Unexpected Meditation 


I came across this quote in an unexpected place: Facebook.

It is so easy to look at ourselves and only see our “flaws” or “failures.”  Part of the beauty of nature are the “imperfections” that make everything unique.  There is no “perfect” rose or tree.  Each is different.

Perhaps what we see as “flaws” are nothing more than uniqueness.  We get so hung up on what society, family, friends, religions, etc say we “should” be that lose sight of who we really are.  Our physical appearance doesn’t really matter. Our clothes don’t matter.  Our jobs don’t matter in the sense of our value as a person.  We’re not our jobs.  Who we are is so much more than the roles we play.  We will never be what society thinks is “perfect.”  And it doesn’t matter.

We grow when we embrace ourselves as we are.  From there, we can set goals to who we want to become.  We accept flaws and imperfections while striving to meet our highest right; who we are as a balanced person.  When we see ourselves negatively because of flaws, that’s when we get stuck.  The mental chatter starts.  We view ourselves as “less,” “broken,” “terrible” and many other negative ways.  Change and growth then seems impossible.  Or that we don’t deserve good things.

I struggle a lot with the Committee of Negativity.  For me, it’s comparison to who I was before the injury.  I was a better person.  Or was I?  I did many things that I can’t anymore and I did other tasks much easier than now.  Like running.  I ran faster and longer then compared to now.  But, did that mean that I was a better person or a better runner?  Maybe.  Today, I run for enjoymentwith no pressure to go longer or faster.  Maybe this makes me a better runner.  I enjoy the sensation of my feet hitting the ground, the smell of the air, the feeling of my breath and heart rate, the sight of the mountains or a farmer’s field or the deer.  I’m more in tune and mindful than when I was so focused on pace and distance.  So, am I “better” now or just different?

why do we look at ourselves so negatively and buy into labels?

 

Alive Day

Today is my “Alive Day.”  I had the accident that caused the TBI five years ago today (4/25/11). It was a birth into a new world of brain injury.  It was survival when I should have died. Five years later.  I have come a long way in terms of recovery.

I wanted this entry to be a profound reflection on my journey.  It isn’t.  I suppose the lesson here is not allowing the brain injury to be who I am.  My focus has been recovery for five years.  The injury was/ is in the center of my life.  Everything from my spiritual journey to physical, emotional, and mental growth “grew” from the injury.  Maybe now I have to figure out a balance.

Nothing profound here.  But life is often not profound.

Word of the day Two

Humility: the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people : the quality or state of being humble.

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For me, humilty is treating someone with respect, no matter their job, religion, or other factors.  I still struggle with this concept, especially around issues of religion.  It’s fine to disagree but remain respectful.  My beliefs are not superior to anyone.  What abilities I have don’t make me better than anyone.  I might run faster than other people but that doesn’t give me the right to critize someone who is overweight or not in shape.  My education doesn’t make me better than the person working in fast food.

Everything we have, we can lose.  All that remains are ethics and morals.

What is humility for you?

Word of the Day

Yesterday was a hard day.  Emotionally, I was imbalanced.  My mind raced, finding no solution to the fear and anxiety I felt.  I wanted to just give up: take some medication and just sleep with the hope everything will be better.  Finding balance and acceptance is a continuing process.  Some days are better than others.  Live for the good days.

I decided to meditate.  My focus was not positive: “I can’t handle this anymore.  I’m tired of being afraid.”  I wanted to co next with my Guide.  I needed help and maybe some guidance and hope.

The word that powerfully came into my mind was perseverance. 

:” continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness” (Merriam Webster). 

This is not a foreign concept.  Training for and running a marathon requires dedication and to persevere, even on days you don’t wa t to train.  I visualized being in Marine boot camp.  One of the obstacles on the infiltration course is to low crawl under barbed wire.  Crawl through the mud, face down, go over the wall, just keep going no matter what is thrown at you.  All the way through boot camp- crawl, walk, run- just keep going toward the goal.

Life after brain injury requires a special type of perseverance.  My mind is different, my physical abilitie have changed, emotions are closer to the surface and harder to manage. I also have aphasia. If is particularly frustrating not being able to speak clearly and effectively.  Some days are better than others.  At times, I feel better about the situation; pretty much accepting the changes while still continuing to define my life and move forward. At this point, my goal is to create a meaningful life. And to keep hope that there will be additional improvement in my medical issues.

I certainly received my marching orders. What are yours?  No matter what: persevere.

  

Fear

So easy to say. So,hard to do.  Some many times I am haunted by my past for various reasons.  It’s hard to outrun the monster behind me whose claws want to dig in and drag me back into the “I should have….” “I would have”.. “Why did/didn’t do that?”  “Why did I trust that person?” “I wish that..” “I failed to…”

The largest one for me is: ” Why did I take that route.”  If I went the other way, the brain injury would never had happened. 

 Many times people have to let go of trauma. 

Sometimes people have to release something or someone they lost.   Sadly, many dreams die.

That’s a lot of crap for people to carry.  But so hard to release. Learn from the past but don’t take it for a hike in your backpack. 

The future is similar. Here exist the “What if’s” “What will happen.” And anxiety and/ or fear of what might happen.  We give the future power over our present and are generally miserable.  Yes, visit the future to set goals such as getting a job or going to school.  The key is to look to plans but be flexible within them.   The future is not what you might think. Don’t  stay there.  Don’t play the fear game of what might happen. Frightening place if you get stuck in the fear game. 
  

The present is where things happen.  You might want the job but if you don’t apply or go to the interview, that future won’t happen.  We take action. We adapt as the future unfolds.

Yet, we often make the mistake of rushing to the next thing: trying   so hard to meet the needs of life.  The future becomes terrifying. Our present becomes fearful- often because we are projecting the worst of our fears in the future that may never be.

