Life has an uncanny way of tossing challenges at us. Sometimes they show up once in a while. At other times they come at us one right after the other. The challenges I’ve faced in recent months felt like they came one after the other: health problems; a sick kitty, home damage during a long, hard winter, relocating my studio several times, surgery, preparing for repairs and painting, and then delayed repairs due to contractor schedules.
As they say “When it rains, it pours.”
Once the haze of frustration lifts and the pissing and moaning ends, I try to reflect on each challenge and understand why the particular situation happened. To be honest, I don’t always find an answer. I don’t know if there is supposed to be one. Sometimes I don’t realize why things happened until well after the challenge has passed.
More often than not, the challenge arises from something beyond my control. And that lack of control over the situation makes it even harder.
One of the hardest things to do as a human is to give up control and to put the situation in another person’s hands, whether that be another human, or Spirit, or Universe, or Source.
For me, one of the other difficulties that I face in these situations is acceptance of the unknown. That is, not knowing why the challenge has appeared and being comfortable with that. I’m sure this is related to the control issue and our natural tendency to seek answers to situations that challenge us.
But do we always have to understand the “why?”
Dealing with challenges is a little easier as I get older. The phrase “There are things we can control and things we can’t” has become a familiar mantra.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m not sure it would be very good if I did. What would be the point of living if we knew all the answers anyways?
Life is up to her old tricks these days, throwing some curve balls into our rather steady day to day activities. I’ve posted several pictures of all the snow we’ve had recently (here and here.) Last week after back to back storms, the snow and ice took its toll on our house and the ice dams went into overdrive.
As we scurried to stop leaks in two rooms, it was decided that I had to drop the temperature in the studio to 55 degrees in order to keep the top of the house as cool as possible. (Guess that means my studio on its own just wasn’t “cool” enough.) It also meant setting up fans in my studio and a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the ice dams that had seeped into the carpet.
After a couple of days of clearing snow and ice and putting ice melt socks on the roof (which fell off anyways), I decided that I was going to have to relocate my studio for the near future. The process of returning the studio to its normal state is going to take some time and I, sadly, cannot work there in its current condition.
My first reaction to this was similar to this picture I made in Photoshop:
A friend told me it looked like a cover for a “screamo” band. Well, if I can’t make my art in my studio, perhaps I have an alternate career as a screamo band face model.
Moving out of my studio has not been easy. The studio is my sanctuary. It has an energy all its own and in there I can lose myself. Now I was faced with deciding what to bring to my new location. Not an easy task when you’re used to having all your art supplies right at your fingertips.
After a bit of avoidance, I relocated to our dining room. Eric helped me set up a small table and my work chair. I decided not to bring down all my polymer clay. Instead, I’ll bring down what I need as I work on each project. That alone will be an interesting challenge. I also brought down my sketchbooks, paintbrush carousel, my sculpting tools, some pastels, and a few other tools. My laptop and a few business items round out my new temporary space.
And here it is:
Pippin my Supervisor
The cats are enjoying my new set up. They like to jump on the dining room table and peer at me over the edge of my laptop. Woody has also enjoyed playing on the rug under the work table. I admit there are advantages to this new location. It is closer to the bathroom and the kitchen!
As I write this, the leaks have stopped and the carpet in the studio is almost dry. Of course another project remains and that is repair and repainting. I’m not sure when I will move back into my studio.
The stress of the ice dams, leaks, and moving my studio has been compounded by my continuing health issues. Plan A, which included a trial on a pill to reset my hormones, has not worked as hoped. Today I had a pelvic MRI, with and without contrast. A pelvic MRI will give an even better look at the fibroids and their location, how many I may really have, and the blood source. Based on the results of the MRI, I am looking at two options, one more favorable than the other. Both of which would bring resolution to the problem.
The MRI itself wasn’t too bad. My first MRI was in 2009 for my back. That was in an older machine and I had to go in head first. For this test, I went to a different location and went into the tube feet first. They placed a foam like grid over my belly/pelvic area. Because I was also having this test done with contrast, an IV was placed in my left arm. When the first procedure was complete, they rolled me out of the MRI tube, hooked up the contrast, I raised my arms over my head, and back in I went. That was the shorter of the two procedures.
