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When I wake up and start preparing myself for work, I say prayers. I ask for guidance to make the right decisions for my patients, to be kept safe, among other things. But the other day I added that I wanted it to be a fun day, not just for me but for my coworkers and our patients. Once I get to work and into my day, I’m onto my job and no longer think about my prayers. Imagine my surprise when this one patient said, “what a fun day this is!” I had not mentioned my intentions for the day (or even given it any further thought), nor had I even spoke the word fun that day. She was just looking at it from her point of view and the simple events of my care had been fun for her. What a surprise, a very happy surprise!

I really think there is something to saying our prayers – perhaps it is better to say, setting our intentions for the day. We all are familiar with the power of our words and thoughts. You keep saying you have a headache, and you’ll end up with one. I’ve been listening to podcasts on the WW app, and they all have this underlying theme of paying attention to what are we saying to ourselves, and the affect our thoughts have on us physically and emotionally. There was one episode with neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta titled Build a Better, Happier, Healthier Brain. One main point Dr. Gupta made is that your body is constantly getting signals from your brain, and then responds accordingly. I’m condensing a whole podcast into a few sentences, but he states that by repetition or constantly reminding our body and our brains daily of our intentions it optimizes the brain and our organs to get us to where we’re stating we want to be (happy, productive, healthy, active-whatever our intentions may be.)

On a different podcast, Oprah quotes Joel Olsteen saying, “If you want to know what you’re going to be like 5-years from now, then listen to what you’re saying to yourself right now.” Isn’t that pretty intense! All these different ways to think about what it is we’re saying to ourselves, and about our intensions. Years ago, I used to say “oh my brains are mashed potatoes” when I would forget things. Then I realized what I was setting myself up for! I now say, “my memory is constantly improving”. Much better!

So say nice things to yourself… because you’re the only one listening!!

Recently I was listening to some podcasts by WW (Weight Watchers) and this one guy asked, “Do you love life, or do you love living life?”  Well, that got me thinking. 

Yesterday I was talking to an old friend of mine that I haven’t seen or talked to in many, many years. He was telling me about beating stage 3 cancer and then beating stage 4 cancer. Talking about his health and then talking about working and being so busy and talking about our age and getting older. I remembered the poem written by Hafiz, and I told him we need to remind ourselves to that we are created to live! Not just to focus on working to pay bills and to counter health problems when they arise. He readily agreed and I could tell he really liked that comment.

I love working 3 twelve-hour days. In some ways I feel like I work part time. But those days I’m working are totally consumed by work. I barely check emails, if at all, and I’m checked out of normal routine of life. Sometimes on my first day off after working consecutive days, my day is very low key and usually mostly just reading. But my other days off I really get more into living life. I actually decide what I want to do with the day. Which brings me back to the WW podcast, and now I intentionally ask myself “what would I love to do today?”

I have been a member of WW for quite a while and they have me really paying attention to how I speak to myself and my thoughts. Actually, before WW started speaking about the power of our thoughts, I had been in tune with this philosophy.  The things we say to and about ourselves are incredible. With this new question, “Do you love life, or do you love living life?” I am enjoying focusing not just on loving life, but to love living life!

I sometimes forget
that I was created for Joy

My mind is too busy.
My Heart is too heavy
for me to remember
that I have been
called to dance
the Sacred dance of life.

I was created to smile
To Love
To be lifted up
And to lift others up.

O’ Sacred One
Untangle my feet
from all that ensnares.
Free my soul.
That we might
Dance
and that our dancing
might be contagious.
~Hafiz

Wishing you a month bursting with Love and Life! Namaste~ Xina

Ok, so Spring is happening in a couple of weeks! I can tell. The birds have been very active and busy outside. They are creating new life. And my tulips and irises have started growing and are several inches above ground. Not to mention the temperatures being warm one day and then cold the next. Let’s not forget the longer daylight! I’m waiting to hear the forecast for peak Cherry Blossoms on the mall. I definitely will want to check them out this year, especially since I can go during the week when it’s not quite as crowded as the weekends.

