Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Live in the Present

In this moment, I am sitting at my favorite table surrounded by beautiful mountainscapes outside my window.  There are blossoms everywhere, pink, white, lending new life to the view which is mostly still waiting for spring to arrive.   I am finishing eating a delicious, healthy granola bar, and my critters (one cat, two dogs) are roaming about eating their breakfasts.  In this moment I am safe.  I am immovable from joy, I am grateful for life.

What happens when the moment you are in is NOT safe, or positive?  That will happen, likely many times in your life.  In all of the thousands of moments in your lifetime there will definitely be some that COULD pull you back, or down.  This post is about learning to live in the present.

We all know that we can't go back to the past.  That is a scientific fact.  We are rooted here...right the moment that we're living.  What can we do to improve this moment?  Here are some suggestions.  (Note that there are many similarities to my last post of learning from the past.

1.  Learn to quiet down any trauma or drama from the past.  Let go of any worries about the future.
2.  Visualization is a grand tool.  Imagine yourself sitting in the most comfortable of places (or go sit in the most comfortable of places).  Close your eyes and imagine how safe you feel right now, right here.  Breathe deeply in, and then out.  Count to ten as you breathe in, and ten as  you breathe out.  Do NOT hyperventilate, which would consist of taking breaths in and out that were too rapid.
3.  Write in your journal.  Focus on this moment.  Use your senses as you write.  What do you smell, see, hear, feel, taste?  Do not allow yourself to wander, stay focused on this one tiny moment in time. 
4.  Play music, sing at the top of your lungs.  (Please do not do this in a crowded place, or space).
5.  Call a friend that is supportive and loves you unconditionally.
6.  Create a safe space.  Make a space in your home where you feel protected, safe.

Why is living in the moment so important?  Life can be completely, absolutely overwhelming.  If that is not true for you...CONGRATULATIONS!  Most of the planet HAS experienced these overwhelming times.  It is much easier to find control, and feel peace, if life is handled one moment at a time.

On the Net Flicks TV situation comedy, "Unbreakable Kimmy," she is kidnapped and kept in a bunker under the ground for fifteen years.  She explains that she decided in that horrible place that she could do anything for 10 seconds.  So she would slowly count to ten, and then start counting again when she finished the first sequence of counting.  In this way she faced horrible things.

Most of us will never face being kidnapped, or kept in an underground bunker.  THANK GOODNESS.  At the same time this philosophy is very helpful.

My husband was in a horrendous car accident.  About five levels of the middle of his back were just turned to powder.  At one point on his back there was bone pressing on the spinal cord.  The good docs were astonished that the sharp bone had not severed his spine.

Extensive back surgery was performed to put his back together again.  The moment he began to become conscious from the surgery he was in agonizing pain.  They gave him lots of pain medicine but none of it worked.  For thirty-six hours he was in grinding, unrelenting agony. 

Finally one of the pain management docs found another medication that worked.  Then he slept for thirty-six hours.  It wasn't that the medicine took away all the pain.  It was that we all have certain limits of I can handle this, types of pain.  The medicine simply made his pain bearable.

Of this extremely difficult time he said, "I looked at the clock and thought to myself, 'I can handle this pain for one more moment.'  I got through that experience one moment at a time."

I just wrote about two extreme types of moments to live in and move beyond.  Here's a gentler moment.  It had been a frantic morning.  I had two darling little girls to get ready for school.  Their school was a half hours drive away.  I also had work.  So, in the process of feeding two cranky little girls, and helping them dress, and then getting myself ready we were all snappish, and genuinely grumpy.  In that moment I wanted to go back home, and all of us just go back to bed.

Instead, we sang a song together, quoted a scripture, and said a prayer.  (I did NOT close my eyes as I was driving to say a prayer.)  I was amazed at how that simple little experience changed all of our attitudes and made our day much brighter.

If organized religion is not your choice, sing a children's song, recite a poem, say a prayer.  Anyone can say a prayer, no matter what name they give to God.  This works if you are carting your children hither and yon.  It also works if you're alone, driving to work.  Let's face it, it's very important to start the moments of your day in a positive place.  When we start the day negatively, it rarely gets better from there.  So find a way to start the moments of your day in a positive place.

Is your moment, right now, right here, filled with sorrow, crisis, and difficulties?  Not every moment in our lives will be blissful.  We will no doubt have many hard, soul wrenching moments.  We can learn to thrive even in the hardest moments of our lives.

When my family was in a terrible accident, my niece and her husband picked me up and drove me to the hospital.  As we drove past the accident (the car was metal spaghetti, torn to pieces), in my mind I heard, "If you will be strong, this is a Master Class for you to learn about life."

