15 August 2017

Weaving Through The Grief


My mother was in the Neuro ICU for more than a week.  She was not conscious at all for any of it. Or at least not that I felt.  I spent the majority of twelve days with her.  A few of those days I left for a couple hours while my cousin stayed with her.  Two of those nights I went home and slept in my bed, but immediately went back to sleeping by her side the minute I knew my time with her physical presence was limited.

I always have at least one knitting project with me.  During the hospital stay I had two or three in my bag, but I probably only worked on a pair of socks for a total of half an hour in all over the course of those twelve days.  Somehow, every single minute that passed, I was unable to focus on anything other than just sitting there, with my mother, holding her hand, being in her presence.  Walking with her as we both navigated the process of her death.

I've found it hard to pick up any knitting lately.  I usually do go through a period during this time of year where my fiber arts take a back seat to other things mostly outdoor related, but this time it feels different.  I am having a hard time writing too.  I am doing very little of anything other than just merely functioning.  I spend a lot of time sitting, staring off into space as my thoughts run around in circles.

Last night I pulled out my scarf.  It's a simple garter stitch.  The same project I first knit many years ago when I was learning the craft.  I'm still finding it hard to focus, but it's easy enough that I can just concentrate on the pushing through.  I can just knit one more stitch, and one more, and one more, until I've finished a row, and I can count that as progress.

Pushing through anything can be hard. Even if it's the easiest thing you could possibly do at the moment, just adding the layer of grief to it makes it the biggest accomplishment.

I don't feel like knitting but the more I do it, the better I feel about it.


12 August 2017

It is okay to say (random thoughts from the currently grieving)


"I'm sorry."
"I don't know what to say."
"There really aren't any words."
"It must be really hard."
"I can't imagine."
"I wish I knew what to say."
"What can I do to help?"
"I'm here if you need anything."

Some people have a hard time with these things, but I don't, so it's totally okay to say them to me.
"She's in a better place."
"She is no longer suffering."
"She is still here with you."
"She will always be here with you."

She will always be a part of me, for sure.
And I also find myself in the same place of not really knowing what to say
when others go through this too.

It is always okay to hug me.
And hug me again.
And call me.
And text me.
A million times.
Every day.

It's also okay to not say anything.
It's totally okay to break down in tears.
It's okay to look at me with hurt in your eyes.
It's okay to look down and say "it sucks"

I'm also learning for myself that it's okay for me to
not always respond to you when you reach out because I know you won't be offended,
because sometimes responding is overwhelming.
I am learning that it's okay for me to take time to crawl in a hole and just sit there.
I am totally okay with breaking down in a pile of tears in public places
while complete strangers look upon me with confusion.
I'm okay sitting in my car, at a traffic light, bawling, as people in their cars look on in wonder.

I've had a few people tell me that feeling deeply is my superpower.  Throughout this I have been reminded of how much of a good thing that is, not only for me but for what I am modeling for my children.

Grief sucks, but I've really gotten good at it.
And as much as it can hurt, and make it feel like my heart is being ripped apart inside of me,
it brings a transformation and release more profound than anything I have ever experienced.
Deep, tragic, painful grief makes you feel alive in ways that life itself can not.

It is also okay to be grateful for the lessons and wisdom you gain from a process that you wish you didn't have to go through, but in the end you know that you need to go through it in order to continue to evolve.

The things that tear you apart end up putting you back together in ways that could not happen without.




30 July 2017

Died Peacefully at Home Surrounded by their Loving Family

I am certain that this is something that does happen, as I read it occasionally in the obituaries.  I am also aware that death in and of itself isn't something that usually holds an easily reached peace in most circumstances.  But as I sit here next to my mother, who is on her second day under hospice care and her 11th day fighting death, I realize that I can't remember a time that my family has been afforded the experience of the title of this blog post.

My maternal grandfather died at the hospital, of congestive heart failure.  They had just called to tell us he was going to be released to come home.  Granted we knew he wasn't going to live very long, but he wanted to be at home and they were making that happen.  Shortly after hanging up the phone, he died there, alone, without family, in his hospital room.

My paternal grandfather died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital after suffering a stroke as he waited outside the grocery store for my grandmother to return.  My paternal grandmother died in a nursing home after a much too long battle with alzheimer's.

My maternal grandmother probably would have been likely to attain a peaceful passing as I'm sure she would have lived to be 100, but instead, while she died at home, it was not surrounded by family, and it was at the hands of someone who beat the life out of her.  And three short months after bearing witness to the aftermath of this unfortunate scene, my father died alone in a hospital bed of a blood infection that was left to him after enduring a ridiculous amount of chemotherapy that may possibly have been shrinking his cancer, but surely left his body unable to fight anything else.

