Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Let it Be.

Out of the blue, because he answered an emergency call from the hospital today, I learned I endured and recovered from 'complete renal failure' this time around. Intravenous vancomycin can do a number on the kidneys and I knew something was wrong when my ears were bigger than my head and all sorts of other 'stuff' happened. 

But, my doctor, he only supported and protected me. He absorbed the fear and the worry. Oh, he helped me and prescribed everything in his power. He recommended I start drinking tomato juice and all kinds of natural things he knew I would respond to and follow through with - except the Gatorade. He knew that was a long shot because of the sugar. He knew I wasn't down with the sugar. 

My point is, my doctor absorbed all the fear and the worry so I could do the healing work. He made sure I felt okay. He made sure I knew everything would be okay, even if he read medical reports that might say otherwise. I'm not trying to say he broke protocol or anything of the sort. What he did, was above and beyond. He saw ME. He saw the girl who still set her alarm at 5am, even in the hospital. Even with the giant ears and the straight blood coming out of places blood should not exit. Later, he would say, 'that 5am meditation stuff I read in your hospital notes, that impressed me the most.' I never knew any of this until the exact right time. He took on the fear so I could do the work. Think about this. An actual person who took an oath to 'do no harm' doing his job and even more. Some people say doctors do God's work and I've always been a skeptic. A skeptic, because they are so profoundly human and deserve this caveat as much as the rest of us deserve it. But, this doctor, has changed my mind a little bit. This doctor, MY DOCTOR, made sure I would be back again to plant these silly flowers on my deck. These flowers I was in the middle of planting last year when I heard the words, 'go to the ER right now.' 

The garden and deck and window box plans are all written out and ready to go and ready to be planted in the coming weeks. Hot pink and orange and a hummingbird garden out back and all orange and purple out front. And, of course, the Dahlias in pots and the awe-striking creeping Jenny's as spillers, wherever I want them. You see, I am allowed to live and plan and feel joy and heal and all the things, because someone absorbed the fear and the worry and all the don’ts and can’ts for me. 

This is what God or anything we trust, and you must believe me when I say anything. I am not just trying to be inclusive, I am trying to show you, our beliefs and our foundations are all connected, whomever we are. We are all worthy. We are all worthy of a foundation and a protector. However she or he shows up for us. Even in the form of a doctor.

My Alexa is so tired of playing the Beatles. I am on a kick, lately, because I tested what would happened if I asked her to play 'the Beatles' one day. By the way, this is the best part of Alexa, I ask her to play whatever comes to mind and she plays the best song ever. Every time I ask her to play the Beatles, she either starts with ‘Let it Be’ or ‘Blackbird.’ And, now, I wheel around the house and I sing both. 

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted 
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

I went to church every single Sunday...after all, my grandfather was a pastor in the Lutheran Church and when he left and passed on,  he made sure I grew up in the Episcopal Church. I went to church every single Sunday. Until, I didn’t and I couldn’t. 

But, then, I, finally, learned church is just like anything else that teaches us the form or the ritual or the way. Church is just our vehicle to finally SEE and finally walk on the damn water.

We are all creators and healers and lovers and all the bits we worship and pray to. We are all children of our own creator. We are all able to heal and be healed. Showing up at church is an act of service or ritual. It is not an act of worthiness. We are all worthy. We are all worthy. Especially, on Sunday.

My point is, the gods or Buddhas or whomever will show up for you. Whenever you need them or don’t want to need them or are indifferent to them. THEY WILL SHOW UP. Your work is to heal. The ‘doctors’ can take it from here.

Plant the gardens, cook the food, love the babies, forgive the enemies. Those who are supposed to look out for you, so you can rise to your highest, they will serve you. Oh, they will serve you.