The accident was horrible.  Our two daughters were left with permanent disability.  My husband came very, very close to death.  Yet within that terrible time there were bright moments of love.  Our neighbors across the street loaned me their family van so that I could get back and forth to the hospital.  Our car had been destroyed.  One of our nieces had a van that they had been planning to sell to help pay for a new van.  She felt impressed to hang on to that van.  It wasn't very much later that she gave it to us.  Men came and stayed with my hubby in the hospital so that I could go home and be with our girls sometimes.  (They were both adults, but even adults want their Mommies when they are hurt).

I learned about the bright love of human kindness.  Nyle and I were simple astounded at the outpouring of love from our families, and our church group.  Our oldest daughter was very close friends with a young married couple.  They came and lived with the girls for two weeks.  The girls were too sick to care for themselves, but not sick enough to be in the hospital.  I will be grateful always for those two dear young people.  They literally pushed their own concerns to the side to care for our girls.

So moments of bright joy right next to moments of dark sorrow.  The important thing to remember is that there is a choice.  We may choose the easiest path which is crippling sorrow.  Or we may stretch our souls as far as we can to find joy, even in the darkest of times.

My husband taught our daughters (and me as well) a phrase that he made up, "Happy Not Crappy."  That's a very simple phrase but what it means is that we do not have to let circumstances determine for us if we'll be happy or miserable.  We can make a conscious choice to find joy, or take the easy route and let the sorrow own us.

The next time you are faced with a "Master Class of Life," remember that you have a choice.  You can let the obvious sorrows and struggles bury you, or you can dig deep, stretch high, and be happy not crappy.

In this moment I challenge you to write down what makes you happy in this moment.  Even if it's something as simple as, "My breakfast was delicious."  or, "The view out of my window is breathtaking."  Find the things that bring you happiness, especially when it's not obvious, when it's really, really hard.

Remember, "Happy Not Crappy!"


Friday, March 13, 2015

Learn from the Past, Live in the Present,PLAN FOR THE FUTURE! (I love to teach)

My post today is focused on "Learn From the Past."  In future posts I will discuss the ideas of  Living in the present, and planning for the future.  All of mankind can benefit from these three concepts.

I LOVE TO TEACH!  I LOVE TO TEACH ADULTS.  In my blog I try to teach lessons that I have learned that have helped me.  As I write I gain a great benefit by reminding myself of these ideas.  Never at any time do I wish to promote the idea, "Look at me, I've conquered it all.  I'm smooth, I'm clever, I'm always perfect."  SHUDDER...unfortunately, there really are people like that.  It seems that the majority of them either need professional counseling, or have been involved in professional counseling for a long, LONG time.  (Not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are being counseled by someone who likes your money more than your mental health).

Somewhere along the 59 years of my life-path I discovered the philosophy I wrote on my subject line.  I will repeat it, Learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future.  Each and every one of those timelines is important, but can you go back to the past and change things?  I'm not discussing making recompense to those you have offended.  I'm talking about waking up in the morning and then spending your entire day beating yourself up and feeling negative about yourself because of something that happened long, LONG ago.

The folks who struggle with this the most are reading this and thinking, "I do that."  Then they add that particular idea of guilt and shame and are not uplifted by these ideas, but they actually use the positive ideas of growth and improvement as sticks to beat themselves with.  Trust me, I know guilt and shame and the terrible things that they can do, close up, and personal.  I have three words to give you about that idea.  Are you listening?  DON'T DO THAT!  Repeat that out loud.  (Unless you are in public transportation, a grocery store, or church.  Speaking out loud in those places may add some other types of issues to your negatives from the past list).

Here's an analogy that helps me.  At birth you are handed a symbolic bag.  You are told that this bag has been given to you to contain any problems, traumas, and/or dramas   You know, a great big bag like Santa has in his sleigh.

Usually the first years of life do not give you much to add to that bag. One of my friends was a children's crisis counselor.  Those beautiful children she counseled had a lifetime of grief to put in that bag, and they hadn't reached the tender age of ten yet.  I do know that there are precious, young souls who have a bag full and running over.

As we walk through life the bag gets heavier.  You march along through life adding those struggles, challenges, and sorrows into that bag.  I was bullied and tortured from grade one through twelve.  Teachers bullied me, kids bullied me, and in one instance the administration bullied me.  They actually said to my Mother when she reported an incident when one young man threw a pen that hit inches above my eye, and I had to literally pull the pen out of my flesh, "Mrs. Jones, boys will be boys.  There is nothing I can do about it.

I had to go back to that classroom and sit with those boys around me.  They did NOT quit the bullying or the torture.  Tacks randomly were placed on my seat.  They did it randomly so that I would forget to look first.  That only happened twice...after that I did NOT forget to look at my chair each and every time before I sat down.  Sexual innuendos and harassment were constant.  I took a good book with me to that class.  I read that good book almost all the class to block out the misery.

My Mother went to Parent Teacher Conference.  When she asked that teacher why I received a NOT SATISFACTORY on my citizenship score he said, "She doesn't participate in class."  (Remember that book I was hiding behind)?  Mama said rather heatedly, "I'm certain that you remember you have her seated surrounded by boys who harangue her non-stop."

