As tradition has it, January 1st of each year marks the time when we have the opportunity to start with a clean slate and to make resolutions and commitments for the upcoming 365 days. For me, I’ve never been much of a goal setter for the fact that doing so may prohibit me from seeing other ideas and options outside of what I am pursuing. So instead I reflect and start anew with this year and am open to whatever it has in store for me.
Today, I symbolically committed to 2016 with a 5K run because it felt good to start the year with family, movement, and breath; a way to breathe in the new, and pant out the old.
And then continued contemplating the year before asking, “What worked? What didn’t? What did I learn?”
To begin with, I still marvel at the fact that I am here. I am alive. I often feel like I should be on my knees humbly and gratefully thanking God for the continued breaths He breathes into my lungs each day, and yet I still get deep into to-do lists and minutea and forget what truly is important.
To fill you in, last February, more life changing events happened than any other time in the 30 years we have been a family. Little Lady Charleston, our beautiful grand daughter, was born one day, and the following day I lay in a hospital bed not knowing the severity of what had happened. Blood clots decided to take residency in my lungs, and not knowing or honoring the symptoms my body had been showing me, I pushed them away for as long as I could until I had no choice but to get emergency care followed by a three day hospital stay. The very next day, Chris received a phone call from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City with the invitation to pursue a new job with them, and the next he made plans to meet and interview. By the end of the week, he had a soft offer with the official one coming shortly thereafter.
We had always talked about selling the house in the spring of 2015, but in no way, shape, or form were really going to get it done without being forced, and we were forced. By the end of March, Chris was an employee of WGU and we were staring adventure, hard work, and the unknown right in the face. As Chris started to travel to and from SLC and many other states for work, I kept working and got the house ready to sell creating and completing task list after task list.
In this 9 month process from baby/clot/WGU, I lost a lot. I lost my physical strength, the comfort and security of what had been our home for 16 years, and my yoga (not the physical practice but rather the practice of becoming aware of my truest nature). I no longer felt the divinity within and I definitely did not let go and surrender to God in the manner I had grown accustomed to but rather, I held on tightly to what I “thought” I could control and cross off in my planner. I hid from friends, and I hid from myself. Everything I did was done on the surface with no feeling of deep, raw love or true gratitude, and this is not a fun way to go through life and something I do not want to repeat.
So today I commit to living and not to resolutions that will alter the shape of my body. I simply commit to live in the present, working to release any attachment to the past and the future. I tell my yoga students, when they are in supta baddha konasana, that they can place one hand on their heart and the other on their belly to feel and connect with their heartbeat-that one precious and ever-important beat that keeps the body alive without any control on their part. I then invite them to remember this beat when they are stressed and are grappling with trying to control situations in their life and to know that those things which are truly important will happen organically and naturally. I realized today, that this is a good lesson I also need to follow; so I commit to letting go of the desire to control everything and everybody and instead will breathe and be still remembering my beating heart, for I am alive.
Friday began a new adventure. Evie, (aka our new 19′ travel trailer), is parked in Zimmerman where she is just a short jaunt down the hill from Dad & Lynette’s home, and we are spending our first night here relaxing, listening to the Minnesota Orchestra on MPR, reading, and obviously blogging. Prior to us hunkering down for the night, Lynette made us a great spaghetti dinner, dad served us church-lady pie, and we visited while watching an old moving on TV before heading down to see what this sleeping-in-a-camper thing was all about. I dare say, so far, the whole experience, pie and all, it pretty darn swell.
At this moment, I feel like we live in a tiny house, (I think HGTV is going to show up with cameras any minute); like this cozy space is home and we truly need nothing more. Granted, that feeling will probably go away but for now it is peaceful and embracing. The weeks and months prior to this night have been chaotic and discombobulated, and there has been little time to de-stress. But that has ended. We are still.
