My Life Teacher

Daily Prompt: Teacher’s Pet

~*~

Dance Like No One’s Watching

I was never teacher’s pet. Or, if I was I never knew it. School was a nightmare for me.

At the time I wasn’t aware of it, but I was a child with abandonment issues lugging around a good deal of emotional trauma. My trust had been broken at an early age by the adults I was supposed to be able to rely on the most, so trusting that anyone else, including a teacher, would have my best interests at heart was next to impossible.

And when you can’t trust anyone, who can teach you?

It’s not that I wasn’t loved. I know my mother loved me, but she was so wrapped up in her music career while putting food on the table that I inadvertently became a shadow dweller ~ lost; lonely and invisible.

I didn’t begin to understand my early history and how it created the misshapen patterns of my life until I checked myself into therapy in spring 2009. Feeling stuck in survival mode I needed someone to help sort me out.

Coincidentally, or not, it was about this time the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, complicated by early-onset menopause (or the other way around, it doesn’t matter, it was brutal) began to manifest. Anxiety and panic attacks, extreme fatigue, unexplained weight gain, et al, drove me to near distraction. I wanted explanations. I needed to know what was going on. I needed to address underlying issues and give myself life again.

Like most people I was hesitant about jumping into the mental health abyss. Psychotherapy still has such a stigma attached to it ~ as if it is a weakness to step up to the plate and ask a specially-trained objective third-party, “Why am I this way and what can be done about it?” Still, it became clear after a tumultuous trip to Sarajevo in February that year, during which I had three separate and inexplicable panic attacks, that something needed to change. And anti-depressants, or any their kin, were not the answer.

So, with my husband’s support, I found a good, trustworthy therapist. I prefer to call her my life teacher ~ a person who can safely reflect back to me who I was/am ~ for good or ill ~ and show me how to embrace what works and re-configure what doesn’t it.

And, what a journey it has been …

I have learned more about myself and my world (and my place in it) in the last few years than I’d known in a lifetime up to the point of sitting down in that therapist’s office. My therapist is the life teacher I’d never had, shining a light on a window to my world that I would never have been able to look through, let alone begin to enjoy the view.

She has shown me my strength; helped me to see my successes more clearly; opened the way for me to have the courage to recognize my pain without dwelling on it. Naturally it has not been easy, but facing my truth has given me the strength to see myself so longer as a victim but as a woman who can share the wisdom of her life experiences in profound and empathic ways.

I can say, in all honesty, that I am not the person I was when I walked into my life teacher’s office nearly six years ago. I’m thriving more than surviving.

Of course, the journey continues. There is much more to sort through; much more to learn but, truth be told, I have always looked forward to that hour and a half per week where I can sit down and sift through my emotions and issues with someone who does not judge me for the absurdities (self-judgement) that trips from my lips. Every visit my life teacher shows me how to see myself through a softer, less judgemental lens; to take life as it comes and let the past be where it lives ~ in memory only as a teaching tool. And to take what I learn of, and from, my past and recognize the strength of character that brought me through those experiences to this point.

My life teacher has taught me that my past is not my present, or my future. That I can reprogram my dysfunctional ways to create a new more holistic way of being. A way of being that integrates past experiences with present realities to support deeply-held and beautiful personal truths that have no attachment to my early childhood trauma and the illusion I’d lived under for so long.

So, you ask who my most important teacher was … and still is?

The person who has taught me to see, be, and love, my Self ~ my therapist; my life teacher.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Burning Question

Daily Prompt: Burning Down the House

~*~

Todays’ prompt asks what five things we would save if our house was burning down, assuming that people and animals are safe.

So, what five things would I save if my house was burning down?

I pray this is something I never experience.  Still, for the purposes of this exercise I’ve prepared the following list of irreplaceable (or hard to replace) items I would likely reach for first in the event of a house fire.