This year, I guess it’s better to say this winter, has been tough. Family illness, my sister in law’s passing, and the passing of my precious little Winnie. There is also the volatile unrest of Russia.  The change of season is helping to motivate me out of sadness and worry into lightness. Spring brings such a dynamic burst of creation and life, that I can’t help but to get wrapped up into this energy.

Via Facebook, I read the poem “I no longer pray for peace” by Ann Weems. I was really impressed with it. Reading that amid Russia’s aggression is timely, so I share it with you (below).

I do hope you have a beautiful spring. I hope you feel inspired to create. And I do hope we are all witnesses to miracles. Namaste~ Xina

I No Longer Pray for Peace (poem)

On the edge of war, one foot already in,

I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.

I pray that stone hearts will turn
to tenderheartedness,
and evil intentions will turn
to mercifulness,
and all the soldiers already deployed
will be snatched out of harm’s way,
and the whole world will be
astounded onto its knees.

I pray that all the “God talk”
will take bones,
and stand up and shed
its cloak of faithlessness,
and walk again in its powerful truth.

I pray that the whole world might
sit down together and share
its bread and its wine.

Some say there is no hope,
but then I’ve always applauded the holy fools
who never seem to give up on
the scandalousness of our faith:
that we are loved by God……
that we can truly love one another.

I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.

Poem by Ann Weems, a Presbyterian elder and poet
written for Ash Wednesday 2003
https://www.squanlife.com/squanlife/2013/01/i-no-longer-pray-for-peace.html

So, it seems winter is making its full impact upon us this year. As I sit here this morning, we’re expecting snow tonight. Now that I have to go to work regardless of the traveling conditions, I’m hoping the snow totals are on the lower side of the yardstick. My brother, on the other hand, absolutely loves winter and snow. I don’t know if there has ever been too much snow for him. Appropriately, he lives up north where the weather is more to his liking.

Isn’t it a shame that as we become adults, these beautiful snow days are only appreciated in relationship to it’s impact on our day/life.  I think sometimes the busyness of life takes over our minds and thereby our connection to experiencing life. Our focus becomes solely on achieving and completing all of our agendas and tasks, and we stop looking with the eyes of wonder, joy, and appreciation at all around us.

I just read this quote on Facebook by Christy Ann Martine, “When your world moves to fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset. Reacquaint yourself with the earth beneath your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.”  Even though I will prepare to go to work in the snow, which means I’ll get up earlier to allow time to clean off my car and more drive time, I will also make a priority to appreciate the beauty that is unique to a snow-covered landscape. I love the quietness of the earth with the snow that in turns makes me feel utterly peaceful.

Well, February is a short month, which holds Valentine’s Day, some family birthdays, even an observed holiday. My wish for you this month is to renew your appreciation of the earth, and nature, and the beauty outside of your normal daily life. I hope you can find some fun during this winter time.

Happy New Year Everyone! And here’s to a healthy, successful, and joyful 2022!

Yesterday I sent a text to Beth saying “who would have imagined all that happened” this past year. I had another friend, Barrie, who posted on Facebook asking friends what they are pondering about for this new year. That she has found herself interested in some new things, but nothing that is exciting her. Questioning if this repression from the relentless pandemic is contributing to her lack of excitement.

I, too, find myself a little lacking in the excitement emotion lately. I very much think it’s in large part due to the unending stress of Covid. Combined with life’s stressors, I can totally empathize with her.

I know I reflect and reminisce a lot, probably more than average, but I do think most people look at the new year as a new chapter, or a new beginning. I am not one to make new years resolutions, other than that I try to be a better person. But I do get the idea behind resolutions, that you want a goal for yourself – for your life. And when I ponder what do I want to do with this year, maybe – just maybe there is a little excitement.

I’ll switch subjects for a quick moment here, onto my job change. In some ways I am very sorry I changed positions. I really feel that I am not making as big of a difference/impact on people’s lives working in facility as opposed to out in the community. But what I really, really like about my current position is the work schedule. And then I’m quickly reminded of the main reason I switch, so that I have a lot more time for myself. And that is where I come back to this year and what I want to do with my days!

