Facebook Love

Am still using the Flash! book by John Dufresne for ideas to spark flash fiction. This morning I had not one idea. My mind was a blank slate. I read on in Dufresne until I found a prompt that interested me. Two people talking to each other, both having totally different conversations. That got my fingers typing…

***

“It was just one of those Facebook things,” I tell my husband, knowing my excuse is lame and too late.

He doesn’t use Facebook, thinks it’s a waste of time. I can tell you this about the man I married: he doesn’t hardly like to talk to me, so why would he want to talk to almost everyone he’s ever known?

“You always do that,” he says.

“What?”

“I’m talking about our future and you bring up the past. That’s your problem.”

But I didn’t bring it up. He picked up my phone when it pinged and read my private messages and saw what he saw. Pictures, old ones, from when my Facebook love and I dated in high school. It was more than pictures, it was the whole crazy thing of me thinking I was not in love with my husband but with a guy I hadn’t seen in forty years.

“There will be penalties if we draw from the 401K now,” he says.

“We were in love once. A long time ago.” As I say it, I realize I could be talking about my husband or the Facebook guy or any number of men I had loved. Too many, too often, to ill effect. Is love like that for everyone? Is anybody happy?

“On the other hand, Florida has no state tax.”

We are sitting at the table in the dining room. There’s a whirring sound as pages spit from the printer in the corner.  “We’re gonna need a new file,” he says.

I pick up the pages. The history of  Facebook friend’s messages from first to last.  Here’s one from the middle: It feels so good to finally say I love you and mean it. The pages pile up even though we have not communicated in months. Today his text is brief. You okay?

I’m not sure but it seems I am supposed to add these little love notes to our files of financial information. Unlike the shiny clean sheets in the printer, each page of our financial history has been worn thin by many readings.

I like to buy pretty new file folders for the old abused papers. There are white ones with little gold stars, pink ones with gold hearts, pink and gold striped ones. I put the texts from my Facebook love in one of the gold heart files.

I don’t touch the other papers. I’m not a finance person, but I know that on paper we have wealth, just the wrong kind. The kind that can disappear overnight.

“I just, I don’t know, it was like I went crazy for a minute. Like I was sixteen again.” I was over it, whatever it had been, because I’d spent the last few months in bed in a sugar coma. “I’ll never be over it.”

“If we use the Roth IRA’s first, that should see us through until social security kicks in.” Also on the table: his busy calculator.

“Did you ever think that when we got old we’d still care about things like love?”

“I think we’re done here,” he said, gathering the remaining papers and putting them in their proper files. “What’s for dinner?”

 

Send Love, Let Go

Today is my youngest son’s birthday. He’s got a son of his own now:) As I constantly bemoan, they live two thousand miles away. It feels very far on special days. Every day, if I’m honest. Friends who have their children and grandchildren close wonder how I cope. Well, one day at a time. One hour at a time.

I can be a bit obsessive in my thinking, ruminating to no avail except my own misery. Now misery gets my attention. I always want to fix that right away as I far prefer being happy or at least content. So I came up with a plan out of desperation and find it serves me well where my sons are concerned and in many other situations that strike me as sad or unmanageable or out of my control.

Which is, you know, almost everything.

So what I do when I have a thought like “I miss Tim” is I try to stop the flow right there at the first thought and not dwell on it. I stop and let myself miss him a minute and then I send love and let go. I let go of the thought of missing him, I don’t let go of the fact that he is my child and will forever be cemented in my heart right next to his brother.

Some days I have to do this “send love, let go” hundreds of times. When I think of somebody who upset me. When I think of a bit of work I have to do that I wish I had not let myself get talked into. When I have a chore that must be done and I’d rather read. When I remember a long-held grudge. When I miss someone. This “send love, let go” can even work on myself. I can have compassion for myself and send myself some love and let go of the anxiety or the boredom or whatever the drama it is I’m creating in my mind.

I did it with the guy I used to be in my last life. Maybe you remember the post about my recent past-life regression in which I attempted to uncover events that led to a couple of phobias I carried into this life quite by accident.

My past life, according to the psychic, was in the 1920s in Buckinghamshire, England. I was a 25 year old man with a house in London, quite well-to-do, with a wife and two children. I was horseback riding and was suddenly thrown from my horse (phobia of heights) this causes paralysis (claustrophobia) and eventual death. Knowing these facts about the guy I named Joe (just because he seemed like a Joe to me when I thought about how his life was so tragically cut short) is supposed to be all I need in order to move forward without phobia. I have not been able to test these phobic reactions of mine yet to see if they are indeed gone but I certainly hope they are.

I feel like they are, because I sent Joe love, and then I let go.

Happiness & Gratitude

If you’re looking to boost your personal happiness by 40 percent, this series of posts, taken from tips researched at UC Berkeley, just might do the trick. I’m only on #4, gratitude, but have already noticed a general uptick in my mood. Gratitude is a habit that can only help. Begin every day with a big thank you list, maybe even before you open your eyes. I’ve been taking note of gratitude for many years, and one thing I’ve figured out is that the less happy you feel on any particular day, the more you need to find something to be grateful for.

What we are grateful for is such an individual thing, so personal, But it’s universal, too. We in the USA have a couple of precious things to be grateful for this week. Our courts have saved Obamacare (again) and made marriage legal for everybody. Decent health coverage and the right to love. Most of us are grateful our corner of the world is changing in positive ways.

