Author Archives: wolfdreamer

Bench warmer lessons….

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So this is the year I learn to appreciate the great American sport of football.  Which is admittedly hard when I am watching the most boring game I think I’ve ever tried to watch.  Third quarter and our team is getting obliterated 61-0.  Yikes.

At least the band brought their A-game.  Which is after all the reason I’m being a bench warmer at a game I still barely understand.  Heaven help me, I keep trying.  But daughter is a high school freshman this year, and joined the marching band.  And I figure, if she’s gotta spend her Friday nights at the football game, then one of us should come too.  So far it’s been me, even though hubby knows both more about marching band drills and football.

However, this being the 3rd game of the season, and me being there for all of them so far, I’ve been learning some interesting lessons other than football.  I have a lot more fun watching the people more than the game, I confess.  It’s fascinating being flung back into the high school dynamics, and I’m learning a bit more about my town.  In fact, I’m learning a lot more about my town.

Like, I never realized that the local football game was kinda the place to be if you’re a highly involved parent or local muckety-muck.  I’ve run into more parents and teachers that have been a part of my kids lives over the years in these 3 football nights than probably a half dozen years of school functions combined.

The small city I live in has a very interesting six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon dynamic going on.  On the one hand, we’re part of the greater DC Metro area – which is huge, and busy, and rather anonymous.  On the other hand, my city is only maybe 10 square miles and we have our own school district (unlike the ones around us comprised by whole counties).  So that lends it this (sometimes) bizarre small-town feel.  The best description I ever got was from the owner of a local bookshop I frequent.  She suggested that my town is the sort where you don’t want to just shoot your mouth off at strangers, because you never know where they might turn up next.  Possibly as your child’s teacher, or your local councilman.  You get the idea.

Anyway, in my desperate need to find a new social niche after leaving the organized church, I never once considered attending the local football game.  But after 8 long (and lonely) years of having almost no local social circle, I may have found a place to finally make some new, if not yet friends, at least folks to hang out with.

Because now that I have done most of the hard work of picking apart my psyche and cleaning out the skeletons from my personal spiritual closet, I have been stumbling around trying to find my new “tribe”.  And I never expected I could jump start that process attending a game I don’t (yet) get.

Final score for our team- 64-0.  Ouch.

Final score for me?   Still being determined…..

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Life in this hologram…..

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Sometimes I spend too much time thinking.   Sometimes I spend waaaay too much time thinking.  And then the thoughts pile up and crash along the shore of my brain like ocean waves on the beach.  Moms of teenagers spend a lot of time in their cars.  And this mom, when she spends a lot of time in her car, spends a lot of that time thinking.

The other day, while tooling around town, caught in that liminal state of not-quite-awake,  driving (literally) on autopilot, I pondered how many times I’d done the same thing, driven the same route, to the point where, occasionally, I’ll start driving to someplace and halfway there I “wake up” to the fact that I suddenly have no idea where I was driving to.  And then I’ll play this bizarre game with my brain, going back to what I left with, what my intention was when I left the house, and what road I’m sitting on, in an attempt to recreate the purpose of my journey.  Please tell me I’m not alone in this.  That other people get so caught up in their thoughts that they forget their actions of the moment.  Which, come to think of it, is probably why I play so much music when I drive.  Cause if I play music, it usually has lyrics, and if there are lyrics, I’ll sing them.  And if I’m singing I am much more connected to my body and the reality around me.  Bad idea to space out while driving.

Anyway.

The realization that I felt like I was dreaming-of-driving while actually driving brought to my mind the article I read some months back that some scientists postulate our Universe is much closer to the Matrix than we ever believed.  That perhaps our “reality” is nothing more than some super sophisticated hologram projected on our brains by God or some superior entity.  And whether it is or it isn’t, something that sophisticated would be completely beyond our ability to distinguish from being actual physical reality.

It made me think about how much of our modern world is based on things that aren’t “real”.  Or at least, not quite real.  Things like, oh say, the Internet.  The way that things like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., not to mention the news outlets, shape our thinking and opinions about life, the universe, and everything.

