Posts Tagged With: healing

 
 

Finding Somewhere Safe

“Just take me somewhere safe.”

If someone answered that way when you asked them if they needed a ride, what would you do? Where would you go?

MSH saw a man looking a bit lost and bewildered, carrying a backpack and a sleeping bag. He bought lunch for the guy at McDonalds and chatted some. Said he was a veteran but hadn’t seen combat. He said he had a family out of state, five kids and a wife. He seemed nervous and a bit uncertain. Parts of his story didn’t make sense with other things he said.

He didn’t want to go to a shelter, or to a VA hospital, or a food kitchen. He finally just asked MSH to drop him off at a shopping center, near a spot where a group of guys had gathered with their restored cars. MSH asked them if any of them were Veterans. A few were, so he explained about this man he’d tried to help who, in the meantime, wandered away and couldn’t be found again.

When MSH told me about this encounter my worry meters buzzed. Such things make me wish I could fix the world. But of course, that isn’t possible.

I’ve read recently about Mother Teresa who, when asked about the huge task before her, replied….

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~ Mother Teresa

I’m surely no Mother Teresa, but I do try to make a tiny difference where and when I can. I help at a local Food Bank from time to time. I donate to charity. I offer my services regularly in a variety of volunteer opportunities. On occasion my home has served as a sanctuary of sorts.

notre dameWe have a family friend or two who drops in from time to time. They see our home as a safe place to land, or a spot to score a slice of bread, which really means a slice of caring and a listening ear. Once, on sitting down at the kitchen bar to some fresh homemade bread and strawberry jam, one of these friends said something about finding sanctuary in our home.

That caught me off guard.

Sanctuary sounds like somewhere sacred and set apart and rare. My home? A sanctuary?

Another friend I know has told the story of a man at church who asked her why she sat in the hall during part of our worship service. She replied that she felt awkward and out of place because she’s single and so often seemed left surrounded by empty chairs rather than by mostly-married worshippers of our congregation. This kind, younger, married man, sweetly put his arms around her and hugged her tight. She proceeded to sob. She said she hadn’t been hugged by a man in decades and felt his kindness in that platonic squeeze. From that day forward if he is at church he has saved her a seat next to him and kept a lookout so he could pat the chair and let her know it’s saved just for her. My friend found sanctuary in a house of God in the most unexpected of ways.

I know this man, and he’s no Mother Teresa either. But he saw a need and has done his best to fill it. He’s a saint in one person’s eyes.

The word sanctuary finds its roots weaving through Middle English from French. Before that it started with the Latin word “sanctus” which means “holy.”

Anything we do to alleviate another’s sadness, to lift a person’s burdens or to cheer a weary soul is a holy act.

We can all provide sanctuary, if not in actual brick and mortar, at least in deed and action and maybe even in word.

Perhaps the sanctuary we provide is simply the small space around us as we provide a reassuring hug, a human touch to a person aching to feel loved in some small way. Maybe we rub a set of tired shoulders for a few seconds to push courage and fellowship into weary shoulders.

Perhaps the sanctuary we’re in is a porch swing where a heartfelt conversation takes place, temporarily lifting the weight of worry or sadness.

Perhaps the sanctuary we create is in the holding of our bitter tongue, the forgiving of long held grievances, or a word of thanks. Perhaps our smile creates a sanctuary that carries someone through to the next way station for disillusioned travelers.

Mother_Teresa_1985_croppedAnother quote by tiny but powerful Mother Teresa says, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

Are we tossing coins when a slice of bread is needed? I hope not. Are we giving out bitter sponges soaked in vinegar when a glass of cool water is all that’s required? I pray not.

To be completely honest, I have turned away when a need was evident, mostly because I doubted my ability to lift or cheer or make a difference. Sometimes my own needs kept my eyes looking inward and I simply couldn’t or refused to see another’s need. Sometimes I’ve just been world weary myself and needed my own sanctuary.

We aren’t always on one side of the equation. As humans we often find ourselves on the other side of needing. That helps us feel compassion when the roles switch places again.

Hopefully I learn and apply the knowledge when facing a person in need of sanctuary.

“Take me someplace safe,” the weary one says, “wherever that is.”

