28 November, 2010

paradise happens

Imagine: you're exhausted right down to the insides of your bones, but you keep plugging away over-riding your natural inclination to stop. And imagine that you do not injure yourself, so that when you say "thank you" and "good-bye" to the last patient there is a space in your life that stretches out and feels like the Grand Canyon. You can do anything you want with the next 36 hours before you start the whole week all over again. And you have a car, the snowy Minnesota roads are clear and dry, and the sun is shining full of promise. I headed to the Landscape Arboretum. And realized as I pulled into the parking lot that I have never been here alone. Walking into the building I melted into a crowd of people I had never met, looking through items in the gift shop, sitting in the tea room, watching the wild turkeys, preparing for a wedding, laughing, fighting, missing their naps to look at the gingerbread house displays...The fireplace was inviting and I plopped down on the empty couch just for a moment to decompress. 3 hours later I was still curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and thinning crowds. Stretching my legs I wandered into some areas I had not explored on previous visits. Finding myself surrounded by blooming orchids, I gazed at the colorful birds of paradise. There were two blooms right next to each other as if they were dancing together, mirroring movements in flight. Seeing them growing with their leaves in a generous pot was stunning to watch. Easy to see where they acquired their names. I felt like I was in paradise especially after spending so many hours with patients living with chronic pain of auto injuries. It surprises us to experience such excruciating pain, yet listen to a doctor reading an MRI or X-ray report confirming that there is no significant damage: no broken bones. One starts to feel a bit crazy as the pain moves around, and there is no relief in sight. Prescription drugs simply mask the symptoms. Desperation quickly sets in. Various options are explored and discarded. With luck their auto insurance covers massage, bringing them to my services. Thus my exhaustion. And my devotion to self-care. Being around plants, out in nature, watching the critters, or curled up with a pet are all effective tools of self-care. Just the simple act of walking around the block, noticing the changes in landscape, gardens, and creatures jump start my process of rebalancing.

22 November, 2010


Some milestones are easy to recognize. The first tooth, first kiss, first steps, first haircut, first day of school, graduations, driver's license: all are noted and celebrated and become a part of one's identity. On the night my ectopic pregnancy ruptured, my past life didn't flash before me, but my future life, the one I would be missing if I bled to death, my daughter's milestones I would consequently miss, flashed through my consciousness. I was overcome with a longing to be part of her growing up, graduating, flowering. I wanted to observe her creating her life, holding the reins and riding her journey into her future. It was delightful to sit in the waiting room at the Southdale DMV as she registered her first vehicle. With new confidence, new competence we celebrated with another first: Happy Hour at "Salut." As a Virgo, it is possible my daughter has as over-developed sense of perfection. And no matter how valuable this aspect is when she is writing or editing it seems to cause her some anxiety in other areas. How does one recognize and let go of the less helpful, unreasonable expectations, yet maintain the high standards necessary to succeed in one's area of professional endeavor. And pay the bills, to produce the revenue to explore one's creative process? To integrate abundance with discipline is not an easy task. It requires practice. Perhaps lifetimes of practice. As I watch her explore cross her milestones, I feel my heart open a little wider with longing and gratitude.


Dark chocolate cake: not the best, not the worst, but the one with me today. Indulgence, or necessity, I hadn't planned on this purchase. But the shop was right next to the hardware store where I bought 50 pounds of "ice melt." AIt was a kind of indulgent gesture of enjoyment in the face of my changing, aging body. Am I doomed to die thinking, "whoops, I wish I had eaten more cake"? So much of my life has been spent counting calories, working out, pumping iron and a lot less has been simply trusting my own longings, and intuitive desire to taste, to savor for my own personal enjoyment. And I am trying to teach myself something new: a healthy enjoyment of the opportunities I have in my current situation for expressing a moment of sheer delight, and minimizing the guilt. An opportunity to short circuit my sense of shame around the circumstances of my current life to deal directly with my inaccurate belief that I am a bad person for eating chocolate cake on a icy Monday afternoon in November...and that bad people don't deserve pleasure. Or that I am a person who still hasn't managed to follow the rules or use her common sense when it comes to my family history of heart disease and diabetes. I brought this piece of cake back home, where my son was working on his MacBook. As we shared it, he commented on the pleasing moistness of the creation. I explained that this was the first piece cut out of the cake, so naturally, we could expect it to be moist. That's when I noticed the cake itself, instead of being caught in my emotional baggage about eating cake for lunch without any explanation, excuse or justification. I confess: it was an impulse buy, totally unplanned, shared with someone I love, who loves me...on the first day of the week of Thanksgiving, after teaching an inspiring Yoga class, and before working for the rest of the afternoon. And I am so grateful for that opportunity, with a full set of my own teeth, and the ability to taste the subtle flavors, to smell the aroma, to look at some of my own issues again, with a measure of compassion and gentle humor, perhaps healing some part of myself that is overly, unnecessarily identified with an obsolete past. I hugged the man who is my son. This man who is so carefully respectful of waiting until I have the first bite. And then I went back outside, to sprinkle kosher salt on the icy front sidewalk and steps, as fresh snow drifted around my Sorels.