Birthdays, Nightmares, and Love

Birthdays are so interesting. At least they are to me. It’s sad as we get older that they get less and less important. That won’t happen with me. No sir. If I can get ONE day to do whatever I want, no questions asked, you better believe I’m gonna take it.

This year, I choose to reflect. This past year can’t easily be labeled.  On this day in 2017, I was celebrating my 50th birthday. Not in the fashion I had hoped. My family was in the quiet farm town of Ottawa, IL preparing for my father’s first surgery. My husband and daughter were getting ready to travel back home while I stayed to help out. It was no big deal. We thought.

A few weeks after this milestone birthday, our family experienced the nightmare of a lifetime. My father…strong, healthy, funny, intelligent, witty, active, generous, efficient, handsome, and dearly loved…was reduced to a shell of a person. And it turned our world upside down.

Over the past year we have experienced fear, anger, frustration, hospitals, doctors, nurses, surgeries, rehab, lawyers, expenses, arguments, sleepless nights, confusion, paranoia, messes, relocation, tears, lies, cover-ups, CYAs, panic attacks, depression, hopelessness, grief, disagreements, and separation. All horrible. All unfair. All unbelievable.

But here’s what I reflect on today:

  • The time the doctor asked my Dad who the President was, and he said, “I’d rather not talk about it.”
  • The two RNs and one PA who were always there when we needed them, were honest with us, KNEW my Dad before this, and said, “What in the hell happened to your Dad?” (They understood our shock and disbelief.)
  • All of the medical staff here and in Illinois who have helped my father return to a new version of himself, still all that he was, just taking a little more time to get there.
  • The privilege of welcoming my parents into my home to rest, recover, and be loved by a daughter who owes them her life, a son-in-law who has a heart of gold, and a grand daughter who will always know what family means.
  • My friends who were curious, shocked, supportive, forgiving, helpful, patient, loving, and here. Just here.
  • And no matter what the hospital does or who takes responsibility for what happened or whether this could be a legal case….I really don’t care. All of that will be taken care of by the all mighty spirit that knows ALL of the answers and how to work things out.

What I really care about is the here, the now, and that everybody feels loved. Everything comes from love. There is no other source.

It’s my birthday. I feel loved.

I hope you do too.

birthdays

 

One Way to Approach the New Year

As this new year approached and I was inundated with suggestions to leave my troubles in 2017, look ahead to 2018, come up with a resolution for the new year, and be excited about it, all I could feel was the need to be left alone.

The last six months of 2017 were horrendous for my family. My 86-year-old father underwent heart surgery on August 1st and due to medical malpractice, suffered a brain injury. Before this, he was a healthy, strong, intelligent man who went to the gym three times a week, completed the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle, and rode a tractor almost daily through acres of farm land. His heart is now as healthy as can be. His brain is not. Although he has progressed a great deal from being unable to walk, talk, eat, and control his bodily functions, our family has been through pure hell taking care of him. He and my mother now live with my family.

So, when faced with the anticipation of a new year, I simply felt stuck in the hardship of 2017. How can I not be? It’s still happening. So I wanted to put this off.  Could we just wait another six months for a new year? I’m just not ready.

So I turned to thoughts of yoga: love, light, peace, and truth in body, mind, and spirit. And that was my turning point.

New Years Day passed without a thought. I celebrated without the need to have discovered my resolution. Daily tasks were carried out in plenty of time. The house was transitioned back to normalcy from all the decorations, baked goods, and Christmas music.

What I had to remember is that this year has been difficult for me. And 2018 will continue to be the same, at least for the time being. In addition to the events surrounding my father’s injury, I have lived with anxiety and depression since the age of 19. I turned 50 last year. In fact, my 50th birthday celebration was brought to a screeching halt by what happened to my father. It’s been a struggle to keep my anxiety and depression at bay.

So I gave myself a break. A big one. I removed this huge need to identify what I desired for 2018 and gave myself the time and space to let it come to me. I created an opening to allow its entrance.

On January 1st, while scrolling through my Instagram feed, it flew right in. I saw a word I hadn’t seen in a while and had forgotten about: Sankalpa. This is a Sanskrit word in yogic philosophy that refers to a heartfelt desire. It is an intention or a resolve to do something. It comes from deep within and is often an affirmation.

new year

On January 2nd, I taught a yoga class using this idea as my theme, informing my students that they had one of four options:

1.) Use a resolution you’ve already created and transform it into a Sankalpa.

2.) Create your Sankalpa during class today.

3.) Be open to receive your Sankalpa if it is not easily coming to you.

4.) None of the above.

I had already chosen number three and I still haven’t been able to put it into a concise phrase, but I now know what I want this year. I want yoga. Not just the physical practice of yoga but all of the spiritual healing and connection that comes with it. I want to feel as much love and peace as possible every day, in every moment. I want to be able to surround the sadness I feel for my father with light and transform it into joy. I want to be true to myself and allow the time and space needed for all of this.

I can do it. I know I can. And I’m in no hurry.

 

Wonderful Places Where Yoga Heals

Project Balance

“Our Mission is to bring mind-body wellness to the children and families of our community through partnerships, education and outreach.”

Yoga 4 Change

“Yoga 4 Change is a non-profit organization that achieves meaningful change for veterans, incarcerated individuals, vulnerable youth, and those dealing with substance abuse. Our purpose-driven yoga program enables us to heal and empower these under-served populations, creating healthier, safer communities, one class at a time.”

The Recovery Village 

“Our patients reside in beautifully designed, private and semi-private rooms with comforting accommodations and amenities. We provide a rare retreat for our patients with a serene landscape and top-notch amenities to promote a healthy recovery environment.  Our full continuum of care reaches past your stay at our residential facility, ensuring continued success in your future.”