In Pursuit of…

Peace of mind

(C) 2021 by Pamela Schloesser Canepa

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…

It’s our right.

How much does the pursuit of happiness cost?

Is it found in a mall,

In a thrift store, or a horse stall?

Does it result in a mountain of clothes on your closet floor

Or moments in the sun, fluffy dog at your feet on the floor?

Is it day after day working hard and staying late

Pursuing the money, or….is it the simple fun you can create?

I find that my stuff starts collecting dust

One thing hides another, and I forget what the motive was.

Maybe happiness is to be minimalist and free

To enjoy a given moment and just

Be.

Happiness means different things for each of us.

I hope to find the answer to this.

I’ll make sure to let you know

If I find true bliss.

***Written in response to the word of the day prompt at https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2021/03/08/rdp-monday-pursuit/ Visit the link and check it out!

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Spring is Bittersweet. #poetry

Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

(c) by Pamela Schloesser Canepa

Spring is bittersweet, like a love song

because all good things must end.

Just as we can say goodbye to bitter cold

Only a moment’s memory can keep its hold.

But why think of the end, when it starts?

Instead, open widely of your heart

Race through the meadows in the sunshine

Sit picking daisies beneath the pine.

Seize the day like a bee

enjoying its pollen snack.

Yes, it will end later,

but later is not now.

No moment stays forever, anyhow.

No hurt can forever keep you down.

All moments must wash away down the stream

Good and bad, or in between.

Every Spring is here to be enjoyed.

Weekend Coffee Share. Bursting the Bubble

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie at https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Today I’m having half-caff coffee. It has been green matcha tea pretty much all week. I’ve been trying to imbibe just healthy things and sleep well at night. I slept in today and feel I can handle the coffee; life is short, right?

It has been a full, busy week at work with the end of quarter progress monitoring tests. It always means we must be on a modified schedule, which seriously throws me off. I believe I have a slight touch of OCD, because I like to know when certain things are happening, and where to find things, in order. It’s probably a byproduct of anxiety, if that’s possible. I know those two things can co-occur at any rate. The change in routine leaves me seriously tired in the afternoon. I survived the week, though, somehow, and Spring Break starts in seven days!

Tuesday morning I woke at 4 a.m. and didn’t sleep again. I had a therapy appointment and dentist visit. I took medicine for a tension headache, and it helped. I got home and ate dinner, then just relaxed. I remember my boyfriend calling and that at one point, I said “I’m not really able to talk much. I’m soooo tired.” He said I kept falling asleep on the phone. I believe it.

I did something difficult Sunday, and I’m proud of myself for taking the risk… My studies on pain, anxiety, and repressed emotions, learned from books by Schubiner and Sarno, have reinforced what my metaphysical friend told me once: “You’re holding in resentment from the past. It’s what has caused some of your health issues.” (I’ve had cysts in several places, had some removed, and was told 10 years ago I had one on my liver that could not be removed and might just deflate on its own, and not to worry. No sweat, right?) I know I’ve had resentment for my ex-husband, my almost fiance of 2005, sometimes my mom, and yes, my dad.

My dad is a recovered alcoholic, active in AA since 1989, which is very admirable. I was out of high school then. But when I was a child, he was ‘drunk dad,’ man without a filter, a little sexist and careless as to how his words would shape me as a person. Some of those words stayed with me for so long. It comes up in therapy a lot. I think of bubbles of resentment inside me, burping them up, internalizing them as cysts, and I think of bursting a bubble of resentment. I metaphorically stuck in the needle and started that process Sunday.

When you’re a child, you kind of live in the world your parents create for you. Maybe that’s why I am so keen on creating worlds now, and creating an atmosphere for my students in my classroom. As a child, you might easily stuff things down. Maybe you learn that you can speak up for yourself, but I did not. Mom’s religion taught me to turn the other cheek and be ladylike. Dad’s blackhole of a philosophy taught me to try really hard to be good out of fear of his temper, but his words taught me that I was a growing female fit to be mocked for the changes occurring to me, and that I was not good enough–to get a training bra, to wear bright lipstick, to gain a few pounds and still be beautiful. I brought it all up Sunday. Does it seem to you I was carting out past skeletons that are already dead? Well, they’ve been rattling around in my head inside that imaginary bubble.

