Varying Veracities

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12 Twelve-Step Vocabulary I find interesting; words or concepts to use as prompts for future posts:

  1. Boundaries
  2. Self-Care
  3. Agency
  4. Meditation vs Contemplation vs Prayer
  5. Daily Inventory
  6. Motivation
  7. Serenity
  8. Addiction
  9. Sobriety
  10. Intuition
  11. Discernment
  12. Calm

So many of the words in this list are commonly used in many spheres of human interaction.  They seem to be used with particular meanings in Al-Anon or other 12-step programs, they are sometimes used with other meanings in other forms of therapy or spiritual disciplines, and they are definitely applied to one’s own life in sometimes dramatically different ways depending on one’s particular needs for healing/ growth.  I’m interested in how I might compare and contrast the definitions and usage of these words in 12-step programs vs Catholic spiritual disciplines, and vs my needs as an ASCA.

For now, this is just a list of prompts.  When I write on any of these topics I will hopefully remember to link those posts to this one in case any of my list readers are interested in my expanded musings.

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Finding My Footing

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Sometimes when I’m sinking into that abysmal cavernous, ravenous, hole in my soul, where only God can safely and peacefully reside, I feel as though I’m being sucked down into a deep, dark, bottomless channel underwater.  It actually feels like a sucking inside my chest, as if I’m very hungry, except that I’m not hungry for food.  It feels like a power or mind other than my own is pulling me under.  It feels strong and swift.  It feels like I’m losing my breath and will soon lose my self-awareness, maybe my existence.  I think this is how I feel sometimes at the beginning of a panic attack.  But it’s also how I can feel at times when I’m simply in need of spiritual nurturance or comfort.

Recently I’ve been listening to a podcast for al-anon members.  As far as I know, I don’t have any actual addicts (of alcohol or otherwise) in my family, but I have certainly experienced various kinds of dysfunctionality in relationships with individuals or groups of people.  I don’t know much at all about alcoholism, but I understand that it is a disease and has some chemical/neurological basis.  I assume an addictive response to any substance would indicate something has gone wrong with the brain chemistry.

Conversely, there are detrimental habits that we sometimes call “addictions” because the habituated seems powerless to change their behavior, but their mental/ emotional issues are more a matter of experience with trauma or dysfunctional relationships.  I’m probably describing this poorly; I’m not an expert on any of this in any regard.

I’m just trying to acknowledge that I’m beginning to see how addiction to alcohol is ANALOGOUS (rather than literally alike) to other problems humans have that aren’t actually, fundamentally the same inasmuch as they aren’t chemically based or brain-altering.  Or maybe some of these addictions differ in terms of what comes first: the genetic predisposition to be addicted to a particular substance versus a learned set of dysfunctional behaviors, I.e. nature versus nurture?

The important nuances for me are

  1. There are some things that can be learned from the various 12-step programs modeled on AA that could be very helpful to most people, myself included.
  2. Even so, the particular helps that I need for my own healing from sexual abuse are sometimes so different from what is advocated for addicts or even addicts’ families that they are nearly antithetical.

For example, regarding:

  1. What’s similar: It seems to me that all humans would do well to acknowledge there is a limit to their power, certainly over others, and even over all aspects of themselves.  And yet, each adult human, in order to become an integrated, mature adult, must take responsibility for their lives.  When they fail in any way or harm others or themselves, make amends whenever possible, and then move on; don’t get stuck in shame or guilt.
  2. What’s different: A significant difference with ASCA (Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse), as compared to most 12-step programs is that it is essential that we understand we bear no fault for our abuse; the actions of the abuser were/ are entirely their responsibility.  Especially when children or youth are abused, much of what is most harmful to us is that we can’t give real assent and yet we believe we are responsible, and we develop (if not before the abuse, certainly during and after) the wrong idea that we are responsible for taking care of or pleasing the adults.  It’s usually only after we have become adults that we can come to understand that the adults should have cared for and protected us.

