Unlearning to Walk

 

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January 28, 2018

“Be careful.”

“Look both ways”

“Watch the traffic”

How many times as a child, hand held tightly by my older more traveled caregivers, had I heard those cautionary words uttered.

Now, 50 some odd years later, as I walked purposefully from point A to point B, I followed all of those instructions especially making sure to always keep my eye on the traffic. until…my aha moment. Why was I watching the traffic? Why was I watching the streets, the cars passing back and forth, so intently when I was walking down the sidewalk with no streets to cross or no street signs to take notice of as I walked? A street I’d been down a hundred times before. Then that phrase, “Watch the traffic.” came into my head and over the years I had conditioned myself to literally watch the traffic. So I gave my head the proverbial shake, slowed my pace and looked away from traffic trusting that the vehicles careening down the street would stay on the streets and not barrel up onto the sidewalk that I, now, walked down carefree and easy. It was a beautiful spring day. The mid-day sun was warm and soothing. Funny I hadn’t much noticed this before this point. As I turned my head I saw a beautiful little patch of garden. Tulips and daffodils and hyacinth in brilliant colours. The soil around it was damp from a fresh water. I noticed the neatly tailored lawns of the houses and how the landscaping accentuated aspects of the properties. Then I spied the trunk of a cherry tree and followed it up to the fluffy pink blossoms dancing at the end of the branches. I never realized what I beautiful neighborhood I lived in before. I walked on right past my own apartment simply drinking in the beauty and the freshness and the exhilarating feeling I was getting from just walking. It dawned on me why I had never enjoyed walking before. My lesson of unlearning, “Watch the traffic,” had actually taught me a lesson. To walk in a way I had never walked before. A new and exciting way. A way that I will enjoy hopefully for many years to come. So I know it’s been said many times different ways but if you’re a pedestrian DON’T JUST WATCH THE TRAFFIC. Stop and admire the cherry blossoms dancing on the end of the branches.

Erin Phelan Fletcher

 

~ “You can always give something, even if it is only kindness” ~ Anne Frank

Blossom

 

January 23, 2018

Spring is my magic time of year. It is awakenings and rebirths and with every purple crocus cresting from the moistened earth I see hope and promise. And then there is the red breasted Robin who sings before the first glimpse of dawn, a portend that the sun will soon rise to warm the chill off the early days of spring and to remind me to have faith, for the Robin does not see the light yet chirps its happy tune in expectation and from a place of all knowing. Something I gleaned from a quote by the beautiful and great Nobel Prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore.

So is spring to me, fresh and new and budding with opportunity so when the days get longer and the thermometer’s climb I start to feel an inkling of sadness as that freshness and newness is passing too quickly and along with its passing I can’t help but have fleeting moments of the feeling of loss.

It was on such a day that I was standing outside my apartment in my little city by the sea. I had forgotten my keys and was waiting for someone to drop the spare set off. I wasn’t really sure whom it was going to be as my husband had arranged it from where he was at work. While wiling away the minutes, eyes fixed on the book I was reading at the time, I heard a gentle little honk of a car horn. As I looked up my father-in-law was stepping out of his red beat up jalopy, that impish grin on his face and a friendly glint in his eye. My father-in-law and I had a comfortable enough relationship but neither of us were big talkers. He did know though, as interested parents do, about my life before meeting and marrying his step-son and I felt he was always a little protective of me. I had always thought of him as a magic man because he had a mystical air about him but I didn’t know until a few minutes later the exact nature of his magic. I rose from where I had been sitting on the front steps of the condo and we met half way and it just so happened that we ended up standing just underneath a Japanese cherry tree. These were abundant in my neighbourhood and lined the streets up and down on both sides, their blossoms like delicate flossy puffs along the branches.

We chatted for a minute or two and I guess he could tell by my demeanor that I was a little dejected. I thought that he might have remembered my feelings about spring and that the reason I was feeling a bit down was that spring was coming to a close but you see, it wasn’t only the end of Spring that was on my mind but I was suffering from one of my terrible depressions and “the end” of everything was on my mind.

