Traveling the Peaks And Valleys of Life

Cloudy Skys Above The Mountain Peaks, Wallpaperrs.com, Free images from Google

The answer is no — no cancer, that is. My conscientious and very compassionate surgeon called me on a Friday night, almost 7 P.M., to deliver the good news. The large lymph node that he removed earlier that week, was not cancer. He was hard at work on a Friday night because he didn’t want me to spend the weekend worrying.

He was right. I was prepared to spend all weekend and the following days until our appointment, vacillating between a feigned calm and outright panic mode.

Cancer doesn’t run in my family, it runs through it. (At 23 years of age, my cherished baby brother received a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and believe me, the irony was not lost on me that they were biopsying one of my lymph nodes.) Nevertheless, the incident caused me to consider the state of my life.

I feel schizophrenic. If truth be told, as of late, the outright panic mode is truer to form, but I am Christian for heaven’s sake and doesn’t faith mean that I be calm in the belief that God has me covered and that he would hear the scores of people praying and pleading on my behalf. It’s like George Bailey’s family and friends from “It’s A Wonderful Life” whose voices reached up to heaven in George Bailey’s most desperate hour of need. But, I didn’t feel that way.

The thing is that the past months have been so “challenging,” that I began to think that I was living a dream in which I woke to find myself participating in the Iditarod race, for which I was wholly unprepared. I have been mired and lost in the valley. I’ve had an appendectomy, a myriad of problems with my eyes which will result in, at least, a couple of surgeries, the awful cancer scare, worsened pain from fibromyalgia,  depression, and that sometimes stressful thing called “life.”

I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t dealt with most of the challenges well. No, at times, I’ve allowed my mind to run amok, assured that I had some terminal illness that would result in my impending death. I allowed myself to ponder what it would be like to miss seeing my g’children grow up, and lots of other shit. (I told you that I allowed my mind to have at it.) As the negative stuff increased, I allowed it to take hold. I like to think that I can handle anything that life throws at me, and I have time after time. This time was different, and I became a walking example of a stress “don’t. Furthermore, I hate myself for it. So, it is time to take control of the situation.

I am fully aware of the effects of the prolonged ‘fight or flight’ response. I know it but I am dwelling in it and I have to stop. It has a negative effect on my physical, mental and emotional health, and is a boon for my counselor. I look in the mirror and don’t know or particularly like the person that I see.

Screw that! I am shedding the withered skin of the last months and reclaiming Lydia. I am taking myself back. If truth be told, I haven’t been Lydia for a long time and I miss her. I really am not dwelling in the past, l am simply acknowledging the loss of my best self. In fact, I intend to be just that, MY best self. The self that is the authentic, one-of-a-kind, day dreaming, me, myself and I.

She has been there all the time, waiting patiently until I was ready to try her on again. Little snippets of her invaded my thoughts, but they were fleeting because I could not acknowledge her.

The desire to change came about innocuously. There were no roaring trumpets heralding in change. I used to love container gardening. Planting them and tending them would soothe my spirit. Watching them grow into mature plants delighted me. I had over 50 varieties of herbs. At some point, I lost interest in it. I couldn’t summon the energy to tend them. Whenever I went outside, the scores of empty pots saddened me, so I avoided the area.

“The wound is where the light enters you.” ~ Rumi

As Spring arrived, the urge to buy some plants, surprised me. It’s funny how playing in the dirt, getting my hands filthy, communing with the plants and flowers and watching them grow before my eyes, lit a spark in me. I unearthed myself in that soil.

The plants stoked a fire that reminds me of the woman who I was, the woman who I miss. With each flower that blooms and each plant that grows and flourishes, I feel stronger, more confident, more me. Although this Lydia is older, she is still compassionate, kind, loving and beautiful. She is ready to leave the past behind as she seeks her home, her querencia.

Granted, the peaks will not come all at once. It will take some time to understand the lessons that I’ve gleaned during my time in the valley, and I will undoubtedly stumble. But, stumble as I will, I accept it. I mean, isn’t that the nature of peaks and valleys? Yet, bud by bud, and blossom by blossom, I will embrace that wiser, confident me, who waits in the wings and welcomes me with open arms —  as though I never left. The warmth of the light emboldens me. Unlike Stella, I haven’t got my groove back (The reference is from an old 80’s or 90’s flick.), but I am sashaying my way there.

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Quote Tuesday

 

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

English: Pleiades Star Cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. ~ Margaret Mead

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Quote Tuesday

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.

