The Hide Inside

“You can keep as quiet as you like, but one of these days somebody is going to find you.”
Haruki Murakami

I have wondered how it is to try to understand me when I sometimes do not understand myself. I have put up a barrier between me and the rest of the world. I can and do retreat into the small quiet place inside where no one can get to. I would hide there as a child whenever the world became too big, too bright, too loud. I would retreat there whenever my heart would break at the smallest of upsets, when I could not understand that there were things I just couldn’t understand. Whenever I realized no one understood me, I would go there. When I would do or say the wrong thing, this became my protection, my wall, my shell, my sanctuary. I have never let anyone in.

To be honest, there are times when I like it in there.

In my adult life, during the 17 years that I lived with an emotional abuser. I would go to that place inside myself. In my imagination I created a nice place in the sun on a sandy beach that I had frequented in real life as a teen. I would sit back and watch the river flow, listen to the birds and bury my toes in the warm sand.

This sustained me during the times I could not defend myself because I was not strong enough to even realize I was worthy of defense.

I seldom go there now; that protected place as my life has changed, I left the abuser and definitely I have grown stronger but that barrier remains, the bubble that protects, the facade that makes me seem just like everyone else.

It is only through words on this screen that I type to you through my keyboard that I am able to say this much. My brain is somehow connected better this way than verbally. The words flow right from the source, actually speaking words is not my best thing, but I try.

It has taken me forty odd years to find someone I feel a deep enough connection to not only want to share myself and my inner world with.It is a thirst long overdue sating.

I try to imagine the way I must come across to him. I don’t think he realizes how different I am with him than with other people. I know he knows that I can shut down, he has seen the blank look come across my face, he has watched me instantly withdraw, he has felt my body become limp. He has seen my at my worst, he has seen what I have been able to hide from others, he has seen the exhausted me that can’t speak, he has seen the burned out me that jumps at the slightest sound. He has never judged me or made me feel bad about who I am. He has held me tight and loved the pain away. He has loved me and has tried to understand more than anyone including my own Mother. I still can’t let him in fully and I still can’t tell him in words what I am writing here about I feel. This is a curse and a blessing to me.

It is said that Asperger’s is developmental and I do continue to develop everyday. I have worked on myself my entire life. Writing this blog has certainly helped me in an abundance of ways. I hope to inspire others in this way; you matter–you are loved –you are not alone–although you are special and unique there are others who feel like you–and you can change your life.

♥SBI

What the Crow Told Me

A lone crow caws at me from atop a tall tree. The wind tosses my hair into my eyes. I push it away and squint to see despite the rain. And there it is. It looks down on me. As if to say…

“Don’t forget about me. I remain your spirit animal until I teach you what I have to teach you. Silly human.”

And I carry no peanuts, not a one. Not today.

And so it soars off into the unforgiving gray sky and I am left humbled in the rain by a tattered old bird in a parking lot in the first hours of morn.

I would feed them, these birds, every morning at my old job, the one that burned me out. It was only a couple of months ago but it still is very recent in my mind.

My interactions with the crows were my only joys during a joyless day. They became my spirit animal after a similar encounter with one months before the one I just described.

I was sad with nothing to hold on to. I would notice the birds on my way to work. it was wintertime and obviously not an easy life for them. I know from reading and from firsthand experience that that crows which are in the Corvid family along with Ravens , Blue Jays and other birds are extremely intelligent. I admire that intelligence and I admire the tenacity and determination these animals display just trying to eek an existence alongside humans.

So there is was in the same parking lot as before, in the very early morning and it cawed at me and kept cawing. I had time to take out the camera I was carrying and take this picture. I have since had the image blown up and I have it framed in a small frame. It is up on the wall to remind me.

It came to me that I could learn a lot from those scrappy but majestic birds and so I began to carry peanuts in my pocket to reward them for being so inspiring and to maybe give back a little to animals who have had so much taken from them by humans.

