THE ZEN KOAN: GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS

Many of us have heard some version of the Zen koan dealing with what constitutes good or bad news.  That has been a delight and a stronghold for me.   To me, news is news – the good and the bad, you must sort – and you will.
So, the news.  Since September, when I took the first of two serious falls, I have had trouble with my legs – extremely painful and limited in walking.  Normally, I have pain in my left leg and some trouble walking due to post-herpetic neuralgia of the L5-S1 nerve roots.  In March, I fell and broke my right leg.  It healed well.  When it healed, they wanted to take another look at my spine (I’ve also had two spinal surgeries – for a different problem), to make sure my fusion, and no other structures, had been damaged.  Then, we would form a plan as to how to deal with this increased pain and limitation.  It is good to know, no damage to structure.  It is a challenge to know that this is the result of the virus attacking another nerve root – this is now L4.   And, nothing can reverse this, at this time.
Among the choices, I have chosen to accept using a wheelchair at this time.  This way, I can still go on ‘walks’ and ‘hikes’ and camp-outs and all the things I love to do, without worrying about keeping up, and it’s such a good feeling to get out and not be isolated.  That’s the killer – the isolation.   I’m opting for a wheelchair, crutches and a scooter.  I am thankful that my insurance will help with some of this.  I am also thankful for incredibly gifted and compassionate healthcare workers and for those friends who stuck with me.  I know they have busy lives with challenges of all kinds of their own.  The visits, the calls, and the concern, keep you going – we all know that.  Not being excluded because you aren’t ‘the same’ anymore, keeps hope alive.
And in respect for honesty, that has happened to me and I’m being honest with myself about the grief and hurt it did cause and getting past it to the wonderful things that await.  It hurts to be rejected.  It hurts to find out those you thought friends, were otherwise.   Tell the truth, grieve it and realize what’s right in front of you.
I will have stronger arms, good thing – my orthopod once called me “Olive Oyl” lol!   I can’t be anything but happy.  It’s a door opening, a way around, a new chapter.  Zen koan:  Good or bad news?  Honey, it’s always going to be what you make it.
Again, thank you so much for all those who continue to visit though my posting is very erratic.  I enjoy your posts, your words and wisdom, as well – so keep up with that.  May you be present in every moment, may your challenges open to you new ways, new friends – new life.  Be there for each other.  Community can be present where you are.   Lilie

MOON IS MOON

Moon

is

moon

 

in the not yet blackened

southeastern

clouded sky

 

this night breeze

faintly moves

branches

illumined by

porch light

near midnight

 

coffee cup

in two hands

as darkness

brings

hot day’s relief

 

all this

moving and still

moon

is

moon

in night’s

same place

the one before

and before

 

breathing in

coffee’s pleasant vapor

and

thoughts of kindnesses known

 

breathe out

kindness

to all those names

known and not

 

may there always be kindness

 

raindrops spatter

one by one

their sound gathering

more density

in the plip-plop patter

on  aluminum awning

 

knitting and book

tucked beneath arm

coffee cup in hand

heading for dry house

 

pull back the curtain

turn

for one more look

 

for all this

moving and still

moon

is

moon

 

who

am

I?

WHAT’S YOUR HOPE?

The past few weeks have been busy in a learning sort of way.  I like that, even when that learning comes by sadness.  We need to know we can feel that, and make it known.

First, I noticed on my facebook page that someone had put up a message saying he/she was upset about people who abandon longtime pets at shelters; how cruel it is to leave a pet who has  been with you so long.  That touched my heart, and I felt sad about that, too.  Then, something happened –

When my friend, Jack, was dying, we went to visit him.  In the bed nearest the door was a man who had just been admitted to the care facility.  He was nearly blind, and this would be his last place.  We had brought our dog with us to visit Jack.  He liked her and she seemed to brighten him.   The man in the other bed wanted her to visit him, as well.  So we let her go over to him.  He said, “I had to leave my dog.  I had to leave him.”  He was trying not to cry.  I don’t think I’m going to forget hearing that.   The employee we spoke to said he had no one.  And, as obvious, the dog could not come with him.  We left shortly after that, I was having trouble not crying.   We had a 53 mile drive ahead of us, I cried most of the way home.  I’ve seen a lot in my life, and I don’t cry easily, even when I feel something deeply.  This, well. . .

Do you see the thread here?   So, it’s a good thing there are shelters.  I know, in another situation, an elderly woman had to go to an assisted living facility, her neighbor took her dog and he takes him to visit her.  He had a dog already, but he took this one and they both go with him everywhere.  You see, he saw that need and was in that moment to respond.  Let us hope we will have clear vision, and be in those moments so, when we are able, we will respond to need.  The many ways we can respond to suffering, when our minds are open.

