Archives for posts with tag: trust

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Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

I’ve had quite an interesting and challenging couple of days. First, I found out my ninety-two year old father had fallen and spent the night on the floor two nights in a row—–at least he was found both mornings lying in the floor instead of his bed. His confusion did not allow people to determine what had actually happened, and he did not have his lifeline necklace on so the automatic “subject has fallen” message did not get sent to the monitoring service.

Later that evening,  I had my house alarm set off indicating a burglary attempt,  and I had to rush out of a meeting I was chairing to meet the police and my “back up person” at my house. No one had been able to contact me directly because I had my phone turned off so it would not interrupt the meeting. I was extremely grateful that our church had installed a phone in our kitchen and that my “back up” friend kept calling that number until I got annoyed enough to stop leading the meeting, walk into the kitchen, and answer the phone so my friend could tell me my house alarm was going off.

Fortunately,  we were able to determine it had been a false alarm. Of course, all the noise and commotion had upset my dogs, and my most timid rescue dog saw an opportunity to escape out the garage door and did so. I called him; he ignored me. I headed out the back door to intercept him and, as I went around the house,  I spotted him barking at and “herding” a young boy on a bicycle. The young man was delightful—he told me “You’ve got a good dog—–all he did was walk across the street to a bush, pee on it, and then he came back to your front door waiting for you to open it.”  I should have known Boo would not leave me or the treats he craves so much, and I should have figured out he’d go to the door he is used to coming in when we go for leash-assisted walks.

That should have been enough excitement for one evening, but my aging body delivered the “crowning touch” to my evening’s adventure. Once I straightened things out with my monitoring company and got my dogs calmed down,  I realized it was way past the time that I should have had my supper. Missing a meal by hours is not a problem for most folks, but for a diabetic it can create problems.  So, as I was fixing my dinner, I noticed an empty plastic zip-lock bag had landed on the floor. I bent to pick it up, and on the way “up” got a muscle spasm in my lower back where I never even knew there were muscles.

Today I am navigating around the house using my cane to help alleviate the pressure on my lower back. All is well, and as problems go, I really have been lucky. However, I have noticed even minor problems like the ones I experienced seem to leave me feeling more tired and worn out than they used to and my pride and ego associated with being  “physically fit” keep being assaulted.

Yesterday I made a trip to the drug store to get some low dose aspirin, and while I was checking out at the register I propped my cane beside me on the counter. The cane fell to the floor and a kind gentleman waiting in line behind me picked it up for me. I thanked him and told him I had not figured out how to keep the cane from falling at times like this.  In my mind I thought my statement about the cane implied: “I don’t need this very often, and I am still not used to using it so I haven’t yet figured out how to keep it from falling.”  The gentleman suggested maybe putting some Velcro on my cane so I could fasten it to my person. This was a well-meant suggestion, and it was probably one that would work. But my still child-like ego heard, “You’re an old lady who needs to constantly have her cane with her.” Logically, I knew this was not what the man had said, but it is what registered.  Actually, I am having a hard time accepting that even simple movements such as stooping to get something off the floor (an almost continuously necessary action in my household) or lifting a small dog down from the bed to the floor can cause acute discomfort that sticks around for a day or two.

I have written in these blogs before about aging being devalued in our society. This week I’ve had to acknowledge that the problematic perception of aging is not just within  my culture at large—–I have internalized it.  I don’t know if it is thinking about my father lying helpless on the floor or anticipating that it will be myself on the floor at some point in time, but I am experiencing a bit of  free-floating anxiety that is telling me I have not transitioned to being retired and on Medicare quite as well as I thought I had.

As I recently told an old friend, “One breath at a time, one moment at a time….all will unfold in God’s time. God is guiding you through this wilderness, and he has also provided co-sojourners who can offer support along the way. Consent. ” Good advice—–I think I’d better follow it. God bless and keep you.

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In this  my last  semester of teaching Psychiatric Nursing since 1983, I periodically find myself occupying a vacant office the university lets me use on the one day I am there teaching part time every week. This past Monday I happened to look up and notice this sign posted on a wall in this office.  It seemed an odd time and place for a profound truth to jump out at me, but it did.  Pondering these words instantaneously placed me on a “gratitude trajectory” that put my life in perspective. It has been filled with all kinds of moments ranging from almost unbearable to magical. Unfortunately, my mind periodically  has a tendency to focus on the negative moments more than the positive moments. The randomly placed push-pins left in the wall reminded me it is my responsibility to notice and collect the moments.

