Fear, Resistance, Distractions, Oh NO!


This is reblogged from my art website at http://www.sfago.com

Sharon Abbott-Furze www.sfago.com

Sharon Abbott-Furze
http://www.sfago.com

I know about resistance…exercise for starters.  For health reasons, me, who avoided walking like the plague, was told it was the best exercise for my medical situation so I plunged into it.  I like purposeful exercise – a game of racquetball, golf, rowing a boat… but walking was what worked so…since I am also determined, I put my earphones on, clicked on one of my  audiobooks and started walking.  My life and health were at stake.  In no time at all, I overcame resistance and now, a couple of years later, I really  look forward to a long walk – an hour or so – and miss it when I don’t manage my time. I never would have believed it.  Resistance was powerful for the first couple of weeks tho.

Apply this discipline to my art – to finishing a painting.  I have seven that are in various stages of “getting there”, most about an hour from completion and have been waiting patiently for almost 2 years.   They need final little touches, one or two minor things that bother me.  I set them aside and go on to a new one.  It’s a definite pattern of mine – and a big old struggle.

I needed to travel earlier this week and was on the road for about 6 hours each way.  I really enjoy the time to myself, and part of that enjoyment is listening to my favorite audiobooks.  On this trip, I decided on “War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. I haven’t listened to it in several months – and I need it right now.  I’d recommend it to anyone – you don’t need to be an artist.  Resistance rears it’s ugly head in many parts of my life and in many forms.  Maybe yours too?

As I listened to it – on the way “there” and again on the way home, I heard things I hadn’t heard when I had listened to it a few months earlier.  About fear.  About not knowing what to do so not doing anything at all.  About all of the distractions caused by “resistance”.  The message hit home.   I’ve spent days, months and years avoiding my art on the premise that I didn’t know where to start, what to do next, or just plain felt blocked.   Distractions?  Yes, I have experience in that department as well!  I can spend hours reading blogs about art, being “inspired” by other artists on Facebook, and yes, even writing my blog, among many other things.  I’ve told myself many times that I didn’t have a long enough block of time to bother getting started… that I had cleaning to do…someone would call and invite me to go shopping, get a pedicure…blah blah blah…you know the story.

I am a professional artist.  I love painting.  It’s good for my soul.  It’s my prayer, my relaxation, my expression of love.  It’s what I need to do. I would definitely do it no matter what.  If I were the last person on earth…yes…I’d still be painting.  I can’t help myself.  If I don’t paint on my canvas, I’m painting in my mind.  I get in bed and can’t quit painting so many times have gotten back up to paint for just a half hour more.  Right.  Dawn arrives and I had no idea where the time went.

Progress.  Something clicked as I was listening to “War of Art”.  Somewhere inside, I “got it”.  I stepped to a new level of pushing through.   No matter how I “feel”, I say a prayer – 0ut loud, as Steven Pressfield does – step up to my easel, pick up my brush and it happens. I’m painting.   It really is that simple.  Not easy, but simple.  Woo Hoo.  So far so good!  I’ll try to remember this action and if I forget, I hope I remember to read this blog…

Thank you, Steven Pressfield for overcoming your resistance to finishing your book!

I’m doin the grateful dance….

Who Am I?


This morning, my sister sent a blog link, http://aleafinspringtime.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/a-guide-to-the-dark-side/

I know I meander in my thinking and writing a lot of the time but I’m really a bottom-line and short-attention-span kind-of-person so clear, concise messages appeal to me.   After reading the blog, a question resurfaced.  I’ve pondered it recently while reading Tolle and The Untethered Soul…if I’m not my emotions and mind voices, then who am I?  All of my life I had determined who I was by what now I understand were egoic standards, what I do – not who I am.   That identity  has changed over my lifetime.  I also unconsciously sensed that I was more than my self-description but never put conscious thought to it until recently.

I’ve known most of my life that my gut is my guide.  It is how I understand my life.  I have so far been able to consistently depend on God speaking to me this way.  It’s about the only constant in my life.  And I am a good listener.   Also, without much thought,  I’ve known that my gut is  always right and I’ve felt very certain of my decisions when I had that gut knowing.   But I don’t always get it when I think I need it and that is when I’ve started, in the past, to question if what I’m hearing in my mind voice is God speaking – or not.  Well, now I know it is not.   I will question no more.  I will quiet myself and wait for my gut knowing.