1. Personal documents … ie. passport, birth certificate, etc. … they’re an important part of my identity and, frankly, I wouldn’t want to deal with government bureaucracy to replace all of this after experiencing such a trauma. Fortunately I know where I store these items so they’re easy to retrieve.

2. My computer hard drive … I don’t trust “cloud” technology so I don’t save anything to it. All my writing and photography is saved in my computer. Oh … we do back it all up on the Apple Time Machine. Do I just save that instead? Hmmm … I don’t know. Maybe I need to give this some further thought.

3. Genealogical records/family photos … all safely stored in two boxes. Why I would want to save them particularly I’m not sure. I have no children to pass them along to when I leave this mortal coil. Still, I do have extended family out west and since I’ve traced parts of the family tree back to 15th century Europe I believe it’s worth hanging on to for handing over at a future time. The old photos are a fascinating record of my predecessors and the times they lived in, as well.

The Arab Tent by Edwin Landseer

4. All original artwork … and, the print of “The Arab Tent” by Edwin Landseer that my mother gave me when I was a little girl. This beautiful print in its gold-painted antique frame has had a place on a wall somewhere in my house ever since (even after several moves!), and means the world to me. (See my blog post A Childhood Gift)

5.  My hardcover collection of Taylor Caldwell books … though a controversial figure in her time she was a prolific and accomplished writer and supreme storyteller. (Captain and the Kings among her most famous works.) Her evocative books captured my imagination and helped to formulate my own writing style. Since Ms. Caldwell’s books are no longer in print and I have a fairly comprehensive collection of her works, I would be most upset to lose them.

So, there you have it. For the purposes of today’s prompt this is what I think I would save if my house was on fire. Still, I hope I am never in the terrible position of having to answer this burning question for real.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Insatiable

Daily Prompt: Enough is Enough

~*~

Wise Old Equus
Wise Old Equus … A veil painting by Dorothy Chiotti

~*~

Insatiable.

You are.

Not to be satisfied

at any time,

by any means,

because the soul lost

knows not

when enough is enough.

Searching for what

never can be

for you know not

that for which you seek.

And I,

your convenient and

invisible slave,

drown in your endless

need at any expense,

at my expense.

And wonder when,

perchance,

I might surface

once more

to catch my breath,

and recover

at all cost,

 my own soul lost

to the

insatiable.

~*~

An old personal battle that very occasionally pops up for a skirmish.

Still, enough is enough …

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2015

Trust

Trust

~*~

A precious, fragile gift

To you, from me.

Unseen to the eye,

Yet ever present in the heart.

Handle with care.

If you break it,

Don’t come back for more.

~*~

My response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday challenge for this week.

trust4

Yes, I know it’s Sunday. 😉

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_n

#FWF … The Heart is More Than Words

Connection

The heart is more than words as passions run

And spirits soar to lift above the cloud.

For one thing only moves beneath the sun

And trumpet calls my name so true and loud.

With joy my heart doth leap in sheer delight

As beauty bourn o’er all doth jump and play.

A dream; a dance; a marvel to my sight,

And to my soul it speaks in every way.

*

In form as mighty as in spirit dwells,

This catalyst for centuries of change

Pure power harnessed in such beauty spells

A bond that now most people find too strange.

Life would not be the same for me, of course,

If not for love profound of noble horse.

~*~

Poetry, beauty, romance, love.

O me! … Oh life without the spirit equine would be for me less than divine.

I will say I was a little disappointed that the horse was in no way represented in that Apple ad.

How soon we forget our partner, the horse. A noble animal who, for thousands of years, has graced the Earth with its beauty, majesty, spirit and romance. No other animal, not even the dog, has had so profound an affect on humankind’s evolution as we’ve leapt the boundaries of knowledge and change that have brought us to this point in our story.

The beauty and power of the horse have inspired hearts to art, music, writing, poetry, invention, exploration. The horse has engaged with us in battle; industry; recreation; sport.