Two things I learned from this:  How easy to judge when we aren’t exposed to a wider story.  How easy to miss a need to which we might have been able to respond.  Oh, that judging thing.  It sneaks up on us.  We have to keep learning and reinforcing, don’t we?  We have to teach others, too. We have to notice our thought life, continually.

Then, just recently, I had my moment of  being judgmental, in nearly the same way without even realizing it.   We are having fires in our area.  I had been listening to the radio about all the machinations that go with fires, including the fact that now animal rescue folks were having to get prepared to receive abandoned animals.  I came into a friend’s home loaded with outrage at people who abandon their animals in evacuation from a fire.  I was angry about that.  I wouldn’t do that.  My friend (she’s very wise) said to me that nobody wants to abandon their animals.  But, animals often run and hide when frightened.  They can’t always be found.  You have to make escape possible, and hope you will find them again.  It took my breath away – thinking about having to go through that – it took my breath away.  I thought about my situation.  I live in town, not out on a ranch, or remotely.  My dog isn’t out in our backyard without someone watching her.  She’s in the house quite often, right where I can easily reach her, but it could happen.

Do you see?  Suffering is already present, and we then add to it with judgment?  We must change.  I am thankful my friend was willing to answer my judgment with information.  It has heightened my awareness; not only to judgments and attitudes I hold, but to wanting to clear those so I can be more present to be of help, to know when I might offer, or respond to a need.

Last one, a person posted on facebook a derisive remark about  those on foodstamps, comparing them to the signs you see in national forests about not feeding the animals because they will become dependent.   That was sad.  I have known people who,  for many, many reasons,  wound up in need and had to rely on gov’t aid.  People whose family members became ill and they had to care for them; people who went back to school to get out of minimum wage jobs; people who had illnesses that became more prolonged than jobs or personal resources could tolerate.  Suffering upon suffering.  Let it not be.

These are my most fervent hopes:   that I will try to continually examine my thoughts;  be surrounded by folks who can “school” me;  that I’ll see and hear my judgmental self when she shows up, and get the point; that I’ll be willing to change; and, I’ll be open to seeing a need I might meet, when judgment has fallen away.

I know you must have hopes, too.

Thank you so much for stopping by.  Lilie

HELP! HELP?

I have a particular topic for this blog, but first, let me say:

Thank you so very much to Steven L. Campbell, for nominating me for the Reader’s Appreciation Award.  I was, well, I just can’t think of the words – for a writer, that’s something, but it happens.  Thank you.  Please, go to http//:stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com.  Check out what this gentleman has to say.   And, Steven, please read the rest of this, it may explain some things.  My next post, it will be just blogs appreciated and passed on.  Again, thank you so much for your most kind gesture.

Permit me to begin here.  I am often tangential; usually, I connect the dots.

I learned something and received an offer of help, and the help itself.  Right here, on this blog.  It was consciousness, and conscience, opening which is what I am after, more than anything else, these days.    I saw (I’m interested in what you may see?) some things you receive, some things to regard when help is offered and/or given.  I’ll name 3.

1.  It’s personal.  Even when offered by a stranger.  There’s an extension, a connection, a desire for one to provide for another.

2.  It begins as a thought in someone’s mind; is allowed to develop, and the intention is acted upon.  It’s personal.

3.  Help/assistance often has a motive.  Keep reading. . . That motive is often selfless.  Motive does not always have a negative connotation.  It just means something that causes a person to behave in a certain way.  It is very often NOT exploitive.   How, then, is it selfless?  In my opinion, the giver has sparked a primary importance: the recognition of suffering, or need.  He/she believes  in his/her ability to offer to that need.  And, has the courage (it does take courage) to act on that.  It’s personal.

Now, 3 things to remember about that:

1.  It’s personal.  Be respectful.

2.  It’s personal.  Acknowledge value.

3.  It’s personal.  Be kind.

The last in the exchange:  2 things to do

1.  Reciprocate.

2.  Pass it on, in any way that you have the ability (not optional).

Of course, I don’t have to mention that you will feel and want to show you’re grateful; because, you carry that gratitude thing on you – any ‘chips’ being replaced by the daily practice of that, yes?  Yes, we’re trying.

