Don’t Wait . . . Create

I had an epiphany in the middle of the night last week.

It was not a religious epiphany or something that can save the world. I awoke from a dream with a feeling of peace and a moment of clarity.

A clear view of the bend in the river from a bridge in Vermont.

I finally understood what has been holding me down from truly pursuing my dream to reinvent myself and create my ideal career. After several days of deepening depression and frustration, I broke through to an understanding of what is wrong and how to begin fixing it.

It shouldn’t surprise anybody when I say that the thing holding me back the most is

I am not talking about fear of the unknown, because my life has really been a series of unknowns. What I seem to fear is following a non-traditional path.

To put it more simply, while I keep saying I want to create my own career that doesn’t fit the mold, I still am using traditional methods to find work, praying each day that I will discover a job description that matches my dream job. I am still looking for a position that someone else creates and I fill.

But, in my moment of epiphany, a phrase sang out loudly in my head:

Don’t Wait . . . Create! I think this will be my motto for my new company, a company of one that I am giving birth to as I type each word.  I know what I have to do now, and I am beginning to plan. I am still scared, because I am wandering into a completely unknown world, where I have a lot to learn. I don’t really know how to start my own business. But, if there is one thing I do know, I always learn what I need to know to achieve what needs to be done. So I cannot let my fear stop me.

What are the next steps? I’m slowly trying to figure that out, and I even wrote a Hub about it (not a brilliant Hub, but at least I wrote something).

I know that one of the first steps I need to take is to really clarify what services I want to offer. I plan to market myself as a Teaching Artist, Theater Artist, Creative Thinker and Writing Consultant who offers individualized programming to meet the needs of my clients. I’m going to provide examples of things that I can do, such as:

  • Work with students of all ages to create a performance on specific themes
  • Use drama techniques in non-theater classrooms to enhance learning of specific subjects.
  • Work with adults with special needs to encourage creativity and enhance interpersonal relations, as well as build confidence.
  • Work with individual groups to find new ways of approaching problems such as bullying or effective ways of communicating.
  • Use creative techniques to enhance writing and encourage students of different skill levels to find their individual voices.

Whew! Those are off the top of my head. Do they work? Do they sound good? Would you hire me?

Here’s where you, my blogging friends come in. I need help! In so many different ways. I think I’m losing my mind. ;)

Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money, I just want advice and input. So, if you have any suggestions about how to achieve this momentous goal, please speak up, or even e-mail me.

I also have a fun challenge. I want to make myself an LLC but I don’t want it to be Lisa Kramer, LLC. I want a name for this company, and a logo. Right now the name I am playing with is “Eclectic Approaches” but I am open to any suggestions from this fabulous blogging community that has such a way with words.

Epiphanies come when you least expect them. Last week I was struggling through the dark wood, unable to see past my depression and my fears.That evening, I had hit rock bottom, hiding from my family in my bedroom and curling up in a defeated ball of emotions, followed later by a complete outburst of tears, anger, frustration, loneliness and fear. But the explosion opened the way for messages I needed to hear. I cannot describe the dream or the image that spoke with such clarity. I couldn’t even remember it when it happened. All I now is that right now I feel like I am on a good path.

I wonder where the path leads?

Photo by Sarah KramerLee

Highs and Lows

Yesterday I was on a high, single-handedly conquering the world and changing my life one word and blog post at a time.

Today I feel like crawling into my bed and hiding under the covers in a fetal position.

What happened between yesterday and today? I simply don’t know. I got so much positive feedback for my hub post yesterday, that I felt encouraged. But today I doubt my words and don’t know what to write about.

I know what’s happening. It is the entrance of the demon depression, or the ugly critic of my life. The creature that dwells inside of me cutting down my efforts by telling me I can’t do anything.

But this time I refuse to let the Inner Critic win. I am going to keep working toward the highs, while gracefully moving through the lows. But, I could use your help.

I picture a group of wonderful blogging buddies leaping to their feet saying,”I’ll help you Lisa! What can I do?” Perhaps that is just a figment of my imagination, but it sure gives a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

So what can you do? Well, you can help me come up with Hub post topics. What questions do you have about “Reinventing Self”? What would you like me to explore to help you on your own journeys? Or should I pursue a completely different topic?