How we are bombarded by advertisements everywhere we go – online, in magazines, on the road, in the stores themselves.  I picked up my latest issue of Good Housekeeping, the subscription a gift from a family member, to read what looked like an interesting article on Halloween decor and food, and was immediately disgusted by just how much of the darn thing was advertisements for medicines I don’t need, clothes I won’t wear, household things I can’t afford, and product I don’t use.  Ick.

Aaaaand, this would be why I barely read magazines anymore.  I don’t really need any more artificial realities in my life.  Reading most any of the “popular” ones these days produces the interesting effect of me suddenly feeling the need to sell my house and most of my stuff and pick up and move my family to the middle of Africa, in hopes of finding some slice of life that’s not airbrushed or Instagram filtered.  A little extreme, I admit.

Which brings me to the other thing I’ve been pondering as I tool around town.  The fact that since leaving organized church 8 years ago, I find myself with a lot more “free time” than I ever expected.  I put that in quotes because, as a busy mom, there are always household things I could be doing with my time.  But since nobody ever lay on their death bed wishing they spent more time cleaning, well, I’ve been looking for meaningful things to do with it.  In other words, things that are Real.

And here is where my thoughts start to trip over themselves and pile up.   Because I am trying to simultaneously think of life trajectories from my past, and ones from my present, all at the same time.  The past may inform the present, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a viable option for today.  Also, having learned the lesson from the many church-hats I used to wear that busy does not equal happy or fulfilled, I am reluctant to simply go out and volunteer anywhere and everywhere.  I want something that uses my gifts and talents – something that is uniquely mine.  Something that uses both my brain and my creativity.

Whether we are living in a hologram or no, I want my new venture to be meaningful to the world-as-it-exists, even if we are just an idea in some cosmic Being’s head…..

Stuck…..

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I suppose summer isn’t the best time to deal with heavy, soul-changing questions.  But thanks to my little guy’s morning summer school sessions I find myself semi-awake in a still quiet house, my restless Gemini brain going in stir crazy circles.

Woke up to Adam Lambert’s “Runnin'” playing as an earworm in my head this morning.  Decided maybe my subconscious was trying to speak to me.  Read the lyrics.  Funny how the soundtrack in my head is usually smarter than the rest of my brain.  Listening to it on repeat trying to shake something loose from my head.  The restlessness has been quietly driving me crazy for weeks.

Tried to clear it out of my head by clearing out my house.  Sometimes the clutter in both feels like the polluted River Spirit from Spirited Away.  Feels like I’ll never get the crud off and find the bottom.  And of course, I have *no* time for this.  I’m supposed to be doing laundry and packing for our big summer trip.  Our all important summer family reunion trip – I want to go, want to see everybody, but my brain picks the dumbest times to go on a road trip.

I keep getting tripped up by the notion that I “should be” doing something more or different with my life.  Like there’s a piece missing from the puzzle of my life – only, I can’t for the very life of me figure out what it is.  It’s not like I want to (or even could) pick up the career I thought I wanted way back in college.  It’s not like I want to re-insert myself back into the insanity of my former “church life”.  Or go back to school without some notion of what I would do with that.

Some days I have so little in the way of concentration it’s all I can do to ponder it in the first place.  And then a song (or songs) come along that stir it all up in my subconscious again.  My soul knocking on the door of my heart reminding me that it needs tending.  But what does my soul need in the way of food lately?  I’ve tried reading every book I could get my hands on, which in my case is a considerable number.  Even spent an entire afternoon clearing off my bedroom bookcase so that my personal spiritual/metaphysical library was clean and accessible.   It helps, a little.  But I wish I could figure out why I am so distractible lately.   More so than usual, I find myself attempting to read from a dozen books at once.  Monkey mind barely describes it.  More like ADHD monkeys fueled by espresso.

Endlessly on repeat in my brain, “What do I want to do with my life?”  You’d think, at creeping-up-on-50 I might possibly have some inkling of the answer to that question.  But nope.  Not even close.  Curse my stupid, flighty, featherbrained Gemini nature.  I’m starting to seriously feel like Dory the fish.