A long sigh from my teacher.  "Mrs. Jones where can I sit those boys?  They are a problem wherever I seat them."  My suggestion today to that teacher would have been, "Sit them in the hall, send them to detention, get them transferred to a different class...GET THEM AWAY FROM ME!"

Today that scenario simply would not, could not happen, I HOPE!

So now you've witnessed my account of those events that weigh heavily in my bag.  I just participated in a dangerous thing.  I pulled out that misery from my bag and reviewed it, actually, kind of relived it to a degree.  I discovered a year ago that the three main young men that tortured me, have passed away.  I never wished them dead.  I just wished them gone from my life, and now gone from my memory."

Each and every day we add other burdens to our bag.  At the age of fifty I could no longer even drag that bag behind me.  I came rather unglued.  A friend challenged me to spend my 5th decade of life learning and improving myself.  It's been a real journey of discovery.  During this decade I learned the above lesson in the first paragraph.

When I awaken and feel as though I simply can't move I take a few minutes for visualization.  In my mind I simply dump each and everything out of the bag into a huge, bottomless hole.  A hole where all of the struggles, and juggles of my lifetime this far spill down, down and there is a trash compactor to chew them all up.  (I wouldn't want them filling up a landfill, right)?

My beloved husband used a very dramatic visual to help me with this.  For my 40th birthday he had a huge party.  At one point he had each of our guests grab a helium balloon and head outside.  What a sight to see FORTY helium balloons.  My honey explained, "Each of these balloons represent trials, and problems that my wife has experienced in forty years of living.  We are now going to let each and every problem float away.  Watching those forty balloons float, up, up, UP, and away into the sky was magical.  I literally felt lighter of soul.  

Carrying the past around in that big bag stops STOPS YOU!  You may still be functioning, going to work, doing your job, being a wife, husband, or child.  It stops your sense of hope for the future.  It bogs you down so heavily that you couldn't feel joy if it slapped you. (Wait, if joy slapped you, would that be joyous?  Hmmm...)  Even on a sunny day your soul is filled with big, black, dark, dangerous clouds.  (You may have noticed that I like analogies.  I hope you do as well).

Let me share another hard lesson learned.  Those burdens in the bag can actually change to a vaporous state and sneak into your sub-conscious.  Some event in your present may trigger some of those vaporous burdens from the past.  They will then sneak out and into your psyche.  This will stop you. The burdens literally weigh more than any human could drag. Even if the human we're discussing has an Atlas' type of muscle power.

If you feel dark, heavy, worried, or any other negative emotion give yourself a ten or fifteen minute time out.  Use those minutes to look inward.  Ask yourself these questions: You could also write them in a journal to review amazingly helpful tool of mental health, journaling.

1.  Have I been sneak attacked by a burden from my bag?
2.  Was there an event that triggered this sneak attack?
3.  What can I do to restore myself to peace and contentment, better yet JOY?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions.  It's a process of healing.  Remember when you were little and your Mama pulled a bandaid off you?  Did she do it quickly so it only hurt for a few seconds, or did she take it off slowly, painfully?  Only YOU can decide the method of healing that works best for you.

Please understand that there is HUGE world of difference between discouragement, self-defeating behavior, feelings of worthlessness, and clinical depression.  Clinical depression is caused by a physical chemical imbalance in your body and brain.  You can't just pull up your britches and move on when you are battling the demons of clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other serious type of chemical imbalance.  For those you need medication and professional counseling.

Back to our bag.  Did you write down the answers to those questions?  If the answers will take longer than fifteen minutes you will have to go back to them later.  To clear any negative energy from you do a quick visualization.  Imagine all those balloons.  You can imagine them black...
that may help you to remember that these are negative past experiences that you are removing from your world.

Write yourself a list of support.  My Mama could always tell just by looking at us when were having a negative experience in our lives.  She also could tell that we didn't wish to share.  With me she would simply say, "Honey, go dance."  Who knew in the 1960s and 1970s that exercise increased endorphins and serotonin?  Who even knew that we had endorphins and serotonin?  For my brother the encouragement was, "Go run.  On the other hand, sometimes he danced.  He also taught me how to sing and dance.  My sister also taught me to sing and dance.  They performed together in our church group, and other church groups.  Sometimes I got to join them.  So Mama cleverly helped us to learn self supporting skills.  Below is a suggested list.

