Category Archives: Life is good

REVELATIONS IN THE ER

LOVE IS THE “BOTTOM LINE”

January 7, 2017

“Life is fragile.” “Life is precious.” “Don’t take life (or your relationships) for granted.” Common, rather overused cliches, even if true.

And then suddenly one afternoon you stand up from placing a plant on the floor, step back, are in the middle of a sentence asking your husband something, and you can’t finish the sentence. And then you realize you can’t move. You can’t talk, you can’t move.

It only lasted a minute, less probably. But when I finally could move again and talk, I felt strange, almost like I wasn’t fully in my body. Husband’s eyes are huge and he is insisting on calling 911, or at least taking me to the ER. I said, “I’m still in my pajamas! I’m not going anywhere without taking my shower and getting dressed! And besides, I’m fine now.”

But I knew what had just happened wasn’t okay. Then, I started doubting exactly what had just happened. I seemed fine now. But during my shower I realized I again felt “off”–like my body was a stranger. I started to cry and didn’t know why. I was trembling, and didn’t know why. I reached up for my shampoo and my right hand suddenly decided it wanted a vacation. It obeyed, but rebelliously, like a child dragging it’s feet and trying to go somewhere you’re not, and only because it could hear the wrath of God rising inside me and got scared.

Me and my hand argued for the next 10 minutes as I finished my shower and dried my hair. By the time I tearfully headed for the closet it had given in and decided to act normal again. As my husband drove me to the ER, I sat on my side of the car shaking violently–from cold or fear, or maybe just cold fear. This fast, I thought, this fast I could end up being unable to write, or maybe speak, or walk.

More morbid thoughts rushed in on the heels of those. This fast I could have to leave this life I know in this body. Inside I started screaming–“I’m not done! My kids still need me. My grandbabies still need me. My husband still needs me. I’m not done with the work I came here to do. I can’t leave; I WON’T leave…and I need my body whole and functional!”

When we got there, I marched into that ER shaking like a dry leaf in a strong Autumn wind–but on my own two feet. By sheer force of will I passed every damn test they gave me. As the afternoon wore on, with CT scans and blood work and a hundred questions to answer, as mad and determined as I was, I couldn’t stop shaking. I also felt embarrassed. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” I thought, “and here I am in this hospital, having all these tests and upsetting my kids.” Per my request my husband had notified them since I didn’t know what was happening to me, and unbeknownst to me, news of the event was hitting Facebook scaring the bejeebers out of my friends.

As I lay in the ER for the afternoon, I thought about my family–I thought about the petty things I can get my undies in a bunch over. I thought about the relationships in my life that are wounded. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve agreed–none of that matters! But now that truth had taken a deep dive to somewhere inside me that suddenly made it imperative. Really, all that matters is love. Is connection. We are connected whether we want to be or not because everything that exists is interconnected. Kinking the flow of love, tying knots in the cords that connect us heart to heart–why? Why do I judge? Why do I defend? Why do I need anyone to be other than they choose to be? Why can’t I be content with who I am in this moment of my life experience? Peace does not elude me–it is I who bar the door.

Tests were inconclusive since I no longer had any symptoms other than a headache. The ER doctor figured it was probably a Transient Ischemic Attack–a mini-stroke that’s not really a stroke. If I understand correctly it mimics a stroke but resolves quickly leaving no damage. They said that the CT scan showed an area in my brain’s right frontal lobe that was damaged–“missing” as the doctor put it–which my husband said might explain a few things–that indicated a minor stroke in my past that I have no memory of, probably because that part of my brain is missing. They let me go home because there seemed no reason to keep me. I had to promise that I’d reduce my stress and come back for more tests.

Once home, I found myself immersed in a rushing tide of love and concern and prayers from family, friends, and even strangers via the FB posting my daughter had done. I sat and cried from the humbling truth of how much I am loved by so many. It was a deeply personal realization of how much love and goodness and caring there is in the world–perfectly imperfect people caring about other imperfect people, stepping out to offer support and sending healing energy through their thoughts by just being willing to care about someone they may not even know.

My mother taught me that love is about showing up. When you love someone, you show up. Practicing love, means you show up. I suppose that means that to love even ourselves means showing up for ourselves. Certainly, a whole lot of people showed up for me in my tiny little crisis. At first I felt ashamed and embarrassed, as if I didn’t deserve it since really, I was okay and nothing terrible had happened. I had to let that go, and just allow myself to be filled up with gratitude–for my life, for my health, for my body that allows me to experience life in this world on this planet in this time…and for all those people, these many many people in my life who love me. I don’t think I realized even how many!

