Mentor Cat

ggirl144 on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

“Note the thoughts. Note the feelings. Let them go. Don’t chase after them; don’t resist them.”

“Note the thoughts.” It’s a fundamental lesson of my meditation program. It resonates. It’s helping me be less attached to thoughts and feelings. Not all of the time, but I’m discovering, with greater frequency, a wee bit of space between thoughts and how I act upon them. In that space I’m finding greater clarity and calm. And less judgment. Which, given how active the internal Judge has been in my life, is something I celebrate.

I’m getting it, slowly. Bubba and I have a joke that it takes 19 times of hearing something before we “get it.”  I’m still in single digits on this.

Recently I got lucky and got to watch an element of this meditation idea in action. The “don’t chase” concept was demonstrated by that great spiritual teacher: our cat.

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The Judge and the Dishes

70_Judge+Dishes2_6-14-18

When Bubba and I met, we each had years of experience loading dishwashers. The thing is, we didn’t load them the same way. And since each of us was sure “our” way was the “right” way, we had to deal with some relationship hiccups as we figured things out.

Routine aspects of life give me regular opportunities to “figure things out.” That usually means trying to understand the inner voices that chirp away when, for instance, I see Bubba do something my Inner Judge insists is just not right.

Maybe he’s putting forks into the dishwasher tines-down.

“The tines won’t get properly washed!” The Judge says, absolute in her declaration.

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Good Things in Unexpected Packages

BlickPixel on PixabayI know people who seem perpetually positive and upbeat.  I’ve known them for years. They’ve been dealt some rough hands in life, so it isn’t that they’re simply Pollyanna’s.

Despite dark events casting shadows their way, they continue to show up with an attitude that fearlessly affirms the “rightness” of life; of their life, just as it is.  When they face bad shit and say things will be ok, I’m convinced they believe things will be ok. If they’re feeling any doubt or uncertainty, I don’t feel it.

Which has me wondering: do they get “down”? Do they feel doubt?

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A Tendency to Blame

34_Blame_4-11-18The call comes from my veterinarian at 4, saying my cat’s 5:30 appointment has to be changed. The vet needs to leave and there is no one who can fill her spot. Will Friday at 5:30 work?

There is nothing on my calendar Friday at 5:30. But that doesn’t matter. The Judge does not like that I’m being asked to rearrange my schedule; something “could” come up.  Someone is at fault that my appointment must be changed, and since I properly booked the appointment, the fault must lie outside of me.

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Multiple Personalities. Who. Me?

30_SybilThe first friend I described my “character” concept to looked at me side-eyed and referenced the book Sybil.

After starting this blog—where I share tales of thoughts conflicting in my mind, or appearing without any conscious intent on my part—someone asked me if I might…possibly?…have Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Multiple personalities? Who. Me?

I mentioned this to another friend, whose immediate response was, “don’t we all?”

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Stormy Mind

Stormy Clouds-2Bubba ordered four slices of bacon at the meat counter yesterday. The butcher picked and packed and wrapped and handed him his parcel. He paid, brought it home, and tucked it in the fridge.

“You feel like bacon?” he asked me this morning.

Today would be a good day: bacon-and-eggs.  Bubba cooks bacon via a slow-bake process that produces perfection.

He was in the kitchen, getting the bacon started.  Minutes later he came out to the living room, where I was reading the paper.

“I ordered four pieces of bacon,” Bubba said, mildly agitated. “But I just opened the package and the butcher put five pieces in!”

I tilted my head, waiting.

“There’s a part of me that claims ‘that’s not right!’ He heard me order four pieces but he didn’t do that.  I can feel myself getting all righteous about it; wanting to go back and call him on it.”

“The thing is,” he continued, “I don’t want that negative energy stomping around in my brain. And yet, there it is.”

So many moments in life where thoughts and feelings come up, whether we want them to or not. The more I pay attention–not just to my own mind but to others–the more I start noticing it everywhere.

Bubba shook his head as he headed back to the kitchen. The negative energy drifted off. Bubba cooked five pieces of bacon. And we ate it all.


 

I Don’t Darn Socks

25_darn-socks.jpgI called my mom the other day. She was darning socks. She has always darned socks.

I used to darn my socks. Now I don’t. Now when they get a hole in them, I throw them out.

I’m of two minds—two characters—about sock darning.

One character imagines my mother watching as I toss the socks out; socks that, except for the holes in the heels, are perfectly fine; easily fixed. That character—fearing a raised eyebrow—feels a compulsion to darn the socks. Reduce; reuse; recycle.

My other character doesn’t want to darn socks. That character wants to write. Or dance. Or hike. Or hang with Bubba. She doesn’t want to darn socks.

My anti-sock-darning character has prevailed; she tosses the socks. But she hides them under other things when throwing them out.

That’s because The Judge—the disapproving judge—still presides in her mind.


 

Good People Feel Anger

24_AngerWhen shit happens and things go wrong, two characters often step into my brain, duking it out over how to respond.

