Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

2010s 100 Days

Sixteen years ago I joined a project begun in the UK to write about something I was doing to improve my life in the process of one hundred days.

I chose to say something positive about myself for each of those days.  It was too difficult, so I settled for something positive about something and to get rid of stuff, which I think was mostly books, but I do not really remember. 

I am planning to do this again in 2017, although I have no idea if I can actually do it once more.  My plan is to write about all of the stuff about which I seem unable to let go.  All that chatter in my head that keeps me awake at night.  I do not have it during the day, but when I am unable to sleep, or relax, when I should be sleeping, all those voices of how unsuitable and all the mistakes I make all the damn time just flood into my head.  I cannot sleep, but I also feel ill.

This has to stop and this is my attempt to just get the hell over all of it.  This whole feeling regret all the time is such a pain.  It has to stop.

Anyway, I thought that it would be helpful to me if I had those older project journal entries to keep me informed about what I was about back then.  I copied and pasted those entries into an unformatted text document, so I am guessing that it will be a mess when I copy and paste it here.  Who really cares, you know.

 Juds' Hundred Days
on January 7th, 2010 at 09:04 AM
    Simplify. Minimize. Save, conserve, reduce and reuse. Be self-sufficient. All recent conversations here. In the quest for a book that was mentioned, I wove a wonky little path to an interesting discovery.
    It was a site created by people who decided to spend 100 days doing something to make themselves a better person. Reading that simple page I felt that electric boing of recognition, that instant knowing that I had found something that could be useful to me.
    No money to spend on supplies or learning or traveling or messing about with some new change-the-entire-planet idea, something likely to garner lots of well-intentioned enthusiasm only to gradually gutter to an unfortunate and guilty stop.
    Normally, I do not like this sort of jump-on-the-bandwagon stuff. It seems self-serving under the guise of doing something larger than one's self. Not because all of those things are horrible, not even that they are bad in any way, it is just that they are not the kind of thing I like. But, this one struck some kind of chord in me or knocked me on my ass or something because I like it very much. It is not about changing the whole freaking world or even just a chunk of it.
    For me, it is about the tiny changes I can make in my life that might, just might, help me to be a better person, just like the title of the project says.
    I like it. I really do, especially since I read some of the things that other people are doing. Yeah, there is some big stuff...big deal...but there are middling to small things that people are doing. Like practicing the guitar for 20 minutes a day. Or exercising or song writing or journaling or reading poetry or saying 'good morning' to her co-workers, or being a good listener and all kinds of heartfelt things like that. One person is going to read to her children every day. Man, that is a gift for all of them. A really, stunningly, ambitious one is to do one thing every single day that she has not done before. Man, I want to read about that journey!
    My choices are modest, because I want to be sure to do them every day. I had already decided that this year is going to see me take one object out of this house every day and not bring it back inside. I am already culling my books, so if you want a free book sent to you, just let me know what you like and I probably have something like it. Every day, a book leaves this house, never to return. ****ing yikes!! I started doing this last year, in a more informal way, by lending out books and making the borrower promise to keep them or pass them on or throw them away, anything but bring them back here. I have two friends who are using my library as a back-up in case they run out of things to read. So far, so good, as none of the books have been brought back. I also started taking some of my less gross books to the nursing facility where another friend's mother lives. I also checked some of my older books with ABE and found that some of them are quite rare and whilst I am unsuited to selling them myself, the university system has agreed to look at them in case some of them might be suitable for their collections. Kitchen equipment and tools, things that have not been used for years are also leaving home. My goal there is to have at least half of my cupboards completely empty and for them to stay that way. It helps that I do not have many cupboards or other places for storing stuff, but it means that the huge box of kitchen junk will also be leaving...ta-ta!
    Now, in the divesting of things part, I can work ahead, but I cannot fall behind in the one-thing-gone-per-day plan. I am guessing that there is going to be much enthusiasm on my part in the beginning, but that is certain to wane as time goes on. I am hoping that making this commitment will help my resolve. One can always hope. There are going to be many books leaving this house, because there are more of them than anything else.
    The other thing that I am doing is even tinier, but I think that it might turn out to be the most significant for me. I am going to think something positive about myself and/or other people every day. At first thought, it seemed like a toss-away kind of thing, but thinking positively every day is going to be a challenge, even though I am a totally glass-full kind of girl. And, each thought has to be genuine, not things like he is wearing a nice shirt or her hair does not look crappy today. It has to be something meaningful, like M was really focused on helping that woman or I tried my best to do (whatever). Ahead of me I have one hundred positive things. I am glad that it is not an entire year. I am going to write them down so that I am not tempted by design or accident to repeat any one thing.
    So, anyway, then, this is my first living well thing, and this is where I found it. I am Judsie there, as well.
    This new blogging opportunity is where I will post the things that I get rid of and my positive thoughts, and I am going to do that right now. I actually began this process two days ago, so here are my first two days of divesting and positiveness.

Day 1
Divest: Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. I thought it best to begin with a medium-sized sacrifice and get rid of a book that I really like.
Positive thought: I am grateful for my husband for paying the bills even when he would rather have done something else with the money.

Day 2
Divest: The Keeper, by Sarah Langan
Positive thought: I admire Jen because she has endured the most extreme loss that a parent can experience and she is the most loving and supportive person that I know.

Day 3
Divested: The Singing Stones, by Phyllis Whitney
Positive thought: I am a good person and the kitties would like me even if I were not the person who feeds them.

Day 4
Chang and Eng, by Darin Strauss, autographed copy
The Night Buffalo, by Guillermo Arriaga
Positive thought:
J is a kind and generous person.

Day 5
The Husband, by Dean Koontz
Menopausal Years, by Susun S. Weed
The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Queen of the Oddballs, by Hillary Carlip
Dead Witch Walking, by Kim Harrison
Positive thought:
I have within me the ability to forgive.

Day 6
Total well-being, Hamlyn Publisher
Theosophy, Rudolf Steiner
The Muse Asylum, David Czuchlewski
Glendalough, Michael Rodgers & Marcus Losack (who was my guide on that trip)
A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Anna Quindlen
Stirring It Up: How to make money and save the world, Gary Hirshberg
Positive thought:
I am capable of change

Day 7
The Wisdom of Healing, David Simon
Shoah, Claude Lanzmann
A Bed By The Window, M. Scott Peck
Timeless Healing, Herbert Benson
The Women's DeCameron, Julia Voznesenskaya
The Emotional Incest Syndrome, Patricia Love (2 copies, what the hell!!)
Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen
Bad Luck and Trouble, Lee Child
Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher
How to Talk to Girls, Alec Greven
Positive thought:
I am capable of thinking the best of people.

Day 8
Yesterday found me with two copies of the same book. That often happens here because I will pick up an extra copy of something that I really, really like so that I can have one to lend out without getting all angsty about it coming back. I mean, you know how it goes with books. You lend them out and they are kept for a long time and gradually are absorbed into the miasma of the borrower's home. That happened to me as a borrower more than thirty years ago. Someone lent a book to me and I took it, not actually intending to read it anyway because it did not interest me, although he was rabid about the author and insisted that I take the damn thing. Because I was never going to read it, I forgot about it and it disappeared into the bookshelves somewhere. Frankly, I probably lent it out to someone else. He was pissed and I had to pay for the thing. Still corks me.

I chose never to allow anyone to push their favourites on me again, and I decided that I would never put that burden on anyone who requested to read one of my books. Before I started buying duplicate copies of my most especially favourite books, I would caution the lendee that I would hound them to get it back, so they should not take offense when that happened. And, it did and I did not like being a nag. Ergo, the duplicate copies. Now that I am letting all of this go, those extra copies are kind of bittersweet. I am pleased that I kept from them (the borrowers) the burden of actually having to remember that they borrowed a book from me, but I also must finally address the fact that I spent twice as much on that title than I needed to do. Ah, such is the life of a book monger.

Anyway, the point, and I do have one, is that when there is a duplication of a title, probably separated by time, it is not because I flaked out and took the book back into my library, but that I came across another damn copy. The crappy part is that this multiple-copy-titles thing is going to be happening a lot. Furthermore, the only reason that I am mentioning this is that I am vacillating about one of today's releases.

Hose of Dark Delights, Louisa Burton
The House of Thunder, Dean Koontz
The Brief History of the Dead, Kevin Brockmeier
River Woman, Donna Hemans
A Long Way From Home, Connie Briscoe
Ladder of Years, Anne Tyler
Brimstone, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
The Preston/Child books are more difficult to give away than I expected. I really love them, so I might reconsider on this title before the books leave the premises on Saturday, but I hope that does not happen because it will be moving in the wrong direction. Still, it contains a most wonderful sentence when Pendergast, kneels down, picks up this little particle, smells it and reaches out to give it to the officer who asks what it is and he replies, "Brimstone, Lieutenant, good Old Testament brimstone."
Positive thought:
Chasing my tail does not make me a kitten, but noticing that I am, does mean that I am paying attention.

Day 9
Only six books today, but three of them are most dear to me. How difficult this is.
One Door Away From Heaven, Dean Koontz
The Dogs of Babel, Carolyn Parkhurst
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley, First Edition (sob)
Active Wellness, Gayle Reichler
The Best American Erotica 2000, edited by Susie Bright
Positive thought:
I am able to survive whatever my life presents to me, knowing with certainty that is exactly what I need to experience.

Day 10
Spock on Spock, Benjamin Spock and Mary Morgan
What the Dogs Have Taught Me, Merrill Markoe
Asking for Trouble, Donald Woods
Makes Me Wanna Holler, Nathan McCall
The Vanishing Hitchhiker, Jan Harold Brunvand
The Mexican Pet, Jan Harold Brunvand
The Choking Doberman, Jan Harold Brunvand
Curses! Broiled Again!, Jan Harold Brunvand
When Did I Stop Being Twenty..., Judith Viorst
I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I want to Go to Boise, Erma Bombeck
Deep Thoughts, Jack Handey
The Death and Life of Dith Pran, Sydney H. Schanberg
Men Who Hate Themselves...(humour), David A. Rudnitsky
In Praise of Friendship, Smithmark gift book
I Am Rosemarie, Marietta D. Moskin
Memories of Childhood, Barbara Orbach
When Angels Speak, Martha Willaimson
Family-The Ties That Bind...And Gag, Erma Bombeck
Hello, Lord, Gail Cunningham
Positive thought: I am able to accept what I have and release what I only want.

Day 11
Fifteen more books gone. I have to stop listing them all. I think that it is interfering with the process. Goodbye Corrie Ten Bloom, farewell Charles Grodin, godspeed Robert Kennedy. Good riddance to the rest of you.
Positive thought:
M listens and supports me even when she does not have a damn clue about my current ravings. Bless her.

Day 12
A large and nearly unmovable suitcase and a bag that I had to drag left the house today, filled to the gills with books. My coffee group had first choice and I dropped the rest off at my vet clinic. I brought smaller bags along with me for everyone to take their new books home and they are all looking forward to next week's haul of crap...errrr...lovely books. I know that they will not be so eager to help me out in the coming weeks, but bless their hearts for talking these now. The vet clinic said that what they do not want they will put in a box in the waiting area with a sign that says "Free to a good home", which is an animal welfare joke as we encourage people to not just give out their unwanted pet willy-nilly.

I should probably keep count of how many books are leaving here, but I am not yet able to move beyond the pain of this process. Today, when pulling the books from the bags and seeing them leave, I was struck...boinga...with the thought that even when the books are completely gone, that I am barely making a dent in the weight that I carry in my life. The books are only symbolic of all of the other issues with which I am not dealing. By hoarding these things, by being burdened by them, I can admit that they are a way to avoid facing some pretty ****ing (I apologize for that word, but it is necessary and I know that the filter will take care of it) hard facts about the way I have allowed my life to evolve. That was, and is, a choice. It is an artificial deadline, but there are only 88 days left to complete this. Another choice.

We humans naturally move away from pain and towards pleasure. Why do I need all of this crap to prove to myself that I do not deserve some small measure of pleasure, some peace, some something? What is it that prevents me from feeling deserving? I am feeling, what...what do I feel about this? I thought, I really and truly did believe that this process was all and only about having a less cluttered environment. I am not deceiving myself about that; it was my intent. I am trusting this process, honestly trusting that this is occurring now because I am ready to confront and deal with those issues that I never allow myself to think about. I am scared silly, but I must be ready for it to happen or else it would not be happening.

Divested: Half a suitcase of books and a vintage cut-glass compote
Positive thought: It is fine to hold on to some secrets for just a bit longer, baby.

Day 13
Today is the thirteenth of my hundred days. More books are gone, but if I am going to get rid of 1500 books before the end of this exercise, I had better get my very disorganized self going, because that translates to 17.3 books per day. I am already falling behind that number, despite the twenty-books days that I had. I really should have done the math on that when I began. I have to find more places to take the books and tomorrow will find me calling around for agencies willing to take them. As a final option, well, there are two. I am hoping that some of the second-hand books stores will simply take them as a donation. Failing that, some of them will have to be trashed. I am planning on putting a small table at the end of our property and offering them free to anyone who happens to wander by. Anything left will go into the recycle bin.

What I do know now is that I can get rid of anything that I want, and it will not kill me. As the days pass, it is getting easier and I found today that I was able to toss out some perfectly good clear glass things and seeing them in the recycle bin is not causing me any distress. I know that all of this stuff should probably be going to the charity stores, but if it is a choice between just getting rid of it now or storing and delivering these things, then they are going to be trashed, because I cannot risk the possibility that they will find their way back into the house. As it is, I have already found several items that have been rescued by another person who lives here. I mean, what the **** is that all about. Really. So, anyway, that part of my life is moving forward. I am planning on there being some incidents of serious and painful regret, but that is too damn bad.

An interesting part of this has been my dawning awareness (how stupid, really dumb and clueless am I anyway, for chrissakes?) of how I have been using stuff to shield me from having to deal with other aspects of my life. When this project is completed, am I going to be able to keep moving and address the other things? I have accepted for a long time that all this crap is holding me down, but I have never wanted to acknowledge that I was using it to protect me from those other things. It is almost as though it was a way to, and this seems just so insane, but a way to hurt myself so that I do not have to deal with other hurting. I can be braver. I know that there is the possibility that I can insist on being treated more humanely. If it just were not so scary, all of this thinking that I deserve better. And, I am scared. I wonder what will happen when I begin to stand up for myself. As long as I am compliant, it is bearable, and I wonder what happens when I say 'no more'.
Divested: A bit more than 17.3 books
Positive thought: I believe that there is goodness in you.

Day 14
Today is not a good day, so I am going to get this out of the way as early as possible. I wonder how soon it will be before I have to Google 'positive thoughts' in order to have something nice to say here.
Divested: A ton of books and a box of kitchen stuff that I never use
Positive thought: I am learning more about how to be a good creature on the planet.

Day 15
It has been a long day of meetings and appointments and I am pooped. Totally. I did not get as far in the sorting as I would have liked, but two weeks into this, I am thinking more about my internal process than I am about my physical environment.
Box of books
Attachment to a person
Positive thought:
I can say 'no' and the world does not end.

Day 16
 Day 16 and a warning that you might not want to read this
on January 20th, 2010 at 09:46 PM (37 Views)
    I received an e-mail from the Hundred Days folk today. They will be celebrating the end of this part of their project in March, a month earlier than I will. It is being held in and around London, so I could not go anyway, but it made me think about why I am doing this.
    I am going to do my best to be a better person, not only as a part of this process which I think of as a kick-start-in-my-big-fat-ass, but as a continuation of where I want to be in my life. I want to be a better world citizen. I want to be a better steward of my resources. I want to live with fewer encumbrances. I want to feel easy and accepting of the people around me. I want peace. I want it all. Yes, I do. And, I want it in the support of myself and my family and friends and, gosh, just everyone and the whole damn planet. I want it little and I want it even littler and more personal.
    I want to manifest my best self in my microcosm. That should be enough and it is.
    So, anyway, this is where you should stop reading. Seriously. This is going to get preachy and whilst I am embarrassed and a little ashamed, I am going to write it anyway in an effort to divest myself of these feelings, just release them out into the Universe where they can be transformed into something better.
    The first thing that happened was being contacted by a social service organization for which I volunteer. One of their clients requested a service that I provide, one of the non-essential ones, and I arranged to meet with her yesterday afternoon. I have not yet told the client that I am declining to provide the service to her because I want to give myself time to be certain that I am doing what is best for both of us. What she wants is not beyond what I am capable of providing, but she is a lonely and needy person and, in the hour that we spent meeting yesterday, has already urged me to spend time with her and stay at her home. What she is asking is not part of the service and is inappropriate behavior, which is why she is one of the agency's clients. However, at this moment, I am feeling badly because I am not willing to add one more needy person to my life. I am already the occasional caregiver for three other people and I simply cannot handle another one. Basically selfish, but I get to be protective of my time and energy once in a while.
    I am feeling a little funny in my tummy right now because of something I read today and it is about how we view ourselves and others in the context of what we believe to be right. This thing, this little thing, is about judging, and, you know, honestly, just being bothered by how others are judged means that I am being judgmental all over the place myself, and it is already on my list of things to stop doing, so I should just stop doing it.
    There is not one right way to live. I was not born living simply or with the understanding of how that was possible, and I am guessing that no one else was, either. We are all exactly where we are supposed to be in our journey. We find ourselves precisely in the appropriate place and time and space on that path, just where we are intended to be. We learn and understand and manifest when it is the time for us to do that. And, I am not supporting a fatalist viewpoint here, but only trusting and honoring wherever someone is located on their path, and that means me, too.
    I am not perfect, never will be, never want to be. That means that I will not ever be able to measure up to what other people believe to be the right thing to do or think or be. By my flaws and shortcomings I will be judged and that is not a nice feeling. I am judging here, but I do not think that that is nice thing to do. It is not nice when it happens to other people, either.
    Divested: Books, books, books and more books and a partridge in a pear tree. Don't ask
    Positive thought: I am capable of not judging other people and it is in my own best interest to work much harder at this.

Day 17
Devested: Books
Positive thought: I appreciate being able to accept that not everyone is like me.

Day 18
There is not one right way to live.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I am so proud of myself for figuring out how to do my business taxes electronically.

Day 19
Spending a day and a half away from my regular life was kind of nice. Being unreachable means that no one can make any demands on your time. Very satisfying.
Divested: Books, baking pans and kitchen utensils
Positive thought: Some family members are wonderful and help to make up for the ones who are not.

Day 20
First milestone of 1/5 of the time has passed
Divested: Books
Positive thought: MJ is a kind and thoughtful friend and I am blessed by her presence in my life and the opportunity to follow her generous example.

Day 21
Divested: Books, magazines, kitchen stuff
Positive thought: I can survive not being liked.

Day 22
Divested: Books, display racks
Positive thought: I am a person who stands up for my beliefs.

Day 23
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I am glad that I chose my current jobs.

Day 24 and 25
Yesterday was a sad day. Not related to getting out from under all my crap, but of a more personal nature. I do not mind working hard or having hard or difficult things in my life. Most of the time those things energize me, get the juices flowing, provide a chance to be creative and solve the unsolvable problems, charge in and set things to rights. Just part of being a grown-up, or at least pretending to be one. It is only that it would be nice to count on some things to be easier, a contrast to the the parts of our lives that require more stamina, you know, like a safe place to which you can retreat when everything else is crazy.

Day 24
Divested: Books, but not as many as I would have liked.
Positive thought: I am capable of a positive thought, I can do this. OK. I can remain calm and centered in the midst of chaos.
Day 25
Divested: Books, clothes. The cherry on top of today's cupcake is that I found another source for boxes, which are incredibly difficult to find. Having boxes may be more work than getting rid of things.
Positive thought: I am a good friend.

Day 26 and Day 27
One quarter of the way down and just not moving as quickly as I would like. With over 300 books gone, I am getting closer to the authors I like best. A dozen Koontz went yesterday as part of the suitcase-to-coffee. With barely half taken by my friends, I visited a few tables at the cafe and invited those people to take what they wanted. I may continue to do that until someone in charge asks me to restrain myself.
Albert Einstein: "Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

Day 26
Divested: Books, fan, spinning spice rack (nice)
Positive thought: I am able to overcome my shyness.
Day 27
Divested: Books, a ton of art magazines (sob)
Positive thought: I am gaining confidence in my ability to have an unencumbered life.

Day 28
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." Hans Hoffman
So, I am guessing that, in addition to my stuff, all the noise in my head is coming from the unnecessary bad self-talk and playbacks of what other people said to me. Did you ever think, at least for a moment, that were it not for the voices in your head that you might (just for that moment) be alone in the world?
Talk. Talk. Talk. The chatter is just as encumbering as the clutter.
And, today I realized that even when all of these bookcases are gone, there probably will not be room in my studio for my loom. I think that I need to find a new home for it and just get that heartbreak over as soon as possible.
Divested: Books, a big box of baking pans
Positive thought: I can still do good work whilst moving through this process.

Day 29
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." William Morris
The days that I spend mostly out of the house are the ones where I rush to fill the current box with unwanted stuff. Today was no exception and the rest of the week does not look all that good, either. Tomorrow work, Thursday most of the day with a new social service client and Friday is there, taunting me with nothing on the calendar and I will probably want to take a few naps because Saturday is chock full of boring but necessary errands.
Divested: Box-o-books, a pair of lamps and a pile of board games
Positive thought: I am willing to confront the ultimate death of my old way of being. Frankly, I am scared silly, but do not tell anyone until I get past this.

Day 30
Thirty days. A whole damn month and the process is becoming more interesting (read: weird, annoying, bothersome, frustrating, empowering, hopeful, just all over the damn place) as each day unfolds. Divesting myself of things that I love or have loved or thought to be cool and groovy but no longer need or that serve me in the ways I initially intended is something new for me. Sure, I have a long history of releasing and even abandoning things because they cease to be meaningful to me, but never have I undertaken such a large project of this kind.
There is a beginning a middle and possibly an end to this. I remember thinking that fewer bookcases meant less dusting. A small beginning benefit. I truly believed that releasing all of this stuff was about me and my attachment to things. It is not that alone. It is, true, about my relationship with the things that I have brought into my life to give me pleasure, to inform and educate me; to give me the means, tools and materials to support me financially and intellectually and spiritually. However, I have never lived in isolation, never lived all by myself and that translates into living in concert with not only all my stuff, but with other people.
This process was begun in blissful ignorance of what the consequences were going to be.
I have come to see that there needed to be space for something else and, oh, I not know, not with the expectation that with stuff gone that there would be room for more stuff at some time, but that there would be room for some other 'thing', not sure what that is or could be, but perhaps there always was a little place in me that needed filling. Perhaps all of these books were the substitute for which that emptiness yearned.
Another consequence is that doing this rattled the cages that held all of my relationships. There is not one single person who knows about what I am doing and why I am doing it who does not have some stunningly strong opinions about exactly how I should be doing or not doing this. It really is a hornet's nest of painful change for some of us, well me especially, but I am surprised at how much energy this holds for other people. My mind is boggled.
Some recent circumstances seem to indicate that even if I simply stopped doing this divestment, even if I tried to do it differently, that some of my relationships, the people ones, are changed forever, and not in a good way. It appears that not only have I been carrying my own personal burdens, but that I have inadvertently taken on those of other people. If I thought about it I am certain that I could find the sources of that happening, but, frankly, at least at this point, I am not all that interested in examining that.
I never wanted to hurt anyone, gosh, I never thought that doing this would or could possibly hurt the feelings of a single person, except for my own feelings of loss, or course. Whilst I was prepared, maybe even eager, to deal with my own issues, I was naively uninformed about how far-reaching this would become in terms of other people. I do not know where this is going, the whole process, but it is not the little idea about simply getting rid of a few books with which it began.
Little losses, little leavings, little deaths may not destroy me, but they feel like they might. Who am I going to be when this process is finished?
Divested: Books
Positive thought: It is my most ardent desire that I have what it takes to do what needs doing and to accept what needs accepting.