It rather undoes a person. It reduces you to your own “bottom line”… What is my life going to be about? What do I want my legacy to be when that day comes when my body decides it’s done and isn’t persuaded to continue? The ultimate result, or outcome of my life, what do I choose to make that to be?

A long time ago I decided that the specifics of the story of this planet and the Universe and who is the Creator of it all and how will it end and by what means, though interesting since there are nearly as many stories and myths and opinions with proof to back them as there are people, was far far less important than whether and how I lived in accordance with the essence of all those teachings and beliefs. Whether it is the admonition in sacred texts of numerous religions and spiritual practices to Love, or the call by those awakening to the Light to raise our vibrational frequency to Love so we can evolve, it is still about Love. Every belief system, at its core, is about love as far as I’ve been able to ascertain.

So what does it mean to love? To love your enemies as yourself? To love your neighbor as yourself? To love yourSelf? To love the Earth? To love the Creator?

To love even if you expect to be saved from a dying earth by the Rapture or E.T.s?

To be imperfect human beings, bombarded by so much…confused, wounded, stressed, afraid for our safety or that of others, grieved by the harm being done to the Earth and to people all around us…yet still, called to Love. What does that look like when someone tromples on my dignity? What does that mean at home in my kitchen? What does that feel like when I have to take in the news of great harm being done by powerful people?

For one day I felt that. The undeserved outpouring of love and grace and concern upon my small, imperfect Self.

I owe it to all those who poured their love on me to make good use of this life I was given. To exercise the discipline needed to create beauty and peace with sometimes just the power of my thoughts–directing them in a positive and loving way. And to utilize the gifts I have been given, honoring the sacred trust given to me to share. Shining my small light bravely into the world–not hiding it away in a closet, or under a blanket.

Love is my “bottom line”.

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SPRING SONG

SPRING SONG

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March 20, 2016

I saw two robins in the slush during our Winter’s final tantrum the other day. They were fighting over what looked to be a worm. It had been raining hard in our part of the city, while snow buried everyone up over the bluffs. Our basement was leaking, proof that the ground was saturated and the earth soft–we knew this because it was easy to pound the metal stakes into the ground to put the deer fence back up around our garden. The tulips were pushing up above the earth–a beloved delicacy for the pregnant does who wander out of the snowy woods into the neighborhood where the snow has retreated, looking for the special treats they crave. So, it might truly have been a winter fattened worm escaping a flooded den. Do worms hibernate in dens? Where do they go when the ground freezes up? The scrawny robin won.

When my children were young, we went for our first ice-cream cone after we saw our first robins in Spring. It was a tradition. But I’ve become lactose intolerant. I bought some fresh strawberries instead that afternoon while it rained, and the school children were at home having a “snow day”.

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This morning the sun came up blazing rose-gold, announcing the first day of Spring. It is streaming in through winter streaked windows, inviting us to fetch our overshoes and go for a muddy trek in the hills. I am making fresh ground-buckwheat pancakes. David is frying bacon. There is a pitcher full of Green Smoothie on the counter filled with pears and pineapple, grapefruit and greens, ginger and celery and cucumber and avocado–we’re getting IMG_3258fortified for our Sunday migration into the bluffs. There are a flock of Redpolls taking turns having breakfast at the feeder outside the kitchen window; getting fattened up for their migration to their summer home in the Arctic–true northerners after my own heart!

I’m going to buy some daffodils from the Market today. It’s a tradition. A vase of Sunshine on my table. Last week we found some pussy-willows just beginning to consider opening up. This week they will be ready. Maybe we’ll find some today as we slog through the mud and navigate the swollen streams in the hills that climb up to the bluffs. From up there we can see our neighborhood laid out like a toy town. Beyond lies the harbor, the bridges, the Lake. We can see all the way to Wisconsin.  We’ll gather some pussy-willows, and fill up our house with Spring. Tonight we’ll go grill steaks at my daughter’s.

Tomorrow we’ll clean out the closets and put away the parkas and the skis.

DaffadillaBlueVase

 

 

 

THE THUMPER RULE

December 2, 2015

MY GUIDING BUNNY

Some people have Spiritual Guides in human form–counselors, priests, pastors, teachers. Some people have Spiritual Guides in the form of Spirit Beings, like Angels or other Beings of Light.

I have Animals. Sometimes real ones. A dragonfly brought me a message one spring day when I was trying to resolve a problem. She flew right up to me and hovered about a foot from my face…she just stayed there until finally the “aha!” broke through to my consciousness; then she flew off.  Another day  when I was particularly edgy and cantankerous I went for a walk and inadvertently walked into the middle of an entire herd of deer. Deer Medicine is all about Gentleness and Grace. I stood stock-still, with silent tears rolling down my face. Two young ones actually walked towards me, stopping about eight or ten yards away. After about 15 minutes, they all slowly wandered off and I went home, gentled, graced and peace-filled.

