Patience – revisited

One year ago I posted my last blog. While I understood some part of the change that was sweeping through my life, most surely I did not have a clue about the consuming nature of the change. Or of any of the additional challenges to come, which have permanently altered the landscape of my life.

So here I am… one year later. My father managed his surgeries well. After multiple tests, he is currently considered cancer free, although we will continue to see the oncologist every six months for a few more years. There have been other health challenges, with each of my parents. Considering that they are in their 80′s now, this is not unexpected.

Other family concerns have arisen, requiring considerable time and travel. Taken in combination with the necessary driving for parents’ medical issues and appointments, I have traveled over 30,000 miles in my car over the past 12 months.

Fatigue is my constant companion, occasionally drifting into exhaustion. Reading my last post, again, I realize that the self care aspect of my life remains somewhat neglected. So I have committed to begin this month adding one thing which will be good for me, each week, to my schedule.

In addition to my “floor time” (Awareness Through Movement) which is already a daily occurrence, I am altering other small aspects of diet, increasing rest (when possible), scheduling time with friends, and engaging in a much loved activity on a regular basis.

A New Year! Time to re-create the structure of life, and search out, yet again, the new normal.

Patience… patience…

Last month a number of events tipped the scales of order in my life. My father had surgery and was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The resulting family confusion showed me that we have reached the point where I must be present for my parent’s medical appointments. So a new pattern will have to emerge. Medical appointments, work, and family must be balanced. Still working that out, and knowing it won’t settle until the immediate issues of possible surgeries, and scheduled follow-up is determined in the coming week.

I have worked with seniors for many years, and am well acquainted with the challenges of dementia and memory issues. Managing those challenges is one thing when it involves people outside the immediate family. It is quite something different when it is family. Never have I been more fascinated with the working of the brain than I am at the moment. How thoughts morph from one clearly defined set of information , into something only vaguely related is amazing, and might be frustrating, if I were not more familiar with this process.

Taking a breath… and then another… remaining calm in chaos… quieting stressed out parents with frayed nerves… reassuring siblings about monitoring the medical visits and overall process… stepping back and observing, where I am tempted to rush in and “fix” the situation… learning, learning. And somewhere in the middle of all this, operating a single practitioner business, raising two teen sons, and looking for the ways and times for self-care. Patience, patience with children, parents, clients, and self… patience and breathing.

Weeds (part 2)…

Unusually wet Spring weather kept me from getting out in the yard way too long. Loving all the moisture, weeds have overtaken beds, walkways, and even shrubs! Finally, I am able to get out there and tackle mounds of weeds as high as my knees in some locations.

Crawling around the beds on hands and knees, searching for perennials and hoping I am not accidentally pulling out the flowers with the hands full of offenders, I work may way around the beds behind the house and make my way to the side yard. Disarray in the side yard is hard to comprehend. Low holly shrubs are wrapped in clinging, climbing vine-like weeds that feel almost sticky to touch. When pulled on, they seem to grasp tightly to the holly, and resist removal.

Coming to the end of daylight, the hot, sweaty process is beginning to make headway. Nearing the edge of the drive I recall the last desperate plantings of the fall, when three tiny “rescue” shrubs were put in the ground. Memory being poor, and weeds thick and tall, I have little hope the shrubs survived the winter. Tired, ready to finish, I am grabbing hands full of weeds – not being careful – when a small yellow and green shrub appears from under a large stack of weeds. At least one of the bushes has survived! Surprised, delighted, I become more deliberate in removing the mountains of weeds. There, a few feet from where I remembered it, was the second! One more remained. With the light fading, and sticky weeds grabbing onto me now, an ever increasing circle is cleared. Finally, in an unexpected spot, I locate the third shrub! Amazing… all three are not only alive, but healthy, if small. Now, with sunlight available, and reduced competition from the weeds, surely they will thrive and grow!

