A “holy” task

I'm having trouble breathing.

 

Today I have been down. When I worked in the garden the other day I carried around a sprayer that was quite heavy. It was slung on my right shoulder and now I have a pulled muscle next to my shoulder blade in the back. The strange thing is it has caused some anxiety since I can’t breathe deeply.

This minor problem has made me appreciate what it must feel like to not be able to breathe properly. It is scary. I know that I can breathe just fine but a deep breath hurts. That make you want to take deep breaths.

Everyone has their physical problems. Some more than others but each of us has some part of our body that is weak. There is so much research that shows that even our mental health is physically connected. I wonder when everyone will realize that we are whole people and that our physical, mental and spiritual health is linked Medicine has grown in such a way that doctors know mostly about their own area. It is nice to see some practitioners using a holistic approach to treatment.

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We all must take care of our whole selves. It is a “holy” task.

Seek the infinite

A “better” world is one in which we recognize that all people possess an incomparable value that we are morally obliged to respect . . . in social, political, and economic terms. Honoring the humanity of your fellow beings means that if they are hungry, ill, or oppressed, you must exert yourself to help them. . . . But this . . . runs up against our inherited instincts of self-protection, greediness, and desire to dominate others. . . . If we could rearrange energy from within—if we more often nurtured our companions and promoted their well-being, we would suffer much less. Rearranging energy from within is what mysticism does.                    Dr. Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014)

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This quote from the meditation of Richard Rohr really speaks to what we must do to make the world a better place. Each of us has to dig deep and find that core of humanity that allows us to respect all beings.

She is so right. Our own instincts of survival, both physically and mentally, get in our way and keep us from becoming the humans we can be. She is calling us to seek that inner place where we meet the intangible, infinite spirit….no matter what we call it.

Finding pleasure

bakerI have been cooking a lot lately. Mostly desserts. I have given a great deal of stuff away as we don’t need to be eating everything I make. I have been baking bread for years but am trying to hone my skill and make some different things. Some successes …some just so so. No real failures but I was not thrilled with them.

There is something creative about cooking. Most of my life was spent cooking for a family. Now there is just my husband and I most of the time I am not energized by our dinner menu. Nobody’s fault but mine. Breads and desserts are more fun.

I think this cooking has been therapeutic for me. It is better than just house and yard tending although some of that has suffered from my time in the kitchen. Oh well, it will still be there.. no genie will be coming to clean.

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Finding things that give you pleasure are important for maintaining physical and mental health. Being creative makes me feel good and that is a big plus. You may not find it in a job but find it where you can. Take the time to fit it in. Your demeanor will improve and life will just be better.

To “see” more

f anmysticd why I struggle to spend more time in silence

I have always been a fan of the mystics. They have such a deep connection with the “unknowable.” This piece by Richard Rohr has helped me to see that my thinking is totally non-linear and more in sync with the mystics. I have never seen things as totally right or wrong, left or right. I have always had an issue with totally scientific thinking. I don’t think it is wrong I just think that there is more. There is the intangible piece that I see (much more dimly than the true mystics). I think most of us have had a moment when the “unknowable” has broken through and we see “beyond.” It is what I seek to see more of and why I struggle to spend more time in silence and meditation and listening. In order to “see” more I am the one who must reach out.

and meditation and listening. In order to “see” more I am the one who must reach out.

julian norwich“When I use the word “mystical” I am referring to experiential knowing instead of just intellectual, textbook, or dogmatic knowing. A mystic sees things in their wholeness, connection, and union, not only their particularity. Mystics get a whole gestalt in one picture, beyond the sequential and separated way of seeing that most of us encounter in everyday life. In this, mystics tend to be closer to poets and artists than to linear thinkers. Obviously, there is a place for both, but since the European Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there has been less and less appreciation of such seeing in wholes. The mystic was indeed considered an “eccentric” (off center), but maybe mystics are the most centered of all, which leads them to emphasizing love as the center, the goal, and the motivating energy of everything.

