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As I move forward

With positive direction, creative purpose, inventive as well as life challenges that will create abundance in other areas of my life. Stepping up meetings, beginning to build fellowship again, clearing the path and vision of how to show up in the world. Not just show up, to Be in the world, to offer the world ideas and actions to make changes, oh changes, those are why I am here, today, why I am writing and speaking, going live today. Every time we set out to make changes, I know this is true for me, you may have noticed it yourselves. You know when you make those plans, goals are set, your behavior and attitude have shifted to a positive view of what you’re doing, the challenges are fun more than they are fearful? Your happy self “goes yes, we got this, we can do this! ” Than bam! Some one little remark, chips away, the ten people you reached to 2 gave a tentative yes, 2 said no or thank you I already good with this, the other seven, not response to your calls or PM’s.

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You feel like you placed a lot of yourself out there, it felt good in a hope that the others would respond, even at meetings I have sat there unable to communicate with the men about sports, or the job or really have I shared, I was actively listening and hearing the wonder and miracle of AA, hearing and seeing true spirituality grow with the desire to give it away to keep it. These tools to practice the program of recovery, the program of living are amazing life changing behaviors and attitudes only effective when a conscious effort is placed in spirit to guide us to do the right thing.

Well while doing the right thing, challenging habits that I seem to fall into by getting into action has created an opposite reaction, emotionally and even physically. First it was a cold, than most recently a blockage in my urinary track, that is a congenital issue, that causes me to reassess medical issues I have put into place. The cold I managed with natural solutions which has relieved cough, congestion, which still is a bit shaky in the morning, the continued use of natural products assist with that while I manage my day.

Fear, doubt, frustration, standing still, a bit of loneliness where the desire to have friends to talk to that get me, the support and understand this process. I missed being touched, held and/or hugged. It is odd I have gotten nothing but support and encouragement when needed, when ask for or shared about. Yet what does my mind do? My mind says this is too hard, it ask why have you exposed yourself to this again? Aren’t you better off where you were, what are you  doing?  This isn’t going to work, you can’t invest any more money into this unless you see some return for your efforts.

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Why is this so difficult to write? The shadow has shown itself, in doubt even in ego, in fear of failure, or may be even of success. The exposure to the world, reminds me of what I missed, yet didn’t miss it when I was not exposed to it.

This is inventory taking, this is areas of my life that I have to work on, and continue to do so. Without the support, encouragement, positive attitude none of this works.

My purpose in life is to share my gifts in whatever manner they present themselves, which is my photography, my ability to take a recipe, create it, style it for presentation, I have the ability and the experience of using essential oils in my life for the past 2 years, which have assisted my health and wellness in many ways. My recovery is the main spring of all of those gifts to materialise in ways I can not imagine. So it is one step at a time, my doubts, fears, and frustrations have been illuminated before and they shall be again. They are guides to look forward, while making amends to myself and others whom I may have harmed in my disconnected from the world.

Moving forward, being the influencer of our own change is an exciting and thrilling adventure while being frightening to leave the old behind yet know that you have left the old behind because it no longer worked for you, it no longer offered anything but sameness, worries and fears of a different type. Allow spirit to guide you, allow spirit of purpose to enlighten your path, allow the Universe show up in all it glory and wonder so that the world can see that they too can accomplish their goal, their dreams can become reality! And so it is.

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Only now

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I begin to understand that power of giving in, of surrendering even when my old beliefs shout that is being co-dependent, that is giving up of yourself. What I have come know is that surrendering is not giving up or giving in, what it is, is letting go, being open, trainable, teachable. I just read a quote from Andre Gide that states, “trust those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.” For truth-seeker are on a journey to discovery, on a path to be shocked, and amazed. To be dazzled by wonder, to be moved by tears of ecstatic joy and yet broken down on their knees in tears from the ignorance and stubbornness of those who believe that they have found the truth, unwilling to hear or conceive anything other than what they know. For knowing something else would mean admitting they were wrong and their lives were false. Not so completely for a truth knower has set a pattern, has become comfortable while a truth seeker is always expanding, shedding skin like a snake or trees letting go of their leaves so that the new growth will begin again in the spring, in the new season.

