Grace…


In the week previous to a time that I needed grace as much as I can ever remember needing it, I was watching Oprah and Iyanla on Lifeclass.  Iyanla said… “if you need God’s grace, it’s there”.  It’s already and always there.  You just need to accept it.  (I’m paraphrasing).  She said, “If you don’t have it, you don’t want it because it’s right there”.   If you’ve seen Iyanla, you can imagine the inflection and underlining – capitalizing – those words with her voice and gestures.

That was an “Aha Moment” for me.  I had experienced grace to be a very elusive unknown.  When I needed it most, it seemed to be unattainable.

This is another one of those times when what I needed to learn came at exactly the right moment!  Another confirmation of how much I’m loved and protected.

I was in what felt like unbearable angst about a medical issue that I was being faced with…and I could find no peace.   My sister had come to visit and be with me and while on a walk with her, I mentioned what I’d heard Iyanla say and voila!!  I accepted grace and had complete calm and peace.  For the entire day.  It was comfort and it was restful.  In fact, I had it through most of that night.  It seemed really simple.

I awoke early morning with the angst again.  In my pain and fear, I forgot about accepting grace.  When I did remember, I couldn’t seem to get hold of it.  I was in tears and had one of my ongoing conversations with God.  I ask Him to please help me.  I explained to Him (ha) that I knew his grace was right there but told him that I was unable to reach out and find it, ask that he please help me out and deliver it to me.

Now I don’t know how to explain all of this other than report what happened.  It was instantaneous.  I had peace and grace again.  More than that, I felt a comfort that I couldn’t begin to explain in words.  When I’d start slipping into fearful thoughts, I’d experience not a voice, as such, but a definite conversation in that personal way that I hear God when he’s speaking to me.  He was right there with me on the way to the hospital.  Second by second, he’d gently remind me to hang in there with him and experience him.  As long as I kept my thoughts on that peace and grace, everything was tolerable.  It was truly a spiritually amazing experience.  Not to say that I didn’t have intense moments of fear and anguish, but was able to get through them pretty quickly.  At least until they started to wheel me out for the surgery.   And then, thank God, they gave me the knock out shot.  Smile.

One thing I learned is that my thoughts of fear and pain separate me from grace.  Because of this experience, I clearly learned that yes, I get grace because it’s there …if I guard my thoughts from the voices in my head.  If I let myself listen to those voices – and decide that they are me, they almost always take over with doubt and fear.  A long, long list of “What if’s”, wild imaginings…  My part in this is to remember what I’ve learned from Eckhart Tolle and Michael Singer (The Untethered Soul).  The voices are not me.  I am the observer.

Jill Bolte Taylor has written in Stroke of Insight, that physically, any emotion (or energy) – good or bad – takes 90 seconds to run through our body.  If we have anger, fear, joy…any emotion, longer than that, it’s because we’ve chosen to hold on to it.  Michael Singer, in The Untethered Soul (One of my favorite books, by the way), writes about the same thing.  That we need to constantly be open, heart, mind and spirit, keeping all chakras open.  And that means allowing every emotion, every energy to flow through us – immediately.  Then we can be open for what is happening each moment.  The now.   If that energy – the emotions – get blocked, held on to, then we live in that emotion – fear, distrust, emotional pain.  It isn’t something that “happens” to us.  We make a clear choice to live there.   Past pains can be released as soon as they appear.   Letting go of the past!    I didn’t know that’s how it works!   Relax and watch it flow right through us.  It only lasts for 90 seconds!   If it reappears, let it pass through again.  If you’re interested, you might want to read the books – they say it much better than I.  I’ve learned so much through the last few months that I feel like a different person.   I am so thankful for everything that I’ve learned and experienced.  Help is always right there when I need it!

About grace – I wish I could say these are my original words but they’re not… they’re from Caroline Myss when Oprah was interviewing her on Super Soul Sunday.

Caroline explained grace as that experience of the sudden knowing, a message that everything is going to be ok.  And then it’s gone as suddenly as it appeared.  But it left the knowing.  That’s grace.