The word mystic is not a title of superiority. It’s rather that mystics see things differently. Mystics are nondual seers. They don’t think one side is totally right and the other side is totally wrong. They can see that each side has a part of the truth. When people on either side of any contentious issue cannot love one another, it means they don’t have the big message yet.”                Richard Rohr

Choose life

It is difficult to face each day thinking that whatever chronic problem you have will never change. Yet, there are people who do and live fully each day. Their “fully” may not look like yours and mine but for them it is enough.

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How do we learn to live in the “enough?” I do wonder. Could I do it? I don’t know and I have to say I don’t want to find out. Maybe the stressors that have been present in my life would have swamped someone else. Maybe each of us can best manage our own problems. I have mentioned before that at a conference the leader asked everyone to write their biggest and most pressing problem on a sheet of paper. Those were passed forward and put in a jar. She then asked if anyone would like to come and draw one out and take it on. There were no takers.

Our expectations of life can be so extravagant and unreasonable. I know that those who grew up in problem homes may not have seen things that way but many of us did. We want everything to go exactly the way we want. We don’t look for life to knock us down. When I grew up with IBSD I thought it was normal. In those days people didn’t talk about it. For that reason I just accepted it and moved on with my life. Fortunately, I had some breathers between episodes so I coped pretty well. I just battled through when it caused anxiety and depression. I guess in some ways ignorance was bliss.

I know so many people who are living with issues that seem insurmountable to me. I think I would be crushed by them but they are living each day. On Word Press I read someone who has ALS and writes about his faith and love for his family. I used to visit a lady who had lived her whole life with Cerebral Palsy, in an electric wheel chair. Part of it was spent in a nursing home as a young adult. (imagine having to live with only the elderly for company in your youth) She was able to live in an apartment after changes were made in disability coverage. She was always cheerful and grateful for her life.

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It is people like them who help us to see that life is about choices. Will I choose to live a life of “poor me” or one that is grateful for each day no matter how difficult. We are entitled to get down but not to stay there. We have to learn to continue learning, being grateful for life, coping and growing.

 

Saving from pain

When my mother died and then my aunt a year later I was tasked with cleaning out their homes. This was not an easy task. Not only were there things that hadn’t been seen in many years but also things that brought back memories and tears. This was back around 2003-2004. I still remember the agony of that job.

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For this reason I am trying, little by little, to make cleaning out my things easier on my family. I have written about getting rid of things but this is the underlying reason. I am moving slowly but making progress. This is another thing that strangely enough is on my bucket list. I know, this is not a fun thing but it matters to me.

Little by little, bit by bit I am going through papers and personal items. Many things can be discarded but others need to have a place, with explanations, where they are kept. I hope I don’t die soon as this may take me until my death to do. For my children’s sake I hope not. For me this is not a macabre task but a loving one.

do i need it

It seems that we spend the first half of live accumulating things, the next quarter enjoying them and the last quarter letting them go.

Each part of life has its demands. Too many people leave a huge disaster for others to clean up. I hope I can do better than that.

We are a whole not parts

It has been two weeks since I was so sick with IBSD. I have been so well in general that the episode completely blind-sided me. Now I am experiencing the hangover. Since these particular episodes always occur between 9 and 10 in the evening I get anxious each night around that time.

The irony is that this kind of episode only crops up, at the most, once a year. It will take weeks for it to fade from my mind and then I will be fine.

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It is so amazing what we can do to ourselves. I am fine physically but my mind clings to the latest event. So what to do? I have increased my prayer and quiet time, continued my regular routine and let that event become a memory that will fade. Learning and using coping skills is such a critical piece to our health and wholeness. We must remember that we were created as whole beings….not separate parts. Everything that we do affects our entire being.

One of the problems with out medical systems today is that we are not see this way but as different parts managed by different physicians. Not only do they not see beyond their specialty but they seldom communicate with each other.

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We must learn to be our own advocates. Even if a physician ignores or puts you down for your concerns and conclusions about your care remember who sees the end result. Don’t ever be afraid to speak your mind and if you have someone who can’t accept that change to someone else. Never let a caregiver dismiss you. Each of us is just a important as the person caring for us. Never forget it.

