Monday, July 23, 2012

A Moment Out of Life

It's easy to get caught up living life according to a checklist.  Get up.  Get dressed.  Eat breakfast.  Clean yourself up.  Go to work.  Go to lunch.  Go back to work.  Go home.  Make dinner.  Eat.  Brush your teeth.  Watch TV.  Go to bed.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Check.  Check.  Check.

Or to just fall into the routine of flowing from one thing you always do to another thing you always do.  With no empty moments to allow something powerful.

That's the way my day started.  I got up.  Ate breakfast.  Did some stuff on the computer.  Got cleaned up.  Went to the movie.  Thing after thing.  Average.

And then there was a moment.  As we drove home and it was quiet.  I looked ahead and saw a flock of birds flying directly in my line of sight.  Eye level, right across the road a few feet ahead of us.

I'm not sure why they caught my eye.  It's not like I don't see birds flying around all the time.  But this moment grabbed me.

Maybe it was because they were smaller than most birds I see.  In perfect formation.  Flying with such power and purpose.

And I was struck by their magic.  I watched their wings and wondered at the power and mechanics involved.  Flight is an amazing thing.  Something we see so often we forget how incredible it is.

They were just so beautiful in that moment.  So magical.  So wondrous.  It was a pure moment.  Like time slowed down.  Kind of like the birds and I were all that existsed and the rest of the world faded away.  It filled me with peace and awe and a sense of the divine.

Pure moments are everywhere.  Like when I overheard a child thank someone today without being told to.  Or heard another child trying to think through why the escalator wasn't running.

They are just tiny moments.  If we are just moving from thing to thing we miss them.  But they are the magic of life.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Avoiding the News

Today is one of those days.  It's one of those days when I just can't watch or listen to or read the news.  I'll need to go without news for a day or two.

I've spent the morning listening to news of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado.  It's gut wrenching.  Heart breaking.  Horrific.  It's making me sick.  So I have to stop for a bit.

As a general rule I watch the national news every night.  I download it and watch it on my computer.  I usually play solitaire or something while I half watch it.  The reason I do it this way is because too often there are things shown on the news that I just can't stomach.  When I can tell a story like that is coming, like Syria, I maximize the game window.  I still get informed, but those images aren't burned into my brain.

Some days that's enough.  Listening but not watching.  Getting the info but not the images.

But not on days like today.

I've been kind of a news junkie since high school.  I remember spending hours watching news stories unfold as more information came in.  All day long checking in, waiting to get the whole story.  Sometimes it took many days.

I just can't do that anymore.  It's not that I don't have the time or the access.  I don't have the stomach.  I just can't take it.

Today I am heart-sick thinking of the families involved, those still struggling for their lives in hospitals, those who were in the theater who will deal with post-traumatic stress for years, and all of the people trying to make sense of it.  Which is impossible.  It was senseless.

My heart and prayers are with anyone touched by this event.  May they find strength, peace, and comfort.  I pray that the goodness of people will shine through rather than the ugly.  I pray that it will unite rather than divide.  I pray that we will all heal.  And I know it will take time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Counting My Blessings

My best friend is sick.  Not a little sick.  Really, really sick.

It started about six weeks ago.  She'd been sick for about two weeks before I even knew she was struggling.  Part of that was because she is a private person and didn't really let anyone know.  Part of it was because I was pretty sick at the time.  And part of it is because I take her health for granted.

Two months ago she was the healthiest person I knew.  She's a little older than me, but much healthier.  She had more energy.  She was a doer.  She was always on the go, ate well, never got sick.  I just assumed I hadn't heard from her because she was busy.  And I was too miserable to worry about anyone else.

Then I found out she was sick.  That kind of rocked my world.  She doesn't get sick; how is this possible?

I was on my way out of an illness.  I tried to check on her every day, calling or visiting.  Little by little she got worse.  She lives alone so there was no one there to monitor every day at first.  As we realized this was for the long haul, her friends started stepping in.  Weeding her garden.  Doing her shopping.  Washing her dishes.  Cleaning her house.  Preparing her meals.  It was a beautiful chorus of service.  All of us doing what we could to help.

I did a little.  I wanted to do more.  I wanted to move in and take care of her.  But that wasn't possible.  I wasn't well enough and it wasn't what she wanted.

Another friend did step up and take over the lion's share of the load.  I will be forever grateful to her for that.  She gave with her whole heart and soul to a woman I love as dearly as if she were my own sister.  Every act of service she performed felt like it was for me, because she was doing for my friend what I couldn't.

