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it’s about time…

5 May

Steve jobs on Time

 

 

Where has the time gone??  Imagine my surprise when I logged on and realized how much time had actually elapsed since my last post!  I guess that’s why the saying “time flies” is a saying in the first place.  I’ve been working on some exciting, yet involved projects. I also started doing readings which has been very exciting and rewarding, but I wanted to do more to help the people I’m called to serve.  So, with that intention in mind I finally enrolled in a program to get my life coaching certification.  All that said, a post was long overdue for this blog, and every one of you that show your support for me by reading it were always in my thoughts. 🙂

I published my last post at the end of January and before I knew it, February was in full swing. The month came and went as I handled client appointments, attended classes, created website content, researched material for my teleseminars, recorded meditations, and wrote posts for this blog and my website blog.  All of this was done in my spare time (and I use that term very loosely) while working my “day” job, running my household, and caring for “the Hubs” and 3 kids.  As mundane as the role of wife and mom may sound in comparison to mediumship and life coaching, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

True to it’s name; March arrived and it’s cadence seemed swifter than ever, followed quickly by April.  As I type; and likely before I’m ready, May will give way to June.  That’s how it often goes for us down here on Earth as the sun predictably rises and sets, paying no attention to our ups and downs.  The sun has always predictably shown up to bring me a new day; and a new chance for a fresh start, regardless of whether I chose to take it or not.  Recent years have brought me some of my biggest challenges, and some of the most trying days I’ve ever experienced.  There were days I looked up and saw that cheerful, warm sphere  and swore it was there just to mock me.

This evening as the sun prepares to set like it has on countless others, I can’t help but feel deep gratitude for the sun’s persistent teasing. Because of its tenacity, I rose to greet those days.  As simple as that may sound, it hasn’t always been easy.  There were days I felt I couldn’t face, but on those days I got up and put my “big girl panties” on for 2 reasons:  1. A strong unwillingness to let the people I felt  screwed me over in the past get one bit of satisfaction from my not doing it.  2. I had a responsibility to my husband and kids not to give up.

Sometimes we do things because we want to, and other times we do things because we have to.  It’s when we don’t do the things that we want to because we are worried about others’ opinions or reactions that causes problems.   I have lived my life based on other people’s expectations and you know what?  It didn’t work.  When you are living your life to please everyone else, you are not living your life.  Eventually, it will come back to bite you.  My choice of college, choice of degree, choice of religion, and even the place I chose to live were based upon my desire to please someone else.  I hid from and denied my empathic and sensitive abilities most of my life out of fear of being judged.  It’s one thing to keep going out of a sense of love and responsibility when you’re too weak to motivate yourself.  It’s another thing entirely to live a life built completely on avoiding judgments and pleasing others.  At what point is it okay to live your life according to your values and your standards?  When is it okay to say, “It’s my life and I’ll live it how I like.”  What are the clues that tell you it’s now okay to make your own choices?  When exactly is ‘the right time’? It’s about time. Right now.

 

 

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When Enough is Enough

10 Nov

Before I pick up where I left off, I’d like to tell you all I’m sorry you had to wait so long for this particular post. This post has had approximately 40 revisions, and has been a labor of love for sure! Writing is normally cathartic for me; however, there is something that feels different to me this time, knowing that when I hit “publish” its there for the world to see. This portion of my story still has a sting to it for me. Writing about it, and essentially reliving and processing it all over again has been much more intense than I anticipated. The purpose of starting Soul Posts was to tell my story in hopes it would help others. If reading my posts does that, it’s worth the intensity I go through sometimes to tell it. With that being said..

