Sunday, October 15, 2017

Making Space

Here is the thing, learning and doing something new has a cost.  It takes time, it takes effort and sometimes it really sucks.  When I have been in the hospital for 32 hours and I still have homework and medical treatments to do when I get home, things start to fall through the cracks.   Adam and I rarely see each other, my time to practice, read or meditate have been condensed or forgotten some days.  I signed up for a really tough year, and I didn’t fully realize how much it was going to cost.  I also have no idea where the process will take me.  I don’t know what will survive the extra stress.  I know that I will learn a lot, I know I will learn things that will serve me in my life but right now I feel the cost.

Right now the things I have to brag about are that I keep getting up, I keep driving to work and I keep pushing myself to go into those patient’s rooms and learn.  I find myself feeling down when I look at Facebook, look at all these amazing people that I don’t have the time to go see.  Adam continues to remind me, this is only for a year, but I still needed to find some self care.

I needed to find some creative outlet that was not theological discussion, that was not making meaning and purpose out of a tough visit, that was not thinking of different ways I could’ve handled the situation.  I went out of my comfort level and signed up for a doodling and dance class.  It was exactly what I needed, the space and invitation to be creative but with prompts to help guide that. 

I find myself in a part of the process where I feel I don’t know if it will be worth it, where I am trusting in something bigger then me.  Trusting that however this year ends up transforming me in such a way that will continue to serve me and those around me.  That I might have to squeeze in self care into small moments, small classes and reach out of my comfort zone when my schedule allows.  But I also need to be really gentle with myself, to remember that I am worth the time to take that class, that I don’t need to bring my computer everywhere to squeeze in a few minutes of reading or homework.  That somehow, I need to discover who else I am.


Question of the day:  How do you make time for just yourself?  Name something from this week that inspired you, gave you a bit of respite or helped you connect to yourself. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Scarcity

Scarcity, this idea of not having enough, not being enough that plays in our subconscious.  This theme that the media has lead us to believe can be satisfied by abundance, by buying things, by being more….  It is a pattern I struggle with, to remind myself that abundance does not balance out scarcity, that doing more will never equal me feeling like I am enough.  

There are tools I have learned, the first is too look around and see if indeed there is something lacking, or something threatening.  To come away from the stories that my mind spins and notice what is around me, find gratitude for what is around me and take some really deep breaths.  

It is still a well worn pattern, in my nervous system, it can play like a record and it takes attention to notice the pattern, to break the pattern and when energy is really low to admit that I need to change the pattern.  I get to a point with panic attacks, where I am so exhausted that it is easier to keep playing the record, but once I notice the record I need to break it.  I need to apologize, I need to own up to my behavior and make an effort to change.  

However this past week, resources felt scarce, or in some cases nonexistent.  Things like food, water, shelter and medication became real issues.  It started with concerns about medication, a delay that has turned into a number of weeks at this point.  Which meant I took stock of my ‘emergency” stock, had to alter herb dosages and try to plan for the chaos that hit Houston.  There was no way to plan, there was no way to predict how long we would be out of our apartment, and I had no way of knowing when I might receive a shipment of my bladder medication. 

Eventually this has all lead to a full blown flare and my rescue medication has yet to ship.  So the second time that Adam and packed up to evacuate we both realized we wanted to cry and yet at the same time we felt pretty numb.  I started thinking about what is the way to balance this scarcity idea, belief?  Because for me telling myself I am still enough when I am in pain and scared doesn’t break the pattern.  

Resourcefulness is the way to balance it, to see what can be done, to understand that I have other methods of coping and helping myself.  To understand that when someone offers you a bed and a shower it is not out of pity but compassion.  To accept that people still love me and care for me, to understand that when I am afraid I am not thinking, there is a blessing of having people around me as a resource.  Sometimes the resource is working on foundations and sometimes it is going to a friend and saying “help me, I don’t know what to do.”  It is admitting that I am vulnerable and scared, that I am not thinking clearly and that has nothing to do with how weak or strong I am.  It has nothing to do with what I will be able to do tomorrow, it is that moment that requires me to reach out to other people as a resource.  

