Posts tagged: philosophy friday

Gentle Reminders

By , April 24, 2012

I need these reminders, too. So…

 ♥ Speak up for yourself ♥

♥ Be kind to yourself ♥

♥ Hold yourself dear ♥

♥ Trust yourself ♥

♥ Be yourself ♥

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My Spring Manifesto

By , April 13, 2012

Different from a to-do list, a manifesto — to me — is the ‘long view.’ It reminds me of my priorities at present.

And rather than a lengthy list, I feel that simpler is better.

If you wrote a Spring Manifesto, what would you write?

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Here’s mine:

– Always have fresh flowers in the house.

– Go outside every morning, preferably with tea.

– Do lots of hand stands, for the sheer joy of it… & stretching, to regain lost flexibility.

– A temporary library book ‘fast,’ and a general reduction in reading for now (to make more time for writing and project-doing).

– Rest.

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Guarding Your Energies

By , January 3, 2012

One thing that’s been at the top of my mind the past few months is guarding my energies. What I mean by that is choosing carefully how I spend my precious and limited energetic resources. A person only has so much energy… yet there are millions of places where one can spend their energy — especially with the information explosion that is the internet!

There’s so much information out there to read, so many books, so many websites, so many cool avenues to explore. So many possibilities of things to make, do, try out, places to go. It can be frustrating when you can’t learn about and do everything you want to. Such is the dilemma of this modern age! The world is open to us like it never was in the past, but as great as that is, it also means we have to learn to say no to a lot of stuff.

When I was in the depths of illness with hardly any energy at all, I learned to be very careful with how I spent it. I stopped bringing home those free magazines from the health food store (voila – less reading, less clutter!). I cancelled holds on several library books — meaning fewer trips to the library and fewer things in my reading pile. I made sure the stuff in my reading pile was stuff I really wanted to read. I threw away new recipes requiring too much effort or too many new ingredients. I crossed errands off my list for things I didn’t absolutely need. I bought things at the expensive store close to our house, instead of riding a lot further away on my bike just to save a couple dollars at the cheaper store.

Spending my energy more thoughtfully has been an excellent lesson. It’s something I’ll continue to do from now on. With the beginning of a fresh new year, I’ve been feeling inspired to complete projects that I’ve been wanting to do for some time now. And if I’m going to do those projects, I have to make them a priority — which means saying no to other, less important stuff that can so easily fill a day.

So today, I crossed stuff off my to-do list that I decided not to do after all (which is the quickest way to reduce your to-do list, for sure! hehe!).

I went through my email box and unsubscribed from almost all the email lists that I’ve gotten onto over the years.

I called Barnes & Noble for the fifth time, trying to get the last of the fraudulent charges removed from my credit card… (not to bash them, though, because I’ve been really impressed with them and the customer service people have been great, but I think doing refunds is just a bit of a process) but then after being transferred to the wrong department, I hung up and thought “forget it!!” and wrote a check for the remaining money, sealed it up and mailed it off. I figured it would ‘cost’ me less energy to earn the money back than it would to continue to spend time and energy trying to get the refund!

It’s an ongoing process… paring down clutter — physical and otherwise — that creeps into your day and eats up time and energy. I’m actually loving this process right now, because it means I’m actively shaping my life into what I want, and I’m getting rid of extraneous “filler” so that I’ll have more time for the things that really excite me — the things I want to say “YES!!” to. Otherwise I feel overwhelmed with all the stuff in piles that I have to read and deal with. But getting ruthless with incoming clutter and taking the word “No” to a whole new level is paying off. Life begins to feel simpler, with more breathing room. Less stress. More time for things that are truly important to you. More energy to devote to them!

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Philosophy Friday: Doing Our Best In a Complex Situation

By , September 17, 2011

Hope you’ve all had a good week… I can’t believe how quickly it went! For me this week has been full of emotion, some very low points, and a fair bit of hand-wringing. I haven’t been feeling well…I’ve been definitely-not-right for a year and a half, but especially sick for the past 5 months with fevers almost every day, painful lymph nodes in every corner of my body, and running at only 25% (or sometimes 5%) of my usual energy — plus so much other stuff too. Sometimes I’m so incredibly sick I can hardly open my eyes, and ‘whatever it is’ has slowly been progressing, affecting new parts of my body in creative & alarming ways. Watching my previously excellent health pretty much fall apart has been (and is) a scary, unsettling experience. And even after lots of tests done on (so far) 26 vials of blood, it’s still a mystery because it’s unclear whether there are two separate things going on, or if it’s all part of the same issue.

