blind spots

Enjoy Your Life – repeat – Enjoy Your Precious Life

Hello dear readers: I am in Vermont for this ten days assisting at an annual training at the ToDo Institute. I am reposting a blog I wrote last October. There are times when we need to do what we can do.

I hope you enjoy this for the first time or as a friendly reminder of the last time. As you may imagine, it is beautiful here. A swath of vibrant colours and a house full of lovely and lively people, working hard.

 

It is easy when we are faced with unpleasant and devastating news to sink into seriousness, if not despair. Why not? We are often confronting  situations that require serious undertakings. And yet…one of the traits of  a mentally healthy person is the freedom to enjoy life. Take fall, for instance. I live in eastern Canada and everyday there are more red, orange and yellow leaves on the maples. Even though it is currently rainy, dark and damp there are moments, when the sun comes out, or you are running an errand and you catch a breathtaking glimpse of vibrant colours. When the rain stops your nose wiggles and there it is – a whiff of fall. The lucky ones may get to hear the crunch of dry autumn leaves underfoot or in the spokes of a bicycle.

Life can be tough. But we are tougher and we can help build our resilience when we develop the capacity to enjoy each other and the world around us. But to do that we need to say yes to beauty, laughter, learning and fun. We may not feel like it but we can make a date to take a walk around a lake, or through a forest trail, or visit an art gallery. Perhaps we call the friend who makes us laugh or take in a game or a concert. How about that pottery class that keeps catching your eye. These moments of noticing something outside of ourselves, help keep us sane. They nurture our spirits and boost our ability to bounce back.

I think ordinary moments offer tons of potential for enjoying life but we need to take advantage of them. Staying curious is one sure way to find enjoyment. Extending a helping hand is another. And one we may not give much thought to is not letting our feelings boss us around. If we wait to be in the right mood to do something we will miss many opportunities for joy. Not “feeling like it” is the exact prompt I need to get outside, look around, or pick up the phone and call a friend.

The truth is, life gives us challenges on a regular basis. We use our wit, skill and all the help we can get to take action on the things we can do something about. But don’t stop there. Use all those skills to find precious moments of surprise and delight waiting outside your door.

Notes

Note 1: “We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together, and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Note 2: Thank you for stopping by. Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up in the next two weeks. Much to be grateful for and I am so fully aware of my gratitude for all of you. Kind regards, Trudy

In Praise for the Incredible Kindness of Caregivers

Believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Believe that you may be that light for someone else.”     Kobi Yamada

 Today I was rushing and I’m afraid to say, not slowly, as is my intention. But, still, I managed a one hour walk, with a friend, on this beautiful day and that feels like progress.

We were chatting away about poetry and other things, when the question came up about what quality matters the most in life.  She said “kindness,” and I agreed. Our conversation brought up a 48 year old memory of kindness.

I was the beneficiary of extraordinary kindness in 1971, when I was 24 years of age. I have forgotten his name, but not him-I just refer to him as my earth angel. He was an orderly at the Ottawa General, in Ottawa, and thanks to his dedication and caring I recovered from a car accident several months before the orthopedic surgeon predicted.

I like to tell this story every few years, in memory and gratitude to this deeply caring man.

Following a bad accident on a hot July 1st, I regained consciousness in the recovery room of the Ottawa General to discover that I had a broken pelvis and collar bone while deeply convinced that I was also pregnant.

The next few days were difficult for the nursing staff as I stubbornly refused all pain medication and as a result I frequently fainted from the pain. I was determined that my unborn baby would not be exposed to anything that was potentially harmful. Problem was it worried the nurses.

Songs, Laughter and Hand Holding

My earth angel was French but there was no language barrier. He appeared in my room at midnight, three days into my hospital stay. As he came through the door that steaming hot night he was singing and kicking up his heels. The song was a popular one that summer, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.”

He arrived at my bedside, took my hand, and questioned me on my reasons for being uncooperative. After listening to my story with his serious and open heart, he agreed to help me and help the nurses responsible for my care. “It is not good for you to be in so much pain, he said. “There is only one thing to do; I will have to help your healing through laughter.”

