Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reflections: The Year that Was – The Year that Will Be

Hi dear friends and readers!
I know it’s been a long time since I posted on my Blog.  I’ve written several postings in my mind, but somehow, I’ve found it difficult to find the time to sit down and write.  No promises, but, hopefully, I’ll post more often in 2014.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair at our home, some fun and some shared reflections.  A long-time friend who lost her husband 4 ½ half years ago was over for dinner with her new partner.  They are a lovely couple and we are happy for them.

None the less, when we began reflecting on the past year and the one ahead I was taken aback by the emotional tsunami that swept over me.  I felt a great happiness for our friends as they spoke of all the changes their new relationship had brought over the past year and the hopes and dreams they have for their life together in the future.  But I also felt something else.

In reflecting on the year past, I was truly thankful for the way Winnipeg has begun to feel like home – the way I am beginning to feel connected again.  I was full of joy when I remembered the many times we were able to get together and do so many things with our children and grandchildren.  And the way old friendships and family connections have been rekindled and strengthened has warmed my heart.  Their openness to be with us, to simply ask what they can do to help, or even to suggest ways in which they’d like to support us is more than I had dared hope.  Plus the medical and home support we have received this past year has been more than I thought possible a year ago.

So, yes, I had lots to reflect on and appreciate from the year 2013.  However, when I asked myself what I was looking forward to in 2014, my mind went blank.  What was I looking forward to???  The wave, the undeniable fact that my husband’s dementia was going to continue to get worse – that he’d lose more ground, hit me full force.  And all of a sudden I felt an aching sadness – a deep sense of loss.

Now, in the past, I’d have berated myself for having a “pity-party” and have searched for something positive that I could latch onto, something, anything that I could look forward to.  But at that moment, I could think of nothing.  Absolutely nothing!

And maybe that was a good thing.  As I’ve learned to trust myself to navigate my inner landscape I’ve  found that it’s okay to let myself be sad, to allow myself to grieve when sadness about what is happening to my husband and our life together arises.  And so, rather than chastise myself and find something positive (however inauthentic) to say, I quietly let myself be aware of the sadness that was in my heart. 

I used to fear that letting myself feel sad was dangerous, that I could somehow drop off a cliff into a slough of despondency and depression.   But that’s not what happens.  When I listen to my sadness, it’s as if she no longer has to hold on so tight.  It’s as if she has been heard and accepted.  Somehow, usually after a short time, my sadness begins to soften, and, while I’m still aware of the sadness, I begin to feel other feelings once more.

So feeling sad on New Year’s Eve was okay.  I felt my sadness.  But I wasn’t overwhelmed. And, as the evening progressed I was aware of other feelings as well.  I felt joy for the happiness of our friends, and for the wonderful blessings the year past has given us.  True, I wasn’t able to share anything I was looking forward to, but there seemed to be no need to do so.

And then, as our friends left, I let myself reflect more on my renewed feelings of sadness and loss.  I didn’t force myself to “get over it” or “move on”.  I was just gently there with my grief as I tidied up and got ready for bed.  And then, just as I was getting into bed, the sadness began to lift.  And, as it did, I remembered a very special event I was looking forward to next fall.  Joy and hope was returning as I drifted peacefully off to sleep.

The next morning, when I woke up, I remembered last night’s sadness.  It seems to me that these short times of grieving may very well be keeping me happy and healthy.   For, if I didn’t deal with my sadness and loss, if instead I pushed it down and refused to listen, I would no doubt be setting myself up for a major crash.  Sadness is an amazingly powerful emotion, powerful enough even to block my anticipation of our daughter’s wedding next fall. In the light of day I knew that the many blessings I have appreciated this past year, and no doubt many of which I am unaware will also be with me as we move forward into the New Year.  I do have a lot to look forward to.  So, 2014, here we come!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Another Lesson of Compassion

