Some Things Are Not Meant To Be …

Here is this week’s Free Write Friday prompt from Kellie Elmore:

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Liberating for me, as a matter of fact …

Enjoy!

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Some things are not meant to be

What do you think you could ever say

That would reach me?

I am not angry.

I simply wonder.

And why do you think

I could even trust your words?

After all the pain;

All the rejection;

All the hurt.

Yes, hurt.

How could you know what you could never tell me

When you don’t know your own heart?

And when you certainly don’t know mine.

You’ve bruised it such

That I can no longer entrust it to you.

So, whatever you think you could say

In such a simple missive

Cannot reach the tenderest part of me,

Padlocked and protected

Against the likes of you.

You had your chance.

You had my love.

And you squandered it.

*

Forgive you?

Certainly ~ on my terms.

Safer for my heart not

To know what you could never say.

You’d only colour it

With self-pity,

As always,

Anyway.

~*~

This highly-charged prompt brought the word “father” to mind.

Two fathers, actually. My Heavenly Father, with whom I have a good relationship and who has no need to write me such a letter.

And my Earthly father, who is a completely different story.

I do not wish to disparage him. Certainly, he had trials enough growing up that scarred his life. Still, as Iyanla Vanzant (@IyanlaVanzant) tweeted last evening … “Parents are people with hurts, wounds and stories – still children have the right to expect parents to be present.”

He was not present. Not in mind, body or spirit and, in fact, he declared during a phone call when I was 16 that if anyone was going to be hurt in this relationship it wasn’t going to be him.

So, is it possible that such a man, an intelligent one at that and a good writer, would ever know or understand my heart enough to know what to say in such a letter?

I doubt it.

And I have accepted it.

Our life paths have taken far different routes. He makes no effort to be in touch with me and I have no need to be in touch with someone who willfully hurts me.

Not all relationships are meant to be.

Conversely, I have always felt a strong connection to my Father in Heaven. He is the one, in the midst of life’s storms, who tells me everything will be alright. He is the one who wants only the best for me. He is the one who surrounds me with love and shows me my potential.

He is the one who wishes me peace.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

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#FWF: Spirit Bear

A girl after my own heart!

Source: We Heart It
Source: We Heart It

(This image is so full of meaning for me I hardly know where to begin.)

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There are no coincidences. This is something in which I have firmly believed for some time. For good, or ill, life gives us what we need to learn and develop as spiritual beings in a mortal experience. It also makes available the tools we need to negotiate each challenge. It is up to us to be open of mind and heart so we can recognize them when they appear.

Here’s an example from my own life.

As all who follow this blog will know I have a horse whose registered name is “Shakespeare.” This is a beautiful and meaningful name in its own way, however it’s a bit cumbersome as an every day name at the barn.

So, while I was waiting for him to come home for the first time nearly eight years ago, I spent a bit of time noodling over what name I could give him that would evoke his larger than life personality, cuddly nature and solid physical form.

The name “Bear” came to mind fairly quickly. My home is populated with several collectible bears, and “Bear” includes a letter formulation of “ShakespEARe.” On the surface it made perfect sense, so I soon decided this was going to be his barn name.

Still, I had no idea of the deeper meaning to be held here.

During my trauma-filled childhood I comforted myself with stuffed bears. I’ve always had them around me. I guess they are, and always have been, a totem of some kind.

A couple of months after Bear came home and while I was studying natural horsemanship, I was introduced to the idea of the bear’s spiritual meaning. When I considered the trajectory of my life and the healing that was already in progress, things began to make sense.

According to www.spiritanimal.info the bear can be described spiritually as follows:

Bear Meaning

The bear has several meanings that will inspire those who have this animal as totem: 

  1. The primary meaning of the bear spirit animal is strength and confidence
  2. Standing against adversity; taking action and leadership
  3. The spirit of the the bear indicates it’s time for healing or using healing abilities to help self or others
  4. The bear medicine emphasizes the importance of solitude, quiet time, rest
  5. The spirit of the bear provides strong grounding forces

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Let’s look at the list again and how it relates to my experience.

The advent of my horse, Bear, acknowledged a significant time of healing in my life (no. 3). A time where I’ve had to go to ground (no. 5) and practice solitude and get rest (no. 4). Doing this has brought a greater sense of self-awareness and helped me to reclaim my life. Mr. Bear, as he is often called, has helped me to find the strength I need (no. 1) to smile in the face of adversity (no. 2) as I take action to manage, and heal from, the traumas released by therapy. And he’s helped me to find the confidence (no. 1) I need to move into a new and exciting phase of personal growth.

Bear is an incredible catalyst for positive change. I throw my arms around his neck and thank him every day for the beautiful healing role he plays in my life.

