Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunting Muses

So, last Halloween, I wrote a short story, much shorter than this, that was sort of a haunted passage about an older woman missing her deceased lover (Stormy weather) ... I suppose at that time last year, it was apropo to things I was feeling, trying to let go of, etc. I'd felt haunted then.

The inspiration behind this one, well, like most of my short stories, it came from a single thought mentioned during a conversation — walking through an antique shop. And then it grew in my head and I knew it would become whatever it was meant to ...

Mirrored Shadows
Emmeline took a sip of her coffee before placing the cardboard cup back in its holder and turning on her windshield wipers.
The rain slashed against the window with such abrupt intensity, she caught her breath. Pulling up to a stop light, Emmeline looked in the rearview mirror at her eyes ... dark, shadowy, tired, sad. Just looking at herself drew up tears she quickly choked down. She leaned forward and brushed her long side-swept bangs to the right and dabbed gloss on her lips, appearing plum against her ashen skin and dark hair.
Suddenly, as quick as the rain down poured, a jagged pain ripped through her chest and down the veins of her arms. Sorrow and loneliness always manifested itself in her veins it seemed.
Emmeline slightly shook her head and pulled backward against her seat, seeing the light turn green.
Peering through the streaming windshield, another green light caught her eye, but this one was neon and said simply "Antique Store Open."
Whether it was the desire in that very moment to be rescued from the despairing rain or her ever present love for antiques, Emmeline pulled into the lot and ducking under her sweater, ran to the door.
She heard a familiar sounding bell jingle as she turned the doorknob and entered the shop. The scent of musty wood, mothballs, tarnished brass and polish assailed her senses. Emmeline felt the floor creak beneath her boots as she slowly walked past the entryway and into the main room. It was much larger, almost hall-like, than she imagined.
There were only a few people inside as far as she could tell and hear. An older gentleman with a scraggly salt and pepper beard and round glasses sat at the check out counter. He was hunched over the countertop, leaning on his elbows and seemingly engrossed in a book when he heard Emmeline approach.
"Looking for anything in particular?" He asked, squinting up at her.
She shook her head, fidgeting with her scarf, a nervous habit she'd acquired some time ago.
He seemed to study her a moment as though she, too, were a book to be read. He brought his hand near his mouth as though in thought, before opening it again.
"Well, if you have any questions or need help finding anything, just give me a holler ... but be sure to speak into my good ear," the man said with a chuckle, indicating his "good" ear was on his left.
Emmeline simply nodded and began moving down the aisles. It felt warm inside the shop. Her numb, cold, wet skin felt kindled by the heat. Her shivering bones began to go slack.
As she shuffled her boots against the hardwood floors, she felt each creak under her weight as though the floor itself was groaning with aches.
Emmeline made her way through a few aisles before arriving back near the front counter again. The old man this time was sipping on a mug of hot apple cider and cleaning an old silver taper candle holder.
"You sure I can't point you in a particular direction?" the man asked again, this time knowing it was her without having even looked up.
She began to shake her head, but realized he wouldn't notice.
"No thank you," she said in a low, quiet voice, then hesitated and turned back in his direction. "Actually ... where do you keep antique mirrors and furniture?"
"Ahhh yes ... I had a feeling there was something pulling you in here," he said.
The sentence felt peculiar to Emmeline, but she couldn't put her finger on it.
The man put down the candle holder, but held onto the sooty rag as he walking around the counter and down an aisle to the left of them. Emmeline followed, realizing then, no one else occupied the store anymore.
She glanced at her watch and saw it was 7 p.m. Most people probably left to get home to their families for dinner.
The thought burrowed deep into her dispirited heart, like a sliver of wood.
She picked up her pace as she noticed the man ambling ahead of her and glancing back. They turned a few corners and finally came to an open corner of the store filled with stacked furniture, couches and lamps.
Then she noticed several standup mirrors as well as vanities and wall mirrors ... some, turn of the century while others looked straight out of the 1950s.
"Well, here you are Miss ...?"
Emmeline, instantly pulled from her trance, realized the man was inquiring about her name.
"It's Emmeline."
The man stuck out his hand, exposing age spots and deep, blue veins. Emmeline took it in her own.
"Pleased to meet you Emmeline. My name is Greyson, Greyson Watts. And ... it is 'Miss' yes?" he asked.
The question took Emmeline off guard. She quickly withdrew her hand, but continued to stare at Greyson curiously. His pale bluish green eyes seemed familiar somehow.
She only nodded, not trusting her voice all of a sudden.
"I meant no invasion or discomfort. I just couldn't help wondering why a seemingly lovely woman such as yourself looks so forlorn and alone ... almost haunted," he said, but then seemed to realize he'd just dug his foot deeper down his throat.
He shook his head and looked down at the floor, turning slightly pink. The gesture made Emmeline immediately wish she could take the entire exchange back and put him at ease.
She leaned in and he looked back up again, his mouth parting as though to backpedal or apologize.
"It's ... OK. I'm not offended. Yes, it's 'Miss' and I'm doing just fine really," Emmeline said, hearing how feigned her voice sounded and inwardly cringing.
Greyson's face softened a bit then, returning back to its original color.
"Well, I have a hunch you might find what you're looking for in this area," he said, gesturing behind him.
"I'll be back behind the counter if you need any help carrying anything. These ol' bones still have some life in them," he said, making Emmeline smile as she watched him retreat down the aisle.
She then turned around and began looking through all the furniture. It was then she noticed a rocking chair ever so slightly moving. Perhaps Greyson hit it as he turned around, she thought. Though she realized he'd went a different way.
Perplexed, but not to the point of fixating, Emmeline continued rummaging through the lamps and mirrors.
Each one highlighted a different part of her face, it seemed.
She stopped on one that cast shadows around her eyes, almost losing them to the darkness. She leaned in to try and get a better look when she felt a vibration against her skin, almost like static.
