Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Word Wonder -- companion

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1. one who accompanies another or others; a comrade; associate. [from the Middle English compainoun, which comes from the Old French compagnon, which comes from the Latin companio. The Latin word is thought to come from a Germanic word akin to the Goth (a German warring tribe) gahlaiba, companion or fellow soldier, which, in turn, comes from the Old High German galeipo, companion. Made from com, meaning "together" and panis, meaning "bread"] -- Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary and Webster's Dictionary of Word Origins

Picture a group of people standing and seated in a circle. Vessels of wine and water, flour and cheese are in evidence. Laughter enlivens the scene with friendly conversation and teasing.

These companions could be sitting around a fire, their weapons at the ready and helmets scattered on the ground. Or they could be standing around a modern table, as ready with cutting board and knives as their predecessors were with sticks upon which to roast their meat and bread.

Mark, Lucas, Ashlee, Annie, Anthony

My companions this past weekend  welcomed me into their circle to enjoy gnocchi and chicken cutlets prepared by Anthony and Annie. My son and I, along with hosts Ashlee and Mark, learned how to knead the dough and then shape it by rolling it off a fork. We laughed a lot at each other's lumpy results (though Ashlee takes the prize for the best-ridged ones).

What prompted me to write this post was the companionable, relaxed feeling throughout all of Friday evening. Annie and Anthony took their time kneading and rolling the dough, trimming and coating the cutlets. No one was in a hurry, no one had to be somewhere else. Everyone's serene pace seeped into my weary bones and reached the core of me with nearly-forgotten softness and peace.

This group of friends demonstrated the exact meaning of the word "companion" -- that of breaking bread together. Though they haven't known each other for long, it looks like they're discovering fine friends in one another. They laugh and work and play together, in various combinations. On Friday, their mutual respect was evident in the kindness and appreciation shown in all sorts of ways.

Some of my warm appreciation probably comes from the stressed condition in which I arrived. But most of it comes from seeing and experiencing companionship in action Friday night and all weekend. It was wonderful to recharge my batteries in such good company, and I'm grateful.

To fully appreciate the depth of meaning in the word "companion," look at the list of modern words that are related through their ancient root, - (which means " to protect, feed"):
fodder, forage, fur, pabulum, food, feed, foster, pasture, antipasto, repast, pastor, pantry, companion, and company.
If you're reading this in a state of overload or even desperation, I encourage you to make time to recharge. Whether in solitude or with caring companions, whether breaking bread or not, please allow yourself the balm of deep relaxation. Be a companion to yourself and others.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

System Repair

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Last night I got set to do some prep for the courses I'm teaching, and I was feeling a little under the gun, as they say. I sat down, all ready to put in an hour before heading out to a meeting...and my laptop would not start. It had already not started twice before supper, so I'd turned it off to rest and rejuvenate itself. Apparently it didn't help. I was most unhappy.

So this morning, tired and cranky, I held my breath, crossed my fingers, and made a heartfelt request to the Computer Gods: "Please, please, let my laptop work this morning. I really need it." (Translation: I am feeling really needy right now.)

I got myself into the best attitude of belief and positive energy that I could muster. It was rather thin, but it was the best I could do. Opened the lid. Pushed the power button. Saw nothing but black. Again. Then...be still my heart...flashes of light blue, action in the idiot lights, and hope in my heart.

A dialogue box came up. It was called, "System Repair." Oh, blessed, blessed System Repair! I'd never seen such a thing before, but here it was, offering me hope. My little silver laptop began trying to repair itself. It made no promises, but it tried.

As the little blue bar scurried along its path, doing the best it could, I realized I already felt better just knowing my laptop had such a function. And -- personal-growth-cosmic-moment-alert -- I realized I have system repair functions, too.

My body forms scabs and scars when I have a cut. I don't have colds for longer than a week.

When I get too busy and feel pressured so that it's hard to sleep or smile or enjoy anything, my mind finds ways to cope and, in time, slow down. I don't stay utterly crazy eternally.

My emotions self-heal, too. I don't stay irritable or sad forever and ever. I look for and find reasons to be grateful when I'm down in the dumps. I believe in my friends and family most of the time, and this helps me move on from relationship glitches.

So, while my laptop did its thing, I did mine. I decided to notice and say thanks to the Computer and Cosmic Gods for system repair functions of all sorts. Which brings me to this blog post and feelings less stormy and grey than they were before.