“The nights are quiet here,” he explained, “so I can spend time with you. And you aren’t sleeping anyway, so we will tell stories.” And that is how he began his ten-day midnight shift and I began my healing journey through nights of laughing and crying to his stories and songs, mixed in with the pain of broken bones, nausea, and bruised ribs.

At first I would beg him to stop as the laughter worsened the pain, but he kept on, while holding my hand and fanning me from the heat. My suffering, however, began to ease. The fainting stopped. I soon could sleep for a few hours, and physiotherapy began. As the days went on and I was able to be lifted into a wheel chair, he started the next phase, which was to get me to eat.

What Do You want to Eat?

“If you could have anything to eat in the whole world,” he asked me at two in the morning, “what would it be?”

“A pepperoni, green pepper and mushroom pizza from Mario’s Pizza,” I answered instantly.

“You’re in luck, “he said, “I will order out right now and when it arrives, I will bring you down to the nurse’s station and we’ll all have a pizza party. I’m buying,” he insisted.

Eating began again.

And so it went. Caring, kindness, skill, devotion, humor, thoughtfulness, songs, even his own money, to help a “patient” who was lucky enough to be there on his shift.

My daughter, born eight months later, and I are eternally grateful to this extraordinary caregiver of our lives. With lifelong appreciation and love, I remember him, and his words and actions of comfort that helped me heal.

Aldous Huxley wrote the novel “Brave New World.” Toward the end of his life an interviewer asked, “Dr. Huxley, perhaps more than anyone else alive, you have studied the great spiritual and religious traditions of the world. What have you learned?” And Huxley answered, “I think we could just be a bit kinder.”

Notes

Note 1:) I will always and forever be an admirer of the caregivers in our midst. Both the paid ones and the unpaid ones. They are an under acknowledged group of amazing humans beings. I can’t sing their praises high enough. I have been the beneficiary throughout my life of amazing care.

Note 2:) Dear caregivers, please take care of yourself too. You are needed. We want you around for a long time. Please ask for help when you need it.

Note 3:) Thank you, dear readers for reading this story with me. It means alot. I am lucky to be able to show up on the page and to have you show up on this blog to read my musings. With appreciation, Trudy

The Anxiety and Stress of Not Knowing

Waiting for bad news

Getting bad news about our health can be devastating. Waiting to get the news from tests,  probes, and puzzled experts is fraught with anxiety and stress. And especially when all we hear is “inconclusive – let’s just wait and see.”

In the meantime the rash is now all over your body. The pain is worse. You can’t sleep. And you wonder if you will see your next Birthday. It is not only stressful and fearful, it gets to be embarrassing. The numerous calls to the Doctor, the visits to emergency, the tears falling unbidden, are part and parcel of living with this kind of uncertainty. There is not much worse than waiting and waiting and waiting, to see how bad, the bad news is.

Well, there is one aspect that makes it worse. Being alone. Even when you are with others, it feels alone, when the person who could provide you with the most solace is absent.

As bad as it feels at the time, it is part of the human experience. We were built for this too. As nervous as it makes us, we can survive the waiting and the not knowing. But here’s the important thing. We don’t just sit by passively hoping for the phone to ring. We do our own investigation.

I am aware of all the useless, if not harmful information on the web. But that’s not all there is. I often will check out something on MD Anderson or the Mayo Clinic or other trusted sites. They have useful patient information that doesn’t scare you to death but can shed some light on a certain group of symptoms. We can also be the annoying patient once in awhile and go see our Dr. yet again.

Playing an active role:

Learning to be proactive, with our own health needs, is not being a hypochondriac. Sometimes we need to keep knocking on doors to get to the bottom of the mystery. And in the meantime, while we play an active role and find different ways to sit and move and rest to minimize the pain and the fear, we can ask for the company of another human who we like. It’s great when that person is close at hand. But that is not always possible. Sometimes we rely on words of comfort delivered by phone or text.

