Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wait ...

Life was always a matter
of waiting for the right moment 
to act.

Paulo Coelho

Hi everyone! I'm overdue with this post and wanted to let you know that it's because I'm away until June 10th, working on the ethereal chronic sorrow book project.

I have attempted to write this book two or three times since my husband's death but each time have banged up against the truth in the words, it's hard to think and grieve at the same time. So, I have had to be patient and wait. Now, almost nine years since Derrick's death, I think the timing may finally be right.

Waiting is not my strong suit. I am a goal oriented person who is a little anxious until a project is completed (as opposed to being a process driven person who becomes anxious when he or she has to close down the possibilities and finish a project). My husband knew this aspect of my personality well so, during the last year of his life, while confined to bed but still wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of those he loved, he made me, and others, what he called "clay words",  clay disks with a special word carved in each one. People received disks saying peace, be still, joy, breathe, be well, rest.  Mine said, wait.

Wait? Why had he given me wait? Of all the lovely, inspiring words he could have chosen to leave behind for me, he chose wait ? I'm afraid I was a mite ungrateful until I read the painstakingly written note that accompanied the disk. He had used the word wait because he knew that soon he would no longer be here to balance my goal-driven behaviour with his process orientation. He wanted to remind me that waiting is a virtue I need to continue to cultivate, particularly at times when I'm stressed and wanting to jump to closure to reduce my anxiety.

There are many benefits to learning to wait. Here are just a few:
1.  It allows time to drop into the wisdom of our bodies. This is important for those of us who tend to move into our heads when stressed. We can benefit from the information gained through noticing the clenching and relaxing of our muscles, the constriction and expansion of our breath. When we "wait a minute" and listen to our bodies, we often find  the path to our best choices or decisions.  (Gendlin's book, Focusing, will show you how to do this.) 
 2.  It allows the picture to clarify fully. Often we act before considering all aspects of an issue or situation, sometimes with disastrous consequences. If we wait long enough to reflect and see the situation for what it is, with both its gifts and hidden pitfalls, we are more likely to to act wisely.
3.  It allows time to gather needed resources. Sometimes we need to wait for inner resources to accumulate - strength, energy, faith. Other times we need to wait for concrete external resources - money, time, tools, emotional support. When everything is finally in place, that is often a sign that the time is right to act.
4.  It allows us space to learn more about ourselves and our process. Where is our anxiety coming from? Goal or process? Or something else? What is it about the decision, project, or action that is making us feel threatened? Is there truly something dangerous in this situation or are we responding to emotional learning from something in our pasts? If we wait and take the time to reflect, we can track our responses and learn more about our patterns for next time.
5.  It allows the virtue of patience to develop more strongly within us. I don't know about you, but I can have buckets of patience for others, while having very little for myself at times. Learning to wait and be patient with myself is an act of self-compassion that gives me room to breathe and be.
6.  It allows those developing a spiritual practice of  contemplative prayer or meditation the time to  listen for the "still, small voice" within for wisdom and guidance.
7.  It allows us to tap into the natural rhythms of life - the growth cycles and seasons of nature. Both the ancient Judeo-Christian writings and the words of modern songsters speak of "a time for every purpose under heaven". If we wait and listen with our inner ears, we may come to realize that the season is right for a particular action. The healing or grieving is done, the soil is prepared, and the time for planting is here.
These are just a few of the benefits of waiting. Now, on this side of husband's death, I understand much  more clearly why he left the word, wait, to guide my path. Do, please, add more benefits if you have noticed others in your own lives.

See you again after June 12th!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

30x30 Challenge: You. Outside. In Nature.

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes 
a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something,
that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, 
that so wonderfully changes and renews
a weary spirit.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Hi everyone! Mea culpa, mea culpa - I'm completely remiss in writing this post so far into the month of May. I had heard of David Suzuki's 30x30 Challenge back in April and had meant to share it with you at the beginning of the month but, with the busyness of workshops in Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna, and Maple Ridge, I completely forgot. 

It wasn't until I was driving to the pool at lunchtime today and heard David interviewed on CBC's Q with Jian Ghomeshi  that the penny dropped. So, here is the post - better late than never. (You could join me in taking up the challenge a week late and just extend your commitment an extra week into June - or even continue it on throughout the year!)