I hope I know where that place is and how to get there. I hope others are also willing and able to help as well.

~~~~~

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.” ~Rachel Naomi Remen

Acuminate_Leaf_(PSF)

 

 

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Categories: Being Human, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Getting Healthy in all the Right Places

Doctor’s waiting rooms seem ripe with all sorts of possible bad outcomes. Don’t you agree?

I always wish I had my own bottle of hand sanitizer after simply opening the door to go in.

There’s those pens, the ones with flowers taped to them so no one takes one. Who’s going to walk off with a bacteria laden pen from a doctor’s office? Not me! Even minus the fake flower. Not to mention the clip boards. I’ll bet no one has ever swiped a disinfectant wipe across one of those boards o’ infection. The arms on the chairs? Ew. Potential illness abounds.

Let’s not even get started on the magazines from 1990 something, or last year, or even last month. Petri dish some of those pages and see what you come up with!

Brrrr.

Brrrr.

Last month I availed myself of the attentions of a new doctor, an internal medicine specialist. Nice guy. He looks like he’s about the same age as one of my son-in-laws, who happens to be a med student.  Putting my health in the hands of someone so young seems like kind of a scary thought, but then he seems up on the latest studies, schools of thought in Europe versus here in the States. And he takes his time with me. No sense that he’s in a big rush to get to the next patient.

Bonus points for this: he only treats grown ups. Grown ups have complicated, twisty knotted up weirdness in the physical health area. I’d suggest an internist if you fall into that category. So far, I like the guy.

So this young internist writes out a series of tests that he says I need. Labs, scopes, prods, pokes, whatever the heck you’re supposed to do on a regular basis that I (cough) rarely do. So I’ve spent the past month or so doing all that fun stuff. At one of the funner procedures, NOT the one I wrote about, I got put in a little dressing room, put on a gown which would become completely useless in no time, and took a seat next to some nice, crisp, newish magazines. I was told to wait. Or maybe I was supposed to say, “Ready or not, here I come,” when I was decent. I don’t remember.

Anyway, I had a minute to read one of the magazines called “Experience Life.” I laughed when I read the title. Like I need a magazine at my age (relatively young-ish) to tell me anything about experiencing life. I found the idea rather humorous. But, surprisingly this one article caught my attention. In fact, it riveted me to my seat and made me forget my half-nakedness. That’s pretty impressive power.

"Healing Spaces" the book

“Healing Spaces” the book

The title of the article is “Healing Spaces”. In fact you can CLICK HERE to read what I read, only online. It’s written by Esther Sternberg, MD, who excepted it from a book she wrote called Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. I checked it out from the library and can’t wait to read it.

Basically, these ideas took hold when someone noticed that patients who could see trees through their window while they were in recovery left the hospital a full day earlier than those without a natural view. This prompted a variety of studies which have come up with some fascinating conclusions about things that help improve the healing process. Conclusions I happen to support wholeheartedly, based on personal experience.

Don’t you love it when research backs up what you already know? Makes me feel kind of brilliant. Ha!

So what sort of things has this research concluded help us to heal faster? I’m glad you asked. These things right here:

  • Quiet places
  • A place in the sun
  • The presence of loved ones
  • Places that smell good
  • Walking paths and labyrinths
  • Places of belief
The Riparian on a rare rainy day.

The Riparian on a rare rainy day.

All those things already top my list of priorities. My sanity requires regular quiet mornings and my wandering walks. The Riparian Preserve where I walk fills up some awesome smells that change with the seasons and the weather. Living in the desert Southwest I get lots of glorious sunny days.

The baking I love to do makes my home smell heavenly and right now the air is thick with the smell of citrus blossoms. Some of my most cherished moments each week I spend in sacred places. And, I know I feel better and happier when I spend regular time with family and friends.

Based on where I spend my time and this book, I ought to be one of the healthiest people around.

According to my doctor and all those tests, I’m in great health, with a couple of things I need to work on. (Aren’t we all a work in progress, or egress?) I’m pretty sure that the time I spend in all these places keeps me in better health than I deserve. Mentally, I’m certainly saner than I’d be without such places in my life.

So breath deeply, wander some, soak up some rays, enjoy family and friend time, hang out somewhere sacred and luxuriate in a bit of quiet. Your body and your brain will thank you.

~~~~~

“Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing.”  ~ Linda Hogan

Categories: Mental Health, Nature, physical health | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Still Crazy After All These Months

Seven months today.

I thought by now I’d feel better, be on the upswing.

But no. If anything the cycle of grief leaves me reeling from an upside down outside loop (is that even possible?) and rockets into this cavernous roiling flame-filled pit of wild emotion I don’t even recognize. Anger, tears, blame, sorrow, regret; those words only skim the surface some days.