The relief of knowing:

And then the day comes when the bad news, you were sure was coming, arrives. The difference is that we now go into action. More tests get set up; additional appointments with specialists; a course of treatment, if you are one of the lucky ones, gets presented.

For some no active treatment will be available. But there are still ways to improve the quality of life. The relief, even with the bad news is this. “At least now I know what I’m up against.” How many times have I heard those words uttered through tears and fear. I think about those waiting to hear. My heart goes out to them.

If you are one of those people there are so many suggestions I could offer, for while you wait. But I wouldn’t dream of writing them here as though “at least” you could do this. We honestly don’t know what it is like for person X  to live with this kind of uncertainty.

No advice giving

Well, maybe two things. Play an active role. Turn over all the stones. Make the calls. Get the second opinion. Ask for company and/or help, when you go to appointments. Even if you live alone you don’t need to go through the whole thing alone.

OK. There is a second thing I want to say. When someone is waiting to hear, it isn’t helpful to say to them, “I’m sure it will all be ok. Don’t worry.” Better to say, “You must be very worried. I hope you get some answers. Can I do something to be helpful?” Or just do something. A bouquet of sunflowers can help.

I know several people waiting for answers. I’m thinking of you and you and you. It’s amazing what we humans can sustain. How resilient our bodies are. How strong and resourceful we are. How our bodies want to help us get back to equilibrium.  And sometimes we simply need to let the tears fall for a few minutes or a few days.

However, if you dear reader have strategies you use for waiting I welcome them here, either in comments or by email to me. I can always post them anonymously, if you prefer. If anyone wants a few suggestions of what to do while waiting you are also welcome to contact me. There are no formulas or magic pills, but that doesn’t mean there are no handholds or strategies to help. Help is everywhere.

I leave you with a small poem from a little known poet whom I like.

 

In this time of waiting

 and not knowing

how things will unfold,

 may you find a pool of calm,

a place of peace and rest

deep within your soul.

by Nancy Gibbs Richards from A Small Steadying Sail of Love

Notes

Note 1:)  Take heart and be a nuisance if need be. And always be kind to yourself.

Note 2:) A big shout out to those earth angels that always appear just in the nick of time to be the light and the strength for someone in need. You are the best and you are everywhere.

Note 3:) With thanks to all of you for stopping by here. I appreciate you. Warm greetings, Trudy

What Is It About September?

September has Arrived

Fall is in the air. You can smell it; see it; hear it and almost taste it. I can almost touch it. The quality of the air feels different. It is the most glorious season for me. My Grandaughter insists it is because I was born in September. There is truth to that as for me it represents fresh starts and new beginnings far beyond the calendar New Year.

At this minute, the sun is streaming through the south facing windows at my daughter’s home. The cat is curled up in a state of total relaxation. I have a cup of coffee close at hand. It is visceral, this sense of abiding hope, joy and beauty. And it has nothing to do with the reality of any of the demands or obstacles in my life. It is simply the gift and grace of this September day for me.

I see this energy in my Grandchildren, too, who were not born in this month. First day of school was yesterday and they are filled with plans, dreams, friendships. “Awesome day,” was the rallying cry from both of them.

It is so easy to take a day for granted and declare it good or awful depending on what happens. Yet, when we move out from ourselves and look back with a wide angle lens we see the sheer beauty of  today and the incredible good fortune of being alive amongst the people we love. This is no small matter.

I want to remember

So for today, I want to remember how lucky I am. That if this was my last day I want to be aware of my surroundings and be an appreciator of all the beauty and support in my life. And not succumb to a utilitarian view of measurement – in my favour or not in my favour. Imperfection is part of existence. Some things we can improve and others we can’t.

I have never related to the “bucket list” idea, although it works for most people. For me, it is less about “what would I be doing if” and more about how would I do this thing now, if I knew it was the last thing I would ever do.

