A LITTLE RAMBLING

We have certainly had news at our house this week.  I’ll bet there are others who have also had their challenges.

My husband is doing well.  It is nice to be able to talk openly about his MS now.  It is good for him, as well.  The heat is very hard on him and, as a carpenter, that wasn’t going to make it anymore.  So, he’s looking forward.  My husband has always been quite an inspiration to me.  He doesn’t think negatively.  It isn’t that he thinks positively (and here I’m laughing a bit).  Skip just doesn’t think negatively.  His positivity isn’t a reorientation of his thinking, it is the way he has always looked at life.

In 30 years, we have had joys and sorrows.  Skip seems to look at all the same way – with hope.  It’s what is of the moment; and he knows that moment changes.  He’s been a person courageous and willing to change, willing to adapt.  A hard worker and appreciative of his woodworking skill, he has used that well.

I believe the most important thing I have learned (and continue learning) from Skip is forgiveness.  Again, not a reorientation of his thinking; it wouldn’t occur to him to hang onto something about someone.    A well-grounded understanding of human nature, and not much ruffles feathers.  I had to learn that, practice it.

‘Lightening up’ in our thinking, being that mindful observer – taking a step back, assessing before making the decision how, or if, to act, that’s what makes the difference.  The old adage, “sleep on it”, very good advice when possible.  Thinking, contemplating, patience.  Taking oneself out of that reactive, defensive posture, so that you may see clearly your opportunities and choices, and not be so invested in what someone else has done or said, but in the person you have decided (daily) to be.  Then, your thoughts and actions become habitually directed toward that goal.  This is what I see in my husband.  The ability to maintain his center, and from that forgiveness just follows.

Each day I’m thinking of those who thoughtfully visit, and hoping that your needs are met, that your present moments are those of  hope.  Thank you for stopping by.  Lilie

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WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What about you?  Do you do what I do?

See, I’m asking you here to work on suspending judgment in order to be a mindful observer – get the facts, then make a decision.  Help the world’s people out a little, hold on and think it through.  That includes about you.  I’m asking that.  So, do I do it?

I’ve been the worst critic of myself; the worst judge.  Now, being a critic is not a negative thing.  In writing, you want a critic – someone with a keen eye who observes and comments, in order to help you improve.  If you are that kind of critic of yourself, well good.  I wasn’t.

When we keep that bitter gall pent up against ourselves, it comes out in other places, toward others.   What you teach your brain, it does.  It doesn’t distinguish, you do.  Your mind does.  You must teach your brain about that judgment thing.

We don’t want to live ‘anything goes’ lives devoid of conscience.   We want to feel that ‘ouch’ and smarting feeling when we hurt someone with our words or actions.  We want to be compassionate folk in our thoughts, words and actions.  We want to be fair in our dealings with others.  How to do it?

This is what I am practicing:  In my meditation, I take my time to get quiet inside (you don’t have to throw all thought out of your mind, you can’t), And, I watch my thoughts.  I watch my thought processes.   I reframe them in the light of truth, as I can best define that in my experience.  I observe where I have not been the person I am working toward.  Rather than harshly condemning myself for my mistakes or missteps, I ask myself some questions:  1) How have my words or actions served to lessen suffering?  2) How have my words or actions promoted the transmission of knowledge for self and/or others?  3) How have my words or actions promoted goodwill?   4) If  it has been necessary, how have my words or actions, respectfully, defended self or others?

If my thoughts, words,  or actions have skipped the mindful observer’s approach and moved into mouth-over-mind-now-insert-foot mode, here’s an opportunity to train my brain toward better habits, toward leading the life I expect from myself.   Begin the practice of humility.  I need to say, “I’m sorry.”  PERIOD.  Unvarnished – just I’m sorry.   Best said in person, if at all possible.  But, say it.  Know why you are saying it, so that you will make the changes necessary.   We can put this into practice in all ares of our lives.  Humility does not mean weakness.  I think of it as the ability to withstand anything, and doing it truthfully.  I think of it as encouraging strength.  When you practice humility to the point that it is part of you, that’s an indomitable spirit.  A person who accepts his/her imperfections is indomitable.  A person who seeks to see his/her life truthfully is indomitable.  You can handle the embarrassment of having to apologize.  If you really don’t like that, that’s incentive to change.  You don’t have to apologize so often that way.

You can’t make another sorry for what they may have thought, done or said to you.  Don’t bother.  Again, use your mindful observer.   Consider the person, circumstances, and action first.  Is this habitual on the part of this person?  Then, perhaps it isn’t, at this time, a relationship to invest in.   Is this what happens to all of us:  Some days you’re the person who is the jerk, somedays the other guy is?  If that’s it, you have some choices:  You can let it go.  Or, you can breathe, get calm, reason and speak.  Say what you feel.  You can do that respectfully.  Then, breathe, calm, think and decide.   You can change that decision, as you move on.

It isn’t about allowing people to treat you badly.  My experience has been, when I have been the ‘mindful observer’ of myself, I seem to have had a shift in the relationships I attract.  I feel more calm and happy, most of the time – even when things externally may not want to go along with that.  I find myself less and less subject to external events.  I find myself  less and less worried by the ‘what ifs’.  I believe I can handle what comes.  It’s in there.  I just need to be aware, to watch and know that I am able.  You are, too.

So, what about you?  What do you do?

