Tag Archives: Presence

Wishcasting Wednesday

Yesterday, my therapist pointed out that I’m trying to find a formula. I was confused and uncomfortable and irritated by that — because she’s right. All of my research and work and searching and contemplating and pushing, all my suffering is a quest to find the right way, the perfect strategy, the foolproof plan, the trick to having a happy, content, successful, safe life. Every book I buy, every new blog I subscribe to, every new class I take, every workshop or retreat I sign up for, all of it is my tiny little heart looking for the secret to peace, to love everlasting and pure. I know it intellectually, but I can’t seem to get myself to accept that this is not going to work. I make grand gestures of letting go, only to feel again the familiar tightness in my chest, to look down and see my hands clenched into fists.

It’s Wishcasting Wednesday, and Jamie Ridler asks “what do you wish to discover?” To discover means finding something or someone unexpectedly, becoming aware — to find, detect, uncover, reveal, unearth.

I wish to discover my truth. The essential and fundamental fact of myself, reality.

I wish to discover my confidence. To manifest what Susan Piver describes as “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

I wish to discover my basic goodness. To be fully aware of and connected to my innate wisdom and compassion and power.

I wish to discover presence in each moment. To become aware of what is, exactly as it is, to accept it without judgement — to show up for my life, with an open heart, at ease in the vast space of now.

 

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.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: In order to do more, I need to do less. I have been getting this message loud and clear lately. To slow down, relax, focus on one thing at a time, to do one small thing and give it my full attention, to be completely present in each moment, to pay attention, to be exactly where I am as I am with what is, to sink deeply into life, to surrender my agenda and let go of my plans, to show up with an open heart and allow whatever arises to be.

2. Truth: I need more rest. My strategy in the past was to push through tired, to keep going until collapse or overwhelm. Then I started resting more, and feeling better. And yet, I’m realizing that I need even more rest than I thought (instead of eight hours of sleep, I feel better with nine or ten, with lots of breaks during the day, plenty of time alone, lots of quiet and stillness, fresh air and long walks). What I am also accepting is that this is not a sign of weakness or a failure, it just is.

3. Truth: I want a small, simple life. And yet, when I say that, I also mean that I want this life to be deep and wide, spacious–which I know seems like a contradiction, but makes perfect sense to me somehow.

One Truth: That we all find the balance that works for us, that we get the rest we need, and that our lives are exactly the right fit for us.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Being highly sensitive is both a blessing and a curse. I was born completely porous, raw and naked and open wide. I had no defense, no barrier between myself and the world, myself and others. What you felt, I felt, and I felt it deeply. For years, I wore heavy armor (invisible yes, but heavy and hard nonetheless) and masks, cocooned myself, padded my body with extra weight, distracted with smoke and mirrors, hid myself away, anything I could to do to protect myself.

What I didn’t understand yet is that this sensitivity, this keen emotion, acute intuition, deep knowing, this tenderness was something that others spent their lives trying to achieve, that there were many ancient practices to teach one to be so openhearted, so present, spacious and awake. I had what others wanted, what they worked so hard to experience. I have slowly allowed my gentle self to peek out, have been working with being vulnerable and brave, keeping my heart open, but it’s so hard sometimes–the beauty and the brutality, the tenderness and the terror can be so overwhelming.

2. Truth: “You should put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help someone else with theirs.” I was chanting this silently last night as I tried to fall asleep. My worrying about Dexter wasn’t letting me rest, mind or body, and I was exhausted. That phrase was the thing that kept coming back to me, the only thing that was helping. No “he’s fine” or “everything’s going to be okay” or general allowing or accepting of reality or releasing of attachment would work, but the awareness that I needed to take care of myself or I wouldn’t be of any help to him did.

3. Truth: I can’t control everything, and perfection is impossible. I know this, deep down know it, and yet I keep acting as if it’s not true. I keep Dexter home from hiking, thinking I can keep him safe, and he hurts himself chasing after a squirrel in our backyard. I feed my dogs the best possible food, provide the best health care, give them tons of exercise and affection, take better care of them sometimes than I do myself, and still two of them have been diagnosed with fatal cancers. I obsess about Dexter’s physical therapy and medications and various appointments, thinking I can fix him, keep him safe, when no matter what I do, he will eventually die, as all mortal things do. I try to be so careful and prepared and diligent and alert, but bad things still happen. Things break, feelings get hurt, mistakes are made. I am not always responsible, and even when I am, I am forgivable, still loveable. I am trying to do as Karen Salmansoh suggests and, “Let go of what you can’t control. Channel all that energy into living fully in the now.”

One Wish: That we can approach our experience, our struggle and suffering, with great gentleness and a loving presence. That when we despair, are afraid and sad, we can experience some ease, remember our innate strength, have confidence and find comfort in our fundamental wisdom and compassion. And as Hafiz says, “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”

There is Only Now

samatgreyrock

Eric took Sam hiking at Greyrock this morning. Dexter had coughed once last night, woke up around midnight and in my sleepy Mom mind was having trouble settling back down, so I got on the couch with him until he fell asleep. Then this morning, he coughed another time. Eric had planned to take him hiking again (they went yesterday), but we decided maybe Dexter shouldn’t go–even though we know that if Dexter had only one day left, he’d choose to spend it hiking rather than resting. Eric took both dogs on a short run before leaving with Sam. Dexter was so energized when they got back, so happy, watching so hopefully as Eric put things in his backpack, I almost changed my mind about him not going, but in the end he stayed with me.

