Quote Tuesday

I suppose that “quote” is really inappropriate for today’s post.  In actuality, it is a passage from “The Pocket Pema Chödrön,” which contains excerpts from the various books that Pema  Chödrön has written.  This particular passage is titled “How to Defeat Fear,” and it struck a chord with me, largely because fear has been a constant companion since childhood.  It bears noting that fear is a useful and necessary emotion that, among other things, protects us.  Without fear, in the face of clear and present danger, our innate ‘fight or flight’ response would not be triggered and we would fall prey to any number of dangers.  This is not the type of fear referred to in this passage. 

The passage refers to those fears that prevent us from taking risks in our lives and from living life to its fullest.  These fears cause us to act against our own self-interest, and as a result, if not defeated, deprive us of reaching, or even knowing, our full potential.  Fear is risk adverse, and commands that we wait until the time is right, which in most cases, never comes.  From personal experience, I know that fear has, and in some cases, still does, control my actions.  On the other hand, there are countless obstacles that I’ve faced and overcome, in spite of fear’s taunt that “I’d fail.”  I believe that defeating all my fears will be a lifetime endeavor and that this passage provides me some insight into achieving that goal.  Perhaps, it will help you too.

Blessings, lydia 

How to Defeat Fear

Once there was a young warrior.  Her teacher told her that she had to do her battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly.  But the teacher said she had to do it and she gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived.  The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other.  The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful.  They both had their weapons.  The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.”  Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?”  Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face.  Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say.  If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power.  You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me.  You can even be convinced by me.  But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”  In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat her fear. ~“The Pocket Pema Chödrön,”  Shambhala Publications

Guidance from Papa Smurf?

Papa SmurfImage by dan taylor via Flickr
Not so long ago,  my g’daughter, Punkin (obviously not her real name but she likes me to call her that), and I had a sleepover at my house.  During the course of the sleepover, I realized that at my age, my idea of a sleepover involves some actual sleep, but Punkin’s, at 4 1/2 years of age, was not.  She was interested in, among other things, Candy Land or the Smurfs, and sleep was not a consideration.  As it is with g’parents and their g’children, the victor was obvious.  Considering the two and finding that watching a DVD involved no thought or movement on my part, the choice was clear.  Gratefully, Punkin had mercy on me and agreed.

So, there we were, draped across the bed, with Punkin watching the Smurfs as I watched her watching them.  My attention on the DVD was sporadic so I am not sure why I happened to pay attention to this one particular episode. In it, Papa Smurf, the elder spokesmen of the little blue people, was giving encouragement to two of his misguided charges who had caused some type of trouble.  His final words to them as he sent them on their way to save the day was “do not be afraid, to be afraid.” That’s it, that simple little missive got me thinking.

Well, in all honesty, my initial reaction was to laugh out loud at the absurdity of a little blue cartoon character uttering anything that might give me pause. After setting that little prejudice aside, I set about considering the words– “do not be afraid to be afraid.” Such a simple, albeit powerful, phrase. The word “afraid” is defined as “feeling fear; filled with apprehension. http://j.mp/hu7LGI; whereas “fear” is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. http://j.mp/hupUph. Thus, feeling “afraid” breeds “fear.”

The saying “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” is another phrase that addresses fear and is as true now as it was in the depression era when Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered it. There is nothing to fear but our avoidance of it, running away from it and failing to confront it. How often do we truly face our fears? How often do we welcome them with open arms?  If you are like me, not very often. Not only do we try to turn away from them, but we berate ourselves for even having them. Often, we are told that such feelings are bad, and a sign of weakness that should be avoided at all costs.  So we ignore our fears, and they grow into, in some cases, crippling impediments. What can we do?

First, we must not forget that fear can be a useful emotion that protects and guides us on our journey.  Instead of viewing our fears as interlopers, why not embrace them, make an effort to understand them by seeking their origin, and listen for any message that they may be trying to convey to us.  Doing so, I learned that most of my fears arise when I am either ruminating about something that occurred in the past or catastrophizing about the future–very rarely is there any present threat.  In some cases, the very act of confronting our fears can neutralize them.  Nevertheless, I am not implying that this is an easy task or that your fears will vanish over night.  I am the first to say that all the embracing and confronting in the world will not neutralize some fears.  For instance, I am afraid of snakes–always have been and in all likelihood, always will be. Just thinking about them increases my heart rate and gives me a tummy ache. But still, Papa Smurf is right, do not be afraid, to be afraid.


All in all, I learned a lesson that night:  Wisdom can come to us from the most unlikely places–including Smurf Village.
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An Anniversary

Cake, short a few candlesImage by nutmeg66 via Flickr
Today is an anniversary of sorts. It’s not a wedding anniversary or one that brings back happy memories. No, it is one that I never saw coming, never even imagined, but thanks to God, I live to tell.  So I suppose that I tell you this memory, not wistfully, but with zeal and gratitude that one year later, I write this post. 


First, I know, like everyone else, that my days are numbered and that we are promised nothing beyond this moment.  Nevertheless,  on June 2, 2010, when two pulmonary emboli forced me to confront my mortality, I was ill-prepared.

In hindsight, it seems so silly of me but at the time, I thought that I had nothing more than bronchitis, or at worse, pneumonia. I was having difficulty breathing and when I called my doctor’s office, I learned that he was out of the office for two weeks. His nurse told me that if the symptoms worsened, I should go to the nearest emergency room. I didn’t and choose to wait for my doctor’s return. On the morning that he returned,  I called his office. I requested an appointment. Upon hearing my symptoms, he refused me an office visit, and told me to go to the nearest emergency room.  I thought that was overkill and insisted on an office visit. He told me that if I came into the office, he would send me directly to the emergency room.  I relented and went to the nearest E.R., where initially they clearly seemed doubtful that there was anything that warranted an er. visit. They repeatedly asked me, “Who told you to come here?,” and each time I replied, “My doctor.” I did not want to be there anyway and certainly did not want to be viewed as someone who runs to the emergency room needlessly, so my doctor was taking the blame.


