My Winter Pause

From notes I wrote on Jan 14th, 2015

Joy and Momo

Joy and Momo

7:49am with Momo and Joy on Laura’s patio, Miami, FL

I’ve been at Laura’s since Saturday, when I drove in with a rental car, lugging all my stuff. It’s been 3 full days. Yesterday we made a plan to do two sessions, so it was a real working day. M took his study to the fish office, so Laura and I had the ‘garage’ all to ourselves. That’s what they call it. I call it the Healing Center, or Laura’s office.

The first session was approx. 3 hours. It was a re-assessment and going over and creating a new ‘charged area’ list. The second session was called ‘unblocking’ ~ you pick a person, place, or thing, and the therapist asks you a series of questions about it. For example: ‘Concerning ________, has anything been supressed? Has anything been revealed? judged? concealed? validated?’ It’s a process of opening little holes in the tangled web of our most difficult relationships. It’s like chipping holes in a block of ice so air can circulate. It’s work, and often exhausting, although you’re just talking and sitting on a couch or a comfortable chair.

Today I did a little clearing of my favorite part of the house~ the back patio. I hosed it off and scrubbed the floor and washed down all the outdoor furniture. I like things to be clean, clear, and beautiful, and the patio is where I spend most of my time. I can see the sky, feel the breeze, watch the wildlife on the lake, and be surrounded by beauty. It’s funny, I don’t want to go to the store with Laura to shop, or to the restaurant with them, or to the movies that’s a 40 minute drive away. I said “No, thanks” to all the invitations, and just stayed here at home, most of the time on the back patio with Joy and Momo (the elderly German Shephard and her cat friend). Momo’s lying here on the little table next to my chair. The tip of her tail is flicking, so I know she’s ‘feeling’ my presence. If I just make a tiny humming sound I can activate it. We’re tuned into each other.

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I like it here. I can think. I don’t want to get into a car and go out into that world out there. At least not right now. I’m enjoying the space just to be. I’d rather get into a kayak and go out into the world of nature. It’s peaceful, and quiet, and I connect.

Laura's lake.

Laura’s lake.

People pay good money to be in 78 degrees in January, sitting somewhere with their feet up looking out over water and sipping a cool drink. A huge added bonus is that there’s a cat here right next to me keeping me company. She’s a real companion, and I’m not alone at all. Even though it feels so much like a retreat, I’m calling it a ‘pause.’ Laura comes  by, drops in, and brings me a hot tea, or a Vicks Vapo Rub for my neck. We sit out on the davenport together watching the early morning light or the night sky in the evening, sharing stories of our lives. Then I close my eyes and drift off. She heads back inside, and I’m in my space again.

Sunset on the patio.

Sunset on the patio.

Today’s been our ‘day off.’ She made her own schedule, and I made mine. We crossed paths briefly when she was in-between yoga and a lunch date with her husband and a client. “Wanna come in my room and talk while I get changed?” she called through the open door. We touched base, had a good laugh about how well the arrangement we made is working out, and then she was gone again.

Tomorrow is another ‘work day’ and I’m enjoying the unscheduled-ness of today. However, I still made a to-do list. Structure always give me a framework to hang the time on. It wards off the feeling that I’m wasting it, which always bums me out. It also reminds me of jobs that I need to do: writing to my daughter and her husband, repairing the bra I gave Laura, filing down my new partial, making a pot of lentil soup, washing out my handbag and repacking so as to be ready for my next step. I like the feeling of being on top of things. Maybe that’s part of what I need to let go, but for now it serves me well.

On the patio looking out at the lake, I love the sound the coots make when they run across the top of the water, or dive beneath it. There’s always somebody chasing somebody out of their territory, and I never get tired of watching their antics. It’s hard to imagine anything better than this right now. In exchange for some cooking and cleaning, I have a bed with a pillow and blanket, a good book and a lounge chair overlooking a beautiful lake in sunny south Florida. Meanwhile, everybody else is experiencing a cold front, freezing temperatures, and other inconvenient truths. I’m glad, very very glad, to be here.

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Then why do I keep worrying in the back of my mind about ‘tomorrow?’

“Leave tomorrow for tomorrow,” says Patty. Think about today instead. It’s a blessing. Don’t be so quick to run off. There’s work here. And sometimes that means just listening to your own breath.

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OK. That sounds good. I’m taking a pause for some fresh air…

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Care-giving for Life

Passages

I usually learn best by observing, and then doing. I became a teacher in the actual classroom, not while I was studying. For me, caregiving is the same. I had a chance to do a lot of it this past year with my mom, and it was definitely on-the-job training. Every day brought some new lesson, and I got better at it each time.

While taking care of my mom, I also learned about the importance of self-care. Like putting the oxygen mask on first, I found that I needed to take care of myself if I wanted to be a good caregiver. It makes sense, but it’s easy to forget. In all the caregiver manuals I read, burnout is the number one thing that everyone warns against. Take care of yourself if you want to take care of someone else.

Another important lesson for a caregiver is to cultivate your social network. In her book, Passages in Caregiving, Gail Sheehy, who’s written about many of life’s passages, quotes several studies about the effect of friends on one’s health. Here are two that struck me:

“Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.” (Rebecca Adams, University of North Carolina)

“The best antidote to preserve the brain is an extensive social network. It’s how many people one knows intimately and feels comfortable confiding in.” (Dr. David Bennett)

I didn’t have to organize a social network for my mother. She already had one. She has so many good friends who love and admire her, and who dropped by to visit, take her out somewhere, or offer to help me with her care. When she went into the hospital I saw just how many of them there are, as they were all gathered in one place, bearing the most precious gift of all~ their time.