I didn’t understand the role of the mind chatter and have spent untold hours of emotional pain and anguish, endured many sleepless nights because I engaged and listened and tried to make decisions from there.   Until recently, I didn’t know I had a choice!

I don’t have a problem with all of this when things are going well.  My mind voice gives me some useful information.  It’s when I feel anger, fear, distrust – all of the negative stuff…that’s when the negative mind voices kick in.  And they are scolding, accusing, bring up the worst case scenario – every time – just plain negative thoughts.    They intensify feelings of regret and insecurity… and on and on…

I’m sure I heard or read this somewhere but I’ve found that if I try to watch my thoughts – ask myself, “What are my thoughts right now, what am I thinking?”,  I realize I have no thoughts when I’m doing that.  It helps clear my mind.  Sounds confusing maybe, but try it and see if it works for you.   Deepak Choprah says to concentrate attention on our hands, sensations, tingling.   It breaks the mind cycle.  That works for me as well.

After reading several books and listening to many “messengers”… Oprah, Iyanla, Michael Singer, Maya Angelou, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra..and others, learning to observe  the chatter patterns – I was finally able to put it all together today.   I know that life unfolds and goes on, the sun comes up and goes down, seasons pass…   Life doesn’t cause problems for me.  Challenges, yes.   I’ll bet my problems could almost always be traced back to the negative, dark side  mind voices that are full of misinformation and making problems from my inner issues!  I’m becoming more and more aware of that.

Back to who I really am, while talking about it with my sister this morning, I chuckled to myself.  Funny!  I suddenly remembered  that I had already figured out who I really am.  I had just forgotten for a moment.  In the last month, after Deepak Choprah ask Oprah who she really is, I decided to define myself.   Here I am, 72 years old and I finally figured out that my name (label) is Sharon, and none of my accomplishments define who I am.   They’re a part of what I do, not who I am.

God put me here, in human form,  to express who He is in spiritual form.  I’m a spiritual being, an expression of God. I’m here to express His love, service, grace, peace, comfort, mercy, encouragement – all good things that He is.    A reminder of how I want – and need – to respond, initiate, live my life in a more purposeful way.   I’m a student and a listener living in abundance, passion and love.  Yes!

My spiritual identity, who I really am, is one that that doesn’t change.   Describing what I do is so different from how I do the things I do.     My challenge is to remember why and how I choose to “do” my life.   I have clear guidelines.

What a difference a day makes!  And as usual, I need to write my new AHA moment down so that I don’t forget who I am again… Chuckle.

Grace…


In the week previous to a time that I needed grace as much as I can ever remember needing it, I was watching Oprah and Iyanla on Lifeclass.  Iyanla said… “if you need God’s grace, it’s there”.  It’s already and always there.  You just need to accept it.  (I’m paraphrasing).  She said, “If you don’t have it, you don’t want it because it’s right there”.   If you’ve seen Iyanla, you can imagine the inflection and underlining – capitalizing – those words with her voice and gestures.

That was an “Aha Moment” for me.  I had experienced grace to be a very elusive unknown.  When I needed it most, it seemed to be unattainable.

This is another one of those times when what I needed to learn came at exactly the right moment!  Another confirmation of how much I’m loved and protected.

I was in what felt like unbearable angst about a medical issue that I was being faced with…and I could find no peace.   My sister had come to visit and be with me and while on a walk with her, I mentioned what I’d heard Iyanla say and voila!!  I accepted grace and had complete calm and peace.  For the entire day.  It was comfort and it was restful.  In fact, I had it through most of that night.  It seemed really simple.

I awoke early morning with the angst again.  In my pain and fear, I forgot about accepting grace.  When I did remember, I couldn’t seem to get hold of it.  I was in tears and had one of my ongoing conversations with God.  I ask Him to please help me.  I explained to Him (ha) that I knew his grace was right there but told him that I was unable to reach out and find it, ask that he please help me out and deliver it to me.

