WEEKLY STRETCH 3-30-17 ~ FAITH LOST AND FOUND

“Ever notice that when you are facing endless frustration and no way out, you start grasping at straws, start making up stuff in your head; you start looking for answers from the mystics, looking for the wise ones, counting on them knowing what mere mortals do not. Did you ever notice when you feel laid low, reaching out for answers, fully expecting to find them, that your own stores seem to be empty, and you’re left with the question, “Where do I look now?”. Well, I’m noticing it big time right now and I submit to you, “Where is God?”.”

I wrote this in my journal on March 14, during what has been one of the most challenging two months of my life. As I look back at recent posts I realize that the last six have referenced my recent illness beginning with one on February 8th. Each one seemed to say it was over, we’d found the answer, and I was on my way back to wellness. I share with you now that after each of those hopeful posts was some sort of setback that took a great toll on my vision of wellness, not to mention emotional, spiritual and physical bodies. And now, after almost nine weeks of darkness, the sun has returned and I’m coming back.

I usually feel my connection to Spirit as a constant and unwavering presence. I’m usually in a perpetual conversation with the God of my understanding, knowing without a doubt that this presence can be counted on. I guess you could say that my faith has been steadfast. When referring to “faith” I don’t mean from a religious standpoint, but from the perspective of a deep knowing that The Universe has my back. And that faith has gotten me through some tough times.

Truth be told, this recent illness undermined my faith. It took me to what can only be characterized as a Dark Night of the Soul experience. My connection seemed to disappear. I felt lost and untethered despite the amazing support I had from those closest to me. I was in unfamiliar territory in so many ways and the one solid thing that I have always counted on, my spiritual connection, seemed to have vanished. Each time we thought we had an answer that would end the suffering, it was pulled away and I found myself lost in an ocean of fear of the unknown. My imagination took over and I was unable to access my inner resources. Everything I’ve learned over the years about staying positive, changing my thoughts, envisioning the best outcome was gone and I was lost. I felt defeated and exhausted and it was dark.

Of course, there was light all around me in my husband, my daughter, my family and my closest friends who knew what I was going through and never let me down. But inside me the light had dimmed and I was afraid. I started journaling every day, sometimes two or three times a day. I’ve been journaling since I was a young girl and my entries are letters to God. So, this was my vehicle for communicating, and many of my writings were more like ranting. I begged and pleaded for help, for answers and for healing. I expressed my love and gratitude for all that I had in my life and asked that I be granted more time to love and live in good health and vitality. And my heart was heavy with fear and dread that I might never regain access to the life I love. I wrote, but I wasn’t quite sure anyone or anything was listening.

At one point, during one of my many meltdowns, I asked Bob, “Where is God? I can’t find God anywhere!”. His answer was always, “God is in this. God is all over this.” I was comforted by his faith, but I couldn’t feel it for myself. I was depleted of everything.

Eventually, after a particularly bad day I made the decision to ask my larger communities on Facebook for prayers. What followed was an ocean of love and prayers that was overwhelming to say the least. They came immediately and lasted for several days. I was, and am, deeply humbled. And everything shifted from there. I was contacted by a very dear friend that night and she used her amazing skill to help me off the “skinny branches”, and by the end of our conversation I felt calm and still. I was contacted privately by many beautiful souls offering help. One of those was a former student who, lo and behold, is skilled in treating the exact issues I am dealing with. And she offered to counsel me through the healing process, which, by the way, is working. I have been showered with love and prayers which has given me the strength and determination to walk back into the light. Day by day I am healing. Day by day I am reconnecting. Day by day I step further and further into the life I love living.

We finally know what has been causing the upheaval in my body. It’s being treated and I’m getting well. And I have regained my connection. As I look back at what has transpired these many weeks the lessons, the wisdom, and the gifts become clear. Too many to list here but suffice it to say, they are being “discussed” in my trusty journal. One of the most important has been my new-found love of my body, something I wrote about a few weeks back. More recently, though, is the insight that throughout this ordeal I have been “emptying”. Body and soul, I have had to allow a clearing out process to unfold. My cousin likened it to a long detox and I must agree. Along with my body, my mind and spirit have experienced a detox. I notice that my heart is wide open and I have more patience for things that once set my teeth on edge. I am filled with a sense of gratitude and humility. I see more, I feel more, I know more.

The decision to ask for help from my Facebook family was a turning point in my healing. I sense that Spirit inspired that decision. Asking for help has been difficult for me in the past. I’ve always seen myself as the helper, not the “helpee”. I’ve come to realize that asking for help, and graciously receiving it, is part of the exchange of energy that is an integral part of participating in the human experience. We need each other. Another of the many lessons learned.

When I asked for help I could feel the waves of love and prayers moving through me, lifting me, filling the spiritual emptiness and leading me out of the dark night. God was indeed in it all. God was always there, moving me through the process even when I lost my ability to connect with that truth.

STRETCH: Ask for help, and be willing to receive it graciously.

BE BACK SOON

Still grappling with a health issue that has me stopped in my tracks for awhile. My apologies for going AWOL this week. I’ll be back in the saddle soon. In the meantime, I send you all love and light.

