A Year

So much can happen in a year. A day can be busy. A week can be full. A year can change your life. They are all made up of moments.

One year ago today, my son was diagnosed with stage IIIb cancer. He didn’t live close by. I wasn’t there when the doctor told him. I was 2000 miles away connected by some unseen electronic air wave cell phone line.

He made it. He went through chemo/radiation pre-surgery. Then a 15 hour radical surgery and then follow up chemo. We traveled by air to be there. To touch. To love. To cry. To encourage.To hope. To fear. To despair. To move into another day.

PET scan showed no cancer. Celebration!

Yet…this day brings back haunting emotions. Life is very short. We all live one phone call away from very sad news. Life changing  information.

My philosophy? Live each day without regret. Love. Forgive. Don’t try and be perfect.

Mindful Journeys

“Sometimes a journey takes us to a place we have never been before. That place may not be on a map. It may be in our hearts.” Faye Hager

Recently, I have discovered a new type of journey. It does not involve going to a physical destination. I may not even move from my spot where I am standing. Actually, I may be pacing, or I may be rocking-I seldom just stand. It is an emotional journey. I believe emotions are linked to our minds, so it is a mental/spiritual/emotional journey. And that adventure all takes place deep inside of me: me-myself-and I. We have to find our way through it.

I wish I could tell you THE magic formula. I can’t. But I can share some things that help me move from:

anger—-to forgiveness

sadness—to hope

grief—-to acceptance

A book can be written on the process-and may be…perhaps I will call it the “Misery Index”. But I will just list a few of the things that help me transform my thinking.

Talk-don’t keep things inside. If you don’t have someone to talk to-talk to yourself

Keep Busy–don’t sit idle and fret. Get out. There is fresh energy outside yourself.

laugher- great therapy. If you can’t laugh, see a show that can bring out laugher.

accept emotions-don’t bury them. They will get stuck in some deep dark grave in your heart.

At the end of the day, if I can change the way I am thinking about something, I can change the way I feel about it. It may not happen in one day. I may have to fake it till I make it, but I will get there.

sunrise

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” Samuel Smiles

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fake/

 

Head in the Sand?

“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”  Maya Angelou

I found this quote very insightful. Placing empathy with courage.

The last week or two I have witnessed loved ones go through difficult times. Their challenges were on very separate planes, but life shattering just the same. It has led me to reflect on a few terms.

Understanding- grasp an idea, perceive a meaning

Sympathy-feelings of compassion

Empathy-vicariously experience the same feelings/thoughts/attitudes

It seems to me that these words go in order. For me to reach a point of empathy, I first need to understand. Once I come to a place where I grasp what is happening, then I can have feelings of compassion. Empathy goes further, in that I embrace -not their experience, for it is their journey-but I can ‘hug’ them as I connect to their feelings.

That’s where the courage comes in. The courage to stop my crazy daily rush and demands to understand. Sometimes, I’d rather keep my head in the sand.

ostrich with head in sand

What I don’t know, I don’t have to respond to-I try to tell myself. Finding out about trouble will undoubtably call for response. There’s the courage. Do I have the courage to understand, thereby allowing me to feel sympathy, and ultimately to share empathy?

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen Covey

 

 

Would Cloning Erase Me?

If I could clone myself, I would have a challenge making a fair decision. I fear that one would have all the responsibilities and the other would have all the fun. How fair is that?

So then I would struggle over my decision as to which clone would I inhabit. I am pretty certain that I would choose the one that had all the fun. Yet how would I grow?

At 23 I delivered my second child.  My daughter was born with a crippling birth defect of spina bifida. She would require 11 surgeries by the time she was 2 years old. I was yanked from a happy go lucky young woman, to a busy responsible mother. Our days at the park, were interchanged with our days at the hospital. Certainly, we enjoyed our time at the park. We could smell the fresh air, feel the ocean mist on our cheeks, and picnic on a blanket.

In the hospital, we saw loneliness, suffering and heartbreak. But the hospital meant doctors and nurses who helped us. The surgeries mended and protected my daughter. Every room had a rocking chair. I would cradle my daughter, hug her against my breast, and sing comfort songs in her ears; all while we rocked in that old wooden rocking chair.

I learned life was precious. I learned how to be patient. I learned how to care. If I gave up those responsibilities would I still have learned those lessons?

Maybe. But they are all experiences that have made me who I am. I still love to rock. I have an old wooden rocking chair in my bedroom today. Perhaps, on some level, as I rock, my soul remembers those precious days and nights of rocking, and singing songs of comfort – for when I sit down and rock, I can feel my heart beat slow to a normal pace, the troubles of my mind soothe out and I discover a calm that I do not find anywhere else.

Perhaps, it is good that we are not yet able to clone ourselves. What we might choose to wipe out, might be the very essence of who we are.

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” John F Kennedy

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/clone-wars/

Soul Hug

I’m feeling pretty worried and sad as I sit in the hospital coffee shop. My father is down for a lung biopsy as the PET scan had indicated that his esophageal cancer had spread to his lung and bones. I know I am about to lose my last living parent. As a nurse I know the loss would involve pain and suffering.

