, I just want to not feel like I’m an orphan in the entire universe. I’ve paid for the mess that my childhood experiences made of my life, we all do. I also paid very harshly for the mistakes I made that led to my bankruptcy and to where I am at the moment.  Even though others were involved – I took the fall for it all.

I don’t want to take the fall any more.  I don’t want to pay so harshly any more.  It’s enough now.  Enough punishment, enough deprivation.  I need to know and experience the gentleness of life, the fullness and generosity of love, back-up and support.

And I’m not crazy.  I’m for more universal support in my journey of emerging healed from what I was born into and transforming what I was given into what I can be.  Some of that support is obviously about love; on the material plane, some of that support is about money.