Dreams

packing light: part I.

My sweet cousin Nicole shared a book she loved with me recently as I was working on making the move out to California called Packing Light: Thoughts On Living Life With Less Baggage. It came to me at the perfect time, and I eagerly dug into the soulful thoughts the author Allison Vesterfelt shares with her readers. Truthfully, I carried this book around with me a bit like the tattered Velveteen Rabbit as I traversed the country that year, reading it on the plane and as my eyes grew heavy at night, folding over many of its pages, underlining and scribbling notes with vigorous head noddings and a-has. Her words were a source of comfort and strength as I figured out what the biggest transition of my life to date was going to look like, sans road map. If other people could do big scary things, I could too! I highly recommend it as a companion for anyone experiencing any kind of growth or life transformation.

Our brains are funny in times of transition. The closer we get to taking a leap or making a big change, the more fear creeps in and makes us want to cling to the walls, screaming with a megaphone in our ear all the reasons why we can’t do it. Fears also come up for the people who love us as change is in the air, and the overwhelm can get, well, overwhelming.

My ex-boyfriend Mike coined a phrase
Exhilafrightciting to explain the times in life such as these, and I find myself using it a lot lately. Exhilarating, frightening, exciting. It describes many of life’s moments: new love, new changes, new adventures, new anything.

Vesterfelt writes: “We get so focused on what we think is going to happen, so worried about it, we don’t even consider something better might be coming, something we couldn’t have possibly dreamed up ourselves.” That is one of the key lessons for me of this book- lightening our loads, emotionally and physically, leaves us more free to pursue what is truly important and open to receiving infinite possibilities that might come our way.

I’ve been working on ‘packing light’ for a long time. As my Dad likes to joke when he asks me what I’m doing, I usually answer “getting organized.” I spend a lot of my time getting ready to do something. This is somewhat due to my procrastinating, recovering-perfectionist nature to be sure. But also because, I’m Busy. Hopefully less of the culturally glorified Busy that is starting to be frowned upon instead of being worn as a badge of honor (which I am certainly guilty of), and more of the truly just-have-mucho-stuff going on. I like it, obviously, because I’ve lived this way as long as I can remember. If you asked my people to describe the definition of busy they would say that my photo is next to it in the dictionary. My Mom frequently says supportively: “We all know Val needs more hours in the day.”

In peak childhood days circa age six to ten I was churning out colorful loom potholders, coloring intricate designs on graphic outlines, and watching my favorite TV shows of the 80’s simultaneously, usually Saturday morning cartoons or sitcoms such as the Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, Little House on the Prairie, and later the Love Boat and Three’s Company, the latter much to my mother’s chagrin. Come and knock on our door… I digress!

My varied ADHD-esque interests and curious nature left me with with lots of eclectic items in my possession. It began with collections: book series, special soaps in the shape of things like animals and golf balls, pencils with unique eraser toppers, paper napkins, stamps, baseball cards, paper and office supplies.

I can still smell the soaps and remember the feel of them and the oils on my hands. They were all beautiful and unique. A swan, a flower, a heart. I have moved several times over the years around the country, but due to my illness was unable to effectively purge things during most of those and my physical and emotional load grew increasingly heavier.

When I left Austin, Texas for North Carolina to seek answers for my health concerns, I took a babystep and let go of some of these special childhood treasures. I snapped a photo of my soap collection and said goodbye. It was not easy to part with. I came across the photo technique in one of the million of organizing books I had amassed and it felt like a decent solution.

As an archiver of life, letting go of special items with sentimental value feels damn near impossible. The professional organizer I hired many years later said that these types of possessions were the toughest to part with for most people, and her recommendation was to start with evaluating (and getting rid of) the easy stuff first. Some early quick “wins” give us a boost of confidence to keep moving forward.

I think about the irony that our possessions can so easily possess us. The stuff keeping us stuck. I used to love binge watching a show called Clean House, where the crew would intervene on a household struggling with too much stuff. The deeper reasons behind these situations was usually some kind of familial or career loss, illness, or other personal struggle.

I felt a lot of empathy for the participants, drawing strong parallels with my own story. It was powerful to see the end result (albeit at an orchestrated-for-TV mach speed pace), where the participants have lightened their loads considerably, faced some deep emotional demons head on, and are left with a peaceful home environment and a fresh start.

Vesterfelt’s book captures some of the heart of this process for me. “If we want to be truly alive, truly awake to the reality of the world around us, packing light will be a continued, daily struggle.”

As we embark on exhilafrightciting new adventures, I keep in mind what my doctor says: it's not “leap and the net will appear,” it’s leap and build the net on the way down. That’s what I take Packing Light’s message to be- when we follow what’s calling us on our journey, we are provided with the support we need in one way or another, even if it takes an unexpected or perhaps initially undesirable form. We are open to new opportunities. This echos Paulo Coelho’s concept behind
The Alchemist- all the universe conspiring to help us achieve our dreams once we follow our path or personal legend. Fodder for another post! 

