Fulfillment of the Chinese Curse: May you live in interesting times

It has indeed been interesting times here.  I took my husband to the UVA ER last Thursday night on the advice (more like direct order) of our PCP.  They have a bariatric unit and he has had the lapband surgery; he is also on meds that were prescribed at the time of the surgery and never adjusted after he lost so much weight.  Oops.  The doctors at UVA were also outspoken about the fact the meds were not the best ones to choose and quite possibly were not given in the correct dose to begin with.  Double Oops.  So they wanted to admit him for observation and to change/adjust his meds…but they didn’t have a bed.  They would need to look for one.  This was at 1 am Friday morning.  Dearest sent me home because we were told that it would be dawn before they knew–and if I stayed, I would not be safe to drive home.  So off I went, back up to Bealeton to await word.

Nearest bed?  Down in Salem VA, near Roanoke.  Off HE went.  And neatly solved the problem of my trying to go back and forth to see him daily, using up gas and money that we do not have to get there.

So…for the past several days, I have had the house to myself.  And frankly, I don’t like it.  I miss him.  It’s very quiet in a more than just audio sense.  It’s missing his presence in the house.  I have spoken to him each day, and each day he sounds better.  The meds are working, and seem to be working well.  For which I am glad.  He’s doing better, more relaxed and not needing his anxiety meds.  Which makes both of us glad.  This has also given him the documentation he needs for staying out of work, even if it’s just a “personal medical leave of absence”–at which point his company keeps him on the books as an unpaid employee, within the health insurance pool and they will pay their portion–we just have to pay what would have been his payroll deductions for that insurance.  We can live with that.  We have several new avenues to explore for assistance and benefits and income.

So his going into hospital, while at first seeming to be a bad thing, is actually a good thing.  We both agree on that.  On the other hand, we both miss each other terribly.  We haven’t been apart this long since the day we first met, almost exactly two years ago.  And for the past 2 months, we’ve pretty much been together 24 by 7.  So forgive the syrupy sweet mushiness of my saying how much I miss my beloved and he misses me.

And me…I have actually been doing some things around the house.  I got those boxes in order…remember, the ones I mentioned in an earlier blog, that I wanted to sort and move?  I did it!  Slowly, took plenty of breaks, did it carefully but bygod did it!  I can even open the other closet door now–not that I want to, because it’s full of MORE boxes, but hey.  It’s a start.  I even ran the vacuum because there’s enough carpeting to merit it.  Found my box of books and did something I haven’t done in over two years–read a “real” book (not my Kindle).  I found my external hard drive that I had been searching for!  Got all my music now which makes me very happy. Took out the trash!  (All by myself, just like a big girl! LOL)

Oh and I found my passport flash drive (the one with my life on it!?)–well, actually my daughter found it.  I thought it was with the external hard drive, but nooooo, I had put it in a “safe” place.  And promptly forgot that’s where it was.  So talking to her today, I mentioned it and she says, “Is it square and black and says “WD My Passport” on it?”  Yes. “I’ve got it.  It was in the bag with the laptop you’re lending me.” OHHELLSYEAH!  (She has been threatened with a most grievous death if she fails to bring it with her the next time she comes to visit.  Just saying.)

I cleared the boxes from in front of the closet with shelves (as opposed to the one with all the “more” boxes) and rearranged/organized said shelves.  Put some tchotchkes (Polish: knick-knacks) on my bamboo and iron shelving unit.  Cleaned the bathroom (ok, the toilet and sink, but it’s a start).  Cleaned out the refrigerator.  Updated everyone daily on Beloved’s status–and this will amuse you–as well as running maintenance on his Facebook games (Castleville and Dungeon Overlord).  Once I realized how close to Blacksburg he was, made sure that friends he has who still live there were made aware of his nearness–two phone calls and a visit from some of them helped make his days a little brighter.

