Visited by Grace

Grace comes from Latin, meaning ‘pleasing’ or ‘grateful.’
When are you in a state of grace?
Find grace in nature:
dolphins,
butterflies,
that fox there darting across the field.
Graceful
belongs in a dance.
But also in the way you make your coffee,
set the table,
wipe the counter,
turn the page of the book you’re reading as you snuggle in
before you fall asleep.
Grace is found in dreams.
Grace is found in bedtime prayers.
And before we eat,
children with their heads bowed
mouthing words, an incantation of gratitude,
in remembrance of the hands that grew and picked and prepared
the food we eat.
While there are many things that I miss about life and school
BC (Before Covid)
Oddly, I miss the ruckus of the dining hall
and the hastily said grace,
the pause before the pandemonium of
eating, laughing, arguing.
You still have grace, I remind myself.
There are still dolphins, butterflies,
foxes that dart.
There is still the coffee, the table,
the countertop to wipe.
There are still rote prayers of gratitude
for the hands who grew, picked, prepared our food.
And I am visited by grace as I use my hands to cook,
to clean, to pray,
To turn the page as I snuggle in.
Before the dreams dart like foxes into the night

This morning, I walked the dog. I prayed. I asked to be visited by grace – a gift, not a given.

Potentially Good News

Good news – MRI showed a way smaller nodule (like 2 mm. instead of 11 mm. on the 4 cm. cyst). No blood test results yet but it is something of a miracle. Doc Simon herself was happy to move me from the top of her triage list! Less worrisome! Thanks for your prayers and support…

This was the text I sent to a friend right when I got off the phone with Dr. Simon at 5:15 tonite.

When I told Doctor Simon that the MRI technician had told me yesterday, “You’re going to live. Don’t worry. You’re going to live,” the doctor said, “That’s not what the sonogram showed a few days ago. How crazy is that.”

Phew. I am totally relieved. I was driving to the town of Westport a few minutes later and screamed out the window to the empty field, “I’m gonna live!” My little darling asked from the back seat, “Did you think you weren’t?”

“I don’t know. I’ m just glad to be alive.” And tonite I let the darlings order soft drinks AND dessert when we went out to dinner.

On Monday night when I couldn’t sleep, the words, ‘Get your house in order’ came to mind. I thought, ‘I have got to clean my closet,’ among other, random, desperate thoughts.

I want to say thanks to everyone who commented on the blog and FB status. I am totally blown away by the support of friends and family. I am grateful for everyone who called, texted, emailed, messaged, went out to breakfast with me, and were just plain there for me.

I totally felt and feel loved and cared for.

There’s more to learn, do and follow up on. Like, I may need to see a gynecological oncologist for a second opinion, Dr. Simon said.

But wow, looks like I may not have to clean my closet after all. Phew.

20130619-213918.jpg

20130619-213941.jpg

Don’t let fear win

So some cowards want me to be afraid. But I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to take up their fear. I’m going to keep loving people. I’m going to keep loving strangers even. Just because some idiots want me to be afraid, doesn’t mean that I have to. If fear is contagious, then so is kindness and hope. Sometimes hope is a harder mountain to climb, but I like a challenge.

I know it’s natural to catch the contagion of fear. It’s human. I may feel the fear but I won’t let it poison me.

I’ve been here before. After 9/11, I felt the collective fear. At that time, I’d wake in the morning and wonder if it was all a bad dream. Or I’d lay there and just wish that years would pass quickly so that the tragedy would be only a mild ache instead of a a pervasive pain.

And yesterday, I felt that poisoning pain again.

Still. I’m not buying fear. Instead, I’m buying the instinctive hope of the people who rushed to help. I’m buying the hugs and calls of loved ones checking in on each other.

I will always remember the line, blocks and blocks long, of people who wanted to donate blood to Red Cross after 9/11. Millions more people wanted to help than hurt one another.