At age 15, pictured with my brother.

I’m ready to bury past beliefs I developed from my childhood that caused me to date jerks and marry a man who was a mess and latched onto me for a sense of normalcy, yet blamed me for so much and held me back with his possessive nature. Past beliefs made me keep quiet when I felt wronged or when I saw something going on that I knew was wrong. I expressed all of this to my dad, (on one of our weekly long-distance calls) and he said he didn’t remember most if it, (not surprising from a foggy, rum-soaked mind), but he was sorry.

He said that he was sorry, and he thanked me for telling him these things. No admonishing me for trying to give a guilt trip (something I’d heard him say years and years ago). I am a grown woman past the age of forty, but I still remember being a small eight-year-old, being an awkward ten, being 13 with some baby-fat, turning fifteen and noticing I suddenly had hips, graduating from college and wearing red lipstick, which I thought looked very striking and daring. I remember all of that and should not have been ashamed of the changes I went through. His upbringing did not need to become my upbringing, but I can break through all of that! If I wear daring clothes or bright lipstick, it doesn’t mean I should be labeled. It doesn’t say anything about me except I felt daring that day. And now he and I have an understanding.

College graduation, age 23. Even with bright lipstick, it’s still me!

I said, “I haven’t felt like I really know you in ages…you’re not the man I grew up with. Sometimes you still joke with me like you’re really comfortable, but I am not comfortable with you. I’ve been afraid to tell you how I feel or if I’m upset about something, because you live states away and we might become even more distant. But lately, we’ve just had phone calls in which I tell you I’m in therapy but not what I’m discovering about me and why I am this way or about the way I want things to be. And I’ve felt that if I’m not comfortable really telling you these things, I don’t really know you at all–which makes me just not want to talk to you.”

I know men have had their own narrow gender identities taught to them and reinforced through fear or religious guilt, especially those of my generation or the one before it. I had a lot of that, too. I couldn’t say ‘crap’ for fear it would be unladylike, as if I was disobeying the Lord by doing so. It taught me I could not express anger; likewise, a young man may have been brought up thinking he could not wear pink or express sadness. Well, bursting this bubble has freed me somewhat from that thinking as well. Thank God, the changing tides of time have also loosened these definitions and judgments!

So, you, dear reader, may have never met me before, you may somewhat know me, or you may know of me. I do not mind you knowing these things. Maybe you had a similar upbringing, maybe you suffer ongoing, chronic pain/tension or anxiety. Anxiety can run through the DNA, it can develop from your upbringing, or may be a reaction to a temporary lifestyle. But I feel that acknowledging and letting out things that make you uncomfortable or anxious can loosen the grip anxiety holds on you. Maybe you’re still young, but I want you to know, life can get better, and this is the one joy of adulthood. You CAN take charge. I’ve often worried what people think of me, but I do not want to be fake. I have struggled, and I have overcome many things. That makes me incredibly strong, and why would I be ashamed of that, ever?

I have burst a bubble of silence and fear, for I am not afraid to be who I am, to acknowledge where I came from, to change the parts of it I feel were wrong, and to feel proud of what I have done with all that I was taught and all I was given. The bubble has been burst and that which festered will leave me, in a sneeze, in a conversation, or when I spit out my toothpaste. I don’t expect it to happen all at once, but I am confident that it will not rule me anymore.

Thank you for reading my Weekend Coffee Share. I’ve been a writer for a while for many purposes. I have a book in the works, and I write blog entries and poetry. Here is my most recent poem on kindness: https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2021/02/23/cake-it-poetry/

Have a a great weekend and an even better week to follow!

Cake it. #poetry

Cake it, by Pamela Schloesser Canepa, (c) 2021

Kindness is like a magic potion

You can cake it on and lay it on thick,

It will dazzle and dizzy your enemy,

diminishing their power over you

So they muddle through their vindictive words

as your lightness sticks to their feet

and they slow, like an insect in molasses

So they can no longer hurt you.

But even better, kindness creates levity,

lifts us all above our lofty or selfish ambitions

and lightens the air in a room.

