Be the Calm One On the Boat

Be the Calm One on the Boat

When the crowded refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.

–Thich Nhat Hanh

 

I want to make this a shorter post than usual. In fact when I started this blog 97 weeks ago, my mandate  was to always write short weekly posts. We all know that this did not happen. But just maybe today I can make it work.

Here is the thing. We all know what we need to do. Most of us are doing it. And we are “getting it” that physical isolation doesn’t have to be social isolation, even though we miss the hugs.  We can be curious and challenge ourselves to connect on line, and if you haven’t done it before, anyone reading this blog is well equipped to do so.

As days go by, however, this gets more personal. When one of our loved ones is in a locked down situation, such as a hospital, assisted living facility or long term care, and we are unable to be there, even at a safe distance, to provide comfort, solace and good cheer, we can despair. It is at this time that we come to need the kindness and care of strangers.  And from what I am seeing, this caring is not in short supply.

There are people on the ground, helping hands that are bending over backwards for our loved ones. (for all of us) Covid-19 is on the rampage but never forget that kindness is also rampant.  This corona virus does not have a monopoly on contagion.  Kindness, calm, courage, resilience and resourcefulness are also contagious. We can happily spread those around.

Today, I have a few links to remarkable reminders as to why we need to continue to be stalwart team players and renew our efforts to observe the more stringent guidelines. One of those links is a plea by an infectious disease expert at the Nanaimo General Hospital. He saved my friend’s life 10 years ago and he has something important to say.

Sadly, I have five people close to me who have compromised immune systems. They know what to do to take care of themselves but their survival also depends on all of us doing the right thing. So I am a flag bearer for following the rules and encouraging all of us to go above and beyond the bare minimum.Every single thing each of us does counts! I am not talking about perfection but I am talking about Intention, Attention and Sincerity. With that in mind, we do our best, even when we make mistakes.

Notes:

Note 1:) It is important for you to know that I experience a multitude of joyful moments every single day. And I can also create those moments for others. Part of what we can do for each other is to point them out. As an example, this is my most amazing Mother with her 100th birthday greetings from the Queen. This photo was taken just before everything got locked down. Thank you Sheila.

Note 2:) One new thing I started this week was to attend a daily online meditation Sangha at 8:00 AM for 20 minutes. I am completely surprised at how beneficial this is. I had no idea that sitting with a group of mostly strangers on zoom could  get my day off to a better start. Also, my friend Barbara, who suggested it, anchors her home exercise program to this meditation. As soon as she is finished at 8:20 she immediately does her exercise routine. For those of you who read my Tiny Habits post, this was the advice of BJ Fogg – Establish an anchor for the new habit that you want to create.

Note 3:) This is a reality check. It is important for all of us to be informed about what we are up against here. Science is better than politics for information. Here is the link to Dr.Forrest’s message. Please watch. It’s impressive. (about 7 minutes)

Note 4:) My friend and colleague Gregg Krech, from the ToDo Institute, wrote a beautiful poem this morning and I highly recommend it. It seems the perfect way to end my blog today. Thank you Gregg. Beyond the Veil of Disappointment.

Note 5:) I am doing a series of Webinars for Wellspring members starting next week. You can find out the details  on Wellspring Calgary’s website. The first one is on Tuesday March 31st 1:00 -2:00 Calgary time and called Living well: With Things as They Are, What Can I do Now

Note 6:) Finally, dear, dear readers, take good care out there. Stay in touch with your friends. Reach out if you are lonely. Many thanks for showing up here. See you next week. Warmest greetings, Trudy (I see my blog post was shorter and my notes longer – sneaky, if you ask me)

 

 

Obviously, Not Business as Usual

Hello dear readers:

Much has changed since last Wednesday for everyone.There is no reason to reiterate what we all know only to well. And with the fast changing light speed pace we don’t have enough experience to predict or get a grip on what this all means and for how long. We stumble along as we make our way up the learning curve.

Missteps will be made.

Some of them consequential. But I need to say this.

There are literally tens of thousands of health care workers, emergency responders, scientists, cleaners, food chain workers, governments, IT companies, teachers, manufacturers, to name but a few, who are working their butts off and at risk to themselves, to help us get through this once in our lifetime event. We have no idea of everything going on behind the scenes to assist in our survival. But it is as phenomenal as the virus itself. We must never forget that.

Still this is unknown psychological and emotional territory.