1.  Call, text, email, Facebook, connect in person, somehow or someway connect with somebody that loves you.  You might need professional counseling.  They are neutral to your situation and can give you objective ideas to help you.
2.  Dance -  I don't care if you have THREE left feet...anyone can move to the rhythm.  Even people who are deaf can feel the rhythm and move with it.  I am NOT telling you that you can only dance if you are very, very good at it.  I'm saying, let the music move your soul, and your feet.
3.  Run -  This is a marvelous way to improve your mood and give you perspective.  Do NOT start running when you are in your fifties, have heart, back, or knee  problems, and have never ever run in your life!  Walk first and then run.  If you can't run, jog, or walk.  If you are in a wheelchair, get outside.  Look at the sky, clouds, mountains, or mountains of skyscrapers."
4.  Write in your journal - You may and probably will be surprised by the words that start tap tap tapping on  your mind trying to be let out into your journal. 
5.  Meditate and visualize - Another visualization that I really enjoy is to imagine all of those issues and troubles as knots.  Think of all the knots and tangles we have in our lifetime.  Visualize a huge ball of twine filled with all sorts of gnarly knots.  You are going to start and unknot one miserable knot at a time.  Or you can envision that twine magically becoming smooth and unknotted.  Just like your life.
6.  Use your spirit. - I'm referring to our life force.  It has many names.  Consciousness, soul, spirit, energy, psyche, etc. etc.  Read uplifting books.  My favorite go to book is "The Power of Positive Thinking," by Norman Vincent Peale.  It's a classic and always lifts my soul.  The Bible, Torah, or Koran, are grand for those who are in more of a traditional religion.
7.  Bask in beauty - As I write this I am surrounded by large windows.  The view from our Hillside Home is magnificent.  The home is in the foothills of a mountain range.  Late winter has painted a rather brown landscape.  Brown is NOT an ugly color.  There are many hues and varieties of brown, from golden, to mahogany.  The mountain range that I am looking at has been (depending on who you ask) around for thousands of years, at least.  Use that image...those strong, long lasting mountains to remind you that YOU are strong.  YOU may be immovable.  Not as in close minded, or stuck in one place.  No, you are immovable (meaning nothing can remove you) from joy, from gratitude, from the positive virtues that bring wonder to life.
8.  Write down all of your favorite quotes or scriptures and create your own go to happy basket -  I heard of one marvelous lady on Facebook that has a huge "Happy Jar."  Everyday she writes down some wonderful moment.  She NEVER empties the jar.  Her kids also write happy moments and put them in the jar. Imagine the fun and joy of pulling out the happy memories and reviewing them.

I'm going to stop at eight ideas even though there are many, MANY more ways that you can support yourself, or have others help you support yourself.  If I include them all here, I will be writing all day and into the night.  I have many other things that I need to do today so those may pop up in another post.  

Today's lesson is "Learn from the Past."  The next lesson will be, "Live in the Present."  You are all such wonderful students, class dismissed.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Love to Teach

I'm going to share a secret.  Are you ready and waiting?  Can I build up more suspense?  After all in writing suspense is a brilliant method of drawing attention to the story...are you interested?  OK...fasten your we go.

A secret that all teachers know, especially the really good teachers, like my adorable daughters, and Mrs. Ward who lived across the street from me, when you teach you learn far more than those listening to you.  What is that I hear? Did someone say, "That's your secret?  BORING!"  Hang on for a few more minutes, the post will get more interesting.

Butt, bum, backside, touche, hindquarters, gluts, gluteous maximus, and minimus, rear end, heinie...ok, I'm going to stop there in my exploration of language.  From the time a child is old enough to hang out with friends the back of their front becomes endlessly fascinating.  Does that fascination end when youth become adults?  Ah no, they often giggle and chat about the attractive nature of somebody's touche.

I know that I'm different.  When it comes to being initially attracted to somebody, I prefer to look at the feature described as "The windows of the soul."  That would be the eyes.  Beautiful eyes are far more attractive to me than the muscles upon which you spend a great deal of time sitting.

Now you're scratching your head and saying, "Hmmm, mildly interesting but what about the title?"  Hold on, I'm about to arrive.

Euphemism is the title of study today.  All of that seemingly random discussion above actually applies to this topic.  Here is an excellent definition of euphemism from the ever wise source of Wikipedia.   
Euphemisms may be used to avoid words considered rude, while still conveying their meaning.  Yes ladies and gents, there you have it.  Euphemisms are more polite ways of saying things.  Please notice that in my above listing of names for your gluteus maximus and minimus I do NOT include a certain A word that is often used to define that same region of the body.

When I was growing up (the dinosaurs were no longer roaming the earth but they had only recently frozen to death), The use of the A word when referring to your backside might earn you a swat or two on that said backside.  The other way of stopping you from using the A word in reference to your touche was to fill your mouth with sudsy soap.  (My mouth remembers that flavor far better then I would like.  I do have an extremely clean mouth).

Not only did we NOT use that A word, we did not even discuss our backsides.  Backsides were quite vulgar.  We also did not discuss flatulence (aka farts), or burps, aka...shouldn't be done in public or discussed anywhere.