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Over and over I had to set my questioning aside. Learning to take direction even intuitively which I trusted much more then what most people have shared with me or have guided me to do or practice. When I begin to get uncomfortable within myself, when I have abandoned everyone for safety, rather than allowing those relationship to inform and enlighten who I am at the moment as well as who I wish to become. Solitude is good to have which allows us to reflect, to readjust our own truths at times, yet when solitude becomes a place of emptiness of loneliness that your truth now holds you prisoner in self-created comfort.

Helping a neighbor, being a responsible person by questioning disrespect or inappropriate behavior of those around you can be challenging, and a bit frightening and most people choose not to get involved because of that fear. Yet speaking up, using our voices and our talents to shift the energy, shift the thinking, a little at a time is our purpose in life. Do I know whether I influenced anyone, no not always or not immediately and it is not my business to know, or receive a reward in gratitude or praise. The gift is that I challenged myself, I went beyond my comfort zone, I was being brave for the other people who are too frightened, too unaware, that live in a world of complaint, who are knocked out by the chaos into semi-coma, sleep walking yet in their hearts they desire change unable to see a way out.

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The way out is surrender it is not surrender “I give up, it is impossible!” It is surrender of giving,  it is the letting go of all truths, old beliefs, old patterns of behavior by asking questions, changing the way you go to work in the morning, the way you greet the day even. Ok I feel crappy today, I recognize this so what do I need to do to change that feeling, sometimes it is as simple as taking a shower, making a good meal for yourself, stretching. Hey have time for a walk? Take a walk. Not focusing on a situation doesn’t change the situation per se it offers other choices, allowing growth and awareness to begin.

Make a list of that behaviors you would like to change. You know what they are, make list now. Once that list is done, choose one behavior to begin to change, work on that one behavior for a week. Yes the whole week 7 days. The next week chose another, practice creating change for another week; of course you are still in the process of that change you make the week before, has it become a habit or do you still have to think about doing? Did you stop when you started the next weeks behavioral change? That is okay, just pick up the new behavior again. Going down the list checking those old activities that kept you stuck. The process will not be perfect, no one ever is, even I who sit here writing this to you falls short of this many times. I get caught up in my comfort, it a pattern yet when that pattern becomes boring and isolates us to the world around us that is when action is required. There is a saying, “if you always do what you always done, you will always get, what you always got.”

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If you no longer “want” what you already have, begin to make those changes, today. Allow your truth to be shaken, allow awareness to guide and inform your actions. Ask for help when help is needed; take that class, talk to the guy or girl you think is cute at the coffee shop or in class. Plan better meals for yourself and your family, surrender to the sameness to create a difference.

I share this because I am in the process of this myself. I will check back in a few days. I would like to see what you decide to change. We are on this path together let’s make it more powerful, more meaningful, more loving, more compassionate, more give.

I am love, Jeff

scattered

Across the years, through decades, scattered letters, poems, photographs, along with piles of journals, those journal writing books of different colors, textures, and sizes. There are loose leaf paper file binders in bright colors strewn about the bed, the floor of the apartment that is now the present while these artifacts are glimpses into the past of what once was to become who one is today.

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Will anyone remember who I am? Do they know who I am or was? Does it even matter? It seems to matter to me today, in the past year people have transitioned from this world who meant something to me in one way or another, as inspiration, as mentors, as symbols of strength in the face of all a matter of challenges life presented to them.

I have been considering stories about my mother, I have a small note paper “diary” of her’s before she was my mother, she is a teenager writing about going to dances, describing boys she meets and her girl friends she attends the evenings with. There are other pages where Betty details the training she receives so that she can work as a phone operator for Bell Telephone in Camden.

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With those memories of my mom, there flashes the thoughts of my father who I had spent much less time with because he worked shift work and was gone at 50 from heart attack, I was only 27-28. He never met grand children, or they the pleasure of his company.  There are no letters or journals from dad, oh there is one letter from when he was at basic training which we were told he never was in the army, I have not come across that letter again. I have camera’s he used, there are photographs of us as kids and people he worked with as well as his family members, mother, step-sister and her family.

So in considering all those stories, life histories, in a flash I saw myself not being seen or known, with the lives of people being shorted, two deaths in a month of fellow recovery acquaintances, two or three people from a spiritual group we all once belong too. My x-wife who has had a return of her breast cancer and the death of my last long term partner a year ago; along with the fact I celebrated 28 years of sobriety and I will be 65 this year, morality seems to be nudging at my consciousness while I seem to be diddling my days away.