And, you will end up right where you started. You will end up in that very space you were always meant to be. You will end up knowing you are your greatest gift, your greatest advocate, and your very best friend. Even, if your doctor absorbs all the fear and and anguish and worry. Because he took an oath and he is just doing his job. Plant the flowers. Do your very best, because when you least expect it, you will learn, someone had your back this entire time. And, this someone, was only protecting you and absorbing all the fear for you. Just so you could plant your flowers in May and enjoy them in June and July and August, and if you are very, very lucky, all the way into September. He just wanted you to know you are the very essence of you. Broken and battered and bloodied and all. You are most impressive to him because you just woke up, even when you didn't mean to. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Just Enough

It’s rare Saturday night in February. Rare because it is nearly seventy degrees, in Ohio, in February. All of the windows are open, along with the big doors out to the deck off of the breezeway. You’ve Got Mail plays for the hundredth time in the other room above the well-loved fireplace, that isn’t needed tonight. I decide to plant my Hyacinth bulbs. The ones I bought to force in little containers and fill my house with their beauty. I pause and look around and I have this moment when I feel this feeling. This feeling I chase. This feeling that all is right in the world, even if just for a minute. I am home. There is a breeze and life is so good. 

The next Saturday night follows suit. Only this time, it is snowy and cold and I am back in front of the fire. Ina’s French Onion soup simmers away on the stove and I am cozy and warm. And life is so good.

There are so many more of these mornings and afternoons and evenings. So many moments that force me to catch my breath and slow down so I can feel the inhale and exhale of life.

And as if life just couldn’t get any better, I hear these words from my doctor - We did it. We are on the field. We might just win this. - I know his lingo now. Sports analogies. And I know being on a field is a good one. I leave his office feeling I figured it out. I figured out how to heal. I will be well and life is good.

Ah. I know better. This isn’t the end. I don't know anything, really.

I come up with a lot of plans or schemes to heal. I write schedules and set alarms. I release negative energy in anyway I can and try to fill my body with only goodness. I eat Kale and recite positive affirmations in the mirror. I try to be generous and kind when I can and bow out or forgive myself when I can’t. I do whatever I can to heal these wounds and stop the pain.

I know better, though. Healing has very little to do with new and tough scar tissue and eliminating pain. Because the moment one wound heals, another will open, and, once again, there is pain. Pain never goes away. In the very same way life can be so good, it can also be so very painful. And, as if I am learning it for the very first time, I struggle with this great divide. I struggle because I know the most difficult and beautiful part about being human and fully alive is living, smack-dab, in the middle of this great confusion.

I woke up everyday at five o’clock in the morning to write to you what I learn about healing and I just couldn’t finish the post. Something was missing. I looked at the stories and the notes and all of the pictures and the quotes I jotted down from movies and books that popped up along the way. I tried to piece them together and write the lesson. But, I just couldn’t. 

Without warning, I ended up sick again several days ago. I grasped for air because my kidneys were having trouble filtering the antibiotics that I so desperately needed and, once again, I was in the bathroom begging for an answer. And just like so many of these bathroom cry fests end, I found a bit of peace, curled up in bed, and put on a movie. The movie was, Jackie

Some of the very best scenes in this movie are the conversations between Jackie and a priest. Without giving too much away Ill share my favorite moment. Jackie confides in the priest that she thinks God is mean and she never wants to wake up again, but she does anyway and she just can’t figure out why she keeps believing and waking up when life seems so painful and cruel. And the priest, among many other profound words, explains we live for the tiny moments of understanding and we are given just enough understanding to keep going. And then he tells her, "God in His infinite wisdom has made sure that it (life) is just enough for us."

Pain will never go away. This is not pessimistic or giving into hurt. It is wise. We can numb pain however we choose -  with food, with traveling, with gossip, or constantly escaping, or shopping or drugs or alcohol, or working too much, or trying to pretend we are so happy we are slowly dying inside. The truth is though the only things the numbing agents do for us is, just that, numb. And over time, we become so numb we realize we aren’t really living at all. We are just trying to escape and avoid one pain after another.

Living and healing go hand in hand. To be healed is to learn there is no life without pain. But, our job is create just enough or so much, interchangeably, that the pain isn’t so bitter. Because when I sit at look at all of these jotted down quotes, and little stories of joy, and pictures of all of the moments that were just enough, and I realize I am alive and well and life IS good, I learn just enough really is enough. In fact, life is pretty amazing and stunningly beautiful. And then, I can’t wait to get up tomorrow and keep going.

“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only things you can do is to enlarge your sense of things.... Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”
-from an aging Hindu master taken from Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Finally, a Taco Tuesday success. Fish Tacos with mango salsa and cabbage slaw.

I, finally, bought a real camera and for the first time Belle's sweet face showed up in a picture.

Forcing bulbs and feeling a breeze on a rare warm February night.