The challenge for most adults who deal with various behavioral or psychological issues is that we are each very complex in unique ways.  The therapies or programs offered to help us are usually geared toward only one issue.  This is good; it is probably best that each type of therapy or self-help has a specific target.  Even so, I as an individual have to then discern which threads of my mind/soul fabric are being repaired/ recovered/ healed, and which need other kinds of help.

This post has gotten too long and too heavy too quickly!  As an exercise prompted by the #EverydayInspiration course I meant to begin with a picture that might “tell a story.”  The piece of my story that I was concerned with today was feeling overwhelmed by existential thoughts, and having prayed, feeling like I’ve regained some footing.

31 In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.
Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be to me a rock of [a]strength,
A stronghold to save me.
For You are my [b]rock and my fortress;
For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.
You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of [c]truth.

from Psalm 31 (see the whole Psalm on Bible Gateway.)

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Prompts from Podcasts

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Writing Prompts:

  1. When and how to apologize; when thanking is more apropos than apologizing.
  2. Evening prayers, examen of conscious, and bedtime rituals.
  3. Who’s your spiritual mentor or favorite saint?
  4. Personality: INFP and Enn4
  5. Empathy, Imagination, and Creativity
  6. Equilibrium
  7. Little Happy Habits
  8. Wholeness vs Perfection
  9. Love’s bountiful gift of Life
  10. Little ways to share each day
  11. Best notebooks for particular purposes
  12. Favorite pens for particular paper

Pardon my French!

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Cafe, cafe au lait, cafe noir; so many phrases referencing coffee come from the French.

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Here are a few of my favorite French phrases I use in English:

  • N’est ce-pas?  French for “right?” as in “is it not so?”
  • Mon ami.  French for “my friend.”
  • C’est la vie!  French for “such is life!”
  • Ca va?  French for “how’s it going?” or “how goes it?”
  • Je ne sais pas. French for “I don’t know.”
  • Je ne sais qua.  French for referring to an inexplicable quality.
  • Le plus ultra… French for “the utmost…”
  • Tres bien.  French for “very good.”
  • Magnifique!  French for “magnificent!”
  • Crème de la crème
  • Comme ci comme ça.

Here’s a great list of French phrases often used in English at Living Language website.

Here’s a much longer list in a well-developed article on “French Together.”

Wikipedia lists almost 500 words or phrases used in English, originally of French origin.

#everydayinspiration

 

List of Lists

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#EverydayInspiration Day Two: Write a list.

Here is a list of lists I could enjoy writing today:

  1. Fun names for fictional characters.
  2. Places I’ve lived or spent extended visits.
  3. Names of tertiary colors I like most and why.
  4. Words for various feelings or emotions.
  5. Things that are blue or blue-green that give me a feeling of vitality.
  6. My favorite Beethoven Piano Sonatas.
  7. Characteristics I most appreciate in people.
  8. Words for times of day.
  9. Types of seasons.
  10. French words commonly used in English.
  11. Brands of pens I like and why.
  12. Strategies for when I am upset, especially about not being able to see clearly.
  13. PTSD strategies that have worked for me.
  14. My favorite phone apps and how I use them.
  15. My favorite podcasts and how I benefit from listening to them.
  16. My favorite authors.
  17. Authors whose entire work I’ve read.
  18. Authors I might like for their style and/or content.
  19. Traditional prayers I find meaningful and helpful.
  20. Twenty things I’d like to accomplish in 2020.
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I have colorful choices.  Which one will I pick?

Write a World

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” – Flannery O’Connor

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Lately, I don’t seem to be able to easily write whole paragraphs.  It’s not that I can’t think extended thoughts; it’s just that I see less and less point in reflecting on much of anything.  Yet I find myself wanting to write lists.  I often write lists out of necessity, but it’s strange for me to want to write lists.  There is something in me that wants to take inventory, to take stock of what IS, as if I need to count and quantify everything.  By “everything” I don’t mean actual physical objects.  I’m thinking about my habits of thought.  I want to examine the roots of my perspectives on things, on life.

