Every Day Serenity

Serenity every day,
I pray from the frayed edges
chaos rattling, pains howling

Laundry waits in piles
of incompletion – like my life –
demands eroding worth

Hush! I scold the voices
of discontent, the discord
exhausting – I am trying!

Serenity! I pray,
my hands are burdened,
my psyche losing ground

I stop and close my eyes
follow breath in and out
will myself to calm

Serenity steps in –
a moment of respite
available every day.

(Image my own)

Unsettled

Unsettled,
worry’s guest –
change binds me,
spineless…
this waiting is venom,
caution enticing,
pursue transformation,
big, small – and diversion
to eliminate the parasites.
Intellect needs a cure,
neediness burdensome –
taking charge messy.
Responsibility my own.

Choose a Mood

Metal moans
and brake lines squeal
as rubber comes to a crawl –
tie-up on the highway.

Roadside wildflowers flourish,
attract birds and bees alike –
a butterfly floats by, nonchalant.

Tempers flare, impatience inches,
horns no deterrence for maddening halt.

Let me be the butterfly, I pray,
carefree in the midst of such fray.

Up In Smoke

Should have known when
the first light passed
without a sound,
morning half gone
before consciousness
pried my eyelids open.

Should have known when
my Ninja pushed back
refused to blend
breakfast smoothie
forcing me to sip sludge
through straw

and when the line
on my browser
failed to budge
past the quarter mark
leaving me frustrated
I should have known then

but I ignored it all,
pushed beyond the signs
reached for that infallibility
gene (that never existed)
and almost set the house
on fire – element left on

and that’s when I knew
reflexes not kicking in
exhaustion claiming brain
emotions revved in overdrive
that today was not my day
and I should have stayed in bed.

Impotent Pursuit of Perfection

Watching a movie that I PVR’d –
hunkered down with popcorn and fizz,
hoping to get lost in the couch cushions –
when I remember that I might have homework
more specifically an assignment related to a show
already in progress, and I don’t know where I put
my backpack, and while searching frantically, suddenly
recall that I have more work due, and my boyfriend is
coming over in an hour, and I panic that I’ll never get
it all done, and then in a moment of clarity, realize
I am also taping the program in question, and sigh,
and take a breath: it’s doable if I stay up all night.

Riding in the backseat of a jacked up jeep –
the taste of freedom blowing through my hair –
when the driver hits a bump, catching me unaware,
sends my lack-of-seat-belted-ass into the air, and I
frantically grab the roll bar, praying to get my bottom
back in the seat before he hits another bump tossing
me out of the vehicle entirely, when I realize that we’ve
driven onto the field, the entire school filling the bleachers,
and if I lose my grip now, it won’t just be my body that will
be broken, but I run the risk of becoming the laughing stock
of the school: my entire reputation at stake from a joy ride.

This teenage angst is overwhelming me –
guidelines and deadlines – too much authority
and not enough free time – just want to break loose,
shake off responsibility, hang with my friends, be
foolish, and to hell with consequences, but my
A-obsessed sensibility and “good girl” persona
take charge, and there’s no slacking off, and
I’m locked in an eternal state of yet another
obligation to fulfill before I can rest, and in a
blink I am fifty-eight and a Grandmother, and
I still haven’t taken time to watch that movie
that I PVR’d or dared to joy ride without a hitch:
still tangled in the impotent pursuit of perfection.
th-1

 

 

 

Procrastination’s Fallout

Deadline’s coming –
prepare to duck!

Every available surface
strewn with papers,
warning: Stay away!

Body splayed on bed,
bemoaning undeniable
stress: Whoa is me!

Tiptoeing commentary
begets snappy response:
I work best under pressure!

Expletives erupt, slicing
the early morning calm,
wall of tension follows.

Deadline’s here –
run for cover!

Unthinkable happens –
computers disable,
programs run amuck –

Tongues bite back
told you so’s, temper
peaks:  crunch time.

Hold your breath –
sudden silence –
is it progress?

Deadline’s here –
nobody move.

A shuffle, a click,
a sigh signaling
relief – an end?

Damn, I’m good
lightness of tone
stress deflating…

Deadline’s here –
are we in the clear?

Assess damage,
step over debris,
resurrect living…

Shaking heads,
clucking disapproval
only re-perpetuate.

Deadline’s coming –
prepare for onslaught!

 

 

 

Adrenal Spin

Death has visited us,
and subsequently,
visitations, and
a funeral.

Ours was a loss
long anticipated,
suffering relieved
by passing on.

