Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The First Fifty Years

I learned a great deal, at least I did once I started to examine my life and the events and people in it. Many of the lessons came with bumps and bruises to the ego, some were gentler.

I learned that forever is a very long time, and never is no shorter. When my daughter would tell me that she did not like a particular food, I said that she had to at least taste it. If she still did not like it, I said she does not like it TODAY and that is OK. As a result there is not much that she does not like. The last holdout was beets, and this year, she tasted them again and decided that she likes them TODAY. I take that with a smile and a warm spot in my heart.

When I met my SO and found him to be all that was missing in my life, I learned that there can be such a relationship in which each completes the other. The whole is more than the sum of the two parts. Suddenly, forever feels like such a short time.

I learned that we can all heal if we want or need to badly enough. When I lost a daughter at the age of five, I felt my life was over. I felt I would never smile again, but I still had another daughter and other responsibilities. For a long time, I went through the motions of living, cooking, cleaning, going to work, seeing to the physical needs of my family. Suddenly, one morning I saw the sunshine and smiled at a wee butterfly going about her business, and a bumble bee that was too damp from the night time dew to be able to take off and fly. I picked him up on a small wood chip and moved him to a sunny, but protected spot so he could dry out. Without realizing it, I had taken the first steps back to the land of the living.

I learned that I am a survivor. By putting one foot in front of the other I could survive until the open wound would scab over, and ultimately become a scar, never to be forgotten but no longer causing unbearable pain. I learned to have faith in myself.

I learned to shed the healing tears. When devastating events happen, I learned that I could talk to the trees, sit by running water, and let all the pain and grief wash over me. Cradled in the arms of Nature, I could let myself feel the full brunt of the pain, and the tears fall for as long as they wanted to. I call these the healing tears because allowing myself to shed them results in my being able to bear the pain, and come to terms with it in a much shorter time. With not suppressing or denying what I was going through, healing could begin. If I were to suppress the pain, it would come up and smack me in the face over and over again, each time, as devastating as the first.

I learned to " Be here now" . Yesterday is past and tomorrow has not yet come. I can only live in the Now. Life is so much richer when I pay attention to it.

Fifteen years into the next 50, it is shaping up to be just as challenging.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mom said I could use her computer to wish everyone a magical Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and joy.

During this most giving of all seasons, my heart goes out to all those who have nothing, whether furred, feathered, scaled or bare. They have the same needs as we who have loving families. If each of us does even one act of kindness through this season, think how much good we can do.

Personally, I have asked mom to hold back on my treats and give the $ to Santa. It makes a warm spot in my heart that does not need anyone to acknowledge.

Happy Holidays everyone, from Paco and family.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This is for you, Heather

You never know when even the smallest kindness brightens another's day, or even restores their faith in human kindness. If we try each day to do even the smallest good thing, we could change the world.
I have again taken a hospital vacation. The local hospital staff know me well and treat me even better. The monotonous routine becomes boring quickly, with a lot of empty hours. In order to fill some of those hours and reduce the load on the already over-burdened nursing staff, I do as much of my own care as I can. It often takes me all morning to do my “washing up” but it does fill in the time and makes me feel useful.

About half way through my stay, my nurse of the day walked into my room and asked me if I would like a shower. Would I ever!!! She came back and collected me with a white PVC pipe minimalist chair with wheels. I sat down and held my feet yo, not quite knowing what to expect. We sped down the hall, around the corner and into a small room with a water proof floor and walls. All the shower fixtures were on one side of the room, and on the other side was a shelving unit with every product you can wish for.

My nurse donned a pair of rubber boots with white fish all over them, and proceeded to help me shower and wash my hair without getting my Trach at all wet. After turning the taps off, she helped me dry off, put on a robe and wrapped my hair in a towel. Then it was back in the shower chair and down the hall to my room. I put on clean everything, dried and combed my hair and had a nice nap.

