Thursday, May 24, 2018

Waiting for Transformation


Before I start writing I take a moment to pause, to listen to my breath and center myself.  I ask for some guidance and illumination.  Writing is therapeutic for me, it is one way that I start to work things out.  It is one way that I claim what is going on and clarify the next steps I need to take.  It sounds like this beautiful linear process. 

I have been very sick, and still waiting for tests to help understand what is going on.  I spent a week at home sick, a week in the hospital and I am still home sick.  I am learning to eat and drink again, learning to slowly move and stretch again.  It takes work.  In fact, today is the first time I went outside by myself in weeks. 

It is embarrassing, to go from sixty to zero and not know when I will be back to full speed again.  It is frustrating, discouraging and isolating. However, it is still part of the human experience, and I am doing my best to put one foot in front of the other.   What does that look like right now?

I eat very slowly, take frequent naps and set a timer for walking around the apartment.  I use a lot of self-talk to remind me that it is hard to see progress sometimes, to remind myself I am worth all this extra work, to remind myself that everything changes.  Despite all of that I am still left with these feelings of inadequacy and weakness, so I cry. 

Healing is not a linear process, life is not a linear process; we are all learning as we go along and sometimes we are just left with mystery. I am in such a rush to take something and make it into something better, but these are the moments that call for patience.  These are the moments when I don’t know what I am working with, so I can’t start to transform it yet.  Right now, I am just patiently taking that step in front of me hoping it goes up but not knowing for sure. 

Question of the day:  What is the step in front of you right now?   Baby steps, we are all in this together. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Returning to Roots


When I started this blog, I wanted a year of pictures a year of things that made me smile.  I wanted to be able to look back and remember that in some of my darkest times I still found a moment each day to smile, to be grateful, to laugh and to notice more than my struggle.  It was vital to my survival.  Why?  Because Joy matters!

It is a stressful time right now, I am scared, overwhelmed and in this horrible brain fog.  I only can see the step in front of me right now, and it feels unsure and steady.  (Hence, I am up at three in the morning writing this, instead of working on my homework.)  I find myself looking for the things that bring joy to my life, and I am a bit out of practice in remembering to take pictures.

Life is difficult, hard and heartbreaking; I see lives change everyday as part of my work.  It is too short, loves.  Those moments of joy, of peace and even calm beg to be noticed and celebrated.  In the last week I have had many of those moments.  I got to watch one of my dearest friends marry the woman he loves and adores in this past week.  I still get teary thinking about it.  I have gotten to dance with my husband to our song in Disneyland. I have gotten to eat at a restaurant that is filled with memories of my best friend and I celebrating our runs and our friendship.  I have gotten to see friends I dearly love, give them hugs and sometimes share a meal with them.  I have received a gift from one of my friends who was lucky enough to travel to Greece.  I have received outpouring of support, love and understanding from two friends I don’t see enough of right now.  I got to see Infinity War with two of my favorite people in the world and laugh. I got to make dinner for Adam something inspired and creative.  I got to play in the sun and shoot photos of my husband for advertisements for a workshop he is teaching.  I was able to come home to Adam every night and just be held.  There are so many more moments.  

These were important to list, these are important to remember, because joy matters.  This can be hard for me, so I am writing it down.  I am sharing things that make me smile because it is easy to forget.  

Question of the day: How will you notice what makes you smile today?  How will you acknowledge and celebrate this precious day?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pausing


This morning I stepped onto my yoga mat and started my practice, as I inhaled and exhaled to reach my right leg back I felt this tingling, burning radiating sensation in my right foot and calf.  I immediately started to adjust, engage abdominals, internal rotation, external rotation all kinds of different experimentation.  The sensation increased, and so did my anger.  I changed positions checking in, the sensations increased to the point that I couldn’t put weight on the foot, I couldn’t fully straighten the knee.  My anger continued to build until that inner critic spoke up. 

As I listened to my inner critic, and the emotions increased I paused.  I started listing everything I was feeling out loud, anger, frustration, tightness, clenching, lack of support, overwhelmed, tired, worn, breathing in, breathing out, gripping, spasming, tears and as I sunk into child’s pose “humble.”  From there my practice became another 10 minutes of crying and breathing in child’s pose feeling humbled.  Feeling wonder and awe that my body does work, that it carries me in and out of patient rooms, that is enables me to squat down and talk to patients, that it talks to me and tells me to stop.  Feeling humbled because it takes time to heal hurt, it takes time for the body to get rid of stress and pain. 