I do not believe that our denial attitude was necessarily healthy.  After all,  there is not a single mammal that I'm aware of that doesn't need to participate in those activities.

On the other end of the refinement spectrum we now have adults who burp loudly in public and rarely excuse themselves, or worse flatulate in public without asking pardon .  (I understand those over 50 may not have control over those situations.  They DO have control over saying, "I'm so sorry."  Or simply, "Excuse me."

Does refinement matter?  Do we no longer NEED euphemisms because we just use the coarser version of the word constantly?

Not only do I wish this post to discuss euphemisms (and possibly my wish to teach adults in a classroom again), but I wish to raise the question, Is refinement passe?  Does it no longer matter what words we use in public, and especially, what we DO in public?

I do NOT judge others when they use these words in their own worlds.  I just won't feel very comfortable in those aforementioned worlds.  I am not being a snob.  I just like the mental challenge of speaking to people who have the capacity to use euphemisms, even if it's just around me.

In my world, my sphere of influence, I will continue to battle on for euphemisms, and for polite refined living.  Feel it necessary to swear in my out...I have a bar of soap with your name on it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Baby Story

CJ stood up slowly.  Her feet and legs were so swollen that she could hardly waddle.  She had given up shoes in favor of a fancy pair of flip flops.  None of her shoes would fit.  She could not work the full eight hours of her shift.  She simply was enormous, awkward, swollen, and her left leg kept sliding out from under her at unfortunate moments.  Sciatica her baby doc told her.  He said that as her uterus expanded to hold the growing baby it caused pressure on the sciatic nerve in her back.  That caused a hideous pain to shoot down her leg, and caused her leg to buckle randomly.

After work she forced herself to do things around the house to get ready for this baby.  Little, regular, everyday sorts of tasks, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, things of that type.  She had a week to go before her due date and she wondered if she could possibly keep everything going for that long?

She slept upstairs.  Her husband was nocturnal.  He didn't want to keep her awake, and she didn't want to keep from sleeping in the night time.  As she eased her baby awkward body onto the mattress she chuckled.  To herself she said, "So this is how a pear feels before it falls off a tree, RIPE!"

CJ didn't think that she would be able to sleep at all.  She had always slept on her stomach.  There was no possible way for her to do that now.  It was amazing to her how far the skin on her stomach had stretched to make room for this growing human.

Her belly button which had always tucked neatly into her abdomen now poked out.  She felt like a turkey that had an automatic temperature tester that poked out when it was cooked.  According to her belly button timer she was past being done!

Exhausted she finally fell asleep.  At five in the morning the sharpest pain of her life awakened her.  It felt as though her entire, enlarged abdomen was clenched in a vise, and the baby did NOT like the sensation.  Kicking, stretching, hitting her from inside, the baby seemed to strike out at an invisible foe.  CJ struggled to get up and go to the restroom.

Finished she headed back to bed.  She was ever so hopeful that she could sleep another hour or two before she got up to get ready for work.  She was almost back on the mattress when the second enormous contraction rolled in.  Holding onto her cramping back CJ breathed slowly in through her nose and out through her mouth.  Trying to focus on the air moving in and out of her body she did NOT understand why some women were so enthusiastic about this method of coping with labor pain.  All the focus on breathing only served to trigger her asthma.  All of this and the breathing method did NOT distract her from this knife sharp pain.

At that point she realized that she would not be able to go back to sleep.  So she decided to go downstairs.  Her due date was still a week away.  She hadn't even packed a suitcase to go to the hospital.  CJ decided that this was probably a good time.  As she packed she thought about all the stories she had heard about women staying home until the last possible moment.  That is what she had planned to do.  She thought to herself, "My ancestors were pioneers for Heavens Sakes.  They gave birth in the middle of nowhere, sometimes with rain falling on them, and then got up and walked on, and on, to a goal that was far in the distance.  I can certainly cope with the pain for many hours yet."

The pains began to happen more often.  CJ finally awakened her husband and said, "Honey, I think we're going to have a baby today."

His response was a shocked, "Really?  I thought you weren't due for another week?"

CJ chuckled, "I know sweetie but this baby doesn't seem to realize that they are ahead of schedule."

Preparing, packing, and taking care of household duties CJ continued to work trying to distract herself.  Within an hour the pains were only five minutes apart.  CJ called work and told them that she wasn't coming in.

During one particularly hideous contraction CJ said to her husband "Please call the hospital and ask them what we should do."

Nyle called and then told his wife with a look of surprise on his face, "They said to bring you in."

At this stage the extreme pain brought with it a new complication, nausea and vomiting.  Nyle was loving, trying to help in anyway that he could.  He helped finish packing.  Then he helped CJ dress.

In between contractions CJ was excited and positive.  When the contractions began again she went from positive to anguish, very quickly as though someone had flipped a switch.  Her poor husband felt like he was riding in a car with the very female version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Arriving at the hospital Nyle held on to CJ's arm as they walked from the parking lot to the hospital.  CJ did have to stop first to throw up in the shrubbery outside the building.  Nyle stood helplessly by, not knowing what to do.