Day 31
I am of the opinion that the way we choose to live is entirely up to us. Even if the rest of the Universe thinks that we are totally whacked-out and insane for having a particular lifestyle, it simply is not any of their business unless it personally affects their own way of living. Even then, if the effect is minor, some annoying or opposite-of-what-I-believe sort of thing, we have to find a way to get beyond how we feel about that and move on with our own lives. There is not only one way to live and there is simply no getting around that.
If someone has the audacity to tell me that my way of living or manifesting in the world is wrong or weird or crackpot or wasteful or penurious or even icky, not only is it none of their business, it would be nice if they could consider keeping their opinions to themselves, but if I am going to be true to my beliefs that really should not bother me anyway. More importantly, I would not waste a moment caring about what they feel compelled to share, much less take it seriously, or to heart. But, of course those are only my opinions and what someone else may say about me is moot and what I may think about them is, you guessed it, none of my business. Were a friend to say such things to me, I might consider our relationship and perhaps limit our contact or find a new friend.
Sometimes the viewpoint of another person, one that is in opposition to how we are living, can be a call to attention that draws us to examining how and what we are doing, and that is a cool and groovy thing, although often a difficult or heartbreaking process for us. If it holds enough energy for us to think about it and have uncomfortable or defensive feelings, it might be in our own best interest to seriously consider what all of that might mean to the larger context of our life.
With family members or neighbors that is not so easily accomplished. Living with and around people who do not support my life and how I live it is, well, just a part of life and living; no getting around that. And, the energy that I expend giving a rat's fanny about what other people may think about me is energy that I can use more effectively to keep on living the life that annoys or distresses them. Not that I would wish discomfort on another person, but when someone is being so in-your-face about something with me, well, going on and doing what is best for me can be the cherry on the top of that luscious ice cream treat.
There is actually a point to this. Two, in fact.
The first is the issues that everyone in my life, except for my dear and wonderful daughter, are expressing to me all the damn time about getting rid of all the family stuff. They are highly opinionated and are judging me on nearly every part of this process. Instead of responding in kind and telling them to just pissoff, I am doing what I always have done and that is to encourage them to help themselves to whatever they want. Unfortunately, I am passive about this and whilst it has caused me some discomfort over the past several weeks and I found myself feeling a bit of shame about it, I am invested in being kind and supportive to their feelings of attachment to these objects and what they perceive as their connection to the past. This is relevant most especially to the ultimatum I gave this past weekend.
It is important to me to stay balanced and maintain some perspective about this process as it affects other people. I truly believed, when starting this hundred days of change, that it was exclusively about me, but have come to see that my pebble dropped in the smooth waters of my life is rippling out in unintended and completely unexpected ways. In the past several days I have come to accept that this, too, is an essential part of the process that I began a month ago. There are important, perhaps even critical, lessons that I am in the process of learning, and I am certain that there are more to come. Cool. Groovy. Yeah, but painful as well. I remember last year when I donated a ton of books to a charity sale how I found myself weeping when some of those books went into the boxes.
Pain seems to be part of most forward movement in our lives, if not to the self then to someone else. It distills down to the cycle of existence, birth through living through death through rebirth. It happens whether we want it or not, whether we like it or despise it.
The second thing is a book that I recently finished, Radical simplicity: creating an authentic life, by Dan Price. I wanted that book to be better, but it was not because it betrayed one of the exceptions I hold most dear to the practice of living one's life, and that is that if you take on the responsibility for another living thing, be it a lettuce patch or bunny or cat or dog or at the most important end of that spectrum, a child or life partner, then all bets are off and you better get to the business of making certain that you are doing everything possible to foster and support that responsibility. My opinion about this creeps into the realm of judgment, but I make no apologies about that because it is not about judging another person or how they live, it is about doing the right things for the right reasons, even though those are only my interpretation of what is right and what is wrong.
Price yearned, his entire being longed for the ability to live a simple, unencumbered life, as close to our hunter-gatherer heritage as possible, although I do not remember his use of that term. It might be in that slim volume, but I cannot recall it. And, you know, that is fine, to choose to live like that. Even having choosen a partner will not cause you to abandon such life principles as Price holds, but we are privy to only his side of their joint experience.
His chronicles are interesting and compelling, but I was never able to read about his experiences without the sub context of knowing that he helped to create two children. That informed and affected every single word that I read from that point on. I am having these feelings not knowing anything, not a tiny shred, of how it was for those three other people in his life whilst he was out living the natural life on land that he rented for a hundred dollars a year or later simply appropriated for brief periods of time, building shelters in the woods, living in his tipis, growing gardens, hunting down reusable materials or seeking loans from his 'wealthy' friends (his words), riding his bike and publishing his magazines.
I learned a lot from reading that book, but it left me with an ache in my chest that has returned whilst writing this. It is completely and totally and absolutely unfair of me to have this feeling, but I am in a place where I cannot seem to let it go and it is that he followed his bliss, possibly at the expense of the needs of other people, people to whom he had a responsibility at the most basic and elemental level.
So, there may exist a place where whilst there is not only one way to live may dwell in the same Universe as there might also be some not so wonderful ways to live that are subject to valid examination and strongly held opinions.
Divested: Books (big surprise), my antique and collectible baskets
Positive thought: Today is going to a new and fun experience and I am going to enjoy every moment of it.

Day 32
My heart is not in exactly the place I would like it to be today. Part of it is that I created a little, safe space in the world and it seems that I and a tiny cadre of like-minded souls are the only ones interested in it. I am not all gloomy and disheartened or miserable or anything, much less sad about it, well, maybe just a little. All things are and remain dynamic in their time, eventually pass and become something else and perhaps this is the transition time for something that is no longer needed by anyone save me and that tiny cadre of friends. Whatever happens, so be it.
Something interesting happened yesterday and whilst this might not be the right place to write about it, am going to anyway. It was my first, in person, meeting with a new social services client. Her need is not what she originally proposed, but I am satisfied that she used that issue to bring us together. We spent the middle of the day doing that which she really wanted from us and it was, gosh, more than nice, it was wonderful and I look forward to spending more time with her. But, the interesting thing that happened was that when she opened her door to let me into her house, she said something about how beautiful I was. Now. I know what I look like and even though small children or other sensitive creatures to not run away when they see me, I am a very ordinary person in appearance, truthfully, on the lesser side of that. But, I am well-groomed and no one that I know seems to care one way or the other about how any of us look. My friends, and probably some family as well, are of that non-judgmental, loving, accepting and who-gives-a-crap nature. We are able to see past the crusty-dusty exterior into the creamy center of who each of us is and tries to be in how we live our lives. That, I believe, is where true beauty lies, you know, the kind that helps us to be supportive of others no matter how differently they manifest themselves in the world, helps us to make connections and bonds that transcend those differences and celebrate all the similarities we have, particularly those that are not immediately evident. That is just a long and torturous way of saying that I am not beautiful and I know it, but that I hope that I do have some measure of internal beauty and grace and the ability to be just plain nice.
So, anyway, she said that and, much to my surprise, it resonated in me and I felt kind of nice looking. In the support of honesty, I have to admit that I felt pretty. Ten minutes later she was palming the table in her kitchen, moving her hands in a circular motion and I asked her if she was looking for something. She replied that she wanted to find her glasses, that they really did not help her to see very well but that she liked to wear them anyway. For a moment, or two or two hundred, I felt a little crushed and vain and foolish that I had felt so full of myself about my appearance a few minutes before. And so I got over myself. She gathered her things and I carefully, now knowing that she was legally blind, because she also shared that with me, led her out of the house, down the porch steps and around to where my car was parked. And then I felt a lift in my mood again because she did not have super-duper vision and would not be able to see the dust on the dashboard or the Dr. Cracker crumbs on the floor mats or the stain from the double-mocha latte that I bought for my daughter a few weeks ago and that spilled on the seat as I was taking it to her house where I would sit her down to enjoy a moment for herself whilst I had the boys to myself.
Some days, some parts of days, things happen and I lose or misplace my senses of perspective and balance. I do not abandon them, but I sort of forget about them. Or something. Then another thing happens, like yesterday, and I am brought back to myself with another lesson learned about the kind of person I want to be, you know, the image I hold in my heart of how I could be. Then, I do remember what I want, which is to be as aware and observant and connected as is possible to be. I do not require that my life be easy or simple, although that would be nice sometimes, but that I am equal to the challenges, the difficulties, the experiences that help me to move closer to that heart held ideal.
I know that all of the changes are good for me and that it is in my own self-interest to not waste them.
I thought that it would be a little painful to offer this quote and am pleasantly surprised to find that it is not. It is from the near-to-end of Dan Price's book, Radical simplicity: creating an authentic life. I am guessing that I got more out of that book than I thought, or even wanted. Oh, well.
"When you're willing to give something up the rewards you receive are always more interesting than what you had."
So be it.
Divested: Books, more books and two large boxes of saved materials that will never be made into the paper I wanted to make.
Positive thought: I am willing to give up something in order to benefit from interesting rewards.

Day 33
In effect, this is one third of the way through the Hundred Days. I should be sleeping because I have an early meeting with my coffee friends tomorrow morning, well, actually this morning. But, I cannot sleep and was up looking through some photos and sort of grooving on the memories. I needed the respite from trying to enter the modern world and begin doing some things electronically.
Despite knowing a gazillion people who do their banking and shopping and manage all manner of personal business on-line, it is still a weird and confusing place for me. I use computers every single day for work, often doing some computer instruction with some of my clients, but this more intimate use of the technology had my head spinning . I did manage to complete my business taxes on-line just last month. Big whoop for me. But, this evening I spent an hour on-line and on the telephone with three different people before I managed to complete what needed to be done. There were moments when I felt so just plain stupid, not knowing enough to even ask the right questions, and I felt myself close to tears of frustration. I am just a big, old crybaby anyway, but my preference was not to end up weeping instead of being able to listen and possibly learn something useful so that I would not be so uninformed and unprepared the next time.
I do not think that anyone would see me as a modern woman, but it would be nice if I could stop manifesting my inner Luddite.
Anyway, it gave a nice and early start on today's tasks.
Divested: Books, another box of music boxes
Positive thought: I can be as honest with myself as necessary.

Day 34
I am beginning today's divesting from the point of not actually doing it yet. The past few days have been a delicious alchemy of the satisfaction of seeing stuff leave, appreciation for sticking with this plan and process (although it is becoming more like assault than assertion) , and an increasingly uncomfortable awareness of the holes that all these books (and other stuff) were filling so that I did not have to deal with them.
Writing that, delicious might not be the appropriate word for what is happening. Maybe more like stunning or surprising or unsettling. Closer to frightening. Maybe not. I am feeling numb and vulnerable at the same time. I think that I know what this is; it is struggling with oppositional forces, most of which are unnamed. And, all of a sudden I wanted another viewpoint on this aspect and went to my Bartlet's, the big one, (which is not going to be divested) and tried to find something to fit what I am feeling now. The Big B let me down, but I persisted and searched on-line. Well, as is wont to happen, I did not find what I wanted, but instead found what I needed. I love when that happens, but not always, and I suspect that this is one of those times when I wish that I had just left well-enough alone.
"My riches consist, not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants." J. Brotherton
What? Who the heck is that? I found the quote on a gardening web site, of all places. It is, however, close to fitting what I need today, and mostly because in this moment I need to disagree with it. I love when that happens. My disagreement is in the realm of my 'wants'.
Yes, my riches are not about what I own. That means that the word and, more importantly the concept of, poor needs to be gently removed from my lexicon. It does not serve me to make comparisons between what I used to have and what I have now. I remember, during a time when money was tighter than the proverbial drum, that I performed a small ritual to bring abundance into my life. I was thinking of money, but did not want to seem too greedy and actually be honest and ask for it, so I substituted abundance.
This is digressing, but you have to ask for what you want without dithering all over the place. Just ask. If you do not ask, you will virtually eliminate your chances of receiving the thing that you truly want.
So, anyway, I did my little pagan-girl ritual and sat back to wait for the Universe to drop a whole blank-load of money on me. I still joke about that happening because, honestly, who would not appreciate a few extra bucks once in a while. Money will not create happiness, sure, I get that, but I think that it might be easier to live with unhappiness if you did not have to worry about keeping a roof over your head, feeding your family and making certain that everyone was properly clothed. Just saying.
And, I got exactly what I asked for. I got abundance. Well, not anything like new abundance, but the ability to see and appreciate the amazing richness of my life. That, the whole abundance thing, is different for everyone and we all know what that is for us. For me it is the simple awareness and appreciation that I truly have everything I need, a nice and warm rush of emotion that assures me that all is well. My family and friends, meaningful work, living on a nice planet, what more could I want?
I could never face what I wanted and, for whatever reason seemed to be a good idea at the time, I chose stuff. Yep. The holes. I can parry and thrust, fashion and craft psychobabble with the best, but the term holes for those places in ourselves that yearn for so many things is the perfect one. Now, I am emptying them of the books and music boxes and all the rest and wondering what I am going to discover they (the holes) were intended to hold. I need some time to think about this, but I am not going to take it. I am going to plow ahead with my Hundred Days and continue to allow this to happen as it will.
What I do know is that I have wants, and they are definitely not few. They are great in number and they have been waiting a long time to be filled. Some of them no longer serve the person I am now. Everything in its time.
Divested: It will be books, of course, but I think that there will be some illusions, as well.
Positive thought: I am capable of climbing out of holes. Even deep ones.

Day 35
It has been a long day and I am still dedicated to doing nothing useful. My afternoon appointment provided an interesting learning environment and an equally interesting counterpoint to not doing. Sigh.
When warriors from Sparta left for battle, they were given a shield by their mothers or sweethearts. They probably only got the shield the first time they went to war, and I am guessing that they did not call their girlfriends "sweetheart" or "girlfriends" either, for that matter. I do not know what they called them. So, anyway, the shield had the Greek words "With it or on it" engraved on it somewhere. It meant that he should return victorious and carrying the shield, or the shield should return home with an urn on it that contained his cremated remains. The urn with the granulated warrior inside insured that he had not simply lost heart and courage, tossed the shield at his enemies and ran like hell. Like in desertion. And, like they say, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the urn. I do not think that this little ritualistic shield thing covered missing body parts, but I have never been able to determine how that was handled. Maybe the newly disabled warrior was placed on the upturned shield and dragged home, like on one of those aluminum sledding saucers. That was probably a really bumpy ride, even more so than the city bus.
I only shared that because, well, even though I kind of like the whole shield concept, I mention it because the words, "With it or on it" is called a laconic phrase, as in meaning a dry wit. Although, I have to say that those Spartans certainly had a way with words and could likely fit right in with contemporary society. Given the right wardrobe, an ancient Spartan could walk down the street and no one would notice, just as that would happen if a Neanderthal did the same thing. And, man, if they met up for lattés at the same Starbucks, I would love to be at the next table and eavesdrop on that conversation.
I like dry and witty. It allows you to be ironical and sardonic, not taking anything too seriously, but still being attentive to the solemn side of whatever. I like laconic. You get to be serious and sincere about something without being all dark or gloomy or heavy-handed. Laconic says, "Hey, I get what this is about, but I can see the bigger picture, too. Maybe I am sounding a bit terse, but my heart is in the right place."
This all does have to do with this afternoon. I think that I have been focusing on shielding myself from some immediate issues at the expense of my own bigger picture. I have also been using humor to manage a difficult relationship. Neither is working very well, which led me to discover something that I already knew, and it is that you cannot ignore what cannot be ignored. If you do, there are consequences, and I must have thought that the laws of nature did not apply to me, believing that I could go back anytime that was convenient for me. And, whatever that deadline for getting back to that was, I missed it. Which means that I do not get a do-over.
Like Alice, I am running as fast as I can and getting no further than she did because I, too, am in a slow sort of country. I need to pick up my shield and use it to carry the old stuff and add in the new stuff that today brought. Sing along now...It ain't heavy, it's my issues. Hah!
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I have nice eyes. Sorry, that is all I got.

Day 36
My intention for today was a critical examination, a hard and serious and honest look at how I am doing all of this divesting. Not so much the interpersonal aspects, but the nuts and bolts of physically moving objects. The physics of divestment. But, that is not to be because there is no randomness in the Universe and a helpful thought from another person leads to me think about something more immediate, and I have Sarah to thank for this. I began to reply to her comment and it grew into what I needed to think about today.
There is no randomness in the Universe. Holy crapoly. (Does that violate the no swearing rule here? I hope not, because I truly am trying to be less vulgar in how I express myself, but, oh, I so love cursing.) There must be legions of us older babes who are redesigning our lives. Reading what Sarah shared with me gave me the serious chillie-willies. That woman is doing much the same process as I am. Now, if she had mentioned books, I might have thought there was an even greater (and spookier) connection, although possessions are likely to be part of releasing her house and the those attachments to things.
I have the inclination and desire to ritualize most liminal experiences and conditions of my life, an example of which is this blog. Working out my issues and aspects through ritual and writing is what I do to support myself in the process of change and, hopefully, forward movement. Cleansing and releasing fire are often a part of what I do. I especially loved how this woman talked about stillness and quiet waiting, patience. I think that it is that soft aspect of awareness that most effectively serves some of us. It is also the most difficult and I believe that there are no wasted parts of the process, that doing things that are not comfortable, perhaps even painful, are essential to the understanding, the self-awareness I need to move where my life intends for me to go.
Some things or people or conditions of being serve us for a time, and they are often the necessary experiences we need to progress to the next thing or person or state of living. It is often torturous to be stuck, as I am right now, with the substances of my own Universe, but I am not giving up and will keep pounding away at this until I am able to reduce it to the particles that led to its creation.
And, I am stuck. I am mired in the examination of my internal process and how it is forcing me to look at how I came to be a person who uses the less-happy and less-fulfilling parts of my life to punish myself. Everyone has sad or unfortunate things happen in their lives. We are thrilled to experience joy and honor that, but when darkness and pain come calling we wail and moan, weep, despair and engage in pointless navel-gazing instead of accepting that it is the counter-point, the balance to the light in our lives. I have to stop doing that. I have to stop dwelling on how I suffer and just get on with it. I must find a way to use all of this to help me not make excuses. Man, I am filled with excuses. It is so painful to admit that, but I am not going to be shamed by it, I am going to use it to cleanse my emotional and spiritual house so that I can get on with the business of living without the artificial support of all of this stuff.
It is just stuff, things, objects. Some useful, but still not necessary. If a bolt of lightening (I like the mythological and spiritual significance of that image, huge surprise) were to strike the house right now and I had to grab only what is important to me I know, instantly, what those things would be. It would be the mister (god help me) and the cats. And, my purse so that we could escape in the car, unless that was struck by another bolt of lightening. However, I would still want my purse because it has a chocolate bar in it right now. With the car ablaze we would just leave and move to a safe distance, hoping that someone called the fire department so that my neighbors would not lose all their crap, too.
I think, in that moment, that I might be sad that my art was being consumed or that our family photos and my daughter's childhood objects were in the process of becoming bits of fluffy ash. Even the loss of my altar would distress me for only the briefest of moments, well, maybe an hour or day or something, but not forever. I really believe that I could stand there and watch that blistering ritual of transformation. I would be able to see it as the release for which I yearn. Unfortunately, it is not lightening season here and I still have to do the actual work of working on this. That so sucks. Perhaps now it will be less torturous, less painful, well, at least a little bit. Last night when I climbed into bed, I saw the two piles of books on the floor next to the two bookcases in my bedroom and I said out loud, "Those have to go. If I am keeping only two hundred books, this is not happening because there are at least that many of you right here."
I feel lighter just writing this. I am feeling less ponderous, less burdened, and, oh goodness, less attached.

 Day 36, part two
on February 9th, 2010 at 10:27 AM (In the moment)
    I swore that I would never edit any of my posts here and almost did it because I forgot the divesting and thought part of the process. Anyway, here they are.
    Divested: Books, a ton of clothing that is not useful for making other things, but will be useful to someone else.
    Positive thought: I do not have to be perfect, I just have to be, and I can do that.

Day 37
My Day, by Judsie
It feels like I am back in time, writing a fourth grade essay, you know, the one the teacher makes everyone write on one of the first days back to school after the mid-year break. Only then it was about what you did on your summer vacation. I think that those essays and assignments to share your family experiences might have been the beginning, one of the seeds, of my love of writing, mostly because I had to invent happy family stories to match the tenor of what everyone else was putting into their compositions. I wonder how many other children were also making up stories about the family bliss for which they yearned and never got. So there we all were, good little Catholic children sitting in our little Catholic school classroom, lying our little Catholic asses off. Although I have grown beyond those experiences, I can still recall how it felt when I learned how other people lived and all the rest and that I was not going to have that in my own life.
Then I grew up and believed that I would find whatever I needed to have my own, happily-ever-after future. Life does not work like that. It throws curve balls and gutter balls and whacked-out fast balls just to mess up your heart's desires.
Then I grew up some more and came to know that my happiness and peace of mind, my satisfaction and pride came from doing good works and that only I could determine those things, not anyone or anything, just me.
Tonight I was going through some books and packing them to take to the charity shop and I was watching, sort of, a DVD that I brought home from work today. It was a nicely done romantic comedy, although that is only a guess because I do not watch romantic comedies very often. I am more of a documentary girl, or horror or complicated and gory drama. It was only background noise to keep me company. Until I looked up and saw the look on the face of the male protagonist. I am certain that he, whomever he is, must be a marvelous actor because his face, oh, that look he was giving to the female love-interest was exactly the kind of look that anyone might dream of having someone shine their way.
And,it was more than that look, it was the story. The story. A made-up tale of what some person may have wanted to have as their own essay, the one that was happy and hopeful and had a dreamy ending to mirror the stories they heard from other people. The film is a fiction, an invention. It may or may not have any connection to real life, but who cares? For that moment, it filled someplace in me that needed filling. As I sat in my chair next to the bookcase, partially filled box of books at my feet, I knew what books mean to me, at least some of them. They are an expansion of the stories I made up in the fourth grade, to pretend that I had a nice and fun-filled summer vacation with the nice and happy family that I believed everyone, except for me, had.
In the moments following that realization I thought that this book divesting was going to be a snap. I understood one of the reasons that I have surrounded myself with all of these stories. I hope the easy as pie thing is going to continue to happen. I hope that I will become more comfortable doing this as I get closer to the books that I truly love.
The other side of this, what I believe to be an accurate appraisal of the significance that books and their stories hold for me, is I have to be a stand-up-Juds and wonder if I have allowed my love of stories to influence the standards by which I measure my life. I cannot shy away from this possibility. I am certain that I have to allow for it only because it is holding so much energy for me. It means something.
And to think that all I intended to share was a cool thing that happened at work today. Go figure.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I am capable of having insights and learning from them.

Day 38
Ahhh...a day blessedly free of drama. No angst. No introspection. No insights. Hour upon hour with absolutely no inner-process work. I stayed as completely out of any kind of 'in' as it is humanely possible. I have been totally out. Out is good. Out works. Out, out, damned books.
Divested: Books, some random kitchen-y things
Positive thought: I am perfectly happy to live with the murmur of guilt that accompanies a day or a dozen of doing nothing active. Good thing, because those days seem to be coming more frequently. I am happy to embrace my sloth spirit.

Day 39  
Taking a short break from books, I decided to see what more I could toss out from the kitchen. Some small, assorted stuff went into a charity box earlier this week, but I wanted to clear out a whole bunch of stuff that I never use. And, because I never use it, I had no idea what I would find when I got down on the floor to take a look into the deep and dark cabinets.
Some random plastic pitchers and bottles joined their utensil buddies in the box, but I was surprised at how little was back there. Out went some old food containers and I think that grandma's glassware is going to be on its way out soon, but I will need to ask friends for their old newspapers so that I can wrap all those delicate items and haul them out of here safely. Sunday will be the two week deadline for family members to come and get what they want. I wrote about this on the frugal life forum, but the condensed version is that everyone wanted me to keep on keeping all the stuff they felt needed to be kept but were unwilling to store themselves. So, come Monday morning, the big wheels will turn and then every person who did not want any of this stuff will never forgive me for doing what I said that I would do if it was left here. I am feeling terrible and sick and anxious about this. Too bad.
Since the time that my vision went all wonky, I stopped using the blender and food processor, both of which I cannot decide if I am going to keep or not. I probably should just get rid of them. Aside from the professional baking pans that I used when I was creating wedding cakes and all the things that go with that, there really are not many things that can go. I do know that there are more old family kitchen things in the basement storage area, but I cannot start down there and become all distracted. Those things will wait until it is summer and I can appreciate being down there in the cool and damp air.
Tuesday evening's insight is still resonating for me so that likely means that I am or was on the right track there. It would be so nice if simply figuring out those kinds of things solved the problem, but they do not. Sadly, I still have to do the damn work of handling those things, especially the books, in order to get rid of them. Today someone told me that when she was reading my account of this process that her first thought was that I must be insane to consider removing these books from my life. She is still not certain how sane I am, but she is being supportive and not berating me for the choices I am making.
I wish that I had help doing this. I know that I do not want help, that it is important for me to do this on my own, but there are moments, just tiny pieces of time when I want someone to come in and do this for me. I feel like going away for a while and returning to find every single thing gone. I need a mind-reader to be my organizer so that I do not have to do this anymore. I am feeling weary of this process. I am not quitting, but I am tired of doing this every day. I am behind in how much I thought would be gone by this time, although I am making every effort to not be discouraged.
Day 39 Part 2 follows because the post is too long. Good grief.
I had a dream last night where I woke up in an empty house. I was on the floor, with a thick, cushion-y quilt and pillow and a soft blanket. The cats were there, sharing the quilt with me. I got up and walked to the window. It was open and warm breezes were blowing into the room, lifting and dropping sheer curtains. The house and property were on a high promontory overlooking the ocean, or maybe a large lake. Anyway, I could not see the opposite shoreline, so it was big water. I stood there for a long time, enjoying the warm air flowing over me and the view, clean and spare; the in- and exhalation of the waves on the shore. I felt the rhythm of the tidal forces mirrored in my body and my heartbeat, the movement of blood in my veins.
I turned and walked down the staircase and through room after room. Every window had the same sheer covering as my sleeping room. In the kitchen I found bowls for the cats and their breakfast and I fried an egg and toasted bread for myself. I ate, leaning against the frame of the door because this room, just like every other part of the house did not have any furniture. Warm wooden floors and cream colored walls, but nothing else. I put my plate and fork on the counter and looked back out of the door at the green space and the sandy beach between me and the water. Then I woke up.
Last week, or the week before, I cannot exactly recall, I had another dream that has stayed with me. My daughter came home with a spider that she said was her friend, sort of. But, the spider did not like her. Frankly, it did not like anyone. It was cranky and ill-tempered. It rose on its rear legs and hissed at anyone who came near it. At first I liked it, as I have always enjoyed the appearance and behaviors of spiders.
(Years before my daughter was born, we lived in an apartment where a large, black spider lived in a corner of the kitchen. I am not saying that we ever became friends or anything, but it learned to tolerate me being around and I always found it of some comfort to know that it was up there near the ceiling. When we moved from that apartment, I was concerned because I knew that the new tenants or the landlord or someone would sweep it away and probably kill it in the process. So, I decided that I would take the spider with us to our new apartment. On the day that we moved I took a jar that I had prepared by piercing holes in the lid and putting cotton batting in the bottom and climbed on a chair and scooped it up. When we got to the new place, I set it free in the kitchen and closed the door so that it would not be bothered. I should not have been, but I was surprised when I never saw it again. I still feel badly about probably causing that poor spider's death, but I suppose there is always a chance that it escaped to have a nice spider life on its own.)
Anyway, in the dream, that spider was large, the size of a teacup saucer. It was a pale azure blue with bristly parts and it was slightly glossy. It was as beautiful as it was cantankerous. Everyone hated it and avoided being around it and complained constantly about how mean it was and that I should get rid of it. I could not; I felt that there was something good in it and that it deserved to not only live, but to live with us. So, in addition to hating the spider, all those people were always angry with me.
One day someone was talking about leaving in order to not be around the spider and, as usual, I was defending it. As I was walking past it, it shot something at me, that stuck in my upper arm. It was like a barb and it was attached to the spider by a strand of web silk. It hurt a lot and I yelled for someone to break the silk and someone did that, grabbed it with both hands and ripped it apart. I went to look at the spider and it was laying large, pink egg sacks and I knew that we were in serious danger because they were moving and there was only a short time to do something before all the new spiders attacked everyone. I went and found a large jar and lid and a serving spoon. I put the jar upside down over the spider, trapping it. I then used the spoon to pick up the egg sacks and put them into a plastic bag. I awoke thinking that there was not anything that I could do to stop bad things from happening, that some things were out of my control.
I had put the spider dream aside, recalling it when I woke this morning with the empty house dream in my mind, and knowing that they are connected, those two dreams.
I have a life with aspects, things and people that are not particularly good for me. Even when I am directly affected by whatever that thing is, I resist. Even to the extent of defending the bad thing. Even when someone is brave or caring enough to tell me that the thing is not good for me. Even when the thing is creating problems, erecting barriers between me and other people. Even when those people who care about me threaten to have less to do with me because of the thing.
There are some things over which I do not have control. None at all. But, the majority of my life is in my control. When something is not good for me, I have the power and means to leave that behind. That I never actually do that is besides the point.
But, I could. I could change the whatever it is that needs changing. I am doing that now. I am changing my attachment to the objects that I have used to fill the spaces in my life that were empty and longing for something. I think that I always knew that I was substituting books and art and yarn and fabric for the things that I could not have. I am moving closer to the necessity of dealing with all of that, and I am afraid to give voice to what those things are. It is too scary. I am not yet to the place where I can do that.
The thing is that I started this process not considering where it was leading and what the costs would be. One of the prices of doing this is honestly. I feel close, just not close enough. All of this is what my spider dream is telling me. It informs me that I am paying attention and that I am stuck at the point of wanting to make changes and that I am willing to go to that point and no further.
My empty house dream is telling me two things. The first is that I can envision the release of those interpersonal difficulties with which I have not been dealing. The second is that I am not yet to the place where I am willing to move beyond them. I can see possibility but am unwilling to take the steps. I am letting go of things, but not my fears.
I see the barriers that I am using to avoid forward movement in my life and refuse to move beyond them to a future where I am also unwilling to entertain the possibility of having the things that I need. Lovely. I wonder how many more ways I can phrase this before I take some action.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I can acknowledge fear without creating additional fear.

