Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Last Chapter...

I’m not ending this blog or dying anytime soon (as best I know). I thought about the title for this post a bit and was afraid in this era of only reading headlines someone might get the wrong message. So we’ll get that out of the way right now.

Actually, I wanted to write about the last chapter of books...really good books that you have trouble leaving. Jude and I are reading the Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. Jude at times seems more interested in what page we are on in the BIG blue book than the actual story. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoy reading these stories so I press on even when he doesn’t seem to be listening. Despite having read these delightful stories before, I was dreading getting to the last chapter of the House at Pooh Corner. Even the title “In Which Christopher Robin and Pooh Come to an Enchanted Place, and We Leave Them There” tells you that you better have your tissues ready. And I basically sobbed the last 2 pages of the chapter.

John came up from downstairs, and explaining my tears I said gasping for air between sobs, “That is so sad.” He scuffed, “It’s Winnie-the-pooh.” “No,” I said, “it’s about growing up.” I don’t know but the thought of Christopher Robin being to big to play with his stuffed bear is the saddest thought to me. But I am also the 40 year old, who told her mother at the age of 5 that I never wanted to grow up. We were sitting in my Dad’s recliner, and she was holding me in her lap. I still remember the sadness I felt because even then I knew that it was inevitable.

I have experienced in the hardest way possible the idea that we cannot cling to what we love or expect things not to change, and still have so much to master in this area…....obviously.

A few…oh well… several, of my favorite lines from this story…
“What I like best in the whole word is Me and Piglet going to see You, and You saying, ‘ What about a little something?’ and Me saying, ‘Well, I shouldn’t mind a little something, should you, Piglet,’ and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing,”
“I like that too,” said Christopher Robin, “but what I like doing best is Nothing.”
“How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and then you go and do it.”…..
“Yes?” said Pooh.
“When I’m ----when----Pooh!”
“Yes, Christopher Robin?”
“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”
“Never again?”
“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.
“Yes, Christopher Robin?” said Pooh helpfully.
“Pooh, when I’m ---you know—when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”
“Just Me?”
“Yes, Pooh.”
“Will you be here too?’
“Yes, Pooh, I will be, really. I promise I will be, Pooh.”
“That’s good,” said Pooh.
“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little.
“How old shall I be then?”
Pooh nodded.
“I promise,” he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.
-A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

By the way, Christopher Robin Milne died at the age of 76. Hard to imagine...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What if the mightiest word were love?

What if the mightiest word were love?

What if we opened our eyes in the morning, took a deep breath in, and remembered that our purpose on this planet is to love?
What if we gave someone a hug before we took our first sip of coffee?
What if we stepped out of our house and thought “how will I love today?”
What if we saw each encounter with another person as an opportunity to love them?
What if we started off all our conversations with the words “I love you?”
What if we sought out love to dissolve differences?
What if we always asked “how may I help you?" without hesitation?
What if we trusted that love was more powerful than any of our fears?
What if we spent time each day clearing out all our thoughts so we could feel love?
What if we imagined we were breathing in love with each breath, and that we were breathing out love each time we exhale?
What if we got 10 hugs a day?
What if every child was told they were great just the way they are?
What if we laid in bed each night thinking of all the people we love rather than the things we fear?
What if the mightiest word were love?

Inspired by the inauguration poem "Praise Song for the Day." Here is an excerpt:
"What if the mightiest word
is love?
Love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light.
Love with no need to pre-empt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this
winter air, any thing can be made,
any sentence begun.
On the brink,
on the brim,
on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light."
Elizabeth Alexander

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Heron

One day this fall, I was walking with Jude on my back in a backpack. We were walking by a favorite little stream near our house. The sound of the water rushing over the rocks is so soothing. Whenever we walk there, I look down the steep bank to watch the water twist and swirl while I listen.

