Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bone Tired But Soul Stirred

I have not been sleeping well lately. Many things are on my mind. There is the everyday running of a household with two young children and a husband whose surgery practice keeps him hopping at all hours of the day and night. My mother in law has been really ill for the last year and now my father is going to begin dialysis at 81 years of age with a bad heart. Mortality is on my mind.

There is no avoiding it under these current circumstances. The idea of meeting my maker and a reflecting on my own life, cements in me my desire to absolutely be who I was born to be, how God made me, to trust who I authentically am. I have worried about what other people think of me for so many years and acted upon those worries and it was completely unnecessary. I never thought to question them as deeply as I have until the last few years. Figuring out who I am and accepting me for me, I have felt a since of peace and freedom for the first time in a very long time, probably since I was very little...

By my bedside, there is a book by Mary O'Malley entitled "The Gift of Our Compulsions." I have read just a little but know I have got something revealing in my hands. Mary describes when we are born, we love ourselves unconditionally. We live in our bodies, and in our hearts and whoever we are is... enough. That idea alone is worth pondering for a few minutes but I go on, Ms. O'Malley states we "lived in full connection with ourselves and our lives." "Life was a magical adventure." She goes on to say as children, we knew "how to keep the joy of life alive by hugging and snuggling, swinging and twirling, dancing and running." And then we veer off for so many reasons including how we were parented, our environment, our Western culture, just life, period.

It was a total aside that I began focusing on "my inner child" in the first place. I just really, really desired to come to grips with my issues with food. I thought about food too many hours of the day and that is not natural or healthy. I started therapy. I read Geneen Roth and then Eckhart Tolle, Melody Beattie, Richard Roth, Gary Zukav, and on and on. I don't read through all of each book but I read just enough to get the sense of what they are saying and I hear the same brilliant messages again and again using different phraseology and I feel like I am at home. I have continual aha's that give me understanding and clarity. I have also experienced rounds of intuitive eating that are effortless and well, quite miraculous when I have felt controlled by food for the last few years. I am seeing how all of the pieces come together, but also that this journey and the learning will be for the rest of my life.

We are planning my eldest's 9th birthday party. She wants to sing karaoke among other things. After Riley and I sang and danced to a few fun songs like "We Are Family" and "Saturday In The Park" I spied a song that I forget about but I really get into it when I hear it. It is the song "And I'm not Leaving" from "Dreamgirls." I could go on about the Jennifer Hudson vs Jennifer Holiday debate but I went with the one with the better music.

My aforementioned inner child delights in singing and dancing to this song, I come ALIVE. I am still amazed how this happens when music stirs my soul. My pasty white English/Irish self tries to channel any if at all soul diva I have inside of me to belt it out. Riley tells me not to dance while I'm singing and I can tell the teen years are going to be challenging because I have to move when my soul is stirred these days. It is really hard not to move when the music is on.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A First World Problem

I have a bookshelf next to my bed, it's a comfort to me. And I have magazines piled on top of the bookshelf gathering dust and cluttering. This is not a comfort. I have known for a few years now that if I don't read the magazine when it first comes through the door, it is not going to be read. Even with that bit of knowledge, I don't act on cancelling the subscriptions or getting rid of the issues in a timely manner. Why?

I have new cleaning ladies coming in this week for the first time in a few months. So I am running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, trying to get EVERYTHING picked up. And this is how it goes....

I walk into the laundry room to put batteries in a toy for Mallory who is sick at home. I see the cat litter box needs cleaning and make a mental note. I look in the washing machine and there are wet clean clothes. I open the dryer and see dry wrinkled clothes so I turn on the steam cycle. I walk back to the kitchen to wash dishes and Mallory asks me for the toy I put down in the laundry room with the new batteries. I go back to get it and the timer has gone off on the dryer, and then I see the towels that need to be washed. And Mallory has a food request which I take care of and then see the dirty dishes. I remember the clothes that are warm and walk and sit down in my bedroom to fold what was in the dryer and flip on the television which reminds of something to look up on the internet, which I do. And then I go back to the clothes and notice the pile of magazines on top of my bookshelf. This goes on and on and I am mentally worn out.

And I get it, I have to stay on task, and it seems like my anxiety of getting "everything" done works itself out by me running around like that chicken without a head. First of all, I shouldn't be doing the laundry because the laundry has nothing to do with the house being picked up for them to clean. Secondly, I need to pick one room at a time and focus (except for Mallory's needs). So yesterday, I look at the pile of magazines and they are so appealing.
The titles call to me, "Spring Cleaning Shortcuts", "Organizing Solutions for Every Room" "Energize your Life" I love the IDEA of them. The titles CALL out to me. But the magazines lie around and cause me stress. And then when I do work to get rid of them it is in a PERFECT way... First, I must donate them so somebody else can gain benefit from reading them. I choose which ones I can part with, then ask Riley to black out our address, then bring them to George's attention in a pile so that he can bring them to the hospital waiting room.

Why does it have to be so perfectly handled?

