Sunday, June 15, 2008

Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk

Damn. Here it is. The test, first of many I am sure, to see if I really plan to view things differently in my life and change my reaction to unpleasant circumstances.

The time: Saturday afternoon for Trophy Day at the ball field.

I unload the kids from the car and the boys run ahead as usual. Serenity is holding my hand and Journey is in tow searching for her friend that she likes to meet up with and play together during ball games. We walk past the concession stand and my eyes briefly catch the sight of... THEIR FATHER. WHO HASN'T SEEN THEM IN MORE THAN TWO YEARS.

My mind started going 100 miles per hour. Unstoppable. I felt my body go into fight or flight mode with the adrenaline pumping. How did he know to be here? How did he even know which ball field? How? Why? Huh?

I kept walking to the other side of the field where the inflatables were set up and the girls and I found a spot to drop our junk. Journey ran off to find her brothers and Serenity and I sat down for a snack. My first instinct was to grab up all the kids and just walk back to the car, get in and drive home. BUT, I know that he would have followed us to the car and caused a big scene. My problem with this whole situation is not the children seeing their father. It is that he has made no effort for 2.5 years to be involved, help support them, call them, see them, nothing. Zilcho. OF COURSE he had to show me that he would and could do whatever he feels like and show no mercy where the kids are concerned, not thinking of the repercussions of a random meeting like this. Now, again, they have no idea when they will see him again, it brought all the feelings to the surface that we have worked hard to get through and lay aside, and when we left everyone was in emotional upheaval that it will take weeks, perhaps even months to mend.

As for my reaction, I kept my cool in front of the kids and the community but damn I wanted to let him have it. THe BASTARD. Putting me on the spot like that. He walked up to us and proceeds to tell me that he was at last weekend's ballgame too. He sits down next to me like an old friend and starts the small talk. I am sitting there like WTF. (my kids did not even recognize him - not one of them) Here is the point where I say he is a coward, because at last week's ballgame, that he made a grand point of telling me that he had been there, my mother was there watching as well as the man I have been dating for three years. Notice that ol' daddy didn't have the balls to walk up to us then. As he sits next to me I can feel negativity emanating from his being like waves of heat across concrete in the hot Memphis summer. I want to run. I want to slap him, shake him, spit on him, curse at him. He talks on as if all of this is no biggie deal. I breathe. And count. And look at the clouds. Anything and everything I can do to keep calm.

Finally, Jacob recognizes his father, after like 20 minutes, and he comes running over and leaps into his arms. Then, of course the others follow suit. Max was a little hesitant. By this time it is raining more than just a sprinkle and we are beginning to walk back to the concession stand to see if the day will be rescheduled. We stand around, very awkwardly, and he starts. To lie to my kids. About where he has been these past years and why he hasn't seen them. Mama bear kicked in at that point. I snatched Jacob from his grasp and walked away with MY kids. He follows us and continues to hold them and hug them and WHISPER in their ears - filling their heads full of lies and crap that he knows I would never believe but feels like he can tell them and excuse his behavior. I wanted to vomit.

This man has gotten fired from 4 jobs by refusing to show up on time. He remains homeless - living with people until they kick him out for not paying any living expenses. He rarely sends in his child support ( I am talking 18,000 behind in TN and 3,000 behind in NC - money the kids will probably never see), He has no car - he didn't pay for his truck and it was towed off. He apparently WALKED/THUMBED to Asheville from a nearby town down the highway about 30 miles and is living in the HOMELESS shelter downtown. He smokes and drinks...and well, I could go on. I am just so thrilled to have him lurking around in our comfort zone, as you can tell.

The rain was a blessing because we were able to have an excuse to leave the ball field way earlier and Max did not get upset at having to miss the Trophy ceremony. But, after one hour of having that man in our presence, I was spent and I could tell that the kids were too. We piled in the car and drove home to have an emergency family meeting over slushies and rootbeer floats. At which point I told them the truth about their father, in a kind and gentle way of course. I opened the floor for questions and was surprised to find that they all asked some pretty hard ones and seemed to understand the answers, or at least accept them. Journey was in tears, Jacob was just silent - hiding behind sad eyes and a lot of emotion that his 10 y.o. self can't process, Max said he would rather that R** be his dad anyway since we see him all the time, and little Serenity was oblivious - never having met her father (he made no effort to ever meet or see his fourth child - but happened upon her the last time he came to see the kids on January 2, 2006)

Quite simply, I am sad. The kids were doing so well, very adjusted to daily life as it was, no more behavioral issues relating to the abandonment by their father. We had settled into routines and were happy. I just hope that all that hard work isn't washed away with one random meeting from the sperm donor. As I sat reading yesterday afternoon, focusing on parts of my book that were helping to explain what I was experiencing and what it reflects, I am certain that it was a big test from the Universe to see if I can transcend the drama that has been my life for the past 12 years with this man. Am I ready to let go of that story? Can I move past the feelings it brings up and allow those feelings to pass through without becoming stuck and reacting to them? I don't know...I just don't know.

