Eve of The New Year

When I was young Christmas Eve was a time of wonderment, and New Years Eve was pure magic. I would force myself to stay awake, all night long was the goal, but back then the definition of all night long didn’t exactly mean midnight. Instead it meant whenever I managed to last until I ended up collapsing in a heap of sleeping child.

There was magic in watching a large ball on a huge stick slowly fall down, and the mystery of fireworks rocketing rough the air were a sight to behold.

In my early twenties the magic changed to spending New Years Eve in the arms of a partner, as though there was something tragic about seeing the year change as a single person.

And then somewhere. Some time it all stopped being of interest to me, it simply no long mattered. The magic, the smoke and the mirrors all seemed so silly. Instead it became a time to reflect, a time to be grateful and appreciate my life. It became a time to remind myself of goals and plans, of loves and losses. An accounting of sorts really I guess.

There is a different kind of magic to this, it is a magic I can hold on to and feel it spark within me and warm me. It is a magic I can easily share with others and it isn’t just to the mark turning of a calendar, but rather can be pulled out and used whenever I feel like it. And there is magic within that too.

I like the magic of being human, the magic of love and new opportunities. I love the mystery of trying different things, going to different places and learning about other people, who really aren’t that much of a mystery because they are human too.

So as the calendar changes, flipping one more digit higher my reflections, appreciations and loves will also grow in number. I’d sooner flip those forward than focus on a number.

A New Year, A New Unresolution

A friend recently sent out an email listing all her resolutions for 2014. There is an even 10 of them and the run from little things to large things.

I was curious why she’d email them out to everyone, although I suspected part of the reason might be so we could help her achieve them. Instead her answer was a little different, “it will keep me honest about it because I know others know so I’m hoping that builds determination”.

I don’t remember ever setting a resolution just to tie in with the changing of the year. To me changing is relatively, it’s getting to the point to want to change that is the hard bit. Once you’ve reached the point that says you are ready for the change you don’t need some marker to start or announce that you are aiming for something different. I find that instead you end up going forward and making the change.

If I’m not ready for making a change, or am not committed to do the likelihood of me sticking to it is in the slim to none range. Of course that’s just me and I do know that there are times that the motivation for change have nothing to do with being ready or not and instead everything to do with not liking the consequences to not adhering to said change. (I should point out here that prison is not on one of my must visit and stay places.)

Most of the deep changes in my life have come not at thee ginning of a new year or the ending of an old, it instead rather haphazardly as my circumstances etc change. I suspect this is true for most people, not that some do not make major changes around the beginning do the year.

The stuff that fosters and leads to change aren’t always conveniently available at a year’s turning. And often the very reason for the changes are made of deeper things, than “I want to read/travel more; lose weight” etc. Not that there is anything wrong with these, however it is the motivation behind these desires that kick in and typically do so on their own terms, not always when it suits us.

So once again I shall see the ending of one year and the beginning of a new one without the weight and oppression of making and keeping a resolution, rather I shall enjoy the freedom of not feeling pressure or obligation around a tradition.

Humorous Healing

It never occurred to me that cancer would come to visit me because of the medication I’m on. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t mentioned as any of the side effects and so at first no one suspected it to be linked.

Long conversations with my doctors and intensive research on my own, I suddenly realized the very meds I am on for a small autoimmune illness called Lupus. And about the time I found this out for myself, my doctor stumbled upon it as well.

Now cancer itself is no easy journey and the same can be said about lupus, but dealing with both of them is akin to living one’s life on an out of control roller coaster, one where the speed is not governed and the tracks have a slight wobble to them.

Not enough for you? Then add to the mix your better half having cancer as well as you have the theme park ride of hades. The trick is to not take it all too seriously; enjoy the good moments and not get too lost in the dark moments as well as finding a way to laugh at it all.

You still aren’t sure? Okay here’s a small example. Beloved is losing hair from chemo, it just happens not to be the hair on the top of his head, instead he has notice a wee thinning of his beard and interestingly he has no hair left on his arms while his legs are showing patchy bald spots. Now if only a woman could have chemo remove unwanted body hair! But as it is, Beloved is starting to find creative ways to work with his facial hair and some of the results are a bit ummm too creative!

We’ve found that laughter does help with any medicine and makes the recovery a bit more pleasant. Sure we have moments where at the time we can’t find the laughter, but looking back a few days later it’s impossible to not laugh as the patchy bald spots on one’s leg!

