Hallelujah!

Daily Prompt: Buffalo Nickel

Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

~*~

In the desk drawer to my right ~ where I keep paper clips, and pencils and the like ~ there’s a small ornamental bowl where the tiny things dwell. In it I find three coins, and opt to go with the now extinct ~ the Canadian penny.

Poor old penny. A relic from a time when we cared about pocket change.

The date on this penny? Well, there are two. It seems to be a commemorative coin … 1867-1992, it says … signifying 125 years of Canadian confederation.

Since I wasn’t even a hint of a gleam in anyone’s eye in 1867, I’ll focus on 1992 ~ a year on the downward slide, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Indeed, I don’t recall much of it. You know … that dissociation thing.

I was 29 years old and floundering. It was the year my marriage began to disintegrate (the seven year itch is not a fallacy.)

It was the year we tried to have a baby (thinking, at some level, it might help to save the marriage … duh!) Two (or three) failed in-vitro attempts and their subsequent terrible emotional, hormone-induced breakdowns later, my husband’s telling me I belong in the nut house (his exact words) and I’m telling him there will be no baby unless it happens naturally, because I am not going through that hell again.

Well, there was no “nut house” for me (but years of therapy after I left him), and no baby either. Thank god for small mercies. Not that I didn’t want children, just not under those conditions.

Anything good in 1992? Hmmmmm …

I was gainfully employed and on the public relations career track, writing for a living ~ producing a weekly newsletter circulated to a membership of 25,000 realtors. I also produced copy for and edited the monthly employee newsletter and other promotional materials as needed. I loved it! My secretarial years well and truly behind me. This is when I started taking a serious interest in photography as well, as I needed to produce images for these publications.

Musically, I was singing in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. I don’t recall everything we performed that year, but there were at least five Handel’s Messiah concerts at Christmas, and four Beethoven Ninth’s in the summer, all with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall. The choir, though dependent mostly on amateurs (who must all pass a rigorous audition process) supported by a professional core of about 16 voices, has upwards of 30 performances a year. So, my involvement with the choir kept me quite busy learning music and attending rehearsals at least once per week. I believe I was also serving on the Choir’s Communication’s Committee.

The Choir was my sanity; the musical panacea for my broken heart. The only thing I had that kept me sound. For, you see, in those days there were no horses in my life. I’d given them up “for good” in 1990 after an incident that stressed me beyond my will to want to ride again. And, though I didn’t realize it at the time, the stress of not being around horses at all was taking an even greater toll.

So, 1992, the year the Cold War officially ended, Prince Charles and Lady Di agreed to separate, the Summer Olympics were held in Barcelona, The Silence of the Lambs won Best Picture at the Oscars, Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show for the last time and Lawrence Welk died, was a year I’m not inclined to revisit too often.

I guess the best that can be said about this year is that my eye’s were beginning to open … and I had my music.

As George Frideric Handel and the angels would say, “Hallelujah!”

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Weary Waking

Daily Prompt: First Light

Remember when you wrote down the first thought you had this morning? Great. Now write a post about it.

~*~

No rhyme nor reason

To night’s restless sleep,

Tossing and turning.

Shroud of weary waking

Weighs upon me heavily,

Slumber’s dreams drowned

In ether and remembered no more.

T’will be a quiet day.

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Never of Travel

Daily Prompt: No, Thanks

Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?

~*~

Never is a long time.

People change. Places change.

In the mid 1990s, with the Siege of Sarajevo raging, I might have said I “never” want to go to Sarajevo.

Rush hour from our hotel window at the Radon PlazaAnd yet, in 2009 I unexpectedly joined my husband on a business trip to this battle-scarred city and my experience of it, and Bosnia-Herzagovina in general, changed my life profoundly. I found a piece of myself there I’d no idea even existed. As a result, I have a fondness for that beautiful city that goes deeper than for many other places I’ve visited.

So, to say there are places I’d never want to visit is, to my mind at least, somewhat shortsighted. You just never know when fate or circumstance will take you somewhere you never thought you’d want to visit, and how marvellous the experience will be.

