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!
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.)
Sometimes remodeling can be difficult.
Especially if you are attached to the old design.
But sometimes you have to change things, update them, breathe life into the well-used.
This usually means being uncomfortable for a bit…living with uproar. And in the process, you let go of that which no longer enhances your way of living, but you keep the memories and the momentos…and the wisdom gained.
This is especially true of life.
Life really was perfect for so many years! Your life ‘decor’ and ‘floor plan’ served great purpose, and the style was a match for your way of living. You were a full-time mom. AND a wife, volunteer, small business-owner, entrepreneur. You worked part time, full time. You ran the home. You worked the classroom with other parent volunteers. You lead the PTA. You ran the carpool. You lived your bliss.
Then life – and change – happens.
Your oldest child, or youngest child, or only child goes off to college.
Your parents fall ill, or one parent passes on leaving a gaping hole in the life of your living parent, or you have become your parent’s caregiver.
You think about your marriage/partnership and wonder if it’s strong enough – or if there is enough joy between the two of you – or if you have enough left in common to survive an empty(ing) nest or the struggle of ailing parents.
And then, on top of all that, you look in the mirror. You stare…or look away quickly…the years keep marching on, yes, but now you see the blatant signs every time you look at yourself as you smile to disguise any sagging.
I read somewhere that Shakespeare’s plays were all 5-act plays. I love this metaphor for life and our different stages of ages.
Act One – Birth until around 18 to 25.
Act Two – 18 to 25 until about 45 or 50.
Act Three – 45/50 until about 70 or 75.
Act Four – 70/75 until your death.
Act Five – the final transition.
(note…these are my age ranges…opinion only! your experience may vary 😉
I’m in Act 3, a place where so many of my friends, acquaintances, relatives, and colleagues are.
This is not about mortality, really, but we now know we are not invincible.
And for many of us, for the first time in a very, very long time – if ever – this act can be directed totally by our own hand…or as close to that as is humanly possible when you love and cherish other intimates in your life, and you want to honor their desires or your own moral obligations.
A re-modeling, re-building, re-newing.
IF you allow it to be.
So why does this phase, this ‘Act 3,’ often feel like it can bring you to your knees, sometimes stopping you dead in your tracks – you can find yourself doing everything possible to distract yourself…shopping, eating, drinking, surfing (the internet) – wasting precious time…YOUR time.
It took me a little more than a year of grief and sadness and “WTF!?” (mixed in with delight and discovery) to realize this truly is a very exciting time in my life. I know some of those ‘awful’ feelings will come back again because feelings are meant to flow through our lives, coming and going…guiding.
But there were times when there seemed to me no flow at all…I felt totally stuck.
A quiet home. Stretching out before me like this for years and years to come. As I asked when I first had an inkling of this coming, I was asking again…”Now what?”
And I’m delighted to report that the answer was ‘Remodel!’ Of course. Not in a distracted way, but a loving, nurturing way.
I’m excited about remodeling this nest – not my actual house, though there is some of that – but as a statement of what I want my life to look like now.
In FACT, I’ve already begun!
The grief, sadness, and loneliness were preparation and initiation.
Sometimes, it felt like hazing!
Luckily, there has been other prep and initiation! The re-discovering of my husband and the joy of our ‘coupled’ relationship; the realization that there are actually things I like about who I am and how I am now that I don’t have the ‘full-time mom’ hat on; the fact that I adore my son as much as ever…and am more proud of him than ever; and that I really am the boss of me (always was) and have freedom that is so big it is a bit scary…
Putting myself first?! It’s almost making me giddy.
I’m even ready to face this aging process with my eyes wide open and a willingness to experiment with new things, new adventures, and nurturing my soul and body in order to meet the challenge as best I can…
How to deal with sagging skin, lower libido, higher blood sugar and bigger love handles!?
How to let go of old anger, worries, or habits that no longer serve us?
How to treat ourselves well, emotionally, physically, and spiritually?
How do we and our partners/spouses continue or re-ignite our love affair?
How can we put ourselves first with the obligations of paying bills, kids still at home, needy parents, and work…
How can we NOT?
