More Greenbelt Mysteries- this time of the Grrrrrr variety

Last week, I wrote a post about an intriguing mystery that happened after a recent Greenbelt work party. While I experienced a myriad of emotions at that time, it was primarily a positive experience.

There were several other mysteries in process at that time. They were different than the one I had written about in that I was very irritated by each of them.

Soon after I came home from India in mid-January, I found that someone had cut down a large tree somewhere and then dumped it in a part of the Greenbelt that we had cleared. I believed it was done by a “professional” company because all the debris had been sorted by size and much of it had been banded before it was dumped.

(Click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.)

A week later, I noticed that someone had pruned a cedar tree and dumped the branches in front of the first stack. The new debris was neither sorted nor banded, so I assumed that this illegal dump was done by a different person than the previous one.

Shortly before our January 21 work party, I noticed that all of our buckets were missing from the site. Most of them were 5 gallon buckets. Many were bright orange or bright blue. How in the world had someone taken 30 buckets without being noticed? And why? We had used the buckets to hold wood chips, trash, glass and weeds.

Some of the buckets in use at a previous work party

Seattle Parks Department removed most of the dump and replaced most of the buckets. The buckets are now chained to the job box that holds our tools. I also placed three Another Future Healthy Forest signs in hopes that it would prevent people from dumping in the reforestation space.

Instead of going out into the snow to take a new photo for this post, I decided to use one that was taken in February of 2017!

The roads were finally clear and dry yesterday so I drove for the first time since the snow began last Sunday. When I passed the area where I put the three signs, I noticed that one of them was gone.

Grrrr. I guess these are all opportunities to practice equanimity and “putting in the effort and letting go of the results”, but I’m not there.

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Letting Go of Suffering- Week Sixteen: More Tools!

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

During this course you have been introduced to many tools which can aid you in moving out of suffering. In this  chapter, you will have the opportunity to learn how to use seven more tools.

#1

Suffer Box

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

  1. Stand in a cardboard box (or on a pillow).
  2. Suffer out loud, i.e. whine, bitch, moan, pout, etc.  Say anything and everything that comes to your mind.
  3. Exaggerate your feelings and thoughts.
  4. Stick with it until you feel an energy shift (may be 5-10-15-20 minutes).
  5. Step out of the box
  6. Identify one thing you will do to work on the situation you were suffering about.

(The Suffer Box was adapted from the Fuss Box concept, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson, Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children.)

#2

Suffer Ring

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

  1. Pick a ring to be your suffer ring.
  2. Wear it anytime you are suffering.
  3. Check in with yourself several times a day to determine whether or not you should be wearing the ring.

(Suggestion: Keep the ring on your watch band or necklace when you aren’t using it, so you have access to it at all times.)

#3

Distract Yourself

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

  1. Go for a walk, watch a movie, play tennis, talk to a friend (on any topic other than what you are suffering about), listen to music, read a book, exercise, etc.
  2. After the suffery energy has shifted, identify one thing you are going to do to solve the problem that is related to your suffering.

#4

Release Anger

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

  1. Make a written list of all the things you are angry about. I am mad that_____. I am mad that_____. I am mad that _____.
  2. Write a poison pen letter saying all of the negative things you would like to say to the person you are angry with. Be sure to destroy the letter afterwards. This is an opportunity for you to vent. No one should ever see it.
  3. Hit a pillow with your fists or a tennis racket
  4. Stomp your feet.
  5. Twist a towel and let your anger flow into the towel.

#5

Release Fear

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

  1. Make a written list of your scares. I am scared that _____. I am scared that _____. I am scared that _____.
  2. Scream into a pillow.
  3. Call a friend and talk with them about your fear.
  4. Say positive affirmations to yourself
  5. Call someone and ask them for an affirmation.

#6

Do a Clearing

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you are feeling distant from someone, or you are aware you have unfinished business with them, then do a clearing. I find the model below to be very helpful.

  1. I feel _________________ (mad, sad or scared)
  2. Because when you _________________________
  3. I think it means ___________________________
  4. What I need from me is ______________________
  5. What I need from you is ______________________

Example 1:

  1. I feel scared
  2. Because when you didn’t acknowledge me when I walked into room
  3. I think it means you are mad at me
  4. What I need from me is to remind myself that I’m okay even if you are upset with me.
  5. What I need from you is to know if you are mad at me, i.e. check out your fantasy

Example 2:

  1. I feel mad
  2. Because when you do things I haven’t asked you to do
  3. I think it means you believe I’m incompetent.
  4. What I need from me is to remind myself that I am competent regardless of what you think.
  5. What I need from you is to know whether you think I am incompetent, i.e. check out your fantasy.

Most often our fantasies are wrong, but if you happen to be right, read what you wrote in the fourth line and focus on that. There may be problems that the two of you need to solve but wait until you are both feeling grounded and ready to work on them.

