Sunday, May 23, 2010

my first great love

Today my thoughts turn to my Dad. Really, I think about my Daddy just about everyday. But, yesterday was an anniversary of sorts. It was 13 years ago and at the age of 56 that Fred Columbus Compton took his last breath.

If I am honest about it, I was not quite ready for him to go. I was 30 when he passed. I'd learned to appreciate him in the years before, but felt there was so much more for me to learn. Like how to make his world famous potato salad and tangy baked beans. I hadn't thought to ask before, when he was ill it was not important, and now there is no one that can get that recipe just right. Every try is a miss. A little thing I know, but a reminder of what was left to ask.

My Dad was the strong silent type. Tall...6'4", with baby blue eyes and a kind face. He was a handsome man. The kind that turned heads but never seemed to know it. He believed in doing what is right, doing your best in everything, and never missing the mark on anything. He served his country as a soldier in the Army for over 27 years. I think he would have made it to 30 years if the Army hadn't planned to send him on his 4th tour to Germany. He was ready to settle in and grow some roots at that point and another overseas tour just wasn't what he had in mind.

As an Infantryman my Dad was gone alot. Sometimes for thirty days or more it would be Mom and I living our everyday life just the two of us. Even so, he influenced how that life was lived. In addition to having high expectations for himself, my Dad expected the best from his family. Not in a harsh way, but in a 'I know you can be the best you can be and be that everyday' kind of way.

Yes, my Daddy had high expectations, but he also knew what being human is. When I pushed the limits as a teenager (and for the record I REALLY pushed the limits) he was there to guide me through the rough road I had gotten myself on. I don't remember scolding nor berating. What I do remember is a kind underlying support I could lean on until I got back on the right track. Which I did pretty much did each time.

I so wish that Dave could have met my father. Instead Dave hears stories of a man that lived his life by morals and values and ethics. A man that loved and served his country. A man that could be counted on no matter the circumstance. A man who worked hard, played and won at cards, drank beer, tended after his yard, drove on back roads, listened to Merle Haggard, watched basketball, never ever judged others, and saw the best in others so they could rise to their greater selves. A man who true to form at the time of his last breath was not afraid or focused on himself, but instead expressed his worry for those he would leave behind.

This is the first time I've written of my Dad. It is scratching the surface and there is so much more to say. For now, I am sending love and thanks to my father for protecting and providing for me. I lived a childhood knowing I was safe, accepted and cared for. I knew there was always a rock of a man for me to lean on. Now I know that was a great love. Thank you, Daddy, for everything. I miss you and celebrate your life. A life well lived.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

sitting in the quiet

For years I have practiced meditation in an on again off again style. I've believed what all the new thought / spiritual leaders have had to say about the value of meditation. You know, sitting in the quiet helps you connect with spirit and that little voice of knowing that helps guide us through the twist and turns of this thing called life.

Yep, I have believed it is a valuable tool, but I struggled getting it into my daily life.

Six weeks ago I began the Science of Mind Beyond Limits course. While there are many facets to this teaching, a cornerstone of successfully integrating the tools and beliefs in one's life guessed it...meditation. So, I committed to giving a meditation practice another go during the 10 week course. While I may slip a day or two, it is nearly a daily practice for me right now.

As my post yesterday shared, there was a bit of drama with a family member. I stayed amazingly calm and focused on what it is I would like in the relationship. Last night I reflected on why. Certainly the works I am studying have laid a foundation, but upon reflection I believe meditation played a larger role than I gave it credit for.

Just fifteen minutes a day of reading an affirmation and sitting in the quiet are giving me a clearer focus on the day. And when those bumps and zingers show up, I find myself feeling capable to handle whatever comes my way with a little more ease.

Two sources I am currently using for daily affirmations:
- Creative Ideas by Ernest Holmes
- Science of Mind magazine

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

taking a breath, and then another

Today something happened that once upon a time would have sent me over the edge. I received a text from a close family member that called me out on something that just was not true. There was that one moment of "Oh, my gosh, I've got to fix this". Then there was a breath. And another. Then I knew I could not fix how the other person felt, but I could hold my truth and be kind in the process.

I've been off work since August. Much of that time off was by design. I wanted to take a break and recharge the batteries before jumping into my next gig. If you know and love me, you know I tend to jump into my work with all I have. The time off was to clear the cobwebs. To dust out the corners and rejuvenate. I traveled. Took my first solo road trip ever. It was a blast. Something about driving on a dirt road in New Mexico on the way to an awesome spa that sparks spirit in the depths of the being. I did yoga. I slept in. Alot. I took classes and got to know myself in a way I have not until now.