For me, it’s a work in progress. I have lived in so many places, and left many friends behind each time I’ve moved. I have to reach out much further than my mother does to make contact with them, and I often forget to or find reasons why it’s difficult. However, I’m seeing how important it is by the results I get when I do confide in people. By taking the time to build relationships gradually over time if it’s someone new, and staying in regular contact and sharing the ups and downs with family and old friends, I refresh myself, and find the support and encouragement I need.

I’ve always enjoyed writing letters, and always feel good when I do. It’s cheaper than a phone call, more personal than an email, and because of the time I have to reflect, it’s usually more sincere. Since I started consciously cultivating my social network recently, I’ve written about 15 letters. Sometimes, if I remember to, I photocopy them before sending them off. They seem so special, and I like to keep a record of what I said and to whom. They’re like journal entries, pages in my life, only better because they’ve been shared with someone else, not just me.

Self-care is a life-long work. We start out learning to hold our own spoon, brush our own teeth, and walk without assistance. Later, we learn to care for our thoughts and emotions. Eventually we can begin taking care of others in an effective and healthy way. The friends we cultivate become our social network, and provide us with the comfort, encouragement, and strength we need to keep on giving, not just to others but to ourselves as well.

The state of mind that approaches prayer

Leaf of the Tree

It's A Long Way Down 374 Photo: Kathy Gilman

Gleanings found here and there:

The important thing is to work in a state of mind that approaches prayer.

~ Henri Matisse

It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.

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~ Wendell Berry

The practice above all practices is to relinquish the immature desire to be taken care of (by our parents, spouse, government, guru, church, etc.), and to parent our own originality. To give ourselves the support that we may never have received.

To get behind the creation of one’s life is to recognize your influence in ‘the way things are,’ and nurture your vision with protective discipline until it is strong enough to serve in the world on its own.

~ Toko-pa

Wertskyline10628299_827947707229100_5000927020300862535_nWe must become…

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RUMI

These are some Rumi sayings gathered and shared with me by Gillian Corcoran

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
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“What you seek is seeking you.”

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“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

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“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
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“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

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Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript of a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want,

you are already that.

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Indeed,
We are one Soul , You and Me.

in the show and hide
You in Me, I am in You.

Here is the deeper meaning
of my relationship with You,

Because there is nor I , nor You.
between You and Me.

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As you live deeper in the heart,
the mirror gets clearer and cleaner.

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“Be silent, Only the Hand of God Can remove The burdens of your heart.

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Don’t be sad! Because God sends hope in the most desperate moments. Don’t forget, the heaviest rain comes out of the darkest clouds.

The inspiration you seek is already within you. Be silent and listen.

Be like the flower that gives its fragrance
to even the hand that crushes it.

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It’s no good giving my heart and my soul
Because You already have these.
So I’ve brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.

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You have no need to travel anywhere – journey within yourself. Enter a mine of rubies and bathe in the splendor of your own Light.

There is a voice that doesn’t use words.
Listen.

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You know how it is.
Sometimes we plan a trip to one place,
but something takes us to another.

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Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation!

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There is a morning inside you
waiting to burst open into light

When you seek Love with all your heart,
you shall find its echoes.. in the universe !
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You have to keep breaking
your heart until it opens.

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You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.

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All is known in the sacredness of silence.

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Your heart is the size of an ocean.
Go find yourself in its hidden depths.

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Every step of the way I will walk with you
And never leave you stranded.

 

It’s easy to stand with the crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone.

 

There’s a path from your heart to mine.

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Your heart is the size of an ocean.
Go find yourself in its hidden depths.

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These pain’s you feel are messengers.
Listen to them.

 

The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given,
the door will open.

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Love said to me, there is nothing that is not me.
Be silent.

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There is nothing outside of yourself, look within.
Everything you want is there-you are That.

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╭♥╯Oh Beloved,
Take away what I want.
Take away what I do.
Take away what I need.
Take away everything
that takes me from you.

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Music is the language of God.

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Your body is away from me
But there is a window open
from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.

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HEALTH & HAPPINESS!

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My father-in-law eats two apples a day ~ one after breakfast and one after dinner. That’s 14 apples a week, and about 60 apples a month. WOW! He’s really healthy, so I think I can learn from him.

I like apples, and everybody knows that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away!” but I don’t know anyone else who is practicing that rule so faithfully.

He has several other good practices that have been easier for me to follow (like eating dark chocolate whenever no one is around…) But more on that later 🙂

The Truth (about Mr. BEE) Revealed

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Let me begin to tell you how the tale of Mr. Bee is now~
In fact, if truth be told you see, he isn’t really Mr. Bee.
His family tree is not the same, and WASP is his true family’s name.

Now there it is, a wrong corrected ~ my ignorance has been deflected.
I want to welcome just the same the little one, whate’er his name,
So I invited him to share our repast in the garden air.
The trouble is that when he came, he brought his friends and sister, Mame.
They were a quite rambunctious crew ~ too late I thought, but what to do?

The garden party was fair fun, and went as well as could be expected, Hon,
But one last thing you ought to know: Wasps can be friendly one by one,
but not in groups of four or more~ in that case I would close the door.