You can also help me by following my Hub as well, and perhaps clicking on some of the ads.

Or maybe I am asking too much. I guess the thing that you can do to help the most is keep reading and keep writing and keep being the wonderful community that you are.

Now I have to try to get back on track, and get this roller coaster back in the right direction.

 

 

Here’s the link to my next attempt at a Hub post.

“A Dog’s Purpose” Meets the Journey

“Can you give away your dogs?”

That question, from a rental agent, hit me in the gut as I began searching for a place to live as we make this next move. We still do not know for sure where we will live, because the simple answer to that question was “No.”

Can we give away our dogs? Why should we have to?

This morning, as I avoided packing some more, I finished reading A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron. The book tells the story of a dog’s many lives, a warm and wonderful creature who yearns to find the purpose in his existence–a purpose that ultimately relates to loving and being loved in return. Shouldn’t that be the purpose for us all? Cameron writes from the dog’s perspective through multiple lives, incarnations, and experiences. Sometimes humorous, sometimes touching, sometimes terrifying–this dog has lessons to learn and share, and, as is written on the cover material shares

“. . .  a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend.”

Perhaps this book speaks to me more because of my own journey and search for purpose. As moving day looms closer, I can’t help but think about the friendships I’ve made in my short time here as well as the things I have done. Have I left my mark? Will I be remembered and missed? Will my scent (figuratively not literally) remain behind reminding people of good times and jobs well done? Was I a “good dog”?

We all want to feel that we have a purpose on this earth. Maybe we will never fully understand what that purpose is, but I am beginning to think that purpose (for me at least) has to do with relationships and love. Perhaps my purpose is as simple as that of a dog, to be a “good dog” and to love with pure and simple affection all who are deserving of that love.

So, can I give up my dogs to find a place to live? No. Could you?

 

Update on August 21: We have found a house and convinced them to accept the dogs!!! The family remains together!

Long Distance Loss

Histopathogic image of senile plaques seen in ...

Image via Wikipedia

Newspaper headlines capture my eye
“Alzheimer’s deaths soar, research funding lags”
“Camp gives teens respite from Alzheimer’s”
I cry.
I ache.
I wish.

Links to my family
severed by time
by distance
by disease.
Part of me yearns for proximity
to help
to connect
to understand.
But closeness will not stop
a disease that shows not mercy.
Money will not stop
a disease of creeping time.
Love will not stop
the slow decay of inevitability.
Guilt will not heal
the broken connections
of a family
fragmented
long before the invasive disintegration
of memory,
of hope,
of dreams,
of soul.

Inspiration found in a Drum, a Conversation, and the Universe

I spent the day yesterday reconnecting with old friends, discovering disturbing truths, and absorbing the power of theatre done with love and respect.

I’m starting with the last because of the inspiration and beauty of this experience. I spent 5 1/2 hours in a workshop on creating theater for children with complex disabilities (either Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities or an Autistic Spectrum Disorder). If you want to see the power of creativity on bringing children to life, just go to The Oily Cart website and click on any of the videos. I’m linking you to the description of the current show, but most of the video links are under the Previous Show link on their website. Go on. Watch one now, and be amazed. I expect some tears to pour out of your eyes.

The workshop was great except for the one annoying woman who wanted all of HER questions answered, despite the fact that most people wanted to learn the how to do rather than the how to fund. But that’s a discussion for another post. When we finally got on our feet, the room resonated with creative ideas (I love that) as we each came up with a possible production that could be done first for PMLD and then for the Autistic Spectrum. Each group offered wonderful ideas, a few of which I will not be surprised to discover show up in future Oily Cart performances (Tim Webb will “nick them” with our full knowledge).

I wish I had taken photos of the day. But I would like to share one story that Tim told us. During the current piece, they take the drum head off of a large drum and hold it over the children, one at a time. Then they pour rice on it to create sounds and shadow images that reflect through the drum head. One little girl, he told us, was lying on her side connected to her oxygen machine, and looking basically unresponsive throughout the show. Then they did this, and moved onto the next child. The little girl squirmed her body trying to get back under the drum head.

Her caregivers were astonished. That’s the power of theater.