I want to know - how are you practicing packing light in your lives?

Travel-Must-Haves-For-Amazing-Hair-

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transitions.

There have been lots of comings and goings in my world lately, people wise. I have been spending this week helping my second set of neighbor/friends in a month pack up and move, and it is a process. You know you have made it to true friend status when you help someone move- you are down in the nitty gritty of their most intimate stuff, and they trust you to know what to throw away and what to keep- when I think about it, it's actually a privilege.

Even someone else's trash is satisfying to me Happy and I have gotten lots of joy and inspiration helping my friend get rid of 4 huge bags of clothes this week, and a whole bunch of other stuff. It's amazing how powerful simply having a witness or "body double" can be in doing this kind of thing and it is so helpful to have someone to check your reality with and offer another perspective. It's honestly exhilarating and addicting to purge and I've just been on a roll with it personally, so its fun to help others also.

It is interesting what kinds of things this work brings up. Tonight after a long week of late nights, early mornings and full days (tired just typing that) I had some really fascinating thoughts about my own upcoming life transitions. Lingering old thoughts/messages/tapes popping up, visiting again for what is perhaps soon to be the last time before they are tossed out with the rest of the old and no longer useful. Actually just having the feelings out with my friend and then continuing a packing burst helped churn it for me and I feel better.

Something about clearing a space, all the dust and dirt and past it digs up, floating in the air, breathing it in. There is a time where you are suspended in a haze cloud that is much worse than when you started, even though you are well on your way to freedom and a fresh and paired down new space and life. That inbetween time is something intense and palpable for everyone involved! Louise Hay uses the analogy of a dirty dishpan. When you scrub the pan, all the gunk comes to the surface and it is way worse than when you started. Eventually, after more scrubbing and cleaning, the pan is empty and shiny and clean.

Here's a song I recently wrote as a capstone to this lovely renaissance period of our lives here in the Fisher Park Neighborhood, dedicated to these friends:
https://vimeo.com/131736670

I've also had an influx of new friends, particularly younger people, come into my life recently. Maybe it's the summertime... maybe it's the good energy in the air. Either way, I'm enjoying it!

Update: I just found out it is a blue moon- no wonder...
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/07/unprecedented-blue-moon-in-aquarius-now-or-never/ This excerpt from the above article explains a lot:

Our souls can sense that we are on the verge of something big—but it’s up to us to initiate change.

We are on the threshold of having massive pieces of the puzzle collide. There may be big changes or upsets in the status quo during the next several weeks. We may find ourselves acting in ways that only a few weeks ago we never thought possible, but Aquarius is lighting a fire inside of our hearts and daring us to break the boundaries that have held us back for far too long.

We can only deny ourselves of what we want the most for so long.

While we may feel anxious at all of the possible changes being presented to ourselves—know that the universe won’t bring us anything we aren’t ready for.

The truth of it is there is no such thing as the perfect time—so now is as good a time as any.

Everything that we have been going through the past year has been leading up to this moon. It’s the time of infinite possibilities, of desires bubbling over and manifesting themselves in our lives in ways we never thought possible.

No matter what has come in or out of our lives in the past few years, once in a while we are given the chance to have everything we’ve always wanted—we just have to make the choice now to not let it go.

Because certain chances only come around once in a blue moon.


Moving madness Happy
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Pals

aaaa

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it's like falling in love.

Meeting new blood relatives is a bit like falling in love, or certainly the infatuation phase (except that it isn't temporary!).

I LIKE them so much! Makes me smile when a relationship with one of them deepens and grows. This post was started in August, but the fall became a wonderful whirlwind spent writing and getting to know this family, via letters, Skype, text, email, Facebook, and a first face to face visit in October, and I am just beginning write about it (I've had quite a year!). Hearing the ding of a new message online is so exciting! And with 13 cousins, 2 aunts, 1 uncle, and one birth mom (not to mention spouses, kids of cousins, extended family etc.), I've had a bit more to keep up with than them Laugh

It is the strangest thing to do, meeting your blood relations for the first time, having missed so many years of each other's lives. There is no guidebook for this, trust me, I looked! All I can describe is my experience, and it has been amazing. Its kind of a giddy feeling- endlessly fascinated with learning about them for one thing (because you know virtually nothing!) and with checking them out, from every inch of what they look like to their personality and how they interact with people, and what they spend their time doing. Its all so incredibly interesting! Happy The thing that makes its different is that you are meeting people who are instantly family. The trust isn't there, but yet it sort of is, in an immediate and unconditional way. These guys would do just about anything for me and extended such a warm welcome to me when I went to visit and meet them all in Vermont and Connecticut in October. I feel the same way about them and I've only met them once!

