Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

eyerainbow

Finally, I can see my way past a stye in my left eye that for the past week has impaired my vision with its stop signal red glowing lump. When it first appeared,  I figured it would dissipate in a day or so. Not so, as it got alarmingly larger and filled with gunk. I researched home remedies since I had no desire to take medication if it was not needed. Warm compresses and over the counter ointment were the first round of treatment. When it worsened, I visited my friendly Physician Assistant who suggested that I continue my current regimen and add an oral and topical antibiotic.  I willingly surrendered and began to notice a slight improvement. One of the other recommendations was to avoid makeup, so for that period, I complied. Not normally one to wear a whole lot of it anyway, and that which I do use is cruelty-free/not tested on animals, it wasn’t too much of a challenge to my vanity. Still, I felt a need to explain the alteration in my appearance. Many people responded that they too had fallen prey to the bump that is caused by bacterial infection. I tossed my old eye makeup and mascara in anticipation of when I can wear it again. I also needed to overcome the slight fear that I would look like this forever. What I know for sure is that every ailment I have ever had has resolved.

As someone who believes that biological ailments are more than a collection of physical symptoms that are treated externally, I went inward to ask what it was about emotionally/spiritually. What I came up with is the biblical quote about focusing on the speck of dust in someone else’s eye when I have a plank in mine. I also questioned what it was that I didn’t want to see. The first is that there are times when I am judgmental about the ways people live. I feel justified in my discernment that people who deliberately cause harm to the planet and its inhabitants, plain and simple, shouldn’t. Most powerfully, the choices our administration (and those who support it) makes fitting that description. I can feel seething (much like the bump in my eyelid) anger and a desire to call them out on their attitudes and actions. There are times when this peacemaker who intends to see people through the eyes of love, views them instead through blurred visual apparatus that feeds the fire rather than extinguishes it. I also don’t want to see myself as limited in any way. In the past few years, a series of health challenges has had me slowing down even as I resist that necessity. I still work out at the gym and am training for a 5k in September and in the midst, feel the fear that my breathing will slow me down as it does when I am on the treadmill or am walking fast paced uphill.  I tend to minimize my challenges since I reason that others have far more severe impediments in their way. My father used to guide me with the words, “If that’s the worst thing that happens to you, you’ll be okay.” Mixed message, that one, since while it seems supportive, I internalized the idea that I had nothing to feel badly about…ever.

I also don’t want to see myself as limited in any way. In the past few years, a series of health challenges has had me slowing down even as I resist that necessity. I still work out at the gym and am training for a 5k in September and in the midst, feel the fear that my breathing will slow me down as it does when I am on the treadmill or am walking fast paced uphill.  I tend to minimize my challenges since I reason that others have far more severe impediments in their way. My father used to guide me with the words, “If that’s the worst thing that happens to you, you’ll be okay.” Mixed message, that one, since while it seems supportive, I internalized the idea that I had nothing to feel badly about…ever.

Another revelation came courtesy of a friend yesterday. After listening to me tell her how lately I have felt overwhelmed with people calling on me for support; some with chronic issues for which they saw no resolution and some who tended to ‘one up’, as in ‘my problems are worse than other’s,’ she pondered whether I had been taking on the energy until my body reacted by attempting to expel it through my eye. Made sense to me. Once I took in that wisdom, my body complied and cleared out the toxins (not wanting to get too graphic in my description, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t pretty) so that the lump is considerably smaller.

As I go out into my new day, my intention is to see the world and the people in it through the crystal clear eyes of love.

fisgetspinner

I was a busy-buzzy kid; always on the move. In a day’s time, I could be seen riding my bike, swimming, coloring, playing with dolls, digging in the garden, skating, hanging out in the woods, reading, and being with friends. I eschewed naps after probably four years old; not wanting to miss out on having fun. As a result, I have rarely been bored. That’s the upside.

