Sunday, January 31, 2010

Making Peace with The Past

I feel as if I have a chance to put some things to rest, things I regret doing and things I regret not doing. Living in the past does not allow one to be fully present in the now. And the now is the only time we truly have. Thinking about past loves, past jobs, past friends, past events only keeps our energy tied there. And thinking obsessively about one's future doesn't help to bring it about. The only way to live is in the now. The only way to make a dream come true is to live effectively in the present moment.

My latest journey began when I left NYC in October of 2009. It's almost as if Spirit is leading me to process things I need to relook at and leave behind in order to move forward.

One is my dysfunctional childhood that was filled with neglect and abuse by both parents. I realize looking back that many of my choices in life and what I have attracted into my life was an attempt to workout and process that pain. Bosses who didn't honor me and boyfriends who were emotionally unavailable were just mirroring back to me things I needed to work through. Becoming more spiritually enlightened has helped me immensely to process these things. After having read Eckart Tolle's books, I practiced being in the now. I prayed for truth and I got it in spades.

I made many revelations on this my latest journey. I left a job that didn't honor me, a place I didn't fit in with its value system to strike out once again to find where I truly belong. Perhaps I don't want a permanent home, because it might mean putting down roots and not venturing into the unknown. And part of me loves the unknown, the mystery of life beckons me onward. At times I just don't know what compels me.

In the desert of New Mexico, I realized how my past was dragging behind me like a ball and chain and until I looked at it, accepted it and processed it, I would not be happy. So one of my roommates was my mirror. She had post traumatic stress syndrome from her childhood abuse. Her's was certainly more severe than mine, but through her I realized I saw the world through my inner child's eye.

I only knew that I wasn't good enough for someone to truly love me, because my parents didn't even love me enough to pay attention to me, to nurture me. I thought I had long since forgiven them for not being great parents, but apparently this roommate was showing me that I had not.

So in three months time, I did inner child work. I meditated on loving that child, giving her what she needed. Of course this has been a process over several years. I believe it came to a head in New Mexico. Spirit was saying to me "do you want to move forward or forever wander in the desert of your own making." I chose to leave it all behind. I finally completely forgave my parents and I looked back on my life and saw the choices I made and how my unforgiveness and anger and hurt influenced the totality of my life.

I realized too that I was never really living in the present. My thoughts were always either in the past trying to some how make it different or in the future trying to force something to happen.

Over the years, I've created about 10 vision boards. It depicted the future I wanted to bring about. And I suppose in a limited way vision boards are good, but not the way in which I was using them. Some how I just couldn't live in the present. There was always something better out there waiting to happen. I believe this was a leftover way of coping from my childhood. My imagination saved me from an unhappy childhood, but it was literally destroying my adult life. I was always thinking of something outside myself to make me happy. And it had to stop or life was to continue being about someplace else or something else besides where I was or who I was with.

I left New Mexico two weeks ago, giving up any chance of making my life happen there. But I learned much about myself. Perhaps the solitude of the desert did its magic on my soul and I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Some of my friends think I failed and if I did sometimes failure is a good thing. For failure allows us to see how we react to dissappointment and if all we do is make right choices in life how can we grow? I suppose those who are afraid to fail never take risks at all. Perhaps some people never want change and they will never let go of the anger and the pain of the past that drives them. That is there choice.

I have chosen to grow, to change to seek the light and sometimes that path isn't easy. But once you pray for truth, for happiness, God will make sure you get it. I believe in order to be happy we have to leave behind and release the things that are keeping us from it. God doesn't keep us from it. We keep ourselves from it.

Spiritual enlightenment comes at a cost, but its rewards are far greater. Happiness seeps in somewhere in between.

