Category Archives: God’s love

Life is Short

Life is Short

“I could even feel how perishable all my moments really were, how all my life they had come to me begging to be lived, to be cherished even.” ― Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair

The bed is warm and comfy, the scent of coffee has floated into the bedroom and the dream I’m in is fading. I begin to stir and slowly open my eyes. I stretch a little trying to wake up and start thinking about the day ahead when I feel it begin to cover me. It starts at the top of my head like thick Pepto-Bismol being drizzled over me, creeping down onto and into my entire body. I feel that sad sickening feeling coat my throat and chest and then settle in my gut. I recognize this unwelcome visitor, it is heartache. Then I remember; my Mom passed a few days ago. My Mom passed, with my sister Jan and me holding her hands. Heartache has come to settle in.

I want to be enveloped by God’s love so fully that I can’t feel this consuming pain. I also want some kind of assurance that I was a good daughter; I want to know that I did extend myself for my mother the best I could. I want to feel that I focused on things that mattered with her. When your heart is broken, any level of intuition or discernment you have been fortunate enough to have, to hone, to listen to and act on to goes right out the window. So for now I sit in the unknowing, sure of one thing only-that my Mom and I loved each other dearly.

Life is short. You tell yourself you have time, plenty of time. You don’t. My mom used to tell me she still felt like a girl inside, only now do I understand what she meant. Even though I just turned 60 I feel like I’m 35 or 40, not physically but otherwise. A lifetime will sneak up on you before you know it. One day you’re stealing kisses in the back seat of Bobby Joe’s car with his many octopus arms coming at you from all angles; you’d push one away and here came another. High school boys are just dreadful creatures. The next thing you know you’re 60 with a growing awareness that the ride will be over before your ready.

For me it’s like eating ice cream; no matter what size bowl I have I always want more when the bowl is empty-100% of the time. So I pick up the bowl and lick it clean just like an over stimulated six pound Chihuahua who wants more. I am aching for more of my Mom, more time with her, more laughing with her, more meals with her, more being her daughter. I suppose many of us also yearn for more when we too reach the end of life’s path. Most of us wish to live as long as we can with quality of life. And, some would actually choose more time without quality of life. There is trepidation for our departure for many. The wise old woman I am struggling to nurture inside would be ready. She would as gracefully as she could usher in the next phase of her spirit’s journey, releasing that tight hold on this life.

I will never look at our time here in the same way; I feel a strange oneness with the world I have not felt before. It’s a new awareness that most everything we do impacts someone else. There is also a renewed awareness that even though we are spirit, we are meant to experience fully this short stay in our physical bodies, the tastes, the touch, the sights, the wondrous sounds and love we are graced with. The time we have here is precious; we empty our bodies of youth and fill our spirits with love and lessons we need. My Mom has passed and her spirit has gone to what’s next and I know God was waiting to welcome her and is her biggest fan.

Into the Woods

Into the Woods

The Sweetie and I have escaped for a while, gone to the mountains for solitude and regeneration. He can go unshaven, practice what he refers to as his “manly survival skills”, hike around in the woods, fish, build camp fires and wear those sad, worn out khaki pants (so baggy the crotch sags to about mid leg) day in and day out. He confirmed his superior survival skills yesterday by catching trout, cleaning them and cooking them on the grill right after. Last night he made a really fine camp fire, which obliged me to stand out there with him in the freezing cold to admire his skills as a true mountain man. I attempted to make the most of the time by starting a substantive conversation. “What are your thoughts tonight as we enjoy nature” I asked him. He thought for half a second and replied “Don’t eat the yellow snow.” I went inside and stuffed my need for a soulful exchange with a hot double chocolate fudge brownie with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

For me this is an opportunity to just be, no deadlines, nothing I must get done. I have my cell phone ringer turned off, as is the television. I can read to my heart’s content, meditate, write some, and walk the hills. This part of the country has suffered severe drought for two years now and my expectations for beautiful fall foliage were quite low. But to my delight nature did not disappoint, spectacular golden leaves shimmer in the unusually strong breeze and the reds from the maples are so striking I stop and try to capture them in a photo. This seldom works for me; it never translates, lack of photography skills I suspect.

There is no separation between our maker and nature; the closer I am to the earth, the more attuned I am to spirit. Before I started my walk I turned on my favorite mediation music and did my own 60 year old arthritic combo version of Yoga, Tia Chi and stretching. At one point I stretched my arms to the ceiling of the log cabin as far as my stiff muscles would allow and attempted to pull all the good energy into me I could gather. I remembered a phrase from one of my favorite prayers I learned from participating in the St Ignatius exercises. “Jesus, may all you are flow into me.” I said as I pulled my hands back down over my body, willing the wise old woman to take form. When God was at the sculpture’s wheel molding my life, unfortunately I think he finished with a square. But he must have sneezed several times because a couple of the walls are very crooked; I turned out more of a rhombus. That too defined structure did give me a good foundation for life, but sometimes flexibility comes at quite a price for me. Sweetie was more of a free form shape, a little lacking definition. He helps soften my square corners and I support his foundation some. Grace is a marvelous thing.

I love my country, but recognize our good old American work ethic as something we take to extremes; few of us take ample time for ourselves-for what really matters. I know many people who don’t take vacation time they have earned, for years on end! When I sold pharmaceuticals I generally worked six days a week. I enjoyed my work in the medical field; I started each day with the intention that I get the right medication in the hands of the right patient. I know what I did improved quality and perhaps longevity of life for thousands of people. But, total immersion in career to the exclusion of feeding our other very deep needs has become a societal sickness in this country. The effect it had on me was fatigue, inability to think creatively, lack of deep level bonding with friends, insufficient exercise, resentment for not having enough personal time, and anxiety.