We stood under the cherry tree in awkward silence until Nelson broke it by clearing his throat which made me look up and as I glanced at his face my gaze rested on his eyes which were both smiling and dancing and then he spoke, “Want to see something really neat?” he asked. Not waiting for an answer my sixty-something father-in-law scrambled up into the cherry tree, limb over limb, and when he reached the centre he looked down at me like a precocious six year old. “Look up and keep looking up and don’t close your eyes.” he instructed. I did what I was told and Nelson started shaking the branches and suddenly I was in the midst of an elegant shower of beautiful, baby pink petals. They fluttered all around catching in my hair and landing gently on my clothing. I grinned at first and then broke out into a huge smile and finally I was giggling and laughing like a little school girl. I started to twist and spin as I looked up and Nelson was laughing with me. It was magic. I felt exhilarated and refreshed as if my darkened spirit had been bathed in that beautiful shower of spontaneity, sweetness and joy. That day I was able to capture a glimpse of the innocence of childhood I never really knew and I believe that gift of love and light was sent to me through my father-in-law by the Divine. It has helped me realize how the simplest things can have huge impacts and to not take for granted the beauty of the world around me. I smile even more now when spring rolls around and the cherry blossoms start to bloom on the trees, in fact I smile more period because someone took the time to help bring back my smile and now I do the same for others when I can. If that message had been lost on me that day the experience would have still been wonderful but to be able to pass it on, that is the beauty of the gift I received that day, my ability to give and to do so without expectation or condition and purely for the joy it brings others. Inversely it brings joy to me and I am the one who benefits the most when all is said and done.

Erin Phelan Fletcher

~ “You can always give something, even if it is only kindness” ~ Anne Frank

What matters most is how we see ourselves: breaking free of social anxiety.

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January 23, 2017

While doing my morning meditations the other morning I came across this in one of my readings,

“Thomas J. De Long, a professor at Harvard Business School, has noted a disturbing trend among his students and colleagues—a  “comparison obsession.” He writes: “More so than ever before, . . . business executives, Wall Street analysts, lawyers, doctors, and other professionals are obsessed with comparing their own achievements against those of others. . . . This is bad for individuals and bad for companies. When you define success based on external rather than internal criteria, you diminish your satisfaction and commitment.”

It brought to mind an experience I had about a month ago while trying to deal with my own feelings of inadequacy and while meditating on it I came to the conclusion that it was all about ego and a belief that others are as consumed by our opinions of ourselves as we are when really we are not the centre of the universe let alone theirs and how by comparing ourselves to others we are giving them all of our power. Given the right/wrong circumstances with a glance someone can make us or break us. If we assume what others are thinking our minds will run a whole gamut of what they are thinking of us and how this will impact our world. I came to the realization then that in reality the only one who we need to be concerning ourselves with as far as opinions of ourselves is ourselves. What matters most is how we see ourselves. We need to empower ourselves with a good, no great, sense of self by learning new skills and beliefs about ourselves.

I know for myself I was raised in an environment that was very dis-empowering and my self-worth and self-compassion was very lacking. When I had the good fortune to be enlightened to this fact, and yes I say good fortune because once we have the awareness we have the choice to make the changes we need or want to if we are to thrive in this world we are inhabiting at this time.

Thinking further on the state of things right now in our world especially in North America and remembering the quote I opened this musing with I pondered the point of the anxiety epidemic in North America. I see all this “comparison obsession” as it relates to anxiety, performance anxiety. I have suffered from “social anxiety” all my life or at least that is what I thought I was suffering from when I was in social situations. I would become very uncomfortable, extremely shy and hardly spoke a word. Now I am wondering if it was really performance anxiety, comparing myself to others and fear of not “measuring up” that has caused the anxiety. I am actually a very social being. I quite enjoy social occasions, interactions, entertaining, etc., now that is. Now that I’ve gotten over myself. Now that I no longer seek or need the approval of another to know that I am okay. Was it really social anxiety or the pressure I put on myself to ‘perform’, thinking all eyes were on me(EGO).