Did my stuff on my own Facebook, including the games.  Had dinner with his best friend and the best friend’s significant other.  (Chinese, very good, would do it again–a major coup for me because his friend, like himself, is a “foodie” and finding new places for him that he would go back to is an accomplishment.  Yay me!)  Spoke to his parents each day and updated them.  Spoke to my parents as well.  Talked to my son and daughter (as I mentioned earlier).  Slept 8 -10 hours each night, which is a major feat for me, since I usually only do about 5.  Think the reduction of stress had anything to do with it?  Knowing that he was getting better made me sleep better, yes?

And how is that fibro thing going?  Well, there’s still pain.  I suspect that there will ALWAYS be some pain, somewhere.  Legs are doing better and as I move around, I realize that the soreness (rather than pain) is from lack of use–need to do some serious building back up of muscles that have been let sit too long.  My arms and hands are still the worst part and I do not see how I can go back to a job (any job) that requires me to be on the computer 8 hours a day.  Doing this is taking a while, as I have to stop and rest them.  Do various exercise motions and generally stretch and move them to relieve pain.  But all in all, I don’t feel too bad.  Still limited, and almost giddy when I do accomplish something (like moving the boxes without really putting myself out of action to recuperate from it).

And while it may seem almost childish to someone else, it’s those little moments of doing something that has been un-do-able for so long that makes it noteworthy for those of us with this disease.  Baby steps, baby steps.  Do a little, rest a while, do a little more.  Rest a little more.  Build back up the endurance that I’ve been robbed of, learn how to do things in new ways to prevent pain or alleviate the worst of it.  I am right-handed, but since that’s the one that hurts the most, I am becoming more ambidextrous than I already was, which was not inconsiderable.  And since my ability to do things is limited, I can prioritize better, can learn to let go the things that aren’t as important to me and how to do the things that are in a less stressful and stressing way.

And I get to bring my husband home on the day after tomorrow.  I go to sleep tonight, and I’m here tomorrow, then I sleep tomorrow night and when I wake up, it will be time to go get him!  So in roughly 40 hours, I will have my beloved back home with me, where he belongs.  And everything will be just fine.

Namaste!

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Life, Limits and General Stuff

So I’m sitting here, thinking about moving *these* boxes over there and *those* boxes next to the wall and just getting things in order in my house.

We’ve gotten some changes accomplished with the help of our young (strong and determined) friend.  I am no longer sequestered in the corner, in my little kitty nest.  I’m actually sitting up to the desk, in a desk chair–and instead of having to stand up to see my beloved, I can just swirl around in the chair to have a look at him.  We’ve gotten oh about 35% of the furniture into its “final” position, in a (vain?) attempt to establish order and some sense of normalcy.

BUT…we still have stacks of mother effing boxes that at this point, even knowing that I DO need some of what’s in them, I’d be just as happy to toss them into the dumpster if only to be rid of them.  I’m so tired of reading “UHaul” and “Office Depot” when I glance around the room.  And that’s not even counting all the USPS boxes we have (the man of the house inherited them from his father; do not send the USPS box police to my house to arrest me).

So I’m sitting here, thinking about all these damned boxes and wanting to move them around.  And thinking is the most I can do about it because the minute I begin to move, my body reminds me that I am NOT going to be as active as my brain thinks I can be.  And therein lies my greatest annoyance: the dichotomy between the medicated brain chemistry which makes me want to do things and the medicated but still painful body reality that won’t let me do shit.  (Or at least not much more than type this and toddle to the water dispenser for more H2O.)

Since I am no longer sitting with my feet up all day, my ankles are … puffy, balloon-like and otherwise having issues with edema.  Doctor put me on meds for that, but so far, all I do is pee more.  And it’s damned uncomfortable to shuffle on elephant feet to the potty and pee more often than I already did.  (Side note: lived in West Texas for 4 years, learned to drink water all day long–between 1/2 and 1 GALLON daily.  Still do it.  On the other hand, no UTI’s and my pee is almost clear, I wash out the system so well.)

