Thursday, March 27, 2014

3/28/14—Practicing Unconditional Love

The other day I mentioned that a stranger smiled at me when I was on the verge "having a moment" in the drug store, and it made me feel like things were going to be all right. She had no way of knowing how I felt. She just smiled from her heart.

Later that day I saw a little girl in a restaurant. She seemed transfixed on me. Children of a certain age range, say birth to 5 or 6, tend to see something in me. I flatter myself by thinking they see a lovely aura or that they see guides around me. Anyway, she had that look. And as her mother walked her out of the restaurant, I smiled at the little girl as she walked past. Then she made a monster face at me and disappeared through the door.

I was sitting near the window, so as they walked by me again, I made a monster face back to her and she laughed. We were simpatico. I knew she was playing and she knew I was playing. And we had a secret little moment that her mother was completely unaware of.

Then today I was having really bad day. Just exhausted to the point that sitting here writing for my clients was painful and almost more energy than I had to expend. Allergies can sometimes do that to me, so maybe that's why. I've been on the verge of sleep and tears all day, but had deadlines to meet. Then I got an email from a friend saying wonderful things to me and giving me permission to feel exhausted without feeling guilty about dogs that need walks or anything else.

These little, seemingly mundane moments are far more important than they seem. The stranger in the drug store defused the emotion welling up in me. The little girl removed any lingering trace of negative feelings within me. The friend affirmed that I don't always have to do it all. 

Helping others doesn't have to cost money, it doesn't take an elaborate plan, it doesn't even require that you know the person or sense distress. It just means walking through life with an open heart, an encouraging smile or a kind gesture or word. You'll never know if your smile fell on deaf eyes or saved a life. And it doesn't matter. All it takes is to develop a practice of kindness and love within yourself, regardless of the other person and whether or not they mean anything to you.

One of the hardest and most rewarding spiritual lessons is unconditional love. Hard, because it requires you to love those society deems unlovable. Rewarding because it literally sets you free and transforms you spiritually. And it all starts with simple, kind shows of love like I described above. 

A smile alone can transform and even save a life. You very well may be the one bright light in someone's day. You don't have to always be the smiler. Sometimes you'll be the smilee. But either way, recognizing and appreciating you're part of a beautiful transaction can move you further down the path toward achieving universal unconditional love.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3/26/14—Giving Up The Fight

I come from a long line of stubborn folks. I believe it to be both our secret weapon and our undoing. I suppose it's possible to know when stubbornness will serve you and when it won't, but my reality is that sometimes I choose the wrong things to be stubborn about. I imagine there are also things out there that I could have been more stubborn about, to my advantage. 

An issue with my stubbornness came to a head this weekend. I might have mentioned before that I have diabetes. For a couple of years, I've been in a place where I'm at the low end of the spectrum. When I first found out I had the disease, I lost some weight and did all the right things. The result was that I moved myself back into the normal and healthy range. 

Then I don't know what happened. I suppose I got cocky. But I started eating the wrong things again. And before I knew it, all the weight I'd lost was back and my A1C number was back on the rise. The A1C is the critical number in diabetes. It tells your average blood sugar levels over a period of months. 

People talk about how you can diet and exercise and "cure" diabetes or "reverse" it. There really is no cure for diabetes. When the cells stop metabolizing sugars normally, the damage is done. What you CAN do is eat and exercise in such a way that you don't inundate your body with sugars your cells don't metabolize well. Doing so can bring you back into a healthy range. But you still have diabetes. Sooner or later the disease will progress. I'm sure there are some diabetics that die before diet and exercise alone ceases to work. But it's a progressive disease and eventually, according to my doctor, most people are going to need help. 

And therein lies the stubbornness. For about a year now, my doctor has been trying to get me to take the medication that helps. And I've been refusing. Because I KNOW I can bring my A1C numbers back into normal range through diet and exercise. The problem is, though, I haven't. I've been flailing around in "trying to get with the program", without actually ever getting with the program. My stubbornness is serving me in that I'm not giving up. But it's working against me in that the damage that diabetes can do to the kidneys isn't being abated. 