As one friend put it, “…it’s time to fill the years with exciting opportunities and spoiling ourselves in the process…we are definitely deserving.”
We ARE deserving!
Are you somewhere in this process?
Are you ready to remodel?
Act Three is bound to be Sensational.
(Join me in this conversation! I’m scheduling a weekly call so that we can all get in the conversation.
This will not be a recorded call, so that we can be open and honest and vulnerable, and most of all supportive of each other through these changes. We can share worries, and experiences and tips on ways to enhance our ‘remodeling. ‘
Msg me at deb(at)wholewellnessliving(.)com, and I will send you the days, times, and number for the first month.
Caring for family…
Friend in trouble…
Client in need…
Child wants help with homework…
Another Mom can’t do carpool…
There we are, the “I’ll-be-there-for-you” women…super-hero giver, offering comfort, advice, support, food…no matter what we are in the middle of, no matter if we, ourselves, are in need….no matter what.
Does this describe you?
You believe it’s better to give than to receive.
You feel great satisfaction in being selfless.
You like to show your love by giving to others.
You get secret comfort from being in control.
You think people will like you.
You have a hard time asking for what you need…for what you want.
This has certainly has been me. For most of my life.
Consider this…by receiving, you give much
A year ago I had a physical injury – and it brought me to a standstill…enforced stillness. I couldn’t exercise, I couldn’t clean the house, I could not bend my knee…difficulty walking, difficulty standing for long periods, difficulty sleeping without pain unless I was very still. Some days, I couldn’t even drive. I couldn’t do all the things I had planned to help my son prepare for his move to college – his freshman year!
I could barely tolerate the mere thought of letting my family do everything that I normally do.
But they were eager. EAGER to be able to give to me in the way I always gave to them. EAGER to be able to take care of me for a change – to show, in a different than the usual way, their love for me – their ability to care for and nurture and support me, physically and emotionally.
And that’s when it became crystal clear…
One of the biggest gifts I could give them, and myself, was to let them do this and accept it graciously and with much love. When I received from them the kind of caring that I am usually the master of, it let them see a side of themselves they liked. It showed them they are capable of nurturing and supporting in the most basic, physical sense, and it added to their power-base of human-ness. And it helped me heal in a profound way…many ways.
My ability, reluctantly at first, to receive turned into a gift of love and caring – without any action on my part – for both myself and my family.
The ability to receive can be one of the most loving gifts you can give. I’m not perfect at it yet. Far from. But it’s getting easier.
Try it, with sensitivity that it’s a new way of being for you, and it may take a little while for you and those who love you to get comfortable with it.
Now…about being able to ask…working on that! 😉
Grab the Kleenex.
When my new friend, Audrey Wilson Andrysick (Audrey Wilson Coaching) sent a few of us mom’s this poem, I started tearing up at the first 3 words. Lin Eleoff calls this the sappy gene.
Again, for the second year, my son is off to college today. This time it’s a little different from the first year in that I know I will be fine (the person I was most worried about the first year, lol!), he will be fine (and he was – more than fine), and that my husband and I will continue on our path of rediscovering the depth of our own relationship – just the two of us again, after so many years of the 3 of us. But it’s also different because he is moving into his own place with friends…off campus…rent, utility bills, grocery shopping…the next steps to really rocking his own life – adult baby steps.
For all of you who are seeing your children off to Day Care for the first time, Pre-school, Kindergarten, First Grade, High School (you get the picture), enjoy the following poem and remember to enjoy every first – it all goes by very quickly, and soon you will be wondering where the years went.
And for all of you who are seeing your kids off to adult-hood, enjoy and give thanks that you’ve done such a good (enough) job to enable this beautiful transition.
(This poem was originally written by Mary W. Abel and posted in Dear Abby)
Don’t forget the Kleenex.
“Hold fast the summer. It is the beauty of the day and all it contains.
The laughter and work and finally the sleep. The quiet.
Oh September, do not put your weight upon my mind.
For I know he will be going.
This son of mine who is now a man — he must go.