One of Oily Carts therapy pool shows, photo by Patrick Baldwin

I spent most of the rest of the day talking with an old friend from my graduate program and a new friend who I met for a short time when she was applying for the doctoral program and I was finishing up.  Our discussion led to revelations that some of the challenges and concerns I’ve had over the years have been felt (in different ways) by others. Our conversation has led me to think more about “Life Without Tenure” (my other blog) so I may write new posts there (although I’m still thinking I might just merge the two if I can figure out how). I’m processing the conversation right now, so I don’t know if I can clarify exactly what I’m thinking.

But, I must end with a horoscope again. I’ve written before about my (not so secret) habit of checking my horoscope daily. I’ve also written about being open to messages from the universe. I read this one and couldn’t help but get a little th rill–message received:

My Horoscope AstroSync
Pisces

Pisces

Your responsibilities have grown in complexity and it’s no longer sufficient to just fulfill your promises. Things have changed as your awareness has grown over the past month. Now you must integrate your recent spiritual lessons into your everyday life. It’s not enough to write about your experiences like schoolchildren report on their summer vacations. Instead, recapture the intensity of your awakening by taking your new perspective to heart.

 
Now I’m off to further adventures at the airport and returning to my family. Farewell Seattle, I will miss you.

To Crack or Not to Crack

I went to the chiropractor yesterday for the first time since last May.

My previous chiropractor was more the touch=feel-CRACK kind of doctor. She didn’t beat me up too brutally, but she would feel for blockages or tightness and then miraculously find the perfect way to release them. Sometimes she would concentrate on one area, sometimes she would crack several. Some days it hurt, some days it felt incredible. I still remember my first adjustment from her. I could barely turn my head and my back was completely stiff. She had me sit on the edge of the table, and cross my arms in front of me. She took me into a great strong hug, and then bent down to slowly roll my back onto the table.

Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, aaaahhh!

This doctor is different. He takes a much more specific and scientific approach.  He took x-rays of my neck to see exactly what was going on in there to the last centimeter. He won’t do that every time, but that is how he begins. Then he decides on the exact angle and approach to adjustment to fix the problem. This whole process took almost two hours. When he actually got to the adjustment part it included one (well two) strange pressures on my neck as I lay on my side, and one lift and crack of my neck. The crack definitely got one of the spots that I am most aware of, but I don’t know yet  if the adjustment has done anything permanently helpful. I understand that his approach is to make small, correct and truly necessary adjustments for long-lasting results.

But I have to admit I miss that immediate sense of release.

I’m still reserving judgment as to which method works better or will ultimately help me find the natural flow that can allow our bodies to help heal themselves. I do believe that we have some of that power inside of us, and that we rely too much nowadays on medicated solutions to our problems. I simply have to give my body time to adjust to the adjustment.

Yesterday I felt like I had too many balls in the air and was about to drop every single one, but I could not refuse to catch any of the new ones thrown my way, even the ones I threw away last May hoping to never see again. I had hoped that my visit to the chiropractor would help me get centered again, both physically and mentally. But today the balls have turned into butterflies and fireflies; Beautiful to watch, but I have even less control over them.

I feel disconnected. My thoughts flit around my head like glittering butterflies in the sun; silent and beautiful, but very delicate and fragile. I cannot focus in on any one of them because it will either fly away or try to blend into its surroundings. I am left with the delicate tingle of dust in the sky.

Fairy dust.

Not that all of my thoughts are positive ones or even negative ones. They are simply firefly thoughts, beckoning me to follow wherever they lead.

Is this disconnect the result of my spine reconnecting? Or do I still need some adjustments made, both mentally and physically?

I guess only time will tell, and a follow up visit to the chiropractor tomorrow.

Or maybe I simply need to sit and watch the figurative fireflies until summer comes and I can reconnect with their real magic. That sounds like the best solution of them all.

 

 

When the Stomach Adjusts

Oven roasted rosemary chicken

Image via Wikipedia

Just after New Year’s I–like so many others–embraced a resolution towards a healthier lifestyle. Mine, however, incorporated technology in new and unexpected ways, as I wrote about here A New Technological Obsession and a New (Healthy) Body?!.