It it is the angel food cake, not the heavy

devil’s food cake…you cake it,

create something out of it,

you bake it, light and airy, to be accepted

or rejected, much better than the poison of revenge–

kindness still feels good.

Choose to send kindness safely from afar

or close-up, with a heartfelt hug.

Kindness is never overspent. Kindness creates

more kindness in this world.

Weekend Coffee Share.  Let Me Introduce You

To me… Every week on Saturday, bloggers participate in a Weekend Coffee Share. It is now hosted by Natalie the Explorer at https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/2021/03/05/doors-in-morocco/ I join in this worldwide, virtual Coffee Share almost weekly. Since I am joining a new group of bloggers, and you, reader, may not have been here before, introductions may be in order. You see, Weekend Coffee Share can help fill the need for social connection during the COVID lockdown and social distancing era.

Last Saturday (or the week before) Iwelcomed readers in to my imaginary cafe complete with fuzzy dog, sun through window blinds,  and Nina Simone playing in the background. If we had just met in this cafe, you’d likely see me writing, as I am working on another book when the muse (and my focus) revisits me. How would the conversation go? (Please don’t mind if I assign you a part in this play):

“What are you writing?” You’d ask.

“Oh, just notes, ideas, reflections on my sleep schedule,  what’s working and what’s not, same with managing my anxiety…what’s working and what’s not. Ideas for my book in progress and some observations that could one day become stories or books.”

I realize you might wonder why I just told you all that. “I’m not ashamed of my struggles, but I guess some of that was all TMI.” I chuckle, as I’m older now and worry much less about being judged.

“I’m a writer too,” you say, “here on Spring Break.” When asked, you tell me you’re from Massachusetts, not surprising due to your accent,  which is great, because, I tell you, “I’m sort of from New England.”

“What do you mean, ‘sort of?'” you ask.

“My dad was military, so we moved from California,  to Illinois,  to Minnesota with family,  to Iceland,  then Virginia,  then here. Everyone says I sound like I’m from New England. Lived there from age 5 to 8.”

“Do you work another job, or just write?”

“I teach middle school, and have done so for twenty years. I write when the spirit moves me, which, these days, is sporadically. My focus is not as good as it used to be, but I sponsor a News Club at school. I love encouraging kids to write!”

“What else do you do?”

“Well, I enjoy time with family,  I have a twenty-four year old son, and my dog. Having a social life is rare these days with COVID.” I  smile under my mask, using my eyes. You are young,  and I  can’t tell if you’re male or female,  not for sure.

Your coffee is ready. “What is a good thing to do while I’m here?” you ask. “My friend will be here to meet me in a few minutes.”

“Go to the beach. The water will still be chilly,  but it’s really pleasant for a walk right now. Great for people-watching,  too. We’ve got some nice national parks with trails,  too. I’m overdue for a beach walk. Whenever I go for one, all worries disappear…I become a happy idiot.”

Circa 2006.

You tell me that sounds great, but you’d prefer to play some beach volleyball with a bunch of co-eds. Then your friend arrives, a young woman, probably also in college.  I’m amazed at how much I’ve told you. I’ve come a long way since college. I still don’t know your gender and decide that it doesn’t matter.

“Thanks for chatting with me, Ma’am,” you say, as I cringe. I don’t want to be a ma’am, as if I’m responsible for what you think of me, and you’ve decided to be ‘carefully’ well-mannered around me. As if I could be your mother. (Oh, guess I could). I’m still not Southern like that. Your friendly chatter was good enough for me.

“Just call me Pam.”

“Okay,” you say. “I’m Joe.”

Or was it Jo? Short for Josephine, like in Little Women? Oh, what does it matter? I could have asked, but it didn’t matter. I just enjoyed the company.

Fictionally and virtually, it has been nice meeting meet you. I hope we meet up in this ‘cafe’ again. If not, I wish you the best in your journeys! Today, it is dreary outside, and after a great night’s sleep, er…read that as passing out on the couch after a crazy, loud week-before-Spring-break teaching week, I am enjoying coffee with creamer after my cereal with blueberries and banana.

