Comforting Words: May in Review

Friday, June 01, 2007

May in Review

Almost one month to the day of my last post I have much to say.

The absence of posts for the past thirty days had nothing to do with my lacking words or events to report. In fact, much has happened and things have remained the same in many respects. I could have written but something told me to keep quiet.

Last year, I wrote a series of articles during the month of May and as I review them now it is clear that:

  1. history does repeat itself

  2. they read in some ways like prophesy and

  3. we must learn to trust our instincts, intuition or gut feelings.

In my first article last May, I wrote that I had two choices: (1) to give in to the despair or (2) to trust God. I also included this inspirational piece from Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World by Kent M Keith:

“People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centred. Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

As I reflect on my life in its entirety but particularly on my journey over the last 17 years, I see the many truths in this piece. I also recognize that May 2007 was not very different from May 2006 as I was presented with the same two options – give up in despair or trust God.

There were many occasions for me to give up – too numerous for me to enumerate here. Suffice it to say, the number of broken promises, the construction of walls higher than the Wall of China, the looming possibility of unemployment and homelessness and the lack of concentration and mental capability to complete my degree were some of the main reasons to throw in the towel.

Unlike last year, I was not saying “Welcome Maia!”

My second article in May, as with most of my articles last year, made reference to food. Reviewing that article, Cookie Wisdom, I smiled as I read this insight from a fortune cookie: "Nature, time and patience are the three greatest physicians.”

May 2007 truly challenged me to surrender my plans, my dreams, my desires, in fact my life to these three physicians. One of the many things that has come of that is I met someone who is a marathon runner and who has, in the most nonchalant way, inspired me to be out more in nature.

As we walked our dogs through this enormous off-leash park recently, we came across some fellow marathon runners and as I was introduced, they asked whether I was a runner. I laughed out loudly and my new acquaintance said, “Not yet but soon.”

Regular readers know that I love to quote from this ‘essay’ – Reason, Season or Lifetime. This my new acquaintance is seemingly in my life if for nothing else a reason that is to get me moving, as I am now booked to travel with a team to 'cheerlead' at the Banff/Jasper Relay, for a weekend backpack camp and for couple of hikes in the Rocky Mountains! By the time this is all over – I might be wearing a size 8 instead of my current 12!

My third article in May 2006 referred to the insight I had from trees – nature’s physician. That insight remained pertinent to me throughout May 2007 and even now as the wind of change is still blowing strongly in my life.

Struck by the way the trees swayed with the wind – not resisting it – I made the connection that the trees were giving praise while surrendering to the forces of the wind (change). Coming to this realization, I quoted Goethe:

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather.”

One Sunday during May 2007, as I left Swiss Chalet with my dear senior citizen with whom I try to dine at least twice per month, I noticed a woman pointing at my car but I ignored her thinking she was admiring the cute streak on the side of my still fairly new vehicle.

As I parked at home, I recalled the woman’s attention to my car and so walked to the passenger side and to my shock there were several scratches along the two front and back doors and on the trunk! About to freak out, I took several deep breaths and from somewhere deep inside I heard this other Claudette saying, “It’s just a piece of machine.”

With that, I forgot about it for a week and then that same Claudette suggested to me calling my insurance company to find out whether they would cover the cost of the repair. The lovely agent after listening to my description – the fact that my car was parked in a very public place, my church yard, with the passenger side exposed on the day of the apparent incident - she gave me the telephone numbers for their approved garages.

Still in a good mood, two days after speaking with the insurance lady I went to the garage. I lost it when the repair man said to me, “Lady, someone keyed your car!” I made a couple phone calls to report his comments, breathed deeply and like the trees, swayed with this ill-wind and asked how much to fix it.

The fourth article in May 2006 was about broken eggs. I really love this paragraph that I wrote as it aptly describes how I felt after hearing that someone had deliberately scratched my car with their keys, causing me to fork out $500 for the deductible to cover an almost $2,000 repair job, when payments that were supposed to be coming to me were not being remitted and my job was coming to an end.