She jumped back, hesitantly touching her cheek and looking around.
"Greyson?" She said, but her voice came out a scratchy whisper. She could hear him shifting around at the front, but concluded he hadn't heard her. Then she remember his crack about his hearing.
Emmeline leaned in again and felt the same sensation as she neared the face of the mirror. She put out her hand and splayed her fingertips, lightly touching it.
It felt as though her hand fused with the glass and everything inside her felt drawn in, elated, almost like stepping at the threshold of home after a decade's journey away.
Her heart began to flutter as she closed her eyes and surrendered to the sensation. It riveted through her entire body, along her veins until suddenly, she felt as though she were inside a vacuum. The air cackled against her eardrums as she opened her eyes again and realized she was no longer facing the mirror.
Feeling that same static at her back now, Emmeline turned around, coming face to face with the mirror. She looked around the room. It looked almost the same, except everything was somehow, opposite ... and newer.
It was then she felt the presence of someone. She turned around and saw a man rocking in the chair she had noticed moments before. He looked about her age, medium build ... but his clothes mimicked the attire of someone in the 1940s ... perhaps even earlier.
Yet, something about his eyes seemed hauntingly informal, almost intimate.
He stood up and held out his hand.
Emmeline began to outstretch her own.
"I don't believe I've met you before ... Miss ...?"
She gasped then, withdrawing her arm and backing away.
He quickly withdrew his own, shuffling back.
"I didn't mean to scare you," he said.
Emmeline could hear in his voice the warm hesitancy she now expected. She shook her head and smiled. The man looked baffled, but pleased at her expression.
"Emmeline," she said. "Miss Emmeline Thomas."
She then shook his hand, but he didn't let go immediately. Instead, he pulled her slightly inward and brought his other hand up to her temple.
His brow furrowed and eyes squinted slightly in perplextion.
Emmeline, so taken by the quick and unexpected motion, just stood there, breath held, eyes inches from his.
"You just seem so ... familiar somehow," he whispered, as though in a trance.
Emmeline swallowed, seemingly breaking the spell, and he released her and shook his head, as though remembering himself.
Emmeline also shook her head, slightly startled, before looking up at his eyes again.
"Forgive me, but you look ... you look so sad," she found herself saying to him. "As though you've been sitting here for a long time, not quite yourself."
Emmeline couldn't believe she was saying that, it was as though she'd switched places with the old shop owner.
The man in front of her didn't seem offended, however. He seemed relieved somehow, as though hearing this assessment released him.
He touched her cheek again, running his thumb along her cheekbone and this time, she placed her own hand over his, both of their eyes closing.
Suddenly, she felt the static pull again, this time at her back. He seemed to sense something, too as his eyes snapped open. She tried not to turn, but just as before, everything inside her was beckoned by the sensation. It felt as natural as breathing.
The man also released her as she turned, as though sensing it was out of his control.
But just before she surrendered to it, she turned her head to him. His eyes fixed on her, his arms slightly outstretched, but no longer holding her back.
"I ... I didn't get your name," she uttered. She watched his mouth part to answer her, but then the vacuum hit and she was plunged into darkness.
Moments later, she felt her ears ringing. She looked in the mirror and saw her eyes were no longer vacant or lost in shadow.
She shook her head, looking around. But this time, her gaze caught on Greyson, standing against the shelf of an aisle, staring right at her.
His eyes penetrated hers with an intensity she didn't think possible of a man his age. She felt confused, hazy and exposed in every possible way as her mind reeled on everything that just happened.
Did she black out? Did she hallucinate?
But this man in front of her was real and so was his gaze. Emmeline leaned against a dresser for support as she felt her knees weaken. This seemed to pull him from his trance as he came over to her. She stopped him, putting her hand up while she bent forward a moment to catch her breath. But he drew nearer until he was right in front of her. He reached out to her chin and gently raised her head up to meet his eyes.
"It was you," she said, though shaking her head in disbelief.
He merely nodded.
"But ... how?"
He didn't say anything.
Just then, they both heard the doorbell jingle, ripping them from the moment.
Greyson pulled back and began walking toward the entrance. Emmeline could hear another male voice and then both men murmuring.
She began to walk toward the door and noticed a man, similar in build and height to the man she'd just seen ... yet distinctly different in his stance and gate.
When he turned around, however, his eyes and brow were almost identical to Greyson's.
"This, Miss Emmeline, is my son ... Greyson Jr.," he said, his face clearly flushed with several emotions, including a sheepish grin.
Emmeline shook his hand and then backed up, overwhelmed with bewilderment and weariness. Greyson cleared his throat, gave his son what Emmeline assumed was the day's earnings and said goodbye.
His son stared at Greyson and then studied Emmeline a moment.
"Do you need help with anything? Or a lift somewhere?" he asked, looking at her still wet clothes from the rain.
Emmeline slowly shook her head. He paused a moment as though wanting to say more, but then turned and left.
Emmeline began to leave as well. Greyson didn't stop her, though he stepped forward as if to do something.
However, he only opened the door. She walked outside, feeling the steady rain upon her now feverish skin once more, her breath misting before her.
"I ... I hope you found what you were searching for," he simply said, looking past her. She turned around, following his gaze and saw Greyson Jr. walking slowly toward his car. Once he got there, he turned around and stared at her again.
This time, it was as though he was waiting for her.
She glanced back at Greyson, feeling stretched in every direction with no room to breath. The static sensation filled her insides as she studied his eyes.
They held peace, warmth ...  sadness. He nodded at her.
She gasped, wiping her eyes with the ends of her sleeve.
"I ... I think I did."
She turned away from him a moment; She noticed his son had disappeared, the car gone.
When she turned back, Greyson, also seemingly confused, looked into the mist, speechless.
Emmeline gently brought his gaze back to hers.
"Greyson .... I would like to buy that mirror."


