I stumbled across this article today and felt the need to share in the hopes that those that need to see it find it.
The Sandbox challenge this week asks us the following:
Can you recall a time in your life
when you were able to live fully in the present moment?
How or why did that happen?
What would it take for it to happen again?
I can honestly say that during the births of my children, I was fully in the moment, every one of them. It was the first time in my life that I blocked everyone and everything out, including the coaches and clinical people. I knew I had a job to do and that it was MY job to do, and I slipped effortlessly into that mode.
Due to my childhood, I have always had the capability to compartmentalize with ease, but this wasn’t quite like that…this was instinctual and as old as time.
My Mother confessed afterwards that she was pretty nervous about how I would perform during labour and birth. In her eyes, I was a bit emotional as a child and she feared they would hear me for miles and that I would embarrass her in front of the hospital staff.
I surprised her and also annoyed her with my refusal or inability to even respond to her or my husband by a certain point in my labouring. I quite honestly remember feeling like I was the most powerful beast in the universe, riding those waves and breathing in and out, and feeling my sons working hard to enter the world. I felt like it was fate and I was just the machine that was tasked with making it happen for them. It was my job, and by God, I was going to do it well.
Exquisite results with the last two.
I seem to recall staying in that cocoon for at least my hospital stays with them, as well as drifting into those moments in the dark after returning home, up during the night with them. Staring out the window at the stars in the inky black sky and then looking down at them nursing and feeling like we were the only two in the world awake at that hour.
Much more recently, I experienced living in the now once again.
I had been bothered by my one eye on and off for months and had put off going to the Dr as I was busy with work and Xmas, and the things we all get busy with.
Waking up every few mornings and feeling like I had something in my eye, and rubbing it made it feel worse. But it always resolved within an hour, so kept telling myself I would book an appointment when I got a chance.
A few weeks back, I woke up on a cold Sunday and my eye was really painful and felt almost like I had glass in it. I went through the day trying to see what was in it, watching it watering and watering and swelling up by the hour. The light sensitivity was excruciating.
My good eye was aching as well, which I found out later was due to overuse and over compensation.
It had been desperately cold outside for a week straight and when I looked outside, I realized there was now quite the little blizzard going on.
So, I made the decision to wait it out until Monday morning and go to my Dr right across the street.
I awoke around 3 in the morning, and could not open my eye. My sight in my good eye was also blurry, which scared me…honestly terrified me for a few moments. Anxiety washed over me as I sat in my bed, gingerly trying to open my bad eye with my fingers. The best way to describe my vision was like someone had smeared Vaseline over my good eye and so I could see shapes but not edges to anything.
I knew I couldn’t see well enough to drive myself in a blizzard, no matter how much pain I was in, and am currently living alone, so had no one to help me.
I couldn’t call anyone for help, or a cab, or even an ambulance because I couldn’t SEE.
So, all that is simply back-story leading up to my living in the now more recently.
After my dark night of the soul, as I will forever refer to it, I saw my Dr the next morning and was taken directly to Emergency to see an Ophthalmologist.
I had a corneal abrasion and to the best of anyone’s knowledge, I have had something in my eye for months, which caused it.
It has taken me almost three weeks to heal and I am still suffering extreme photo-sensitivity.
During that healing time, while my eye was patched, I realized that moving my good eye at all, made my bad eye move, no matter how firmly the dressing was taped to my eye.
So, I quit using my good eye as well when I absolutely didn’t need it to lessen the pain caused by my bad eye involuntarily moving with it.
No reading or television. No playing on my phone or laptop. No work. No driving except to daily medical appointments, where my eye was debrided of the epithelial cells which had grown all willy nilly on my eye, trying to heal on their own in clumpy little masses.
The two weeks I spend alone in the dark was as close to living in the now as I have ever experienced since my sons’ births.
Nothing to do but think and feel.
Living squarely in the right now.
Living experience through senses other than sight.
Adapting to the darkness surrounding me.
Learning the path to the kitchen and bathrooms by touch and then by memory of how many steps.
Calming myself with the sounds of my breath in and out and the purring of the cat in my lap and on my chest.
Hearing things I had never noticed before living in this house.
Coming to prefer the darkness to the light, as light distracts us and shows us a different reality than the one we instinctually know to be true.
Finally turning the television on and listening to silly sitcoms, which really do not require watching with your eyes at all.
An eventual creeping back to the light during the healing time, with visits from the kids and assorted friends.
Lots of long hugs and worried looks from my sons, who are texters and not used to Mom not responding. Unbelievably touched by my oldest son carefully drawing a skull and cross bones in glitter pen on my eye patch during his visit, in an attempt to make me laugh.