My head has been over and under and around ‘this thing’ so many times…churning on it, studying it, considering what to do about it, weighing western approach against eastern approach…and ultimately feeling paralyzed and unable to see how best to address it. We each have our values, don’t we… the values we create during times of wellness & happiness. I value alternative medicine…and prefer & feel most comfortable in that arena. Though, I pick and choose carefully in that area…having observed that there are indeed diamonds out there, but there’s also a lot of rubbish.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’ve had to compromise my preference for natural-only. Or…is it a compromise? Maybe it’s just a value adjustment, based upon the new information I’m gathering as I’m navigating this new territory — because I’ve never been this sick before. And I find myself glad to have the technology of western medicine to (hopefully) find out what’s up (or at least rule out what’s not up) — and at the same time, repeatedly hoping that I’m doing the right thing by following this particular route at this particular time.

It’s a complex situation. And I’ve finally decided that in this case, what I feel best with is a combination of western & eastern. Western, because I feel like that’s what’s called for in this extenuating circumstance. And eastern as a supplement — to support my body in the best way I can while it’s trying its hardest under these less-than-ideal conditions. (Excellent nutrition is a big part of this!)

And so today I had a full-body CT scan — from mid-head to pelvis. It’s the next step in trying to suss out what’s causing all this. I’ve been having trouble settling it in my mind…knowing it’s a lot of radiation on my sensitive body. But also knowing full well that it’s a risk-benefit thing — and the benefit outweighs the risk right now. Part of the CT experience was drinking 32 ounces of barium, as well as receiving two separate doses of contrast dye through an IV during the scan. And a week prior, I had an MRI with gadolinium contrast through an IV. Gadolinium is on the Periodic Table… and is not something I want in my body for any longer than necessary!

Readi-Cat, drinkable barium. Cute name & I actually liked the taste! But it made me nauseous.

The assortment of heavy metals and dyes also make me feel quite ill for the rest of the day after receiving them, so the best thing I can do for my body is help it get that stuff flushed right out. So today, I came home and started chugging water with fresh lemon juice…and 8 hours later now I’m finally starting to feel less yucky. I also juiced a ton of cilantro (and have been eating heaps of cilantro lately anyway) along with parsley and garden celery, since it’s been found that fresh cilantro binds really well to heavy metals in your body and carries them safely out. I’ve also been drinking my beet kvass tonight, since that’s a great blood purifier…in addition to eating my everyday fare of lots of fresh, organic fruits & veggies, which is pretty much all my body wants & can tolerate right now. (Oh and some chocolate too, ya know…for medicinal purposes only, of course!)

Cilantro, parsley, & celery juice

And for the radiation, I’m thankful to have my kit of Australian Bush Flower Essences because I mixed up the Electro essence blend right when I got home. Interestingly, this blend was used in a clinical trial of bodily radiation levels in children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Radiation levels were measured before and after 2 weeks in a control group, plus a group that received spirulina, and in a group that received the Electro flower essence blend. After 2 weeks, the radiation level in the control group decreased 3.5% and the spirulina group decreased 25.3%, while the radiation level in the Electro group decreased 43%!

Anyway, I guess it’s all a big learning experience (like everything else!), resulting in a constant stream of adjustments being made to our inner selves along the way…forcing us to re-evaluate ourselves and our values and the things we previously thought we had “all figured out.”  And ultimately we gain compassion and perspective and first-hand experience, along with plenty of opportunities to practice surrender and acceptance. And we find out, again, that things are never really black-and-white once you’ve actually experienced them and put your previously-perceived values to the test.

This is an intense one…and I have to wonder what the ultimate purpose of it will be. My fear is that I’ll feel like this forevermore. I probably won’t, but at least I hope there’s a higher purpose to it all!

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Philosophy Friday: Rest.

By , August 19, 2011

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Sometimes the most urgent & vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.