I noticed a heron down in the stream, and I was surprised that it had not flown away. Herons don’t usually allow you to get so close. I pointed out to Jude that there was a heron down in the stream, and then I saw why the heron had not flown away. Its foot was caught in something.

Without even thinking, I took Jude off my back and stumbled down the bank with him. I placed Jude at the edge of the stream in a safe place, and splashed quickly across and up the stream to the heron.

The whole time I was mentally telling the heron, “It’s okay. I’m going to help you.” When I got to the heron, I discovered that its foot was caught in a large metal trap. I tried to figure out how to release the trap, but I couldn’t. I told the heron that I would get help. I splashed back across the stream, scooped up Jude, and ran home.

John and I rushed back with a blanket. John released the trap and the heron sort of fell over not wanting to put weight on its leg. John wrapped it in the blanket and we took it back up to the van.

I sat with the heron in my lap wrapped in the blanket. It was breathing heavily and blood dripped from its cut toes. I tried to focus on my own breathing, slow and steady, and visualized love and healing energy pouring over the both of us.

We were able to find a wildlife rehabilitator to take the Heron. She was amazed that the heron had not tried to attack us with its very sharp beak.

And I wondered what was that heron all about. My own health issues were significant, and I couldn’t help but think that the heron symbolized something. How was I trapped? What could I learn from the heron? Herons traditionally symbolize self-reliance and aggressive self-determination. Without question these are traits that I normally possess although my declining health had allowed both of these qualities to weaken. I felt like I couldn’t do anything anymore on my own. I couldn’t even rescue the heron on my own. On the other hand, I was determined to find the answer to my health problems on my own. I spent hours researching every disorder from cancer to intestinal parasites trying to find the answer to why my health was declining and I was getting nowhere. Maybe my own self-reliance was the trap.

Well, I never really resolved all these questions nor have I completely understood why the heron came into my life when and how it did. But today, I received an email about the heron’s release. Just looking at the pictures gave me goosebumps. I definitely feel like my heart is flying with that heron. I have returned to a new state of health and I am also gaining my life back. Maybe like the heron, I will find that I have new terrain to explore…

"There is an art, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." ~Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The one winged angel

I have been seeing a practitioner for lymph drainage therapy to help me deal with some of the health problems that I have been having lately. I established a ritual of giving her something each time I receive treatment because she is much more than a practitioner. She's a true friend. My plan was to make the small gift each time. The night before my appointment I remembered that I needed my gift so I grabbed a cinnamon applesauce ornament Jude and I made a few days earlier. It was a small angel with very delicate wings. I strung a piece of yarn through the small hole at the top and set it with a stack of items I would be taking with me the next morning. I wasn’t happy with the way the yarn looked though, and thought to myself that I would try to fix that.

The next morning, I slipped the delicate angel into my coat pocket thinking that I would need to be careful to keep the wings from breaking off. When I got out to the car, I carefully removed her and set her on the passenger seat just in case I forgot that it was in my pocket. I had a little bit of time before my appointment and decided to try to change the yarn to a thin piece of homespun fabric. The problem was that the hole was too small. I was really trying to get the fabric through, but I didn’t want to force it too much.

I decided to give up on trying to get the fabric through. And without doing anything that I can remember to make this happen, the angel just slipped right off my lap and landed near my gearshift. I looked down and the left wing had snapped off.

My first thought was, “Now I have nothing to give.” Then I decided that I would give it anyway and just suggest that this was truly a case where it is the thought that counts and an offer to replace it with a different angel next time. I slipped it back into my coat pocket and went in for my appointment. While I was waiting, I thought of this quote,

“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

I wrote that quickly on a piece of paper I found and thought that the quote made the angel special in some way.

When my friend came in, we had a discussion about my situation…my health. I had really been struggling. It was almost Christmas and I was still sick. I was frustrated, tired, and feeling a bit hopeless. We elaborated on a brief conversation I had with a friend just a couple of days earlier about surrender. She suggested that I try accepting this fate that has become me not trying to fix it or even understand it. It was one of those conversations that bring you through a full range of emotions….desperation, hopelessness, anger, hope, gratitude.