So, long story short, I get my tests back last week and now I need THREE medications—the one I've been refusing to take, the one that can help my kidneys and one that's probably not related. I hate being medicated, because I believe it's a trap. That's why I've been so stubborn. I don't want to start diabetes medication then get stuck on it after I've created the lifestyle changes I need to. But with my kidneys impacted, I need to swallow my pride. 

For a long time now, I've had the voice of a former Facebook friend of mine in my ears. He's a former Facebook friend because he died from complications from diabetes. He told me, "Tierney, I waited too long to do the right things. Don't wait too long." We need to learn when to give up pushing up against the things we don't want to deal with. We need to learn when to give up the fight...or at least trade it for a new one. His advice haunts me as I struggle internally with weight and food issues that have lasted an entire lifetime, knowing that if I can't break this cycle, it will literally be my undoing.

It's easy for thin people to say "just stop eating so much and exercise". That's like telling an anorexic to just stuff down the hamburger. Telling an alcoholic or smoker to just put the drink or cigarette down. Telling a cult member to just walk away. Most people see a lack of willpower. But it goes much deeper than that. And, having dieted and exercised myself thin before and maintained it for many years, I know that diet and exercise alone is not the answer. There's something in the head that needs to click. I know what I need to do, but can't manage to do it. I'm a former smoker and it took me many years of desperate attempts before I finally got it right. But I got it right. My food issues are just that much tougher to address. 

So anyway, I went to the drug store today to get my prescriptions filled. As I turned to leave the pharmacy, I was overcome with emotion. The pills in my hand represented defeat to me. I believe there was an angel there with me because the lady at the end of the pharmacy line gave me the loveliest and most genuine smile on my way out. She had no way of knowing the emotions swirling in my head. But her smile made me think things would be OK. 

As usual, there's a lesson in all of this. The lesson is that I had the doctor call me yesterday to explain my medications to me. It turns out that two of the three medications he put me on are known to help people lose weight. One of them is likely going to put an end to the exhaustion I've been fighting for a couple of years now that adds to my lack of motivation to move. So all my stubbornness was keeping me from the very thing that could help me. But it also might have helped reveal the unrelated issue that I've been wanting answers for for years. 

So in the end, it seems like things happened just as they were supposed to. As is the way of the universe. And after having the moment of tears over my bruised and humbled ego for not being able to fight this thing alone, I'm beginning to think that the angel at the back of the line is right. Everything's going to be all right. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

3/23/14—Putting Trust in the Walrus

I came across this photo of a walrus laying on top of a submarine hatch today and I have to say, I can identify. With the sailors, that is. Though there are times I also identify with the walrus. :)

The past couple of weeks have been a loud blend of blessing and curse. Where one stressor has been relieved, another has swooped in to take its place. Where progress is being made, obstacles fly in to even the score. And it's not happening in just one area of my life, but in multiple areas. 

It feels like I was finally getting things shored up on top of my submarine and some walrus comes along to sit on the hatch. When do you get to get to crawl inside this thing you've been working on and enjoy the ride? When do you get to take a step forward without taking two steps back?

Of course, I'm being over-dramatic. None of what's going on in my life is insurmountable. And when it comes down to brass tacks, I lead a pretty blessed life. But there are a few "best practices" I'm trying to get off the ground, like budgeting more and spending less, and exercising more and eating less. But then I find ways to cut my spending each month, only to have a dog tear up the lawn furniture. Or to get in a car and it won't start. It's frustrating. 

Things like spending less and eating less are areas where I have internal blocks I need to overcome. So it would be nice to have some affirmation from the universe. But I think at some point or another, the universe asks us to affirm ourselves. It's sticky wicket, though. Because are you encountering obstacles so you will persevere? Or are you encountering them because you're moving in the wrong direction? Only time will tell. 

If there's one thing I've learned along the way, it's that sometimes there's a big storm before the calm. And often when my mind gets overloaded and out of focus, it's right before a big leap forward. 

We all have moments where we just have to move forward on faith. The walrus on our hatch is definitely there for a reason. And, barring information otherwise, we have to assume he's there because there are things about these waters only he can show us, whether that involves dangers we may not see or a faster way home.