Day 40
I was out of the house before seven and just returned home a half-hour ago. That means that no serious work was done here today, nor do I plan to do anything tonight except fill a box with books. Nearly everything that leaves here from now on will be going to support a cathedral in a nearby city. One of its members is part of my Saturday morning coffee gang.
I was telling them this morning about the embarrassing erotic book conversation that took place yesterday at my vet clinic and how I was surprised to find hardly anything in the kitchen cabinets. She mentioned that they will be having a rummage sale in a few months and that she will take all of my boxes of books and random things and store them at her house until they begin organizing the items for the sale. I tried to caution her about how many boxes of books this is going to be, but she continued to tell me that she was willing to do this.
Several weeks ago I went looking for quotes to inspire me in this work. Failing that, I was hoping to find some that would thrill me on a cellular plane. And, since I have not thought much about the process today, nor cleared out the cabinet under the bathroom sink so that I can install - god help me - the new faucet sometime tomorrow, I thought that I would share a couple of the quotes I found that might not be precisely about divesting, but seem to be resonating for me on a more gentle and heartfelt level. An additional thought is that I have not looked at this set of quotes since I found them. They are stunningly supportive of the dreams that I have been having. No randomness in the Universe.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.
Henry David Thoreau
However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.
Henry David Thoreau
Nothing is as simple as we hope it will be.
Jim Horning
Most of the critical things in life, which become the starting points for human destiny, are little things.
R. Smith
The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.
John Zabat-Zinn
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I have the courage necessary to face whatever changes the future brings to me.

Day 41
Another early day, this time before six to take a couple of friends to their departure site for a trip that the three of were to take together. You know, life happens and it happened to make it impossible for me to go along.
Today is St. Valentine's Day. Yeah, it's too commercial, and trite and insincere and there is the contingent that asserts the whole "who the hell thinks that they can tell me what day to appreciate the people I love and I do it every day anyway so take your greeting card and chocolate company and flower and teddy bear purveying behinds out of my business." All that.
However, it is a nice reminder that we might not always take time, in the midst of our busy and stressful and work or trying-to-find-work lives, to give a few love-licks to the people we actually care about. And, however you choose to spend the day, or not spend the day, try to not be rear-ended by a truffle.
There is an interesting dynamic going on here today and it is that, beginning with last October, I decided that I was going to stop celebrating holidays, birthdays and anniversaries with someone who expects presents and pampering and special treats but only on the receiving end, not extending his/her energy into doing anything for others. Thanksgiving found that person very reluctantly coming along with me to the place where I was spending the day. That is because, for the first time, I did not prepare a big, traditional dinner. Then, I did not go out and find the perfect gift for that person's birthday in December, nor did I buy anything for St. Nick's Day or Christmas. It was difficult to break those traditions, more so than I thought that it would be, and I am still feeling some regret about ending those things. However, I did all of that, or actually did not do all of that, I guess, for the right reasons and my tradition-focal feelings will just have to get accustomed to it.
So, today dawned with me leaving the house whilst it was still dark and returning home without any display of Valentine goodies, not home-made or store bought. There is not going to be any St. Patrick's Day special foods (this one is going to be bad because this person is from the homeland of the aforementioned saint), Easter basket this year or Memorial Day or Fourth of July cookouts, and so on through the year. I think that my feelings of regret or selfishness or whatever they are, exist because I took on the role of being the special event planner and production company from the earliest days of this relationship. And, even though this began four months before I even thought of doing this divesting, the two circumstances are identical in design and intent.
Another issue, or perhaps a condition of being, has become a possibility from this naive little process of mine. It is too sad to consider, much less worry about, so I will not. Unintended consequences.
I no longer care to do those things that do not serve me. I understand and am sensitive that change is never easy, not even change for the better, like a new and exciting job or a marriage or a new home or the birth of a child. They all contain their own quality, dimension of stress, and even the cool and groovy stress that comes along with wonderful things is still stress and our bodies react the same, regardless of the source. I know all of that. I honor it. That said, I refuse to be on the giving end all of the darn time. I simply have to.
I do not believe that it makes me a selfish person to long for even a small part of that sort of treatment, the surprises or treats or even (gasp!) gifts, sprinkled in my direction once in a while.
So, at 10:30 this morning, with no mouth-watering scents drifting from the kitchen and no plate of homemade chocolates or baked goodies, I am going back to bed to catch up on the sleep I missed by staying late to play with the babies last night and getting up early to see off my beloved friends. I plan to ease into slumber by enjoy a bit more of Widow of the South, the reading of which is coming to an end in the next few days. When I get up I will toss more books in boxes and see what I can trash from under the bathroom sink.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I am strong enough to consider (maybe not today, but soon) that I may lose more than I intended.

Day 42  You may not want to read this.  Fair warning.
Another cool and groovy day in Dysfunctional Divestment Land. Actually, it was not too bad. That is my phrase for the foreseeable future.
So, I had a not too bad day, and I mostly wasted it on the telephone and watching DVDs. Okey-dokey, I did a little work, but not enough. I am tired and I do not feel good and my tummy hurts and I just did not feel like doing much of anything. It was great, but now I am feeling a little guilty about wasting time, which seems to be my more normal state these days. These days I am a sloth. I am hanging out here in the deepest, darkest valley in the rain forest, in my tree that looks, in just the right light, like a chair with wheels. My slothy hair is covered with patches of moss, which helps to protect the tiny creatures that live there.
More boring symbolism, but my sloth nature is the barrier that I am erecting to distance myself from the feelings with which this divesting is pelting me. I am determined to have these books gone, not because I no longer love them, but they have come to stand for the feelings and experiences I am unwilling to face.
Whenever anything goes wrong around here I am blamed for it. When the thirty year old stove finally died eighteen months ago, it was because I did not take good enough care of it. When the shower stopped working near to its fifteenth birthday, I was the one who broke it and kept it a secret. This evening something went all wonky with the plumbing and it was because I do not know how to use something that I never actually ever used. Every creak and groan of this old house, all the missing and misplaced objects, when one of the cats had a problem with one of his teeth, we all know where to come to find the culprit. And, that is why she hides in her forest, barely moving, hoping to be invisible when the next thing goes wrong or breaks or cannot be found.
In the middle of this not too bad day I decided that I had to do something about the next few shelves of books and I grabbed stacks and put them in boxes. When I went to take the next handful, a slim volume about Thomas Aquinas was on the top of the books already in the box. I love that book. So, sloth that I am, I picked it up and opened it. I read a bit, roaming around, paging back and forth and found a line that made me smile. It is "Beware of the person of one book. " Well, that certainly is not me, although he meant that a man who had mastered a single book was probably dangerous because of the dedication to a single viewpoint. I think that the larger meaning is that it is important to have the ability to see, understand and honor more than a single point of view. It was the thirteenth century Dominican version of Quinn's assertion that there is not only one right way to live. I like that. It proves that wisdom is eternal and that it rears its noble head whenever it is needed in the world.
The next line that stopped me was "The things that we love tell us what we are." I wonder about that. It seems indisputable, but kind of heartbreaking at the same time. Have I loved books to the exclusion of having a fully realized life? Do I substitute the anonymous nature of the printed word in order to refuse to pay attention to how I am in relationship? Do I enter those other realms to be safe? A more reasonable thought might be when I am likely to grow a pair and stand up for myself. I have this creepy feeling that I cannot do that until I have consumed the shell of paper, glue and ink that I think of as my protection. Maybe all of these books are simply telling me that I am not capable of having a life outside of them. That would be really crappy, but it might also be true.
I put the book back into the box and took it out to the car. Enough of that.
I have a friend who is enamoured of Hildegard of Bingen. She has read her writings and says that she is the president of Hildie's fan club, and has tried on many occasions to share some of her books on this saint with me. Yes, I do know that she was never actually canonized, by my friend says that is just a formality. Even though she, Hildegard, lived during the Medieval period, she was a truly Renaissance person, doing it all, nursing, writing, creating music and who knows what else. There is much more that she did, but refusing to read about her, I know only what my friend has told me.
One thing that sticks in my mind today is that the reason her parents sent her to live in a convent was because she had visions and it just plain bugged the heck out of everyone because she insisted on sharing their content. I am relating it to my dreams, which are not visions or prophetic or even very interesting, but what they are is disturbing and of great frequency. I am being woken by them nearly every night
For the second time since I began this process, I want to stop. I want to chuck it all and give up. I do not care if I finish this. It is too hard. I am ashamed to admit this, but I can see myself walking away from all of this, the pain of releasing these books, the sadness of feeling alone and, oh, what the hell, who cares. I could do it, you know, disappear. I will not, I will stay and finish this, but it is difficult right this minute.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I cleaned out the car and it looks nice.

Day 43
I cannot even believe that it is nearly a month and a half since I began this trip to hell. Yeah, I had heard of the place, having been a good, little Catholic school girl at one time, but who knew it was going to be so blazing hot? Kind of like Australia.
So, anyway, I did a lot more work today. A huge box of assorted stuff that someone bought (hmmmm...who could that be) and never used. It is mostly things that I found on sale and thought would be handy to have around in case I needed an emergency gift. They are lovely things, but most never seemed to be perfect for any one person. One of them will help me out for a birthday party on Sunday and whilst there are lots of really cool stuff, they are going, going, gone.
Not only did I underestimate the number of books in this house, I failed to factor in how much some of these old books mean to me. I did some checking, very little, I promise, and found that they are not available at the library and cannot ever be repurchased with ease because they are out of print. So. There are going to be more books staying than I first thought. I am, however, hoping that as the bookcases empty that I will be able to winnow the ones that I am keeping at some later time. For the time being, Lovecraft and Kafka, Peck, Angelou, Estes and the Newbery winners get to stay.
I am taking my first couple of boxes to a used book store on Friday. Or, Monday if I chicken-out. It is not so much that I could use the extra money, which I most certainly can, but the two charity shops that will accept any kind of book (as opposed to the ones who want only mystery, popular fiction, romance and science fiction) have asked me to take a break, as in give them a break so that they do not have to store or trash all the boxes of books that I have already brought to them. Fair enough. I certainly do not want to pass my burden on to anyone else and I am grateful for the honesty.
Finding boxes for the books remains the most annoying part of this.
After yesterday's plumbing tribunal I was expecting more of the same, but it did not happen. Kind of amazing, but I am not complaining. And, I am not indulging in any self-loathing to fill the empty space. So there.
One of the book shelves had several inches of materials from workshops that I attended in 1996. Holy crap. It is difficult to believe that I was even more messed up fifteen years ago, but I was. One folder was all about self-esteem and positive self-talk. How lamely psychobabbled I was then. Frankly, I probably have not made all that much progress and I have to wonder why that is so. I cannot remember the last time that I took a workshop of that kind, has to be ten or eleven years, at least. I think the last one was on making altars. My friend, K, and I still give the occasional weekend writing workshops,but even that has dramatically decreased since both of us retired last year. We have only two or three this year, the next in April. I am looking forward to a nice extra long weekend on the blustery shores of the Little Pond.
Since I began this blogging thing here, I have not gone back to read any of the episodes. I did not plan it that way, but it felt right to simply allow this to flow all stream-of-conscious and free of any intentional control. I want to write without filtering out anything-not a moment of shame or confusion or without reacting to the struggle of doing this. I thought that I would wait until the end and then find a day when I could devote a chunk of time to reading it from the first entry to the last one.
But, something happened yesterday, with the whole plumbing thing, and when I got around to logging onto the computer this morning, I had this itch to read what I wrote yesterday and I finally caved and did it. Doing that was a mixed bag of pain, chagrin, wonder and wondering how I think that allowing all of that to spew out of me is even remotely a responsible thing to do where other people might read it. Frankly, and I hope that the filter filters this out, but it feels indulgent and masturbatory. Sorry if that offends, but I have to consider that being this honest about my feelings might not be good for anyone.
It reminds me of what's-her-name, Lorraine something who created that poster in the mid 1960s, the one that reads "War is not good for children and other living things." I am mostly pleased with how I am managing to divest all of these books, but there are rare moments when this feels like intense conflict. I have tried to think of it as emerging into a new life, one unencumbered by the weight of all of these books that I believed I could not live without. Maybe it is a kind of rebirth. Or something. Birth can be painful, almost always is for at least the mother, and this is painful, and I hope to come out the other side of living this way relatively intact. I would truly like to end up being grateful for having done this and without any regret about even a single book that is no longer here. So, yeah, maybe it is more like birth than war.
It makes me a little curious about other entries, but not enough to go and read them, so I think that I will not do that, like quitting whilst I am ahead of the game. I do not want to cheat in that game, but it would be nice to be on the winning side. Yeah, that would be nice.
Divested: Books, gift bags, a ton of note cards/envelopes and some lovely parting gifts.
Positive thought: I can be indulgent once in a while and it will not kill me.

Day 44
Today was another long one, eleven hours of clients with insurmountable problems. During the sessions I feel particles of me flaking off and drifting over to the person sitting next to me. It the closest that I can professionally, and probably legally, get to just hugging them. These are the times I long for magic to make things better. But, I resist because the line between helping and rescuing is so fine that it is nearly invisible and rescuing someone benefits no one, the the rescuer or the rescued. One of the reference librarians told me, after the second one that I deserve a gold star for being so patient and kind. Frankly, I told her, I would prefer a martini.
Unfortunately, no one serves those kinds of beverages in the middle of the day in the library. Too bad.
My final client, on the other hand, was a dream. Bless her.
I am exhausted and had little energy left for anything, not even whining, so I packed a small (very) box of books and am calling it a day. Thank goodness.
Divested: Books, and little pieces of my heart
Positive thought: I can appreciate the comfort of my sweet, little bed and the restoration of a good night's sleep.

Day 45 The Measure of Friendship
I am sort of over myself today. All that angst is tiring and way too much work for someone as lazy as I am. Truth be told, I would much prefer to settle back and watch my vampire movie, but I have been awash in friend issues and I know that if I do not get this out of my system now, that I will be up late pounding away at this keyboard and I need to be out and about by nine tomorrow morning.
So, anyway, friends.
When I met my husband, I thought that we would just be friends although it was clear that he had other ideas about where our relationship was going. It seemed fine and easy and even kind at the time, but it shames me now that I allowed him to believe that we were going to be more than casual friends. Clearly, after nearly 45 years together, he had a more accurate assessment of our relationship than I did, so I guess it is moot. I hate having to be honest about all of this, so I am going to move on to something else.
Well, it is still friendship, but you know. Thinking that I am a shy person is not part of what people think about me, but it is true. I am your classic painfully shy person. It has kept me from being and doing many things during my life. I missed my best friend's second marriage because I could not make myself, even after getting all gussied up, turn on the car and drive to the wedding location. I have missed every kind of event and party and occasion over the decades because I was too anxious about actually going. There have been a few times when I made it as far as the site of the party or whatever, but ended up turning around and going home. I always thought that time would cure this problem, and whilst it has lessened over time, shreds of it are still with me. The most recent time this happened was New Year's Eve when I called the day of the party and gave my regrets. At least that part, the calling to cancel, is my response now instead of simply not showing up when I was expected somewhere. So, yeah, I have made forward movement with this, but I just could not go to that party where the only people I would have known were the hosts. It shames me to be like this sometimes. If you are a good friend, you do not do this.
I guess the unbelievable part for everyone who knows me is that old friends do not recall how paralyzed I used to be about this, well, except for the wedding I missed, and also because I do not behave that way so that anyone would notice. I give workshops, big and busy, small and personal. I have employment, albeit volunteer, that requires me to be assertive when helping people draw on their inner resources and talents to do the work they need to do right now in their lives. Every week I am able to be the encouraging, bossy, supportive and difficult person that those people need me to be. I am able to do those things because I force myself and work my ass off to see that I do not let them down. All that, and my determination to be a decent friend and not cause problems for the people I claim to love. Or like.
I think that what I like best about being in relationship with other people is that I get to be myself and I get to support them in their quest to just be themselves. Yeah, that is what I like about it. Friendship is a safe place, a sanctuary where you can go when the rest of your crappy life is so difficult or painful or just a little icky and you do not think that you can survive another minute. It is also a less heavy place where you can hang out and have fun and cool conversation, maybe some coffee or scones, sit and gossip and, sometimes, do absolutely nothing.
One of my friends is dying. It sucks, big time, and there is nothing that anyone can do for her because she is not at the place where she even wants to think about it or talk about it, much less make any decisions or choices. More than ten years ago, I was the main caregiver for another friend who was dying from cancer. (Oh, yeah, my friend now has cancer, too. Disgusting little ****er, cancer.) She suspected that she had it prior to her diagnosis and made me do all manner of end of life stuff with her. I never suspected that that was her motivation; I just privately mumbled my complaints whenever she dragged me along to do one dumb thing or another. I very nearly fought with her during a terrible trip that zig-zagged across our state for two weeks. Fortunately, something stopped me from doing that, some kind of divine intervention.
A few days after we both made it home alive (ha!), she asked me to take her somewhere, but would not tell me where it was or what we would be doing. It was in the evening and I thought that she wanted to go shopping and needed me to drive and carry her crap. When I picked her up I asked where she wanted to go and she asked me to take her to a doctor's appointment. She directed me to take her to the emergency room at the hospital, where it became apparent that she did not have any appointment. I knew that this was serious, but she refused to talk to me and we sat in the waiting area whilst a large group of high school students was triaged following a bus accident that happened on their way home from some sporting event.
We waited hours. People came and went. Frantic parents and family members rushed in to find their injured loved one and, despite my worry for my friend, it was fascinating and only so because there were no injuries more serious than minor bumps and bruises to any of them. Finally, it was my friend's turn and I continued to wait for another hour. Then a nurse came and told me that my friend wanted me to wait in the examination room with her until the test results came back.
Test results.
When I got there, I insisted that she tell me what was going on, that I knew this was serious business happening with her and that whatever it was, information from her was critical. She insisted that we wait until the doctor came back. So, we did. Not for long. He came back with a pile of x-rays, two other doctors, and the nurse that had fetched me.
He told her, us, that the x-rays confirmed her suspicions that she had lung cancer and that whilst it was necessary to wait for all of the test results to come back, they were just formalities. Even though all of this only confirmed what she already knew, she was paralyzed and I had to call her husband to come to the hospital to help me take her home. I spent most of the next year watching her make choices that I believe that I would never make, but until it happens to you, it is impossible to know what you might do or how your would behave or manage or just be able to get out of be in the morning, much less drag yourself to treatment. I was alone with her when she died in the hospital.
For a long time, maybe a couple of years, I missed her, desperately, but mostly I felt shame because it seemed that I learned so many things through the process of caring for her, her suffering and her death. All of that learning seemed to have come to me at here expense. It changed me, as it always does for everyone who lives through this. I am not talking about things like survivor guilt, but how the experience informs who you become and how you move through the world. Since then, I consider it a blessing that I have been able to do this two more times, care for someone who was ill. Fortunately, she lived, that two-time-person, so I am able to indulge in far less emotion except for extreme happiness.
It is so clichéd to say this, but I do not care because I am thrilled to have the perspective that eventually accompanies great loss. My preference would always be to never have the experience or the perspective, but I accept it for the amazing gifts that they are.
Today I am all about shame and guilt and perspective, how to be a decent, kind and loving and supportive friend when that person creates barriers to being so; and finding a way to live without the restrictions that my human nature, my core abilities, manifest in my life. However, I am mostly experiencing the feelings of shame and of feeling paralyzed. Sarah shared a story about Buddha with me yesterday about how he responded to a man who railed against him. “Buddha said quietly, "Me? I am going to do nothing. Your anger is yours and what you choose to do with it is entirely up to you."
It is not just anger that belongs to someone else. It is guilt and shame, grief, pain, judgment. Even joy truly belongs only to the other person. If we want to share any of that, we can only if we create it on our own. It is like when toddlers play. They cannot play cooperatively, but only side-by-side, creating their own experience in the presence of the other child.
Shared experiences bring us together, into alignment, but we remain separated. Despite our best efforts, we truly are alone. It is good enough.
Grief is for another day.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I love watching the birds at the feeding stations.

Day 46
It's wrong to hate, right? I do not have that much experience with it, the whole hating thing, but I am pretty sure that it is not a good thing. I was never what anyone would call a devout and formal church-going person, but I do remember from my Catholic schoolgirl days that there are all manner of cautions in the Bible about not hating, turning the other cheek, being humble in our responses to bad stuff, you know, all that loving your neighbor and doing it in a way that you would like for yourself. All that. I always believed in that. I did. I still do. I try to be a good person. My core beliefs are that we are here to be happy, be of service however and whenever we can and that whatever we do or think or manifest in the world, that as long as it does not hurt any one or any thing, not even ourselves, that we should just go ahead and feel secure in the rightness of living and doing.
More than that, I believe that there are as many ways to live a good life as there are people. So, whilst I have tons of opinions I choose to not judge anyone else or think that I have the right or privilege to criticize when and how they may choose to do things differently from the way that I do things. My way of doing is right for me and I honor that capacity for everyone else. I am not the morality or behavior police and I am content in that. And that contributes to why I am not practiced in the ways of hating.
Well, there are exceptions, guess that is always the case, that we have exceptions to whatever rules or guidelines or precepts by which we choose to live.
I do hate manifestations of disease, hunger, inferior medical and health opportunities, unethical business practices and things like that. Inequality, racism, class designations, cultural bigotry, poverty (both financial and impoverishment of spirit), gender/age/socio-economic and physical and mental health care issues, and all the rest leave me disturbed, in pain and often enraged. Maybe that is why volunteering is so essential to how I move through the world. Maybe not, but I do understand that is a highly motivating force for me.
I hate war. I cannot even begin to express how much I hate war and it is easy for me to be consumed by my feelings about the pointless war mongering that we get to see and hear about every, single, damn day. And, I do not give a flying crap about who is right and who is wrong and who did what to whom or when it was done. Oh. The war thing. It is in my head and heart right now because I went and saw a movie today, something that I rarely do. It is expensive beyond belief, but a friend wanted us to spend the day together. She would like us to do this once a month, but I cannot. She likes movies and lunch and so that is what we did today. The film is not one that I would have chosen to see, but it turned out to be wonderful and it was followed by a nice lunch and lots of cool and groovy conversation, as well as some silliness at the Target store. All in all, a lovely experience. Well, there was an exception, which seems to be the theme for the day. I do not know what going to the movies is like in other places, but here in the USA, the tickets are pricy, the popcorn is good but insanely priced and the first ten to fifteen minutes following the listed show time are filled with previews of other movies, public service announcements and notices that the theatre auditorium is available to rent for your next corporate meeting.
So, we got to the theatre on time, bought our matinee tickets and settled down to chat and watch a film about a country-western singer who would be living his sad songs. The final preview/PSA/rental opportunity was a very long, dramatic, stunningly filmed and beautifully scored piece about one of our military branches. Our military complex people are not stupid. If they were dumb, they would not be so dangerous. That commercial for becoming a member of this branch played on every patriotic and public-service-minded cell that a human being has. And, it was horrible. There was not any spraying blood or eviscerated bodies, no destroyed cities or weeping orphans. I guess that would be too honest a representation. In their places, there were heroic rescuing of incapacitated comrades and service to distressed civilians. It was propaganda at its best.
Perhaps I could have just let it go, not allowed it to affect me, but it reactivated how I began my day, with something happening and becoming lost in a crimson haze of loathing. The particulars are not important, only the feelings that I am having. This hate cannot possibly be good for anything, I mean, it is not useful for clarity or understanding or motivation. I already have those, and I am becoming stronger and more self-protective and supportive all the time.
People treat us only as we allow. We can use any excuse we like to justify why we stay where we are clearly not wanted. I do it all the damn time. There are circumstances that can hold us in place and time, a particular geography, if you will. I am there/here now. I know that it is temporary. I can actually see that future time when I will be gone from where I am. I am not in danger and I can continue to be patient. But, I have to stop this hating. I have to find a way to get rid of this and to not have this feeling again, because hating a social construct or a behavior or the disgusting and harmful treatment of individuals or groups of people is one thing. Hating a single person, for whatever reason, is, well, there is nothing worse. Having these hateful feelings towards a person alarms me. I did not believe that I was capable of this. Ten hours later I am still ablaze with these feelings of hatred. You know, I think that part of this is that I am feeling, well out of control of course, but immature, childish, like all of my life experience just disappeared...poof...there it goes...and that I lack the coping skills to deal with some dumb thing that someone did to me.
Well. Slight interruption. That person just came to me because something was not working. No apology or even reference to what happened this morning. So, I fixed the not-working thing. I must be one, totally messed up person, but helping that creepazoid seems to have decreased this energy in my body. Even my mind is calmer. Maybe that little encounter might look like me trimming myself to suit someone else, but it feels more like a slight trim around my own edges that might be suiting myself. I will never be Saint Juds, or wife of the year or anything like that, but I do admit to feeling a small measure of pride that I can still rise above my pain and use it to facilitate whatever the hell it was that just happened. Live action, real time journaling. This place is just plain nuts. When I do leave (not "if") I wonder what I will have to write about. Holy cripes. If I were talking about this instead of writing it, I would be speechless. Unbelievable.
Divested: Books, and, apparently, a large measure of my ability to sustain rage.
Positive thought: I can surmount my feelings to to the right thing, at least once in a while.