Feel free to peruse my blog to find out about books I’ve written, and if you check out my prior posts, you’ll find some interesting reads about my journey through health , anxiety issues, life changes, reaching students, family co-existence, fun with my dog, mental health (my own and my loved ones), etc. My journey is a path to a good place, and I want to be a voice that reaches other voices who may have felt the same, may need commonality, may benefit from my honesty, or may tell me what works for them.

**My title is a reference to my current favorite song, Caution by The Killers. Partial lyrics:

Let me introduce you to the featherweight queen

she’s got Hollywood eyes but she can’t shoot what she sees….

I’m throwing caution, what’s it’s gonna be

Tonight the winds of change are blowing wild and free…

Fearless, it what that song says to me. Though it seems to be a love song, the speaker wants to make a change, and “get out of this town.” You certainly have to be brave and honest with yourself first to make a change. For me, dropping caution means to end fear about sharing myself, my story, or my heart with others. Be brave, know yourself, and be yourself, without shame.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!

Weekend Coffee Share. Cafe Music and Pre-Springtime State of Mind

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share! The sun is shining through the window blinds on this crisp morning, and the cafe is the place to be! My ‘cafe’ is currently playing songs by Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, and there’s a click of my dog moving about on the floor until he settles at my feet again. It all sounds heavenly to me. I haven’t “hung out” in a real cafe in quite some time. So, I’ve created my own. We’ll converse virtually.

It’s a coffee drinking day! I have abstained from coffee for the last four days, due to my desire for better sleep and less anxiety or stress tension. I don’t think coffee is the whole problem, but I promised myself I would drink the green matcha tea more often, as it fuels me enough and is supposedly healthier. Still, this is my reward today, since I slept great last night and actually, most nights this week. Coffee goes so well with Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares for Me.” Piano and/or horns and a sultry voice just bring Spring closer to my heart.

Spring is scratching on our car windows, flirtatiously telling us she is near. “Be ready,” she calls. A rainy week has washed a lot of pollen off of our cars and into the streets. Florida is confused, but heck, that is nothing new. Having lived here since I was eight (with an 8 month misled venture out to OK for the sake of love), I’m used to it. Last night it got close to the thirties but our Florida sun is brightening this day.

I went along, day after day this week with a number of gray, rainy days. Having Monday off was great. Wednesday after school I had the Newspaper Club meeting. We accomplished a lot, I believe! Some are unsure of themselves with writing, so I pair them up, and it has helped. I am trying to make it a welcome place for anyone to find their voice. This was the third week. On the evenings after Newspaper Club, I am pretty tired. I get to bed and fall asleep with ease, and if I wake up in the middle of the night, I get right to sleep. It is good work, something that I am enthused about and that is turning out to be really good for me.

It’s becoming clear to me that I write a lot about my struggles. That’s because I am human. When I am honest with others about that, they are more honest with me. Add to that fact that, my struggles that I’ve overcome are a part of who I am. In my everyday life, I am teaching students who need to feel comfortable expressing themselves in my classroom, so I believe this is beneficial.

Keeping things in or hiding things about ourselves is difficult, too difficult. It results in us alienating ourselves; I know, because I did this drastically four years ago, when my son went through a really hard time with emotions and mind issues after a car accident and head injury. I felt like a failure as a parent. There were struggles he had with himself and that I had with him in the household. I kept so much bottled inside and felt really depressed since I was bottling up the stress. Not very healthy.

Glad that I’m beyond that, I have a few close friends that I can confide in. His struggles are much better, and he has held down a job for two years. I see that I wrote a lot about my stresses back then as well, and that’s a good thing. It helped me to hang on.

Having gone through the shoulder injury last year and educating myself on dealing with arthritis pain has helped me acquire healthier habits. There is a true link between anxiety, body tension, and pain. I’m still working on all of it.

Writing is sporadic, but I will not give up. Perhaps I will move more into autobiographical writing. Journaling is a more frequent process for me in “getting things out.” Blogging is a sort of journaling. It’s all good.

The sunshine outside my windows is representing my current state of mind. I’ve gotten through many things recently, COVID fear being part of them, and I just don’t feel as fearful anymore. Sitting at home in the computer chair all day is not an option! I can do this. You’ve likely heard me say that before. 🙂

**Weekend Coffee Share is a weekly bloggers’ feature that many across the globe have joined. Search for or use the hashtag #weekendcoffeeshare and tell me about your cafe of choice and the goings on in your part of the world. Have a great week!

