Inspiration Station

The last things I see before I walk out the door in the morning:

Coach Bruce (he came to me in a dream—how can I ignore that?)

My Current Bad-Ass Schedule

A List of Activities Incompatible with Eating

♠ ♠ ♠

I am so grateful for this breather between episodes to set new plans in place and practice them with such a feeling of inner calm and strength.  I know my mood and my ability to follow through will shift, but for now the compulsive behavior is fast asleep and my True Self is driving the bus.  The more clues she leaves behind, the easier it will be to find her again if I lose her in the dark.

Blessings on your Day.

Waking from the Dream

I woke up this morning after a dream about my high school boyfriend.  It’s a version of how I start the day full of regret in different parts of my bipolar cycle.

I used to dream about him regularly.  He and my ex-husband were interchangeable in my dreams—the men I loved and hurt deeply.  They were casualties of my illness and fear.  I wanted so to make amends to them both, and to believe that they could forgive me, but neither would respond to my letters.  And they had no reason to.  I knew the best thing to do, for myself and for them, was leave them alone.

Last year, my high school sweetheart’s mother died.  She was someone who cared about me and made me feel safe as a teenager.  I took a chance and offered my condolences.  He responded, and we started a hesitant correspondence.  I offered my apology and regrets and, while he never responded directly to them, I felt I had been heard.  My dreams about him stopped.

The dream this morning might have started another flood of regret, but that old wound is healed now.  I know these dreams are a well-worn path my mind travels down when I’m slipping into depression, not necessarily a photograph of old sins.  I can observe the reactions that rise because of the dream and disengage.  I can watch how my thoughts want to twist into self-recrimination and loathing without riding with them into the dark.

I can wake up from the dream, send blessings into the ether to my two exes, and start my day.  Today, at this moment, I am awake.

Affirmations and Visions

I recently visited a new-to-me blog site and, once again, was astounded by the many things I have in common with the blogger.  Lara is bipolar, a student of Buddhism and in the middle of a huge weight loss.  Her inspiring site is full of information.  I’m giddy over my find.

One of her recent posts on creating vision boards reminded me that visual affirmations carry powerful juju.  No matter how committed we are to change and growth, we can’t escape the tapes that natter in our heads.  They become so ingrained that they play like background Muzak at Wal-Mart.  We don’t even know the music is playing until we find ourselves walking to the beat.

Unfortunately, these old tapes are mostly negative and self-defeating.  The only way to shut them up is to replace them with new messages.  Our personalities don’t like this.  Our personalities want us to go back to sleep and quit causing trouble.  Changing channels requires effort and awareness to recognize the crappy messages from the past and substitute something more truthful.  Affirmations and vision boards help reinforce our preference for Alternative Music.

My friend, Lily, used to stick affirmations all over her house to remind her of the power of love, the power of grace, and her own personal power.  I used to love reading all the Post-its around her lavatory mirror.  It made going to the bathroom a religious experience.

Last year I made a vision board, what I call a dream collage, around my goal of losing weight.  I stuck it on my bedroom door and mostly forgot about it.  But, Lara’s post reminded me of the power there.  The images and words I chose are significant now as they were then.

I recently dreamed about Bruce Willis (not one of my regular heroes, but he’ll do in a pinch).  In the dream, he looked down at me with his usual smug expression and said, “You can do it.”  In the dream, it felt like one Bad-Ass bolstering another.  When I woke up, I found a picture of Bruce on the Net, printed it out, taped him to my front door with his words nearby.  You can do it.

Now as I walk out the door every day, I’m reminded of my Bad-Ass power.

If you want to make a change and are finding it difficult, I invite you to visit Lara’s post on vision boards.  She offers directions and guidance that are superb.  Stick those ear-buds in and start singing a different tune.

The Dream of Equinox

This is one of those magical times of the year when we hover on a cusp.  For a moment we balance between light and dark, neither summer or winter but both.  We are not Either/Or, but And/Also.  In my part of the country, we can feel the change in temperature, see the new slant of the sun.  Change is coming, but it’s not here quite yet.

For me, the Equinox carries a dreamy quality.  Time slows to that one pin-point moment of balance.  A clock inside me resets.  A shutter snaps.  And then, I’m on the other side, sliding into winter, the paradigm changed.

