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Two new iTunes reviews (I think! Did I read Elizabeth’s last time? I don’t think so…) Thanks guys!!!
We do a quick update on my animals, Happy the Dog and Sunshine the Cat: how are they now?
Hey all! Here is the latest CE guest blog post which is a recorded call, and the very first time I have spoken with Elisa! It was really incredible, not just because Erik is this big presence, but because tapping into that connection via his Mom was so powerful and heartwarming.
Please click on over to read the post and please cast your vote for me if you like my CE posts!
I would love to continue to be a part of Erik & Elisa’s projects, so your vote and support means a lot to me!
I recently bought two new pet beds. Because I have TWO pets, and I wanted to be fair.
I put the cat bed downstairs in the living room, where Sunshine spends the most time, and I put the dog bed in the bedroom for the same reason, besides, he has his old dog bed downstairs!
Well yesterday, there was an exchange I wish I’d caught on video:
Happy has had designs on the cat bed from the moment he saw it. He sees it as a thing for the cat IN THE LIVINGROOM that he doesn’t have. It doesn’t matter to him that he has a new bed upstairs that he uses more. When he’s downstairs, he wants the new bed.
Yesterday, Sunshne walks into the living room and eyes the dog, who has taken up his passive protest in his one-pup movement OCCUPY CAT BED. She side-eyes him and suddenly becomes entranced by his mini tennis ball. Oh this ball is so much fun! Gosh I just love this ball! It’s mine!
Then she swats the ball across the room so that it rolls by Happy, in a way that would create an impulse for him to chase it. Cats understand prey drive. She stared at the dog, preparing to jump in the bed the second his fluffy butt was off of it.
Happy, incredibly, resists the urge. It must’ve made his toenails curl, to stay put when the cat created a moment for him to not only chase a moving ball, but take it back from HER!
Happy really, really REALLY wanted the bed! More than is ball! In dog currency, that’s like paying a month’s salary for one good dress.
So today, I popped by ocean pet foods and bought ANOTHER bed. Apparently, I need three beds for two pets.
I went a little nuts. I was really feeling and missing my Mom yesterday, and followed the impulse to buy things that reminded me of her. When I was a baby, we had a massive palm tree and a huge, fragrant jasmine.
I adopted a new Ficus, no name yet, and a kumquat tree! My Oma had one of these in her little sunroom over their deck. It’s full of tiny little oranges!
I also brought home this fabulous bushy creature from Hawaii. I forget what it’s called.
After laying down in the car for a few hours, the plants started to feel confused. The leaves didn’t Understand why the direction of “up” had changed, why the light had suddenly changed. By the time we got home, the poor thing was downright dizzy.
The living room was made immediately pleasant by the addition of these new friends. They’re used to the very best, so it’ll take a while before they adjust to the angle of the light coming through a window.
Forgive this little post, I’m testing a new app that should make posting blog entires easier.
I just don’t know how it’ll appear on the blog without testing it. Hmmm. How does this look?
OH GAWD!!! It’s soooooo ugly!!!!!!! SORRY EVERYONE!!!!
It dare say i am finished unpacking. Except for this one last box. This is the box of stuff I don’t know if I want to keep, or where to put the crap IN this box. But tonight, I will decide.
Our living room is actually our least-used room, because it’s rather sparsely furnished. Eventually I’ll fill it with plants, including some ficus trees. I just LOVE indoor trees.
I had a ficus named “Maurice” who grew from a little sapling to a giant tree in three years, but when we moved into the Tofino apartment, there wasn’t enough natural light to keep him alive. I regretfully rehomed him to a place with another ficus tree with an M name. I may advertise to see if I can get Maurice back. It might seem weird to be attached to a particular plant, but I just am. I still remember a huge jade tree I had to rehome when I moved from North Bay to Toronto. I gave it to a friend who promptly killed it. My Mom gave me that plant, and I wish I’d kept it!
A friend of mine has a peace lily I gave her when we moved from Toronto to the coast. She STILL has it, and it’s doing well!
So I look forward to my future plant friends. I have a little jade tree Sweetie gave me for my birthday, and a few African violets in my office.
Anyway. I wanted to write about this lady who is on the other side, but still lives in our house. This is the first time we’ve lived in a house that is significantly inhabited and in a very pleasant way!
I don’t know much about her, just that she comes across as a retired grandmotherly lady who considers herself the custodian of the house, like a den mother for the tenants. She likes us.
Last night, when Sweetie and I were in bed watching Sons of Anarchy, this lady I call Margaret appeared in our bedroom doorway and said ” well, I’m going to bed! Good night!”
“Good night!” I said.