Grace is the quiet whisper … “don’t say that right now”, “don’t do that right now”.  That’s grace too.  Our part is listening to the knowing and acting – or not acting on it.

Grace is that something that makes a moment better.

Bottom line…we do have choices.  And I really like options!  Now I know a little more about how to use them.

Once again, I’m SO grateful!

 

 

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The Sounds of Freedom


Our weeks in San Clemente  – our winter get-away from the Pacific Northwest rain – have again been the wonderful!  We’ve done all of our favorite things, eaten at our favorite restaurants, spent time on the beach, visited with friends and relatives.

Courtesy of Military.com

Tradition is that every year,  we ride through Camp Pendleton.  It’s an emotional experience for me.   We pass about 40-50 young soldiers in uniform and with huge backpacks, running.   Obviously they’re training for what is in their future.  I know they’ll be as well-trained as possible for what they will possibly encounter, but I wonder –  how can anyone ever be prepared…or comprehend?

I experience so many feelings that it’s almost impossible to identify all of them.

I feel pride – these young men and women are dedicated and committed.

I’m fearful.  For them.  I want to protect them.  They are so young and they have put their lives in the hands of total strangers who will rule their lives, their minds,  for this period of time in the Military.   They have agreed…no, committed themselves to a cause.   Did they think it over carefully?  Did they have good counsel?   I look at them and wonder what motivated them to sign the dotted line.  I wonder if they’re at peace with their decision.

We watched a program on TV last night about the Military, a documentary.  Statistics indicate that over 10,000 men and women in the Military have committed suicide!   This loss of life is higher than combat casualties at this point.  That is beyond tragic.   My heart aches for all of these young people who felt so trapped, unhappy, fearful….whatever their feelings of hopelessness…so intensely that they would end their life!  My heart aches for the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, wives…all who loved them.

In the weeks that we’ve been here in San Clemente, three marines were killed in an auto accident a few miles away in Dana Point.  The fourth man is in critical condition.  Seven marines were killed in a mid air collision, some from the Camp.  Another marine was shot by the police in San Clemente.  That is under investigation.   There is sadness and a pall over many here.  These men and women are felt to be part of this community.

I feel excitement for the men and women who feel that this is their true calling…those who are happy with their decision…I’m happy for their adventure.  I’m happy if they’re fulfilled in some deep way.   And I know of some who feel that way.

Camp Pendleton is an enormous area.  Enormous!  It’s a city.   A busy city.   It includes 17 miles of coastline and extends inland for miles.  We are in San Clemente, across the street from the north boundary of the Camp.   The view across the road is beautiful, a panoramic view of hills, almost the size of mountains.  It appears to be just another beautiful view.  Until we hear, faintly and in the distance, revelry.  During the day – and at night – we  occasionally hear the whirring sound of helicopters on maneuver.  We hear planes.  And cannons.  Sometimes so loud that they can be felt.

When I notice those sounds – the sounds of freedom, and the sights, I feel compassion for those that are caught in the actual, the reality.  War.  I just hate it!  But I love these men and women.

I’m so grateful to them.  And grateful to all who love them.  I’m praying…

Let me be the change I want to see.  Let peace begin with me.

Warning! Sidewalks Can Be Dangerous to Your Health!


Well I broke my foot.  The tip of the fifth metatarsal and the displaced fractured piece is  attached to a tendon.  My doctor told me that it’s a “troublesome” fracture in that with any strain, if my heel-foot has any weight bearing,  it is very likely that the tendon will pull the fragment loose and then I’ll need surgery.   He told me that I can either stay off my foot completely – aaarghh –  for a month, or if I take chances with it, it’s very likely that I’ll require surgery to place a pin and then I’ll  be off my foot for 2+ months. Since they’d have to catch me first – for surgery – there’s not a lot to consider here…

This happened two days before we were leaving for a couple of months to escape the Pacific Northwest winter.

Chloe

Ok.  I’m very active, walk 10,000 steps – minimum – every day.  Walking controls my blood sugar and blood pressure.  It takes care of my excess energy and helps me sleep.  It’s my time with my dog, Chloe.   She sniffs.   I think, listen and contemplate….

