If you are reading this, then chances are you have lived through numerous changes that got you to this point, since change; paradoxically, is the only constant in each lifetime. We may fight it mightily, but there it is. The adult that is writing this, once was a 5 pound 4 oz. infant with the umbilical cord wrapped around her ankles that (symbolically) for many years was an impediment that unconsciously kept her from moving forward. On the surface, it seemed that nothing could stop me as I raced my bicycle around my South Jersey suburb of Willingboro, playing with friends, jumping rope, playing hopskotch, roller skating, swimming, ice skating, sledding; once even coming in 3rd in a seemingly marathon (3-4 hour long) hoola hoop contest. Despite 3 broken ankles in a 6 year period (6th grade, 8th grade and 10th grade) all while engaged in some activity, I kept on keeping on. Although I was born with healthy lungs, somewhere between my 4th and 5th birthday, I was diagnosed with asthma that was treated with steroids and allergy serum, as well as nights of sitting in the bathroom with the shower running as I inhaled the steam; one of my parents at my side as they breathed with me. Paradoxically, 40-50 some years later, as I sat by the bedsides of my parents in their last days, I did the same, joining them in each precious inhalation and exhalation. I have read that metaphorically asthma is connected with anything from feeling smothered, to unresolved grief. As timing would have it, my beloved grandmother had died shortly after my 4th birthday, leaving a hole in my life, that many years later, I came tor recognize as feeling like the loss of a third parent. She was my mother’s mother Henrietta that we all referred to as “Giggie” since I couldn’t pronounce anything remotely sounding like grandma, and the name stuck, became everyone’s grandmother in the neighborhood and I was happy to share her. I have been told by many psychics who knew nothing about her otherwise, that she has been watching over me as a type of guardian angel, ever since. I now wear her ring on my pinkie, given to my mother, who shortly before she joined my grandmother, gifted it to me. It is as if am keeping mother-love ‘close at hand.’
Now, at 53, the asthma symptoms have mostly dissipated, partly as a result of change in diet, nearly daily cardio exercise, allowing for emotions to arise, whether they are born of grief or joy, recognizing that both are part of the continuum of life. I notice symptoms when rushed or in the midst of particularly stress-filled situations. The truth is, stress itself is not the enemy. It is our reaction to it that can make all the difference.
According to the website for The American Institute For Stress: “The term “stress”, as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. People have taken that concept and applied it to any number of changes that occur. The thing is, that without some type of stressors in our lives, we would be like an ameobic blob, with no form or definition. We need at least some challenge in order to grow. There is also a dynamic called ‘eustress’ which could be termed ‘good stress’; something we may anticipate but makes us at least a wee bit nervous, such as graduating college, or getting married or birthing a child or in my case…a book.
Consider any number of life experiences that have turned you from a lump of coal into a glittering diamond and give thanks for the opportunity to shine your brightest.
http://youtu.be/5C13urVMYBw Diamond In The Rough by Shawn Colvin
For those of a certain age, this will put a smile on your face. When I told this story at work last week, some of my younger co-workers looked at me like I was from another planet. They had no clue who the member of an iconic musical group from the 1960’s was as his face graced the cover of a senior living publication that I saw on the freebie rack at Wawa. The seasoned image of Davy Jones, the mop-top Monkee with the sweetly alluring British accent that had many girls my age swooning, once upon a time graced teen magazines on a planetary scale. He is now a happily married grandpa whose love of music continues and he performs with his own Davy Jones Band and occasionally shows up with his former bandmates Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith. A published author of three books, he also raises and races horses and lives with his family in Central Pennsylvania.
Watching The Monkees was a regular delight for this kid whose love of music was matched only by her love of books. Although the popular series ran less than 2 years, from September of 1966-March of 1968, it has lived on in re-runs and the hearts of their fans ever since. For those who have not a clue what I am talking about, the show was about 4 young men who endeavored to become successful rock stars. It followed their antics and adventures and birthed songs such as Daydream Believer, Last Train To Clarksville, I’m A Believer and I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone. A favorite episode of The Brady Bunch was centered around Marcia enticing Davy to be her prom date, since she was President of his fan club at her school.
As I am writing these words, I am taken back to a simpler time in my life, when I had no concept of being a seasoned woman myself and what that would mean, as I see people of my own generation, aging well, with passion and purpose, enthusiasm and longevity. Long may we all keep monkey-ing around!
http://youtu.be/uVFxMIxm-Rw bio info on Davy Jones
http://youtu.be/JEYNuU6Xtms Monkees Theme Song
This image jumped out at me (no pun intended:) this morning and I knew it was calling on me to write about the concept. It showed up right after I had finished a conversation with a friend about what it takes to rise to the occasion, to do what needed to be done in the midst of a major shift in my life in 1998.