Sounds stupidly dramatic.

Kathy would say, “Oh, get over yourself woman.” Then we’d drive over to Freddie’s for their super skinny fries and epic fry sauce and a concrete mixer with caramel and nuts and fudge and two days worth of calories in one sitdown whine fest.

What an awesome listener. The world needs more listeners like her. What an honest, straightforward tell it like it really is talker. We need more of that, too.

If I were to follow her example when someone asks how I’m doing I would NOT say, “Oh, I’m fine!” Instead I’d say, “I’m a wreck!”

I miss her like crazy. I miss us. Our friendship. Our uniquely bizarre mix of humor, life’s experience and often wordless communication created five years of something beyond special.

Now, months later, there’s still this gaping hole of her absence. And I keep tripping and falling into it. Hurts every time. I just can’t seem to navigate away from the edge, yet.

Maybe someday. Maybe at the one year point. Y’think? I don’t know.

She’d be mad at me if I left this post hanging on a negative note. She’d be mad at me for the whole post, honestly. Oh well, she’ll have to come haunt me to shut me up. So there.

Here’s where I insert the jokes.

But just to be safe, (I don’t really want her haunting me) here’s a few fairly good, clean George Carlin one liners. (Hint: it helps to say them out loud in your best comedian voice, with a nice pause at the end for a rim shot, pa da, pum! )

  • If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
  • Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
  • Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
  • How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
  • Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?
  • Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?
  • If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

Alright already, I’ll stop now.

Laughter? Really?

I’ve found salvation and solace in laughter the past few months. It’s cathartic. It’s healing. It’s like medicine, without the weird side effects.

I’m fine. Really. Most of the time I am. I just have these moments that last a day or two or three. It helps to write it out loud, kinda gets it out of my system.

I’ll sign off today the same way I used to tell her goodbye. The same way I said goodbye for the last time.

“Love ya, Kathy. See ya later.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The title for today’s post is a take off on a song by Paul Simon, “Still Crazy After All These Years.” It speaks to me on so many different levels. You can listen to it here.

 

 

Categories: Cancer, Death, Friendship, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday Afternoon Magic

So, here I sit out front, fuzzy black slippers on, in my porch swing. My computer sitting on my lap. I thought, maybe, being outdoors would somehow prompt some inspiration or insight or intelligence. All “in” words, which is contrary to being “out” here.

photo-19 copy 17

If you look closely you can see a reflection in the water.

Still, there’s something comforting on the breeze. The cooler air smells different, fresher, promising, tentative. A couple of hummingbirds hover at the feeder that I’ve let run dry in the past day or two. I should get up off the swing and make up some nectar to fill it. Then the tiny chirps would sound less insistent. Two house wrens, make that three,  jump from bush to bird bath, taking turns dipping into the water, drinking, checking, drinking, checking.

The bush they flit about in needs a good trimming. It’s overgrown and leaning to the east. Every time I’ve thought of getting out the trimmers for a little shaping the bush is in full flower, purple over the entire outer surface. The unkempt look of the bushes matches the wildflowers which are getting taller in sporadic and uneven places. They look more like weeds than ever. I’m not sure where I’ve put the “Wildflowers Under Construction” signs. I should locate and set those out so the HOA knows not to fine me for weeds.

Leaves skitter down the road from time to time as the wind picks up occasionally. Drifts of orange curls settle in crevices and under bushes and between stepping-stones. Then here and there a rain of tiny gray-green leaflets fall from the boughs that oversee almost the entire front yard. I ought to get the blower/vac out tomorrow morning and clean things up a bit, before the garbage truck arrives. But I probably won’t. Let the rest of the leaves from the trees on our street finish their deleafing, then I’ll “clean up” what ought to be left out for crunching footsteps and mulching gardens.

Still with a lengthening to-do list growing in my head as I swing I find a sense of okay-ness out here.

Maybe it’s the family groups that walk or bike the perimeter of the park.  Maybe it’s the sound of children playing on the swings across the street. Could be the chips and cheeps of unseen birds or the blue softness of the sky. It could be the ease of a Sunday afternoon spread out languidly before me. Nothing but a diet Coke to work on.