Now then…if everything happens for a reason – well, I’m waiting to find the reason for this one.  I do get that there is a lesson in everything that we experience and I’m thinking I’m supposed to be learning…

Courage

  • Postponing our trip….To make a decision from logic?  What a concept!   I had an impulsive, strong urge to take my chances and travel on crutches  and deal with anything that might happen – wherever it might happen.    ( A Whisper in my ear – Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 11)  The whisper is saying – “any fool can see that you’re  a klutz with the crutches and can see that  there’s probably huge potential for another fall  – at least at this point.   And the whisper is loud.    Mature decision?  Me – who has almost always thought that maturity is usually  overrated!   But then I thought of food.  I have to be able to move my bod if I want to eat what I want.  Or take a pill.  And I’ll do just about anything rather than take a blood sugar med!  At least as long as I can manage another way.   So I made up  my mind… I’m trying this “mature” thing (as defined by my daughter and also my best friend…and the whisper).   But I’m not totally convinced that maturity works for me – chuckle…  Since when would that be?
  • To change plans that involved disappointment and  inconveniences for several others?  Uhh….For a compliant  (probably not my husband’s first thought when describing me:) – translated  struggling to get thru this without my not-too-far-behind-me- people-pleasing-nature taking over;  it took great fortitude to utter “I think I want to postpone our trip until I can enjoy myself too”.

Vulnerability

  • I’m very independent.  It’s very difficult to ask someone else to do something for me.  Those around me are not used to my being very needy.  Talk about ripple effect….  Lessons for all?

Change

  • Over the months, I’ve learned to enjoy walking – out of necessity.  But now it’s a habit that I truly enjoy.   Then…I’ve detested weights, exercise classes, going to the gym.  Now…The new no-weight-bearing me has discovered that I can use tubes (available and unused for years) while I’m sitting.  I was shocked at my weak upper body muscles and how quickly they “burn”.   Jane Fonda is whooting in my ears!    I can see the sugar burning, courtesy of my glucometer.  I can lie on my back and ride an imaginary bike.  I am also amazed at these weakling thighs.  I’m obviously using different muscles than walking requires!  My blood sugar is under control – without a pill!  My heart rate soars – quickly.   And,  I’m exercising my mind trying to think of new and effective ways to move so that my body feels exercised.   Ahhhh…

Acceptance

  • I can’t change or fix this one.  I just have to wait for it to heal.

Patience

  • A very big challenge.  A definite work in progress!    I repeat my prayer that I read somewhere years ago..”Please Lord!  Give me Patience!  Right now!”

One thing I know for sure…There’s no place like home.   When I’m in pain or ill.   Even if  my bedroom, art studio and office are upstairs.  Climbing stairs on hands and knees works for babies.  It works for me too.  And it makes me laugh.

I’m so thankful that it wasn’t worse – an ankle, knee, hip.  Yikes – or neck!

I’m very grateful!

My Life, My Mortality… and My Loves


I got some sleep last night – Yay!  And today is brighter…

Writing my letter to Dr. Oz (thank you Sister – for suggesting that I do it) clarified my plight – to myself.  I’m so grateful for some clarity.  Now I have hope again – that I can deal with my fear and get my life back.    I was suddenly able to see the part that fear is playing in my health issues.

I recognize clearly that my fear is about death.  My death.  It’s also in some strange way about the people that I’ve lost in the last 5 years.  I realize that I’ve never grieved them.  I realized yesterday that thinking about them is so painful that I avoid even letting them into my mind.  When they slip into my thoughts, I keep it at a very superficial level – and quickly change my thoughts to something else.

One of my doctors told me that she thought that these losses were having a part in my health issues and that she feels I have some grieving to do.  I heard her say it, I listened, I went thru some motions of grieving but I didn’t really get the connection.  Now I do.

I’m thinking about them today with joy and tears.  I’m honoring them.  I’m missing them deeply.  I miss Dad and my three sisters at a whole new level.  I’m remembering what I loved about them.  I’m remembering fun, funny memories – one of the many times we sisters came from different directions and met for lunch and a few hours together.  Our human pyramid picture.  Our sisterhood reunions. Shucking corn for a dinner.  Posing for pictures together.   What I learned from each of them is such a part of who I am.