I should get the results on Monday and things could move rather quickly after that. I’m making peace with this situation, with my options, and what may lie ahead. It is not easy to give up control over your body and harder still to lay the burden at the hands or feet of something larger than us. I know I am on the road to a solution. Soon a plan will be in place.
Have you ever had one of THOSE weeks? You know the ones where you try to accomplish tasks and the universe has something else in mind? That is what this week feels like to me…I’d like to move forward and the universe would rather give me a wedgie!
After a wonderful weekend spent in the presence of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama and basking in the afterglow, it appears that while I’m moving ahead on small tasks, the universe likes to throw a curve ball into my plans that stops me dead in my tracks.
It has been an interesting week with both of us experiencing muscle pain and discomfort that triggers at inopportune times…at least the timing seems pretty lousy to us. And then there is accompanying stomach bug that has gotten in on the act. Even our youngest cat was sick today.
These events have caused me to pause (both literally and figuratively) and ask myself what is my body trying to tell me? What is the universe trying to tell me?
Now I know this may seem all woo-woo to some people and that is okay. I sometimes think that way myself. Yet on the other hand, I do believe that sometimes our bodies react in certain ways as a means to get us to slow down and to listen. The problem is I don’t always know what to listen for. “What the bloody hell are you trying to tell me?” I want to ask.
I am at age where my body is going through some changes that I don’t necessarily enjoy. You know how it is; there are some things you can control and some things you can’t. So I’m trying to understand and accept this stage in my life. That is one reason why my creativity is so important to me. It is a form of release and during this phase of my life a lot of stuff is coming to the surface.
So what does this have to do with the universe? Well, I believe that much like our bodies tell us to slow down and listen, so does the universe. At first it is subtle, like a gentle tap. Eventually, if you don’t pay attention, you get smacked upside the head (or, in this case, a wedgie.)
I’m trying to pay more attention to my life and my environment. As I’m working on my intention and clearing out more clutter, I received an unexpected consignment check. Life is good and I am grateful. And then I get an email which takes my focus away from where I want to be and where I’m going, and I have to learn to say “no” in a loving way. Time to be decisive and clear.
Several Daily OM horoscopes this week have been eerily timely as have their daily inspiration posts. The same can be said about the daily Course in Miracles podcasts I receive from Marianne Williamson. This is the universe sending subtle signals. Pay attention. Listen. Be open to possibilities.
Follow where your attention goes; Is it in aligned with your intention?
I’ve wanted to write this post for a couple of days. It wasn’t until I saw a line of preschoolers crossing the street while holding onto a rope that I felt inspired because they provided the name of the post. (Yes, sometimes I struggle with writing a post because I can’t come up with a catchy title. That holdover known as my ego expects me to say something profound.)
Anyways, there they were, all bundled in their winter coats, hats, and mittens, being led by an adult who held the rope at the front of the line. Each child held onto the rope with their left hands while walking across the street (in the crosswalk of course) and another adult brought up the rear and held onto the end of the rope.
I wished I’d taken a picture but my position in the line of cars didn’t make a clear shot feasible.
This past week, however, has been like those little preschoolers, escorted, and guarded by adults who guide them along the line of rope. This past week has been challenging as we’ve learned that Eric’s mom must have open heart surgery.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how the universe works in mysterious ways. Eric’s mom had rheumatic fever as a child. So did my dad. Rheumatic fever has a direct impact on the mitral valve in the heart. The mitral valve directs the flow of blood from the left atrium into the left ventricle of the heart. From there blood flows to the aorta and into the body.
My dad had mitral valve replacement surgery twice; once in the late 60’s-early 70’s (I was pretty young and have vague memories of the time line) and again in the late 80’s. And now my mother-in-law is in the same situation. Is it coincidence that Eric and I met, married, and both have one parent with similar medical histories? Is part of this ‘coincidence’ knowing that I’ve been through this situation before and can therefore offer knowledge based on that experience, understanding and emotional support?
And what does this have to do with a bunch of preschoolers holding a rope while they cross the street?