Thanks so much for stopping by.   Thanks to the bloggers out there who are making such positive contributions to themselves and others.  Keep writing.   Lilie

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

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

MISSING YOUR MISSION

My dad was dying.   He knew it.  He didn’t have much time.  Dad was a planner, and he usually got his way.  Now, he had a plan.  The most important thing, he said to me, was that my older brother be baptized, that he believe in God the way my dad did.  Because, he wanted to be assured he would see my brother again.  Dad wanted to involve me in this.  I watched as he started his plan.  Preaching and talking.  He was becoming discouraged, and was lying in his bed in quiet frustration.

I just sat, too, silent.  I felt  pretty sad over all he was doing.  Then, a thought hit me and the words came out, unexpectedly.  “Have you seen that guy who sits in the chair opposite you, every day?  He notices everything, everybody in the room, while crossing it, before he sits down.  He’s tall and steady; his features are chiseled sharp and strong for who he would be in this life.  This one, he’s the person everybody runs to.   The Rock.  That was before he became a Navy corpsman, and then a Navy SEAL.  One of the elite.  He put himself through college; married a woman of character and good sense; they built a family, and a life, from which you now benefit.”

“This guy, he’s listened to your words and honored you, all his life.   He sits quietly, patiently, with you every day.  He notices everything; watches over and protects you.”

“There sits a remarkable man.  I remember him as a boy.  He followed what you said; what you taught.  He gave his word and he kept it.  Tough and kind.  Don’t you remember?”

“That guy, he’s a remarkable man.  He’s your son.  Isn’t it hard to breathe, when you realize that?  Don’t you want to just lie here and think on that?  This incredible human being  is yours, part of you.  He gives you a sense of belonging, because he is here, and will never leave you.   Don’t you want to know that?  He is here, and he won’t leave.  Don’t you want to know that, and hold him tight?  If there is God, let Him be God.  Love your son, that’s what you do now, love your son.”

That was the mission needing to be done.

Consider what your mission is, and whether it connects with present reality.  Does it truly serve, or are you missing the lesson prepared for you, right in front of you.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Lilie

IN PASSING

A good friend of mine died this week, Wednesday morning.  Jack Murphy.  I met him in a writers’ group.  He lived.   Jack was a carpenter.  He worked on historic homes in Mobile, Alabama.  And, he worked some on boats, too.  He had that in common with my husband, and appreciated his work.  He  made friends with most of the homeowners he worked for.  Jack made friends very easily, because he was just plain kind.  He appreciated qualities in others, could always find the good.   Whatever happened, he had a smile.  A real one.  He cared about others, and remembered things about you; things you told him, things he noticed.  Jack was supportive and encouraging.   He was intelligent, well-read and his thoughts were well-considered, and he could sure give an opinion; but, he never attacked anyone personally.  I never heard him criticize anyone.

Jack was a true stand-up guy.  He owned his mistakes, his history, without excuses.  Jack did what he could to amend mistakes, and then forgave himself and went on.  He was charming and funny.  And, trustworthy, deeply honorable in that sense.  I learned a lot from him.  I counted on him.   He kept alive for me the characters of my childhood; traditions and customs, expressions and a certain way of looking at things that you carry in you from how you were raised, where your folks came from.  We had that in common.

Jack didn’t have much.  He was content in his circumstances, and did not complain.  The Medicare system was inadequate to help him, and he was treated in ways he would never have been had he had resources.  Those who complain about universal healthcare being ‘socialism’, are just baiting you with false words.  Those who say if we have universal health care, the gov’t will decide who lives and who dies.  Well, it’s the insurance companies that make that decision now, some the gov’t (like Medicare in this case) some private insurance, if you run out of money.

So when it comes time to vote, don’t think about parties, think about the people like Jack, who gave to others generously.  The kind folks who do the things needing done without ever telling it.  Those who work hard and wind up with little  in the way of financial security to show for it,though they act responsibly throughout their lives.  It happens because  we don’t want unions that would protect workers and we are told that would just drive costs up (actually, the CEO/management pay is what drives cost – check the salaries).  We do want military pensions, and gov’t pensions, and our own pensions, though.  And, we don’t  want universal healthcare because somebody we think doesn’t deserve it, might get it.  We’re frightened and baited all the time with the nonsense about how many ‘slackers’ are getting a free ride.  When mostly, we are really talking about people like my friend, Jack.  There is a way to have universal healthcare and for people, who want to, to keep private insurance.  It’s very simple, easily done.  But, if you divide people, and get them fighting each other – you don’t have to solve anything.  You can keep playing it out, and putting the bucks in your own pocket.

Jack was dying.  He knew that.  But, he might have had better circumstances; better placement and care, if he had resources.  Jack never complained.  He was kind to the nurses; and, when conscious, he thanked them and joked with them some.  He deserved better.  He never would have said so.   Always grateful, always gracious to the very end.

I thank you for letting me tell you about someone important to me, whom you don’t know.  It is my sincere hope that you will think about things.  It’s not about democrat or republican.  I don’t call myself by any party.  I just want to do for others what I would want for me.   There is a place where we can meet, and be kind to one another, do the right thing.  Jack found that.  I hope he left that with me.  I wish it for you.

It’s funny, the people of the strongest character, with the most to offer that is of the greatest value in this life, are very often those unknown, those just like Jack.  I am fortunate that I met him.  I consider it a wonder, a marvel and a lovely mystery.  Thank you, Jack.

Peace be with you.  Thank you so much for stopping by.