I Need Courage! The Times They Are A-Changin’

On Saturday John and I took John’s nephew miniature golfing in Sunnyvale for his birthday present. We had fun. We went late in the afternoon and the sky was overcast but it wasn’t too cold. There were a lot of people and a young boy was celebrating a birthday party. We started off behind two young blond-haired boys who looked about Dax’s age. They were having a lot of fun too! I took pictures and I remembered going there years ago when I was much younger. Golfland hasn’t changed much. I noticed a wide diversity of people on Saturday. I’m always reminded how diverse the Bay Area really is no matter where I go. I was glad to see other people smiling and having a good time. It almost seemed unusual in a way, or out of the ordinary. Maybe because I’m always affected by the voices’ negativity, harassment and anger. It seems odd sometimes when other people aren’t affected in the same way.

Yesterday I saw a news story on CNN about the murder trial of Jodie Arias in Phoenix, AZ. I’d never heard of her, but I saw video clips of her on the witness stand during her trial (that apparently started in Jan or Feb for a murder in 2008). I didn’t recognize her either, but it occurred to me that it might be the girl belonging to the voice who had been following me around all these years until a year ago February when she vanished and I didn’t hear her anymore. I really don’t know, but I suppose it’s possible. Maybe if she had plastic surgery to alter her appearances.

She is on trial for the murder of a boyfriend she had in 2008. She shot him 4 times, and stabbed him multiple times with a knife. She lied 3 different times about her story until she finally admitted to his murder. Her trial makes me think that if it really is her, she is most definitely a horrific monster. There is no other explanation except that she’s a psychotic psychopath as well as a pathological, habitual and compulsive liar. So are all the rest of the voices that I’ve heard over the years. Each one is worse than the other, if that’s even possible. What a bizarre nightmare.

I saw the news story on TV, and listened and watched her on the witness stand for a few minutes of her testimony on Friday. She’s not much more than an inhuman robot – there was no feeling, no emotion, no concern about what she’d done or the effects her actions had on her victim’s family (or anyone else for that matter). It’s almost as if there is nothing inside the body. Nothing human anyway. Definitely horrifyingly scary. It seems that the scientists, psychiatrists, doctors, and lawyers do little more than make excuses for her – looking for absurd, irrelevant explanations, and placing blame on others. How awful.

I left the house this morning to go grocery shopping after chanting for two hours and writing my monthly letter to SGI President Ikeda. I skipped February, but today I wrote a one-page, type-written letter describing briefly my progress with my memoir, my Buddhist practice with the SGI, and with the voices. I really needed courage this morning when I left the house, but I’m still not entirely sure why. I felt a little sorrow, but I couldn’t pinpoint the cause. I felt sad when I came home from Safeway and Savannah wasn’t here to greet me, even though I knew that I had left her at PetSmart. Strange. This is why I need courage. It was difficult for me to even say hello to the cashier at the grocery store. John and I have our therapy appointment tonight, and I’m really looking forward to exercising. It’s been an unusual day.IMG_0025

Interactive Meditative Journalling with Life Constellation

I found a great website a few days ago called Life Constellation. I received a Tweet from the San Francisco Writer’s Conference about this website so I decided to check it out. I tried it for the first time yesterday, and I loved it. Life Constellation is a website designed by Jill Nephew, a scientist from Berkeley, California. Jill created the website as a form of “meditative interactive journalling” that is great for using as a daily journal or for people who are interested in memoir writing. I decided to try it to help flesh out some aspects of my own memoir as well as delve more deeply into issues surrounding my past.

I started with the topic “Realization or Awareness” and I chose what I’ve realized most recently: I have a very real fear of talking to other people. I am also slightly afraid of the sound of my own voice. Sometimes I hesitate to respond when talking to a friend or I stumble over choosing the right words to say out loud. I’m not able to converse fluently, often only haltingly at best. I take too long and think too much about what to say before I say it. My advice to myself has been to think less, talk more.

I wrote a brief paragraph and switched topics. Next I chose “Challenges” and decided to write about the difficulty I’ve had over the past 10-15 years finding and sticking with a permanent job. I explored this as it related to my fear of talking to other people. My inability to find a permanent job that was related to my career goals in my 20s & 30s was due in part to my lack of social skills and communication skills, as well as my shyness. I believe that if I was better able to communicate and socialize with other people, I might have found a job earlier in life and had a more successful career.

I had a great experience with Life Constellation yesterday, and I highly recommend this interactive website to anyone who is interested in writing or journalling. It is definitely a very unique experience.

