Category Archives: Death

Wishcasting Wednesday

Spring-475x353

from Jamie’s post

Today Jamie asks “what’s your Spring wish?” I haven’t Wishcast in a long while, not because I don’t appreciate the practice but because I was doing too much and needed to slow down, so this was a practice that was on haitus. However, this wish felt like an opportunity I shouldn’t pass up.

You see, I was just out in the backyard playing with Dexter (and Sam too). It’s a bit cold out today, but I wanted to be outside. The grass is starting to green up and things are starting to bud and even bloom. There’s a lawn chair out from just a few days ago when it was sunny and warm.

I never thought I would see another Spring with Dexter in it. His prognosis when his cancer was diagnosed was 95 days, with his first significant symptoms a month before that, so I wasn’t even sure if he’d stay long enough to see snow again. That was almost eight months ago, and he’s still here.

And yet, living with a terminally ill pet means things can change at any time. He went to physical therapy this morning and even they noticed he was in a happier mood, was clearly feeling better. He’s getting stronger and while the tear in his knee won’t likely heal completely, he’s doing really well considering, is able to be moderately and carefully active. That made me feel really good, but then just a few hours later, he sneezed a few times and there was blood, so I shifted to feeling sad. This is how it goes.

So my Spring wish is in two parts: May I be able to remain fully present with Dexter while he is still here, and when it’s time for him to go, may he have an easy death.

Something Good

narrowleafbare

1. Sas Petherick’s “Down To Basics” Pinterest board. I want this, all of it.

2. Do You Conspire Against Yourself? A hard truth from Jennifer Boykin on Life After Tampons,”YOU are at the heart of everything that happens in your life.”

3. A heartbreaking and beautiful post, written by Neil Gaiman about his beloved Shepherd, The Power of the Dog. Cabal (2003-2013).

4. This quote: “There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by my self.” ~Brian Andreas

5. From Pema Chödrön:

Here, Now, Always: This is a work in progress, a process of uncovering our natural openness, uncovering our natural intelligence and warmth. I have discovered, just as my teachers always told me, that we already have what we need. The wisdom, the strength, the confidence, the awakened heart and mind are always accessible, here, now, always. We are just uncovering them. We are rediscovering them. We’re not inventing them or importing them from somewhere else. They’re here. That’s why when we feel caught in darkness, suddenly the clouds can part. Out of nowhere we cheer up or relax or experience the vastness of our minds. No one else gives this to you. People will support you and help you with teachings and practices, as they have supported and helped me, but you yourself experience your unlimited potential.

6. This quote:

The experience of joy is not
necessarily religious in any conventional way.
But a distinguishing characteristic of joy
is the feeling people have that they have touched
the hem of something far beyond themselves.
~Ardis Whitman

7. A note to me from the Universe: “It was perhaps one of your greatest acts of love, Jill. Choosing to be alive at a time when so many live so deeply in the dark. And already things are looking brighter.”

And this one, “Sometimes the people who know, Jill, don’t know they know. And sometimes the people who don’t know, think they do know. But you can always tell who is who, because, of course, with knowing comes tolerance, and patience, and love.”

And this one, “Believe it or not, Jill, if it weren’t for your so-called issues, problems, and challenges, there’d be no other way you could become even happier, cooler, and more enlightened than you have ever been before.”

8. This one makes me laugh, “For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.” ~Larry Eisenberg

9. The Challenge in Beginning, on Kind Over Matter by Jo Anna Rothman.

10. On Turning 45 by Lisa Congdon. I think I want to trade 45s with Lisa.

11. This quote from Mark Nepo:

We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.

12. This is making me so happy right now, music from the band Washed Out. It’s categorized as “Dream Pop” on Rhapsody, one of my favorite genres. You might recognize this from Portlandia.

13. Inspiration Procrastination — are you a self-help junkie? on Simply Woz. Why yes, yes I am.

14. This video is so sweet: Lazaro Arbos, American Idol Auditions Chicago ~ American Idol.

15. The Surprise That Left Steve Harvey [and me] In Tears.

16. This quote from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche:

By connecting with basic goodness in this moment, we can live in an open, free, and unconditioned way. Without comparison, there is no jealousy or pride. There is simply a feeling of delight and brilliance. When we cower from this possibility, comparisons immediately arise and we are thrown into a whirlwind of insecurity and doubt.

17. 25 free romantic fonts from A Subtle Revelry.

