Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weekly Wings Challenge 6 - Back to Your Future - Part One

I am taken to a place along the seashore, a small village with some crudely built apartments that have been carved out of the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean. It's surrounded by palms, flowering trees, hibiscus, and vinca. The apartments themselves are as multi colored as the surrounding flora. Along the eaves of this building are brightly colored glass bottles that have been broken and embedded into it's stucco walls. I climb a rusty metal stairway attached to the outer wall that leads me to her apartment. As I ascend past the floor of her front porch, I can see her in the open window typing away on her computer. Stepping onto the porch, I notice scuba gear strewn across a hammock and left in the warm sun to dry, two plastic lawn chairs and table covered with the remains of used candles, a bonsai, a hanging basket of vinca, and a hummingbird feeder.

She pauses briefly from intense concentration on a story she's writing, and spots me surveying her patio. With child like enthusiasm, she runs out to greet me, and embraces me warmly. I start to cry. She says nothing, just smiles a soft faded smile of understanding, then pushes the strands of beads aside that make up her front door, and signals for me to come in. She knows why I'm here and where I've come from.

The inside seems sparse compared to the front porch. There's a single bed in the corner with a lamp and night stand, her desk and computer in front of a window overlooking the ocean, an easel folded and leaning against the desk, and bookshelves with art supplies and camera equipment intermingled among the books. The room is filled with the smell of fresh pineapple that must have been consumed at lunch. The back wall has three small windows with frosted glass near the ceiling to allow the ocean breeze to blow through. Under these windows are hung her paintings. Some are framed, some aren't. On the window sill by the desk sits a small brown mouse she calls Bilbo, quietly grooming himself. There is a sense that everything is in it's place.

She doesn't offer me a seat, rather, she shuts down her computer and grabs her hat, braiding her long white hair while slipping on her sandals. Like school girls off to a slumber party, she grabs my arm and says, "let's go for a walk." She lightly skips down the steep stairs with excitement that makes me seem old and tired by contrast. We cross the street and follow a path through a small patch of jungle before stepping out onto a white sandy beach. We take off our sandals and run through the warm sand to the waters edge, and cool our feet in the sparkling turquoise water.

We are walking along the shore, wading in and out of the tide, when I ask her to tell me about her life. The sunshine illuminates soft color beneath the time worn lines on her face as she starts to tell me about all the interesting people she's met. Her face beams with passion while relating stories of their different cultures and the challenges they faced. She speaks of the ones she had become so close to, the ones that inspired her, and her eyes shine with compassion. Her tales are rich with sadness and joy, acts of courage and love, and genuine empathy.

"What do I need to know? What advise can you give me?" I implore.

"Keep searching for understanding." Her answer is as simple as her life has become, yet as deep as the emotions she so proudly carries.

She waves to a couple casting their nets into the water. I can tell by their smiles that they are good friends of hers. We come the the end of the beach where the land points it's rocky finger into the ocean. The tide is low. She climbs the rocks out toward the waves, and takes me to a favorite place of hers. It's a tidal pool nestled in among the rocks. She points out the different sea creatures, and knows them all by name.

"It's wonderful how they thrive in the turbulent ebb and flow of the tide", she says pointing to an iridescent anemone that reaches out when the water comes in.

"What name should I call you?" I inquire.

"Anemone", she replies.

For details on this challenge click here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Illustration Friday: Fail and Weekly Wings Challenge 5 - Take Courage!

depression - anger turned inward
anger - fear
fear - of failure
fear - becomes failure
failure - anger
forgiveness - facing the fear

for more on this week's Wings Challenge click here

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Weekly Wings Challenge 4 - You're on a Mission! and Meme

I originally told Mary that I would have to get back to her later on her My Best Possible Selves Meme, but this Wings Challenge I'm currently working on is similar in that I need to decide on some goals for my future. This has been difficult for me since my husbands death, because the way I had my life planned completely changed. I've been unsure about what I want, ever since. So, even though Mary's meme said to spend about 10 to 20 minutes on this, I've probably spent about the last 7 years trying to figure this out.