Two Levels, #poetry

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Two Levels by Pamela Schloesser Canepa (c) 2021

There are two levels of me in everything–

the scared, unsure child and the reasonable adult

comforting her or calming her, reminding of what’s

real and what is a reflection of an anxious mind.

But which is the one that takes off on a flight of fancy?

Which is the one that laughs at an uncomfortable moment,

breaking the tension with a goofy smile?

Which is the intellectual and which is the buffoon?

Ah, but aren’t they one and the same when

I can open up and just laugh at myself?

You see. These two threads are intertwined.

I should deny neither one. I have earned that prize,

my prize for repressing the youthful spirit

when I still had my youth, a consolation prize,

for I had to be good girl, big sister, had to be the wife, and then the mom

restrained by fear or worry or someone else’s view of me.

I had to be what society wanted to see…

and was so afraid to step out of those lines.

I have owed it to myself, I should have claimed it then

But finally now I see it’s my right,

To comfortably own all sides of myself.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

#WeekendCoffeeShare. Picture a Future

Good morning, and welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share!  I’m sipping a peach mango V8, but there is coffee or tea available. I won’t judge…

I thought of writing last night to work on the character of Ellie. I have left her in a precarious situation. I already know how her story ends. She is a warrior. I just haven’t worked out how she escapes her predicament that I was last pondering. All good things take time, I suppose.  Before that, I was composing this post in my head; to quote T.S. Eiliot: “How do I spit out the butt ends of my days and ways…” Sounds ugly, so maybe I am instead painting rainbows out of my doings. 

The last week had a few dark and uncomfortable days tainted by reality.  I can’t give specifics but it is the nature of my job to sometimes deal with uncomfortable situations.  I am so often thankful these days that I started on the journey to grapple with my anxiety and accept the doctor’s diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder a year ago, just 3 months before COVID hit my area of the world. 

I lighten the air with fantasy, envisioning talking flowers or animals, as if in a cartoon.  I do this for me and for my students.  Some days shine with meaning and purpose, while other days, I just respond to my needs.  Breakfast, shower, clothing, work, work, work, decompress, dinner, exercise. Sleep. Socialization and emotional connection fits in somewhere, but it is so different in this socially-distanced era.

Friday nights I put my feet up, with my loyal dog at my side.  I tire of watching someone else’s stories, though, having them stuffed down my throat, and I picture my own. They cannot be as terrible as the world today. Maybe they foretell of a brighter future, where we build the world we want to live in. Certainly not a world of cyber-bullying, sex-trafficking, or violence.  We owe our children better than this.  We need to teach them it is not alright, teach them how to turn the tides.

Who will teach the children to dream a new tomorrow, so they can make it true? To create better moments instead of just reacting?  At night I train myself not to worry about the future of our children, or unseen threats and my own assumptions. I try, but training takes time. It’s an ongoing work in progress, one step up and two steps back…sometimes, 3 steps ahead, others, going nowhere.  That’s okay though. 

In the meantime, I love the sound of my dog snoring, love the cool evening air when I let him out and the morning sun peeking through window blinds.

I try to ponder these things and think of nothing else.

Sometimes it works, and my breathing slows.

I try, but sometimes the trying takes time.

Yet, I try, and sometimes the trying is a victory…

So, still, I try.

If all else fails, laugh like no one is watching. Not so glam, but it feels great!

In other news, ‘coronophobia’ is now a valid term, researchers say.  I work amongst middle school children daily, and I lean down (masked) when I can’t hear them talk.  I social distance as much as possible, but I am not always behind my desk shield. I think I have good days and bad days, so I am not going to adopt that term; however, I believe it is real. 

My phobias stem from so many other things, and yes, a healthy dash of hypochondria at times.  It may have started with a hospitalization at age eight because I wasn’t eating right. My blood count was very low. I felt so alone for those few days, as Mom had to be at home with my three-year-old brother.