Now I don’t know how to explain all of this other than report what happened.  It was instantaneous.  I had peace and grace again.  More than that, I felt a comfort that I couldn’t begin to explain in words.  When I’d start slipping into fearful thoughts, I’d experience not a voice, as such, but a definite conversation in that personal way that I hear God when he’s speaking to me.  He was right there with me on the way to the hospital.  Second by second, he’d gently remind me to hang in there with him and experience him.  As long as I kept my thoughts on that peace and grace, everything was tolerable.  It was truly a spiritually amazing experience.  Not to say that I didn’t have intense moments of fear and anguish, but was able to get through them pretty quickly.  At least until they started to wheel me out for the surgery.   And then, thank God, they gave me the knock out shot.  Smile.

One thing I learned is that my thoughts of fear and pain separate me from grace.  Because of this experience, I clearly learned that yes, I get grace because it’s there …if I guard my thoughts from the voices in my head.  If I let myself listen to those voices – and decide that they are me, they almost always take over with doubt and fear.  A long, long list of “What if’s”, wild imaginings…  My part in this is to remember what I’ve learned from Eckhart Tolle and Michael Singer (The Untethered Soul).  The voices are not me.  I am the observer.

Jill Bolte Taylor has written in Stroke of Insight, that physically, any emotion (or energy) – good or bad – takes 90 seconds to run through our body.  If we have anger, fear, joy…any emotion, longer than that, it’s because we’ve chosen to hold on to it.  Michael Singer, in The Untethered Soul (One of my favorite books, by the way), writes about the same thing.  That we need to constantly be open, heart, mind and spirit, keeping all chakras open.  And that means allowing every emotion, every energy to flow through us – immediately.  Then we can be open for what is happening each moment.  The now.   If that energy – the emotions – get blocked, held on to, then we live in that emotion – fear, distrust, emotional pain.  It isn’t something that “happens” to us.  We make a clear choice to live there.   Past pains can be released as soon as they appear.   Letting go of the past!    I didn’t know that’s how it works!   Relax and watch it flow right through us.  It only lasts for 90 seconds!   If it reappears, let it pass through again.  If you’re interested, you might want to read the books – they say it much better than I.  I’ve learned so much through the last few months that I feel like a different person.   I am so thankful for everything that I’ve learned and experienced.  Help is always right there when I need it!

About grace – I wish I could say these are my original words but they’re not… they’re from Caroline Myss when Oprah was interviewing her on Super Soul Sunday.

Caroline explained grace as that experience of the sudden knowing, a message that everything is going to be ok.  And then it’s gone as suddenly as it appeared.  But it left the knowing.  That’s grace.

Grace is the quiet whisper … “don’t say that right now”, “don’t do that right now”.  That’s grace too.  Our part is listening to the knowing and acting – or not acting on it.

Grace is that something that makes a moment better.

Bottom line…we do have choices.  And I really like options!  Now I know a little more about how to use them.

Once again, I’m SO grateful!

 

 

The Sounds of Freedom


Our weeks in San Clemente  – our winter get-away from the Pacific Northwest rain – have again been the wonderful!  We’ve done all of our favorite things, eaten at our favorite restaurants, spent time on the beach, visited with friends and relatives.

Courtesy of Military.com

Tradition is that every year,  we ride through Camp Pendleton.  It’s an emotional experience for me.   We pass about 40-50 young soldiers in uniform and with huge backpacks, running.   Obviously they’re training for what is in their future.  I know they’ll be as well-trained as possible for what they will possibly encounter, but I wonder –  how can anyone ever be prepared…or comprehend?

I experience so many feelings that it’s almost impossible to identify all of them.

I feel pride – these young men and women are dedicated and committed.

I’m fearful.  For them.  I want to protect them.  They are so young and they have put their lives in the hands of total strangers who will rule their lives, their minds,  for this period of time in the Military.   They have agreed…no, committed themselves to a cause.   Did they think it over carefully?  Did they have good counsel?   I look at them and wonder what motivated them to sign the dotted line.  I wonder if they’re at peace with their decision.

We watched a program on TV last night about the Military, a documentary.  Statistics indicate that over 10,000 men and women in the Military have committed suicide!   This loss of life is higher than combat casualties at this point.  That is beyond tragic.   My heart aches for all of these young people who felt so trapped, unhappy, fearful….whatever their feelings of hopelessness…so intensely that they would end their life!  My heart aches for the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, wives…all who loved them.