Thanks. Miigwetch. Merci. Gracias.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Checking in...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's hard to believe I haven't posted for a week. I've been planning two courses I'll be teaching this semester, and since I just got the resources last week, I'm fitting it all into one week. Busy but do-able. I'm looking forward to the teaching and want to be ready for Day 1. I'll be back soon with another post.

In the meantime, feel free to check out some of my earlier posts. You can do this in four ways:
  1. Look for a topic in the alphabetical list of labels on the right side of your screen. When you find one that interests you, click on it, and you'll be taken to that post.
  2. Type a topic or name in the Search box at the very top of the blog page. Then click Search.
  3. Click on a date in the Blog Archive section on the right side of your screen. From there you can choose a blog post title that appeals to you.
  4. Or, just meander down this page. Read whatever interests you, and then you can click on the Older Posts link at the bottom of the page, and you'll find lots more.
I hope you enjoy your little tour of my blog. I'd love it if you'd leave a comment after any post that interests or bothers you. Feedback is so great for bloggers and for blog followers. And writing out your thoughts might just be good for you, too.

Take care.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It wasn't your fault

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sometimes a message is short and simple:
If you were abused in any way as a child, it was not your fault.
Though abusers want child victims to feel guilty and ashamed, it is always the adult who is responsible for the abuse.

If you would like to read more of my posts about abuse or find other resources, click here and here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Helping Books

Saturday, September 2, 2010

New Harbinger Publications is a publishing house in California. I value them not only because they published my first book (It's So Hard to Love You) but because they offer so many helpful resources.

Here's a list of a few of their new books from the past few months. Click on a title to go directly to its page on New Harbinger's website.
May you find something here to help you or someone you know.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Reinventing Ourselves

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Last week I had a chance to visit with my good high school friend, Sandi, and her husband, Terry Bunker. Since they live in Las Vegas, and I live in Canada, it's a treat to manage a visit once a year.

Terry and Sandi spent their working years as a marriage and family therapist (Terry) and an ESL teacher (Sandi). They combined those careers with raising six children and, somehow, maintaining several investment properties. On the eve of retirement, my friends found themselves in a new and challenging position -- that of accepting responsibility for raising four of their young grandchildren.

This has meant starting up again in the career department...and the personal energy department and the thoughts-about-their-future department. It has meant realigning their dreams with their reality. It has meant feeling at peace about this new direction of their lives, despite the challenges. Maybe because of the challenges. I respect my friends for taking this step with grace and clarity. I admire their positive outlook and the calm, loving care that is evidenced in these good natured children.

Sandi and Terry are reinventing themselves. Did they plan to? No. Are they finding benefits and blessings in their new life? Yes. And that is the point of my musings today.

It's so common for our plans to go awry -- job changes, having to move, death of a loved one, changing relationships, illness or injury, and more.

The unexpected happens because we can't predict everything around us; because we don't plan enough or we plan too much; because we change our minds; because we can't control other people; etc. But the unexpected parts of change do not have to be a problem or a struggle. Most of us need time (and maybe help) to adjust; that's human. But we can choose how we view change. We can choose to use it as a chance to reinvent ourselves.

My friends are doing this. I have done this. You probably have, too. Instead of focussing only on the losses that accompany change, we can focus on the gains. Think of it as a three-part process: 1) Evaluate the Change & the Losses  2) Focus on the Gains  3) Do Whatever You Can to Move Forward.

To use this process, ask yourself a few questions and answer them as thoroughly and deeply as you can. Writing and talking about the questions and your answers can help.

Evaluate the Change & the Losses
  • What is the change that has happened to me?
  • What will now be different as a result of the change?
  • What don't I like about the change/what do I lose because of it?
  • What could I do to accept the change and losses?
  • What gains can I see as a result of the change?

Focus on the Gains
  • What are all the gains I see now?
  • How do I feel about these gains?
  • What can I do to make the most of each gain?

Do Whatever You Can to Move Forward
  • Can I feel and express gratitude for what I had before the change?
  • Can I feel and express gratitude, even a tiny bit, for the change and for the gains I now see?
  • What actions will I take to make the most of each gain?

Change permeates life. We don't always anticipate or like those changes, but it is certainly in our power to pick ourselves up and move forward. So go ahead. Reinvent yourself, whether you consciously decide to make the change or it jumps up and bites you in the rear end.

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.

                            --Edwin Markham, 1852-1940