The winter came and went and so did spring and summer. My work life grew more difficult and it began to take its toll on me and through me, on my family.

All the while I learned from the crows and I grew tougher and more resilient and smarter. I realized that I needed to escape that job. I am learning that just because I am able to do something doesn’t mean I should do it. Nothing is worth having these burnouts. I have overcome so much in my quest for having a simple life, one just like everyone else despite my Autism. I think I need to work wiser, not just harder. I don’t need to torture myself. I need to celebrate myself. And I need to seek help. The crows are seldom alone, they thrive in groups, they are social and therein lies a strength for them . This, among much, much more I have yet to learn.

I am fortunate to have such wise and resilient teachers.

❤ SBI

Crow Quotes

When a crow says an intelligent thing, chickens may laugh at it. This is the laughing of the sand castles at the powerful waves!

Mehmet Murat ildan

Crows are incredibly smart. They can be taught five things on the drop.

Robbie Coltraine

I saw a crow building a nest, I was watching him very carefully, I was kind of stalking him and he was aware of it. And you know what they do when they become aware of someone stalking them when they build a nest, which is a very vulnerable place to be? They build a decoy nest. It’s just for you.

Tom Waits

“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.” ~ Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

RELATED ARTICLES

Crow Symbolism and Meaning

Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds that contains the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers.[1][2][3] In common English, they are known as the crow family, or, more technically, corvids. Over 120 species are described. The genus Corvus, including the jackdaws, crows, rooks, and ravens, makes up over a third of the entire family.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvidae

The infinite loveliness of nothing

There is a certain loveliness in nothingness, in unencumbered stillness, in silent empty space. In this absence of something there is a void that aches to be filled. Therein lies potential and that potential is infinite.

At least I tell myself this as I sit at the back door watching the trees dance in the wind. It is early morning and I am in the process of appreciating some idle time.

I still wake up at 4:45 a.m. A feat that has taken this once proud night owl years of cultivation to achieve and I will get as much down time as I can get even if it is in the early morning. Nothing lasts forever and this extra time will not.

In order to appreciate this time that I have seized for myself in an act of desperation, I must engage myself in the art of doing nothing.

My last job was in itself a culture of stress. I worked in a very busy call center in the public safety sector. There was high expectations and a rigid adherence to numerous and various state laws and regulations that required me to make statements that made callers confused and upset, this made customer service difficult at best. My days were timed to the tenth of a second, over one minute late and you have an “occurrence” and points were given, points that added up very fast for some and there was/ is a high turnover rate. I did well though. My calls were listened to and graded. I was thought of as smart and competent , I took  direction well and after a while I did start to sound like the others: A caller once told me I sounded like a robot.

I almost cried then.

There was a reason why I wasn’t the only one who had constant migraines there.

I felt I was drowning, gasping for air.  I felt desperate. An anger rose up in me that was not me at all.  This started to effect my relationships with my husband and family. I felt sick  to my stomach and my energy was zapped. I felt like a zombie just trying to get to the next day, to the weekend where I would try to cram as much living as I could in 2 days.

I bet my former coworkers would have been surprised to know that I am on the Autism Spectrum, I have masked it pretty well my whole life but that takes its physical and emotional toll on me and that job was not the best for someone with sensory issues, it may be one of the worst. 47 hour weeks of this for nearly two years did me in and burned me out. The job that gave me and my family health insurance made me sick.

 

Before I gave my notice I obtained a part time temporary gig in retail. It pays the bills, just almost. In the two months I have been there I have been much happier and healthier. I am getting myself back.


To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
Lao Tzu

East bank of the Willamette River

Nothing gives birth to creation.

It provides the empty space for something to occur. Nothing is an empty cup waiting to be filled, it is up to us to fill it.

The only real commodity is time. We are selling hours of our lives for money. Money we need to survive. Most of us have no control over this and have to spend much of our lifetime devoted to that task.