Well, I’m happy to report that it seems to be working. Five pounds lighter after only 11 days seems to indicate a positive trend.  I’m not dieting, as evidenced by the small piece of chocolate cake that I indulged in yesterday. Instead, I am just conscious of what goes into my mouth, how it relates to my overall dietary needs, and how many calories I burn on a given day. I am making more effort to exercise, even if in only short burst of activity. I don’t feel guilty when I do indulge, because I know that I will make it up the next meal or the next day.

Just now, eating lunch, I had selected a nice chicken breast, some baby carrots, and a half a pita. As I ate, forgetting the pita, suddenly I realized something miraculous. I DIDN’T WANT THE PITA! My stomach as saying, “You know, you really don’t need that right now. So don’t eat it.”

Lizzy got a special treat in my celebratory joy.

You know the best part, I can have a high carb, high fiber treat later in the day, when my stomach wants it.

I think that is pretty cool!

Now I think I might go tap dance for a while.

Too Much on My Plate, But Not Enough Decadent Treats

fancy chocolate bar, cracked

Image via Wikipedia

As with many people, the New Year brings with it a new attempt at getting healthy. I refuse to say that I am dieting, because I am not. I am merely trying to stay focused on living a healthy lifestyle and taking better care of myself. If I think of this as a diet, then it is harder to follow to follow my first resolution of  Resolving to Forgive because I become obsessed with every time I break the diet and then cannot forgive myself.

So this is really about not eating in depression. Not eating in boredom. When I do snack, making healthy choices rather than empty calories full of sugar. Eating smaller portions. And becoming more active, which I realize is the key to my feeling better overall.

Easy right?

Yesterday I was doing well. I ate a healthy breakfast. I exercised. I prepared a big thermos of tea to help stave off the munchies. I ate small portions of healthy snacks.

And I worked. I worked at preparing syllabi. I worked at paying lots and lots of bills. I worked and worked and worked.

I like being busy. I like the challenge of having tasks that need to be completed. But yesterday, as I poured hours of thought into two classes (and I still have two more to go) deep inside I was resenting it. I resented the fact that I work as hard, if not harder, than many people I know, and yet when it comes down to pay I feel like I’m getting 2 cents an hour. I resented the fact that I have spent my life working, and that I am really good at what I do, but life has taken unexpected and somewhat unpleasant twists and turns. I resented the fact that, with all the work I was doing, I didn’t have time to write.

All of this boiled underneath my work until a friend saw that my Facebook was up (I forgot to close the tab) and started chatting. This friend seems to always bring me back to my senses. She was talking about her new dieting attempt and how it was hard to resist temptation.  I told her that she shouldn’t completely deprive herself. As I said this, bells began ringing in my head. Maybe my bad mood had a little to do with depriving myself.

I went to the hidden stash of chocolate and got two small squares of chocolate. I savored them. I ate slowly. I acknowledged the taste and the decadent sweetness.

And then I felt better.

Maybe it was simply low blood sugar, but I don’t think it was that alone. By allowing myself a little taste of decadence, I also allowed myself to honor myself. I don’t mean that I need to binge on junk; but I do need to treat myself with moments of pure bliss. In this case, bliss came in chocolate form.

So, what do I conclude from all of this? I know that I still need to work on forgiving myself for my perceived failures. I know that I need to listen carefully to my body and not deprive it completely. I know that I have to ration my work so that I don’t feel like I am pouring heart and soul into something where I then feel under-appreciated. I know that I have to allow time each day to exercise, and to do projects that are special to me.

And I know that sometimes it takes just a little bit of chocolate.

Resolving to Forgive

Happy New Year World (2010)

The New Year is right around the corner. As usual I have put in the back of my mind the resolution to lose weight, to get healthy, to exercise more, to write more, etc. However, those are promises I’ve been making and breaking too often now, and I just recently recognized that there is one resolution that I must stick to before I can accomplish any of the others.

I am resolving to forgive.

This resolution runs deep, and underlies my ability to succeed in any other resolution I could possible make. This is not just about forgiving others for any perceived wrongs on their, part. This is about forgiving myself for the abuse I have given myself over the years, both mentally and physically.

Thus, my New Year’s Resolution for 2011 is to Forgive.

I forgive myself for the weakness that made me make some poor choices in the past, especially when it came to friends.