And as in most instances, I either have a camera hanging around my neck or crammed into the back pocket of my jeans-and sometimes both. Wandering around the property brought back such wonderful memories of childhood some 40 years ago even though it was not the place where I grew up. The same tractor is still being used, and my dad, as neat as ever, has a way of making crashed airplanes look beautiful.
And if you’re wondering about the name, Evie, being I need to name my vehicles, when I purchased Evie from my 2nd cousin, I asked if the camper had a name, and it did not, she was nameless. I offered up the name, Evie, after my grandmother, Evelyn, as my new car, Lula, is my maternal grandma’s nickname. Gail, my cousin, instantly loved the name because my grandma, unbeknownst to me, was her Godmother. It couldn’t be a better fit.
The journey begins today. We are here at the airport in Minneapolis heading to Salt Lake City. Chris just asked me if I was excited and I am and I’m not. How’s that for being indecisive?
Change is never easy for me and the feeling of being without home is throwing me off. The house in Buffalo is for sale so it’s no longer “my” personalized and quirky abode. And we have no address moving forward, so things are gray when I prefer black or white-no middle ground for this lady.
But if I step back, and think of what God is teaching me; patience, trust, stillness, unattachment. I am happy. I’m learning new lessons which will I must need to learn. I take peace in knowing I’m exactly where I need to be at this moment in time. I tell that to my yoga students, so I best be able to walk the talk as well.
So here’s to life’s lessons of being without home, new adventures, and being abundantly blessed.
Even if I had stayed in bed and rested all weekend, it would have still been time well spent. The original plan was for me to travel with my yogi friends to a cabin in Northern Minnesota for some girl-time, however after the last 6 weeks of “darkness,” non-stop eating, and the blahs, with a ton of guilt, I dug deep and found the response that I seldom give which is “no.” What I needed was family, the Joni-version of rest, and my own bed.
Full on rest is never in the cards for me and being my my dear brother from Florida was in town, everyone got together at mom’s for Friday dinner and maybe a beer or two, (or three or four). It was time to laugh, eat, reminisce, and pay homage to the growing baby bump that will be exploding onto the scene in February.
On Saturday, Mr. P. puttered around the house and did some grocery shopping so I could be in the kitchen cooking sides and dessert for a nice dinner with friends at their home in St. Paul. It felt so glorious to stay in my jammies and slippers all day with cookbooks spewed all over the kitchen counter along with flour and apple peels while listening to Boston Public Radio. How I got addicted to classical Boston is beyond me! I’m damn lucky, (or should I say Jen and Alex are), that I even bothered to shower before going into their place! The comfort of their home feels like the comfort of mine, so quiet conversation, good food, wine, and as always a lot of laughter were good for this girl’s soul.
Sunday brought about the final life enhancing experience of the weekend which was taking my mom for her 81st birthday to brunch at Haute Dish in the Warehouse District for what was one of the BEST bunches I have ever consumed, (the chicken and waffles were to die for!), buying some MAC lipstick, (yes, Jen, Dubbonet), and then attending the Vocal Essence Made in Minnesota concert at Orchestra Hall featuring the works of three women composers, one of which was Dessa whom I love. Yes, big girl-crush on Dessa!
The most magical part of the weekend was being fully present for each little bit and truly experiencing the sounds, the tastes, and the people around me. This is my kind of rest right now, and by gosh by golly, I rested up well.
On Sunday of last week, Mr. P. and I attended a beautiful memorial service for Dr. Martin Wohl, the patriarch of a family that we are very close with. There were 5 people who reminisced about Martin, each sharing such lovely, inspirational stories that brought me to tears while at the same time opened my eyes to what truly living a full life means. The first speaker was a lovely man who was a dear, dear friend of Martin and who knew him to the core. He talked about Martin’s motto of creating “life enhancing experiences,” words that resonated with me to the point where I took out my pen and began taking notes on the back of the service program. Dr. Wohl created these life enhancing experiences by doing what we all should do: slow down to take pleasure in all things. He took vast amounts of time listening to and treating his patients with total disregard for the clock. He explored museums and art galleries, listened to beautiful music letting it become a part of himself, consumed fine food and wine, lived an elegant lifestyle, threw lavish dinner and Christmas parties, gardened, spent time with friends, summered at his home in Nova Scotia, and most importantly, was devoted and utterly in love with his wife.