Considering the joy of finding something unexpected under undesirable growth, I realized that movement is often like that. When I am struggling with a pattern that causes me pain, or difficulty, and finally give up trying to “find” the solution, the treasure appears, and that easy rhythm becomes reality.

 

Weeds (part 1)…

When I lived in Georgia my home was located off the end of a dead end road, with about a quarter mile drive sweeping around a hill through thick native woods. The former owners had not thinned their hostas in years (if ever) and I undertook that project the first fall in that house, planting all the overflow along the sides of the drive. The plants really thrived in their new location, and by mid-summer the following year were quite lovely.

Bringing the boys home from swimming one summer afternoon I rounded the corner and noticed a lot of tall weeds coming up around the hostas. Those weeds just ruined the sight of the hostas, so I grabbed gloves and a wheelbarrow and went to work. A quarter mile of drive is a lot to weeds to pull! Three wheelbarrows full of weeds, and four hot, sweaty hours later, I turned to survey the results of my labor, and what did I see? Weeds! Yes, there were still some weeds remaining. And I just cried. Hot, tired, aching from the work, and still, there were weeds.

Now, I could walk to the place where all those wheelbarrows full of weeds had been deposited, and know that I had pulled a lot of weeds, but all I could see were the weeds remaining.

Over the years I have learned that a lot of things in life are like that. Making change is a slow, gradual process, and although steady, incremental changes are occurring, it is sometimes difficult to see anything but the remaining weeds.

Spring?

Is it really Spring? Even though our calendar has said Spring for several weeks, the weather has not exactly been cooperating! Since moving to Huntsville, I have had my “house plants” back out on the front porch by mid March. Here we are, a week into April, and a small forest of plants continue to occupy my living room and kitchen eating area. I am not confident that freezing temperatures are over. There was frost on the grass out back this morning!

So many friends and clients have commented on how difficult this past Winter has been for them, and I agree. Winter has been hard this year. Erratic temperature swings at odd times, unexpected warm days, followed by unseasonably cold periods. Time changes closer together than in past years. More rain with cloudy weather than usual here in the “Sunny South”. Our natural rhythms have been unsettled. Additional stress to a system that often is off balance during the dark season of the year, already. It has felt like I was slogging through mud, begging for longer days, more sunlight, and warmer temperatures!

To counteract the doldrums, I have spent some extra time on the floor, working on new classes for the upcoming shift into Spring Focus for Thursday evening and Friday noon Awareness Through Movement classes. I always feel so much better when I get up, and watching the faces of my students at the end of a lesson, I see it in them as well. The Thursday evening class has been entertaining a “pie-crust” discussion, which has generated a lot of laughter, and I know I have felt my spirits lifted by our camaraderie.

Sharing laughter, and those wonderful “ah-ha” moments with my classes is such an encouragement to me. Each week brings something new, and gives me something to look forward to. I am so grateful for those who have slogged through the Winter challenges with me. Happy Spring, everyone! Happy Spring!

2013…musings on 2012

So…here we are…January 2013. Never would have dreamed I would see this year. Somehow, in my early years, I always thought I would die young. Not being morbid, or anything like that. Just didn’t really believe I would live to be older than 30 something. Looking back (isn’t that what we do at the beginning of a new year?) there are lots of things to wonder about.

Maybe it was the stress of those early years, or life events that no one should face at such a tender age. Whatever the cause… the thought of living to see even the year 2000 was laughable. And now it is 2013.

My sons are 13 (almost 14) and 17. Two teens. Boys. Those of you who are living (or have already lived) through teen-times (whether boys or girls) are nodding your heads and thinking, “Uh huh…I know just what it is like”. The unpredictability of emotional storms that blow up from nowhere, and dissipate just as rapidly. There are days when the home barometric pressure changes make my head spin! If anyone says raising teens is easy, or stress free, they have not raised teens.

