Nelsonian Knowledge

I am alternating between two books right now, both from the little free library near my home. Both Sides Now was my book of choice last night mainly because I accidentally left my other book in the car and I was not in the mood to go retrieve it in my nightgown.

Both Sides Now is an enthralling read, it is the kind of book that makes you lose time because you are so in it, AND it is intensely anxiety producing for me. Last night I could feel the palpitations wanting to start, my levels of panic rising with each mini chapter I would complete.

It is a memoir that details the intimate moments of excruciating loss. Loss on a level that most of us hope and pray never to experience. Loss that we do not want to even recognize can exist because then we have to see a truth no one wants to face: if it could happen to them , to could happen to me.

This morning I woke up thinking about how I do it, the thing we all do. I sit secure in the knowledge that I am going to live to see the end of this day, that everyone I love is going to live to see the end of this day. That my health will be with me for years and years and years to come because I am only 33 and have my whole life ahead of me.

I do know better.

I have worked with individuals and families that had their lives uprooted by a new reality when death and illness came to their doorstep in unexpected ways. I have been of the front lines of a cancer diagnosis, I have been in the fox hole with the families and individuals during certain aspects of treatment, I have co-facilitated caregiver support groups for other terminal illnesses, I have experienced the fallout – sat in the emotional aftermath of loss with family members and loved ones.

I have also experienced much of this first hand in my own life with family and friends.

So I do know better.

I know better because I have sat in the hospital room with my 20 something year old family member who was about to undergo treatment when just a few days before the news came that the cancer was back. I know better because I carry the stories of a close friend who lost all her hair because of the meds she had to take, I know better because time and time again in my young life I have witnessed and experienced my own suffering stemming from this broken illusion of time, and control, and certainty in a future that none of us have ever truly been promised.

Still, I sit in my willfulness ignorance as often as possible because I am not ready, and I am not sure I ever will be ready to face the truth: All we have is now. That is all we ever have. This exact moment. That is it.

This morning I sent my husband to work with a silent prayer on my lips that the Universe will bring him home to me this evening. I prayed for this today and that everyday this will continue to happen until we are old and ready to face our mortality with many happy full years behind us. I said this silent prayer to the Universe all the while secretly knowing that there will never be a time in my life that I will feel as though I have had enough, I will always want more from life no matter my age or experience.

So I will go on making plans, and planting gardens, and dreaming dreams of things to come. I will look to the future with hope and certainty AND I will be thankful right now, this very moment, for all that I have. Love, connection, the privilege of knowing what it feels like to be wrapped in my husband’s arms, every experience I have had in this life of mine because none of it was promised, not one day, not one minute. To argue with my husband is a privilege that I take for granted while another person might be willing to give up everything to argue with a loved again. When we both return home tonight I will remember this and I will  be grateful.

Sitting with this uncomfortable reality, allowing myself to set down my willful ignorance about life’s harsh truths, makes it so clear just how truly entitled we all are every single day. One of life’s fundamental truths is that nothing is ever promised yet we walk around every moment of every day so sure of the next.

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Counting Gratitude

I am not ready to do any deep writing. I am still processing quite a bit on my own. I do feel the need to express my gratitude though so I will take a little time and space for that.

I am grateful for my job. I am grateful that today when I developed a migraine I did not have to “come home from work” cutting my day short, I got to listen to and honor my body by taking the break I needed. Once I felt rested and ready I picked up where I left off from the comfort of a cold, quiet, dark room.

I am grateful for the little family my husband and I have created. This morning laying in bed together we expressed our love for one another in an authentic way where all parts of ourselves are being shown love from one another. You are messy and you fart in bed AND I love you. I love your messy and your smelly as much as I love your clean and pretty. The message here is so important: messy AND smelly AND clean AND pretty are all loved and welcome in this relationship.

I am grateful for the rest of this little family of ours, Lu. I am grateful to look over and see her lying next to me while I work.

I am grateful for this period of time in my life. This time I am being given is priceless to me. Not having to worry if I am leaving Lu in the crate too long, having time to work AND do a load of laundry, time to take a break and a nap as needed.. The work is important and very emotionally charged, doing it this way makes the balance so much easier so I am not overwhelmed. I am able to honor the space I hold for my clients because I take time to honor myself.

I am grateful for connection, both inside and outside.

I am grateful for stormy weather. Our Florida summers would be too much for me to handle if it was not for the glorious storms we get every afternoon. I am an overcast-70-degree-weather kind of person. 99 degrees and sunny is torture. I have to keep my blinds drawn and create a cave within my home to manage the relentless heat and light. Then come 3 or 4 o’clock I get the much needed break via a dark cloudy storm.

I am grateful for my path and my truth and the woman I am and the woman I was and all the women I have ever been or will ever be. This life and all things in it that I have so much gratitude for are here and possible because one day I woke up and decided I was ready. I was ready to be me, and do my work, and hold myself sacred. For this and every good thing that has come from it, I am grateful.

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Who Let That Phone In Here?

technology addiction

The answer to the question posed in the title is Me. I did it. On accident. And I was not happy about it once I realized what I had done.

I have a pretty strict no phone in the bedroom rule for myself. I have an absolute no phone in the bedroom rule at bedtime. Tonight I almost broke my own rule but thankfully realized it before it was too late.

I have pretty specific boundaries with my cell, I always have, and as a result I have been able to build connection with people and places rather than the device and the internet which is no connection at all truly.