There is no time for nothing. There is no blank canvas on which to create and on which to write the narrative of our lives. Some fortunate people have jobs that them happy, that happiness is reflected in their work and everyone around them can share in this happiness. They are excited to get up and start working for the day. I want to be one of those people.

I believe that I can contribute to society in a greater way than I am now, I should say in a better way. Whether I am baking bread, selling jewelry in a store or writing something that makes people laugh or cry or think.

This rat is so very tired of the race.

And so I sit here at the back door, feeding a few squirrels that have gathered. My mind has time to reflect, my writing voice is coming back, the one that has lain dormant for a few years. I hear it speaking in whispers, I can barely hear but I am listening.

SBI

 

**

“And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money, I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.”

Mary Oliver

Free the Marijuana

There has been some backlash to a recent complaint made by the newest member of our apartment dwellers association. The complaint was regarding the sweet but pungent smell of marijuana that has at times lingered around our community and the wide availability of said and I may note legal marijuana products in our city of Potland, I mean Portland.
This has made “the mean looking guy upstairs” enemy number one in certain circles and a protest protesting the persecution and harassment of natural medicine enthusiasts, patients and supporters will be held today in the amphitheater.

I will be selling my homemade brownies to the participants to make some extra cash, stop by and pick some up while they last.

Update****

It began peacefully enough but when the protesters starting shouting “Free the Weed!”, “Free the Weed!” the amphitheater became swamped with crazed people looking for the free weed. FREE WEED!!

At first I was afraid. I was petrified as the crowd swelled to massive size! Quick thinking saved the day. I told them the marijuana was in the brownies and they cleaned me out of all 5 dozen in an instant, most of them tipped and handsomely too as stoned people are known to do. I walked away from the maddening but happy crowd with a few bucks to buy me some new kicks.

😀

**Seriously, marijuana can be medicine and its consumption, medical and recreational is legal where I live and becoming legal in more and more places. Below are links to some interesting sites regarding the subject. **

Medical Marijuana By Harvard Medical School blog

Medical Cannabis by MedicineNet.com

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis (2020 Update)

and now a quote from...

DR. SANJAY GUPTA:

“I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have ‘no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.’

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works…

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”

Aug. 8, 2013, “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,” CNN.com

Muddy trail kind of life

The air is fresh and chill. The wind blows tiny droplets of rain onto my face. I close my eyes and it feels like I am flying but the honking of geese above me remind me that I am not. I am walking, and walking on a muddy trail at that. My eyes quickly scan the ground and I scamper up a rocky hill like a little mountain goat.

These trips have gotten me in great trail shape. I spend a good portion of my free time out here in the wildish trails around my home in Portland, Oregon. It is a necessary component of my life to get out in whatever nature I can get to. We have no car, by design , my husband and I. We walk, bike or take public transit which is pretty good here. We like this sort of life, this muddy trail kind of life. I am very fortunate to have found someone who likes this as much, or more than I do. We are best friends, pals and companions as well as a loving married couple. He encourages me to be me and he smiles and shakes his head in amusement as I run up and down hills and even sometimes climb into the trees to snap pics and talk to the animals, real and imaginary. This is great fun to us and we are lucky to live where we do. So in spite of the rain or maybe because of the rain we are here at one of our favorite spots.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a swampy, wetlands area smack daub in Portland, Oregon. Lots of birds live here especially ducks. I like to greet them as we pass by. We see lots of animals on our adventures. We have seen deer, beavers and nutria,  possums and a plethora of birds especially the waterfowl.  This is one of the places we go in all kinds of weather. Today it is super rainy and the trail is super muddy but we love this.

