Sunday, May 3, 2015

Prayers Unheard

The distance between where we started and where we hoped to end up become further and further, and took longer and longer. Not because of wrong turns, missed exits or confusing directions, the distance was an illusion, the experience of time was an experience of exaggerated discomfort. 

The conversations went through several highs and lows, mountains tops and valleys of emotion. Every time I thought I was on my way up, or even possibly at the top I quickly found myself tumbling back down, down, down and plop at the bottom. Shaken and frustrated I allowed myself to shutdown, and in the Gottman term allow myself to stonewall from any further conversation.

In every relationship I have ever had I find myself unable to proceed when someone I respect begins to dish out what I feel to be unnecessary criticism of my passions. Being labeled an idiot for being excited is inappropriate. Combined with being frustrated I tend to default to settling into the feeling of unwelcome and unaccepted. 

There was a time I was certain God was listening 24/7 to prayers. More times that I can count, I begged for wisdom to know how to be welcomed, heard and accepted. My prayers were never answered. 

To this day I ask mentors for all kinds of guidance. Thankfully they are generous with their ideas and solutions. However, they all struggle with one topic, one I feel is mission critical; the art of repair. Could this be the secret to having relationships that empower and remove labels others placed of insecurities? Possibly. Could this be the magic key that allows me to share my true thoughts, feelings and share my passions? Wouldn't that be amazing!

Maybe I should have been more specific in my prayer requests, "How do I learn to be a master of repair? Will being a master of repairing relationships give me the wisdom to be accepted, heard and welcomed?"

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Two Paths of Relationships

Over simplified, there are only two paths for relationships to go. 

The golden brick road, brick by brick each golden step was purposely placed to go a direction. Each element, like each interaction was placed in accordance of the ultimate goal. Go from point A to point B on this path. Watching someone build the road there is a vague idea of where the ultimate destination is. 

Just like the brick road, every interaction we have with one another is a step towards our goal of that relationship. There are only two directions the road builder can go, towards the goal or away from it. 

For our relationships, we can create connection or create distance. 

Sounds simple, well, it's not. Humans are complex, and even the brightest minds struggle to add clairty to why people do exactly what they do. Sure, some scientists have a vague idea, however it's not clear why we will say we want connection yet our actions are obviously creating distance or vice versa.

Here are just a few of the variables mixed into why we do what we do;
  • Emotions
  • Blood sugar levels
  • How much sleep we have had
  • Anxiety and fears
  • What clothing we are wearing
  • How many hours we have worked
  • The role we play in our job
  • Too much sunshine
  • Ulterior motives
  • Mental health
  • Ate too many french fries ...
As you can see, there are many variables. Talking with a friend of mine she shared with me the concept of a "reset". Doesn't that sound lovely? 

Let's clear out all of these variables and get back focused on our relationship goal: connection or distance. 

The Master of Making Friends

Tomorrow is a fresh day, one that I hope starts out with a renewed sense of willingness.

Last Monday, Eli, my daughter, my sister in-law, good friend and I all said goodbye to Pal, our twelve year old dog.

The weekend leading up to that moment was full of disheartening signs. The labored breathing increased, more reluctance to eat food and overall an obvious dissatisfaction with being weak.

That Saturday, our family came home to Pal embarrassed from getting sick. Helping him up too more effort than ever before. Here was a dog, so full of pride that even though every step was a challenge he wanted to go to the bathroom outside. His front legs flew forward unevenly, I knew what I was seeing, every sign pointed to a neurological issue was taking place, seizure, maybe, could have also been a stroke. I watched in horror as my dog, my friend went through a exorcism like scene. Eli held Pal and prevented him from injuring himself. Watching the episode run it's course prompted me to leave a very panicked voicemail for our veterinarian.

The conversation of, "when do we make the call?" was on the table.

Now what? Can I really make this decision? Really, now ... we have to have this conversation now?

My logical side said, "yes, of course. This is your responsibility. It will be sad, however he has lived a long good life. Everything will be okay."

Then the emotional side kicked in and kept me busy testing out ideas to move the end further out. "What if we try this? Oh! He ate something. A sign for better days ahead!" I made pancakes, meatballs, and syringed chicken broth into the old dogs mouth. I even attempted to force feed him that aggravated him enough to growl at me for the second time in his life. Okay, I get it. You don't want any of this ... you are tired.

I am still heartbroken.

Making the decision wasn't something I personally had ever done before. Here was an old exhausted dog that was still refusing to go the bathroom anywhere but outside, and still could summon up energy to greet guests coming in the door. Both a trip outside to go to the bathroom and greeting put him into a deeply tired state that triggered coughing fits, gagging and overall frustration. I saw the two sides of him, the dog that was the master of making friends with every person he met and the dog that was tired of gasping for air, and pain. Sunday night Eli and stayed on the couch in the living room listening to his labored breathing, his coughing and eventually a short streak of sleeping. I woke up several times to cover him with a blanket, offer him water and once again, wish my tiny efforts would lead towards better days.