I start reciting all the things I wanted to be when I was little, school age , in  college: astronaut, ballet dancer, rock star, teacher, biologist, photographer, artist, psychologist, researcher, astrophysicist, circus clown, traveling thespian, pastor.  There’s probably a couple more that I’m forgetting in that list, but you get the idea.  All of those were *once* possible Me’s.  But whether or not any of them fit then, none of them really fit now.  How do I figure out what fits me now?

 

Adam Lambert “Runnin'”

Appointment with Myself

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I would never have figured the hardest thing to do would be to make an appointment with myself.  In an effort to finally make space for my writing, I thought perhaps if I got out of the house I could actually concentrate.  Well.

I planned to go to the library at 10AM.  An hour and a half later, after multiple distractions, I am here.  Of course one of the distractions was that I could not find the notebook I planned to use.  I’d read somewhere that using a 3 ring notebook and loose leaf paper is helpful because then you can write pieces of a larger work in any order and rearrange them later. But even though I’d seen it recently, today it was nowhere to be (easily) found.  Oh well.  So….I am improvising.  I can’t be the only disorganized writer out there.

I need to get comfortable with giving myself permission to both exist and pursue my own passions.  Leave it to me to feel guilty about wanting a whole library table to myself.  How ridiculous is that?  I seems that my social dysfunction goes much deeper than I ever figured now that I am actually trying to move forward.

What was that thing I read that says that you know you’re going in the right direction when your resistance raises its ugly head?  It surely did!  But – since I’m here I’m going to finally write some of this stuff the heck outta my brain…..

Maybe the Universe Still Sends Signs….

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I’ve been in the doldrums for 6 months to a year now. Not exactly depressed, but stuck. Stuck in indecision, simultaneously having too many and too few choices. It started coming to a head a few weeks before spring break. Left with little time to puzzle it out, I buried my nose in laundry and travel preparations. We had such a great week with our families – getting to go out and see some of my old stomping grounds, and catching up with everyone. Getting to see my twin toddler nieces in person, watch their adorable antics. Visit with our extended families and just soak up Home.

And then we got back.

For two days, I was tired enough that I could ignore it. The kids and I slept in, and I did a ton of laundry to get ready for the restart of school. Wednesday morning the kids went back to school, and I went back to my usual weekday routine. At least, I tried to. What actually happened was I alternated between escaping into fluffy fanfiction, catching up on sleep, and trying to ignore the enormous black hole of loneliness that opened up a yawning cavern inside me once the busy-ness was gone.

Mind you – I’ve been pretty successfully ignoring it for a number of years. Several years of unpacking my church experience and researching every religion and spirituality known to man. Several *more* years of wrestling with my demons and cleaning the skeletons out of my spiritual closet. And the last couple years reconstructing my battered soul into some semblance of Self again.

It’s been a Good and Useful Work and I feel much more my own self than I have in years. I’ve benefited greatly from my time in the “Hermit’s closet” (desert wanderings, what have you.) However……

I lost my whole social circle, my Tribe, when I hightailed it out of the Church. And 8 years later, I have yet to replace it. I pondered it the long 5 hour car trip home. Realized that I can pray until I’m blue in the face, but that if I want to assemble a new Tribe, I need to actually leave the house and meet people.

So today I took a leap of faith.

I showed up for the first time at the Adult Writer’s group that meets at my local library. Didn’t have a single clue what sort of folks might be there. Went in trying to be prepared for anything from snooty professor types to crazy cat ladies. Got a little nervous when I first walked in and realized I was the youngest one there. By a lot. Also the most colorful – quite literally. Now that I dress my “outside” to better match my rediscovered inside, well, my quirkiness is much more evident. I won’t apologize for it anymore, but me oh my, it’s still hard to ignore the “looks”. And the fellow currently reading his writing selection sounded like he was working on a technical manual, or maybe a physics book. Yeesh.

Fortunately for both my self-esteem and my initiative I was very much cheered by the appearance a few minutes later of two ladies much closer to my own age. Was even more reassured when others started reading their chapters. I was reminded yet again of why I love words so much. Words reveal the soul. NOW I could settle in and feel comfortable, and also feel like I might have something to contribute.

But here’s where synchronicity kicked in and the Universe whispered Her reassurance to me. I discovered upon reading it that one of the ladies had embarked on a spiritual awakening/ journey the exact same year as me. Many similarities in our respective journeys too.