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.” – Harper Lee

Meanwhile, I also feel I need to write in order to guide or even welcome my thoughts.  And because I want my writing to be guided, I decided to restart one of the “Blogging University” classes on WordPress.  These aren’t really classes but they are helpful prompts and sometimes more detailed suggestions for topics or techniques that could be applied to any blog.  This particular “course” is called “Everyday Inspiration” and the first assignment is to write about why we write.  I think one of the assignments is going to be to write in the form of a list, so I’m going to list why I want to write at this moment:

  1. I need to see my thoughts.
  2. I want to examine my thoughts.
  3. I want to guide my thoughts toward something at least positive (as in encouraging) if not actually productive.
  4. I hope to cause some kind of growth progress in my current outlook on life.  Simply put, I’m feeling glum and I want to take my mind “by the hand” and move my perspective toward a new vista.
  5. I want to discern my current priorities.
  6. I think I’m also wanting to affirm and celebrate my own values and interior micro-culture.  So much of the external world around me feels not well-suited to me, to my spirit.  When I can’t find what I need, I want to create it or at least affirm the mind/spirit within that seeks.
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“Why am I compelled to write? . . . Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger . . . To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispell the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit . . . Finally I write because I’m scared of writing, but I’m more scared of not writing.” – Gloria E. Anzaldúa

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“Why one writes is a question I can answer easily, having so often asked it of myself. I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.” – Anaïs Nin

Happy Travels!

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I made a playlist for my hairdresser!  She’s moving to St. Thomas with her husband and children where they’ve dreamed of living for a long time now.  I’m so happy for people when they can embrace their bliss!  So I made a playlist to help her celebrate this new chapter in her life.

I included a variety of styles, choosing recordings of original artists whenever possible, ordering them to “modulate” from a sense of good-bye to “hello new world”!

  1. Happy Trails by Roy Rogers and Evans (because it’s just a fun way to say “Bon Voyage!” and to wish you all the best where-ever life takes you!
  2. Happy by Pharrell Williams (because I heartily affirm your happiness!!!)
  3. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin (because there might be little worries along the way, but I hope all-in-all you will immerse yourself in your joy!)
  4. Leaving on a Jet Plane by Peter, Paul, & Mary (because it has fun associations for me from the first time I went on a grand journey!)
  5. So Long, Farewell by The Von Trapp Children (again, better to say fare-thee-well with a sense of fun and festivity than to think too much about the sorrows of parting.)
  6. When You Wish Upon A Star by Linda Ronstadt (You’ve had beautiful dreams, and now you’re making them a reality! Yea!)
  7. La Mer by Charles Trenet (because it’s about the Sea! — and because I love this song!)
  8. Mambo No. 5 by Perez Prado (Encouraging you to dance on the beach!)
  9. Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin (now in English — because I love this song!!!)
  10. Take Five by The Dave Brubeck Quartet (What better way to take a break?!)
  11. Blue Bossa by Joe Henderson (Blue for the ocean, Bossa for the tropics.)
  12. St. Thomas by Sonny Rollins (Blessings to you in your new home!!!)

Here’s a link to the playlist:

https://music.amazon.com/user-playlists/be7d9496b5f74aeb84fe054bb6ef5352sune?ref=dm_sh_8336-e59a-48cd-39b4-f4bc5

It’s called Happy Trails, Rhiannon!

Big words, Big punctuation

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List of (fun) conjunctive adverbs to use after a semi-colon:

accordingly,    furthermore,    moreover,       similarly,
     also,           hence,          namely,         still,
     anyway,         however,        nevertheless,   then,
     besides,        incidentally,   next,           thereafter,
     certainly,      indeed,         nonetheless,    therefore,
     consequently,   instead,        now,            thus,
     finally,        likewise,       otherwise,      undoubtedly,
     further,        meanwhile.

from:
https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~dasulliv/style/conjadv.htm

More?