-Ashleigh Brilliant

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At the Edge of a Dream…

By , August 2, 2011

As I was coming back from the dream world early one morning last week, I heard these words in my head. Not my words…I don’t fully understand them…but they seem thought-provoking enough to share:

“Everything’s breaking so it can be put together in a new way”

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The Day My Life Changed Forever

By , July 18, 2011

Us, laughing, as always. That's Sonja on the right.

Sleepover! Sonja's on the left.

As I talked about in yesterday’s Gratitude Sunday post, today is the 7-year anniversary that my soul sister, Sonja, dropped her body. We were both barely 19 at the time. The circumstances of her death were very sad & maddening. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this story on my blog. The take-home message is one we’ve all heard so many times before: if you’ve been drinking, please please don’t drive.

Sonja was driving home on the evening of July 18th, and stopped at a red light. Behind her, speeding up at 70mph in his red truck, was a 52-year-old man who had 8 previous DUIs. He was too drunk at the time to notice the red light, and so didn’t hit the breaks and smashed into her car, crumpling it completely. She died 8 hours later in Intensive Care. I think the reason she didn’t die at the scene was that she wanted her parents to be able to see her and be with her one last time at the hospital, and to be the ones to decide to remove her from life support. She was their only child.

Sonja and I met in preschool, when we were 3 years old. We made each other’s childhoods! We really were joined at the hip. We got each other through life. Two sensitive souls, just so glad to have each other to lean on. When she was killed, I felt as though half of me had been ripped off. The emotional pain was searing, and it went on and on and on — a nuclear explosion of emotion. Turns out, the only way out of grief is through it. I mustered an inner strength I didn’t know I had, and moved through it without drugs or alcohol to numb it, without knowing how to get through it, and most of all, without Sonja to talk it through with.

A month after her death, our kitty was killed by a car, and a year later our dog, Snow, died. In private, I used to scream in anger and mostly fear, “WHO ELSE??? Who else is going to get taken???”.

But nobody else got taken. And now, 7 years later, I feel the best that I’ve felt yet. That is something to celebrate! I feel more of a peace; the pain is much less, and is more deadened. I feel like I can remember those awful days with some detachment…without fear of sliding uncontrollably down the slippery slope lest I remember too deeply.  I still miss Sonja so much. Terribly, actually — especially when I see two girls, chattering and laughing and having a grand time. But maybe I’m finally resigning myself to the fact that she’s never, ever coming back…and getting used to that. It feels good to be at this point, because when I was in the depths of darkness and grief, I truly didn’t think it would ever end. But I got through it. I wasn’t sure I would — or really wanted to — but I did, and that’s something that makes me proud.

Sonja, Snow, & me

Below is something I wrote last year, in an email to my Hubby. It was meant to be a quick email, but the story just sort of came pouring out. It needed to be told.

“6 years ago today, which was also a Saturday, was my last day with Sonja. We had the best time! She decided to bring her bike over, and we rode bikes all around, going to the wetlands and walked around, admiring the city, then went to Peaberry’s and sat and had iced chai and lemon bread. We talked and talked and talked…then rode home and she and mom and I (dad was out of town) made these really awesome Greek Melt sandwiches with spinach and cherry tomatoes from the garden. We ate at the table and watched the Tour de France, and Lance Armstrong won the stage! We were cheering and hollering. 🙂 Sonja had to go to work the next day, so we hugged and said “Bye, I love you!” like always, and I stood in the front yard waving the “I love you” hand sign until her car was out of sight. It was the last time I would ever see her.

The next day, Sunday, I baked a chocolate cake in my solar oven because it was Raisin’s birthday. I had trouble getting to sleep that night, and at 1am the phone rang. Mom answered; it was Sonja’s dad saying that she had been in a car crash — hit by a drunk driver, and was in a coma in intensive care. After hearing that, I was wide awake, heart pounding, frozen into a fetal position in my bed. I couldn’t move, or sleep. What a long, awful night. Mom and I didn’t go to the hospital; I don’t know why, we didn’t even talk about it. We just didn’t go. Later I would agonize over that decision, but came to realize that’s the way it was meant to be.

