Month: August 2014

My Unfolding

My Unfolding

Unfolding

The unfolding of consciousness sometimes feels like a runaway freight train…and I’m just hanging on for dear life. Ah, but what a ride! My only regret is that I got on board so late in life.  On the other hand, my life’s path that led me to this point carries with it an experiential awareness of the many life lessons we all must face. The pain of the past also propels me forward toward union with soul consciousness and away from the void of spiritual death that we live with when we are disconnected from ourselves and from creation.

I’ve sought a deeper connection with the divine since I lost my awareness of that connection as a young child. I did not know that I was also seeking a connection with myself, the deeper, true self that was set upon a shelf for safe keeping for survival’s sake.  My child self knew intrinsically the love of the divine, the safety net of a benevolent universe, but believed she had to trade it for life. It doesn’t matter if this was true or not, the trade was made.

Taking back the soul self is both incredibly easy and inordinately difficult. It is taking baby steps of trust, incremental achievements in awareness of self – what is true, what is not – what is soul, what is not – what is love, what is not – separating the wheat from the chaff, the truth from the lie.

When I started crawling out of the hole I was in I had no idea it would lead me here – lead me home – lead me to where I always wanted to be. So very familiar. So very new. I’d like a safety net, but it is my job to weave one for myself. I’d like directions, but it is up to me to listen to my own inner voice. There are no answers outside of myself – ultimately. Taking full and total responsibility for the choices I make, the steps I take, the love I give, the love I turn away, the time I waste, the words I share, the thoughts I keep to myself – it’s all on me. Just me. And, that’s okay.

Still Learning

Still Learning

HydrangeaWhen I stop and close my eyes and breathe in what peace I can find around me…in the breezes that blow, the hum of the chime as the air lifts it in song…I find fear when I want desperately to find comfort. It is a hard journey finding my way out of fear. It nips at my heals and haunts me at every turn. Just when I think I’ve escaped it, it’s back sitting beside me on a quiet evening.

I’m surrounded by beauty. Lush green trees, fields of grass, the sun low in the sky casting its golden touch across everything. The mountain air is fresh and the smell of boxwood lingers on the breeze. There’s everything to be grateful for and yet, I want to run away, to hide, to stop trying, to stop yearning to be something. I want to rest and be satisfied. I want to be enough just as I am.

But the fear awakens my fight or flight response and makes me want to move, to do, to try again, and yet, I know it won’t work this time either. Running frantically never does. The fear locks me in its trance and mounting desperation clings to my throat.

Fear, or more precisely, the feeling of not being safe takes over and when I look deeply into its eyes. I realize the feeling is more that I don’t know how to protect myself. The unknown is shapeless and threatening. My edge-less, boundary-less being seems only to be able to lie in wait, vulnerable to any attack, and there’s no way of knowing from which direction it will come.

I am still learning. Still defining myself and learning to live from within. Still seeking my edges, my truth, while standing in love. New lessons come almost every day, as long as I stand open to change and movement and learning.

Knowing where we begin and end, and where another begins and ends, is a lesson that most wounded children must learn. Wounding causes one to put up barriers of protection, to pull back within oneself, to create false facades to fool the oppressor, which once defined morphs into the planet at large. As children, we feared. I feared. I feared the utter alone-ness that became my constant companion.  Not known, not allowed to acknowledge what I saw in others. Isolation. Annihilation.  I learned to pretend that I was wrong and they were right so as not to feel alone.

To begin to speak one’s truth, to state clearly what one knows to be true is to begin to find our edges. To stand up for that truth as we grow stronger, to state ever more clearly what we see and know and experience and our edges stronger. It’s one thing to know oneself. It’s another entirely to bring it forth into the world.

And the process of healing continues. For a lifetime, or longer.

Living with Mental Illness and Surviving Suicide – One Mother’s Story

Living with Mental Illness and Surviving Suicide – One Mother’s Story

Leaving the Hall Light On  A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide is the powerful, heart wrenching story of one women’s journey through 17 years of heartbreak and struggle. It is a story of strength and courage, creative genius and despair. Madeline shares her confusion and anger, her hope and disappointment as she recounts the events that led to her son’s ultimate suicide, and along the way the reader has an up close and personal introduction to this debilitating disease and its effect on a family. I came away from this book with a new depth of understanding and compassion for all who are and have been touched by serious mental illness. It’s message has lingered long after the initial reading. It will broaden your perspective and awareness and for that reason alone, this is an important book.

In addition, Madeline is our peer. A woman of our generation and experience who tells her story, not only as a part of her healing journey but, to inform and support others who are struggling with a similar challenge. Whether or not you have someone in your life who suffers from mental illness, there is not a one of us who has not witnessed its destruction, most recently in the shocking and unexpected death of Robin Williams.  We long for understanding. We search for hope. Perhaps together, by raising awareness, we can find a cure, a satisfactory treatment, or at the very least, an opening of our hearts in support of one another.

Madeline Sharples

Although Madeline Sharples worked for most of her professional life as a technical writer and editor, grant writer, and proposal manager, she fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. She pursued her writing interests in high school while studying journalism and writing for the high school newspaper, and she studied journalism in college. However, she only began to fulfill her dream to be a professional writer later in life.

In addition to Leaving the Hall Light On, Madeline co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994) a book about women in nontraditional professions and co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 (Muse Media, 2004) and 2 (2010). Her poetry accompanies the work of photographer Paul Blieden in two books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy as well as appearing in print and online on many occasions.