My hands are also swollen and both hands and feet are still painful in the joints/digits.  (As opposed to the back of my hands and the tops of my feet, which were hurting me a couple of weeks ago.)  I can barely hold my water bottle (32 ounces or 2 pounds) so moving boxes that weigh a whole lot more is just nonsense and out of the question.  Which brings me to my conundrum: the meds I’m on are fixing the mental part of fibromyalgia, but not so much the physical side.  I am improving there as well, but not nearly as dramatically.

Speaking of which, my husband says that the changes he’s seeing are so much, so quickly that it is disorienting for him.  I am rapidly returning to the person he met two years ago and in some ways, even better.  I was headed down this road slowly without him and would probably have ended up in the same sticky situation — we strongly suspect that living for a year in a house that we only discovered had black mold 1 month before the lease was due for renewal is what accelerated my (already headed to) downward rush into truly bad health.  I am so glad that we are together because if I was like this, if I had to live on my own the way I’ve had to live the past 18 months…I might not be living.  I could not have done this without him.  Lots to be grateful for and I am, really.

So I’m learning to deal with this huge mismatch of thinking about doing and not being able to do.  I am also finding out that those things that I can do still need to be done slowly and carefully.  I must not overdo and it’s very hard to find that line since it’s so close to my “not doing” starting point.  I do things, feel okay, keep doing and then end up spending the next day having to rest because I overdid.  It’s a very fine line.  And I’m not talking about doing major earth-shattering stuff.  I’m talking about unloading and then re-loading the dishwasher and fixing a meal.  I’m talking about doing 2-3 loads of laundry (with the time between loads as things spin around in their respective machines to rest).  Normal, daily chore type stuff.  Don’t even talk to me about dusting or vacuuming…what is that?  And the bathroom….oh gods the bathroom.  I hit various spots of it on a semi-regular basis, but the whole room really needs to be cleaned.

Which then leads me to the idea of doing other things, like actually opening and using the oil paint supplies I bought like 8 years ago and I have no idea if the paints are even still usable.  I have several crochet projects going on and find that just a single row on a blanket is almost more than I can take.  I hope to have Froggy’s blanket ready for him before he goes to college…but at this rate, maybe not.  I would read but holding a book is not a comfortable position for the hands.  Guess I need to install Kindle on this computer and read online.  I haven’t had the energy or the ability to even think about that until recently.  Or as the man of the house says, “Is it a good sign that I am getting bored with playing games on Facebook?”  Why yes, yes it is.

I’ve been told that I have the most patience in the world…but never for me or my own life.  Maybe that’s the lesson I’m being taught.  To learn how to accept my limitations, to learn how to do the things I want to do, need to do within the parameters of fibromyalgia.  Not to ignore the disease and then pay for it later with MORE pain, but to gently, slowly, ease back into doing things.  And the hardest part of this?  Not being apologetic for it, not feeling somehow less as a person for not doing more.  To ask for help when I need it.  To be grateful for that help and to not think it’s a black mark against me.  That I am not a slacker or lazy.  (Part of the leftover baggage from the first marriage, before the diagnosis and without realizing that I was ILL not lazy at that time.)

We’re still having guests on a regular basis–spent a chunk of yesterday helping a friend bitch slap her laptop and desktop computers into working if not at their best, at least better than they had been.  And had to impart the bad news that when you drop a hard drive and then it makes a clicking sound…you’re talking professional data retrieval at a price that is not affordable for her at this time.  On the other hand, put that drive on a shelf and when you have the $$, go get it read out.  It’s not going anywhere.  Socializing and technology, a good meal together and a lovely evening was had by all.

We will also have a houseful tomorrow as my daughter and our friend are both coming to help us celebrate the beloved’s birthday.  My granddaughter may or may not make an appearance and the plan is for strawberry ice cream cake.  He found a cake that had a layer of ice cream between the cake, rather than a cake made out of ice cream…and if that’s what he wants, that’s what he gets!

So life goes on; still no word about either disability claim so stress about money is climbing, but we’re doing our best with that.  Hopefully we will get some resolution with at least one claim this week or next.  We’re both doing better and so the upward motion of health is a good sign, an omen that we are indeed regaining a “real” life once more.  One small step for me, one giant step for my health.