Well, this past week was like trying to hang on to that rope. You put trust in doctors and nurses to guide you in this situation. You remember how your parents were there to guide you and protect you. You watch intentions to stick to a schedule in the studio go flying out the window because making art is the last thing you wanted to do. You try to refocus yourself on paperwork and mundane tasks only to have your thoughts trickle back to the situation at hand.
And then you come to accept that this is the situation. This is the now and you need to be present in order to face it as best as you can.
Once a decision about surgery was made and a schedule in place, we were able to return to some normalcy and it felt quite good to work with clay again. In a couple days we leave to be with Eric’s mom and family. I know my role this time is to offer emotional support; to get food and coffee, tea or soda, to provide a laugh, to say a prayer. I will be following the line of that rope as it guides us through this process.
I don’t expect to be online much next week which means the blog will be quiet during my absence though I may check in on Twitter. Until then.
Okay, maybe that is a bit terse, but after so many months of sharing thoughts on trying to live in the present moment, being positive, getting clear, and all that “woo-woo” stuff, I feel like kicking it all in the pants. And admit it; haven’t you wondered or wanted to do the same thing?
To borrow some worn out words “It is hard work.”
But I didn’t think it was supposed to be “hard work.” I thought it was supposed to be effortless. Aren’t I just supposed to “show up” and let the universe take care of the rest?
Can you tell I’m feeling a bit frustrated?
Actually I do believe that the law of attraction, or aligning yourself with the universe, or opening yourself to the universe or however you wish to describe it, does work. Problem is, it seems to be rather inconsistent. Or maybe I’m just not always “in the moment.”
My current feeling brings to mind an article I read in the March 2008 issue of Shambhala Sun by Brad Warner titled “That’s Not Very Buddhist of You.” In a nutshell, Warner, a Buddhist, discusses the issue of being told that you are doing something that others perceive as “not being very Buddhist.” That when when we don’t live up to someone’s idealized version or image, look out.
And that may be my problem with the Law of Attraction. I have, at times, held this idealized image of what it means to follow the Law of Attraction. That by being positive and upbeat and spreading the good karma and setting intentions and getting clear, I should get whatever I bloody well want.
Warner states “it is of no importance at all to try to live up to some media stereotype of a supposedly ‘typical Buddhist.’ In fact, that’s one of the most self-destructive activities you can engage in. Buddhism must always be grounded in reality.”
And so it is with the Law of Attraction. The reality of the Law of Attraction is that it happens in its own perfect time. It isn’t something you can force, push, or hurry along. When the time is right, it will happen.
The admittedly frustrating part is setting those intentions, being open to intuition, to the universe, getting clear, and nothing. So you keep on doing what you’re doing and waiting a little longer and, nope, not yet.
The universe sure is a big ol’ tease.
Some say that while you’re setting your intentions and getting clear and being open, the universe is aligning behind the scenes. Small things are happening. Perhaps you’re not paying attention to the small things because you’re waiting for the big wham-o. And when the big wham-o doesn’t smack you in the face, you think what is big deal with this?
Yet, if you look back, reassess your day, your week, the past month, you become aware of all the small things that did take place. The universe really did align and it did bring you to where you are today.
As Warner stated in his article “Our intuition never actually fails us, even though we often think that it does. We only fail to hear it over the noise we generate in our heads. We all have this intuition. But we’ve learned how to shout it down with our thoughts and emotions to the extent that it’s sometimes impossible to hear that small, still voice.”
I have sometimes felt that the Law of Attraction has failed me when in reality I have not paid enough attention to the small signs and trusted my intuition. When the negative voice or ego is on a roll, getting “uppity” you might say, I have to shift my thoughts and return to that place of stillness. After all, compassion begins with being compassionate with yourself.
Warner ends his article saying “Our practice will never make us perfect, when perfection is merely an image created by thought. Real perfection is just to keep on practicing.”
And so it is with the Law of Attraction. It is a daily practice to set intentions, to get clear, to be open. Some days I fail and and I have to get clear again. And some days I realize I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
Note: Christine Kane wrote a series earlier this year on the 6 Snarkiest Misconceptions about the Law of Attraction. I’m going to read these posts again. You’ll find misconception #1 here. Links to consecutive posts are at the top.