Orchids and sunshine and Belle's chair pushed right up the window, just how she likes it.

Ina's onion soup that can heal the world in one bite.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dinner Time

When I was a babysitter ,or nanny, without fail, my very favorite time of day was the, dinner, shower, homework, folding laundry on the kitchen island, time of day. I finished the round trip taxi service trips that led -  to and fro -  from dance to science club to theater practice, and then back, again. And, then, we all would gather in the kitchen, and fold the laundry, the laundry I tried to wash and fold between classes, while I cooked some form of dinner and all of these efforts, both the kids and mine, ended in the kitchen, where, we just chatted and laughed. We folded and cleaned and checked homework and packed lunches, but mostly we chatted and laughed. 

I chase this time of day. This dinner time with the gaggles of kids just dying to tell me her or his story. This time of day when all is right with the world. When the soup is simmering and the local news is on and the kids are asking questions about math and literature. I light up about the literature. And I tell them all about, Much Ado About Nothing. And, we continue to fold laundry, on the island, and pass the vegetables and assure each other, the brocoli is really that good. I feel like all is right with the world. This time of day is magic. This time of day is near the end, but not quite there. That last few bits of the day that are the very best. The last few bits that mean the very most.

Look. I mess up a lot. I mean, a lot. I cry a lot, too. I mean, a lot. Especially, in the last few weeks. And to try to combat these, so called weaknessess, I decided to create my own boot camp. A camp where I must show up at five o’clock in the morning or all was lost. And when my phone alarm rings, I sit up and get up and face this day. Even if I don’t want to. 

But, I get up, and I do it. Even when I don’t want to. Even, when it is much later than I hoped. I know I must start somewhere. So I start here. Whenever I get up, and I assure myself, this time is okay.

When I was twenty one, I had the rug pulled out of under me and I haven’t been able to find it again. I chased this rug. The rug is gone.

I learned I must weave a new rug. And, I don’t want to. I don’t want to weave the rug. I don't want to be a rug weaver. I don’t want to have to help weave the damn rug.

This new rug is jagged and messy and without a circular, perfectly round, ending. I, just can not put it on the floor for display.

So, I continue to weave. Even when I don’t want to. 

I tried, for the last several weeks, just to create a dinner time in my small, little home with just my dog. I folded laundry, while the oven pre-heated, and I turned on Ellen to hear the familiar chatter. I created, dinner time. Or, my very best version of dinner time.

I don’t know much about anything. But, I do know, we live for moments. We live for the feelings we once had or think we should have. The feelings. The feelings that make us feel alive.

Like dinner time with all the girls and boys and their chatter. A time I call, Dinner Time. I will never stop chasing this moment, this time. Dinner Time. 

This time, when everything is okay, was okay.

When, for a few minutes, all is right in the world.

I want to create this time over and over and over, again. The chance to begin and create and love and begin and create and love again, and again, again, and again. And again.

No boundries. No limitations. Just dinner time followed by bed time, with the anticipation of getting up and doing it all again. And, meet up, at the kitchen island, and fold some laundry and chat about the day, with the anticipation of doing it all over again, tomorrow. 

Dinner time, with the kids, or the dog, or Ellen, or just me, easily, my very favorite time of day. Easily.

This is love. The smallest moments. Getting to experience all of it...especially Dinner Time.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Big Foot

I sit here in front of this fire and try to write to you and, with words, paint the masterpiece that was my week, last week. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. So good. And, I don’t say, so good, very much. I feel like it might jinx everything and anything. So, I don’t write about the good, much. 

Tonight, though, I decided to get honest about the good, too. And tell you why I loved this past week and all its twinkly lights.

But, I couldn’t stop laughing. Like, belly laugh, goofy, snort laughing.

I was thinking about the last five minutes of the night, last night. I was in my car, chatting and shivering because the window was down. Ashlea, was also shivering, and holding Will, and we talked quickly because of the cold. But, as you know, we had to talk. I told her, for whatever reason, I picked up toys and noticed a big, toy gorilla. And, I, simply, said it, the gorilla thing, in a list of things, a list of the evening’s happenings. Ashlea doubled over in laughter. She is so tickled that she has to give me multiple choice super hero costume quizzeswhile I wrap gifts and is, equally, tickled that I, familiarize, Hamilton, the musical, to her by way of the Disney movie, Moana. This time, though, she was hysterically laughing because I, apparently, called Big Foot, a gorilla. And, for the life of me, I really thought it was a gorilla. And she finds this hysterical and I watched her double over, in laughter, while holding her toddler. I can’t stop laughing and smiling.

