Giving Thanks

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving. The hills around our home are splotched in orange and red and gold; the palette of autumnal splendour. The sun burns white to the southeast and the sky is lined in wisps of silver, a veil to soften that burning light.

My studio window looks out over an almost naked birch, faintly adorned in the fading gold of last summer’s dress. Beyond it the valley gently falls and rises in a wave of glacial remembrance, golden light bouncing from burnished maple to burnished maple. The great celebration of life before the big winter sleep.

Autumn … the season of letting go; of surrender.

I surrender.

I am in the autumn of my life. The great letting go. Releasing the toxic need to be perfect; to please everyone; to be anyone other than myself.

I embrace my non-manicured working hands, toughened by hours of labouring on the farm. Hands calloused from mucking stalls and cleaning paddocks and raking grass. Stiff and sore from weed whacking almost every day all summer to keep the edges on 20 acres of paddocks tidy. Hands charged with gentle muscle memory from finessing my feel of the reins while training my feisty mare, Sophi. Hands no one would call pretty. My wedding rings are married to that finger now. These are working hands.

I am thankful.

My hair, burnished by summer’s sun, is at least four inches longer than it was in March. It falls idly down my back or gets tucked in a pony tail as it hasn’t done for years. It’s ever-longer layered mass is silvering, my own non-chemical ombre created with what remains of last March’s salon colour. Somehow I look more myself than ever with this messy, care-free mop.

I am thankful.

The summer of Covid was harsh and yet kind. I’m down two dress sizes and fit from all the hours of farm labour. I sleep well. My health is more resilient. My mind is clear. My spirit buoyed. I have felt no need, nor desire, to be exposed to situations that might compromise that. I know what debilitating illness feels like. Adrenal fatigue is an ever-present ghost prompting me not to take unnecessary chances. I listen ~ for my own sake and for the safety of those around me. I feel healthier than I have in years.

And I am thankful.

The months have seen the passage of many people out of my life as they negotiate these unprecedented times in their own way. And yet I have also been gifted with new friends who choose to travel this path of uncertain times with like heart and mind. Supportive in spirit and community. On the farm with the horses this is important. We help one another so together we thrive.

And I am thankful.

Our journey through the pandemic these past few months has endured its own challenges, but we have chosen the path of faith over fear; of gratitude over greed. To experience the joy while honouring the sorrow. Some days are easier than others, still the intention is to thrive not merely survive. And so it is. Solution-oriented rather than problem solving. There is a difference.

And so, I give thanks for all that is. For a big-hearted caring husband of integrity who loves me; for family and good friends who support me; and for a plethora of four-legged furry kids who keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.

For Canada, the country I call home, I give thanks.

We cannot know the end from the beginning. We can only determine our attitude as we negotiate the path and surrender to the experience of it. There is great power in letting go.

Be well.

Happy Thanksgiving …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2020 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

A Lesson in Thrival

Choice 1200

~*~

This past year has been a lesson in thrival. Yes, I have just invented a word. From survive and survival we go to thrive and “thrival.”

You’re welcome.

This time last year instead of setting new year’s resolutions as I would normally, I set the intention to thrive. 2019 was going to be the year I stepped out of my kick-ass survival boots and replaced them with comfortable thrival shoes.

It’s been interesting, because in setting that intention all my survival moves have been challenged.

February proved a jumping off point, first because I was re-introduced to the work of neuro-scientist and author, Dr. Joe Dispenza, who challenged me, through video and the written word, to fire and re-wire neural pathways in my brain. Basically, to replace old thought habits with new ones so I could create my desired reality based on new, more holistic information, rather than continue to struggle (a survival mode strategy) doing it based on old patterns of being. So illuminating!

He then challenged me to raise my awareness by starting each day with a 20-minute meditation. (“Rest and Renew” on YouTube). I’d meditated before but not with the commitment I now felt to thrival. So,I turned my Ikea footstool into a meditation spot and made it a practice to go their early every morning to quiet my mind and connect to my heart. With each passing day it became easier. In fact, I looked forward to it and enjoyed it so much that it very quickly it became a habit, one I’ve committed to every day to help establish and maintain equanimity. It has served me well. Getting into thrival mode has created a good deal of chaos as the people and feelings that were a product of my survival scurry out of my life. It’s like I just don’t have room for them anymore and somehow they know it.