The humorously downside is that my mind is easily distractible.  I can be in the midst of one activity such as writing this article and another thought pops in, like what I need to do later in the day and I make a mental note to take care of it; or an idea for an additional article dances in front of me, waving its hands. I also notice that I am pulled away from what is in front of me by Facebook, emails, a reminder to call someone or check my appointment book to make sure I get where I need to be on time. And then there is a prompt to switch the laundry, turn off the water boiling on the stove so it doesn’t dry up and scorch the pot. That almost happened last year, when I forgot.

Although I was never given a formal diagnosis, I suspect that I do have some form of ADHD. If so, I come by it genetically, since my father had a hard time sitting still. He was nearly always in motion, except when he would nap, which he could do standing up. Even so, he managed to work full time as a milkman and bus driver throughout his lifetime; remember his routes and the people he would encounter along the way. He also volunteered in our community, raised my sister and me along with my mother, had a full social life and friends. He also made time to run on the junior high school track across the street a few times a week, with our dog Hukki. A master at multitasking which I have become as well. Although I might make it look easy, it really does take intense concentration at times, to remain on task and complete one thing before moving to another.

Recently, my sister Jan sent me an article to which I can relate completely  Although I am not yet a senior citizen; at 58, I call these my ‘middle aged moments,’ and not senior moments, as the author refers to his or her ‘oh, look, a squirrel!’ distractions. The other difference is that I do eventually finish what I started. It is a necessity in the various lines of work in which I engage. As a writer, I have deadlines to meet. As a therapist, I have clients to see at specific times and days. As a minister, ceremonies to officiate. As a speaker places to show up on time.

A relatively new tool that purports to assist people in quelling distractibility is called a fidget spinner (pictured above). Some of my adult and child clients use them and vouch for their benefits. Seems that I don’t need one since I have one in my brain that feels like it is perpetually in motion. One thing that I notice making difference is being methodical in my actions. When I empty the dishwasher, as I did this morning and put everything in its place, it has a zen-like quality. It also sets me up to have a more easily flowing day.

Yesterday also presented an opportunity to test out that dynamic. A friend had asked me to work for her food business called One Love Catering at a Philadelphia event called Reggae in the Park. People lined up all day long for the luscious Caribbean food, redolent with the flavors and aromas of Jamaica. It involved setting up, food prep and serving from steaming silver trays. In order to maintain calm, I brought myself to a sense of one thing after another,  in a generally graceful dance with my co-workers. It helped that the music wafting through the air provided a sonic backdrop.  Each time I would hand the meal to the person in front of me, I would silently bless the food and them. Perhaps that is a key to maintaining focus so that my mind need not spin ceaselessly.

As I am writing this article, I am listening to this music for deepened concentration.

leftfoot

As I am writing this, I am nursing a painful bout of plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I’ve had it before over the years, but not as persistently. Working out and being on my feet a lot are two of the physical causes. I have been treating it with stretching, massage, and Reiki, as well as spending less time using the elliptical and treadmill and more time on the bicycle and weights at the gym. I have been rolling a bottle of ice water underneath it, got orthotics for my sneakers and have been taking Tylenol if needed.

I know that many physical conditions have emotional components. In Louise Hay’s book entitled You Can Heal Your Life, she highlights some of the root causes of bodily issues.

Feet: Represent our understanding – of ourselves, of life, of others. – Foot Problems: Fear of the future and of not stepping forward in life. (there was nothing specific for heels or plantar fasciitis).

These both resonated for me since even though I am confident most of the time and with hindsight, know that I have survived everything that has ever occurred in my life, so I know I will get through anything waiting in the future, there are times when I hold myself back. Sometimes these are internally motivated choices, born of uh oh, what if I fall or fail?  fears. There are other moments when impediments show up unexpectedly. Recently, as I have become more visible with my work and words, folks have made observations based on their own life experiences and world views that have seemed to run counter to my beliefs about myself and my work in the world. My initial reaction was one of protection and defensiveness since much of what I do and hold dear are central to my claimed identity.

These in-your-face experiences have me taking my own inventory and examining my intentions and actions and see if they are in alignment.