Dutifully, I planned
to accompany Mom,
show support, and
represent our side.

Disability answers
to its own drum,
and this added stress
inflamed the beat.

Attempts at resting,
met fired adrenals –
locked on fight/flight
as my mind reeled

conjuring images
of confrontations,
inquisitions, and
judgments, then

raised unrelated
issues unresolved,
spinning webs,
speeding pulse

I spiraled into
a perpetual abyss
of wiry panic –
release unattainable.

Disappointment
my hangover,
as predictably,
I am a no show.

Setbacks

Today is where your book begins; the rest is still unwritten.  These song lyrics have run through my mind all night, keeping me from sleeping.  A perfect lead in to today’s topic.

I am old enough to know that setbacks are not the end of life; they are usually just a transition point.  If you have been reading along, you know that it is the stuff of my writing.

When I experienced what we used to call a mental breakdown, at the age of thirty-one, I recognized that it was a wake up call to make some changes in my life.  Obviously, the way I had been living was not working for me, so I needed to learn a new way.

Losing my mind was like falling into a black hole.  I felt as if I was at the bottom of a deep abyss, with no visible means of escape.  Four things saved me:  my faith, my children, my writing, and my friends.

I knew that if I was to survive the experience, I would have to build my own stairway out.  I began with my beliefs.

Step one.  I believed that God never gave us anything we couldn’t handle, so therefore, I had it within me to heal.

Step two.  I believed that what happened, happened for a reason, so that there was a purpose for my suffering.

Step three.  I believed that God gives us what we need, so that help would be there for me.

Don’t get me wrong, losing one’s mind is a horrible thing.  In the beginning, I shook uncontrollably for most of the days, lying in a fetal position on my bed. But I knew if I was ever to get better, I had learn to “walk” again.

I set baby step goals for myself.  As my children were still considerably young, I made them a priority.  The first goal was to spend fifteen minutes a day of quality time with my children, without the trembling and tears.  I found I was able to control the anxiety for short periods of time, when I focused on them, instead of me.

The second goal was to get out of the house everyday, even if I was only able to walk to the end of the street (driving was out of the question). This was difficult, but I knew it was important not to give into the fear and become housebound.

In between times, I wrote and wrote, processing every thought, fear, and emotion, until I reached some aha moments.  I used my dreams as a guide.

When I grew a little bit stronger, I called upon trusted friends, who put together a healing circle that met once a week in support of my healing.

I learned many things from that time of darkness.  Mostly, I learned that if something is not life or death, then it is not worth worrying about.  I let go of my need for perfection.  I learned that nothing is as precious as the relationships that sustain us.  And I realized the depth of my own inner strength.

None of us would ever choose setbacks, but in retrospect, would we ever grow without them?

Adjusting Focus

At thirty-one, I suffered from acute anxiety depression.  Translation:  the amount of stress in my life overloaded my ability to function.  My mind snapped, and I was reduced to a blathering blob of human jelly – trembling uncontrollably and  unable to perform even the simplest of tasks.  I lost all sense of self.

While incredibly frightening at the time, in retrospect this a time of breakthrough.  The black abyss into which I had fallen was a wake up call to re-examine my life.  Obviously, the way I had been progressing was not working for me.  I needed to regain equilibrium.

In desperation, I sought inspiration.  I found it in one particular quote, whose author I have long since forgotten:

I turned to God when my foundation was shaking, only to discover that God was shaking my foundation.

Prior to losing my grip on reality, my life had been externally focused.

My oldest sister was dying of cancer, and opted to die at home, which resulted in my mother and I becoming her primary caregivers. At the same time, I had returned to work full-time in order to allow my then husband the luxury of finding himself career-wise.   Ideally, the plan involved swapping roles, but his search led him to uncover an insatiable love for racing, and I found myself juggling work, childcare, and homemaking.

In response to the unhappiness I was feeling, I strove to better myself by enrolling in a fourth year French course at the university, and pushing myself to become more physically active.

In short, I had taken on way too much.  I like to think God pulled the plug.

Alone in the bottom of my black hole, I discovered something miraculous – my faith.   I hadn’t given it much thought before, yet, there is was, like a faint beacon of hope, drawing me out of my darkness.  I realized that I did believe in God, and more than that, that God believed in me.   My doctor offered long term drug therapy, but I preferred to take God’s challenge, and build a new foundation from within.  A spiritual dialogue began.

Twenty-three years later, with the threat of the c-word over my head, I find my equilibrium challenged once more.  I have not forgotten that God uses nudges as reminders.  I need to find balance again.  The dialogue continues.

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