Wednesday, November 17, 2010
My precious husband has dreadfully fragile eyes. After many surgeries, he can see out of one eye and he can find the Big E on the eye chart with the other. This allows him to drive a car and move around the house freely but it has curtailed many things we always counted on him doing - things like, carpentry work or even finding tools he's set down. In the past 6 months, though, his good eye has been acting up - as in becoming infected and not responding to antibiotics. the sure fire treatment is More Surgery but it comes with risk and this time, he has no 'good eye' to back him up.
This has been going on for 3 years and he has been A Prince throughout it all. I can count on one half of one hand the times he's been short tempered or depressed or made others around him feel uncomfortable. And I've taken my cue from him, always seeing the positive side of things, insisting on viewing the endless hours in doctors' offices in cities 50 miles away as opportunities for us to spend time together, to talk about things, to have adventures. We've dined in different restaurants, visited with friends and just refused to be pulled down by all this.
But this latest flare up - which is both painful and ... er ... juicy ... has not only broken through the wall of combined good attitudes but has come just as we were heading off on a long delayed vacation with friends. We're still not positive that it will force us to change plans, but we're not stupid either. If we have to put on our big boy and girl panties, well, we just will.
I have been trying to find the path through this that will do the most good and the least harm and a memory from the past flew up into my consciousness to help. First you must understand that though we play well together, we have never worked well together. He is a different type from me, a real INTJ to my ENFP if you're familiar with the Meyers Briggs personality tests. He is also a writer and one year he wanted to make a recording of some of his poetry that involved two voices: male and female and asked me to do the female voice. Now, I am not just a librarian, I'm a former musician, a performer, and - I smugly believe - someone with not just a good voice but with good command of my voice. And believe me, I tried to get him to hire a professional actress to do this for him but he either could not or would not, for while I thought I could do a good job, I also knew that we fall into wrangling when we try to work together and here he would be criticizing things about which I had strong opinions and feelings.
And sure enough, we fell to wrangling and things grew worse and more tense and fractious until I suddenly thought - these are HIS poems. He wanted to create something and asked me to help. And I had said I would and I still thought I could do both a good job and a job that pleased him. So. instead of trying to be the artist, I decided to be the violin. It was a surrender of sorts - a release of my ego to help someone I loved create something he longed for. And once I'd made that decision we had the best time, I could enjoy and value his artistic aesthetics without giving up my own. It ended up being one of the best times we ever had and we like to remember it sometimes just for the pleasure of feeling those good feelings all over again.
So when, in the dead of night, he woke with pain and other junk, and a year's worth of saving and planning look to be flying out the window and he was so brave about it but so sad .. that old memory flooded back and I thought - bet there's a path out of this. It had to do with empathy and with surrender to something bigger than us, with allowing and putting ego aside, with believing there's a way forward that isn't just okay - but will probably give us more good memories to pull up just for the pleasure of remembering.
I don't know how things will pan out this week. We may be in a hospital. We may be in the car on the way to visit friends. I just don't know. But I do know there is a way and if I just put my ego aside, it'll show itself soon.
Monday, November 08, 2010
What's that sound you hear? It's I - sighing in relief that the busiest autumn of my life is over. I've plowed through the jam packed weeks till I've reached a sweet shifting point and can take my focus off my job and put it onto the rest of my life. And as I lift my head and look around me I see we are here in that golden gem of a month - November. Beautiful sparse vivid still colorful November - when half the leaves have fallen from the trees, leaving the forests speckled with the last of the glowing yellow hickory and poplar leaves, all fluttery against the deep green of holly and the black tree bark. Blue skies, with their cloud edged fringes, cap us and the leaf littered forest floor wafts its rich woodsy scent into our nostrils with each step we take down the home path, across the swamp bridge or through the secret path.