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Soul Connections and Energy

We don't attract what we want, we attract what we are. ~ Unknown

During my recent Yoga retreat ... I did meditation and Breema, which is a form of bodywork that's relatively easy to do on yourself, but is even cooler when partnered with an instructor (as I was).

Never having done something like that before, I wasn't sure what to expect. All I do know is, at the start, I was tense, had upper back knots and stiffness and afterward, I felt as thought I'd had an hour massage without the actual massage and as though I'd meditated for a half hour, without the actual meditating.

Between the meditation sessions, the yoga and the bodywork, I was reminded of the power of energy, our life force and how we can tap into it all day every day if we wanted ... how we can transform it, create with it, heal and inspire ... but also, how as our energy transforms, so do the things around us. I guess it falls into the laws of attraction concept.

You can't cease to vibrate and Law of Attraction will not stop responding to the vibration that you are offering. So, expansion is inevitable. You provide it, whether you know you do, or not. The only question is, what is the standard of joy that you are demanding for yourself? ~ Abraham Hicks

When I was prepping this house for move-in, painting all the rooms, visualizing how I wanted it all to come together, I focused that energy of intent in every brush stroke, every corner I cleaned. The moment all my things were finally unpacked, my pets were moved in and I sat down on my couch and was just, there ... I felt peace in a way I haven't since, well, probably since I lived with my parents.

Maybe it's being tucked away in a neighborhood surrounded by huge trees, foliage and ... life. Maybe it's being right up the street from the lake and feeling its peaceful energy near me. But the energy in this house is so different from my apartment, it's hard for me to even explain to be honest. All I know is, I have been here almost a month now and I have slept soundly every single night. And my pets, especially Lakota, are different. More at ease, relaxed, balanced. My bond with Lakota has shifted in a major way, too. The way he looks at me lately, I shake my head trying to put it in words. It's a mixture of gratitude, love, loyalty, connection and ... recognition.

In thinking about energy, I was also reflecting on soul connections. I know I've blogged in the past about connections and about soul mates. I come back to this again and again because, well, it never fails to intrigue me. My "issue" in the past, however, and in the present if I'm being honest, is that I have trouble letting go of connections I've had with people ... with soul mates.