But my Animal Guides aren’t always real.  I have a Tiger and a Bear and a Wolf in my Mind’s menagerie. The Tiger’s name is Jack and he’s the one teaching me that there aren’t any parts of my Self that I need to kill off…it’s more about integrating. He’s taught me that Ego’s aren’t monsters that we need to keep caged somewhere deep in the dungeons of our psyche. They just need to learn when to move over and let the more Enlightened One of Us drive the bus.

But this isn’t about Wolves and Tigers and Bears. No. This is about a Bunny. Yesterday, Thumper got loose from the Bambi set and came wandering into my bathroom. I had just scrubbed the floor an hour previously, but there I was wiping up a pile of whiskers. Evidently my husband had dumped the whisker bin from his electric razor mostly on the floor, with some on the toilet seat and in the sink, just to keep it interesting. I think he meant to put it in the wastebasket, but he was probably looking at something else, his brain three steps ahead of his body. Sometimes his brain is actually out the door and three blocks down the street before his body leaves the house. You can imagine what he doesn’t notice then! Frowning, I could feel my body tense as my mind furiously wrote up the negative incident report that I would surely deliver as soon as he came upstairs.

Suddenly, there was Thumper, shyly peeking out from behind the wastebasket.

I eyed him suspiciously.

“Hello,” said Thumper.

Wow, I thought. I haven’t seen Bambi in maybe, oh, 25 years?

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Well, ummm, I just came to remind you what my father taught me. It’s pretty good advice, ” said Thumper.

He ducked his head shyly. His foot started nervously thumping. And I remembered.

“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all,” said Thumper and I. Together.

“You know this one?” asked Thumper.

“Yeah. I guess I do,” I said.

“Cool!” said Thumper. He loped out of the bathroom. Then he quick stuck his head back around the door-frame. “Don’t forget, now!” he said.

And he was gone.

I finished cleaning up the bathroom and joined my husband in the kitchen where he was making smoothies. I opened my mouth…

“Remember!” whispered an invisible Thumper.

I shut my mouth.

I never mentioned the whisker mess.

Not once.

I have been thinking a lot about my new Thumper Rule. My life will be so much more amazing because my focus will be on all the good stuff. I’ll bet I’ll smile more. I might even discover humor in the nooks and crannies of my life.

Thumper never said ‘If you can’t say something nice to someone…’. He simply said, ‘If you can’t say something nice…’ Period. About anything or anyone or to yourself.

Does that include the weather do you think? And stupid drivers? And insurance regulations? OMG–does it include politicians?!

I just finished writing a letter to someone because they had written one to me and it required a response. It took me 4 days. I had to keep applying my new Thumper Rule so I had to keep deleting shit–stuff– and re-framing, ah–stuff, and…Whew! What an exercise! It was like running a fucking–um–an exhausting–marathon. But different.

IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DON’T SAY NOTHING AT ALL…

 

SNIPPETS

February 4, 2015…Happy Birthday to Meridith!

SNIPPETS

1. BALLET OF THE BIRDS

A large flock of fat birds are cavorting in the sky. Bird ballet. They, as one Being, flow south, bank in a wide arc to the northeast, swoop earthward, soar heavenward, bank again to the west, to the south, reverse, around and around, not one wing out of sync with the whole.

I stand transfixed wondering what these birds are. Large as crows–but they aren’t black. Small seagulls? Wrong time of year.

Suddenly the music has finished its final note and they fall inelegantly toward ground, alighting on the cable wire strung across the alley outside my window. Thirty pigeons on the wire, fluffing their feathers, jostling each other for room to catch their breath.

And then as one they depart across the rooftops beyond my sight.

2. THE STORY MAKER

Every morning she had tea and decided what story she would make today.

Do we think that Life happens to us; that every day unfolds according to the dictates of some hidden writer sitting in a stuffy room in a galaxy far, far away? Do we never suspect the writer is us?

3. THE SHIFT

She glowed. She had swallowed seven suns and every cell in her body was drunk with their Fire and Light. She smiled and the air crackled–angel hairs of fire running wild. One touch and reality would shatter.

She stood still. Only her eyes moved. She knew in the next breath, one turn of her head, the world would shift–like a kaleidoscope.

Like a kaleidoscope; every turning reveals a new story in color and light; another pattern to comprehend. There is no need to fear the turning. Light and Beauty never cease their dance with Love and Joy.

Shift.

4. COURAGE

Four fat pigeons are hanging out together on the cable wire strung across the alley. Meeting adjourns to the ridgepole of the house next door. They are lined up beak to butt like children waiting their turn to jump off the high ledge at the swimming hole.

