Category Archives: karma

Good Grief!

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Thinking back over this past year there have been many lessons learned through the process of grieving. It is a strange thing, grief.  Most days I have not consciously felt that I was grieving, and then one day it reaches out to gently remind me that the heaviness is still there.  Or my massage therapist comments on how incredibly messed up my muscles are and then reminds me that we sometime store our grief in our bodies.   Am thankful that it seems to be less and less raw, less palpable, over time it has moved from being a smack upside the head to a somewhat gentle nudge that (still) stops me in my tracks.

There are now two distinct phases in life: The time when mom was with us, and the time after mom died.   I think we all try not to categorize life according to death but in our minds we inevitably, yet silently, think ‘oh right that was just after/before mom died…’.  From what I understand that frame of reference will stand forever.

I thought I would share a list of things that have surprised me about grief.

  1. How inexplicably tired you feel when grieving, particularly in the first few months. You try so hard not to think about the loss, but you somehow cannot stop. And then when you do stop you feel numb, and guilty for not thinking about it.
  1. How it pretty much takes up all available real estate in your mind.   Seriously.   In my experience I feel that I lost about two months of conscious thought – can’t remember much from the funeral onwards. After the two month mark the haze began to lift.
  1. The numbness.   It is a weird sensation – you know you should be feeling something at any given moment but you are just numb.   Child’s birthday party? Happy, right? Nope. Dance recital, happy times? Nope. You try really hard but it just does not register on the emotion meter.
  1. Exaggerated emotional experiences. Oi. Someone made the mistake of reminding me of the tumultuous end of a relationship. BIG mistake. Anger like I have never felt before – about two months worth. On the upside, it gave me something else to do beside be numb and sad. Was thankful that I was feeling something.
  1. People have very different reactions to your grief.   Some seem to assume that once the funeral is over and you have returned to ‘life’ that all is well, grieving is done. NOT.   And then there are those who have never experienced loss and just look at you with this pitiful look (and then my own reaction in my head, OMG I used to do that to people too..).   In that awkward moment you want to get mad at that person – but I think its important to remember that in a few months you will realize that they really did mean well, they just didn’t know what to say.
  1. It sneaks up on you. As time passes you begin to feel more and more normal, and then something/someone reminds you of the person you lost. And you implode. Perhaps a small implosion, perhaps large. For me the big implosions happen in places where mom made the biggest contributions, or with people who meant a lot to her. Mind you it also happens when I watch the Food Network – it was something we did together when she was in the nursing home and long-term care.   Depends on the day and the moment.
  1. Not everybody will know that you lost someone close to you and at some point they will ask you ‘How is your mom/loved one doing?’.   My estimation is that this will happen more than once over the years to come, and to most people who have experienced loss.   The first time it happens you are completely shocked, and the only thing you can say is ‘It’s ok, you didn’t know’ and mean it. Again, it is not on purpose or personal.
  1. At some point I realized that I compartmentalize it.   I live about four hours away from my parents home, so it is easy to separate myself from the grief. But, when I go home to visit there it is, awaiting my arrival with wide-open arms. Compartmentalizing isn’t always bad – it can actually be a good tool to cope with the grief and get on with living life.   I think the key is to remember where you put your grief so you can prepare yourself for it and face it, and to also revisit it once in awhile.
  1. Facing it is good. Hard, but good in the long run. Facing the loss and the pain is important – and perhaps it helps you to feel the parallel of the fullness and joy of life a little easier. Reaching out to friends or a counselor can facilitate the release of it all when needed – and sometimes when you least expect it. Letting loved ones in your life know that you are hurting – really important (and hard to do sometimes).
  1. The big lesson in grief (for me) sounds so trite. Live each day as if it were your last. Live with appreciation for the people who love you and whom you love. Have gratitude for all the good in life, in the world.   Will your life then have no pain, no sadness or struggle? No. But you will be better prepared to deal with it when it comes your way.

When grief gives me a nudge I will let it stop me in my tracks for a moment – because that moment probably is accompanied by a memory.

Remembering is healing.

Grief can be good.

Remembering is good.

 

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Gettin’ Sweaty & Breathin’ Heavy 2013 (3)

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UnknownOne of the reasons for starting this running habit, as listed in the first GSBH2013 post, was to change my commitment karma.    Without going into the gory details, lately there has been much analyzing of past relationships — which at some point always leans towards finger being pointed away from myself, aaaaaand then right back towards myself again.    At some point it seemed like this process of finger-pointing was a reason to feel like a bad person, a selfish person – but now am beginning to consider that perhaps this is human nature.  It’s hard to look at yourself and own your actions!