My fully independent business in its current location will be one year old on February 1, 2013. Learning about city taxes, and state taxes, billing companies, marketing, and fire codes… business birth-pains with their stress inducing financial and time consuming demands.

Yes, 2012 was a year of ups and downs, of joy and tears, of gut wrenching moments of uncertainty about survival, and deliciously peaceful moments of silence and confidence.

So many of my clients, friends, and family have supported, encouraged, and walked through the valleys and struggled over the hilltops with me. Of the many ways I know to sustain an internal landscape of peace and confidence, sharing the tumult and delight of everyday life with those who know my heart is the most effective, and profound strategy which has carried me through this year.

So I begin 2013 with a quick glance back at 2012, with a grateful heart, then look ahead, and continue walking forward, with an invitation to each person with whom I have had contact over the past year. Let’s do this together, because there is strength in numbers. Burdens are lighter when shared by many, and joys are multiplied many times over. Our community gives us courage, and encouragement, honesty, and a warm embrace. The stressors that our environment generates need not become internalized when we band into a stronger unit of many. Look out 2013… I see great things coming to my community, and I am ready to roll my sleeves up, get to work, then when the work is completed… celebrate!

Unfinished Projects…

Unfinished projects… how many sit waiting for that extra little bit of time to be completed? Sometimes, in a flurry of “get-it-done-itis” my expectation of time required for completion does not take into account all the pre-completion steps or unexpected delays that can (and do) occur. Then I am left with yet one more of these things, hanging over my head, with an ever-present reminder that there are never enough hours in the day.

Recently, well maybe not so recently, I tackled a landscaping project. At the outset it did not seem particularly difficult. Part way through, however, reality dawned and I knew I would need more time, and probably more help than was, at that moment, available. Reality dawning is generally not a quick process for me. Slowly, as I labor and struggle, and recognize those extra, unanticipated steps, my heart begins to sink, and I feel betrayed by time and my physical limitations. Neck and shoulders begin to tighten, stomach gets in a knot, breathing comes fast and shallow. Already sweating from exertion, a wave of heat flushes my skin, and I hear the internal judge starting up in my mind… “You should have known better than to start this right now! How could you possibly believe you were going to get finished in one or two days?” You know the drill… all the negative self talk that bubbles up when you begin to realize you have mis-judged some aspect of a project.

There is enough stress involved in completing a project of the scale I set out on, much less falling short of the mark, and engaging in a verbal self-beratement. Stopping the critical voice is never easy for me, but I have learned a trick or two over the years. The first internal response is “You are right! I did misjudge the time it would take to get finished. But that is O.K. This is not a critical matter, just something I wanted to do, and now there is a really good start on it. I will work until it is dark, or I am too tired to do any more, and figure out when I can tackle it again, later.” Then the entire task is reviewed, broken down into smaller parts that can be completed in shorter time periods, and scheduled.

Should my critical voice begin to chime again, I take time to recall completed projects, just to remind myself that while they may have taken more time than expected, they did get finished. Sometimes, I will actually walk to the location where a completed task resides and survey it with satisfaction. “See”, I say to my critical voice,”See how lovely it turned out.” Spending a few moments appreciating how nicely that project turned out reminds me that there are successes and that the hard work of getting it done is worth the effort.

So… bring on the unfinished project list! I have a little extra time this coming weekend, and the weather is perfect to do another part of the work!

Unbeliveable…

Driving to Rome, Ga to pick up my son, a motorcycle passes me, loud, and going fast. Two people out for an early Fall afternoon ride. Trees beginning to change.  Temperature perfect.  Sunlight glinting off the beautiful paint job on the Harley, shiny and musclebound.  Ah, memories…

My appreciation becomes incredulity. The female passenger has her arms slightly extended, using the leather-clad back of the male driver as a stabilizer, and is texting for all she is worth!  I have to look two times, then again, to be sure I am really seeing this!