As far as I am concerned as long as I am living an honourable life, spending time to prepare each day to meet the day so as to achieve this, engaging life and continuing to empower myself then I feel secure within myself and my “social anxiety” has all but disappeared. This has been a tremendous break through for me as I was literally paralyzed by my anxieties before sometimes literally sitting frozen in the corner of my couch for hours. Today if I feel a seed of doubt creeping in I do something pro-active rather then react. I pick up the phone and call a friend or someone who may be going through difficulties to get out of my own way. I go for a walk and while I’m out there I engage with people and look them in the eye and say “Hi”. I enjoy a stroll along the local beach and use mindfulness to stay present and really take in the beauty around me. I am grateful today for the experience of severe anxiety because I am able to really appreciate the total inverse of it and today I am so relieved to be able to live happy, joyous and free.

Erin Phelan Fletcher

 

“Off into the woods I go, to loose my mind and find my soul.”

cropped-tunnel-of-dreams.jpgAs a writer and seeker and Intuit and deep thinker whom most humbly believes she has a story or two that needs to be told steps into this first blog piece here at Word Press I start out with a title that is a bit of a misnomer. I however take artistic license when I say “off into the woods I go” for the woods, in this case, were actually hidden behind a wooden door and exists right in my the very suite I live in and instead of stands of living trees when I walked into that “woods” I was surrounded by the by-product of trees. I did loose my mind, or parts of it, on this journey I am about to expound on, and also more importantly and gratefully I have found, once again, my soul.

January 14, 2018

It all began in a kind of paradoxical way, both mundanely and unexpectedly.

I needed, to pack up Christmas for 2017, that is put away my, “almost real” 3” tree, my decorations and this years memories, etc. into my storage closet. At the same time my sister inquired if she could store some boxes and things there so it needed to be organized and cleaned out to make the best use of the space. I assumed this was going to be a very boring and laborious job and wasn’t looking forward to it but one should never make assumptions…

…as life would have it this was a catalyst for an unusual and significant turn of events in my journey through this universe. One of re-discovery of self and of finding some happiness and yes, even an authentic, true, for real love of myself.

I’ll explain; my storage closet, which is quite big, some might even claim it to be a small den, holds quite a lot of boxes, suitcases, toolbox, games etc. I set out upon what I assumed would be the tedious task and rolled up my sleeves and just dove in; grabbing one box I hauled it out and started purveying the contents. Bric-a-brac and odds and sods. Some nice decorative pieces I had forgotten about, photograph’s and pictures. I tried to be organized about the whole culling process setting about piles of I imagined to be labelled one of three, “Keep”, “Give Away” and “Garbage”, or more politically correct, “Recycling”. So it went from box to box finding much of the same in each box but what I hadn’t expected was the flood of memories, both good and bad, and emotions and wave upon wave, like the swelling ocean, of feelings that I experienced at the beginning of this journey.

Finding gifts given by loved ones and especially those that had been hand crafted brought such joy and an appreciation that I don’t think I had felt the day I had received the gift oh so many years ago. Cards and letters both written to me and from me and a folder full of certificates and awards I’d received over the years for the many varied courses or programmes I had taken. Successes! Even the little knickknacks, a lot that ended up in the ‘recycling’ pile tugged at my heart-strings. Really the only sad memories where when I came across things from or about Mom, how I miss her still, and also pictures from very early childhood. There would be a forlorn feeling, a lonesomeness as I looked into the face of a young blonde haired little girl I did not know or could not connect to on any level except sadness. But I didn’t allow myself to get stuck in that feeling. It wasn’t new to me, I had talked about this part of me and my childhood with many people and it is something that I think I have just come to an acceptance and understanding about. I wasn’t going to allow myself to fall into a victim role that night as I had so many other emotions to explore and besides, I knew that the little girl in the picture’s story is being written as we speak and so far it’s shaping up to be not too shabby because like I alluded to earlier, that night I started on an awesome journey to self-love.

