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.)
I woke up one day last week feeling horrible. I was aching in my hands, my feet, I could almost feel the skin across my rib cage throbbing with an achy inflammation, and my sacrum was in a knot.
Was it something I ate, was it ‘punishment’ for having recently talked about my body feeling so much better? Was it because I bragged that I would occasionally have a night without good sleep rather than occasionally having a night with good sleep?
As I sat with my morning tea, I thought “I should listen…do my soul work.” But I didn’t really feel like it. In fact, I hadn’t done it for a few days because…well…when things are going great, I don’t feel a great desire to dig deep…or listen to my soul…or to even be quiet enough to find out if things are o.k. Why bother? Everything’s good!
Until it’s not.
For so much of my life, I’ve ignored my body. I have ignored pain and discomfort, but most importantly, I ignored being tired, fatigue…exhaustion. Always pushing through…always getting the next thing done…always being ‘busy.’
Then, a funny thing happened when I entered empty-nest.
I could no longer ignore my body. It was going to have its say.
First, I injured my knee. All my plans to do so many things with my son before he went to college went right out the window. All I could do was ‘be.’ A beautiful gift, in retrospect, to be with him instead of all that doing. While healing from that, back pain showed up, then reflux. Then exhaustion, loss of libido, feeling sadness and grief about entering empty nest – actually trying to reject those feelings because they seemed so wrong when I was so excited for my son. Quality of sleep? None.
Then I started doing the work of Mind/Body Coach training. I’ve believed in the mind/body connection for years, and I was excited to learn the tools to link my mind, body, and soul so they would communicate. What happened first was ‘the mess,’ as our mentor and teacher, Abigail Steidley, calls it. As we students started getting familiar with our bodies and listening to our inner wisdom, all hell broke loose for all of us. For me? Pain – getting worse, not better! Losing my voice. Colds. Crying, what seemed like ALL.THE.TIME.
Then slowly, while learning and using the tools and understanding the Mind/Body process, the fog and the pain and the sadness/grief started to lift. I kept exercising, got massages, a new mattress, started paying close attention to my intuition around food, fun, pleasure. I started resting more…feeling my feelings more…playing more.
Relief! It was delicious to honor my intuition and my soul messages, living in a more grounded and effortless way. Life was good. Sleeping…no exhaustion…no pain. And this work and it’s results reverberate throughout every aspect of your life. It was a keeper.
So I knew I needed to check in. What the heck was going on?
This is what I heard…
Rest. Delicious, real food. No protein shakes. Gather evidence (tracking what happens when I follow my inner guidance). Passion, Fun, Love. Exercise.
Of course. When I listen, my inner wisdom is consistent, with a few surprises thrown in, here and there.
So…Do I have to?
I may not ‘feel like’ doing this work some days, and that’s ok. But as a consistent part of my life, my choice is clear for me. I listen and follow my inner wisdom and stay strong, stay rested, stay nourished, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and follow my bliss.
It doesn’t get better than that.
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! 😉
THIS…is an experiment – an experiment in writing a shitty first draft of a blog post in which I have not even the glimmer of an idea. What will appear on the paper in the next 30 minutes? What is it like to make yourself write when the spirit is not moving you?
Is a shitty first draft like a dress rehearsal?
How many times are we encouraged (or admonished) to live life now because this is no dress rehearsal?
Do you have ANY idea how many shitty first drafts I’ve created in the living of my life?
A shitty first draft for a blog post means you get to edit and rewrite and polish until you press the publish button. Then it is a refined and beautiful piece of work…supposedly. People love it, tons of hits on your blog, adoring comments, you feel great – it’s a giddy high to get that praise and acknowledgment.
And what have you learned?
A shitty first draft in life means you live in the rough, figuring yourself and others out as you go along. It means a crappy first, second, even third marriage. It means aborting the child from that unwanted teen pregnancy. It means losing friends over thoughtless words. It means being ungrateful and critical in your stance in life and not recognizing any joy or delight. It means being gay but getting married and pretending you are someone you aren’t. It means dealing with emotions that are uncomfortable with drugs, alcohol, or food. It means getting cancer when health is your main goal. It means staying in a loveless marriage for convenience sake.
Sometimes we try to refine the shitty first drafts (and second and third) in life by marrying again, by defeating the cancer and living with good food and exercise, by going to rehab to get to the bottom of our addictions so that we don’t zone out, by having a second family because you screwed up so badly with the first one.
And what have you learned?
It wasn’t pretty. It was sloppy. It was angry, sad, jealous, suicidal, grief-stricken, messed up human life. Even in the refining process, when we should have gotten it right.
But we continue…we make mistakes…we’re willing to screw up big time. There will be other losses, un-fixable mistakes, grief and sadness over opportunities eff’d up. (ok…one change for decorum’s sake)
And there is brilliance…a brilliance born of being human, of having an innate passion for getting it right…for us…even when our mind is not sure what ‘right’ means, our heart and spirit guide us to learning more, repeating patterns, experiencing periods of joy and contentment for longer and longer periods of time while honoring every emotion we have for its undying passion to protect and help and guide us. We merge all of our parts into one glorious human package – not edited or rewritten or polished before publication, but committed to finding our own brilliance and refined grace while getting pretty dirty along the way.
Hooray for the SFD – it leads to a life of experience and re-do’s and insight and compassion – including compassion for ourselves – and role-modeling and standing strong in our brilliance to keep trying.
Better than polished and wrapped and too pretty to even open.
Are you ready? NO? Great!! Now go PRESS the damn publish button.