18. By way of Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list, Eight Healthy Comfort Foods (I am going to make some Amazeballs), and this video, which makes me so happy, (by way of Swiss Miss–check out the rest of their site, there’s some really cool stuff there–amazeballs!):

19. From From Positively Present Picks list: On Dog Hair from Bobulate, and from Huffington Post, Tina Fey: ’30 Rock’ Star’s Success Secret: ‘Say Yes’.

20. Moving Art channel on You Tube. Some really beautiful videos.

21. Some of my favorite women in conversation, connecting: Story Whispers, Sas Petherick with Hannah Marcotti, and The Illuminated Purposepreneur: Hannah Marcotti on Create as Folk with Laura Simms.

22. Scattered by Sas Petherick. (I’m apparently crushing hard on Sas, because she’s on my list three times this week).

23. From Brain Pickings: How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word and Can Money Buy Happiness? The Science of Materialism, Animated.

24. This quote: “Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

25. This quote from Rumi:

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.

26. Daily Rocks from Patti Digh, Say “Wow” and Be Open to Change.

27. Living Things on SF Girl by Bay.

28. From Patti Digh’s Thinking Thursday list, this quote: “Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself.” -Bhagavad Gita (so true…)

29. Judgement vs. Empathy by Alexis Yael on Kind Over Matter.

30. Some Days, a blessing from Erica Staab (and John O’Donohue).

31. Salon’s guide to writing a memoir.

Something Good

1. I’d Do Anything to Stop This Pain by Jennifer Gresham on Everyday Bright.

2. This quote: We’re in a giant car headed toward a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit. ~David Suzuki. This is Buddhist wisdom I’ve heard before, the idea that we we’ve all bought a ticket on a ship that’s sinking, that we are boarding a plane that’s guaranteed to crash, that this is the reality of life (death), but the additional wisdom here is that even knowing this, we spend our time on the dumbest things, like worrying what to pack or complaining about the snacks.

3. Biz Ladies: Part I — Your Blog Is Your Book This is very good news indeed.

4. Ayurveda at a Glance I am working on a guest post about meditation for Niight’s blog.

5. This wisdom from Tulku Thondup

The key is to make meditation a part of your life, like part of the fabric of a tapestry. Bring an attitude of enjoyment to your meditation, that helps tremendously. Also, bring the peaceful feelings of meditation into your daily activities. That is how to begin tasting the fruits of your efforts. When the healing of mind becomes a habit, our minds become like a great river. The river may not always appear to be moving. But if we look closely enough we will see how the water is slowly, slowly making its way to the sea.

And this:

Meditation is a way of training ourselves to develop a more peaceful mind. Everyone has different capabilities and needs when it comes to this training. We don’t want to push ourselves or be too forceful, but we also want to avoid being slack or lazy. Each of us needs to develop a sense of what’s best for us.

6. Love Letter to the World: Rachel W. Cole

7. Fiona Apple recently canceled her South American tour, because her sweet dog is dying. If you’ve ever loved a dog, lost a dog, the letter she wrote in explanation will break your heart. This comforted me, “she is coming close to the time where she will stop being a dog, and start instead to be part of everything” and this wrecked me:

I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments. I need to do my damnedest to be there for that. Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known. When she dies.

this boy is at my feet right now, doing his own dying–slowly but for certain, while I do my damnedest to be here for it

8. From the Daily Flame:

Why do you judge yourself when you feel tired? Why do you allow fatigue to turn into a story about how you’re not [something] enough? Have you ever thought that perhaps I speak to you through feelings of tiredness, that perhaps, you’re not hearing my whispers, telling you to slow down, and fatigue is the spell I slap on you to help you listen? If you’re tired today, what do you think I might be telling you? Listen up. I have a message for you…

And this one:

Sometimes the longings of your heart feel crazy, don’t they? You wonder how you can possibly trust desires that are so outlandish, impractical, out of control, fickle, and passion-laden. Yet what can you trust more than the stirrings of the heart? Stay there, with your heart wide open. This is where I live, not in your mind, but in the interior spaciousness of pure possibility and divine love.

9. This from Marianne Williamson: “Let there be a ceasefire in all our hearts. Let’s make peace with ourselves, our God, our past, and each other. Let’s all together declare peace on earth.” And this, “Now, in this moment, you are who you have always been and will always be. All spiritual practice — forgiveness, meditation and prayer — is for the purpose of training the mind to see through the illusions of a world that would convince you otherwise.”