Hearing all of this instantly revealed to me that the only attribute I currently have with Martin is that Mr. P. and I are deeply devoted to each other, (and have a love of fine shoes). While this is most important to me, I want more. I want to possess Life Enhancing Experiences like Martin-not the kind I’m currently living where each day runs together with no special memory or connection to truly feeling. Why, at 49 years old, being an empty nester who loves being with her husband, am I not sucking the marrow out of everything that exists around me? Why am I not eating at fine restaurants and tasting the food that I consume? Why am I not seeing plays and going to the vast cultural events that exist here in Minneapolis? Why am I not spending more time sharing my home with dear friends? As these questions came to mind, I had no answers, just more excuses. So to jump right in and begin this endeavor, I joined the Museum of Russian Art, (something we’ve talked about doing for years), and signed up for their opening reception and gallery talk about Winter Holidays in the Soviet Era. Before this event, dinner reservations have made at Cafe Grand, yet another place I have wished to visit. I created a list of museums and art galleries in this fine city as well as restaurants, cultural activities, concerts, etc., that sound interesting, and signed up for their email newsletters. It’s time to stay on top of things, my friends. Time to connect and absorb.
I choose to live Life Enhancing Experiences. I choose to taste. To feel. To see. To absorb. I choose to LIVE. I choose to be like Martin to the point that when I pass I will have intensely connected with everything I have experienced.
We all have choices to make. We can either let the weight of the world pull us down or we can let the light of the world lift us up. I choose to be lifted.
The last month has been excruciatingly hard for me in that I lost two uncles, had an aunt get very ill, and had my beautiful daughter receive a neurology diagnosis that knocked the shit out of all of me. The black cloud of “life” swirled overhead yet there was peace. After my daughter’s diagnosis, I took her back to school so she could continue work on her PhD in an attempt to keep her mind occupied and not let her fall behind in her class work. The first night at her apartment, I was reading Spirit of Mind magazine and praying when a physical feeling of heat began to ignite in my stomach providing a warmth that melted away fear. I heard God tell me that she was going to be fine and that the diagnosis she received wasn’t fully correct. I trusted His words and while still agitated and mentally exhausted, I knew. I believed.
For two weeks, our family worked to regain normalcy before she had her second appointment with an amazing doctor at the University of Minnesota. The story of how this doctor came into her life is a miracle in and of itself as he wasn’t scheduled to take care of her-another piece of Gods amazing puzzle if we open our eyes to His placement of all beings and all things. Mr.Perfect and I went with her and listened intently on every word her new doctor had to say. He was brilliant! And he confirmed what God had told me and placed in my heart: that she didn’t have Parkinson’s Disease but rather a different muscle movement disorder that is much easier to deal with. While it’s still a pain in her ass and stems from a car accident that wasn’t her fault, we all broke out laughing at the sheer and utter relief that we weren’t dealing with Parkinson’s.
As the week of glory and grace progressed, it became more evident of the love and light that exists all around us-if we choose to see it. People around me shared the excitement of her diagnosis. We adopted a lovable kitty who was scheduled to be euthanized because that’s what we do-fill our home with stray humans and animals when needed. I was blessed to experience a very special yoga class led by one friend and practiced with another. To lay at the end of a yoga class knowing that the teacher’s words and dharma are intended for you while holding the hand of a dear friend laying next to you is one of the most spiritually connected and universal gifts I have received.
And now, I am traveling to Boston to share in the memory of a wonderful man with his wonderful family. As I reflect on my family, friends whom I consider family, work, and life in general, I am blessed. We are blessed. We all have shit and we all have the choice to accept is a such or look beyond it to see the oneness and light we all share.