I felt so much better about life, the universe and everything. I doubt that she knows what a great gift she gave me that day. I will not forget.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Yesterday, today, tomorrow, a ladder we climb each day.
As your foot leaves the yesterday rung, it dissolves into mist. As your foot lands on today, it solidifies under you. As you reach for tomorrow, today becomes yesterday, disappearing into the mist just as tomorrow becomes today, revealing another rung just up from the one on which you are standing. Thus, you have only the platform of today on which to stand.
All the yesterdays have gone to form the platform of your life as it is today. The wisdom you have gained is now needed to balance that platform, the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pillars. You take what you need from your past experiences and the wisdom you have gained and use it to adjust those pillars in order to provide a level platform on which to stand. This is a never ending adjustment process because life is not static. As each today becomes yesterday, we gain a little more understanding to guide us in the delicate process. Yesterday has done it's job and can not be altered.
As we reach for tomorrow, we do so standing on the platform of today. If it is out of balance, our upward reach will be clumsy and fraught with the danger of slipping off the platform. Once we have achieved a relatively stable platform, we can reach for tomorrow with confidence, and release our grip on the rung of today as it begins to dissolve into the mist of the past.
Any attempt to step back from the brink of tomorrow results in having us clinging to the ladder with all our might, unable to move forward or backward. Fear has entered our lives, fear of losing what we may already have, fear of the unknown future, fear of making an error in judgment, fear of .....................
To walk this path takes incredible courage, to do so well takes incredible wisdom.
I wish you both

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Forgiveness is very hard to do, it is right up there with I'm sorry. In fact I think it may be harder to forgive than to apologize, but it can be done. It has to be learned if we do not want to go through life with a heart full of bitterness and anger. It does not mean that we forget totally. The open wound does heal and become a scar. The scar is always there but it no longer hurts. Many things wound us over the years, and we must learn to let those wounds heal, for our own benefit if not for others.

Again, meditation can be of great benefit when we are clearing out the old pains and angers. In order to be healthy, we have to be aware of our emotions and work through the negative ones, replacing them with understanding and forgiveness.

Below is an article that I saved some time ago which I believe is useful..

Why Should I Forgive?

Think of forgiveness as a gift that you give to yourself. It is not something you do for the person who hurt you. It is a gift to yourself because it enables you to stop feeling painful feelings and pushing others away. Forgiveness frees you from anger and allows you to restore your ability to have close and satisfying relationships with others.

Anger is a poisonous emotion that comes from being hurt. When you are consumed with anger and bitterness, it hurts you at least as much as it hurts the person who has harmed you. It is as if you are filled with poison. If these feelings are not resolved, they can begin to eat you up inside. You have two choices: to stay connected to the person who hurt you by keeping these poisonous feelings alive, or to let the feelings go and forgive the person who harmed you. When you withhold forgiveness, think about who is actually being hurt. It is more than likely that the person who is filled with anger and anxiety is you, not the other person.

What Forgiveness Is Not

Forgiving another does not mean you will never again feel the pain or remember the thing that hurt you. The hurtful experience will be in your memory forever. By forgiving, you are not pretending the hurtful behavior never happened. It did happen. The important thing is to learn from it while letting go of the painful feelings.

Forgiveness is not about right or wrong. It doesn’t mean that the person’s behavior was okay. You are not excusing their behavior or giving permission for the behavior to be repeated or continued.

When you forgive another, it does not mean you wish to continue your relationship with them. This is a separate decision. You can forgive a person and live your life apart from them.
Forgiveness can only take place because we have the ability to make choices. This ability is a gift that we can use it whenever we wish. We have the choice to forgive or not to forgive. No other person can force us to do either

Forgiveness (response)

This was written in February 2008 in response to a question about how and why one should forgive.

When we have been deeply hurt, we don't tend to ever forget, but we can forgive those who have harmed us. In fact, for our own benefit we must find a way. This forgiveness does not come easily.

