In January I wrote Life Disrupted: My Season of Wintering and never imagined that here in May, my life and physical activities would still be so restricted by pain. A short reprieve in February gave me an injection of hope – thank you! – and then the pain came back full steam. So did the pendulum swing of positive expectation and helplessness.
I’ve written snippets elsewhere about the Enneagram. Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s book The Road Back to You has been helpful in my self-discovery for learning how I’m wired. I don’t program my life to following their description of a type Seven – “The Enthusiast” – but I resonate with many of the identifying factors that includes both strengths and self-defeating patterns.
Rescripting (trying to make sense of) my present season has been a collaborative practice of this evolving understanding of who I am and scripture and prayer with journalling my highs and lows (with the accompanying emotions, these words are for my eyes alone!).
My new normal is a hot morning bath. A couple weeks ago I laid back, planted my feet on the tiles on either side of the taps, and talked to my legs.
“I don’t appreciate what you’re up to – particularly you there on the right! Yet as I look at you I know you’re still strong, you look fine and I’m grateful for you.”
I thanked them for all the tasks of life they’ve helped me do: running upstairs to fetch laundry, mowing my lawn, trundling the green compost cart to the road every other Monday. For all the places they’ve taken me: hikes in the backwoods and trails I’ve shared with friends and family, the sights I’ve viewed and the hills I’ve climbed on my bike, launching and portaging the kayak to reach my happy place on the water.
“Oh yeah, I’m aware you’ve lost some tone and strength, and you’re probably frustrated also by so much sitting and laying around. But please hold the muscle memory, I’m counting on you for when I get into action again.”
Adding more hot water and essential oils to the bath, I continued the impromptu gratitude-body scan session.
“I can’t see you heart and lungs but your faithfulness is relentless – to the extreme, helping me conquer marathons and mountains. Thank you. Stay alert for more adventures.”
I thanked my eyes: to soak in the view of the river beyond my living room, to read words of many books (check out my list in the postscript), to see and connect with friends on my computer monitor. I gave a shout-out to my ears, to hear and commune with an owl’s melancholic tones and the wind shuffling in the woods behind my house.
Finally, I went deeper and thanked my genes. Mom and Dad – who as children immigrated to Canada with their parents – gave me resilience, spirit, courage. Gifts that endure though they have passed on.
“Mom, you had your share of suffering. Headaches, arthritis – painful frustrations that hindered you from keeping up to speed with your ambition. Thank you for modelling how not to give up.”
“Dad, many years before I was a gleam in anyone’s eye, your first wife died unexpectedly, leaving you in shock and heart-broken with three small sons to raise. Thank you for choosing life. And for choosing Mom, so a sister and I could become part of a precious blended family. I still draw strength from your deep well, and from what you taught, by living a life of rock-solid faith and trust in God.”
I release the plug to drain the water and finish up with a two to three minute cold shower to boost my immune system and a kickstart to feel fully alive. (A newbie to this practice, I was happy to share a cold-water ocean dip with my daughter Renee on her recent visit to Nova Scotia.)
There’s a knock on the bathroom door.
“Dear, do you want me to bring you a coffee?”
“Thanks, but I’m just stepping out of the tub, and will enjoy that coffee in a few minutes.”
My husband – bless him – consistently offers to turn on the bathroom wall heater, light a stick of incense or white sage: one morning even balanced a small fruit plate on the edge of the tub! I can’t imagine life without his love and positive, enduring support. xoxo
Life is wrapped up differently than what it was and what I want it to be; I sometimes do poorly at accepting each day as it comes. But when I choose to live from a place of gratitude I live a more peaceful, healthier story. It helps me believe, hope, expect that this current story will someday shift to another one less painful.
Dear friends, thank you for listening – that’s all I have to say. May you be well.
Books I’ve recently read or listened to on audio. Non-fiction: Stories of courage, adventure and challenges.
Poetry by Kay Gillen: Dancing Between The Raindrops