Namaste!

What Are You Afraid Of?

What are you afraid of?  Spiders?  Exams?  The dark?  Nothing?

Oh that’s a lie.  Afraid of nothing?? Everyone is afraid of something, even if they don’t admit it.  You’re human, you have a fear.  Or fears.  It’s normal, it’s natural.  Wait a minute…let’s separate those two words, normal and natural.  Normal…being the norm, the usual thing.  Okay, yes, fear is normal.  Natural…being of nature.  Is it your nature to be fearful?  Hmmmm.  Not so…normal.  Fear of course occurs IN Nature: prey animals know they are food and fear their predators.  It’s a normal instinct, helps to keep them alive.  But stop and think about the kind of life those prey animals lead: always in fear, always on the lookout for the predator.  Most of them are grazing animals…you do know that “grazing” essential translates into “eating on the move”?  And to sleep (perchance, to dream) they either catch naps and move some more during the night or they go into hiding (dens) to avoid being eaten while asleep.  Prey animals also tend to be herd animals, with a mindset of “if there’s a lot of us, moving around, then I personally stand a better chance of avoiding the predator’s picking me”.  (Fish in schools and birds in flocks also have this mindset.)

Humans, while tribal, are not HERD animals by nature.  They are not preyed upon by another animal.  We are the supreme predator in the natural world.  So naturally, we are not supposed to live our lives like a prey animal.  Are you living your life with the prey animal mindset?  Are you living a life of fear?  One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie “Strictly Ballroom” and it’s this:  A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.  (Rinse and repeat as necessary to let go of fear.)  We are not, BY NATURE, supposed to be afraid of the things around us.  But everything is geared towards giving you fear and increasing that fear and feeding that fear until you become what my friend refers to as “sheeple”.  Yes, people with a prey animal’s mindset.

Before we can talk about that, let’s separate the “good” fear of natural reaction/instincts from the life-sucking, “drag you down and bury you alive” fears that we are taught.  It’s right to fear a poisonous snake when you are in the bayous of Louisiana and water moccasins are a real threat.  It’s a good thing to be alert for their presence and be prepared to defend yourself should they decide to attack you.  (And they are an aggressive snake and WILL attack.)  It’s right to fear a fall from a great height when you are a window washer on a New York skyscraper, to be alert for the danger and to protect yourself by clipping onto a safety line.  Is that enough of an example of good fear?  Oddly enough, we don’t call that “fear”.  We call that “good sense” or “being cautious” or “looking out for danger”.  It is a wariness, aware-ness, a heightened state of alertness, appropriate to the situation that does not extend beyond the moment of danger or past the need for that caution to interfere with our daily lives.

Which leads me to the “bad” fears, the ones we just call “fear”.  These can be identified by the fact that the prey response (heightened alertness, unease, “fight or flight” response) goes on ….all the time.  Or at inappropriate times.  It interferes with our daily living.  It quite literally can cripple us, if only mentally, from achieving our full potential.  So let’s get back to “everything is geared towards giving you fear”.  We are taught, from an early age, to fear the world around us.  Our own parents can teach us fears without even meaning too–a mother that is afraid of spiders and shrieks and runs each time she encounters one will almost inevitably give that fear to her child.  Children are not stupid and they are certainly more intelligent than the family dog, who can read your moods–so it should be no surprise that a very young child can be taught to fear just by the parent’s example.  The prime one that a lot of them learn is taught by the parent during the phase when the child is trying to overcome gravity: that is, trying to walk.  The child makes a step or two and then gravity takes over.  Instead of going “Oopsy daisy” or something similar, too many parents run over and grab up the child, making high pitched sounds (Are you okay, ooooh poor baby!) that in nature indicate distress.  If Mom’s upset, then something bad must have happened.  So the child cries.  And the cycle repeats.