“Where’s her bedroom?” Sweetie asked.
We both think Margaret’s room is my office.
She’s a lovely lady and the reason we haven’t felt the need to smudge / cleanse our new place. She’s the guardian spirit of this place.
Today, I babied her rose bush. I think it’s her rose bush. It’s seems as old as the house. It’s this massive, decades-old climbing bush in front of our porch. I gave it a mild pruning, topped up the soil and gave it a feeding. Margaret is very pleased.
Sweetie and I are both Aries. Though we appear to be quiet, we both have fiery personalities. I remember this most when we have little fights. Our emotions are hugely powerful, the energy in the room snaps with tension and the need to be heard.
I grew up in a family that forbade open fighting. If my sister and I argued, we’d both get in trouble and sent to our separate rooms – so this drove the fighting underground. I don’t know why this happened, but I’m sure it had something to do with parents wanting to protect their kids from conflict. Every family has it’s dynamics, this was ours: still waters have a damn powerful undertow. My emotion was something to hide and strategically release later on.
Sweetie grew up in a large family with FOUR older brothers. As the youngest by 12 years and the only girl, she had to learn to SHOUT to be heard. When we got together, these differing styles of reacting to conflict came into sharp relief. My icy silence with her volume. We both had to move towards the middle.
I brought the silence through my adulthood. I *never* fought in any of my relationships prior to being with Sweetie. She had to actually teach me HOW to fight. And I had to teach her how to bring it down a notch. I think that ultimately, when you both want to be together, you’re both equally motivated to figure shit out.
A few weeks ago, Sweetie said something to me that probably would have blown up into a massive fight had she said any sooner:
“You position yourself as the victim. When you do that, I am the asshole, and that’s not fair to me.”
This may have been said at a loud volume.
It was a completely silly mini-fight, we were both tired and I was snippy because I’d expected her to realize I needed help with the groceries and skipped the part where I should have asked nicely. I went straight to cranky. Sweetie will throw cranky right back into my lap, she doesn’t take that shit from me for a second.
A few years ago, accusing me of “positioning myself as a victim” would have deeply upset me. I would have felt *wounded*. You know, victimized. I would have allowed the hurt of this statement to injure me and my pain would be proof of my innocence and status as a victim in this fight.
As soon as she said it, I could see she wanted to grab the words out of the air and stuff them back into her mouth. The words stopped our fight dead. I was stunned.
She was right.
In that moment, I realized I utilize my own sense of victimization to elevate myself in any conflict. I am the one done wrong here, I’m a good person with good intentions, therefore I *can’t* be the one at fault here. It’s this other person who’s doing me wrong.
I had no idea I was weaponizing my own victimization! And how messed up is that??? It’s probably the most toxic guilt trip you could ever throw at a loved one.
I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now, and I’ve started to see this tactic at play in other areas of my life. If and when someone positions themselves as being victimized by me, there’s not much I can do about it… Except feel victimized! For example, our previous landlady felt victimized by our use of the shared washer and dryer. To keep the peace and avoid conflict, I started to bike as big a bag of laundry as I could carry the 30 minutes into town to process it at the laundry mat. Talk about a martyr complex. I hate conflict so much, I’d rather bike in the rain with garbage bags of my clothes and spent an extra $40 a month so I can avoid one more conversation, feeling angry and victimized the entire time.
It’s interesting how two people can weaponize victimization in a single conflict. In grief, there is sometimes terrible fallout for families after losing a loved one, particularly a parent or child. I’ve previously talked about the very common question that comes up during readings: Does ____ see how ____ is behaving?
There is so much pain behind that question.
I’m working my way through the book “Nonviolent Communication”. I’m still learning how to shift my own tendency to position myself as a victim, and instead ask “What is my unmet need? What is the unmet need of this other person?”
The answers are not always obvious, and sometimes, we’re limited by the actions of other people. Like Sweetie & I are motivated by our mutual desire to get along and work things out, it’s hard to set aside your own power of victimization. Although Sweetie managed to perfectly time her illumination of my own victim complex, if she’d done that any earlier, I probably would’ve been mighty pissed. You can’t just take away someone’s weaponized victimhood. That would only super-charge it.
I really like Catherine’s comment in the previous entry. She said: I tend to diffuse potential heated confrontations nowadays by simply stating that I am unwilling to get into an argument, we have differing opinions, I respect theirs and we’ll have to agree to disagree. It’s like a firework being drenched in water : it fizzles out very quickly!