Day 47
I stood up for myself today. It was scary and I did not want to do it, but, I did and there were not, at least as of this writing, any bad side effects. However, the day is not over. No, that is too negative. If something happens I will stand up again. I intend to keep on doing this, at least until hell freezes over.
I wonder if the global warning brigade has information on how soon that is likely to happen.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I am still coming up with some lame positive thought or another. This is more difficult than it might seem, and if you think otherwise, then you try it for forty-seven damn days. You can only say that you have nice eyes so many times.

Day 48
There is a birthday party this afternoon, so I am getting this divesting stuff out of the way now. It, the party, is a surprise for our friend who has cancer. She rarely comes to Saturday morning coffee any more because her treatments are so debilitating. It is full afternoon, most days, before she begins to feel less like a crap sandwich.
When together, we never talk about her condition beyond asking how she is doing and offering to help if she feels like having someone help her. When she is not there, we still never really talk about her cancer because, well, I do not know the why for everyone else, but for me it is that I am unwilling to burden anyone with my feelings that hope of a recovery is not a possibility. It is the subject of conversation that is never part of the conversation.
We are giving her gifts that will not further burden her life. Exactly what that means is anyone's guess. My gift to her is a nice tote bag with books in it (some that I never read, but no new purchases...sigh), one of my copper embossments, and a Halloween candy dispenser, you know, kind of like a small gumball machine, but with a clear jack-o-lantern head (I bought a couple last year after they went on sale for a dollar and have actually used them for things like this). I filled it with dark chocolate-covered espresso beans mixed with Ghirardelli's white chocolate chips. That is it. I chose gifts that her husband might like, too. He is kind of goofy, as some husband's are wont to be, but, he is exactly the kind of man that you want around you when the going gets tough. I have always like him, but I never dreamed that I could love him so much. Everyone should be lucky to have someone like him in their life.
I have had significant pockets of grief over the past week or so, and this circumstance with my friend is one of them. It is not possible to talk to her about it, so I am writing my soul out whenever I can find the time. It is mostly the same kinds of things, over and over and over and over. I guess that is because this is from only my side and there is nothing new, no forward movement for me. So, I just keep rehashing everything that I am feeling or whatever random and weird things puddle in my head.
It really does feel stagnant, that puddling. A moderate expanse of still water, sediment always drifting to the bottom, but the upper layers so cloudy with all of those unresolved thoughts, feelings and fears.
One of those fears is that I am inappropriately grieving for her in advance, non-supportive advance, of whatever might be ahead for her. That future could be glorious recovery and many years of a cool and groovy life chock full of everything that she ever wanted or dreamed about. I think that part of my impatience with this is that when I see her she looks amazing. Bright and healthy are how I would describe her physical appearance. It could be artifice, but I believe that my perception is largely how she is feeling, at least in those moments. But, when I am in her presence, there seems to be a darkness around her, occupying the space where I would like to see an aura that indicates health. It is almost physical, a thrumming. I cannot adequate describe it and a part of that might be that I do not want to put what I am feeling into coherent thoughts or words, not even in my head. I think that my heart will not let me.
On occasion I experience an almost frantic need to talk to her about this, like I need to know or reassure her (probably myself even more) or something, make sure that she is doing exactly what she wants to do and in exactly the way that she wants to do it. But, I do not because it is none of my damn business. She is so wise and what she decides to do or not do, how she is living her life and trying to survive those heinous treatments is her business. It is her path, her journey. Not mine. I have to keep reminding myself of that because I love her. Just keep your big, selfish mouth shut, Juds. Keep your own counsel. Take care of your own messed-up life. Leave her alone. Do not burden her with your thoughts and feelings. Just shut the (blank) up. And, keep it shut.
You know, that saying about how every happy family has many similarities, but every unhappy family is unique in its quality keeps boinging into my thought processes lately. I know that one of the reasons my friend's illness holds so much energy for me is because I am going through changes, albeit much less dire, in my own life. I am preparing to grieve large about what I am going to have to do in the near future. That grief is becoming an increasingly greater part of my process here. I am mourning the loss of some truly wonderful things in my life, but more importantly, I am recognizing that it is essential for me to shed more than books or kitchen utensils or candy dispensers. I am making every sincere effort to avoid anticipating what those parts of my life might be, trusting that what happens is precisely what is supposed to happen and that it will happen to the best good for all of us if I just stay out of my own way during this time. I am experiencing faith on an entirely new plane of awareness.
There is no denying that it is grief. There is no denying that I have come to accept that I am holding responsibility for how this affects everyone involved and that I am taking that responsibility, that standard for how I do this, as seriously as I have ever taken anything. I find myself lamenting about how I never intended to hurt anyone with this little project. The only simple aspect of this whole thing is how simple-minded I was about the consequences. Taking an honest look back, I believed that I would get rid of these books (later incorporating other household things) and that I would winnow the eighteen bookcases down to just a few and that my house would look lean and mean and everyone would live happily ever after. Forever. One of those happy endings of which I am so fond.
I am so desperate for that happy ending. I want it more than I have wanted anything in recent memory. Wanting it is not enough to make it happen. A classic happy ending might not be what is appropriate for this time. But, I still want it. I just want it so badly.
Divested: Books, a tote bag and a candy dispenser filled with chocolate and hope
Positive thought: I am beginning to understand that doing the right and proper things for everyone might be harder than it should be and is most certainly harder than I want it to be.

Day 49
Juds: 0
Insurance company: 1
Despite an unhealthy start in life, I have managed to enjoy a very healthy and vigorous life. In my early twenties I developed the arthritis that would become an increasing area of disability for me, but not so bad that I let it interfere with anything that I wanted to do.
Fifteen years later, when my daughter was small we regularly climbed down the cliffs near our house, spent the afternoon exploring miles of rocky beaches and then climbed back up and trudged home, tired and happy, laden with all sorts of treasures. I walked more slowly than the other mothers. I learned to live with the limitations imposed by my deteriorating joints. I managed very well, thank you very much.
At nearly forty-four years of age I developed adult onset asthma and allergies. Inconvenient, but I learned new ways of managing my decreasing mobility and increasing sensitivities.
By my mid-fifties I was using a cane almost daily and, frankly, it is difficult to remember how it was to move through the world without that third leg. However, I always felt healthy and vital and rarely avoided doing anything physical.
I have never let my mobility issues to stop me from having any old good time that I liked, and in retrospect, many that I did not like, truth be told.
I will be sixty-three in a few short weeks and have become a pharmacological nightmare. In less than four months I have been diagnosed with an acceleration out of the pre-diabetes condition that I have been totally managing with a good diet, obstructive sleep apnea, high blood pressure and permanent neuropathy in my right foot. I have self-diagnosed a seriously well-developed and accepting attitude about this mess, which helps, and it also helps that my arthritis seems to be taking a holiday and there has not been any significant increase in that disability. That last one translates into not needing surgery this year.
I really am fostering my good attitudes about this, but they took a hit today when I learned that someone gutted my insurance coverage when he transitioned to medicare last fall at the time that he turned sixty-five. I spent five hours on the telephone with the insurance company, the prescription drug provider, my dentist's and doctor's offices.
The worst part is that I would not even know any of this if I had not finally found a CPAP mask that fits my face and accommodates my deviated septum. It was supposed to be a simple telephone call to find out the procedure for ordering replacement parts, tiny ones, for the mask. The painful and disgusting details are irrelevant. The result is that I, a person with a previously fabulous insurance support system, now have what still considered to still be pretty darn wonderful insurance coverage, but one that does not allow for some basic care because of a dramatically increased deductible and the new circumstance that some categories of medications and support treatments that I currently use will no longer be available to me.
I will survive this shock. I will learn to live well within the parameters I discovered today, even though my SS benefits are not going to go as far as they have been. I will learn to live with the knowledge that this was done without the courtesy of sharing it with me, although I wonder how much of my distress today was due to feeling embarrassed about not knowing any of this. Honestly, too wonky bad, because I will deal with this. I do have to admit to wallowing in self-pity for a few moments. I am better now, but mostly because I am wondering some things. If I have these decent health care resources, what the hell are people and families with much less coverage doing to keep everyone healthy? Now, that is a real nightmare, and one that does not seem to have any chance of being corrected or even improved any time soon. My mind is boggled and I am totally bummed out, but, you know, still coping and keeping that good attitude.
Everything returns to balance though. The past few days of thinking and remembering when my friend was dying from her cancer made me wonder how all of that time that I spent caring for her affected my daughter. I do not remember us talking about it. I wondered (gah...all of this wondering is making my head hurt) if she ever felt even the tiniest bit neglected when I was away so much. So, I called her this afternoon and asked what that time was like for her. She told me that she knew that P was dying and that I was needed there to help, but that she never felt left alone, that I always managed to do whatever needed doing and that I was always there for her, even when I had to be away for a few days at a time. Hearing all of that is very reassuring, and there is the balance. In that time period I was able to stay present and balanced no matter where I was. Nice.
Now, I get to do that again. So, even though I came out in negative numbers in my encounter with the insurance industry today, it is all fine. I learned some things about relationships that are good and enduring and I learned about some aspects of being in relationship that are more painful.
Divested: Books and some more illusions.
Positive thought: I am have new skills where trust is concerned and I will not let them deform me and my beliefs.

Day 50
(Drum roll...) Happy Smack Dab In The Middle Of Divesting!!!
Yes, here I am with a nearly equal number of days, hours and minutes from the beginning of this project and the end.
Fifty days of trying to affect forward movement in my life.
Fifty days of discovering that my intentions when beginning this are not what my life had in mind for me. How much does that suck.
A half-hundred days of believing, then thinking, and finally hoping that this increasingly insane idea would stop being such a big deal.
I was a fool. Truth be told, I am a fool about many things and I have pretty much always known that on some level.
I should be happy, you know, really celebrating the fact that I was able to keep doing this without missing a single day of doing, divesting and writing about it. Actually, the writing was not part of the agreement that I had with myself, and my original idea was to keep a simple list of the crap I was getting out of here. I want to feel joyful about this. I want to feel hopeful and empowered and strong. Maybe, in the occasional moment or time when I am alone and doing this, I do feel those wonderful feelings. I feel great when my daughter and my friends ask me about how I am doing, all of them knowing my intense attachments to these books. Big, wonking, hoo-rah for me. Yeah.
And, really and truly, I am proud of doing this and sticking with it. I have no intention of stopping until this process is completed, which I can already see is going to continue beyond the hundred days. One of the parts of this that will happen during the next few months is that I am beginning to try to sell some of these books, as well as other household things that no longer serve me. That, the selling, is one of the most frequently received pieces of advice. I never wanted to to that because it is a ton of work and I am basically a lazyass person, and I just wanted to breeze through this. Now it looks like I might need that money, so a-selling-I-will-go.
Divested: Books, stationary, yarn, art papers.
Positive thought: Don't worry, be happy.

Day 51
I am at work, where it has been a slow day, client-wise. Other than that, it was the perfect opportunity to touch base with a few local agencies, catch up on all the work that piles up here when I am busy and have a nice lunch, one that was not ten minutes of gobbling some thing that I could not even remember having eaten.
It was a chance to do some things that I never have time to do. So, I did them. One was a research project for a client and guess what I found!
An ordinary man can... surround himself with two thousand books... and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy. Augustine Birrell
Huh? Double-wonking-HUH? My first, smart-aleck thought was why I had not been lucky enough to find this quote before starting this journey. My second thought was, hmmmm...only two thousand? My third thought was how much shame I am still carrying about having all of this crap in my life. No, not like in real crappy stuff that does not serve anyone, but in just, plain, too much stuff, particularly the books.
I am feeling weird today because I am thinking that I am the source of all of my difficulties, particularly with some other people. I understand that I am responsible for everything thing that I allow to be part of my life experience. I get that, I really do. People can treat us only as we allow them to do so. I get it. So, I have to ask myself why I am allowing money to control where I am in the world. I could sacrifice to be somewhere else. I am not exactly certain how I would do that, but there are tons of people who live on less money than I have.
I have been firmly entrenched in middle-class life for, well, most of my adult life. I am not going to allow my past, particularly my childhood to define me or how I live now, but I wonder if that poverty is the source of my resistance to just finding a nice and quiet place of my own. I just am not sure, but I am sure that that nice and quiet place of my own to live is not going to be my car, which at this moment seems to be my only alternative.
That means that I have to do something active about where I am and I do not feel like doing anything about my circumstances. That makes two things that I am not willing to do right now, live in my car and be proactive. It seems to be more attractive to me to be as quiet and small as a mouse so that no one bothers me. Unfortunately, that presents another area of difficulty. When all these books are gone, there will be fewer places to hide.
I do not know what I am going to do, but I simply cannot take many more days like the past several.
I think that all of us deserve to have at least one place in the world where it is possible to to happy. I might be a selfish ***** to dismiss whatever it is that holds me here in order to have that, but I want it. I really, really do.
Divested: A nice, big box of books before I came to work today.
Positive thought: I am worthy of having at least one place in the world where it is possible to be happy.

Day 52
There is a room in the basement that I never go into anymore. It contains my kiln and all the stuff that goes with making pottery, ceramics and porcelain. Until ten years ago, I could rarely be found anywhere other than this room when I had free time. When my vision got too bad, it just was not safe enough to be using a device that could get up to 2300 degrees F, or materials that could poison you or tools that might pierce something essential.
The room is all dusty and sad. The clays, despite being stored well are all dried out. The containers of slip seem fine, but some of the bisque that I fired but never finished may be unsuitable for firing now. You can only hold those things for so long. Some of the glazes are dried up as well. The tools are all fine, but most are as dusty as everything else. However, everything there can be restored or replaced without much cost or distress.
I should go back into that room. I need to feel the clay move under the power and direction of my hands. I need to wrap myself in the scents of fresh clay. I need to have bits of clay beneath my nails and skin stained with colours.
The only reason that I am dealing with this is because our municipality is in the process of replacing our water meters or boxes or something. So, I went down to make the room easy in which to work for the replacing guys and to make it fairly presentable so that I would not be shamed by how it looks.
Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to find the room crammed with all kinds of cramming crap. None of which was my own crap, by the way, unless you are counting the large trash bags of old clothing that I remember putting into the damn trash cans more than six damn years ago. What the wonk?
I just stood there and looked around. Old, broken lamp shades. Broken furniture, broken plastic stuff, broken tools and cans of dried-out paint and crusty painting brushes. The place was packed with all kinds of things that I had thrown away years ago, as well as things I do not even remember having in the first place. It had become a dumping/hiding ground for things that someone, not me, had removed from our trash, as well as the trash of our neighbors I am guessing, and had been hidden away down there.
Alrighty, then. I am the person in this house who saves stuff? OK, I do save stuff, like all these books and art supplies and records, but there are all out in plain and unencumbered view, not squirreled away like some dirty little secret. Holy wonking crap, Batman.
I will admit it, I am nuts, certifiably insane most days I think, truth be told, but that room is an indication, a serious one that I am not alone in my mental peculiarities. I am simply one of the inmates. There followed an ill-advised conversation about the stuff, and as uncomfortable as that was, it was also kind of nice because it reassured me that, perhaps, I am not as nuts as I have been led to believe.
As creepy as the whole incident was, still is, I kind of feel better about things, lots of things. Perhaps that is simply another indication of how truly wonked-up I am, but it does not feel like that. It feels, what, empowering or strong or something. Yeah, I feel stronger than I did before this room thing happened. I feel strong. Yeah. I feel hopeful and reassured that I really am on the right path by doing all of this personally painful stuff. I am doing the right thing for myself, and for the right reasons.
This is crazy, but I feel better, right this moment, than I have in a long time. It feels great. Like just having finished the best chocolate cake and coffee and the most amazing conversation and time with my best friends. That good. I have never been up in a hot-air balloon, but this is how I imagine that feeling to be, high and light and with fresh air flowing all around me and the view, oh, the view is so lovely. It is wide and I can see everything I need to see.
I wonder how I came to allow my viewpoint to be defined by other people. When did I give that part of myself away? I know that it was not taken from me, that I most certainly gave it to someone, that I offered up to him on a silver platter. If I had that platter right now, this minute, I would look at my reflection in it and ask myself what I could have been thinking when I gave myself away in that manner. What did I think could be found in losing myself?
I may never know, and I do not know how important it is to understand that. Maybe it is important, that understanding, that insight into how I became so lost in someone else, but if it is, it will come in its own time. I know I can trust that. I am kind of grooving on myself right now and it is nice.
Divested: Books and a whole lot of things and ideas that no longer serve me.
Positive thought: I have nice eyes and they are helping me to see from my new perspective.
Three pictures I just took. My first chalice. My second chalice. My nice eyes.

Day 53
In what is becoming the most bizarre and surreal experience in a life crammed full of bizarre and surreal happenings and memories, it just keeps getting better. Finding all of that stuff in what used to be my clay studio should have prepared me for just about anything.
Today I decided to clean some more of the kitchen cabinets. Some time ago, I cannot remember exactly when, the days and experiences are melding into one incomprehensible glob, I cleared out the two deep cabinets in the kitchen. Aside from some plastic containers and stuff, there was little to be found squirreled away down there.
Today I found a ton of aluminum baking pans, the disposable kind. OK, maybe a few pounds, that stuff is really lightweight. I sort of knew that there were some around because I used to do a lot of cooking for the public meal programs and for friends and if you use those disposables you never have to worry about having your bake ware returned. You just never get those things back. One time I lost a really nice lasagna pan at a family holiday dinner when one of the mister's sisters took it home because she liked it. Alrighty, then.
In the cabinet where I stored all the glass jars and bottles that I had every intention of using for some dumb project or another, there was a surprise. Does anyone know how long spirits keep in opened bottles? Well, there were/are at least a dozen of different kinds of hard liquor, all of them missing what appears to be a single serving/drink. I remember buying some of them because they were needed for a recipe, but others were purchased because I thought they looked interesting or the bottles were cool. Yeah, that is me, the discriminating shopper. It was a heady experience pouring out the contents, and there is lots of nice glass in the recycle bin. I thought about keeping a few, you know, in case of a booze emergency and all that, but if they have not been drunk now, they never will be.
Under the sink were several different kinds of ice cube trays and I have absolutely no idea of why they are there or where the hell they came from. Alongside of them, sort of keeping them company was an array of cleaning supplies, most of which were for cleaning gunk off of pots and pans or the sink. Kind of a humbling reminder of how I used to be a serious enough cook to need so many items to clean the pans, and probably related to uncountable and too-terrible-to-remember cooking disasters.
The very top shelf of the cabinet over the counter was home to a weird bunch of flavourings and cake decorating supplies. They have to be, at least some of them, somewhere around 15 years old. I could only shake my head as I tossed them away, but they did make for some pretty nice looking garbage.
Ah, I saved the best for last. I have a small cabinet that I bought to put extra stuff into, the kinds of things that do not fit anywhere else, like utensils that are rarely used, some of my smaller professional cakes pans and the pillars and things for wedding and holiday cakes. Well, there were a few of those in there, but the majority of the space was taken up by books. I mean, did I think that I would sometime have a reading emergency that prevented me from taking a few steps into the next room to grab a book? I have absolutely no idea why they are there, cannot even remember putting them there, how he hell did they get there. I am completely dumbfounded about this. Anyway, they are now safely in a divesting box.
I also went through and almost entirely trashed two large boxes of papers. Old workshops, classes and community outreach materials that I had for my shelter work. Greeting cards received from friends and family that seemed too dear to let go. Today I let all of that go, keeping only the few materials that can still be used by the new outreach people at the shelter.
I started on some of the fabrics and notions in my sewing stuff, but needed to let that go for now. That area is only slightly more orderly than it was, but that is good enough for now.
In reading back on what I just wrote, there is a clear thread running through all of that about holding emergency supplies, all of the what-in-case, the what-if-I-might-need-these. It reminds me of my grandmother's attic, crammed to the rafters with every sort of wonderful and interesting object, at least to the eyes and interests of a small girl. She and her hubby saved and carefully cared for nearly everything that they bought or gathered. Just in case it was needed. I was greatly influenced by their attic full of things. Dusty, but well kept, those items provided them the sense of security they needed following the terrible years of the second world war. Those last three words probably should be capitalized, but war of any kind does not deserve the respect of upper-case letters. Ever. Still, it was a time of fear and hardship that defined a generation. I suppose that all wars do that. I know that my political and patriotic innocence was destroyed during the conflict in Vietnam. I was defined by that, and I am being redefined with what is happening in the world now. During a large part of my adult life I willingly passed the quality and condition of my safety onto anther person, who promised to keep me safe and love me forever. What I did not know is that we alone are the determiners of our safety and that giving that power away to someone else or some societal power or even to a belief system is never what we should be doing. Young and foolish and trusting, we have all been there.
I do not believe that I would ever want to be young again, and I am certain that being foolish is part of who I am, but I am absolutely certain that I will not give up my willingness and ability to trust.
So. I let go of things that were for specific, potentially emergency/last-minute needs. They are gone, well, at least out in the trash cans or the divesting boxes, but they no longer take up space in the space where more useful and immediately useful things should go. I was looking at those empty cabinets and I am kind of liking their bareness. There is a breathy anticipation in that potential space, but I think that I will be keeping them spare for a while.
And, I was thinking about what qualifies as an emergency. I accept the need for smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, for gauze and ointment, salve, disinfectant and Hello Kitty bandages. A bottle of whiskey and a few disposable and dispensable baking pans are nice to have around. Gosh, even the extra book or two dozen is nice, comforting.
Perhaps it is only the insight and strength that I have wrestled from the happenings of this past week that allow me to have a different viewpoint, a more finely nuanced perspective on what constitutes a thing, situation or circumstance that might evolve into emergency proportions.
Divested: Kitchen refuge books, disposables.
Positive thought: I was strong enough to keep it together today.