Looking at the title, "organizing solutions" I thought... my freaking solution is to dump these directly in the recycle bin and cut out all of the other steps, which is... what... I... did. And it felt good. With some hesitation that I am missing out on some information in those magazines. And I ponder on the idea some more. My answers are not in these magazines. I did stop and glance at the one article that I'm holding onto the magazine for and it tells me nothing new. It's not like I can't find the information somewhere else or on the internet when I really need it. I've already listened to the experts, I've watched Peter Walsh, I've watched Clean House. I just need to get "the stuff" out of my house AND not bring any more in.

But boiling it all down, the answer is in me. I'm looking towards these experts and the external when the answers are internal. I'm putting my faith in some expert out "there" instead of myself. I am just learning to trust my instinct the last few years and getting rid of all of the "should's", "supposed to's" and other faulty logic. The answers have been within me all along. I am trusting myself more and more and the distracting unproductive thoughts are falling by the wayside. And the more I trust me, the more I can focus to think out of the box and find new ways to handle old problems.

(The title is thanks to my good friend who uses this term when our problems are not the basics like food, shelter, running water, etc.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

For Just A Few Moments

And life with a loved one with cancer goes on. GaGa has started a new medication and she has responded to it, so her paranoid thoughts have seemed to dissapate. We are back to "normal" and she can dial a phone again and call when she is in distress.

GaGa calls, looking to me for the answers and this... is...


She has been in denial of the cancer from the very beginning. I've never even heard her say the word so I stopped saying it. She has been told she has cancer many times over by her oncologist and by George and we have now hit the year mark of her diagnosis. Her mantra is always to want to go back to the doctor to find out why she has this pain on her side. She has been saying this every week, several times a week for close to two years. I finally realized the denial no matter how frustrating to me, who is currently diving really deep into my own muck and faulty thinking, has kept her alive. I just happen to be hypersensitive to inauthenticity right now. My meter is high. My learning curve is that not only do I have to accept myself for who I am, I have to accept others...
Heh, heh, heh.

On a regular basis, GaGa looks to me for answers and in the past, we have gone round and round with what she is saying for me to try to get to the bottom of it. It never makes any sense. Even when I try to repeat back to her what she has JUST said to me, that gets denied. Last week, after a conversation that went round and round, I told her I was confused. I asked are you confused? And she said yes. If you boil it all the way down, through all of her muck, which is very deep, it is that she is scared, confused and in some amount of pain. She doesn't understand what is happening to her or why. I don't have any answers for that. I can't help her not feel pain, anxiety or sadness and I was trying to do that for a long while. There are no answers for why she has cancer and her life has taken a miserable turn.

She asked again to see the doctor, I told her the doctor can't do anything, that she can only take pain medication to keep her as comfortable as possible. And then this is what broke my heart. She finally said okay. I am the parent. She is the child. This is a sucky place to be.

I went to visit her on Friday and she was very calm, coherent and non demanding. This has not been the case for months. I told a story about the girls, and she laughed and that hasn't happened for a while. She had visited with the Hospice Nurse who had told her the same things I did and she used the C-word. GaGa relates that Susie says the pain is the Padget's disease and the cancer. That is the first time I have ever heard the word cancer come out of GaGa's mouth. For this moment in time, she is accepting of cancer and she seems at peace. I don't know how long this will stick but I will remember this moment. Acceptance, even when life brings you misery, pain, and uncertainty, acceptance of these circumstances, brings a sense of peace,

even if for just a few moments.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ha Ha Ha

I'm a horoscope says that my emotional state will vacillate. Ya think? Ha ha ha ha ha.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finding a Way Back to Love

While folding the never ending pile of clean clothes, I found the movie "Music and Lyrics" on TBS. This is a older movie from 2007 that makes fun of an 80's pop band member who is stuck milking his decades old fame for his current livelihood. I love Hugh Grant and his perfectly timed sarcasm. One of my favorite part is when he injures his hip gyrating. That move is about 25 seconds into the video. It will redirect you to the You Tube website to watch if you are so inclined.

I found myself looking for meaning even in this rom-com movie. A new low even for me. And then I laughed at myself for doing so. A new high for me. It's just cute and funny. Though finding a way back to love is a really good theme....
This is the original trailer.

Monday, September 12, 2011

So Should We Have Another Baby?

Today is my youngest's 6th Birthday. Last night we started watching our home VHS(!) videos (yes, I have work to do) of her birth. It was with great fondness and sentamentality I viewed them as babies. I joked with George that we should have another and I wasn't serious but the idea was a pleasant one as opposed to the terror the idea would have felt to me previously. He told me I was on my own, either because he has had a vasectomy or that he will be 50 in 2 short years. I said, we could adopt...

And then...Mallory decided to remind what it was like to have a newborn. She came into our bedroom on four different occasions from 12:30am to 3:00a.m. and then I finally asked if she wanted me to lay down with her and I did in her twin bed and she twisted and turned. But I was so verklempt that I had a precious girl who was so excited about her birthday, it didn't matter how much sleep I was losing. Until the next day when my brain wouldn't function because I was so tired. But it was a happy tired.