My stepson and daughter in law gave me a framed map of the AT with little pins to track my progress hiking the AT. Looking at the whole map I realize how little of the trail I’ve actually accomplished. In turn, I get a little renewed incentive to hit the trail!

Yes, Covid is just so #@&%!^* depressing, and disruptive to our lives and families and jobs, but I suppose this is where you have to intentionally seek your pleasures and excitement so that you don’t become depressed and let it consume your life. Excitement is there waiting to be experienced again.

As my sister said to me, I in turn say to you, Bless us all in this New Year!

Memories

Memories are a curious thing. Recently I came across a list my mother made of every address she had lived to which I had added my different addresses. I Googled a few of the addresses looking at the street view and looking through any real estate photos I could find. One bit of information I’d like to interject here is that I’ve moved a lot in my life, approximately 18 times comprising of four different states.
Not surprising, looking at these different homes online brought back memories. I even reminisced about riding the school buses to the various schools. But I cannot recall riding a bus when we lived in Pewaukee (Wisconsin the second time). I remember that house, I remember lots of things about school, I even remember playing with neighborhood friends in the back courtyard, but I do not remember a bus stop or riding a bus to school.

Memories are a tricky wicket! My sister and I were talking about this time when we lived in WI (the first time) and we were playing outside with our brother one winter. We were talking about the very same event, but she and I had a different memory of what transpired. I was in a toboggan, and they pushed out onto a creek. When I got up and stepped out my foot went through the thin layer of ice and into the water. This was not what she remembered, and then pointed out that that creek couldn’t have a thin layer of ice on it. Wisconsin freezes so hard you can drive your cars, trucks and snowmobiles out onto big lakes – that little creek, covered with all that snow, was definitely frozen. So how and why is my memory mistaken?

I really don’t know. I know as I get older and spend more time reminiscing and being with my life through my memories, I wonder what other memories I might have that are a little distorted.

A quick update on my new position: I am adjusting to the new responsibilities and different work schedule. It’s only been a month now, and I am relaxing into it all. The biggest surprise for me is how disengaged I become with my personal life while I’m working, and then how I totally don’t think about work while I’m off. It’s an odd thing to have this very distinct duality.

As we prepare for the upcoming holidays, I sincerely hope you enjoy the things that bring you true peace and happiness. I wish you good health, peace in your heart and mind, and a very successful 2022!

New Fear Old Fear

True to autumns reputation, September and October have been full of changes. Since I wrote you last, I’ve oriented a new tech to take over my position out in the community. I’ve also just completed and passed training and testing and am now a licensed medicine technician! Tomorrow I am officially working in my new capacity upstairs at the Hospice House.

Being at the end of October everyone’s getting ready for Halloween, and we quickly think of scary things for this holiday. During the last 2 months I’ve been facing fear but not in the holiday hijinkery way. As the reality of my decision to change job positions has become real, I’ve stirred up some deep-rooted feelings around fear. Suddenly I couldn’t remember why I had decided to leave a position that I really love to change into position that would require a variety of changes. I’d be working different shifts, having to work holidays, getting to know new coworkers better and …. I’d be the new kid on the block again. This all stirred up in me the feelings I had each time we moved to a different state, and I’d have to start a new school with all my pubescent insecurities and my weird name. I found myself telling everyone at work how I felt – about my fears and about my nervousness about fitting in. I was met with a few chuckles and lots of reassurance.

While walking outside this morning thinking further on all of this, I realized how such short-lived experiences in my youth are dictating my responses to my life now. These few experiences made such a long-lasting impact. How that feeling of being so out of place and awkward in a new school, not knowing anyone and not feeling like I belonged are right here front and center. That quick I’m back to being that 11-year-old girl.

I remind myself to look at my whole life. That I have far more positive experiences than the times we moved. When viewed globally I do feel very much a part of, and I know a lot of people in my community now – I do belong! It’s from this place I easily remember my reasons for this change. I can look forward to all the days off I will have and wonder what kind of fun I can create!