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With the archives of letters, journals, folders, photographs, and blog pages, along with unreliable memories scattered about, I have stories to write, stories to tell that may enlighten, inform, maybe confound my days and nights with more questions than answers. Who knows where any of it will lead yet the beginning has begun. Join me as I piece together the scattered.

 

Unfolding

How many times have I considered returning to theses pages, to blog again, I truly don’t know yet what I do know this blog and the practice of  writing here is like a friend to me that I have left behind and wish to reconnect and build a stronger conscious relationship with.

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cloud magic

I wrote in my morning pages that I have so many parts of me that make who I am who I am and the  person and or being is ever-changing, well not really changing, manifesting, evolving into a whole presence of being.

A year and 10 months ago when I began the new phase in life it was fresh start and the old challenges and daily struggles gone. I was truly on my own which was at first lonely, no not lonely I had felt abandoned, everything and everyone I once knew and counted on was gone, or seemed that way. I had to become responsible for myself which meant uncovering who I was now. As I unpacked boxes from a lifetime ago that had been in storage the old me began to emerge again, some of that person I did not wish to experience again, so he was set aside. There were recent creative activities I had even let go of that I now wish to bring forward once again.

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suspended leaves

Those being the healer, of course I had healing of my own to do first. Being the healer meant I can share my wisdom and knowledge to those around me in whatever form that showed up as. The healing of self began  with eating healthier, getting exercise, building new social and creative connections and relationships. Ever growing, evolving and experiencing life in the present.

Willing to experience aloneness,

I discovered connection everywhere,

Turning to face my fear,

I meet the warrior who lives within;

Opening to my loss,

I am given unimaginable gifts;

Surrendering into emptiness,

I find fullness without end.

 

Each condition I flee from pursues me.

Each condition I welcome transforms me

And become itself transformed

Into its radiant jewel-like essence.

I bow to the one who made it so,

Who has crafted this Master Game;

To play it is pure delight,

To honor it is true devotion.

Jennifer Welwood: psychotherapist

 

I discovered this poem this morning which resonated with who I am becoming. The following blogs will illuminate that process of awareness. Who will show up are the many facets of my being, the inperfect self improving being we all have the opportunity to become.

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unfolding morning glory

 

 

 

 

Blank Page

The passages below are semi stream of consciousness from my Morning pages, so if there is rambling and not completely clear that is the reason why. I have desired to blog for a while now, I can’t believe it has been almost a month and my intention was to write at least once a week. I think it is the morning pages that fill the need to blog as often, yet MP’s are like talking to yourself and I enjoy sharing what is going on in my life and artistic creations. So here are words from this mornings pages.

August 30th 2015, 7:03 AM

The page is blank to be filled but not to be filled with blankness or just ordinary words and language that goes nowhere or says nothing. The page should shine, the page can sing, the page can dance, as well as create beauty to be held and shared with the world around it for the music magic to dance and sing our songs to create beauty with beauty is there for us all to behold, to unwrap, to envision even more magical beauty, mystical visions that are real. The blank page has that opportunity to transform, to enlighten, and to shine out into the world. One only has to write the words, create the language imbued with so much passion that the world sighs, the universe illuminates the capacity to love a 1000 fold or infinitely.

in the sky
in the sky

Yet our human mind and ego or at least mine is always searching for the “right” moment, the right time, seeking to be inspired to write, asking what does the world wish to know, what do I have that others wish to read or experience shared that would somehow bless those who understand. Who am I to even consider such a task, who am I to know that I am worthy of such an undertaking.  Knowing all art is created because the artist has the desire or passion to place an object, a painting, a photograph, or music or any dozens of other creations into the universe. I suppose I am trying to understand my purpose to self-publish a photography book with text of quotes and poetry, seeking to come to grips with my hesitancy to do such a project. First I do it for me, because I was called to do it, and I have the opportunity to create this first book in all its imperfections, in all its stumbling and challenges because it is an area of creativity I don’t have any real knowledge of. You do have a book, you have the instructions on the template for the book making process from Blurb, and you just have to make the effort to be involved. It is like any relationship, and you are playing “push me, pull me” you want it but you don’t know how to be in it, something is generating from this project that is brilliant and beautiful, your fear and doubt are only road blocks keeping you from putting it together.

