Posted by: Marie | July 27, 2009

(113) I do have a life

Post #113
[Journal entry written to my therapist on Tuesday, March 24, 2009]

Hi, Dr. Barb –

When I was a kid, every few months I would dump all of my possessions in the middle of my bedroom floor and sort them – get them organized and in their place once again. When my mom would walk in on this process, she would sigh a big sigh, shake her head and walk out – she knew it would be a few days before my room was passable again. I never understood her upset – the exercise made perfect sense to me.

Sun Moon Lake by Martin Chen

Sun Moon Lake by Martin Chen

When I “dump” my negative feelings – in the times I’m not emotionally available for feedback – that is what I am doing. In my head, my thoughts are too crowded and jumbled to make any sense. However, if I dump them all onto paper, the good with the ugly, then I can begin to sort through them.

So, in those times, I’m not wallowing in my misery, I’m just trying to make sense of it.


Just something worth noting – my monthly cycle was only 23 days long this month – it is normally 27-29 days, a few times it has been 26 or 30 days and once it has been 32 – but it has never been 23 days before. I am about the age my mom and my sister started hot flashes and changes in their cycles . . . I’m guessing this change is probably about the beginning of menopause (I had hot flashes a few years ago for a few months, but not now.)


You asked me if I only journaled when I was having negative thoughts – my answer is: that has been true for the most part. So, in an effort to also write during my upbeat times, I will document the subjects of my attention during these recent days when my spirit has been peaceful and my mind has been operating smoothly. It feels a little strange to share it with someone – I never have disclosed what occurs in my brain during my creative bents – it is something I normally keep very private – I simply assume no one would be interested in knowing.

For example . . .

I finally finished reading the book, A Sand County Almanac, written by Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) towards the end of his life. Leopold is often considered the father of modern conservationism. This book has several parts to it – most of the book documents his observations of the wildlife on his Wisconsin farm. He brings a rich, dramatic vitality to his descriptions of the everyday habits of the birds, the trees and other biota. Inevitably, he includes prose on the historical effect of human intervention on the subject flora and fauna.

Towards the end of his book, his writings evolve into personal essays touting the benefits of studying and appreciating nature, and of conserving wilderness in its wildest form possible. He challenges his readers to consider, first and foremost, the innate right of the land (meaning “land” as a collective organism, including all the living and non-living matter it hosts) to exist in its healthiest state. He believed land holds that right simply because it is a member of the global community, equal and privileged to the same extent as the member known as the human race. He believed that humans have an ethical obligation to care for the health of land, on a global basis, just because it is the right thing to do.

Inline Teasers_Page_3

Leopold offered a second motivation – to be provided as a strong argument when attempting to sway humans with a greater focus on self-interest. This secondary motivation centers on economic feasibility – the pursuit of profit from the use of land is more effective when the land is healthy. Maintaining that health requires long-range planning and consistent nurturing of the land. It benefits us all, in a fiduciary context, when we are conservative and respectful in our use of land.

This book was of interest to me because it provides logical and persuasive arguments for “big-picture” land use planning – something I have dabbled in during the last five years. My main interest has been to keep the attention of the land use regulatory bodies on the long-term effects of their choices – effects that will last longer than their next bids for re-election. Leopold’s logic will help me be more effective in influencing legislation in the future than I have been in the past.

– – – – –

In the evenings, as I relax, I often work on my needlepoint. Currently, I am working on a piece that is representative of my current emotional journey. Sometimes I use store-bought patterns and sometimes I create my own patterns on the computer. However, for this piece, I decided to go totally pattern-less. I picked out a combination of thread colors that I liked, put some thread in the needle, stuck the needle into the canvas and started stitching. I let the design go where it might – I have been creating the pattern on the fly, guided by “feel”.

My needlepoint in progress

My needlepoint in progress

So far, I mostly like it — I’m enjoying the process, at least. It has taken on a psudo-flower-bloom shape. Each petal of the “bloom” is a different color: purple for passion, green for vitality, rose for integrity, blue for wisdom. It will be pushing its way up through a series of rings, with the bloom’s colors getting richer as it moves through the rings. Each ring represents a significant epiphany I have experienced. The bloom is surrounded by a warm golden color that represents my faith.

– – – – –

I have been giving piano lessons to a little neighbor boy. He is autistic, five years old and extraordinarily gifted. I have only been working with him for a little over two months; but, in that time, he has progressed as much as I would expect an “average” student twice his age to progress in 6-12 months. He takes my breath away.

Since visual is the least effective mode of learning for him and audio is the most effective, I crafted a custom, audio-centric curriculum for him, which includes large-scale, color-coded, spatially-accurate notation. He learned how to read music within a single lesson. A couple weeks later, he was able to identify random pitches from all over the keyboard by ear – with his eyes closed. That means he has perfect pitch – and an incredible ability to absorb well-organized information. Now, we are working on intervals and chords and the structure of music – that is amazing!

When he leaves after each lesson, I usually go into my room and let a few tears of awe and gratitude roll down my face. It is a great honor to be his teacher.

Is it of value to you to read about this positive stuff? Is this what you are looking for?

– Marie

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  1. I don’t know about your T, but I love positive things. I really enjoyed this post.

    • Thank you, Ivory! It was rather fun to share my creative “stuff” with Dr. Barb!

      – Marie

  2. What an amazing boy. I hope you tell more of his story in future posts. I’d like to see the needlepoint when you finish it too.

    • Hey, Evan –

      Yes, I have been writing about him often. I have started calling him “Matt” in my writing. As it turns out, he has become my teacher in so many wonderful, unexpected ways — a huge part of my healing.

      How patient are you with seeing the finished needlepoint? At any given point in my life, I have 10-15 creative projects going (needlepoint, learning languages, writing books, designing a future home, etc.)

      I meander among the projects – keep each one in a container, pull it out, work on it for a few weeks or months, put it back, pull out something else . . .

      Sometimes it takes me years to finish (or finally decide to abandon) one. LOL.

      Thanks for your comment!

      – Marie

  3. I too enjoyed reading your post. Needlepoint is one of my grounding activities (although I am much too type A to do my own design – perhaps that would be liberating). Also knitting – working on a sock now – socks take a lot of effort for what they are – but tension is released.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi, OLJ –

      I have found creating my own design on the fly has been liberating — as long as I stay detached from “how it looks” and stay connected with the process and the feelings. I haven’t committed myself to displaying it, or giving it away, or even keeping it. I may end up throwing it away — but I won’t throw away what I have learned while creating it.

      Which type of needlepoint do you do? This one is counted cross-stich (with freedom from the counting, hah!)

      – Marie

  4. Your writing is so good, you can write about anything (I’ll bet this is what your therapist thinks) and it’s worth reading. What I ask patients is this. If you prefer to read back your positive thoughts, then so do your friends, fam, etc. Your therapist gets to hear the bad stuff, and can handle it, so that, to me, is why it’s better to verbally journal there, in therapy, than at home where the writing can bring you down.

    Please write me and tell me is it’s okay to link to this if I get to writing about this, because it’s been bothering me and I’ve been thinking it’s worth a little exploration on the blogosphere.

    • Wow! Thank you so much, therapydoc! I am honored!

      I have taken note of the very positive feedback this post has generated . . . and I can make a point of writing (for myself and for my blog’s audience) the good stuff for which I am passionate.

      Thanks, again!
      – Marie

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