Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lacuna - Blessed Even in the Missing Parts

Pronunciation: \lə-ˈkü-nə, -ˈkyü-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, pool, pit, gap
Date: 1652
1 : a blank space or a missing part : GAP ; also : DEFICIENCY 1
2 : a small cavity, pit, or discontinuity in an anatomical structure

A quiet day filled with productivity. I took the day to do paperwork from the job. Yet, I interspersed it with last of the vegetables from the garden, time out in the warm sun and pauses just to think (not to mention a blog or two). There are obvious missing parts in my life. My reactions to the tension and stress of the past two weeks has led several people to ask if I am doing ok.

Reading the “Persist” blog might indicate that I am not. I cringe a little at my own vulnerability. It’s that cycle of fear and insecurity. What hasn’t been so obvious to my colleagues, family and friends is how the kindness has been a balm. The darkness or stress is calmed by the caring. Sometimes it’s simply a tag on a bag saying “Stabenator.” It might be a piece of homemade Bundt cake. A gift of “Porn for Women” (not what you think!!! ) A walk, a call, a laugh or even a shared tear or two all fill the blank spaces.

C.S. Lewis talks about being vulnerable.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

I stumble quite often on this path of discovery. My feelings are at times raw, my reactions not tempered by thought. However, I am blessed. In the midst of it all, I am blessed.

What Worked for Me Today
Work - getting the piles unpiled

Take a Drive to Pacific City and enjoy breakfast at the "Grateful Bread." This has long been my getaway place. A friend of my recommends the ginger pancakes!

Also, loved the Mercantile! I was able to find a child's diary, complete with lock and key! You will find it right down from The Grateful Bread.

Persist - Getting Up After the Wave

per-sist, -zist
Function: verb

: to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning
2obsolete : to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position
3: to be insistent in the repetition or pressing of an utterance (as a question or an opinion)
4: to continue to exist especially past a usual, expected, or normal time

Date: 1530 - 40
Etimology: from the Latin persistere, to stand firm permanently,

In her book “The year of Magical Thinking” Joan Didion talks about appearances – the “cool customer” as she describes it. When her husband died unexpectedly she did all the things a widow should do, including authorizing an autopsy, arranging for the service, notifying the relatives, his work, and packing up his clothes. She packed everything but his shoes, because in her head she envisioned a world where he would simply come back. He would need his shoes.

She also quite succinctly described the difference in thinking between losing her parents, both living near or past 90, and the waves of grief which made daily tasks impossible after the loss of her husband.

In Oregon, I might call them sneaker waves. Walking along a beach on a brilliant day observing the laughter of children and the antics of unleashed dogs. Out of nowhere a wave rushes farther and faster than any other. Though you try to run, it is more powerful and it knocks you off your feet and you fall. You try to right yourself and you find yourself pushed against the rocks. That is the grief when the loss is sudden or out of order (child before parent, the young, and the one closest to you). The stealth of this kind of grief is jarring. Those waves come weeks and months later. You think, “I thought I was better. I thought I was over this.”

This journey is so foreign to me, and yet I wonder why. I have lost many people in my life but this is somehow fundamentally different. I know that feeling it, awful as it is, is better than covering it. I know that being able to be honest in an Al-Anon meeting brings comfort. There are days where grief does not visit. Oh, but when it does, my eyes burn, my head hurts, my breath catches and time seems to stand still as if to torture me.

I am tired, but there is much work to be done. There is chaos elsewhere that must be dealt with, other than the chaos in my mind and in my heart.

What Worked for Me Today
Writing, getting out, cutting the last of the roses and creating a huge bouquet in the living room. Oh, and a salt encrusted dark chocolate caramel from Honest Chocolates

Oregon Coast Sneaker Wave Video:
Honest Chocolates Great hand made chocolates on 3rd street in McMinnville

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pinch and the Serenity Prayer

Function: verb; noun; adjective

Date: 1250–1300

Etymology: from O.N.Fr. *pinchier, variant of O.Fr. pincier, possibly from V.L. *punctiare "to pierce" (from L. punctum "point"), and *piccare "to pierce." Meaning "to steal" is from 1650s. Sense of "to be stingy" is recorded from early 14c. Noun meaning "critical juncture" (as in baseball pinch hitter, attested from 1912) is from late 15c.; older than the literal sense of "act of pinching" (1590s).

Depending on the source, pinch can have as many as 30 distinct definitions. The following is a significantly, and prejudicially, edited list.
: (a)to constrict or squeeze painfully; (b) to cramp within narrow bounds or quarters; (c) to affect with sharp discomfort or distress; (d) to diminish to nothing; (e) to stint on or be frugal or economical with expenditures; (f) substitute

A couple of weeks ago, I read a comment that said “when life begins to pinch, it is time for change.” At that time it made me laugh, because I had a literal lesson on this exact concept. I had worn a pair of shoes to work – a pair that I had comfortably worn dozens of times before. There was a rubbing or pinching on one toe, which I chose to ignore. By the time I arrived home I had created a rather large (for a toe) raw spot. It was so painful, that I couldn't wear closed toed shoes for several days afterward. With this in mind, I was ready to write a prosaic blog about metaphorical pinching in my life and the changes I now was ready to make.

Things change. Life is no longer pinching, it’s downright painful. However, I am having cognitive dissonance created completely by fear. The Serenity Prayer, as modified by many 12-step programs including Al-Anon, states “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I know the unsaid “inserts” to the prayer: things I cannot change – everyone else; things I can change – me.

So, the question today is sort of “what would Ghandi do?” What actions can I change – my own actions – that may affect the world for the greater good? OK so maybe not the world, but my workplace, my family, my home. Life has gone beyond pinching and it some ways it is approaching intolerable. Where are my boundaries? And what risks am I willing to take?

What Worked for Me Today
Sitting quietly on the couch reading and napping. No tv or radio or music, just the sound of the rain.

Two books are bringing clarity to my own experience. The first I have just finished.
Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
by David Sheff is familiar at times, heart wrenching and yet holds the key to why so many of us find relief in Al-Anon. When we are the family or friends of the addict and/or alcoholic, we too become sick. When we share our stories, we gain strength.

The second book I have just begun. It will be a slow read, one I am not sure I am ready for.

The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion chronicles her life after the death of her husband.

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death.