So even though my life is in the present moment, sometimes, my heart and soul feel an absence where a soul connection once was. However, one thing I was recently told is that connections come and go in our lives, like the steady ebb and flow of the ocean ... there is always another one around the corner. Some stay for our whole lives, others only for a period of time.

And I realized that if I, like the tides, go with those connections and don't try to manipulate them, resist them or force them to stay when it's their time to go, I will find more peace in the transitions, in the steadiness of change, than I will find turbulence. And not only that, what I attract will change as well, building on itself. It makes me feel a sense of elation, knowing that and excited to see what and who my "future" present moments will be bringing. And I also feel more peace and less impatience as I accept this present moment just as it is.

We are not onlookers peering into the unified field of separate, objective reality — we are the unified field. Every thought you are thinking creates a wave in the unified field. You are like a light radiating not photons, but consciousness. As they radiate, your thoughts have an effect on everything. Your relationship to life is the same as that of one cell to your whole body. One cell can talk to your whole body. One cell can influence your whole body. You can talk to the whole of life — influence the whole of life. The whole of life is as alive as we are. The distinction between 'in here' and 'out there' is a false one — as if the heart disregarded the skin because it was not on the inside. ~ Deepak Chopra

But I guess the paradoxical part of this feeling is, those I've connected with over the years, and the very few, the rarity, who got very deep within me ... on some level, they're never gone entirely. They're always with me somehow ... and I guess, the difference now is, instead of wallowing in their absence, I let them fill me. I don't "remember" them (as in, succumbing to the illusion of the past), I just close my eyes, shut down my mind — even if for just a few moments — and simply ... feel. And the result is ... peace and warmth.

It takes me back to the ocean ... the wind and tide may take us all to different places, but the reality is, we are all in it together. Our paths may cross again ... or may continue on separately, but just as I once described with water drops running down a glass shower door, we all stem from the same source ... and are always connected in that way.

So, if you've ever felt a strong connection to someone or several someones ... and life has taken you in different directions, try closing your eyes, finding your breath and feeling your own energy. You'll suddenly feel tapped not only into those connections, but into everyone and everything. You'll suddenly feel life itself.

And it's pretty amazing.

~ C ~

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Addiction to Someone

Have you ever been addicted to someone?

I came across a chapter of Tolle's book that not only resonated with me, but definitely resonates with some of my friends, too ... perhaps most people at one point or time.

Here's the part that really hit:  

"You get your sense of who you are from things that ultimately have nothing to do with who you are: your social role, possessions, external appearance, successes and failures, belief systems, and so on. This false, mind-made self, the ego, feels vulnerable, insecure and is always seeking new things to identify with to give it a feeling that it exists. But nothing is ever enough to give it lasting fulfillment. Its fear remains; its sense of lack and neediness remains.

But then that special relationship comes along. It seems to be the answer to all the ego's problems and to meet all its needs. At least this is how it appears at first. All the other things that you derived your sense of self from before, now become relatively insignificant. You now have a single focal point that replaces them all, gives meaning to your life and through which you define your identity: the person you are 'in love' with."

I can't speak for everyone else of course, but for me ... yeah, this was me. This was definitely me. He goes onto say one other thing that really hit a nerve from my past:

"If in your relationships you experience both "love" and the opposite of love ― attack, emotional violence, and so on ― then it is likely that you are confusing ego attachment and addictive clinging with love. You cannot love your partner one moment and attack him or her the next. True love has no opposite. If your "love" has an opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete and deeper sense of self, a need that the other person temporarily meets. It is the ego's substitute for salvation, and for a short time it almost does feel like salvation." 

I've definitely been on the giving and receiving end of the above. And for a long time there, I really thought that's what it was "supposed" to be like. "It's us against the world!"
I mean, when you think someone is your entire world and you can't imagine a day without them, you don't realize how much of that is derived from your mind more than your actual spirit or heart. 

Like any addiction though, eventually the other person lets you down, doesn't follow through, isn't enough and vice versa. Or, they begin to fail meeting your expectations or follow through on their own ... and so on. That's when it often gets ugly, manipulative, angry ... in some instances, physical.

"Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to ― alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person ― you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain."

More than anything else, the past has forced me to focus on the present, on myself. Sure, I was once that woman, on the kitchen floor every night, crying. Do I miss her? No. But have I learned from her? Yes. The truth is, that same pain, she had inside to begin with ... the "relationship" only highlighted it.