Healing, like creating, is hard work. It takes a minute to destroy and years to rebuild. Still, I’d rather be in the business of rebuilding: lives, loves, hope.

Living with someone who’s chronically ill, I live with fear and worry. Parkinson’s Disease has challenged my husband, affected his posture, his walking and more. But I’m not going to let Parkinson’s win either. I’m not going to let a fairly inevitable trajectory of decline ruin my hope for him or for my family. Not today. I have hope today that from the ashes come some sort of new life and some inevitable spring.

I am going to hug my darlings close, write, teach, try to make my small corner of the world a little better than I found it. That’s what I’m doing today. And then tomorrow, I’m going to get up and do it all over again.

Because fear doesn’t win. Love wins.

In times of stress, I know I have to:

  • Connect with friends and family more
  • Work out more
  • Do more self care
  • Eat and sleep well

How do you cope?

at Harvard
Last month the kids and I visited Cambridge and Boston.

A Long Winter’s Nap

Tabata, my sister's cat. She doesn't care much...
I get sick of cat photos but this one’s cute. (Photo credit: creative commons, Wikipedia)

Yesterday the weirdest thing happened. I had a lot to do, so I napped. I never nap. I only napped when I was pregnant.

I felt guilty for napping. Guilt is my fall-back feeling for doing anything that does not improve the house, help my husband or my kids, earn money.

After all, I had to:

  • Clean the house. (The cleaning lady couldn’t come due to the impending storm.)
  • Write a proposal for the Players Club about a January blogging event.
  • Say yes! to a request to lead a social media workshop in April 2013 at Religion Communicators Council gathering in Indianapolis.
  • Begin a magazine writing assignment.
  • Watch the president’s acceptance speech. (Couldn’t stay up on election night to wait for Romney’s concession!)
  • Help my husband with bill-paying.

So I napped. I slept for two and a half hours. I woke up groggy, confused. I had dreamt I was at a racetrack with my son and I was drinking champagne. It was a warm afternoon and I was enjoying our shady spot. I wanted to stay asleep.

My kids chased each other with snowballs into the apartment building.

The kids come home from school, dropping their backpacks by the front door, noisy and hungry for a snack or attention.

But I couldn’t help them. I couldn’t remember who they were, who I was, or where I was. It took me half an hour to feel right. That’s why I never nap. It’s discombobulating.

I know I’m tired because I’ve been waking early to get the kids up to their bus and get to my 7:30 am guided meditation class.

In meditation yesterday morning, a long-haired dude sitting next to me was falling on my shoulder, snoring away. It threw me off my meditation game.

My nap threw me off too. Since it snowed last night, I’m wondering if maybe I was just getting ready for a long winter’s nap.

My stupid feet

Yesterday I was back at the podiatrist’s. I really have to take care of my Plantar Fasciitis. The bottoms of my feet hurt all the time, but especially when I wake up in the morning and after I do any sports.

Tennis season is coming up. I want to keep running. I want to be an active person, beyond doing my beautiful pilates and yoga and occasional swimming.

My podiatrist told me I MUST do the assigned stretches for my feet every day. She gave me a (cortisone?) shot in one foot and told me to come back for two more on that foot and then we’ll do three shots on the other foot. The shot hurt. I don’t want shots.

I know as we get older, like an old car, we start to break down. But I need to stay fit so that I stay sane and can destress. I don’t want to break down. I want to keep running smoothly. With Chris’s illness, I have to and want to stay healthy for the kids (and for myself).

Last night I couldn’t sleep. My forehead is still recovering from the basal cell carcinoma surgery two weeks ago. And now I’m concerned about my feet. These are small, even insignificant problems, certainly not life-threatening.

But even ordinary health problems can be irritating, slow me down. I’d like to write more about this, but I have to wake the kids and do my stupid physical therapy for my stupid feet.

Why I Couldn’t Sleep Last Night

I tossed and turned, my sheets wrapping around me and my melancholy.