Ashlea and I have very different lives. What is hard in our lives is so very different. But, we make an effort to understand each other and celebrate each other, when we can, when we have time.

I can’t stop laughing and smiling. Not because I made a mistake and my friend corrected me, but because she, in two seconds, knew the gorilla I talked about was actually Big Foot. And, because, I will never learn all of these super heroes or characters. Super Heroes is its own AP class.

Tonight, I write to you to tell you things actually do work out sometimes. We all go through so many hard things that none of us understands. But, we could understand, if we tried, and make our friends’ lives easier, if we just learned that a gorilla can also be Big Foot. 

We all have different lives, but we can understand each other, we really can. And, then laugh, in the driveway, about our misunderstanding/understanding, and go home feeling loved.

Tonight, I wanted to write something different, but I can’t stop laughing and smiling. Oh, and I switched my nighttime ritual chamomile tea with the Aveda tea Ashlea bought me because she tried it and loved it so much and knew I would to and would understand how much she loved it.

And, I do. I love it, too. I understand. It is so good.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When Things Fall Apart

I am actually writing this is the morning, like I planned, like on my schedule, when I wanted to. I like to write in the morning because it is quiet and peaceful and begs for reflection and new beginnings. And, I am full of hope because I haven’t burned anything, yet, or broken anything, or rescued Belle, for the twelfth time, from that hydrangea bush she gets stuck in, every, single day. I like writing in the morning, there’s a lot of hope I might just get it right, today.

So, after I burned the tacos last Tuesday I fell into a rabbit hole of worry and doubt. I can live in fear, sometimes. I fear I’ll never get it right. I’ll never move forward, juggling and balancing all I have to juggle, especially, when I burn or break most of what I am trying to juggle. The eating healthy and the self-discipline will never work, things will continue to break. I start to believe, when the little things all fall apart it means the big things will, too. And, they will. And, all at the same time. And, it's all okay.

I haven’t written the past few days because when I get to this place, this place of inner chaos - a place where I judge my hope, my dreams, my failures, and my fears - I know it is time to get still. Other than posts that might read like, I did my chores, made some avocado toast, or drinking tea and turned off my ringer and the news, again, because I am sitting still, I couldn’t say much because silence and stillness are a practice and require breaks, from everything. Even when I don’t want to take the breaks. 

I used to think these stillness breaks meant there was something wrong me. I thought I was shutting down. I do shut down, but not because there is something wrong with me, but because I need a moment to know I will be okay. Stillness and silence allow me to hear my worries and my fear and my sadness and reassure them all...all will be well. I must reassure these parts of me that it’s okay to want to get it right. It’s okay that getting it right looks like a clean house and folded laundry and healthy food and a working body and meeting goals. It’s okay to want to act and speak and serve and love well and adhere to practices like mindfulness and meditation because I want to get things right, too. It’s okay to want to keep going and want to get it right, even, while I fail and break things, big and small. It’s okay to want to get it right, even when I don’t, most of the time. Stillness and turning off the noise and going to bed early and taking long, deep breaths reminds me that getting it right lives in all these things - joy and failure and sadness and hope and peace and chaos. Living through all of these things, not eliminating them or ignoring them, makes me better and more human. I can’t get it right, big or small. Clean the house or fold laundry or act, serve, love, and speak well, if I don’t do things for me when I need them most. I can not even attempt to give away what I do not have. Things will always fall apart - big and small - when I stop taking time to nurture and grow and trust the parts of me that heal and repair and begin, again.

If I calm down enough I clearly see, just like when things fall apart, little and big, things, also, go right - little and big. Last Monday, I was full of so much gratitude because I had a normal day, that ended with a fire, a bowl of truffle popcorn, and a cup of tea. Yesterday, little things fell apart and I didn’t fall down that rabbit hole. Instead, I did the dishes, wiped down the counter, shut off the noise, and made a bowl of truffle popcorn, a fire, and a cup of tea. I saw the popcorn and the tea sitting on the table and remembered how, a week before, I saw these things as a treat or reward for, mostly, getting it right. And, tonight, I see them as a reward for getting through things not going right and wanting to keep going anyway and still going to bed and still setting my alarm in the hopes that I get it right, tomorrow. Cause it is okay to want to be okay and get it right. It is okay to want these things, when things are going well or if they are not going well. It is okay to want to get it right.