Treating With Thanks

Sometimes I wish I had paid more attention in Biology classes. I’m not sure if it would have helped us as we face cancer treatment, but at least it would have helped a bit on the learning curve. At least that’s what I tell myself.

The truth is no amount of education would prepare me for this. Sure I’d be familiar with the terms and such, but is anyone ever really ready for the world of cancer?

It’s a horrible, heart-stopping, breath stealing world. The path do treatment is never straight forward and for all the highs there are some awfully deep valleys. And that’s from the patient side of things.

I cannot fathom what it inline from the oncologist’s side of things. Sure sure they are familiar with it, they understand it and are somewhat removed from the impact. But most of them have a heart and care. Most of them ride the peaks with caution and try to be a brake as we gather speed going down into those deep dark valleys.

The nurses and others who help and support, they too are on these crazy rides with us. And all too often it is far too easy to ignore all of this and just focus on he recovery and treatment of us. But without these people where would we be?

So today, and every day, I offer up a heartfelt thanks that cannot ever convey enough how truly grateful I am for these people and all they do.

Waging War With Illness

I bartered, begged and even tried the art of supplication. It was all to no avail. I might have been shouting into,the wind.

Some people recommend doing just that, releasing it out as a means of feeling better. For me it was like tilting at windmills.

How can you reason with illness? It doesn’t fight fair. It sneaks in with mild, almost innocent symptoms. It hides the darkness and seriousness it brings until the time is just right, until it has grown in strength. It teases, looking as though it is going away only to come back stronger.

We seek out those who are well versed in dealing with it, but they cant promise they can’t get rid of it for good. And so we battle with our bodies and our minds, our spirits and souls. We entered always win, but it reminds us of how precious life is.

It calls to us not to waste out lives caught up in silly arguments and petty anger. And above all it reminds us. Itching is fair nor guaranteed.

The truth is, I’m sick and tired of having illness in my life. I want to kick it to the side and stomp it into oblivion, it it doesn’t work that way. So struggle to find a balance of sorts, a type of peace or truce with it while I work to find my energy for the next round. For surely as much as it serves to remind me how fleeting life is, it also serves to remind me that sinle-minded pursuit of the negative type is not good idea.

Still im sick of the battles and struggles, tired of the ground gained only to be lost again. So we hope, with some trepidation mind, that his gains are far greater and cancer’s losses are stacking up. While he is in the trenches fighting I am doing so from a distance and I’m utterly tired of the war, I just want to win it and be done; I cannot imagine how much more the exhaustion must be for him, how hard he wishes for a positive win on his part. And so we wage our war agains cancer together, all the while I know that with him as the ground forces, the toughest battles will be waged by him.

Magical Effort

I asked her if she was sad that Christmas was over while she was playing with her new kitchen. She looked up from her complicated routine if stirring and whisking and flipping whatever delicious imaginary concoction she was working so hard at. With a serious look in her eyes the five-year-old girl offered this wisdom: “I’m sad there aren’t more presents, but I’m glad the whole having to be good is done. Being good is hard, thirsty work!”

Making Christmas, or rather getting everything ready for one day, be it Christmas, a wedding or what have you is hard, thirsty work. Unless you do the background work yourself you may not even realize how challenging and energy-draining it is to make that moment seem effortless and magical.

It’s been my experience anything that seems effortless really takes a great deal of effort behind the scenes. That athlete that makes his/her sport seem like second nature had to work to make it second nature. Those people who pull together amazing food and parties in the blink of an eye? Practice and hard work to get to that level.

And the magical part? That’s the hardest because the magic requires a suspension of beliefs for some, an air of mystery takes heavy lifting. Slight of hands are never light nor easy.

So why do we go to this trouble? We do it for love, for creating the moment of whimsy for someone we care about. We do it to offer up a bit of wonderment still, no matter how old a person is. We do it as a way of showing our care and love. And we do it as a means of capturing a little something back even for ourselves.

What magic have you created lately?

Lack of Complaints

It wasn’t an ideal day for a walk a few days ago, but the dog had to go out and, well make the rounds. You know for sniffing the new smells, marking territory and all the rest of the important things dogs must do.

The wind was in our face, the rain fell hard and all in all it was miserable really. Still I didn’t mind it all that much, I mean sure the weather wasn’t great, but I was able to go out and walk and spend some time with the dog. Besides I wasn’t dealing with a typhoon of a hurricane, there wasn’t mass flooding or ice storms. I had no real reason to complain.