~ F

WEEKLY STRETCH 3-8-17 ~ On Kindness

Lately I’ve had the occasion to encounter multiple acts of kindness. I must say that in the last few weeks I’ve been deeply humbled by the way in which people have shown up when I was in need. For me, as I’ve mentioned before, my family and friends have been tremendously supportive and attentive. They have shown up bigtime. In my life that is what we do for each other and how blessed we are to have each other. Then there are the medical people I’ve encountered. And this is where I’ve been even more humbled.

For many years, I had an attitude, and not a good one, about the “medical establishment”. I am a trained holistic practitioner and felt that the only way to achieve a balanced life was through a holistic approach to health. Holistic medicine is defined as: “Identifying with principles of holism in a system of therapeutics, especially ones considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine, as naturopathy or chiropractic, and often involving nutritional measures.” Along the way, after opening my heart and my mind, acquiring some maturity and insight, and meeting some amazing people along the way, I came to understand that both the traditional medical model (called allopathic medicine) and the holistic approach are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can and do work together in balance. Balance is key. A very dear friend shared an insight with me about a medical test I was about to undergo. She said that all the tests, equipment, medical interventions and treatments have been inspired by the Divine. That we have all these amazing devices because scientists have been inspired to create them. That was an important concept for me to grasp and appreciate.

I have had the blessing of being treated by some of the most skilled, kind and compassionate doctors one can imagine. Along with those doctors are the people who work with them. Each one of these associates has been kind, patient, gentle and above all compassionate. Every technician I have encountered has also been extremely patient, gentle, understanding and again, kind. Anyone who has been through a health challenge knows the vulnerable feeling of going into a medical test or procedure and these folks have been there to receive me in that state with a reassuring smile, a gentle hand, and words of encouragement. They have made me feel safe and cared for. I have said it before, I say it again, I am grateful for each one of these angels.

Kindness is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. It takes very little effort to smile at a stranger, give up a place in the check-out line for someone else, let the other guy have the parking space, or call someone who is ill to let them know you are thinking about them. It’s so easy to take for granted that everyone is going about their lives with the same level of ease. Most people are grappling with something and the simple act of making eye contact and offering a smile of recognition can make someone’s day. That tiny moment can make a huge difference.

Everyone wants to be seen. I have been fortunate to have been seen by so many wonderful people. If you are reading this, I see you and I acknowledge you.

STRETCH: Keep kindness in the forefront of your mind as you move through your days. Have a smile ready at all times. Make eye contact. Hold the door open for someone. Let those you care about know you are thinking of them. And while you are at it, be kind to yourself.

ON LOVING THE BODY ~ 3-3-17


image from holisticmama.co.uk

I have made the decision to love my body. I’ve spent many years hating my body. It started when I was a young girl, eight or nine years old. My body was round and kids teased me. My mom tried to minimize my pudginess but the kids thought I was a “teakettle” and the teasing started me on my path to body shame. I started “developing” shortly after and got my first period at nine-and-a-half. That added to my dislike of my body despite my mom’s kind attempts to soothe and reassure me. At twelve we discovered that I had thyroid disease and the doctor told my parents, in my presence, that “she’ll always have a weight problem”. That was one of the great set-ups of the century. I heard him and so it has been, at least in my mind.

I spent years hating my body, thinking I didn’t measure up, feeling less than others, and way too much in other ways. Of course, the fashion industry didn’t help. This body shame has followed me all my life. It’s funny when I see pictures of myself from various decades. I always notice my weight, and I always remember how I was feeling about it when the photo was taken. I usually look at myself and say, “Wow I was so much smaller then. And I thought I was too fat.” Regardless of what size I was wearing, I felt like I didn’t measure up and criticized every part of my body. Legs too heavy, boobs too small, butt way to big, and on. Aging added a bit more fuel to the fire as gravity showed its effect on certain parts. More shame. It’s been a battle to learn to love myself – all of myself. I’ve made progress along the way but I admit it’s been a journey of fits and starts.

During my recent health challenge, as my body did some unpleasant things and I was fearful that I was facing something life-threatening, I found myself falling in love with my body. I wondered if the shame was being mirrored back to me in the way my illness was manifesting. One day I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that I love my body and that from now on I would respect it and view it – all of it – as sacred. This is no small thing. It’s been a lifelong habit to dislike what I see in the mirror when clothes shopping, dread the beach (especially shopping for a swimsuit), and compare myself to other women. I finally learned that my body belongs to me and I have been taking all its gifts for granted. I have been blessed with so many beautiful “parts”, even the ones I really have hated. My legs take me where I want to go, my extra weight protects my bones, I have eyes to see and a heart that beats. My arms can hug, my mouth can speak words of love and comfort, I can smell food cooking and taste it when the cooking is done. I can think with my brain and create art with my hands. My ears can hear music and the words, “I’m home” and “I love you”. I can smell a rose and feel the breeze against my skin. My body is a treasure and I can only love it and be grateful that I have this vehicle to carry my spirit on this life journey.

So, I make the commitment to love it unconditionally. I make the commitment to care for it and do all in my power to keep it healthy and fit. I may falter from time to time, but I make the commitment to remember the time when I feared I might lose it. I will say “I love you” to my body every day. I have learned a great lesson, a bit late in coming but I have learned it finally. And I am so grateful.

Rather than a stretch this week I want to thank you for holding space for me during this time. My long odyssey should be over next week when I will have a gallstone removed. Please keep holding that space and help me envision my health returning to normal so that I can move on and back into the life I love living so much. I send you all blessings, love, and gratitude. ~ F