Now I may be the only person who would find this almost sacrilegious, but as a former rider, it’s just not right to be out on a Harley on a magnificent Fall day, and texting at the same time. 

Put that thing away and appreciate the ride, honey!

Lawn Mowing ATM…

It has been four weeks since I last mowed the backyard. Weekends out of town, teaching workshops, and attending continuing education have kept me from getting outside. My poor dogs are shoulder deep in grass, and reluctant to travel anywhere except around the edges where their paths of least resistance are clearly visible, red dirt peeking out between swaths of tall thick grass.

Using the “piece of junk” push mower that replaced the gas powered mower early in the summer, I am sweating. Although the weather is cooler, the grass is tall, and thick, and in many places, the uneven ground is invisible under the green carpet.

Jarring along, I begin to notice that there are several types of grass in the yard. Some are thin, fine blades, sparsely placed, and easily cut. Others have wide, tough blades that are clumped into tightly bound clusters which resist the mower. There are tall, round spindles that fall over easily, but bounce back up shortly after the mower passes. Each type of grass requires a different approach. The thin grass gives way with a single pass, and needs only the slightest effort. Clumped, thick grass requires many passes in a variety of directions to fully be controlled. The tall spindles completely evade the mower, and must be pulled by hand.

Thinking about how eliminating habitual movement patterns is like cutting the different types of grass, it is amazing to find my level of engagement in cutting the lawn taking on my approach to Awareness Through Movement lessons. Pushing the mower through the yard I ask, what is the easiest, most efficient way to approach cutting this particular grass? How do I respond to the increased challenges of thicker, more resistant clumps? Is there a way to approach the tall spindles that is more effective? How smoothly can the mower pass over the uneven ground if the speed of movement is reduced?

Before I am ready to end the exploration, I realize the grass is completely cut, and it is time to stop, for now. It is supposed to rain tomorrow, so I m sure there will be another opportunity to learn more, later.

Getting “posted”…

Having a plan, and executing that plan can be two very different things. It is Sunday afternoon and I have had three holly bushes begging to be put in the ground all summer. Finally deciding where I want to locate the bushes, I begin to dig. Two shovel fulls of dirt down, there is a jarring clash of metal on concrete. My arm and neck vibrate from the force of the collision and the next few attempts to dig are much more tentative. Too far from the house to be foundation, the concrete culprit finally is unmasked. A huge wooden post encased in concrete that runs a full four feet into the ground!

After spending several minutes digging around the concrete I realize I must make a decision. Do I continue the quest to remove the post, or consider relocating the bush. It is hot, I am sweating, and have a limited amount of time to spend on this project. Looking over the area I realize there is not a lot of “wiggle room” in the landscape plan, and moving the location of this bush/ tree will significantly alter the entire plan. Unwilling to go back to the drawing board after spending the summer watching shade and sun patterns in that side yard, I determine to dig for all I am worth.

Three hours later, sweating, aching, and in a decidedly unkind frame of mind regarding the previous owners of my home, the post and concrete are excavated. Aggravation with this turn of events, and with storm clouds gathering on the horizon, I am exhausted and feel stressed. Back-filling the hole I realize my neck and right shoulder are not moving very smoothly, and the index finger and thumb on my right hand are numb. Although I have intermittently switched from right to left handed digging, I am now hurting. Settling the one holly in its new home, I head inside to a hot shower, then to the floor.

Feeling older than my age, I lie still, having a short pity-party. My father, who at 80 can run circles around me, drifts into my mind’s eye. Enough of the self-pity. Finding a comfortable position, I turn my head from left to right in tiny little movements. Paying attention to where my shoulders begin to try to help, and where my breathing changes, the movement shifts from rolling to side-bending sliding, then to nodding movements. Soon the numbness in my fingers resolves, and the floor is more comfortable. I will tackle the other two holly bushes tomorrow, or maybe in a few days. And if I hit another post, well… I will deal with that if it happens.