One of the ideals I live by is the Buddhist principle of the Three Gates: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? The first two are pretty easy for me to follow. The third, not so much. I consciously need to ask myself why I want to express certain things. Maybe it is because I can. Maybe because I ‘can’t NOT’ share. Perhaps it is to inform. Perhaps it is to justify, explain or just plain want to be right. The last one is not easy to admit.

That is my Achilles heel.  Remember the Greek tale about the son of  Thetis who took her son to the River Styx so he could be rendered invincible? She dipped him in the water, but his heel didn’t get submerged. In battle, an arrow struck him in that foot and he succumbed.  Mine was struck by the thoughts that I had stepped on toes and had said what I wanted to for all of the aforementioned reasons. It is also the desire to be viewed in a certain light. Most people in my life do see me as I want to be seen. A friend recently mentioned that those who question my words or actions are preparing me for greater visibility, since the greater the visibility, the more intense the scrutiny.

I admire the work of Brene’ Brown whose own willingness to bare her soul allows me to bare both my soul and soles.

 

 

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Throughout my life, my father used to utter these wise words, “You never know what tomorrow brings,” as his way of honoring the present moment. Although he wouldn’t quite frame it that way, since he was a worrier at times who projected into the future what could go wrong as a way of warding it off, I chose to drink that advice in and slurp the metaphorical juice from the bottom of the glass, not wanting to miss a drop.

A few days ago, Facebook offered up its daily blast from the past memories. Six years ago, on 4th of July weekend, I went to a gathering that my friend Nancy Hesch held in her park-side (Peace Valley Park in Doylestown, PA) home. Friends, fun, food, laughter, and love were served up in abundance. As I looked at the photos of a few friends and myself, I teared up a bit as I realized how dramatically life had changed for all of us in the interceding turn of the calendar pages.

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278800_2218729905932_4327743_oOndreah Johnson (standing in front, with longer hair in the first picture) had been diagnosed with breast CA early this year, (which she refers to as ‘C’ as she rides the ‘C train’) and has now completed chemo (which she calls IV meds) and is preparing for a lumpectomy on July 25th. I have ridden the locomotive with her as we find the blessing in the mess, the humor in the haze of unpredictability. We laugh at the most bizarre things.

Phil Garber (dark hair and beard) has been in and out of the hospital for cardiac surgery and kidney issues. I visited him yesterday as he is in the CCU of Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ and offered Reiki to this man who has been my son’s father figure since Adam was 14 and in need of a supportive male role model after my husband died when he was 11. Phil has been his go-to guy for everything. Adam is now 30 and about to get married in August. The intention is for the two of us to walk him down the aisle together.  He refers to me as his ‘baby mama’.

Janet Berkowitz (light, short hair) is Phil’s wife who has been his stalwart support throughout this many decade health ordeal that Phil has faced. She has had kidney issues and longstanding mental health challenges, as has Phil. Both are peer supports for other consumers and for many years, have run Suicide Anonymous meetings, both in person and on-line. She uses her creative gifts to help her keep on keepin’ on. Both are resilient thrivers.

The fourth member of this crew is Gary Schoenberg who became a dear friend in 1998 when he came from our interfaith spiritual community called Pebble Hill when we were sitting shiva for Michael. He has seen me through all kinds of wild rides and as a psychologist has offered guidance tinged with a deep sense of spirituality. A few weeks ago, I was delighted to have attended his wedding to the beautiful Clare Fisher-Davies and read a passage from The Song of Solomon. She is now a welcome addition to my family of choice.

Six years ago, I had no clue, that a heart attack was waiting in the wings for me, as a result of a way too fast paced lifestyle, lack of self-care, poor sleep habits, limited boundary setting and not honoring my own heart as I did others. On June 12th, I celebrated my third cardiaversary with a FREE HUGS stroll through Philadelphia.

These pictures and the delight we shared on that day is a potent reminder to treasure each day and the people who are gifts in our lives.