It seems trite to say that ‘running is a metaphor for life’, but it works for this runner.   The first 10K race is coming up (yipes…) and what I am certain of is that if I get my butt out the door for a run every other day the 10K will be doable.   Will it still be a physical challenge?  Yes.  But  the tools to be able to push through and do my personal best will be there at the ready.    Doing the exact same run every time will result in more of a physical and mental challenge on race day.   Striving for a longer distance every week will, with any luck, better prepare me mentally — and  my 45yr old body will have a better chance at stepping up to the challenge (keeping my fingers crossed that my body does not implode on race day….LOL).

In other words, the amount of commitment and energy put into training will be reflected likewise in the end result – both mentally and physically.   Apply that to relationships – the amount of commitment and energy put into relationships (of all kinds) will be reflected likewise in the other persons commitment and willingness to step up.

It must also be said that as we age we realize that our bodies are not always able to step up to our level of commitment.   Teaching dance and learning about sport has taught me that sometimes our physical ability doesn’t always match our level of commitment.  When that happens we need to take a step back and evaluate, is there another way to accomplish this goal with this body?   Or do I need to let it go and move  new direction?

Sometimes you can put energy and commitment into a relationship – and no matter what you do it isn’t reflected back likewise.   Those are the moments when you need to take a step back and reevaluate – not just your actions and/or the other persons actions, but consider if it is realistic to pursue this particular relationship.  Letting go is the hardest part – but sometimes its necessary for one’s own well-being and survival in this crazy world.

Actions truly do speak louder than words – and letting go is an action that speaks volumes about one’s commitment to self-worth.

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Quotes from John Stanton’s Facebook page (founder of The Running Room):

“Commitment… being loyal to your goal and accountable to yourself.”

“To define who you are and what you mean to yourself …go for a run.”

Am running to a huge playlist that surprises me at every step and interval.  LOVE when this song kicks in.

Gettin’ Sweaty & Breathin’ Heavy 2013

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When this blog began I had signed up for my first one month hot yoga challenge. The experience of yoga on a regular basis in addition to the experience of the hot room proved to be a physical challenge and provided some inspiration for this blog as well.  In the end it also fostered some unnecessary injuries and issues with heat stroke — so I do continue to do yoga but in a slightly different setting.

What I feel like after I've completed a run.

What I feel like post-run.

MY 2013 CHALLENGE IS…..drumroll please….  

Running 2 (yes 2) 10k races (September and October).

Holy.

Crap.

Some have asked, “What/who are you running from?”

That answer is more complex than I initially thought.

I am running from heart disease and diabetes (both were my mom’s arch nemeses).

I am committing to run to change my commitment karma, if you will.  Out with the one-sided relationships with people who cannot commit to the basic concepts of a relationship: Communication, Friendship and Honesty.   Bring on the healthy commitment karma!

I am running to get through the grief.  Running in the hope of somehow recreating my mother’s strength and perseverance, and honouring her spirit.

And  I am running to flush out the disappointment and frustrations of past relationships for good, and forever.  Maybe I can somehow cultivate compassion through running.

Finally, and equally as important as the rest, I am running because the post-run high is pretty freakin’ fabulous.

Mom lived with Diabetes for 20+ years and persevered through those last 2 years of life with a multitude of issues  and challenges (as a result of long-term diabetes), so therefore there is no reason why I couldn’t  move my butt 3-4 times a week. And by all means I can get out there on race day and give it my best.  And for what its worth – mom had diabetes, heart disease and cancer (x2) and my dad has had cancer (x1)- the odds are stacked against me and I need to keep movin’!

There are no illusions of grandeur, as there is virtually no chance of my placing in the top ten of any age group – I just want to get out there and do my best.  With any luck I will not be the last person to straggle across the finish line.

Have I ever run anything in my life? Not since about grade 5. Though I was a decent runner at that time — it was more than a few decades ago.

I want to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.   To show everyone (and myself) who is afraid of being 45, divorced, with no children, that it is going to be ok.  In fact, its pretty damn liberating at the best of times!  That at 45 yrs of age one doesn’t need to give in to what society deems as  OLD, and that to feel young one doesn’t need to pretend they are in their 20’s either. Doing new things challenges us to do and think differently, we interact with different groups of people, and in this case, we do a bit of good as well.

There.

It’s official.

I’ve made this commitment ‘public’.

Oi. Vay.

In the Quiet Stillness..

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It.  Is.  Almost.  Here.

CHRISTMAS!!!!