And my husband, Dale.  We had such a rocky marriage and a deep unshakable love.  Our friendship lasted thru a divorce until his death in 2007.  He loved me.  Completely.  I loved him in the same way.  We had a bond that neither of us knew how to break – or even wanted to.   It wasn’t a consideration.  I didn’t realize until after his death that he was the reason that I could never move on into a marriage with another man.  Neither of us remarried.  But we didn’t live together either.  We were there for each other – right up to the last phone call the last day of January,  hours before his assumed death.  He lived by himself and when he didn’t return several phone calls, I was alarmed.  When I didn’t hear from him on Valentines Day – a yearly gesture even after our divorce many years ago – I knew something was terribly wrong.  I called the police who entered his home and found that he had passed – they estimated about two weeks earlier.  I handled his estate per his wishes.  I’ve avoided thoughts that he’s gone – always.  Not today.  Occasionally I’ve started to go there and recoiled as quickly as if I had touched a red hot wood stove!  Today, I’m remembering him…so many things.   There were very painful and difficult times in our lives but in many ways he was such a rock for me.  I feel way too vulnerable without him in my world.  I miss him terribly.  So much love!

And Peter.  My love.  We were in each others’ lives for 7 years.   Wow could he dance!   He knew how to have fun.  He was an old school Hispanic man and was such a character!  My Latin Love….  He loved taking care of me – cleaned my home, cooked, pressed my clothes,  was a lot of the reason that I was able to be very successful in my business.  He took care of many things in my life that allowed me the time to focus.  And did I mention fun!  I’m remembering the Las Vegas evenings, all doors open to my outside living area.  He loved cooking in the outdoor kitchen – for everyone, palm trees swaying, warm evenings, music playing and  NO BUGS!!!  We drank wine.  We loved.  We laughed.   He was so incredibly handsome to me – his dark skin, hair –  and bold, warm eyes.  He was gallant and classy.  He sang songs to me in Spanish – all of the time.  He ended up battling major health issues for two years that led to his death.  With such courage.   He wrote love letters to me.  I haven’t read them for a very long time – much too painful.  But I’m going to re-read them as I can, starting today.  Yes, of course there were difficult times too.  But I grieved those at the time.  Today I’m grieving and missing the sweetness, the love, that man.  Towards the end of his life when he was on a respirator, he wrote “Sin Ti” on a piece of paper with x’s and o’s.   I still have it tucked in with his love letters.  He used to sing that song to me.   I miss you so much, Peter!  You made your mark in my life.   Thank you!

And my sisters.  I’m going to write about “The Sisterhood” in another post.  I miss them so much.  They were my three older sisters and my link to so much of my history.  I wish I could have thought of more questions about how they remembered our lives before they left.  There’s no one to answer those questions now.   I know that they each knew how important they were in my life – no regrets there.  I just miss them.   It’s almost impossible to comprehend that they’re so gone!   Today I’ll remember them…

I’ll remember them all.  With so much love and gratitude!  I had – and have – some very special people in my life – some great loves!

And maybe, if I grieve my loss of them, I won’t have to worry about losing myself?  If I honor their lives, I can live mine – fully – without fear?   If I accept and remember their lives – and deaths, will it help me accept my eventual great adventure?  Without fear?  Will it help me live my life without fear?  hmm…

Is the doctor right?

Amidst the grief, I have my joy back today!  I’m starting to let go

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Joy, Letting Go

Religion (Spiritual to me) and politics….


I know, touchy subjects I suppose. But this is my journal and I’m looking for answers.  Comments are welcome!

I’ve struggled with getting to sleep for years.  And struggle is an understatement in the last year.   My health has always been pretty good, however, a struggle this year.  I’m told by the guys with the stethoscopes that the only thing that they can deduce from my symptoms and experiences is a sleep disorder that is affecting my blood pressure and  these scarey symptoms are all part of it.  A lady doctor told me she thought my problems were about not grieving recent deaths.  Hmmm.   I sleep well about every other night when I’m exhausted from very little (and I mean very little!) sleep the prior night.