And as always, I skirt back to the ordinary. Our ordinary encounters with the people who cross our path. The ordinary tasks that we are responsible for. The ordinary meal we prepare for dinner. The ordinary chatter with our neighbour. And the extraordinary good fortune to be able to notice these things at all.

I hope you create moments to notice the beauty and preciousness of the day amidst the turmoil that sometimes confronts us. Pause and notice your breath. Wait to respond. Sleep on it. Take actions now to change what can be changed. September is a great month to get the ball rolling again.

May you notice the wondrous moments in your life. You may be surprised how most of them are small, easily overlooked, taken for granted kind of things. Noticing them, however, allows us to live large.

Notes

Note 1:) Hoping to get new internet service this afternoon after 12 days of several people trying to fix it. It is important to recognize when something can’t be fixed and you have to start over. That realization happened last Saturday.

Note 2:) Guess what. It is now 5:53 PM ET and we are back in business with connectivity. Whew! Thanks to Omar from Bell, who came from Toronto to help with the back-log. We were fortunate to get this set up so quickly.(see note 1)

Note 3:) I so appreciate you stopping by. Don’t hesitate to let me know, if there is anything I can do to for you.  Warm wishes, Trudy

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Easy to Live Well when you hold All the Aces

 A series of unfortunate events: some of them ordinary

This past week there have been a series of unfortunate events happening to people I know, including me. Everything from pain; allergic reactions causing severe itchiness; broken oven; internet and phone not working; teeth problems; horrible diagnosis; still waiting for test results; car problems; zoom link that didn’t work; needing to be in two places at once (that was interesting) mental and emotional fatigue; not enough time  or resources. I could go on.

Ok, I will go on. It was the call to the service provider, where you wait for 25 minutes with phone on speaker, and as you are ready to give up, the music stops and the pause arrives, just before the technician is supposed to answer. (Whew!)

But then, instead of the technician, an automated voice is asking you to please take a short survey to rate the service you just received. And you want to shout into the phone, “Wait! Service didn’t happen yet.” Of course that is useless. There is nobody there. Nope! It’s back to the end of the line to start over.

The truth is that there is nothing unusual about any of these things. Except to the person they are happening to. And even then, we can often roll with the inconvenient ones, but once there is a bit of a pile-on, we can get discouraged and fed up, even with the best of intentions and skills.

Once in a while it’s ok to just say your version of “the heck with this.” One of the reasons that I love and admire Darlene Cohen, author of Turning Suffering Inside Out, is her unlimited warmth and understanding towards ordinary and extraordinary human suffering and fallibility.

She understands more than most that we can’t be on our best behaviour all the time. Some days we need to go to bed with a bag of chocolate and a whole series of our favourite Netflix show. (Or equivalent) Sometimes we may need to cry for three days or throw a glass into the fireplace or something dramatic that doesn’t hurt anyone.

It’s ok to not be the poster person for anything.  We do the best we can, most of the time. And sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we sit at the bottom of the cliff and we have no energy at that point to do anything about it.

We are human beings. We get discouraged and weary. There are occasions when it all feels like too much.

Go ahead, indulge for a bit. Give yourself a break. It won’t last. And if it does there are things we can do to encourage ourselves and each other along.

These words from Barbara Kingsolver’s book High Tide in Tucson, are close by when I need them. She shows how this transformation is possible, even when our life is in ruins. She also shows the reality that there will be many ordinary times when we will be in need of pulling ourselves back up.

I hope you all, dear readers, will cultivate a certain tenderness towards  yourselves, at those times. Cut yourselves a little slack. There are many pieces in the puzzle of our lives. We don’t see the whole picture yet.

Notes

Note 1:) I know I could have written about all the things that are going right and all the help we get. This is unequivocally true! We want to keep that in mind. But I also want to remind us that there will be days when we wallow a little. There are times that we don’t want to hear “at least this or that didn’t happen…” And that is ok too.