Many of us are scared, and anxious right now and we are being asked to do wild things. No hugging, socializing, sports, shopping, flying, luncheons, classes and more. We shouldn’t touch our face, as if that is possible, although I am getting a tiny bit better. No more school and trips, and for some no more work. All cancelled. Most of the usual things we take for granted are no longer available. There is much we need to adjust to, in our particular culture, and quickly. In fact being together, which we all know is the best thing to do under threat of anything, is the wrong thing to do right now, as we face the threat of  Covid-19.

Is that really True? No.

  • We can be together.
  • We need to be together.
  • We just can’t do it in person now.

And here is my next toast of thanks:

Technology.

Imagine if we were all self isolating before technology changed our lives. We would be in a fix. And here we are in 2020 able to communicate face time to face time, over a myriad of apps and platforms. We can work at home without being alone. (there is an app for that)  Zoom is our new best friend for allowing us to meet, greet, continue classes, host a book club, have a music lesson, meditate, do yoga, and have a glass of wine together. We are better together. And it is still possible. All these tools have free versions and they are simple to learn. I will help you (see note) if you want but you don’t need me they all come with excellent tutorials.

Personal

Today I talked to my grandson, Jonathan, and he suggested I get an app called Google duo. It is easy to use and works great. I tried it out right away. My son and I set up a group, and you can have a total of eight on one call. It works like a charm.

I face-timed my daughter who is with her family and friends in Costa Rica, and if all goes well, they will fly home early on Friday. Whew!!

I worked with two friends last night on zoom as we planned a webinar. There is no end to what we can do together. The generosity of musicians, poets, writers, thought leaders and our next door neighbours is humbling. I am overcome with the goodness, creativity and brilliance that as crazy as it sounds, reminds me of spy hopping. (ok, that’s what my favourite mammal, the Orca, does, and when I am lucky enough to witness such beauty I am jubilant)

Spy hopping

Spy hopping is a vertical half-rise out of the water performed by a whale to view the surroundings.I think this is going on all over the place right now.  A half-rise to take a peak, get the lay of the land to see what needs to be done. Improvising. Jumping in without knowing exactly what to do but doing something, not just for yourself but viewing the surroundings to see what can be done to help each other. And those on the shore, confined, are waving those spy hoppers on.

We are definitely better together.

This morning I received an exquisite bouquet of flowers from a beloved friend whom I rarely see. They arrived on my phone in all their glory with a beautiful note that made my day and reminded me of the importance of reaching out to people we love, and telling them so.

What are we waiting for?  We can pick up a phone, write out a favourite quote to a friend or relative,  or send a word to the front line people. Even to our wonderful local business that may not recover from this. Quite possibly a better use of time than reading one more article after another. (I am trying to limit my reading to the morning and before dinner. I mostly fail, but I still try. )

And we can take a walk.

My health authority recommends it. Fresh air and sunshine a couple of times a day, especially if you can do it in green space.  I notice on the street where I live there is now a new norm that when you meet someone walking, one of you immediately steps aside and gives a wide berth. It is automatic, and I see it in myself. We wave and smile and say good morning. A little bow, or perhaps, kick up our heels. Well, I don’t do that or I would be on the ground, but I think about it.

So this is what I want to say. Let’s take care of each other. For now, I read that we should all tread carefully as though we might be a carrier and we don’t want to pass it on.

Altruism of the simplest kind, and we all know the drill:

  • thoroughly and regularly wash our hands
  • don’t touch each other except with our beaming faces from arms length
  • keep our distance when we are out and about
  • disinfect our own surfaces
  • call, write or facetime one or two people every single day
  • pick up your flute, paintbrush, pencil, quitar, or sing a song
  • finally get the basement cleaned
  • have fun at home
  • and the myriad of things we all can do with a moment’s thought

Learn to use the tools that are out there and allow you to have a virtual get together. Invite a few friends over for a glass of wine. No cost to you. Commiserate for sure but then switch to other topics. Laugh, talk and tell stories.

There is so much more to say but I have taken enough of your time.

  • We all have what it takes to go through this.
  • We are always better to do it with others.
  • We miss each others presence but let’s learn to meet online and hang out together. Bring a poem or a painting or a tale to tell. We need to laugh and joke and talk about stuff.

Covid-19 is like a wrecking ball but we won’t let it wreck our spirits, resilience or our joy in each other’s company.

NOTES

Note 1:) My funny story is at my daughter’s expense. I texted my daughter, this morning, who is in a more remote part of Costa Rica and isolated from what we are experiencing here in Ottawa and elsewhere.

I said, “I guess it won’t take long until we get to see your natural hair colour. ha ha.”

She replied, ” Not funny Mom. Is XYZ not open??”