My uncle suffered a heart attack upon waking one morning.  So, he may have been at home, but it was alone and not peaceful.

I could go back further to the great great grandmother who fell down my basement steps during her fourth pregnancy and both she and the baby died.  She may have been at home, with family (including a 6 year old daughter who never forgot asking the doctor if he was going to save her mama) but it sure doesn't sound like it was peaceful for anyone.

There is also my grandmothers uncle Coonie, who was certainly at home surrounded by family as they enjoyed a dinner together, but getting up and going outside to cough up blood from black lung until he died in his wifes arms isn't exactly peaceful either.

As I lay here next to my mother, watching her go through her own passage to death, I can't help but wonder how one experiences a peaceful passing.  Because I made a choice to allow my mother to have that, rather than to be sentenced to a life trapped inside her brain unable to experience any kind of life worth living.  I made the choice to end her ultimate suffering, which would leave her bedridden in a nursing home, where she has told me multiple times that she would never want to be.  And this process has been far from "peaceful", but no matter how painful it is for me, I can at least guarantee that she will have the presence of her loving family with her.

Perhaps another time I will be shown that "peacefully at home surrounded by their family" really does exist.

11 July 2017

Be Your Own Tracker

From the moment I discovered that my phone has an app that keeps track of the steps I take every day, I've been utilizing it. It's helped me in some ways, but I've also noticed that it hinders and frustrates me in others.  Like all technology, it started out as a love affair with something that I imagine is going to make me more productive and focused and help me attain goals.  But it comes with a cost, creating a constant need to have my phone on my person at every moment for fear of not tracking my progress.

I am aware that there are watches out there that you can wear on your wrist which makes having the phone unnecessary, but that's just another piece of technology that I really don't need.  Again, becoming tethered to a "virtual" cloud storing every piece of information about me and my habits is not something that I even want.  Let's just ignore the fact that the watch exists because it's irrelevant as I don't have one, and I won't be getting one.  Or you could, throughout the rest of this post, replace "phone" with "watch" and it would still make the same point.

When I am at home I like to leave my phone on the counter.  There are plenty of studies that have indicated that having your phone on your body all the time can increase your chances of :inserthorriblediseasehere:. Even if it were a watch, the technology is the same and that watch is against your skin, accessing whatever "waves" it works on.  Even if it isn't true, I still feel like a bit of a robot at the thought of having this mini computer wirelessly accessing information from my body and uploading it through some tower that "connects" me to the "machine".  So I like to be "untethered" as often as I can.  I like to move around freely without having a piece of machinery attached to my body.  But when I do that, all those precious steps are unaccounted for.

Which begs the question......if my phone doesn't track it, did I really walk it?

Sometimes I will get home at the end of the day and put the phone on the counter to charge it, but then I decide to do laundry and before heading up the stairs I grab my phone and put it back in my pocket because I couldn't bear to lose those steps.  If I do, my daily tally of movement becomes inaccurate, or God forbid I just count them on my own and add them in.  I mean, I would have to do it right away or remember them and do it later, which we know wouldn't happen.

This morning I realized I forgot to hang my jeans up to dry last night and had to choose another pair of pants to wear, and they have ZERO POCKETS! Cue anxiety. When I take my walk breaks, I could just hold the phone in my hand, right?

Again, if my phone doesn't track it, am I really doing it?

Answer?  The phone is hindering my ability to track my life on my own.  It's taking away my ability to know when I have worked my body and instead forcing me to rely on something that is not a true part of me. I really don't need an app to know that I have worked my ass after hiking up Pole Steeple, because the tingles of muscle moving are enough to tell me that I'm working.  Those tingles all the way down my legs to my feet are all I need to know that I have worked my body in the way it needs.

I know that if I sit at my desk for four hours straight without getting up to stretch and walk for a bit, I am going to feel stiff.  I don't need a phone to remind me to get up.  I don't need an app to tell me that I took enough steps and have given my body the appropriate amount of movement.

Over the weekend, my kids and I went to the lake and swam for about half an hour.  I actually left my phone at home, and for a moment I wondered how one tracks the "steps" in the water.  I'm sure there's an app that I can input the information, but it frustrated me that I was even thinking that I had to find a way to computerize my movement in order to make it count.

How did we become so removed from the physical body we live in that we need a tiny little computer to tell us that we're doing enough?