prints getting ready for release
prints getting ready for release

That is the blank pages, the book has a cover, one that doesn’t even have to be the cover yet it is vision, the starting point to begin. Writing each day is the blank page to publishing your blog whether you believe others wish to read what you have to say or even considering what you want to say. Being truthful, being authentic even in all the imperfections, admitting I don’t know what I am doing, meeting the challenge anyway. The blank page of the “Trash Project” has another page added to it as well, four unseen prints, looking for mats and frames, desiring release, a release that would open new doors, if not new at least other avenues to venture on to. These are all exciting creations, let them shine; now is the time for their moment in the world.

Mt Holly

We awaken…

“We awaken in the morning, and the day is an unbuilt creation. We have some ideas about what we will accomplish today. But our Higher Power also has some things in mind which are not yet part of our consciousness.” Touchstones 

Even in the city
Even in the city

“In my last blog I had mentioned the fact that I had not any visitors or not much of social activity. Well the Universe caught wind of that and began interrupting my aloneness. First my long time friend Linda called to check if I was going to be home for she was coming by to bring me somethings for the apartment I maybe able to use. We had talked several times through the month about just that, and I had not seen her until now. She arrived on Wednesday morning baring a set of pots and pans which match my pop of red color in my kitchen, as well as a stained glass angel for my window, how sweet that is. Linda’s statement was, “every home should have an angel !” We spend a few hours catching, making plans for later engagements. It was so wonderful to be in her presence again.

a group of admirers
a group of admirers
art rocks
art rocks

On Thursday Morning I get a call as I am about to take Muffin for one of our many walk and rolls out in the green. The call was from brother Ken, who I had not seen since Christmas, and only contact was a few text from me to wish him Happy Fathers day, and Happy Anniversary, etc. On our call he said he was in the area and was coming by if I was home, which I was. He arrived about an hour later which was his projected time of arrival, we greeted each other, began to chat about this or that, when he said, “I have something for you. Your half of the sale of Mom’s Van.” Handing me a check, I almost fell over! And I was silently jumping for joy in gratitude to the Universe for this very needed financial abundance!

Saturday morning after a bit of food shopping of course is now 10 am or so, my friend Don calls asking about how we wanted to work getting our photographs to Mt Holly for the monthly exhibition, and asking if I would like to hang out with him and Bob Bohne to help him put up his exhibition at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. I responded I can’t see why not but let’s see how the afternoon plays out?

Collection of Bob Bohne's work
Collection of Bob Bohne’s work

Well the rest of the day turned into a full on Artist Date, from delivery our three prints to Church St. Art and Craft in Mt Holly to discussions about galleries and exhibitions on our trip over to Philly and Don’ while we waited for Bob to pick us up to hang his show of oil paintings and a few sketches. These are the kind of afternoons or evenings we would have  and I am so grateful to be in that energy again.

Having your cake and eating it too!
Having your cake and eating it too!

Earlier in week I had created an event page for my House warming/Birthday/Open house so the energy to move beyond my aloneness, to invite people into my life again was placed out there in the Universe even more fully! The time was right, the planets all suggested this shift into newness.

Blessed be!

Front Door Nature

Sun set reflection

Out the front door of the apartment complex and across the street are marsh land and what is called a lake, Newton Creek Lake according to my research, the lake and park are 103.29 acres, there are walking paths and playgrounds along the way. I have recently notice men with trailers attached to their cars/truck backing up the the dock ramp to load boats which have been out on the water now that has thawed. I have not explored much and have kept pretty close to the apartment thus far due to the weather. According to the little bit of research I found they seems to be what they call “old growth” trees on the north end, whichever direction that is? I will have to explore.

Sticks and branches

Even though I now live in a very citified building nature is only moments way, trees, water, birds, and I imagine other wild life that I have yet to experience. This space offers me more opportunity to photograph in nature once I get my mojo back up to speed.

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Empty Rooms.

into the rubble
into the rubble

An era is coming to an end. The Stroud family home will be no more. The last days are coming upon us fast. Days and endings I don’t think I ever really considered before. The house has always be a safe haven, just knowing it was there in times to reset or just go home to remember memories and why you left in the first place.