Time will lace my thoughts with joyous years.
The walls will echo his “Hello.” His caring will be around each corner.
His tears will be tucked into our memory book.
Life calls him beyond our reach — to different walls.
New faces, shiny halls, shy smiles, many places.
Greater learning — he must go.
But wait, before he leaves, be sure he knows you love him.
Hide the lump in your throat as you hug him.
He will soon be home again — but he will be different.
The little boy will have disappeared.
How I wished I could take September and shake it, for it came too soon
I must look to the beauty of each new day, and silently give thanks.”
This is what I used to think.
For a long time, I’ve complained about technology…how complicated it can be, easier to use a paper calendar, how much it intrudes in our lives. Really…just a crank about it. You’d never know I was a software developer in a previous life.
Then it started to slowly change.
I resisted getting a cell phone… if people want to reach me they’ll call the house and leave a message. But I acquiesced and found a lovely freedom by being able to communicate when I was not home without having to dig for a quarter to use the pay phone – and now pay phones barely exist.
Then it was my idea to get our son a cell phone when he was in the 4th grade. It was the year of 9/11, and we were all a little fearful – couldn’t exactly pinpoint the fear all the time, but if we could reach each other, when running late for example, it felt better.
The ability to start my own business as a VA for non-profit organizations was only doable because of PC’s and the internet, cell phones, and knowledge of maintaining websites…and that’s what enabled me to be a work-at-home mom.
Texting? Oh, I used to get so annoyed when my son would text a friend instead of calling…how were these kids ever going to learn to communicate as humans? But now I’m hooked… it’s a great way for me to contact my son when the need presents itself, or to text my husband with a list when he offers to stop at the grocery store or for takeout on his way home from work – and now I just text friends to check in and say hi. Who knew?
Classes on line, forums on the internet, webinars, Facebook, Words with Friends…
…and Skype! Skype is my absolute favorite. I truly disliked it when I first tried it with a friend from the UK. He wouldn’t communicate any other way, though, so I had to sign up and give it a try. I’m delighted I did because it has meant free computer-to-computer calls to friends all over the world, coaching clients on line, and face-to-face time with our son during his first year of college.
But finally, these past 3 weeks have made it very clear to me that I’ve just been a reluctant lover – trying to resist the inevitable pull of technology’s charms.
After picking up my son up from his first year at college a few weeks ago, he was able to Skype his dad with his iPhone to show him ALL the stuff in the car (Really? We brought all that down last September?!). Even though my husband had an unavoidable trip to Belgium that meant he wouldn’t be with us – he could be with us! How cool is that – driving home while listening to my son having face-time with his dad…
In these last 14 days, I’ve fallen head-over-heels.
I had to make an unexpected trip to Belgium because my husband had emergency eye surgery. Technology and timing were critical to so many things we were able to do to help him have a more comfortable experience, even though he was a continent and an ocean away…
…from using cell phone texting to find our eye doctor in the states so he could talk to my husband before the surgery, to actually getting here and using my European cell phone to access www.translate.google.com when I don’t know how to say something in French – it’s the best.tool.ever (besides pointing) for a non-linguist like me. It will actually ‘tell’ me how to say what I want to say. How amazing is that – to be able to ‘communicate’ in almost any language with the help of that cell phone I resisted so much in the beginning.
And back home, using my computer, writing a blog post, posting an interview, coaching via Skype, staying in touch with friends, family, and neighbors, all at a reasonable cost.
Technology is helping to bring the human race closer, communicate better and more often, make global changes in the world (even toppling dictators), and it’s helping us realize in a concrete physical way that we really are more connected than we ever knew.
But in my own little world of loved-ones all over this globe, it just brings a long overdue smile of delight and contentment to my face, and a feeling of gratefulness in my heart to be so connected whenever the need arises.
I actually feel a little lost now (don’t tell my husband or son), when I don’t have an internet connection or a way to access it.
I’m finally, whole-heartedly, committing to this enchanting seducer I’ve been trying to spurn.
Well…almost whole-heartedy. TV remotes? Not so much…but anything could happen!