Preparing for a New Earth

Photo courtesy of NASA
As I prepare for the webclass with Oprah and author Eckhart Tolle, I came across some NASA images from the Hubble telescope. I am sharing one here that I feel represents the new Earth that we are about to create. I truly believe that the powerful impact of over 380,000 people all tuned in at the same time, focusing on the same energy of awakening our consciousness will create a new Earth. It’s like new stars forming together to create new planets and galaxies.

So as I try to finish the book this weekend, I leave you with this image. Won’t you join me in creating a collective consciousness that will make our planet a better place? It’s not too late to sign up–just click on the widgit on my blog or website to sign up.

Retro Recall: Ray Conniff – Swan Lake Ballet Theme

Remember the Ray Conniff singers? I recently found this YouTube video that I thought you might enjoy. I love the Swan Lake ballet, too.

Life Challenges: What Led Me Here (Part II)

About 7 months before I learned I was being laid off, I had taken a new position within the university. In doing so, I lost my “tenure” that is given to professional staff because I was taking a job at a higher position. When I initially learned I was being let go from that position due to the budget cuts and because I was one of the last to be hired at that level, I was extremely distraught and devastated as this had been literally the one part of my life where I thought I had some control and stability. It felt like everything else in my life was falling apart: my marriage, my health, my dad’s health, and now my job. I was barely making it with the day-to-day things with my kids. I was there, but very distracted and I know that my children felt it.

My husband was extremely adamant about convincing me that there was something wrong with me: perhaps it was perimenopause, that I was going through a mid-life crisis, that the stress of all these changes in my life were causing some sort of nervous breakdown, he would argue, but he never came to the realization that I didn’t love him anymore and would leave, until after I left. I was extremely unhappy in my marriage and I felt incredibly lonely. The loneliness was well-masked and some people were shocked to hear that I wanted out of my marriage.

You see, I used to be a person who cared about what other people think. I cared so much about what other people would think about me, that I made that a priority over my own best interests. I put myself last in every aspect of my life and my kids were always first. I had convinced myself for several years that I was doing the best thing for my girls by staying in my marriage so I would spend years of my life pretending to be happy when I was often empty with the loneliness and the uncried tears balancing on the edge of my heart, ready to spill over my soul at any given moment.

My children gave me joy everyday and as a lot of mothers do, I buried myself in their lives and their activities, but barely found time to take care of myself. I was trying to be the Supermom and hold it all together. I had friends to talk to, but very few I felt I could confide in about the real unhappiness I was feeling as we had mutual friends and I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable or obligated to choose sides. There was one couple who knew all our troubles and tried helping us through it, but when they moved away, their support became much harder to deliver from a distance.

I had bought a new computer to work on my dissertation, right before I learned I was being laid off from my job. I was so busy that I hadn’t taken the time to use it, until my German friend came to visit me for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary party. Yes, my dad was dying, but he was going to make it to be at the party, and would live another year after that.

During one night of talking with my friend, we were looking at my computer and I saw there were chat rooms filled with all kinds of fun discussions. So we decided to have some fun and look into some of them. That was the hook I needed for my loneliness at the time and it led to a very intense internet exchanges over the next two years. Having no money made the break from the house difficult. My internet activities became an escape: a way to feel connected to people anonymously, and to learn to trust a few who later became very close friends.

The intensified efforts of my husband to get me to come back to him added to the stress of my situation. I retreated more and more, late at night, after the kids were in bed, into the chat rooms, seeking comfort in the confines of that basement bedroom I had been occupying alone for months now. In the course of that time, I developed several deep and lasting friendships with both men and women and later fell in love with a man there, too.

To Be Continued in Part III….

Star Wars according to a 3 year old.

MY COMMERCIAL BREAK!

I know I’m in the middle of my story, (which is a bit on the heavy side), so here is the commercial break. You don’t have to buy anything: just watch and laugh!

I think you’ll have to agree that she is very articulate for a 3 year old!!

Life Challenges: What Led Me Here (Part I)

Life Challenges: What Led Me Here (Part I)

People have diverse philosophies and world views about life in general and its challenges, our destinies and our ability to change course along the way. Some views are based on religious traditions. It is not my intent to cover all the theories here, but rather to focus on the two thoughts about life that I’ve had that now lead me here to this place.

One set of beliefs about life is that we are a collection of our experiences in life. Who we are is largely a factor of our psychological development, both in childhood and as an adult. We can carry a lot of “baggage” with us that can either assist or hinder us in our current relationships and in our new experiences. This view often advocates that it’s healthy to talk about these past experiences to “move through” them and learn from the past. Traditional therapies typically use this approach.

Another view is that we chose these experiences: that everything that we have experienced in life, we signed up for. We chose it. This is a somewhat controversial view, as it doesn’t seem that people would choose to be sick, or to lose their jobs, or to have bad things happen to them. Law of attraction advocates would argue that we indeed did choose these things, by thinking about them. They claim that the more attention we put on those thoughts of worry, for example, the more we will get exactly what we are worrying about. Inherent in this approach is the notion that we don’t have to be defined by those experiences, as we can re-shape our lives deliberately, on purpose: by altering our thoughts and taking action in some way.

I have been a believer in both approaches. As a trained counselor and a woman (who believes in talking things through), I spent the majority of my adult life with the first approach. When my marriage was in trouble, I sought out marital counseling. I also talked about my struggles with friends and eventually with my parents. (I had not wanted to upset them earlier because my dad was dying of cancer.) I was, in fact, spending a whole lot of time thinking about my problems and worrying about what would happen. I became quite the expert in worrying! I would worry about all kinds of things that I had no control over. It certainly wasn’t healthy for me, but it took some difficult challenges and disruptions along the way before I realized these habits I had developed and practiced for so long needed to be changed.