Today, because Spring has finally gotten here, our outdoor moments are much more pleasant than they were a few weeks ago and all this past winter when we experienced much more snow and ice than this region is used to tolerating.  But even those snow and ice-bound days hosted intermittent magical moments. I have found the key, for me,  is pausing from being enmeshed in a “busy body….busy mind” stance for long enough to step out of that box, take a deep breath, and actually give myself time and space to seek out the pleasant moments. The moments are always there; they are only absent in my perception because I fail to notice them.

Just yesterday, as a simple illustration, I found a dead bird on my sidewalk. I started to recoil in distaste, but something reminded me to treat a fellow creature created by God with respect. So I fetched a plastic bag and picked up the dead bird so that I could dispose of it properly. Doing so made me notice it had, by all appearances, experienced a very peaceful death. It looked as if it had just tucked its head in to go to sleep and had, instead, died.  Since I have spent the past couple of weeks contemplating  both death and the dying process, this seemed to be a message from God not to fear death but to embrace it as a natural part of living. I intuitively knew that God had been with this bird at the time of its death, and this reinforced my belief that God is with us through eternity—–including those moments we may not be aware of such as our conception, our growth from an embryo to an infant, our birth, and, yes, what happens to us when we die.

Perhaps it seems a bit odd that a dead bird would have such importance for me, but it did. Several months ago I had a very vivid dream in which a bird identical in appearance to this one flew directly at my “third eye.” In my dream, I was aware we were meant to merge as one being.  However,  I was “startled awake” before the bird made physical or psychic contact with me.  I think God sent me that dream to me so I would notice this bird and its message that death is a part of life that marks our passage into another form of being…..and during that passage, he is in us, with us, and all around us—— as he always is. God is always giving me  the gift of “moments, ” and he is starting to build my acceptance of death as one of those moments. May God bless and keep you.

 

Rolling Stone

Image courtesy of Vlado/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

My mind seems to be cluttered this morning with bits and pieces of thought and memory floating around trying to tell me something. I have been “feeling down” because I spent three days watching the aging process slowly robbing  my father of his mind. It hurts to see him struggle to form a single word, a meaningful sentence, or to untangle a splintered memory. Yesterday’s bible readings in church spoke of dry bones and Lazarus being given God’s gift of life. Of course, being in my somewhat befuddled state of mind, I focused my attention on the Lazarus story’s detail about how Lazarus had lain dead for four days and, in his decay process, he had begun to stink. Jesus still had them roll away the stone, commanded him to live, and had them “unbind” him so he could be free of the cloths that bound him.

First, of course, my mind went into a flight of free association and attached the “stink of decay” concept to  the phenomenon of “stinking thinking” we talk about in twelve step recovery.  Stinking thinking is a thinking process that sneaks back up on us in recovery and replaces our new Higher Power directed way of thinking with our old self-will powered thinking . And, yes, if we stay bound up in that morass of self-will our spirits will begin to decay and we will have a spiritual “stench” about ourselves. If we let go of that self-will and allow our Higher Power to once again guide our thinking, we will be freed from the bonds of self-will that were slowing killing us even though we had momentarily escaped our past addictions.

Yesterday a dear friend asked if I was okay. I explained I was caught up in the pain of watching my father lose his mind, and my friend quietly but emphatically informed me, “it could be much worse.” I needed to hear that. I know aging and gradual decay are part of life. Am I so terminally unique that I really think my father and eventually myself should be spared that part of living? God has held my hand through absolutely everything, and he will hold it still as long as I let him. Instead of obsessing about my father’s comment when we parted that “this may be our last hug” I should be grateful that we were given that wonderful hug to hold in our hearts. I should trust God and know that when it is time in his own way he will breathe the breath of life into those he has created so that we  may live once more outside the stench of aging and dying.

And, lastly, I know that one day at a time I can allow God to breathe the breath of life into my being, my experience, and my recovery. Whatever comes my way can be faced in partnership with him. I should stop worrying, grieving, and being afraid. I need to trust God to be there to roll away whatever stone blocks my progress and to un-wrap whatever binds me and keeps me from living a life in partnership with him. May God bless and keep us.