Having said all that, I might add that living with adrenal fatigue the past few years has made me acutely aware of my limitations when it comes to travel.

No adventure travel. Nowhere too exotic. Nowhere I can’t eat the food. Nowhere I can’t get a good night’s sleep.

My recovering nervous system can only handle so much.

So, instead of focusing on the “never” of travel I turn my attention to what’s possible.

Never is a long time. I prefer to think that at some point in the not too distant future my health will support travelling somewhere I might never have considered because of it.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

Daily Prompt: Race the Clock

~*~

“Turn back the clock 20 years and be who I am today but with the vitality of my 30-something self? You mean it?”

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

A rare flight of fancy it is not. Who hasn’t wished they could step back in time and relive the lost moments of their lives from a clearer and more enlightened perspective?

“What do I have to do?”  I inquire of the ether.

No answer.

“What do I have to do?!!!!” I yell it at the top of my lungs into an abyss of unknowing.

Still, no answer.

“Why do you taunt me so?” I mope. “You’ve made an offer I’m not likely to refuse and then you leave me suspended in disbelief. I made my commitment yet you have reneged on yours. Why?”

Still there is silence.

I sit quietly … waiting. How much good I could do with my life taking the knowledge I have now back 20 years to a new mid-life beginning. As it is, I feel I am in a race against the clock, trying to accomplish much with all that I’ve learned while living in a body battling the ravages of time.

“You can’t go back …”

“Huh? Who said that?” I must know.

“You can’t go back …”

“Well … that’s beginning to look blatantly obvious,” I growl. “You, whoever you are, have deceived me.”

“No, you have deceived yourself. Take what you know now, use the resources you have and start here. You’re in a race against the clock and the more you lament for the past the more precious time you waste in the present. Your future depends upon it.”

“But … but …” I sulk.

“Make this the offer you can’t refuse … the ability to live with an open heart and an open mind, and a grace that enables you to move with the flow of life and live in a state of acceptance. Be present in your life and live in every moment. You will see a great and positive change, I promise you.”

With a sigh I concede my lot. There is no going back. The new offer is the one that cannot be refused. I’ve lived enough of my life in the past already.

~*~

If I’d known then, what I know now … Who hasn’t had that conversation with themselves? Never mind this writing exercise (which I may have snuck in to 10 minutes) I really do feel that living my life now, with all that I’ve learned and am learning is a race against the clock. And I don’t like racing.

Having come through a health crisis and still walking the road to recovery I value every moment of pure energy I have at my disposal to live the life I love. Still, in my wistful moments I do wander what it would be like to live through my 30s as the more grounded and mindfully-living person I am now.

Still, if I was offered such an opportunity, would I really take it? Would you?

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

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

My Week in Music

Daily Prompt: Playlist of the Week

~ Five songs that represent this past week for me ~

~*~

Oh, a music prompt! I love these …

Having given a few moments thought to my week, these are the musical selections that come immediately to mind:

Selection #1 ~ Right here, right now (Jesus Jones) ~ this could easily be changed to Write here, write now as I have felt quite motivated to follow the daily prompt and write every day to get the ol’ creative juices flowing. Having said that, it’s a song that also reminds me to take each moment as it comes, non-judging and totally open to the road that lies ahead, wherever that may lead. Be here, now. Feel and process feelings as they happen and respond mindfully and accordingly. I’m reading a fascinating book ~ Mindsight by Dr. Dan Siegel ~ which is helping me to be even more cognizant of my life in the moment. I’ve made remapping my mind and breaking old patterns of negative behaviour one of my goals for this year, replacing these old ways of being with more positive and holistic ways that allow me to live my life more fully and completely. It’s all good.

Selection #2 ~ Boogie Nights (Heatwave) ~ part of managing adrenal fatigue for the past few years included drastically reducing the amount of exercise I was doing. Over-taxing the nervous system was a bad idea, so karate had to go and my focus had to become gentle (yin) exercises like dog walking, quiet rides on my horse and Pilates. Now that my nervous system appears to be on sounder footing I want to expand my exercise regimen, still, I need to be mindful about it. Since his retirement my husband has taken over dog walking, so what am I left with? I can dance! Boogie Nights, a great disco song from the 70s, starts my Fun mash-up (of more 70s disco and some rock) and I just move to the music. About 20 minutes stretches muscles and gets the heart rate pumping in a way I can manage. I try to do this two to three times per week. So far I’ve gone all disco once this week, but I think today will be a good day to add to that.

