This phrase has been going through my head as I’ve been thinking about writing this post today. It’s something my husband says occasionally, and I think it’s from an old Star Trek movie…I cannot for the life of me remember why my husband says it.
But it is true when it comes to following your inner or soul wisdom and nudges. Eventually, resistance to those nudges is futile because the consequences of ignoring them are not fun.
After a year of high alert and making sure (as much as is humanly possible for anything in my control) to keep Tim safe, I thought I would be as free as he was after the 100 days post-transplant. And right around that time, I finished my Master Coach Training intensive. Being in Master Coach training during the year of Tim’s Leukemia was a blessing for me…a little piece of something just mine that I could focus on, learn from, and spend time with that had nothing to do with health or the medical community.
I knew there would be a little lull, maybe a week or two where I recovered by laying low, but then I would be beyond happy and giddy and we would be on our way to a much more normal and free way of life, celebrating and having fun.
I did not expect those 2 weeks to take 5 months.
First of all, the 100 days was not a good marker to count on – there were still 3 months of immuno-suppressives and keeping him safe from flu and norovirus and even the common cold, then getting the next bone-marrow biopsy that would show where we stood. And then the quest to keep graft-vs-host disease away would begin. It’s all wonderful and he’s healthy and happy and energetic.
And even though I made it through the Master Coaching intensive (with barely any scars and a lot of healing from the horses), I still had to assimilate all my shit coming up during the weekend, then discarding and/or integrating it all back in.
I did have some fun! I put on a coach-spot call for Martha Beck Coaches, I taught a pre-req class to some mind/body coach trainees (both of those were scary-fun!), took on helping with my mind/body mentor’s newsletter, helped a fellow coach with some energy work for a class she was holding (also fun!), and helped another one organize and make pretty some testimonials for her new website (fun!).
But I also signed up for more training, more classes, more commitments – I thought they’d be fun. I pushed.
I also ate more junk food, drank more wine, veg’ed more in front of my PC, became less active.
I gained 4 pounds, which for me is the start of a slippery slope to gaining 20.
And the seemingly total lack of motivation became a worry that I was actually entering a depression.
This was NOT supposed to happen now that Tim was fine and we were ‘out the other side!’
So, I took notice and finally listened with my body and heart and soul and mind, and in April, as I contemplated re-scheduling another session with my coach (because honestly, I had nothing to show her, homework not done, not one word of copy for my website), and I felt my stomach sink at the thought of homework and coaching groups for grief coach training and homework for CCT class audits, and feeling silly even trying to hire a VA because if I had a VA to post my blog or mail my newsletter, surely I would produce them, right? …I sat back a little stunned at how horrible my body felt in response to all I was trying to do against my better wisdom.
My beautiful brain had been trying to interpret the signals all along – and when that ego part of me that thought it knew better what to do became scared and exhausted, the message got through.
Finally, it was so clear that I had been pushing and pushing and pushing myself to get my business back up and running, to get clients, to be prepared, to… to… to do something I just wasn’t ready to do.
I had many friends telling me to rest…that I needed rest. And in fact, when I did check in with my body and my soul wisdom, it too said rest. I figured my friends were just being kind and my soul was stuck on an old groove.
But here is the truth of what my body and soul and mind were trying to show me.
I couldn’t practice or learn about grief coaching because I’m not supposed to right now – I’m craving enjoyment and gratitude and celebration!
I couldn’t do homework because I was supposed to be playing, which could look like cooking something new or shredding old journals or sitting in the sun with Cleo or lunching with friends or Skype’ing with friends or buying clothes or travelling to SLO to see Evan.
I couldn’t have a coaching session because I wasn’t ready to dig in – and I didn’t need more evidence (only in my own mind) that I had failed to do what I said I would do.
And I couldn’t write web copy or blog posts because I hadn’t figured any of this out. I was flailing because I was resisting listening.