10. Dear Sugar, The Rumpus Advice Column #90: 94 Ways of Saying Thank You

11. 15 Gifts You Can Give Yourself for Free from Marc and Angel Hack Life

12. This quote, by way of Lindsey on A Design So Vast:

…be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it. ~Paul Harding

13. Emerging Icons: Demystifying the Process from Jen Lee

14. This quote: If you want to be happy, be. ~Leo Tolstoy

15. This quote: Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. ~ Henry James

16. This quote: Underneath it all, we are wild and we know it. ~Reggie Ray

17. This quote from Mary Gaitskill:

Writing is…. being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page. If the wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment.

18. The Daily Routines of Famous Writers from Brain Pickings.

19. Recipes I want to try: Sweet Potato Biscuits, Apple Hand Pies, and Graham Crackers.

20. Shirley and Jenny: Two Elephants Reunited After More Than 20 Years, which I’ve seen before, but was reminded of this morning by Sas, and is why I drank tear flavored coffee.

21. Rachel Cole’s Holiday Gift Guide. I’m totally going to make some of the homemade surprise balls.

22. I may have posted this before, but it’s worth repeating: 55 gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy busy busy

23. Every time I read Ken’s story, I am amazed at how similar it is to my own.

24. This sweet interview. “Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best—and the most challenging—parts of being a parent.”

25. This quote from Geneen Roth:

Right here, this exact moment, is the doorway to the peace and the joy you want. No matter how much you ate in the last few days, no matter how much you did or didn’t do, can you stop your mind’s nattering? Can you, are you willing to, take in the fact that you have a body, arms, legs, eyes. That you can see, hear, touch, taste. Are you willing to break the trance of unworthiness right now?

26. PicMonkeyI love photo editing, adding quotes, and this site makes it so easy. I can’t wait to waste some serious time with this.

27. Don’t Just Create. Liberate., a great post from yogi Jonathan Fields.

28. Deck the Blog: Favorite Design Resources from Laura Simms on Scoutie Girl. This is going to be fun.

29. This quote: “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” ~Thich
Nhat Hanh

30. No Shit from Whatever, Etc. Every woman who has ever cried in a dressing room, or wanted to when she looked in the mirror, or thought she would lose her mind shopping for a swimming suit or pair of jeans that fit needs to read this.

Book Writing Saturday

This past week I felt whelmed, a curious mixture of overwhelmed by everything there is to accomplish but underwhelmed with excitement about actually doing it. I had very little energy or motivation. I felt tired, confused, scattered and sad. Dexter was the tiniest bit worse. My hair is falling out again, as it does when I let stress creep in. The weather has turned cold and sloppy. It doesn’t help that I am coming down with a case of the crud.

And yet, that’s not the whole story. There were a hundred other moments that were amazing, beautiful, and full of kindness, (one being Mary Anne Radmacher calling me “fiercely gentle Jill”). So many that all the stuff that wasn’t so great didn’t even end up mattering, (well, except for that part about Dexter).

Tulku Thondup describes mindfulness as “the giving of oneself to the moment.” And as so many other wise beings have said, if you are in the moment, there is no problem, everything is workable. Geneen Roth said,

A gentle question to ask yourself: am I alright now, in this very second? And if you are, say that. “In this moment, I am alright. I am fine.” It allows you to cut through the stories and the anxiety and fear. Stop everything and take in the alrightness of just this moment. There will always be problems, so many problems, but if you stay grounded in your own presence, in your own alrightness, you can deal with them from a clear space.

This morning, Dexter and I took a long walk together while Eric and Sam where hiking at Lory State Park. Dexter’s left eye has been runny this past week, and I sometimes wonder which way his tumor is growing. Will his face start to swell, or is it pushing towards his brain? What are those last days, that final moment going to look like? But usually, I don’t waste my time with such speculation. I walk with him, play with him, pet him, love him, and even as we are good-bying, I surrender to the space of us still together.

NaBloPoMo Prompt: What One Thing?

he was crowding me, but ask me if I care

Today’s NaBloPoMo Prompt is: “If you could change one thing about our life right now, what would it be?” The answer is easy: Dexter wouldn’t have cancer, wouldn’t be dying. I’d change that. That would be the thing I’d wish were different, what I’d fix if I could.