What I know for sure: I will do whatever it takes to let go of this story. It is one thing to read about how to do it, to talk about doing is yet quite another to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sweeping and scrubbing

Literally and figuratively.

Monday I started a new job as an independent contractor for a residential cleaning service. This particular service uses natural cleaning products only (mixed exclusively by their own private chemist) and essential oils such as lavender, spearmint and peppermint for aromatherapy. It is damn hard work, very physical of course, but right now for me this is exactly what is called for. I welcome the experience.

For the past few months, as some of you who read my blog already know, I have been walking a journey of personal reflection and discovery. Since reading the book A New Earth, I have literally changed the way I look at my life, moment by moment. Sometimes I catch myself going into my stories and I notice the mind chatter, but just the mere act of paying attention rises the awareness to a new level.

Anyway, I started this new job on Monday and I find it extremely fitting that I am cleaning. As I clean inwardly, I clean outwardly. It represents where I am in my personal development and it is fascinating to me to watch the evolution. It fits no scenario that I would have ever drawn up for myself, but I welcome the eagerness I find myself experiencing. Since relinquishing the control over my life, the pure happiness I feel is addictive. Almost gleeful from time to time. I know, strange.

The job itself is very physical, but it is kind of like being paid to work out for six - eight hours straight. The aromas from the essential oils is lovely, smells like being in a spa and is very relaxing. The products are all natural and safe for the environment so there is no worry of chemical burning or inhaling harsh substances. I have no idea how long I will be working this job, but I hope to continue on this path and I can't wait to find out what is next for me.

Thanks to you who always drop by and take the time to read my blunderings! I promise, the next post will be an update on my kids and what we are up to this summer.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Because summer is here and this is important!

In light of the fact that summer has arrived and most of us will hit the pool, lake, ocean, etc at least once this season, I thought it very urgent to pass this information on. I had no idea that something like this can occur! Pass it on.

By Mike Celizic contributor
updated 9:58 a.m. ET, Thurs., June. 5, 2008

The tragic death of a South Carolina 10-year-old more than an hour after he had gone swimming has focused a spotlight on the little-known phenomenon called “dry drowning” — and warning signs that every parent should be aware of.

“I’ve never known a child could walk around, talk, speak and their lungs be filled with water,” Cassandra Jackson told NBC News in a story broadcast Thursday on TODAY.

On Sunday, Jackson had taken her son, Johnny, to a pool near their home in Goose Creek, S.C. It was the first time he’d ever gone swimming — and, tragically, it would be his last.

At some point during his swim, Johnny got some water in his lungs. He didn’t show any immediate signs of respiratory distress, but the boy had an accident in the pool and soiled himself. Still, Johnny, his sister and their mother walked home together.

“We physically walked home. He walked with me,” Jackson said, still trying to understand how her son could have died. “I bathed him, and he told me that he was sleepy.”

Spongy material
Later, she went into his room to check on him. “I walked over to the bed, and his face was literally covered with this spongy white material,” she said. “And I screamed.”

A family friend, Christine Meekins, was visiting and went to see what was wrong. “I pulled his arm and said, ‘Johnny! Johnny!’ ” Meekins told NBC. “There was no response. I opened one of his eyes and I just knew inside my heart that it was something really bad.”

Johnny was rushed to a local hospital, but it was too late. Johnny had drowned, long after he got out of the swimming pool.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 3,600 people drowned in 2005, the most recent year for which there are statistics. Some 10 to 15 percent of those deaths was classified as “dry drowning,” which can occur up to 24 hours after a small amount of water gets into the lungs. In children, that can happen during a bath.

Dr. Daniel Rauch, a pediatrician from New York University Langone Medical Center, told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira that there are warning signs that every parent should be aware of. Johnny Jackson exhibited some of them, but unless a parent knows what to look for, they are easily overlooked or misinterpreted.

The three important signs, he said, are difficulty breathing, extreme tiredness and changes in behavior. All are the result of reduced oxygen flow to the brain.

Johnny had two of those signs — he was very tired when he got home, and he had had the accident in the pool. But like most parents, Cassandra Jackson had no idea this could be related to water in his lungs.

Delayed reaction
Rauch said that the phenomenon of dry drowning is not completely understood. But medical researchers say that in some people, a small amount of inhaled water can have a delayed-reaction effect.

“It can take a while for the process to occur and to set in and cause difficulties,” Rauch said. “Because it is a lung process, difficulty breathing is the first sign that you would be worried about.”

The second sign is extreme fatigue, which isn’t always easy to spot. “It’s very difficult to tell when your child is abnormally tired versus normal tired after a hot day and running around in the pool,” Rauch said. “The job of the lungs is to get oxygen into the blood and your brain needs oxygen to keep working, so when your brain isn’t getting oxygen, it can start doing funny things. One of them is becoming excessively tired, losing consciousness and the inability to be aroused appropriately.”

Finally, there are changes in behavior, Rauch said — another tough call when dealing with very small children, whose moods and behavior can change from one minute to the next.

“Another response of the brain to not getting oxygen is to do different things,” Rauch explained, saying parents should be concerned “if your child’s abnormally cranky, abnormally combative — any dramatic change from their normal pattern.”

