Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Sad Anniversary, Remembering with Detachment

Hmm - how does one sum up years of memories - the highs, the lows and all that lies in between?  Today was my wedding anniversary with my first husband and my first real love in my life.  Sure, I had crushes before, but I fell hard for him.

In fact as today was approaching, I was thinking of and humming the song that I had the guys in the band sing for our ceremony - Just You and I, Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle.  In fact as I am writing this, I'm listening to the youtube version, smiling.

Then came a rush of sadness - how did it go down, why did it go down? I've learned so much about myself, our relationship and have grown over the years, still hoping to someday have a reconciliation that does not brush the inequities of both sides under the rug, but that starts fresh with a knowledge that the two people who entered and ended the marriage have transformed, have renewed lives and are stronger individuals as a result of that past.

Enter part two.  I had fertility issues and finally got pregnant almost three years after we married, only to have a miscarriage at 6 1/2 months with twins on yes, my anniversary.  It was a devastating situation and one that I have often wondered about the significance of.  I can say with certainty that my two wonderful daughters represent the two girls who never had the chance to come alive in this lifetime.  Their souls, at least for me, became manifest in Lindsay and Ashley, and the bond that we share as mother-daughter and they as sister-sister is so strong and loving.

As the day unfolded, I initially experienced the roller coaster of emotions, but the overarching theme was one of calm, comfort, gratefulness for being alive and well.  I felt a calm detachment - not angry.  I guess that part of the lesson is to find that place of detachment.  God knows how anger and emotion can cut like a knife.

I wish you all peace,

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lessons from a Kayak

I was determined to get that kayak out of the boat room and into the water before the season ended and today was the day!

Last year at this time, I was recovering from surgery and most Sundays, my Dad came to have lunch and we visited the various parks around town that had magnificent views of the harbor.  During one of our visits, I mentioned how someday, I hoped to have a kayak to paddle around in the water.

I love active sports and have often enjoyed kayaking with Ashley, an event that we did each Fall as the leaves were changing colors.  About a week after our visit, my Dad called and asked if I recalled the conversation about the kayak and I said yes.  Excitedly he told me that I was the proud owner of a kayak.  Wow - was I excited AND I needed to be patient, waiting until this summer to enjoy it.

First came the storage issue and my good friend Jamie, kindly offered to store it for the winter.  Then came waiting for room to become available in our boat room here at the condo.  Once that happened, I was ready to go, except one thing - the boat room door, carved out of ledge, was only 28.5 inches wide and my kayak was much wider.

Not only was the kayak wide but it was heavy.  I could not tip it up and pull it at the same time.  Searching from hardware stores to boat stores to outdoor stores, I came up with nothing.  Determined to make this work, I began my creative thought process.  Heck, I've been using hammers and nails for years and in fact, I reminisced about making a bunk bed with an underneath study desk for Ashley and with Ashley.  We had just moved into our new condo when she was in elementary school and we decided to create a funky room - painting with texture and color and making this top bunk and study below.  She had the most interesting room - one that her friends loved to visit.

I came up with an idea and went to Home Depot to talk with the guys there to gather my materials.  I came home with a dolly that was narrow enough and 4 heavy angled strappings with screws to bolt them in.

As I approached the boat room today, I was excited to launch the kayak and did just that!  It was a magnificent day with bright sun and a gentle breeze.  I felt accomplished, relaxed and energized.  I felt grateful for having learned some creative ideas from my Dad and for his gracious gift of the kayak.  I also honored my Mom'd birthday today - anniversaries are important to me - and my Mom loved the ocean, always wanting to come back to her roots here on the northshore.  Today, I felt her loving presence.  Thank you Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Let Not Chronic Illness Define You

As I left my visit with one of my most esteemed docs, the words "chronic illness and disease" reverberated in my ears - not with fear, but a slight obstinance, then a knowing and release.  I did not want to hear those words and yet it has truth from a medical perspective, but oh, not so from an emotional/spiritual one.

Over the many years that I have worked in healthcare, I've been drawn to supporting people with chronic conditions ranging from diabetes to arthritis.  But to hear the words illness and disease felt a little confining and defining - only for a few moments thank God!

