|Gratitude is the sign of noble souls." Aesop|
Gratitude is such a good practice. I try to begin and end my days by thinking of those things about which I am grateful. It is a matter of perspective. We can focus on what is wrong in our lives or what is right. It is our choice.
Jan 31, 2016
Jan 30, 2016
|"I am too alone in the world and not alone enough to make every moment holy." |
Rainer Maria Rilke
Ultimately we are alone in the world. Even though I was with Dwane as he died, it was a journey he had to take alone. I had read and witnessed that some people prefer to die with no one there, so I kept leaving and walking briefly in the lobby to give him that opportunity, but he chose to die with me beside him. What does it mean to be too alone and not alone enough? I find it a fine balance between time for prayer and solitude and time for connection and relationship. How about you?
Jan 29, 2016
|"Let there be light." Genesis|
There will always be light within the darkness, although sometimes we will not be able to see it. Something that helps me see it is being with my granddaughter. She is the happiest child I have ever known, and it is contagious. She finds such delight in everything. When I see her, I am reminded of Jesus's comment that we must become as little children to enter the kingdom of God. If I want to see religion and spirituality in action, I watch a child. A child still faces life in wonder, in awe, in fun.
Jan 28, 2016
|"When you've been devastated by any form of loss, your're inevitably going to come in contact with people who harm you with their insensitive comments, their platitudes, or their abandonment. Some of these people will be be among your friends and family; those who supposedly love you most. This is a fact we don't like to admit, but it's the truth." Tim Lawrence|
A dear friend sent me the link to this article, www.timjlawrence.com. It speaks to the truth of what people will assume about our grief. I was with a group of women recently who talked about another woman whose husband died a couple months ago who was already dating. The women had strong opinions in all directions. While, as a psychologist, I know that rushing into another relationship is not allowing oneself to grieve the loss, none of us can second guess what another person's grieving is. I love what Tim Lawrence suggests: that we just hold the space for the person who is grieving. We acknowledge -- without words or advise -- their loss. Lawrence goes on to say, " Let me and every other grieving person do one thing: grieve. Just acknowledge my grief."
Jan 27, 2016
|"Bodytalk is a systematic way for the body to remember its innate state of health." author|
What are the ways you stay healthy? I meditate, exercise daily, eat appropriate amounts of nutritious food, practice good mental health, and I do Bodytalk. If you have not heard of this, go to International Bodytalk at www.bodytalksystem.com. It is an amazing, noninvasive way for the body to remember its natural state of good health. Here's to health!
Jan 26, 2016
|I started reading The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman over the weekend. A very good book. I have wondered why the Holocaust has always intrigued me. The idea of large groups of people being sensitized to cruelty to others has fascinated and troubled me. This book, a true story set within the Holocaust, gives me an answer. The Holocaust was different from other mass genocide in that it was premeditated, calculated and intent on destroying all people who did not have pure Aryan blood. That even included the Polish and Catholics. Well researched, the book gives a background for how these atrocities could happen. It is the story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski and their hiding "in plain sight" many would-be victims of the Holocaust in their zoo.|
Jan 25, 2016
Just as winter will not last forever -- of that we may be certain (unless we head into another ice age); so too this trouble or conflict will not last forever. It is the law. Things progress. There is a rhythm of life. It seems as I reflect that life is often without ups or downs -- those periods are times for which I am grateful, then there are brief (sometimes they do not feel brief) periods of distress, and there are also brief periods of great enjoyment. It is a rhythm. Let's remember that the next time we are dealing with a crisis. It too shall pass. Equilibrium does not skip its turn.
Jan 24, 2016
|"As long as you do not live totally in the body, you do not live totally in the Self." B.K.S. Iyankar|
We all know people who have ailments. In fact, having ailments seems to be part of the human condition, but I think we would have less ailments if we were more fully present in our bodies. As a young woman I knew when I was ovulating because I could feel it. Perhaps that was physically unique to me, or perhaps at that time I was present in my body. Appetite, need for rest - all are within our ability to feel and honor. First, I think we must be centered and calm, and second, we listen - with honor - to what our body wants us to know. This body is the only vehicle we have for this lifetime -- let us treat it with great honor and collaboration. What can I do today to listen more to the wisdom of my body?