Although I’ve had my share of traumatic experiences, the most dramatic twists and turns occurred about 8 years ago. I passed through some very difficult times. Within what I believe was a two-month period, I had my own cancer scare and had a breast biopsy done that was quite intrusive and very scary. The reason it was scary at the time is that I felt all alone. My marriage was falling apart, and my husband was acting desperately to convince me I was making a mistake, I had just gotten word that I was going to be laid off from my job and my dad’s cancer had returned and the prognosis was not good. I didn’t feel comfortable getting support from my husband at the time, and my mother had her hands full with my dad’s illness. So I went through the biopsy procedure alone.

One thing in life that I never had had a problem with before was my career. I had done quite well professionally, and it seemed as if the opportunities were always there for me, exactly when I needed them to be. So when I was told that I would be losing my job due to budget cuts, I was absolutely devastated. The timing couldn’t have been worse, I thought at the time. I was trying to get out of an unhappy, emotionally abusive marriage, while still raising two small children, with no money in savings and no job prospects in sight. The job market in my state was terrible at the time, and my field was so specialized that there was nothing in the area for me. I spent 9 months interviewing and would always come in second. I was over-qualified for jobs and the employers feared that I wouldn’t stay long, plus they probably thought my salary requirements would be too high. (I was willing and able to accept the lowest of salaries because I was desperate to support my kids.)

During this time, I was also working on a Ph.D. I was at the dissertation stage and had already been approved for extensions on the time. For those that are not familiar with the process, normally universities will give you a specified time in which to complete your dissertation. If you don’t complete it, you often have to take more coursework and re-take the oral examinations. In my case, I had a baby during my doctoral coursework, had been working full-time, raising two children and managed to complete it all but the dissertation. (This is called ABD.) I had chosen a qualitative research design for my dissertation research topic, which meant that I had to interview human subjects, and lots of them. This takes a lot of time.

So when I was laid off, I saw this as an opportunity to finish my interviews and collect my data. I actually was able to travel to the communities around the state to conduct and finish my interviews, but ended up putting the dissertation “on the shelf” again where it collected a lot of dust for a few more years because my biggest life challenge showed up. I never thought I’d be in the position I’d be in, nor would I be able to make the decisions I was about to make.

(To Be Continued in Part II)…

Retro Recall-Etch A Sketch

Remember the Etch a Sketch? I certainly do! I spent hours upon hours with that toy, trying to make drawings that just never ever turned out how I had planned. It was a lot of fun, though, and I could always start all over by shaking it. According to information on About.com, the Etch a Sketch was developed by a Frenchman, Arthur Granjean in the late 1950’s and marketed in the 1960’s. Granjean called it L’Ecran Magique (“The Magic Screen”). In England, it was called The DoodleMaster Magic Screen. An Ohio company bought it and renamed it Etch a Sketch in the United States.

If you’re feeling nostalgic or you want to see what one looks like, you can try an online version of the Etch A Sketch. I made one. It’s called Love Greeting.

Have fun!

Retro Recall-Bobby Sherman on Shindig!

Well, I have to admit that I had a huge crush on Bobby Sherman (and about ten other teen idols)! He was a regular on the tv show, Shindig! I used to cut out pictures of him (and the other 10) from the magazine Tiger Beat and put them together in collages, plastering them all over my room.

For those who are wondering what he is doing now, I will tell you. Bobby is an Certified EMT and has his own volunteer EMT foundation. Check it out! The Bobby Sherman EMT Volunteer Foundation

P.S. How do you like that hair?

Retro Recall

Do you remember experiences from your childhood or teenage years? Perhaps you had a favorite tv show, a favorite candy or a favorite teen idol. As a boomer, I certainly have my share of memories! Some memories stand out more than others for me. Perhaps that is because of the emotion associated with them, or because I’m a natural researcher and so when I dig, I dig.

In that spirit, I am going to start posting memories in posts I’m calling Retro Recall. Feel free to comment if any of the posts move you! The idea is to have fun with it.

I cannot say that I will have any order to the postings. I may post once a week, for an entire week, and certainly sporadically. You’ll know when you see the Retro Recall title, that it contains something that’s fun and may take you back just a bit.

Blogging My Way Through Oprah’s Book Club

I joined Oprah’s Book Club today on Oprah.com. The reason I decided to finally join was because of the upcoming book and class she is promoting and I think it fits very nicely in my journey here.

If you don’t know by now, Oprah has recommended A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle as the newest book in her Book Club selection. What is different about this assignment is that both Eckhart and Oprah will conduct a 10-week class on Monday evenings. It’s all free, except you need to get the book! I am signed up and am ready to go!

If you are interested in joining me, here’s a quick checklist to get started:

1. Visit Oprah.com and reserve your space. (If you are not already a member of Oprah.com, you will need to join that first.)

2. Buy the book. (You can order it by clicking HERE or by going to my recommended reading list and buying it from Amazon.com. It’s the TOP book on the list.)

3. Start reading!

4. Tune in on Monday, March 3, 9:00 ET/8:00 CT

Due to the limited characters allowed as a username on Oprah.com, I had to choose a different name than Spirited Strider. Look for me as 2spirited2 and let me know if you’re joining in. It would be great to see your comments here as well.