This is my most favourite time of the year, EVER!  The snow, the lights, the music, the smells, friends and family gathering, the cooking (it’s the only time of the year I really enjoy doing this part), the decorations…

In our  family Christmas Eve meant attending a midnight church service, it was magical.  Families dressed up in their  Christmas best, and came together to the church.  The children attending were very excited about being able to stay up late and greetings of ‘Merry Christmas!’ resounded in the hallways of the church.  Traditional carols were sung from the words that were projected on the wall at the front of our church (yes, before we had Powerpoint), and the pastor spoke  from a spotlight in the pulpit about the birth of  christ.

And then, at the very end of the service and the church was engulfed in darkness, the choir processed from the balcony, each holding a candle and singing ‘Silent Night’.  Each congregant also had a candle and  the light was passed along from one to the next.  In the glow of the candlelight and the choir encircling the congregation and we sang together, in english and in german (it is Minnesota after all).  The last verse was always hummed (still is today).

In the moment following the final note there was a silence, a stillness, among the congregation.  As I reminisce I realize that in that silence, if we paid close attention, we found the greater meaning of Christmas… it truly is not about us or about finding that perfect gift, is it?

All in a moment of…

Quiet Stillness.

There is still a Christmas Eve service like this at the church, though its much earlier in the evening now and the congregation is about a quarter of the size it was then. It still brings me to tears, leaving me in awe of the gifts given to us.

In the midst of the rush to complete our Christmas shopping, the throngs stampeding the malls to find the gifts that are just right (and the most popular) for our loved ones, let’s take a moment to remember why we celebrate Christmas.  Find that moment of quiet stillness.

We hear this often around the holidays, remember those who do not have family to be with, or do not have homes in which to celebrate the holiday season within.  Let’s consider this not only  at the holidays, but year round.

(you knew a video was coming, didn’t you?)

Though this is not a recording of ‘Silent Night’, it is absolutely beautiful and elicits stillness.  I suggest lighting the tree and the holiday candles, turning off the iPod, computer games and cell phone, and having a mug of hot chocolate (or mulled wine) while watching this one.

Merry Christmas!

Gettin’ sweaty and breathin’ heavy… [part three]

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Continuing on from parts one and two……(click on the highlighted text to check out previous posts).

It has been awhile since the last entry – much has happened.   My yoga practice continues,  the first term of school year is coming to an end, and, yes, it is officially winter.

Lately I have been noticing an important lesson that yoga has taught me.   To my surprise not only do I still find that yoga is an excellent workout, it is changing the way I move through life (off the mat). Moving through my volunteer time at the yoga studio and my yoga practice I have become aware of my pace.  My tendency is to rush through things in a heightened state — sort of an unending panic mode.  Somehow I am moving away from that state and moving into a more grounded, steady, state of being, in life.

Hello, can you say liberating?  [say it with me now… l i b e r a t i n g]

Life is busy.  Many of us seem to revel in the busy-ness of our everyday lives.

You know the conversation, “How have you been?”, ” Oh!? Ohmigosh I’ve been so busy!  Doing this, that, this, that, thisthatthisthatthisthatthisthat…”.  We become lulled into a state of acceptance along with some form of acknowledgement.  Accepting that life is, well, just busy.  And if my life isn’t busy, than what does that say about me? What will others think?  It is as if we feel being busy means that what we are doing is important and that it makes us more important (or maybe more accepted) in this world.   Granted, we all have those times in life when we seem to have a never ending list of little, tedious tasks that we need to get done in order to be able to do the things we want to do.  What I am referring to is beyond the occasional busy day, its the busy – every – day situations.

One of my favorite moments in yoga class is Tadasana (see photo).  When we move through the various poses and into tadasana I feel an energy moving through the pose that comes from within, it feels as if  energy radiates from my centre throughout my body and out my extremities.  The active breath reflects this as I feel as if oxygen is drawn in through my fingers, toes, and head, through my limbs and into my chest.  Exhaling through each pore of my skin.  The tension in my neck melts away and my shoulders ease from the weight of the day.  It is truly a beautiful thing.

In the end, Tadasana does not allow one to be busy with anything else but standing aligned, breathing.  So simple, yet so important to take that moment of time to just stand, in stillness.

Winter has officially arrived, blanketing our city with a layer of sparkling, fluffy, white snow – the beauty of snow is that it dampens the sounds of the city and creates a calm, a silence.  Today, instead of giving in to the negativity that arrives with the limitations that winter can often bring, I suggest that we take our cue from nature.   Stop, listen beyond the dulled sounds of the city, and hear the blanket of snow. Breathe deeply, feel the coolness of the air washing through your body, calming and soothing the racing business of your day.