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?


Sandi Longhurst said...


I'm so happy to have Moonday back, missed it! I would say eating brownies is being kind to yourself, one of my great pleasures in life.

Things that cheer me up - brownies, flowers, sleeping in, beauty, practice, time alone, riding my bike. One of the best ways to clear my head is rock climbing... when it comes down to survival all the other stuff takes it's proper place.

I love the idea of being very kind to the part of you that is resistant to change. I will co-opt that into my life.

Lots of love,


Sandi Longhurst said...

Kate, winner of the early season bike commute challenge for creativity, wins a Haiku:

howl at the moon, dog
hunting herbs by softest light
New York City life

ann galkowski said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ann galkowski said...

I am excited for your shoes!

Kate T.W. said...

Sandi... I used to love rock climbing. haven't had the opportunity in recent years, but you're reminding me why I loved it so much. And please co-opt away!

Thank you for the fabulous haiku. I think it needs a beat behind it. Has me humming...

Ann, thanks so much for sharing that here. So helpful to me to read about your process, and I'm sure for others as well.

ann said...

I love this post Kate. I feel I can relate. My days fluctuate lately between having energy to do things, and feeling sad, anxious, sometimes heavy. On the lighter days, I dig the, enjoy music, socialize. Lately I did something I always wanted to, bought a red rose bush, purple clematis vine (for sun, with the irises someone gave me! Happy to have the creativity support), and shade perennials/annuals to put near bushes I recently pruned. I visited with friends, doing mother's day and compassion/understanding meditations. Good thing I did, because then I needed to draw from that well. Letting go of old habits, patterns in relationships and in beliefs about myself and life is difficult and can bring up grief even when I know its beneficial. And, this was my family's first mother's day without my sister. It didn't hit me on that day, but after. Today on breaks from work and in between periods of grief, I sat outside for a few minutes and felt the warm sun on my face out of the cool wind, which I love. I ate green vegetables, which felt like palpable support, ready to take on what I needed them to(*though sometimes it is chocolate that cheers me up). With grief running down my face out of my eyes I went out and planted the clematis and later the rose bush. It felt good to get into the earth for a few minutes, and it soothed me. Tonight at yoga I loved the kind sound of my friend's voice. Sensation flowing through my body and grief palpably near, I was able to acknowledge my grief and let go of attachment to my emotion. I then felt the sensation was pleasurable, and was able to enjoy it. Sometimes when I feel anxiety by paying attention to my body sensations, I can switch my emotion to excitement, though not always and I don't always try. I try to be gentle with myself, though lately I have forgotten this at times and have felt impatient with me for what I feel is not fast enough progress. So thank you for that reminder and linking it to something as difficult as quitting smoking can be. And yes, I love silk and shoes too..though mine are not silver, some favorites are gold!

rutherv said...

What cheers me up:


(dogs keep it real for me. They are very authentic. They don't worry. And i find it almost impossible to be depressed in the presence of a dog)

making "bad" art
(I have my capital "A" art projects - the novel I'm writing, etc... but sometimes, it just feels good to doodle or make sandcastles or finger paint or belt out songs from old musicals

and yes, brownies
I had always had the problem that whenever I make brownies I end up eating too many because recipes rarely make less than a dozen - then a friend let me in on her "dirty secret" - the single serving instant gooey brownie, which involves mixing 2 Tbs of organic brownie mix from WF with 1 Tb of organic whole milk vanilla yogurt and microwaving for a minute which transforms it into hot, gooey softbaked chocolaty goodness. This is the only thing I use the microwave for. I'm cringing that I am actually admitting to doing this on your blog, but on rare occasion sometimes the kid soul just needs a dose of something warm and gooey

this blog cheers me up!

Kate T.W. said...

yay to kid soul and gooey brownies in moderation! And dogs. Such amazing healers. Its true. And thanks Ruth... hurray to blog-o-cheer. Comments cheer me up :-)

creativevoyage said...

(((( )))))

sounds really hard

talking to friends - a sympathetic ear

a good meal

a good book

a walk

sitting in cafe