Suffice it to say, hospitals can really trigger me today.  I have to be mindful.  So here I am, dredging up my past.  Therapy can lead to that. You think about why your mind goes to certain places. It is very helpful, though, in framing your thoughts, as if you are taking a picture of a moment that makes you feel triggered, yet you take the looming clouds out of it, because, it was only your mind that put them there and interpreted them as a threat or an ominous portend.  I still can put up my guard, but now I can laugh at myself when I am overthinking things. 

Thanks for joining me. I’m going to run into the kitchen to get my green tea, and you are welcome to a refill.  The ‘cafe’ is playing something by Ben Harper, a guitar solo called “Winter is for Lovers.” Interesting idea on this rainy Valentine’s Day weekend! My ‘bae’ and I will go out for Mediterranean food tonight, and I’m cooking him spaghetti on Sunday.  Have a great weekend, send out some love to the world, and stay the course my friends!

#WeekendCoffeeShare. Top 10 Sounds Accompanying my Morning

Noting the sounds around me is part of a mindfulness exercise from the book, Mindfulness Journal for Beginners. This exercise can help you to be more in the moment, especially if you are a worrier or an overthinker like I am. Here’s my top 10 for this morning:

1. I woke up hearing my son’s steps in the hall on his way to work. That gives me an idea of the time, and there was no need to sleep late, I had a good night’s sleep!

2. The pitter-patter of my dog’s feet on the tile floor, excited to wake me up, or is he urgently needing to get outside?

3. My dog’s sneeze and snuffle as he’s telling me he wants to go out. He doesn’t use his bark much to communicate, but rather, uses facial expressions and other sounds.

Bixby loves to move!

4. Geese flying overhead as I step out back with the dog. Those geese just love Northeast Florida, don’t they?

5. Soft rain drops, not even a sprinkle;  well, actually,  I  think it is just drips from the roof. No…now it is sprinkling. A peaceful sound.

6. Some construction machine,  probably blocks away, but not a bothersome sound.

7. My Keureg Coffee machine brewing my half-caff Hazelnut. Yes, it’s time for a coffee day! You may have whatever you like!

8. A Youtube mix containing Of Monsters and Men hits, one of my favorite bands. The urgent Winter Sound will wake you up and fill you with determination; the mysterious Slow Life could just take you into deep sleep. The lyrics of many of their new songs are quite thought-provoking. I may switch to Miles Davis when the coffee is done brewing.

9. There is the usual tick-tock of the clock, but I can drown it out by turning the music up, and sometimes that is what I prefer.

10. If this were a real coffee shop, I’d hear the lull of voices discussing how good their coffee is, our wildest dreams and goals (owning a farm with many dogs and creating a writers’ camp, becoming a comedienne), or the antics of an interesting member in their family. It all sounds good, as I am vowing to have some me time later and not to focus much on my job today.

Okay, I suppose I must share one thought from my week, as I challenge myself to form a mindset that helps me survive the everyday stress and the pandemic distance:

“Don’t grow up too fast, but if you must, save the good moments of your childhood: running through sprinklers, dressing up as imaginary characters, laughing at ridiculous things. They will help you through many hard times as an adult.” -Pamela S. Canepa

Or, to quote a more famous author: “Don’t grow up too fast, Darling. Age is inevitable, but if you nurture a childlike heart, you’ll never, ever grow old.” -Beth Hoffman

My most important goal.

How are things in your world? I thank you for stopping by. Have a great weekend and an even better week!

Their Gift. #poetry

Their Gift, (c) 2021 by Pamela Schloesser Canepa

The butterflies float in as if on wings of a dream

Gentle, colorful, flying free.

The dragons are solid and walk in with a smile, golden-eyed, shaking their scaly tails…they are strong protectors, ready to defend.

We try to forget that we sit behind screens and talk through masks, I envision a magical landscape of pretend.

The moonbeams are also here to inspire as a muse, shining in the dark…never to be invisible, for they would refuse. Quiet and calm, yet a source of light.

The shining stars are here, tranquil or verbal, they will not be smothered, you can’t dampen their might

They keep us all awake and make the future landscape bright.

Signed,

A busy, inspired, challenged Middle School teacher navigating a pandemic landscape.