I hear the message everywhere and everyday that I am not enough, and someone offering a different way to “fix it.”  There is no quick fix, relationships take time to build, trust takes time, resources take time and it takes time to learn new patterns in the nervous system.  This week has been rough and the lessons are just beginning to come to the surface, but valleys bring fertile growth.  As long as I am still here, there is time to stand back up and work on those resources again.  


Question of the day:  What is your response to scarcity?  What methods do you use to bring yourself back into harmony?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Praying

Yesterday Adam and I headed down to the Bayou a few blocks from our apartment to see where the water was.  As we approached, we saw the water in the street and neighborhood, flashing lights from a constable was behind us and we looked around at the home right there on the edge, the boys playing in the water and the families outside with mixed expressions.  It was about 4 in the afternoon, and I kind of wanted to leave, to get out. Worried about what could happen and how things would unfold.  

Adam who is a bit more grounded and reasonable listed the reasons to stay and that we were safer, so we stayed.  Despite anxiety about food reserves for me and medication concerns (thankfully nothing life threatening.). As my anxiety built up and I continued to remind myself that I was lucky, I was dry, I had power and at least I had rice and bone broth.  I would get through.

However my heart still ached, still wanted to do something, to help.  So what can I do right now?  I have no skills for search and rescue, but I have a closet of clothes that can always be cleaned out, I have non-perishable food that I can’t eat that I haven’t given to a food drive yet, I have toothpaste and other toiletries that I buy in bulk.   So I started cleaning out my stores and gathering things together.  Because they will be needed for a long time.

That is thing with watching a natural disaster unfold in your home, you want to help right now.  It is hard, but there are things I can do to help right now and more to come as this continues to unfold.  

I can talk to my neighbors and ask how they are doing, ask how are their families are.  Give them space to talk.  I can check on my friends, and see what is going on.  I can cry as both me and my friends await rescues.  I can hold the door and help someone bring in their stuff, because they weren’t able to evacuate.  I can smile and be calm standing in front of the grocery store that never opens.  Saying a quick prayer for the employees.  

We are all looking for ways to help right now, and there are plenty of ways to lend a hand.  But this journey is just starting for some people, stay with the journey not just the first reaction to help during the crisis.  My heart is breaking in both ways, this has brought the city together, brought neighbors together and reminded all of us that we are not alone on our journeys.  




Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Stepping Stones Aren't Always Smooth

It feels like a first step, and yet there have been so many steps leading up to this point that when does one say it is really the “first step.”  It is certainly opening a new door and a new chapter, but in this case it doesn’t quite feel like I am also closing a chapter.  I am bringing that chapter with me.  I am bring all of who and what I am with me into this new job and new opportunity.  

That has to be the most terrifying thing in the world for me, I have no fancy piece of paper, I have no shiny board certification, I have me.  I have my life experiences, my wisdom and my teachers behind me.  I am entering an new arena, where religion and philosophy start to become science.  It starts to be tested, will this wisdom help others as well?  The scientist in me is cringing a bit, because there is no way to provide reproducible data, but I am still testing wisdom, teachings and my beliefs by becoming a chaplain.  I am testing how well will I understand and appreciate people’s worlds, how well will I understand what they are feeling and not judge them by what they do, how well will I hold space for people day in and day out. 

I started looking back, at all the little steps that got me here.  I wrote about them, 16 plus pages of all the decisions that I thought would make me a good candidate for the job.  However curiosity got the better of me and I looked back on my blog to see what was going on five years ago.  

You wouldn’t know it from the photos, but I was barely able to get out the door.  This is why people are complex, blogs, social media and interactions don’t give you the picture into how complex people are.  Adam and I were silently grieving an IVF cycle that didn’t result in a positive pregnancy test.  I say silently because only a few people knew that we had chose to try again.  When I got that phone call from my doctor, I collapsed on the floor.  I remember sitting there and having the last conversation I would have with God for a good long while.  Thinking that there was no way this is all he had planned for me, disappointment and heartbreak.  Until in my grief I decided there was no God, and it was best to put away that little fairy tale, that things had a purpose and meaning.  