This is great in situations where you can walk away, where agreeing to disagree is an option. It’s a viable option in a lot of long-term relationships… but hey, I can only affect my own sense of victimization. I can only choose to disarm my own victim weaponization. If someone else wants to hold on to their own sense of injury because it helps them to feel more in-control, more powerful, well, the only thing we can do with that is not be victimized by that action. Break the cycle of weaponized victimization.
Lay down arms, accept, and observe. Maybe set up some boundary patrol.
Does this all make sense you guys? Have you ever caught yourself weaponizing your own victimization?
I have a good friend who experiences a lot of anxiety and worries about what people think about her. We had a really funny conversation that resulted in the sentiment “You just have to ration the fucks that you give. We only have so many fucks to give, use them wisely.” I needed this advice too.
I have been thinking about this idea incessantly for months, because it can feel like you HAVE TO care about what *certain* people in your life think of you. Preserving relationships is the only reason to give fucks when it doesn’t feel great to give them… and it’s a temporary solution at best. Hence the anxiety. You can’t just keep on giving your fucks away.
(Yes, my friend and I talk like sailors.)
A while back I did a post about “Bad Medicine”. The phrase “Bad Medicine” came from a friend’s spirit guide, where “good medicine” is a good intention / energy, and bad medicine is the reverse. “Medicine” differed from simply “energy” because energy is what is, the status quo. It’s such a useful phrase, but I feel uncomfortable using it because “Bad Medicine” can evoke racist images of Native Americans in John Wayne movies. I just can’t do it, and as a white person, I really, really shouldn’t.
So I’ll call it “Off-Key Energy.” Hey, it rhymes! On-Key Energy can signify thoughts, feelings, and prayers, both intentional and unintentional, which influence others positively. Off-Key Energy throws others off. Makes them cringe and they don’t know why. It’s unpleasant, it feels wrong.
We all have to deal with this. It might come from coworkers, friends, neighbours, family – whole communities and even the entire culture. Off-Key Energy is why we care what others think of us. It’s real energy, with real effects.
We give fucks because we’re trying to AVOID Off-Key Energy.
At some point, Off-Key Energy becomes unavoidable, or the amount of energy you’re putting into trying to control it is unsustainable. That’s when you have to STOP caring about whether this energy is generated or not – it’s coming.
Here’s why I don’t call it “Bad Energy”: It’s not necessarily bad. Those people having those thoughts about you, they’re having those thoughts based on the framework of their lived experience. It’s their reality. That’s why it’s so powerful! Here’s an extreme example:
I have been listening to audio book autobiographies of women who escaped the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints in the early 2000s. This extreme cult had / has communities in Utah, Arizona, Texas and British Columbia. A lot of their beliefs actually parallel Scientology – mind over matter, viewing illness as spiritual weakness, eschewing personal property for a shot at eternal salvation and their own *planets* in the afterlife.
The FLDS, however, sublimate women and girls to the level of property, and the result is a culture of human trafficking. It seems certain harmful practices have become much more extreme in the past 30 years, although the sect has been around for centuries.
I started to notice parallels in the women’s stories. Every time a girl or woman would escape, her entire community including her family would go to church and listen to sermons on how evil the escaped woman was. The whole community including her children would be ordered to pray for this woman’s death.
Talk about off-key energy!
The price of freedom for these women is enormous, and every one of them experienced a major health crisis in the aftermath of their escape. Listening to their stories, I wondered, “How much of this could be the off-key energy of their family and community?”
In Rebecca Musser’s book “The Witness Wore Red,” Becky talks about a cancerous growth at the base of her spine which caused her tremendous pain. A reiki practicioner, who knew nothing of Becky’s history, commented after a session “I think this tumour is the result of ill will being directed at you.”
Becky nearly fell on the floor, because the reiki lady had no way of knowing hundreds of people were praying for Becky’s death.
Where I live in Tofino, my friends of First Nations decent talk quietly about their customs and defences against negative energy. They’re always cautious about alluding to these parts of their cultures, for a lot of historical reasons including surviving cultural genocide, and so when something like this comes up in conversation I accept and respect the information.
One thing a friend always does is burn her tissues when she has a cold. If someone were to get a hold of those tissues, they could use it to exploit her temporary weakness and steal her life force.
There are stories about a person who uses off-key energy for hire. Basically, there’s someone around here you can hire to put a curse on your enemies, throw a kink into a business deal, create endless obstacles for those trying to create positive change.
I believe it, too. I think any kid who’s experienced bullying knows what off-key energy feels like, and how it builds up like plaque in the arteries of your life.
Sylvia Browne always said there’s no such thing as a curse, and I think that was a wise stance for her to take. There are too many fear-mongering woo-woo witches willing to convince you there’s a curse on you, and here’s a $500 talisman that will protect you for a week. That’s ridiculous. Never let anyone manipulate you with fear.