When we can look beyond the pain they have caused us and see that they deserve pity more than anger, we can move on knowing that they have harmed themselves more than us. We will also come to the realization that our anger is hurting us more than the original wound. The wound can heal, but the aggravation caused by the constant blaming and anger are keeping the wound open and even causing an infection that could well destroy any hope for our happiness in this life time. It is impossible to move on while clinging to the hurts of the past.

An in depth analysis of why you are hurt and angry can give you a starting place to begin the healing process. These need to be "I feel" statements, not "you made me" statements. If you find yourself becoming defensive, you can be sure you have not forgiven. The blame game was invented to protect us from taking responsibility for our own actions. Unfortunately it also protects us from healing and moving on in life. Nothing happens in a vacuum. We need to accept that it takes two to make or break a relationship and if it is broken we must accept some of the responsibility, even if it is only that we failed to read the signs until it was too late.

When we get to a point that we can look at the person who hurt us with compassion and not blame or resentment, we are in danger of internalizing the blame and in effect, absolving the other person...with statements like "I should have seen it coming. I should have tried harder. I should never have trusted." and so on. Notice that these are "I" messages, but they are negative messages. Try "I did the best I could. I should learn from the experience and take that knowledge with me into any new relationship." Since we are human we all make mistakes, we just need to try to not make the same ones over again. In order to do this, it is necessary to reach beyond the ego and forgive it as a parent would a child.

When dealing with the emotions of the ego, meditation is a way of going beyond the ego and seeing ourselves as the spiritual beings we are. When trying to understand and rise above some negative emotions the problem can be taken into meditation and a solution is often found there. You might try a "Why am I ...." meditation in which you could start by asking yourself why you are angry and waiting patiently for an answer to form in your mind. When it is done, it will probably not be the true root of the problem right away. If you know this to be true, you can dismiss the answer you have found and again ask yourself why you are .... whatever the first answer was. This method can scare up some surprising answers and help us farther along our path. You might even try free association with pencil and paper. Again, much can be learned from keeping an honest journal. It need not be written in every day, but record the circumstances when an event or emotion arises.

So much of what we learn is intuitive and not easily translated into words. It would be wonderful to sit down over coffee and engage in true one on one conversation, but c'est la vie. It would also help if we could develop a shared vocabulary between man and woman in order to share our feelings and be met with understanding. We will try to work on that one.

More on Rotten Potato, in response to a comment

I know this is a very large problem in our society, and there are far too few solutions. All I can really comment on is my own experiences and those that I saw.

One thing that made a difference for me was the fact I had major responsibilities and had to continue as if I were still alive. When we pretend something is so for long enough, it becomes so and after quite a long while, I found myself coming to life again.

With that, I realized I did not want to pass on the pain and dysfunction to my children and began to attempt my own recovery.

The journey back begins with forgiveness, or at leas the attempt at it. We need to keep trying until we get it right. I did not find any benefit in self help groups because it felt more like a "complain and be vindicated" session. Recognition of the problem seemed to come with permission for any behavior I chose to exhibit. There was recognition but no road map to get back to normalcy.

Another thing that helps to recreate one's self is to be of service to others. When we try to help others, we are suddenly outside ourselves, able to move past the pain and numbness to offer simple human acceptance to another. The very act of helping others helps us as well. We are all teachers, we are all students. When we get outside ourselves we realize we are not the only one who feels a particular way, and seeing our emotions mirrored back to us allows us to begin working through them. I think this was the original purpose of self help groups, but few of them accomplish this goal.

I have previously written on forgiveness and will repost here. I would also like to post this response on the body of my blog as you raise real issues that are also experienced by many others.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rotten Potato

None of us grow up totally unscarred by events of our childhood. Most of us adjust our world view to allow us to shed these events and become fairly well adjusted adults. If painful events carry on into young adulthood, it is harder to become or stay well adjusted, but it is still possible to overcome the negativity, take charge of ourselves, and proceed to build a satisfying life. The secret seems to be to take control of our selves and how we relate to the world around us. We are not able to control all the circumstances or events in our lives, but we can control our own role, how we act, react and view life. The old saw of "Life is what you make it" is true but I would add "Life is how you see it."

