I’d like to announce for the record that I’m pretty sure I know nothing at all about anything.
There’s a line in the sand.
Eric departed and now I’m reorganizing — my house, my life, not to mention my identity. I didn’t know that would happen to the extent that it’s happening. I didn’t know it would have such impact.
I didn’t know how much of a couple we were. I didn’t know how connected we were, on so many levels. I thought I knew. I was sure I knew. I’m here to report that I didn’t know — at all.
When he died, it’s no surprise that it felt as if the rug of my life was pulled out from under me. I expected that. It’s natural. I’ve felt the rug pulled out from under me before.
But I didn’t expect to lose my confidence. I did lose it. It went away. It flutters back in my direction occasionally and says hello but it doesn’t stay with me. I’m chalking it up to “reorganizing my identity.” Maybe even losing my identity. I’ve lost who I thought I was, which can only be a good thing. Maybe I’ll be left with “less identity” or a minimalist version. One can only hope.
In honor of my re-organization, I’m giving up on the following for the foreseeable future. I’m throwing in the towel. If you’d like to join me for any or all of it, please let me know how it goes for you. I want to hear about it.
I’VE OFFICIALLY HAD IT WITH ALL OF THE FOLLOWING.
I’M GIVING UP ON…
Trying to make something, anything better than it is. Whatever it is, it is what it is, and that’s it. It may change. It may not. I totally, completely give up. I don’t know how to make anything better. I’m not sure “better” is better at all. It’s just different.
Hurrying. Rushing. Pushing. I’m practicing my imitation of a turtle. So there. Don’t expect me to be there on the double.
Understanding my feelings. Good grief. I totally give up. I have too many feelings. Deep feelings. Feelings I’ve never had before.
Getting to sleep at a decent hour, sleeping through the night, waking up rested and refreshed. It’s just not working. It’s not happening. I give up.
Trying. I can’t try anymore. I can’t even pretend I’m gonna try. It’s over.
Apology. I may need help with this because I have a lot of it right now. I’m overstocked. However, I’ve pulled the plug, and I’m watching it drain out. Emptying is a good thing.
My body. It isn’t particularly happy. I give up on how I’ve been eating and exercising. I’m over it. I don’t really know what I need — now. Apparently I needed what I used to need, but now I’m different. I’m throwing caution to the wind. I’ll let you know what I do and how that goes.
Being organized. It’s impossible. Never-ending. A silly pipe dream. Never gonna happen. I give up.
The idea of excellence. What is that, anyway? And why do we need it? I’m with e e cummings on this subject. He said, “let them go — the truthful liars and the false fair friends and the boths and neithers — you must let them go they were born to go…”
What I’m about to share requires a little background, an explanation or two.
Eric, my husband, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in October of 2013. His health declined rapidly, to the point where we all agreed that it was over. All his organs had begun to shut down. The hospital released him to hospice, where he was expected to last a few days.
Somewhere after the first of the year 2014, the impossible happened. Things turned around. He got well enough to come home. He is now eating like a champ, gaining weight, and well on the way to recovery.
This morning, my husband Eric and I were talking, as we often do early in the day. We have a varying number of minutes, but we always do our best to connect with each other in the morning.
So this morning he mentioned that he was in the process of gradually cleaning up his work space downstairs, and making it more organized.
Then he said, “It’s amazing what nearly dying will do for you.” He said it in a very-matter-of-fact way, and I burst out laughing. You have to know a little about Eric to know why that’s so darn funny, but just so you know, he isn’t really known for being organized and neat and all buttoned up when it comes to an office or work space. Nope. Not at all.
To see him cleaning things up is totally stunning to me. I’ve never seen him do this sort of thing willingly, happily, or with a spring in his step.
Wow. That’s what I have to say about that! :–) And hey, I’m NOT complainin’!!!
So that prompted a larger discussion of “what nearly dying will do for you.” I asked him to tell me more.