Dr. Heather, veterinarian had called us back moments after I left my panicked voicemail. She was optimistic then, that was until she came on Monday to visit us. Pal has refused to eat all day. I had been giving him chicken broth and Smart water. The breathing is what struck her, labored and forcing Pal to tilt his head in awkward ways to pull in enough air. Then the process repeated all over again, over and over, the effort per breath was furthering his weakness. Everything was a blur, I was in shock. I remember being unable to move from his side. Forever will I be thankful that Eli spoke up. "I want Clara to be here", he said. Anxiety of what was to happen diluted as I knew it would be hours before we could pick up Clara and bring her home. I got a little more time, we all got a little more time with our sweet Pal.

Okay, emotional side, you can be selfish and tend to this dog for a few more hours. Then, it's time, "okay, okay I understand", my heart agreed.

I was in the middle of exercising a freedom, the freedom to give final relief from all suffering. I witnessed a peaceful end to a beautiful and love filled chapter of our lives.

Surrounded by people and animals that adored Pal, he was relieved of his suffering at home free from stress and filled with love.

Thank you for the twelve years, memories, love and friendship dear sweet Pally Wally. We will always love you.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Making room for the New Year

Every day is a new beginning, a new start. Unfortunately, I have a habit I need to taper and let go; each new day I drag along pieces from my past, expectations for the future and an attitude of "someday I will be truly present". 

Like many reflecting on the year that is about to draw to a close, there was a great deal of challenges faced, opportunities seized and expectations of what is to come in the new year. Here I am, sitting down to snuggle up with the present, let go and allow my writing to flow. 

The front paddock is currently housing all three boys, the donkey and the two geldings. All three are undoubtedly entertained snacking on and nosing through a dozen different piles of hay. There is even a hay net stuffed to the brim hanging from the fence that Finn, the comedian Foxtrotter will tug at and torture pushing the limits of the poor craftsmanship of the net. No rain, a crisp clean smelling air that is warm for the end of December at 42 degrees, and clear sky showcasing bright stars makes for a lovely late evening. 

The present is beautiful. 

When I embrace just how things are right now I find myself naturally grateful. 

In the present the anxiety of what could be, what might be or what I hope to be, becomes diluted and frees up much needed room for the now. Now requires the search to pause, the haunt the senses go on to scan the area, turn sound and smell into logic and craft stories from the world based on assumptions. 
I softly, as if to tell a timid child, place a thought before the mind that becomes a song to the rhythm of my breathing, "I have had anxiety like the rabbit, yet my roots are strong like the redwood, my spirit is enduring like the river and my opportunities are limitless like cosmos". My body, like my mind also needs to fixate on a story that captures it's attention, "Channel that of the tree that stands tall and strong on the brightest summer day and steadfast during the coldest winter storms". With each breath the present becomes reality.

As the past calms it's voices and fears the images as if to relax fade. Following the lead of the past the future ends it's pleading and begging for action. The future then releases it's stubborn death grip, and as if to relax finds honor in bending and becoming shaped. 

Cheers to another year, another chapter to close with lessons learned, memories created and opportunities planted. Cheers to a harvest of joy, challenges that guarantees growth and great unlimited love.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I couldn't comfort the mother

The first title that came out was,"I buried a baby", that is true, yet, with context the title is lighter when I share it was a baby chicken. I decided to focus on what was left, it's mother.

Tweedle, my lost but now found hen.
This was her secret hiding place for over a month
The one and only Autumn baby that hatched.
I knew the baby wasn't doing well. Born at the start of Autumn as the only chicken in the nest that hatched, it's timing into the world meant cold and dreary days ahead.

It's mother, Tweedle is one of my oldest and most determined of hens had disappeared. After an hour long search the night she went missing, and a few laps of investigation around the property in the following days I thought she was gone for good.

If a chicken doesn't show up for the evening ritual of check-in, find your spot and settle in for the night they are not coming back. Raccoon, weasels, the neighbor's cat and even just plain old little no-mercy nature can show up at anytime and demand a chicken tax. Getting attached or choosing a favorite chicken is accepting they may not be in the coop the next time I go in there. A missing bird is a little easier to process than finding them lifeless on the floor.

Gardening in the late evening I heard a chirp, a peep, convinced I wasn't going crazy I went looking for the peeping chicken. After over thirty days of not seeing Tweedle there she was. I scooped her up to hug and give her love. She did not return the gesture, she furiously attacked, bit and tried to get away from me. I didn't mind, I was so delighted to see her I ignored the attacks until I was done hugging.

She had gone broody, her hormones had kicked in and she was determined to hatch eggs. There under her was a tiny baby chick, no bigger than a small plum hatching before my eyes. It's long wet wing sticking out of a now broken shell. How adorable! Where's my camera. I found my lost chicken and *POOF* a new baby has arrived. Then the gloomy thought began to sink in, I knew the baby's chances were slim. Yet, why not let life have a shot and let Tweedle carry on doing what her raging hormones were telling her to do, even if they were risky?