Thankful that I am a food hoarding beast in the winter and had more than enough soup and stews and frozen meals stored in the freezer to take us ALL into spring.
Back to work this week as I can tolerate with the fluorescent lights.
Looking like Jackie O at all time with my shades on, even inside!
Content with the knowledge that I have endured and survived one more obstacle.
One more fear successfully smashed through, with the knowledge that while I would never want to repeat those two weeks again, if something should ever happen to my eyesight, I know how to adapt and survive it.
I am so excited I am vibrating!
After serious introspection and decision-making, I am going to collect my new baby next week and could not be more excited.
I lost two beloved furry family members within 6 months of each other two years ago, and it has taken me this long to grieve them properly and allow my heart to open enough to consider the possibility of going through it all over again. But it did, and I am and it is NEXT WEEK!
I have visited with this cutie and have observed him with all his siblings and his momma and actually picked him out from a picture before I ever met him in person.
My previous cats were Sylvester and Yayo aka Babygirl.
Sylvester I have written about here on my blog and he lived longer than any pet I have ever had in my life. He was pitch black in colour and incredibly chill in temperament.
Babygirl was white and black and looked like she had a beaver straddling her back. She was far more fiesty but very funny and adorable, always positioning herself for “spankings”, as she loved being patted, sometimes rather hard, on her rump end. She was also incredibly fickle and could be snuggling with you all content and then if someone she fancied more came into the room, she would sometimes tear half the skin off you in her struggle to plant herself on THEIR lap, instead of yours. My youngest started calling her a little trollop as she reminded us all of a woman who would quickly dump your ass if she caught a whiff of someone with a fatter wallet approaching!
I chose my new baby due to his colouring, as I have never owned a gray cat before, so he would be his own person in my heart, with no reminders of the ones that have already carved out their spots before him.
He seems to be that perfect blend of cuddly and independent, which I need in my life at this point. I work and am away from home for at least 7 hours a day. I have the flexibility to run home at lunch to check on him, which I will do during our adjustment period, but apparently he is also OK to be alone, according to the people he has lived with since birth.
When his siblings all do that kitty-pile thing they do, he curls up with them for a bit, but then wanders off on his own to a chair, or bed, and plays with a toy alone and content. He sounds quite a bit like me, actually. I like my playtime and socializing but also wander off to be by myself when I need to be.
It was so hard for me to see all those kittens and only choose one to bring home with me but I want to be able to give everything to Lil Sarge, rather than spread it out. Also, I really could be the type who turns into the “crazy cat lady”, so I tried to use some restraint.
I am already buying the little things he will need and planning to set up a space for him in a spare room, where he will feel safe to run away to, if he is fearful during his first days here.
I cannot wait to have him home with me and just wanted to share my excitement with any cat lovers who may follow my blog.
Stay tuned- you can bet I will be writing more in the future about our shenanigans together.
What would you like to leave behind?
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies . . . Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die . . . It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
One night, with the lamps casting a soft glow upon our faces, my sons and I discussed how interesting it was that they were both creative souls.
It was a casual, intimate and very low key conversation, much like many others we have shared over the years. I have zero artistic capabilities and have always been a bit confused as to how they both ended up so talented in their own ways.
My older son is the conventional artist (as if there was such a thing)! He paints and draws and constructs sculpture and ceramic and wood and anything he can get his hands on to create amazing pieces that baffle me at times. He is also self taught with the guitar and plays beautiful melodies and sings in such a soft comforting voice for such a big strong man.
My quiet, younger son is a film maker and also writes screenplays. He recently decided to he was going to learn to play the ukulele as he loves the sound they make. In the last year, he has taken a few improv classes and has also ventured into stand up comedy during the evenings. He did this, he tells me, because it was his greatest fear, and now that he has overcome it, he has nothing else to fear for now. I mean, really….at 26.
The conversation turned to what we felt would be our ultimate marks we left behind after we are gone from this earth. I told them both that they were so very fortunate in that their artwork and films will forever be there, and that they are already leaving pieces of their identities in this world that will live on long after they leave. And all this while still in their twenties!
One of them asked me what I thought I would leave behind and I didn’t have to think hard.
I smiled at them both and softly said, ” you are both my art; my finest work.”
As males will, they scoffed and said that I didn’t answer the question right and it wasn’t “fair” for me to answer the question using them as the answer. They wanted something that was more me or mine or that I alone had created or caused to happen.
I humoured them at the time, and said they couldn’t change the rules halfway through or make up new rules after I had answered and I went to the kitchen and started puttering around making us all a snack, while the sound of their voices told me they were already off on another discussion, and I was out of the woods as far as providing them with anything else.