Selection #3 ~ Baby, It’s Cold Outside (pick an artist) ~ selected because it’s been &^#% cold outside this week (-16C yesterday with windchill). My horse has an injured suspensory ligament so I go every day to nurse his wound and keep him company, but the barn and arena are not heated so I am, essentially, in a frigid outdoor environment for two-three hours at a time. The art of dressing warm without overheating is lost on me, so I usually end up in a sweater with a down vest over it and my winter breeches, which is not really warm enough. My feet are always cold, no matter what boots I wear or how many layers of socks I don. So, by the time I get home I’m ready for a nice hot bath. I just don’t get warm until I’ve immersed the damp out of my bones.

Selection #4 ~ Ein Deutches Requiem (Brahms) ~ This is what I’m listening to right now, as a matter of fact. As well as being a writer, artist and equestrian I am a singer. Singing was another one of those things I had to let fall by the wayside because of adrenal fatigue. It’s an activity that requires an extraordinary amount of energy to do well and because of the adrenalin involved can tax a compromised nervous system to the point of extreme debilitation. (Just before I quit singing I was working with a coach and attending workshops but had to stop because doing so literally made me sick for days after.) Now that I’m feeling stronger I’d like to (try to) incorporate a structured singing program into my life again. I’ve been spoiled though. I sang in one of the world’s premier large choral ensembles, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (TMC), for 12 seasons, and having been raised by an opera singer I’m picky about the quality of singing I lend my voice to. Does that sound awful? Shouldn’t it just be enough to sing? Perhaps, but if I’m going to expend my now precious energy doing something I love than I have to love it. So, in my internet search for a local choral society at 7 a.m. yesterday, I found a local chamber choir that sounds about right. I sent an inquiry expressing my interest and giving some of my background, and received a response telling me I was welcome to try out in March when they would start rehearsing Ein Deutches Requiem. This just happens to be one of my favourite choral works and one I’ve performed many times with the TMC. Is this a sign? I will make my final decision about trying out for the chamber choir once I’ve heard them perform at their next concert on March 1. I’m hopeful. Of course, if I try out they may suppose I’m not right for them. It’s always a risk, but I won’t know until I try.

Bear SmiingSelection 5# ~ Jump (Pointer Sisters) ~ Yes, from the sublime to the totally ridiculous. Yesterday the vibe at the barn was a bit unsettled and Bear, my injured horse who’s on 120-day stall rest (we’re at day 25) and daily rounds of hand walking in the arena, and who’s been quite sensible about it, had a jelly bean moment. That is, after a roll in the arena footing to get the kinks out (which I didn’t mind because I knew he hadn’t had a chance to roll in a while) he launched to his feet and leapt/jumped/bucked in the air like a Lippizaner stallion. I thought I was going to have heart failure. “You’re not allowed to do that!” I yelled at him from across the arena. “You’re injured, remember?” He just looked at me with an element of surprise and stood there noncommittal. Within moments I finally regained my composure and he walked over to me looking sheepish. He knew he’d abused my trust. We had a good talk during the ensuing walkabout, during which I reiterated how inappropriate it was for him to jump about at this time. If he was allowed to do that I would be allowed to ride him, and I’m not, so he needs to stick with the recovery program and stop acting like a four-year-old. He smiled … he really did … and I couldn’t stay mad at him anymore. Look at that face (yes, a nice summer image). Could you?

So, there you have it. My week in music …

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Why even go there?

Daily Prompt: Burnt

~*~

Gone, but not forgotten

Ashes of another time,

Things missed but not

Lamented.

For, should I die tomorrow

I would leave you all

Anyway to your fate,

Whatever that might be.