The secret path is so named because one year when my little boy was just a wee one, 2 or maybe 3 years old, we spent a late fall afternoon playing in the woods. I knew that Himself had built paths all through the west woods, and that we were never more than half a mile from anywhere, but at one point we were so deep in the forest I couldn't see how to get out. We were lost. Not deeply terrifyingly lost - but ... lost. And I had a moment of fear because it was late and getting dark and I had this baby with me. And the truth is - I couldn't BE frightened because ... it was late and getting dark and most of all - I had this baby with me.
I could sort of see where the sun was setting, though. I had an idea where the river was and I knew there was a circumference path that went all along the river shore so I didn't really panic. I knew it was just a matter of finding the edge and walking along it - which we did. There's a spot where the path dips down along the middle swamp (where the swamp bridge in my background photo is). It climbs back up to higher ground at some point, but when my little toddler and I got there the path seemed to just disappear into the creepy spooky arms of hundreds of mature mountain laurel, with their twisty witchy-looking branches and sparse leafy tops. It just lead up into nowhere - and was gone.
It was also getting darker and I had a hungry tired little boy with me. So we climbed on and as we neared the top, the path took a sharp turn down and to the right - completely hidden behind the snaking laurel arms. "Look, William. It's a secret path, hidden in the forest" I told him and ever since, it's been called the Secret Path. No one who ever walks down it, or comes upon it from the riverbank is unaffected by it's mystery. It's one of our favorite places in the woods and all we had to do was trust that it would lead us home and keep on walking.
These past months I seem to have lost myself in the world of work and family and Other Goals. Like that wonderful day of playing in the woods with my little boy, I have somewhat lost track of time and place when it comes to my weight loss. Suddenly I've lifted my head and realized I am not where I ought to be and it's growing later. In fact, I am heading into the biggest eating season of the year right back where I started a year ago. I'd like to be upset about it ... but just like that time in the woods with my child, I really can't. I have to be the grownup who gets me OUT of this situation, not the baby who allows fear or other emotions free reign.
And I know there's a path out of here ... I just have to trust that it's here and walk down it. If it looks like it's disappearing into witchy-looking places I still just have to keep on keeping on ... and I bet, just like on the secret path, there'll be a sharp turn into familiar territory - to safety and ... let us hope - to success.
So today I wish you TRUST -
Thursday, October 28, 2010
This has been a MOST challenging autumn. Work has been demanding, if fun, ... no. demanding is too weak an adjective. Work has been flat out madness. and fun. Time for other things has suffered and attention for other areas of my life has been in short supply.
Add to all that, there has been the extremely difficult situation with my crabby old dad - one of those wounding things that you accept, set aside, but know is still there, oozing its pain into the world. We can duck that sort of thing but we can't avoid it altogether.
I have often found myself gobbling my food - and being horrified about it too - because it's not only an unpleasant activity, it's a dangerous one. Besides not tasting what you're eating, you can choke on stuff! Ask me how I know.
the one thing I've clung to this autumn has been my swimming schedule and of late, I've actually been ahead of schedule - closing in on that one mile goal post almost a month earlier than I thought I could.
but the pace, the load, the list of Things To Do has grown so large, so demanding that yesterday - at quittin' time - when I found I had to stay late to finish something Important - I actually contemplated skipping the swim.
and boy did my body protest. Just the thought of Not Swimming, even if only for a few laps, made my entire body sink into suffering mode. It was amazing. I actually felt as if I'd been hit. You know that sinking sensation you get when you are told really bad news? that's how my body felt. as if it were hearing really really REALLY bad news from my brain.
Wow. Imagine. My body just shrieked at me. It said "oh no you don't"! It protected me from giving it short shrift. How about that? My own body - looking out for me like a mother would. I'm still amazed.
Of course, that didn't mean I could leave the project unfinished. It does mean that I found someone who could do the last bit for me - and I could get in half a mile of swimming. And best of all - the moment my body learned my brain wasn't going to cheat it out of its needed exercise - it decided to cooperate and not gobble up dinner with two deserts ... something it's been doing lately, in retaliation, I now see, for a brain that hasn't been putting the Whole Me at the top of it's list.
so. hope you don't mind this tale of the fractured dieter - I'm not really crazy - only my brain is. sometimes.
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