I said, “Everything is closed.”

There was a long pause and then it came, her order from Shoppers, for, you guessed it. Hair dye.

Note 2:) A great little video on washing your hands. I know. I know. But this one has some science behind it, is fun to watch and kids will like it too. Thanks to my son Rob. Watch here 

Something New

Note 3:) I will set up a zoom “let’s have coffee” at noon ET, this Friday, for anyone who wants to pop by and say hello or learn a little more about how zoom works.  I will open the doors at 11:30 ET so if you have trouble I will be there to lend a hand. You will be asked to download zoom. It’s free and it’s safe. You aren’t signing up for anything. If it doesn’t work for you and you want to try another time, please just email me and we will do a practice session. It works best on a computer or an ipad.

 To join in you will need to come back to this blog anytime after 11:30 ET on Friday and click on the zoom meeting link. Make note of the meeting ID on a piece of paper. You won’t need it but just in case you get asked, you have it.

Topic: Coffee drop in
Time: Mar 20, 2020 12:00 PM Montreal

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 950 202 645

 

Finally

Note 4:) Finally, you say. Good grief, Trudy. Enough is enough.

So here it is: a fun fact. I received my 100th subscriber today just three  weeks short of my Mother’s 100th. And my 100th blog post will be the week of her Birthday as well. I have to admit that I love these kinds of things. What is really special is that I took advantage of my innocent daughter-in-law, saying, “I always forget to read your blog.” Well, the rest is history, as we say. She is officially my 100th subscriber.

Imagine how lucky I am to have all of you 100 subscribers. Thank you. Thank you for your emails and comments. I got behind in my replies this week but I will be in touch soon. With a deep bow to each of you.  Do your best to stay healthy out there. See you next week and some of you on Friday. Warmly, Trudy

 

 

 

 

The Unwanted Guest

Attempts to Crash the Party

The guest list is complete. The flowers are ordered. The dinner has been selected. Exactly four weeks and three days from today, is my Mother’s 100th Birthday. Everything is in order and considering we started the planning one year ago, it should be. The trouble is, we have an unwanted guest trying to crash the party. You all know who it is, as it may already have disrupted some of your plans.  Covid-19, is the name, and since it went viral, it has wrecked  havoc in many people’s lives.

We all live with uncertainty everyday but this is uncertainty with a twist. We don’t know a lot about where Covid-19 is going next. It is unpredictable and uncontrollable. We take precautions but we don’t want to panic. We ponder whether to get on that plane for our reunion or postpone until we have more certainty. One event after another is cancelled so we don’t want to be blaise about the risks nor do we want to over react.

Cleanest Hands Ever

We have never had cleaner hands than we have now. If anything, Covid-19 has ramped up our personal hygiene practices by instructing us in the best hand washing technique.  Who knew we were so lax but we’ve got this now. Keeping our hands off our face is another matter. Anyone who meditates knows it can be tricky to keep track of our breaths. Noticing how many times we touch our face in 30 minutes is an eye opener. Good grief. I seem to be always pushing back my hair. I lose count quickly and then forget to continue this attention exercise.

Each of us gets to decide how we approach this now officially named pandemic. Of course there are imposed restrictions that tell you what not to do if, x y or z apply.  There are restrictions imposed by airlines and government as to where we can and cannot go. Besides self-isolation there are imposed quarantines. This is new ground for many of us.

Social distancing

Social distancing is frequently appearing on the “what you can do” pages. This is critical for people with compromised immune systems and recommended for the elderly. (technically I fall into the elderly category but the <80 category. :-))  Yet, at a time when you could to use a little cheering up and if you happen to live alone, it is important to still have social contact. I find Wellspring Calgary’s advisory simple and useful:

The health and safety of our Wellspring Calgary community is of paramount importance to us. We kindly ask that you refrain from visiting Wellspring Calgary if you have any symptoms of cold or flu OR if you have visited any of the countries currently listed as under health advisories by the Government of Canada within the last 14 days. We appreciate your efforts to help promote the health and safety of Wellspring Calgary.

The same guidelines can apply to schools and work and bookclubs, until something more is required. Self-regulation and consideration go along way. Dr. Richard Friedman recently wrote an article in the New York Times. He called it “The Best Response to the Coronavirus? Altruism, Not Panic.”

At This Moment

So, as of today, my Mother’s party is intact. All the invited guests have been gently reminded that they may choose not to fly across the country. It isn’t panicking to not want to fly 5000KM at this time. And if all goes well, for those trying to attend, several domestic flights will take off from a variety of places and land in Victoria, Easter week-end.  Let’s face it, we have no idea what will happen in the next 4 weeks but we will take it day by day. In the case of uncertainty we do the best that way.