An extremely elderly man came out of the hospital door in time to see CJ retching, her enormous stomach clenching.  Suddenly the Grandpa was an Olympic star racing as fast as though he were much younger.  He came back with a wheelchair, then wished the couple joy, and went on his way.

Upstairs the Dr. examined CJ and said, "We're going to have a baby today!"  Nyle again seemed surprised.  His question was, "Really?"  The doctor was really excited, and CJ was much too busy with back labor to focus on anything else.

This was in the 1980's.  A standard part of the preparation for giving birth was to give the patient an enema to clean out any surprises.  The same muscles that contract to bring a child into the world also control defecation.  CJ was in the bathroom retching and clutching her contracting stomach as the enema performed it's duty.

The helper was a nurse intern.  After CJ was finished in the bathroom the young girl said, "I hope this doesn't hurt your feelings Mrs. Smith, but after watching you today I have categorically decided that I will NEVER give birth!" 

CJ had been in hard labor for four hours at this point.  She was not a believer in the wonderful joy of giving birth WITHOUT PAIN RELIEF!  In the middle of a body wrenching contraction she said to the Nurse, "GET ME AN EPIDURAL!"  CJ was by nature loving.  It gave her great joy to please everybody.  Now she was very close to aggressive, focusing on her needs and her needs only!

Once the epidural took effect CJ looked at the monitor near her bed.  "Oh look," she said with a smile of delight, "I'm having a hard contraction!"  The anesthesiologist gave a word of warning, "The epidural may slow down the labor process."  CJ said through clenched teeth, "It doesn't effect the baby, right?"  "No, Mrs. Smith.  This medicine does not cross the placenta."  "I would rather have a long labor that is less painful than a shorter labor with this level of pain."

After the epidural the pain was so manageable that CJ and her husband Nyle watched television for awhile.  Then Nyle began to have back spasms.  Nyle had a birth defect in his lower back.  The nerves were malformed so he lived with constant pain.  CJ arranged with the medical staff (when Nyle had left for a few minutes) to have a portable bed brought in.  After that the couple was relaxed and happy.  They looked forward to the life that was coming to join theirs.

Around three in the afternoon CJ's condition changed.  It was time to push.  So CJ pushed, and she pushed, and she pushed some more, and she kept doing this for three hours!  With very little sleep for a week, no food, and lots of pain she was beginning to struggle to continue the battle.

The doctor finally arrived, (and the nurse gave him a very evil eye), CJ later thought, "If I hadn't been so busy squeezing an 8 pound child out of my body I would have given him the same look."  The hospital nurse called the doctor to tell him that CJ was ready for delivery.  He said, "It's her first baby.  It's going to take awhile.  I'll finish office hours and then I'll come."

Then we found out, FINALLY, why the baby wouldn't advance to be born.  The wee babe had it's head down in the wrong position.  This made it almost impossible for delivery to happen.  When the dumb doctor finally arrived he said, "The baby has its head down in the posterior position.  Here are your options.  You can push some more.  The baby might still be born in this way, or I can use forceps to deliver."  If the doctor had been closer when he made this pronouncement CJ would have grabbed him by the lapels, pulled him down to her face and growled, "Deliver this child NOW!"
The doctor used an instrument that looked like something you would use in the kitchen. or perhaps in a dungeon for torture, to attach to the babe's head, and then gently he pulled the baby into the world.

Nyle laughed with sheer delight, CJ cried with joy.  Both of them were thrilled.  They had a girl, a precious feminine baby girl.  There was a stand by medical team for the baby to rule out any complications.  (Probably to cover the dumb doctor's backside since he didn't come for three hours)!

AND THEN...The epidural wore off.  CJ was swimming upstream against the pain.  Nyle had followed their beloved girl to make certain that she was tagged with the correct tag.  The doc (aka dumb doctor), brought CJ a pain pill, and a can of pop to swallow it.  The intention was good, the choice was dumb (one of the many reasons that he was named Dumb Doctor).  With no food in her tummy for 24 hours, the pain pill caused a severe nausea reaction.  Her body went into shock from the pain, trauma, and nausea.

Nyle came back and started making the calls of joy.  "Mom, we have a beautiful baby girl.  We have decided to name her after you.  Is that OK with you?"

In the background CJ was retching.  There was no food to vomit but that did not stop her body from trying to toss out the pain and shock that she had experienced.

Picture this tender scene, "Mom, we have a beautiful baby girl," retch, retch, retch, "CJ?  She's fine.  Just rather tired from working so hard."  retch retch retch

Dumb doctor turned off his pager (this was the 1980's), and couldn't be reached by telephone.  The nurses had no option to relieve CJ's nausea and pain without the doctor's approval.  Another three hours waiting for...(just wanted to see if you could add the dumb doc description without my help).