But I can’t change it. I can accept it, be with it, with him. I can surrender, let go when the time comes. Right now, I can be grateful for another week with him, another day, another moment. Most recently, he’s had a stuffy nose, runny left eye from time to time, and more bloody snot since last week, but he’s still having good days and he’s still here. As he gets a tiny bit worse, I bump up against that reality again, that he’ll die soon no matter what I do. I still feel tender and sad about it, but mostly the fear and panic have eased. Like Eric said last night, “I’m okay with it, even though I’m not.”

from puppy to dog

He’s had a good, longish life with us, and I’m so grateful for his companionship, what he’s taught me about joy, play, loyalty, and having clear boundaries. If I could change his cancer, the fact that he’s going to die sooner rather than later I would, but I wouldn’t change anything else about our time together. And no matter what, he’ll always be my Little Dude.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Letting go of something you love is difficult, one of the hardest things. But, I will survive it. I have done this before, watched someone I love die, been separated even though the thing we both wanted the most was to stay together always, and I am still alive, even without them, even with no guarantee I will ever see them again, heart broken but still bound, tethered to an invisible but tangible love.

2. Truth: I can’t change the facts, but I determine how I respond. It’s staying dark later in the mornings now, that’s a fact of nature. This morning, so dark that I’d need to wear a headlamp for our walk, I was feeling grumpy, resistant, wishing away the dark. And yet, a few blocks from our house I looked up at the still dark night morning sky and saw stars. I thought about how on the way back, I’d see the sunrise, how I was taking this walk with two of my dogs. Instead of being cranky that it was dark and cold and early, things I can’t change, I noticed. I felt gratitude, thankful for the grace of one more morning to be awake and alive and together. I can’t alter nature, can’t keep Dexter from dying no matter what I do or how I feel about it, so instead of resisting or wishing things were different, I choose to open my heart to all of it, to be fully present and alive, wakeful and wise and compassionate.

3. Truth: It is okay. As I am surviving this loss, as it washes over me, passes through me, there will be messy moments. I will feel panic and cry in public. I will get angry and fall into despair. I will blame and accuse and rant and regret. I will wish and hope for things to be different. I will vow to never love again. I will hold my grief like it were a physical thing, with warm breath and sharp teeth. I will numb out, sleep and eat too much, say I’m okay, insist on it when I am anything but alright. This is the way love goes, the way the physical form where we focus our love leaves us. There is nothing to be done but to surrender, to be wounded. Eventually there will be another dog, and I’ll do the same thing again–open my heart knowing full well it will be broken. This is the way love goes. It is what it is, and this is workable.

One wish: My single wish underneath all my other wishes right now is that Dexter has an easy death. But, I also wish that those of us in this process of letting go feel some peace, some relief, and have faith in our innate wisdom and kindness and strength, being certain that we’ll know what to do and that whatever arises, it’s all workable.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I find it really, really difficult to go on with my life as usual when someone I love is dying. Today is Eric and I’s 19th wedding anniversary, and even though we have tickets for an Aimee Mann concert tomorrow night, tickets I bought specifically as an anniversary present for us, we both forgot that today was the day to celebrate because we’ve been too distracted by the hard stuff in our lives. And it’s not just the big stuff I’m having trouble engaging, it’s all the small stuff. I had a moment last night when I noticed the thick layer of dust in the living room, on the books, the TV, the end tables, and my first thought after noticing was “I’ll dust when Dexter is gone, because I can’t face it right now, can’t waste time on that. It’s just not important.”

2. Truth: I don’t always know what to do. For a retired perfectionist, a master puzzle solver and super stubborn human, this is incredibly frustrating. I try to stay openhearted and present, quiet and still enough that my innate wisdom can arise, but quite often, the panicked chatter of my monkey mind and the howling of intense emotions get in the way and I am confused.

3. Truth: Practice helps me clear my mind and stay in the present moment. When I write, I can dump all the nonsense and the noise and work my way towards understanding. Yoga and walking help me to move, to feel my body in the world, just as it is, to engage with it fully, to release the tension of resisting the way things are and the wishing for things to be different. When I meditate, my mind softens and settles and I can practice being gentle, allowing my deeper wisdom and compassion to manifest. And the practices of love and dog constantly remind me of impermanence, of the reality that change is real and I have no control, that all I can do is surrender, to open my heart and love knowing full well that my heart will be broken as a result.

One wish: For relief, for our collective suffering, shared and private, to ease. For us to find the strength to stand right where we are, just as we are, keeping our hearts open to the way things really are, knowing that we are a part of something beautiful.