Not everyone I know even has this luxury. A good friend, has a 94 year old Mother in rapidly declining health. She is in a long term care facility, and visits from the outside are highly restricted. My friend is not permitted to stay with her Mom. There are many heartbreaking scenarios that people everywhere are coping with.

And for all of us who have plans up in the air, disappointments, concerns about friends and family, it is even more important to do a few things everyday that we do have control over.

Take a tip from Goethe:

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.

We do what needs to be done, or we don’t. That is hardly a profound statement. But if your holiday was cancelled and your housebound,  this can be a time, along with what needs to be done, to let go of things that don’t serve us anymore, whether it is 20 year old tax returns, or clothes we have outgrown. It may be time to write a few letters to old friends who you have lost touch with but who have been important to you. Maybe get that paintbrush out and re-examine your interest in watercolour. Creating beauty, in any form everyday is good medicine. Taking a walk, when that is possible. Calling a friend to just say hi. Re-considering priorities.

What doesn’t work is fretting and frittering away our precious hours and days, reading and viewing one more update.  As Pema says “Let there be room for not knowing.” And in addition, as Trudy says, check your most trustworthy sites once or twice a day and act accordingly.

“We are quick to forget that just being alive is an extraordinary piece of good luck, a remote event, a chance occurrence of monstrous proportions. Nicholas Nassim Taleb

 

Notes:

Note 1:) A Poem –

Yes – William Stafford

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out — no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

Note 2:) The longer I live the more I recognize that my life, in many ways, is a total mystery to me.

Note 3:) Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words and thoughtful questions that come my way. May you be as healthy as you can and have many delightful and surprising moments of joy. Warm greetings to you all, Trudy

 

 

 

Call it a Family

Photo, thanks to Robert-Collins at Unsplash

 

Call it a clan, call it a network,

call it a tribe, call it a family.

Whatever you call it, whoever

you are, you need one.

-Jane Howard (Thanks also to Gratefulness.org)

Family

Much of the time, at least until tragedy strikes, we can take “our clans” for granted. When life surprises us with a disruption, we are often startled into noticing how essential and beloved our clans are. We see them with fresh eyes, as if for the first time.

So many  “other” problems drop away as we focus our attention on what is important, and are reminded of how much we count on each other. No way that we can hurtle through life on our own.

When this little reflection arrived in my inbox, this morning, I was struck by the truth of what the word family implies. I found it beautifully expressed and so true – the many combinations that make up a “family.”

We all have them. For some it is our birth family; friends; spiritual community; volunteer work; book clubs; the arts; sports; neighbours; support groups; special interest groups and so many more. We all need more than one group we can count on.

Important On-line Groups

Nowadays, we can have important groups on line. It is amazing to me when a small group gathers with a sincere intention and interest, how much we can learn together, as well as the support we can glean, when facing challenging times.

This is on my mind even as COVID-19, creates self-isolation and enforced quarantine in its fast moving path. I have made simple and basic preparations for that possibility and as I did I thought about how even in isolation we can have the comfort and companionship of seeing our loved ones through a myriad of online apps, including FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp and Zoom, to name but a few.

On-line is not a substitute for face to face hand holding. However, when people undergo stem cell transplants and other immune-compromising procedures they are kept isolated for their own protection.  As they begin to recover and want contact, online visits with family and friends can provide a boost, with no fear of contamination.   This is a huge upside of technology.

A Daily Blog

When I kept a daily blog, while going through treatment for cancer, I found the practice of posting a picture, writing a few words and reading the comments from my friends and family, healing. It provided me with a clear purpose to look for the joyful moments while acknowledging the painful ones. I got to keep my various clans up to date and their words brought me comfort, laughter, reassurance and encouragement even though we were many miles apart. I was inspired by the power of their word gifts to me as we shared stories with each other.

It was during this time that I had a realization that contradicted my life long belief.  I had appreciated, was grateful for, and considered my good health to be the most important thing in my life. I came to see that as important as good health is, it isn’t the most important. Family and friends loomed larger for me. And this truth infuses my personal operating system every second of the day. Each of us will encounter sickness, old age (if we live long enough) and death and to have our many extensions of friends and family ready and willing to be there through it all,  makes all the difference.

It is our encounters with the people in our life, friends and strangers alike,  that make our lives worth living. They are there for us and we for them. They are our treasures and gifts of this wondrous and mysterious life.