But I think it’s helpful to talk about the impact of off-key energy. It exists. We experience it.
I think Off-Key Energy is one of the reasons why kids and teens who are bullied / cyber bullied are more vulnerable to psychic and psychological damage leading to increased risk of suicide. Kids and teens are more vulnerable to what other people think, because other people’s thoughts about them have a direct impact on their lives. Kids and teens depend upon the adults and other kids around them to take care of them, and because a teacher, a parent or a friend can have a huge impact on your life, you’re going to tune UP your empathetic connection with those power figures in your life.
As an adult, we gain independence from the thoughts of others… to a point. We tend to ramp up that psychic / empathetic attachment to coworkers, friends and neighbours if those people have the power to significantly impact our lives. Family members have a special secret code to our defences too, intentional or not, sometimes family challenges each other more than anyone else in our lives.
So whether you’re a kid in school vulnerable to the thoughts of teachers and friends, or you’re a grown-ass person vulnerable to the influence of other adults, there is a psychic connection there. We get to be extra sensitive to those thoughts. We *know* when someone else is thinking, talking or feeling bad about and towards us. I believe this is a natural part of our human survival instincts. You’ve got to know if your co-worker is reporting on you, if your teacher has labelled you a bad kid, or if your boss is in a mood. It could affect your survival – that’s why we’re “tuned in”.
Here’s a hard lesson I’ve had to learn over and over and over again: It is not my job to internalize what other people think of me. Nor is it my job to be a peacekeeper, at the expense of myself. I don’t need to dance to their off-key energy.
It is my job to be myself, just who I am.
I am simply occupying space as my complete self, decompressing and expanding into the whole being I came here to be.
It reminds me of the “Fuck it” meditation John showed us as a joke a few years ago. I wish I’d written about it at the time, but I can’t seem to find anything in the blog! I remember telling my mother about this in one of our phone conversations. There was John Lennon, in awkward lotus pose, chanting: “Fuuuuuuck it. Fuuuuuuuck it all. It’s fucked.” This was followed by a strong visual of John PISSING into the pool of tranquility.
We had this conversation during a time when my Mom’s diet was terribly restricted after she was diagnosed with celiac disease. She made a “hamburger date” with John, to eat hamburgers and talk about their lives. I wonder if she’s had it yet? I’ll have to ask her.
I’m still trying to sort all this out. There will be more on this topic.
What do you guys think?? How have you experienced off-key energy? What things have helped? What didn’t help? If you were to advise your past selves, what would you tell them?
This was a tough one for me to talk about: what happens when you feel your pet is too much? What do you do when you’re over your head or at the end of your rope with a pet, particularly a dog?
Our little animal family has faced some new challenges: Happy has been attacking Sunshine as though he wants to kill her. He locks in on her, and it’s gotten exponentially worse since Sunshine’s started taking medication for her hypothyroidism. It has changed her smell, and Happy’s prey drive is nearly irresistible.
We talk about the *most* difficult dog situations, the challenges, judgment and even shame of “failure.”
How to cope when you feel you have limited choices with emotionally challenging pets.
How do you like the new podcast cover? It’s like, HERE’S MY FACE!!!! I like it though. It looks more like me.
PS! There’s some time remaining to get your $25 off your next pet session! Click on the puppy to get yours!
Here’s how I handle emotional pain, primarily, and maybe a few of you can relate: I totally eat my feelings. I’ve been eating my feelings for the past two years. I was just about ready to start taking off the bit of extra weight / baggage I’d gained in early 2014 when we got the news: Mom has a brain tumour. It’s not good.
And I’ve been eating my feelings ever since.
Everyone has their coping mechanisms, and it can be great in the short term. But here’s what happens when you eat your feelings: those feelings aren’t processed. You’re just saving them for later, right along with the extra weight, or in the joints, or in the muscle. We do have an understanding of “sense memory” but what I’m talking about it the next level of sense memory. Body memory, maybe we’ll call it that.
Our bodies mark time, by the seasons, by the light, and by what we store in them. What we experience in them. What we hold on to, what we expel. We have theories about what happens when we ignore the bad stuff for years, stuff it down inside, pack it away under layers of tissue that help us feel insulated and safe. I think it comes out in illness, and injury. Like when I threw out my back shortly after my last visit with my mother.
The first time I experienced this emotional release coinciding with weight loss was after a breakup with my last boyfriend, just before figuring out “Wow, I’m gay. That explains a lot.” I’d been eating my feelings in that relationship for a few years, and I had become obese. It took me regular visits to a nutritionist nurse, weekly injections of vitamins and all my time and energy to take that weight off in the following year.