 

Growing Interest

I was in a sort of emotional cocoon for around a year and a half following over a decade of losses.  I continued to function (teach and attend family events), but rested as much as possible, sleeping as much as I could.  Sometime after twelve months of prioritizing rest and allowing the natural course of my grief, I began to realize I had really NO desire for anything.  Then, sometime after that, I’m not sure how long after noticing the lack of desire, I began to pray for the desire to desire.  Then sometime after that, I started praying for the desire to actually be interested in something.  More recently I’ve noticed I actually feel some interest awakening within myself for many things!  Nothing grand, no project or mission to save the world, just a budding feeling of heart.  Like, maybe my heart can dare to feel again, feel enough to engage.  It’s engagement with the outer world that is so risky.  Almost all experiences of feeling include some degree or amount of pain.  Even the loveliest feelings cause some suffering in my heart.  It’s like I’m always all too conscious of how things pass.  And it’s a huge challenge for me to experience anything without some amount of my heart getting entwined with Other.  And then Other passes or leaves somehow and part of me goes with it.

One little exercise I’ve done to help myself learn how to savor Other without claiming it unto my Self is to take photos.  When I was on retreat in Cohasset (again, at a place that no longer exists!), we were cautioned to not take away the rocks from the shore because that erodes the beach there and effects the local eco-system.  So I honored their request.  Instead, I took photos.  Tons of photos of rocks.  I love rocks.  I love looking at them.  I love how they sound knocking against each other as the waves push them around.  I love all their different sizes, shapes, and colors.  I love how hand-sized rocks feel in my hand, heavy, but smooth and well-fitted.

I didn’t just photograph the rocks though.  I REALLY looked at them as I photographed them.  I looked intently at them.  I looked at them where they were as they were.  I thought about them.  I even felt respect for them!  I knew they served some purpose right there where they were.  I felt what a privilege it was to be there with them.  As soon as I realized I shouldn’t take them home with me as a souvenir, as soon as I realized I shouldn’t claim them as some thing to own, I realized and savored their presence there.  I don’t know how to explain it.  I wasn’t worshipping them by any means.  I wasn’t anthropomorphizing them.  I was just realizing that I didn’t need to acquire something to fully appreciate it.  It was a liberating experience.  It was also very fulfilling.  It was somewhat on par with what I do with music.  When I intimately acquaint myself with music, I don’t even think of owning it; I engage with it expecting myself to be changed.

Wow!  Isn’t that lovely?!  How did that happen?  I think it’s the nature of music.  But surely, it must also be a perspective gifted to me by my piano teachers, and probably before that my mother.  My mother treasured listening to classical music.  I grew up with a respect and expectancy for music – respect for its wonder — beauty passing in time, and expectancy for me to be and become she who can hear…  I don’t know how else to say it.

I didn’t mean to write all this when I started this post.  I thought I would just list the things for which I am recently finding some interest.  Here it is:

  1. reading
  2. podcasts, especially about writing or about literature
  3. tasting new (to me) flavors, especially in teas and other beverages
  4. lipsticks (lol – I told you, nothing grand!)
  5. listening (still mostly classical music, but also jazz, & exploring whatever)
  6. thinking about where I could want to travel
  7. blogging a project
  8. studying French language

Now that I’m listing, I guess there aren’t that many things!  But the feeling of having desire, having awakening interest in life, feels huge.  Feeling desire for things that I could do in the future is a quantum leap from not feeling anything or feeling only that I want to sleep.

I think I can attribute the change within me to a couple of things:

  1. Having allowed myself to rest
  2. Having prayed for an awakening of interest
  3. Having family – just their existence helps me want to be here
  4. New babies being born into my family; my how I love seeing my nieces and nephews get married (find love) and have babies (create out of love); I love the flourishing and over-flow of love!
  5. My husband still wanting and needing me to function
  6. My students
  7. Maybe others praying for me?

There is so much more to say regarding all this, but this is all I want to say for now.

Except:

  1. I’m grateful for rest.
  2. And I’m grateful for interest in living.
  3. And I’m grateful for family.