Getting back to organizing the boxes; I was really into the photo’s now but not in the way I really wanted to because I have hundreds of hard-copy photographs and that was a project for another day. There were however a few that kind of just stuck out and begged to be looked at and one that caught my eye was one of a young woman who looked to be in her early twenties. She was obviously hamming it up for the camera. She had, what I can only describe as a “really bonkers” expression on her face and as I sat there in my living room on a quiet night in January I broke out into a howl of laughter. Gut splitting, eyes watering laughter. Just me, myself, I and the young woman in the photo who seemed to exude an ambience of self-sureness, a sense of humour, a zest for life and she seemed to have the world by the tail. Yup! That was me all right! 32 years ago, clean and serene, about to become pregnant with my daughter Anna and living the dream and as I glanced at that picture over the next several days I realized she is still alive and well inside of me and I love that side of me. That is the side I want to nourish and nurture and that is the authentic me. I feel that young woman, like a sprouting shoot, in the very core of my being. I feel the fresh, cool, green little shoot reaching up and out and it is sweet and pure and clean and I want to commit to her that I will do her no harm. I will not jeopardize her health, mentally, emotionally, spiritually or physically in any way.

I have been given so many gifts in my life, gifts I wouldn’t have been given if the road I had been given to travel had been an easier one…my experience with childhood trauma and sexual abuse, sexual abuse at the hands of a school teacher, rape at age 14, having to abort a child, giving another child up for adoption, a diagnoses at age 19 of several different mental illnesses including schizo-effective disorder, heavy addiction issues starting with alcohol at age 12, with a brief ten-year reprieve in my early 20’s but ending just in the recent past with addiction to crack cocaine, not to mention the two different types of breast cancer’s I’ve survived and various debilitating physical ailments…yes, believe it or not as a direct result of this road I’ve walked I’ve been given many gifts. Many caring, loving people along that road at various times to give me tools so I could lay that path straight and 12 stepping-stones to make traversing it easier and more tools and ropes to climb the mountains. Some roads where never meant to be straight though and if they had been, synchronicity would not have worked its magic in my life the way it has so many times.

Before I go on though I must say however strongly I do believe in synchronicity and the such I believe also in Divine intervention which has been with me all the way along my travels from as far back as I can remember. I truly believe I would have surely not survived mortally without such an influence and everything else, the gifts I’ve been given, the people placed in my life, the timing of things, all the synchronicity, would not exist without this Divine presence.. I do not claim to know the source of this Divine intervention or Divine Being. I do not claim to know who, what, when, where, why or how. I am not meant to know. I believe no one really is meant to or else we would know beyond any reasonable doubt “The Truth”and so many of the Universes varied spiritual and mystical mysteries would be unified into one True Collective by now. I do know though that I humbly seek the Divine and it’s in the seeking that the knowledge we do need to know is revealed. It is a lifetime of seeking and at the end of this life who then really knows…I can’t wait to find out but I don’t plan on expediting my exit from this lifetime with the reckless manner that I have chosen in the past.

I shall get back to synchronicity and how I believe it is all part of the grand plan and has proven to be in so many areas of my life. I could write two or more pages just on that but for the for now I’ll just explain it as it relates to this situation. I was meant to find that picture of “Bonkers Me” at just this time in my life. I needed to. I was losing myself while trying to find my sister. She is here physically but emotionally and mentally and spiritually she was in the dark and lost. My good intentions was to bring her into the light again and what I hadn’t realized was my light was just a small flicker and with the energy it was taking dealing with my sister I was afraid it was soon going to extinguish. Then you see, I believe that what goes around comes around and because I have been trying to give back, in my own way, what has been given to me to Shawneen whom I love, admire and respect very deeply and because this dear person needed to borrow some space in my storage closet I had to clear it out, hence finding the photograph and my journey back to my core. That little sapling that got lost so long ago, my free-spirited self has been brought out of the dark and into the light again and I will give her the nourishment she needs to continue her regrowth. I’ll have to keep her clear of the weeds and little stones and tend her carefully so she will not wilt or whither again and I can do this. The chain of synchronicity goes on because now as a result of my finding my authentic self-love my sister has told me my light and positive influence is affecting her and it is very evident to me as well. But like I think I’ve tried to convey I can maybe take a little credit for good intentions but so many factors have played out in this great and wonderful journey of late.

A couple of final notes; I heard this quote the other day and it has stuck with me:“A mistake made twice is a choice.” This time I know that I will not repeat my past mistakes.

Last but certainly not least today I choose life..pure, clean and serene, simple, healthful, joyful, spirit-full, life.

Erin Patricia Phelan Fletcher

Bonkers Me