My best friend continued to decline.  She doesn't believe in traditional western medicine and was taking a more natural approach.  It was difficult to watch her not heal faster and respect her feelings on her care.  She was hurting a lot.  Swollen.  Sleeping 20 hours a day.  Losing her appetite.  Losing weight.  Severely fatigued.  It broke my heart to see her because she was so altered.

Then she started to improve.  For a couple of weeks she seemed to be getting better.  The pain and swelling went away.  She was able to move easier.  As gradual as it was, it seemed to be getting better.  And we continued to respect her desires for her care.  (There were some who tried to convince her to see a doctor, but those of us closest to her supported her.  Out of love and the belief that she has the right to choose for herself.)

But last week she took a turn for the worse.  An obvious downturn.  And it was scary.  And when it got to a certain point, the person she sees for her healing told her it was time to consult a doctor.  The doctor told her she needed IV fluids and lots of tests, but she could choose to do them on an outpatient basis or be admitted to the hospital.  The decision was hers.  She chose to be admitted.

So I have spent the last two days in and out of the hospital.  Helping her get admitted and settled.  Speaking on her behalf because it's just so hard for her.  And trying to comfort her, if only with my presence in the room.

And the feeling I am overwhelmed with is gratitude.  I am so grateful that I am not that sick.  I am so grateful that her caretaker was humble enough to ask for help.  I am so grateful she was willing to take a new direction, one that was so hard for her, and that the decision was hers.  I am so grateful for all the people who have helped her every step of the way.  I am grateful that all the medical personnel now involved have been respectful of her choices up to this point, never chastising her for waiting to involve traditional medicine.

But the thing I am the most grateful for is that I am well now.  I couldn't be there in the beginning and not much in the middle, but I can be there now.  When it's the darkest.  My health and life are allowing me to spend hours and hours by her bedside or running her errands.  My family supports me and hasn't complained of my absence once.  I get to be with my friend.  The way I want to be.

And she is improving.  I am so, so grateful for that.  I will never take her for granted again.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Feedback on Your Blog

Honest feedback is important.  Having people in your life who can look at something objectively and tell you the truth is so valuable.  As women, we sometimes struggle giving or receiving feedback well.  We tip-toe around the truth to not be hurtful.  We get hurt when someone answers directly a question we asked.  I am a firm believer that if you don't really want a truthful answer, you shouldn't ask the question.  Especially to me.

I believe truth is power.  Knowledge is power.  Going along living your life thinking everything is wonderful because all the little minions around you are telling you how great you are is not wonderful.  It might feel good for a while, but it's fake.  And it does nothing for your growth.

I thought about this today as I answered a request for feedback on someone's blog.  It was fun for me, although it was tough, too.  I worried that I would say something that would hurt her feelings.  But at the same time, I saw such potential for growth.  I truly felt like I was helping her see things she was missing.  I don't expect her to change everything I said I didn't like.  She might choose to change none of them.  But having this feedback gives her options she might not have known she had.

I really feel like the most important thing about blogging is to know why you are doing it.  Are you doing it as a family history?  Are you doing it because all of your friends are doing it?  Are you doing it because writing makes you happy?  Are you doing it to make money?  Are you doing it to shut your brain up (that would be me)?  Are you doing it in the hopes of getting a book deal?  Are you doing it to connect with others online?

There are so many reasons people blog.  Maybe you blog for a reason I didn't mention.  Maybe you blog for several reasons.  We usually have a primary goal and secondary goals, even when we aren't really aware of them.  But until you know why you blog, you can never know if your blog is successful.  If you don't know what your actual goals are how will you know when you reach them?

And once you know what your goals are it's important to know what's standing in the way.  That's where honest feedback comes in.

I work very hard not to give feedback unless it's asked for.  If I see a problem on your blog, I probably won't tell you (unless you're my daughter and it's a typo).  But I love to give feedback when asked.

So I am making this offer today.  If you've ever wanted someone to look over your blog and tell you what you can improve on, send me an email or let me know in a comment.  I'd be happy to look it over and give you honest feedback.  Because we can all use a little more truth in our lives.

Oh, and I welcome any feedback you might have for me as well.

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Some recent health issues have made it increasingly difficult for me to fulfill this offer to everyone who asked.  I apologize if I didn't get to your blog.  I ask your forgiveness and wish you well in your blogging efforts.