Spring Daffodil

Image courtesy of Jonathan Fitch,/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I read this morning of a woman who tells others “to have enough”—-not to “have a good day” or “God bless you”—-what she gives others is just the wish for them to have enough. Now, being the addictive personality I am, I found that wish a bit hard to comprehend. But I’ve thought a lot about it today, and I realize it is a philosophy I need to adopt. If I realize I have enough, I will stop seeking more. And more. I will change my focus from acquisition of things “outside” myself and focus instead on nurturing that which is already “inside me”—-my inner being which is the soul God gave me.

If I realize I have enough and that I am filled with God’s spirit and love, I won’t always be wanting to “fill” myself with drugs, alcohol, or food. I won’t need to find a “fix” because God created me already “fixed.” All I have to do is realize it, consent, and carry on content with what I have and willing to share it with others so I can  “keep it,” as they say around twelve step tables.

So, for me, I need to answer the question “when is enough, enough?” Each person, unfortunately, or fortunately, needs to find his or her own answer to that question. I didn’t used to perceive enough until I was miserable and doing a nose-dive towards “hitting bottom.” Gratefully, God has taught me in recovery to start realizing I’ve had enough before I get so dangerously close to hitting bottom.

Of course, there are times of suffering and pain that cannot be avoided in this adventure we call life, but I must remind myself I need to experience those times so I won’t take the gifts of life and love God has given me for granted.  I need to be able to appreciate the positive in my life and to realize each moment is for only a moment, this moment. There are no guarantees that anything will be here beyond the present moment. In terms of recovery, I am talking about cultivating an attitude of gratitude. In terms of Ram Dass, I am talking about “Being here Now.”

I seem to be avoiding answering my own question. It is simple, really. Enough is enough as soon as I realize and accept my reality for what it is.  When I consent to letting God be in charge and stop trying to control and fix everything, then I can start to appreciate being in the midst of “enough.” It is a relief really, not trying to always compete, be better, be perfect, be the best, be right. It is liberating to realize I am enough just the way God created me. I don’t have to earn God’s love or God’s gifts. So, my answer is:  today I have enough because God is in me and I am in him. May God bless and keep you.

Sanctuary Window at Centering Prayer 3_3_14

Photograph courtesy of Bob Towner

Yesterday a good friend rescued me from my “stuck in the house” doldrums. I was able to put attachable cleats on my shoes, walk across the snow and ice to his car, and then to walk out of his car and into the church for our centering prayer session. I felt like God came down, fitted me with wings, and let me fly out into the light again.

I tend to take my friends for granted, and it is not until times like this that I realize how much they mean to me. That same friend was able to use my cell phone to take a beautiful photo of God’s light streaming through one of our church’s stained glass windows right before our prayer session started, and the result was a photo I will treasure always. It will remind me not only of God’s love but the love that my friends have shared with me.

God has been working on me to more strongly anchor the concept of “willingness” into my heart.  He did this yesterday  by giving me lessons about my own willingness as well as how to introduce others to the concept of willingness. Yesterday my lessons led me to accept favors, to ask for help when I needed it, and to grasp an arm held out and offered for support in case I should start slipping on the ice. Yesterday also offered me opportunities to begin sharing my concept of willingness with another friend who is considering trying to use AA’s twelve steps for the first time to enter into recovery from carbohydrate addiction.

In looking back at yesterday, I have to wonder, once again, why is it so difficult for me to let others help me and so easy for me to focus instead on helping others? I am forced to admit it must involve my “false self”—my ego-centered pride. And below that layer of the onion is  my more deeply centered issues of trust. Yesterday I trusted cleats, a friend, and God not to let me fall on the ice. This particular friend and God have been with me through many trials and tribulations; they have more than proven their trustworthiness. Why do I still have trust issues? I am like St. Peter who walks on water until he begins to be afraid. If I am not careful, I will allow my fears and insecurities to build a fortress that not only protects me but also imprisons me from the love and kindness of others. My fear, if fed, can even shut God out.

Happily, I learned yesterday that trusting God and friends can make all the difference in the world—and in my eternal reality. I got to be with other people of faith yesterday, and discussing our beliefs reaffirmed my faith and what it means to me. Had I stayed at home, my dogs would have continued to offer me unconditional love as they always do, but they cannot talk to me about matters of faith. It is even hard for them to let me be without interruption long enough to practice centering prayer. So, I am dedicating this blog to thanking my friend Bob, my other friends at Centering Prayer, my friend who let me talk about willingness, and, of course, God for freeing me from my self-imposed prison. May God bless and keep you.