Then it struck me. The one winged angel was so symbolic of what I was going through in that moment and represented a summary of our conversation. The wing was broken. I had no way to fix it. I gave it anyway. And it was an even better gift after all it went through.

My friend and I gave each other a huge hug at the end of my visit. We knew the Spirit had been with us, guiding, speaking, and embracing us through our time together. Those moments are heaven on earth.

This experience left me with renewed strength to face the hand that I have been dealt without being frustrated by it or trying to fix it. My hope is that somehow all this will make me a stronger person or help someone else, but really it doesn’t matter because I’m obviously not in control of this situation and I have to stop believing that I am.

“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.” ~Luciano de Crescenzo

Friday, January 16, 2009

Two peices of the puzzle

The rest of New Year’s Day my face got redder and redder, and I got itchier and itchier. My face even started swelling up.

The Friday after New Year’s Day I called a dermatologist and I was politely told by the receptionist that their first opening was at the end of March. Then I called a local hospital’s dermatology department. That receptionist took all my information, and then said, “We had a cancellation this afternoon, could you come in at 2:30.” How awesome was that?

So off I went to the dermatologist. I prayed the way there. Please, please let this person be compassionate, open-minded, and not bossy. She was a very compassionate person, and she brought all her colleagues in to look at me. They determined it was contact dermatisis, but did a biopsy to be certain.

Things really cleared up quickly. By Sunday evening, my skin looked almost normal again.

Then last Friday, I found out from our naturopath that Jude and I both have Lyme disease. This makes sense since we have both have had ticks on us, and our dog often has ticks. That afternoon, the dermatologist called with the biopsy report. She said it was an allergic response, possibly to a bite.

Ah, two pieces of the puzzle in one day. This news would have devastated me 3 weeks ago, but having my skin return to normal has given me such hope. I seem to be tettering on the edge of hope and despair lately.

This reminds me of a story I heard on NPR about a contest called “Six Words to Inspire a Nation.” Contestants had to come up with a 6 word inaugural address for President Elect Obama. The winning entry was….
“Divided by fear, united by hope.” - Donna Formica-Wilsey of Philadelphia, PA

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Always darkest before the dawn

My friend Jasmine told me that her mother always said “it’s always darkest before the dawn”. Of course when she told me this, I always wondered is this the darkest or could things really get worse than they were. They could.

The Tuesday before New Year’s Day I arranged to borrow my brother-in-laws car to drive up to Williamsport for an appointment. I also had to arrange for Judy to watch Jude. I had to leave the house before 9:00 which was a challenge because of all my issues. As I was getting closer to Williamsport, I thought to myself “I never checked my appointment card to make sure that the appointment was at 10:00.” So while I was driving I searched through my wallet to find the card. I pulled it out and it said 1:00pm. Oh @#%!^@! I called the office quick to see if they possibly had an earlier opening and sort of resigned myself to spending the morning in Williamsport. The office manager said, “well, not only do you have the wrong time but you have the wrong day. We moved all the appointments to Wednesday on account of New Year’s Day.”

I’m not sure why now, but that set me over the edge. I was a wreck, completely miserable. How could I go from being a very responsible, together person to the wacko that I had become? I said, “Okay God, I’m done. Take me home.” Fortunately, God didn’t take me seriously.

That day the results of our hair analysis tests came back. Jude had high levels of arsenic, lead, and cadmium. My minerals were extremely deficient indicating mercury poisoning. I had my appointment the next day, and because it was Wednesday I actually got to see Dr. Powers.

He didn’t seem concerned with Jude’s results. He said since the metals are showing up in his hair, his body was producing glutathione, the body’s own chelating agent. In the course of our <10 minute conversation, he told me that I should have my skin biopsied at least 4 times. He said it could be cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Well, that got my attention, and I decided my policy of avoiding conventional medicine needed to be revised.

