Optimistic

I visited my parents today, all by myself.  No kids, no dog, no siblings.  I can’t remember the last time I did that.  It was special and memorable. My dad looked and acted like his usual self and has handled things well.  He begins chemo on Monday. I feel hopeful, especially compared to yesterday.  I suppose that is how this journey will be: up and down.  He is hopeful, too.  He believes in his doctors and in the medicine.

My dad will receive one treatment every three weeks, for a total of 6 treatments or as much as his body can handle.  I hope and pray for his body handles the treatments, that he stays free from infection, and all of the cancer in his body disappears and his body is filled with healthy cells.  He won’t see much of Mia and Anna, because they are sick so often and spend 36 hours per week in the petri dish called school 🙂 Even a little sniffle or sore throat could send him down a bad road, so we’re not even going to risk that. And, at the same time, I do believe his life is in the creator’s hands and that things will unfold according to plan.

I watched the movie, Heal, and recommended it to my dad.  It is a documentary that emphasises the power of belief, such as belief in the chemo medication and believing it will heal the cancer. I found the movie to be inspiring and lovely.  It is a little “out there” and maybe a bit hippie-ish, especially for someone like my dad–an traditionalist and an engineer.  I am one of those who is willing to try just about anything and everything alternative.  And I am trying to hold back and remind myself to accept and allow my dad to choose his own path and experience this journey in his own way.

 

 

 

The zen of you & me

I read The zen of you and me: A guide to getting along with just about anyone (2017) by Diane Musho Hamilton.  It started off what I hope to be a year of good and inspiring reading.

Chapter 7, Depth of Feeling, left its mark on me and I wish to remember it without buying this book.  So, I will leave a portion of it here in my blog.

“My mother was a powerful feeler.  I remember sitting with her one afternoon while she looked at an old photograph of her father. She talked about him for an hour.  She must have moved through six or seven distinct emotional states as she gazed at his face.  She expressed tenderness, poignancy, intrigue, impatience, anger, remorse, and love. I wondered which of them was most true.  I concluded in my young mind that all her feelings together meant she loved him.

I was about thirteen at the time, and I remember being impressed with her emotional range.  It was the first time I remember admiring this particular quality in her unique character.  I felt the depth of presence in my mother, something that was real and exposed.  Even though her moods weren’t always pleasant or predictable, I trusted her to feel strongly and to say so.  She brought raw life force into our house, and tenderness, and she was always true to her experience.

My father, on the other hand, was removed from extremes of feeling.  He was friendly, with an easy way about him.  He wasn’t moved by sentimental films; nor did he cringe at the prospect of others’ suffering.  He was straightforward, taking the tender and the painful challenges of being human in stride.  I rarely saw him express anger or indignation.  I only saw him cry one time when a good friend was killed in a trucking accident, and for a moment, he broke down while speaking at the funeral…

…My dad didn’t dwell in emotions, but he wasn’t a robot either.  There was freedom around him, a spaciousness you could count on, and a confidence that we could deal with life without the burden of emotional drama.

For intimacy and emotional closeness, I confided in my mother.  But for straightforward ability to face life as it came, my father was the best.  I wouldn’t want to choose between my mother’s capacity to feel and my father’s ability to ignore intense feelings. It would be like choosing between truth and beauty.” 

This passage opened me to a new level of awareness about myself, my family of origin, and my created family.  This passage describes not only the author’s mother, but it describes me.  And it describes my mother.  And it describes my husband.  We’re nearly a perfect mirror image of the author’s description of her parents.

The author’s beautiful description of her mother’s fluctuating moods and her ability to feel a wide range of emotion had a deep impact on me.  Portraying this trait as a strength and a gift offered comfort to me that maybe I am okay just as I am.  I am used to feeling guilt and shame over my own wide range of emotion and way of experiencing life in a deep way.  All of my life I have viewed the level-headed, unemotional character as ideal and superior.

Being strong feelers means we experience the darkest depths.  It is painful and dramatic and embarrassing sometimes. And on the other side, being strong feelers means we have the capacity to experience great joy, too.  We love deeply.  We contemplate.  We notice and care about the suffering of others. We are the ones to whom “intimacy and emotional closeness” is second nature.

As Jung wrote, “No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”  I guess I am like that, too.

Hamilton, D. M. (2017). The zen of you & me: A guide to getting along with just about anyone. Boulder: Shambhala.

 

 

 

Fourteen

Mia turned fourteen on January 10th.  This marks fourteen years since I became a mother for the first time.

Every year since Mia’s birth, I replay the birth almost hour by hour–well, at least the waking hours.  This year was no different in that regard.

This this year, however, was different in another way. When I replayed Mia’s birth this year, I did not feel sad or nostalgic as I have in previous years.

I don’t know why this change occurred. Perhaps it has something to do with the passing of time. Or with the healing process.  Or with the unraveling of the heart that happens when we are deeply in love with our children.  Whatever the reason, I feel acceptance and gratitude for both right now and for what has been.

When Mia was younger,  I was a bit worried about what the teenage years would bring. How would she change? Would she reject me and our family? Many people told me that everything would change, that she would rebel and become self-absorbed in her teenage years.

Deep in my heart, I didn’t really believe that.  Still, I had my doubts at times. I believed that if we were connected when she was a baby and a young child, we would continue to be connected throughout her life.  I believed that if I treated her with respect and authenticity, she would return that to me.

