Category Archives: Inner Critic

The Catalyst epic continues part 5

So, backtracking a tad, now that I knew what was going to happen, that things were moving along and the light was shining brighter at the end of the tunnel, Mike and I enjoyed a nice lunch together. After we finished eating, we just sort of hung out together. It was the first time we could do that. Todd was in Dallas taking care of Gavin. Mike was free and I was lucky enough to have him with me.

Mike looked uncomfortable sitting in the stiff, plastic hospital chair. I moved over and patted the bed next to me.

“Come lay next to me.”

“Can I?”

“Come on. First of all, we’re married. Second, we’re not going to do anything.   Sheez.  We’re just going to lay here.”

Mike grinned, got up and settled in next to me.

No sooner had Mike settled in when the skinny woman to transport me to the cath lab came in my room. What, so soon? I thought.  It was only three o’clock. Maybe this was too fast.

Once I was down in the cath lab, which was immense, I was wheeled in to a large area that was lined with sections that were curtained off. There was a row of curtains on one side and another set on the other. I would say at least five or six per side. It looked like the sleeping area in the Nun’s story if you ever saw that movie. Some curtains were open, some closed. Some had people lying on gurneys, some were empty. Each area had their own set of monitors and equipment. My eyes bugged out thinking about the assembly line of cardiac catheterizations that were performed here. How often? weekly, twice a week, daily?

The skinny gurney woman, more like a girl to me, wheeled me into the very last one on the right side. She backed me in. with out the beep beep, parked me and took off with a wave. Eyes wide I scanned the area. Oh, no, I thought. Oh, no.

I saw a white board on the wall to my right. Welcome to pre-procedure, it said with other pertinent data. A nurse whizzed in introduced herself, did a little prep and then rushed out. I was alone for a while. I think I was the last one of the day because they squeezed me. There was a flurry of activity all around me behind those curtains. Because they were only curtains I could hear some of what was going on in the ones closest to me. In the area across from me, a woman was kind of moaning.

“Her IV is occluded. When can we bring her up,” a nurse, I assumed, said or she said something like that into a phone.

When she hung up she went to the woman. For some reason her curtain was open and I could see all.

“You have to keep your leg still,” she said. Oh boy, I know what that meant. For some reason, they left the sheath in. Well, I guess that kind of thing isn’t unusual.

Next to me, a nurse was talking to a man, I think he was some kind of driver, who brought in a guy from a nursing home. They were discussing where the guy would go after the procedure. Was he going back or would he be admitted?

Once the driver left, the nurse was on the phone. Apparently, the guy’s labs were in and his kidney results were elevated. The procedure needed to be put on hold. She hung up called someone else, “I have to get the driver back. I don’t know where he is,” she said. “The patient needs to go back. They are going to treat him with medication and wait to do the procedure.”

I heard a new comer enter a few curtains down on my side. It sounded like this new one was a male. All the nurses and whoever who was in attendance, busied around him to get him ready. Or that was what it sounded like. I think he was going before me. I heard the sound of a razor. I knew what was going on. They shave you down there before they do the cath. I was shaved at Allen but the nurse here at Dallas freshen it up, just to make sure. Can’t have a stray hair hanging around ready to botch things up.

“I know man, I’m sorry. It has to be done,” A male voice said to the guy who was being shaved.

My eye caught a woman entering a curtained area across from me a few space to my left.

“Hi, Dad,” her voice drifted to me through the curtain. “You’re doing great. I love you. I’ll see you when you get to your room.”

Her dad mumbled something.  The curtain moved and a middle aged blonde woman left.

Wow, I thought. All these people with heart disease. All these professionals, resources, time, money. For what? I didn’t feel worthy of the expense. Even though, obviously, I wasn’t alone. I felt damaged. Like I shouldn’t deserve this treatment because I didn’t take care of myself good enough. I let myself get heart disease. I don’t know if the other the patients felt that way but that was where I went with it.

A guy came in, he looked Hawaiian. His long jet black hair was tied in a pony tail that went down the middle of his back. He was tall and athletic looking.

“Hi, my name is, (insert name here, I don’t remember it). “I am one of the technicians taking care of you today. We will be bringing you back in a bit. Is anyone here with you?”

“Yeah, my husband. He is up in my room. Can he come down here?” I am sure I must have looked distressed because I was feeling stressed.  My eyes wide like a deer in highlights.

“Not a problem, I’ll go get him for you. What’s your room number.”