Is it a coincidence my beautiful dream-come-true should attract a name that represents healing on so many levels? I think not.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, our passion ~ whether it’s golf, sailing, horses, knitting, music or whatever ~ is our teacher. At a deeper level it speaks a language that touches our hearts and can heal us. All we need to do is choose to listen and respond in ways that lift us up, not tear us, or our passion, down.

My teacher, my catalyst for positive change is my horse ~ my Spirit Bear.

I am blessed.

Bear and me
Bear and me

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This is my response to this week’s free writing challenge with Kellie Elmore. Slightly off the beaten track, but I don’t question these things in a free writing format. 😉

Thank you for stopping by,

Dorothy

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©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

A Life Unravelled

A Life Unravelled

I am of an age

When the formative years

Speak.

“Remember me?”

They ask.

It starts with

Music.

A song.

A memory.

A feeling.

Hmmm …

I had forgotten.

Lost in

Tumultuous times of

Twenty-plus years.

Tumult covered by more

Tumult.

A child overwhelmed;

A teenager confused;

A twenty-something

Ungrounded,

Until in the thirties

Unravelling begins.

As it must ~

Or die bitter.

~*~

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m seeking professional help to unravel and make peace with my life.

Starting in my late 20s I began to experience wake-up calls. People and events emerged to shake things up, most often sending me into an emotional tailspin.

My initial response was always that of the victim.

“Why me? What did I do?”

Then one day something started to happen.

I started to wake up.

My grandmother’s death when I was in my early thirties snapped me out of a career malaise. Instead of being bitter about the loss of someone I loved I was going to honour her memory by honouring my heart’s desire.

I embarked on my true journey with the horse. Granny would like this, I thought, as she was also passionate about horses. More importantly, however, she’d want me to be happy.

My two years as an equestrian coaching intern were a refiner’s fire. The veneer of my “happy” married life began to be stripped away until I could finally see the truth of its dysfunction. The victim was alive and well and absorbed into the drama of another who, I quickly realized, resembled my emotionally distant, self-absorbed and delinquent father.

Within a few years we divorced. I sought my first round of counselling and avoided dating once I realized I was attracting variations on a negative theme. I was determined to relinquish emotional baggage and find a healthier way of being.

My eyes were opening.

Eighteen months later I met my future husband. A kind, gentle, thoughtful, caring and emotionally mature man. (What he was doing with me took me a long time to understand.) The road was rocky. I’d had no experience being with such a person. But  unlike the previously dysfunctional men in my life, he was genuinely interested in my well-being and demonstrated through deed, and not just word, his devotion.

I learned to accept I might be worthy of something different than my normal experience.

My eyes opened further.

Two years later, tragedy in the riding arena as a school horse I’d been riding died following a freak jumping accident. Getting back in the saddle was difficult. The silver lining came a few months later with the opportunity to part-board a beautiful thoroughbred mare, Murphy. This lasted nearly three years.

And then Murphy died of cancer. More blinding misery, but the courage to look for a silver lining.

Five months later, a dream come true when Bear entered my life. Finally, a horse to call my own. But I wanted to be an aware horse owner. I wanted to build a relationship based on trust. I turned to natural horsemanship and enrolled in Chris Irwin‘s Train the Trainer program. While I was fine tuning my horsemanship skills the horses were reflecting back to me how broken I was, my insecurities rearing their ugly heads and demanding my unbridled attention.

Another wake up call; another realization that I needed more help.

Wise Old Equus

Enter art therapy and meditation. I became more grounded and a beautiful collection of veil paintings was born of my unburdening. This journey lasted about 18 months.

And I was still working with Bear ~ the experience of self-awareness around him bringing greater depth and meaning to our relationship. A new self-confidence was emerging; the victim was beginning her retreat.

And then my eyes opened some more.

A week in Sarajevo in February 2009. Panic attacks. Anxiety. My inner personal hell rising to the surface and reflected in the sad, unhappy state of a recovering war-torn city.

Within weeks I was sitting in a therapist’s office, the depression and anxiety, the feeling of being stuck and weighted down by things beyond my understanding more than I could bear.

The true work of unravelling a lifetime began sitting in a chair opposite a stranger whose only desire was to help me along the road to wellness.

The pain, anger, bitterness, grief, shame, the trauma of abuse laid bare. The broken-ness of my life lying before me like the scattered pieces of a puzzle waiting to be re-assembled, but with awareness.

Eyes ever opening.

And with this a sense of liberty. The freedom to begin to see myself differently. The triumph of survival and a new-found understanding of what it means to thrive. The tools to rebuild the puzzle of my life into something more functional. An opportunity to create a clearer picture of who I really am while releasing the illusion forced upon me when I had no concept of self and no choice but to absorb and reflect the drama and dysfunction of the adults around me.

A life unravelled.

A life reclaimed.

~*~

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

#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

Daily Prompt: What’s in my Name?

