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Posts tagged ‘Life’

Unending Story


A place for my heart.
Towards the end of my work in Apeldoorn, I became aware of my personal space in the house. We moved into this house in March of 2011 and I was busy with the details of settling in and making sure our things had places. The upstairs rooms are small and it was a challenge to really know which space was best for what.
The downstairs is an open room that is “our space” with the kitchen at one end and the other end for general use. We both like to be in the kitchen and we are learning to share the space, happily. It is nice to have a guy who wants to cook with me.
The space where I work is a tiny room that has many Gail-type things within. Recently this space has seemed a wee bit cramped. Cramped isn’t good for the soul. What can I do?
Slowly, over the past month, I began to notice the lack of a feminine place for me to exist within. I’ve considered creating a dressing table where I could keep all the things that make my head pretty. The problem is that there isn’t the space to place such a table.
So Hubby will make the table, and when he really gets down to the business of design (which I’ve already done in many ways) and creating, the product will be wonderful. It will be nice to have the table when it is completed.
Places of passion.
As a beautiful place for me is a must, so is a place that sparks life is as essential as breathing. For me, my work is such a place. I find that I become a joyous and happy soul when I think in terms of what I love and do well. I find myself exploring questions that, in turn, lead to other questions and cause me to wander over vast areas of space. I dip into one space only to find a jumping-off point for another. The “what if, and what about this, or that”, span into hours of discussion time with another person and cause me to tingle and feel a type of life that exists nowhere else. This type of knowledge energizes me in a way that nothing else does. When I am not able to have this in my life I find life to be dull; as if a vital ingredient is missing.
I knew at a young age what I wanted professionally, and was not able to reach that goal until I was in my 30’s. At 16 I was fortunate to meet, and know, someone who had returned to graduate school to pursue her Master Degree at a later age. As we spoke, and I discovered what it was she was doing, I started asking questions that we could talk about. She would tell me about what she was learning and I discovered that I had valid opinions about what we were discussing. Psychology fit my brain in ways that studying history did not do for me. I was alive. I was also hooked.
I found that one of my early areas of interest was working with people of differing cultures. At first it was those with disabilities. How could the family system be strengthened when disability rears its head within the family walls?
My interests have branched out to those of other nationalities and cultures and exploring the richness within. What was someone’s experience as a Peruvian or Mexican? How do they experience life in a different country?

During my graduate period, I began to explore other areas as well as the above mentioned ones. Art and creativity and music were a special focus. I became aware of using journals and the power of writing it all down. I also began to understand the traumas that people endure and how they cope with them. Ultimately, my love of disability issues has remained firm. There is power in freeing the person who may be told “you can’t because you are…” I believe that many things are possible. It is all about finding a path and making that journey and it will take courage. This journey will change everything.
The Journey Within.
There is something about the journey, and exploration of a person’s journey, that ignites excitement within my heart and soul. An “ah ha” moment when a light switches on, the click when a missing piece of the puzzle is found, the discovery that what one believes can change, or the finding of a new path. I want to know what the next bend in the road brings me and where the journey is headed. Change is exciting and challenging.
Respect is also a vital component. Someone is letting me into their inner space. I am allowed to walk with them through hardships and triumphs. If there is a failure, I need to respect and honor the process of their recovery and rediscovery. Compassion and respect can be a powerful ally in the healing process. It is sorrow I feel when someone decides to not go further on the path that would lead them to a better place in life, BUT at some future time, they may resume the journey. Life is full of uncertainty and how we each face the unknown says so much about us. If we each had a crystal ball would we use it? If we saw the challenges ahead would we still choose to go down that path? Life is about learning and meeting the challenge. “If only I had” kills the spirit. “If only I had”, deprives each of us of what we can learn and gain from the mistake.
Part of my personal journey in life, has been my own process of learning to ponder slowly. Learning that I don’t have to get anywhere fast has been a nice consequence of aging. Now I am prone to conclude things for myself in my own time. I may sit on something for some time before “grokking” it in proper fashion. My brain and soul are on a quiet and slow path to understanding the needful things. I wasn’t always as slow to conclude as I am now. The time of youth was far different. I cherish where I am and what can come of it. Who I am during my 50’s will be a far cry from what I’ve learned by 75 and who I have become. If I haven’t changed and become a better person what is the use of life? Maybe there will be one younger than myself who gains from the wisdom I’ve gathered. Someone who will say to me “you are so wise” and I will have to say “I’ve come by this through imperfection and making both wise, and stupid, choices. Maybe I’ll laugh at the thought that I’m thought to be wise. Only time will tell.
Places of mystery.
Isn’t that what all this is about? Living our best, leaving a legacy for others? Making the world a better place because we’ve touched it and made a change somewhere in our existence? Isn’t life all about doing good and not even knowing where the good leads? You never know what you can say to reach out and inspire someone along the way. Because of what you say or do, someone might be inspired to take the first step towards a new beginning. I heard of such a situation just this afternoon. Something my husband did that has changed someone’s life for the better. He had no way of knowing that his willingness to be so open would help someone else reach out and move down the path of life.
I’m excited because someone is headed to a new place of discovery and mystery that will bring change and fulfillment. I’m alive!!!!