We need each other and we are here to help and be helped. A mutually beneficial cycle that nudges us along in times of difficulty and showers us with bouquets of joyful moments throughout it all.

NOTES

 

Note 1:) A practical note first. Many places have run out of the recommended alcohol hand cleanser. Here is an easy recipe to make your own.

Note 2:) A friend and colleague sent me this Ted Talk two days ago. It is an excellent talk on resilience, about 16 minutes long. Dr Lucy Hone is a resilience expert who thought she found her calling supporting people to recover following the Christchurch earthquake. She had no idea that her personal journey was about to take her to a far more difficult place. In this powerful and courageous talk, she shares the three strategies that got her through an unimaginable tragedy⁠—and offers a profound insight on human suffering. Dr  Hone is a director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience, a research associate at AUT University, a published academic researcher, best-selling author.

Note 3:) A treasure  came my way this evening. The poet is Ruth Bidgood, a Welsh poet and local historian. She wrote this poem in her 90’s and is now 97.

 

Roads

No need to wonder what heron-haunted lake lay in the other valley,
or regret the songs of the forest I chose not to traverse.
No need to ask where other roads might have led,
since they led elsewhere;
for nowhere but this here and now
is my true destination.
The river is gentle in the soft evening,
and all the steps of my life have brought me home

 

Note 4:) Many many thanks for popping by. Showing up here each Wednesday to write this blog, lifts my spirits.  It is an honour to have these weekly visits with you. May you have many memorable moments this week. Appreciatively, Trudy

PS For my dear subscribers: My email delivery service AWeber ran into technical difficulties this evening, so I have been unable to access their site to send this out. They are diligently working on the problem and have been very  helpful.  I have decided to accept their offer (thanks Matt at AWeber) to send it out for me.  You may notice that the images are not available on the email, so it looks a little different, but hopefully it will land safely in your inbox as always.

Something to Think About

Thanks to Adobe Stock for this Traditional Japanese Print

Today I have been thinking about the way quotations have influenced my life. In many ways they are just as important to me as poetry. I have collected quotes since childhood and if I had only catalogued them properly I would have a wealth of wise words at my fingertips. Sadly that is not the case, so I search through multiple files both paper and digital looking for the one quote I want that I cannot find.

My daughter, Meghan, tends to find her solace not so much in poetry but in quotations and she expressed it like this:

“With only a few words, a good quote can teach us about life, love, suffering, professionalism and balance. It has the power to simplify the complicated, inspire new perspectives and challenge  the most convoluted thoughts. In other words…a good quote is fuel for the soul.”

Here are a few such quotes that you may not have read before that I find helpful and offer a slight shift of perspective.

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz, Author, Teacher, and a Co-Founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center

 “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden, Basketball player, Coach, Sportsperson of the Year (too many accolades to mention)

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”– Oscar Wilde, Poet, Irish Playwright and was one of the most popular playwrights in London

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says: ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’”– Mary Anne Radmacher, Author, Artist, Consultant

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”William James, American Philosopher, Educator, Father of American  psychology, Leading thinker of the late 19th century

“Hanging laundry on the line offers you the chance to fly prayer flags disguised as bath towels and underwear.” Barbara Taylor Brown, Author, Professor, Theologian.  Time magazine placed her in its annual 100 list of most influential people in the world.

I received good advise from a wise person who said, “When you read or study anything that strikes you, always ask, “how does this apply to me?” When I remember to do this, it can be both revealing and transformative. Oftentimes I forget, but by writing this here I am promoted once again to take that advice to heart.

Notes

Note 1:) Thank you all for the beautiful comments and emails. I do answer each of you individually, because I haven’t found a way for you to receive notification of a public response that I can make here. However, I do want to also acknowledge, here, my deepest appreciation for your kind and encouraging words.

Note 2:) My injuries are up and down although I remain upright. Because I have very, very little pain it is challenging to hold the reins back, but I am learning, because my body lets me know right away through swelling and bruising that it wants my leg rested and elevated and not just walking around. I am co-operating now.

Note 3:) When I found this old quote tucked away in the lost and found on my laptop, I knew it was my wish for all of you this week. “May your life be crowded with unexpected joys.”  – H Jackson Brown, Jr See you next week. Warmest wishes, Trudy

“It Isn’t the Mountains Ahead that Wear You Out…”

“…but the grain of sand in your shoe.”  As far as I know it is my Mother who wrote these lines in my scribbler when I was a child but I don’t know the author.