Now I see that God was listening, that even though I turned away he still kept the door open and placed people in my life that would slowly lead me back.  That if Adam and i felt we had no tools to deal with this grief, there would people to ask, to talk to and people that surprised us with their kindness. It was a gentle nudging to get my feet back on the path, to look around and see that my life was not defined by one event.  I was not looking for a religion, I was not looking to become a Priest and yet one step at a time it continued to make sense.  

Although right now I feel like I will be walking into those patients’ rooms alone, I know who and what is behind me.  I trust that the Dao will put me there for a reason and I have to show up and be open.  Right now I don’t feel like I’m enough, but what if I changed that?  What if I decided I am new to this, I am a beginner and it is okay if I don’t have every answer?   In that context, this is the first step, the step to accepting that I have a lot to learn.


Question of the day:  Does opening a new door mean something else closes, or can you take the complexity without the burden into that new space?  


Friday, August 18, 2017

Six months

Change...it is a house rule and when it happens slowly, it is easy to forget where I was before.  It is easy to lose sight of how much progress has been made.

Six months ago, I was in my doctor's office for a follow-up, to discuss what about my treatment plan was working and what wasn't.  At that point I was still getting up six-seven times a night to urinate, I was curious what else could be done, so I could get some solid sleep.   She suggested a few things, a hormone treatment, different medication or a nerve stimulation treatment which would take time.  In a world where sometimes I lose track and just want a pill to fix it, three months seemed like a long time.  But it was still the best treatment suggestion for me.

In the last six months, it took a while to even start the nerve treatment I have had two huge moments, where I cried in gratitude.  The first was a few weeks ago, when I no longer had blood in my urine, that has not been the case in years.  The second time was when I slept completely through the night without having to get up once to urinate.  

Change happens slowly, health returns and it takes time to learn what helps and what doesn't.  Is there one thing that I can say helped the most, no.  It was little things, each little thing that I tried, stuck with or eliminated.  It was both my doctor and my acupuncturist taking the time to continue providing new options and doing their own work and research to be able to find something that will help.  

Adam seems to get this question a lot.  “So Lenore is better right?”  Yes and no, it depends on where you are looking from.  Yes I am so much better then I was, I know more about my body and how to listen to it.  However, there is still a lot going on, I am still taking lots of herbs and supplements, I am still very cautious about my diet (I finally got to introduce broccoli!!!), I still have plenty of sleepless nights and days where walking is difficult and painful.  All of this effects Adam’s life as well, when I have a sleepless night even if I am not the couch, he doesn’t sleep as well.  When I am hurting, it wears on him.  Understand that is a tough question for him to answer and he sometimes needs support too.  He does so much to help me, and it inspires me to keep going.  He makes me laugh, smile and find the beauty in my darkest moments.  He fights harder for me, and has never given up; he is amazing!

However each one of the little changes and improvements gives me hope, gives me hope that I will be able to wean off regular bladder instillations.  Hope that I might get to have chocolate or spicy food again.  Hope that I will be able to run, without so much fear and tension.  Hope that I won’t feel like less then I was before because of this condition, not because of what I can or can’t do; but because my perspective will grow and change.  That I will no longer compare myself to some idealized illusion from the past and will accept every bit of myself in the here and now.

Each one of those steps forward, reminds me that life is continuing to grow and change, that I am not stuck, no matter how it feels.  Change sometimes takes time, but it happens, the question becomes what are you working towards.  


Question of the day: What are you working on right now, that has you feeling impatient?  Can you go back and see who you were six months ago and see the movement?  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Illusions

A number of years ago, Adam and I were watching a full moon rise and I turned to look at him.  I said “did you see that, the moon passed right in between the clouds, it passed through them.”  My beloved husband, looked at me in disbelief and said “what, the clouds can never be behind the moon?”   I looked at him, confident in what I saw, dismissing years and years of scientific knowledge and said, “yes it can.”   Quickly I realized his point of view and I laughed pretty hard at myself.  