The heart has tremendous capacity for love, but often we reject healthy self-love. I’m not talking about empty narcissism, but that grounded knowledge that we are worthy of self-care. The world’s greatest hurts are born of our inability to feel self-love; as individuals we don’t know how to love ourselves. “Inner pain can be a holy summons” (Sue Monk Kidd) that we are too callused to recognize. We are not still enough often enough to learn to know ourselves and when we do have private time we busy ourselves so we don’t have to see. The process is work and often painful but the yield is transformative. So this week Sweetie and I are in the woods, to administer some self-care and see what we can see.

Sweaty Grace

Sweaty Grace

I am in labor. I’m soon to be 60, but quite clearly in labor. I’ve been in labor for a couple years and yes it is a long time to be in labor, yes it does hurts like hell and yes I have grown weary of it! Something in me is struggling to materialize, to morph, to wake up! I want to someday be a wise old woman who shares her heart, and those who listen are better for it. This is why I began blogging, a burgeoning desire to start the process and share my observations, stories, depth of experience and spiritual journey.

I can’t speak from experience when it comes to the labor of childbirth, but this labor of the psyche and spirit is protracted and damn frustrating! The chapter has slammed shut on what was a wonderful career; my work life has wound down to an unfulfilling necessity. I find myself meditating on more substantial matters. How can I make the rest of my life “a proud statement rather than a sad apology”? (Not my words, do not recall who spoke them.) By sharing my own truths, my passions, my personal stores and what sustains me in dark times, perhaps the reader will find a thin little slice of something that helps.

There is just no end to the little annoyances this labor process creates that make a person feel like absolute crap. I was in McDonalds a couple weeks ago when I suffered a particularly jolting blow. I don’t eat at McDonalds. But, I have no issue with buying a bottle of water, placing my ever spreading derriere in a booth and having my way with their Wi-Fi service. Anyway, I stepped to the counter to order my water and was greeted by a woman who looked old enough to be my grandmother. Did I mention that I am just this side of 60? When I asked for a bottle of water the woman replied “I can get you a senior coffee for less than that.” There it was, the word I dreaded, “the senior coffee”. I could hardly breathe. When I recounted this tale to my ever-the-smart-ass husband his reply was “Did you take her up on it?” Stupid damn shitty man.

Taking action is my antidote for the inertia this labor process has fostered. So, I have been walking a great deal the past few months. I was walking late one hot morning in August; I know, a bit masochistic for late summer in Oklahoma City. I came upon a children’s race on the park trail. Only a few kids were finishing up as I walked along and I met a woman and her daughter of about 7 on the trail. This child was not one of the kids I met on the trail with an athletic build and a spring in their step. She was a beautiful petite little blonde with braided hair, skinny and a bit fragile looking. She was really struggling to finish the race and finally just stopped, defeated. Through sweaty tears I heard her cry “Momma, I just can’t do it!” I saw the fatigue on her tiny face and knew exactly how she felt. Earlier that morning I’d been that same crying child; I could not will my worn little body to function. Tired through my soul with fatigue, three years of sleep deprivation, illness and foggy thinking I fell to my knees in pain and desperation, right in the living room floor. I cried out to God for help and heard my answer pretty clearly. “Get up off the stupid floor and walk, you’ll feel better!” So I did.

60, Thick and Grateful

60, Thick and Grateful

Exactly when did I become thick in the middle? I wasn’t thick six months ago; I was mushy in the middle but not thick. Mushy I understand; I’ll be 60 this month and for 22 of those years I’ve taken Prednisone for Lupus. And although I launched a hostile take-over to get my body back five months ago, I am a senior citizen, according to AARP at least. So, I have earned the mushy. I don’t necessarily think thick comes with age, but I have seen some changes in my friends the past few years. Come to think of it, most of them are thick! Up to now I have avoided thick, it is clearly not working for me. I suppose thick is just one more in that multitude of things I will add to the joys of turning 60.

In truth, there is much to be grateful for at this “senior” threshold. Most of my parts still function really well, I pass most folks walking the trail at the park. This is in part because I inherited my Dad’s long stilt-like legs which look fine on him but ill-proportioned on me. They do however enable me to make great time on the walking trail. And, in spite of living with Lupus, Fibromyalgia and a few more autoimmune conditions-I am out there. This is not a “walk in the park” for me. Well literally it is, but not so much figuratively. Walking is always painful, sometimes very painful. Just pick a joint, go ahead any of them, yep it hurts. Or pick a muscle, yep that hurts too. I don’t saunter along either; I walk as hard and as quickly as I can for the aerobic value. I am emmensly grateful that I can walk.

I am grateful for the years I had before I turned 38, before the pain started. So many people are diagnosed with painful conditions much earlier, many in childhood. They will never know what it is like to walk 20 miles a week with no pain, or ride horseback 16 miles and feel great when you stop. I also have work that provides a livelihood which is something at this age, discrimination is alive and well and I don’t take it for granted. I am in a loving marriage with someone I look forward to seeing and who still makes me laugh each day. And I do have world class friends; I’ve never seen a more engaged, intelligent, caring, resourceful and creative group. (most of them are thick)

A huge blessing in my life at 60 is that my parents are still on this earth. I am able to see them fairly often and hope I make a difference in their lives as they go through these last difficult years. I am also grateful that inspite of all the pain and difficulties that have come my way God is still constant, my desire to know God is still constant and the renewal that affords me is priceless. I can live with the thick.