I told him and he turned on his heel and left. Shortly he was back with Mike in tow. Oh was I glad to see my Mikey.

“Mike,” I said.

Mr. Hawaiian guy left us. I think that guy smokes, I whispered to Mike once Hawaiian guy was gone. “I can smell it on him. How is it that some people can smoke, drink in excess, eat in excess do whatever in excess and yet here I am and there he is looking healthier than health.”

“It’s not your fault, Baby,” he said and patted my arm.

I smiled up at Mike and to change the subject I proceeded to fill him in on all the goings on.

The curtains emptied, the place became cavernous. I, the lone survivor,  with my partner in crime, Mike, was waiting to be picked up. Before long, Mr. Hawaiian came over to do just that. He instructed Mike as to where to wait and off we went.

The cath lab. I remember this cath lab. First, I was not given any Benadryl or Valium to pre sedate me so I was completely aware. And let me tell you it was scary.  The picture below is more or less what I saw.

A Cath lab

I think there should be a part six, hey?  So…

Just in Limbo or I Believe in Myself

Just in Limbo or I Believe in Myself

I open my eyes. Startled I sit up and peer over at the small old-fashioned alarm clock complete with numbers, hands and a built-in light sitting atop Mike’s night table. 6:15. I lay back down. I’m not taking care of my little 2 ½ year old grandson today which means I can write all morning. I moan and bring my hand up to my forehead. I feel groggy. My eyes hurt. I had a restless night tossing and turning. Last night I counted down from ten picturing the numbers in my mind in different colors, first blue then green, hoping to quiet my mind.

At some point I must have succeeded because I eventually feel asleep but I don’t feel refreshed this morning. Sighing I get out of bed and stumble to the computer room to turn on the computer. It takes a while for that sucker to fire up so on my way back to bed I stop and grab my phone off the charger from the living room end table. I unhook it and cradle it in the palm of my hand. I crawl back into bed. I’ll just check my email on my phone, I think, then I won’t have to do that when I go to my computer. Instead I can just sit down and start writing. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I prop up my pillows and nestle my head down. I bring up my HTC android phone and open my Google mail account. I scan through my in-box.

Farmer’s Almanac, Earth Day Special!
Amazon Deals, Pedi/Mani or Haircut deals

Thought for the Day, How to do Exactly What You Want
Ann Elizabeth-Nagle, Ann’s CD Release Concert
Deliberately Delicious, [Jazzminey Crone Chronicles] Comment: “resurging with spring”

I smile when I see the email from Ann and open it first. I read about her up coming CD release concert and I feel joy inside at her hard-earned and hard-won success. Sighing, I close that and stare at the email from Deliberately Delicious. I feel oddly numb.

Last night I just finished reading the memoir Live Through This: a mother’s memoir of runaway daughters and reclaimed love by Debra Gwartney and tossed the book on the floor when I was done. It felt unsatisfying. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I identified with the story about a single woman raising four daughters and the trouble she had with oldest two. I didn’t have four daughters but I understood dealing with out of control teenagers and feeling helpless. I was hoping to understand how things got better for her and her daughters. I didn’t’ get that understanding and was feeling let down.

I started to think of the memoir I am writing and I hope that I am not going to let readers down but how can I not think that I would. It’s not like I am the greatest writer. However, I have been writing on this memoir for over a year. I produced over 100,000 words. At times I felt the writing was going well. At others I felt it was a mess. I paid to have it reviewed. Show don’t tell is what I got. How can you show everything, I thought, the book could go on forever. After being in the dumps about the critique for a week or two, I finally decided to do something about it. I went to Amazon.com and found writing books and ordered four of them.

Showing and Telling: Learn How to Show and When to Tell for Powerful & Balanced Writing by Laurie Alberts,
The Describers Dictionary by David Grambs
The Emotional Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers, and Set Up Your Novel for Success by Jeff Gerke

I also checked out from Pauline Haas Public Library the book:
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: the Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction From Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between by Lee Gutkind.

Some of those books I am reading, some I am using as a reference and some I am doing the exercises in. I think its making a difference. I reworked my memoir making a whole new folder for it called “New Version”. I am making use of more scenes and dialogue. Making it more dynamic.  At least that is what I hope.

But the question still remains and the one that rolled around in my head last night, What’s the point? There are tons of memoirs out there.  Everybody and there mother wrote or is writing a memoir.  Who cares about mine? Why bother? My voice is just one in a sea of voices all clamoring to be heard. I know, I know, I need to focus on the writing and not worry about the end result. It’s just that I am a want-it-now kind of woman so that bit of advice is hard to follow.