#7

Sharing Resentments and Appreciations

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  1. Ask a friend to work with you as learn how to share and hear resentments and appreciations.
  2. Share two resentments with your friend and listen to two of hers/his. Focus on events that have occurred recently. The person giving the resentment uses the format “I resent that you ______.” The listener responds “Thank you” or “I hear you.” When you are hearing resentments, remember that you are hearing the other person’s experience. It does not mean that you are “bad” or have done something wrong or that you have to agree with their perception. Do not defend or argue, simply listen.
  3. Share two appreciations with your friend and listen to two of hers/his. Focus on events that have occurred recently. The speaker uses the format “I appreciate that you_____.” The listener responds “Thank you” or “I hear you.”

Examples

I resent that you left the cap off of the toothpaste tube.

I resent that you didn’t put your dishes in the dishwasher.

I appreciate that you gave me a hug when I came home.

I appreciate that you called me today.

[Note: Thanks to Elaine Childs-Gowell, Jean Illsley Clarke, Al Chase, and the other therapists who created and/or revised the 1) clearing and 2) resentment and appreciation models.]

 

Every day this week, use one or two of these tools and then journal about your experience.

Day 1

52c

Day 2

52c

Day 3

52c

Day 4

52c

Day 5

52c

Day 6

52c

Day 7

52c

 

See you next Monday for the seventeenth and last lesson.

To find the lessons in this series that have already been published, click here.

Song Lyric Sunday: Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

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Helen’s direction for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday:

Our theme for Song Lyric Sunday is to celebrate the sun.  You can interpret it any way you’d like through music, meaning you can even post a song that only has the word “sun” in it, or really any other way you can fathom.

Helen mentioned that she felt gloomy this week. I can relate to that. For Song Lyric Sunday, I decided to take the one word option and pick a familiar song that would help me in this moment. I’m going to visualize Sitting on the Dock of the Bay and watching my fear, anger and sadness, and the fear, anger and sadness of so many others, roll away with the tide.

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay was written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper. It was recorded in 1968, three days before Otis Redding died in a plane crash.

Lyrics

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothin’s gonna come my way

So I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

(whistle)

Song Lyric Sunday: Anger

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The theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is anger. The tune that came to my mind was Nancy Sinatra’s song These Boots Are Made for Walkin’. It was written by Lee Hazelwood and was released on February 22, 1966.

I enjoyed hearing a song from my past but watching the video was even more fun. The song came out when I was 17, six or seven months before I moved to Seattle… to go to college. It is highly unlikely I would have seen the video back then so I appreciate the opportunity to see it now.

You keep saying you got something for me
Something you call love but confess
You’ve been a’messin’ where you shouldn’t ‘ve been a’messin’
And now someone else is getting all your best
Well, these boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be a’changin’
What’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet
These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

You keep playing where you shouldn’t be playing
And you keep thinking that you’ll never get burnt (HAH)
Well, I’ve just found me a brand new box of matches (YEAH)
And what he knows you ain’t had time to learn
These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

Letting Go of Suffering

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For several years in the mid to late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I wrote articles about my experiences with Amma for “The New Times,” a free newspaper that was, at that time, available in Washington and Oregon. I have started sharing some of those articles on my blog. I am choosing the articles to post based on their topic, therefore they are not being shared chronologically. The article below was published in August of 1995.

~

The experience of grief is inherent in living. As we live, events will happen that we don’t want to happen. We will undergo violations, endings, disappointments and betrayals. If we allow ourselves to fully feel the pain that comes with these events, we will most likely learn the important lessons that are there for us to learn and move on. If we suppress the painful feelings and mask them with self pity, guilt, blame, suspicion, sarcasm, indifference, and/or worry, we are likely to move into suffering.

One day last year (1994), during my annual visit with my spiritual teacher, Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), whose ashram is located in Amritapuri, India, I had the opportunity to experience and move through two episodes of emotional pain. That year, I had come to the ashram bringing with me 60 handmade skirts and blouses. This clothing had been made by friends and myself for children living in the orphanage operated by Amma.

One day I told Amma that I was going to deliver the clothes to the orphanage. As you might imagine, I was totally shocked when she responded that since I had not brought 600 sets of clothes, enough for each child at the orphanage to have a set, none of the children could have them!

My mind immediately started operating on three tracks. The first track was filled with rage, fear and self pity. Among the internal messages were:

  • What do you mean I can’t take them? Don’t you know how hard we worked? 
  • You betrayed me! 
  • You made me betray my friends. 
  • You aren’t fair. 
  • You made me waste a whole year. 
  • Now everyone is gong to be mad at me and it’s YOUR fault. 