Though it didn’t stop the fact that I had seen this marvelous illusion.  For a moment I really believed that the moon passed through the clouds as if it was just a prop in our atmosphere and not a celestial body.  I believed what my eyes saw, I believed the illusion.  It can be so easy to fool ourselves by what we see, hear etc…to not ask additional questions, to fail to expand our perspective.  In fact the mind likes to fill in these blanks with drama, anxiety, hence the saying “the mind is a terrible master.”    

There has been something that is weighing down my heart, something truly heartbreaking to me.  I have seen it repeated several times in the last week, in different contexts and my immediate reaction is to bury myself in the sand.  I am not that person anymore, the sand is no longer home, the dynamic of life is home.  The times when I am able to take a step back, and realize that cloud and the moon are not in the same plane, it gives me a moment to question.  I can check in with the stories that my mind is spinning and separate them from my feelings.  I can find my ground, and trust my actions.  To focus on what needs to be done, what is actually in front of me and the rest just needs to be blessed.  

It is easy for me to use the fire of emotions as fuel, to take giant leaps or run with an action.  However when that fire is high, it is also when I am the most unsettled and muddy.  It is a time for small steps, for observation, for feeling and acknowledging the emotions are not who I am.  

Question of the day: Where are you right now? Is this a time for action or for a little bit of observation?  



Monday, August 7, 2017

Bully, part two

My life is about to change, I have been working on something for almost five years now, and it is finally coming to fruition.  I was accepted into a CPE (clinical pastoral education) program at a local hospital and I will be a resident Chaplain for the next year.  These last few weeks are a bit of the countdown and rest period before that work starts.  

There is this giant change coming, and I am nervous, excited and everything in between.  However there are so many questions, that won’t have answers until I am in a room with a patient, until I know a clinical assignment, until I start and get my feet on the ground.  If you have learned anything about me, one I like plans, and two my life is pretty much built around routine.  So going from full-time wife and part-time volunteer to full-time chaplain, school and full-time wife, is a bit daunting right now.   

With all the uncertainty and change looming, I feel pretty anxious about the future.  Reading through the material for this upcoming residency is exciting and intimidating.  However I made a mistake last night before bed, I was reading through the syllabus for one of the units and my internal bully started spinning.  It started telling me there was no way I could do this, I have never done it before, I don’t know how and I am just going to fail.  Needless to say it resulted in a pretty restless night.  

I got up in the morning, feeling exhausted, depleted and drained.   So I put clothes on, went down to the gym and started walking until it was light enough out to go walking down to the bayou.  I ran some errands and when I got home to start working on my studies, the bully was there right next to me.  

I had no response, I truly had no response.  So I walked away from my computer for a second, and sat.  I stopped arguing with the bully, I stopped trying to find ways to prove it wrong.  I just sat for a long time.  Thinking, looking for something in my heart, something that I had to offer that no one else in this program would.  (Which is another fool’s errand, because I don’t know the people yet.).  

Then I remembered before I left to go grocery shopping I asked Adam, “what are my skills, what am I good at?”   This is not false modesty looking for a compliment, this was a sincere question, this was me telling Adam, I don’t see it right now, help me.  He started talking and I quickly got ready to leave.  As he made a joke about not being able to handle a compliment, I made an excuse.  

While I was sitting there with this bully, I thought “why the fuck does this bully have more say in my life, then Adam?”   I made a list, a very short list of the people whose opinions I really cared about, the only people with authority to put me in my place, to help me see reality and to encourage me.  The fucking bully is not on that list.  So I told the bully over and over, “you are not on my list.”   

I thought of the few people on my list.  I thought about things they had said about me, about my ability to listen, my ability to make someone feel safe, my ability to articulate myself and the fact that I am a good fit for this job.  None of them have told me it will be easy and all of them have said they believe in me, they are proud of me, and they love having me as a part of their life.  What else would I want the people I am closest in the world to say about me at my funeral?  That I enriched their lives.  Again those people are real, the bully is not.  

My list is who I trust, the people I seek out for their honest opinions and the people I trust to help me change my focus to what is real.  


Question of the day:  Who is on your list?  When is the last time you truly listened to them and absorbed what they had to say about you and how you enrich their lives?