I forgive myself for not becoming the person I thought I wanted to be. After all, I may still be wondering what I want to be when I grow up, but the person I am right now is pretty interesting.

I forgive myself for gaining weight and not taking care of myself physically. I can only change that if I can forgive myself for doing it.

I forgive myself for my failures as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend. I know that I have many failings in these ares, but I also have many successes.

I forgive myself for my inability to completely forgive those who have hurt me. At the same time, however, I think I am very close to honestly forgiving if not forgetting.

I also must include in this resolution forgiving myself for the mistakes I have yet to make. I’m finally learning that I dwell too much on mistakes and not enough on achievements. So perhaps part of this New Year’s Resolution is to not just Forgive but to Honor.

That’s it! I hereby resolve to Honor myself  and others throughout the year 2011 as well as the coming years. I also resolve to continue to forgive.

I honor you, my readers. I hope you forgive me for this post.

Later in the day . . .

I spent much of the day reading The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. It’s a beautiful and intriguing book overall, but the following passage gave me chills as the universe sent me a message:

“All forgiveness is self-forgiveness. . . . But I do not yet know how to forgive. Or who, in the end, really needs to be forgiven. ” (Barry 383)

The Mind Body Connection

Today I am thinking a lot about the process of aging, and the connections between our minds and our bodies. I would love to think that the mind can overpower the body, but the reality is more complex. We cannot just think ourselves healthy, but at the same time I believe our minds play an important role in the healing process.  I have spent the last week trying to encourage my mind to stay positive, so that healing can begin in all sorts of ways. Today, my mind energy is with my sister who is undergoing her second round of open heart surgery in a year. I cannot be with her in person, so my mind energy is the only thing I have to offer at the moment.

But is that energy enough?

I’ve spent the last 6 days in a battle with my own body. On Sunday my back decided that it had had enough of whatever it thought I was doing and chose to rebel with as much pain as it possibly could. My brain would tell my back what to do, and the muscles in my back said “we don’t have to listen to you!”

They didn’t listen and my mind went into a panic.

Sunday night consisted of extreme gymnastics. I’m not the world’s greatest sleeper (as you may have noticed from former blog posts) and when I do sleep I have the tendency to toss and turn a lot.  On Sunday, in order to change positions in bed, I had to go to extreme measures and contortions involving a combination of falling out of bed, climbing the wall, and  using my arms to pull my body into the nearest comfortable position I could find. Comfort which would only last a short time before my acrobatic act had to begin again.

Needless to say, medical help seemed to be in order.

One emergency room trip later (as I still have to find a local doctor) and I had pain killers with codeine and muscle relaxants.  Now my mind entered a new relationship with my body. My mind said “I am going to float around here with the fuzzy clouds”

My body said, “I’ll pretend you don’t hurt but watch out, when you least expect it, whammo!”‘

I tried to meditate to help with the healing, but my mind refused to cooperate. Sleep seemed the only solution.

I had some things that I couldn’t avoid this week. I had already postponed auditions for a show two times, and felt that it was necessary to do them this week.  My mind said “go for it!”

My body said “Ok, I guess.”

I went for it, and felt good about it, but now my brain is undecided about how to cast because it was still in a fuzzy zone when I watched the auditions. Ah well, at least I got them done.

Last night, I didn’t take any medication, and I was able to sleep more comfortably. I could turn over without agony or  contortions  that would compete with Chinese Acrobats. Healing has begun.

But, the occasional twinge reminds me that my back still has a mind of its own.

This morning, I watched the most recent episode of Bones, where the issue of age played an interesting role. Booth got out of bed to a pounding knock on his door. As he made his way to the door, everything in his body that could crack, cracked. Bones heard this internal drum line and commented on the fact that he was at an age where his bone structure was deteriorating.  Hmmm, I thought, he is around my age probably. And I enjoy a couple of cracks here and there, as it releases pressure I didn’t know I had. But, is that pressure in my mind or in my body, or in both?

Today, I cannot pay any attention to this battle between my mind and my body. I need to send my mind energy, my healing energy, toward my sister.  I cannot be there in person, so I have to be there in mind. But, given the relationship between my mind and body this week, will that be helpful or harmful to her body?

Only time will tell.