A man and a woman performing a modern dance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move into it, and join the dance. ~ Alan Watts

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Daily Om Thursday With My Take

concrete stairs

concrete stairs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10 Steps to Making Change Easier: Smoothing Transitions

1. Begin by making small changes or break up large-scale changes into more manageable increments. This can make you feel better about handling the changes you are about to make while making you more comfortable with change in general.

2. Mentally link changes to established daily rituals. This can make changes like taking on a new habit, starting a new job, or adapting to a new home happen much more smoothly. For example, if you want to begin meditating at home, try weaving it into your morning routine.

3. Going with the flow can help you accept change instead of resisting it. If you stay flexible, you will be able to ride out change without too much turbulence.

4. When a change feels most stressful, relief can often be found in finding the good that it brings. An illness, a financial loss, or a broken relationship can seem like the end of the world, yet they also can be blessings in disguise.

5. Remember that all change involves a degree of learning. If you find change particularly stressful, try to keep in mind that after this period of transformation has passed, you will be a wiser person for it.

6. Remember that upheaval and confusion are often natural parts of change. While we can anticipate certain elements that a change might bring, it is impossible to know everything that will happen in advance. Be prepared for unexpected surprises, and the winds of change won’t easily knock you over.

7. Don’t feel like you have to cope with changing circumstances or the stress of making a change on your own. Talk about what’s going on for you with a friend or write about it in a journal. Sharing your feelings can give you a sense of relief while helping you find the strength to carry on.

8. Give yourself time to accept any changes that you face. And as change happens, recognize that you may need time to adjust to your new situation. Allow yourself a period of time to reconcile your feelings. This can make big changes feel less extreme.

9. No matter how large or difficult a change is, you will eventually adapt to these new circumstances. Remember that regardless of how great the change, all the new that it brings will eventually weave itself into the right places in your life.

10. If you’re trying to change a pattern of behavior or navigate your way through a life change, don’t assume that it has to be easy. Wanting to cry or being moody during a period of change is natural. Then again, don’t assume that making a change needs to be hard. Sometimes, changes are meant to be that easy. ~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

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One of my favorite books is “The Way of Transition” by William Bridges. The book is about change, actually the process leading to change. The book opens with: “It’s a paradox: To achieve continuity, we have to be willing to change. Change is, in fact, the only way to protect whatever exists, for without continuous readjustment the present cannot continue.” Thus, change is a necessity, for without it, we stagnant, fail to move forward, and remain mired in the past. It has been a constant in our lives since the day we were born. Yet, at times it seems an insurmountable obstacle. Ironically, in the face of change,

“[t]he very things we now wish that we could hold onto and keep safe from change were themselves originally produced by changes. And many of those changes, in their day, looked just as daunting as any in the present do..No matter how solid and comfortable and necessary the status quo feels today. It was once new, untried and uncomfortable. Change is not only the path ahead but it is also the path behind us, the one which we traveled along to wherever we are now trying to stay.” ~ William Bridges, The Way of Transition

The “transition” that Bridges refers to in the book’s title, is the process that we undergo to create real change. “Transition” involves three stages: letting go of the old (past), the “neutral zone,” where we’ve let go of the past but haven’t fully embraced the new (present), and finally, beginning a new life. At its essence, this is the very nature of change.

Generally, we are oblivious to the constant change that occurs around and in us. Such changes create little to no resistance. It is the major events in life that turns the spotlight on change. For example, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a divorce, or a major illness. Of course, change is not limited to losses. Surprisingly. resistance to change is just as frequent in response to situations where one would presumably be happy, such as the birth of a child, securing a dream job, or achieving a long fought-for goal. In all of these instances, we must transition from the person that we are, to the person that awaits us.. As Bridges notes:

“We resist transition not because we can’t accept the change, but because we can’t accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up when and because the situation has changed.”

It is that piece of ourselves that cloaks us in comfort and certainty, and it is little wonder that we resist the letting go.

At some point in your life, you will undoubtedly find yourself in conflict about a new situation. Acknowledging that conflict and recognizing it for what it is, forms the most important step. Like grief, change is a process that we must face before we find ourselves in a state of acceptance, and ready to move on to a new life. The time of transition leading to acceptance is fluid, and there is no set time frame between the letting go of the old life and embracing the new one. The most important step is to accept that an ending is a prerequisite to any beginning. With that fact in mind, we can begin the journey towards the life that awaits us.

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