Now, to the how I learned it, and the reinforcement:

My pain of my health condition expresses itself in this negative way:  I am limited in my energy; and, I am embarrassed about this –  my frustration and concentration level.  I work on that through my meditation, but I must be aware of the truth of its present state.  I spend my energy working at yoga, meditation, knowing the human body and the body in motion, reading, knitting, performing ‘home tasks’.  And, that’s about what I can tolerate.  When something extra is added, particularly in certain areas, I can become resistant and frustrated quickly.  Those areas, computer (not kidding), anything to do with computer function and/or function of internet activities.  A wonderful reader Monique Liddle at bendsintheroad.wordpress.com (please, check this out) offered me assistance with reaching out to more audience.  I was, at first, resistant.  I didn’t think I could do it.  I just blog, just write.  I don’t even check out the functions offered at wordpress.  Usually, my patience wears too thin for that.  Monique, offered, and gave me the tip on how to accomplish this.  Then, she was courageous enough to say why this might help me; she stuck with me – a stranger, she offered, and stuck with me to let me get through my own frustration.  She didn’t take it personally; she didn’t give up.

Help, assistance, gives us more, more deeply than the surface.  Please, accept help when offered – even if you don’t follow the advice, or action, accept gracefully, gratefully.  It’s a consciousness/conscience opening act.  Let  it be that.  There’s a reason for it, that connection – it’s personal.   It’s a building block.  It’s a chance to learn to l-i-s-t-e-n with all that there is of you.  Think what that could do?  Ok, now, do the wave with that – lol.

Thanks so much, Monique.

Thanks to all who have stopped by.  I hope something said encourages you, makes you think, makes you see your worth, and pass your words on – tell me about them, so I can.

Again, thank you Steven L. Campbell.  Lol, I have to figure out how to do the award thing.  If I don’t get it, I will, at the very least, post blog sites – there are so many creative, thoughtful, kind and, yes, helpful folks out here.  Lilie Allen

De-BUNKING!

I’m going to say some things that are going to make some people pretty angry.    That’s ok.   It’s about time.   You are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine.

For those who have chronic pain/illnesses who are taking:  Painkillers, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medication, etc.  I hope you will seriously consider doing something else.  Try something else.  I’m not talking about naturopaths, I’m going to make them angry here, too.  Lately, I have seen a whole slew of friends diagnosed with “adrenal exhaustion”.  If  you take just a basic A&P class, you’ll know, that’s not really possible.  Your adrenals don’t get exhausted like that.  If your adrenals are really having a problem, a blood test can confirm it.   Also, colonics – if you like them – well, . . . . , go ahead, but they don’t do a thing for you.  Your body doesn’t need that to cleanse itself.  It is designed for that.  No help necessary.   Baloney on that stuff, stop listening.  They are making money off you.  When the ‘cure’ for that doesn’t work, they’ve got something else.  I’m sick of seeing people taken advantage of because they are desperate.  BTW, painkillers, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety meds, etc., are the western medical protocol for chronic pain/illness.  When you take these drugs, and your body gets used to them and you have to have increasing doses of them, you’ll notice your healthcare provider even more determined to get rid of you.  Yes, because they are being regulated, watched.  When they prescribe too much to too many, they get rid of those patients.  You have to find another doctor. You get accused of doctor shopping, and being an addict – not a good place to be.

Antidepressants, if you have not been diagnosed by a reputable mental health provider as clinically depressed, you have no business taking antidepressants.  They change your brain chemistry.  Your brain stops manufacturing the chemicals itself and becomes dependent on having the medicine to make them.  A state worse than the first you were in.  It is not helpful for chronic pain.  It is a bandaid, a something to get you out  of the office and off the doctor’s schedule, for a while.

The other day, I heard yet another ‘cure’.  Yeah, vinegar, for just about everything.   Did you know?  It makes your bones stronger?  Yeah, really – uh huh.  Oh, you mix it with honey, yeah, because honey is a cure for everything, too.  Well, honey for those allergic to bee/wasp stings, pollens, grasses, etc., can be deadly.  And, vinegar – it is acetic acid.  It doesn’t do anything PERIOD.  It makes a great cleaner.  If you mix it with baking soda, you can make ‘rockets’.   Basic chemistry people, use your brain!!!!  Acetic acid is not a cure for high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, arthritis or anything else.  It will make your windows shine.  Again, it’s a nice cleaner.  I use it for my countertops and windows.