Day 54
I knew that I would be away for a few days, but that changed yesterday afternoon and I did not have to trek up here until this morning, which I did following a really delicious breakfast with my Saturday coffee friends. It was a new (for us) place and the coffee and eggs were wonderful. Everyone else had fancy stuff, like loaded omletes, fruit-filled crepes and real, home-made hash. I was trying to be good to my blood sugar and had over-easy eggs, a bit of bacon, light hash browned potatoes and a piece of rye toast. I was the only person who was able to finish her meal. The portions of the other meals were ginormous, truly. Everyone took food home, except for the woman who always mooches off of everyone else's plates.
The boys are taking their naps right now and I am waiting for them to get up so that we can get back to playing. My oldest grandson (2 1/2) is fixated on cake for some reason. He wants it so badly that he tries to be cute and call it K-K like he did when he was little-er. Just before nap time, I was reading books to them and one was a Golden Books copy of the story of Goldilocks and the 3 bears. On one of the pages, it shows the bear family before they were terrorized by that little blond girl. Papa Bear (who A keeps calling Grandpa because the drawing of the bear has reading glasses) us sitting on the porch of the house. Baby Bear is running in the background, holding a butterfly net aloft and Mama Bear is standing in a bed of flowers. I asked A what Mama Bear was doing, thinking that he would say something about the flowers and he told me that she was gardening...that's my boy!!!! He is old enough to help me plant this year and I have promised him a small vegetable garden here at his house with his favorite veggies. So far he has not asked me to help him plant cake, but if he does, I plan to use marigolds and then when they flower I will "plant" cupcakes there for him to find.
The baby is just over a year old and whilst he is a barrel of fun with the weird things he says and the crazy sentences he crafts, it is my A that delights the heck out of me. Daddy drank the last of the juice before he and my daughter left, so A insisted on helping me to make more. He chose the container of concentrate he wanted, telling me what it was, had to pull off the seal and dragged a chair over to the sink so that "you don't have to do that all by yourself, Gramma, I will like to help you." He turned the frozen slush out into the pitcher, turned on the tap, filled the can with water several times and then grabbed a large spoon from the draining rack and stirred it up.
This afternoon we will be playing with their musical instruments and having a snack of the two slices of cake that I bought at breakfast this morning. This is such bliss, being here with them. Their parents are celebrating their wedding anniversary by staying in the big city to see my daughter's favourite comedian, having a fancy dinner and spending the night. I get to have these boys all to myself. In the morning we will have omletes, their favourite breakfast, bananas and jello. Also any cake that might be left over.
How apparent is it that I need to be someplace wonderful like this on a regular every damn day? I do not think that I have hyperventilated once since I started the drive up here. To what in my life is all of this drawing my attention. Good grief.
So, anyway, I packed up some books before I left this morning and I will do a bit more when I return home tomorrow, but not much, because I will be well and seriously pooped and will probably go straight to bed.
Divested: Books and a temporary, although much appreciated, relief from the heaviness that constantly surrounds my poor heart.
Positive thought: I get to spend as much time here as I like and that is a good and wonderful and cool and groovy thing.

Day 55
I returned home a few hours ago. It is all that I can do to stay awake. I love being there, but am just not accustomed to being that insanely active. Between the chasing to grab them up for cuddles and reading books, eating in the living room (mama does not approve and we tease her about it), scrambling eggs and cutting the crusts off of peanut butter and strawberry sandwiches, building towers and knocking them down, feeding the cats (takes an eternity with those little helpers) and all the rest, I am pooped. The favourite song these days is "If you're happy and you know it". If we listened to that and played along with it one time, we did it three hundred times, I swear. Good thing that we all have such lovely voices.
Mommy and Daddy had a wonderful time and I get to do this all over again next weekend because it will be my daughter's birthday and the two of them have been planning to spend that entire day at a museum, one of her favourite places. The parents and one of the sisters of my sweet son-in-law, are traveling here to go along with them. It is a testament to my girl that she is so willing to share her day out with them. At Xmas one of them bullied her about how the boys are not yet baptized and wanted to know how she was going to feel for all of eternity when she was in heaven and the babies were in hell. The reason that the boys are not yet baptized is because that side of the family cannot decide exactly how that should be done. They are accustomed to managing the lives of everyone around them by committee and majority vote. My son-in-law refuses to cave to his family anymore, which puts all of them in a state of anxiety. I find it all too heartbreaking that they are willing to lose contact with their son simply because they are unwilling to mind their own business. Quite frankly, I am getting the best of this deal, and in the spirit of keeping things peaceful, I offered to stay home and avoid the consequences of ripping that person a new one. Even when your child is an adult with a family of her own, your protective instincts are always right there.
More books went bye-bye into their soon to be gone-gone boxes. Some more art supplies, of the crafty kind, were winnowed, with a few less precious items going into the charity box. One of the broken tables managed to drag itself back into the house whilst I was gone, but it is now more broken and is in three trash bags, making reanimation less likely. I am unable to lift and carry even relatively small boxes of books and had a bag of bags that were dedicated to that use, but which cannot be found now; also lost in action is the box of soap molds that I had in the kitchen, but am trying to just let that go. They will show up, or they will not. Either way, I have no control over any of this except my responses.
The interesting part of this is thinking about the comings and goings of things and if it means that I am now certifiable and should be safely locked away for the well-being and good of everyone, or if someone is just wonking with me because, well, just because it is possible to do that. I do know that I am in trouble because I dared to go away overnight, but, once again, too wonking bad. I had a really wonderful time with my daughter and her wonderful family and am still feeling quite wonderful about the wonderful two days away from here. So, am I nuts, crazy, bonkers, gone south, loco, crackers, insane, hallucinating, disassociating, dislocated, discombobulated, dissed or dismantled?

I might be
a few bricks short of a load
five cans short of a six-pack
not firing on all cylinders
an olive short of a pizza
four quarters short of a dollar (US, and adjusted for inflation)

I think that I
have a screw loose
am bugged out
should be in the bughouse
am as mad as hatter
as mad as a monkey on a trike
have lost my marbles
belong in the booby hatch (ooooh...maybe I could get some boobies there)
Hmmmm...I think that I am a delicious alchemy of all of them.
I am interested in any other ways to describe how stunningly insane I might be. If I am going mad, I would like to do it with as large a lexicon as possible.
Divested: Books, art supplies, gift bags, a pizza maker/thing. And, I am putting all of my humane work materials, including books, video recordings, classroom handouts, leashes, pet toys, health that...into a box and donating it to the shelter where I used to work.
Positive thought: I get to be away on Saturday again, perhaps longer if I can convince my daughter and her sweet hubby to get lost overnight again.

Day 56
Part 1
Despite the fact that I am feeling lighthearted, hopeful and am coming to an appreciation of how all of this is exactly what I need to experience at exactly the right and appropriate time, the days are just barely crawling along here. I am getting so much stuff done and whilst it no longer seems the endless task that it did a couple of weeks ago, it still is looking like it will take the rest of my natural life. I think that that is one of this project's most significant lessons for me, that this is a lifetime’s process. Stuff in...stuff out. Hold the gold, at least for a time, and toss the dross. That is one aspect of forward movement that has always escaped me, the passage and release of things, ideas, beliefs and even people as a natural part of living a fully manifested and meaningful life. I am eager and excited about the New, but so unwilling to release the Old, particularly when the Old no longer serves me and, even worse, when the Old is actually harming me. And, it does not even feel as wonked up as those things tend to be for me; it is like "Um...oh...yeah...I should know that. Cool." Especially cool is that the stuff coming in is not things, but experiences and people and all kinds of other stuff I cannot describe. Like maybe pride in sticking with this. Or the reasonable expectation of peace and calm in my future. Yeah, that would be the penultimate in coolness.
Then there is the mechanics of divesting. As something moves out, the little space emptied, it only serves to make the stuff in its proximity appear to need some work as well. Like the old joke about replacing the chair and now the sofa looks tired and when you replace that the rooms needs to be repainted and the flooring re-done, and on and on until everything changes and you find yourself halfway around the world, living in a tract house and teaching knitting to the chipmunks, and everything slows down because you have to stop and make little needles out of toothpicks for their teeny hands.
I keep having these little hiccups of thoughts popping into my head about how I need to honour and hold dear that part of me that clung to things when there was not anything else to comfort me, and how I was powerless to stop that process when it began to bedevil me. But, I am finding ways to stop that now. I do understand that getting rid of this stuff might not be the cure or the prevention for filling the damn place up again, but at least I have that awareness now. I can pay attention and guard against it. Even some of the stuff I cannot immediately release, like the art supplies or fabrics or tools, may be gone at some future time. It is the journey, not the destination; the process, not the finish line. I have spent the past year not buying anything that is not essential. It is not easy, but I am doing it. I now have a small savings balance at the bank. I have no ideas or plans for using it and it comforts me to know that the money is there should there be some emergency or some amazing opportunity that would be made easier by a little extra cash.
I was chatting on Facebook with a friend last night. He asked how the divesting was going (he reads about it in my other writing place) and commented that I must be, after all this time, nearly finished. Not. Even. Close. I stayed up after he finally got sleepy enough to go to bed, which was the only reason he wanted to chat, thinking that doing so would help him relax, at least that was what he claimed to be doing, but I think he just wanted to be bored into slumber. I cleaned out another bookshelf that contained lots of papers. Some need to be shredded and I did save some of those for feeding into that cool, little machine, but other things, like some medical stuff went right into the garbage bag. I probably should not do that, but it is done. It is just that I kind of hate using that cool, little machine. It is never convenient to shred papers right away and so they get placed on the shelf near the machine and are so easily forgotten, until the next papers get put on top of them. Then you end up with another pile of papers that cannot just be shredded, but have to be sifted just to make sure. Oh, the humanity.
I have some more terms for being in a state of craziness. I am not certain, but I think that I am finished looking for any more. It is not as funny to me as it was yesterday. It is easy to be amused in the dark, alone with your thoughts and feeling open to any possibility. The clarity of a new day puts all of that impetuous and irresponsible frivolity in its place. It is one thing to navel-gaze at my own emotional peculiarities, but the dawn's light exposes that I am not the only insane person on the planet. We are, all of us, caught in the thrall of our brain chemistry. We are so sweetly, so exquisitely and endearingly human, us humans. One of the books I tossed in the box yesterday, or the day before, was Desmond Morris' The Human Zoo. I think that it was the follow-up work to The Naked Ape, but I am not certain and I am too tired to look it up. My copy of Zoo is a first edition hardcover that I bought for a dollar at least forty years ago, which I know because of the bookplate in it. The bookplate is a copy of Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa, part of his series of woodblock prints entitled Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. The colouring and shading became part of my tattoo, when my daughter and I decided to get inked together. You know the old and wise saying that the mother and daughter who get tattooed together, stay together.
Part 2
So, anyway, I just took Zoo out of the donation box because I think that it might be a good time to read it again, in some hope that I can begin to put the past couple of weeks into a perspective that might be more useful to me than the one with which I am currently struggling. You know, no matter how hard I try or how focused or dedicated to resolving all of the crap, for some inexplicable reason, I am acting as if I am the only player in this game. Like I am working in isolation to move all of this stuff out of my life. I hate to belabour this, I really do, but it is not the books, I doubt it ever was, not even from the beginning when I came up with this harebrained idea. I believed it was that simple, but there were greater forces at work here and I am not saying that I am ungrateful or anything like that, but I am saying that this is the kind of hard work that I would like to avoid, or at this point, just walk off into the sunset and away from it, like some Hollywood ending where everyone lives happily ever after, without any consequences. Even in Cinderella, someone had to be responsible for cooking and cleaning, laundry and making sure that the toothpaste tube was not all wonky from someone squeezing it in the middle. All that said, I am trying to pay attention, careful attention so that I do not miss any of the significant lessons here and end up having them re-presented until I finally do get them, so that they stick. I am sick of not paying attention and having to repeat things over and over and over again.
So, anyway the list. I am still interested in hearing any others. Just saying.
Most of the stuff I found on the Internet this morning is tumbled in with euphemisms for being dumb. I think that my favourite for the day is having a chink in my armour. Yeah, I like that one the best.

flew over the cuckoo's nest
a few french fries short of a Happy Meal
a few cards short of a deck
a few bricks short of a load
enough of the few whatevers, that list is probably endless and most of them are references to not being very smart
wing nut
nutty as a fruitcake
fully loaded fruitcake
mad as a hatter
Freudian flipped
bonkers (think I am beginning to repeat terms now)
screw loose
bats in the belfry
gone bananas
off my rocker
whacked out (apologies to our beloved Wacky, of course)
my wheels are spinning but my hamster is taking a nap
all my chickens flew the coop

Here are some that I do not understand:
my kangaroo is loose in the top paddock (like running amok in the garden or something like that?)
not quite the full shilling
my lift does not go all the way to the top (is this a being dumb reference about elevators?)

Feeling better already!
Divested: Books, knick-knacks, more gift bags (for cripe’s sake!)
Un-divested: Hey, we knew it was going to happen eventually, the Morris book.
Positive thoughts: The sun is actually shining today and walking will be much more pleasant. I did not eat cake yesterday. Yeah, you go girl!

Day 57
I began at work, gathering materials to share at a job fair. If you do not have them (job fairs) where you live, they are opportunities for employers and placement agencies to connect with the unemployed or those who are interested in changing careers/jobs/areas of interest. This one was one of the best in recent memory. I attend them, not as a potential employee, although I am often offered jobs, but to meet people in different industries so that I can use them as resources for my clients. There were three significant qualities to today's event.
I was greeted with hugs by the organizer, whom I have met only three times, usually in the context of trying to worm my way into some event or just asking for general favours. I guess she likes me. Nice.
I met several of my clients. Some are still looking for employment, and one of them is so outstanding in his experience and qualifications that it is nearly unbelievable that someone has not snatched him up by now. I suspect that his standards for what he wants to do at this point in his life are higher than what is currently available in our location, and I admire him for holding out for what he really wants. I got hugs, several, from him, too. He also introduced me in glowing terms to several other people. Really nice.
Another person was one of my first legit clients. She is now working, as of two weeks ago, in the field she wanted. It is only part time work, but she got the job by being a volunteer for that organization. Seeing her was one of the day's highlights.
Whilst just hanging out, I made contact with a couple of people who may noodle over to see me at work. Also nice.
Instead of dropping off my handouts, taking a quick look around, I found myself returning to my car nearly three hours after the time I got there. I will admit that I am a dyed-in-the-wool, Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging pacifist, so it surprised me that I had such a successful conversation with the U.S. Army recruiters that were there. Truth be told, I really only wanted one of their camouflage pens, but they were so personable, that we ended up having a mini-meeting. Surprising, but nice.
After that, I grabbed a dollar burger at the drive-through and went to the hardware store where I had a gift card, only $5/US that was burning a small hole in my pocket. I got a lot for that five bucks, including a candy bar, which was divine, by the way.
The final stop was the grocery store where I bought a ton of meat, well, at least for me. In fact, I went $38 over my budget, but I do not care. The shopping trip unearthed some stuff about what I am doing as regards my frugal life, particularly in the realm of cleaners and that is percolating as a post that I might not actually share because of the conclusions I had to face about what I am willing to do or not do right now. Frankly, until all this stuff was messing with my head, I had not been aware that my thoughts about any of this had changed, much less the radical shift in my life-as-I-am-living-it philosophy. Not so nice, or at least not very comfortable.
Then. I came home. Dum-da-dum-dum-duuummmmmm.
Before I left early this morning I tossed more books in boxes and decided that sentimentality be damned and trashed a couple of things. Like put them in the garbage can in the kitchen. They were acountertop grill, electric, for grilling meat and stuff, but I used it only for vegetables. I love grilled veggies and it was perfect whilst it lasted. But, a couple of years ago it began acting all wonky and could not be trusted to perform as designed. I kept it around, hoping that it could be fixed or would magically heal itself or something. Along the way, the cord got lost and this morning was its time to go. So, into the can it went. It was accompanied by a cracked broiler pan and a forty-year old pizza pan.
When I got home, I tossed the bag from the drive-through food and the candy wrapper into the garbage can. Then I put away the groceries. Then I went back to the can and looked inside, moved some stuff aside and realized that those three kitchen pieces were gone. All I could do was to stand there and stare at the space they formerly occupied. I give up. From now on I am going to hide, sneak, disguise, obfuscate and smuggle the trash out of here. I am certain that the far reaches of the garage are filling up with objects suitable only for archaeological study in, oh, say, a few thousand years or so. Good, wonking grief.
Just so that the day does not end on the futility of trying to affect any sort of enduring change in one's life, and the additional burden of being expected to carry the burdens of other people in addition to my own, I would like to share a some cool things that I learned today.
I heard, on the radio during my travels today, that the recent earthquake(s) in Chile were horrible and everything, but it/they produced something very interesting. It is a side-effect of some earthquakes. Because of the sifting of the tectonic plates in that area, weight was increased near to the axis of the earth, increasing it's rotation by one-millionth of a second per day. So, in case you noticed that things were spinning out of control just a bit faster in the past few days, that is the reason.
The political hi-jinks of the current U.S. government can only help to make other national governments feel ever so much better about themselves. It is a time of great ironical hilarity, but also a struggle to feel patriotic.
There are four simple things to do to keep your brain all juiced up. Move it, as in get physical as often as possible. Seek new challenges, like brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand or learn to knit or kayak or or study a new language or play with your mental blocks or something. Spend 10 to 20 minutes each day that require you to pump up your intellectual activities, you know, like playing board games or computer games. And the final one is to be more social by volunteering or be with friends or join a book club and the best part about this last one is that you can do it just when you have the time, not every day.
Do you remember the super-model, Kathy Ireland? I do. I remember that she was in the Sport's Illustrated swimsuit issue for a gazillion years and that she did calendars and a few sort of ( really) bad movies. Well, that pretty face went on to build a company that produces more than a billion dollars a year in home products, and some other things, but I do not know what they are.
Divested: Books, and I thought three broken kitchen things, but maybe not.
Positive thought: I discovered today that I am doing a kick-ass job at my job and the rest of my life ain't too shabby either.

Day 58
I am so tired tonight. Part of it is the bread that I ate for dinner, but it is mostly because of my long and long day. It was light on clients, but that happens and it gives me a chance to catch up on all the things that get shuffled along and stay undone when I am busy. I followed up on several of yesterday's job fair connections. One of them resulted in a meeting for the18th. Cool. I have a feeling that this is going to provide some real benefit to some of the people I serve.
So, what else? Well, I had to make myself go and pop books into boxes, or nothing would have been divested today. Done and done.
Several months ago I was taking a new medication for my high blood pressure, which until that moment, when it was prescribed, I did not know I even have. I guess that is the way of the old blood pressure issue. You do not know that you have it and by the time any symptoms show up, well, I guess it gets all dramatic. All in all, I am still kind of bummed out about all my crappy health issues lately. I was just going along, enjoying myself when all this stuff poked me in the eye. So, anyway, I am enmeshed in the side effects of this blood pressure medication. I am having two side effects. The first is a terrible cough because some component of the medication settles in your lungs and your body tries to cough those particles out and attempts to cough your lungs out along with them. Sort of like tossing the baby out with the bathwater. I would miss my lungs. I really would. We have been together for a long time and you just do not take that for granted. You know, I could tolerate the night-time coughing even though it competes with myCPAP machine to deny me a decent night's sleep. I mean, that stupid machine keeps waking me up anyway, so I might as well cough as long as I am up. Right?
Unfortunately, even though I am officially retired, I still work and you just cannot cough all damn day at work, especially when you work in a damn library. Just saying. I did not take the med last night because I am an idiot and did not realize until yesterday that my coughing up of the lungs is because of the medication. I called my doctor from work today and they are not happy with me, but what the heck, it is my blood pressure, my lungs and my rockin' and boppin' and coughin' the night away. I have an appointment on Monday for the official chewing-out of the disobedient patient. Tickets are still available at the box office. Ah, good times. I can hardly wait.
The second side effect of this medication is one that is not supposed to exist, at least not in our universe. What happens is that my lower, right leg and foot swell up. Edema. Just the right, lower leg and foot, nowhere else. It is not listed as a side effect, and even the web sites that have been created by the people (usually former and dissatisfied users) who hate this drug do not have a thing to complain about regarding swelling. But, I do not have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that my lower, right leg and foot swell up only when I am taking this drug. I have been ignoring that because it causes the occasional pitying look from the doc, but I could barely put on my right shoe today. And, you should know that my shoes are actually clogs, so you really should be able to shove nearly anything into the darn thing, you know, like a late-season zucchini or a side of beef or practically anything. A foot should not really be a problem. One would think.
I am still tired and I think that it is bedtime here in the suburban Midwest. I am going to wash my face and brush my teeth and drag my swollen leg behind me like a cranky, old character from an American Western film, off to bed, where I will prop my poor, little, huge leg up on a nice and soft pillow and finish The Graveyard Book and finally drop off to slumberland where I will periodically wake up, rip off my mask and cough out the rest of my lung. Now, if I wake with drool caked on my face and pillow, that will be myTrifecta for the week. I am working on my personal best. Sleep tight.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: Ummm...oh, I know! Instead of having to clean tomorrow, I will be hanging out with two of my friends, and we will have coffee and tea and ridiculously fattening snacks, but not any drinks because we are old and alcohol pretty much puts all of us right to sleep.

Day 59
My, how time flies when you are having fun. Erp.
So, anyway, I am out having fun with a friend late this afternoon, and we are discussing a mutual friend who is driving one of us insane with demands of time and energy and more time. He is going through a rough period and as any good friend would do, we try to be as supportive and understanding and present, as in there, as much as possible.
But, he wears me out. Part of the problem is that he suffers from a mental disorder; he says that he is bi-polar. I know of this beast because I took lithium for many years in an attempt towards some semblance of normalcy in my life, although in those days it was called manic-depression. My doctor told me to take the drugs and be patient because some people experience a reduction in their symptoms as the years go on. Years? Yep, and that is how long it took me to move beyond all that horrible cycling between the extremes. Looking back, that was relatively easy to do. I had the drugs to get me through and my cycles were long. I felt manic for long periods of time, and they were glorious. I felt capable of doing anything. Then there was the long and gradual descent into the depressive phase, which was not so wonderful, followed by the long and painful transition back to that wonderful state where I could do whatever I wanted to do without tiring or losing energy.
It has been decades since it has bothered me, although I wonder if that kind of bad brain chemistry ever fully resolves. Our friend is a doctor and does not believe in using meds for himself. Fine. Whatever floats your boat, baby. Take em' or don't. Your choice. The single saving grace here is that he has retired himself from doctoring. He has even stopped volunteering at the free clinic.
But, it is becoming my choice that I do not choose to deal with his daily exercises in excitement and enthusiasm and the descent into despair. I have seem him cycle up, down and back and forth several times in the space of an hour. Gosh, no one should have to live with that. You know? Emotionally it is terrible, but the physical cost to him must be enormous. Today he bailed on an important meeting for a project that he initiated. That is not a good thing.
And, the bottom line on this is that he just has to stop imposing his disability on everyone around him, and using his excuse of not agreeing with the use of meds for his mental disorder is a double-decker bullshoe sandwich. In a world where going around and expecting fairness will only cause you heartbreak, it is not fair of him to keep doing this. He has already lost his wife and any expectation of contact with his adult children. It just makes me plain sick to consider the possibility that he is going to lose his last few friends, as well. And, even though I am writing about this in the personal, it is our other, mutual friend that is most significantly affected.
I am confused and reluctant to decide how I know when (or if) enough is enough. I am not sure where my responsibility to another person lies in a circumstance like this. I am not sure where such a duty lies in my more intimate relationships. I wonder when the scales of accountability are loaded, where my position will be. I fear that despite my desire to be fair and supportive and accommodating, that I will find that I have not been a nearly good enough friend or spouse, that my best just has not been good enough.
I do not need to fix anyone. I do not even want to, truth be told. I am busy enough just trying to fix myself, and that task is sufficient to keep me busy for several life times.
I know, truly know and understand, that I cannot rescue anyone, particularly someone who is not interested or invested in saving himself. I get that. But, it feels like abandonment. It feels like desertion. It feels like I have failed someone who I like or love. Or, whatever.
I am so not the person that I was 59 days ago. I look back and I love the person I used to be. I love myself for trying so hard even when I was so stuck and what I tried was variations on a theme of ignoring what my life was really like. I do not blame anyone for what was happening then, not even myself. That alone is such huge progress.
I was thinking tonight, wondering where that disappearing garbage is and how I am going to find a way to actually find and trash it and all of the other things that still need to be gone from here. I was thinking, oh, I do not know, that maybe I could disguise things in order to get rid of them and then I thought, well, who really give a crap besides me and maybe I should give the throwing-away of things a single shot and if the stuff keeps disappearing from the trash can, that maybe I could just let it go and not worry about where it is being hidden away. I was thinking that maybe that issue is no longer my problem. I was thinking about how I have not been reduced to tears in a couple of weeks. That, the not crying, feels really weird, but nice, you know?
I guess that my greatest struggle here is not that I am getting better, really moving towards health and healthy independence, but that I worry that I might be doing it at the expense of a few other people. People who have come to depend on my pathology, as relates to how it helps them. Being in a relationship and then changing the dynamics of that unspoken agreement that two people hold, well, it seems, once in a while, like a really cold and heartless thing to do, even if it has the potential to move both parties closer to health.
No matter how careful we are, no matter how we consider and plan, we do nothing in isolation.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: There lies within me the ability and will to do the best for everyone.

Day 60
Two months. Of this. Wow. I can hardly believe that I could do anything for sixty straight days. But, it appears that I have. Today was nice and easy. I spent most of it out of the house and tomorrow will be pretty much the same. I am tired, but the weather here is as spring-like as it gets and it seems a shame to waste it indoors.
Tomorrow will be a day with the babies and we will try to spend most of it walking around the block and playing with the trikes and wagon. I think that by two o'clock all of us will be ready for a nap.
Boring, but that is all there is to say.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I love bread pudding, but found out today that I

Day 61
It is after one o'clock on Saturday night/Sunday morning, but I only returned home a short time ago. I spent the day with the babies and it was grand. We have such a wonderful time, even though they are not actual babies any longer and are beginning to spread their delightful, little boy wings and assert some independence. I love watching them grow in this way, and I am honoured to be a part of helping them to become autonomous beings, but it sure does make the day a bit bumpy sometimes.
I had a couple personal bumps today of my very own, which did not occur to me until I had typed the lines above.
I went to see a film and have lunch with two friends yesterday. One of them is all sweet and wonderful and perfect...just like me, of course...but the other one is kind of bossy and insistent on always having her way. No biggie-deal, but yesterday she kind of irritated both me and our other friend. Then, we met for coffee this morning, as we usually do on Saturdays, and she was still whining about something that happened yesterday that disappointed her. OK, fine.
Then today. I had fed the boys by the time everyone came back from the museum and I stayed around to have dinner and chat and share stories. Two of my dinner companions are sort of relatives and I felt myself all angsty and feeling critical of part of the conversation. Hmmm, now, a pattern is developing.
The common denominator with both of those little tales (well, aside from me, of course{Smiley shakes her head at how hopeless I truly am, just hopeless}) is that my tolerance for other people's bullshoes is rapidly decreasing. I mean, I like all of the people in those two snippets of stories, and, sure it is only two crummy occasions, but it is leaving me feeling so much less patient and supportive of the baloney that other people dish know, the kind to which you listen without comment or criticism, but mostly without any comment.
So, am I just a cranky blitch or a newly emerging cranky blitch or what?
Where did my tolerance go?
Why are little things like this bothering me all of a sudden? And, I do not mean just a little bit, I mean a kind of middle-sized portion of having it bother me.
Am I on a downward spiral to being so completely unable to deal with other people's crap that I will eventually end up living in a cave somewhere, eating roots and twigs and lobbing clumps of dirt at the sweet little woodland creatures that wander by?
You know, right this minute, even though I had no idea this was going in this direction, that wonking cave is looking pretty damn good.
Good wonking grief.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I do not know for how long, but for now I still have friends.