Believe me, it’s a thing. Look at the people around you. Are they a crutch in your desperate need to survive and let you down when you don’t fulfill their agenda, or do they lift you up to a higher understanding of yourself and support you in your quest to thrive, no strings attached? There is a difference, and I learned that in spades this year.

Indignation be gone!

Part of my learning has been understanding the part indignation has played in my survival strategy. Indignation, or reacting in the heat of the moment, is rarely our friend. How often has someone or something annoyed you so much in the moment that you’ve risen to defend yourself against a perceived injustice and then regretted it? Or it backfires on you?

For me it was another moment last February when my husband and I were walking on our property and watching one of the current trainer’s horses making a meal of a spruce tree in its paddock. Horses don’t eat trees unless they’re hungry. It was mid morning and as I looked around the snow-covered paddock I noticed there wasn’t a speck of hay to be found. My back was instantly up. Horses need access to hay when there is no grass. Without realizing it I started ranting at my husband about winter turnout and how horses need hay and why don’t these horse people know this, and on and on. When he’d finally had enough, and after I’d texted the person in charge in as calm a voice as I could muster (please give this horse some hay so she’ll stop eating our tree) he forced me to look at myself and my reaction. Why was I so quick to react instead of simply observe and then respond? Why was I so hot under the collar about something that a simple conversation could fix?

This new awareness gave rise to a personal commitment to get ahead of this triggered reaction. Over time I realized that my indignation was born of a sense of injustice and this was related to the survival mode in which I’d been living my entire life. With years of therapy under my belt I already knew the whys and wherefores, now I needed to deal with the ingrained coping mechanism ~ the propensity to lash out to protect my personal and emotional space.

So, it’s been interesting. With lots of triggers on and off the farm this year, never mind out in in the world-at-large, I have had to learn to get in front of my reactions. To take stock of the moment and choose my response rather than get lost in my reaction. Wow, is that ever hard. But it’s been such a valuable lesson. I now know the moment my indignation is about to rise. I can feel it first in my chest like a thud. And then my mind clicks in and the wheels start to turn and my heart rate elevates and my mind spins and … and … and … if I don’t get ahead of it BOOM! it’s out there. And the funny thing is, it’s no kind of release, it just ramps things up even worse so that in the end I’m actually doubting what I did and then beating myself up for being reactive. In the end, I lose!

Observe . Breathe . Wait

Getting ahead of my reactions means observing, breathing and waiting. When I wait I give myself time to even consider whether or not I want to dignify the perceived offense or injustice with a response. I give myself the choice of ignoring it or responding to it later from a more solid, less volatile place. One of my strategies is to write everything down to get it out of my system. Journaling. A personal record from the heart that I can then put away and not think about again unless given a very specific reason, say, as evidence. (It also provides great resource material for other writing projects.)

You see, to live in thrival mode we must release all the survival instincts that have kept us stuck in old patterns of behaviour and re-program our vast intelligence to function more efficiently and dynamically. Interestingly, living in thrival mode is less energy sapping than survival. In survival mode we’re always alert and waiting for the other shoe to drop and believe me, that’s an exhausting and debilitating way to live. The Complex-PTSD and adrenal issues I’ve experienced did not appear by accident. However, in thrival mode we have the option to live a more edifying and enjoyable life without placing conditions on everything and everyone to be exactly as we need them to be so we can survive. Isn’t that the bane of our world right now? The fact that many of our leaders are so burrowed down in survival and fear that they must control everything to the point of utter destruction in order to make themselves feel better and more in control?

Thrival is impossible as long as we allow ourselves to be influenced and buried in the deep fear and survival mentalities of people we can’t control. This has proven a difficult challenge for me. Survival mode made me a terrible control freak and I’m still working on letting this part go, but at least I’m aware of it. At least I can get ahead of my negative momentum and stop it before it impacts another. I can thrive on my own terms, in my own happy heart, and there’s nothing you or anyone else has to do to make it happen.

In thrival mode, we claim our power at no one’s expense. In survival mode our power flails to the detriment of all.