Mom always reminded us, there was a place to come to. Even when she was not at the house very much, traveling from place to place, discovering America, sharing her journey with her Cousin Teresa, or her male friend Lee, with whom she spend much of her last years with traveling back and forth from Vermont and Myrtle Beach, and scatter journeys home for Holidays and family events.

Mom’s passing in mid May from Alzheimer’s set into motion the closing down and sale of the Stroud home, She is in need of major repair that no one seemed to be able to find time or money for. The taxes where eating at the extra dollars that could go into repairs. I had not worked a job in some time and my photography and Reiki practice just didn’t bring the substance in the realm of finance.

After only a few viewers during the summer of the house, we thought it was just going to sit. We nudged the realtor a bit and one of the prospective buyers offered a price with could live with at the mid November. So the rush was on the clear out the house.

Closets where explored, basements where lit in places that hadn’t seen light in ages, the attic was peered into. Draws and boxes covered in dust and years of memories forgotten where opened, much discarded. Others claimed by family members who which to have it in their homes now. It still all needed to go.

As each day came and went the more difficult the feelings of frustration and lost would visit. My sister who has been the major force in this adventure to clear out everything due to the fact she lived here her whole life, until three years ago when they moved to a new home of their own.

I witness her stress and discomfort each time she arrives, her first reactions are fraught with anger, a bit a banging around soon to be soothed by action of getting things done.

There is less than two weeks left to accomplish this task. The rooms are emptying, the dust has been cleared away, the trash, recycle, and the pickers have been here, a few more will come to take the bigger pieces of furniture for the needy. Trips to Goodwill by my brother-in-law have been so frequent that he reports the store personal grimace upon his arrival in the late hours of their day.

My move will most likely happen this weekend. I am the last resident of the house, that is Muffin and I. We had a journey here that will be a life long unfolding of emotions, and memories. I had vision of the living in the house, making it sustainable for me

, yet it is time to let go, time to let the empty rooms be renovated, and filled with a new family’s life dreams.

The empty rooms once filled with necessary objects as well as family collections from each member are gone. The memories will still be part of who we each are depending on how we hold and embrace them.

What is true, what is pretense, what is…

inward
inward

 

it feels like everything that came before has been a pretense, a false start. as I grasps for my reality this morning my serenity is devolving into a massive heap on the floor, like scattered dirty laundry, colorful but smelling of being worn to long. The endless weeks of being weakened by a cold, has left my plans and projects sitting collecting dust. Has caused loneliness and emptiness to seep into the fabric of my being. i have missed events I wished to attend to photograph and be part of. Willing to spend my last few dollars to do so.

Is this illness, this cold, the flu, the true culprit or the endless dreams and visions which seem to energize my being for short periods of time, that keep drifting off like a mirage, wafts of smoke from a conjurors magic spell? Am I truly lost, have a just been spinning narratives in my mind. Have I truly failed at my life’s purpose?

How do I keep going, when my dreams and visions don’t seem to fit into a world that no longer cares for magic for healing, for beautiful?

shadowed wall/closed window.
shadowed wall/closed window.

I surrender now, I let go. Right now I am fighting the demons of illness. My center has been blasted out of me! It is debris, it is trash. Is there still worthy pieces, can they be upcycled, reinvented? Do I just burn them all and scatter the ashes in the ground hoping natures has use for them?

Waking up, feeling like you have not slept, body sore, chest heavy, the head in urgent need of coffee. Coffee cold but drunk, like an achlie’s long needed fix to face the day.

Stark blank screen endlessly fills with words, streaming out some thoughtful, many just flowing from one place to the next.

Coffees fresh and hot now. or was when I started. Nothing changed since I sat down to write, or has it?

There is no blame, there is no what if’s, should haves, there is knowing that it is within me, to show up. I showed up, this is the present. Is the future I wish to have? Not at all!

Illness, attracts ego playing mind games, playing tricks, making fun. Well it is not fun. Ego, get out-of-the-way, we have better things to do that lay about feeling sorry for ourselves. Is one step at a time, one activity at a time.

Breaking through
Breaking through

Let the little glimmers of light break through. The world is created within the steps, moving forward while sometimes going around or over.