Writing in my journal this morning after they left, I was considering the situation we are in. It was over a month ago when Dexter went on a hike, got a bloody nose, and I felt this same anxiety, thinking “this might be it, the last week, the final days” but I was wrong. What’s hard about a terminal illness is you are ready, waiting for it to be over, and yet you fear the end, wish it would never come. You suffer living with the mantra “he’s dying, he’s dying, he’s dying,” but you also feel a spike of anxiety and despair whenever something shifts, “oh no! he’s dying!”

It came to me in my morning meditation that the only answer is now, in this moment, in staying present. Nothing else works or makes sense–not numbing out, not running away, no method of escape or resistance, no hoping for something different or wishing for something better, no clinging to what’s positive or thinking only happy thoughts and rejecting the rest–you simply have to stay, be here now, live/love in this moment.

Presence and mindfulness and awareness are the only real medicine–the sound of my pen scratching on the paper, the thump and hum of the dryer, the sound of the dog asleep next to me breathing, the warmth and shelter and light, the ink in the pen and the blank pages in the journal and the air in my lungs, my body that remembers to pump and breathe without needing my interference, my bones and muscles doing what they do to keep me upright and writing, my eyes seeing, my brain processing language, knowing what word comes next and how to form it. This is all there is, and even it isn’t solid or fixed or even completely comprehensible. It shifts, gets a bit colder, the dog gets up and leaves, I pause not knowing what to say next. And then, the heat kicks on, the furnace hums, the dryer shuts off, and I know what to do.

dextersknee

I make plans, but they don’t work out. The plan to keep Dexter “safe” by keeping him home with me didn’t ultimately work. He was in the backyard, saw a squirrel and chased it. When I looked outside seconds later, his back end had given out. I didn’t see what had happened, so at first I wasn’t sure if he was having a stroke or something related to the cancer, or if he’d broken something. He continued to try and run after the squirrel, but his back legs wouldn’t cooperate.  His left leg wouldn’t straighten out or hold weight, so we headed immediately to the emergency vet.

Long story short: he’s injured his left knee. It’s either his knee cap, which is in the wrong place, or a tendon. He’s on pain medication for now, with strict orders to take it easy, and we will continue his anti-inflammatory as it’s one of the strongest available. We have a physical therapy appointment in the morning, and will meet to consult with his regular vet. Surgery in Dexter’s case, because of his cancer, just isn’t an option. The reality is, with Dexter’s age (he’s almost ten now) and activity level, something like this was likely to happen at some point, cancer or no cancer.

dexterslungsThere is good news. Dexter feels okay, although it annoys him his leg won’t work. We start physical therapy in the morning and there’s a good chance that will help him feel and function better. And while at the vet, they xrayed his chest, so we know that his cancer hasn’t metastasized to his lungs or heart. And even though I did cry a little, panic, and feel sad, and there was a bit of tenderness, terror in having to take care of it alone (Eric was still hiking, out of cellphone range), I didn’t freak out, I handled it. In the moment, something bad happened, but I knew what to do.

Any good energy you can spare my Dexter, kind and gentle reader, would be much appreciated.

Just One More Minute

bed

I slept in this morning. I typically get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning, weekdays and weekends, but there are some mornings when I just don’t want to get up, and I don’t have to, so I sleep in. All I have to do is say to Eric, “I’m staying in,” and he turns off the light, hustles the dogs out, takes care of their breakfast and Dexter’s medicine for me. When they are done eating, Sam (the baby of the family, but maybe the laziest of us all) comes back and gets in with me. This, the comfort of a dog sleeping next to me, makes it even easier to drift back to sleep, to stay in.

From time to time I wake up, always thinking to myself “just a few more minutes.” It’s so cozy and nice, and I don’t really have anywhere else I have to be right now. This “just a few more minutes” typically becomes at least two extra hours of sleep. On days like this, I’ll tease Eric if he takes a nap, saying I already took mine.

After I got up, I was thinking about this “just a few more minutes.” I was thinking about all the other places this manifests. I remember every kid I’ve ever known begging for a few more minutes of play, just one more half hour of TV, just one more book, just one more cookie. I was thinking of the other ways it comes up for me, just one more bite, just one more page, just one more mile, just one more episode of whatever show is on HGTV as I ride the elliptical at the gym, just one more day. Grief arises as I think of those I’ve lost, how we both wished for more time, another day, another moment, just a few more minutes here together, how those lives were over too soon, how there was so much more living and loving to do, how hard I prayed that they be given more time, how angry and hurt I still am that it was denied.

fieldofgrass

This is where we live our lives, in these few minutes. If we are lucky, we have a succession of them, minute after minute, moment after moment, but our experience is only in this single, small measure of time. One breath, one beat of the heart, one flash of experience, one chance, one kind act, one moment of connection and compassion. We long for there to be another that follows it, but the wisdom that lives deep in our soft animal belly knows that we must savor this one, the one just now, to squeeze everything out of it we can, to really see it, to notice, to open our heart to it, because this is all we can be sure of. In this moment, we can know that we are here, we can be here, brave and open and vulnerable and tenderhearted.

What do you plan to do with your one minute, kind and gentle reader?

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~From Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day