Another doctor came in.  I was alone.  Nyle had gone to see our baby again.  He was a pediatrician.  As I retched helplessly he gave me a good health report about our beautiful baby girl.  I wasn't ungrateful for the information.  On the other hand, have you ever listened to something while you were desperately ill and recalled all of the information?

Finally, finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the nurse came in with two syringes of medicine.  One eased nausea.  The other covered pain.  This nurse looked as frustrated as the other nurse had looked earlier when DD (I think an acronym will make typing his title easier), didn't come for three long hours of labor.  Trust me, even when you have an epidural there is still an exhaustion that is a different type of pain that comes from sleepless nights caused by carrying around another human being within you!  Then there is the labor itself.  There is a reason why it's not called PLAY.  It's WORK, gut wrenching (literally), dig in and do it, LABOR!

After receiving the medication CJ floated away into a land of fluffy pink clouds.  An hour later Nyle called her from home.  "Are you doing better hon?" he said with genuine concern.  "I love you, so much."  CJ smiled beauteously into the telephone (she had forgotten he couldn't see her...remember those pink fluffy clouds)?  "I'm fine Nyle.  I'm just really, really tired.  I'm going to go to sleep now.  I'll talk to you in the morn..."  CJ was asleep and Nyle was smiling into the receiver on the other end of the telephone.

You're A Star, Yes You Are

Celebrity.  What does that mean to you?  Do you envision actors that are stars of stage and screen?  Are you a sports fan and think of an athlete?  Another type of celebrity is royalty.  In America we often tell our little girls that they are princesses, or our little boys are princes.

I actually enjoy watching the clothes that actors and actresses wear when they attend a big event.  I read "People" magazine from time to time.  Recently I was perusing an article that listed celebrities by age, and then put their names by their photos, and a brief description of their clothes and jewelry.  If they wore a designer label, it was listed below their picture.  It made me chuckle when instead of listing a designer label it would say the actresses name and then, "Black dress, with black jewels."  I was very impressed that the actress wearing those clothes didn't particularly care if there was some fancy fashion house designer label on their lovely clothes.

Back to the point, (if you read my blog you know how random I am), are we all stars?  What does that even mean?  As a small child I learned that if I perform by singing and dancing, I receive positive attention.  Unfortunately, I was often dangerously ill as a child.  That would earn me attention but it was of a very negative sort.  Who wants to get attention because they're very, very ill?

Through the years I've pondered the question, "What makes an average, everyday, sort of person into a star?  In my world it is NOT grand acting ability.  It's not being able to earn all types of sports achievements.  It is certainly NOT being born into royalty.  Have you seen all the appointments and duties that royals perform?  Really, I don't think most of us want the type of notoriety that comes with fame.

Up high in our sky at night there are brilliant, twinkling foreign bodies.  They are lovely points of light in a velvety sky of black.  Throughout the world's history from time to time a piece of one of those stars will break away and fall down, down, down into our Earth's atmosphere.  Some of them will flame out before they reach the Earth.  Others will continue down until they reach the ground.

Anything that lands on the Earth's mass eventually becomes part of the earth.  The food that we eat is planted, grown, and harvested from that same Earth.  Each and every part of those stars that landed on our planet are absorbed into the chemicals that create our food, and through our Mother's nutrients create the body that we will travel with through life.

In other words, there are pieces of stars in me.  In you.  In every single person that ever has been born and walked on this Earth.

At one point in my life bed-bound and desperately ill, I felt limited, unable to shine.  A dear friend sent me a bookmark that said, "When you can't make waves, make ripples."  I keep that bookmark close to remind me of that message.

A star brings light.  It illuminates our night sky.  Humans also can bring light into the lives of others.  How?  Think for a moment of any person that brought light into your life.  I immediately think of a huge host of people.  My beloved parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and then my beloved husband, and our adorable children.  I have dear family who are friends and dear friends who are family.  I am truly blessed with the stars that shine their light into my life.

Let's change the direction of our star light.  What light have YOU brought into the world, into the lives of others around you?  Sometimes, when we are only able to make ripples not waves, we must remind ourselves that we still CAN bring light to others.  We can smile at someone who looks Atlas-like, as though the weight of the world is currently resting upon their shoulders.  We can give a hug and bring the light of love.  There is ALWAYS something we can do to bring light!  I'm going to repeat that because it's so important.  There is ALWAYS something we can do to bring light!

I like to go to cemeteries.  I love to look at tombstones.  I have found so many interesting things written on those markers.  I found the name of the hero of my series, "The Women of the Drifting Anchor Ranch."  (For more information about my series go to  B L A K E C A L K I NS was proudly printed in large letters on an enormous tombstone.  I have often wondered if the actual man was more like Ebenezer Scrooge than he was like the hero of my series.  It doesn't matter.  I didn't write the book about the man listed on the tombstone.  I used the name to create a character of my own.  A side note, I decided to drop the S on the last name Calkins.