Choices abound. I recognize how amazingly lucky I am to have the option of being comfortably inside or outside in December. That I live in a place with room for a porch swing feels almost decadent. That growing things surround my home and provide homes for birds and rabbits and an occasional stray cat helps me feel more of life in my days. Healthy and able to walk or dance or bake or spend time with MSH or my children seems like something I shouldn’t ignore or presume.

Yes, pending loss cracks open the shell of the universe, hearts border on breaking.

And yet, somehow goodness and beauty soothe and succor. Something about the outside world gentles the  pounding in my heart and hushes the worry circling my head.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Winds Will Blow

Thursday Afternoon:

The current variety of stomach bug snuck up on me  from behind and attacked in full force with vengeance and slaughter as its only aim.

Thursday Night:

The wee hours brought a thunderstorm that parked itself over our house and proceeded to play a few frames of Bowling with the Gods. In my semi-delirious state I thought perhaps they’d be carrying me away when the games played out.

Friday Morning:

Surprisingly I woke in my own bed the next morning, spent, still spinning a bit but able to walk. I slogged to the front door and peeked out to see what havoc had rained down whilst I attempted sleep. A gray sky still hovered low and ominous save for a small area of sunlight valiantly attempting a go at it. I grabbed my camera and captured this image.

photo-19 copy 15

All gray sky but this one small area of sun trying to break through.

And with this scene I also captured a desire to go outside, under that sky. I wanted to capture a few lingering raindrops, to feel the fresh air on my pallid skin. More than anything I wanted to replace the rancid indoor air of my lungs with this ozone enhanced and rain cooled wonderful misty infused oxygen.

Friday Noon:

I’m sure I’ve never walked so slowly through the Riparian. My energy levels sat near zero, but my wish  outdoors drove me there almost as much as the car did. My slow pace lent itself to noticing things I sometimes miss. The overcast skies kept the wildlife active and vibrant where they’re usually subdued and snoozing at midday.

Friday Afternoon:

I’d certainly walked too far for how ill I’d felt the day before, but the effects of nature’s tender cloud filled  embrace had worked magic on my heart.

Saturday:

Here I share a few of the glories available less than one mile from my home. I think it’s time I made a regular practice of visiting there as I did a few years ago.

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~ John Muir

Categories: Nature, Outdoors, physical health | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Brain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain

Brain scanning technology is quickly approachi...

Brain scanning technology is quickly approaching levels of detail that will have amazing implications (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m amazed, astounded and thankful for the human brain. As I watch my mother heal from her stroke I find it fascinating to see abilities and skills re-engage, words circle around and connect, ideas form and fill in. Skills that were nearly impossible two weeks ago now seem almost easy. Strength returns in surprising ways.

It’s equally surprising to see the areas that haven’t yet recovered. Similar abilities often use vastly different aspects of the brain. I never would have thought it worked that way.

For instance she can sit at the piano and play a simple song with both hands but finding her spoon on the tray and getting it into her right hand challenges her. Or she can carry on a perfectly normal conversation about almost any topic, until she’s asked about one of her children and the names elude her. And this one surprises me: she can tell a joke, but math baffles her.

I wonder as I hear her laugh, why her sense of humor has come back better refined, more active, mischievous and funnier. You’d think after going through what she’s been through she’d be upset, or feel sorry for herself, or aggravated at the losses and the challenges. But no, she’s optimistic, grateful and laughs at herself easily.

I think about the things an infant learns in just a few short months. Crying, eating, tracking objects with their eyes, reaching for toys, controlling head movements, sitting up, rolling over. All those synapses and nerves and neurons and signals and messages sent and received. What a wonder! Is there anything we’ve been able to create that duplicates that?

Seeing my own hands moving across the keyboard, typing, turning thoughts into words on a page seems miraculous and beyond belief. How does the brain do that? What electrical impulse does what where and how to make all that happen? I am in awe.

Before I get too serious I want to sidetrack here and say how giddy I feel, full up to overflowing with gratitude that Mom’s brain is healing and healthier every day. I also want to laugh out loud with gratitude. I think that feels incredibly appropriate.

So, In honor of my mother’s refined sense of humor and Dad’s new learning curve of care taking I’m including a couple of jokes that they will appreciate. You can laugh along if you want to. (Thank you Reader’s Digest for the great laughs!)

One hectic day at the hospital where I work, I was trying to take the medical history of a woman while being constantly interrupted. Flustered, instead of asking, “Are your parents alive or deceased?” I asked, “Are you alive or deceased?” She smiled and remarked, “I have got to start wearing more makeup! (–Vera Krause)

This next one actually reminds me of my parents:

Two elderly couples were walking down the street, the women a couple of metres ahead of the men. One man told the other that they’d had a wonderful meal the night before-great food, reasonably priced.