In the weeks that we’ve been here in San Clemente, three marines were killed in an auto accident a few miles away in Dana Point.  The fourth man is in critical condition.  Seven marines were killed in a mid air collision, some from the Camp.  Another marine was shot by the police in San Clemente.  That is under investigation.   There is sadness and a pall over many here.  These men and women are felt to be part of this community.

I feel excitement for the men and women who feel that this is their true calling…those who are happy with their decision…I’m happy for their adventure.  I’m happy if they’re fulfilled in some deep way.   And I know of some who feel that way.

Camp Pendleton is an enormous area.  Enormous!  It’s a city.   A busy city.   It includes 17 miles of coastline and extends inland for miles.  We are in San Clemente, across the street from the north boundary of the Camp.   The view across the road is beautiful, a panoramic view of hills, almost the size of mountains.  It appears to be just another beautiful view.  Until we hear, faintly and in the distance, revelry.  During the day – and at night – we  occasionally hear the whirring sound of helicopters on maneuver.  We hear planes.  And cannons.  Sometimes so loud that they can be felt.

When I notice those sounds – the sounds of freedom, and the sights, I feel compassion for those that are caught in the actual, the reality.  War.  I just hate it!  But I love these men and women.

I’m so grateful to them.  And grateful to all who love them.  I’m praying…

Let me be the change I want to see.  Let peace begin with me.

Best Friends


I don’t often experience envy but I admit to this one…

There are some couples that just love each other – deeply and honestly.  And I just love being with them.  This is a rare experience for me but I’m fortunate to have two such couples in my life.  One couple are former clients – RC and CC.  We had an almost immediate connection when I picked them up at their hotel and over the years it has grown into  a dear friendship.    The other two are close relatives of my husband, GG,  and her husband, DW.

I was single for almost 20 years and very ambivalent about remarrying – until I met RC and CC.  I acknowledged to myself that I had often pictured marrying my true best friend – spending my retirement years traveling, laughing, reading, exercising, sharing.   The more I got to know RC and CC, the more firm my resolution became to be open to a committed relationship.   I saw that what I pictured could actually be a reality.

DW and GG, RC and CC, all live my dream.  Of course, they have their issues and problems too, but there is an underlying friendship and respect that prevails.  I spent some time with RC and CC a few weeks ago, and for the last few weeks, have been with DW and GG almost every day.

Being around all of them over the last month,  I’m finding myself nurtured and renewed and in an effort to hold on to my feelings, I’m identifying words to express what I experience when I’m with them.  For the most part, I find myself feeling comfort, joy, peace, hope and admiration.

I know about many of their struggles and triumphs, the heartaches and joys of their relationships.  I’ve listened to their stories, shared some experiences with them.  I know their lives have not been without pain, death of a child, infidelities,  serious health issues, long separations while serving in the Military, the stresses of being married to an obstetrician/surgeon – experiences that have torn many couples apart.  But they managed to reach the other side and become even closer.   I’ve watched them handle differences with respect, acceptance, a lot of listening, and humor.   They have a gentleness, even when they’re irritated with each other, have  shown courage to let the other be unhappy or gritchy, sad or happy.  They’re all individuals and seem to know their boundaries.   And they respect those boundaries.

Some words I might use  to describe what I see and feel between them is acceptance, loyalty, safety, generosity, comfort, admiration, respect, gentleness, a deep caring.  A joy in being with each other.  They are truly best friends.    They express differences easily.  They share some activities, tolerating others  just because they prefer to spend time with each other and share a memory.   They both have friends and outside activities but it’s clear that they prefer each other and their time together.   They are present for each other.  They have differences but have learned, over many years, how to express themselves respectfully.   They know that absolutely their partner has their back.  No matter what or who…  And they have traditions – with their families but also between themselves.   Little things.  Some are daily rituals.  DW brings coffee – every morning! – to GG in bed.   He always pulls her car out of the garage and has it ready for her when she’s ready to leave.  She rewards him with a lot of praise and admiration. Every time.  Just like it’s the first time.  She never seems to take him for granted.  All four of them express abundant appreciation for their partners.  Consistently.   When I hear them criticize, when they’ve done something wrong, there’s still a sense in speech and attitude that they’re on that person’s side.   I also know that they’ve hurt each other deeply at times and I’d really love to see how they handle it in private.  Is it the same?  They’ve all just said they try to stay respectful.