A Story:

This is a quick summary of what has been happening. I joined the Seniors Ravens Membership, at Carleton University,  along with my friend, at the beginning of the year.  I love my program and the benefits from my strength training and Tai Chi are already noticeable.  I get to go three mornings a week, and because I have a buddy, I don’t skip out. I’ve been feeling pretty darn good about the whole thing.

And then:

Monday night after a wonderful weekend I was walking home under a starry sky. In one split second I was on the ground, four houses from home. Just like that. I was well equipped for icy conditions and treading carefully but even with the best of attention, that black ice snuck up on me. I didn’t see it and with no warning I crashed hard on the pavement.

Immediately I realized my good luck because I didn’t hit my head although I was mostly on my back. In a minute or so, a young man came to my rescue. I carefully wiggled my left leg off of my right, and I could see that there was nothing broken. He pulled me off the black ice to dry pavement and helped me to stand. I got my bearings, he escorted me home, and I did the ICE (ice, compress, elevate) and hoped for the best.

Distress

Distress set in after a sleepless night and an unstable left knee. As morning broke I played out the scenarios of not being able to go to my strength training classes for months; not being able to help my friend; not being able to get to the Dr. or take Rowan to his math class that day and on and on. Even though I was so careful walking and wore excellent space age ice trackers on my boots, and heck, the unfairness of it all. I rely (like all of us) on my body’s ability to move me around. You get the picture of the state of my mind. I was in the pits.

I am telling you this so that we are reminded, as humans, when the unexpected happens we initially and naturally become distressed. No matter how well we are prepared, or how much we meditate, or how together we are, we can all feel lousy when something happens that we don’t like or impacts our lifestyle.

It’s what happens next that can make the difference.

My daughter took the day off work and helped me out and son-in-law, Graeme,  took Rowan to math. Granddaughter Sophie wrote encouraging texts and my friend John loaned me a cane. A friend  made me laugh when he offered to design a new course for me called “Living Crappy with Illness, and the first principle is to take responsibility for moaning loud and often.”

I immediately signed up and cheered up.

I did see the Dr and I do have soft tissue damage that will take a few weeks to heal but guess what?? I can return to my workouts next week but no squats or knee bending. Upper body training that I need most is a go and so is Tai Chi.  Pain provides important information. (I have little pain and advil takes care of it) So I am cautiously optimistic that I will adapt to these changing circumstances, like all of us are called to do, many times in our lives.

Don’t Compare Suffering

Taking a fall and having soft tissue damage is not to be compared to serious illness and accidents that many of us go through. Rather I see my fall as typical of the daily ups and downs of life that everyone experiences. It is normal, don’t you think. We can take nothing for granted. Yet, with a slight shift in perceptive we will soon acknowledge what could have happened and didn’t happen in those circumstances. Along with the wonder of our world and appreciation for our fellow humans as we make our way along, professional and otherwise. It becomes obvious.

A word of advice

Last night my son called and advised that I take it easy for a day or two. “Give yourself a chance to rest, read, put your feet up. A fall shakes us up and we need a little recovery time.” So I did just that today and this is what happened: I sat down in the reading chair, by the window,  this morning but soon dozed off.  Sun was streaming in and it felt just like sunbathing in the middle of winter. Almost like  Hawaii. On the other hand, I don’t ever sunbathe, but this particular morning  blossomed into a spontaneous sense of pure joy in the unexpected luxury of doing absolutely nothing. Just being breathed under the warmth of the sun.

A word of caution

I have written before about the slippery slope of feeling better. You know, we then throw caution to the wind and jump back into our normal routine as though nothing happened at all. I felt so much better this afternoon that I did just that. No harm done but the pain was a reminder that I need to be patient. Take it easy. No bounding around. Small steps. Adjust expectations.

I Get To

For long-time readers of this blog you know I like the difference between “I have to” do something and “I get to do” something. Today I received a slightly different take on this difference and I will adopt it into my own life. The people at Gratefulness.org suggest that when we say something like, “I get to” that we end with “when so many people cannot.”

I will remember this as “I get to” adapt my exercise to my new normal, remembering all the people who cannot do anything because of the severity of their falls, accidents or illnesses.

Last week’s quote is still relevant here:

Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living –  heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful. 
L.R. Knost

Notes

Thank you one and all for doing me the honour of reading this weekly blog. I appreciate it more than you will ever know and I am grateful when I hear that sometimes my borrowed words are helpful and encouraging. Heartfelt thanks. Warmly, Trudy

 

Life is Amazing

Life is amazing:

Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living –  heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful. 
L.R. Knost

I have no idea who L.R. Knost is but someone sent me this quote awhile back and I like it alot.

