Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hitting The Reset Button

For those of you who follow me weekly, you know that this special place , my blog, is where I share my process, my vulnerability. not for sympathy, but because so many feel some of these same dark feelings, yet guilt and isolation can set in.  This is a safe space to know that many of  us walk in the same shoes!

Last week was about a relationship that may never be the fantasy or the ideal and yet, it is perfect in the grand plan - pain helps us humans to learn lessons and become more empathic towards others.

This week feels like a year all rolled into one. First, I opened a bank account with my business partner, making it official that we are committed to making a difference in a big way in healthcare. Two days later, I spent 3 1/2 hours waiting at the CA health insurance division to see what my options are and while having a lovely customer service rep listen to my story, understand my needs, I left there with more legwork to do before finding out my options.  As I sat there, I pondered the definition of "Health Insurance".  What "insurance"?!  There are no guarantees and the state of healthcare in this country is not about health, but really is about disease management and critical  care.  While these areas are needed, what is more important is learning how to prevent these costly illnesses from manifesting in the first place.  Enough said!

I attended two town planning meetings about the future direction of Ojai - a place that is known for spiritual leaders and exceptional education rooted in critical thinking.  I felt very excited and engaged to be listening to the passion for honoring the earth, living sustainably and creating initiatives to foster collaboration amongst the community at large.

More critical to my path was taking time on Saturday and Sunday to observe my pace and my thoughts, allowing myself not to rush, checking off my never-ending list, but to really tune into what I need.  This was partly spearheaded by a conversation with a dear friend and colleague who has been ill for these past few years as well.  While the cause of immune suppression is different, our paths have been so similar and we tend to have very similar go-getter personalities.  She shared with me that she is taking time to heal - she is not working, she sleeps in as needed, walks the beach and gardens.  She has really "allowed" herself to give herself time in a loving way.

I was so struck by our conversation, knowing deep down that I have not allowed that to happen fully.  Yes,our circumstances are different, but in the end, it is tapping into this deep place of deserving and allowing oneself to honor what is needed.  This weekend was a peek into a new reality and it felt great.  The next 30 days will be the test - remember it takes 30 days to create a new habit!

Think about your reset button and tune in!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Reflections on Father's Day

It was an emotional time coming up to this weekend - recognizing what is, what is not and what the fantasy has been.

I generally find balance in seeing the good and not so good in situations, however, when pain strikes, it cuts like a knife.

My Dad has been a good provider over the years - a dutiful man providing the basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.  I am thankful for that.  And he was very supportive during my years as a single Mom, coming to the girls' events and driving my Mom down to babysit.  I know that he loved me in his own way.

On the other hand, my Dad held very high expectations, was explosive and not emotionally available. Discussions of feelings or opinions were never allowed - that was considered disrespectful.  Sitting around the dinner table to talk about the day did not exist - there was to be silence.  and yet, I know that my Dad loved me in his own way.

And as the years have gone along, there is more silence and withdrawal.  I so have longed for connection, for approval.   As dementia continues to take over, he prefers not to talk on the phone and requests that I email him.  When we do speak, there is not the reciprocal interest in how I am doing.  And yet, I know my Dad loves me in his own way.

As I talked with Lindsay earlier in the week, she was very saddened by the fact that Grampy had no interest in her visiting.  She feels sad and angry.  I then somehow feel responsible to "fix it", yet I know that I cannot and it is not my job.  Ugh - the pain deepens as the week goes along.  And yet, I know my Dad/her Grampy loves us in his own way.

I cried, reflected, prayed on it and what came to mind were the other men in our lives who have filled in the void where Dad has been unable to.  Jamie, my dear friend, has been there for me and my family through the dark days and the brighter ones.  Fr Hehir and Fr Tom from my old parish and Fr Steve from Graymoor - all provided guidance, support, love throughout the years.  And for my girls, there were some wonderful male influences who were able to provide what Dad was unable to give.  And yet, I know my Dad/their Grampy loves us in his own way.

How does one reconcile the struggle - I do not have all the answers, but I do know that acceptance is key.  In each perceived negative event or feeling, there is an opportunity for healing, for understanding and most importantly, for moving on.  Today is a new day, one filled with promise and gift.

Be honorable, be respectful, be loving and know that you are loved!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Learning to Listen and Trust Your Backbody

Since my arrival, I have been checking out different yoga studios and was told about a dance studio that offered a wide array of classes including yoga, kirtan (indian chanting) and expressive world dance.

Knowing that a lifelong challenge has been unlocking my tight body, I decided to really step outside of my comfort zone and do some soulful movement, including sensual hip moves and circling arms above my head.

I tried Bollywood, a high paced Indian dance and as I described the class to Linds and Ash, they were in stitches, wishing to be a fly on the wall watching stiff ole Mom!  It was so fun and definitely a step in the right direction.  On Saturday, I tried Soul Motion and the best way to describe this class is interpretive movement to a theme.  This week's theme was the Backbody.

I am familiar with concept from my studies in energy medicine and we did some of this work when I attended the alternative cancer center in Germany a few years ago.  Basically, having an awareness of our past, how our spine supports us and the energy field around us, not just in front or what we can see, helps to create trust and balance.

At the end of the session, our teacher, a wonderful yoga teacher and kirtan chanter, Julia Berkeley, gave us a sheet of paper and pen to write freely for a few minutes without thinking. The exercise began with, "My Backbody ..."  Below, I will share my free association which was fascinating and I hope that you will find an opportunity to consider a meditation focusing on your Backbody and what it means to you!

"My Backbody trusts that I will be safe.  Will bring me fullness of life and stop me when I am moving forward too fast.  My Backbody knows who I am - my strengths and vulnerabilities and wants me to be whole and happy.  What does happy mean, I ask . . . I am finding my way and this exploration of my Backbody, free-flowing and formless, is actually taking shape and form.  Divine intelligence is moving me forward and backward - a circle of light and love.  I thank you Backbody for holding me up and in place, not stagnant, but alive.

With gratitude to my teachers,

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Giving Back Receiving - Both Are So Important

The other evening, as I explored other areas of town on my bike, I passed a man carrying  two plastic grocery bags.  We exchanged a smile and hello - something I so accustomed to from my Friendly's Ice Cream training.  Always make eye contact, smile and say you will be right with someone - good old customer service!

He asked me if I wanted some apricots, going on to say how his tree was so abundant this year that he is giving fruit away.  I graciously accepted, said thank you and was so excited, as I have not had fresh apricots in years.

Upon arriving home, my tea tag read, "We are most happy when we give of ourselves".  I smiled inwardly and outwardly, snapped a photo of the fruit and sent it to my family.  What I've noticed thus far in this small town is a warmth and sincere welcoming, as well as curiosity about my being here.  There's a slower pace with folks stopping to ask and learn more.

I've thoroughly enjoyed providing community service over the years and during this past number of months, have been the recipient of such an outpouring of love and support.  My observation of myself in this process is that I have truly begun to accept and love myself for who I am, with all my talents and imperfections (that is the key word!), I am much more able to accept gifts of love and support without guilt, but with pure joy.

It is the energy exchange of giving and receiving from the heart between beings that brings peace, joy and love.  May you smile and don't forget to read the tea tags.