Sometimes events are so traumatic that the person shows the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and needs help to get beyond it. The help can be very effective but there are too many instances where the help is misdirected. Although self help groups are often successful, I have seen many instances where all that is accomplished is to lead the person to blame their own behavior on past injuries, emotional or physical. This traps the person in a situation where there is no responsibility for their actions or their place in life. Instead of growing into a realization that they can control their way of being in the world, they learn that it is always someone else’s fault. They opt out, and pay a heavy price for this. As time goes by, the pack of anger, resentment and helplessness grows bigger, often to the point that there are no happy times in their life at all.

Even when they wish to recover and move on, it is not easy. The first step in moving on is to let go of the anger, resentment and helplessness in order to claim themselves and their lives. Being master of self is true power. In order to do so, it is necessary to bring closure, usually by forgiveness. Forgiveness is not given for the benefit of those who have wronged us, it is for our own benefit. Finding out what forgiveness is can be incredibly daunting and may require a long and intense search. Then it is necessary to determine how to bring it about. One can understand mentally all that is involved in forgiveness, and still not feel in their heart how to make it happen.

With time and effort, all may fall into place and create the “aha” moment, that moment when we realize that we no longer harbor ill will toward those who have hurt us and who we have made a career of hating. I have heard the experience described as having the sensation of a scab falling off... the flesh underneath being finally healed enough to fend for itself… Natures band aid. All the struggling suddenly feeling unnecessary … it happened when it was “time”. Actually the understanding was the result of the entire struggle that went before. It now becomes possible to root out that rotten potato that was poisoning the whole life and actually feel so light that one has the sensation of floating just above the ground when walking in the world.

I wrote Earthbound many years ago, when I had to learn to forgive in order to allow my own life to go on and to continue growing. I have been on this path all my life and it has not been easy. Sometimes I felt it was impossible but I found a way. For me, understanding came while I was watching a sunbeam dancing on a dew covered spider web. The struggle to be free showed me that I had to free myself or end up stuck in that spider web for life, never learning, never growing, never continuing on my path in this life.

The one tool that was the most helpful for me was meditation. It allowed me to get in touch with my inner strength and find solace when I felt my life was at it’s lowest ebb. I am not sure I would have had the strength without it.

A man once said “Come fly with me.”
And though I wanted honestly
To join him in the sky and soar,
I was earthbound by the pack I wore.
I could not leave my pack behind
For it contained this past of mine,
Remnants kept for security,
And I must plod through eternity.
Strewn along my plodding way
Other packs I found each day
‘Till yesterday, I heaved a sigh,
Shrugged off mine, and began to fly.

Personal Power

"Be careful not to convince yourself that you are doing something against your will. Such a thing is impossible."

I am master of my own life. That is my personal power. I choose what I do, how I act or react to circumstances, what I choose to think or feel, whether I am optimistic or pessimistic. Not all my choices are good, sometimes I have to choose the least negative of my options. But the choice is mine.

Lack of understanding of this law causes people to do things they would not normally do. What comes to mind immediately is the hold some people seem to hold over others. Because a person believes they are at the mercy of another persons' will, they will allow themselves to do as the other wants.

When we understand that we are responsible for our own actions and for what we allow to influence us, such things as black magic and voodoo loose their power over us. Even minor influences are negated. We can not be made to do anything against our will. We can even conquer fear. That is true power! We truly become a master, we have gained mastery over ourselves. It is ultimately the only power and the only mastery that counts.