I hope that this belief continues to hold true. So far, it has.

It is hard to describe in words what it has meant to be a mother. I am sure that I share these feelings with mothers and maybe even fathers around the globe and across time. I know I am not unique in this way.  Nonetheless, I feel compelled to express this and to put it into words the best I can.

Being a mother has been the greatest honor of my life.  It is a love unlike any I’ve ever known. The closest love to this is the love I feel for my own mother. It is a deep and primal love. It is unchanged by time and circumstance. It is completely unconditional.

It is a love that has transformed me.

Mia is an incredible human being. She is grounded, confident, kind, honest, compassionate, forgiving, thoughtful, independent, witty, quick to laugh, generous, loyal, humorous, and wise beyond her years.  She has never hit another child, not even her sister.  She is a better human being than I have been in all my life.

And I wonder, how did I deserve this? Out of all the mothers in this world,  how did I get to be hers?

I am unspeakably grateful for, in awe of, and humbled by her.

Happy birthday, Mia.

 

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Laughing on Mia’s birthday

Happy New Year

A fresh start is around the corner.  My hope is that 2018 brings peace and joy to all beings and that I will cultivate more peace and joy in my own heart to share with others.

In the new year, my intentions are to continue to grow and release old habits that cause harm.  Here goes:

In 2018, I will work toward releasing:

  1. Criticism
  2. Shame
  3. Interrupting
  4. Talking more than necessary
  5. Negative beliefs
  6. Complaining
  7. Using my phone in bed
  8. Addiction to sugar
  9. Pulling my hair
  10. Staying up too late
  11. Reading online
  12. Ranting about housework

I will embrace:

  1. Acceptance of others as they are
  2. Doing housework with love
  3. Kindness
  4. Gentleness
  5. Healthy, low-carb foods
  6. Daily exercise
  7. Daily meditation
  8. Reading real books
  9. Buying nothing except groceries and other consumables (and gifts)
  10. Saving money in a serious way
  11. Being present
  12. Going to bed early

 

 

 

Growing old

I’ve been thinking more about growing old lately.  Why I am more aware of this concept lately is likely because I am facing my own mortality as a new milestone approaches: the age of 40.

Tonight I looked at the staff directories of my old elementary school and my old high school.  The teachers who taught when I was a kid have mostly died, left, or retired, except a handful who are remarkably still there. Some kids I went to school with are teaching there and they are among the older teachers now.  It’s a weird place to be, this place where everything is turning over and a whole new generation is starting anew.  When I was a kid, everything seemed so permanent.

The time I lived in Denmark as a child is becoming a smaller fraction of my life, and my grasp on it has loosened so much that it hardly feels a part of me anymore.  The part of me that was once so Danish is now so much more American, and the Danish things in me feel antiquated and artificial now.  It was all so long ago. I am out of touch with it–the language, culture, everything.  It has all changed and grown without me in it.

Lately I look at people who are my own age and notice they don’t look so young anymore, with sagging skin and extra flesh and greying hair.  And then I (shockingly) realize that I am that age, too, and that I also don’t look so young anymore, either. Although I feel inside like I’m the same age I was 10 or 15 years ago.

I don’t know what my point is of this post other than to express that growing old feels surreal.  The past seems distant now and not as significant as it used to be.  I’ve forgiven and moved beyond much in my past and am able to be present in a way I wasn’t when I was younger.  I am less ambitious now. I am more understanding and accepting of others now.  Life is hard–for all of us.  I feel insignificant and forgotten in a way I didn’t when I was younger, but it is in a way that is not sorrowful, but rather, freeing.  It is freeing to be somewhat rid of the past and of expectations that once were there.  I don’t have be anybody but myself.

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be twice my age–with all my teachers dead, parents dead, classmates and friends and family old or dead.  We just have to hold on to this strange ride and roll with the changes.  There really is no other option.

This is a photo of Anna at 3 years old having her first ice skating adventure.  Look at that curl on her forehead. She was so proud and said it was her dream come true to have those little skates on her feet. I couldn’t possibly love her more.  Melting…

What did I do to deserve such deliciousness? Life has been so good to me.

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The Nutcracker

Anna participated in the annual performance of The Nutcracker this year through the Academy of Russian Ballet. It was an intense and wonderful experience.  Anna learned the meaning of commitment in a new way. She performed through a bad cold and missed out on many weekends of downtime. In the end, it was worth it. She loves ballet and it is beautiful to watch her do it.

The Present

I am 39 years old.  Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

Winter is cold, but not too cold to take Anna ice skating.

I am glad Mercury is direct again and hope my vivid dreams will take a vacation for a while.

While many awakenings have happened for me in recent years, there is still more to figure out, such as:

Why am I so easily hurt by my husband? 

Why these perceived hurts so difficult for me to resolve and move beyond? 

How do I know what is reasonable to ask of others versus doing it myself?

Gratitude is the answer to easing the discomfort.  So is yoga and laughing and music and walking outside and long hugs. Still, I am seeking answers.

In the meantime, I am grateful for a husband who can hurt my feelings sometimes and who makes me laugh and feel safe nearly all the time. I am grateful for my children whom I have the privilege of knowing and loving. I am grateful for a safe, warm home with a dog and a cat and two Christmas trees. I am grateful to have these things to fill my heart.

Photos from today:

Goodnight.