Beloved didn’t go for our outing, he said it was to “dreadful and cold” for the walk. He met me at home with hot cocoa and a smile. And again, I was reminded that I had no reason to complain.

There are times though, when it’s too easy to complain: traffic is too busy, the line is slow-moving, the weather is awful, there is a mess the size of Texas in my kitchen and on and on we go. But the truth is, when you get down to it, I really don’t have a reason to complain. I have wonderful people in my life, a decent job, love, a good house and food beyond what I need to live off of. Sure my health isn’t great, but I’m not terminally ill either.

I would be wise, next time Beloved leaves the kitchen looking like a tornado hit it, to not go looking for the Wizard of Oz or hoping for the Grand Canyon to appear for us to stuff the mess in. I would be wise to be thankful for the imp and even the mess he made because it is a mess of excess and a mess done out of love. Yes I’d be wise to remember that, but of course it’s always easier to focus on the stuff that gets under your skin in an annoying way.

Dancing Peacefully

Each year I hope that around this time the world is a bit closer to peace. As I look back at the triumphs and the failures of he year I realize that humans like to dance, a lot. We dance forward with peace and then back. We dance around peace and dip with it. We twirl and glide, closer and further away, but always moving.

Perhaps finding peace is really just a dance in the end. Perhaps there is more gained rather than going at it in a straight line.

I guess I shouldn’t expect much from the world given it’s hard enough to keep peace within our own families never mind the world. Although it always seems easier to do for others what we cannot do for our own families.

Still I wouldn’t want to sit this dance, or any of them out.

Night Before Christmas – Our Style

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through my house creatures were as if they had found a mouse. Sure there were no shrieks or people jumping up on chairs, but it wasn’t peaceful either.

There was tinsel to roll on (if you happen to be a dog). Packages to be shaken (both dog and Beloved).
Glasses clinking as adults shared cheer.
Music playing and laughter filled the air.

There are no children in our house, just the inner children that reside in Beloved and I. And I assure all I have no visions of sugar plums dancing through my head. What I do have is hope for peace, love, forgiveness and better times ahead.

No matter what I unwrap from under the tree none of it will matter as much as the love and acceptance I have from people. And I hope the best gift I give, the one that is given on more than just one day, is love and acceptance with grace.

So I bid you all, as you unwrap presents and spend time with your loved ones, please make the gifts that matter most something we give each day without hesitation or expectations.

Foraging for Forgiveness

Beloved was reading the paper while having his coffee. Something had caught his attention and not in a good way, he was getting a bit frazzled by the article. The dog could sense this and had snuggled up against Beloved’s leg, not whining, but making a nose from deep in his throat in an effort to calm Beloved.

“Pardons”, he said as way of explaining things while I got my coffee. Ah yes, that time of year when some leaders pardoned typical minor criminals and almost never those who committed other crimes. This had been a conversation at the table for the past few days, should it be done and what message does it send to the victims of the crime?

Beloved feels these pardons are nothing other than a mockery of forgiveness and do not stand to bring about reconciliation or closure around the crimes. I understand his point of view as well as why a leader isn’t likely to pardon anything controversial.

The thing is, as I pointed out to a Beloved, there are so many examples of true forgiveness and grave by those who were victims of truly horrific crimes or injustice. It is to these people I look when I think about forgiveness. It from these people who I hope to learn and thus practice this beautiful practice.

To carry around anger, hurt and possibly hate for years upon years is to grind your own spirit into the ground with the weight of those burdens. To set them aside, to accept that yes this happened, but that you will no longer carry around the excess of the incident and thus truly move forward is liberating for you.

For those reasons, plus the fact that some times circumstances such as hunger or extreme poverty make people do things they wouldn’t otherwise do and therefore people can and do change allow me to embrace these ideas of forgiveness offered with such grace.

I’m not fully there yet, not to offering such forgiveness after such damage, but I’m working on it. Each day I come a bit closer and each day I feel a bit of peace settle upon me. And I’m. It foolish enough to believe that I haven’t done thing that require forgiveness and grace. For now though, I shall work on displaying and practicing those very acts that are beautiful and so truly human.

It is not easy to forgive someone a hurt, it is far easier to continue to wear your hurt as a badge. It isn’t a simple or straight forward process either, but to find the way to forgive is to find a new liberty. Forgiveness is found when we forage through the brambles and weeds of our life.
In case you are wondering, Beloved set aside the paper, took the dog out and when he came back he too said it would be a better thing to work on forgiveness while not nullifying the hurt or the damage.