Note 2:) You know that I appreciate you turning up here and I will never grow tired of thanking you. With appreciation, Trudy

 

 

We’re All on Our Way Out: so Use The Good Dishes

A fascinating thing about humans is that we all agree that our final destination is death. No one will contradict this. We just can’t grasp the truth that it may happen to us today. That thought is rather incomprehensible, if not plain ludicrous, for most of us.

I am glad that I get it, even though I don’t really get it. It reminds me of last words and what I want mine to be.

Not last words as in a proclamation of wisdom. No. No. Rather I’m speaking about my last words to whoever gets to hear them: the coffee barista, the janitor at my grandkids school, the Shaw repair person who came back to fix a problem, the cashier or the cleaning people or the bank manager or my son or Mother or friend…if I am lucky, someone will hear my last words, and  I just want them to be kind.

This understanding helps me, at least some of the time, to be aware that it isn’t always best to let the first thing that comes to mind, leave my lips.

And, of course, not for a moment do I think I am on my way out anytime soon. It just doesn’t compute, the magnitude being too great. Even my amazing Mother, who will be 100 next April, and previously thought that 90 seemed long enough, is now looking forward to her big celebration next year.

The joy of living is knowing how precious and tenuous it really is to be part of the full human experience. And what an amazing gift we have been given to fully participate in a plethora of capacities. Let’s do what we can do while we are able.

Note:1) My friend Helga suggests that we rush s.l.o.w.l.y This can be quite challenging, I am finding. In the context of uncertainty, however, it makes sense.

 Note:2) Thanks for spending part of summertime showing up here. I am always grateful to see you. Find wonderful moments and enjoy them. Warm greetings, Trudy

Wandering Around In a State of Wonder

How could these beautiful irises not be enough for a day or a lifetime…and yet we always look for more. Perhaps our obligation to the world is  more like expressing our jaw dropping appreciation.

 

IMG_6359

Wandering around in a state of “wonder.”

 

Mind Wanting More (an excerpt)
by Holly Hughes

But the mind always
wants more than it has —
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses — as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.

The wonder of enough:

I deeply believe we are all doing the best we can. (even when it seems like we are not) Include yourself in your circle of compassion. I have grown to cherish our imperfections, the messy business of living, the falling down and getting up, the joy that arises out of the blue. The fact that not everything works out the way we had hoped – and that we sometimes don’t have a clue what the next steps should be. To love and be loved.  To help and be helped.  To accept our differences. To pay attention to all the beauty and all the support we receive. To laugh and to cry. The miracle of the everyday. It is enough and I am grateful.

NOTES

Note 1:) I am home once again, finding my bearings, catching up, grateful for these last weeks of summer and  a heart overflowing with rich, significant, joyful  and life changing memories. Thanks to all who were part of my adventures from coast to coast.

Note 2: ) I appreciate, you, dear readers. I find it incredible that you take the time to open my weekly emails, and when you can, read what I write. Thank you! Take heart and courage as you wake up each morning, doing the everyday things that need doing. Stay curious and pay attention. And with that, making the world a better place for those around you. See you next week, Trudy

The Universal Language of Generosity

My eight days in Calgary and the Rockies left an imprint on my heart and on the hearts of several others.

I will tell you only about one aspect and that is the arrival of 12 Japanese at Wellspring  Calgary. They arrived, after four days of hiking in the Rockies, full of life, enthusiasm and an overflowing wellspring of goodwill.

Wellspring Calgary

Our Japanese visitors were prepared with beautiful slideshows, inspiring talks in English and Japanese, many beautiful gifts and a high level of engagement with the participants.  Perhaps it was their red and blue t-shirts that brightened the space. Maybe it was the 107 hand drawn and painted Etegami Postcards displayed for participants to select and take away. Maybe it was the way they introduced themselves in a language not their own. It could have been the 200 blank watercolour postcards that one of the Japanese members made by hand from Milk cartons, water and a blender. (that is the short version) Or the dozens of folded origami left as gifts.