So, for the last 3 weeks or there-abouts…
I unsubscribed from groups that weren’t essential to my well-being.
I cleaned off my desk.
I put the piles of books I was supposed to read about grief in the cupboard and with anguish stopped attending class (lucky for me because of the insight and compassion of the instructors, the calls and forum and continuing training will always be there for me).
I took to rarely posting anything or even following anything on FaceBook.
I rescheduled my coaching session for June, far enough out for me to come back in balance.
I quit all classes that did not scream “FUN!” and I let it all go, trusting that I was valuable enough to not ‘earn my keep’ for a while. WOW! How’s that for putting pressure on yourself.
For the last 3 weeks, I practiced self-compassion.
I got massages.
I got a facial.
I slept later.
I went to bed earlier.
We spent a day with friends who came to town.
I played all day in San Francisco with one of my long time bestie’s.
I went to a great seminar about compassion at Stanford.
I made a date to talk to a Social Worker at Stanford about how I can help other caregivers.
I started testing a newly developed care-giver application for smart phones.
I lost 3 pounds – I swear they came off because I was truly having fun, letting the rest go!
I appreciated myself and stopped beating myself up and being self-critical.
I started being more present to myself, my husband, my son, and my friends.
I practiced celebration and gratitude.
I listened to and relished and was grateful for my husband, my son, my friends and my coach.
I made plans to get away by myself to just be – I won’t even have to let the dog out!
I made plans for our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of May.
I made plans to visit Evan on Mother’s day – a very nice gift for ME – with the added bonus of seeing a couple of friends who live in the same town.
Little things that changed the flow in my soul, mind, and body.
I’m healing and recovering. I’m acknowledging what I did last year. I’m seeing, really for the first time, my intrinsic worth. And as importantly, I’m PLAYING. I’m having fun and loving freely.
Heck…I wrote this blog post!
I’m embracing joy, me, all my loved ones, life, love, compassion, and whatever is to come; and, damn…it feels so good!
While navigating this earthly realm, it’s important – and often critical – to be your own sage, advocate, and friend. Here’s a little help to foster that. Make the following ‘love note to self’ your own…keep it handy and pull it out whenever necessary to get back on the path of self-loving guidance.
Never sell yourself short in any aspect of your life…work, career, relationships, purpose. You are here for a reason and you are here as a gift. You may not know all the twists and turns of how, but be curious about it, because as you live your life and look back as you live it, you will see the thread – the sacred thread that is you – and all the meaning there is to your one wonderful life and all the lives you’ve touched over time. You are magnificent already…just carry that forward and let it ripen.
Laugh at your mistakes, at your self-perceived failings…they are stepping stones to learning more about the real you and success in your life – as YOU define it!
Let your brain be your friend, but not your only friend! Your beautiful brain interprets so many things for you, but it can get a little wild sometimes. It’s not so great when it’s being its over-critical or over-analyzing self – UNLESS it’s saving you from walking down a dangerous dark alley or getting hit by a car!
Encourage it to love you and support you, to do the things it was meant to do, like help you see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. It is so, so smart in these ways, letting you taste the sweetness of life in food or drink or the sweaty forehead of a child…delight in the touch of a friend or a lover…relish the beauty of the sounds and sights of nature or a man-made movie…take in the scents of freshly baked bread or a bouquet of roses or glorious fresh air.
Remember, though, that it is your body that is sensing this raw data – the scent, the feel, the taste.
Let your body be your best friend and your guide, because after all – you live this exciting and mysterious and happy and sad life through that wonderful, delightful, messy body of yours. Treat it well, nourish it, and rest it. Your body is the smartest part of you, and it can be great friends with your brain, allowing that brain to interpret your body’s messages, your emotions, and your soul’s essence – all of which guide you to live deeply and authentically in this world.
Listen to your body wisdom and what it has to say to guide you – and if you do not know how to do that…learn. It will be the most valuable tool you ever acquire.
