Indelible

eleanor brownn message

I had a dream last night. I guess it was kind of a nightmare. I was at a large speaking engagement. As I heard myself being introduced, I was overcome by the feeling that I didn’t have anything to say — or, at least, anything anyone in the audience would feel was important enough for them to listen to. I started to get sick to my stomach. Once again, I felt like I was not enough. It’s a feeling that has plagued me for most of my life. No amount of prayer, therapy, self-help books, or positive thinking has removed it. Maybe it’s just the path I get to walk. Or maybe one day it will heal. I have no way of knowing. I keep moving forward, anyway.

Which brings me to this blog, My Spiritual Sabbatical. For at least a couple of years, I’ve wanted to combine the writings here into a published book. But there’s so much I didn’t say as I wrote my way along the journey. Reading the entries is like trying to solve a puzzle with missing pieces. There were so many times my heart was breaking and I kept up a brave front — as much for myself, as for the reader. It was too raw, too painful to delve deeply into my heart and soul. So many times, I didn’t say all that could have been said, or reveal what could have been revealed. Sometimes it was out of fear of making myself too vulnerable. Sometimes, it was out of confusion; I was in the midst of the storm and didn’t know where I was going. There were so many tears and so much pain.

But I think there are those of you who read between the lines. I thank God for you.

After recently showing part of the manuscript to an editor for feedback, I now find myself torn between whether to do extensive rewriting to flesh things out, fix all of the grammatical errors, or leaving it the way it happened — messy, incomplete, confused, but real.

There is the illusion, too, that I must somehow resolve all of the grief and trauma of the last five years, answer unanswerable questions, and tie it up with a happily-ever-after ending for the reader. But that’s not how it is. I’m still in a transitional housing arrangement, still struggling with finances, my health is diminished since the car accident, I’m still suffering bouts of depression, and the road ahead is sometimes frightening and always uncertain. I can’t pretend otherwise. It hasn’t been all dreary, of course. Some incredible things have happened. Wonderful things. But that old feeling of “not enough” comes back to haunt me.

So… I’m moving forward with my production schedule! My goal to publish was Fall 2016. I think Thanksgiving Day would be a meaningful release date, since one of my biggest lessons over this journey was “Thank Him. Trust Him.” Living life always boils down to gratitude and faith.

My Spiritual Sabbatical is a story worth the telling, if only for myself.

Dog Walk of Faith

I feel I should mark this day in some way, as this is the one year anniversary of the day I closed the door behind me on Summertime Lane. But I feel numb. I’m not quite sure what to say.

Right now I’m house-sitting and dog-sitting at a very nice home in a quiet neighborhood of L.A. for a few days while friends visit family. It’s an affluent hillside community. It’s also only about 10 minutes from where I used to live.

As I walk the dogs a couple of times a day and see all of the sprawling homes with their landscaped gardens, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to me? Where will I live? How will I live? Will I ever have my own place again? Do I need to?

Only a touch of envy enters my mind because I know that I’m going to have what I’m supposed to have, and so I push out the negative thoughts and focus my attention on being open to God’s plan.

What will happen?

Home, Sweet Home

“I pray that I may take this day as a gift from God. I pray that I may thank God for this day and be glad in it.” — From December 11, Twenty-Four Hours a Day (Hazelden).

I prayed that prayer all day on Saturday, December 11, 2010. I prayed it standing up. I prayed it on my knees. I prayed it with tears streaming down my face. I prayed it in defiance. I prayed it in surrender. I prayed it in anger. I prayed it in acceptance. I took a big black marker and wrote it on the wall the next to the window where I first prayed 13 years earlier asking God to allow me to purchase the little condo on Summertime Lane. Finally, a home.

I had found an eviction notice on my front door when I came home late Friday evening: Get out in 5 days. The other shoe had finally dropped. I cried through the night and came to find the prayer at dawn in my daily meditation book.