Radical Compassion

In 1958 there was a pandemic and my mother happened to be pregnant with me. It was only a slight case…she didn’t even know she’d had Rubella until after the fact. It was during an era when medical abortions were done “if” the parents and the doctors were willing to do so. My mother told me that they didn’t ask, so the docs didn’t offer. Nature took over and produced a child who had been conceived to become healthy, but who became injured while still in the womb. That is what nature does.

In talking with my mother about this issue, she once told me that she could understand both sides of the argument and why a woman would choose one or the other. From her I learned that the issue around the health of an unborn child, or the termination of that pregnancy is not an easy cut-and-dried process. The choice to raise a disabled child came with a great deal of pain and learning, as well as tears and sorrows on all sides. Society blames and doesn’t help. My mother learned radical acceptance and radical compassion. I watched, I listened, and I learned from her.

In the past month, I have sat and watched as so many have blamed gun owners, children, the shooter, the NRA lobby, and Congress for the travesty of yet more dead kids. I hurt for the families and friends who have lost children. I am angry that people are using an act of violence to force a political solution, as well as a mental health solution, to this situation. There is enough greed and corruption to go around! There is more than enough blame that is being spread to the innocent. I want to scream, NO! STOP IT!

I do support change. I’d like to see assault rifles, code red drills, bullying, blaming and greed to be taken off the streets. I’d like to see respect and support become common. I’d like to see corporations become responsible for what they are putting on the streets. I‘d like to see violence in video games and films done away with. I’d like to see everyone have access to good mental health care and not just a set number of visits per year. I’d like to see education and understanding for all.

I’d like to see scientists search for effective medication that could reach into the abyss of such a shooter’s mind and allow that person to be healed with both medication and talk therapy. It is dark in that mind. It is lonely in that mind. To be able to befriend such a person would be rare. Why? Because what such a person thinks is so black, so far from the norm, so chaotic, that most professionals can’t, or won’t even go there. I’ll venture to speculate that the person owning the thoughts is just as terrified of going there. What I’m talking about is a radical compassion for others.

Few have been able to show such compassion because few are The Buddha, Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ, and others. To be part of that universalizing place takes a lifetime of journeying. However, each of us is capable of listening with love and compassion. You do it as a child when you show sorrow for your friend’s pet that passed on. You do it when you spend time listening to a friend sharing grief. You do it in a darkened theatre when you let out the buried pain that you can’t show for yourself or someone else, but can show for the character in a film. You do it when your best friend tells you that they are coming out and your love for them takes you to new places of joy and acceptance for who they are. You do it when you ask “why” and come away with only more questions, but a determination to find one solution and you join a cause. In joining, you move to radical compassion. When you sit down in a room and listen to the others who believe differently than you do. You do it when you realize that “they” care just as much as you do. You do it when you take a hand and find a way to work together for peaceful solutions.

I saw it in my mother as she was faced with how society treated her two disabled daughters. I saw it in her heart when she wept and yet didn’t lash out at others for the treatment that came to her children because other parents didn’t teach the same values of love and acceptance.

I want to see more kids step up and take responsibility for the things they can do. I want to see those of us who are older, applaud the courage that we are witnessing and show love and compassion for the process they are initiating. I’d like to see each of us stop and think about the words we speak and the actions we take in our daily lives and how they might affect others. I want to be on the path of radical compassion with my fellow human beings. Right now it feels sparsely traveled. I think back to my mother and if I can do what she was able to do, I’ll be doing well. Join me on the journey. It isn’t an easy journey, but my mom thought it was worth doing and so do I.

Sneakiness is Happiness

Today has been very hot. I like the heat because it means that the sun is out and the sky is blue. The only bad thing about the heat is that sticky, humid feeling. Today I had to be out in the heat and it was wonderful!!!!

Why? Well, it was because of all the nice things that happened while I was out and about and doing the many things that I had to get done. I was out alone with Myrtle Mae. Myrtle Mae is a good side-kick. “She” keeps me safe from others. I’ve also noticed that people are really nice to me when I’m buzzing around with my stick. (Myrtle Mae is featured in Stick Magic.)

There are so many things that are different about being a person with low vision. Some things are just more complicated and time-consuming than they are for a fully-sighted soul. People being nice to me made me feel OK about walking around in the heat. So to balance my happiness, I find myself listening to one of the most pessimistic guys of rock: Don Henley. I like Don.

There were things to do like the veggie run and the bank. I like getting this stuff done…but there was also laundry to do before I could do the veggie run.

I tell you all of this because the man did something wonderful for me. He can be sneaky in phases because my sight just isn’t good enough to see what is going on in my tiny room that I use as an office. I didn’t see the first phase at all.

My office is filled with very “Gail” type things, two of which are parasols that are mounted into the corners of the ceiling. Once they were up I thought “wouldn’t it be cool to backlight them.” I haven’t thought about it for some time. He has.

While I was out and about he got to work and gave me a very beautiful surprise to come home to. Yup, he backlit my parasols!!! So, even though it is hot out there and in here I’ve got the tiny lights on…I couldn’t resist as it is so pretty to have the soft light around me.

Being nice pays off not because it has to: it just does. There is something about generosity that is contagious. So, when I’m out and about, I smile and others say hello to me. Why?

I think that is because we, as humans, crave positivity in ways that will never be fully understood. I, for one, have no desire to study this as it takes some of the magic out of the process. I will studiously avoid the research on the topic. Some things are better enjoyed and left alone.

I think I’ll go find someplace cool to enjoy the evening. I also must switch to something other than Don Henley. Before I do…remember to smile and see what you get in return.