Opening Door

Image courtesy of Idea go/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have been sad the past couple of days because we had to close a twelve step women’s group due to lowering attendance and lack of women with long term recovery to lead the meetings.  Part of my mourning is fed by  my feeling guilty because I didn’t step up and try to rescue the group. Not that it is all about me, but I helped keep it afloat for years and had to stop due to health reasons. Now I want to jump in and try to “save” it, only I know I can’t over extend myself or I may be back in the hospital again. There are other groups, and recovery can be found in all of them—— it is just that this particular group was formed by women helping women and it lasted for longer than twenty years.  It was my lifeline when I first moved to this area.

As I get older, it seems to me that life is trying to teach me that a big part of life is letting go of things. I don’t think it ever gets easy, but perhaps I am supposed to learn that all things “pass away” except my soul, the souls of others, and God’s loving spirit. But I don’t know what my life would be without “attachments”—-and I don’t mean the kind  attached to a document. I mean the kind that are people, places, and things that are important in our lives. Right now I have a small white dog nestled close to each side of me as I type. I have a very strong and loving attachment with all four of my dogs, but I know we will not always be able to be together. I have buried both sets of grandparents, one parent, a step-son, and numerous friends, relatives, and pets. I know death is part of the cycle of life. Obviously, there is just part of me that does not want to accept that.

Oddly, I do not fear my own death. I have been surrounded by God’s love numerous time when I was close to dying. I always felt a calm, welcoming love at those times that left no room for anxiety.  At those times when all other reality is swept away, it is easy to realize what matters is our soul and being embraced by God’s love. But now, today, my dogs bring comfort. I depend on my friends and family. Their love and support keep me going—-just like the unconditional love of my dogs keeps me going. I am not saying that kind of dependence is wrong or bad. I am just saying I need to realize any or all of it can be gone in a  moment.

I’m beginning to think what is going on here is my life-long struggle of wanting to control and fighting the realization that I have no control. I have to accept that God is in control.  When I do, at those times of surrender, I find  a great deal of comfort to in realizing God has had control all along and will  have control for all eternity. I have learned that if I stop fighting God’s control I find  things turn out much better than they would have if I were still trying to control them. It is just a matter of exercising my “faith muscle.”  I have to believe my dogs, my family, my friends, and my world will be just fine without me and I will be just fine without them when time or circumstance parts us as long as we are all connected by God’s love—–a love which cannot be bound by time or place.   God bless and keep you.

Plums and Prunes

Image courtesy of Praisaeng/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Overheard around the tables this morning was an often repeated phrase, “Just take the next right step.” It is often used in connection with the phrase, “Let Go and Let God.” I had just come from a Centering Prayer Group where I had disclosed  that during our 20 minutes of silence my thoughts had kept vacillating between meditative silence and worry about my computer not working—-that it was just another thing I couldn’t control, just like my worries about my  aging father’s health. The group discussion then turned to how centering prayer lets us “exercise our ‘letting go muscle.'” I must admit that sometimes out of twenty minutes of “quiet time” devoted to centering prayer I spend about 18 minutes of that letting go of one random thought after another.  However, the good news is the exercise is starting to make it easier to let go of things in my life outside of centering prayer.

So after my two group sessions this morning, every time I caught myself worrying about my computer wireless connection not working I would tell myself to “let go of it”—-that the wireless disconnection had mysteriously occurred, and that God could just as mysteriously correct the situation.  I was gone for a little over three hours, and when I got home my computer wireless connection was functioning once again.

How many years, how many times, do I have to wear myself out trying to solve problems that are better left in God’s hands? Will I ever learn just to turn things over without causing myself undue stress by trying to solve my (or someone else’s) problem(s) all by myself until I “give up” and then turn things over?  When will I realize “taking the next best step” involves trusting God and carrying on with my life as God would have me live it?

I would bet money this letting go muscle of mine is going to need to be developed and fine-tuned one day at a time for the rest of my life. I am just grateful I am able to do it more quickly now than I previously could.

Here’s another “weird and way out analogy” that wandered into my head this morning. Our group was discussing scones and using the term “plum” and “prune” interchangeably. Without thinking, I commented, “A prune is just an elder-plum.” In retrospect, my life’s experiences and the progress I’ve made in turning things over to God over the decades I’ve spent in recovery have been turning “my will and my life” into a more highly evolved spiritual being. Just as a plum becomes chewier and develops more sweetness and flavor as it becomes a prune, perhaps this letting go business has helped distill my being into an essence that is more easily connected to God. God bless and keep you, plum, prune, or whatever.