Wherever man has left his footprint in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization we will find the hoof print of the horse beside it.~John Moore

In return all for which he asks is the regard of a kind heart, and to be fed, sheltered and loved.

Can you imagine a world … our lives … without the poetry, beauty, romance and love of the horse?

Perish the thought.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” — John Keating (Robin Williams) Dead Poets Society

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nHerewith my response to this week’s free write prompt from Kellie Elmore. Written in sonnet form as this appears to be my preferred form of poetic expression at the moment.

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

#FWF Reprise: Childhood Gift … The Arab Tent by Henry Landseer

Free writing is a great exercise and a little more challenging when the memory is involved.

free-write-friday-kellie-elmoreAs mentioned in my last Free Write Friday post on the Childhood Gift, my childhood is very much a blur. During last week’s free writing exercise I couldn’t think of anything to share besides the bear story. Which is fine ~ it’s a nice story. Somehow, though, it left me feeling empty.

The fact is, my mother had given something of great meaning to me when I was a child (besides a roof over our heads, food at the table and a youth steeped in culture), but what it was I just could not recall through the fog of memory while trying to free write on the topic.

That was until a memory jogging discussion with my therapist on Tuesday reminded me of a special gift I still have and that means the world to me.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t think of it as it’s within eyeshot every day.

I don’t recall the exact age I received this thoughtful gift. Maybe nine years old. And I don’t even remember how it was given to me. Perhaps for my birthday.

When my mother toured with the opera company she would frequent antique shops in the various British cities she visited. She would often return home, after a few days away, with easily transportable items she hadn’t been able to resist, like old picture frames and glassware.

I didn’t pay this much mind until one day she presented me with a gold-leaf antique frame bearing a print of “The Arab Tent” by Edwin (Henry) Landseer (1802-1873). The beautiful print she purchased at the gift shop of the The Wallace Collection in London, where the original is on display.

The Arab Tent

This beautiful print of a grey Arabian mare and her bay colt sheltered in an Arab tent took pride of place on my bedroom wall throughout my formative years. Now, despite more life-altering physical moves than I care to remember during which I lost or misplaced many possessions, it somehow graces a wall in our family room.

I guess this print and I were  meant to be together for a lifetime. 🙂

The Arab Tent has become even more meaningful in recent years …

Before Bear arrived in my life I was part-boarding a beautiful grey thoroughbred mare called Murphy. For two years she felt like she was my horse and her owner was happy for me to treat her as such.

MurphyIn the spring of the second year, Murphy became quite ill. We didn’t know what was wrong with her and for several months she was on-again/off-again with work. By autumn she was dropping weight rapidly and a trip to the equine hospital was in order.

She arrived on a Thursday. Within a day and after several tests she was diagnosed with cancer of the peritoneum (lining of the heart). She was dropping weight by the minute. By Saturday she was dead; euthanized. There was no staying the tide of that terrible disease.

Her loss was devastating to me.

I took two weeks off from riding and then, determined to get back in the saddle, started riding school horses again.

Then, about a month later, my future husband suggested it was time to turn my life-long dream of having a horse into reality.

Three months later Bear entered our lives.

Going back to The Arab Tent for a moment, what amazes me is how prophetic this beautiful piece of art seems ~ like a mysterious foreshadowing of what was going to be.

My experience with the grey mare (Murphy) gave birth to the brown colt (Bear).

A kissI get goosebumps just thinking of it.

Now every time I gaze upon The Arab Tent in my family room, I am reminded  of these two beautiful horses that have graced and brought important meaning to my life, and how their coming was, seemingly, pre-destined.

All that remains is for me to view the original of The Arab Tent at The Wallace Collection. I hope that day comes soon.

God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. I’ve experienced enough of life so far to believe this with my whole heart.

You just never know the profound significance of a simple gift.

I’m so glad I remembered this piece of my life and my mother’s role in it.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013