And now in my email is a message from Ann. Talented beautiful Ann who struggled with finding a place in her life a midst all her responsibilities for her music. But she did it. She found the time. She found her voice. She got a producer and went to Nashville, cut some tracks. I heard one and the sound is amazing. The message is uplifting. When I talked to her on the phone last night before I finished my book, she told me how Nashville is teeming with singer song writers. She didn’t say she felt like she was just one in the crowd. She just reveled in her experience. So what’s wrong with me.

Sometimes I just want to chuck it all. Wave the white flag and say, Okay, life, you win, I give up. Then I get a comment on my long dormant blog. Someone out there remembers me. Is glad I’m back. It’s bitter-sweet. I am touched by being remembered but I’m not really back. In fact my goal was to pull the plug on my blog. Stop paying for the domain, stop paying for the web service. Just yank the whole thing. Yesterday while I was walking the dogs I thought I better get to it and take care of that blog before it is automatically renewed and taken out of my hands.

Here’s the truth. I haven’t written in my blog because I think I need to be uplifting and inspiring. That is what I said I was to do. Most times, I don’t feel uplifting and inspiring. Far from it. If I try to write something up lifting it would be forced and it would show. I just can’t do it. I am left with nothing to say. I told myself I am not writing because I need to spend the time on my memoir. That’s partly true but not the whole of it. The truth is I am struggling with my choice in choosing to write.

By the way, after I checked my mail from my bed in hopes of saving more time for writing I played mahjong on my phone for at least 45 minutes. The only reason I stopped was because the dogs wanted to go out. Some mornings I am playing for an hour or more. Valuable time I could spend writing but I piss away. It’s not the blog that’s keeping me from writing my memoir its my distractions, my resistance.

And where am I with ditching my blog. In limbo. Just in limbo.

So here is a blog post. It is not uplifting. It is not inspiring. It is just me plugging along. It is just me for some reason writing a blog post. Be it good, bad or indifferent.

And for a bit of uplifting, which I am in dire need of,  here is another one of my photos with a message from myself to myself to help get me through.

IMG_3468

Women Gather, Magic Happens

A CD at Amazon.comWhen women gather magic happens. That’s a bold statement but one that I personally experienced and that I heard voiced this weekend from the women who came to gather at Cedar Valley near West Bend, WI. Once a year for at least 15 years Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak of Way of the Willow put together an opportunity for women to gather. This weekend’s gathering Circling: Walking the Wheel of our Life made use of the medicine wheel (see link below) to look at ways we can be unbalanced in our life.  This weekend had its challenges for sure but over all I had an awakening, an opening up and an allowing of myself to be me, the joking, loving, heart on sleeve, fully present for others, vulnerable me.

The first women gathering weekend I attended a number of years ago, although powerful, was more than challenging, it was rocky and rough. The me I just described would show up in bursts and fill me with shame and humiliation at her antics. When I’m being me, I am wide open, vulnerable. In this state, I can screw up, get carried away and say something that could be misinterpreted and I have no defense, after all I am being who I am, I am being me. And so my reflexive ego saving defenses would kick in and I would clam up, retreat to my room or go for a walk. When sitting down to eat with the other women I would get up and leave as soon as I was done, not allowing myself to sit, be and communicate with the other women. When the weekend was over I would make a hasty retreat, trying to extricate myself as unobtrusively as possible. Worst case scenario, I would leave early, just sneaking away with my tail between my legs.

That was then and like I said this time things were different. For one I’m older and the changes I made with myself through the years although minute at the time have tallied up. So although my growth was imperceptible day-to-day the cumulative effect is substantial. And also,I have been working with Cathy on her e newsletter WillowTalk, and her blog Life. A New Perspective. So, I went to the weekend feeling safe to be myself, to express me.

At one point I did have a melt down. Not an overly dramatic, big, splashy, meltdown. At least I hope it didn’t appear that way. I thought it was more like a silent, quiet, hiding, a need to retreat and cry silently by myself meltdown. My bouncing around feeling like myself caused me to hear myself say, “Oh, my God. What are you doing? You’re so stupid,” in my head. At which point I sat down, covered my head and cried.  Two fantastic, generous, caring women graciously and inconspicuously, or what I felt was inconspicuous, helped me out. This meltdown was silly really but it turned out to be my catalyst for awareness about imbalance in my life.