One tombstone listed a name (I don't remember the name) and a message that I will never forget. "Here lies a consumate businessman."  Really?  The thing that he wanted to be listed on his tombstone for all to see was that he was a businessman?

One of my favorite lines in the Christmas classic play written by Charles Dickens, "Christmas Carol," is spoken by the ghost of Jacob Marley.  He has been shackled with chains and fetter that he forged with his own lack of life priority.  When Ebenezer Scrooge (his former business partner) seeks to give him some comfort he says, "You were always a good man of business."  Jacob wails, "Business?  Mankind was my business, the common good was my business..."

I've taken you from positive examples of the stars within us, to the negative examples of those who forgot the most important ways to shine in this life.  What will you do with this information?  Let me challenge anyone who reads this post.  Find a way to shine...right sometime...someday.  If your ability to make waves is damaged, find ways to make ripples.  Just imagine a world where we genuinely strive to make lights of love.  Find a way, today, not tomorrow, or sometime in the who knows if we will even be alive future, NOW!  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Anger Can be a Positive Trait?

I just read a short article by Martha Beck in one of the latest articles in the Oprah magazine.  Martha Beck is a gifted writer.  Even if I don't always agree with her ideas, I'm always impressed by the articulate method she uses to express them.

In this article she supposes that each and every one of us feel anger at injustice, or situations where we have no control.  I agree heartily with that supposition.  In my own life the hot points that touch off anger are things like the car accident that eventually was part of the reason my beloved husband died at fifty-four.  This same accident left our two beautiful daughters with pain issues they will have to face for the rest of their lives.  (Did you feel my anger burn through Cyber space)?  Sometimes my anger for the driver of the other car, the 19 year old kid who had not one injury burns so hot I fear that it will cause me to explode in flames.

There are many things that cause my anger to burn.  The anger does not empower me on the surface.  Is it possible to turn my anger into a righteous cause for change?  Oh I hope so.  With all of my heart I hope so!

In my parents generation and also in my own generation boys were not allowed to express any emotion except anger.  I probably could tell the age of most readers by hearing how they respond to this simple statement, "Real men don't cry."  My response to that is also simple.  "THEY SHOULD CRY!"

If you ever visit a Care Center, or Nursing Home you will notice that there are far more women then men.  We are learning constantly that our emotions, which often are fueled by circumstance, can cause some serious physical maladies.  Cancer, Migraines, respiratory infections, allergies, all of these and more are worsened by stress.  What is stress?  I believe the simplest explanation is this:  Anything that causes your heart to race or jump about.

I believe the current generation of teens and twenty somethings have been blessed to be raised differently.  I pray that most of the young parents in our world today have learned NOT to say, "Real men don't cry."

Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, all are great men.  I believe that each and every one of them cried when they saw evil.  I believe that they were empathetic and cried when they witnessed pain or injustice happen to others.

Let's change that statement, "Real men don't cry," once and for all.  From now on we tell our young boys, "Real men cry.  They cry when they are hurt.  They cry when they are sad.  They cry when others are hurting.  Real men DO cry!" After the tears are dried they get busy and make changes happen.

Maybe if we teach men that it's perfectly normal to feel emotion and show it through tears, the men will not only feel anger, and maybe, just maybe they will live longer.  What an idea!  It would be ever so lovely to see as many men survive for as long as our women do!  As a widow at the age of 55 I know a little bit about the pain of being alone.  Maybe, just maybe if my sweetie had been allowed the comfort of tears...SIGH...I can't do anything about the past.  I hope to be able to do something about the future!

There IS great anger in me.  My wise Mama taught me to channel that anger in many ways.  I learned to cry effectively.  I learned to dance until the anger was brought into submission.  (I still dance like I'm  I learned to use that anger to get a household task done that I hated doing.  Adrenaline is a great motivator.

I don't remember hearing anybody say, "Use your anger.  Channel the power and energy of your angry emotions to make a change for good in our world."

My husband became an attorney, largely because he had watched the struggles of his Mother, divorced after twenty-seven years of marriage, with no perceivable job skills, five sons, and no alimony or child support.  His remarkable Mother earned her way to becoming the first woman detective in Consumer Fraud in her state.  In a job interview when she commented on the fact that her male peers were earning more per hour she was told, "They're supporting families."  The man who made this foolish statement knew that she was divorced supporting FIVE CHILDREN!  Since she made less money, she earned less for her retirement.  I can still feel anger driving me about that circumstance.  

If anger is a destructive emotion, and it certainly can be, is it possible to turn it into a positive emotion?  A driving emotion?  An emotion that bears the possibility of changing the world?

Thanks Martha Beck, I will do some meditating over this idea.  I hope those that read my post, or Martha's will too!