As we get older, we get more teachers and more places to receive our information from–friends, TV, Internet, and so on.  We also begin to assimilate the societal information, which includes such things as racism (overt or, more sinister, COVERT), tribal identity and the need to exclude those “that are not of OUR tribe”, and the societal fears (of being unemployed, of being shunned).  Even those nice Public Service Announcements are usually of a fearful bent, warning us about the dangers of this or that.  Not that those dangers aren’t real, but the intensity of the fear we should feel about them can interfere with our lives.  The media is a prime teacher of fear: the 6 pm news always tells us how bad the world is, how dreadful things are around us.  Newspapers sell on death and tragedy, making it seem like that’s all there is “out there”.  And everyone knows just how evil and awful the Internet is, with online stalkers and child pornography.  It’s a bad, scary world “out there” and we should all be afraid.  Be very afraid. Stay at home and “we” will tell you how to live your life and worse, how to think.  Don’t think, we’ll think for you.

Now that’s something you should fear.  Like FDR said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”.  I would suggest that in most cases, the fear is being taught specifically to control us.  “Don’t run out in the street, you’ll get run over.”  Right, good advice.  Not if you’re terrified of taking a walk because of the remote possibility that some mad man will tear down the street as you try to get to the other side.  It’s a matter of degree, which can only be determined by YOU.  You must be able to think clearly and coherently and decide what is dangerous and what is not.  You must have the freedom of choice to be able to live a life without fear, to live a life without external control.

So back to our original question: what are you afraid of?  I believe the better question is this: WHY are you afraid?  Don’t tell me you have a fear of cats if you can’t explain it, logically and without emotional wording, giving me a valid reason why you should be so terrified of that cute little kitty.  I can understand a fear of the ocean if you were attacked by a shark as a child, but I won’t let you off the hook if your only reason is that you saw the movie “Jaws”.  Fear, abnormal and unnatural fear needs to be examined, needs to be dissected and pulled apart to see what it really is.  Is it a true fear, based on a true event that happened to you (not someone you know or heard about on the news), an internal and internally generated fear…or is it a false fear, something taught to you by an external source, that is only feared because someone else told (or showed) you to fear it?

I had a friend that insisted he did not like Chinese food.  Finally one day I got smart and asked the right question: Have you ever HAD Chinese food?  Ummm, no.  Then you don’t know if you like it or not.  I made a deal with him–I ordered something I thought he’d like and if he tasted it and didn’t like it, I would then order him a pizza.  Guess what?  He liked it, Mikey, he liked it!  (Reference to the Life cereal ad if you’re too young to remember it.)

So I ask you the right question: WHY are you afraid?  This fear that you have…why do you have it?  Where did it come from?  When did you first realize that you had it?  And most importantly, why does it interfere with your life?  How does it interfere?  And why do you let it?  Okay, that’s really 7 questions. But they are a testing ground for independent thought and conscious choice-making.  I’m not really talking about clinical fears, aka phobias.  Those are groundless and emotion-laden and require someone with a degree to work through.  I’m talking your garden variety fears: I’m too…fat, skinny, old, young.  I could never…skydive, ride a bike, teach a class.  I’m not able to…get that job, talk to her, let go of past conceptions for current truths.

We buy into the fear-mongering of the media, we accept as natural this need to herd and hide from “the predator”… the only predator we need to be afraid of is called “fear” because it will kill us, bit by bit, tiny shred of our mind by larger shred.  And this is the point in my discussion with you that I share the following lesson on fear:

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
(Frank Herbert, “Dune” series, “The Litany Against Fear”)

I must not fear.  To fear or not to fear, that is the question.  It is a choice that we have, even if we perhaps do not actually recognize it as such.  “Must” because if I give in to fear, I become its slave and it rules me instead of it being that choice.  It is an impelling choice, “must not fear”.  Something that is required, something important…”I must”.  I MUST not fear.  I must NOT fear.  Same thing.