For me, it's always been emotions, highs and lows, that I was "addicted" to. So when I felt those things with someone for the first time, I was a moth to a flame, despite the times the highs turned into lows. It made me feel like I existed ... instead of me feeling my own existence inside.

But, the disconnect to my true self is really what I was missing or trying to fill elsewhere. I identified with those emotions, those external expressions, words, promises ... instead of identifying with my own voice, my own words, instincts, wisdom. 

I mean, it was easier for me to have a person to pour my emotions and "love" into than it was to pour love into myself. At least that was the case a few years back and up until recently. 

So, upon reading this, though it may not apply in every sense, it is worth thinking about ... our love, the ways we love ... our views of love.

I guess that's why this chapter hit so hard. I just read it and shook my head, feeling the light bulb moment hit. 

I suddenly saw myself through different eyes ... and saw love differently, too.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Settling into Change

“If all of the steps of surrender are present, then a great Rembrandt or Monet will evoke love because the artist is simply there in all his naked humanity.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Most people don't genuinely enjoy change, at least not the kind that aches as it sets in. But in the end, there's a sense of peace that wasn't there before, perhaps a part of you discovered or transformed.

The thing for me right now that I find interesting ... all the different teachings, practices, the new perspectives that I'm reading about, trying to embrace and study more of, etc., have been put to the test that last few weeks.

This move came on very quickly ... due to the nature of my lease and the availability. So, a lot of the last three weeks, I've pretty much been winging. And in the past, that would have done me in. But every single trying experience or day I've had lately, I've been actively trying to apply the present moment awareness and going with the flow practice. It hasn't been easy. My usual default is to fixate and immerse. That's what I've always done. I fixate on something I'm anxious about and then I immerse myself in it.

I struggled with that this go around. I homed in on what I needed to do and that's all I lived and breathed for a few days there. But while I was doing things, developing color schemes, painting rooms, cleaning ... I was taking in every moment, every brush stroke. Some nights, the solidarity weighed on my heart in a way hard to describe ... other nights, the paint, the brushes, my music, serenaded my insides in an empowering, independent way.

It's just blowing my mind lately, the timing of things ... I will read a chapter of Tolle's book or a page in my Yoga magazine and the very next day, those very things will be tested, presented or challenged. Throughout this whole process, I have literally been witnessing my old mind patterns go to war with new ones. I've watched what my brain automatically does ... the ways in which is feeds on its identity ... thinking about past memories, coming across postcards or notes long forgotten as I cleaned out my place. I'd smile, shake my head and then crumple them up and throw them out. Moving is cathartic in that way.

It's been interesting though, watching my mind almost fighting change. It's fascinating how the mind can really turn on itself, on the body and spirit. And how the moment you gain control, even if it's only momentarily at first, you feel a sense of peace rarely ever felt. That's been my barometer as of late. Peace. When I feel imbalanced, as this move has tried (successfully at times) to create, I feel inner turmoil, depression, anxiety ... my old haunts.

But the moment I watch my mind, the moment I start to focus on the "now" — last night for instance, standing in my back yard with L listening to the trees russle in the wind and breathing in the earth — the more peace I feel inside and the more I feel I can tackle at once. Amidst the move and other drama, I've also gotten one step further along in my pursuit to publish my book. As long as I focus on the step right in front of me, I feel I'm able to conquer all the things I strive to ... and not for external reasons, but internal ones, ones that hopefully inspire and affect/help others positively. One thing I read recently that hit for me is the notion that we can spread positive growth to others through talking, throughout doing ... but there is something unexplainably powerful about actually "being" the positive growth ... actually BEING the peace. That means surrendering to what is.

Sure, I wish for some things I don't have right in front of me right this second. Yes, I suffer sometimes inside. But I've been going with those emotions rather than repressing them or denying them like I used to. I've been observing how they flow through me. How a commercial, the mention of a name or a song will elicit a memory so vivid, I stop breathing for a second. And then I let it flow through me ... and then I smile. My eyes may water too ... but I surrender to it. I don't resist it anymore.

After all ... "You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state." ~ ET

This mind domination is an uphill battle for a woman who has operated from fear for so long ... as well as a woman who has looked externally for her identity. But it's a battle I'm thoroughly enjoying — kind of how I feel when wrap my hands and wrists before I kickbox. I feel ready for anything thrown at me. I welcome it with a sense of steadfast tranquility inside.

Tomorrow, I leave for a two day, one night Yoga retreat in Millersburg (Amish Country). The last time I was there was in fall of 2007. Like everything else as of late, this retreat presented itself unexpectedly. And ... well, like the rest, I'm gonna go with it.

I'm curious what it will bring ...