“What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell. …It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse. That bungled goodbye hurts me to this day. I wish so much that I'd had one last look at him in the lifeboat, that I'd provoked him a little, so that I was on his mind. I wish I had said to him then - yes, I know, to a tiger, but still - I wish I had said, "Richard Parker, it's over. We have survived. Can you believe it? I owe you more gratitude than I can express; I couldn't have done it without you. I would like to say it formally: Richard Parker, thank you. Thank you for saving my life. And now go where you must. You have known the confined freedom of a zoo most of your life; now you will know the free confinement of a jungle. I wish you all the best with it. Watch out for Man. He is not your friend. But I hope you will remember me as a friend. I will never forget you that is certain. You will always be with me, in my heart. What is that hiss? Ah, our boat has touched sand. So farewell, Richard Parker, farewell. God be with you.”


You may recall from my last posting how my grandmother helped me to learn to be more compassionate with myself and with my husband.  Life has seemingly kept me very busy, but I feel I must tell you one more lesson my grandmother had to teach me.

It is over 40 years since she passed on and yet I still have a strong connection to her – a bond of love forged those many years ago.

Shortly after the comfort and healing I wrote of last time, something shifted - I felt a sense of sadness. I was not grieving that she was gone; I had done that many years ago and was at peace with her passing.   It was something else.  Did I, in the words of Yann Martel, “conclude things properly”?  She had meant so much to me.  And yet, when my parents and siblings moved to BC, I was the only family she had for her last 6 years.  I began to wish I’d spent more time with her.  It was an incredibly painful realization and it seemed too late to do anything about it!

Part of it was mourning for times I missed being with her, but it was more.  Underneath the sadness was a sense of deep regret, a sense of failure.  Part of me refused to accept my behaviour – it judged me and found me wanting.

So what to do?  I knew that I needed to let myself feel these feelings if I wanted to deal with this.  So when sadness came to me, I let myself feel that sadness and to be there with it – not to hold on to it or push it away, and not to follow the whirlpool of regret into blaming myself.  Just to be there with my grandmother and my sadness. 

And, as I did so, the sadness began to soften and, once again, I sensed her love.  She was comforting me, not blaming me.  And I began to remember the many wonderful times we had during our last few years together, the times we brought her over to our place, the times I visited her, and the times I rushed to the emergency room to support her.  Good memories, filled with love.

And then I began to see things through a different lens.  Many things had made it difficult for me to be with her as I wished.  I had been a young mother with 3 small children and no car.  My husband had been attending night and summer school plus teaching adult education classes to help get our young family on a stable financial footing.  And her nursing home was not the kind of place where you could take young children.  When and how could I have done more?  Even now, I just don’t know.

But what I did come to know was that my grandmother knew I loved her.  She did not have to forgive me.  She did not blame me to begin with.  Realizing this helped me to see my deep sense of sadness and regret in a different light.  While seeming noble, I knew it was really something else.  Something I know well, but seem to ignore!

Ah, yes!  You may have guessed.  My old familiar perfectionist part was holding me responsible all these many years later.  It’s amazing really how she finds these chinks in my armour.  Guess I’ll have to get to know her better.  We need a better working relationship! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tuning into Compassion

Of late, I’ve been pondering the flow of love in my life, especially in my relationship with my husband spanning over half a century.  Ah yes, I can still remember those thrilling first years.  For sure time and everyday life has tempered things, but still I love being with him and am deeply committed to creating as much joy in our life together as possible.

This is true even now, when life has taken a turn we never expected.  My husband’s intellectual prowess was one of the first things that drew me to him.  And he was the one who saw my potential and encouraged me to develop my own particular brand of wisdom.  So, facing the diagnosis of his dementia was an incredible shock.  But, even in the face of its relentless progresses, he skillfully in finds many alternate coping strategies.

I think we have a good life – a relatively happy life.  And surely we have been blessed.  We love each other and I have a great deal of compassion for what my husband is dealing with.  I also know that, most of the time, I support him in a manner that reflects the depth of that compassion.  And yet, sometimes I feel as if I am failing.

There are times when I feel I am not compassionate enough.  How can that be?  Surely love is the basis for compassion, and I love him and want things to go as well as possible for him.   I know he needs loving support – maybe more than anything else.

So what was going on?  I began to meditate on my understanding of love which brought me back to my roots.  As a young child I had a strong loving relationship with my maternal grandmother.  She spent a great deal of time with me and loved me unconditionally.  And so, as I struggled with my feelings I found myself remembering and re-feeling how it was to be with her.  Just being in that place and letting her love envelope and flow through me, I felt comfort.

As I sat there it was as if love was flowing into my body and expanding my heart.  I just basked in this wonderful experience, and then, as I felt this love begin to overflow, I included thoughts of my husband in the feelings of love and acceptance.  And as I did so, a surprising thing happened.

Although I had begun this contemplation feeling I needed to be more compassionate towards my husband, what I felt first was more compassion for myself!  I hadn’t expected this.  But compassion simply welled up as I recognized to challenges we face in our life together. Ensuring that things flow smoothly, dealing with the day-to-day details, and keeping our life as creative and interesting as possible is not easy. The pressure of getting things done in a timely fashion, having to re-do things, and responding to new issues as they present themselves, all of these realizations prompted an outpouring of compassion for myself as I realized just how difficult this really is.

As surprised as I was by the love and compassion I felt for myself, what surprised me even more was that I felt compassion for myself for the times that I wasn’t as supportive and compassionate as I intended.  Not that I thought it was okay.  But I began to see how the way I’d been berating myself was something other than simply a desire to be compassionate.  It was my perfectionist tendency beating me up every time I missed the mark.  And I felt compassion for myself yet again.  From this place of loving presence, I found love and compassion for myself even when I was less than perfect – when I wasn’t perfectly compassionate.  And something just relaxed inside.  It was okay!  I was doing my best.  And I found I could accept the times when I tried and failed – and move on to try again. I could treat myself with the same kindness, caring, and compassion I would show a good friend. This was a wonderful revelation, but there was more. 

As I remained in this place of deep loving presence with my husband I began to sense his struggles afresh.   The awareness of the challenges he faces, the frustrations he lives with, and the grace with which he handles it all, allowed a sense of his heart’s struggles to vibrate in a new way in mine.  Could tuning in to this vibration become my anchor?  Could it help me in my intention?

This gentle connection with my husband became the door to greater presence and awareness of the times when my compassion was threatened.  Usually – when I was trying to get something done by a certain time.   Yes, you’ve guessed it; it was that very familiar “perfectionist” part raising its head yet again. 

It was incredibly healing to discover that, in my personal situation, compassion was sometimes being hijacked by perfectionism.  I even felt compassion for my old familiar perfectionist part – that desire to get things right has served me well. It helped me to succeed in my studies, my work, and even in organizing and running our home and social life.   But, quite clearly, in this case it had become too powerful.  In this particular situation, perfection had begun to think it was in charge.  And I had let it!

But, now that I realized what was happening, it was up to me to provide some leadership.  Do I continue to follow my perfectionist tendencies, or do I recognize that no one is perfect, and nurture my newly found compassion for myself and my loved one?  Will I be the critic or offer compassion?  In theory there is no contest.  But in reality it requires considerable effort and constant vigilance.  It is not easy!

It is my choice to determine what I will attend to as we move forward.  And I intend to be more attuned to that flutter of compassion for myself when I fail and for my husband when he struggles.  It is my role to tell that familiar and insistent perfectionist part when it needs to be quiet. Things don’t always have to be done in a particular way, and some things don’t have to be done at all.  Being on time is an ideal, but some days things may take more time than I expect. 

It is up to me to become more aware, to recognize the moments of opportunity and deepen my attention; to take a deep breath, and to connect with my heart as well as his.  It is up to me to calm my perfectionism and to tune into my compassion. It is my choice, and I have chosen to fan the flame of my newly-expanded compassion.

The photo was taken on our Mexican holiday with our dear friend and travelling companion, Sue.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oh, No – Oh, Yes

“Oh, no” was my first reaction when I felt that tickle and slight burning sensation in my sinus and throat late yesterday afternoon.  Following a familiar train of thought my slight tickle soon became a full-fledged catastrophe. Today of all days!  Now I’m going to feel rotten for our daughter’s wedding and reception this weekend.  Memories of nasty colds in the past crowded my mind, and a verse from one of Tevia’s songs in “Fiddler on the Roof” began playing in my head.

With our daughter getting married
And … (you’re getting a cold)
You’re upset, you’re worn down
Stay inside, go lie down

Well the “go lie down” part was at least good advice!  But then, thankfully, I became aware of how my thoughts and emotions were running away with their own agenda.  It was time for me to take a few deep breaths and let myself feel what was really happening.  It was time for me to determine the agenda.

“Oh, Yes” it was happening.  My body knew the signs.  But since I’ve become more present to what is, I see how easy it is for me to catastrophize; how easy it is for me to make any situation much, much worse.

Just being there with this “cold” I realized that is was not that bad.  I knew how to address my symptoms and reduce the chances of spreading it to others.  With that awareness, I was able to just accept what was already here and gently begin to look after myself.  What a relief!

Suddenly, things looked brighter, and I felt comforted.  Recollections of how, in the past, this simple acceptance has seemingly shortened and reduced the severity of any illness came to mind.  I don’t think this is an accident, or that I am fooling myself.  I truly believe that simple acceptance actually helps my body heal.  The energy I formerly used to resist, deny and imagine disastrous outcomes, is now available to my immune system who really does know what to do when I let it.

So today, although I’m not cured, I am feeling pretty good.  The symptoms are still there, and I will, with some regret, forgo the hugs and kisses.  But I am really feeling pretty well and I know I will enjoy this very special weekend.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beneath the Surface

Well, I’m back!  Sorry for my long absence.

As many of you know, we have been in a long slow process of moving from BC to Manitoba.  It has been a journey filled with sadness and joy, of loss and discovery.  And it has had many things to teach me.  Despite my careful planning and organization, and regardless of my careful attention to detail, things had a way of getting “off track”.  Just when I thought everything was finally coming together, things would fall apart once more. 

For sure I got lots of practice in riding the waves of uncertainty, and of not getting so caught up in the undertow of emotional attachment. Through it all I sought to be open to the moment; to have a 360 degree view of what was happening – not just around me but inside me as well.  Of course, what I intended and what actually happened were often not the same.  But, my intention to be present and to “be there” with what was happening helped me to notice when I was sidetracked and to bring myself back to centre.
As I witnessed my internal processes in this manner, I was reminded of Socrates’ bold statement that "The unexamined life is not worth living."  This great teacher believed that the purpose of human life was personal and spiritual growth.  As I took time to examine and reflect on what was happening, I was struck with how much our minds are like icebergs, only a small part of what is really going on is easy to see.  It is a challenge to catch a glimpse of what is going on beneath the surface.
The other day I realized how much part of me loves to “think”.  I notice this especially when I sit to meditate – this part of me tries to convince me that thinking would be much more interesting than being present to what really is.  Some thoughts seek to create an alternate reality through fantasy, or wishful thinking.  Others are worries – most often about things that may never happen or happened in the past and about which I have no control.  And then there is planning. Sometimes my thinking is one big attempt to control the world and make everything work out well – for everyone, including me!  All of this “thinking”, ironically, made me realize some of my thoughts needed further exploration. 

For sure thinking is very near and dear to me; it is an integral part of who I am – a very curious part who loves to explore ideas.  I love the challenge of searching for answers and the satisfaction of finding them.  Thinking keeps me engaged with life.  It is also a way of demonstrating that I am competent.  When I feel competent, I feel safe, and that I can keep others safe as well.  In that sense it is clearly a defensive strategy that seeks to ward off dangers!

Many of my thoughts are mental chatter.  As I become more authentic and true to myself, I am learning to recognize them with a measure of compassion as “just thoughts” and gently let them go.  One morning, for example, as I awoke to discomfort, a part of me began to worry that I might lose my mobility.  In the past I might have spent many hours – perhaps the whole day – worrying about being chronically disabled, thinking how I might try to avoid it, and planning what I needed to do if it became a reality.  But this particular morning, I saw it for what it was and had a good laugh.  In reality, the pain was not that bad; it might even get better as I began to move around and gently stretch. I not only knew that my fears were not facts but that if I needed to deal this issue, I could do so “when the time came.”  This sense of inner wisdom and personal strength was empowering. With that inner authority I was simply able to calm the chatter and release my fears.

Other times thoughts have a strong charge and are very persistent.  I have come to see them as more than just thoughts. They have strong emotions and physical sensations; they demand attention.  Surprisingly, by simply following these thoughts and the emotions they stir up, I have found a way to understand issues that otherwise might remain hidden and protected.

A recent incident underscored this point.  I found myself dealing with a nasty bully, and I was thinking up a storm.  Thoughts of “what to do” were taking up a great deal of my time and energy.   And so I decided to spend some time following the trail to see where it might lead and what I might need to learn from the situation.

As I listened to what various parts had to say, I discovered that the part of me who prides herself on being skilled at working with others and finding amicable solutions was being stymied.  After more than a month of attempting to resolve the issue and expecting a reasonable response I finally had to accept the obvious – no resolution was forthcoming.
Another part of me was angry that I was being bullied and attacked for a problem I did not create.  And then there was a part who feared the confrontation of dealing with this difficult situation.  Complicating this was that she, this fearful part, even felt intimidated by “my” anger.

Not so long ago, these fears would have scared me off.  I would have swallowed my anger in an attempt to nurture my internal distress.  I would, at least to the outside world, have let it go.  People might even have complimented me on my composure.   Reality, however, would be quite different as my anger would not have been “let go” but buried it deep inside where it would continue to fester.  Not this time!  Rather than being scared off, I decided to examine the urge to “let it go”.

There was no doubt; I didn’t like what was happening. I felt violated and I felt I needed to protect myself.  I also realized that part of me feared what would happen if I did stand up for myself.  I discovered that even my conciliatory, peace-making approach, though dear to my heart, was perhaps partly a response to that fear.  Simply by being open to all these conflicting emotions and hearing what they had to say deepened my understanding of what I needed to do.

Accepting my anger and exploring what it had to teach me opened up options.  I began to own my anger and under this new proprietorship wonderful things began to happen.  In owning my anger I found new energy; energy to facilitate my internal dialogue, energy to address the situation, and most importantly energy to take care of myself.  My first task was to assure my fearful, timid parts that I could and would do that.  In the past I had often ignored their voices. But as I continued to listen with the intent to take care of “all of me”, my fearful parts gradually began to trust me and calm down.  Once we were all “on the same page” and working together it was my job to carry through and provide the necessary leadership.

The energy that my anger gave me and my commitment to myself ensured that I would do whatever I could to let this bully know he could not treat me with impunity.  I could and would protect myself and my own needs.  This violation would not be swallowed.

I knew there was no guarantee that my actions would result in a satisfactory outcome. I doubted that this bully would accept his responsibility; for several months now he had aggressively refused to consider my concerns.  And sure enough, the requests and deadlines outlined in the strongly worded letter from our lawyer were ignored.  When the deadline and waiting period passed, I was advised that taking him to court would be an option, but it would cost me.  And given this bully’s track record it was unlikely he would ever pay up even if the courts found in my favour.

The question that now faces me is what should I do?  Do I put myself through months of further stress and incur additional costs to no avail?  Do I continue spending quality time on a problem that seems unsolvable? Should I keep on fighting a losing battle?
Is this how I look after myself?  I think not.

As I reflected on these questions, I realized that following my thoughts down to the anger that fuelled them had served its purpose. Those persistent thoughts of how I had been treated and “what to do about it” were no longer there.  I had demonstrated that I could be there for my fears and protect myself in a very challenging situation, and I was stronger for it.  It was time to let it go.

With some surprise, I discovered I could easily do that without stuffing things inside.  In fact, I have a deep sense of peace about it.  I have demonstrated that I can look after myself.  I can stand up for myself against a nasty bully, and I can do that without vengeance.  My goal has been to look after myself and now the best way to look after myself is to know when to stop pursuing a losing battle. My energizing anger has served its purpose and I am left with a sense of peace.  I have done all I can do.

Following those highly charged thoughts not only helped me deal with a very real and pressing issue in my life, it also nurtured my personal growth.  Life is not always fair and justice is not a sure thing.  This much, however, is sure.  I have done all I can to serve notice that this behavior is not acceptable. 

“The effect of contemplation is authenticity – authentic presence and authentic action.  If contemplation doesn’t lead to authenticity, then it remains only navel-gazing and self-preoccupation.

~ adapted from “Simplicity: the Freedom of Letting Go” by Richard Rohr


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Bitter Sweetness


Our time here is quickly coming to a close; we are busy saying good-bye to the friends we’ve made during our 15 years on the island.  It is hard – the bitterness of it rises up each time I hug someone – knowing this may be the last time – for a long time.
And yet, at the same time, it is sweet – very sweet.  The recognition of just how connected I am to each one warms my heart.  A few short years ago we were strangers, and now we are like family – maybe even closer.
I wish I could pay tribute to each and every one of these special people, but words would not be enough.  And I know that I would fail to mention many wonderful people and special memories.  So, instead, I will highlight some of the groups that have connected me to this place and grounded me in a way I have never known before. 
Of course, there is my family – without them we would likely never have ventured to the island at all.  Being here with my parents and brothers, who have been here for almost 50 years, connecting to their families, my cousins, nieces and nephews, has been special.  Being here gave me a chance to have an adult relationship with each of my parents and to support them as they aged.  I also was able to get to know my wonderful brothers, who had been children when I began teaching, in an ongoing dynamic fashion.  We discovered many ways in which we were similar, and others in which we were quite different.  How fortunate I am to have brothers like them!  We have supported each other in so many ways, and have become very close.
And then, there is the Haven Society, the first group I worked with after I got my “sea legs”.  Working with such a great group of women connected me to my new community in a unique way.  We had great times together, but we also addressed important issues and worked to make our community a better place.  Many of these friends remain woven into the pattern of my life.
Some of the people I will miss most are my hiking buddies.  With them I have explored thousands of kilometers of trails on the island – as well as other places.  I love the woods and walking through the west coast rain forest is a treat all on its own.  But the thing about hiking is the people who hike with you.  There is something about huffing and puffing up a steep slope that deepens your relationships. No pretenses here!  Connecting with each other in this down-to-earth way is like a glue that binds us together.  In a way my hiking friends became a great big loving family.  We supported each other through challenges; we celebrated each other’s joys, and, when we needed help they went out of their way to be there for us.
And then, then there’s my book group.  A few years ago I joined my first book group.  I thought a book group was simply that – a group of people who got together to discuss books.  I quickly found, however, that my book group was much, much more.  These women became like sisters to me.  Besides discussing our book, we shared each other’s lives month by month.  Sometimes a few would go out to see a play together or we might meet on a one-to-one basis for lunch or simply to visit.   Even though I have known these women for only a few years, they brought food when my mom passed away, and helped celebrated her life.  And, even as I made preparations to leave, they were there - they helped me pack and clean.  And now, they won’t let me leave – at least not completely.  They are including me in their monthly meetings via Skype.  And they even gave me a gift certificate to purchase eBooks for quite a few months to come.  They are just so special!
Many of our neighbours have become good friends too.  And of course, through all these connections, other doors have opened.  Abe and I took up Bridge and, for a while played two or even three times a week.  Even though we aren’t able to play now, we are finding other things to enjoy with our bridge buddies.  One of my friends and I have even started playing on-line and hope to continue that after I move.
I have also had the opportunity to discover an artistic talent, that I never knew I had, with my friend Ellen (a hiking buddy and also in my book group).  She is a talented artist and invited me to join her and a couple of others in her home Monday afternoons.  In her own gentle way she taught, modeled and encouraged me to explore watercolours – a whole new world of fun, relaxation and creativity.
Finally, I want to mention my ARC friends – the people who took “The Return to Consciousness” training with me.  I owe them a debt of gratitude, for without them the course would not have been offered on the island, and I would have missed out on this life-changing opportunity.  One of the things that I sought when I retired was to become more of “a human-being” rather than a “human-doing”- which I had been all my working life.  And ARC has helped become more present to myself – for my own life.  The support of my fellow ARCies, together with those who willingly became my clients as I practised and others who later joined my meditation group has encouraged me in my journey along this path.
On reflecting, on these past 15 years, however, I realize that becoming a human being is not simply about being more connected with myself – important though that is.  It is about being more connected with others.  It is about being more connected with nature.   It is about being more connected with my community.  I realize that this is what I have become while living here on the island.  And this – this is the incredible sweetness.  
So this is not good-bye.  You, my dear friends, will be part of my life even as we move apart.  And you, my special soul mates, will be in my heart forever.  Until we meet again!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Catching My Breath

Well, here we are – settling in to Beth’s home; our packing done, our things loaded into a container.  A welcome hiatus in our move back to Winnipeg.  It's a chance to catch our breath and enjoy our last few weeks on the island with our friends and family here.  The generosity of those who offered their homes to us warms my heart.  And the synchronicity between when Beth was planning to be away and our need for shelter seemed miraculous!

Interesting – living out of a suitcase.  With only a couple of bags that we’ll take with us when we leave, life has become much simpler.  The decisions about what to wear, for instance, are limited.  We have something for cool weather, something for warmer weather, and, of course, a water-proof jacket for the rain.  Our menu choices are determined by using up what we had left in our cupboards, and freezer.  I am experiencing in a very concrete way how much of our time is taken up with our “stuff”!   Never before have I realized quite so clearly just how much time I had spent looking after things.
Also, with our lives being a bit topsy-turvy I have found it necessary to curtail my personal interests and be here more consistently with Abe.  This may change as we settle in, but for now, most of my usual activities are on hold.  So, again, I have more time.  Of course, I knew that activities take time, but I love to be active, and don’t plan for a lot of “down time”.  But how precious time is!
As I open to this gift of time and allow myself to simply relax into the present reality, I am becoming much more aware of the subtle nuances of my day-to-day life.  For example, my relationship with Abe – of course it is my intent to be supportive of him in his journey.  But what does that mean?
Where is the boundary between support and interference?  Between helping and undermining?  When should I step in and provide a word or thought he can’t find and when should I allow him to find it himself?  And does it change with the circumstances?  What if there are others present?  What if they don’t understand how hard he is trying?

What is my motivation?  Am I speaking up to protect and support Abe or to avoid my own embarrassment?  And, after almost 50 years together, where is the difference?  When is it about my own frustration, impatience and pain?
Of course there is no simple answer to these questions.  But I’m finding it good simply to be present in the moment.  To just notice when I do step in and when I don’t.  To be aware of emotions – mine, Abe’s and others – as things unfold.  To just see what happens.  To consider my actions and the reactions that result in light of my intentions.

I know I have a tendency to “help out” and that’s not always “helpful”.  I also know that there is no way to get the right balance all the time.  But I hope as I become more present and open to Our Dance I will learn to be more supportive – in the most genuine and  helpful way possible.  Not just my intentions, but in my day-to-day actions.