Switching topics to update on my Winnie girl. Oh what fresh new grossness we encountered! She developed this very unusual thing on her hip. It was a lump and had dried blood bubbled up on it. No matter how I tried to wash it away, I couldn’t get to the base of her injury. Well… it was not an injury. It was a botfly larvae! OK, so I can handle vomit, stool, even sputum, I can even handle wound care where it goes to the bone – but not a parasitic larvae! I was thoroughly grossed out. But the great vet quickly and efficiently took care of that. And Winnie didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.  As far as her health, she’s maintaining. She’s still happy to bark at all the activities going on around her in life. And she even went a little rabbit hunting this morning (no worries, no bunnies ever even came close to feeling threatened by her).  

Rolling into November it’s hard to believe that just like that we’re at the threshold of The Holidays again. I know for my family this year will be different in a few different ways. But before I go thinking about and preparing for those holidays, I’m going to stay right here in the glory of autumn. My sister and I were on the phone yesterday reveling in our excitement with the colors in the leaves. Ahhhh, fall!

Pull out your sweaters and boots, grab that big mug of coffee or tea and enjoy the beautiful colors nature displays. Wishing you a great month~

Traveling into Autumn

Hello, how has your summer been? Yes, it’s been a hot one this year. I’ve enjoyed the summer; my son came to visit over 4th of July – so you know I loved that. And now we’re on the cusp of autumn. I’m so ready for ‘pumpkin spice’ season that I went a little crazy at Marshall’s. I found a pumpkin spice body scrub and a pumpkin spice shower gel! I’ve been in heaven with my showers.

A med tech position became available at work, and I will be moving into that job! I’m very excited about the career move for me. Instead of going out into the community to help our patients, I will be working only at the Hospice House. I’ll become a certified (and licensed) medicine technician and will get competencied in other procedures that are not done in the field. It also means I will be working 3 12-hour days a week. I still do not have a start date for this, but hopefully it will be soon.

I’ve been preoccupied this summer with my Winnie-puppy. Can you believe she’s going to be 15 this November? She’s had a rough few months lately with various health problems. But over all we think she still enjoys life and has quality. And you know me, I’m going to worry myself silly over her. Seriously, I’m cooking all her meals now!

The last two weeks at work have brought Covid to the forefront of life again. The onslaught of rising numbers in our community has hit us hard. At work we’ve gone back on high alert again. It’s been extremely exhausting to go into a home, and later that day have the family call to say someone’s tested positive. Last night I cried, I’m so emotionally fatigued with it all. I saw the following poem, March On (below), which I found very fitting. And today I discussed this with my coworkers which helped, they always know how to support and encourage.

I believe that catches you up on the last couple of months for me. I hope you’ve had some fun this summer. And I sincerely wish you good health and safety as we travel into Autumn.

MARCH ON
You’re probably wondering how on earth we find ourselves in the the tail end of 2021, when we haven’t even begun to process how traumatised we were by 2020.
You’re probably wondering what happened to the time in between.
You’re probably feeling as though your life has stalled, paused, as though you’re playing catch up, re-learning how to walk, as it were.
And the truth is, you probably are.
The truth is, that we are in no way prepared for the onslaught of 2022, nor are we in anyway over 2020.
But that’s ok.
We are all the same.
Confused, dazed, slightly untrusting, wary.
Fatter, a touch more cynical and a whole lot more tired.
But we are here.
And just as Lady Time keeps marching on,
so shall we.
You don’t have to know the way.
You just have to trust.
March on and trust.
Better things are coming.
~Donna Ashworth

If I felt that May was the start of summer, then I think June is full on summer fun! It’s also my Boo’s birthday, which is incredible to realize he’s turning 36! That really tells my age, doesn’t it?! Leading up to his birthday, I always think about the days leading up to his birth. And subsequently, on his birthday I’m deep in my memories of the day he was born, and about bringing him home. During my pregnancy, I remember asking my sister ‘what was I supposed to do with my baby when I brought him home from the hospital?’ I truly didn’t know what the first thing was I should do. But somehow, we came home and I figured it all out.