Leap of faith rewarded. Thanks, Universe…….

Empty…..

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I recognize the feeling now when it hits.  Been trying to sit with it and hold it and analyze it rather than run away from it.  It’s really hard to just sit with it – our whole society is arranged to avoid it if at all possible.  How to describe it?

Existential emptiness – a hollow center, craving, wanting, an overwhelming need for a thing unnamed.  I’ve thought of it with various labels over the years.  It is the root cause of the thing I think of as The Restlessness.  It sends me running manically in all directions trying to quench it, fill it, drown it out.  When I was but a child I was deceived into thinking that this hollow was the God Space.  I was told that God created this space inside every human being such that only He could fill it.  This sounded reasonable when I was eight.

After six years of introspection, trying to untangle the Gordian knot of Evangelical thought forms in my head, I realize with startling clarity that it was the attempt to fill this hole with God Stuff that ultimately led me to the bizarre manic-depressive lifestyle I was living the last few years of my involvement in the church.  Manically reeling from the high of the awesome worship service, back home to reality and caring for my children, then off again seeking another manic high from another worship service, or a meeting with like-minded Christian friends, or a new stage design planning session, or a Bible study, or, or…..

And the crash.  Usually on Sunday night, trying to prepare my family for the beginning of the school week.  Hiding the pain, soldiering on, to wake up Monday morning in a self-induced post worship delusional fog.  Never knowing the whole time that I was artificially inducing this state of mind within myself.  Like a junkie looking for his next fix, I craved anything I could find that could recreate the “worship high”.

Somewhere around the three year mark of my exodus (events blur together after a while), it finally occurred to me that the “symptoms” I was feeling sounded familiar – like a faded dream vaguely remembered.  A dear friend was undergoing an actual detox from a drug and alcohol addiction around this time, was writing about the experience, and as I read his writings – something resonated within me.  I couldn’t figure out why.  I couldn’t let it go either.  My brain mulled it over in spare moments.  One day I sat down and randomly Googled “spiritual addiction”.  The final puzzle piece slipped into place.  All the symptoms fit.  The high, the low, the craving.

And I noticed, the farther away I got from the self-induced craziness of Evangelical Christianity, how I felt calmer, more centered, more present.  If indeed the “hole” inside me was a God-shaped hole, wasn’t it strange that God-stuff couldn’t ever fill it?  Perhaps I was looking for the wrong God stuff?  It hardly seemed likely.  With almost 40 years of Christian living, experience, and culture in my psyche, I was pretty sure that if some sort of God stuff could fill this emptiness that I should have run across it by this point.

I still haven’t figured out if the Emptiness is a universal human thing, though I begin to think it might be.  I do think that very few people in our modern age stand still long enough to even think about it.  Activity is prized, contemplation is not.  Now that I have some idea of what was causing my spiritual experience seeking behavior, I am fighting for ways to handle it when the feeling bubbles up inside me.

The contemplation and the clutter-sorting brought me to the realization that I have long used two things as coping mechanisms to quench the discomfort.  One, of course, was the seeking out of spiritual experiences – worship, summer camp, prayer group.  And the other, apparently, was material stuff.  Not necessarily in the classic sense of “retail therapy”, though there was some of that too.  More of an adjunct to the spiritual addiction.  Books and study guides and spiritual tools.  Comfort objects and memorabilia.  And lots and lots of just “stuff” that never got sorted in a timely fashion while I was way too busy seeking the next spiritual high.

This spiritual detox has left me reluctant to throw myself back into the church-fray.  I’ve tried.  I’ve sampled plenty of non-Evangelical options that might be perfectly fine places to find community and support for me and my family.  But I know myself better now, and I know how easily I can fall down that rabbit hole again.  How easily I can be convinced to help out with this project, head up that committee, volunteer with that group, support that cause.  A person could happily fill themselves up with this useful and compassionate busy-ness.  Many do.  I just know that I can no longer count myself as one of them.