My first goal, and probably most important, involves how I see myself now and how I want to see myself in the future. I'm just beginning to understand that I have to be who I am, not who I think I should be, but I have to try to change who I am by seeing myself as who I want to be. It's easy to get the two confused. I want to be happy and healthy. Who doesn't, and why did it take me years to figure this out? Well, it's because I have been told by doctors that I won't ever really be either. All my life they've told me that I have a chemical imbalance due to genetics, that causes depression, and would have to be on medication for the rest of my life. They would say, " there is no cure for your depression." In addition, they also say there is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis [RA], a disease that began affecting me about 3 years ago. Over the years I've been diagnosed with a list of other ailments including, but not limited to, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Leaky Gut Syndrome, Raynaud's Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Hypoglycemia, etc. Currently, I'm not taking any pharmaceutical medications. I've been able to get rid of most of these ailments with alternative treatments. However, I'm still taking alternative medications for depression and RA, so I have a tendency to see myself as depressed and sickly, and to ignore the pain in an attempt to pretend that I'm not. I'm realizing now, though, that my illness is not who I am.

Who am I? I am a personal trainer who specializes in working with people who have special needs, like diabetes, high blood pressure, auto-immune disorders, cancer, arthritis and joint injuries, osteoporosis, and neurological disorders like stroke and head injuries. I've over come a drug addiction, as well as addictions to caffeine, nicotine, and refined sugars. I've changed my life style and eating habits to become healthier, and lose 70 pounds. I was told by a neurologist that I would need surgery on my neck, because of a bone spur, that physical therapy wouldn't help, and yet with a chiropractor and starting a regular exercise routine, I have all the feeling back in my right hand without the surgery. Hence, the reason why I became a personal trainer. I am a survivor, who can adapt my life to accommodate whatever is needed to reach my goals.

Through my work, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of research into auto-immune disorders. I was able to interview a couple of women who have cured themselves of Lupus, and Multiple Sclerosis [MS]. They were both selling products they believe cured them, but when I pried deeper into their personal lives, they both admitted that they had to completely change their lives, their way of thinking, and attitudes, as well as turning to their faith for help. My research is also teaching me that these diseases, including RA, characteristically have emotionally traumatic experiences in the past that make every day stresses the proverbial straw that triggers the disease. I believe that an emotional release of these experiences along with changing deeply ingrained thought patterns and habits will help me reach my goal of being healthy, and I am learning that my chemical imbalance is due to these same experiences, not genetics, so I believe this process will also help me reach my goal of being happy.

Because I've been able to work closely with clients who have Fibromyalgia, Lupus, MS, Chronic Fatigue, and RA, I've noticed that focusing on goals is difficult for them. This is motivating me to make my next goal of Life Coaching. I want to learn skills that will help me focus better, and then teach them to others. When I learned how diet and exercise could help, I decided to teach others, but diet and exercise only got me so far. Likewise, I can only do so much as a personal trainer. Life Coach seems like a natural progression for me.

Some other goals that are important to me involve my art. Over the years, I've seem to have gotten away from my art, and this blog has been helping me get back into it. I want to eventually turn some of my digital collages, that I've posted here, into paintings. It's been a while since I've done any painting. I also want to write a book about my life. I've started it, but I think it will take a while to finish. My Best Possible Selves Meme said to write about what we want our lives to be like in the next 5 to 10 years. I'm hoping to be able to accomplish these things in the next 5 years, since I've already started on some of them. Maybe in the next 10 years, I could be living someplace tropical, where I will be working on my underwater photography. These are my goals, why it's taken me seven years to figure them out, and why I can now see myself accomplishing them.

The last step of the 4th Wings Challenge is to write a Mission Statement using our goals, values, purpose, and manifestations. Here is my Mission Statement:

My mission is to awaken the courage, insight, and creative
abilities that have always been in me, and use them to
communicate to others the things I've been learning on
this journey.

The picture above is the logo that is goes along with my Mission Statement, which is also part of the exercise. I've been a trainer for 6 years now, and still don't have a logo for my business. You'd think that as an artist, that would be one of the first things I'd do, but I've had no desire or motivation to design one. I've decided that I'm going to use this one for my business. I may use it for my Life Coaching business, too, when I start one.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Photo Friday: Far From Home

Passin' the time on the long drive home.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Sister Visits My Mother

"Baby's black and blue."
The distubing absurdity is hurled
From a quietly distorted world,
Where vacuous stares ensue.

Absurd or abstruse?
Daughter or granddaughter?
Covert vipers have caught her
In her mother's pit, morose and recluse.

"You need your mother's attention",
Vibrates through the verbotem venom
In her own wound's festering plenum,
To the one suffering from her abstraction.

"Baby's black and blue."
Cryptic cries will be concealed no longer.
Her daughters will be stronger,
And abscond her abyss of bewildered rue.