Don’t be so busy that you forget to enjoy the present time.  Take time to motive and enjoy your surroundings.  Taste you food fully and slowly.  Experience the smell and texture of that orange you eat.  Be fully present in the moment. 

Marathon running highlights these concepts.  

Future: We fear the future.  Will I catch the shuttle? Will I finish? Will I get hurt?  What if I have to pee? Will there be an aid station?  If I fail, what would people think? Will these shoes give me blisters?

Past:  Was my training enough?  Did I eat the wrong meal last night?  Did I bring the right shoes?

Present:  Staying in the present is a challenge.  We want to project into the future or just plain worry.  “What clothes do I wear: long sleeved, short sleeved?  Tights or shorts? Jacket or not?  Damn, it’s raining.  What do I eat?  MRunning, we are so focused on what we are doing: the course, aid stations, other people. 

Slow down mentally.  Enjoy the moment you are in.  Notice your surroundings.  Stay in the present.  This is where we run.  Enjoy the moment.  That is one pretty bridge. Taste life.  Understand life is a balance.  

  
The past is gone.  The futures is unknown. Stay present. Notice and enjoy what  surrounds you.  

Now, it I could only do these things myself.

Singing The Holiday Blues

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It’s the most hateful time of the year.
With commercialism flowing
And family wars still agoing.
Few are of good cheer.
It’s the most miserable time of the year

Grim, isn’t it?  For many people it is sadly accurate. This can be seen as a very negative post. But, it points out how Christmas often isn’t a happy time for people.

Many people are kicked out of their families for a variety of reasons. I see this often with families of individuals who are LGBT. Their “lifestyle choice” is viewed as unacceptable.  At times, it’s religion.  People join a church or practice a spirituality that isn’t “correct.” They may have left a church or they are atheists Those on the “right path” disown the family members who aren’t who they are “supposed” to be. Those who are “unsaved” or “sinners.” There are other reasons why someone can not be welcome among family. Or  the families that are so dysfunctional that it’s nothing but fights or inebriation or both.

Then there are other situations that might result in people being separated. For example, there’s been a divorce.  Usually the parents take turns having the kids for Christmas.   Perhaps the parents have another partner.  But there is still the possibility of being alone.  The death of family, friends, or for the military members- fellow service members.  There is grief and the knowledge that you will not see this person again in this lifetime.  There’s a huge hole.  The holiday seems empty. There might be significant injury or illnesses where the holidays are spent in a hospital; either as a patient or waiting.

There are careers that separate families.  We all know about military members being deployed.  They’re also in an area of danger.  This adds anxiety to the mix.  Other service members may not be able to get home, even if they are not deployed.  I spent a Christmas alone in the barracks one year.  The special meals are a good try but they don’t fill a hole.  Other jobs also spread families over distances.

Let’s talk plain old commercialism. The commercialism starts before Halloween. This year I looked for Veterans Day decorations in late October/ early November. There were none. But, there were tons of Christmas stuff. Starting before Halloween. I bought Thanksgiving things. The week before Thanksgiving everything was gone. And the Christmas section expanded. Let’s not even start on Black Friday. It’s now more about spending money to buy decorations or gifts.  Often, there’s a “gift war” to come up with the best gifts for family members.  Sometimes people really can’t afford to buy gifts.  All of this adds to a false build up of expectations that will never be fully met.

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It’s also he time for the yearly “War on Christmas” to start. (Come on: Starbucks coffee cups upset them??) Christians are upset in part due to the secularism of Christmas as well as sharing with other religions.  It “belongs” to Christianity. However,  other religions also have holidays in December.  On the shortest night of the year Winter Solstice ( Yule) is celebrated by most Wiccans and some of the other pagan religions.  Judaism celebrated Hanukah.  Kawanzaa is celebrated.  Other holidays are observed.  And the atheists might celebrate the holidays in their own way.   Not all Christians are like this, of course.  Sadly, we are bombarded by the “War on Christmas” by media.  This stirs up contention.  Nothing like a good fight to celebrate a time of peace and understanding.  I have to admit that I was drawn into this battle this year.

The real war shouldn’t be about Christians who “owns” Christmas or having to say “Merry Christmas” rather than Happy Holidays.  Perhaps for Christians and non-Christians alike the battle should be over poverty, suffering, ending homelessness, feeding the hungry.  You know.  Acts of peace and charity to recognize the meaning, them being religious or otherwise. I don’t care how you celebrate the holiday but don’t claim it for your religion whatever it is.  Let’s just share.

With all the stressors of shopping, cooking, family visiting, and those other problems mentioned above, no wonder this can be a miserable time for many people.  Keep it simple and uncomplicated.  If you can’t be with family for whatever reason, celebrate with friends or chosen family.

Can anyone really say there was no let down during this time?  No feeling of just missing something?  A bit of emptiness?

I wish everyone a happy holiday season. May it be better than what I mentioned. Be well.  Find way to enjoy, even is it’s something small.

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Mixed Emotions

I received a letter today informing me that I am approved for federal disability retirement.  I worked for the federal government when I was injured. 

When my medical providers and I had the conversation about my level of function and whether or not I can work, I agreed with the assessment that I mentally and physically wasn’t able to work.  It’s true.  But, sometimes I wonder if I can work.  

On one hand, it’s a relief to have it ended.  Maybe I can find a way to move forward.  One the other hand,  it is depressing.  It’s an ending of a career I worked hard to achieve.  It was something I enjoyed until the injury made it impossible to perform basic tasks  needed. 

I’ll miss work.  I miss the veterans I worked with and my friends on staff. I don’t miss the constant changes.  Especially in directions I can’t control.  The constant changes triggered incredible so much anxiety.

It’s over.  But it’s not quite over inside.