Equinox feels even more poignant this year as my family stands on a cusp.  Settling Dad in the nursing home yesterday seemed unreal, dreamlike.  I found myself slipping in and out of time.  Listening to my mom’s nervous chatter, I felt my attention narrow to the slide of my hand across her back, the softness of her sweatshirt, the vulnerability of her small shoulders.  Then, I would look up and catch my sister’s eyes.  Is this the balance point?  When we blink, will we slide into winter?

Aides, nurses, social workers, dietitians, our family all crowded into one side of the double room, talking over the roommate’s blaring TV, talking over each other, darting in and out of the room in a jittery dance.  All the while, Dad sat in the new lift chair, his hands folded over his belly, his gaze focused on an empty spot in the room, the dream wrapped around him.  I wondered how long he could rest in that balance point, how long he could stretch the moment before crossing the threshold into what’s to come.

A shutter snapped.  And now we are all on the other side.

Flip Side

It looks like I have to deal with Side B of my recent manic Number One Hit.  The depression started creeping in yesterday.  In the morning I felt great, strong, ready to get back on the horse and ride that pony well.  As the day wore on, all that energy bled out.  My dreams last night were sad, full of people I’ve lost because of my illness.  This morning I feel defeated and old.

There’s nothing to do but this.  All the wishing, and wailing, and wheedling with the Universe won’t change this tune.  This is the song I have to sing today.

But, dammit, I have a strong singing voice.  I used to crank up my Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt CDs and belt out those songs until the cats scampered for cover.  Much as it sticks in my throat, I can sing this song, too.

In the Mystery

It’s 4:00AM and I’ve already been up an hour.  Just one of those nights when I turned off Fringe before it was over to crawl into bed, sweated through a couple of wild dreams, danced the rumba with Henry the Bed-Hogging Cat, and gave up.  I think most folks with bipolar disorder have sleepless nights on a regular basis.  If it goes on for too many nights, the lack of sleep can really play havoc with one’s general health, mental health, weight, and every other aspect of life.  But, like every other human being on the planet, a night or two is pretty normal and not worth getting one’s panties in the proverbial bundle.

Yesterday, to blow off some of the week’s steam, I spent money.  While generally not a good idea for me as a compulsive spender, I received a refund for my car’s license plates in the mail and designated that as “Fun Money.”  So, I made a day of it.  My first stop was for fuel at McDonald’s—breakfast burrito and that really bad caramel mocha.  Eeuw!  Don’t need to try that again.  Bad coffee is just so sad to me.  Such a waste of good beans and my limited funds.  Anyway…

I hit Hobby Lobby feeling like Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl.  Ta-da!  Here I am, World, take cover!  I’m making some art for a friend, so I needed supplies.  Nothing frivolous, nothing over the top, just basic stuff.  My one big indulgence was a tall, 12”X12” table (on sale) to fit in the hole between my desk and printer.  Just a little more breathing space for the writer-slash-artist at work.

Next I camped out at Borders where I read through all my favorite magazines—Somerset Studio, Cloth/Paper/Scissors, Quilting Arts, Prims—imbibed a Tazo Mango Tea, and purchased Loreena McKennitt’s new CD, The Wind that Shakes the Barley (with coupon).  By then, the changing barometric pressure outside and my adrenalin hangover inside  completely fogged my brain, so instead of staying and working on story rewrites as planned, I went home—money, body and brain all exhausted.

The dangerous part about spending money, is that once I get started, I can’t stop.  I didn’t find everything I wanted at Hobby Lobby, so I went online to my favorite art supplier and found a bit more.  When I finished that transaction and started going to other sites, I knew it was time to shut off the computer.  This is the trap of having a little bit of money to spend—it opens up a door that is better left closed.  I start thinking about projects I’d like to do and all the bits and bobs I need to make them really good, and I’m off.  This week, the prompt for Illustration Friday is “Bottled.”  I have this fabulous concept, but I need a bunch of tiny bottles, which I don’t have.  So instead of spending yet more money, I will pass on submitting a piece of art this week.