There is a small experiment to see how easily we can let others affect us when we do not know that we are in control. We give away that control on the subconscious level without even knowing it. If you tell someone that they are looking a little ill, and reinforce it a few times, that person can actually convince themselves they are ill. If that person knows they are in control, your comments will not affect them.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Three Years

Three Years

On Monday, it will have been three years since I expired in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I will also turn sixty-five this year. Since I was never expected to live to the ripe old age of fifty, every moment of every day is precious.

Having come back through the mist more than once, people often say that I have so much strength, so much determination, but that is not the bottom line. That is not exactly what has brought me back repeatedly and what keeps me here. I believe it was and is courage, the courage to accept the love that is offered to me and to trust that love to hold me safe.

There is a reason, a purpose that keeps me coming back. I believe part of that reason is to share my Journey, to show others the beauty I see, to give hope where I can. Even when we have to struggle to live this life, not just to exist but to embrace all that life has to offer, there are moments of such sheer beauty that can sustain us. These magic moments are sometimes so fleeting that we can miss them if we are not living in the moment.

One such moment in my life happened a few years ago while driving along the east coast of Nova Scotia. It was early summer and a beautiful sunny day. We rounded a corner and glimpsed a small marshy area with a mass of pink water lilies. We stopped to find ourselves with a sea of pink on the left and a small bay on the right. The bay was lined with stones worn smooth by the pounding of the waves rolling them back and forth against each other. Standing there between two very different but very powerful faces of nature brought tears to my eyes. I was humbled by such beauty. My feeling was similar to that of deep meditation, a connectedness with All That Is.

When I contemplate such things as the great whales who cruise the oceans keeping their secrets to themselves, or the migration of every fourth generation of the tiny Monarch butterfly, I am in awe.

This is a poem that for me, captures that sense of wonder.

High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, RCAF, 1920-1939

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth,
And danced the skies on laugher-silvered wings;
Sunward, I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...

Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the Face of God.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Inside Out

The tears roll down my face.
They don’t have my permission.
Outside, my pain is written
In the water on my cheeks.
Outside, my body reflects
The state of the outer me.
The ocean of life cradles my soul,
Deep where no one can see.
Inside, the blows are cushioned
By a sea of tranquility.
Inside, my soul reflects
The state of the inner me.
So if you see me crying,
If you think you see despair
Don’t let concern for the outside
Blind your eyes to the inner life.
Remember that reflections
Are not cast from
The inside out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Lonely Seeker

Traveling along my own path, I look to the left and the right, seeking a glimpse of others traveling their paths near my own. The loneliness at times is palpable, and the need to see a friendly face, struggling along as I am, is an ache in my soul. There are familiar faces which I have glimpsed in the past and even conversed with occasionally, but none are in sight now.

Suddenly, I see arms and legs flailing in the air. A familiar traveling companion on a nearby path, having tripped over a snag, thrashes around like a tortoise on it's back. I recall my own stumbles and falls, and my heart goes out to this fellow traveler. I reach across, but I can not quite make contact. Knowing the loneliness that afflicts all seekers, I settle down and wait, offering reassurance that the only constant in this life is "Change", sharing my own experiences in the hope that such sharing will give some comfort, some faith that "this too will pass".

As I sit offering companionship in silence, I see my traveling companion slowly stop struggling, and begin to gather strength. His struggle is reflected in the lines upon his face and the bruises on his heart. But slowly, I see hope begin to transform his face, and a subtle glow emanate from his form. As his struggling stills, he begins to see his path, his purpose, again. Strength flows from the Creator into his heart, healing the terrible wounds he suffered while fighting to rise up and trudge forward on his own.

Rising up, he turns to acknowledge my presence and begins to offer thanks, I must stop him and remind him that he has done the same for many, and no thanks are needed. The peace and confidence that suffuses his face is thanks enough, the knowledge that he will continue to offer a helping hand as the Creator has helped him renews my confidence.

As I stand, ready to take up my own Journey once again, I smile. The companionship I wished for stands so near, just out of reach but close enough!