I rose out of child’s pose, that sensation still in my right foot and got ready for my day.  That was my practice, pausing, pausing to listen and acknowledge.  It is at this point in writing that I want to stop, I believe this is a boring story, I think who cares and yet here I am writing about it, reflecting on it.  Looking at what happened on my mat this morning and seeing all the other places where I don’t pause.  What am I afraid of?  What is it about pausing and slowing down that is so scary for me?

Question of the day: How did your morning start, do you see reflections of it throughout your day?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

One little word

I started this little experiment.  I wanted to figure out little ways to bring creativity back into my life.  I started journaling again, doing my best not to make it about the residency or my struggles but using prompts so it had a different focus.  Just taking five minutes a day in the morning or evening to writing something about the prompts, I haven’t noticed a difference yet.  However, I did notice that more creative projects started coming up in my life and most of them seemed like too much to do at the moment.  Until I found this one, one little word.  To journey through the year with one little word as my focus, again each month there would be prompts and suggestions but still room for creativity and exploration. 

This seemed like something I could find enough time to do, just a little time each month.  I first started brainstorming words, using some sparkly paper, because that is better.  I came down to a few favorites, I came down to a few that I NEED to be working on, a few that I SHOULD be working on and a few that I didn’t care for.  How to decide?  The pressure is on, this word is going to be my focus for the year, it needs to be perfect.  And there goes my little trap and struggle.  I started talking with a friend, and a word came up.  Coincidently a word that came up and stayed.   I drew a little bit with my word and worked with it, deciding to wait with it.

Then the word showed up, I was in a seminar at work and we were working on vulnerability.  We split into groups to do a little exercise, we spent ten minutes saying what we were closed to, and ten minutes saying what we were open to.  There was no discussion, just taking turns going around in the circle. This realization hit me in the pit of my stomach, “joy” I am closed off to joy.  I couldn’t stop the tears coming when I said that statement, tears of truth. 

It is a well-known statement “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  I hear that a lot, I am reminded of that a lot because my mind loves to compare to  measure unlike objects.  But joy is not this ecstatic moment where everything is perfect.  Joy is showing up and being present. Joseph Campbell says “Find a place inside where there’s joy and the joy will burn out the pain.”  It is only by feeling my pain, not minimizing it, not comparing it to someone else’s that I can find the joy in my life.  It is about acknowledging my experience, asking for help if needed, crying and laughing. 

How do I start?  I had a crazy day yesterday, a day where each time I walked out of a patient’s room something else happened.  I didn’t feel like I got a chance to breath, to stop and definitely not to reflect.  Until this moment, someone was looking to refer me to another patient and she stopped me.  She gave me a hug and said “you have no idea how happy we are that you are here.”  When I got back to my office to chart, I let that sink in.  Just showing up has an impact, that was joy. 

Question of the day:  Reflection, it is an integral part of the human experience, it is a pause to find meaning and purpose.  Reflect on your day, your week or even this last month.  Where was there pain? Where was there joy? 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Crickets

There is no photo for this post, because shame is a hidden thing, it likes the dark, most people react with silence.  I was recently in class and we needed to draw a grief map of our lives.  As I looked back at the last five years, I got tired.  I got tired of listing all the losses, some of which were truly profound and will continue to teach me until the day I die.  All the grief and loss couldn’t fit on a single sheet of paper, it couldn’t all fit in my mind because after the class I kept coming up with more. 

I ended up opening my mouth and speaking up, I was met with crickets.  Now chaplains tend to be pretty good with silence, I don’t mean silence where you are making a grocery list in your head; I mean the kind of silence where you are present with the emotions and people in the room.  The kind of silence where it is so uncomfortable you want to say something, anything to break the tension.  Sitting there in my silence, in my story I felt ashamed.  When someone finally spoke up, I still felt shame and was now afraid to speak again. 

I gleam something about understanding my rules, is it okay to grieve?  Is it okay to be in pain, when someone may not be able to help?  Is it okay to been seen struggling? 