Fear is the mind-killer.  Fear removes our ability to choose because we get so enmeshed in the fear that we can’t see the way out.  Our thoughts become chaotic but paralyzed and this is the “little-death” that brings our total obliteration.  How many have died because of fear?  And I don’t mean scared to death, I mean died as a direct result of someone’s fear, if not their own.  Hitler feared the Jews; race wars are based on fear of another’s color.  Someone who fears cancer may not seek treatment for a suspicious lump because of that fear and instead of finding it and treating it, they end up dying from the very cancer that they feared.  From a single individual to entire populations, fear can truly be that little-death which brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.  I will look at it closely, examine it, rip it apart to understand how it works and then, “forget” to put it back together.  Because once I know the fear, once I can identify it and say what it is, what it truly is, I can let go of it and get on with my life.  I can take back control of my own life, my own thinking.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.  I don’t deny its existence.  I treat it like every other experience I have: I let it exist long enough for me to identify it and then it leaves and I go on to the next moment of my life.  By passing over me and through me, I acknowledge that it is separate from me–it is NOT me.  I am not my fear.  My fear is NOT me.  It has a motion of its own that is not me and I can either hold on to it or let it go.  I choose to let it go.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.  Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain.  Fear is smoke and mirrors, fears is “don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain”, fear is…ephemeral and can only live if I let it feed off of me.  If I don’t feed it, if I refuse to give it a reality that it doesn’t deserve and cannot create on its own, it is nothing.  Only I will remain.

Like with many of the things I write, I am back to the idea of examining one’s self, to know who you really are, what you really want.  To live a life of constant testing of self, constant testing of “truth”.  I repeat what I’ve said before: “truth” is dynamic, it’s changing all the time, and it mostly depends on your point of view.  What was true, even for you, yesterday may not be true today.  May not be true tomorrow.  So always test your truths, always examine your self (pointed separation of words there; not “yourself” but YOUR self, the inner core–your soul, if that’s how you’d classify it.  The part of you that makes you unique, that makes you YOU.

And part of that identification of self includes the examination and identification of your fear(s).  It’s very easy to decide what to keep and what to get rid of if you use this kind of question test:

1.  Is this true?
2.  If it is true, how do I know that it is true of my own experience and not secondhand?
3.  If it is true and I know it from my own living, does it lift me up or drag me down?  (Is it a positive, helpful thing or a negative, harmful thing)
4.  If it is true and I know it from my own living, and it lifts me up, does it help me live a sacred life?
5.  Is is still true?
(Rinse and repeat as necessary, every day.)

What do you fear and why do you fear it?  What would happen if you stopped having that fear?  What will happen if you don’t?  Does that fear interfear with your life?  (Intentional misspelling, don’t comment on my ability to write.)  Who is in control, you or your fear?  Do you want to continue to live your life with someone else in charge?  “Yes, Mr. Fear, right away sir.”.  I must not fear.  I WILL not fear for fear is the mind-killer that brings about the total obliteration of who I am and I’m not going to let that happen.  I’m going to look my fear in the face and say, (excuse the language) “FUCK YOU, FEAR” and it’s going to get out of my life…where it never belonged in the first place.  Out, damned fear, out.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.  Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain.

I

WILL

REMAIN —

JUST ME.

Thank you for your time, and Namaste!

Bright Blessed Day / Dark Sacred Night

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Yes it is.  Dealing with my fibromyalgia for the past 12-18 months has taken so much of my attention and time that I feel I have stopped paying attention to my spiritual path.  I had stepped back from my responsibilities as a leader for my group to have a spiritual retreat, a time of in-looking and thoughtful pursuit of my own spiritual needs and ideas.  I was supposed to be on a journey for my soul…and instead, it’s been a journey of pain and doctor visits.  I’ve seen my physician more in the past 18 months than I’ve seen a doctor the rest of my life, including 3 pregnancies.  It’s hard to focus on anything else except the body when the body is not healthy.

As I think back over the time, I find moments both small and large where I was able to live a sacred life even with fibro.  The big ones: Paul and I helped a friend out of an abusive marriage, held her hand and were there as friends as she started a new life with her teenage daughter.  He and I also helped to give a co-worker, also an abused (now ex) wife and her children a Christmas to remember with the assistance of his parents and sister.  It wasn’t about the presents, it was the fact that there were any at all for them, and in a setting of love and family togetherness.  When the cost of a bra is a major household expenditure, even dollar store gifts are awesome.  And when they are GIFTS, not the things you “need” because you’re managing that, but purely luxury items that you couldn’t afford….well, the rest of us didn’t need the presents we got.  The joy of their holiday was gift enough.

