Wednesday, May 30, 2012

to thrive and survive

I've always considered myself a "glass half full" kind of gal.  Even when travel involves making a transfer in Chicago's O'Hare airport, an experience that definitely tests ones mettle when it comes to the power of positive thinking. Life though seems to be raising the bar higher and higher and I am feeling the fatigue. 

Lately Cowgirl has been posing the same question, in various forms, to me: If a car was aiming right at us, who would I push out of the way first?  Cowgirl? Daddy? or Moose dog?  My survival seemed to be a non-issue although now she adds into the equation me jumping out of the way after saving as the rest of the family first. 

I'm beginning to worry about that last minute leap to safety and whether I really will be able to pull it off without some kind of major abrasions and wounds.

My mother seems to have entered into a phase of seemingly minor, but continual, health issues.  Each one cropping up like so many weeds after a bout of rainy, then sunny weather.  As soon as we lean back and sigh a wobbly sigh of relief, something new manifests.  

We had family visiting over the holiday weekend.  My brother came out from New Jersey and cousins drove in from Colorado.  Just days before their visit, my mom spent an afternoon in the ER.  The challenge is not just the physical issues, but the emotional ones. Rallying her spirits, reminding her that the likelihood of something being horribly wrong has yet to be determined and that in fact, so far many things have been minor blips on her health radar.

The family reunion went well which is to say no sharp words were uttered and everyone seemed relaxed and happy to relive past gatherings, sharing stories and more recent adventures.  My mom was feeling better, eating and sleeping well and it seemed we had broken the cycle.

The last to go, my brother left early yesterday morning.  The house once loud and busy, now seem quiet and empty.  It felt a bit like being on a deserted island, the last boat heading out to sea but hopefully to return with help and rescue.  I found myself wondering if, of all the people I've known, more are dead or alive.   Just as I was about to step out the door for work, the phone rang.  The phone ringing before 8 am is never a good thing.  Sure enough, it was my mom.  

And so we here we are, entering unknown territory once again.  As I heave my tote bag full of waiting room supplies - journal, book, pens, tissues, mints - I find myself wondering about my survival and how to maintain a healthy perspective when it is apparent that the glass is getting emptier and emptier?  

Have I mentioned perimenopause is puberty in reverse and I am in the thick of it? Watching my mother toddle up to her door just about does me in and hugging my brother goodbye I felt like I was clinging to the only life jacket in turbulent water and I had to let go, but I did so with a strangled whimper.

I think about the prayers of writer Anne Lamott: "help me, help me, help me" and "thank you, thank you, thank you."  I try to remember to just stop, close my eyes, breathe, and think about what really matters: the gift of this time together, the gift of my family and friends supporting and encouraging me, the gift of being able to shoulder this task.

Even the gift of my crazy hormones that seem to be shredding any veils between my emotions and my experiences.  To be intensely alive is to experience intensity and I am reminded you often do get what you ask for, so watch out if you chant Om Namah Shivaya which is what we often sing in yoga.  I surrender to Shiva; I surrender to life. 

There is no choice, really.  The challenge is to do so with as much grace as possible. 

As I pulled up to the retirement center, my mother sat waiting for me on a bench.  As always, she was attired in a coordinating outfit: black slacks, white blouse, patent leather sandals and what I call her "don't give me any shit" black leather jacket.  She may not dress to impress, but she dresses to convince herself all is well.  Hair tidy, lipstick on, she was prepared for another CAT-scan. 

My mother without lipstick would signify defeat.

And so today I pulled out my blue bird skirt, placed JOY around my neck, daubed on some China Rain perfume and slipped my feet into my shoes.  I may not have Wonder Woman's wrist cuffs, but I have robin's egg blue clogs and in them I feel pretty indestructible. 

The Universe emailed me this morning and I realize here is the help I asked for

Life's magic is a lot like a swift flowing river, Lisa. No matter how long you've overlooked it or unwittingly swam against it, the instant you stop struggling you're back in the flow...

I'm doing my best not to struggle, but to flow.  To reach out and ask for support.  To acknowledge this is hard, I feel squeezed, I feel used up, and I need a moment to catch my breath. I come to this space to write my truth, knowing that my situation is not unique and in fact, things could be a lot worse.  

May we all find a smidge of comfort and peace within the tight spaces of our lives.  May we all know Hope and Resilience can be found in watermelon pink lipstick, a tiny hand upon our cheek, the smile of a dog, wild flowers blooming in an empty lot, the eyes of one we love looking straight into our souls and acknowledging without words that we are seen, held, and loved. 

May we all trust that when danger is imminent, we will know when it is time to jump to safety.  Standing still, waiting for the hazards of life to bowl you over only engenders isolation and suffering. May we know safety is just off to the side, where life waits to carry us back into the flow.  


Thriving and surviving do not have to be mutually exclusive states - I just look down and I behold this truth residing in two pairs of feet, against all probability, brought together and sharing a magical journey.   

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