Keep this message deep in your heart.
Have fun, love fully (especially yourself), follow your path, and relish your own magnificent brilliance.
Life is rarely clean and easy. We live our lives on this beautiful earth, usually with some sense that we are living our plan. Many of us experience the messiness of life- altering interruptions – major adjustments that cause us to re-plan, re-group, re-route. This can be a rare opportunity – an opening – to re-evaluate why we are here, and what must change.
When my husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia while on business in Brussels in February, we were plunged deep into mess. We had been beautifully adjusting to empty nest, enjoying each other’s company, our new careers – his, Head of U.S. Operations with a European company, and mine, Life Coach with a growing business. We were travelling more often, and enjoying watching our son, Evan, live his college life, seeing him when we could.
Then Tim became very ill; and the outcome…well, we had no idea what it would be. Everything was being done to stabilize him in those first critical days, and Evan and I did what it took, dropping everything for a full month (Evan took a leave from college) to be with him while he got well enough to come home.
And come home we did, continuing the journey with more chemo, and a hope for cure with a stem-cell transplant. We are in day 30 of the critical 100 days post-transplant, and his stem cells are officially engrafting. He’s doing really well, feels healthy, and he again has a head full of hair – but curly now!
Tim still works, especially when he’s feeling good, staying very involved in his business from home. Evan finished both winter and spring quarters in the spring, and just finished summer classes – now home with us for a little while before fall quarter starts up.
And me? I put my coaching business on hold while in Brussels. Once back, I signed up for Master Coach Training and I engaged with a couple of clients to help them with the admin portion of their businesses, excited to do this work for them. My mind told me I could handle it…that I wanted to do it. I thought between that and the training, it would enrich my ‘spare’ time until I could ramp up my coaching business again.
But something I did not expect has happened, and I’m still making sense of it. It seems that my inner wisdom is again taking over. The only thing I seem to want to do right now, with any gusto and enthusiasm, is to be caregiver/wife/partner to Tim and mom to Evan (though I rarely ‘mother’ him any more). So instead of the admin work, I cook…or grocery shop…or clean…or sit with Tim and Evan and play Rummy. I barely have the emotional or mental bandwidth for my Master Coach class.
What I want to do is to be there for Tim, as his gate-keeper and protector. It’s my privilege and honor. Watching and learning from him as he has handled so much with grace and seeming ease – when I know first had it hasn’t been easy at all – has been inspirational…my husband, my teacher.
I also want to relish Ev. He is so present, helping us when needed, having dinner with us most nights – we rarely saw him for dinner in summers past! He’s doing the loveliest job of just being here…with simple grace and love…until school starts again. My son – he’s still my teacher, as he has been since my pregnancy.
For my part, I am experiencing, thoroughly and without reservation, the deepening of intimacy and love and respect, not only with my husband and son, but in an even more profound way with myself – intimately, lovingly, and respectfully honoring who I have been – and who I am becoming.
It seems that this illness of Tim’s has profoundly changed all of us. And though I knew this would eventually be the case, I’ve only just integrated and acknowledged this at a level I can fully embrace because we have arrived at this juncture of our journey. We have all grown and expanded in ways hard to explain…it’s still a holy place, and very mysterious – full of love and tenderness and support.
I’m learning… what being broken open means and what being a woman means in all its glorious roles; how to give care to needy souls, needy psyches, to women trying to make a difference in their own and others’ lives; and contemplating how I am going to serve going forward, fully, in this life of mine.
I want to know more about love… and this simple, beautiful thought brings me to tears…which tells me it’s time…time to honor the internal voice – to honor the pull and where it leads.
It reminds me of what Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee said in the movie Wake Up – “The Divine within you is struggling to make itself known to you – and is taking you on a journey it wants to go on.”
Space is opening …has opened … for whatever wants to happen.