“GD#*F!Soa%B,” the first one swears angrily. “The jar fell and broke and now there’s rice everywhere.” Grumble; stomp. In cartoon-land, this one is red and wearing devil-horns.

The other one—wearing a white, billowy gown with wings—instantly appears, chirping, “Yes! But, good news! No one got hurt! Be grateful for that! Let’s find the silver lining! There’s always a silver lining!”

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The Power of a Word

22_Tatoo-pivotBubba came home from yoga class one day; hot-yoga, something I’m sure was created by sadists.

“There was a skinhead in class today,” Bubba said. “I haven’t seen him before. He was at the front, where experienced practitioners usually stand.  I looked at him—pale skin, lack of tone, racist tattoos—and shook my head. A ‘poser.’ There just to raise hackles.”

Bubba’s dislike and disapproval of the guy was evident.  I was all-in with him.

“As I stretched and watched,” Bubba continued, “another classmate approached skinhead and asked, ‘how’s your chemo going, dude?’”

One word. It was just one word.

Yet it drained the room of air. And sent the internal characters scrambling to regain their lost footing.


 

Pain and the Impromptu Gift

18_gift1-e1521327996389.jpgI was talking with a woman I knew marginally, our interactions connected to our non-profit work. As we finished up, she caught site of a ring I was wearing. I don’t wear rings often. This one gets more use than others because I’m particularly fond of it.

“That’s beautiful!” she said, and asked if she could try it on. I handed it to her.  She put it on her right finger, commenting that it fit perfectly.

I did something out of character: I looked at her and said “keep it.”

“What?” she said, startled.

“Keep it,” I responded, “it’s yours.”

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Decapitated Heads

17_Seb Car-2On our walk tonight, Bubba and I were strolling past the Leland Street Country club when we came upon one of our town’s mobile art installations: a car parked on the shoulder.

Bubba and I glanced at it as we walked by.

“I don’t think my mother would approve of that,” Bubba said. “I’m not sure I approve of it either.”

Bubba’s mother, a woman of Catholic faith who attended Mass daily while she lived and who believed the Catholic way was the way, was 1950’s white, middle-class proper. The Last Supper was probably ok; weird car art…not so much.

“Plus,” he continued, “it’s kind of creepy.”

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Blogging as a Spiritual Workout

16_Provoke_Blog Spiritual-croppedThe world is awash in words. Words meant to inspire, encourage love, espouse hate. Words intended to inform or designed to deceive. Words unrestricted by paper shortages; digitally unlimited.

Bloggers number in the hundreds of millions. Social media allows us to reach out and touch others. How far our reach goes depends on whether or not what we have to say resonates for others and how good our marketing is.

I’ve joined that blogging world. Twice.

I started my first blog, Pursuing Podcasts, last year. It was about podcasts. About other peoples’ work and thoughts. It continues to exist, albeit lightly used.

My second blog, Walk the Goats, I started on March 1, 2018. This year. Fifteen days ago. Walk the Goats is about my thoughts, thoughts from my inner landscape.

I write about things Bubba and I talk about: relationship stuff; “divine” versus “relative” selves; internal “characters” who show up to deliver their lines and take their positions when they hear their cues. I write about things I think about and want to share, including observations on personal growth and life and aging and random other stuff.

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The Judge Shows up in the Bathroom

10_QC CharacterHow is it I have character-epiphanies in and around bathrooms?

My Quality Control character stepped up when a lock in a wheelchair-accessible stall was mounted in a stupid place [more here].

My Judge character showed up in a different bathroom setting. This time I wasn’t alone.

I was in an office building that had a bathroom for its tenants and guests. It was accessible only with a key and contained a toilet, sink and some shelves; no stalls.  Once you went in, you manually locked the door with a sliding door lock, preventing anyone else with a key from coming in.

Needing to go to the bathroom, I got a key, went to the hallway, and tried to enter the bathroom. The knob turned but the door wouldn’t budge. I tapped lightly and heard a woman’s voice from within respond, “occupied!”

I stepped back a couple of steps to avoid hovering. As I retreated, I heard the sound of another voice; a man’s voice. “Huh?” a voice in my head sputtered.

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“Quality Control” Character and the Bathroom Stall

10_qc_character-2-e1520730768748.jpgLast October I was at a friend’s 80th birthday party in Northern California. The party was held on the top floor of an old three-story building that looked as if it had been there a while, confirmed by the cranky elevator.  Having driven 5 hours to get there, I went into the ladies’ room before joining the party.

The stall I entered was large, designed for a wheelchair. I turned to lock the door, reaching out to the normal place a lock is located, about mid-waist.

My hand flailed. Nothing. No lock.  I swung my eyes across the door and—surprised—discovered the lock was installed on the top left edge of the door. The top left edge. Above my head. In a stall designed for a wheelchair.

On that cue, one of my characters showed up.

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