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Why this journey?

Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.

I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now!  How different my whole life would have been.

You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.

I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.

The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.

So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.

Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?

All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.

All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.

A day out

The weather has been beautiful here in Austin. Over the weekend we decided to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It was wonderful to see. The spring flowers are blooming and we took a long walk around the field with many different flowers blooming.

The flowers were so beautiful and the landscaping so pretty. We also saw a mother owl with her little ones but couldn’t get a photo. It was a really nice day out. Nothing like fresh air, sunshine, great scenery and good company.

Leaping

Homes are not meant to be lived in – but only to be moved out from.

Richard Rohr in Falling Upward

When I first read this statement I was confused? -startled? – surprised? I’m not sure what. I realized that only when we are confronted with real change do we experience the growth that really moves us forward. It is a time of searching and redefining ourselves. We are moved our of our comfort zone and made to experience the world in a different way.

That has been my experience for, at least, the last year and a half. My life has been changed, disrupted and scrambled. Only now am I beginning to understand that this is not a negative but a positive. This is a time to “fall up” and explore what is revealed to me.

My 80 plus years have not been wasted but are a platform for jumping off. They are a gift that keeps on giving. It is up to me what happens next. I just have to take the leap.

Connections

“The tendrils that connect one human being to another are so unlikely so inherently fragile…I think that is it s a miracle they exist at all.”

From the TV program Numbers

Connecting with one another is so key to how we live. I have always needed those connections and tend to nurture them. Without them I am lost.

Whether we are connecting to the family that raised us or family that we choose and continue to choose from those we meet those connections form us. They are the glue that hold us together. The support that we receive from others makes our lives manageable. The love of those connected by those tendrils is what brings joy to our journey through life.

It is a miracle and one that I depend on and rejoice over every day.

Life goes on

This past week I was able to get my second covid vaccination. It is a relief. Now I have to look to moving forward. It looks as if I will be moving to the community (that we were both to move to) at the beginning of June. I am so longing to be finally settled. I have felt so disconnected.

We were also able to go to church on Sunday and that was so wonderful. I hope that before long we will actually be able to connect in a deeper way. Masks make it so difficult.

Before I move I need to donate my husband’s things. This is hard to think about but they will mean so much to those who need them. I will feel as if I am giving part of him away but he would be glad that his things can be used. This is just another step in my grieving…another move forward.

Moving my dogs into an apartment with no outside access will be a change for them but I think they will be happy wherever I am. they are very clingy.

I hope everyone had a good Easter.

Muddling through

Today was a different day. I dropped off one of my dogs early this am to have her teeth cleaned and a cyst removed from her back. I expected to pick her up about four this afternoon. It is now 7:15 and I am still waiting to get her. They had emergencies and didn’t do her stuff until 6 pm. Not what I had planned. Now I will have a dog just out of surgery and not herself to care for tonight. I love her and that is ok but this didn’t work out well. Hopefully things will work better later. New vets….just have to learn if this is the one for my pups.

Yesterday I got to visit the place that I hope to move to. Once there I will never have to move again. After all, at 80, I’ll be blessed to get to 100 with all my faculties. There is so much there. The place is connected to thee University of Texas at Austin and professors come to teach classes. Residents have set up many activities for themselves and they travel and enjoy life. I hope to never stop learning so this sounds perfect for me.

I will also be glad when we can all get back to church. I know that following all that has happened and may still be a problem life will be different but I hope that we will be able to be with other people more than we can now. (wow…long sentence…maybe needs editing)

Today

This has been a good day. I got to spend most of it with my daughter. The only sad spot was picking up my husband’s ashes. Doing it with my daughter made it meaningful. We will be able to do a memorial service in the fall at the church my husband built. He loved it so. We want people to be able to come and I want a military presence since that was such a part of his life.

We spent lots of time in a garden nursery center that was amazing. Just being outside with lot of plants and flowers brightens the soul.

I was a able to get a few plants to put outside and two indoor ones to make my apartment home. I love plants. However, I can’t say I miss the huge yard we moved from. It was truly overwhelming. I never could reach done….not even for a day. It was just constant. Probably one of the few things I don’t miss after moving.

All in all a comforting sort of day.

The journey of grief

Grief is a funny thing. Some people think it follows the pattern of acceptance by Kubler-Ross. That pattern was actually developed about acceptance of a coming death. In my mind grief is different. Having run two years of grief support group and feeling my own grief I think it is much more erratic. It comes and goes like the waves of the ocean. I am certainly feeling that. I can go along just fine and then suddenly something will trigger tears.

We can’t run away from grief. Instead we have to go through it. We have to experience it. Hiding from it or trying to deny it doesn’t work. It can take a long time. Sometimes people have no idea what to say to us when we have a loss. Some comments can be upsetting but we just have to understand that most are well meaning.

It has been and will continue to be particularly hard due to the circumstances we all find ourselves in. Covid doesn’t allow us to do normal things that help us accept a death. Funerals are done with few people or put off until later.

In my case there is also moving to another city away from longtime friends. Being with family has helped but I am not in my long-term home and things are not as usual. I reach out by phone and electronics but it is not the same. I am lonely and missing my place in things. It will get better when we can be with people but for now it is hard.

My faith helps and I find myself leaning on God for support more than usual. I guess loss makes us reach out and understand what is important to us. God is my rock that I stand on.

We all grieve in our own way and I will move through this and find new friends and people to do things with. Being able to go to church will help. Life does go on.

Time goes by

Today memories have taken over my thinking. I have taken myself back to my childhood and remembered lying on the floor in front of the fire at night and listening to the radio. You heard me right. There was no television. The radio was our entertainment and I can tell you scary programs and worse when it is your own mind conjuring up the villain. There was “The Shadow” and one with a creaking door. Less stressful programs were “Let’s Pretend” “Fibber McGee and Molly” and many others.

Television didn’t come into my life until sometime in the 50’s. My grandfather bought one for his office. He didn’t worry about those of us a home. (he and my grandmother lived with us) I used to go to his office just to see this magical thing.

Later we were able to get one for our home. It was a small oval screen and the picture was black and white. There weren’t a lot of programs and I don’t remember many of them. Strangely enough I remember the radio programs more.

In the late fifties I remember going to a teacher’s home to watch something from Disney in color. That seemed truly amazing.

The world has really changed in my lifetime.