Notes:

Note 1:) For those of you who have an artistic bent and for those of you who might like to cultivate the same I  suggest an excellent blog to follow. It is called Painters Keys and has been around since 1998.  Well known landscape artist Robert Genn started these “letters,” and when he died his daughter Sara, also an artist and musician continued his work. It is about the creative life and if you are an artist you will find a wealth of information.

However, I am not an artist, and I read this blog regularly and am often inspired and moved by the commentaries on life and the three or so quotes at the end of each posting. I planned to give you the link before now, and this recent post prompted me to do so as I know there are some artists who read my blog.  I suggest you read the “About” page on the website should you take a peak, as Painters Keys has an interesting history. It is also a free site.

Here is the link to the post I recently enjoyed. It is called M.E.L.T.

Note 2:) Are you getting outdoors? I had a beautiful walk with a friend, today, on the Rideau Canal 7.8 KM Skateway. We walked carefully along the side of the skateway and basked in the blue sky, sunshine, and the many skaters enjoying this beautiful and well maintained UNESCO World Heritage Site. And right in our backyard. Once again, being outdoors, when possible, cannot be matched for its common side effects of hope, joy, clarity and goodwill. I hope you get to experience many days of sunshine in the great outdoors.

Note 3:) I so appreciate and enjoy your company and good wishes. Thank you! Thank you! See you next week. Warmly, Trudy

Tulips Today

It seems to me that we can use some tulips this week to remind us that spring will come and hope prevails. There is no rush and no cure for love and loss. Grief takes its own time. Trust it. For now, live into your sorrow.

You will know when its time to throw up the sash and open the windows to the world. There will be lots to do then, to help you on your way.

For now, allow yourself to love and be loved by those who are there. It’s ok to ask a friend to stay with you for a time. This is what we are made for – to care for each other.

Life is too hard to go it alone. Please ask for what you need. We don’t need to put on a brave face. No explanations required. And in the meantime, here is a tiny poem from Rumi, which brings solace to my heart. A different kind of window.

 

The Window by Rumi

Your body is away from me
but there is a window open
from my heart to yours.

From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.

 

 

Sending love and strength to you all.

Trudy

With so many thanks, for all of your emails and comments this past week. It is an honour for me to be here with you.

A twist of fate, especially for those who love Rumi. CBC has reposted their 2007 recording created for the 800th birthday special celebrating Rumi with Coleman Barks. My son, just sent me the link moments ago so I get to share it with you dear readers. It is 55 minutes so draw up a chair in front of the fire with a glass of wine and enjoy. Click here.   The podcast is directly beneath the Rumi quote.

No Words For It

Today, for the second time this month, the husband of a good friend has died. There really are no words for it. Loving long marriages that end before anyone wanted to say goodbye. I ache to be able to give words of comfort and I come up short. Grief needs its own time. My heart turns to other voices looking for an offering.

On this wintry day, filled with sunshine in Ottawa, I think of Camus and I recall part of a quote that I go looking for.

Yes. Here it is.

 

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
~ Albert Camus

Even this is too soon to take in, when your beloved husband has just died.

I go looking for words from Pema Chodren.  In the face of this unbearable sorrow, I draw a blank today.

Finally, it comes to me. The words of  Julia Cameron, from a hundred years ago, or so it seems. Her poem she wrote decades ago, pops into my heart. I related to it then, as I do now. Here is an excerpt from her poem:

Words For It

I wish I could take language
And fold it like cool, moist rags.
I would lay words on your forehead.
I would wrap words on your wrists.
“There, there,” my words would say–
Or something better.
I would murmur,
“Hush” and “Shh, shhh, it’s all right.”
I would ask them to hold you all night.
I wish I could take language
And daub and soothe and cool…
And heal the words…
You have no names for.

What I learn as I live longer is that there are no right words or answers or easy solutions to the mystery of living and dying. No formula nor magic wand to make everything better or back to the way it was.

We all end up learning that to be alive also means to suffer, to experience heart wrenching loss, as well as to experience profound happiness, love and the joy of others.

But for today, we simply grieve the losses and hold each other, and look at our loved ones who are still by our side, and realize that everything can change in a moment. If there is anything we can take from this, it is to really look at the ones beside us more lovingly, preciously and compassionately, knowing full well this life will not last forever.

And thus we won’t waste another moment fighting over the grain of sand in our shoe and instead get on with the business of living and loving while we can.