Madeline is now a full-time writer and is working on her next book, a novel, based in the 1920s. She and Bob, her husband of 40+ years, live in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles.

Connect with Madeline online: 

Visit her website: http://madelinesharples.com/

On Facebook: Madeline Sharples

On Twitter: @madeline40

On G+

I Honor You Robin Williams

I Honor You Robin Williams

What Dreams May Come

 

ComCreativity yearns and churns,

Stretches and aches, bogged down

by the relentless nagging, driven

by the ardent and fierce tingles

of sinuous standings.

 

Almost unbidden, in a moment

of neglect, it erupts and breaks free

bursting forth in weightlessness,

Sucking in the  lifeblood of release

to dance wildly across a kaleidoscopic

field of endless imaginings.

Robin Williams

 

Until, abruptly, without warning,

the vat of endless energy lies empty,

spent, gone, leaving only a repugnant

void where boundless possibility

once lived.

 

A vacuum remains. A deafening

silence. Nothingness. The pot is

stirred. Nothing. Then Despair and

the churning begins. The questions.

The doubts. The push of the whys,

the hows, the wherefores, the if onlys,

bathed in the foaming, frothing, noxious

weight of self-incrimination, the debris field

of stunning incompletion.

 

Actor Robin Williams in a scene fr. the motion picture "Good Morning Vietnam."Creativity. It yearns and bends and burns.

Endlessly. Until…it doesn’t and then

the weight of it kills.

RIP Robin Williams

 

I cannot yet rejoice for the gifts left behind by the creative genius of Robin Williams. There were so many, but in this moment they pale in comparison to my deep, almost familial awareness of, and sorrow for, the pain he must have suffered. I know that kind of pain, some version of it at least, though I could never claim to know what must have driven him in the end to give up. I do know that you take it until you can’t anymore.

DoubtfireGiftedness is a blessing and a curse. Who hasn’t recognized the underbelly of a leaning, a talent, the dark side of our greatest joy. I suspect the more gifted one is, the darker the shadow. One cannot always walk in the light. One cannot always handle and direct such power with grace and wisdom. Sometimes it is bigger than the one who is holding it.

Depression. It kills. It maims and destroys. It’s not an upper middle class flu to be satisfied by a prescription of antidepressants. It is dark and virulent. It is insatiable in its desire to lay its victim beneath a blanket of darkness, leaving behind no windows, no reason, no answers.

Intelligence cannot hold sway over depression. Altered perspective cannot turn its head. Intentional action will never be a guaranteed win. It is not within the power of the victim to slay this demon, as it is often too big, too overpowering, too debilitating to manage. Alone.

Alone. The worst part of carrying this beast. It renders one entirely without connection, without resources, without guidance. No matter how enormous the gift, the intelligence, the creativity, the joy and desire to live. Sometimes it wins. Sometimes only death brings release and relief. Blissful silence. Perfect peace. An answer at last.

Today I cry for my loss, our loss.  I cry for the toll this still too often unmanageable disease has wrought on some of the most gifted among us.  It seems an uneven exchange for what they have given to us.

Spaces

Spaces

Helle Summer houseI began to think about “spaces” this morning after reading a post by Laurie, one of my favorite bloggers. She is blessed with an abundance of courage and enthusiasm for life. She and her husband recently picked up and moved from the Midwest to Boise, ID. This is a popular and growing trend among boomer retirees.

Laurie continues to entertain her followers with her adventures and today she announced that she has a new temporary home in Boise, in a lovely carriage house. Her enthusiasm was palpable but it carried with something ore than simply living in an interesting place. The “something more” was captured in these words: “My writing space is phenomenal!….this gorgeous view has triggered a spurt of fiction writing.” 

There is something powerful about spaces, both the ones we live and work in, and the ones that show up unexpectedly in a quiet moment, or between activities.  Our homes are more than an artistic expression of who we are, though they are that. They are filled with energy. Sometimes this energy is positive and creativity inducing, sometimes the opposite is true. Too often we choose to ignore our sense of this energy, if we even notice it at all. Instead, we choose spaces out of necessity, circumstances, budget constraints, practicality, thinking perhaps we have no choice, opting not to notice.

Does your living space inspire you, energize you, invite you to expand yourself, your creativity, your life?

As a highly sensitive person I have lived more by the sensory field around me than by my brains. (My husband will testify to that!) It has not always been the case. I tried for many years to do what “everybody” thought I should do, and/or what was good for everybody else. Be practical. Be responsible. Be normal. Buy a house with enough room for the kids and the aging parents. Make sure it’s in a good location, good school district, and with good resale value. Above all, it must be affordable.

What about the feel of the house?

The spaces that dot are days, those moments when nothing is demanding our attention, either from the inside or the outside, are an opportunity to discover our interior space. Our interior space will not demand our attention, but it is there waiting and always present. It too is a source of powerful energy. It is the place where our truest self resides, our creative, soul self. In just the same way we often block these spaces from our conscious awareness. We override them with activity and to-do- lists. We stuff them down with food or mind numbing activity.

What is lost when we avoid our interior space?

Tuning in to the “spaces” in our lives, both on the inside and the outside, is an essential practice when engaging in the transformation process. Every thing we need to know exists within us. We simply have to choose to pay attention to the signals and clues that are already present and waiting for us.