I came to the realization that I was fighting this possibility of having a chronic illness, expecting the magic wand to cast the completely cured spell over me.  Was I delusional or stubborn or just being self-protective?  Knowing myself, the stubborn and self-protected modes sound about right.  I have always been the strong one to get through most anything and then, sometime much later, I realize what happened.

Over the years, the stubbornness has also been referred to as stoicism and that is not all bad, and the self-protection has allowed me to remain quite functional during periods of extreme chaos.

Back to the terms and meanings.  While it may feel very limiting to be labeled with a chronic disease, it need not define one's life and capabilities.  As I look back at how resilient my body has been, I began life as an obese, sugar addicted child with multiple allergies, strep throats, skin conditions and oh yes, the stomach stuff!  Over the years I cleaned up my act , introducing cleaner food, cleaner household agents and cleaner skincare into my life and all those whose lives I touched.

The catch is that I felt a bit betrayed - how did this happen to the "healthnut"?  Well, it can happen to anyone and what is more important is how one responds to the call - victim or survivor.  Now that I can see this more clearly, I am more self-accepting of the fact that some areas of my health may never completely normalize and my new norm may not look like the old one. In fact, my older daughter, a wise woman, often reminds me of this and that it is OK, if not good, that I must learn a slower pace, one that is more balanced.

While I will continue to remain vigilant to my health, I will not be defined - no, in fact, I will not only survive, but will thrive in this new definition!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

On Forgiveness and Beyond

As I began my day, getting back into some rituals that I established about a year ago, I pulled one of the Healing with Angels cards and the title was on Forgiveness.  How appropo - I had just revisited self-forgiveness a few days before, with a cleansing sob along my bike ride and had just returned from an amazing family weekend, seeing folks that I had not seen either since my second wedding or the memorial for my second husband's passing.

My circle feels more complete as I shed the anger, disappointment, and sadness for what was not - and my orientation has always been to learn from, to understand and see the purpose of all the "shit" that happens in life.

Let's begin with a trip down memory lane on self-forgiveness.  I had just received partial info that my labs were still not great - the ups and downs of the "report card" as I have so frequently called it over these years.  Over this past month, I had also met with an astrological psychologist to look deeper into the places where I remain stuck - some over-arching themes that have been just so hard to transform - and learned so much more about my make-up and purpose in this life and what lessons I came to learn.  What has been a common theme coming from all of my alternative and intuitive treaters is that I need rest, quiet time, and time to retreat into a more contemplative mode.  The other very striking theme (all were quite profound however!) was that I see the good in people, their potential, and thus often choose relationships based on seeing this and when my partner is either unable or unwilling to live up to his/her responsibility, I become drained, over-worked and unable to sustain my center.  This is not a blame on the other, but an observation of knowing what relationships will be sustaining for both vs draining for both.

It all started to make sense now.  I began to sob on my bike ride, seeing myself as the little child trying to make up for dissension in my family, over-working in order to achieve (and that was a very strong ethic from my Dad - Good Better Best, May We Never Rest, Until the Good is Better and the Better is Best!), and choosing partners who were brilliant, talented, fun, charismatic, while having such unresolved issues that the relationships became unsustainable.

For years I had blamed myself for it all, and while cognitively I "got it", I remained stuck in repeating patterns that were self-destructive.  Once I finished sobbing, I found myself at Chandler Hovey Park - the lighthouse park overlooking the harbor - and I was calm, comfortable and felt a loving acceptance for that inner child who had been wounded for so many years.

This feeling of forgiveness lasted through the weekend when I was seeing family from my second husband who passed away 15 years ago, not knowing what people knew, thought or felt about me.  While I had resolved much of my challenging past with my husband, I did not know how others were feeling.  And what is most important is that I did not care.  Instead, I was excited to see people, to hear about their lives and to share in the happy occasion of my cousin's engagement.  It was a wonderful time on so many levels - a happy occasion of the engagement and more importantly, the feeling of love, resolve and forgiveness for self and others.

Over the years, I have looked at challenges in relationships as opportunities for growth, to understand the larger meaning of the supposed "failure" and where I remained stuck, was while feeling some anger outwardly - the normal human evolution or recovery from hurt - it was the anger pointed inside that was most lethal.  It festered, grew and for me, morphed into physical illness.

Physical illness is comprised of the emotional and spiritual self as well as the physical body.  As you face challenges that appear stubborn, dig deeper for the place where self-forgiveness is needed.