Pluviophile. a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

 

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”~ John Muir
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. -Mother Teresa

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a city park of about 141 acres in southeast Portland, in the U.S. state of Oregon. Located in a floodplain along the east bank of the Willamette River near Sellwood, the park is known for attracting a wide variety of birds. Wikipedia

 

Errol Heights Natural area is cute in a boggy sort of way. This is a short walk  but has become a favorite of ours since it is so close in the city.  On our first visit we met a curious man who popped out of the bushes.  He told us in breathless Kiwi accent about the 10 beaver dams there as he was running around trying to photograph all of them in order before the sun set.

One meets all sorts of interesting people in places like this.

Beaver Dam

 

The beavers are pretty shy but you can see evidence of them not just by the dams but but by the trees they are in the process of cutting. Many of the tree trucks are protected by wire netting but there is still ample wood available. The birds are typically out in full force here as it is a haven for waterfowl and songbirds. I love to just stop and listen to their beautiful music. Today the soundtrack is dominated by geese who fly overhead in their famous V formation. It is amazing a place like this exists in the middle of the city.  We are lucky to live here.

Dusk at Errol Heights Natural area

Errol Heights Park & Community Gardenlocated at SE 52nd Ave & Tenino St, is 12 acres acquired by Portland Parks in 1996. Its amenities include a great walking path through the site with views of the Errol Creek wetland area. Many native plants and shrubs thrive in Errol Heights – part of the Johnson Creek Watershed.

Plague Everyone with Joy

I wasn’t always so sunny and happy. People were always telling me to smile. I have noticed that my face will typically give me away and that when I’m lost in thought, which is often, it looks like I am angry.  I’ve made it a point to watch this. I have also made it a point to watch my thoughts.
For much of my life insecurities and doubt have plagued me. I have hurt myself with negative messages that became my mantra that ran constantly inside my head. This made me miserable. My negative energy attracted even more negative energy from others. I struggled with not being understood but it never occurred to me at the time that I also needed to try to understand others.
I decided to be kind to myself and forgive myself for being so very imperfect. I thought I could change my inner dialog to something positive and I looked for the good in me and told myself good things about myself, even if I didn’t believe them.  More importantly I took this same love and understanding that I was finding for myself and turned it outward. I made it my “job” to reach out and say something kind or supportive to people especially those who seldom hear that sort of thing. I made sure my compliments were honest and true. I learned that I could find something encouraging and positive to say to almost everyone.
 Not that this is easy all the time for everyone. I am a naturally shy introvert. It has taken many baby steps to get to where I am today. I have tried to plant tiny seeds of sunshine wherever I go.
And more and more I find these seeds have sprouted.
By spreading the love it comes back, absolutely. 
 I don’t mean to sound trite or come off with some well worn out syrupy platitudes.  I have heard people complain about the unauthenticness of the idea that thinking happy thoughts and that an attitude of gratitude is a cure-all. It is perfectly normal;  healthy, in fact to have a wide range of emotions including sadness. Emotions are colors on a palate and life is art. We as artists can make our lives masterpieces when we use a full range of hues.
That being said:
I find touches dark blues,  patches of deep purples and deep black hues to be in beautiful contrast to the soft pastels and sunny oranges and yellows, it is in that contrast that I find beauty in, but a little of those darker shades goes a long way. Life provides us enough of those. If I can, it is the sunshine I will spread.  Makes me happier anyway.
I can make the conscious choice of letting the darkness that hits me in life stop at me. This is how I cope with the crap that hurts me; with my refusal pass it on.
I am so blessed.
So if I seem a little pollyannish or silly remember I didn’t start out that way and that really, no one can be blissfully happy all the time.   Happiness requires the decision to be happy. Just the simple act of smiling is powerful magic in itself.  Science has shown that the simple act of smiling can boost your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.
 I think to stay happy we need to spread that joy around like it’s the damn plague especially on those days when we do feel like crap.
So get out there and plague everyone you meet with joy.
Watch its boomerang effect come alive.

 

 
♥ Nancy

.