I’ve said it before, Mommy needs a good night’s sleep. And last night it just wasn’t happening.

Here are some reasons:

  • I had worries about getting up early to buy and deliver breakfast to 22 kids at the church lock-in at 7 this morning.
  • I do too much.
  • Chris, my husband, is returning home tomorrow after a couple of weeks of being away. It’s an adjustment.
  • I am worried about the expense and commitment of getting Chris help with daily tasks of living for his Parkinson’s Disease.
  • It’s 9/11 weekend. It’s depressing.
  • I’m not exercising much, because of my foot pain.
  • I’ve focused too much on the kids and establishing their back-to-school routine.
  • My bedroom is too hot; the air conditioner is too loud.
  • I went to a MeetUp last night for writers who perform; had a couple of beers. Felt a little jazzed.
  • I did not write much.
  • I have anxiety about work and the possible downsizing of our agency.

I guess that’s enough. I finished Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz yesterday. I so identified with his discovery that we are open to forgive and love other people way more than we accept ourselves. The point of everything, every encounter — even our encounters with ourselves in the middle of the night — is love.

That is, instead of withholding love to change somebody, I poured it on lavishly. I hoped that love would work like a magnet, pulling people from the mire and toward healing.

This is tough. I have to find a way to love and forgive everybody, including myself; I need more help. Some problems can be resolved with more help and more love, and some with healthier behaviors. Here’s how I answer myself on last night’s worries:

  • I had to take one of the girls to the pediatrician's office for her ear infection. This was in the waiting room. My thoughts, like cogs, go round and round.

    You delivered the breakfast.

  • You like being busy. Being busy and happy pays off.
  • You’ll adjust to Chris’s return. You have your own travel plans.
  • Just spend the money to get Chris help.
  • This weekend will pass.
  • Exercise any way. Swim. Bike. Run. Do yoga. Do physical therapy for foot.
  • The kids are doing great.
  • Leave the air conditioner on.
  • Decompress with a book or herbal tea, not a beer.
  • Write more.
  • Let go of the work worries; there’s nothing to be done about them any way.

Writing all this has helped. I need more coffee. Maybe later, I can sneak in a nap. (Or exercise.)

Mommy Needs Sleep, Part 2

Morpheus and Iris bringing sleep to mortals

This morning I was writing in my journal. Hayden stretched in the doorway.

“There was a lot of commotion because we kept seeing the mouse,” he said by way of explanation why he and Chris woke me at 1 am.

I was crazy like a banshee in the middle of the night, “I told you two I need my sleep. As a writer and mother! Chris, your medicine or disease may keep you up all hours of the night but I need my sleep!”

My light was out around 10:45. It was the last day of school for Cath and Char. I left Catherine and Hayden awake, Hayden with his X-Box and Catherine with her iPod. Chris appeared to be playing some casino game on his computer. (Have I mentioned that at every neurologist’s appointment, the doctor asks Chris if he is is addicted to gambling? This is apparently a lovely side effect to the Parkinson’s meds.)

I made Charlie turn off her notebook and let her snuggle in with me because I have the only air-conditioned bedroom in the apartment and she promised not to bother me. All was well.

Until Catherine woke me around midnight. She had come into bed, tossing and turning, uncomfortable because of her sunburn. Then Hayden and Chris woke me around 1 — they were mouse hunting, thus the “commotion.”

Country mice don’t bother me, but city mice freak me out. I don’t know if they caught the mouse.

I only know I did not catch enough Zzzzzs. I was pissed in the middle of the night, and am tired this morning. Of course, I love my kids, my husband, but I truly love Morpheus, the god of sleep, and do not get to worship him enough.

It’s not like I haven’t told everyone I need my sleep. We even had that family meeting about it. http://runningaground.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/mommy-needs-sleep/ Ah well, I will try again tonite to get a good night sleep.