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I was in an unacceptable living situation, facing the very real possibility of a foreclosure on my mortgage, and my optimism had gone out the window.  I felt hopeless, helpless, and alone.  I was embarrassed that I hadn’t yet found a job, and I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it with anyone; especially the friends I’d realized weren’t really there for me.  The last thing I wanted was for my feelings to be down played, or to be criticized for letting it bother me in the first place.  I’d spent enough time beating myself up over it, I certainly didn’t need any help in that area.  I felt like there were very few supportive people I could count on, and the ones I felt I could, I didn’t want to bother.  My husband was as supportive as always, but he was living it too.  I didn’t want to upset him more, and I knew he would get more frustrated that he couldn’t somehow come to my rescue and fix it. My good friends were only a phone call away, but I felt guilty calling them.  I knew they wouldn’t mind being there for me, but I didn’t want our first live conversation instead of email in months to be about my problems.

So there I was.  I had gotten myself into quite a pickle.  On one hand, I was living with an increasingly unstable house guest, and on the other I had a former friend I hadn’t confronted yet. I woke up one morning and after dealing with yet another of my Aunt’s outbursts, I decided I’d had all I could take.  Enough was enough.  I’d reached my breaking point.   I was tired of being taken for granted and used.  Things had been building up for some time and what had been simmering below the surface started to boil and bubble over.  I made a decision then that if anything was going to change, I needed to take some kind of action.  I could no longer sit silently hoping that things would change on their own.

I have always been inspired by Maya Angelou, both as a writer and as simply an extraordinary person.  I have a site bookmarked on my lap top of her quotes, and I go there when I need a kick in the pants.  Her words give me courage and inspiration to do those things in life that I consider the most unpleasant. Looking for the courage to stand in my power, I found these:

  • “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”
  • “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I don’t really think there really is any right or tactful way to tell someone you feel they’ve used you. I was worried about losing my friend, but I confronted her anyway.  I picked up the phone and dialed.  I got her voice mail.  I drafted an email and let it sit for a couple of days before sending it.  I worded things as carefully and as non confrontational as I could while still getting my point across. Email is never the best method of delivery for this sort of thing, but she wouldn’t pick up her phone, and I had things I needed to say.  I knew she was avoiding me, and I felt I had the right to be heard.  She reacted how I expected her to.  But…instead of denying it or justifying it, she focused on something much more petty that I’d mentioned during our conversation back and forth via email.  I mentioned how she came back into town and visited mutual friends, but never mentioned it, how she’d lied to me about her birthday only to have me find out from pictures posted on Facebook, and how hurt I was by it.  I also told her that I really didn’t care to be around our mutual “friend” anymore.  Every time we had made plans, it was like the two of them were a package deal.  The “other third” was always tagging along, even when I thought I’d made it clear she wasn’t invited.  I explained that the dynamic of the two of them together was unpleasant as they took turns taking pot shots at me and disguising it as kidding.  She defended her right to choose who she spent time with as well as who she chose as her friends.  By the time the conversation was over, she’d managed to use every nasty, vindictive tactic in her repertoire.  My gut had been right yet again and I wasn’t at all happy about it.

I grieved the loss of that friendship for quite some time.  I wondered how I could have allowed myself to be taken for such a fool.  I considered myself an intelligent, intuitive person and I couldn’t see at first how I had managed to get involved in such a toxic friendship.  After pondering it for a while, I had to admit that I’d allowed it to happen.  When I didn’t say anything after the first or even tenth incident, I created the situation.  I had not established any real boundaries in the beginning.  I feel that if I had, I would have discovered a lot sooner exactly what type of friend she really was. After I worked through my feelings and after I’d done my inner work, I was no longer willing to settle for that kind of relationship; whether it was a friend or family member.

The type of relationship I’d had with her and with my Aunt were toxic and depleting.  No wonder I felt alone and unsupported!  Picture yourself with a cup, or any other kind of container or vessel; a lovely, crystal decanter filled with your favorite wine; for example.  Now picture the people you interact with every day.  There are those who deplete you and take your wine, and there are those who support you and replenish your wine.  The goal is to spend most of your time with people who replenish you.  The ones who deplete you should be kept at a distance.   You can’t give anything of value to anyone else, if you yourself are empty.