These stories we hold dear to our hearts. My family is a family of story tellers – both my mother’s and my father’s families. Whenever I’m with my family, be it my brother or sister, my son, nephews & niece, or even my best friend, we retell our memories – our family history. I remember one of my father’s visits here, he and I were drinking coffee one morning talking about my son and the choices he’s made in his young adult life. My father proceeded to tell me about when he was 16 and wanted to drop out of school so he could go work. This was the path his brothers took. As he weaved through the details of graduating school all the way through to how he ended up in the job and career that provided him a good life, my father was no longer my father but just a guy. A young man who didn’t know how to but faced life, made big decisions, and figured out how to be a man. He made a place for himself in the world.

I see how this man who I always viewed as my “dad”, walked the same path as me – as all of us do. This path of life; experiencing insecurities, braving the unknown, making adult decisions when you’re not yet there. Figuring it all out. I also look at my son. Here he too has faced life, made decisions, took chances, and has made a place in this world for himself. There’s comfort in this. Comfort in knowing that all these things in life that I’m learning, discovering, and exploring are all well-worn paths by many who have traveled them. Simultaneously, we are cultivating the path for our children and the generations to come.

I share this story because of Father’s Day, in memory of my Dad. I think back to when I was embarrassed by the way he breathed! Do I need to clarify that – yes, I was in throws of puberty! Years ago I sent a card to my father that contained the saying by Mark Twain, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” I still smile when I read this.

Wishing a beautiful Father’s Day to all, remembering special family memories. And I hope June is filled with summertime fun. The kind of things that you’ll talk about years from now!

It’s May!

Ah, the month of May! I love May, and not just because I was born in May. The weather is starting to warm up, why it’s almost the end of school and start of summer.  I also think it’s very appropriate that Mother’s Day is in May, with all the plants sprouting and blooming, and all the birds building their nests and hatching out their babies.

Naturally, my own mother is at the forefront of my thoughts. How I deeply miss her, how very precious she is to me, and what a genuinely, special person she was. The older I get, the more I realize what an exceptional mother she was.

Did I ever tell you about my first day of kindergarten? Leading up to my first day of school, I had my plastic Halloween fangs ready. I thought I’d surely make lots of friends and really be liked if I wore those to school. I do remember being so excited about it. But then when Mom brought me to school that first day, something changed. I no longer cared about those fangs. In fact, I was petrified! I did not want to be there. I cried and I begged Mom to take me home. It didn’t matter how I begged or what I said she did not take me home. Nor did she push me into to class and leave me.

After talking with me about what was so upsetting to me, she offered to stand outside of the classroom door where I could see her. And she stayed there the whole time. For two full weeks, my mother would stand outside of the classroom door for my half day class. It took two weeks for me to feel secure enough that I no longer needed her to stand there. Poor thing, she couldn’t even sit, she had to stand so I could see her head out of the window.

I have thought about that a lot over the years. There are not many parents who would do that. Most would explain to their child that every child must go to class by themselves and the mom or dad leave. The rationale of not giving into (or rewarding) the undesirable behavior. I love that she didn’t buckle under at the nun telling her to just leave and I’d be ok after a little bit. She stood strong with me, and for me. She handled it all the way she thought best. How lucky am I, to be so loved.

I also think about my first Mother’s Day being a mom. Christopher was born early June, so I was very pregnant that Mother’s Day. My sister-in-law, Diane, gave me a coffee mug that says “New Mommy Mug” and has little rattles, teddy bears and such all over it. I still have that mug and use it regularly.

I sincerely hope that all of us can take a moment out to remember good memories of our mother or special woman on Mother’s day, and celebrate this woman who raised or influenced in a nurturing and loving way.

The Prophet: On Children by Kahlil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, 

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 

and He bends you with His might 

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 

so He loves also the bow that is stable.