He admitted, “It is very difficult to pick this up sometimes.” But spotting the warning signs and getting a suspected victim to an emergency room can save a life, he added.

Victims of dry drowning are treated by having a breathing tube inserted so that oxygen can be supplied under pressure to the lungs. “Then we just wait for the lung to heal itself,” he said.

But for Cassandra Jackson, it’s knowledge gained too late. She and Meekins sat in her home, looking at pictures of the bright and happy son who was no more.

“He was very loving, full of life,” the grieving mother said. “That was my little man.”

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Life Energy

Recently, after having been fired from my job (one that I despised anyway), I have found myself with some extra time on my hands. I have been reading a book entitled A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.

Based on the fact that I enjoy pondering the reason for our existence, the purpose and all the Great Questions of Life, this book has captured me in ways transformational. It has always been that I believe wholly in the idea that people are not as they appear. When I was 13 I was given the choice whether I wanted to continue to attend church or not. I chose Not. To that point, my perceptions of church-goers were negative. I saw Christians as a lumped together group of hypocritical folks. I found the teachings that the Bible is to be taken literally to be ludicrous. The Bible is a sacred tool, no doubt, but it is, in my opinion, very symbolic. The idea that heaven is a place that awaits do-gooders and is off in the sky somewhere is not a concept I could ever wrap my mind around. I attached the religion to those feelings and had nothing to do with God for years based on my hurt and pain at the hands of the church.
Sometime in my twenties, I found myself searching, chasing a longing to find what was missing from my life. Since then I have been on a quest to define spirituality and God and what it means to me on a personal level. I am not a part of any organized religion, but know myself to be a very spiritual being, cultivating a close relationship with a Higher Power.
I believe that we are spiritual beings/souls having a human experience, in essence inhabiting the physical form for as long as it takes to learn whatever lessons are up for us, to eradicate patterns of negative thoughts, to truly learn how to live from Love. Some souls have been here numerous times, and are old and wise and some are new to the human experience.

I think, so far, the part of the book A New Earth that has stayed with me has been the idea that we are not 'our stories'. We are not the identity that we have so closely attached to our thoughts, our history, our beliefs. When you stand in front of someone, what do you talk about? Do you speak of all that has 'happened to you' in your life? Do you remind yourself of your past? We all have that voice in our heads - the one that won't shut up and usually keeps a running dialogue of thoughts about this or that. The Ego (which is our thoughts, our identity as we know it) has the controls of our life, so completely in fact, that we fail to recognize each moment as it is. No past, no future...just this tiny moment for all it is, its very Essence, if you will. Now, I have been putting this theory to the test for the past couple weeks. Noticing when I am thinking...then taking a step back and putting a halt to that mind chatter, if even for a few seconds. Then I can become the One who is Aware, in the moment. Very challenging. For me, when I can take notice of my thoughts, I also immediately notice a part of my body that is tensed. In noticing the thinking, I also feel that tension melt and my body relax and become less stressed...imagine if we could do that all the time! That is the goal.

It is amazing how much we are actually inside our heads. How do we interpret each moment? Moments do not need interpretation, yet most of us taint everything we experience with belief systems, identity with our stories, connection with memories and all that we think defines who we are. In fact, none of that is who we are, it is conceptual identity wrapped around a bunch of thoughts and perceptions we have built based on life's experiences. Not based in each moment. Some claim Victim hood - the bad things that have happened TO them, they have no control over their lives, and they tell these stories to anyone who will listen. There are many roles the Ego can play while we remain totally unaware and asleep to its control. What we see in others and react against are actually aspects of ourselves that we keep hidden and choose not to acknowledge based on a belief that we harbor.

When we point a finger at someone, we are actually needing to examine ourselves and exterminate a belief or perception. Awareness comes with realizing that others reflect to us ourselves, in various forms. I am still grappling with that one. A biggie for me is hating when someone is always talking about things they are good at. In asking myself the question, "what part of that is in me and why does it bother me" I realized that the reason I don't like to hear someone else speak positively about themselves goes back to when I was a child and I never felt like what I did was good enough, thereby developing low self esteem and never feeling like I had a right to talk about anything that I can do well, fearing no one would care to listen. So, when I hear someone else talking about themselves, it hit a trigger deep inside for me and the emotion attached to that was a negative one. What I really hated was not listening to the other person, but the fact that I felt I had no right to speak positively about myself. Kinda tricky, huh?

Eckhart urges the human population to begin to notice true Life energy. Sit for a moment and feel, No thinking, just feel the life running through your body. Start with your hands and move through your body, feeling the Power of Life that is within your body. It took me awhile to be able to do this, the mind is always trying to distract...what needs to be done for the day, where we need to go, who we need to talk to, etc, etc....

How do we base future behavior? One moment at a time. Second by second. Letting emotions pass through instead of getting stuck and hung up. It is all just an illusion and the trajectory of Life changes once you can disconnect yourself from your patterns and beliefs and simply just Be. From Love. With Love. In Love.

Anyway, I am still reading this book and will probably read it again once I finish it. It is like having one epiphany after another.