After all was said and done, I realized the thing that pissed off my ex-friend was the fact that deep down, she knew I was right.  She had used me.  I knew when I confronted her that I wasn’t going to get an admission out of her that she was wrong.  In all the time we’d been friends, over six years, I’d never gotten even one apology from her.  I wasn’t expecting one.  I just knew I had to stand up for myself; otherwise things weren’t ever going to get any better for me.

It amazes me the lengths that some people will go to just to avoid admitting they were wrong.  To them, it’s perfectly fine to end a relationship to avoid admitting a mistake or looking bad. There’s something these types of people should know:  You already look bad! Just because you don’t want to admit you were wrong, made a mistake, or be real with yourself, doesn’t make it any less true! After all, being fallible is a part of being human. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. It doesn’t have to be the end of life as you know it. You don’t have to beat yourself up for it or judge yourself. You can never go back, so why spend so much time looking there? Admit your mistakes and failures, fix what needs to be fixed, and move on. If you’ve hurt someone, do your best to make amends and then get on with living your life. Anyone who cares about you is not going to think less of you if you do!

…next…don’t tread on me…

Tough Love Part 2

2 Oct

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My family and I toughed it out through the holidays as best we could.  Christmas Day came and we went to my Mom’s house for dinner.  I was running late as I was waiting for the hand-made gifts I’d painted to dry.  My showing up late set the day into a tailspin and dinner was the worst holiday dinner I’ve ever attended to date.  My mom was understandably upset by my tardiness, as she was trying to get the meal on the table without it getting cold.  I told her my reason for being late and she began with the questions.  “Why did you wait til the last minute?” “Why did you procrastinate?” “Why didn’t you start earlier?” I couldn’t tell her why!  Most of the reason was sitting right there!  With the chaos going on in my home I barely had time to breathe let alone make gifts or shop.  I decided that year that I was going to make a scrapbook of the trip I took with my mom to Italy 10 years prior.  It was my first scrapbook project and it took me longer than I thought to complete since my Aunt was always trying to pull my attention away from whatever I was focused on and back on to her.  My answer to my mom was a meek, “I didn’t procrastinate, Mom.  You’ll see.”

My Mom and her best friend, Auntie, took turns taking pot shots, and pushing my buttons throughout the entire meal.  Then they started on the kids.  I’d been practicing being more assertive with the help of my life coach, and I remember thinking, “Ok, here goes.”  I took a deep breath and looked at both of them and told them if they didn’t stop I was leaving.  My Aunt told me I needed to get a thicker skin and shouldn’t be so sensitive.  Not wanting to ruin dinner or make it any more awkward for my husband and kids than I was sure it already was, I set my fork down and walked outside to cool off.  I couldn’t believe her gull.  After all the drama she was causing at my house with her mood swings and extreme sensitivity to pretty much anything anyone said, I couldn’t believe she was being such a hypocrite!

In January, my Mom began having health issues. She’d been to several doctors and so far none of them had given her a definitive reason for her symptoms or a diagnosis.  She had to resign from her job due to her symptoms and I was very worried about her. I felt she already had enough on her plate, so I made it a point not mention anything to her about the things going on at my house.  Unfortunately, her best friend wasn’t as considerate.