It feels incredibly wise to make this decision.  I didn’t spend any more than I planned to this morning, but I could have.  Easily.  Now, I’ll have money for the rest of the week and be comfortable instead of frantic.  Just like with compulsive eating, the release and relief that come from compulsive spending are short-lived, and the after effects are often worse than the original pain.  Knowing that, living that, I keep thinking I should just be able to just… stop.  But, logic doesn’t work on compulsive behavior.  It’s a moment-by-moment dance, fueled by my capricious emotions and leavened by awareness borne of grace.  It’s a mystery.  And at this hour of the morning, with Loreena McKennitt singing Gaelic songs with Uileann pipes and mandolin, Mystery sleeps with one eye open.

Oddments

Losing His mindI’m having one of those twitchy days.  It started with an unsettling dream about two friends, then moved on to wondrous, artsy discoveries online.  It’s been back and forth like that all day.  I spent several hours at my kitchen table (the Sandy Sue Studio), mounting itty bitty alphabet rubber stamps onto smidgens of wood dowels (Gorilla glue is not the best adhesive for this, I discovered.).  The Loreena McKinnett CD I thought I’d lost magically appeared and filled the apartment with Celtic mysterioso.  I turned on Fellowship of the Ring, but couldn’t sit still long enough to watch it.  Emmett, squirrelly-nervous-cat, exposed his belly and actually let me scritch it for a bit.  All my clothes started to feel too tight.

In the back of my mind, klaxons are blaring.  Mood swing imminent!  Battle Stations! Maybe it’s just the change in barometric pressure as thunderstorms creep in from the west.  Maybe I’m finally shaking off the bronchitis and this is what health feels like when it flows back in.  Maybe that third cup of coffee this morning was one too many.  I can only hope.  If these jim-jams are a harbinger of a downward swing, I want to take a deep breath and soften into it.  My initial response is always to resist, fight back, run or, worse yet, add to the coming storm by cursing my DNA and wailing WHY? I’ve enjoyed a long spell of Clear Mind and Tranquil Mood in spite of being physically sick.  I want to acknowledge that and offer up my thanks to the Creative Force of the Universe.  Nothing lasts forever.

I learned a new and juicy word today.  Execrable: Hateful, loathsome, abhorrent. It sounds like something Patrick Stewart would say.  I love it.

The Naguals—Unhooking from the Dream

Welcome to the final session of our work with the Toltec teachings.

If you’re joining us for the first time, please read the five previous posts first:  The Naguals—Dreaming, The Naguals—Personal Power, The Naguals—Become Impeccable, The Naguals—Self-Importance, and The Naguals—Death as an Advisor before continuing.  Again, this psycho-spiritual work is intense.  Challenging our core beliefs and breaking with routine create fear and anxiety in all human beings.

If you are currently suffering from a bipolar or psychotic episode, or if you are experiencing anxiety, please save this work for a more stable time.

There is no future.  The future is only a way of talking.  For a sorcerer there is only the here and now.—Don Juan

Erasing Personal History has magical possibilities.  Don’t heal the past. Don’t overcome it.  Erase it.  We don’t erase the events, but our relationship to them that shows up in our behavior, way of being, and way of living.  Whatever was true 20 years ago is no longer true, but we hold on to the ghost of it in our mind.  We resist life.  Resistance comes from our belief that we are incapable of acting outside the inventory of our past.  Family and friends strengthen this resistance by forbidding us to act outside our history.  If we become a mystery to those around us and to ourselves, our ego breaks down as our reality breaks open.

It is not advisable to focus on past events.  The average man measures himself against the past, whether his personal past or the past knowledge of his time, in order to find justifications for his present or future behavior, or to establish a model for himself.—Don Juan

Ω

For all of our life we have carried a corpse with us.  That corpse is what we believe we are.—Don Miguel

The Third Agreement—Don’t Make Assumptions

The fog of our Dream causes us to misinterpret and misunderstand everything.  We make assumptions based on our fantasies.  The problem is we believe they’re true, then take it personally.  Assumptions are formed instantaneously, because we’ve agreed to communicate this way.  Asking questions isn’t safe.  If people love us, they should know what we want or feel.  After all, we share the world view.  All our Drama is based on taking personally all the assumptions we make.  Not making assumptions requires us to ask questions, be clear about what we want and need.  Our word becomes impeccable.