Also, Neurontin (gabapentin) and Lyrica – look up the literature on them – they are about as good as a placebo for pain.  Neurontin is prescribed about as frequently as sugar pills.  Don’t bother.   It can make you sleepy, but if you don’t have epilepsy, it’s really not going to do much for you.  It can make you gain weight, and sweat, but that’s about it.  And, when you do read the literature, thoroughly, you will find they have no idea how it works on neurogenic pain.  It doesn’t.  I have neurogenic pain.  Fortunately, I had a dad smart enough to tell me not to take that stuff.  He said it makes a nice living for the pharmacist, and the drug company; otherwise, again – baloney!!! Yeah, that’s going to make people happy.  Figure it this way, if a doctor is willing to give you multiple refills on the medication, it isn’t actually going to do much for you.  It’s another  ‘here, shut-up, I can’t help you drug’.

I am fortunate.  I was able to avoid some of this crap, because of my dad.  He was a pharmacist.  And, an extremely intelligent man.

Doctors who don’t take insurance and are free with prescriptions for narcotics, aren’t sympathetic, compassionate people.  They are bums.  They are after your money.  They don’t care about your welfare.  A doctor who truly considers your welfare is hard to find for chronic conditions because they don’t make money, and chronic pain/illness sufferers can be a nuisance.   Healthcare providers  can’t often find a cause, and it’s frustrating to treat and to listen to, when they can’t provide anything.

Things to try:  Read as much legitimate literature on your condition as you can.  Take as little medication as possible.  Stay in the best health, at an appropriate weight, with as much activity as you possibly can.  Find a sport, or activity that you can tolerate.  I found taekwondo helpful, and I had to modify that.  Sometimes, I have to stop for a while.  Find something that interests you, and get more interested.  Find something to do that helps others, and do that.   If it sounds like I am not sympathetic, I am.  I am limited by chronic, constant, 24/7, relentless pain.  Sometimes it is very, very bad.  Lately, it has been.  I fake it for a few hours at a time, when everyone else has gone home, or when I can go there, I lie down, and I read or knit, or watch an entertaining program or movie.  I don’t belong to a pain support group anymore, because, when I did belong, all they did was rehearse their stories of woe.  It’s hard not to do that, but it won’t help you.  It reinforces that in your brain.  That’s why I got interested in meditation.  That’s another thing, meditation doesn’t take long to teach someone.  You don’t need to buy special clothes, nor spend a lot of money being taught.  It takes just a few sessions.  If the person teaching you tells you that it will help your pain go away, or you won’t feel your pain – bullshit – you will feel your pain.  The thing meditation does for me, and what I teach other people, is that it gives you the ability to give yourself  an attitude adjustment.  You can look at your pain, your life differently.    In time, after being diagnosed with everything in the world, I did find out what the source of  pain was, for all the good that did.  There is no cure.  It is up to me.

I still have friends, acquaintances, who give me info on the latest supplement, cure, etc.  I try to be polite.  I thank them.  I smile to myself that I’m glad I had a great AP teacher who wasn’t shy about speaking the truth, and a dad who wasn’t either.  Honey and vinegar, won’t cure you, one of them – can kill you.  Acai berries taste good.   Most supplements make expensive urine – if you’re going for that; well, take them then.  We absorb nutrients best from our food.  Eat well, make the calories count.  Fad diets don’t work.  Diets where certain foods are excluded, UNLESS you have a specific illness/condition documented by testing, don’t work either.  I am allergic to dairy.  I can’t have milk, milk-products, etc.  I can eat hard cheeses.  I stick to that, as best I can.  Otherwise, I eat from the groups.

What sounds too good to be true, is.

Live well, and wisely.  Thanks for stopping by.  Lilie

I’LL BE THAT

I thank everyone for their kindness, thoughtful words, and their insight at the passing of my friend, Jack.

I am hoping that I will tell his stories, and remember.   The most important remembering I want is to live the things about him that I so admired.  I think that just may be the reincarnation thing.  When we see certain qualities in a person, admire those qualities and live them out in our lives; well, that person lives on, and on.

When we admire courage, compassion, acts of kindness and interest in others, passion for social justice, and we have the courage to stand up and say, “I think I’ll do that.  I’ll be that, I’ll be kind.  I’ll wait and see before I speak.  I’ll forgive first.  I won’t allow the injury or oppression of another by word or deed.  I am here for all that.  I’m here.”  Well, who knows what good could come; how far that could ripple  We don’t have to wait for the people we love and admire to pass, we can accept those qualities right now.    It’s their gift to us – right now.  I have this feeling that if we do that, when we do that, there might be another person watching who decides to become that, as well.   Pretty soon, you have a world full of people becoming compassion, kindness,  and love.    We are assured the people we have loved carry on.

I’ll do that.  I’ll be that.  The best I can, I will.

May you be the fullness of all you have admired in those you love.  Thank you for stopping by.  Lilie