Wednesday, July 14, 2004

feeling a bit stalled...

it's late here for me to be blogging. usually it's the first thing i do after i put the beans on to grind. thought about a lot of different blog topics today, and none seemed like anything i really wanted to spend my time on. so whenever i get stalled i know it has to do with my recovery. the best way i've found to beat a stall is to do what's 'next'.

WARNING - this is a hugely long post. it's more for me than you. feel free to read on, but i'm really just trying to get my thoughts and plans organized.

i know why i feel frozen, i don't like to finish things. it's either they don't end well and i feel like a failure, or they end so well that i have to grieve their passing.

i am on step 11 on two of my workbooks, and both are looming to an end. one is just a trivial step series that has only taken me this past year to do, and i'm looking forward to finishing it. the other one though i've been working on since october 2002, and it's the best tool i've ever used. i hate the thought of it ending.

it's a gentle path through the twelve steps by patrick cairns. the steps, while gentle, aren't easy. they are indepth and mine deeply into my soul.

i know that this next step will be life changing for me and i am terrified.

step eleven

sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with god as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.

here's the excerpt that i need to address today:

'spirtuality is simply another level of 'knowing' or finding. often this takes the form of a journey or quest. to undertake such a spiritual quest, you will need to make special preparations. here are suggestions for what you might need:

- a dream journal
- a seeking place
- a guiding metaphor
- a collection of sacred things
- a spiritual mentor.'

while i'd love to go to taize or linwood house or backpack around europe i have neither the funds, nor the freedom. so i have to think on a smaller, less grand scale. i think i've found my location. it's a romanian orthodox monastary i've visited about 10 miles from my home.

they have homes that can be used for pilgrims and a beautiful site, complete with a chapel filled with breath-taking icons. it's run by nuns and not monks, and they are warm and welcoming.

the issue i am stalled by is what it's supposed to 'look like'. do i hike there? do i drive? is it a silent retreat? do i participate in the routine of the monastery? how long should i go? i am so indecisive it is overwhelming me. i just don't want to screw this up. i have spent a day alone with god before, it's not the silence or solitude that bring me the anxiety, i guess it's more like 'this is my big chance, don't goof it'.

i put so much pressure on myself and god for everything to be 'just so' that i am terrified i will be disappointed (kind of like the dance - which should remind me that i will never be disapponted, but the intimacy thing still terrifies me...)

anyway, back to planning.

as far as a 'dream journal' goes, i don't have 'dreams' like spiritual people have dreams (like amy does). i've always wanted deep spiritual dreams, they just don't seem to happen when i sleep. maybe i'm meant to dream while i'm awake?? but i am 6 pages away from finishing my current journal (back to that hate to finish stuff thing - it's the first journal i will have actually filled, lots of them started, but they're just so pretty, and i want a new one all the time... i have forced myself to stop buying them and finish at least one...) so my goal is to finish writing in the current one and take a brand spanking new one with me on this trip. i have been preparing it for almost a year.

the current journal i have was a gift, and every time i open it i'm blessed with a fragrance, like i've walked into a wonderful candle shop. so i have my new journal in a zip lock bag with some wonderful scented aroma, and am hoping that this will continue the sensory experience.

boy am i full of bunny trails today... (okay, this is more for me than for you, sorry!)

so i have the seeking place, and the dream journal. now the metaphors. throughout the book you are encouraged to find metaphors that give you pictures of your recovery. i have many. my metaphor for my childhood is a hedgehog. curl up and protect myself because no one else seemed to. my metaphor for adulthood is the mama bear. hyper vigilant, protecting her loved ones (that includes you too) from any danger or attack. and the metaphor i gleened from reading when the heart waits by sue monk kidd. the butterfly.

there are too many layers to describe how this metaphor has touched me. my journal is filled with pages and pages. i'll have to blog on this another time.

the second to last metaphor i'll be bringing is a sunflower. at our last women's retreat the speaker told us we all needed to ponder what type of flower we were in god's garden. i thought it was a stupid 'ladies retreat' type of thing to do, and was very irritated by it, but upon actually meditating on it (reluctantly obedient that i am) i realized that i was a sunflower.

sturdy, tall and practical. have you ever tried to pull one of these from the ground? stubborn and rooted also fits too. they nourish others and lift their faces to the sun. even for a dumb ladies retreat assignement god used this metaphor deeply in my life. it was also a wonderful way to get to know and understand the other women i was in a small group with. i think i'm going to assign this to us all in the blogworld. (file for later)...

the last, most recent metaphor god gave me while starting preperation for this pilgrimage was a circus performer balancing on a ball. so much of my life has been marked by extremes. i don't do 'middle ground' very well. it is my prayer that my recovery is marked by balance.

sacred things... the thought of walking the 10 miles gave me the idea for a walking stick (balancing circus performers also use a stick to help them balance). i found a stick while at creation, now i just have to personalize it a bit. walking sticks also alert helpful drivers to know that the walker is intent on walking - and doesn't want a ride.

i will also need a mirror. body image and my self image is a very big part of my recovery. i hesitate to type that i'll be bringing a mirror. it seems vain. anyway.

i also have collected a small cloth bag of sacred objects. rocks, acorns, gifts from my children, reminders of childhood. i hang it on the corner post of my bed and dump it out when i need some connections or am feeling alone. it is a wonderful tool to help replace the lies i tell myself.

i also have a floppy hat to shade my head and it has a beautiful copper butterfly pin on it. i have copper colored hair, and remember the 'red hair' jokes of childhood that hurt me so much. i can't remember when/who it was that corrected that and gifted me with the words, 'you don't have red hair, you have copper hair'. somehow that made a lot of it all better.

the last sacred thing i want to bring (and this probably would have worked better in the early summer, but the timing wasn't possible) is a pocketful of sunflower seeds. i want to drop them along my path and either feed the birds who follow, or maybe plant sunflowers this year or next along my path.

the last on the list is a spiritual mentor. this is probably the most difficult for me to blog on. i have longed for a mentor all of my life. i have a wonderful therapist who 'fills the gap' but i truly want someone who loves me for who i am and is willing to step into my life and commit to loving and mentoring me. it has never happened.

i have heard rumor that a spiritual director has moved back into our community. i am very excited about this and hope to make contact soon. i would really love to have a director in my life that is close by and can be seen regularly.

so... there is my list. i have done what is 'next'. maybe that will break the stall that i feel like i've been in.

please father, help me as i plan, not to have too high of expectations, not to freeze or stop from moving forward. help me today to take another step toward you - and i pray today for knowledge of your will and the power to carry that out. amen.

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