Perhaps it was the stories, like the one where they cooked all their own meals during their four day hike or how one of the members at 75 was the oldest woman to climb the Via Ferrata. Or how they beamed sunshine  and filled the air with laughter.

What fascinated all of us, even when they weren’t speaking English, is how they manged to convey emotion and the deep meaning of their subject.  We were all laughing, crying, smiling and clapping. We mostly communicated  in two different languages, with a “little” or rather a lot of help from our friend Yoshie.

There were invitations to come back to Calgary and for Wellspringers to go to Japan, and during the time in between to become pen pals using Etegami.  Etegami is a “simple, colourful folk art(which everyone can do) and is more about sending kind wishes through the mail than it is about, ‘art.’ (Thanks Patricia Madson Ryan) Google translate can also be helpful with translating kind words.

There were more gifts for the new Wellspring, Randy O’Dell House. Art supplies for the Wellspring studio. Generosity abounded by everyone. And yet…there was the serious business of life and death; caregiving and bereavement; struggling with treatment and recovery from treatment.

Let’s just say that language was not a barrier.

The messages conveyed went way beyond ordinary language and opened my eyes to a communication without borders.

And what is more, the kindness and joy of our Japanese guests was reciprocated by the Wellspring staff and members. The warmth of the Wellspring welcome was evident and small treasures were bestowed on our new friends. A delicious bar-b-que, was prepared by the managers. Later, our guests assembled in the yoga studio for a fast paced session called Moves and Rhythms. Once again language was no barrier. Barabara Cunnings, facilitator and co-founder of Wellspring, conducted the program in silence. No language. Hand signals only to indicate that everyone follow her movements.

Somethings are difficult to convey. But take it from me. The world is not as bleak as it appears in the news. As human beings we have way more in common with each other than can be imagined. Our DNA propels us towards helping each other, and when required, transcending our own fears and difficulties on behalf of another.

Our Japanese guests and all the people at Wellspring Calgary were an inspiration to everyone who was lucky enough to be there. They personified Kevin Kaminski’s morning greeting:

“It’s a great day to be alive.”

Thank you to our Japanese and Wellspring friends. I think that you are at the beginning of a meaningful and wonderful friendship.

Notes:

1:) The photos on this page were taken by Nancy Wright. Thank you!

2:) My own steep climb up Wiwaxy Peak, (2,706 metres) at Lake O’Hara, is a cliff hanger. Let me just say for now that it was challenging, magnificent, fun and empowering. And not only am I forever grateful, I could never have accomplished it without Nancy, Huston, and Jenn. And countless others named and unnamed, who take such good care of this pristine area in YoHo National Park. So glad that I had this opportunity.

Note 3:) This past weekend in New Brunswick, was a celebration of love, longterm relationships, family, and community. An excellent example of the indepth research on what really fuels health, happiness and meaning. Congratulations to everyone who does their best to take care of each other.

Note 4:) A deep bow to everyone at Wellspring who had a hand in making this such a profound event including staff and members. And a deep bow to you, dear readers, who generously give me your time to read my blogs. See you next week. Live August to the hilt.  Warmly, Trudy

 

 

 

 

“It’s a Great Day to be Alive”- Kevin Kaminski

It is Sunday and since I will be in the mountains for the next few days I am writing my post early.

I want to tell you about yesterday – Saturday. It was a day that comprised everything.

The morning was openhearted joy as my friend Nancy and I welcomed the Japanese contingent to Calgary. Smiling faces, arms waving, hugs and tears of joy. Even their mountain guide, Katsu Goto, of Waputik Canada, was equally congenial and enthusiastic. Happiness!

Some members belong to a bereavement group called Blue Skies. And we were all aware that they landed in Calgary under brilliant blue skies. Seemed like a lucky omen for their days ahead.

 

 

After waving good bye at noon as they boarded their bus for Lake Louise, our next stop for the afternoon was Eden Brook.

 

 

Here we joined with hundreds of others to celebrate the life of a dear friend.

Open hearted sorrow was evident on all of our faces, arms kept busy with comforting embraces, and tears of sorrow and of loss flowed silently.