My mom started to bring things up to me during our conversations that I knew I hadn’t mentioned.  It wasn’t hard to figure out who had. The only difference between the things my Mom heard from Auntie and out-and-out lies,  is they were based; however loosely, on actual events.  My mom would ask me about something I’d supposedly said or done to my Aunt, and I’d spend the rest of the conversation angry and defending myself.  I really had a hard time understanding how she could listen to the things my Aunt was telling her!  After all, I am her daughter and she has lived next door to me for the past 7 years!  I was raised by her!  The morals and values I have are the same ones I have always had, and the ones that she raised me to have!  She had seen my Aunt only once in that 7 years, and if it hadn’t been for me tracking her down, she probably still wouldn’t have spoken to her, let alone seen her. I felt she should know I wouldn’t do the things she was being told I had.  Although it took a lot of self-discipline on my part, I kept the things my Mom told me to myself and didn’t say anything to my Aunt. I was on to her and I knew exactly what she was doing. I refused to allow her to get the drama she so obviously was trying to create.  I did take mental note of the things she was telling my Mom and I built up a lot of bitterness and resentment toward her.  I felt like she was purposely trying to destroy my relationship with my Mom and that on top of everything else did not sit well with me at all.

My mom would tell me to try to be understanding because my Aunt was “sick” and had Bipolar Disorder.  I couldn’t help but get more and more frustrated and angry that Auntie wasn’t willing to be treated.  She was causing so much turmoil in our lives. I knew that most of it would have been avoided altogether if she didn’t have the extreme mood swings.  When I finally stopped censoring myself and started telling her exactly what I thought, things got worse.  She became even more vindictive.  She started to treat me and my family as if our sole purpose was to serve her and her needs.

Over the next couple of months she and I would engage in an emotional power struggle that would end up changing our relationship for good…

…next…when enough is enough…

Tough Love

30 Sep

before you quote

We were all at the mercy of Auntie’s moods.  We never knew from one day to the next how she was going to react.  If we got in a disagreement about something, or she didn’t like the way I handled a discipline situation with one of the kids, she would “get even” by not cooking dinner, sulking and either giving everyone the silent treatment, or snapping at us.  It got to be a familiar and tiresome pattern.  It didn’t matter what I said or how I said it, she would take it personally and sulk for days.  It wouldn’t have bothered me so much, but when she was upset with me, instead of just giving me the silent treatment, the kids got it as well.  I would get home from work and the kids would pull me aside and tell me things she had said or done when they got home from school. I would listen and tell them I would talk to her and get her side of the story.  I thought that was only fair since I wasn’t home to witness the things they told me that happened. When I approached my Aunt to find out what happened and to get her side of the story, she would get upset and take it like the kids were sneaking and talking behind her back.  I explained to her countless times that I had told them to come to me.  I didn’t tell her why, but I didn’t think the kids should approach her about anything because her reactions were so unpredictable.

My Aunt was bound and determined to be “right”, no matter what. She knew it all and you couldn’t tell her anything.  You didn’t dare disagree with her.  If you cared for her, then your were expected to side with her; and whether or not you agreed didn’t matter.  In her mind, you were either for her or against her–period. When I went back to work, she started playing everyone against each other.  She would tell me one thing and my husband another. It was the same with the kids.  After a while, my oldest two children started avoiding her altogether. My husband spent more and more time out in the garage tinkering and less time inside with the family. He would later confide in me that he was avoiding her too.

There was no consistency and we never knew what to expect from one day to the next. If things happened to be going well, it felt even worse because I knew it was only a matter of time before the other shoe would drop.  Life was getting more and more unpredictable and we were all miserable.  I suggested several times to my Aunt that she go to a doctor to see if there was a different medication she could try for her Bipolar Disorder symptoms.  The more I mentioned it, the more she stubbornly dug her heels in and refused, saying she could handle her symptoms on her own.  I was terribly frustrated.  On one hand I didn’t want to say anything that may hurt her feelings, and on the other I just wanted her gone.  I felt intense regret that I’d ever invited her to stay with us. The more time went by, the more disgusted I got with the situation.  I worried about my kids and my marriage and I could see the evidence of how our decision to open up our home and our family to her negatively impacted our lives.  I was in a very difficult position.  I couldn’t make her take medication if she didn’t want to, and I couldn’t get her to see how irrational and erratic her behavior had become.  When we were able to talk without her getting defensive, I’d be relieved and think that we had made some progress; only to be met with her sulking a few days later, as if the conversation had never even happened!

