Perspective

I am the stain on the mustard colored shirt wondering how long I’ve got to live and what will happen when it stops being etiquette Tuesday and causal Friday is a thing of the past. Stains do not belong on formal clothing. They are a mark of slovenly manners, banishing a garment to the closet of items hardly worn and regularly forgotten. In the closet you become an after thought, or worse, the back up of the back up outfit –one step away from the Good Will or the trash. It’s better to be the guy in the mustard colored shirt in a sea of red, blue, and white, not knowing what you’re doing but having the opportunity to clasp your hands together in some form of pseudo-prayer, hoping to join along and feel the rhythm of the beat you can’t quite identify, than to be relegated to the quiet space of gently laid clothes belonging to no one.

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The Wisdom of Setbacks

file000585494801February 24, 2014

Sometimes life takes us on detours when we long for a straight route to our destination. Thus begins a series of questions .  . . Is there really a destination? Are we planning to “arrive” some day completely well, completely put together, fully understanding everything we need to know?

Unfortunately, we do not have the privilege of the helicopter view. We are stuck in the middle of our own dramas, trying to thresh the fields and find our way when there are no sign posts. We trod through the dark forests looking for light and sometimes wonder if we will ever make it out again.

For the past few weeks a slow creeping sense of my illness has been resurfacing. It was like the tide. It slid in undetected, and then suddenly I noticed the waves lapping at my legs. I have to admit, feeling the old symptoms made me want to give up. I wanted to crash and burn and forget all of my optimism.

One of the sages in my life recently said “if we allow ourselves to simply feel the feelings in the moment, the most intense versions of the feelings last for about 90 seconds.

I can feel anything in 90 second intervals. So I tried it.

Instead of surpressing the disappointment and feeling of being a faded copy of a faded copy of myself, I let it all wash over me. I let myself be angry and see it as unfair until the feeling washed away. I stayed present with how hard it is to have a chronic illness and the constant struggle of finding a new normal when all you want to do is become “your old self.”

One of the sages in my life recently said “if we allow ourselves to simply feel the feelings in the moment, the most intense versions of the feelings last for about 90 seconds.

I can feel anything in ninety second increments – even if it’s disappointment, anger, and self-pity.

After sitting with my feelings I went for a walk. As I ambled through the woods, a great blue heron flew across the path. Her wings spread wide across the sky, flapping gracefully as if carrying a tremendous weight. Instead of falling, she soared.

I meditated on the wisdom of setbacks and began to ask myself this simple question that was given to me by a dear friend:

How is this illness helping you heal?

Right now I don’t have the answer. But settling into the question gives me peace.

What ups are you finding in your downs?

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This figure sits in the room where I do most of my writing. It’s a small cast piece my father found at a yard sale. It was still in the original packaging, as if it was merely an after thought. Perhaps, it was just waiting to come to my house where it would be fully appreciated. I love to look at Charlie screaming in mid-air as Lucy snags the ball away yet again.

How often do we end up like Charlie – prone, eyes towards the heavens, bracing for the moment when we will crash into the inevitable disappointment and pain that comes with missed kicks, moments when we did not take a chance, or the time when we did and it sent us to the ground? It’s true, each down contains the pain of missed expectations, but it also contains the possibility that something more is waiting for us. It is an opportunity to stop and see the bluebirds on a sunny February day and have gratitude for the way life provides, even when we believe we are small and alone.

What ups are you finding in your downs?

 

Pass on the love

Happy Valentine’s Day 

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Today is Valentine’s Day. If my grandmother was here on this earth she would be making a heart shaped meatloaf and dyeing mashed potatoes red to celebrate the day with all of us. Holidays were a time when she would celebrate the beauty of making each day special and making people feel special through small acts of thoughtfulness and kindness.

Today, in honor of my grandmother,  I am issuing a challenge. What if, just for today, you told at least one loved one, one friend, one acquaintance, and one stranger that they are loved? Imagine how that would change the world? Imagine how it would change you?

I’d love to know what you did and what it was like for you.

Happy Valentine’s Day to every person who reads this blog. You are special in ways you do not even realize. You are loved for all of the small things you do every day that bring joy to this world. I offer loving light and kindness to you.

Namaste

What I want to say to your spirit which laughs in the wind

Joe's Favorite Day       This is Joe on the happiest day of his life. He lived four more years and loved this fish.

Today is a good day. The sun shines through the snow filled clouds and while the air is frigid, I am warm enough. I walked down the path towards the stream and thought of you. You would have liked the shallow creek that wanders through the meadow. So much life greets me here.

A large hawk perched in an old birch tree just above me. Its talons gripped the branch while its body remained still. He looked down at me and for a second I wondered, is that you? His feathers were dazzling — a dance of blacks, browns, and whites. The pattern reminded me of hundreds of eyes looking down up everything. I continued on the trail, huffing air in and out of our lungs. The hawk followed me with his eyes as I rounded the bend.  When I circled back he was still there, waiting, long wings pulled in against the bitter breeze.

As I headed home, sweating despite the cold temperatures, I felt whole even though there is heaviness in my heart.  A blue bird met me by my door. Again, we locked eyes and I wondered, is that you? I savored the blue that matched the coldness of the day and how his red breast reminded me of a small fire. Duality lives in the small creatures I meet each and every day.

Sometimes the grief of missing the life we didn’t live together is heart wrenching. Other times, I just want to share a smile or laugh with you, the person who smiles in the picture above, one more time. I know you lived for as long as you were meant to be here, but sometimes I wish I could reach through the air and grab you for one last hug.

Today, I breathe into the waves of grief, letting tears find me, and when the wave recedes, I let it go.  I remember you are everywhere now –you are the hawk in the tree and the gentleness of the bluebird that reminds me to be steady and take it slow.  You are the wind that finds my back and the beauty of sunsets that make me pause. I am grateful for the compassion I have gained as a result of all this grief and the ways I never take life for granted. My vision is keener and my heart is bigger because of you.

So while I ride this wave of grief I sit in the present that holds a burning fire of love and loss. I send out cleansing breaths of love, peace, and self-acceptance to myself and to all beings that experience suffering so that they may treasure moments shared and the importance of sitting with all that life presents us. Whether your experience is  light or dark, strong or weak, joyous or sad, you are in this very moment all that you need to be.

Namaste

Holding

February 6, 2014

Sitting still in a quiet room vulnerability came out to play. It danced down the side of her cheek in a tear that glistened like a variegated prism. It laughed and tumbled in the cracks her mouth made when she cried out “it was the first time and it was almost too much.”

We were silent too, watching the unfurling of a friend as tendrils of need spread in all directions. We could’ve just sat there, mired in the palpable dread of “what have I done?” and “what do you say or do?”

But we didn’t. We inhaled her broken spirit and worries. Sixteen eyes held her up while she melted into the experience of feeling overwhelmed and covered in doubt.  When the flood of tears receded and her body relaxed into the moment, we let her go with a long full exhale.

Pebble Number Thirty: Deep Listening

January 30, 2014

Deep listening is a gift of presence that feeds the soul when you are starving with loneliness and the despair of being invisible and in pain. It does not require the listener to do anything. Rather, deep listening is about being –being yourself, being aware, and being the love you already are. It’s the love that heals when we look into the eyes of the other and offer a smile or help shed a tear.