Much of what I have been studying is relationship material. The other is spiritual in nature. It has been a good mix. The result? I live from a place of calmness and certainty that was not familiar to me previously. So, when that text landed in my inbox today, my response was not one of activation and need to control. I was able to respond from a place of calm and truth and as a result there was not tension or harsh words exchanged. Instead, we exchanged some texts and all seems to be moving in the right direction. Oh, and I took a walk. Any excuse to get outside and get some of that Colorado sunshine.

I'm noting the classes I've take over the past few months. I've learned something from each. This work blended with a blooming meditation practice has wrenched free much of the criticism, defensiveness, and desire for control that sometimes was my first response. Instead what is coming first these days is an interest in understanding and a knowing I don't have to take on responsibility for the situation. I can listen, I can receive calmly and I can love. Even in the face of confrontation. At least I can sometimes...and I am learning to make those sometimes greater than the alternative. Often all it takes is a breath. And, then another breath.

*** Fisher - Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends
This course was previously titled Fisher Divorce Recovery. I took it when my sweetie and I were re-evaluating our relationship. For me it provided the tools to clear out old relationship behaviors and look at myself and how I choose to interact in a couple relationship.

*** PAX Programs
I started off by reading Alison Armstrongs's 'Keys to the Kingdom' as a woman I have great respect for recommended it more than once. The PAX charter is to transform the way woman relate to and create partnerships with men. I attended three workshops and plan on attending more. This is work I will be interested in for life.

*** Science of Mind - Beyond Limits
I have been a fan of the new thought movement and many of the current leaders for years. In taking this class at Mile Hi Church in Denver, I am now learning the structure to receive the abundance that can be ours through the teachings of Ernest Holmes and Science of Mind and Spirit. One of the things I value about this work is it is non-denominational and can compliment any belief system and religion.

Disclaimer: What I am sharing is my personal experience and the courses and study I have found to be helpful for me. Wanna share what rings true for you? Drop a comment below.

Monday, January 25, 2010

remembering martha edna compton

January 23rd would have been my Mamaw's birthday.

Even though she passed away while I was in my early twenties, she has remained with me and continues to be an influence during those times I need a bit of guidance.

While Mamaw was born on what some call Compton's Mountain, she was not born a Compton. She came into the world as Martha Edna Dingus, one of fourteen children born to Paddy and Nannie Dingus. The Dingus family was poor and the family shared just two rooms in a shack that held no luxuries, not even that of running water.

Martha counted herself lucky to make it through the second grade when she then had to drop out to cook for the men and help raise the babies after her elder sisters had married and were starting families of their own. Now that I am grown, I am awed at the dedication and desire to learn she had to teach herself how to read and write. She had beautiful handwriting and rarely a misspelled word.

She married late by 'hill' standards. I think she and my Papaw married when she was nineteen. I wouldn't venture to say that life was easy then, but she married into a well respected family who owned a butcher shop, local stores, and had the wealth of much land. Somewhere along the line my Daddy was born. Ten years later Uncle June arrived. The stores closed, Papaw left the mines and Mamaw became the breadwinner by working in a sewing factory.

During my childhood she lived in a four room shack without heat or water. She began the day when it was dark and stoked the coal cooking stove to make breakfast as much as to heat the house. She fed her family, worked a full day, and fed her family again in the evening. No fast food meals, most meals included her yummy buttermilk biscuits and fresh food from the large garden my Papaw tended. Her Saturday's centered around a trip to the laundry mat and grocery stores where she not only took care of her home's needs but also that of her elderly mother. Sunday was for church, often both morning and evening.

In my tenth year my Mom and I lived with my Grandparents for eight months while we awaited housing to join my father in Bamberg, West Germany (there was a West Germany then). That year my grandparents moved into their new home. It was made of block and brick and held six rooms. Running water did not come until later and always remained hit or miss as it relied on rainwater caught in a cistern. There were still trips to the laundry mat and heating with the fireplace when heating costs were high, but my Mamaw had nicer things and loved her home and the land on which it sat.

All of her life she lived on the mountain, within a mile of the shack in which she was born. She loved the land and had a real appreciation for all of God's creatures large and small. She shared with me her love of being with nature - the beauty of a butterfly, the antics of a groundhog, the gifts of the trees and berry bushes.

