Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Letting go

What makes your heart sing?

On the edge of sanity
my heart skips a beat
uncertain whether to
laugh or cry or fade out
of sight without so much
as a farewell or a hug

Looking around I wonder
why I’m still here after
a lifetime of trying to prove
I’m not a failure or a witch
wanting to poison anyone
intent on taking me down

I no longer believe old lies
about the meaning of life
and who gets to decide
who or what is worthwhile
as too many of us lurch along
drunk with our own goodness

All my life I’ve held tightly to this mantra: “Whatever you do, Elouise, do it well and do it with all your heart, mind and body.”

Rarely did anyone ask me what I wanted to do, what I most enjoyed about life, or what dreams I might have for myself. To attend to what I loved was often seen as selfish.

Instead, the mantra was always about responsibility, showing up, and persevering until the job was done. It seemed sensible, sane, and part of what I could offer, even after retirement.

This past week, in conversation with a longtime friend, I finally got it straight. At this age, I am NOT responsible for most, if not all the things (files and academic records) I thought I needed to hang onto. It’s time to let them go, with thanks to shredders.

Besides life with D and my volunteer work, I love playing the piano, writing, reading, watching birds in the back yard, and looking through old cards, notes and pictures from long ago.

Praying for this tired old world, and opportunities to reach out as I’m able. Plus commitment to things I love. They aren’t distractions from the real work. They’re the main agenda.

What makes your heart sing? Thanks for stopping by!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 August 2021
Tufted Titmouse photo found at thebirdnature.com

There’s a chill in the air

There’s a chill in the air
Along the road that leads me
home to the river

Raucous jays and crows
Scream at each other
Without a message that matters

Noisy cars take the quickest
Route to the freeway
Fuming their way through lazy detours

Happiness isn’t on the rise
Neither is patience or understanding
Or ears willing to stop and listen

Still, my heart is at peace
Knowing my end is sooner
Rather than later

Body and heart melt with relief
Releasing things I no longer need
To prove that I was here

I’m not there yet. I am, however, shifting gears yet again. Letting go of things that weigh me down. Things like more books, more unused kitchen utensils, more old clothes, and (especially) the amount I can do in any one day.

My health is (so I’m told) excellent “for my age.” A loaded message, indeed. My feet would not agree with this cheery news. Still, I don’t have any reason to complain—except when I’ve done myself in or feel particularly lonely. A strange experience for an introvert.

The photo at the top, taken this morning, has nothing to do with this post. Except for this.

Every day of his relatively short cat-life, Smudge just keeps going. Purring. Practicing his ‘race up the stairs and tear around the corner in hunt mode’ moves. Playing in a favorite cardboard box. Sitting on my lap asleep, or stretching out on our bed for a midday snooze.

I want to be so carefree and generally kindhearted, no matter how much I get done. How about you?

Thanks for stopping by!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 May 2021
Photo of Smudge taken by ERFraser, 12 May 2021

Out of control

Four nights in a row. Out of control, nightmarish dreams that brought me to a full stop for a few days. I was in my dreams, but not in the driver’s seat. I wasn’t even in the vehicles. I was an onlooker, watching things go downhill with each increasingly dangerous iteration of the same scenario.

I don’t like starting over. I like getting into a groove and then letting things go ahead ‘as normal.’ Yet it seems nothing is normal anymore. Especially when it comes to my body.

A quick inventory:

Energy:
Back up to about 75%, after plummeting two years ago.

Sleep:
Definitely improved in the last three months so that I’m getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night without an unsightly number of bathroom visits. I know that’s not polite to talk about, but let’s just be real for a minute or two, OK?

Eating:
So healthy it makes me sick to think about it. Also the cause for most of my time management issues. Lots of cutting and chopping for those super-healthy smoothies, and constant vigilance about having the right stuff on hand. And then there’s that huge cleanup afterwards while I watch D make a sandwich, chomp a raw carrot, enjoy one small chocolate square, and be done with it.

Exercise:
Getting at least 2 miles of walking in a day, often more; burning well over 1300 calories a day; getting at least 30 minutes of ‘active’ walking a day. No complaints, except when it rains and I’m confined to indoor stairs and my small semi-recumbent bike.

Social Life:
It does happen sometimes. Yesterday we had another lively afternoon tea with our neighbors. Late last week I saw my nearly 85-year old friend Rita when we were out for a walk. And I go to church every Sunday where I’m known for standing around talking with my friends until I get run out. I’m not an extrovert, but I do love being with people, and miss the easy flow of socializing with friends and former colleagues.

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I feel at peace. Yet most of the time I feel driven by whatever the next thing is. This includes time to rest each day—off my feet, relaxed, usually listening to music or taking a little snooze.

I want to experience peace more often, and not feel so driven by whatever the next thing is on my list. Or all those things that ‘should’ be on my list but aren’t.

I also want to keep an open mind about my lists. Most items are non-negotiable. I can rearrange some. Yet by the end of the day, I want to embody the spirit of this small prayer even though I don’t always succeed. I’m especially challenged by the last item.

I let go my desire for security and survival.
I let go my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go my desire for power and control.
I let go my desire to change the situation.

Quoted by Cynthia Bourgeault in Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, p. 147 (Cowley Publications 2004)

Right now it happens to be lunchtime, so I’ll happily retire to the kitchen….

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 May 2018
Photo found at wisegeek.com

Strange Visitors


Unplanned events
Crash into my life
Force change and create confusion

Chaos
Leers at me
Foils attempts to ‘sort things out’

Indecision
Haunts my behavior
Especially on days without sunshine

Lethargy
Creeps from head to toe
Lulls me into dreary gray oblivion

Dare I welcome
These strangers in
For tea and conversation?

I fight the urge
To show them the door
As though they didn’t exist

I want them to disappear
Like the unrealities
I want them to be

***

As a girl child I was instructed at home, in school and in church to avoid or get rid of all things negative. That included lying, cheating, pouting, complaining to my parents or fighting with my sisters.

Though this was supposed to make me good and happy, this negative approach seemed to border on magical thinking.

Avoid this or stop doing that, and you’ll win the Good Girl Lottery! It might not always be fun right now, but it will be spectacular later on—especially after you die and wake up in heaven.

And yet, with all that goodness drummed into me, I wasn’t protected then or now from difficult situations. Instead, my upbringing instilled voices and unhelpful habits that drive my behavior more than I like to admit. They kept me from exploring and celebrating my voice, and the woman I was becoming then and now.

I’m just beginning to recognize the way these drivers work in me, and let them go. They’re named in the litany I wrote about here:

  • My desire for security and survival
  • My desire for esteem and affection
  • My desire for power and control
  • My desire to change the situation

Saying I’m letting go is relatively easy. Living it out is difficult. It’s difficult to let go of what I’m not willing to understand. I want to welcome these desires as the realities they are, capable of supporting life or of putting it at risk. I don’t want to slam the door in their faces. They might be my best coaches—or at least helpful visitors I dare not silence or ignore.

So how do I welcome these strangers and listen to them? How and why did they become powerful and controlling in me? Who put their insistent, insinuating voices in me, and why? And how does this affect my responses to unplanned events, chaos, indecision and lethargy?

More fodder for self-reflection during and beyond this Lent season. Thanks for reading!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 March 2017
Photo found at islamforchristians.com

We’re Number One

Even though I’m the oldest of four daughters, destined to be Number One whether I like it or not, I have to confess:  I like being Number One!  I like being the Boss!  At least most of the time.

My husband is the Number Two child in his family. Read the rest of this entry »

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