A Wonderful Staycation!

My husband had the week off last week and it was truly one of the best “vacation” weeks I’ve had in a long time. We actually had a “staycation”, and didn’t travel anywhere except to San Francisco. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge on Valentine’s Day and we couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more beautiful day. I love the Bay Area! We had a great 12 mile bike ride on Saturday with more sunny weather, and enjoyed delicious dim sum for brunch on Sunday. We both had a chance to enjoy ourselves and relax this past week, and we really made the most of John’s time off.

Our couples therapy is going well. Last week I said that I ignore or disregard any voices that I hear about 99% of the time. I never respond to them like I used to, although I still occasionally here what they say. It’s never anything more than my own thoughts repeated or their own mindless babbling. It’s all meaningless. I hear fewer yelling and less whispering. If I hear anything, I immediately think about something else and focus on my own life and my own thoughts. I also told our therapist last week that the stronger I become mentally, physically and spiritually, the weaker the voices get. I believe that eventually the voices will cease to exist in my life. While I am not waiting around for that day to come – I continue to live my life as best I can – writing, chanting, exercising, cooking, cleaning, visiting with friends and leaving the voices far behind me.

I write daily and aim to finish my memoir draft in early March. I am determined to be a successful writer and I hope to reach as many people as possible.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Death I am not afraid of, but life is to be lived!

I’ve decided that the main reason why I have difficulty talking to other people and speaking up in groups (even small groups) is fear. I am also very self-conscious, but I think self-consciousness is fear of what other people think about me – even if I’m just saying hello to a cashier at a grocery store. This is one of my biggest challenges and it’s a challenge that I need to work on every day. Every time I step out of the house, I try to focus on making every effort possible to interact and speak with other people. For me, it’s really about talking. Conversation doesn’t come naturally to me. Silence does. My husband often suggests that in order to start a conversation, or even just to keep a conversation going, all I need to do is ask questions. I try to keep that in mind. Ask a question. I don’t know why talking and conversing is so difficult, but I think the more I practice, the better I will get at it.

I was inspired by a quote I found in one of my books I pulled off the bookshelf yesterday.

The only way to enjoy life is to be fearless and not to worry about defeat and disaster. One must not be afraid of being hurt. The world is full of all kinds of hurts and it is only by facing them that we can become strong and hardy and able to do great things. There are millions of people in the world but most of them just drift along, afraid of death and even more afraid of life.

I don’t know who the author of this quote is. It might be Daisaku Ikeda, but I’m not sure. It’s a wonderful quote and also very true. I’ve drifted along for periods of time during my life, not so much afraid of living, but afraid of speaking. Now it’s time for me to speak up! To share my experiences, thoughts, beliefs, opinions and emotions with others so that I can truly live more fully, and help my family and friends live more fully as well. Death I am not afraid of, but life is to be lived!

An Invincible Spring

Once in the midst of a seemingly endless winter, I discovered within myself an invincible  spring.

This is a great quote that I found on Facebook, and it really expresses how I feel about my experience over the past few years. I was in a truly disheartening state of mind and had little hope – a seemingly endless winter. Now, I am making every effort to bring out of my life an invincible spring. I can’t always rely on other people – my husband, my parents, my brothers – although they have done so much for me. I need to develop myself and retake my life back from the voices. So much of my life – my mind, my thoughts, my energy, my focus and my concentration – went toward the voices in my head that very little was left for my own life.

I can feel the difference in something as simple as browsing in a bookstore. I am no longer living under a dark cloud or shadow, attempting to hide it from everyone else around me. I have a little more courage to talk to strangers, although this is something that I am constantly working on. If I do hear voices, I disregard whatever I hear, no exceptions. I feel as if I have returned to the land of the living. After everything that’s happened to me, after everything that I’ve heard over the past few years, it seems that now I can move on with my life. Before, I lived in a constant state of fear, always terrified of what might happen to my family, and not being able to do anything about it. Now, I look forward to spending time with my family and strengthening my marriage.

I’ve also realized that socializing with other people is a learned behavior, and that I can improve my social skills by working on them daily. This is one of my biggest challenges, aside from ignoring the voices in my head. I try to smile more, and be more friendly toward other people. I think back to the Kaiser classes I’ve attended and remember some of the things I learned. I went to a Social Anxiety class for a few sessions, and also an Assertiveness class. Both were very helpful. I’m trying to focus more on developing my own life, so that I can live more fully and start to put the past behind me.