We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy.
― Swami Satchidananda
*
Related and Unrelated Articles
 JOY to the World–Three Dog Night

 

*

Garden of the Mind

 

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece

~Claude Monet

 

We all engage in self talk. A running inner dialog that writes the script of our lives.

Seldom are we completely aware of just how influential we are on ourselves. We definitely live up to our own expectations. Positive or negative.  Problems arise when insecure feelings begin to dominate the conversation. And rarely do we share these dark thoughts with others. They are hidden behind a wall of bravado we put up between each other. This causes us to see only the exaggerations put together by our imaginations not the full scope of reality.

Insecurities are kept in a secret place locked inside ourselves in that dark closet of pessimism, where fear lives. It is fear that leads us to lie to ourselves in the first place. Much of the negative crap that our own insecurities whisper to us is not accurate or realistic at all, but these hidden feelings do have a profound effect on our behavior. Only when we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect can we begin to rebuild and replace all that negative crap with good crap.

I liken a life to a garden. What grows in our garden is what has been planted.

 

 

The lives which we are living now are the result of our past actions and those past actions were the result of our past thoughts. The seeds we planted long ago are sprouting now.

We truly are what we have cultivated. We can thrive in a colorful vigorous and sunny garden or we can wallow in the dark. and it is that simple… of course surprises can spring up

Life is random and certainly not fair. We are subject to the whims of that randomness…

…and no matter what we do surprises can spring up…

Sometimes squirrels can dig up your tulip bulbs and plant them in your neighbors backyard…sometimes a spring hail shower can wreck havoc on your tender pansies. There have been times when a black cloud descended into my garden and left it cold and dark. There have been times when I thought that the sun would never shine again…

And then I found the sunshine within myself and lit up my garden with hope, faith and blind determination.

 

 

These are the times when we have to rely on that sort of sunshine to make our gardens grow.

…that’s why you need a good dose of it stored up in your pocket for a rainy day.

 

 

Determination: Yes. Work: Most certainly. Anything worth anything takes work and belief. That is your sunshine and nothing will shine without it.

Gratitude is like water. It nourishes life in our garden. It makes what grows grow. Without gratitude we will never find the happiness and contentment we seek.

Attitude. How we frame the picture we see.

What some may interpret as a raging storm can seem like a gentle shower watering a summer flower.

 

Seeds are the ideas we present to ourselves. We can plant what we want.

 

Being afraid; having social anxiety…the alien-ness I felt being on the autism spectrum…my alcoholism.. these were symptoms of a greater problem these were/are my challenges. I on instinct planted seeds to counteract the ones planted many years before which led me to feel so sad.

How do I do this? I change my inner dialogue. I forgave myself. I saw myself as a poor damaged thing that needed sympathy, love and understanding.  I began to treat myself more kindly; I began to lie to myself but in a good, encouraging way.

I told myself wonderful things about me; things I didn’t believe. But I kept planting and counting.

I counted reasons to be grateful. I thanked God or the spirits that be. I thanked the universe for my good fortune. I embraced mindfulness and tried to enjoy every passing moment for what what it is without expectation. I found worthiness in contentment and strength in humbleness.

 

I wrote words like”optimistic” ,”happy”and “Yes” in bright colors and tapped them around the house.

I found solace in the colors of music and the sound of the rain.

I refused to be daunted by a reluctant sun so I made my own.

 

What began as a tiny spark has grown larger and my garden is growing with colorful, green, growing wild things.

I continue to plant seeds whenever I can. My garden is a work in progress. Always planting something, digging, weeding, taking it all in.

Despite changes and setbacks I am here to encourage other gardeners who may be discouraged. Maybe to make myself feel a bit better too.

 

As Ram Dass once said: We’re all just walking each other home.”

And I say that it’s damn good to have a friend to walk through the rain with. 

 

~nlm

 

 

 

Related Articles

Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy

Mister Rogers Remixed | Garden of Your Mind

Words Can Change Your Brain