Getting to the heart of the matter

It’s been a very odd year.

I mean odd, as in, I haven’t felt like writing.

but… I have felt like telling stories in-person and online.

Truth is, I know that is my true calling. Without a doubt. What I do about it now is completely up to me.

I have always loved telling stories, especially first-person. Whenever I have an opportunity to share personal stories, my goal is that it will help another person feel less alone, less crazy, and if I’m really lucky, they’ll have a good laugh, or two or three.

On December 14, I’ll be storytelling at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH for the second time this year. I feel incredibly vulnerable sharing this particular story because it focuses on my high school years, and the theme for the show is ‘Growing Pains‘. This is a Long Story Short production at 3S.

If you’re in the Portsmouth, NH region, I’d love your support at the show. I know the other storytellers would as well.

Hear me out…

One of my favorite bits about being off work for 4 days! I get to catch up via phone/video chat with many friends and family members. I’ve been working my way through a list of friends that I’ve scheduled calls with this weekend. Sounds silly to have to schedule a call with a friend however, I find that this way we’ve blocked the time for no interruptions. Last night I had one of those calls after our dinner.

This friend has known me since high school We’ve been on opposite coasts, had a tiff in the late 80s, made things right in the mid-90s, and have been there for each other ever since. It’s included job changes, career changes, relationship snafus, weight gains, weight loss, searching for faith, reconnecting with faith, and sharing a common concern about the erosion of kindness in our society. As we were about 45 minutes into a 90-minute call, we were chatting about our beliefs as to what could be contributing to the inability of many of those we are around, to find empathy for others–remove a rung or two of their judgement ladder.

For some reason, I blurted out these words: Nobody is listening, but everyone wants to be heard.

Damn. We both stopped our stream of conversation and doubled back. I said it again. And, I knew it would be a blog post and so did she.

Ever been in a family argument in which everyone is shouting to get their voice louder to be heard over the din of the others? Yeah…that. The world feels like that right now. The fear has taken over and the faith.. well, the faith that we can be okay, that we can be better humans, that we can recognize we are a small speck in the great universe–let’s just say that faith is taking a beat-down.

I’m guilty of this too, though I mostly save yelling for rollercoasters, bad referee calls (imo) and driving.

It’s certainly given me something to ponder. How am I doing when it comes to listening to others? Am I present enough so the person in front of me feels confident they are being heard? How can I better ask others to be present, tame my fears, and ask them to not only listen, but to hear the why behind my words.

What’s so funny?

I spent a weekend away on a retreat with seven other humans, four of whom I had never met.

I was so, so very ready for a getaway. Work pace has been non-stop (who knew so many homeowners would re-do their kitchen during the last 18 months?!) I was counting on quiet time, meditation time, journaling, and long hikes. What I didn’t anticipate, was the laughter. Side-splitting, OH-MY-GAWD, tears-rolling-down-my-face laughter!

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ and yes, I do believe it is true. Comedies are my favorite type of movie to watch. I love to go and see live comedy. I’ve seen Craig Ferguson in-person three times!

Here I was all set to be serious and get my crap together in my head by being quiet and focused. When it turns out the universe, in fact, did not want me to take life so seriously. At the dinner table the first evening, someone put their music playlist on shuffle- and “I think I love you! and what am I so afraid of? comes cranking through the dining room.. before you know it..all 8 of us are singing along to the old Partridge Family tune and cracking up laughing.

Yeah. I got my serious time in. I got my meditation time in. I got my coloring time in. But most importantly, I got my connection time in, along with a great dose of perspective and silliness. The lesson? Don’t take myself or life too seriously. Thanks, Universe. I got the message. ~ K.

Spiritual Condition?

I’ve heard more than my fair share of conversations of late regarding spirituality. I’ve heard of friends enlisting a ‘spiritual director’ even though they are involved in a religious organization.

Now, let me be clear- I’m referring to spirituality NOT religion. So I asked my good friend and mentor, what she really meant by the question she posed to me one late afternoon. “How’s your spiritual condition?” she asked. “My what?” I replied. “Your spiritual condition.” she stated, and then went on to suggest that I ponder that question, perhaps even journal on it. And, so I have.

My biggest obstacle to obtaining what I define as a positive spiritual condition is quite simply knocking down the shame that comes over me when I need to ask for help. My childhood was a strict’ Do not ask for help. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Don’t tell anyone outside our house what is going on- kind of household’. Asking for help was weak and shameful, shame-filled.

But how can I define what a positive spirtual condition would look like, for me?

  • Concerns and problems are right-sized. I know what I can and cannot impact or change, and I can accept that perhaps these concerns or problems are not really mine to solve.
  • I can ASK! (what a concept!) a close and trustworthy member of my circle for their opinion and any suggestions they may have regarding said concerns or problems.
  • I intuitively and instinctually recognize when I’m holding my breath and start taking deep breaths to get it back in sync.
  • I can meditate and pray without being all over the place in my head.
  • I can recognize opportunities to be of service to others
  • I can be kind and empathetic even in the most challenging of circumstances
  • I’m regularly participating in some kind of group or service that helps realign and adjust my perspective
  • I am journaling or writing a gratitude list daily
  • I mentally acknowledge beauty and joy when I witness it
  • I honor sadness, tears, and grief as a reminder that I’m a human being
  • I’m not numbing my feelings of any kind by eating too much, being online too much, shopping, or staying up flipping channels.