At the end of March, Auntie would finally push me too far…

…next…tough love part 2…

Choices Part 2

21 Sep

I-have-great-expectations-for-the-future,-because-the-past-was-highly-overrated.Before Auntie came, my missing income already had my husband and me on edge.  After she arrived, I was in a constant state of overwhelm from the added stress she was creating in my home. Finally, in February, I landed a new job and was set to start the first week of March. I was extremely relieved at the prospect of having a decent income again, and to be honest, I was thrilled to be getting out of the house!  I figured with me gone Monday through Friday, my Aunt and I would get along better.  I thought maybe things were getting tense because we were spending too much time together.  That might have been true for me, but not so much for Auntie.  After I went back to work, her behavior became increasingly more erratic and irrational. I’d only been back to work a week when there was a major blowout.  It soon was crystal clear to me that because she wasn’t getting the attention she was used to, she wasn’t above doing anything she could to get it back.

My two oldest kids were home each day with her after school until my husband and youngest daughter got home around 6 pm.  Most days, I would get there about an hour after that.  Those few hours my Aunt spent  alone with the kids proved to be just enough time to stir up even more drama. Since she was helping out, my Aunt felt justified speaking her mind about everything from where I put my coffee cups to how I disciplined my kids.  I would politely listen to what she had to say out of respect for her, but most times I didn’t agree with her point of view; especially when it came to my kids.  When she took it upon herself to arrange my kitchen cupboards the way she thought they should be, I was irritated, but I let it go.  I had learned by then that it was prudent to pick my battles.  When she started giving my kids her own consequences after my husband and I had already handled things the way we thought appropriate, I wasn’t so willing to let it go.  Now she was overstepping her boundaries and I was getting fed up.

Initially, when my Aunt told me things the kids did while she was watching them, I trusted her and took her at her word, and they were given consequences accordingly.  They’d protest and argue, but I didn’t pay it much attention.  I told them that my Aunt was an adult, and their dad and I entrusted them to her care when we were at work, which meant they were to respect her and do as they were told.  It wasn’t until my 9-year-old son approached me and said, “Mom, Auntie is lying!” that I started to wonder what was going on.  I thought at first it was normal kid stuff; testing boundaries, etc.  Before she came to live with us, they had only met Auntie once.  My son was too young then to remember her.  I chalked it up to my kids resenting this person they barely knew telling them what to do; especially my oldest daughter, who was 16 and fought authority no matter where it came from!  I attributed the difference in stories partly to my kids wanting to get out of consequences for their behavior and partly and to my Aunt’s poor short-term memory and hearing. I myself had experienced issues with my Aunt due to her not hearing half of what I said.  She would interpret the missing parts herself instead of asking me to clarify, and she was always way off base. The short-term memory issue stemmed from the only medication she would take for her symptoms–Xanax.  It is not normally prescribed for long-term treatment of Bipolar Disorder, and is known to cause people to be forgetful. I tried to tell her about it, I tried showing her research I found about it, but discussing her meds with her wasn’t worth the frustration.  She had her view and no one was going to convince her otherwise. She was right; everyone else was wrong and didn’t know what they were talking about.  No one was immune to her stubbornness or know-it-all attitude, not even her doctor.

My Aunt had that same hard-headed, stubborn attitude about pretty much everything. It was getting hard for me to be understanding, and even harder to bite my tongue.  She’d lived with us for almost three months, and nothing was getting better. In fact, it was about to get much worse.

…next…tough love…

New Year…New Life

8 Sep

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During the time I was dealing with losing my job and sorting out the issues with my friend, a family friend came back into my life.  She and my mom had been friends since they were kids, I’d known her since birth, and we considered her family.  I’d grown up calling her my Aunt, her children my cousins, and so on.  She and I had always been close and I was very fond of her.   She had always been a unique individual, free-spirited, or what my mother liked to call “flaky”.  It wasn’t unusual for years to go by without hearing from her.  I’d wonder how she was doing  and would eventually track her down.  I had done just that earlier that year in May, a couple of months before losing my job. We talked every few days from then on.