Both couples have been together since high school.   They have told me that early years together were not without hurdles and huge adjustments – there were some very difficult times.  Communicating well was not an easy thing to learn.   They all feel that they worked very hard to create their present relationship.  Part of it just evolved as their friendships grew over the years.  They were deeply committed to being best friends and treating each other with respect.   At times, their only expectation was – and is – that they protect their friendship as they would with any other dear friend.

I now realize that when I married, I had some pretty unrealistic expectations.  You’d think that in the time it took to get all of this gray hair, I’d have learned more!  My husband and I  are in the early years of our relationship and I’m discovering that just because we are older – and more experienced in relationships – it doesn’t mean that we can bypass adjustments and difficult times.   We both now have more tools to work with – and we use them a lot!  We are still learning our life lessons.  And that sometimes means double the lesson – we are there for each other while we get through our individual lessons as well.   The single life was so much simpler in many ways – not as rewarding in other ways.  I just believe that a relationship takes us places that we simply can’t get to on our own.   And that’s where I want to be.

My husband and I have been together for almost five years, in our 70’s.  I treasure our relationship and friendship.   We came together with our pasts – our longest history and memories are with others.  We just simply don’t have a lot of time left to create a long history together.    No time to waste on wishing that I had what my friends have but it is a great goal.  I’m busy working on getting as far as possible with that one….  And I will be gentle, appreciate, respect, be grateful.

I will be grateful for the time and progress we have – and will make in our relationship.   We have some great role models.  I want to be that for our children….

A Sentence… A Journey


The Story Teller - Images available at sharonabbottfinearts.com

I need it today – right now – a major attitude adjustment!

I woke up this morning full of frustration, wanting to blame (and that’s a joke – who would that be?), feeling sorry for myself.

No jumping in the car to run errands, drive up the gorge, meet friends and family!

No quick return trips upstairs to grab my earphones – and anything else that I forgot to bring down with me  this morning

No running to the kitchen to grab a snack – now it’s a time-consuming, uncomfortable trip.

After only a few days of this Stay-Off-My -Broken-Foot sentence, I’ve gained even more compassion for those who are immobilized, or restrained – for any reason.  I used to take an elderly woman for rides and errands and you can bet I’m going to again find someone  that I can help.  As soon as I can drive again.

Yes, I have crutches and use them when I have to move.  Coordinated and comfortable with them yet?  Not!   After losing my balance a couple of times – fortunately catching myself with a wall, our bed…  I’m not very confident about navigating.  Especially when I’m by myself.  But when I see this in writing,  I hear “The Whisper” in my ear – how can you whine?   At least you can move!

I woke up feeling very gritchy this morning.  I keep telling myself… “It is what it is and, Grasshopper, you can choose whether you want to  fight your circumstances or relax, accept and go with it”.  Easier said than done!

Many times I  enjoy an entire day writing, reading,  playing computer games, being very sedentary.  My recorder is full of my favorite shows.  In fact I need to delete some so that I can record more!   I even forget that many times I ignore what I need to do so that I can do the very things that I can now do!  Unlimited time.  No demands.  But when  I have limitations, I rebel.

Yes!  Now I have time.  Lots of it.  My daughter reminded me that maybe this is God saying Stop!  Take a rest, Sharon!  (I might have said that to her a couple of times in the past:)

I just love blogging!  My mood is shifting as I write.  I can clearly see that it’s pretty easy to share my good moods, attitudes, observations.  Not so easy to share the less positive me.   It’s really no fun living with a negative me.

It’s magic – this writing!   It’s raining outside.  The fireplace is keeping me warm, physically and emotionally.  I am kind of excited about feeling cozy, snuggling up and reading my Oprah Magazines (I have an entire year of unread O mags!) .  I’ve been wanting to re-read “Death Comes To The Archbishop” by  Willa Cather.  I’ll watch a Netflix movie on my computer while my husband watches yet another golf game on TV (do they EVER get to the 18th hole?), I’ll sketch my next painting, I’ll meditate.   I’ll eventually get upstairs and paint.

I’ll be grateful…Yes, I am!