Day 62
I am still cranky. If this is going to be even a semi-permanent part of who I am for a while, I do not think that I will be able to take it. For crying out loud, I am the nice friend, the one that others come to for comfort and how the hell am I going to be able to do that if I bristle all over the damn place all the damn time? I managed to be nice to everyone today, even the person who yelled at me because I was not cleaning the bathroom correctly. Yeah, even that person.
God, I am all over the place. I feel so unsettled and worried about going fully insane without any warning. I know, I really do, that a huge part of this is because I have become so adept at staying low-key in order to avoid any kind of confrontation. It is like there is a leak in that control and some kind of nasty goo is oozing out of me and staining how I am able to move around in my world. My ability to stay all calm and reasonable is being threatened by these new feelings, the ones of feeling irritated and everything. It is like my inner-Gandhi is about to start dealing out a nice measure of whoop-ass on everyone around me. Am I going to just snap sometime this week? Am I going to end up on the front page of the newspaper? Is my first vacation in years going to be in the county lock-up?
I know that I will get through this. If I can be a nice person when things are tough, then I can be a nice person when things are improving and I can be a nice person on the other end of this.
I am trying to manage as best I can. I walked today. I cleaned like crazy and look where that got me. I ate chocolate and had tea and biscotti . I should be fine for a couple of hours. I have my doctor appointment tomorrow concerning my cough and the swelling of my leg due to the medication, which I stopped taking nearly a week ago. In twelve hours I will be at the clinic and will be a bad patient. I just know it.
Anyway, soon to bed because I am worn out and going all Chekhovian, one of his characters, the ones who were limp and nervously exhausted. Oh. I guess that was all of them.
Divested: Books, three of which I found on a shelf in the bathroom. Eeeeewwwww.
Positive thought: I was stalwart and demanded the return of my faucet. I got it back. I am woman, I am strong, I am plumber.

Day 63 Do not read this because it is all whiney. I swear.
I need this safe place to write out all of this stuff, but I need to know that no one else will read it because it is sad and I do not want anyone else to be sad just because I have to vent here.
Please. Go do something else that is wonderful and makes you happy and the world a better place.
I just re-read this before posting, something I never do. I do not feel better for having spewed it all out, but that takes time sometimes. Anyway, I just could not add to the burden of sadness in the world by allowing those words to stay on the page.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I am able to enjoy the sweet and tender tips of the iris that are poking through the soil. Truly, if I can still find a positive thought, things cannot be as bad as they feel right now.

Day 64
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: Walking in the fog is a lovely experience.

Day 65
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I helped three people today.

Day 66
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I helped one person today.

Day 67
Divested: Books, art materials to the children of a friend, purses.
Positive thought: I am able to have coffee with my friends tomorrow and they have promised to take some more books, bless their hearts.

Day 68
Divested: Books, at least a dozen frames that will never display anything around here.
Positive thought: I can still feel hopeful.

Day 69
Divested: Books, more frames, an assortment of useful things that are too great a burden to carry any longer.
Positive thought: I will be able to get away tomorrow for a few hours to play with the babies and their mommy.

Day 70
Divested: Books, pizza oven, train set.
Positive though: I can get through this.

Day 71
Divested: Books, more art supplies.
Positive thought: Tomorrow is my day to be out and about for at least twelve hours.

Day 72
Divested: Books, hopefully the chunk of my brain that keeps judging.
Positive thought: I helped three people today; frankly, I kicked ass in the realm of resumes.

Day 73
I had to go back and count and it has been ten days since I have been able to write anything here. I am going to try to do so now, but I cannot make any promises that I will be able to actually do it. What happened last week on Monday was something terrible. I tried to write about it then, because doing that, writing, helps me to process what is going on in my life. So, I sat down at the old computer here and began to let it all flow out through my fingertips, just like I always do. Then, what happened is that I could do it, the writing, but I could not bear to share it, you know, hit the post button.
Then I deleted what I had written and wrote something else that I had been thinking. It was fine. It was about other aspects of what this process has been for me. It was all true, but it lacked the quality that my usual, stream-of-consciousness writing does have, and that is complete honesty, the in the moment kind. My habit is to let the writing happen and it pours out of me as pure and dedicated to my inner process as it is possible to be. Every day since that day, I sit down and try to write. I cannot. I get all blocked by my unwillingness to continue on that same, unadulterated path that is essential to who I am and how I manifest in the world. The problem is that my smaller world, the one in the right here and in this place world, is experiencing things that cannot be shared without creating even more unhappiness. It was not just that one day last week, it has continued and there does not seem to be anything that I can do to have an effect on it. I get to be here and just keep on taking this crap. It is too hard to do whatever I am supposed to be doing right now. Even writing this convoluted and stupid explanation is difficult.
But, something else happened just a few minutes ago and it was reading the nice message that a friend said about what I write here. She said something about my strength and honesty. I am not feeling so strong these past days and my ability to be honest is seriously compromised. I feel like a total idiot. I feel stuck and frightened and stuck and just plain stuck. And, that is why I have not been able to write about any of this, not here, not even in my private places. And, if I cannot be as clear and transparent as I try to be, then it seems pointless and, yes, dishonest to write all around what this process has become for me. I mean, if I am not going to continue to let it all hang out, then what is the point.
You know, the point of this whole blasted idea was to help myself become a better person. I keep saying this, but it turned out to not be about the books, but about what my life wanted, needed me to do. Insisted that I do. You go along in your life, just doing the best that you can and try not to make problems for anyone else and somewhere along the way you get lost. You just lose track of the person you are and end up being what someone else or what some other people want you to be and you do not even notice that where that other person or those other people are concerned you have become exactly what they insist that you be but you,gosh how do I want to say this, you just bury yourself to accommodate them. I mean, you are still there and you do your best to have a decent life in spite of all of that but if you go too far away from what other people have come to expect from you it begins to fall apart, the whole thing, the facade or whatever you want to call it, the thing that allows everything to go smoothly. When one person in that unspoken agreement changes even a little bit, it throws everything out of balance. When one person gives the appearance of planning on changing a whole lot, then everything goes to pieces. The worst part of all of this is that I am changing, but what I am doing is not having a direct affect on that other person or persons. Their problem is that my willingness to tolerate a few things has changed and whilst I am not asking or even hinting that some change should or could be happening with them, they are so pissed that I am not the same person. I mean, how ****ed up is that, that my process and who I am becoming does not affect them and they still are all pissed about it. It is insane, and not in a good way. That is what is happening here and that will have to do for an explanation, I guess. But, I miss writing. I think that it is essential to what I am doing now and I am going to try to write every day. Every damn day, whether I want to or not. But (oh those damn 'buts'), I will not be writing about this thing. I will still be as honest as I can, but it will not be the pure, stripped to the bone honestly that helps me thrive.
So, anyway, I have added parts of two days to my volunteering. One of the places where I already volunteer has added two evening periods to help people with certain issues. It is in the evening, so that people can come after work. Tuesday was the first session and the organizer was upset because it was not hugely attended, but she is supposed to be the expert in the area and her angst is her own issue. I think that I have made two friends of the other three volunteers that night and so that is a huge bonus for me. The third person there was a guy and seems kind of shy. There will be a new person tonight that can only come on Thursdays and I am looking forward to meeting her, as well.
My gig at the library is still one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life. Yesterday had only one appointment, but there were two walk-ins and I put in a ten-hour day that did not have time for even a short break. The work is so energizing that the time flew by in what seemed like only a couple of hours. By the time I got to my car I realized that I was starving and gobbled my sandwiches. I always take two because I have one for lunch and another to keep me going on the way home in case it turns out to be one of the long days, like yesterday was. It is true that the best seasoning is a healthy hunger, because they tasted divine and were more satisfying than if I had eaten them at lunchtime.
I had an appointment with a research company this morning, one of those that create panels to test and give feedback on new or potential products. My original intention was to go through the process to see if I would feel comfortable recommending it to some of my clients as a way to make a little extra money whilst they are looking for a new job, but I really liked the people and the process and think that I am going to participate and accept some of their calls for panelists, the ones for which I meet the demographics. It would be a nice way to make a bit of extra money, which would come in handy for my Saturday morning coffee with my friends. This should be a lot of fun, as well, and I hope that they choose me for some of their testing and evaluating protocols.
Some sad and glad news is that my friend, the one with the gallery, returned to her other home across the little pond this morning. She was unwilling to be on the road with the St. Patrick's Day hooligans and decided to leave today whilst they were all home and sleeping off their shenanigans. I always miss her so much when she is over there, but that is where her sweetie lives and you just cannot disrespect the heart. The sculpture on which I am working, well, sort of, is for a show at her place in June. She and her sister are going on a short trip out west the two weeks before the opening and she asked me to curate the exhibit for her and stay at her home above the gallery during that time. Both of those things, cool and groovy and I am looking forward to living in a city for the first time in over 35 years, even if it is for only two weeks.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I know how lucky I am when anyone likes the dumb stuff I make, although I would keep on making it just for my own pleasure.

Day 74
I finished the rolls for my client and took them over to her house. She and her daughter were waiting for me and they loved the darn things. The mother told me that they were just like the ones she used to make and that she was surprised as it was my first time.
Yeah, even I know that was a compliment.
So, I sat there with them and had one of the rolls. I like icing as much as the next person, but I should have left it off. Once on there, the roll, there was no way to get rid of it unless I wanted to distract them by pretending that I saw Elvis in the driveway and when they were looking out of the window I could have scraped it off and put it in my pocket. But, neither of them have very good vision and they would not have taken the bait. I ate it all, but the roll part was wonking amazing. I would make them again, but it is too much in the realm of carbs and I do not think that I could get even close to that fine result is I used whole grain flour.
I know that they were super pleased because the two of them started talking about all of the family dishes that neither of them is able to make any more. They kept asking if I could make this or that and did I have any good recipes for one dish after another. I told them that I was too busy right now to do much cooking for other people and they told me how disappointed they were, that they thought that I could do this each week for them. It was lovely, sitting there with them. I think that the best part was that it felt like being with old friends and it was nice to have people being nice to me for a change, even though they really are strangers to me. Maybe that is what I have to do, spend all of my time with strangers who do not know what a messed up jerk I am.
Anyway, I do not want to become their even once-in-a-while cook, mostly because it would mean doing all of the cooking here at my house and someone would not like that very much. Factor in the shopping and having to be reimbursed and transporting the food at the proper temperatures and the pans and casseroles and getting them back and all the rest, and I simply do not want to have even one more person depending on me for so much, not even two wonderful and lovely women like them.
But, it was nice doing this and appreciate the break it gave me from all the other stuff.
Divested: Books, more purses
Positive thought: I made nice rolls.

Day 75
I cannot believe that there are only 25 days left in this project. I will not be finished with the larger issues that this has produced, and I will see this through the end, whatever that may be.
I had breakfast with the only other two of our Saturday morning coffee group that were in town this weekend, and I paid for their meals. I know that I cannot afford to do that, but I seriously needed to self-medicate myself today. Mood alter. Disassociate. Whatever. It is worth having to scrimp on other things for a while. One of the two women is the person that irritates most everyone else. I kind of like her weirdness. She often makes me laugh inside with some of the stuff she says. Anyway, today she was not doing all those things that annoy the second woman, and I am wondering if it is because there were only the three of us and that there might be something about the smaller group dynamic that affects her behavior. I spent the rest of the day taking the one who gets so annoyed at the other one around on her errands. Neither of them drive and I often drop one of them off somewhere on my way home.
One of the places we stopped was a shopping mall. In the process of following my friend around all of the stores, I found part of my presents for my oldest grandson, who will be three years old next month. My daughter wants everyone to buy only clothing for him, but what the hell kind of a birthday would that be? I usually do what she wants, and she prefers to have gift cards that she can use to buy clothes whenever the boys outgrow their current stuff. The baby will not be two until September, but he is very tall and wears the same size as his older brother. So, I really do get that this makes things easier for my daughter, but my sweet, little baby is getting some kind of fun thing, too. I saw one of those nightlight kind of things today, the ones that are sort of rectangular in shape, light up and have this moving scene on them. The store at which I saw them had mostly things like fish tank or underwater scenes, but one of them was race cars. I did not buy it right away because all they had was the display model, which had been running all day for months and I was concerned that the mechanism might be wearing out or something. I know that he would love it for his bedroom and now have to try and figure out what they are called and then find a new one somewhere. Anyway, it is not actually a toy, which she insists the boys stop getting because they already have so many (yeah, I get that, too). I returned home after 5 and it was so nice to be away all day like that. Home should be the place where you can feel safe and warm and comfy and all that jazz. I mean, does anyone actually fall for that crap?
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I am very happy to be able to sleep in late tomorrow if I feel like it.

Day 76
I managed to stay away for most of yesterday and that greatly helped my ability to cope. Today it is quiet here. It is my most sincere hope and desire that it stay that way for a long time, because the past several weeks have taken me to the very edge of my endurance. The quiet is what happens every single time, and I am expected to pretend like nothing happened. Just the exact same story every single time. Except this time. This time something different happened. This time. Crap. Never mind, what happened is irrelevant in the face of what I learned. This is going to be another weirdly confused whatever the hell these things are.
It is the same everywhere, with everyone, you go along and do the best you can when things are not too bad and survive when things are not too great. I credit this divestment project with giving me the ability to see this most recent period from an improved perspective.
The most important lesson that I have learned is that I am not close to being the kind of person that I wanted to be and that I thought I was. I would never have been able to admit this before, mostly because I did not believe it and it is that I have been behaving as though I am a victim. Disgusting behavior, but it is what I have been doing. I cannot look back and determine when it happened, but that is who I am. I sit back and I take it, whatever is done to me. The worst part of this revelation is that I guess that I am not all that surprised. Consciously or not, I have been paying attention, on some level of awareness, I guess. So, now I can add another layer of shame. Oh, goody.
So, gobsmacked as I am feeling, I have some decisions to make here about how I move through my life. On the outside, I appear to be a successful, active, and empowered person in my community. My name is mentioned in the local media on a regular basis. Wherever I go, there are people who know who I am and much of what I do, even though I am a teeny-weeny fish in a very small pond. And, no one, not one single person knows how different my life is in this house. It chills me, but I would bet you that there are many people in this small pond who are experiencing much the same disconnect between what happens in the privacy of their houses and how they are seen outside of that environment. The world is full of secrets.
Part two of this most important lesson is the most important part. It is that I am complicit in how I am treated. No one took my power away from me. No, baby, I offered it up on a silver platter. I am completely and totally responsible for where I am now. If this is a choice, and it is, then I should be able to choose some other way of being here. Ah, that is why the last two weeks happened. They were precipitated by the way I have been changing on a nearly microscopic scale, but even small changes are significant when there have not been any changes for decades.
Because I initiated all of this, it is not difficult to understand that the other person in this dance is not having a very good time, which brings me to the second most important lesson that I have learned. I was privileged to have shared with me that the other person sees me as the offender, not only in what has been happening since I began this mess, but as the catalyst for what this other person does or does not do, has done or has not done during the entire time that we have been together. That other person sees himself as the victim of my something...what that is I have no idea, but he believes that everything he does he is compelled, forced to do because of my behavior, or more properly, my misbehavior. His perception is that there would not be any problems if only did what I am supposed to do. There should follow something of an explanation, but I cannot. I do not know what it is. What I can share is that I am completely adrift, perhaps even hopeless in that I still think that I could be what he wants, if only he could express what that might be or tell me the rules that I am violating or keep those rules from changing all the time. My magical powers do not extend to mind reading, I guess.
The third most important lesson that I have learned is that neither of us have not a clue about what the other person is experiencing, what we feel or how we are likely to react to anything. I suppose that this would be the perfect place to begin again, to try to make this work in a way that is satisfying to everyone. But, I think that I am not all that interested in trying.
What all of this means, convoluted as it may be, is that I am the decider here. Oh, not for everyone, or even just for anyone, just for me. I am not so happy about it, but if my life is going to change, if I am to be released of this fear, then only I can do what needs to be done. Oh. Goody.
Divested: Books, another bookcase.
Positive thought: There is always a light at the end of some tunnel or another.

Day 77
I am hoping that today's slightly elevated mood is a result of all of the hard and extraordinarily painful work that I have been doing lately, and just not some fluke or the calm before the next storm. When I typed that this is day 77, there was something about that number that caught my attention in a way that none of the other days has done. I thought, maybe it is a lucky number. Even though numerology or lucky stuff is not an interest of mine or part of my wonkified belief system, I could not get 77 out of my head.
So, I did a little Google-ing. It was of no help. Seventy-seven is not a prime number, it is not anything special. The only link of even the slightest interest was an article in the Independent, which was about a list of 77 things you need to know about 07, in reference to the year 2007. Apparently 7 is the lucky number here, and putting another 7 next to is does absolutely nothing to increase its value. Unless it is in dollars or pounds or other currency. So much for hope in a bit of magical numerical support today. For a moment I thought about listing 77 good things and then I came to my senses about what the obligation to yet another list would be. Whew! That was a close one.
So, yesterday, I spilled my guts about some stuff that held significance for me. In the support of honestly, I have to admit that I re-read that posting and I nearly deleted it. You know, I never have thought of myself as a victim-victim. But that is what I am. Self created. I always thought that I was a nice person just going along in her life trying to be nice and do the right things and not be any kind of burden on anyone. Then I read what I wrote yesterday and the comments and it is so depressing, you know? This morning I cleared another really deep bookcase and found my buffalo drum, which I thought that I had left at a friend's house and would never see again. But, there it was, in all of it's dusty glory, on that bottom shelf, next to my rain drum.
And, I looked at them and the thought that I do not deserve to have those lovely and precious things in my life just swam around in my head and I straightened up and looked around at the things that I am probably going to keep and I just have not the heart to release and they sadden me as well, because I am no longer certain who it is that lives in this flesh. Realizing that I am the architect of everything that happens to me is something that I have accepted, known, in an intellectual sense, but never actualized it into the context of how I live. I mean, I believe that I present and represent myself as the inner person that I am, but I am feeling all scattered about who that really is. It is clear that I need to stop living in my head and allow all of this to be present and lived in my gut. It is sure to be messier, but I am thinking that it would be in my best interest to do so. You know, I was also wondering (gosh, think...wonder...all stuff in my head, got to stop that) if any of this personal process would even have happened if I had not gone public by creating this blog. I believe that I would have caved, stopped the process, when it started to go badly. I mean, I could still have done that, but this writing is making that more difficult.
In less than a month I will be taking time to read this from the beginning. I am certain that I will be embarrassed by some of what I have written, but it is my hope that I will be able to see and honour the progress that I have made.
Something happened yesterday that is not about me, but might affect how I will live in the future. In this country (USA) we have been wrestling with the process of legislation concerning some significant changes in how we provide health care. If these new initiatives and plans actually manifest, that means that I can leave here and have some expectation of having access to some kind of health supportive care. Frankly, the fear of not having access to doctors and medicine is one of the two major factors in why I have not left before this. The other factor is that I always hoped that my daughter would be able to have some kind of relationship with her father if I just stuck around long enough. She is not privy to either of these reasons, but I know that she longs to have some connection to him, keeps hoping that he will take an interest in her. When her children were born, that was two new opportunities for hope to increase that it would happen for her. She once told me that even though he was never there for her, that sometimes when a man becomes a grandfather that he takes advantage of that new development and finds a way to become a grandparent in a way that he was unable to parent his own child. It still makes me feel so sad and weepy that she held on to that hope and then that it failed to manifest for her.
Despite the fact that children know much more than we give them credit for knowing, I managed to shield her from the worst of what was happening all these years. Even though it puts a strain on our relationship, the fact that she does not know much of what happened or happens, I would still do it again, exactly the same way because there are some things that children should not carry as burdens.
So, anyway, as of today there is one less barrier to making a life for myself somewhere else. I still have to find a full time job. I think that will be relatively easy to do, but only beginning the process will tell. An unwanted consequence is that I will not have as much time to volunteer, but that is too bad. Oh, rats, I forgot that I made a commitment to that gallery for two sculptures. That throws a wrench into the works, but I will manage.
Still feeling better about most things here and that is progress of a sort. Back to work. Sigh.
Divested: Books, but not drums.
Positive thought: Every day that you survive increases and enhances your ability to continue to survive.

Day 77 and a bit more than nine-tenths: The Witching Hour
I just finished going through another bookcase. In a house full of cases that are fairly well organized and often contain only a single genre of books, this one was a nice mixture of fiction, biographies and books on tape. Most of the books are now in boxes and bags for my friends, the charity shop and just one bag for the used book store.
I kept only a few authors. Wilde. Nin. Woolf. A couple of advance reading titles that I never got around to reading and that still interest me. I found all the volumes of Virginia Woolf's diaries, even a duplicate or two. My introduction to Virginia was the Albee play which I saw as a film in mid60s. Whilst she is not a character in it, the story is of a dysfunctional couple spending an evening torturing one another. How heartbreakingly appropriate that is for me right now. I think that the first book I read was To The Lighthouse, and then, maybe Night and Day.
There was something about her characterizations that tantalized me. She was clearly a brilliant writer, but there was always something of the unspoken in her work. That unaddressed but thrumming sub context that kept me reading, always trying to find out what that was. It was many years later, after having read most of her writing and then leaving it, only to eventually be drawn back, that after time, I knew about her life, at least a bit, the parts that she shared and that others wrote about.
Holding those books tonight, brushing the dust from the covers and the top edges of the pages with my fingers, I found myself thinking about the past few weeks. If you do not know about Virginia's life, she struggled with depression and great despair. She had breakdowns and came and went in and out of her life as best she could. Despite the unsettling nature of living with mental illness, she managed to keep writing and writing magnificently, right up to the day that she killed herself.
Virginia was a product of her time. She suffered criticism of her depictions of upper, middle-class life. She was at the very least, a borderline anti-Semite, despite the fact that she married a Jewish man. That, however, did not prevent her from having a love affair with him that lasted most of the rest of her life. I cannot remember it very well, but she wrote something about not wanting to be parted from him after twenty or so years together.
In the midst of everything that her mental illnesses caused her, she found love, enduring and beautiful love.
And, that was all that I could think about as I held those books and cleaned the dust from them. She was troubled her entire life and he loved her. She loved him. Perhaps not exactly the same way, but in a manner that suited them, each to their own needs and in support of each other. Mostly, I guess, because no two people can be everything to each other, everything that the other wants.
So, alrighty, I am all about the books tonight. And, I am also reminded of one of Oscar Wilde's more famous quotes and it is that the things which one is absolutely certain about are never true. When I married it was for forever, all that sappy stuff about good and bad, sickness and health, until death do us part. I never expected that it would be high noon, sun shining, birds singing all the time, but I never expected to live in fear, to be bullied and threatened. I never expected that I would not be loved in return. And, I know how foolish it is to compare, but if Virginia could find someone who loved her for what she was, in spite of what she was, then it is such a leap of faith to expect, or at least to hope for something like that for myself? Is it too much, too vain, too selfish to want some of that for myself? I was certain that I had found a life partner. You know, like a real partner. Even when it fell apart after ten years or so, I still believed that. I think that I still believe that. How foolish I am. It is not true.
In a way, I was right about that revelation that I had weeks back, the one where I realized that many of these books were a desperate attempt to find my own stories. I have, for decades, been searching for a way to connect my experiences with what my heart desired. Even Virginia could not come close to helping me there. In a time of sadness, tonight may be close to my personal best, and how exquisitely sad that is.
And, even though I already did this for today...
Divested: More books, more artsy stuff.
Positive thought: I am willing to think about accepting that what is true simply is not.

Day 78
I emptied two more bookcases. I am on a roll, rolling, rolling, rolling those babies right out of here. I stopped counting or even estimating how many books are gone, so the total is anyone's guess. In the beginning, the number was important, essential, to the process, but now I do not give a rip. Anyway, it was just another day in the divesting part and I was mostly left alone to do it. Nice.
On one of the fourteen shelves that I cleared today, only a few books stayed. They were mostly art resources and I think a couple of biographies. But, the best find was a folder with two things that I wrote a gazillion years ago, in the bright ages (as opposed to the current dark ages). I know, looking at the mess that I am now, it is difficult to believe that I was ever a serene and empowering person who could offer something supportive to someone else.
Apparently, at one time, I was enamoured of the tortoise. I sort of remember liking or feeling an affinity for tortoises, and as I read this thing it seems that turtles were a part of my infatuation. At some point I wrote this thing, and made it into a card or something and attached little turtle fetishes to it and probably gave it away or used it for some workshop. Or something. I cannot recall anything about that part. But, the card says 2001. I think that both of these were from the time when I worked in the herb shop and we held all those workshops and stuff.