Such a contrast. And yet…

The day represented in vivid detail the continuum of life and death. Lives fully lived.

The remarkable thing was that the afternoon went way beyond being sad. We were all awestruck as we listened to the stories of Kevin’s life and learned more about this man who so many loved. What was most powerful was how he lived, worked, played, gave of himself, and how he loved. Everyone who spoke told stories of how Kevin overcame obstacles, never gave up and laughed with delight through it all.

Blind as a teenager he lived boldly and refused to see himself as a victim. Kevin stories, came one after another, of learning to drive (in a field), playing hockey, skiing, waterskiing, climbing mountains, starting a recording studio, changing careers, and riding a tandem bike from Calgary Alberta to San Jose California to support cancer patients. Kevin built houses, fished, was a devoted father, grandfather and husband. Nothing was too much trouble. On top of that he was a Paralympian. And he raised hundreds of thousand of dollars for charity.

Kevin was adored by his family and friends, and was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. His family was his biggest love and most important achievement.

It is clear that the way to honour Kevin’s beautiful and loving life is through our actions. Not replicating his but not holding ourselves back from learning, trying new things, loving, laughing, and taking care of each other. Living with outstretched arms.

What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

Notes

Note 1:) Yesterday I was inspired by 12 Japanese who have been impacted by cancer and who are in their 60’s and 70’s. Putting in the effort to train, execute, travel to another country to climb mountains, and demonstrate what we can do to live actively, fully, and joyfully with illness and while ageing.

Note 2:) Yesterday I was equally inspired by a dear friend whose life abruptly ended.  He too lived boldly and fully, overcoming many obstacles. Never giving up. Giving more than he took. Waking up every single morning and declaring: It’s a great day to be alive.  A deep bow, to Kevin. And sincere condolences to his family.

gardens

A Few Encouraging Words

“Happiness is deeper than just having a good time. It speaks to a type of resiliency, an ability to recover from setbacks.”  Sharon Salzberg

A constant  joy and source of my resilience, throughout my entire life, is reading a few good words everyday. Once again I get to thank my Mother for this gift. From my youngest years she would be writing out little quotations of encouraging words and passing them on to my sister and me.  I sometimes wonder if it is the words themselves that help us or the thoughtfulness of the messengers, who cared enough to pass them on. I suppose it is both. The support of others, cannot be overstated in our lives.

And what about the writer of the original words. Did the author even imagine when they wrote out words on a scrap of paper,  that those words might inspire a human born in a different country, who may speak a different language.

We all need encouraging words from time to time and even when we don’t get them, we can be the person to give them. The giving part is under our control. And surprisingly, perhaps, when we give them to another it helps us to endure what needs to be endured.

Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.”

Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

At this moment I am sitting at my desk, next to an open window. A gentle breeze is blowing. Birds are chirping. When I turn my head all I see are the beautiful branches of green leaves, on an ancient tree, giving shade.

This week, a friend much younger than me, suddenly died. A new baby was born, sister to my grandson’s friend. Overwhelming sorrow. Unbelievable joy. Both keep arriving. Tears and laughter keep us awake. So much pain and so much happiness. Everything can change in a second.

Life is messy and difficult and glorious. Don’t miss it. Pay attention. Start again. Pick your battles. Mend your fences. Be kind. Keep an open mind. And take care of each other. Oh yes, have fun.

There is no time other than now. We are not, contrary to what we think, “going” anywhere. It will never be more rich in some other moment than in this one. Although we may imagine that some future moment will be more pleasant, or less, than this one, we can’t really know. But whatever the future brings, it will not be what you expect, or what you think, and when it comes, it will be NOW too. It too will be a moment that can be very easily missed, just as easily missed as this one. 

From Arriving at your own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness. Jon Kabat Zinn

Notes

Note 1:) Three more days and our Japanese friends will arrive. Safe travels.

Note 2:) Thank you for coming by here week after week. With appreciation and best wishes always, Trudy