About a month later, I was talking to her during the hour-long drive home in the early morning hours from my ghost tour job in Saint Augustine.  She confided in me that she was in a horrible living situation and desperate to get out, but had nowhere to go. I called her back the next day after talking it over with my husband and invited her to come stay with us. The plan was for her to stay as long as she needed until she had saved enough money to get her own place.  I was excited to have her come and stay, but there was an uneasiness in my gut when I thought about it. Figuring it was just the idea of someone living with us causing it, I made the call anyway and brushed it off.  Unfortunately, like so many times before when I ignored that inner voice; what I now call my soul voice, I made the wrong decision.   I remembered her as a sweet, nurturing presence in my life when I was a kid,  and as someone I could always talk to, no matter what. I felt my kids would benefit from her being around since I intended to return to work full-time when I found another job and she’d be there with them when I couldn’t be.  They’d have another adult with a positive presence in their lives. She’d benefit by getting out of her current living situation and have a place to stay with people who loved and appreciated her, and she could save up the money to start over.  She offered to help out with the kids, cooking, etc., in return for staying with us.  I figured it was a win-win situation for all concerned.

She arrived December 1, 2012.  She’d changed her name over the few years that passed from the last time I’d seen her until I tracked her down and called her in May.  The day she arrived, she asked that we not call her by her former name.  She reasoned that it bothered her because she’d been through hell and having coming out on the other side, she felt that person was long gone.  In hindsight, I can see where the red flag should have gone up for me.  After all, I’d known her all my life as that person.  Chalking it up to one of her many eccentricities, I didn’t give it much thought at the time.  It felt strange and awkward calling her by this new name, but wanting to respect her wishes, I compromised and just called her “Auntie.”  I would find out her name wasn’t the only thing that had changed since I’d seen her last.

…next…new year…new life…part 2

Frenemies Part 2

2 Sep

relationship is rightAbout a week later, I was on Facebook looking around and saw that my friend had posted some photos from her baby shower.  I looked at the picture and it was a picture of her, me, and the other third that we had posed for right before the shower began.  The caption read, “I would like to thank Jen and _____ for giving me my baby shower…” I honestly don’t remember the rest of it. I was the one who collaborated with my friend and her family to plan the shower. I was the one who spent the money on the decorations, the games, the prizes, all of it!  The other third comes back into the country a week prior to the shower, brings a dish, and gets 1/2 the credit for my hard work?? I was seething! I’d suspected I was being used, and now after seeing that, I knew I had! I felt like I didn’t even know who this person was anymore! I did know that I couldn’t talk to her until I was calmer, and it took me a couple of months at least.  During that time, if she called I would let it go to voice mail.  I didn’t want to write her off just yet; I felt I at least owed it to her to tell her how I felt and give her a chance.  I also knew that if I talked to her before I was ready, the conversation wouldn’t go well.  I knew in my gut that she would turn the issue back onto me and make it about how I’m too sensitive or how I’d overreacted.  As hurt and angry as I was, I didn’t want to end up saying things I didn’t mean or that I couldn’t take back. Several weeks later, my husband ran into her and she made a snide remark about me not returning her calls.  When he mentioned it to me,  l couldn’t help but laugh at the irony.  Although she was guilty of the same thing, when I brought it up to her, she told me to stop being so sensitive!

It was now December.  Eight months had passed since the baby shower.  In that time I’d gone to her home to see her baby, had a nice visit, and afterwards I decided again it was best to keep things to myself. I so desperately wanted to be wrong when it came to her!  As usual, it would only be a matter of time before something else would happen to have me kicking myself for not speaking up when I had the chance…

…next…new year…new life…