On Saturday we were to spend time alone either journaling, walking out in nature collecting things for a prayer stick, working in our big meeting room with art materials to create a mandala, resting or whatever we needed or wanted to do to reflect on ways we get out of balance and how to bring ourselves back in balance.

Swinging free at Cedar ValleyI chose to do everything. While walking on the serene grounds at Cedar Valley which has many trails with powerful art objects throughout, a chapel, an outdoor labyrinth, a pond for swimming, horses and goats, I came across a cool swing hanging from a tree. I had my camera with me so jumped on that swing and took my picture. I can see from the picture I took that I am feeling free and myself. Not long ago I wrote a blog about how as a child swinging gave me a sense of freedom

After a quick dip in the pond I went back to the meeting room to assemble my prayer stick and create a mandala. I needed some inspiration for that mandala so I went to the table that had these meditation cards. There was this deck called the Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards. After breathing, centering myself and asking for guidance, I drew a card. It was a Mole! A big part of me wanted to put that card back. What can a mole say to me. I knew that I needed to accept what comes my way so reluctantly opened the book to the description of the mole. I was blown away. I took that book over to the table with the art supplies and copied down what it said inserting my personal interpretations in parenthesis.

This is the point at which to examine your life, detach your interest from the ways of the past (insecurity, guilt, self-loathing) and recreate yourself (Trust, self-confidence, passion, power). You are the guardian of yourself. Come up above the ground into the light (awareness, clarity, consciousness). Live in the present by incorporating your knowledge and vision of past and future (writing). Each new moment is an opportunity to awaken so self (conscious awareness) and burrow deeper into earth goodness (trust, faith, hope). You have the power to heal your life and create your life anew in any moment. Listen to the messages you receive from above (higher self) guiding you to the whole healing of your body, mind and soul (integration).

Then I made a mandala with the picture of the mole in the middle.

mole mandala

What I learned was that I can get out of balance when I am being my spontaneous, open self and unconscious memories from the past can cause negative self talk and throw me off. Instead of getting lost in those past emotions and thoughts, I can become aware of what is happening and get back to trust and faith. I need not punish myself when I get out of balance. It is part of life. Instead I can face and accept my imbalance and strive for balance.

I came away with three reminders to help me do this. My prayer stick, my mandala where I copied the meditation from the book and the little card Cathy and Dawn gave us to fill out as reminders about what we learned.

I face Southwest. I strive for balance in Trust, Clarity, Intuition, Passion and Power with my creative unique writing with the help of Great Spirit.

I am not the only woman to reap such benefits from that weekend. Each woman in turn filled out their card with their own message. Each woman was awed by the magic that happens when women gather. I would highly recommend that women gather to help bring themselves into balance which in turn can help balance the energies on this planet.

Related links:
Wikipedia’s article on the medicine wheel.
Bighorn Wyoming’s medicine wheel
Circle of Women music CD

Listen to the Cherokee Morning song by  Walela.  An uplifting song that we heard this weekend during of our retreat.

A Life of Passion

Judy Garland while at MGM StudioJudy Garland lived a life of passion; she lived her passion, her passion for singing and performing. I recently saw About Judy Garland: By Myself an episode on PBS series American Masters. I sat sprawled on our brown sofa transfixed as Garland’s life unfolded on our 52 inch LCD screen. Her life stayed with me as I went about the next couple of days living my life. It was infectious the way she lived her life of passion. This passion was evident in her whole being when she sang. I always loved Judy Garland’s movies, not just the Wizard of Oz, but all of them however, watching this biography of Judy made me realize why she resonated with me so.

Watching her I felt a yearning in my heart. “I want to live a life of passion. I want to be able to express myself uninhibited,” I felt it whisper to me. Yes, Judy was terrified of going on stage. She was terrified of being found out, as she put it. But once she was performing, once the music enveloped her, once she started singing, once she let herself go with her passion, I believe she was living her life on purpose.  Watch this video and see for yourself.

Judy Garland believed her motive behind her drive to perform was because she wanted to please people. She wanted the audience to love her. Yes, that seems like she was trying to fill a hole probably from childhood. This may not be the most healthy way to live and in the end, it did kill her. However, I believe that part of her appeal to audiences is the vicariously living a life of passion thorough her. I know that is what I ache for, the giving of myself so freely to that which moves me, my passion. Living a life of passion. Judy is an inspiration to be sure.