I have met the Turtle, and he is me.
I have a shell to protect me from the ravings, the comings and goings of those who would seek to disturb and perturb me.
I carry my protection with me wherever my journey leads me.
My protections prevents me not from living fully and consciously.
My creed has passed to me from our ancient ancestor, the Tortoise, whose deeds are legend.
Like my ancestor, the Tortoise, I choose to live in the moment.
I choose to honor my goals, but not be held hostage by them.
I choose to take my time doing whatever needs to be done.
I choose to travel at the pace appropriate for me, resisting the contrived pace that others would set for me.
I choose to arrive at the finish line centered, informed, confident, successful and far ahead of that annoying, self-absorbed little hare.
I am the Turtle.
Were you listening?
©2001 J. Xxx

Okey-dokey. Dorky. I know.
The second thing that I found was a quarter-page thing about bubbles. Now, bubbles and I go way back. I have always loved the look of them, they way they move through the air, their impermanence. Everything. To this day, I carry bubbles with me everywhere I go. In the past, it was one of those pint sized bottles, because that was the smallest size available. In our modern times, you can get them in the tiniest containers and I have several different kinds. My favorite is the little ones that are sold for wedding favors. I am serious about bubbles. Really. Besides, if you find yourself in a situation where there is a small and disturbed child in the vicinity,

Bubbles are perfection.
They exist as bubbles before we breathe then, as we breathe then into this realm and after they expand into invisibility.
Bubbles demonstrate how our sense of control is simply an illusion, a pleasant fantasy.
When we breathe a bubble, it is in a particular direction.
When the bubble has been formed, it takes the path it was designed to take, even if we press against the air to push it into another direction.
A bubble will follow its own pat,, its own destiny.
Bubbles contain all the colors of the Universe in an ever-changing circle of movement and creation.
Bubbles are precisely the size they are supposed to be.
Bubbles exist in this realm for precisely the length of time they are supposed to exist.
Bubbles meeting other bubbles create a new form appropriate for the union.
Breathing a bubble helps us to breathe properly, filling our lungs from the bottom to the top, expanding them for our maximum benefit.
Breathing a bubble helps us to focus on the moment, slowing our pulse rate and enhancing our ability to calm ourselves.
To become peaceful in the midst of that which is not peaceful is only one of the bubble's many gifts to us.
© 1998 Jxxx, Wxxx

If I had this in me ten and twelve years ago, where the hell did it go?
Divested: Books, two more bookcases.
Positive thought: I get to go to work tomorrow, and be with my favorite client on Thursday.

Day 79
Prime number day, but nothing special. Well, if you factor in my feelings that I am going all paranoid on my ass, then I guess that there is some small measure of specialness about today. No, seriously. I must be having a hormonal imbalance or low blood sugar or mini strokes or something relatively benign, because I feel just great except for the paranoia. Maybe it is a delayed reaction to the past few weeks because it is still quiet here and nothing icky is happening to distract me. Just do not know, but I feel icky. Not cranky or out of sorts, just icky, out of kilter. Icky. I wonder if there was a polar shift or the planet took a hit from a plasma cannon. That might explain it. Icky.
One of my friends called to invite me to lunch for my birthday next week and she said that I feel icky because I do not have sufficient quantities of junk food in my system. Not enough chips (crisps to most of you guys) or ice cream or candy or deep fried stuff. Not enough soft drinks or alcohol, for that matter. Too few donuts and kringle and cheese curds and pixy sticks.
And, then there is person on one of the medical sites that I manage who is driving everyone insane with her insanity. I think that she is a stitch, but everyone else is not nearly as fond of her as I am. I figure, if you have all this wonky stuff going on your head, it eventually has to come out in some way, and that site is a safe place for her to be weird without anyone giving her crap about it. So far no one is calling her out on some of the outrageous things she shares and I hope it stays that way until she has a chance to settle down.
Probably not that either.
Maybe. Maybe I just need sleep and a good book to take me there.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I have great hopes that tomorrow will be another day, special, lucky, numerical, or not.

Day 80
After all of our lovely spring-like weather, today dawned calm, but by late morning, just as I was fetching my friend C (former social services client), it went totally cyclone-ish. We had lunch and the usual fight over whether or not I was going to allow her to pay for me. As usual, I won, but only because I am now smart enough to tell the waitperson that we want separate checks prior to being seated and so that C will not overhear.
I had planned on spending the afternoon in one of our lovely parks, but the winds made that impossible. So, I drove down to the shore of the little-pond and we sat and watched the waves crash over my car. I had to keep turning the windshield wipers on so that we could see. I parked so that her window was downwind of the worst of it and we kept that one open so that we could hear the roar and crash of the waves on the rocks. It was wonderful with all of that wild nature practically surrounding us and still being safe and snug in the car. I took a few pictures, but not many because the wind kept rocking me off balance and once I nearly was blown over, which I mention only because the images are off-kilter.
I went through some more art supplies and wonder if I am taking this part too far. Whatever. I am taking another bag of goodies for the children of one of the women with whom I work when I leave in a few minutes for the evening session at work.
Divested: Books, art supplies.
Positive thought: Tomorrow I have the entire day with my daughter and the babies and we are going to make spring decorations for everyone.

Day 81
I just got home from a day in paradise. We made spring decorations for all of the other grandparents, aunties and mommy and daddy. We made a big mess, but we cleaned it up and then had lunch and some of us had naps. After those who actually slept woke up, we bundled-up and walked outdoors, drew on the driveway with chalk, rode our trikes and patted our favorite trees until grandma's knees gave out.
By that time, it was nearly time for dinner and we had pizza, bread sticks, macaroni and cheese and root beer, or as the babies say, beer soda. Soft drinks are not something the boys usually have, so it was a special treat. The younger babe had never had any of this stuff before and it was not to his liking. He kept saying that the fizzing bothered his nose. Finally it was play, then bath and finally story time. Both of us, my daughter and I, were sort of glad to have them settle in for the night. We watched some cooking face-off on her television, which was nice because I do not have television here, although I was disappointed to learn that she is thinking of getting rid of the whole system, as it is the only place that I get to watch the darn thing. It is kind of nice watching it there once in a while and not having any responsibility for providing it for myself.
I divested very, very late last night and loaded the car before I left for my visit with them this morning, so I did not have to worry about making any noise when I got home tonight. Tomorrow's coffee with my friends should be interesting because we are going to a breakfast being provided by the local slow food people. They are not sharing the menu and that should be cool. There will also be a farmer's winter market and I am hoping to find some nice cheese or smoked meats.
Divested: Books, knick-knacks, resource materials and books from my shelter days to be donated to a shelter next Monday.
Positive though: I am certain to make some new friends tomorrow at the breakfast/market.

Day 82
I am stuck on numbers. They seem to hold some significance, but they really just mean nothing. There must still be remnants of all of that adrenaline lazing around in my body, bits lodged here and over there, like the shreds of breakfast bacon that you find stuck between your molars later in the day, only there is not any floss that will remove these stubborn things from my head. So, I decided to ignore numbers entirely. Yeah, like that would work, even though I was sincere, it was a dumb idea. Doing that made them more stuck. Maybe part of it is my birthday next week.
So, today was fine at the slow food event. Sort of. In retrospect, I wonder what I was thinking when I suggested this to the coffee group. I want to state, just for the record, that I am not judgmental. Really. I am not. Honestly. Really, I would tell you if I was so inclined, but I am not. Not in the least. Judgmental? Me? Never! Sigh. I wonder if this sort of protesting is like when you preface something that you are going to say by stating that you are not a prude. I mean, if you have to say that, then it probably means that you are a flaming prude. I know all about that because I find myself, on occasion, defending my non-prudishness. So, if I am sort of a closet prude, then I most likely am an equally closeted judge. But, really, I am not judgmental. Really.
Never mind, back to the breakfast. I have known these women for many years. We have traveled the globe together, well, parts of Europe anyway. We are a medical professional, a legal professional, a teaching professional, a executive professional, another executive professional, a business professional and a professional nun. And, me. Because these are all high-powered people (even the nun, who spends most of her time traveling all over the place), they have certain expectations. For lots of things. And, you know, that is fine, no problem, who gives a rip, you know? One of the precepts of the whole Saturday morning coffee thing is that it is fun to try new places to meet, drink the java juice and eat. Right about this time of the year, everyone is sated with the usual places. There is a yearning for new and exciting and different locations, preferably alfresco. Unfortunately, there is often tons of snow on the ground around here, with more to come before Spring demands that it go away.
Enter me and my great idea. I miss the summer farmer's and artisanal foods purveyor's markets. Here, in what usually seems like the tundra, the only one, until deep into Spring, is the winter market in a nearby town, which happens to be the town in which most of them live, except for the business professional. And, me. I mean, what could be more perfect. We go to the market, where I know that they will find lots of cool things to chew and swallow, and perhaps even buy and we get to sample offerings and support the efforts of some of the local farmers and the stuff they grow, milk, churn, harvest, cure, bake, preserve, all that jazz. Personally, I thought that the elk sausage, flax crackers and just-made-yesterday curds were divine. Man, I really thought that it was the kind of nearly perfect idea that I always long to have. I was so wrong. I think that there have been few occasions when I have been this seriously wrong, and this is in a life that is rife with wrong ideas. Lordy.
The breakfast was a sampling from several chefs using local food products. There were six food dishes and four beverages and you got some of each. I thought that each was well thought-out, well prepared, well served, and delicious, although the cured ham was only a tiny bit salty for my needs, one of which is the desire to control the swelling in my lower, right leg. Although, I have to tell you that that sweet, pink meat was worth it, even though I am unable to flex my right ankle all these hours later. One other person thought so, too, except for the salt thing because she does not experience any swelling issues and likes this kind of dry-cured pig product.
Do you hear that sound? Listen. It is the faint call of crickets, heard only just during the silence that precedes criticism. Lordy.
The frittata was too eggy. The grilled bread and cheese surrounding the ham was too greasy and on and on. All right. I guess I am a totally judgmental person because I just sat there and watched and listened to them pick apart this lovely, wholesome, albeit a bit plain for some tastes, food, and I kept thinking what the hell is the matter with you babes? Okey-dokey, the word in my head was not babes, which surprised me because I really love these women. They are more family than friends. I mean, I would have given any of them the sweater off of my back even though I was wearing a sleeveless blouse underneath (think horror film quality flabby arms). I would bail them out of jail as often as needed, or babysit their cats or lend them my favourite books, all of which I have previously done, well, except for the bail and jail thing; I just threw that in to illustrate how devoted I am to each and every one of their fussy and over-privileged hearts. I am sort of waiting for the next time that someone grouses about going to the same old places all the time so that I can smile sweetly and say those powerful Sometimes my inner brat just cannot control herself.
A slow and easy afternoon found me organizing my jewelry making supplies and I finally fixed my medical alert bracelet and it is back on my wrist. Cool. I made a huge taco salad for dinner and watched a film borrowed from the library and this poem filtered down from my brain into my fingertips. Or, maybe it came from some other organ, you know, like a broken heart, or at least one that learned some difficult lessons over the past several weeks. It is about this turn of the year, my birthday, and I really like it. I tried to write a title for it, but the stanzas seem to want to be not defined. So be it.

You did not know me the last time.
The chapters when I was real.
Those days that flowed through time and space
Leaving me breathless in the thrall of just being.

You did not know me at the ball.
The place where joy was ordinary.
All the seconds and the pauses
Made up the passage of simply living.

Memory's clouds holding static.
Dynamic acts were only that.
Unappreciated for the colours they dripped
Onto the face of day's end. Then forgotten.

Remembrance is not regret,
Holding dear the loss of heart.
It just seems so, in the time appropriated
By such warmhearted disregard.

The breath of time escapes my grasp.
Some moments and days are left undone.
Making time for safe passage takes more
Energy than anyone has to spare.
Pages turn, fresh chapter manifesting.

Divested: Books, a whole bunch of loose beads at the bottom of my tool box.
Positive thought: Every year is more wonderful than any of the previous ones.

Day 83
This afternoon found me at the yearly concert for awarding educational scholarships to local musicians, high-school age. The orchestra that sponsors this is always excellent and it is nice to toss in my few dollars to help young people manifest their music and further their education. I must have had the seat in the sweet spot today because there was an extra dimension to the performance. Some kind of energy or something that put the entire performance over the top of their usual amazing talents. Just wonderful.
I then visited a friend that I have not seen in nearly a year. She is not in the best of health, and I hate to say this, but some of it is of her own making and it can be difficult to be as supportive as I would like. The reason that I have not seen her for all this time is that the last time we spoke I was encouraging her to come to Saturday morning coffee. She was one of the original couple of members and was not coming because of some of those health issues. That last day that we spoke was my first such call to her about sticking with the group and she told me that my call was too much pressure on her and that I should leave her alone. At the time I attributed it to her feeling so poorly and thought that it would pass, but it did not.
I stopped at her house on my way home from the concert because it was either that or go home and that is such an easy choice, to choose not going home. I figured that even if she slammed the door in my face or simply refused to answer that I truly had nothing to lose if she still did not want to talk to me. I was surprised and pleased by how welcoming she was and I am still feeling ashamed that I have not tried to contact her for all of these months. She had a friend staying with her and before I realized it, several hours had passed in remembrance, laughing and sharing. She promised to allow me to pick her up on Saturday morning and I am going to let her arrival be a surprise for the rest of the group. I am going to the budget movie with two of those other women and I hope that I do not blurt out the whole surprise thing in my current state of excitement.
I got groceries on the way home and made a treat of a dinner for myself. Now I am sated and tired and am going to go off to bed in a few minutes, even though it is still early here. My plan is to sleep in as late as possible and then have a nice and lazy morning. Sounds like a wonderful idea.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: I am nearly old enough to really get real and kick some ass around here. Fine, that is not going to happen, as I will just slink off to my own life when the time comes, but it is kind of nice to think of myself as being capable of such outrageous and self-empowering behavior. Yeah, that is me Kick-ass-and-take-no-prisoners-granny. Whoot-whoot!

Day 84
Birthday Girl here cannot believe how far this stupid project has come. For a month or so there I had become a divesting dervish, tossing everything in my path into a box or bag or the trash. Tons of stuff are gone from here and I am getting down to the stuff that I did not want to address and the areas of my life that I was unwilling to explore.
I had a reprieve during the time when it was scary, not that anyone in her right mind would choose such a diversion, but it happened and I survived. Mostly. The thing that comes after is the week(s) of silence, you know, the time intended for me to think about whatever the hell it was that I did to create the unhappiness. As bad as I am at preventing the scary times, I am worse at figuring out what I did wrong in the first place. I like to think that I was not the precipitating force, and that is mostly true. This time I was informed that I was just a bit too uppity and did not know/remember my place. So much for trying to make myself a better person and maybe have a shot at feeling good about myself.
After that is what this book I have been reading calls the honeymoon period. I am not sure exactly what that means in the context of my own life, not having had one of those when first married, but I do get the concept. There is the pretense of being nice to me and I am supposed to be appropriately and gushingly grateful for this period and pretend that the scary time never happened. I used to play along with that crap because it meant that it would be relatively quiet around here. Yeah, at least as long as I remembered my place and all the rest.
Something is different this time and it is me. I no longer yearn for apologies or understanding of what happened. Truly. And, this time I actually do not want to be understanding of how I brought this on myself by my not being compliant. This time I am not pretending that nothing happened, that those words were not spoken or threats made or any of it. I have to be honest and say that I have not done this before and I do not know what to expect, but I am trying to find a way to live without all of that fear all the damn time. You know, you just get to the place when enough is enough and then you get to the next place where enough is too damn much. Ah, today Juds is a man...errr...ummm...a woman who is not going to take the crap sandwich that she is expected to dine on every day. Yay, Juds...whatever.
My plan, if I actually have one, is to just do whatever I need to do to get on and without doing anything to make things worse, but if that happens to be the only alternative, the whole making things worse because I refuse to be that mouse, then so effing be it.
So. Today I went to the budget movie with two of my friends. I had popcorn, which was insanely expensive, but I enjoyed every single kernel. Then we went to have soup at our favourite cafe, but it was too late, all the soup was gone. Then we went to a restaurant that one of my friends likes and we had soup and lovely sandwiches, which we mostly had to take home because of the soup and the popcorn at the movie. We had the sweetest waiter and he kept bringing coffee and water and just let us jabber on as long as we liked. At least that is what we thought until he brought me a foo-foo decorated plate of tiramisu with a birthday candle on top and some lovely cream on the side. And, three chilled forks. Even though cake was not on my agenda today, I did have a nice dessert with my friends. Then I came home and whilst it was not horrible, it was not the way that I wanted today to end, but I did stand up for myself and even though that is kind of new for me, it sort of feels good, in an unsettling way, but I intend to get used to doing the standing up thing more often.
Okey-dokey, that it is for the issues, but the divesting, oh, my, what a mess. I intended to move on out some of the health and gardening books today. I am sad to report that they may have been moved to different places on the shelves, but they are still, all of them, on the shelves. I was forced to go and grab some more novels just to get some books in the box.
Standing in front of those books (the ones still shelved) was so distressing. It is like this should be so much easier for me by this time. For a moment or twenty I felt doomed to fail with this project. All of a sudden this is difficult again, similar to the way it was when I began. So, anyway, I know that I will get beyond this and those books will eventually be gone. It just feels so wrenching to let them go. Across the room there are the three cases of art related books and I looked over at them and realized that those are going to present an even greater problem so I had better get my act together about these gardening and health titles. Oh, my god, then I looked down and saw all the animal and nature books and how am I going to let those go when they would be so cool to share with my grandbabies when they are older???? Doomed I tell you, doomed.
Sixteen days is not long enough for this to resolve. I will not be finished on April 14th. I am finally realizing, in a real and sincere way that this hundred days is only the beginning of how I am changing my life. I still have so much work ahead of me, and I do not mean the damn books, you know?
I do not want to be thinking about this on my birthday of all times. All I wanted was a nice and easy day. I had that part, and then I had the rest of this day. However, I am going to honour this if it kills me, which it will not, it just feels like some kind of potential in the moment. I do not remember if I shared this before, but our daughter does not know about what goes on here. I accept that children always know more than we give them credit for knowing, but I have been extraordinarily successful about keeping the worst of it from her. That means that sometimes she does not understand things, but that seems to be the price that I was, still am, willing to pay to avoid burdening her. I never wanted her to be concerned with adult issues and her impatience with me is simply one of the consequences I never anticipated.
What a mess this seems sometimes. Especially at night. Alone in the dark-time. Lordy.
Divested: Books, thank goodness for more novels.
Positive thought: Tomorrow truly is another day, another world of opportunities. Oh, yeah, I had a nice birthday, too.

Day 85
Who would have thought that a veterinary clinic would be a good place to get rid of books? When I began this and found that I was filling up some of the usual places that one could expect to dump books, they were not even on my list. Today they took another box and it made the trip there to treat Lili's lumpy jaw just a little bit sweeter.
However, before I went there, I was looking around in my files here on the old computer and made a shocking discovery. I found that I have been a whiney pain in the azz for a long time. Clearly, I do not pay any attention to my life and am apparently going round and round in circles all the damn time. Even worse is that my complaints, with all of the attendant moaning and groaning, are on the same subjects. Sure, the details may change a bit from time to time, but the story remains the same. What a wonking bore I am. I am going to share my reduntantly pathetic writing only to help to divest a bit of the shame that I am carrying along with all of this crap, like books and stuff.
Please accept my apologies for this from last June.
I am just griping today. I am in trouble about last weekend's holiday, you know the one, where we honor fathers and all that rot, with apoligies to present company and lovely fathers, or course. I spent Thursday and Friday with our grandchildren and their wonderful mother. I stayed the night on Friday so that my daughter and my son-in-law (I really dislike calling him that because he is exactly like a son to me, but if I call him 'son', well, you can see what misunderstandings that might cause, and quite frankly, I am adept enough at causing misunderstandings without the assist of not using the proper terms, but I still do not think of him in any in-law way.) could go out to see a film and have a meal uninterupted by the boys, who do actually eat nicely, but fill in every single spare moment with doing silly things to make one another laugh. At two-years and nine months of age, they are too young for liquids to come shooting out of their noses, or rude noises and odors to do the same thing at the other end of their bodies, and you can imagine how much all of us are looking forward to that. I think that they are great entertainment, but, then, I do not have the pleasure of experiencing it at every single meal.
Saturday morning found me having kissed and hugged everyone goodbye followed by coffee with some of my friends, Right after that I headed north to attend a wedding shower for a niece on the mister's side of the family. It was a whole family shower, not my favorite way to spend the day, but it was what it was. Am I accompanied to any of the mister's side of the family things? Nope. Want to guess if he attends anything to do with my side of the family? Did not think so. Nearly two and a half hours there in a car without air conditioning, slightly less time than that coming home, and I arrived there after 9 p.m.
Yes, I was gone for nearly three days. Yes, it was Father's Day weekend. Yes, I am pretty ****ing broke and all that he got for a present was two cards and dinner out on Sunday, on me. Yes, there were not any additional presents purchased, wrapped or given. I gave what I had. Was it enough for a person who does not remember anyone else for just about anything? You get one guess. Is anyone one in this house speaking to me or even looking at me? You know the drill, but I should not complain about that because the alternative could be worse. I almost asked him if today was a better day for his FD dinner, but I just could not bear another rejection. Too ****ing chicken to take the chance. I suck.
I know that I am being petty. I know what to expect. I know that the definination of a psychotic is a person who keeps on doing, over and over, the same thing, the same way, expecting different results. Just call me the big P, but how do you convince your heart to give up hope? I do not want to feel depressed about this; I do not even want a passing blue mood. I think that I may be coming to the point where I might stop caring and just leave. Unfortunatly, I do not have anywhere close to here to go, my only options being another state or far north of here on my friends' old people commune. I might not have a choice, but how the hell am I supposed to live so far from my daughter and her family?
Yesterday was better. I spent most of the day out of the house.
I have an anger problem. The problem is that I never express any. Sure, I come here and gripe, moan, groan and weep, but in my real life, I am a calm and peaceful person. I have not raised my voice in over thirty years. So, I began yesterday with a class in anger management. My UI benefits have run out, but during the months that I was receiving those checks, the arrival of each one was a fresh assault on the wounds left by the loss of my job. I truly resent that the company demanded so many concessions over the past year and a half when they apparently had every intention of closing the business right from the beginning. The insult to that injury was that because we gave up so many hours of wages, cramming all of the work, and the attendant stress, into fewer hours, it significantly reduced the amount of UI benefits to which we were entitled. ****ed coming and going.
So, I took the class and found out that where anger is concerned, I do not express it (big surprise) but that I stuff all of it and that, according to the instructor, I am a ticking time-bomb. Yeah. Right. All I wanted was some coping skills, sweetie, not to be told that four decades of managing to be a nice, level person (and doing all the work and therapy that requires) was for naught. Are my neighbors going to express their disbelief and shock when they are interviewed by the six o'clock news guys after I blow up the car? In addition to every other personality and character flaw that I have, I do not believe that I am delusional about me and stress. But, that may be what everyone says prior to the day they snap and blow up the car.
I am pretty sure that it might be a good idea to take the class again. Sigh.
After that I went to the library to get lots of good stuff to read and watch during the coming week. Then I drove to the radio station where I was interviewed for an hour about my new volunteer job at the L. It was supposed to be a half-hour, which was easy, but it was going so well that it continued. Fine, except that I had a little panic attack about 45 minutes in and as a result I am unable to remember much about the whole experience. I have since talked to a few people who heard the program, and they tell me that I did a good job. This morning someone told me that I have a great voice for radio, which is nice, because it goes along with my made-for-radio face.
Following that, I attended the first of a six-week course on chronic pain management. They are using a program developed at Stanford, and I think that it is going to be of great help to me.
All in all, except for the whole ticking time-bomb thing, it was a wonderful day, which ended in coming home to even more silence. It continues to amaze me that you can actually experience something that does not have a measurable quality. I can measure sound, but it just seems wrong that my heart is forced to carry the burden for doing the same for silence.
One thing that came out of the anger management class is that some changes are inevitible for me. I believe that my tipping point will come and that I will erupt in a frenzy of sweeping out of this house all of the things that are no longer useful or loved and that one of the swept items will be me.
Well, even though it was mostly the same-old-damn-same-old, I did have one thing right. I did reach the point where stuff got swept out of the house, even to the point where it looks that my days here are numbered.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: Maybe I do not have to go to work tonight and someone will call in the next hour or so to give me that good news.

Day 86
It was so nice to leave work this evening and not have it be dear black. As I was waiting in line to check out my books and DVDs, I glanced over and saw the darkening, but not yet dark sky. I walked outside and the air was bliss. It was supposed to get up to 60 degrees F during the day, but I swear it was at least that temperature still at nearly 8 p.m. I walked down the path to the car and the water in the little pond and the sky were a thousand shades of azure and aquamarine. It was so lovely that it made another eleven hour day cooped up indoors worth the wait just to see it. And, by the way, it was back to another kick-ass body of work today. 'Bout time.
One of the books I brought home was Heyhoe's Green Cooking, which I am seriously hoping is not as disappointing as her website. Tomorrow might tell, if I do not spend it sewing. I finally washed and dried and washed and shrunk all of those old clothes and can now get to making the totes and purses and whatever the hell the fabrics want to become. First, I am hoping to sleep in late and even later. For some reason, I cannot seem to hold on to slumber past 6, but I am certainly going to try. With any luck, tonight's dinner pizza will put me in a carbohydrate coma and I will not get out of bed until noon. Ah, one can only hope.
Divested: Books, but barely that.
Positive thought: Dreams cannot hurt you if you do not let them.