I am unsure if my hands can hold up my head. They are on either side of my face, covering my eyes as the despair has nearly taken my breath away. Our family had just lost our mother , who died after suffering from Pick’s Disease. Now my father. I remembered that there was a small garden court area at the side of the hospital. I decide perhaps if i sat out there a while my head could clear and I would gather some strength and perhaps some insight as to how to go on.

As I get to the garden a beautiful lady is sitting on a tree bench. I wanted to be alone, but I don’t really feel disappointed. I feel somehow drawn to her.  Then she looks at me, and her smile is so soft, and warm. Her eyes are looking at me with so much compassion I feel my throat constrict and tears well in my eyes.

“Hi, my name is Semesia. Will you sit with me a few moments?” Semesia offered as she gently placed her palm on the bench next to her. “Hi, thank you, I will, but I don’t know if I will be very good company.” I say in return as I sit down beside her. As I sat, I felt an odd energy. Not a tingle really, but some ‘awareness’ that I can’t really describe. It was ethereal.

“I know. Your father is upstairs having more tests. I have been allowed to see you and to encourage you. I know that you have never felt so troubled. You are right, your father will pass. But he will be active until his last couple of days and then he  will be in a coma. You are going to be able to help him. He will feel great love and comfort as you do.

However, the toll on your life will be transforming. I am also to tell you that it will all get worse. Your husband will seek friendship elsewhere. A year after your father passes, you will be divorced from your husband.”

Somehow her words do not knock me off my bench. On some level I think I knew this. I was changing. I was challenging who I had been told to be and discovering who I really was. My husband of 30 years did not like that. It was unsettling to him.

“You have wondered if you are on the right path. Your path to question and seek other ‘truths’ and learn of other cultures. You are doing exactly what you should. While you will experience a couple of years that will be the most challenging in your life, great reward is coming. The freedom you will feel will terrify you at first, but then you will experience its marvels. You will find peace.

Then, I am happy to tell you, that you will have a story book wedding in a castle in Washington State.”

I had never been to Washington. As I was growing into myself, my husband made me feel very bad about myself. I knew helping my father was right, and was determined to continue. I feared the loss of my husband. I was fifty. Who would love me. I had grown up with my husband. How would I ever meet anyone. How would anyone love me, I continued to struggle in my soul.

“I know your struggle. That is why I was allowed to come. My time here is short. Remember, your greatest challenge is in front of you. You will manage it and it will build your strength and your resolve to continue in your quest to become who you really are. And you will do so. It will be your greatest reward. Then your marriage to a wonderful caring man will take you on many fun adventures. From the Castle wedding to voyages, to open conversations and laughter throughout your day. You will no longer have to ‘make fun happen’. It will occur naturally all around you. He will hug your soul.”

She placed her hand on top of mine. And she looked at me-right into my soul. I started to cry. Semesia knew me better than I knew myself. I raised my hands to wipe my eyes and when I opened them, she was gone. I was left with a strange mixture of sorrow and hope.

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/good-tidings/

Tribute to JJ and Tara

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France

Life can be lonely. Life can be challenging. There are so many people that are eager to criticize and re-direct you. People clamor for parts  of you. You have to constantly multi-task. 

Then you come home. A little fluff ball is running to greet you. He/she is absolutely delighted that you are home. With a big smile and happy eyes your puppy curls up to you. Getting up? Ok. He gets up with you. Sitting down? Ok. She sits down with you. Walking into another room? Ok. He walks at your heals. Cooking dinner? Ok. She sits at the corner of the kitchen and watches you cook. 

It doesn’t matter what you do, or what you say, your loving pet is there for you. JJ and Tara were such companions. A Silky Terrier and a Maltese. Then one day, they both got very ill. So ill, they looked at us to help them. Final loving action was to assist them in their final rest. Wrapped up in our arms, their journey with us was completed.

I would wish that one day, should I fall so very ill that I cannot live my life, that there will be such a loving process to assist me in my final journey. 

We are grateful for the comfort that JJ and Tara provided us.

Clouds in the Sky

“You’d be surprised, there’s so much to be done. Count all the bees in the hive, chase all the clouds from the sky.” Winnie the Pooh sings with Christopher Robin.

I loved Winnie the Pooh and his playful antics. Life was so busy, and he felt so responsible. I imaged that life as an adult would be busy and responsible. But somehow all the work would be fun-like in Pooh world.

I was to learn that life as an adult did hold responsibilities which made me very busy. I just did not anticipate what they would be. They were much harder than I imagined.

My daughter was born with a crippling birth defect and would require 11 surgeries by the time she was two. Her survival and how she felt about her day, depended on me. I had to somehow learn to meet her physical needs, but to also bring pleasure into her sweet life. I learned to have fun while I worked. Exactly as I had been inspired by Kenny Logins delightful song about life. Honey jars get stuck on our nose. Sometimes we need help to get them off, but it is our decision to lick the honey from our lips or to wipe it away.

Troubles are like the honey. Yes the stuck jar is troublesome. But each trouble has a smidgen of honey. Don’t miss the sweet lick.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/adult-visions/