As we finish our work with the Naguals, take a moment and tune into to your sense of self.  As you breathe, notice your energy, your emotional state, your personal power.  Step back from any idle thoughts.  Remember that you are a spiritual warrior with the power to unhook from the World Dream by being impeccable with your word, by always doing your best, by never taking anything personally and by never making assumptions.  Practice living in the present and keeping Death close as an advisor.  Stalk yourself as you would prey, alert for the signs of falling back to sleep.

By using the Four Agreements in our own life, we modify our personal dream, and soon our new dream will modify the outside dream.  There is no need to actively try to modify the outside dream.  This happens naturally as a result of our own transformation.  Deciding to focus on freedom isn’t selfish; it is the greatest gift we can give to humanity.—Don Miguel

Journaling

What’s the one past event you use to define yourself?  How does that corpse hold you back from living in the present?

Imagine going to a party and not talking about yourself.  How would you field questions about who you are, what you do?

Jot down some of the assumptions you have about the people who read this blog.  Be honest with yourself.  How have you taken these assumptions personally?  How have your assumptions effected your comments, how often you visit the blog, visits to other blogs?  How have your assumptions contributed to your internal Drama?  Which of these assumptions would you like to vaporize?  Post questions in your comments that will do that.

Non Journaling Homework

Don’t automatically reveal everything you do to other people (put your ego in the back seat).  Avoid explainingwhat you do and tactfully refuse inquiries.

If you feel yourself making assumptions, stop, acknowledge the assumption, then ask questions.


The Naguals—Death as an Advisor

Welcome to Part Five of our work with the Toltec teachings.

If you’re joining us for the first time, please read the four previous posts first:  The Naguals—Dreaming, The Naguals—Personal Power, The Naguals—Become Impeccable, and The Naguals—Self-Importance before continuing.  Again, this psycho-spiritual work is intense.  Challenging our core beliefs and breaking with routine creates fear and anxiety in all human beings.

If you are currently suffering from a bipolar or psychotic episode, or if you are experiencing anxiety,please save this work for a more stable time.


For anyone experiencing severe depression or thoughts of suicide, this lesson may be harmful.


How can anyone feel so important when we know that death is stalking us?—Don Juan

We’re trained at a young age to forget that we are mortal (life insurance, inheritance, lineage, heaven, resurrection, reincarnation).  The ego is faced with the ultimate task of protection.  Death is not the negation of life, but the negation of ego.  Life is sustained by death through natural cycles.  Our bodies, as energetic entities, have intrinsic knowledge of their destinies and interact directly with the unknown.

Our illusion of immortality causes us to expend a great amount of energy on procrastination; repressing affection; ignoring beauty; defending our self-image; indulging in feelings of hate, rancour, offense and pettiness; worrying to the point of depression; complaints, impatience and feelings of defeat.

The thing to do when you’re impatient is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death.  An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is there watching you.—Don Juan

Conscious human beings are aware of their mortality and so don’t waste their time on self-limiting acts and thoughts.  They know that death is stalking them and make death their greatest advisor.  Acting as if every act were your last leads us into mystery and imbues every act with power.

Death is the only wise advisor that we have.  Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so.  Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch.  Your death will tell you “I haven’t touched you yet.”—Don Juan

Journaling

Dialogue with your death as if it is a character.  What questions do you have?  What advise do you want?  What feelings rise as you write?  Do your priorities shift?  Can you sense your personal power?  Does it change as you converse with your death?

Attend your Book of Law.  Are any of the rules loosening?

Non Journaling Homework

This week if you feel worn out by life, defeated or suffering from self-importance, remember your death.  Take a moment to step back, assess the reality of the situation, and measure it against the inevitability of your death.

Dreaming: The Collage

In my March 15 post, Dreaming, I made a commitment to spending time with five of my dreams.  Those dreams were spending a month in the desert, getting a new Toyota Rav4, making art/writing every day, going back to school for my Masters in psychology, and going to Teesha Moore’s Art Camp.  I pulled gleans from magazines that carried the energy of those dreams and slapped up a quick collage.  Here’s the result.

This feels like a big, colorful affirmation.  I’ll pin it to my bedroom door where more dreaming energy can boost its transmission into the Void.

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