Tonight when I realized my phone was in the bedroom (I apparently dropped it on the chest of drawers after my mud meditation when I was on my way into the shower) I picked it up, opened the bedroom door and chucked it out onto the dark couch. I will find it in the morning.

I do not sleep with my phone in the room because:

  1. I value my undistracted, uninterrupted sleep.
  2. If there were a middle of the night family emergency my husband keeps his cell on vibrate on his side of the bed.

I do not keep my phone in the room at night for the same reason I keep it on silent most of the time, because whatever I am doing that is what I am doing.

If I am sleeping – I am sleeping.
If I am meeting a friend for tea – I am meeting a friend for tea.
If I am playing with Moo – I am playing with Moo.
If I am spending time with my husband –  I am spending time with my husband.

Whatever I am doing I am doing it. Whoever I am with I am all there and that includes when I am with me, like when I am sleeping.

I check my phone periodically throughout the day but on the whole my people know I am not instantly accessible. The trade off is when I am with you, you know you will never have to compete for my attention.

Muddy Butt

muddy butt

My husband worked late this evening so after dinner Lu and I decided to go to the park for a sunset meditation. The air was nice, not as humid as it had been, my long sleeves in early summer were comfortable for a change. When we arrived at the park Lu handle her puppy business, then I handled her puppy business so as to be a good neighbor and not leave a smelly surprise for an unsuspecting neighbor to step in, then we found our spot.

We agreed upon the second pond tonight under the big shady Laurel. We walked up to the bank of the pond and found the grass surrounding the perimeter to be wet and muddy. Lu did not hesitate to sit right down in the mud and get comfortable, without another thought I followed suit.

Immediately I felt (and heard) the mud squish beneath me as the butt of my yoga pants became saturated with water and earth. I put my head phones in, put on the Out of Africa soundtrack and closed my eyes for a moment to focus on the feeling of the swampy earth beneath me and the cool breeze above.

I opened my eyes and started taking notice of the life around me. I started with the pond; the dragon flys skimming the surface, the fish jumping up in an attempt to catch one, the bubbles from life unseen beneath the murky surface.

Next the sky; the Live oak across the pond appeared unwavering until you look to the tippy top where its thinnest branches lightly swished back and forth in the breeze, the Cyprus mirrored the motion – back and forth back and forth. A nondescript black bird flew over heading for some tree further east, maybe his home, maybe just a resting place along the way.

Finally I looked down to the mucky earth I was slowly sinking further into. To my left a snail sat on a blade of grass, to my right an earth worm wriggled about. It had been so long since I last saw an earth worm, it took my back to grandma’s house as a child. She had the richest earth. When it would rain grandma would take us outside after and we would all dig in her beautiful black soil bringing our hands up, fists filled with wriggling writhing earth worms. When you grow up being taught to see the beauty and magnificence of the humble earth worm you are anchored in the truth that ALL life is precious.

Lu came over and laid next to me in my mud puddle and together we watched the sunset over the oaks, over the pond, over our mud.

This was one of my messiest spiritual moments to date (notice I did not say my messiest – a story for another day), and I could not help but see so much symbolism while I sat there. Here I was trying to connect with something greater; life around me and my higher spiritual self all while sitting in mud. You look at mud and think Yuck. Avoid it. Don’t get dirty. But can you connect to life and the earth and yourself and anything higher without getting dirty? It was in this most humble place that I felt the most connected in truth.

When we were done we got up and walked our muddy butts home to bathe. My husband pulled up just as we were walking in, he laughed at the sight of our soggy rears as we had family hugs and kisses. While I was in the shower I noticed an ant or some other angry insect had bit me in the fanny while I was down there. I guess that is what I get for meditating in the mud, a truly spiritual experience and a bug bite.

 

Ashes and Balloons

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I have been thinking about my breath recently. I realized a while back my tendency to hold it… hard. It is as if it gets stuck. Stuck in my mouth, my nose, my throat, my chest; never making its way to that parts of my body that are screaming for it. I was in a lot of pain a few weeks ago, so much so that I thought I was going to wretch. I held my breath tight, I held everything tight. I do not like to throw up, I know most people don’t, but I am pretty willful about it, much like a child refusing to eat their veggies I will do almost anything to avoid it. It turns into an all out war and the biggest victim of this crisis is my physical body.

After a while of holding my breath along with tensing every muscle in my body I let go. I let go and I took a deep deliberate breath into my belly and then let it out. My belly was screaming for that breath and when I finally gave in I actually began to feel slightly better. My lesson learned that day is to trust that my body knows how to take care of itself. I do not have to tense up in a power struggle with my body in order to avoid an outcome I find unpleasant. My body knows what to do to take care of itself, to heal itself. I do not have to control this, I am safe to let go and trust that my body will do exactly what it needs to do, even if that is wretching.

I was thinking about my breath again today because I found myself holding it again while talking about and experiencing emotions around something very difficult for me. Again I was not trusting my breath or my body.

I was not trusting it because this time I had this vision in my head that if I let go I might start to hyperventilate until I was so filled with air that I float away never to be seen or heard from again. OR that I would take one long deep breath that reached all the way down to the bones of my feet and when I let it out it would take all of me with it and all that would be left of me would be a deflated balloon, empty and left over, overlooked completely. OR worse yet, that breath out would reduce me to a pile of ash easily scattered on a breeze never to be seen or heard from again.

I did not trust it. Then my body began to hurt from the tension and I had to ease up. Once I started listening to what my body needed and taking these deep healing breaths focusing my breath on where the pain was most intense – my neck, my heart, my throat, my whole upper body- it felt better.