As we head into 2020 I set my intention to Thrive 2.0. The next, more advanced level of living a full life ~ flourishing, growing, prospering. Even more comfortable thrival shoes.

May I wish you the same. Happy New Year!

Be well and thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019

 

Mirror

Water abstract

And if the view’s not to your taste …

Don’t blame the mirror.

~*~

Image: Dock relic in large pond … Tylney Hall, Hook, Hampshire, England

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019
Aimwell CreativeWorks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fallow

 

Under the Rainbow

~*~

Fallow soil,

Hallowed ground.

Nothing grows here ~

Not yet.

The seed planted

Rests peacefully

Within a fertile

Bed covered by

Hope; fed with

Dreams.

Awaiting the

Moment

To rise; to greet

The sun.

Its day will

Come.

In the meantime,

Fallow.

~*~

Sometimes there is absolutely nothing to be done to create forward momentum. In those times, rest.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Sunshine Maiden

Golden Glow LR

She glowed upon a soft horizon,

The Sunshine Maiden.

A warming, golden light

That shone o’er

Shivering hills and

Truth bare-boned. No

Hiding from the glint

In her amber all-seeing

Eye. And yet, no judgment

There. Simply a place

Holder shedding light

On dark corners of

Spirit. Healing.

De-mystifying the

Mysterious. Revealing,

Through her bright beam of knowing, the

Bounteous beauty born of

Bleak internal landscapes.

Her light; her love, radiating and

Conquering the dark.

~*~

In Memorium

Wendy Golding, mentor and friend. Recently deceased lover of life and co-founder of
Horse Spirit Connections in Tottenham, Ontario. A guiding, healing light, and force for good, to all who knew and loved her.

wendy and thor copy

Always in my heart.

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019

The Voyage

Ships ahoy

Upon life’s billowing seas
My vessel is swept
Windward. I am
Storm-tossed
And swell-swallowed,
Brine-stung
And surge-whipped.
I steer my battered
But unbroken ship
Upon the crashing waves ~
Afloat I remain.
My vessel salt-stained
And wind-lashed,
Yet a survivor.
In calmer waters,
Renewed in purpose,
Resolved, am I, to press on.
The map is charted
And though off course blown
Yet will I arrive.
It is my destiny.

~*~

The truth is, tall ship or small, we’re all just doing our best to get to the opposite shore.  

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

A Story for our Time

Writing a novel is a labour of love. Giving birth to the words, phrases, ideas that have the potential to shape the thoughts and lives of its readers is, in my mind, a huge responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. I’m in the process of re-writing and editing my second novel ~ a work I hope will help to empower women to new heights of courage and self-confidence. It is, indeed, not only a labour of love but, I believe, a story for our time.

My first novel, Murder on the High Cs ~ a light-hearted murder mystery set in the melodramatic world of divas and dysfunction, was completed in late 2016, and was subsequently long-listed by Crime Writers of Canada for the 2018 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel. Since then, it’s been sitting on a shelf waiting for the next step. I have approached a few agents, but to no avail. I guess it’s time has not yet come.

In the meantime, I pursue other creative projects, not the least of which is this other untitled novel.

It’s been in the works for several years now, and is based on the true story of a woman (my late maternal grandmother) who stepped out of the shadow of an emotionally abusive 27-year marriage and into the light of her own truth and power. It’s set in the early 1960s, typically a time when women put up and shut up. Well, a day came when my gran decided she could no longer do either, and she made her dramatic escape.

It’s a story for our time about a woman ahead of her time.

This novel has become one of those projects I can’t put down. I’m invested in it as a vehicle for helping women recognize when enough is enough and find the courage to move on. My desire to demonstrate how one woman defied the odds and did just that is too strong not to finish it. I left a bad marriage once, so in my own way am familiar with the heartache, the turmoil and the emotional blows one experiences when trying to establish a new, more positive reality. Letting the old, negative conditioning go is a battle all its own.

My grandmother’s story continues to inspire me to live my best life and honour my truth. My hope is that through my telling of it she will have the opportunity to inspire other women to find their own courage under difficult circumstances and take their power back.