As a child seeing a dead animal was a crapshoot between horribly traumatic or intensively interesting and curious. The spectrum of my reactions has softened over the years. I now understand that life has no guarantees. As my husband would say, "good thing chickens don't understand statistics" as their life contract seems to be poorly written. Unless I heavily intervene a clutch, a group of chicks chance of making it adulthood seems to be about 60%. Six out of every ten chickens get to see if they crow or make eggs.

An example of a
lethargic chick.
The tell tale sign I know a chick isn't doing well is how they hold their wings. I call it the Charlie Brown pose. They are becoming lethargic, dehydrated and basically they are giving up. For those who are frowning, just because they have given up doesn't mean it's the end. Yet, I am not surprised when it is the end.

Sad? Sure, that is one feeling that bubbles up when I see a sulking bird. There have been cases I have been successful in doctoring a chick and getting it to scramble into adulthood. Extending life means a little bit more life, but once again no guarantees. I have buried plenty of doctored birds before their second birthday. Tough gig.

The little Autumn chick showed me it's Charlie Brown pose yesterday. In general the little bird seemed willing to go along with it's mother's insisted prodding, it would eat food when the hen pointed it out, and drank alongside the hen and then follow her a bit more. However, it seemed to know it's body for whatever reason wasn't progressing, it was slowing down, shutting down.

Today, I found a tiny lifeless chick in the chicken coop. The tiny body only knowing the earth for a little over a month now on a bed of hay, eyes closed, body out stretched in a peaceful rest. Tweedle still fighting off other chickens from getting too close, just as she had done for weeks. She too was tired, but not willing to give up. I scooped up the chick to find a proper place to bury the baby. Tweedle wouldn't allow me to comfort her, when the chick's body was removed she instantly left and went back to normal chicken routines of looking for food, dusting herself and such.

I couldn't comfort her even though I would have liked to. She went about her business and seemed to tell me. as she did when I found her after a month of her being missing, to go about mine. Okay, universe, give me a hint to this lesson. I don't completely understand.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's an Indoor Mutt Dog's Life

In his eyes, this is totally normal behavior; the fuzzy eleven year old nudges my arm and demands I acknowledge from my horizontal attempt at sleeping. Sure, I will pet you. Then comes the hot warm breath. That’s when I flip over, face the couch. I am passively standing up for my right to breathe non-dog breathe.

Throughout growing up dogs have created a special role for themselves in my life. They squeeze into the role of being the 6:30AM alarm clock. They nudge and prod into the role of reminding me to be responsible, take them out, feed them and of course daily full body massages.

There are two four legged carpet sharks roaming my home. Both dogs are seriously lacking in a lot departments:
  • The ability to open and close doors
  • Feed themselves
  • Control their overpowering desire to eat the other dog’s food
  • Sleep in past 6:30AM
There are only a few signs of aging that would indicate Pal is actually an adult dog. Pick up a Chuck-it or any object that can be thrown and then retrieved and he is hyped up like a two month old pup. Multiple obese tumors have sprung up and have begun, for the second round, a bother to him. Some are operable, others the recovery time and risk goes up especially on the spine and throat. If you look close his normally leaking, droopy eye is developing a cataract. Winter’s frost seems to have stuck on his muzzle with just a dusting of grey hairs intermixing with his normally jet black coat.

I am not ready to accept the idea that his or anyone else’s days are truly numbered. A morbid fact I am not willing to dedicate brain space to today, maybe tomorrow, but not today.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The year of break through or be broken

I am okay with this not being my lucky year. The year of the horse is reminding me it is the year of break through or be broken.

Notice the energy? Feels different. Even as I increase the space between me and the news and the negative the eerie unsettling feeling washes over me.

I know we are swallowing more fear knowing it will sicken us.

I know we as a culture are letting our commitments be pushed aside by our complaints.

I feel like everyone around me is treading water in their lives in hopes of maintaining just enough air for another day. The mention of years in the distance instantly provokes tears. They all seem exhausted. I too am tired.

Just because this isn't a lucky year doesn't mean I haven't been blessed. Just because I am tired does't mean I am close to giving up.

I can either choose distance or connection. I can choose to break down the walls or build them up. I can choose to break through or be broken.

Submitting to becoming broken is a thought that enters my mind then I beat it out like a pest with a broom. Shoo! Be gone from my mind, don't tread on my heart, there is no space disease that weakens my mind, attempts to dilute my vision and lessen the value of my divine commitments.

I choose to break through.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Instead I Learned.

Instead of seeking happiness,
I have learned to seek understanding.

Instead of expecting the best,
I have learned to expect to grow.

Instead of inviting resentment,
I learned to nurture and speak my own needs.

Instead of accepting assumptions as truth,
I have learned to ask questions and receive reassurance and clarity.

Instead of accepting unfounded fears,
I have learned to be vulnerable and find freedom.

Instead of turning away,
I learned the power of turning towards.

Instead of looking for evidence we were growing apart,
I have learned that looking for ways to grow together creates passion.

Instead of counting the years,
I learned to appreciate and treasure every moment.

Today, I am thankful for the last seven years in marriage. Thankful for continued commitment, investment and confidence in our friendship. Thankful for my best friend and the love of my life, my husband Eli.