And this is what he said…
It changes what’s important (significant over time). It changes what’s urgent (important now.) And there’s a big difference.
It changes what I want to say to people. It changes who I want to say it to.
One thing that has really shifted for me is the significance (to me) of other people’s opinions about me. Frankly, I just don’t care anymore. It’s not very important. Others are welcome to any opinion in the world, it just doesn’t impact me on a personal level like it did before.
The significance of my opinion about another person’s opinion has changed as well. I feel more accepting of people, things and circumstances. As a result, life happens with more ease. I’m not DOING different things, but those things I’m doing are turning out differently. It’s easier.
Being in this new place is a paradox. It slows everything down, but simultaneously speeds everything up. Almost dying creates a relaxed urgency if that makes any sense.
It’s all going to be the way it is, anyway, so there is plenty of time. No rush. Things are as they are. People are as they are.
This experience has given me a different perspective about political issues. I still see the inefficiencies and the ineffectiveness of what is going on. I see the damage being done and the needless suffering being created.
So where I can, I’d like to help shine a light so people can see what they are actually doing. I have no idea if Obama, Boehner and all the others are really trying to do the best they know how for the people, or if they have other motivations. There is no way to really know for sure.
In 1992 when the Rodney King incident happened in Los Angeles, the city erupted out of control after the police officers were acquitted. No matter what really happened or why; who was right or wrong, the point is that King had a near death experience at the hands of the police. On the third day of the Los Angeles riots, King made a public appearance asking, “Why can’t we just all get along? Can’t we all get along?” At the very least, it was a compassionate statement given what he had been through.
Things are really simple. Learn to get along. Be forthright. Be aware. Be there for yourself and others. If you make a mistake, do your best to make it right and start over.
I’m really proud of my niece Angela, who is 17 and lives in Iowa. I’ve had some interchanges with her lately on Facebook, and it is clear to me that she is developing a “free mind.” She is developing her ability to think for herself and trust her gut. I was 40 before I even started to do that. She’s 17 and knows she can trust her inner signals.
There is something really gratifying about that to me. Somehow, when Angela, the young one learns it, it reinforces it for MacKenzie, Terri and me. There is progress being made and it has a forward, backwards, sideways, positive ripple effect. Angela is contemplating big issues these days, what philosophers and teachers have wrestled with over the ages.
It is also a real eye opener to me how much people cared about me and how expressive they have been about it. It has gotten easier over the years for me to express my love for others, but something happened to me in the last few months. It is so much easier for me to say “I love you.”
So… I love you and I thank all of you for your expressions of love, support and caring for me, (and Terri) here on this Caring Bridge, on the phone, during your personal visits, in the mail or email. However and wherever you’ve expressed them, I am grateful that you are in my life. Now go tell somebody else that you love them…
You’re broken down and tired Of living life on a merry go round And you can’t find the fighter But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out And move mountains We gonna walk it out And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again And I’ll rise up High like the waves I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
When the silence isn’t quiet And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe And I know you feel like dying But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet And move mountains Bring it to its feet And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
All we need, all we need is hope And for that we have each other And for that we have each other And we will rise We will rise We’ll rise, oh, oh We’ll rise
I’ll rise up Rise like the day I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I will rise a thousand times again And we’ll rise up High like the waves We’ll rise up In spite of the ache We’ll rise up And we’ll do it a thousand times again
During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.
Sometimes we ask intimate partners to do for us what is actually ours to do.
We ask our partner to give us the reassurance, love or appreciation we feel is missing in ourselves, with the hope that they will give us what we’re asking for—and then we’ll feel better. They’ll take care of our problem.
But when they do give us what we’re asking for, it can never be enough, because we have insufficient context for what they’ve given. We haven’t build the inner foundation to receive it, hear it, welcome it, believe it. They try to help, but their love for us falls into our void, our black hole, our love bucket with no bottom.
As always, there’s hope. Check out the video below.