The Right Choices

Here I am living, albeit perhaps temporarily, again in Lafayette, Louisiana. The first time I arrived here was in 1996 with my husband, now my ex. After having followed him all over the country for his helicopter career, he finally got his dream job of flying for PHI. In a span of three years, we had moved from Northern California, Michigan, Ohio and then back to California when he interviewed at the Louisiana company that flies oilfield workers out to the Gulf of Mexico. He went ahead of me and lived in Lafayette and I began packing for the fourth time in three years and it was getting old. My mother had just passed away and I had just had my gallbladder out. I didn't want to go. I loved the East Bay of San Francisco and I wanted to heal and rest, and I wanted to write again. A few years before we began our treks across country I had graduated with honors from journalism school. My career was put on hold because we never stayed anyplace long enough for me to get a full time writing job.

So I had thoughts back then of staying in Northern California and of leaving him. I just wanted my own life, my career and I wanted to make my own choices. In marriage, it seems at times that one has to compromise their dreams for someone else's. And I no longer wanted to compromise. So I told him I didn't want to move anymore. He promised that this was the last move for his career and that when I got to South Louisiana we could move anywhere in the South for mine. He worked seven on and seven off, so he agreed to commute from a reasonable distance.

Well, that never happened. I had an interview in Jennings as an assistant editor of the small town newspaper. I was excited to finally get my career going again. He was not to have it. We would have had to move to Jennings and hour or so west of Lafayette. As many newspapers do, the publication required its editors and reporters to live in the town they covered. He said "I am tired of moving and I don't want to live in that small of a town."

So it wasn't long after that I chose to leave him, after 18 years of marriage. It was an amicable divorce. He didn't want it, but I just needed my freedom, freedom to choose my own life.

At that time I was working as a technical writer and not liking it much. So I ended up back in the newspaper business of all places Lafayette, after having taken a job as a reporter in New Iberia and working my way up.

Still I harbored great resentment towards him for bringing me to South Louisiana when I could be living in Northern California. But at the time we moved to Lafayette, I only had a part-time job and there's no way I could have lived on my own there.

So jumping back to 2010, I realize now I made the choice to move to Lafayette. And I realize had I not I would not have done the best writing thus far in my career. South Louisiana is rich in stories. The people here are so unique. The Cajun's love food, family and know how to party. And yes, they still speak French here. And I learned how to cook a pretty mean chicken and sausage gumbo.

My last day at "The Daily Advertiser" with the associate editor in 2002

Being back here has helped me work out the anger I still harbored towards my ex. I was still angry at having to move to Lafayette and for the sacrificing of my career for those years. But it wasn't his fault. I made those choices. I decided to stay and if not for him, I wouldn't have gotten to experience South Louisiana and all it's glory.

I wish I would have realized that back then. I wouldn't have tried for six long years to get out of here. Amazing what unforgiveness makes you do. I realize now I should have lived in the now. I should have drank in every moment. But I kept thinking that there was somewhere I else I should be, somewhere else I could be happier. I know now that happiness only happens in the now. It doesn't happen when things are perfect....when you have the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect home, the perfect body and are living in the perfect place.

I also realize how much my ex helped me not to choose for those many years we were married. I didn't have to worry about money. He had been a wonderful provider. No, we never had loads of money, but we always had food on the table, a car to drive and a roof over our heads. I just think I had more of passion for life then he ever did, but he was a nuts and bolts kinda guy. I was up in the clouds dreaming of the next best thing and he was the myth buster that pulled me down to the ground and said this is what's real.

But all this time I had regretted marrying him at all. I would often think of what my life would have been like had I not married him. We never had kids, so I wondered if I would have met someone more compatible, more like-minded. But that line of thought only keeps you in unreality of going over things that can never be. We must live in the now. We must honor the choices we made. And now I am here, 30 years after I married this man, divorced him and now he is helping me.

We have remained friends and talked over the years. I realize now what a wonderful person he truly is. And after having dated over that last 12 years, I can appreciate how very few good men there are out there.