As I have mentioned before on this blog, I truly believe that our energies are constantly mingling. Sometimes the most seemingly insignificant contact, will cause ripples we are not even aware of until years later, when we will suddenly smile when we see something that reminds us of that person, or feel our eyes filling with tears from our interaction with another.
I know I have left many bits of myself behind in the people I have met along my journey.
I have left tears on the gravestones of my father and my son in a city far away.
I abandoned fragments of my heart in one of the hospitals where I live now, when I said goodbye to my mother and then my brother, seven years later.
The same hospital where I was reborn and renewed myself; so much of me was shared there with my fellow patients and caring nurses.
The men I have loved and been loved by; they will always carry me with them, the love I gave and the love I took from them. I know my energy is still thick around them and that they would never wish to be free of me- not even for a day.
My dear hospice souls that I was with during my time working. I left so much with them and for them. They deserved so much of me for their strength, courage and dignity. Their families that I held following their passing. Their teenagers that I helped with their math homework, while their mother was enduring dressing changes. The nursing staff that would huddle in the med room, wiping their own and my tears away, as we all shared our light with each other. That hospice is a virtual Niagara of combined legacies!
My nieces and nephews and friends’ children and the motherless children I have influenced or counselled or loved over the years. I can SEE me in them and their choices and the ways they raise their own children now.
All of my friends who have laughed at my silly ass; I’m all over them!
Co-workers, so many of them; every time I mimicked our boss, or covered their work so they could run to grab a sick “little” at the daycare or babysitter’s place. I’ve left quite a bundle with them, too.
Even those I have angered or hurt, many times not even having been cognizant of the fact I had done it, they received some of me, too, for better or worse.
So, even though my sons are and will always be my greatest legacy of my life, I have left legacies throughout my life and in far too many places to even begin to list them.
I know I have made my mark.
It seemed to happen overnight for me.
One moment, I am practically invisible, just the way I liked it.
Being able to quietly and unobtrusively go about my business by day or night. Walking out in the world with my thoughts on things other than the chaotic house I resided in.
Suddenly, it all changed.
Outside, dirty faced boys say things to me I don’t even understand, using words that sound like a bad thing.
Inside, greasy, slippery grins from men who I have been instructed to call “Uncle” .
Uncles that have known my parents for years. Friends. Boyfriends of my Mother’s friends.
Uncles that always made me nervous; giving me that tickling feeling against my stomach and ribcage.
Being pushed towards them for the bedtime ritual.
“Go ahead. Give everyone a kiss and hug goodnight.”
Slithering accidental brushes of fingers, hands, arms, upon me.
Breath that reeks of tobacco and whiskey and hair that stinks of Brylcreem.
Big rough calloused hands patting your flannel covered bottom, just a little stray dragging of the nails or fingertips, on the sly. Hugs so tight I can’t breathe, while they measure, deduce, calculate the changes, the growth spurt.
Doing as I’m told and then vomiting as quietly as I can in the bathroom and wiping the wet sleeve of my kitten-patterned pyjamas all over my lips and chin and neck and cheeks with a sliver of soap.
Trying to scrub away the smell so that I can sleep that night.
Dreams of the day I am so big that I don’t have to let people I am scared of touch me.
Lost in the thought of the last time I saw your eyes looking straight into my heart and the goodbye you could not speak, but we both knew was arriving.
i’m leaving you soon. you’ll be ok. thank you for loving me. you’ll be just fine. you are so strong.
The sight of you wrapped in a heated flannel, strapped to the chair because they knew you would not stay in the bed.
i know, if we just keep moving nothing bad will happen. i know, Mark. i have been where you are.
The impromptu braiding of your long hair after lovingly brushing it out of your ashen face.
they hated your long hair. endless bitching about how you looked like a girl. it was beautiful.
Strands of silver weaving throughout the chestnut and my snipping of the tangled ends stuck to the wires all over your chest.
let me do it. i’ll make sure it doesn’t hurt you. i wont let anyone hurt you. i promise.
When you reached out to take our hands on either side of you, I knew.
i’m not ready. i can’t do this. oh god, not now. you are so strong. you can come back from this.
When the time for leaving came, my walking backwards, making a silly face to see you smile, anything for one more smile. Telling you I would be back tomorrow.
there won’t be any more tomorrows for you and I. we is over and soon just me.
Your head turning ever so slowly towards me, and your sad eyes looking into mine.
i will always be with you. you will never be alone in the world. i will be beside you. forever.
I will never be lost. My brother is always with me and wouldn’t allow that to happen.
He will always tell my heart which direction is home.