Jan 23, 2016
|"There are many reasons to be kind, but perhaps none is as compelling as the spiritual fact that this is what we do. It is how the inner organ of being keeps pumping." Mark Nepo|
I have heard the Dalai Lama say that his religion is kindness, and I have considered -- imagine how different the world would be if everyone was kind to one another?! The basis of the great religions is the Golden Rule, which is about being kind to ourselves and others. Don't we feel differently if we are kind or if we are treated with kindness? Research indicates that even witnessing an act of kindness between two other people has a positive effect on us. It is a matter of choice. So, let's decide to be kind.
Jan 22, 2016
|"No matter what path we choose to honor, there will always be conflict to negotiate. If we choose to avoid all conflict with others, we will build a poisonous conflict within ourselves." Mark Nepo\|
Nepo goes on to say that if we choose to honor our inner path, we will have conflict with others. It seems true that people do not want the people close to them to change significantly. Perhaps it is comfort or habit, but we seem to like people to be the predictable person we have cast them to be. But, that is peril for our souls. We must have the courage to continue growing and changing as a person. I once heard a wise therapist say he knew he was on the brink of more self growth, so he had alerted his wife so she would be prepared. That is the wise thing to do. Let those in our lives know we are changing course, and then honor the course our life is taking.
Jan 21, 2016
|"Grieving is a process." author|
It is 4 months today since Dwane's death. I still think of him and catch myself wanting to tell him something or take something to him that I know he liked. And, then I remember. Of course, he is dead. Grieving is a process. The person we loved is never gone from our memory, but we do get more and more used to being alone. Of course, to outsiders it might look as if I have been on my own for many years -- as the dementia claimed more and more of him; but, there was still a connection, an intimacy -- even to the end. That's what I miss.
Jan 20, 2016
|"And I, I took the path less traveled by." Robert Frost|
As humans we are tempted to comply, to conform, to fit in. And, while that may be good to some extent, it is perilous to our souls if we go too far. We are each here to be fully who we are. Society will have shaped some of who we are out of us, and it seems it is a life journey to recollect those parts of ourselves left behind. Let's be fully ourselves and support each other in doing so.
Jan 19, 2016
|"Wrapped in snow, the early sleeps." author|
I love winter. The beautiful snow, the slowing of pace, the encouragement to go within. I went cross country skiing last weekend. Big, beautiful snowflakes falling on my face, powder in which to ski, silence except for the running creek I was skiing beside. Can it get any more beautiful?
Jan 18, 2016
|"Developing a bizarre sense of humor is an early sign of dementia." Health News|
Interesting! Especially, according to this online article, if the humor is slap stick. My loved one did seem to develop more and more a slap stick sense of humor, but I am not sure if he always had that. It was, at least, more pronounced before the dementia got him in its clutches and destroyed all sense of humor. The reason for considering symptoms besides loss of memory is that we can diagnose dementia earlier and perhaps stall its progression longer.
Jan 17, 2016
|"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself." Ralph Waldo Emerson|
One of the things one must adjust to in widowhood is truly being alone. During the holidays that was poignant for me -- there was no one to whom I was particularly special or whom I was especially remembering. I still miss Dwane. Yesterday I was going to buy something - because I knew it was something Dwane would like. And then I remembered. Oh, yes, no need to buy that. My practice is to honor and get to know my aloneness.
Jan 16, 2016
|"We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing." George Bernard Shaw|
Play is so important -- no matter what our age. I am so grateful for a three-year-old granddaughter who reminds me to play. I have been skiing with her and her mother, and it is such a delight to see her delight. What play do you still like to do?
Jan 15, 2016
|"There are issues in every religion that can be misused to promote polarization." Jahal Rahman|
Just as there are differences in every ethnicity or gender to promote intolerance. What if instead we look for the similarities? We humans are so very much alike, and it behooves us to consider our alikeness -- not our differences.
Jan 14, 2016
|"The only thing to fear is fear itself." F.D.R.|
All humans have fears. There are some who suggest there is really only fear and love, and that all other emotions reflect one of those. It does seem that anger is often a cover up for fear, and that may be true of all emotions. It is important to not let fear confine us. We will never know wonder if we are afraid of the unknown.