Am I able to sustain this on a daily basis? I’ve never really tracked it. Maybe I’ll start taking a closer look at my spiritual condition in December- perhaps journal only on that. For November, it’s about staying physically healthy as we head into the dark days of winter here in Maine. I’ve taken to walking in the early hours with a good friend. This morning I captured some amazing pictures which I’ve posted below.

The Go-To

There are few things in life that bring me instant joy like the images and videos of baby kangaroos. My only regret is I did not get to visit this joyous sanctuary on my visit to Australia.

Do you have something – an image? a song? – or a person? that immediately brings joy to your heart?

There’s a guy in my village who drives an old time convertible (small roadster-type) and he ALWAYS has his golden retriever sitting next to him in the front seat when he passes me on my way to work. One day my friend Rachel was visiting and on our way to Dunkin’ (duh) she got to squeal with me as they zoomed by us on the road. Driver and Dog-so freaking happy.

That’s it for today. Hope you have many moments of unexpected joy in your life. ~ Kemetia

Trust & Connection

I recently streamed a FB LIVE about the importance of connection and how trust factors in when the connection has been broken or dormant for many years. I talked some about how essential these links are to my personal happiness.

I thought that my renewed endeavors to re-connect with two friends with whom I had long lost contact was more recently inspired. I was wrong. When I contemplated my need for connection after I had successfully reached both women, it dawned on me that I have intensively focused on keeping the thinnest, spider-webbing of outreach to so many people over an entire lifetime. And no doubt, social media sites like Facebook and Linkedin have played a significant role in finding some of my lost connections.

How do we connect after losing touch for so many years? Better yet, why?

My ‘why’ is quite personal. I suffer from the sometimes exhausting dual diseases of hyperawareness and empathy. Instigated by a massive life change at thirty-one years of age, I became brutally aware of the many people (call them heroes or angels or spiritual beings) who had been instrumental in keeping me out of trouble, kept me alive, guided me, chided me, inspired me, and loved me when I could not love myself. To me, it’s imperative to thank these people so my conscience will not pester me about my lack of gratitude. I must check my motives, first and then, I can reach out. For those in my extended family, it’s harder to keep in touch. I joke with one of my nephews about the need for a 6′ x 6′ whiteboard to continuously update my side’s family tree.

Is it trust or blind faith to reach out to a person to whom you have not spoken a word to in 30+ years? My advice is to check your why when reconnecting or keeping a tenuous connection in tact. Will it bring more positivity and energy, or drain you? Does it feel obligatory or celebratory? I encourage you to contemplate if you are revisiting connections (similar to when that ex pops up on your feed as a friend of a friend), if you really need to engage. Not all vessels are safe. Often it is best to let a decision about reconnecting sit for twenty-four hours as to not let impulsive emotions dictate the outcome.

Now what? Perhaps there is no further engagement once you have reconnected. Or, after a less than encouraging effort to stay in touch with family you decide it is best to curtail efforts to remain in contact. As the lyric from Rush states, “If you choose to not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

Cheers! *Raises coffee mug* ~ Kemetia

Wishing for an escape…

I admit that I have been daydreaming about escaping. Are you doing the same? I guess it is not so much as an escape as it is a return to my previous routines.

I suspect that these quarantine times and restrictions have changed my routine and I never realized how comforting it was to have that routine. My good friend Kevin had sent me a notecard about the importance of routine at the beginning of lockdowns last year. I pooh-poohed it. Then I half-embraced the idea. With all the time that has passed, I realize I rely! on routine to help me, help free my brain up to be creative, to have energy to help others. It’s much like time-blocking, no?

7-8am Online morning Meditation Group
8:15-8:45am Drive to office
9am-5:30pm Work
5:30-6:15pm Drive home
6:30pm Dinner
7:30-9:30pm Chores, bill-paying (also considered a chore!) writing, watching hockey, reading, making lunch for the next day
9:30-10pm feed cat her snack, brush teeth, record fitbit steps on wall chart, crawl into bed
Rinse and Repeat Mon-Fri

It’s that 7:30 to 9:30pm slot that gets me. There are only 7 days a week. I can’t possibly fit all the things I’d love to do in those two hours. So, what did I do before we couldn’t travel places? I camped out at Barnes & Noble or met up with a friend for dinner, took a class.

Wait a minute! My routine is not as disrupted as I believed. The singular (most important) piece missing is time, face-to-face time with friends and family. I can still go explore or escape to new places in my region, I just really shouldn’t/can’t do it with a group of friends. And, that’s okay. What I can do this year is try to widen the circle of people participating in #AprilDeskEscape 2021. Just take thirty minutes, 3 times a week-and break that work routine. Get up. Get out. Get away from your desk. And, while you are out getting that lovely, healthy walk – you can daydream about the next time you can escape to a place of your choosing with family and friends.

I hope you’ll join in starting April 1. Get up. Get out and about. Get that 30 minutes of a different train of thought, a different routine, a different route – take some photos and share them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the #AprilDeskEscape hashtag. You’ll be amazed at all the places you will be able to visit through the posts of others.

~ Kemetia

PS. Don’t forget your mask