Beginner's Heart

2014-01-07 12.42.25 It’s chilly outside — down 49 degrees tonight! And life is chaotic, as we adapt to a downstairs bed for my beloved, a dining table ‘office,’ and all the other accoutrements of a busted ankle.

So here’s what you do when life sends you mail you’d like to return to sender: make a cup of tea. Something strong, something fragrant. Add milk & Demerara sugar.

Then? Take a break from that mail. Listen to the rain falling outsideclouds-in-blue-sky-2 the window. Watch the sparrows lining up on tree branches, the deck railing, the iron hook holding hungrily sought-after seed.

And remember: big sky mind. It all passes. Even if sometimes it takes a nice hot cup of tea to remind me.

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

Can you say trimalleolar ankle fracture, three times, FAST? As I said the other day, it means all three bones in your ankle fractured. Broke, busted. And a big OUCH. My poor husband.

Today his right ankle looks like the before picture — almost exactly. Three breaks (you can’t see the ‘posterior malleolus’ — the back little break). Having just come from 4 hours at the doc’s, I can say that w/ certainty. But tomorrow, hopefully, it will look like after: a metal plate, multiple screws, and a larger screw holding everything back in place. And even though it won’t work (yet), it will be heading that direction, ultimately.

In the meantime — and for weeks to come — he’s not able to put ANY weight on his right foot. Not even touch it to the floor, Michael the nice PA told us.

So here’s a picture: two-story house. Master bedroom (& both full baths) upstairs. Only a tiiiiny half-bath downstairs (they used to be called ‘powder rooms,’ but who powders anymore??). Luckily, tile in the downstairs 1/2 bath. Because he may become quite familiar w/ the downstairs facilities. But he does get a knee scooter (he’s not nearly as excited about this as I am.)

via google

via google

It also means I will get a workout. And that’s when I’m especially glad for my friends & family. Already, the sister network has warned me I BETTER reach out if I need ANYTHING. While friends have offered everything from chauffeur duties to grocery shopping. Even if I end up not needing anything, the sheer outpouring of concern and affection is heart-warming.

And I will need things — primarily that concern & affection, the connections that have enfolded me in support. I wasn’t here when my beloved fell, and I felt terrible. Scared it was worse than he was telling me, and certain that if I hadn’t taken off for the sisters weekend, it wouldn’t have happened. My web assures me NO, assertively and loudly. I need(ed) to hear that…

I also feel bad that I get tired going up & down stairs. I feel guilty that I’m not always glad to help. Even though I adore my beloved, ours is a house bought w/ two folks in mind. Between dogs & cat & birds & laundry & cooking & now all of it by myself, not to mention sick room duties? I am so very grateful for the dear friends who have listened as I process. It seems so…unfeeling to complain about such piddly details when my beloved is out of commission, and in great pain.


via google

And that’s the deal: if you reach out, the web will support you. It will hold you and comfort you. It will reassure you that you’re human, thus both fallible and heroic. 🙂

I’m always willing to support, but leaning into the web for me is… Well, let’s just say I’m not as experienced w/ that perspective! So for all of you equally uncertain about asking for help? Just do it. You’ll be surprised and grateful. I promise. Each of us is the nexus of a huge web of love, support, & connection. All you have to do is reach out.

sister hands mani pediTime. Time to talk, time to laugh, time to share food. Time to poke fun at those you love, time to remember. Time and sisters.

This past week I spent days in Dallas (actually McKinney) w/ one of my three sisters and her beloved. A few days after I arrived, our other two sisters decided to drive down to join us. And suddenly it was The Sister Weekend!

Food, and shopping, and (of course!) a spa visit. That’s the four of us and our dear sister-of-the-heart Liz, showing off our cool nail jobs. We primped and pampered, and it was the best kind of spoiling. We have GORGEOUS hands.

But this is also a tale of feet, one in particular. My poor husband’s sadly battered right foot — well, his ankle. A “trimalleolar” fracture: he broke all three bones in his ankle. OUCH!

So, I had a wonderful weekend until I heard about his ankle. Noooo weight on one of your legs? Wow — how hard is that? AND steel pins. When my cousin shattered her ankle, she had to have months of traction!glen's broken ankle Plus, this is the kind of guy who drove himself both to AND from the hospital. He doesn’t take kindly to being stove up.

Tomorrow we’ll find out more what our immediate future entails. Almost certainly a hospital and pins. It’s a reminder: life is change, and it’s not always the changes you ordered. Kind of like a restaurant sending you out curried liver instead of trout. Although a lot more…long-term in impact.

Healing also requires time, but it’s far too often time that feels ‘wasted’ and not time that you remember fondly. I’m going to see if we can shift that paradigm, since we’re going to have to make changes in our living, I’m sure. Why can’t this healing time be — as it was this weekend — a time to make memories? Why can’t this be a time of reflection, and even quiet joy? Still, it reminds me of an old curse: may you live in interesting times. This could be interesting! And it will certainly be memorable.


imageToday I joined my sister, brother-in-law and sister -in-heart for walk through the Dallas Arboretum. This is a picture of the Fern Dell, not far in from the entrance.

Liz — my sister’s best friend — used her membership to get the four of us in to the Arboretum. Now, I LOVE arboretums. Not much more beautiful, in my none-too-humble opinion, than beautiful informal gardens. Unfortunately, I’m not a long-distance walker these days.

So when I saw this lovely little pond, wearing a ruff of pink & white caladiums, beneath crape myrtles and Japanese maples and more, I was smitten. The others had to go on w/out me — I sat myself down on a bench to the side of the path and breathed. Seriously — for several minutes, I just inhaled the damp green-water&dirt fragrance.

There’s research I read relatively recently that says that being outside, in an environment like this, is better than Paxil. As good, in other words, as prescription anti-depressants. Just sitting beside the dell reminded me to breathe deeply. To chill, as we used to say. Although in 90-degree Dallas heat, it wasn’t easy. Then a breeze came, and I took out my watercolour pencils, and began to draw & write. imageThis despite the fact that — as you can see — drawing is NOT my best skill!

But here’s what happens when you look at something beautiful long & carefully, with enough attention to attempt to reproduce it on paper: you see it. Maybe unlike we see most of our lives. You see tree boles, and try to understand the red/gold/green of Japanese maple leaves. You notice where light falls and shadow lurks. You wonder exactly how to capture — if it’s even possible? — the silvered greygreen of shimmering water.

All of this takes time, when I could have been walking w/ my family. However, my contention is this: we NEED silence, and the contemplative attention that comes w/ writing a tanka, sketching nature. And we don’t have to be ‘good’ at either — we only have to practice. The way Buddhists speak of ‘your practice.’

Days like today, I realise that my journal is a large part of my practice. It’s certainly a record of it, at the very least: full of sketches, usually of trees in some form or other. I’ve learned to take at least my small tin of Aquarelles (watercolour pastels), although when I have the room (and know I’ll have time) I prefer my watercolour pencils. Often I tuck a watercolour brush in, as well — although I’ve learned that if I sketch w/ ink, it’s not a good idea to try to blend my watercolours… 🙂


I knew enough to begin w/ just the pond area, leaving the ribbons of caladiums for the 2nd drawing (still unfinished). And I didn’t even attempt to draw the dell filling w/ mist from the watering system. I’ll need to be a few more years along before I have that kind of bravado! But in the meantime? I spent almost 2 hours sitting. Breathing cool damp air. Focusing on one thing at at time, trying to distill beauty.

How beginner’s heart is that? Think about it — maybe you need some watercolour pencils…? Just for incentive…?



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