You can read what happened the next day here .

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”

I should be to the moon by now....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Are we Big Brother?

I know that I am not the first person to expound on this idea, but lately it has been evident to me that we (meaning the people) are Big Brother as much as they (meaning the government) is. What really made me think this was a recent story I heard about Oscar Grant, an unarmed man who was shot at point blank range by police in California on New Year’s Day. At least five different people apparently videoed the event with their cell phone and posted the clip on YouTube where it was viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Riots broke out because of this. I’m not saying that the event should not have been videod. But it made me think, we are actually part of the system that “watches”.

Then I began to think about Facebook. I just recently got lured into FB because some pictures were posted of Jim, my Tour of Hope teammate and brother. At the top of your homepage, it asks what are you doing now? I joked with a friend about this. Well, obviously you're at the computer if you can respond to that question. And she responded that she loves to read when someone enters “playing with my kid” because you know they aren’t really playing with their kid. They are on FB. Anyway, it became apparent to me that this is another way that we become part of the system of tracking. Don’t get me wrong, I want know when my friend halfway across the country is stopping by starbucks to get a cup of joe just as much as you.

Then of course, we have the ever-popular blog. Where we all like to share a little piece of our world with the…well, the world. I have several that I check out regularly, and ummm, obviously I felt compelled to start this one myself. But again, even though we can edit the parts we don’t want to share, we basically share our lives with complete strangers. Actually, it may be worse if you know the person whose blog you read because then you feel like you are spying on your friends or you feel like a pathetic friend because you don’t make the time to find out what’s going on in their life by calling or visiting them.

Maybe we unconsciously want Big Brother to be reality. Maybe we want the security of knowing that nothing is secret.

“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.”-Chamfort

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Intention and Faith

I've been focusing more and more on intention and faith lately as my health has seemed to return rapidly to its former state. One of the things that I have been really committed to do is to exercise more regularly. I am running again. Today, I really wanted to run because I hadn't since Sunday. I was driving home from playgroup thinking that maybe if John was having lunch, I could sneak out for a quick run. And then I felt that God would just make that happen. And low and behold even though it was almost 2:00pm, John was just finishing up lunch. I asked him if he could extend his break a little more and dashed out the door. Needless to say, I was full of praise.

But it made me think....what if it wouldn't have worked out. Was that because I didn't have the faith that it would? Or, is that because something else needed to happen for my highest good? I think I will be forever mulling these questions through my head.

"Faith is not contrary to the usual ideas, something that turns out to be right or wrong, like a gambler's bet: it's an act, an intention, a project, something that makes you, in leaping into the future, go so far, far, far ahead that you shoot clean out of time and right into Eternity, which is not the end of time or a whole lot of time or unending time, but timelessness, the old Eternal Now"-Joanna Russ

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2009 is so Divine

At least it seems that way to me so far...  I haven't written in a long time because my health started to completely unravel about the time of my last post.  It started with extreme fatigue and dandruff and at its worse last week it was a dermatitis all over my face, neck, underarms, and areas that I won't mention.  If you can imagine the worse case of poison ivy that lasted for months and seemed to spread and spread, that gives you somewhat of an idea of what I experienced.  

New Year's Day I went for a walk, something I hadn't been able to do easily for months because my skin hurt in the cold air.  Despite the numerous times I prayed before, I stated, "I don't want to be sick anymore."  And I could physically feel something change and just felt that I would finally be getting better.  I looked up in the sky and a hawk was circling overhead.  I took that as a sign from God that what I felt was truth.  

I wish that I would have written everything as it happened, but I didn't so I will just try to fill in some of the missing pieces over a few posts.  More as a way for me to record everything.  

Afterall...who on earth would think to read this.

My friend Deb's mantra for this year "2008 let it skate, 2009 is so Divine."