I’m getting terrific feedback so far. My plan is to be finished and ready to shop it by the end of spring.

Onward and upward!

Be well,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

That Old Shoe

How do we give ourselves permission to be joyful? I mean really joyful.

How do we duck from under the weight of conditioning wrought by generational trauma that gets in the way of us finding our own joy?

Well, the truth is we can’t duck it, we have to deal with it. We have to look it in the eye and ask, “What are you holding on to?,” and listen to the answer with an open heart and an open mind. To heal from what was we must recognize and acknowledge it. From my experience it’s emotional pain that causes mental strife … it’s the stuff that stands in our way of experiencing pure, unmitigated joy, and it does not leave on its own. It needs to be loved away.

I have come to this conclusion after 24 years walking the healing path; a journey that continues because even now, after all this time and with all the healing I have done, I still find myself bumping up against generational trauma that limits my ability to find my own joy in the moment.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

The notion is that nothing good is given without something good being taken away. Or, that when something good happens it will be quickly cancelled by something equally bad.

This is the big one. This is the one that sits quietly in the background of my psyche undermining my joy.

This is really old stuff. This is my two tyrannical grandfathers reigning terror on my tenderhearted grandmothers and their children.

I’ve done a good deal of family history so I have a fairly basic understanding of the hardships, prejudices and world events that shaped my family’s lives. Some of them coped better than others. My grandfathers not so much. I know now that their actions were the projection of their unresolved pain. The thing is that in those days no one talked about, never mind dealt with, their hurt. Everything was covered in a shroud of secrecy and bravado and allowed to fester and explode on the people around them. Not surprisingly, their families took the brunt. Sadly, this is still too much our society’s truth.

These days there’s no reason not to deal with our pain. Oh, there are plenty of excuses, most of them based in fear or shame, but the fact is the resources are out there to help everyone when they have the courage to step up and say, “Enough is enough!”.

I had to do it, or my life was going to implode.

Happily, one of the magical things I’ve learned while walking my healing path is that it’s not just my own pain I’m healing, it’s that of the ancestral collective that lives in me.

Many years ago, after a painful divorce, I made the decision to deal with my emotional baggage. I distinctly remember writing in my journal at the time that, “The buck stops here.” It wasn’t that there was a next generation I had to save. As fate would have it my family tree stops with me. It was more a strong feeling that I had to provide some relief for those who had come before me. We know from the field of epigenetics that trauma and beliefs can be encoded into our DNA. This means that we bear the emotional wounds of previous generations and these are perpetuated onto future generations unless we gather our courage and get the help we need to stop it. Think about  it … how many family ghosts are dwelling in your family’s attic and pull the strings of your life?

So, I made a pact with myself, and my ancestors, that I would do what I needed to heal my life and their pain. Interestingly, the more I have grown in self-awareness and been able to remedy my issues, the deeper has become, in a healthy way, my connection to my ancestors and their stories. I fell empathy for their experiences, not angst. This brings me joy because I feel I am no longer constrained by the debilitating patterns of self-denial wrought by generational terror and waiting for that damn shoe to drop. Most of the time.

Blossoming in our own truth

Every once in a while, when I feel the light of something wonderful in my life, I feel the threat of that old shoe. Years of therapy have put me in a better position to recognize when it’s there and to know that it has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with my experience. It is old. It is the shame, guilt, disappointments, bitterness, and all other negative emotions that dwell in the cauldron of fear that have stirred for generations. And when I sense its presence, it takes every ounce of courage I have to surrender the need to be controlled by this old family shame and throw the spectre of that old shoe out the proverbial door.

We are fortunate in these modern times to have access to good mental and emotional health care. Trauma no longer has to rule our lives if we only open ourselves to a chance for healing. Once we can free ourselves from the chains of family trauma, we are free to blossom into our truth and share its beauty with the people who share our lives.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Dust to Dust

Goodbye, we say again, goodbye,

Beneath a sad and sullen sky.

A year has passed

Since you drew breath;

Surrendered to untimely death.

My judgment, for I miss you so ~

I was not ready to let you go.

Still,  life goes on as well it must,

So I release your dust to dust.

Your spirit soars while tears I cry

Beneath a sad and sullen sky.

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks