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Simple Permission

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Giving Ourselves Permission

There are overgrown areas in my yard. Tall grasses, quack grass that weaves itself among the perennials its roots a web of succulence and tenacity, its tallness swaying in the breeze, its rustle a whispering whoosh that embraces my ears with hugs of comfort. To the untrained eye, it is a mess of weeds that need attention. To me it is the prairie alive and healthy emerging from its own perfect origin.

Sure enough there are perennials amidst the grasses. Someone else’s attentions still meanders among the grasses; poppies, day lilies and harebells; a splash of colour that seems to fit into the otherwise wild scape.

There are also monkshood, columbines, ferns and edibles behind the shade part of the garage, overgrown and woolly thick with foliage. It needs digging—one day—divided and transplanted. And when I have made a decision about the garage, a solid fir built structure built in the late 1920’s when two by fours, sixes and eights were the real McCoy and where roof asphalt was attached as siding; when I have decided how to preserve this little bit of history of this small town, I will get to the overladen beds outlined by flat river rocks, each flat side butted to the next that makes a border between bed and grass. Today mingled and blended. I will get to it; I will, but not today.

This year, out of the grasses and day lily leaves, I spotted a surprise brilliant green jewel woven into the fabric of new and old growth. A clover leaf wonder sprouting leaves mottled, patterned and distinct in its singularity. What a delight, what a joy.

In the six years I have experienced this garden there are wonders each season. Had I made a decision about the garage, had I dug in and dug-up rather than allowing the garden to reveal itself to me, I would have missed this little gem; this piece of paradise. The decision to allow the garden, the wild, woolly and formerly cultivated to emerge and reveal itself to me is a process much like healing from inside out.

It takes time, its takes patience; it takes fortitude to allow the process to reveal answers on how to move forward without tampering prematurely, and by giving ourselves permission to stay with it, no matter what—always takes time, even years perhaps.

Giving ourselves the go-ahead to take that time is likely one of the most consistent challenges of our lives. The question I ask myself frequently is, if not now; when? As John Lennon said in the song Beautiful Boy — life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Had I dug-up the garden bed I may never have seen the magic of this beauty. In this writing, I have witnessed again  the value of capturing a moment of my life to share and more importantly to write for my own health and well-being,  and in the event it gives others permission to write4health—their health and well-being—I am delighted! In-joy.

Writing Practice: Take time out from your busy-ness however it shows up for you. Pause; focus on one thing in your direct vision; a paper clip, an abandoned toy, a bird, a scattered garment, a leaf, spilled milk, dirty dishes, a discarded wrapper, a puddle reflection, and write from there revealing a personal story through its lens. Find your senses in what you see, include them, exclude them, engage them, identify or discard them. Write from inside out, and witness the landscape before you. write4health; your health, your well-being…

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Frankie’s First Kiss

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I have a new boyfriend. Divorced with two young children, I am cautious about another male figure in their young lives, in the event he opts-out. It’s been over a year, and we’re about to embark on our first camping trip into the wilds of British Columbia. It isn’t the wilds, but it feels like it.

We plan to talk with the kids about getting married next year. It is dependent on their response as to how we proceed. There is no point in upsetting the apple cart —as my mother advises— when the children are two and six.

We pull the car over at a rest stop in a mountain pass. Annie wants to pee, while Frankie wants to stretch his legs. His new runners are itching to take a spin.

“Look mom,” he says. “See how fast I can run. See the grip-shun.” He starts to run as fast as his legs will carry him.

“Watch the road now,” I warn. I grab Annie’s hand to take her down the hill to the restroom.

When we get back, Frankie is running back and forth like a maniac as he takes his new runners through their paces.

“See how fast they run, Mom,” he stops suddenly and spins.

“Let’s have a snack, before we hit the road,” says Danny.  He grabs the picnic basket from the trunk. Annie holds his free arm as they walk to the picnic table.

We’ve snacked, juiced-up, and Frankie has tested his new runners.

“I’m over-floating with love for you mom,” he says cramming his egg-salad sandwich into his mouth.

He opens-up his arms towards me; stretches them around me, leans in.  He plants a kiss on my lips—and he won’t stop. I raise my arms to his shoulders and try gently to pull him away. I start to hum, mumble and giggle a little, as I try to disentangle from Frankie. I struggle to be released from his suction-cupped, eggy lips. He presses harder.

Suddenly a smack occurs as his lips release.

“So, that’s what a kiss on the lips feels like,” he says. “Aren’t my runners cool, mom. See.” He lifts his legs out from under the picnic table, shows his runners again, then takes them for a spin again..

“Me too,” says Annie as she chases Frankie.

Danny and I look at one another and laugh. “You really want to be part of this family?” I ask.

“Race you.” He starts towards the children. He stops, turns and grins. Blows me a kiss.     “Absolutely,” he mouths. I unscramble from the table and head towards my clan. In the wilds of British Columbia, I begin to feel optimistic.

Writing Practice: Tell a story, a simple scene, a life vignette that impacted your life: an incident, an emotion, an expression, a dialogue, or an image. It can be a jumping off point to something real or imagined. Weave a short tale that captures this moment expressing an emotional landscape of the time.  Short scenes painted with words, can at a later time, be strung together to make a story, a chapter in a book, or simply act as a reminder of how these moments capture  and make up our lives. Perhaps a moment like the one remembered here was the beginning of optimism for me and writing for health—mental health. Writing is certainly a low-cost mental health tool and can be used anytime, anywhere, and as needed. In-joy!


I was Nameless

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I was nameless—I walked two steps behind him; my father, my husband.

At seventy-eight, Alice has given up. There is a glimmer of hope, faint and disappearing faster each day. I hold conversations with her. I latch onto to any spark I witness in the hope something will ignite. She doesn’t want to die, but she is S-L-O-W-L-Y. Her brain is held captive inside an inert body.

Thoughts attach to possibility; but she doesn’t know what it is, yet… Her will wanes, shrinks to wilt. I offer suggestions. Each time a wall sprouts; “My life was sheer hell then,” she balks at childhood memories.

Chores before school; watching the bus appear half a mile away. Finishing feeding, rushing indoors to wash; change into cleaner clothes. Eat a spoonful of porridge; make a lunch if she was lucky, dash to catch the bus before it turned in the farmyard and drove away.

School—work—home to work. A field of potatoes to pick up; after the horse and plough left them behind, exposed, sundried. Knock off dirt. Collect. Basket full to unload. Root crops to the root cellar. Schoolhomework by candle flicker.

Up before dawn, work clothes—out to do chores again. Watch for the bus; sprint into change before the bus enters the yard. Sheep, cows, chickens, milking, feeding, cleaning; repeat.

She flinches at memory of ranching with a husband that left her for a younger woman. Her albums are full of him, with her, and their children. Her heart blisters; her story is cast in linage and amnesia and she can’t escape, except by death.

I’m a liability she announces. In this long-term care facility, I watch people at different stages of dying. I’m waiting to die. I want something meaningful, a purpose to live for. Somehow, together we identify some straws to clutch-on to for the future.

Writing Practice: April is National Poetry Month [NaPoMo]. For several years I have challenged myself to write a poem a day during the month of April. This unique experience and practice has garnered both observation and attention to detail that perhaps would have otherwise slipped by.

Here is a suggestion offered by Juliane Okot Bitek a poet and writer.

“Listen. Listen to your body and to what it is saying. Listen to what’s going on, sounding, vibrating, floating about you. Listen to the misheard statements and how they rub up against each other and sometimes beg to be the beginning of something.”

Surprise yourself; write4health, write poetry and PLAY!


Be Brave, Start Small

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“Transformation is opportunity and change disguised and waiting to burst into new form however, it reveals itself to you, and those around you.  Charged with Change—author

Living in Gratitude by Angeles Arrien divides her book by month and provides good fodder for contemplation, consideration and reflection each month. For March (p.65) Arrien quotes from Compassion in Action: Setting Out on a Path of Service by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush, and identifies this list from that book.

  • Be brave
  • Start small
  • Use what you’ve got
  • Do something your enjoy
  • Don’t over commit

I read this last year, made a poster and posted it on my wall. At the time I felt overwhelmed with all the stuff on my list and was being propelled by tremendous self-imposed timelines. For a year, I have been heeding this call to action particularly when I feel I am moving towards what I call—make work projects; saying yes to something, before I’ve considered implications that often lead to busy-ness.

In other words, I have let-go of preconceived ideas and notions, just because…I wanted to, or I chose to. I have reined in my compulsion to dash off, commit to projects because I liked the idea before considering the long-term effects on my health and capacity to follow-through with the passion I enjoy.

I have been known to follow-through because I have given my word, and in turn this has impacted my heart, mind, body and spiritual health and well being.

Sounds kind of simple, but this last year I really have understood how “no” is a complete sentence—no justification, explanation, excuse necessary. A simple no, says it all. It may be—no not right now, no forever, no I’m uninterested. However, I recognize how unnecessary it is to add anything to the word, no. In its simplicity it holds such wisdom.

I find those five sentences above inspiring also. I often use them as a guide to consider whether to move ahead on a project, or put it aside for the moment. My gratitude extends to the wise among us daily—or however it shows up…

Writing Practice: Find a quote or list that inspires you. Create a poster and post it as a reminder. In-joy.

 


Us is marvelous…

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Us is marvelous. We are the best. The ones that can be anything we choose. Us is miraculous which doesn’t mean we perform miracles although that might be the case. You decide. Miracles are such that they go beyond human or natural powers. Not really sure what that means e-x-a-c-t-l-y, but I can guess.

Let me have a try. Being attached to this earth, I suppose I can be classed as human. I have a body, mobility which when you really think about it—in and of itself—is miraculous. It just happens. That autonomic nervous system is something else. It just runs without me doing something or anything at all. I can’t believe it sometimes. It is only when something is out of whack I actually even recognize it.

Beyond that it simply hums along—not me e-x-a-c-t-l-y—but my body sings its own tune. I hear it sometimes gurgle and burp, whine and squeal. It makes me laugh at times in the most unexpected places.

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Dig Deep & Digest

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Sometimes when everything in our mind and body screams at us to dig deep, we resist, we procrastinate, we go to do something else. Why is this and what do I mean by dig deep?

I suppose it boils down to two things for me: it means going deeper than the surface, of my life, the given circumstance or the emotional entanglement I currently encounter. It also means going into a place I’d rather not go because it will call for an honesty to myself I would rather not explore, identify, or allow to surface into my awareness at the time.

It’s a little like an ingrown toenail. It irritates and intrudes on my general well-being until I address it. I know it will cause some physical pain, however to ignore it, it will only grow deeper, find a spot where it won’t hurt for a time, but will arise again in my awareness until it has been addressed somehow.

It will also demand physical awareness in my body. Where is it, how to wiggle it to dislodge its hold on my flesh, what tools will I need to do the job? It will take time. I likely will not get it the first time, maybe not even the second or third. Each time I worry it, wiggle it, worm it out of its place of comfort into my physical and emotional space before letting it go where it now belongs—in the garbage, released from its hold on me.

It is pleasant? No. Is it necessary? Yes. Do I have the right tools? Sometimes yes; sometimes no. Either way, I troubleshoot the reality, and find the tools or improvise. The tools I have in my kit that guide and assist me in uprooting, digging deep and digesting include six elements: muscle testing as a guide; willingness to find an answer that holds true for the moment; a small action to register this new awareness; celebrate the win; acknowledge its gifts for showing up in my life; let it go in gratitude.

Do I manage to do this each time? Maybe no, maybe yes. I don’t always identify them as such, yet they occur over time one step at a time.

Take the ingrown toe as an example.

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Finding Words

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Recently I read this quote marketing is translating. Along this vein I have found myself saying in the past ten years that life is marketing no matter what we do. Whether we are marketing ourselves as a person in a relationship, as a parent to our children, or simply navigating or negotiating that bill that caught us by surprise. The bottom line is simply, we are addressing a concept to someone or their association and packaging our point of view in such a way as the receiver can handle, digest or manage it. It is about presenting it in such a way that it is received and as a consequence a new behavior, a solution to a dilemma, or a different action that can be taken in unison.

Truth be told, we are in the throes of marketing ourselves each and every day to anyone with whom we come in contact with at any time. So why when we talk about our business does marketing become so indigestible? I am currently on a volunteer board and every time I mention the “m” word I can the eyes of most of the other board members glaze over.

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