“Eggs are every dream and hope held; it is the potentials and the possibilities we see in life, including hopes for a happy, meaningful and long marriage or relationship, a new job or promotion at the one you now have, debt-free living, a life-enhancing relationship with your parents, your children’s success in school or living an addiction-free life. When these dreams go awry or your egg(s) is broken, the temptation is to sprawl on the floor right next to it, wailing and cursing the Universe for what it is doing to you. ‘What the f… am I to do now?’ has often been my cry, ‘That was the last fr…ing egg I had!’”

My second to last article for May 2006 again made reference to items that can be eaten – this time it was chickens. The point that I was making then, possibly in a long-winded way as I am now doing – is basically the power of the Law of Attraction. “What you think about, you bring about.”

Given the hard lessons that I have learned and continue to learn since October 2006, I have made every effort to watch my thoughts and my speech. In my professional life, this is called cognitive-behavioural therapy but in my personal/spiritual life we call it affirmations.

The Universe by hitting me over the head with a brick helped me to get back on track, get back on purpose and so my prayers and affirmation has been to have Love (notice the capital ‘L’) made manifest in every aspect of my life.

May 2007 had its ups and downs but it also had moments – which are a good thing contrary to popular belief – when I was smack dab in my life purpose. Take for example, my desire to help women, children, LGBTQ persons and new Canadians facing difficult circumstances. I prayed to be guided to ways and means to do this, to completely dedicate my every waking moment to this and my prayer was answered over and over again this May.

One example was a phone call I received from my woman-friend D. Her calling me was strange enough as she rarely does but the fact that she was asking me to do her a favour was even stranger. Whether it was the shock of her call or the request, I just said “Yes.”

Three days later, I was standing in a hall emceeing the Annual Benefit Concert for an organisation that supports women re-integrating into our communities from prisons. My daughter and new acquaintance, who has an interest in Afrocentric music, were with me for moral support.

I think I did well as an emcee but the most rewarding moment for me was a later conversation I would have with D. Funny enough, it was in keeping with the last article I wrote in May 2006.

I had called D very early in the morning, although (1) she hates talking on the phone, (2) she had made it clear that she was dealing with her own stuff and needed space. However, I ignored those two facts and called her as I was about to hit the roof or worse. I needed some help to get grounded so as she came on the phone I said something like, “D, give me some black love and give it to me fast!”

Explaining the latest manipulation and dishonest action that I was bearing the burnt of and my burning desire to strike back, after sharing with me her new understanding of what friends really are, D basically said to me, “Let it go!”

She was right and if only I had read my own article, “Instead Have Tea,” I would have known that. In that article I wrote:

“What I have come to learn is that I cannot live anyone else’s story or dreams. This lesson came the hard way and after many years of self-loathing, trying to live up to my mother’s expectations or to fulfill her unmet dreams.

This ‘drama’ continued to play out in my life as I moved from relationship to relationship. It seeped into my professional life and into my interpersonal relationships. If I could not control the situation so that things worked the way I needed them to in order to fulfill my (mother’s) hopes, then I would succumb to someone else controlling my life, hoping that they would pay me back for being the good little girl...

[It] is obvious that even after all these years of soul-searching, praying and spiritual counseling I still have work to do… The desire to control others manifests in a myriad of ways; it is a default and defensive mode that we have learnt. I invite you to unlearn it, let yourself and others ‘be’ by being sensitive to your inner voice that always, always tells you when you are not.”

And so, at the end of May 2007, I am in a transitional place – one where I am not sure whether after June 8, I will have meaningful employment, money to pay all my bills on time, whether the young people in my life will realise that they do not need to make the same mistakes and whether the so-called adults in my life will keep the commitments made as past behaviour predicts future unless one has made a decision to change and be honest.

What I know for sure though, is that my own commitment to what is called “Deliberate Non-action,” is solid. Today as I conclude this post, my desire for the drama and pain to end is so strong that I am not only willing but am saying “Whatever.”

By the way, throughout this post are some photographs taken during April – May, (1) while I was in Montreal making my acceptance speech of the Chairmanship of the national organisation for Black Peoples, (2) on a 'shopping', tour in Montreal and (3) at a Mother’s Day brunch with my boys.



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