It is a warm feeling. It dies down for a while, then when new correspondence takes place, and next visits are planned to see one another, I get excited all over again!

Also I'm not sure if it is rose-colored glasses or not, but I pretty much only see the good things and characteristics about them! I had such a great time that I am going back in a few weeks to see them again Happy I wasn't sure I could make it work, and then I thought about it and realized how much time we had already missed in each other's lives and decided I don't want to miss another day. It's funny how things become important so very quickly. I can't wait to go back and for them to visit me and meet my family too! Warm fuzzies all around Happy.

Photos of me meeting my cousins, birth aunts, uncle, and birth mother for the first time

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vision boards.

I first learned about vision boards I think from Nadia, an employee at the cafe that I ran in Austin, TX, who was completely beautiful inside and out, and had a dry spell of no dating for quite some time. She made a vision board and I remember that when I went back to see her after I had left the cafe, she had found a love and was so happy... and she felt that the vision board helped manifest that in her life.

When I was going through a very challenging time in 2008 (major life challenges were converging at once: my Mom diagnosed with breast cancer, new job, break up with boyfriend, personal health challenges...) I went to a counselor because I was having "trouble with balance!", who encouraged me to do a vision board. I like to do things right when I do them Happy, so I made this kick ass board... and she was very impressed. Since then, it has hung in a couple different places in my home and not too long ago I moved it into my bedroom so I would see it more frequently than in the hall- it makes me happy.

It was time to make a new vision board for 2015, and as I got it started at our first girl's craft night a couple weeks ago, I wondered about this one and if any of it had even come true before I embarked on the next vision. My friend immediately said YES, things have definitely come true! I know I am not a good judge... that is why I have friends thankfully! It is like having a child and being around that child all the time, and not seeing the dramatic growth and change that takes place as well as someone who sees them only a couple times a year. I've gotten a bit desensitized to this thing and couldn't look at it clearly. It's exciting to look at it now and see that my health has drastically improved, my relationships are strong, my work is fulfilling and inspiring, there is joy in my life... it worked right before my eyes and I didn't even realize it!

I hope to finish the new vision board in the coming weeks, and as I look back fondly on this one again, really look at it (something I am working to be better at doing, absorbing the good), I see that Terri is right, and things really have come true. Happy

This exercise is a powerful tool for me, and I'm looking forward to manifesting even more on both in the New Year!


vision boardphsdfsdfdsfoto

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don't give up!

I'm behind on posting- have several in the works and promise to post soon. In the meantime, just a little reminder Happy

nevergive up

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inbetween days.

After being sick this entire holiday break and quarantined in my pajamas, with one happy exception on Christmas Eve, (my work is closed for the holiday season until after the New Year), I'm back to the grind of purging and sorting.

It is draining, emotional, lonely, wandering through the hallways of the past. It is necessary work. It is also incredibly poignant, fun, and daunting. Feeling the feelings as they come and allowing them to pass through me. The deeper I get, the closer I get to me. This is the cool part. As strange and
in-between a process as this is (I could use a good dose of The Cure right now, the anthem band of nostalgia), I know I am marching towards my most authentic and true self and destiny, and that feels exhilafrightciting, to use a phrase created by someone I used to know. Swimming in the depths of nostalgia, scraps of thought, kind words from loved ones, glimmers of who I want to be, things I want to explore, and old shit, it is like walking the pages of a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

I took a mental break this evening and saw
Dallas Buyers Club, and something Ron Woodroof's character said rang very true for me: "Sometimes it feels like I'm fighting for a life I ain't got time to live." I feel like I am playing catch up so much of the time that I don't get a chance to stop for a minute, catch my breath, and just be in the present. I try to reassure myself with the thought from my doctor that I have indeed been living, all these years, just like everyone else, just doing different things, and learning in different ways. I may not have been out "playing pinball" as he put it, but I was living and learning just the same. That comforts me.

I've connected on a deep level to the HIV and AIDS movement since the early nineties, when I was very ill and could relate to so many of the struggles faced by those afflicted. It's worthy of a separate post sometime, but this raw passion for health, born out of experience and hardcore empathy, is an important chorus that rattles around the chambers of my heart, and physical space, present in books, articles, notes, people, and knowledge. It was a nice reminder to supplement the deep dive explorations I'm doing in my surroundings. A few finds from today:

Consent for treatment, 2002.
photo 1
Dreams.
photo 5
My very first Apple product, my PowerBook G4, circa 2005, is being laid to rest.
Bon voyage, silver bullet.
photo 4
My cute Momma helping me sort
m
I've carried this thing around from state to state over the years. Must be I liked what it said...
l

cover

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