To be continued.




06 July 2017

Natural Magic


I have always felt connected to the natural world and have always enjoyed time hiking, swimming, and basking in the beauty of the landscapes around me.  For a few years now I've been spending more time working towards being truly connected to the Earth.  Learning and paying close attention to how I react to the changing of the seasons, the moon in her phases of filling and releasing, and the energies brought by the position of the stars and planets in the sky and their relationships with each other.  I've spent time learning about the placement of it all when I was born and have discovered more that contributes to what makes me tick other than just the mere astrological sun sign I was brought Earthside under.

I've learned to trust my own body and soul when it tells me things.
My intuition has gotten stronger as I allow myself to become attuned to nature and the life around me that lives and breathes along with me.
The ground beneath my feet is alive and provides a sense of security when I stand upon it and allow myself to upload all the positive energy she wants to give me.
The wind comes to not only teach me to stand firm and allow my roots to stretch longer and become stronger in their holdings, but if I stand firm enough, I will allow it to carry away the things that have been clinging like dust that I haven't let myself shake off.
The rain washes over me, rinsing me clean of the despondent energies that sometimes attach themselves to me unasked.
The snow blankets all around me, offering security and safety underneath its' cover of calm, providing for rest and rejuvenation.
And every form of life that I pass by provides me with a lesson that I am able to see as an outside observer, mirroring things that I can't always see from inside my own self.

This has all come from stillness; from allowing myself to be awake, aware, and observe without preconceived ideas or expectations.  By detaching myself from the rush, the hurry, and the material obsession of the developed world around me, I am learning how to truly be a part of this very rewarding and simple existence rather than just functioning as a part of the complicated and suffocating system that has been created outside of it.

This writing was prompted as a full moon is coming again and I feel massive amounts of build up ready to be let loose. Writing is a release, after all.  Especially as I've already been in a process of shedding both physically and mentally. Surely as pounds have dropped off, unwanted energies have left along with them, just like it feels when you declutter a space in your house and all of the sudden you can feel the air move more freely.

Cancer is also a water sign and I have been feeling drawn to immersing myself in water.  Sounds like a pretty good time to find some and bathe under the light of the moon.





03 July 2017

The Good Kind of Progress


There is no end to the amount of wisdom you can find in nature.  Every moment I spend in the company of birds and trees, with my feet on the ground beneath me, is a moment that brings me more wisdom that can not be found in a book or on any website in the cyber world.

I have probably spent more time on this trail so far this year than any year in my life.  I don't always go the whole way to the top, and most of the time I take the "less steep" part of the trail that comes around the back of the rock face since it's easier for my dog, but regardless, I feel accomplished every single time.  My body thanks me every single time.  My mind thanks me every single time.

Because the reward is in the doing. It's in the getting out there on the trail even when it's 90 degrees outside.  It's pushing myself when it would be just as easy to say "oh it's been a long day, I'll just take a break today and get back out tomorrow." It's getting out there on the trail when you only have 20 minutes before the sun begins its' descent and the park closes because it was a terribly long and tough day and those 20 minutes are exactly what you need to find calm.

Because if you don't get out there today, you will be less likely to get out there tomorrow too.  And that's not progress.

Tonight, when I closed in on the switchbacks on the less steep part, I realized that I didn't stop even once to sit down and rest.  I continued on the rest of the way, to the top of the rocks, without stopping to rest at all, and then proceeded down without sitting to rest.  Just a few short weeks ago I was still frustrated over a lack of energy and shin splints that seemed to continue to discourage me even though I was incorporating more movement into every day.  I wondered when the fuck I was going to start seeing some real results.  It had been a month; certainly I should have felt more energy by then.

Tonight, the Universe rewarded me with proof of real progress, and for that I am even more motivated and thankful.