When I think of Martha Edna Compton, first my heart fills with warmth of having been loved well my an amazing woman. Then my thoughts turn to a woman who created a good life from hard beginnings, who knew the value of learning and growing, who never complained, nor had a harsh word about others, who loved her family and loved her earth. Still, I am learning from her and from the example of how she lived her life with a kind heart, determination, and spirit.

Happy Birthday, Mamaw...thank are greatly missed

Friday, January 22, 2010

picking up an instrument

Today I checked off the first box to completing one of my 2009 New Year's goals. Yes, I know it is 2010, but this one took a little longer to get to the root of.

See, I am a music lover. Music interweaves with just about every part of my life. I start each and every day with my 'start the day music'. Music to get me centered to start the day joyfully. Rarely is there not music playing in the background as I go about my day (right now am I listening to Nawang Khechog's music as medicine). Much of my social life is centered around music events, whether seeing favorite (or new) local musicians or the big names that come through town. The only place music is absent for me is during work. Not that there is a barrier to me listening to music as I go about my work day (that is when I am working), but I get lost in the takes me to other places. Not so good when you have objectives and goals to meet.

My love for music began early. Gotta thank my Mom for that one. Some of my earliest memories are of her putting on 50s and 60s tunes and she and I dancing the night away. As much as music has been a part of life from the get go, I have never played an instrument. Not sure why really. I could give you the excuse that we moved alot when I was a kid. That many of the schools I attended were too poor or too understaffed to have band. That would be true, but plenty of folks figure out how to teach themselves and make it happen. I didn't.

My friend, Marilyn, figured it out. She played French Horn in High School (maybe even earlier) and majored in music in college. I first met her many years ago at an annual music event she hosts. Not only does she play french horn, she also sings, plays guitar and keyboards, writes her own songs, and plays a mean cowbell. She ignited in me a little flicker that I might be able unleash my inner musician and play an instrument, too.

I spent a year savoring the thought of picking up an instrument. At first, it was those type of instruments you can actually pick up...the bango or the guitar. Then, I landed with the piano. Can't say why for sure, but I can say I am happy with my choice and happy with the new (to me) digital piano that sits in my loft waiting for me. Now I just have to learn to play it. Let the journey begin...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

taking on the happiness project

As we begin each new year I set aside time to reflect on the previous year and set some goals for the coming year.

Last year I took a stab at a new angle and wrote about it here.

I wouldn't say I failed, but I will say that I missed the mark to hit it in 2009. Revisiting the post I realize that these desires have lived with me as goals this past year, but seem to be more likely to manifest in 2010. This very afternoon I am off to look at a set of keyboards to get that 'learn an instrument' goal underway. And, in my new job search, I am focusing on roles and companies that meet that passion I seek in my work life.

Just as I was beginning to think about the coming year and what my desires were for 2010, "The Happiness Project" book arrived on my doorstep courtesy of my aunt and her family. The objective of the book is something I can certainly get into for the New Year...BE HAPPIER!

After devouring the Getting Started and January chapters, I have taken the first steps in the journey to create more happiness. Some of it is very little things...some take a more consistent commitment. I am looking forward to the road that lies ahead and look forward to sharing it with the author, Gretchen Rubin, chapter by chapter as the year progresses.

You can check out more of what this is all about on Gretchen's blog. Interested in joining the happiness journey? She has also invited us all to join the 2010 Happiness Challenge by signing this petition.

I am tossing in my January list as much as a reminder to myself as to share it with you. I'd love to hear what you are shooting for this year to increase your happiness and live more of the life you love.

*Get more sleep
Shooting for 8 hours plus. Making it more days than I used to. AND, when I do hit that 8 hour mark, not only do I have more energy and greet the day with more enthusiasm, I am also a more patient, kinder soul.
*Provide myself a time buffer
Instead of using up every last minute and rushing to get to where I am going and arriving in a flustered state, I am giving myself a bit of extra time. Amazing how this provides a calmer arrival and me in a more receptive state of mind.
* Move more
This crud I have had for 4 weeks has thrown a wrench in this, but I am targeting more movement to the tune of Yoga 2x/wk, Dance 2x/wk, Being Outside 2x/wk
* Do it now
Adopted this one from Gretchen and it is making a difference already. If it takes moments to do, I am addressing it in the moment instead of putting it off. The result is a shorter to do list, less mental tracking of what I have not gotten to and fewer piles yelling at me. Nice!
* Declutter
I am a pretty neat person already, but have to fess up my office has gotten out of hand. Tackling it a little a day and look forward to having it done by the time we roll this month over to February.