Jan 13, 2016
|"I think some day dementia will be seen as diabetes type III." David Ludwig, PhD|
I heard part of the interview of the above author of Always Hungry and was surprised to again hear the theory that dementia may be caused by improper metabolism in the body. His book sounds worth considering if we are going to eat in a way that supports the health of our bodies. His book recommends good fat, little carbohydrates, very little sugar, lots of vegetables. He also said there is no difference between the damage of sugar versus alternative sweeteners, and soda of any type is damaging.
Jan 12, 2016
|"There is a power for Good in the Universe, and you can use it." Ernest Holmes|
Part of my clinical training that has developed is to look for themes in people's lives. What themes do they most talk about? It tells us a lot. I investigate my own life in that way as well. A theme I have found is imperative I avoid is the theme of irritation. It is so easy to feel irritated. A breach of a credit card, the perceived slight of a friend, being treated rudely in traffic -- all might be excuses to be irritated. But, it is far better for my mental health to avoid the irritation and just deal with the situation. How might it help you to look for themes in your life? One way to do it is to see where our thoughts go, or where do our conversations habitually go? I think you might be surprised.
Jan 11, 2016
|"This too shall pass." common saying|
This is such a common expression, and some think it comes from the Bible. There is a verse, 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long, that implies much the same thing. "This too shall pass" is a mantra I use when going through rough times, along with the mantra, "All is well." Because I know, in the bigger scheme of things, all is indeed well.
Jan 10, 2016
|"And I, I took the path less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost|
It is so easy to conform. It seems we humans are geared toward trying to get each other to conform, and it takes courage to be ourselves. I had the opportunity to testify in court this past week to defend some testing I had done. It was a good opportunity for me to stand up for myself, the decisions I had made, and to be true to what I thought was in the best interest of the parties involved. Including myself. How do you stand in your truth?
Jan 9, 2016
|"We must be free in a problem before we can become free of the problem." Charles Barker|
Sometimes we will let problems corner us. We will not see any way out because all we see is the problem. We must free ourselves to get a perspective so that we can take action. How do we do that? I do that with daily meditation and prayer. Only by centering myself can I see the way out of perceived dilemmas.
Jan 8, 2016
|"Into each life some rain must fall." Longfellow|
I was speaking with someone recently who felt that not just some rain, but a torrent, was falling. It does seem that at times life's challenges come in groups. When that happens, we need the love and support of others and toward ourselves. It helps me, too, to know that "this too shall pass". Impermanence can be viewed beneficially when we are dealing with a stressful life event.
Jan 7, 2016
|Meditation lowers blood pressure and can change cell structure." cbs news|
This story on cbs told of a man who had been meditating for many years and was in a plane wreck. He survived because - he believes - of his long practice at meditating, which helped him stay calm and ignore the pain. This is a dramatic story, but there is much evidence of the benefits of meditating. Even 15 minutes a day, preferably twice a day, can have remarkable effects.
Jan 6, 2016
|"Never hide your green hair --- They can see it anyway." Angeles Arrien|
What a funny way to encourage a child to be true to herself and not hide part of who she is. The above quote was said to Angeles by her grandmother. Each of us gets messages, once we go out into the world, that something about ourselves is not acceptable. The result is we begin to hide those parts, and they very often are the most powerful parts of ourselves. We each got messages on the way to lunch, on the playground, in class that would encourage us to be ashamed of some aspect of ourselves. Whether it is the freckles we have, the way we talk, how we learn -- each of us draws attention from others to shut down part of who we are. I hope all children are encouraged to be all of who they can be, and I encourage each of you to do the same. The world is a better place when we show up fully as who we are.
Jan 5, 2016
|To be, or not to be. That is the question." Shakespeare|
How many of us are authentic? If you are like me, I am not sure I even remember who I am at times. And, we are somewhat defined by our roles, which are ever changing. I have been mother, teacher, wife, caregiver, psychologist, widow: of those, who is me? And, who are we when a role is finished? Perhaps you are one of the ones who seems to know, at your core, who you are.
Jan 4, 2016
|"The nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we begin, while the nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential." Mark Nepo|
I wonder if that is true. Is it true for your life that you have continually covered over who you were, only to again uncover it? Perhaps it is true. I have thought of it in terms of going back to collect something I left behind -- like my sense of wonder and play that I re-found on the beach where my parents would have taken me when I was a very young child. Perhaps it is just a matter of semantics. Our life process is continuing to uncover who we are.