Sometimes, we do make the right choices. We just don't know it when we make them. And this time I am going to enjoy the now.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Where the Journey Began

This is my first attempt at a blog...although I have been writing for more than 20 years. I have a been a professional journalist in the bayous of Louisiana and the foothills of the Sierras. I also was a trade journalist in Manhattan covering the commercial real estate industry. Probably the highlight of my career was covering the redevelopment of Ground Zero or the lack thereof. I was privileged to stand on the hallowed ground when they placed the Freedom Stone there on July 4th, 2004. It was later moved to someplace in NJ I believe. Being a writer has been exciting. My career has taken me to places I would have never went otherwise and I have met many interesting people during my career.

But as I continue to grow spiritually I realize that being a writer is merely a label I have given myself this lifetime. And now at midlife, I want more than just to write about someone else's life. I am not saying I am not totally grateful for the journey up till now. I am very much appreciative of all the experiences I have had.

I left Manhattan in October of last year, because the heyday of the real estate industry was on its downward slide. I had been laid off at the end of 2008 from a real estate brokerage house, after the stock market took a dive. Manhattan real estate or so it was said was isolated from the rest of the country's woes when it came to real estate, but it wasn't so. I don't think it has found its bottom yet, especially in Manhattan. I was offered a job at a public relations agency that shall remain nameless for it's owner could have played the lead role of the Devil Wears Prada without coaching. I took the job reluctantly and I was miserable. She started losing business almost immediately and started threatening layoffs, as the real estate industry in New York continued its decent. It would be my second layoff in less than a year. So I took that as the final blow to get the heck outa Dodge and seek my happiness out West.

So after much research (and a week long vacation in Albuquerque, NM) and a lot of soul searching I put my household items in a moving POD and headed to the Southwest. At first I loved it but it soon became a struggle to survive. Long story short, I couldn't find full-time employment. But many spiritual revelations began to emerge that otherwise might not of. I think Spirit needed me to be quiet. I think literally it was my desert period, my dark night of the soul.

I saw how materialistic I had become, how selfish I was and how much I identified with labels. After all, I did spend seven years in Manhattan, the label capitol of the US. I had criticized those whose God was money, but I had also succumbed somewhat to the city that represents greed and capitalism at its very core. You were judged not only on what clothes you wore, but where you lived in the city. It just wasn't me, but apparently you are forever changed by the experience. Hobnobbing with the snobs did have it perks after all. I drank the best champagne, had the luxury of car service, attended parties to write home about, was wined and dined and had the opportunity to date millionaires. But it was an empty existence and I found it hard to trust anyone, especially those who wanted to buy the ink I had as a journalist. I knew it was merely their way of ensuring they would only get favorable reviews in the press.

The publisher, me, my editor and staff writers of Real Estate Weekly before the REBNY Gala in 2004.  

So I grew tired of the parties and the perks and wanted to change. I wanted a life with meaning and Spirit was calling me. I prayed for change and so when the desert of New Mexico served it up to me, I could hardly complain. My roommate situation went belly up, nearly getting violent at one point. Three jobs that I thought were pretty much a sure thing dissipated into thin air. So I worked Christmas retail and waited for Spirit. But it seemed Spirit was asking me to connect to my inner self, so I sat with myself and I prayed. I meditated, while the money was dwindling ever so close to homelessness. My family helped. Thank God.

And a weird thing happened. As I was driving the streets of Albuquerque, I saw a license plate that said THNK JIM. At first I ignored it, but after several weeks of no movement in the job arena, and the urgings of my family to do something, anything, I called my ex.

And he said "come home." I left him 12 years before, but we parted ways in an amicable way. So here I am in South Louisiana once more. Trying to figure out what the heck I am suppose to do with the rest of my life. But no answers are coming to the fore. I am sending out resumes to Dallas, relaxing, resting, working out and enjoying the time off. My ex and I are just friends at this point and he enjoys the company as much as I do. After all, we were married for 18 years and if we had stayed married it would be 30 years. We both didn't get remarried. But that is another subject entirely.

So I am waiting again for Spirit to move me...hoping it will be Dallas, but knowing I don't have all the answers. I forced New Mexico to happen and although I learned much about myself, it wasn't to be my final destination. So I am here following the light...wherever that takes me.