So thanks America, because frankly, I have not been feeling super-grateful these days. It’s been tough going with the knee and the shingles and the pain and the crutches. Yet somehow gratitude wedged in to every corner of my despair, making space for happy. Maybe because I have permission to walk in the world again (without crutches) come July 1. That’s only a couple of days from now. Then a few days after that my Seattle family is coming to visit. See heart overflow with gratitude like a geyser.

The highly individual thing I’m really grateful for this week is the current book-in-progress. I wasn’t sure until yesterday I could manage what I wanted to do. Change setting. Change genre. Change tone. Change a character who has been with me for a few books now. Huge ask but I wanted to do it, really had that on fire desire to create this new thing that has been in my head for over a year now, have been aching to start the new story but the thing was just not flowing.

The problem was Paxton, an important character who would not let me in. Not even an inch. I thought, I stewed, I brainstormed. I simmered, I researched, I assembled a collage. Finally got a big hit of that feeling I’m chasing. The collage is pretty. I can’t stop looking at it. It makes me feel so good and this is even before words:) Somehow pictures help me draw out the words. It’s a mysterious process. I look through dozens of magazines and tear out imagines that call my name. I don’t know why a watch from Shinola called my name, but it did and into the stack of images it went.

I’m so grateful to that collage because yesterday I wrote pages and pages and felt that on fire inspired feeling that is the true reason I write. For me, it’s all in the process. Cracking Paxton’s code. Now I think I can write this book. Another good feeling. Happy, part four.

The fifth happiness booster on the list is Keep Friends Close which has not been a thing I’ve been doing lately. When I’m in pain, I isolate. So…the pain is leaving (thanks and goodbye!) and the peeps are gonna be hearing from me in the next couple of weeks. A lot.

Old Dog, New Trick

This new thing I am exploring is not really a trick. And I’m not a dog. But I’m 60 years old, so I’ve been on the planet for awhile. Anyone under, say, 40, might think by 60 we have it all figured out. Especially someone like me who has been working on “figuring it all out” for more than half my life. I always want to make my life better. I want better relationships, I want not to be sad, I want success, I want a happy family. I want to be happy inside and out.

Tall order. I’ve walked many paths that promised happiness through my years. I tried giving myself over to God, to Buddha, to yoga, to meditation, to dream analysis, to various therapies both old style and new age. It all helped, for awhile. But I tend to feel judged in or about all these things. Judgmental people freak me out bad. It does not feel good to be observed and found wanting. Found ridiculous, stupid, selfish.

So the judging and the feelings…who exactly does all that? Nobody in particular. Sometimes some person or other will make a veiled remark I expand into a harsh criticism. But the judgement is almost always from myself and I then project that others will see me as ridiculous or stupid or egotistical or selfish or simply lacking in some fundamental way.  It never works the other way. I never project that people think I’m great, awesome, smart, creative, got it all together, am amazing.

Sometimes other people give me extravagant compliments. That feels good and I believe them. I don’t go around all the time putting myself down and being negative. It’s just not in my essential nature. But I do ride the waves of feelings that come at me from so many directions and I take stuff from “out there” in the world very much to heart. I take everything personally, even though I know, deep inside, that people rarely give my opinions and antics as much thought as I give to what they think about me. Truth is, others are most likely not thinking much about me, as they are too busy ruminating about what everybody else thinks of them.

I tend to overthink stuff. I spin scenarios out of a few words or a single sentence. It’s crazy to live this way and luckily I am not always in this mode. I’ve worked hard to gain a measure of peace, clarity and positive feelings. This is sometimes difficult for me to maintain when I come up against a tough situation or a maddening person. I have an exacting nature. I expect other people to behave with at least as much compassion and courtesy as I am able to muster. This does not always happen and my compassion bar is set pretty low. I’m better at courtesy Mostly, courtesy is simply a matter of biting my tongue:)

kuan yin
Kuan Yin Goddess of Compassion

I’d like to be a more compassionate person and for the past year I’ve been meditating on that every day. The compassionate mediation comes from Buddhist thought, and it starts with the self. Many people are hardest on themselves. Nobody can beat you up like that little voice in your head saying you have missed the mark, you are not good enough, you are … fill in the nasty blank.

It’s exhausting, mentally beating myself up. Part of this comes innocently: I am writer who wants to be a better writer. I am not naturally gifted in this area. I have a little talent and a lot of grit. I just don’t give up and I put in the hours and I have improved over the years. One way to do this is to listen to constructive criticism. It is like second nature now, although taking critique without devastation was difficult at first. And while I still take editorial input seriously and work on assimilating the stuff that makes sense to me, I should not take this function of “assimilating criticism” any further than my writing world.

I love the feeling of writing. The process of creating something beautiful. That’s key for me. Of course I want to shape it and make it meaningful for other people too, but the main thing is that feeling I get in process as I spin a world built of words into being. Some people are burned out by the word “creative” but that’s how I love feeling. Creating through words is essential to my soul. For me, it’s a core desire. Loving is another core desire. I want to feel love for my friends and family, for all of them, not just the ones who are easy to love, but the ones who are a little harder to hold close to my heart, too.

Here’s the new trick, it’s from a book called The Desire Map by Danille LaPorte, which is not really a trick, but a new way to live life: you start with how you want to feel and base all your decisions on what you know will keep those feelings alive. I don’t know much about how to do this, but I am taking a workshop soon to learn how to live from my desired feelings instead reacting to feelings that originate outside myself and I then  project onto myself.

I will be posting more on my latest, and already very helpful, inner transformation as I continue the journey. Namaste.