The “small” moments aren’t small, really…just the opportunities for them are so much greater than the “large” that I divide them into these groups.  My small moments of sacred life?  Looking into the eyes of my 2 month old grandson for the first time.  Spending the day with my daughter, doing nothing momentous but sharing a deeply satisfying day together.  Being able to reach out and hug my husband and have him hug me back.  (And with the new meds, it no longer hurts! – which I had put up with in order to hold him.  Worth the price of the pain.)  Seeing my son holding his son and the love that shines like a fire between them.  Watching the sunset and as always in awe of the fact that even if no one ever looked, that glorious display would occur every day anyhow.  Enjoying the far vista of smoky mountains and the gentle ripple of countryside on a car drive.  Sharing a bite of a good meal with someone I love.

Even through all of the health issues (his and mine), we have managed to continue to do the ministry together that we had been doing separately: the willing ear to listen to the troubles of a wounded soul; the (hopefully) wise words to help someone find their way; letting all those who need a quiet space to just breathe into our home without question.  But my capacity for this sacred work has been at an all time low and sometimes, I’ve only been able to just sit and hold their hand.

And now that I am properly medicated and my endurance is returning, I find myself turning more and more back to those spiritual things I wanted to explore.  The fact that I can write this blog is a major accomplishment compared to the writing I wanted to do, that got lost in days of inability to type, my mental fog so pervasive that major chunks of time are missing.  And yet I cannot regret that time.  As I said in “The Zen of Fibromyalgia”, I was given time to sit still and know that I am sacred.  To learn to identify the parts of the body in a new way, to have forced limitations so that I learned to be more thoughtful about my actions, to plan my activity with the knowledge that I must do it in a way that did not waste my ability to do it.  To learn that just sitting, sitting as the Buddha sat, can be sacred action and spiritual learning.

As a Buddhist, it is my goal to live each moment and not only that, but to recognize and honor the sacred within each moment as I experience it.  To then let go of the moment and accept the next in its turn.  I try to always seek the sacred in all that I encounter (which is a fine ambition, but like I said, I TRY) and to honor the sacred wherever I find it.  I’m human.  I get angry, I get bitchy, I can be unpleasant.  I fail, time after time.  And yet I also let go of *those* moments as well, to try and not let the residual emotions and negativity linger into the next moment, to stop the ripple effect.  Or to let the ripple move past me, and like Frank Herbert’s (Dune) “Litany Against Fear”, I let it go over and through me and when it has gone past me, I will turn and look and only I will remain.

(Inserted note regarding that literary allusion.  The litany reads as follows:
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”

This will find its way into a new blog about fear at some time in the future.  I can feel it congealing as thought that will desire written expression eventually.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.  Sorry for the interruption.)

Where was I?  Oh yes.  Living in the moment.  Finding the sacred in each moment.  Letting go of bad things (internal and external).  Trying to understand why I have had to go through what I have been going through and trying to find that sacred purpose in all of this being sick stuff.  And listening to Louis Armstrong singing about what a wonderful world, the words I’ve used as my title really stuck out.  I have always liked them, but they really hit home today.  The bright, blessed day.  The time when I was up and around, able to minister, able to live a “normal” life, do the things I wanted to do.  The dark, sacred night.  This is the time I have been living in.  In the dark, when the activities are not so visible, they are even (gasp) occult!  (Which only means “hidden”, really…nothing more).  In the night, which is a time for rest.  I needed to step back and take a breather from my ministry, needed the “sleep” from doing to find recuperation for my own sacred spaces.  To rejuvenate and replace that spiritual energy.  To dream, without a defined ending, of what might be and what I could do.  To be literally “in the dark” about where I was going, what I was doing.  Certainly seems that way.