With sincerest  condolences to all of my dear readers who had a loved one die this year. And especially for PF and her  family. And once again to SA  and PM, who are still reeling.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”~ Lao Tzu

A deep bow to you all, dear readers. With love and gratitude, Trudy

How Delight Can Heal Us – (I borrowed this title from Tricycle’s Daily Dharma)

I took this photo in Japan, in the fall of 2014, in the Hakone area. It never fails to delight when I see their happy faces. It feels like yesterday.

Creating Joyful Moments in the Midst of Suffering

I think alot about creating joyful moments in the midst of suffering. I suspect it stems from having grown up with my particular clan in the Maritimes,  where we learned to accompany each other through the tears. It wasn’t about denial of difficulties nor forcing a false front, rather it was about broadening the view to see what else was true. There was an understanding that things would change; feelings would fade; noone escapes sorrow and that somehow things would get better around the corner. Love and laughter helped.

What I have found is that things change on a dime. During times of illness and difficulty we are hopeful one minute, despairing the next and hopeful again. This cycle repeats itself and it is natural, considering the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in.

And yet…there is always more, when we have our circle of friends and family. For instance, last week a small  group of friends came together, for two nights. More than one was grieving loss, so both the tears and the laughter spilled over through the music, poetry, games, spa and heart wrenching discussions. And still, everyone left feeling more alive, loved and grateful.

Moai

It brought to mind the Japanese concept of “moai,” a concept attributed to the greatest longevity in the world, particularly for women. Maoi is essentially a lifelong social network of friends who support you into old age. Although we don’t have a “word” like that, we all experience the essential nature of our important friendships.

Our western research is unequivocal regarding the improved health metrics of those who have a close and committed group of friends whom they can rely on. And although ideally we would all live in the same area, that is not the case in North America. We are often widely seperated from our old friends and family.

And still, we can help and count on those friends from afar. Not in the way we could if we lived down the street but this is where technology really helps. For all of our complaints and fears about devices, we have never had it so easy to stay in touch with loved ones.

My cousin reads books to her granddaughter several evenings a week. I have had one Birthday dinner with my Mom using our iPads, when I couldn’t span the 4500 KM distance between us that year. It’s not better than being there, but it is certainly the best alternative.

Meeting Half-Way

Last Friday my friends in Vermont drove to Montreal, while I took the train, and we met for coffee at a pre-arranged location. We had a fun-filled day of conversation, good food, and a surprising event – a spectacular and immersive VanGogh exhibition in the heart of Montreal. They drove home in the evening while I had the luxury of sitting back and enjoying a two hour train ride. In other words, we can instigate opportunities to strengthen friendship even when we don’t live near to each other.

We are all getting older and I consider it a privilege, so I want to live my older age, as long as I can. I found this video, which was part of a larger piece and I was touched, inspired, and delighted, by this six minute segment. I knew about this group of women but I didn’t know this aspect of their story.

Their effort and their joy make it worth sharing and not just because they are all in their 80’s and 90’s but as a reminder to all of us to reach out and find the spark and the love that makes life worth living. A reason to get up in the morning. (sub-titles)

Six min Video – In the land of the immortals- Click here

Finally, circling back to the title of this post, from Tricycle’s Daily dharma:

“Joy creates a spaciousness in the mind that allows us to hold the suffering we experience inside us and around us without becoming overwhelmed, without collapsing into helplessness or despair. It brings inspiration and vitality, dispelling confusion and fear while connecting us with life. Profound understanding of suffering does not preclude awakening to joy. Indeed, it can inspire us all the more to celebrate joyfully the goodness in life. The Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu are good examples of people who have seen tremendous suffering and are still able to inspire others with an infectious joy.” ~ James Baraz

Notes

Note 1:) It is no credit to me this winter that I have kept my vow for not complaining about winter. It is January 22nd and the weather has been amazing compared to the previous winters and compared to elsewhere in Canada. I feel the weather gods have conspired to help me keep my vow. I am grateful!

Note 2:) My tiny habits experiment (from last week) was only moderately successful. Let’s say 1/3; so, I have tweaked my exercise to see if I can do better this week.

Note 3:) In my family we are planning our Chinese New Year celebration for Saturday night, the 25th. This is always a fun-filled time with friends and family. It is the year of the rat and there are two of them in the family – my daughter and son-in-law. And I believe that two of my Japanese friends, Yoshie and her husband are also rats. Must be a good sign because they are all wonderful people.

Note 4:) Thank you so very much for reading this blog. I consider it a great honour and I deeply appreciate you all, dear readers. Warm regards, Trudy