At sunrise, I got up and packed my backpack full of things I thought her parents would want, like healthy snacks and face wash, and was about to get on my bike and ride down to the hospital, but called their cell phone first. They didn’t answer, so I called their house. A family friend answered but was too upset to talk so she gave the phone to her husband. I said “How’s Sonja????” but he could hardly get any words out and tearfully said “Sonja passed away this morning.” I will never, ever forget those words. Remembering it now, I still get shaky. It was such a shock — all I could say was “No, no, no, no, no” and I felt like I was going to vomit. I went inside and just said to my mom “She passed away.” It was utter disbelief and I felt out of my body. Mom started crying, but I couldn’t cry for days. It just wouldn’t come. I was in such deep shock. Sonja and I were soul sisters, inseparable best friends for 16 years, since age 3. I didn’t have any other friends because she was the only one I needed.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I unpacked the snacks and face wash and took Snow for a walk. Then went over to Dan and Joyce’s across the alley because I nannied their 6-month-old daughter that summer. Mom went to Whole Foods and took food over to Van and Carolyn, then went to work.

Neither of us knew how to deal with our grief and so instead of hugging and crying, we got distant and snippy. It was incredibly isolating. Sonja was the only one I could really open up to, and now she was dead. A couple days later I went over and told Darlene the news, and mom could hear her scream from across the street. 🙁

The whole thing…it was so awful…I was sick to my stomach and couldn’t eat for a long time.

The news finally hit me an entire year later, when I was living in New Zealand for a while. I heard it all in my head again, and could finally react, and I screamed and screamed in anguish for 45 minutes.

It was such a long road of grief. It took about 2 years until I started feeling kind-of okay again. It was a living hell, and so many times I just wanted to die and make it all stop. But somehow I came out whole — and a better person because of it. In some ways, her death was such a gift. I could see the gift, but god it was so hard to move through all the shit that her death brought up. I dreaded going to sleep at night because of the hellish nightmares, and woke up to that choking, searing grief that would not let up. As much as I intellectually knew that one can create their own reality, and take control of their feelings….it was more than I could muster. The feelings would come in tsunamis and all I could do was feel them completely through to the end. I was mad at myself that I couldn’t control them. Feeling them…all their facets and complexity and the way they interwove and connected to the other feelings and emotions that were there… that was the only way I could get through it.

She and I used to talk endlessly about our future husbands, kids, and the trips we were going to take together. So many dreams for the future died along with her.

My parents did not react well to my grief and it hurt them to see me in such overwhelming pain, so I tried not to show it. I recall a few times where I was unable to get up from my bedroom floor, emotionally bleeding to death, but there was nothing anybody could do. And they were hurting too, because Sonja had been like a daughter to them. Life at that time was extraordinarily dark.

And although the feelings and the sadness will always be in me, so are the happy memories of everything that we did together. We were so close… we had such fun together! Gosh.

And it all seems so long ago. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that it’s in the past now.”

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Me (l) & Sonja (r). Guess who became the dancer!

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Dressing up in stupid clothes, frizzing our hair, and standing barefoot in the snow. What...is that weird?

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Me, Sonja, & Snow

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Anyway, thanks for listening. I loved going back through old pictures for this post; I think I had a smile on my face the entire time! It felt so good to remember all the fun we had. In fact I think I’ll begin a new tradition, where every July 18th, I’ll buy myself a fun treat to eat, and get out the old pictures and relive those happy times together!

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You Just Never Know With Life…

By , July 9, 2011

Anyone else out there a big fan of Northern Exposure?! 🙂 I think we’ve seen every episode at least once.

In one of the episodes, Marilyn Whirlwind tells a story that has stuck with me to this day. I wanted to share it with you…

“My uncle once told me about a warrior who had a fine stallion. Everybody said how lucky he was to have such a horse. “Maybe,” he said. One day the stallion ran off. The people said the warrior was unlucky. “Maybe,” he said. Next day, the stallion returned, leading a string of fine ponies. The people said it was very lucky. “Maybe,” the warrior said. Later, the warrior’s son was thrown from one of the ponies and broke his leg. The people said it was unlucky. “Maybe,” the warrior said. The next week, the chief led a war party against another tribe. Many young men were killed. But, because of his broken leg, the warrior’s son was left behind, and so was spared.”

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A Few Words of Wisdom

By , June 18, 2011

I was flipping through my journal yesterday and came across these words of wisdom that I had written down; I don’t remember where or who they came from, but I liked them:

Over the course of your life, there will be many-a-thing that you wish you would’ve done, or could’ve done…but if you didn’t wish hard enough to actually do it, let that be okay.

And if it’s not okay, then get up and do it!

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