Love must help us to be ourselves

True union . . . doesn’t turn its respective participants into a blob, a drop dissolving into the ocean. Rather, it presses them mightily to become more and more themselves: to discover, trust, and fully inhabit their own depths. As these depths open, so does their capacity to love, to give-and-receive of themselves.—-Cynthia Bourgeault   from the thoughts of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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Real love, wants more than anything, for us to be truly ourselves. If the person we are with only wants to mold us into someone else then we had best back away.

In my life I have known people who have created themselves to mesh perfectly with another person. They have submerged themselves and little of the true person is visible. Their ache for love is so great that they will do anything to get it. They will even betray themselves. The sad part is that they are not being loved for themselves but for the person they created.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet

Sometimes we want so much to be loved that we are willing to give up ourselves. This may seem ok for a while but eventually we will feel the strain of it and end up knowing that is it not the right thing.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love. Kahlil Gibran

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In any relationship we must love ourselves. We have to be able to accept who we are with all our warts and scars. Then with that love we can reach out to another person.

 

Wholeness: mind + body = wellness

feeling-sick

Today has been up and down. I realize I ran myself into the ground planning, traveling, cleaning etc to get ready for my husband’s surgery at Mayo. My immune system was bottomed out. So, after getting a cold while at Mayo, I ended up with a sinus infection and on antibiotics. I am someone who seldom gets sick and to say it unsettles me is an understatement.

I am worse than the parents of the children I saw when I worked for a group of pediatricians. The child would be put on antibiotics and the parent would call later that day saying he/she isn’t well yet. (completely true) I have been given an excellent treatment and I want to be well yesterday!

Feeling down and sick is not fun. I am not sure which is at the top but I guess it doesn’t matter.

There are so many people suffering with physical illness and coping beyond amazing. There are so many with mental illness who are also suffering and coping. My oldest daughter worked at a children’s hospital in a unit called “Adolescent Med-Psych.” That unit cared for teens who were having mental problems because of their physical problems or the reverse. They handled teens with diabetes who didn’t care for themselves, and anorexics with who had created physical problems from their diet. Some patients had severe mental illness that had led to physical problems. I don’t know how she worked there. The anguish of both teen and family must have been horrible. She loved her work.

Many of us don’t take care of ourselves. We let our emotional problems cause physical symptoms. Conversely, we can’t cope with the physical problems and let them move over into emotional problems.

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I think the coping skills for the two things are similar. We are whole. We are not a separate thing. Our minds and our bodies and forever connected. To flourish we need to care for both. The things that we do for our mental health help out physical health. We know that meditation, mindfulness, and managing stress have a powerful affect on our bodies. Keeping up with needed physical exams is also critical.

We need to continue to learn and use coping skills that work for us. Not everyone is the same. Keep testing and trying different things until you find what works for you. It will pay off in big benefits in the long run.

You are important

pused over the edgeLife can be difficult at times. It may not be one big thing but many little ones that push you over the edge. In fact for me that is usually the case. If there is a big crisis I seem to do well until it is over…then I crash. Many little things nibbling away at just push you closer and closer to the precipice.  You don’t notice it is happening until it is too late.

We want to be strong and able to handle the things that life brings but sometimes it is just not possible. When this happens I have to take a step back and realize that I am over the edge. It’s time to back away from the things that I can and handle only the most important. Sometimes I struggle to prioritize and don’t know which balls in the air to let fall. Sometimes some fall while I am not looking. It can’t be helped. None of us are Wonder Woman or Superman. We just aren’t.

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I spent much of my life trying to be all things to all people and the stress took it’s toll in anxiety, depression and physical symptoms. We have to learn that we are vulnerable too.

The sad part is that when you spend your time saving everyone you become expected to do it and sometimes you receive no thanks or appreciation. When you stop it is a tremendous shock and you may have some upset people.

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We have to set boundaries. I think our struggle with self worth is part of the reason we fall into this trap. The more secure we are with ourselves and our own self respect the more we can choose wisely. Logical decisions about what we can do are critical.

You are important. You are just as important as anyone else. You deserve to have pride, dignity and self regard. Don’t throw yourself away.