This leads me to my latest episode last night.   Yesterday was my “good” day, awesome, felt like myself, had fun.  My day was a great one actually.  Then in the late afternoon it hit.  My blood pressure took a hike – upward.  Way high again.  All of my ugly symptoms alerted me to what my blood pressure was doing.   I had taken my highest recommended dose of meds by late evening and they were not doing their job.  I continued meditating and doing the best blood pressure lowering breathing that I could muster.   It wasn’t helping.  In fact, my BP was going higher!   By 2 am, I was exhausted, considering yet another trip to the ER, trying very hard to visualize good things but ending up right back in my scariest thoughts.   I was, to say the least, desperate.  I had moved into sheer terror and fear.  And that was not helping my blood pressure – at all!  That’s when I suddenly got help.  I don’t say this easily or carelessly.  But it was nothing short of a miracle.   If you had been there you’d understand.

OK, this is the God part.

I think there are a lot of  different names for God if we believe in a higher power – I call mine God.  My belief is that there is no doubt – God exists.  In fact, I don’t even consider it a belief – it’s who I am.  Me and God.  I don’t talk about it much at all but it’s always there.  I don’t go to church, at least at this point, but I talk to him regularly.  My Dad was a preacher.  Yes, I’m a PK (preacher’s kid).  I enjoy good conversations about spiritual things with a few people but I rarely talk about being a PK to most people.  They expect me to know verses and have answers.  Uh…Not!  I’m not proud to say that I did more note-passing and day-dreaming in church than listening.   Not to say I didn’t have my spiritual experiences as a young person – a few funny stories about some of those.

Over the years, I’ve tried many times to read the bible but it’s totally confusing to me – I have a very difficult time understanding and applying what I read.   Those who can and do, amaze me!   I have read other easy-to-understand translations.  They’re interesting but even if they’re inspired, I question words.  They can be interpreted many ways – depending on many things – human perceptions and motives.  I would like to have a bible written by God – not translated by humans who may or may not have agendas.  I have my favorite verses but I rely mainly on my very personal communication with God.  Thus the spiritual and not religious comment.

I have huge questions of my own.  (I’ll be writing about those and comments from anyone who happens on to my questions will be welcomed!)  Most of the time I don’t want to think about my questions.  Not saying that’s smart, but it makes things simpler for me right now.  I’ve spent so much time in my life trying to figure things out.  Having faith, “just accepting” and believing are not my strong suits.  I’m working on that…in a lot of areas.  Balance Grasshopper….

Well, last night – in the night – in my desperation, I was talking to my Dad – in my thoughts.   I was missing him terribly.  Right up until his death, I could call him from wherever I was and he’d say a prayer.  It almost always – 99% of the time – helped me.   He’d invariably ask God to “renew my mind and my spirit”.  And God did.    It seemed that My Dad had a real connection.  My sister seems to have that connection… but it was 2 am!  Not a good time for a phone call.

Anyway, that’s when it happened.  It wasn’t my Dad but I felt sudden relief.  I felt God.   I haven’t experienced this – to this degree – except for one other time years ago when my best girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver.  I was deep in grief over my loss and suddenly felt the comfort of God. No other way to say it.  I had grown up hearing about “The Great Comforter” and that spirit was very real for those moments.  And it relieved my angst.  I don’t know how to explain the experience so I won’t try.  It wouldn’t work and would sound woo-woo.   But it happened.   It happened again in the night.  It was a complete surprise.  I sure can’t say that I used the power of believing –  “believed” it was going to happen and then brought it on myself.  But I’ll gratefully take it!!  It was quite the opposite.  I was in a “fear spin” and far from being able to be positive – even with my best effort.   I was shocked.  Very peaceful – immediate and sudden –  And very, very grateful.  That Great Comforter again – I recognized it immediately.  In my head I was singing “He Touched Me” (Gaithers).

I finally went to sleep!

I’ll work on the Politics part another time

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The Power of Believing