So I’ve been sitting with my Emptiness.  Oh, how hard that is.  So much easier to run off and try something, anything, rather that sit with and feel it.  It’s almost physically painful.  An anguished existential scream from deep inside me.  A deep well of un-cried tears.  It’s pretty much impossible to share with people caught up in the shiny happy modern world of many distractions.  I’ve had a lot of comfort from older writings – Buddhists, mystics, shamans, poets.  They knew about the Emptiness.  They taught themselves to sit with it, and hold it – cradle it tenderly like a newborn child.

Into the middle of my self-imposed tarot Hermit period came several events I couldn’t ignore.  The sudden deaths of two close Christian friends, and the moving far away (to different countries) of family friends and actual family.  Facing all these losses piled one on top of the other, without the distracting comfort of my former level of faith, brought out a lot of existential angst, and eventual clarity.

I finally figured out what the Emptiness was, for me at least.  People call it different things – their Mission, Calling, Purpose, or Reason for being born.  Somewhere along the way, I lost mine.  Caught up in constantly seeking out “God’s will” through church and Bible study and other people’s opinions of it, I left my essential Self by the wayside.

How does one go about finding one’s lost Self and Life Purpose?

Waking Up

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Six years ago, just after Easter time, I walked out of my current church.  It was meant to be a break, a thinking space, a prayer space, a time to gather what was left of my wits and spend time in solitude.  I meant to go back.  I always meant to go back.  Perhaps not to that churchBut to a church.

Six years later I feel like one waking up from a dream, or possibly, from a nightmare.  I am Awake, as the Buddhists say.  And what a strange world it is.  To step, blinking into the light, and look around at your life – your choices and decisions – and feel as thought they’d been made by someone else.  And then to realize that that is essentially true.  All the decisions of my life, from age 8 onwards, were made by a person firmly ensconced in Conservative, later Evangelical Christianity.

My intense journey of research, reading, reflection has resulted in the old paradigm not just shifting, but falling off of me.  Like scales removed from my eyes, like layers of uncomfortable clothing being shed, I find myself standing spiritually naked in the sunshine of these revelations.  Resurrection, phoenix rising – pick the metaphor you will.  I can’t go back.  Can’t pick up the heavy weight of the Patriarchy, or the laws, rules, and thoughts of time gone by.

I realize that all churches I’ve watched dying, waning, losing their members and their potency to challenge the Collective Soul – they are not just an anomaly.  They are caught up in a fundamental shift of the Collective Consciousness that will neither be denied nor stopped.  We are being remade.  We shall be remade, whether we will it or not.  Some are circling the wagons, hiding their eyes.  Singing louder, like little children, as if to block out the sound of the bell tolling for them.

I am glad now, that I am out.  Though it has been a lonely journey, it has been a relief to have several years of thinking my own thoughts.  When I see people say the sort of things I used to say, and think the sort of things I used to think – I marvel, and have the vague sense that I have escaped out from under a spell, or from having been brainwashed.  It is an unsettling feeling.

Today is also astronomically and astrologically significant.  It is the Equinox, a solar eclipse, and a supermoon.  A friend posted an article on Facebook that led me to this one:

http://www.mysticmamma.com/total-solar-eclipse-new-moon-in-pisces-equinox-march-20th-2015/

And the amazing thing is that these folks finally put into words the thoughts and feelings I’ve been having for the past few years, but especially the past few months.  Without realizing that this shift was occurring, I have felt an intense need to shed the past – sorting out clutter – from my head, my heart, my home.  Old stuff, both physical and metaphysical, being purged.  In a society obsessed with the newest, biggest, best I have felt very out of place, getting rid of the old without bringing in much new.

Near the beginning of this journey, when my littlest son was only in preschool, we had a “home visit” from his teacher.  It was part of the special ed. program – teacher sees student in his own “environment” to analyze what other needs may need to be addressed in the classroom.  As I welcomed her in, I apologized for the piles of stuff everywhere, and told her I was in the middle of a big sorting project.  “Oh, are you guys moving to a bigger house?” she asks.  As if the only reason to sort out clutter was to move up to a bigger – and therefore better – house.  I told her that no, I just wanted more living space in our current house.  She seemed utterly nonplussed by this.  I was an anomaly in a world that always sees newer, faster, bigger, showier as better.

The strangeness of being Awake while most everyone around is Asleep.