The second track both recognized the lessons I was receiving and attempted to de-escalate the parts of me that were angry and afraid. Those messages, which came in a clear matter of fact, non-critical tone included:

  • Of course she said that. She does not want to set up competition between the children. That is totally reasonable and consistent with what you know of her. 
  • If a gift is an offering that has no strings attached, then the clothes were not a gift. Look at your level of attachment. 
  • This was supposed to be seva (selfless service). Seva, by definition, means that there should be no expectation of the fruit of one’s actions. Examine the process that is happening. How can you learn to give freely? 
  • The work parties were very valuable for the people who participated. They experienced working in community. They experienced giving. They had fun. You have not hurt anyone. 
  • Your friends will have an opportunity to learn lessons such as those you are now learning. 

The third track in my mind was busy contemplating how to sell the clothes so the proceeds could be donated to the orphanage. In that way some of the intention behind the gift would be met. Within minutes I had formulated a tentative plan.

The second and third tracks obviously were supportive and needed no help from me. The first was a different story. I sat close to Amma and let the fury rage inside of me. I could have said something directly to her but there was no need. Ultimately, I believed her response to be correct. The energy I was now experiencing was primarily old betrayal energy of mine, rooted in my childhood. I first tried to move the energy through by imagining myself yelling at Amma. Then I imagined doing various anger release techniques I would do if I were in a therapy setting. These inner processes moved some of my negative energy, but not enough.

I decided to leave the temple and talk to some friends. I asked them if I could have a few minutes to vent, complain, suffer. They agreed and I allowed all that was inside of me to come pouring out. Afterwards, I discovered that the messages on the first track had lost their power. I returned to the temple to sit near Amma feeling successful and complete with the issue. (Brief episodes of anger and fear occurred occasionally over the next few weeks but I was able to easily release the negative energy.)

On the same day as all of this occurred, I experienced another powerful and important event as I was walking back from a local tea shop with a friend. As we passed one of the swamis (monks), he smiled at me. For no apparent reason my whole being exploded with an unnamed grief. The grief was so deep and so intense I could barely walk. I sat in a private place and let the feelings come. I knew it didn’t matter what the grief was about, I simply needed to feel and release it. After about fifteen minutes I felt done; exhausted yet lighter. (One of the ways to differentiate true grief from suffering is to notice what you feel like after you express the emotion. After expressing deep grief, even though you may be tired, you are also likely to feel relieved, lighter, and cleaned out. After immersing yourself in suffering you will probably feel even worse than you did before!)

I ended that day feeling very grateful. Grateful that I had accessed and let go of such core level grief. Grateful that I had experienced the difference between the pain of grief and the pain of suffering. Grateful that I had done my therapy and had the skills to move through the pain. Grateful that I had moved through so much of the pain in my therapy process that what was left was manageable. Grateful that when I am near Amma, I usually move through pain faster than in normal living. Grateful that the process of living has and will continue to bring up any residual pain so I can release it and thereby live my life more and more in the present moment.

As I said in the beginning, grief is inherent in living. We cannot totally avoid pain but we can learn to stop holding on to it. I hope my stories will be of value to you as a model for dealing with your own grief.

~

“The New Times” articles that I’ve already shared:

Support in Times of Trouble

A Multitude of Lessons

Exposing the “Know-It-All”

Many Paths, Same Destination

Putting Pain in Perspective

Letting Go…

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This morning, a friend sent me this Zen Proverb. These behaviors are already values of mine but I know I will be working on all of them throughout my life. I think it is interesting that the one I do the least is the belly laugh.

Throughout the day, I reflected on how different our world would be if we all were able and willing to do these things.

1. Let go of comparing
2. Let go of competing
3. Let go of judgements
4. Let go of anger
5. Let go of regrets
6. Let go of worrying
7. Let go of blame
8. Let go of guilt
9. Let go of fear
10. Have a proper belly laugh at least once a day

Reflections on Fear

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Over the years I have learned many sayings and acronyms relating to fear. I have found them to be useful tools in my own life journey and have also used them with clients in my psychotherapy practice.  Here are the ones that come to mind at the moment:

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

Fear and excitement are two sides of the same coin.

We can see fear as:

      False Evidence Appearing Real

      Forget Everything And Run

or

     Feeling Excited And Ready

     Face Everything And Rise

 

Other important factors:

It is important to feel Fear when we are in danger. The emotion indicates that we need to take action. Fight or Flight might be necessary.

Most of our Fear however is Fear of the future. We often feel much more Fear of what might happen then we would feel if it did happen.

Fear may also mask another feeling. That usually happens because there were unacceptable and acceptable feelings in our families of origin. In my childhood home, feeling Fear was fine.  Feeling anger was not. Therefore, I learned to feel Fear at times when I was actually angry. Once I saw this pattern, I realized it was important that I ask myself if I was angry anytime I felt Fear.

There is so much I could say on this topic but instead I am going to end with the video that Sreejit used at the beginning of the Dungeon Prompt that inspired this post.  I find the video deeply moving.  It also demonstrates many of the aspects of fear I have addressed.