I sat with that vulnerability hangover, that feeling of why did I say something…  Judging myself, blaming myself for being weak, and finding that there are wounds that still need time to heal.  The judging, the blaming are just tools my mind will use to distract me from the pain, from that silence of grief and loss.  But here is the reality, I am the authority of my story, of my journey and it is going to take as long as it needs to.  This doesn’t not make me bad or weak, this makes me honest to say I am still learning and working through it. 

Thank you for listening, for reading and your support.  This blog has been my permission to speak shame, grief, pain, joy, peace and triumphs. 


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Desire for measurements

“I wish there was a way to measure pain;” my first thought as my alarm went off in the morning. It is there and I know it is there and sometimes I don’t think people believe it.  I wish I could explain to that doctor that when I screamed during the exam it is significant, that decades of practice of left me to be able to calmly discuss what I feel.  However measure my heart rate, take my blood pressure, look at the stress on my internal organs and maybe the medical world will see me and hear me. 

The idea and safety of being able to measure pain, of being able to say “see it is a ten,” bed day is totally justified.  Is a desire to give way my authority, it is a way of saying I don’t quite trust myself to know what it right for me today.  It is a desire to be safe from other people’s judgements and lack of understanding.  The scale doesn’t really make sense anymore, because it is not just the pain, it is the stress of normal life. 

Despite the pain and uncertainty Adam and I headed out for the day; we walked in the sun and the fresh air, and to me it felt like the first time in months I had felt the sun on my skin.  That I have been constantly hustling in and out of buildings, afraid of running out of energy before my work is done.  That I take a few minutes in the morning, but the sun isn’t quite up yet and since the time change I haven’t even done that. 

There is no way to measure the pain, there is also no way to measure the joy of spending the day with Adam.  There is no way to measure the fact that he tells me it is okay to sit down and rest, that he holds me when I cry and scream.  He continues to tell me that I worth it, that he doesn’t always like it, but I am worth it. 

These are the moments that I need to be the answer.  I need to find a new doctor, I need to make the decision if I want to lay in bed or go out to the festival with my husband.  I need to decide if I want to smile through this or lock myself away.  I’m tired and worn out right now, I’m tired of being strong so I let the tears come with the laughter, I walk around and I rest and at the end of the day I hold on to Adam. 


Question of the day: What was your first thought when you got going this morning?  How did that impact your day?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Harvesting

Chronic illness and going back to work…. yes, I have a chronic illness but don’t mistake that for meaning that I am my chronic illness.  At the same time there are moments when I do feel that is all I am, when I am worried about falling asleep driving home, or to work.  When I look at facing a 12+ hour shift and wonder where the energy will come from.  To fighting back tears because there is someone in front of me that is also in pain, and my pain can wait.

I have a huge toolbox when it comes to handling pain, from meditations, to herbs, to prescription, conversations with friends and to just being in Adam’s arms.  But lately I have been facing something new, new unrelated symptoms.  First comes the denial and hope, it is just the stress of the job.  Then a pattern starts to emerge, steps are taken, and it doesn’t go away. 

That is when the fear comes, that place I am right now.  Waiting to see another doctor, hoping to for an answer and remembering the pain of that journey two years ago, the not knowing, not being believed and finally chronic illness but also tools.  Tools for physical support, emotional and spiritual.  Because all three must be treated.

Since I don’t have the physical tools right now.  I go to my emotional and spiritual tools, which need to be sharpened.  That is the journey I am on, sometimes it is finding new tools and sometimes it is polishing and sharpening a tool that hasn’t been used in a while. 

It is time to trust the process to keep going, whatever and however that looks.  Crying, screaming, laughing, smiling, fight and surrendering it is all there, each and every day.  You ever notice how you can brighten someone’s day with just a simple smile, a simple word of sincere encouragement, or taking a moment to really listen?  Not only do I notice how it can change someone’s day, but I am experiencing how it changes my day.  A smile or hug from a co-worker, that brief conversation of encouragement might make a huge difference to someone and everyone they interact with.  The key facet is sincerity, it is taking the time to see the person first, pausing to put down whatever is going on and see what is being reflected to you.  Such simple words and yet a lifetime pursuit.

Question of the day: What tools do you have and what tools do you get to forge as your face your upcoming battles?  It is fall, time to harvest;  what did you grow this year?