Thursday, February 10, 2011
That's what my son said to me on the phone last night, as we made arrangements to meet and drive together to his cousin's service. He will take his exams this morning, then skip his afternoon lectures to attend. I'll take his tie over to go with his suit (he's not active duty, so not going in uniform), since somehow in the move last summer it ended up at my house.
I liked his words... it *is* about respect. Respect for the life that our loved one lived. For the adversity that each human has to overcome. For the family's loss. For the friends who care and show up. Respect is a huge part of community life. Without it society would crumble.
Respect applies to how we live our lives, too. Respect for ourselves and our bodies and our mission in life. Respect for the values and rules we abide by.
Have a respectful day. Take care of yourselves. And hug your loved ones tight.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Funny how the big things in life turn one to a philosophical side. The part of me that sits to the side and observes "how'm I doing?" is on active duty, recording away for assimilation into the "me report". In this blog, my little cave where it IS all about me... I nurture me, despite the storms around.
It isn't all about numbers on the scale. We established that at the very beginning. That might be a metaphor, but seriously, my weight issues are not about physical weight, they are about behavior and reactions to stimuli. Those stimuli may be emotions, or events, or even the presence of particular foods.
What I observed last night was the need for quiet and an amazing thing that happened when I just went on auto-pilot and walked on that treadmill for an hour, uninterrupted. In the shower, washing off the sweat, it dawned on me that the sheer physical action of walking is part of the instinctive reaction to flee from danger. That's why it works to calm. Taking a physical action releases the tension that's built up.
Physical activity puts "distance" between me and whatever is bugging me. It lets me separate myself, and re-establish my boundaries from an all-too-easy identification with others who are, after all, far more directly impacted. My imagination goes straight to "how would I be feeling if it were my ... son, husband, sibling..." But it is not my place to process the emotions that come to another human being. That falls into "the things I cannot change", and belongs firmly in the God box.
Walking (or other physical activity) helps me remember that I don't have to BE that other person to be of service. Maintain strong boundaries, but don't build brick walls. Find the balance. Belonging, connecting, is not absorption. Lessons for a lifetime.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
I'm amazed at how exhausting conversation can be. Yesterday was an "off" day from the half marathon training, but I spent the evening in back to back phone calls with family, pacing the kitchen, dining room, living room circle. Processing, processing.
Tonight, having nobody on the phone, being by myself, hopping up on the treadmill again and getting in a good workout... well, it's been a much needed breather for me. I now have a time and date and place for the service (Thursday). I now know my ex is not making the 1200 mile trek to attend, so I don't have to worry about him on the road in the winter or his fear of flying or having him in my home (I felt honor-bound to offer to put him up, since the more immediate family doesn't have the space).
Part of me feels a trifle guilty for feeling relieved at that. But if I'm honest with myself I do feel relieved, as the upcoming weekend is one that involves staying up overnight working, and although someone would probably back me up if I could not do my bit, it's long since my turn! And as some of you have figured out by now, being useful at work is a huge part of my identity.
Tomorrow, a new day.
Monday, February 07, 2011
You're traveling along on your Spark journey, improving your health, learning to deal with your emotions without turning to the food, learning to manage your stress, getting physically stronger, dropping pounds or maintaining a healthy weight. Then something big hits. It is like a test: is all this Spark-philosophy practical for ME in my life, through all its storms? Is it worth it?
Yesterday was the beginning of such a test. We all have lots of such tests in our lives... some are pop quizzes (like dinner out), some are all-day, all-week, all-month, multi-part exams (like an illness, or a family crisis).
Since I'm not part of the inner circle for my nephew, his wife or my sister in law... yesterday was a day of waiting and starting to accept this thing that has happened. I passed the news along to "my side of the family", including my son, his cousin. To give you an idea of the relationship between my son and my nephew, I offer this photograph, from 1988, at the Jersey shore.
My nephew is on the left, the tall 11 year old, holding the hand of the trusting 4 year old. My son and I chatted a bit about what had happened, and of course, he was pretty shocked, too.
Not able to get in touch with my ex (left him voice mail), I put the Super Bowl on the TV, and hopped back on the treadmill, finally ready to finish the interrupted workout. About halftime, I finally heard back from my ex, and we were able to share our memories, and the usual thoughts that we all have when someone young and promising dies: "Why him? Why not someone older, like us, who have already raised our children?"
Honestly, if I were to drop dead today, I would say "I've done my bit". This young man still had lots of future plans. For himself, for his wife, for their daughters. That's what makes these things hard. Life teaches us that there are many things beyond our own control. We can't go back and change them. We can't undo the bad things that have happened.
What we can do is take inspiration, have faith, and recognize that a life does not have to be long to be worthwhile. My nephew leaves a legacy of two promising daughters. He leaves behind each of us who were touched by his gentle soul and his life. He leaves behind a warning about sleep apnea and how dangerous it is... and how being "big" adds to the danger.
We do not have control over everything that happens in life, but we do have the responsibility for our own behavior. If there is something we can do to increase our potential to be a help, rather than another burden, to others, now's the time to start (or continue). That includes taking care of our own health, nurturing ourselves so that we can help others.
Yes, the Spark philosophy *does* work for real life, because it is real-life based. The first thing you're instructed to do is examine your values, and determine just what your motivation comes from. If we did that part, we, and Spark, pass the tests.
Sunday, February 06, 2011
I was on the treadmill, over halfway to my planned six miles when the phone rang. It was one of those phone calls you don't want to get, and my phone doesn't ring without purpose on a Sunday morning. Those aren't the telemarketers or the fund raisers.
In this case is was my ex's sister, and her voice sounded shaky. We don't talk THAT often. Last time we did was in the Summer when her son's mother in law passed away and she herself had a heart attack. We care about one another, we just live independent lives, and don't want to overburden one another... as we have separate support groups. I'm sure you have folks like this in your lives, too.
Still, there was a time when we saw one another more frequently. When the kids were younger. When my ex was my husband. When we ferried the kids to Sunday School together. Before we moved away.
After I moved back, we again saw one another mainly in the context of my ex's relationship. I did go to a few birthday parties of her grand daughters. Stopped by on Christmas or the day after. Went to cultural events together. But this past year, with her health issues, we didn't do so much... as her needs were more on conserving energy, and her own immediate family was her focus.
She asked if my ex had called me. He had not. Then she just out and told me: her son, one of those kids we used to ferry to Sunday School, has died. Last night, in his sleep, he suffered a massive coronary (possibly triggered by his sleep apnea?). He had a good day yesterday, she said... laughing and watching a movie with his sister before heading home to bed. I know he would have wanted those left behind to take care of one another.
The news has certainly knocked me back. Some things are just too huge. This doesn't mean to stop taking care of one's health... functional fitness still applies to being able to deal the storms of life. But I have to process it.
So my message today is: hug your loved ones. You never know. Life can be short (he was 35). But even a short life can have meaning and purpose... he leaves behind two little girls and a wife, and he touched many of us with his gentle soul.
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