Day 87
I try my best to see the positive side of things.
I am a glass half-full kind of girl.
Presented with lemons, I make lemonade.
When it rains, it is just the angels watering the flowers.
I walk on the sunny side of the street.
My bread always falls butter side up.
I do not step on a crack or break anybody's back.
I climb every mountain, and I never make one out of a molehill.
I never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Even better, I never put my cart before my horse.
Yep, I am chock-full of horse sense.
I do not worry, I be happy.
In my world, the unicorns eat sunbeams and poop rainbows, the birds are always singing and it is always high noon please just stab me with a fork.

I am the Platitude Princess. I am the Cliché Queen. But, you know, they are called clichés for a reason. Just saying.
I am a glass half-full kind of girl.
But, I have realized, over the past several weeks or months or years or milliseconds or something, that when my glass is not half-full, that I am also a completely empty glass kind of girl.

When I have a less than full day, as in few or on two occasions no clients, I feel like a failure.
I wonder why the heck do I even try when no one wants me.
I must be the worst helper in the historical record of helpers.
What kind of hubris makes me get out of bed in the morning and actually go to a place where no one wants me or my help.

When I find myself with a difference of opinion to that held by someone else, I think that I must be so stupid to hold such a belief.
I keep those opinions to myself (well, most of the time) because I do not want anyone to realize how stupid I am.
I worry about how I got to be so stupid.
I wonder if my stupidity is terminal.

When I find myself wonking up around here, my immediate response is how inept I am.
It is all about what I did wrong and how I keep wonking up, how I am an imperfect mess, like it is my calling in life to wonk up.
It is all bout how if I just got my stuff together that I would not be in trouble all the time.
Even better, I obsess about this. Like the other day, finding that stupid piece of crap that I wrote last year, the one that is the same stuck-in-the-mud litany of dissatisfaction and stuckness. Yeah, I should just let it go, but it so finely illustrates that I am having absolutely no forward movement in my life. It illustrates that I am still woncking around with the exact same issues nearly six months later. It indicates that I have been seriously stuck for years, decades, no exaggeration.
Even worse, it is a pretty darn clear indication that I am stuck in the persona of a victim.

I am stupid for having gotten myself in this place.
I am stupid for allowing myself to be defined by someone else.
I am stupid for not paying attention to all of this.
I am ashamed that I have not done more with my life, that I chose to be here and participate in my own unhappiness.
I am so wonking stuck.
Even worse is that I will likely still be here six months, a year, a damn decade, writing the same crap like it is brand new and not the parameters of the life I apparently chose.

And, the absolutely worst part is that I am a bore.
Divested: Books
Positive thought: It is my most fervent desire that I begin to pay attention and get unstuck.

Day 88
It is still relatively early here and I have not divested a darn thing. Be right back.
Whew, that was close. Good thing I found just the right blend of stories for the nursing home that I will be visiting in a couple of hours. The rest of the day is filled with babysitting a woman for whom I care when her husband is out of town. Looking back on that sentence, it seems that the word babysitting is an unkind word to use, but it really is that. She is fully abled, can drive and take care of her own needs, but falls apart when her husband travels. She wanted me to tote her around for the next five days, but I simply cannot. I have invited her to join me and another woman for whom I occasionally care, for dinner on Easter Sunday. I am just so crazy about these two women and another that I get to take around every other week, I just love them.
One is a former customer from my bookstore days. She used to come into the store just to have someone with whom to chat and when the business was closed for good, I knew that I still needed to keep her in my life in some way. She just returned from three months visiting her children in other states and Sunday will be our first get-together. She was a nutritionist by profession and is one of the most fascinating and funny and entertaining people I have ever known.
It was so warm here yesterday that I had to use a fan to be comfortable enough to sleep last night. Lili, Charley and I awoke to all the lovely birdsong provided by the birds that have come back to stay with us until we become the tundra once again.
So, anyway, I am trying to avoid addressing this new stuff, but I guess that if I am going to be responsible in a more responsible way for my life, then I am just going to have to suck it all up and do some difficult things.
The first is that I am not going to do, no, erase that, ummm, I am going to begin to stand up for myself. No more standing or sitting there and allowing someone to say mean things to me. I have to be honest and say that this scares the crap out of me, but I am determined that, the next time it happens, that I will say something like, ummm, like "I do not like being spoken to that way." No, it has to be something like "I do not allow people to speak to me like that." It cannot be about what I like or do not like, even though it may be something that I do not like. It has to be, what I say, about what I will allow to happen to me. I suspect that the first few times I actually do this, that it will not be taken very well by someone else.
So, I am going to practice saying that and things like that. When I am driving somewhere in the car, instead of singing along to the oldies or talking back to the conservative talk show hosts, I will spend some of that driving time practicing what my responses are going to be when, well, you know, when that other stuff happens. I want to be able to speak those self-supportive words with confidence in my voice and in my manner, instead of stumbling and stuttering them out. I want to project confidence and assurance, even it I am not able to feel that from the start. The first few times will be more in the manner of a performance. OK, fine.
I think that part of this is that someone expects me to be perfect and do everything perfectly. I kind of have that expectation of myself, but I think I came to it only because it was expected of me. I certainly was not born with the awareness that I had to be perfect at every damn thing. I get to be imperfect. I get to make mistakes. I get to forget things and mess them up and all the rest. It is appropriate and just plain all right that I am a wondrously flawed human being who wonks up once in a while, or even often, and the world does not come to an end. I get to be like everyone else. I do.
There are more things that I have to change about how I move through my life and the world, but I am going to be a person who does not rush to attain some new level of perfection in this process of change. I am letting perfection go. Buh-bye, Perfection. Please do not allow the door to smack you in the ass on your way out.
That said, there is one more change that I am going to make now. Or soon. Or something. Doing this thing is going to precipitate some of the behaviors that my first change is going to address. Gosh, this is so lame. That a grown-up and adult woman allowed this to happen is just so stupid. In my defense, it seemed like a good idea at the time because I was all in love and loving and supportive and in the context of the time it was a nice and supportive thing to do. So, anyway, the thing is that there is not any noise in the house. A gazillion years ago, when I was first married, my husband was a shift worker. That means that every two weeks he worked different work shifts, on a rotating basis. I thought it was horrible, I mean, how is a person, in this case my husband, supposed to physically and mentally adjust to working different times and sleeping different hours when there was never any adjustment period to help the old body, well, just plain adjust to the new and constantly changing schedules. It seemed like extreme cruelty for an employer to expect such a thing and for men (only men in this profession until the past few years) to put up with it. Even though my husband liked that kind of schedule, as a new and loving wife, I felt that it was my responsibility to make our home environment as supportive as possible.
That meant doing everything in complete coordination with his insane schedule. Absolute quiet when he needed quiet. Only the foods he liked and nothing else. The house filled with only the things and people of which he approved. Even when he was up and active, there could not be a single thing of which he did not approve. If I wanted to cook or clean or sew or do anything, I had to do it when he was out of the house. Well, we get the idea. If he did not like it, it did not exist in our universe. Everything narrowed down to his tastes, desire, wishes and demands. I never even noticed that it happened, I was in love and happy to do whatever he wanted.
That just does not serve the basic needs of a human being, unless you are the human that is being served. I have said this before, but I did not have my power taken from me, I offered it up on a silver platter. And, now, over the past three and a half years since his retirement I have tried to have some of my power returned to me, and, not only has that been stunningly unsuccessful,but power is never returned voluntarily. I mean, what the hell was I thinking that that would happen.
So, here I am, cleaning up my act, clearing out the burden of all of these books, divesting my ass off, just distracting myself from the real work that needs to be done. I know what that work is, but I am not certain that I even want to do it anymore. I thought, so many times, that if this thing happens or that time elapses, or whatever artificial marker I created, that things would be better. I thought that in our waning years that we would find some way to come back together, that we could regain the happiness I felt then. And, I did feel happiness. I felt safety and comfort and joy in being with him and being a good partner. Now, when I hear his key in the lock, all I feel is anxiety, panic and fear. Even if I were the worst wife in the history of wives, I should not have to have all of that adrenaline pumping into my bloodstream at his approach. Not even then, and I do not believe that I am the worst wife ever. Another thing on which I have to work is taking responsibility for my reactions to external things like the key in the lock thing. I need to belly-up and take control of how I allow myself to react. Gotta be a big girl about this.
Then, there is nothing to do except try these two new things or behaviors I guess that I should be calling them. The alternative is to do nothing and keep feeling and thinking and writing the same damn stuff every six months. I cannot do that. I am still sickened by having found that piece of writing a few days ago. I have a sense that this is not going to turn out very well for me, that my unhappiness will simply take another form, maybe worse, maybe not, but still a form of unhappiness. I am going to be alone, aren't I. I am going to be criticized for the changes I am making and it is my own fault because I kept these secrets all this time. There are consequences for everything we do, and this is one of mine. Well, at least what I do from now on is on my own terms. I really hope that I can stick to this and not fall back into bad habits. I should be saying that in a more positive manner, from a stance of higher energy, but perhaps hope is enough for now. I mean, how do we ever know these things for certain?
This is a glorious weekend and time of the year. I plan to enjoy the lovely weather and three days of being with lovely people and having lovely food and good conversation. Good, little pagan girl that I am, I am still hoping for some nice chocolates and a marshmallow bunny or at least some Peeps. Purple ones. I think that I am going to have a much smaller garden this year. In this season of new growth and limitless potential I am going to find ways to do what needs to be done. More stuff will be gone and continue to leave when my hundred days are over.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I can do anything I want if I want it enough.

Day 89
Seriously. If this group of women is not the most wonderful and amazing group of women anywhere, well then I guess that wonderful and amazing women simply do not exist anywhere.
I have to share that the comments generated by yesterday's posting has just about blown my socks off. And, yes, I do wear socks, and, yes, they were completely blown off of my feet.
I really do forget that I am not writing this stuff in a private place where the only person who will ever eventually read it is only me. You would think that sitting here at my computer, having to log onto the site and wend my way to this blog would be a reminder impossible to ignore, that I am not doing this in isolation.
I also forget how perilous it is to write in this way. All we have, when we communicate on-line is our words. Really, that is all we have anyway, but you know what I mean. If I am writing directly to someone in a thread here, I am conscious about what I am doing. I edit my natural spewing and make every attempt to finely nuance what I write so that I am less likely to be misunderstood. Pure writing is a treacherous way to communicate. It lacks everything that in-person conversation has, facial expression, tone and tenor of voice, smiles, posture, more body language, and most importantly, the quality of expression and the depth of relationship possible only within the contract of honesty, respect and honour we offer with our eyes.
All of that got lost here yesterday and I accept full responsibility because I started it with what I wrote, and I forgot that people who care about me, and for whom I have such fondness and love, might read it. Here I do not filter. I do not edit. Crap, I do not reread what I write forcrissakes. The only thing that I do is to preview my posts so that I can catch, go back in, and edit out the worst of the profanity.
That said, in the context of what the safety and freedom of writing here offers me, yeah, I know that I should not be surprised, but I am, and I am not sure exactly what I can do about that sort of thing. One thing that I could do is to stop writing, but I really do not want to do that. What I should have done from the very beginning is to find a place somewhere on-line where I could do this anonymously. Then, it would not make a rat's ass of difference to me what anyone thought about it. This part is selfish, but I would also have been afforded the release of any responsibility to what anyone else thought or how what I wrote affected them. I have never had a one-night-stand, but I am guessing that that is the kind of anonymity of which I am thinking. In that realm, no one would know who I am and, more importantly, I would not know who anyone else was.
It is too late for that here. I already know and love so many of you. I have never met any of you in person, but I still know you. I do. I think that you know me, too, mostly because I seem to lack any kind of filtering system for keeping my business to myself. I also know that not everyone here loves me back and that is not a problem because I am old enough and have sufficient life experience to have learned that not everyone likes everyone else, much less loves them. And now, the time for being anonymous is long past. Like me or not, what you see here is exactly who I am, warts and all.
Another thing happened here yesterday. Some time ago, I received a private message from someone who shared that she mostly did not have a clue about what I was writing, but that she liked reading it. Part of that is that I have intentionally kept what I write as obtuse as possible, an attempt to keep this all about me and my process in this stupid project to get rid of those damn books. But, in my replies to the comments, I shared things that I was not ready to share and, later, it made me feel like I was being defensive instead of staying true to being honest, which is what I was also trying to do, things like how I am looking for another place to live and my searching for a job and all the rest. I did not want to write about what I was trying or thinking about doing, but wanted to wait until I could share that this is what I have done or what is in the actual process of being done. Not hopes and silly dreams, but accomplishments, like the actual forward movement about which I am so fond of talking. And, writing.
And, in the trying of this here, I have hurt the feeling of some people. At least one of them feels misunderstood and that just pains me so much, because one of the most important, significant and dedicated aspects of what I am doing is to avoid causing any unavoidable pain to anyone. When I realized how this project was not about the books or any of the other crap that I need to divest from my life, I was struck with how this whole thing was going to cause hurt and pain in some of my personal relationships and that there was not anything that I could do about it. What is that called? Collateral damage? It should be spelled collateral 'damn-age'.
So, anyway. This is Saturday here. On Saturday mornings I have coffee with some of my friends. The coffee friends, many of whom I met on pilgrimage. Yeah, I have a spiritual side, too, who woulda thunk it. So, on Saturday morning, way too early by the way, we meet some place or another and have coffee and tea and sometimes pastries or breakfast or both. This morning there were only four of us. Frankly, I think that us four are the ones who are the closest and I can say that with no hesitation because I adore all of these women and do not think that I would be anywhere near to the person that I am without them in my life.
One woman left early because she just received a promotion and had to get to her store. That left three coffee-souls and one of them, who happens to be an attorney, turned to me and asked how I was doing. I told her that I was fine and she called me a liar. I explained about where I am in this relationship thing and how I have been finding resources for food and health care for when I leave
One of the nice things about having an attorney for a friend is that she is generous about giving gratis legal advice when it is needed. One of the bad things about having an attorney for a friend is that she is generous about giving gratis legal advice. Oh, it might still be needed advice, but sometimes you just do not want to know stuff, you know? Some of what she told me today is great, some of the other stuff is not so great, but at least I have information that I did not have before.
As for here, if I can avoid writing too much of my internal process that would be great. If I fail at that, just ignore me. Only eleven more days until this project is officially completed. It will not actually be finished, but the hundred days will be. Gosh, really? Just eleven days? It hardly seems possible. If nothing else, I kept to my intent of sticking with this and that makes me feel proud and accomplished, even if the rest of it does not.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: Tomorrow I get to spend a big chunk of the day with three cool, interesting, funny and lovely babes that are even older than I am. I intend to be a wisdom sponge.

Day 90
Today has been officially declared an angst-free zone. I began by sleeping 13 of the past 24 hours and it feels great. I had eggs and grits for breakfast and chocolate-covered almonds and green tea for dessert. I am overflowing with fat and antioxidants. Yum.
The only things being divested today is sadness, worry, fear and, of course, books. Three bags of them.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: Each day is unique, but there are always more to follow.

Day 91
It remains high noon here. The sun is shining. The birds are singing and rainbows are shooting out of everyone. Even the unicorns are happy.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I will have time to sew today.

Day 92
Oh. My. God.
Because there are so many rainbows shooting out of everyone (up to our asses, if you must know), the unicorns started eating them and are now pooping butterflies.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: Good thing I like butterflies.

Day 93
The unicorns followed me to work today and between all the shooting rainbows and eating rainbows and pooping butterflies it really was only a matter of time until someone called Security.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I can do this for a few more days.

Day 94
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: It's a lovely day in the neighborhood...

Day 95
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: Making purses and make-up bags from all of these old clothes is more fun than anyone deserves to have. I know it. I appreciate it. I am re-purposer, hear me sew.
Made it so close to the end without messing up the dates, so had to change this to the correct day of 95. Crap.

Day 96
Typing more accurately today.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I did a great job troubleshooting today's problem with my sewing machine.

Day 97
I was finished here with this, the sharing thing. When I came here to write the day's divesting and thought, I could not. I dithered about it until nearly two hours past the day and here I am.
My hundred days are nearly finished. I accomplished what I set out to do with this project. Hell, I did a whole lot more than that. Clearly, I learned a great deal about myself and how I move through the world, my life, my marriage, many of my relationships.
It sounds so lame to keep saying this, but it really was just about a few damn books. Well, not a few, unless we are counting in the hundreds and hundreds and even more than that. But, really, it was about the books. Except that it never is just about the books or the kitchen gadgets or old clothes or all that crap in the garage. We carry so much wisdom inside of ourselves. We are crammed to the wonking gills, vestiges of our watery ancestors, with wisdom. When someone asks me to help them find out, discover, you know, gain access via some magical thing that will help them to make decisions or make sense of their lives, I often agree, but not in the way that they think I might. The craziest part of nearly half a lifetime of doing this divining is that my jobs have been a conduit to doing the same things in a public forum. So, I know all about wisdom, even when I am caught in the thrall of my own life and think that something could be about something as mundane as books.
I believe, now, near to the end of this, that I must have known and trusted that beginning this part of my journey was going to take me where I and my life needed to go. So, I am not pretending surprise at where this has brought me, despite my assertion that I thought that it was about getting rid of some books. That part is just as real, just as valid and just as wonking true as trusting my inner wisdom to bring me to this moment and the ones to follow. It was the device that my life required to get my big, fat ass moving.
So, even though this really was all about me, it was not, you know? It was about all of the work that I needed to do and all of the people that figured in the big picture. And, man, did they figure. I am trying so hard to be fair about this, to be supportive of the process and not feel disappointment at what some people have expressed to me. I hate when this happens. I want to explain and justify who I am and how I have done this thing until I am wonking blue in the face and I fall down, exhausted and depleted and feeling as fully justified as it is possible for a frail and disgustingly humanly-endowed human to be. I want to say things like 'who the hell asked you' or any of a dozen things to express to some people how I feel betrayed by their judging of me and how they felt compelled to go out of their way to let me know just how stupid and stuck and pointless I am. Or was. No, still am. And, except for this paragraph, I am not going to do that, because I have come to understand that sharing all of my inner process crap here was, well, yeah, about me and my process, but that being so open, not filtering a single thing that popped into my head and just letting it pour out of me onto these electronic pages made it a part of their inner process as well, and that their response to me and my stupid book idea was essential in the forward movement in which I seem to be so invested. So be it.
In addition to all of the things I learned, you know, empowering or life-affirming crap or, oh, gosh, all that stuff, even when it was painful I could see that it was leading me someplace great. A great place in a life that deserves to have a great and wonderful next place. Oh so lame, but oh so true. I learned who my (get ready, cliché alert) real friends are. I learned that I probably am, although I am not entirely convinced, that I am stronger and more capable than I thought that I was, especially in the stop-being-a-wonking-door-mat/punching-bag department. I learned that even when you have had such a crappy day that you cannot sleep, that tomorrow will still come and give you another chance.
What else did I learn. I learned some painful stuff that does not have a pay-off, you know, like in a silver lining or a hidden gem or even a lesson that is not just, simply pain. Yeah, I had the pleasure of learning those things, too. I learned that some people cannot ever be trusted. You can love them until the cows come home. You can give them unlimited chances for manifesting different behavior. You can fall down and keep on taking the crap and keep on hoping for the best, for some kind of improvement in the relationship, but that will never happen. You can be more sad about that than anyone should ever have to be and it will not make any difference except in learning the infinite ways in which your heart can be broken. I learned that, given the chance, some people are happy to pour their own crap all over you and expect you to be grateful for the opportunity to learn from their crap. When your gratitude is not properly expressed or, heaven forbid you do not feel gratitude, those same people are more than thrilled to condemn you even further. Or, simply dismiss you; that might be even worse. And, you get the idea about that kind of learning and it is pointless and more than a little masochistic to keep belabouring the point, so I am going to stop, except to say that I am probably more thankful for that kind of learning than the stuff that makes me feel better.
Well, I guess that I have to say that I am glad for the experience. All of it.
It is not finished, not in three days, not in a hundred more days, not ever.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I am proud that I was, mostly, able to come up with a positive thought each day, although I have to admit that many of them were a stretch of the greatest magnitude. I am also proud of the fact that I never tried to pass off the responsibility by admitting that I just could not think of a darn thing of a positive nature to write and that I often sat at this keyboard for long periods, simply refusing to give up.

Day 98
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: The teals are back and soon enough there will be babies. Yippee!

Day 99
Dum-da-dum-dumm-dumb. I went shopping at the Salvation Army store and lost my wallet. I can only hope that the person who found it has greater needs than mine. There was a nice man who helped me to look for it, but it was long gone, probably snatched up just as I dropped it, as I noticed that it was gone only a minute after entering the store. He offered to buy whatever I needed, but I declined, promising myself that I will take better care of my resources. I am not dwelling on it, and did the whole acknowledge and wallow, and allowed it to pass through me and fall harmlessly to the earth where the Mother transformed it into a positive and learning experience. OK.
I do not mind wasting or frittering away a bit of money once in a while. This process has taught me that much, at least...that if I believe myself to be poor, then I will be, not only in money, but spirit. I guess it was just the Universe making sure that I got the lesson. But, as always, this sort of thing comes at an unfortunate time, although I cannot think of any time when losing all that money could be a good time, you know? This coming weekend is being spent across the little pond and in the giving of a workshop. I do this for free, well, mostly. The foundation person with whom I am doing this pays for my room for the two nights we will be there and the retreat center has a refrigerator so that I can keep food there instead of eating out, which I really, really was looking forward to doing, by the way. Two days away from this place and a chance to eat food that I do not have to prepare myself. Combine that with helping the workshop participants on their journey to the examination and expression of their inner process, well, it just does not get any better than that.
So, anyway, I was talking about this with a friend yesterday afternoon, the part about how I could have gotten myself into such a wonking mess here and still have the ability to help other people with their own work. She reminded me that I am like the boiled frog. I was not plunged into the scalding water of my wonked up life in an instant, but began in the sweet and tender stream of that fairy tale of eternal and unconditional love and the unwitting sacrifices that we make to be a part of that story. Well, I am paraphrasing, but that is the general idea of what she said. She told me that I do not have to feel such shame about all of this, that I get to have the rest of my life be honoured for the work that I do in the world in support of other people.
And, you know, that is all fine and good. I do recognize that where the rest of my life is concerned, that I am an effective and useful person. I do good, godammit. I am not a completely screwed-up person everywhere I move, just in this one place in my life. This is all so sad. The saddest part is not that I will be living in a tiny apartment, not have a car or transportation to see my daughter and her family and that I will have to find a home for my cats. It is not about leaving my studio behind or any of the rest. That part is wonking horrible and I will miss it, but even though I am feeling pain about it, I absolutely can go on and find a new life and be happy when I finally have the means to go there. The sad part is about my marriage.
It was supposed to be forever.
I was supposed to be loved just because I am worthy of love.
I was not supposed to be mistreated for not being able to be someone that I cannot be.
I love that my friend is so understanding and supportive and I respect her opinions, but she is wrong about one thing. I get to be just as sad and heartbroken about this aspect of my loss as I need to be, for as long as I need to grieve.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: Three more days and I will be in a place where no one hates me. Where are the butterfly-pooping unicorns when you need them?

Day 100
Here I am, at the end of this stupid experiment. The project from hell. I wonder, will I celebrate this as an anniversary or just try never to think about it again...ever.
It is only Wednesday here and the preceding five days have been a lesson in contrasts.
There have been the possible reanimation of a friendship contrasting with the possible ending of a close friendship. Both are part of the same dynamic.
Saturday also saw another opportunity for me to practically beg the mister to attend his grandson's birthday party. I simply cannot express how sick it makes me feel to have to do that, particularly since I am unwilling to share with any of the players just how heinous that process is for me.
I lost my wallet and am doing my best to take responsibility for caring more effectively for my resources. I am getting rid of all my crap and my good stuff takes a hike on its own. Yoo-hoo!!!! Lesson, where are you?
Three days in a row with kind of icky stuff.
Then, today happened. I had only one client scheduled and two more showed up and I had an eleven hour day of truly kick-ass work. And, you know, even though I try to maintain my own equilibrium and not be defined or affected by the crappy stuff that just happens, it is part of my truth that a really fabulous day can make me feel like nothing bad can happen to me. One factor in this is that one of the walk-ins was a man who was released from prison just a few days ago. He has been in and out of jails for most of his adult life. I spent five hours with him and I think that he is one of the guys who is going to make it. Not everyone who goes to jail uses that experience to change their lives, you know, like in actually learn something useful about yourself while you are there. I have spent enough time volunteering in correctional institutions to have seen how some people are just going to keep making the same, or new and improved, mistake after mistake. I think that this man has a chance this time. He is still equivocating about the things that took him to prison this most recent time, but he has a good personal support system and what sounds like a decent parole officer.
So, when I finally got home tonight and returned some telephone calls, I found that the husband of the woman with whom I am giving this weekend's workshop is in the hospital and the two of them are planning for him to be released tomorrow and that all of us will trek around the little pond and give the workshop. Now, that is perspective at its best. Or, insanity, but it really all comes down to the same thing.
And, there you are. The long and short of life. Good balanced with bad and everything in between. Nothing profound about any of it. And, all in just five days. Amazing.
I was privileged to have a front row seat at the big picture this week and I have to tell you that I used it to learn some things. And, I did not have to go to prison to do it.
Not too shabby.
But, the truth is that if I knew what this would have been like when I started this, I am not positive that I would have embarked on this little piece of my journey. Some of the costs have been more than I wanted to pay. Just keepin' it real.
And, just keeping on. The past hundred days have been the prologue to an even larger project, one that is probably just as stupid as this one was, but I am keeping an open mind.
Divested: Books.
Positive thought: I get to do good in my life in the support of finding balance and meaning.

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