What I discovered during that year was that the weight was just the superficial thing. It wasn’t the REAL thing. The process of weight loss, the food diaries, the hours spend in planning and food prep, the hours spent fighting food cravings – that wasn’t the hardest part about losing that weight. The toughest part was ALL the emotional crap that surfaced with every lost pound.
I would lose five pounds and remember our last fight. The memory became an obsession and would pop back into my mind constantly throughout the day. Some moments, I was practically re-living it. I would lose another five pounds and remember the anxieties I had about money, his unemployment, his downward spiral. I was reliving our relationship in reverse, as I was peeling the layers of onion fat on my body.
Once I realized what was happening, I started to notice it more often. It wouldn’t be just weight loss that could trigger a stored emotion. Exercise did it too. I resisted exercise for years because a workout could trigger deep unhappiness, memories I thought I’d “let go of” or some random hurt feeling from my school years. It was so difficult to take off those fifty pounds, I was pretty careful not to let them creep on again. Ten pounds, okay. Twenty pounds, alright, time for some action.
In the past two years, I’ve put on fifty pounds… while biking 15 km / day.
So here I am, situated in our wonderful little house. All of our immediate needs are met. I have little to worry me about the future right now. No time bomb ticking for a loved one, no one knocking on our door or monitoring our laundry. It’s time to work on my body.
I can understand why people never do this, how extra weight becomes obesity and then morbid obesity. You need a safe place to deal with the emotions you’re trying to bury. When you’re overwhelmed, there isn’t the time or space to feel the crap out of your feelings as they’re happening – or possibly, there are just too many damn feelings to deal with all at once. If you’re like me, you ration your feelings. You save some for later. You eat some damn ice cream and do what needs doing!
Well, yeah. And here I am, finally in a place to deal with this fallout. I will. I have before, I know I can. But before I do, I had Melody Charlie, a wonderful and talented local photographer, take some photos with me at the beach. I LOVED working with her. She completely understood why I would use elementals like beach, sky, ocean, mountains in my website. I didn’t have to explain how the connection with nature reflects our connection with spirit. She got it. I have been a fan of her photos for years, and I was really happy to be working with her. She’s one of those rare photographers who manages to capture the heart or energy of the moment. I think it’s because she photographs with love. We’re planning another session with her dog, and I would like to get some done with Sweetie (because all of our couple photos are selfies, and it’s been eight years already!)
These photos were just for me, to show myself that yeah, this is where I am when I’m larger, when I’m holding on to a lot of things. I carry weight. But you know what? I carry it well. I am beautiful. It’s okay for me to be this size. I am okay with how my body handles adversity. It’s doing it’s job! I am grateful It’s wonderful that I can put stuff away for later, carry it with me, let it go when I’m safe, when I have time.
As well, spending a couple of hours with someone exclaiming about how beautiful you are is a great way to start off a self-care journey.
It began today. Kind of a rocky start. Since I no longer have a bike commute, I joined the local gym again – I love this place. Sauna, swimming pool, full weight room. The gym is a nice place to go be with people but not be expected to interact with them.
I decided to start by replicating my bike commute – I was gratified to discover that my stamina is right where I left it a few months ago. I’m still strong, I still have energy. It’s a great place to start. I used to hate cardio; this time, I returned from the gym feeling fantastic.
When I got home, I burst into tears. I flipping lost it. Tears, grief, I miss my Mom, I miss my cat, I miss my dog. I was so so sad. Just decimating grief. Sweetie held me and fed me peanut butter on toast. It helped.
It’s all heart chakra stuff. I’m releasing the stuff that’s on top, that’s in my heart.
Based on past experience, the beginning is the most difficult. The emotions and memories are the wildest, the most extreme.
The nutzoid part is the push-pull in my body. Of course it’s better, healthier for me to release this stuff, feel the shit out of my feelings. That’s what it’s about. But there’s a very worried part of my body that wants to cram all that crap back down – eat eat eat eat! I’ll have to do a crack-down food purge soon, and I’ll be leaning hard into my chocolate craving fix: one banana, a handful of raspberries, a ton of cocoa powder and topped up with almond milk. Barely any calories and I can convince my brain it’s a chocolate bar.
I think I’ll start using the Lose-It app on my ipod again. If anyone else would like to join me, we can be Lose-It buddies. The app lets you see / share what you’ve been eating, how you’ve been exercising, and you don’t have to share your weight if you’d prefer not to. I’ll share mine. You can find me using my email address, email@example.com
And hey, click on the image below if you want $25 off your next pet reading!