Those of us who spend our time caring for others may be shocked, when asked, to discover that it's been months or even years since we last lay in the grass staring up at the sky or stood close to a tree breathing in the cool air descending from its branches or picked sun-warmed salmon berries or blackberries from a bush in the local woods. It is so easy to shift our attention away from Nature but we do so at our own peril.

It is our hearts and minds, disconnected from our natural environment, that pose the greatest threat to the sustainability of our planet. If we don't have an intimate relationship with Mother Earth, we won't care what happens to her, and if we don't care what happens to her, we won't act on her (and our own) behalf.

So, What is the Challenge? 

The David Suzuki Foundation's 30x30 Challenge offers us the opportunity to reinvest in our relationship with Mother Earth and with ourselves and families. The challenge is simple, though for some, perhaps not easy. It asks Canadians to commit to spending 30 minutes in nature each day for 30 days, starting on May 1st (oops!).

All you have to do is to join the challenge on the Foundation website and then get out in nature for at least 30 minutes for 30 days. The website offers opportunities for individuals or whole workplaces to sign up and goes on to offer tips and inspiration to get you started. There is also a chance to submit photos from your encounters with Nature for weekly prizes and, if you complete the opening and closing surveys, you can win a prize package from Genuine Health.

The greatest benefits, though, will be to your own life and to the life of the planet. (See these great website graphics for a rundown.) As David says:

2 minutes exposure to nature
relieves stress as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure & brain activity

2 hours exposure to nature
improves memory performance and attention span by 20%+

2 days consecutive exposure to nature
boosts levels of cancer fighting white blood cells by 50%

Why would we not do this?? 

Even family caregivers can ask family, friends or caregiving professionals to be with their care recipients for 30 minutes a day so they can walk or sit under a tree in their garden or park and soak up the scenery. There's so much to gain that it's worth starting right now. (And if 30 minutes is completely beyond you, why not try 5 minutes and gradually work your way up?)

I'm starting tonight, with a good brisk sit at the Lake. (Well, I have already done an hour of aerobic aqua-fit today...) Why not join me by getting out into your own neighbourhood green spaces? You, like this woman, will be glad you did! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

CaringBridge.org: An Amazing Resource ...

Hi everyone! Here is a great resource for family caregivers and for the helping professionals and volunteers who support them. It's called CaringBridge.org and it's a brilliant concept.

I hadn't heard of Caring Bridge until this morning when I received an email from my friend, Terry Saracino, at Enneagram Worldwide to say that our beloved, Dr David Daniels, (author of the little yellow Enneagram book I use in my workshops) is having open heart surgery on May 10th and that rather than contacting him directly, we can follow his progress and send our prayers and good wishes via CaringBridge.

It turns out that CaringBridge is a non-profit organization, based in Minnesota, that eases communication and encourages love and support when it matters most.
Think of us as an online space where you can connect, share news, and receive support. It's your very own social network, coming together on your personalized website. And, thanks to those who donate, we are available 24/7 to anyone, anywhere, at no cost.

CaringBridge offers CaringBridge Sites, personal, protected websites that make it easy to stay connected during any type of health event, and SupportPlanners, calendars that help family and friends to coordinate care and organize helpful tasks, like bringing a meal, offering rides, taking care of pets and other needs.

Organization founder, Sona Mehring, hatched the original CaringBridge website in 1997 when:

... good friends of mine had a premature baby. They asked me to let everyone know what was happening. Instead of making emotional and time draining phone calls, I created a website. In fact, the same night their baby Brighid was born the first Caring Bridge website was started.
CaringBridge instantly became a connection point in ways that were extremely personal and powerful for everyone. The site allowed family members to communicate information to a wide circle of people. They posted daily journal entries and the guestbook enabled visitors to send the family messages of love and encouragement.
It was obvious that CaringBridge could help any family going through a health event - not only by letting everyone know what was happening but by bringing that loving, supportive community together. CaringBridge could let them be there without the barrier of when, where and how. It's vital that anyone going through any type of health event knows about CaringBridge. 
Our services are free for anyone in need thanks to individuals and families who donate.
The website, itself, is clear, easy-to-use and each page is short enough to accommodate even the most caregiving-addled brain.

Where was this wonderful service during my family caregiving years?? It would certainly have made a huge difference. And it makes a difference today as we convey our love and support to David and his family. Thank you, CaringBridge!  If you want to learn more or to start your own site just
click here.