13 June 2017

Calling All Ingalls.....and Waltons

I spend a lot of my time feeling like I belong somewhere like Walnut Grove, co-habitating with my Charles Ingalls, spending my time in the fields, carrying my eggs to the Olsons and picking out some pretty new fabric to make some new clothes for my family. Except my Mrs. Olson is a total sweetheart and not at all that pretentious lady depicted in the series.
My ancestors lived somewhere between the Ingalls and the Waltons, not only living off the land and sustaining themselves with their own gardens and fruit trees, but also taking care of all their elders who also lived with them, and the others in the community who needed it (my Great Grandmother, a midwife, delivered all the babies in our part of Cumberland & Adams County "but her own"). A much simpler time for sure. One that, again, I often wish to be a part of.
But I digress. Right now I have a few breakers turned off (two weeks now since I can't seem to get a second or third estimate because out of a literal dozen different electric contractors, I either can't get a call back, they're busy, or Camp Hill is just too far for them to drive from - HA! those pansies would never have survived my Gardners to Harrisburg commute for TWENTY YEARS).
I digress again.
It's fine because I really don't need light in my bedroom at the moment because by the time it's dark I'm ready to sleep any way. And I don't usually bring electronics into my room. We're done in the kitchen by the time the light is down so I don't really need that light either. I have too much stuff to do outside in my yard and by the time I'm done with everything (including dinner and the dishes) I don't have time to sit in my living room and knit or read, so I don't need that either. I don't have a dryer and have hung my clothes to dry for about three years now so no big deal there either. Washer is still good. Fridge still hooked up. I do still have access to showering, so at least we're clean.
And now, they've torn up the road, and it's totally like Walnut Grove coming in and out. It's caused me to slow down on my lead foot and truly take my time on the drive today. I guess it'll be like this all week.
The point of all this? I keep saying I'm ready to get off the grid. The universe is certainly listening to my messages.

22 May 2017

Monday Morning Musings

I wonder how we would view ourselves if we were to actually see, in some tangible form, the things that we expend our energy on.  I imagine my day as a jar and at the end of the day it is full of all the things that I have spent my time on, and images of people I have spent my time with during the day.  Does my jar sparkle?  Does light emit from it like a firefly?  Or is it grey and mucky while the bright points are hidden inside beneath a cloud of fog?

What's in your jar?



19 May 2017

More Open


It's always there, you just have to look for it.  The opportunity to take a breath, to notice, to calm, to literally just *be*.

This moment is one that brings me calm every day.  It's a routine that we've become accustomed to.  Every time we drive past this spot, we stop and take a moment to say hello to our friends.  Occasionally they are on the other side of the field, and if we stop they will usually come right over.  There is a cow too, and he's become curious lately, but still a little apprehensive.

We allow the peace to enter.

We allow ourselves to slow down.

We allow the present moment in.

I've noticed how this moment makes me feel.  Most of the time we stop and at least one of the boys gets out to truly share space with them, but even when it's nothing more than a drive-by hello of sorts where we slow to a crawl and yell "Hello Friends!" or "Doooooonnkey!" out the window, this moment has been teaching me presence all along.  It's been probably two years that we have been doing this, but I make the time for it nearly every day now, and I feel the peace it brings me.

This is where the magic happens.  This is life.  This is the medicine that truly helps to heal me.

17 May 2017

Open


Nature is a bounty for life lessons, providing us with metaphors everywhere, if we are awake enough to see them.  The changing seasons each bring us "classes" of their own, that teach us patience, perseverance, strength, and vulnerability as we are continually given challenges in life that test what we learn.

I've never witnessed the poppy in this seemingly suspended state.  I've watched these beauties bloom every year for as long as I can remember, yet I seem to have only captured them in every other state. First, being completely held tight inside the safety of their pod; second, in full glorious bloom; or after, as they shed the paper-thin petals to the ground around them.

I've been thinking about boundaries and openness lately, and have been looking not only at how both are present in my own life, but also in where they could be improved upon.  In the past few years I have certainly become much more present in my world.  I pay much closer attention to how I react, the things that I make time for, the things I don't make time for, where I expend my energy to.  As a Libra it's always been a constant striving for balance, but after 40 years on this earth I'm finally coming to realize that there is no such thing as balance.  Balance doesn't exist because there will always be something taking the back burner while you focus your attention to something else.  And one thing will always get more time and attention than another.

The amount of time that this poppy spends giving us something beautiful to look at and admire is so short in the span of an entire year.  And at this moment she seems to hold steady, trying to muster all her strength to open up and be completely seen.  It's such a short moment, and you never see her turn back.  She doesn't open halfway up and then decide "Nah, I'm going back in my pod."  Nature always completes its' process.

Perhaps that's where feelings of being "stuck" come from.  Having things undone.
The things that are never said.  The things that are begun but never finished.  The things that finish before they even start.  The things that unravel and are left in the corner of the closet until we have the time (or energy) to pick it up again.  The things that we never open up enough to give our energy to.  Being open is being vulnerable.  And even though everything that blooms dies in the end, it still blooms. Even if it doesn't bloom quite perfectly, it still blooms.

Where can you bloom?


About Me

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40. mother. earth lover. mover. creater.