Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I am, literally and figuratively, stuck. Snow falls every other day and then freezing temperatures dominate the forecast, leaving a sheet of ice. And ice doesn’t work so well with a wheelchair. So, I am stuck. This stuck feeling is what precipitated my unintended break from writing over the holiday season. After Thanksgiving, a snow storm pounded my area and forced a season of feeling emotionally and intellectually paralyzed. And this mental strain, in combination with my physical paralysis, fed my frustration and allowed it to take over my life. I did have a wonderful holiday, consumed with party planning and all things holiday. However, I also felt a void. I don’t seem to function very well outside of my routine and ritual.

The ritual I miss most, when I am stuck, is my river walks with Belle. This ritual clears my head and opens my heart. Without this experience, I feel lost and out of sorts. I tend to have mini breakdowns and lose myself quite a bit. In addition to these walks, I do exercise at home. But, there is something about the path, the river, and the quietness of the park that bring me peace. 

Yesterday, the snow melted for five minutes. I packed up Belle and headed out for a walk. Bliss. I felt renewed. My heart overflowed with gratitude. But, then, here I am today inside and wondering if I will ever get outside again. Instead of allowing this trapped feeling to dominate the day I chose to get over it and move forward despite my cloudy head. I decided this stuck feeling is only a feeling and I need to choose a new feeling. A feeling that makes me less stuck and more motivated. And I did it with just starting the day with a better attitude. An attitude that is grateful for this time inside. An attitude that is grateful for the time to accomplish things on my list that seem to always reappear or are pushed to another list for another time. I chose to be grateful for the pause, instead of pining for the play button.

I am currently working on a story to share with you. A story that tells of this past Friday night's adventure. A night I will always remember with great laughter and overwhelming love. I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you. I also fill my days with this house renovation project. The details are buttoning up quickly and I should begin a photo report soon. Please keep up the positive energy. This time inside forces completion of a lot of unfinished details and projects. It also encourages more time in my bed which only aids in my healing process. So I need to learn to be grateful for this time as much as I loathe it. I inch closer and closer to my dreams of a healthy, as it can be, body and a house suited to my needs. I need to learn not to get so frustrated when I hit a bump or stall out for a bit. Every day, I learn something new. Every, single day.

Be back shortly and hope you are very well. If you are cold, please stay warm and if you are warm, please remember to be grateful for the sun. And if you are stuck, be grateful for the pause. It is difficult to hit this button sometimes. Believe me, I know.

And this is what a stuck dog does all day long...after she is ornery, of course. I wish I could find her inner peace.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It's Not A Concession Speech

Several months ago I shared a magical conversation with a friend. We discussed suffering, loss, and grief. While our circumstances are vastly different, our emotions and our pain are quite similar. So as not to betray her confidence, I shall say we both have holes in our lives, unfulfilled dreams, and brutally interrupted plans. We discussed these vulnerabilities without shame, but also expressed much hope and determination. And without hesitation feel grateful for our lives, holes and all.

As the discussion veered towards the gratitude for these holes, gratitude for the lives we currently live, she said something so wonderful and with so much confidence, that it sticks with me all these many months later. Sometimes, when I venture into a bit of a dark place and I pull out of it using tools like my gratitude journal or focusing on what I do have, I remember her words and everything falls perfectly in place. 

Immediately after she named all of the good in her life, despite her pain, she simply said, “And this is not a concession speech.”

Not a concession speech. She is so right. Just because we learn to focus on the love in our lives, rather than the fear, doesn’t mean we are grasping for straws. Just because we choose to see what is right, rather than focus on what is wrong, doesn’t mean we are defeated. And just because life doesn’t turn out exactly as it should in our heads or by what we see as a first rate life, doesn’t mean the life we have is second best. It isn’t a concession speech to be content as we are and with what we have. In fact, it is the courageous person who takes looks her circumstances, with the falls and the stumbles and the bruises and the torn heart strings and the dashed dreams, straight in the eye and is willing to return her life again and again no matter how many times it knocks her down. This is courage. This is a win, not a concession speech.

Thank you, Shantini. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Grace Farrell

Well, I planned to write about my unintended break from this little space and resolutions and forgiveness, but after a conversation over text message with Ashlea, I deleted everything I wrote and decided to just write straight from my heart. Straight from the emotion I feel at the moment and just go with it.

So, what I do want to pass along from my deleted post is that I despise resolutions for the new year. They sound great and all rah-rah, but honestly I think they are a waste of time. I don’t have an issue with change or focused determination, but resolutions that last a week or a month and then cause disappointment or feelings of failure just simply irritate me. Lofty goals are made and lofty goals are not reached. Some people may stick to these plans, but I am not one of them. In order for me to make meaningful change, I must feel the time is right. A lot of time, the change comes from necessity and I see nothing wrong with it. Sometimes the change comes from increased awareness, which is even better. However it comes, I can’t ask the desire to show up on January first or second of each year. It just doesn’t work that way for me. And I don’t need one more reason to feel like I am not living up to my potential just because of a calendar change. 