And since everything is a circle and all cycles come back around to their starting point, I once again am having the dawning of another bright, blessed day.

Namaste, and a bright, BLESSED day to you as well.

My Life (Regained)

Pursuant to some prior blogging where I talk about the change in meds and overall improvement, I’d like to let you all know that I feel like I am continuing to improve and come back to myself finally.  My endurance is increasing and now when I crash, it’s not so much into a crying hot mess as I just pass out and sleep.  Which means I’m still not quite ready to go back to work, but at least the thought of returning to a job doesn’t completely overwhelm me as it had been.

In an effort to reclaim some semblance of normalcy in our lives, Paul and I have started setting a better schedule for our days.  We actually go to bed at a more decent time than 3 am and we set an alarm so that we don’t end up sleeping half the day away.  We still nap if we need it, but the idea is to keep a  daytime schedule rather than being complete night owls.  We are also making the effort to actually get dressed each day, instead of sitting around in our jammies.  The psychology of being clothed helps with the framework of “day=clothes; night=jammies” and creates some order.  We are also trying to add at least one hour of actual chore time to each day, which will help get the house in order and that in turn, I believe, will help us feel better as we tame the wilderness of “stuff” that is piled up and set around.  Get the small things in order and the larger things will follow.  (I hope and that is my plan.)

Does this require conscious effort?  Of course.  Are there times when we just don’t feel like it?  Duh.  But it is still a workable plan of action and something worth pursuing.  We could continue to drift through our days, without purpose or plan and end up nowhere.  Or we can, to continue with the river type metaphor, grab a hold of the wheel of this ship of our lives and at least steer on a more considered and thoughtful course.  Where is that we want to go?  If you don’t set a destination, you won’t know when you get there.  Even “going with the flow”, which is a large part of my Buddhist beliefs, requires some idea of the port you’re headed for.  I don’t even mind steering down the river and checking out the various ports as they come up, one on this side of the river and one on that.  Interesting ones can be docked at to see if there’s something valuable for us there…but if no one’s steering at all, well you just slide on by and miss opportunities.

And what kind of opportunities am I hoping for?  How about being able to see my friends again–if they’ll still meet me after my being incommunicado for almost 2 years.  And if not being able to regain old friendships, then getting out there and making new friends, and being able to actually DO things with them.  I’d like to start checking out job possibilities and being more or less central to Manassas, Warrenton, Culpeper and Fredericksburg, that gives me a lot of area to look at.  I’d like a job that has career potential, a chance for promotions if I do well, a decent wage and a work environment that makes me glad to come to work each day.  (These jobs really do exist, so I hear.  My last job only had 2 out of 4 and it wasn’t career or promotions.)  I would dearly long to return to actively doing what I consider to be my “real” and main job in life: ministering to those who seek, healing the hurt and sick, counseling those who are troubled in mind or spirit.  This requires energy I have not had in a long time and I feel the urgency to get well enough myself to help others in their turn.  The fact that I am now married to a man who also has this as his primary mission means that we can join forces and hopefully make a difference where it counts.

I’m still trying to take it carefully and not overdo although that magic point of “too much” is still variable and fuzzy enough that I don’t always recognize it in time.  The difference in me is noticeable to the people who have been around me the past two years.  I am finally well enough that I have to look back over that time and realize just how terribly sick I was.  It is hard to identify fibro as “that” decimating…there’s no bones hanging out, no blood or pus, no trip to the hospital to prove that you are indeed in terrible health.  I have essentially lost two years of my life; I don’t remember huge chunks of time and only things like holidays really stand out when I try to remember.  I am so grateful for Paul as I could NOT have done this and fought through it without him.  If I had had to face it alone, I probably would have ended up making the ultimate decision to stop living.  That much pain, that much inability to live a meaningful life of any sort…why bother?  So Paul has been my strength and my support and my prod as I needed it.  Thank the gods for his doctor, whom he insisted I see.  Thank the gods for his love, his determination to get me well, his care and his never-ending support and encouragement.

I am feeling more and more like the real me again…and mortals everywhere shudder.

Namaste!