I need to finish this cup of tea, pick up the house, and get on with the day. Oh, and wash and chop the cauliflower for tacos tonight. After all, it’s Taco Tuesday, again. And, yes, cauliflower tacos. I’ll let you know how this goes, even if I burn them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

You Can Turn the World on with Your Smile

Take chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.

-Mary Tyler Moore 

So, yesterday. I woke up, yesterday, willing to face the world. After all, I had a normal day. I was smug enough to think I had this whole life thing figured out.

And, then, I burned the quinoa. The quinoa, for the black bean and quional tacos, I found on Cookie and Kate. Yesterday, was Taco Tuesday, after all.

My very best days are when I can straighten up the house and get all the necessary things done for the day, have time for using my mind, and a little bit of time leftover for a walk, at the river, with Belle. After one normal and really good day, I, falsely, assumed the next day would follow suit. And, it did not.

Not because I am a victim or stuff just doesn’t work out for me. But, because, this is life. One day, we have it all figured out, and then the next day we are smacked over the head with the realization that we do not, in fact, have it all figured out.

I celebrate Taco Tuesday like it’s an actual thing. I try to think of a new taco recipe, every Tuesday. Even, just to keep me grounded. It’s silly, I know. Much like hanging twinkly lights when the outside world tells you, you aren’t just perfect enough.

So, I made the tacos. A quinoa and black bean taco recipe from Cookie and Katie. A recipe, I swear by, since I changed my food thoughts.

Food thoughts. That is it’s own post. Because, food is complicated for me. It heals me, yet it also scared me.

Anyway, I burned the damn quiona. I burned it after I tossed the diced onions and garlic around for a bit, until they were tender. I burned the quinoa because I didn’t trust a gas stove. I learned to cook on a gas stove. And, then, when I moved into space that weren’t exactly to my preference, I learned to cook on an electric stove. And, then, I bought my own house. And, I had a gas line installed and bought the best gas stove I could afford. And, I burned the quiona because I forgot the dance of the gas stove.

I salvaged enough to pretend I put together and celebrated Taco Tuesday and I was all twinkly lights for the evening.

But, the truth is, I burned most of the tacos. A mistake I knew how to handle. But, it happened anyway. And, I was mad. I even went into the bathroom, my wailing wall, and had some words with my tile.

And, I went to bed. Because I had nothing left.

I woke up today, ready to start over. And, it was hard. My sheets and down comforter begged me to stay put, in my bed. Luckily, my dog walker was on her way. And, Belle, is something I never ignore, despite how low I feel.

So, I pulled myself out of my bed of perfectly soft and warm sheets. And, I tried again.
I ate the, salvaged bits of the tacos for lunch and I took a picture for you. So you know what redemption looks like. To be clear, this is redemption, not perfectionism.

I know both.

This is the real me. The girl that burns the dinner and is devastated and cries into the early hours of the morning. But, I get up. I get up, again.

I want to live the hell out of this life. Even if I am a day late or burn my dinner.

I will get up. I will keep trying.

"You're gonna make it after all."

The End.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Normal Day

“Later on, when they had all said “Good-bye” and “Thank-you” to Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and for a long time they were silent. 
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what's the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What's for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting to-day?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It's the same thing,” he said.” 

-A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Everyday I ask for a normal day. A day when my body basically works and I can do normal things like cook and eat. There was a long time when the normal things I love were not possible. I also spent a long time fighting for exciting adventures. And, after I fell really, really ill a few times, I begged for normal days. 

Today was a normal day full of routines and rituals that make me feel normal. Things like, iced coffee and sparkling water, and avocado toast and meditating, and folding laundry. I ran errands, started more laundry, and even had time to purchase a, very fancy and expensive, cup of hot water with a tea bag in it from Starbucks. I came home to a clean house, thanks to Angie, and still had time to start a fire because it is just cold and rainy enough. I popped popcorn, made a cheaper cup of tea, and caught up on reading and writing. 

Today was a very exciting and normal day.