I started this blog because I wanted to hold onto my sense of self in the aftermath of a foreclosure. I lost my home. I could have kept a personal journal. I chose to do it publicly because I quickly came to realize that there were so many other people going through the same thing, and there was little compassion for their situation. Lots of blame, little understanding. I wanted other people to know that they are not alone. It’s a traumatic experience to lose your home. Home. It doesn’t matter why it happened. Disorienting. Frightening. Shameful. Lonely. Sad. People who haven’t been through it often don’t comprehend the complex web of emotion. I’ve heard some pretty insensitive comments borne of judgement and lack of understanding. I avoid the soapbox on this topic, but there is a foreclosure crisis of unprecedented proportions in our country. When there are so many good people going through the same thing, I believe something systemic is going on beyond individual bad choices. That’s all I’ll say about that — for now.

Instead, today, I want to remember the prayer. It’s a good prayer. When I opened my book this morning and saw the prayer, it took my breath for a moment. It’s been exactly one year. One incredible year of God drying my tears, holding my hand, keeping me safe. I’ve lost track of how many roofs I’ve slept under, how many roads I’ve traveled, how many stars in the sky I’ve gazed at, how many smiles I’ve received and how much love I’ve experienced. Home. There have been many gifts in the ensuing 365 days. Thank you, Lord. I want to live that prayer every day of my life. Home is not a place.

Hurt people hurt people.

When someone you love hurts you, get down on your knees, bow your head and say this:

Father, I am in pain. Please do not let my heart become bitter. Help me see how I can grow from this experience. Show me if I have done wrong and the lesson I need to learn that will make me a stronger and better person in Your eyes. Keep me from striking back and trying to cause equal pain, for I know that that is not Your way. Every bitter experience carries within it a seed of compassion because I can use it as the starting point to greater Love. Let this experience deepen my depth of Love and undersanding of others who have gone through or are going through similar trials, because everyone experiences pain. Amen.

Flawed

I’ll confess. The primary reason I went to the invitation-only event last Saturday was because I wanted to be able to say I’d been inside what was once Liz Taylor’s house.

I enlisted a friend on my little adventure. We giggled winding our way up the twisting canyon roads in the midday sun to the crest of Beverly Hills. As we climbed, we were rewarded on the way with views of mansions in the hills and breathtaking vistas of the city below. It was too late for us to turn back to find street parking when we realized there was a valet at our destination at the top, and I think we did a pretty good job of not cringing too much as we exited a decidedly non-luxury car.

As I entered the main room, I saw an oil portrait on the wall of La Liz in her prime. That was one beautiful lady. She looked flawless.

It was an affair for people in the recovery industry with presentations by experts on healing and complimentary spa services for guests, such as massage. The place was lovely, the people were lovely, the food was lovely. It was all lovely. Yeah, well except I was suffering some major “impostor” feelings. But why shouldn’t I be there? We are all children of God. I was invited. Besides, if I’m going to go around calling myself an adventurer, I’d better start acting like one. So I schmoozed with the best of ’em and had a nice afternoon.

As I was leaving, I gave up trying to act blase and sneaked a few cell phone shots as souvenirs. I wanted a close-up and my friend who came with me obliged. It didn’t matter that no one else would be able to tell where I was; I just wanted to document for myself that I suited up and showed up.

The view from the top of the hill of the sun setting behind the Santa Monica mountains was spectacular. Click.

I didn’t look at the picture until I got home. Gasp! Wrong side! I always forget about that age spot on my right temple. I don’t like it. Gray! Lots of gray. Ugh! Eyes not so clear. What happened? They used to be so bright. Flawless? Not. Getting older? Yes. A lady doesn’t tell her age! A lady doesn’t tell her age. A lady doesn’t tell her age?

This is what 60 looks like on Eleanor…watching a sunset in Liz Taylor’s back yard.

Eleanor Brownn

Eleanor Brownn is 60 years old.