It actually began decades before, with an interesting juxtaposition of actions and beliefs. I was raised by parents with a ‘do what it takes, where there’s a will, there’s a way’ attitude. They modeled it daily, going steadily along with jobs and upkeep of our home, by volunteering in the community, by taking care of elderly parents until they passed, (both grandmothers lived with us at one time or another until I was 13 or so); when my father experienced job lay-offs, he always found other work temporarily until he was called back to his original job. Although I was not raised in financial wealth (emotional and spiritual wealth, most certainly), we always seemed to have enough.
As a student and an athlete (competitive swimmer from age 11-18 and then coached from 18-21), I lived by the idea that if I wanted to succeed, I needed to ‘do my homework’ and put my backbone where my wishbone was. Somewhere along the line, I lost sight of doing what needed to be done, while in business. I had no frame of reference for what it meant to own my own biz and while immersed in it, there were times when I didn’t step up and there were repercussions; many of them eroded away at my belief in my abilities. Was it a catch-22 in which I lacked self assurance, so I didn’t follow through, or was it about missing the mark and receiving negative feedback that I internalized? The reality is, the woman I am now would have been willing and able to get the job done.
Back to 1998. That was the year that my husband began the downward spiral that eventually led to his transition. He had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1992 and it became a crisis 6 years later. In November, 1998, he entered the ICU in a coma and 5 1/2 weeks later, he succumbed to the disease. That period of time brought with it, all manner of valauble life lessons even in the midst of pain and sorrow. Afterward, when I had time to collect my thoughts, it occurred to me in a moment of blessed relief, that I really was able to rise to the occasion and do what needed to be done. Gone was the luxury of just coasting by, since I needed to take over the running of our business until we sold it earlier that year. I became a single parent of a then 11 year old (now 24 year old) son. As I look back, I consider that I have been able to keep us in this house by working full time and doing my other consulting work. I am doing what many others have done before me, in even more dire circumstances, but there are times when I forget that it is quite something to feel good about.
The image above came from the inspiring and dynamic John Assaraf with whose work I became familiar by watching the movie The Secret. His vision board segment reinforced my certainty that imagery helps me embody what it is I desire to call into my life. I have created several of them and with delight, I can see that so many of the wishes illustrated, have manifested, including the interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and publishing my book. I assist others in doing the same thing with their dreams and desires, as a result.
What I value about John’s work is that it is portable and immediately applicable in my life. I have discovered that most people don’t do the best they can. They do the best they are willing to do. By utilizing the ideas he and many other teachers of the same spirit offer, I have been able to experience checking items off my goals/intentions list. Not only is it fun, but reinforcing of what I know to be so, that putting legs under my desires will enable me to move from being a ‘big fish in a little pond (or bowl:), to swimming freely in the river of life.
In my work as a therapist, I have been both gratified with the healing work couples are willing to do when letting love lead the session and frustrated and disheartened at times when there is so much animosity swirling around. There have been sessions when I have wished for a broom and disinfectant to sweep out and clean up all the metaphorical viscera spilled and venom spewed on the floor. Recently, I have had my share of each. I much prefer the first.
It occurred to me that no matter what type of relationship I find myself in, whether with a partner, friend, my son, co-workers or strangers I happen to even briefly encounter, there is one thing that those I choose to remain with have in common. Having that person in my life will bring out the highest in me. When I am with them, think about them, talk to them or about them, I am at my best. A few years ago, while in a dysfunctional relationship that lasted 4 months (in retrospect 3 months and 3 weeks too long), a friend asked me “Where did your joy go? ” She saw that I had invested 120 days or so of my life in a toxic relationship. Although there were a few positive aspects of our time together, much of my sparkle was being drained away. Once I left, I lit up again and became a human sparkler once more.
I see many people who stay in unhappy and unhealthy relationships out of obligation or fear of being alone or that they won’t be able to make solo decisions or “for the sake of the children.” It’s my perception that children thrive in a loving environment and deteriorate in a setting in which conflict abounds, regardless of whether it is a two parent or single parent home. I have people in my life who have not had the greatest role models for what a loving, thriving relationship can look like, so they emulate their parents’ patterns to the detriment of themselves and their children. The good news is that it is entirely possible to learn new ways of being.
I invite you to take a good look at your relationships and boldly ask yourself if they bring out the best or worst in you. You deserve the best! Sparkle and shine.
http://youtu.be/w_kjNKuLy7A Love Song by Ronan Hardiman