I grew up in a religiously, culturally and gastronomically Jewish home in Willingboro, NJ which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Our family went to synagogue weekly, practiced holiday rituals, lit the candles on Friday night, but kept kosher only when my paternal grandmother lived with us. I attended Hebrew school until I was 16. […]
Had my annual checkup today with my cardiologist Dr. Eric Gejer. Coming up on my 5th cardiaversary on June 12. it is a day that I celebrate the death of one aspect of my life and the birth of another. Back then, I didn’t hold my own heart sacred as I did others. It was getting tired of getting short shrift and every time I told myself I would slow my pace, prioritize self-care and honor my needs, saying yes and no as it suited me, my heart decided it wasn’t having it.
As I was waiting in the office for my doc to come in today, I was looking at the model of the stent that was inserted in my fully occluded artery. This tiny mesh tubing is what is propping it up and allowing it to function unabated. Before that my literal and symbolic lifeblood was blocked. I was pushing and efforting, pursuing what I wanted, little knowing that my cardiac muscle was giving out as surely as I was giving of myself without taking back in.
When I see Dr. Gejer he isn’t just concerned about the numbers (BP, cholesterol, ejection fraction and pulse), but the ways in which I spent the days since our last visit a year earlier. I told him that he is a model for wonderful patient care. I wish more docs where like him. I have two other friends who see him and wax poetic as well.
Admittedly, it has been a mixed 365. I was in Ireland for 10 days last May during which I explored inner and outer landscapes, communed with people, horses, and sheep and hugged willing strangers as a Hugmobster Armed With Love. Not to stereotype, but Irish people seem to be an affectionate bunch. The trip came six weeks after I was in the hospital for three days with pneumonia. Another self-care slip.
On the good news front, I make it to the gym 3-4 times a week for a 45 minute or so workout and walk when I can in between my busy schedule. Did a few miles in a beautiful local park yesterday and then a FREE Hugs stroll for a few hours on Saturday. I can feel myself strengthening.
I enjoyed writing, counseling, coaching, and teaching. My right livelihood work sustains me financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. There was plenty of grist for the mill on the writing front and was healing for some losses I had experienced. My dear sister-friend Ondreah Johnson had been diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer the previous year and I had seen her through the journey; taking her to some appointments, holding space for her fears and frustrations, co-creating adventures, doing what I could to keep her spirits elevated, staying over when she needed care, and holding her hand when she took her last breath. After her passing, I assisted her family in cleaning out her house and officiated at the first of her Memorial services. This one was a fusion of her family’s Episcopalian faith and her own hybrid of Sufism and Native American teachings. The next one will be coming up in a few weeks and will be Quaker style with friends sharing their memories of her. I miss her deeply at times since we would speak at least daily. In the interim, a few other friends have joined her and I am shaking my head in amazement at how many are ‘leaving the building’.
I have also noticed my flagging energy at times and the ways in which my body reacts to these emotional roller coaster rides. As a therapist, I am often immersed in emotion soup and soak up some of the challenges of my clients in an attempt to help them find peace. I am learning that I need not give up my own in the process.
I know that we all deserve a haven for our hearts. I welcome them with open arms and open heart.