I love the above picture of Baby Mallory and round cheeked Riley. I love watching what the girls looked and sounded like a few short years ago and how they look and sound the same now but just more grown up versions. Certain mannerisms are the same. I also see what I missed back then. There is video footage that I have absolutely no recollection of taping which makes it kind of fun to watch.

I wonder what they will do as they grow up? What high school will look like for them? Where will their interests take them? I think about how I am learning to love them for who they are, not who I want them to be while at the same time I'm learning to love me for who I am. It's a two for one right now and I am ecstatic to be have this journey. It's quite a ROAR!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Growth

Yes, that is a nasty picture of my toes. There is a point. I am feeling sick right now, raw throat, stuffy nose, sneezing, watery eyes - a poster child for a cold commercial. I feel bad. I have a strong desire to eat my way through this feeling bad. I had some chicken soup and crackers and drank some tea but I wanted more, like chocolate.

I'm tired of eating to nurture myself when life feels overwhelming. Although I have learned much and have evolved, the desire to eat still beckons mightily. A hot bath is in order, because my body is achey and it will remove me further away from the kitchen.
I noticed my toes in the tub. I had decided a few weeks back to give the nails a break from the polish, and hadn't gotten around to doing anything with them. (And they really need to be cleaned up as you can see. And one of life's big questions, are you supposed to get rid of the hair on the big toe?) Anyway, I noticed that the new clean nail growth is pushing the old yellowed nail to the top.


I have learned many new ways to take care and nurture myself that I never knew how to do before. I'm have begun thinking in new ways. But the yellowed old ways are still there, lingering and waiting to come out especially when I'm feeling sick, and down.

Okay, let's get to the bottom of this, what feelings am I trying to push down? Immediately my mother in law comes to mind. The last couple of weeks have been REALLY difficult. How many times have I already said that in the last year since she was diagnosed? Just when I think we've got the handle on the last level of difficulty, a new one is just around the corner waiting. She's been really confused lately and quite paranoid. Every couple of days we hear what is fresh on her mind: George and I are getting a divorce, he's cheating on me, we've moved out of town (together at least!) and left her, we're hiding something from her, George is dead, we now have three kids, (a boy this time!), and George has us living in a drabby apartment. All of these involve George, but now she has begun to fixate on me and my perceived shortcomings. She believes these thoughts and is scared and frightened. She can't work her telephone, or change the channel on her tv, but she can still move her way around in her wheelchair and make sure we know the television is broken and we are not answering her calls. She looks miserable and she shares that misery with us. It is draining. At the end of 2010, it looked like cancer was going to take her life in a speedy manner but she plateaued. I didn't realize that you can linger in this horrible state in between living and dying. Or I had not come into contact with it so personally.

My tears start falling when I understand that this is what I'm holding onto and not acknowledging and not allowing through. More grief. The desire for chocolate has faded somewhat and the desire to write about the situation springs up. I have put a call into the Hospice Social Worker because I need to talk to a professional who deals with grief on a regular basis. Last time I talked to her, she gave me profound insight especially as she has met my mother in law. I so needed to hear what she told me. This is going to help me more than the chocolate. A little new growth is pushing me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Coming off a long weekend for Labor Day, Tropical Storm Lee made his way slowly onshore and thankfully it was just windy, rainy overcast days of no real magnitude for us. I was hiding out in our spare room trying to have some ME time, when I found "Eat Pray Love" on cable. Lately quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert have been floating through my awareness, thanks to my FB friends.

I walked in on this part where Richard from Texas tells Groceries this...

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”

Shazam. I heard it like I'd never heard it before. I LOVE when this happens.

I think back to all of the quotes I have known about attitude the last 25 years. It's not what happens to you in life, it's how you react to it, etc. They sound cliche to me because I do know when you boil things down, truths ARE really simple. But it is not easy to go through the boiling to get it back to that simple truth. But I'm willing to keep cultivating.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Steel Magnolia

I want to be a steel magnolia. That has just always sounded good to me. This is the definition from Urban Dictionary: A southern woman who is strong and independent yet very feminine. I want to be someone who can take it. I want to be considered strong. I think that is Western society's influence on me. And then there's the movie with Julia Roberts which was filmed in Natchitoches, LA. And I HAVE taken the tour!

And then I think... let me take a look at this again. I need to be myself. That is what I have discovered this whole journey has been about. I need to be who I authentically was born, how God made me. The "supposed tos" and "shoulds" are falling by the wayside bit by slow bit. I am changing the way my thoughts have always been.

I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of the rest of my family, especially now with GaGa's illness hanging over us. That has been the message the last 3 weeks. Maybe I need to take a break for a few hours and get away. What is this strong, tough business? Strong and tough don't make one empathetic and loving. That's who I really strive to be, that is who I really want to be. Holy cow, that is who I am.

I need to be who I am and then everything will feel right in my soul, no matter what is going on around me. I am tough, and I am tender. I am emotional. I am strong. And some days I have nice hair if I take the time.