The name Dorothy is of Greek origin and means “Gift of God.”

To those who do not believe in God, this probably won’t mean much.

DaliaMy strong belief in God, however, makes this name particularly meaningful to me, even if, at times, I have felt it terribly old fashioned for the era in which I live. I have contemplated changing it to something more hip many times, and considered shortened versions, but they just don’t want to stick.

When I was a little girl of three my parents and I were visiting San Francisco Zoo. Apparently, towards the end of our visit, I got quite tired of walking and turned to my father, looked up and said, “Poor Dofy …”. I was carried the rest of the way. Occasionally a family member might address me affectionately by this name. Very occasionally.

I will not tolerate Dot or Dotty.

I am told, by my mother, that I was named after my godmother (ironically enough), someone with whom I am still in occasional contact, though we are not close.

Dorothy is also easily translated into Hungarian (Dorotya) and as half my heritage originates in that country it stands to reason that my name might have some link to that culture. However, I am not aware of any of my female Hungarian ancestors having that name, nor that my parents had this in mind, particularly, when considering my moniker.

Coincidentally (or not), my middle name, Elizabeth, Hebrew in origin, means “God’s Promise.” (Hungarian: Erzebet.)

The inspiration: Queen Elizabeth.

I have tried to adapt this into a nickname as well but again, nothing sticks.

I am Dorothy, through and through. This name reflects my deep and abiding faith in a power greater than I that has, through all my life’s ups and downs, been my rock.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

Daily Prompt: Name that … You!

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Free Write Friday: Childhood Gift … Bear

A tougher challenge this week ~ at least for me.

Here’s what Kellie Elmore has asked us to write about:

free-write-friday-kellie-elmore“Write about your most memorable childhood gift. Was it a Christmas gift? A Birthday gift? Was it something you really wanted or was it a surprise that ended up holding a sentimental place in your heart? What do you remember? How did it make you feel?”

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Trust Bear

Bear

UpHeaVal,

Instability

Spelled a childhood to be

Survived.

A bear clutched;

My security

Blanket. A gift from

Me to my heart

Though by others made

Manifest.

Secrets kept and

Wept over

In secret ~

Together. No

Judgment. Just

The stable warmth

Of the fuzzy

Inanimate. Safe

In my arms;

Secure in my

Heart.

~*~

The bottom line is my childhood memories are cloudy. The single treasure that comes to mind? A small, well-hugged and dog-eared brown bear named Boo Boo (think Yogi Bear … I had him too). It was a sad day when, at age 10 or so, I finally laid him to rest after a savage mauling at the jaws of the family cocker spaniel (or I think that’s how he met his demise. Another memory blotted … and possibly just as well.)

There have been many bears since. I have a home filled with lovely collectible ones.

And, of course, it’s little wonder I have nicknamed my companionable horse Bear … 😉

The Greeting

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Trust and the Broken Four-Year-Old

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A free writing exercise inspired by a dream …

Trust Bear

Trust and the Broken Four-Year-Old

The light had gone from her eyes by the time she was four. A vacuous wary stare filled the big, dark eyes with an expression of distrust.

“I cannot trust you,” she seemed to say.

Not a word was spoken but I could tell, as she gazed vacantly in my direction, that nothing was registering. It was as if she was looking right through me, her gaze distant; her aspect disengaged.

She would not be hurt again.

At least I could see this was her intent. But, sadly, it was not her truth. For even if she were able to defend herself completely from the predators that prey on such as she, her defences would also seperate her from those whom might help; might love.

But she trusted no one.

What choice had she but to take care of herself the only way she knew ~ like the tortured animal fight back, run, hide ~ anything to stay out of harm’s way.

It does not make her happy.

It doesn’t even keep her safe. For though she might avoid the demons without, the demons within linger, and torment. They are already there ~ already telling her she’s not good enough to be loved; not pretty enough to be adored; not smart enough to be successful; not loud enough to be heard.

The well-meaning voices she doesn’t trust out there cannot quell the dissenting voices she hears in here.

She searches for her truth, but cannot find it cloaked, as it is, in a blanket of carelessly woven lies that have already, at such a tender age, defined her destiny.

The burden of it suffocates her, and yet she has no idea ~ yet ~ that she cannot breathe. Breath means nothing because it is as if she is not living. She exists. She already survives. She bears the weariness of the aged … and she is four.

I can see in her eyes how she longs for release. She longs for something she does not understand; doesn’t know … yet.

She longs to trust someone but doesn’t know where to turn.

She turns to me.

“Can you be trusted?” she seems to ask, silently, vacantly, as if she’s already made up her mind that I cannot.

Will she understand that if I reach to hug her and say “Yes!” that this is truth?

Our truth together?

How long does it take to reason with a broken four-year-old?

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013