His friend asked for the name of the restaurant. “Well, I’ll need your help on this. Let’s see, there’s a flower that smells great and has thorns on the stem?”

“That would be a rose,” his friend responded.

“That’s it!” the man replied. Then he shouted to his wife: “Hey, Rose! What’s the name of the restaurant we ate at last night?” (– by Kerry Barnum)

A Dry Cleaning Joke

A man came into the dry cleaner’s where I work to pick up a pair of pants that he’d left two weeks before. He didn’t have his ticket, and I couldn’t find them. “Maybe you picked them up already,” I suggested. “I hope my memory isn’t that bad!” he replied, but said he’d go home and check. A minute later he was back, carrying the pants he had wanted cleaned. “I’ve been driving around with them in the car for two weeks!” he laughed. (–by Carolyn Brennan)

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Moment, and Everything After

Heartbreak and Loss seldom give warning. Suddenly, they are at the door, unwelcome visitors, suitcases in hand, prepared to stay for an unrelenting visit.

At times it feels as if they’ve moved in, become part of the hum of the household, except the household no longer hums.  It jolts, and bumps, and bangs and hurts in unimaginable ways.

Fortunately, blessedly, thankfully, other visitors appear with food for the body when the soul has lost its appetite for life.

Others bring gifts of artistic wonder, of remembering, of photographs, of hugs and tears and attempts at understanding. There are those who bring laughter, some who bring laps for holding the smallest confused hearts. Some bring letters, which serve as a bulwark to support weak knees and helpless hands.

Gifts come in the form of laundered clothes, folded clean towels, floors swept, dishes done, garbage emptied, yard work finished.

Come on down and see us at the Old 193...

(Photo credit: sidehike)

Remembrances appear hanging from beautiful chains around the necks of those whose loss is unspeakable.  A photo, a talisman hanging beside the broken heart, a silver healing balm when healing seems impossible.

Music wraps itself around the injured, broken souls as a liniment, an ointment, a salve, first oil pressed from olives. The warmth of the song soothes and succors, lifts and lightens, cushions and comforts.

Love also appears at the door, and takes up residence. Love is attached to every gift, entwined in every condolence.  Love is woven in every hug. Love is wrapped among every sigh, and is the salt in every shared tear.

Love is the only real gift.

Because Love is the only solace.

Categories: Death, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where the Wild Things Are, And the Not So Wild Things

Recognizing a major need for escape from daily demands and stressors,  late last spring MSH booked me on a flight for that very day to visit a cousin in Colorado.  Not sure how he pulled that off, but he did.  Six hours later I found myself climbing into my cousin’s vehicle and sleeping on her pullout bed. What followed was a week of rest, meandering hikes, talking, eating, Scrabble and emotional healing. I returned home a new person, ready once again to face the world.  Here are a few select photos from that week.

Wishing I were here again.

This is a representative segment of one of the many lovely trails I enjoyed wandering.  Shady, tree filled, solitary.  Perfect for introspection, ideal for letting nature work her magic.

We had a nice friendly chat.

Seldom did I cross paths with other humans.  I did meet up with a pair of deer that treated me like a friend.  They actually didn’t run off when I approached.  We had a nice conversation for a while as I took pictures of them.  Their eyes have a look in them I haven’t yet been able to describe. My friend here stood still and posed for me five feet away from where I stood.  No need to zoom in.

A small pond I came across in a restoration area caught my eye.  The light and reflections were fun to watch.  The sense of calm the scene invoked was very welcome.

Surrounded by pines and peace.

Here’s another view of a lake I wrote about in an earlier post.  Must have been something about the elevation that made me feel emotionally lighter.  The heavy load I’d been hauling around for months dissipated on this hike.

Thanks for sharing my take on a taste of Colorado. Makes me want to go back for autumn, although I may have missed the colors changing by now.  These photos also remind me that I need that daily dose of nature in my life.  Being out-of-doors, my hands in the soil, my head in the clouds, surrounded by living plants, being part of the sights and sounds of the natural world, can make the difference between wellness and illness, joy and sorrow.

That connection to the real world grounds me, makes me whole and gives me energy. Here’s hoping you have such joys in your days.

Categories: Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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