I’m sorry I could not

Save you, but in my

Heart you will ever live

As a glowing memory.

No regrets. I loved you

As I could and now

We must part.

Be well.

~*~

Too much of my life has been lived in regret and second guessing. Saying goodbye to what was and moving forward is an important life lesson, so to dwell on things that I cannot, or could not, control, is something I prefer not to do. Why even go there?

Books and music are the only things I might be sad about leaving behind, but even these are replaceable.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Writer’s Danger Zone

Daily Prompt: Play Lexicographer

~*~

My dream come true.

A word to call my own.

Playing with the alphabet.

I’m in the danger zone.

A brainstorm of confusion

Puzzling my thought.

A word game I alone can play

Culled from all that I’ve been taught.

Got it!

Lexinaffle: ~ verb ~ the inability to dream up a new word for a daily prompt. Useage: I’ve been trying really hard to think of a new word for this frustrating exercise and find myself completely lexinaffled.

~*~

So silly …

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Much Maligned Vegetable

Daily Prompt: Embrace the Ick

~*~

Interviewer: “Tell me, Ms. Doright, when do you first recall embracing the much maligned vegetable many of our readers would agree is icky? My notes don’t actually tell me what the vegetable is, perhaps you could elaborate?”

Ms. Doright: “All in good time … Honestly, I just made up my mind it was time to change my mind. Icky is as icky does. I am in no position to make such judgements. I imagine it all depends on one’s definition of ick. Mine was more about the texture, smell and taste of the thing, but I am beginning to see things differently.”

Interiewer: “Indeed, how have you learned to see it differently?”

Ms. Doright: “Oh, I went for food sensitivity testing and the nutritionist said that my body simply cries out for … it, so … you know … one must respect all aspects of the body’s needs, not just what one thinks it needs, which is often at odds with the truth. As well, this delightfully positive woman provided some scrumptious ideas for preparation. I found her enthusiasm for said icky veggie almost infectious.”

Interviewer: “Still, forgive me, after a life-time of loathing one simple declaration has the power to change your mind? I find this hard to understand.”

Ms. Doright: “Well, believe me, learning that I should make this particularly offensive cruciferous vegetable a staple in my culinary calendar came as quite a shock. I’d only ever experienced it as over-cooked, mushy and nauseatingly repugnant. The smell would be enough to push me over the edge. But then I recalled a visit to a Portuguese restaurant last summer where this icky veggie demonstrated surprising possibilities. Baked, or maybe it was stir-fried, with a delightful combination of other ingredients including, if I’m not mistaken, ginger and garlic and other things I love, it’s crispy texture and tangy taste tickled my taste buds in ways I’d never imagined possible … with this vegetable, you understand. But then, I forgot about it until this meeting with the nutritionist. And whereas my initial response to the knowledge that my body adored this veggie (full of vitamins C and K and B6 and dietary fibre and essential minerals) was to screw up my face and declare ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’, I’ve come to realize it may not be so bad after all. I simply need to learn new ways of preparing it. … Do you understand now?”

Interviewer: “Indeed, which brings me to my final question … what the hell are we talking about?”

Ms. Doright: “Why, Brussels sprouts, of course.”

~*~

A few weeks ago I went for food sensitivity testing and found out that the vegetable I loathed more than any other (found the most icky) was in fact one my body finds particularly beneficial ~ though how it would know this when I never eat it is beyond me.

Still, to honour my body’s apparent need for the icky Brussels sprout I’m looking for a few good recipes. Any ideas? (Nothing boiled, please … )

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015 

Harm Not My Sanctuary, Lest I Weep

Daily Prompt: Free Association

Home ~ Sanctuary
Soil ~ Harm
Rain ~ Weep

~*~

Harm not my sanctuary, lest I weep,

For here is where my heart doth rest,

My weary body sleep.

Tis here I close my tired eyes,

Replenish here my soul

And find within my stirring depths

The truth that makes me whole.

Tis here my joy abides each day

That girds me forth in life,

Where love and safety keep me warm

Protecting me from strife.

Harm not my sanctuary, lest I weep.

~*~

My home is my sanctuary.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015