And even though it feels like a letting go of all my plans and an unintended pause, there is a deep belief that the newly forming path has purpose. And I also know this…from the outside, it may or may not look much different than what it currently is, but I have been forever changed in my heart.
I am to allow it to unfold, my task being to follow my soul’s desire, letting life lead me instead of me trying to lead life.
I know, without really knowing why or how, that this is necessary…and I will endeavor to whole-heartedly trust this process…this gift.
(Please tell me…have you had experiences like this? What have they been, and what was the outcome? Was it easy to honor your inner wisdom, or did you resist for a length of time? I’d love for you to share your experience.)
I didn’t get anything done today. Nothing visible.
I could not even think about being on the computer or studying or reading or writing or social media or texting or skyping … unless it was to my husband or son.
What I could do was think, sit, ponder. I could be outside. I could cry.
Tim was admitted to the hospital (routine fever watching) a bit after midnight on Saturday. But that isn’t why I’m crying – or why I’m physically exhausted to the point that I finally can’t push through.
There is nothing I can do except what my soul and my body want me to do, and they are finally insisting.
So I will rest.
It means leaving the rooms in my house. Last evening and today, I had to be outside, in the backyard. I needed the space and the spacious views of the hills. My spirit needed the rest of open spaces and beautiful trees.
Other times, it results in glorious sleep (which can be very elusive after 3 a.m.).
It means crying. I have cried a lot the past two days. That’s happened before. It sneaks up on me and I have to stop and let the tears have their say. When the tears release, my eyes rest, the tightness in my chest rests, my shoulders relax, and my heart gets a little lighter.
Then there are the times it means taking a picnic lunch to Stanford and eating in Tim’s isolation room. It’s a lovely room – he’s gotten the same one both times he’s been there, and it’s the only one with a bird feeder and very persistent bird performances.
Resting can also result in the care-giver in me being determined to fix that bird feeder so that birds can actually eat the seed. This means sneaking out the one-way side door and raising the baffle so the birds can fit under it to reach the seed. Call me the bird whisperer…it’s been a very busy place since I used my magic, 😉
Other times it means sitting in my yard, on the grass, helping my beautiful beagle, Cleo, shed her winter coat.
And now it means getting a cookie and a glass of milk, watching a ‘Big Bang Theory’ rerun, then texting ‘goodnight, I love you’ to Tim and Evan.
And to all of you.
Good night. I love you.
Tomorrow will be a wonderful day, full of as many surprises as today.
And I will rest into it.
Yesterday, I had the most lovely encounter with a French woman. I speak very little French (even after years of trying and countless French classes) and she spoke very little English.
She passed by me in the area that is separated from the 3rd Floor, yet still part of it. There are lots of tables and chairs and phones in this area, and it is separated by glass from the transplant patients. Shades are on the windows to these rooms, until the patients want to connect with someone by looking at them and talking with them on the phones connected to these rooms. I was eating my lunch and reading the news on my iPhone. We cannot eat in the room with Tim because that would mean we wouldn’t be wearing our masks…which is crucial for his health.
She looked at me as she walked by and smiled and sighed…a weary sigh. I know that sound.
“Bon Courage,” I said in empathy.
She stopped, smiled, and sighed again.
We started talking. She understood just a tiny bit. I understood just a tiny bit.
Yet we understood it all.
I asked her questions.
Her husband has Leukemia. He is 65. He is sick and undergoing treatment. She is bone weary. She can’t sleep very well because her mind starts churning. What she is doing now is is routine – she comes to the hospital, go home, take care of things, tries to sleep, comes back to the hospital. And again.
I know, I say. Me too. But it is so great to be here. But terrible, scary, exhausting.
She knows my husband is 52, that I am from California, that our son is here with us, that we have a language barrier, that I don’t always sleep well, that I am tired.
We gave each other a little piece of our hearts, all by stumbling over words, asking questions, pantomiming, smiling, nodding, shaking our heads.
Love and empathy need no translation.