The pigeon first in line hesitates at the edge, looking down at the deck below, looking out at the trees, looking right, looking left. He looks down again, wobbling his head up and down, back and forth. He steps back, forward, back, forward. He suddenly stands very still, slowly tips his head down, his body forward, and he falls off the ridgepole, head first! Three feet, five feet, ten feet and finally wings spread, flap, beak pulls up, and his plump pigeon body lands in the mess of birdseed strewn on the deck by the squirrel raiders.

Up on the ridgepole, the remaining three have each stepped up. Pigeon #2 hesitates at the edge, looking down at his friend below, looking out at the trees, looking right, looking left, looking down  again…and over he goes, deck-ward ho!

ON TRUST

December 4, 2014

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE

Her heart beat like a panicked bird caught behind glass. She pocketed the promise and stretched out her arms–the full beautiful length of them. She uncurled her fingers to receive whatever help might come and stepped off the edge. She didn’t leap, or jump. She was crying a little. No tears of joy; hopefully that would come later. No, she just stepped. Courageously she picked up her foot and moved it forward and set it down beyond solid ground smelling of earthy, familiar things. Her body followed, flying and falling through the sky with a promise in her pocket.

It’s called The Leap of Faith, something each one of us faces periodically. Whether we arrive anxious or excited, we have all come to moments when we are challenged to step off the edge of what has been familiar and fall through the sky into the unknown with only a promise in our pocket. Or, maybe for some it is sailing across unchartered waters away from familiar shores. We are called forward, upward. We are called to shed the old skin of who we’ve been and how we’ve lived. All we hold is a promise: everything always works out; life is good.

It sounds like suicide. If feels like suicide. When we step off the edge, we have to leave behind our old habits of mind and being lest they snap us back again like a bungee cord that won’t let us go. The naysayers caution us against our foolhardy notion to venture forth into new ideas, new places, new spaces in the world within ourselves–such things might lead to new worlds outside of ourselves. They want to keep us safe, they say, as they clip the bungee cord to our belt.

There is a universal law: “intention precedes manifestation”. It means that what we focus our thinking upon will begin to gather energy and mass and eventually solidity and physicality and thus it is that we create our lives. We create the stories we live. Sometimes the only way out of one story is to take that leap of faith into a new one. Faith has been defined as the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. This is the promise we hold in our pocket as we take that leap without the bungee cord–sailing through air, through water, through testing and trials, all for the sake of realizing our dream: to find the Holy Grail of our lives, whatever that may be for each searching Soul. Stepping off the edge is to live fully with every cell into every moment of our lives.

That cliche, live life to the fullest used to bug me. What the hell did it mean? Once I dissected it with a dictionary in order to understand its meaning–fully. I believe it means to be aware and awake in the present moment I am living; aware of my surroundings, aware of what my senses are experiencing, aware of the choice I have in each moment. Sometimes these are small things in small moments, like appreciating the feel of warm water streaming over my body in the shower. As I stand there I become aware of the fact that I am privileged to have warm water that is safe for me to shower in right here in my home at just a turn of a knob.

Sometimes these are big things in big moments, like the moment when I receive a job offer, or sign the deed to my new house, or board the plane that will carry me to a new adventure.

Then there are the really big moments when I come to a crossroads in my life. These really big ones usually precede the plain old big ones because they involve making decisions that require I choose one path at the exclusion of another, altering my life forever. Usually one of those paths is familiar, a continuation of what I have been living while the other leads to unfamiliar, unexplored territory. Sometimes neither is familiar and to move forward requires a decision between two entirely different lives from my current one, both full of the Unknown, with my only alternative being to camp out at the crossroads which is sort of a metaphor for stagnation. But to move forward requires one of those suicidal leaps of faith. 

For those of us who choose to camp out for awhile, sometimes the authorities come and evict us and we have no choice but to head down one road or the other. Or die. And sometimes none of the choices are pleasant. Sometimes the material we have with which to create our life isn’t very beautiful and the roads we have to choose from are difficult; even dangerous. But, we still have choices. We get to choose whether to live fully conscious or numb ourselves into oblivion. We still have an internal garden we can cultivate, or allow it to be overrun with thorns and stinkweed. We can choose to make our life a work of art, a powerful poem, or abandon ourselves in the misery around us.

Living life fully: opening ourselves to full awareness of what we are experiencing in the present moments of our lives. Living life to the fullest: being intentional to fill the moments of our lives with as much life as we can possibly cram into them. Creating a life that is thriving and beautiful like a fertile garden or an amazing work of art, at least internally if not also in our external experiences, requires intentionality, presence, and quite possibly having to periodically step off the edge and free-fall into the unknown with only a promise in our pocket.