Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes Kindness Involves Silver Shoes

Dark Moonday.  Waning crescent moon, also known as the balsamic moon, several days before the new moon.     A good time for releasing habits, patterns, and old junk of all kinds.  Pruning.


Recently I’ve been having one of those times that makes you think, “Was I actually happy a little while ago, and… did I really have energy to get things done?  Will I ever have energy again?”

I spent last week visiting the critical care unit of a very good hospital five hours away from where I live, sitting vigil with my family around the bed of my aunt who is fighting for her survival. 

I could feel the strands of my life slipping away until there was nothing left but the sterile hospital with pumps of antibacterial lotion at every door like mezuzahs, the efficient, rushing nurses, the buzzing, beeping machines, my aunt’s shallow breath. 

I silently chanted ‘Ya Sha Fi’, a Sufi chant meaning ‘to heal’ or ‘healing’ for hours.  It was peaceful.  My presence seemed helpful, and it felt so good to be helpful.

Coming back has been harder.  My aunt isn’t out of the woods, but her prognosis has improved.  The older generation sent me home.  They told me I'd be needed again soon, and in the meantime I had to take care of my own life.   That’s the tricky part.  Picking up those strands again after casting them aside so suddenly.

We have a very small family, and I adore my aunt.  Part of me wants to stay in bed, pull the covers up over my head, and hibernate for the foreseeable future.

But that's not what I’m doing.  I’m also not forcing myself, kicking and screaming, back to ‘normal’.  I’m being patient with the part of myself that wants to hide under the covers forever more. 

I learned this trick when I was quitting smoking.  If you really want to shift a behavior, you have to be incredibly kind to the part of yourself that is resistant to the change.  

Today I bought a pair of silver shoes I’ve been wanting for about a year.  Just looking at them makes me want to dance, and certainly to get out of bed so I can put them on.  I wore a silk dress because beautiful clothes help me to face the world.  I gave myself small manageable tasks to accomplish with the understanding that I didn't actually have to get everything done.

I held space for how I’m feeling in my meditation practice.  And I did my meditation practice. 

I’m sure that I’ll have days where I fail, days where I stay in bed in ratty sweats reading a novel for hours, getting up only to eat brownies, and I have to be kind to myself on those days too.  Tell myself its o.k.  I’ll just try again tomorrow.

Because life is too precious to be spent beating ourselves up.

For this Moonday, I’d love it as always if you have some art or a poem to share of any kind.  I’d also love to know what cheers you up?  What do you do to encourage yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed by life?