What I do agree with...and you can call this a resolution or not...is adding more ritual and finding more joy and cultivating more peace. I work every day on these changes. Somedays, I do well, and other days, not so much. Instead of feeling like a failure, I just simply think, oh well, tomorrow is another day. And if I can’t find tomorrow or fail to see the light behind the clouds, well I get down on my knees and pray that I find the hidden rays of sunshine and find them quickly.

A few nights ago, I found myself crying alone in my kitchen. I was cutting an avocado one minute and the next minute found my head resting on my arm, while I shed tear after tear. I slept very little for a number of days and was probably just overly tired. At the moment my thoughts were not clear and it felt as if the tears would never end. As I cried, I felt the urge to reach into my bag of tools and get on my knees and pray. Since I can’t literally get on my knees, I folded my hands in my lap, bowed my head and prayed to whomever was listening. I simply asked to feel better, surrendered my issues, which I can’t even remember what they were at the time, and begged for the ability to be of service, to be useful in some way, and to be guided into that direction. Immediately, I felt immensely better. I, then, decided to return to preparing dinner, turn on Friends, because it always makes me laugh, and move on from the crying. For some odd reason, I wasn’t into watching this show that usually makes me literally laugh out loud. I changed the channel. And two channels down, starting at the exact time I chose to change the channel, was Dr. Wayne Dyer on PBS. The particular show was his lecture on his recent book, Wishes Fulfilled. I said out-loud, as I eerily looked around as if some cosmic force actually heard me, okay, okay, I hear you loud and clear. I watched his lecture for the billionth time, found new meaning in it, and like a light switch, flipped from a perspective of fear to love. 

Over the next few days, I adopted a new ritual. Instead of asking to heal my body, I asked how can I heal the world? I asked how can I be of more service? And how can I spread the abundance of joy and love? The answer didn’t come as quickly as the Wayne Dyer on television the minute I turned it on answer came. In fact, the response still seems to be showing up in many, varied, and different ways. So, instead of making a resolution this year, I chose to make a ritual that sits me in the space to be more open and aware of more joy and more love and how to share both of them.

And tonight, as I conversed with Ashlea, a bit of this awareness seeped in like water through a crack, slowly at first and then forcefully busting through with vigor. As we discussed silly things like baby blankets and our dogs dashing inside after they do their business because the air is so cold outside, I asked her how she was feeling today. Ashlea is eight months pregnant. She shared how she took down the Christmas decorations, then told me she randomly fell asleep watching a movie with her daughter. She said it happens during the final months of pregnancy...one minute she is watching Annie with her daughter and then the next she is fast asleep on the couch. 

Annie. She had me at the mention of the movie, Annie. I adored the movie, Annie, as a child. And by adored, I mean obsessed over the movie Annie, as a child. I think it came out when I was four Only, I didn’t want to be Annie as much as I wanted to be Grace Farrell. In fact, I acted out this movie many times. My sister can tell many tales of how I made her play Annie to accompany my Grace Farrell act. I sang, Let’s Go to the Movies, while wheeling across the room with my legs propelling my Great Grandmothers ottoman on wheels, just like Grace did in the famous scene. I could twirl my legs in the air and practiced Grace’s dances over and over again in the mirror. I can do a mean, We Got Annie, performance. I named my first cat Annie and my dog surprisingly looks like a miniature Sandy, but with black hair. And no, it does not escape me that I noticed, with great detail, the scenes with FDR and his wheelchair. I always wondered what it would be like to be a president in a wheelchair. I know half of the answer now. 

Back to Grace Farrell. She, after all, was my favorite. With great pleasure, I practiced her scenes and her songs. I danced as if no one was watching and twirled and swooped my legs through the air with gusto. And tonight, for the first time in a quite a while, I watched those scenes over and over again. I felt like my heart burst into a confetti of joy and spilled all over the place. I didn’t care the happy tears drenched my laptop keyboard, I was overcome with joy and just went with it. And then, I knew. I knew what part of my purpose is, what a bit of what I am supposed to do with this life is...I am to find that bit of my soul that flails my legs through the air and sings dangerously out of key and not be afraid to live in that place. And not only live in that place, but to spread the feeling that comes from that place, all around me. And no, I can’t dance those dances anymore and I am certain singing is not my gift, but the pure joy and bursting heart are equally important gifts to share. All I need to do is smile as if I am scooting that ottoman across the floor, treat everyone as if, We Got Annie, and learn to tap into that joy found in dancing around my room, as a daily ritual. 

So my new hope for this year is that I may find that space that resides deep, down inside where Annie and Grace Farrell still live. And on the days when I do find it and not only find it, but grasp a hold of it, tightly, may I learn to gracefully share it, in any way that I can. And if I can only find it for a minute, may that be the minute I pass it along in the most meaningful and gracious way possible. May I find my purpose in the service of others and help spread the cultivation of joy and inner Grace Farrells everywhere. For my purpose, I believe, is to this spread joy and spread this light, I once innately knew so well. Because, in the end, isn’t that what we are all supposed to do?