It is clear to me that taking risks, putting myself on the line, being prepared to get messy and forging ahead in spite of the fear that tries to squelch any passion is the key to a passionate life which is equal to living your life on purpose. I saw this in Judy Garland as those close to her confided about her extreme stage freight and how she threw herself into a song or a role she was playing.

My life purpose, according to my LifePrints analysis, is to express myself creatively. I would not be surprised if Judy Garland’s LifePrints revealed her purpose to be one of artistic expression with her own unique creative style. Not that I think I am in the same league with Judy Garland, no matter how much I wish it were so, but she is a powerful role model for me.

What I need to do, what I want to do when I am writing which is the medium I choose with which to express myself creatively, is to come from my heart and not allow my inner critic to suppress what comes. Emily Hanlon says, in her course Creative Success that you have to be willing to get messy, to get your hands dirty.  You have to be willing to be wet and juicy. Judy does just that in her performances. That is what gives me the chills when I watch her.

Judy found her passion but it was born out of desperation. I believe a life of passion can be found through awareness and intention. By shinning conscious awareness on areas of my life that are blocking my flow of creative energy which for me is usually fear, fear of making a fool, fear of doing it wrong, fear of doing it right, fear of being seen, fear of not being seen, fear of making myself vulnerable. By being aware that these are my blocks, I can consciously release them through my intention and step out on that ledge and free fall to my life of passion just like Judy Garland

Added links
A biography of Judy Garland
A workbook for 12 weeks to a more passionate life.

Foolishness means Aliveness

Risk being foolish

Mike and I and another couple went to the Milwaukee Rep. Getting out of the car I felt an excitement at seeing this show. The Stackner Cabaret has intimate setting with 31 tables for eating and drinking and no orders taken during the show. The point is the show but the food is excellent.

We sat down at our table which was raised up along the side. We had a clear view of the stage and the performance but then everybody did. The lights dimmed. The band played and the show began.

Always…Patsy Cline is based on a true story about Cline’s life as told though the eyes of one fan, Louise Seger. The angle of the story being told from the Louise’s point of view brought an added depth to the singer’s life. Louise’s love for Patsy Cline’s music, her voice and singing was contagious. At one point in the story Louise said that Pasty Cline sang the way she always wanted to. Patsy Cline was her hero, her role model, her muse, her joy, her love, her dream, her wish, her passion.

Louise met Patsy Cline when the singer was to do a show at the Esquire Ballroom in TX. Louise wasted no time getting some friends together and to see her idol perform. Louise’s group was the first to arrive so they would be assured a table. While enjoying her beer, Louise saw a girl looking the place over eventually taking a seat three tables over from her. Louise was bursting with excitement when she realized the girl was Patsy Cline. Unable to sit still any longer Louise got up to go and say Hi to Patsy Cline.

“Louise, don’t be foolish,” one of her friends said.

Louise looked back at her friends and said, “Foolish I am and foolish I will always be.”

I loved that line. That line lit the whole story up for me. I paid attention to the show with renewed excitement.

Negative self talk can run through my head whenever I want to do something that requires stepping out of my comfort zone, doing something I love, something important to me where I will be out there or doing something that would bring me joy and probably get me noticed. I would hear, “Don’t be foolish.” “You’re going to make a fool of yourself.” in my head and stop dead in my tracks.

Wrestling with this negative self talk I realized that doing whatever would make me foolish was actually the thing that would bring me the most joy. One day I said to Mike, “You know making a fool of myself is really being alive.”

At once I made an affirmation. “To Make a Fool of oneself means to truly be Alive.” I put it on business cards to carry around with me. I wanted to remember that every time I am stopped by the words, “Don’t make a fool” that instead I am being shown something that will surely bring me great joy.

That is what happened for Louise. Being foolish and walking up to Patsy Cline was the start of a beautiful friendship for the both of them. Something that would not have happened if Louise was not afraid of being foolish.

I found that I am not the only one who thinks being foolish is a good thing. There is a quote by Theodore Rubin a psychiatrist and author of many books both fiction and nonfiction that is all over the Internet.

I must learn to love the fool in me, the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.

And while at Theodore Isaac Rubin Quotes page on SearchQuotes.com I found another quote by Dr. Rubin that is in a similar vein.

Have you considered that if you don’t make waves, nobody including yourself will know that you are alive?

That is it for me, what I want to remember when I am about to embark on a foolish endeavor, that I am about to step out into aliveness.