At first, the standard examination, x-ray and such indicated no serious problem and the doctor appeared ready to herd me out the door. I figured that I’d get a script for a ventilator and go home. Well, the first sign that something was wrong was seen in my blood work. The doctor who before had to make an effort to appear remotely interested, became overly interested. He came in to tell me that there was a problem in my blood work and they needed a CT scan. About 15-20 minutes passed between the scan and the doctor’s return to my room.  Instead of standing up, he sat down and I said, “I guess it’s the lawyer in me, but if there was nothing wrong, you would have said what you had to say and left.  Since you sat down, I assume that you have bad news.”  He gave a little smile and mentioned that his back hurt, but said, “Yes, I have some bad news.”

In brief, my blood was “sticky” and prone to clot, more so than is normal. These clots travel through the body, and end up in the brain causing sudden death. Mine were found in my lungs before they travelled to my brain. The doctor said, “you could have died at any moment before these clots were discovered.” The dam broke and the water works sprang forth.

All that I could think about was my loves: my mother who has already lost one child and didn’t deserve to lose another; my children, each so special in their own way and whom I love with all my heart ((I cannot overlook the two best son-in-laws in the world. I could not have chosen better men for each of my daughters. They mean the world to me and our family.); my g’children, especially Daisy who is the one that, because of geography, I know best. I’ve watched her grow from an infant to the independent thinker that she was even at 4 1/2 years old; my husband, who after years of challenges that would have broken up many marriages, we are intact and have decades to grow and love–together; my sisters who even though I am not close to, I love with all my heart and wish them nothing but good health, joy and happiness; my family who as the years go by is ever more important to  me as a connection to who I am and where I am from; and finally, my friends, some of whom closer than family.

After that conversation with the E.R. doctor, things happened quickly.  I was given the first of many injections of Lovenox, a blood thinner. I was prepared to be transferred via ambulance, to a highly skilled facility in Austin and within 30 minutes I found myself on a surreal journey. Cars pulled over to the shoulder to allow us passage, something that I’ve done countless times in the past without giving much thought to the passenger in the ambulance.

In all candor, I was terrified, because this was the closest that I’d come to death. Granted, fibromyalgia was so debilitating that it forced me to stop practicing law, but fibromyalgia by it self doesn’t kill.  There are many times that my pain is so great that I think that I am near  death, but I live by the belief that, this too shall pass, and each time it does.

My memory is cloudy at this point, but I remember feeling overwhelmed and anxious because people were descending upon me from all sides. I was being poked and prodded, asked a million questions, while copious amounts of blood was being drawn from my body.  What compounded my fear was the unknown. I did not know what happened, why, and whether it would happen again.

Hours later, I met my doctor for the first time.  He walked, sat down and reassured me that I was fortunate. His words were, “It is not common that I’d be sitting here talking to someone with your diagnosis, because the clots are not discovered in time and they die.” Now, if his intent was to allay my fears, it didn’t.  However, he did explain to me what happened and the plan for treatment.  He also ordered tests to determine whether the clots originated from my legs or my heart.  Both were negative.  As of this date, and with one round of genetic testing behind me, no one knows what caused my pulmonary emboli. 


For months after the diagnosis, I was so terrified that I would not wake the following morning, that I couldn’t breathe, which did nothing but feed my fears.  When I did sleep, I had terrible nightmares. It was probably three months before I could sleep through the night and longer still until I let go of my persistent worries about a return of the emboli. At this point, my choices are (1) to stop the blood thinners and watch and wait to see if the blood clots return, or (2) to continue the blood thinners and accept the risks posed by them. They are blood thinners and as such, a minor injury, could very easily turn into a serious problem and warrant an emergency room visit.  

The deciding factor for me is the unknown. I can speak only for myself, but stopping the blood thinner and ‘watching and waiting’ is not for me.  It is certain to negatively affect my emotional and mental health. At least for now, weighing the options, I chose option 2.  Sure it requires frequent blood tests, but then, it allows me to sleep at night, relatively sure that I won’t have a repeat of last year. 


Thanks for listening.


Blessings, lydia  
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From the Desk of God

One of my go-to web sites is www.wisdomalacarte.net, and I mean I go to it every day either via Facebook, Twitter or web. The articles are wise, well-written, informative and gleaned from the best of the best by Daniel Foisy and his partner. One day, long after it was originally posted, I came across the article that I’ve posted today. The article was literally an answer to my  very fervent prayers, as I found it soon after I learned that I had an embolism in each lung. I was scared, worried and filled with a dread unlike any that I’d ever known. This anonymously written article, along with the passage of time, significantly allayed my worries, fears and dreads. I hope that it might do the same for you too. 

For those of you whose “God” comes in some other form, I urge you not to, as they say, throw the baby out with the bath water. Simply substitute your higher power in place of God. I believe that either way, you get the message. Enjoy!



From The Desk of GOD
Effective Immediately:

Please be aware that there are changes you need to make in your life. These changes need to be completed in order that I may fulfill my promises to you to grant you peace, joy and happiness in this life. I apologize for any inconvenience, but after all that I am doing, this seems very little to ask of you. I know, I already gave you the 10 Commandments. Keep them. But follow these guidelines as well…

1. QUIT WORRYING

Life has dealt you a blow and all you do is sit and worry. Have you forgotten that I am here to take all your burdens and carry them for you? Or do you just enjoy fretting over every little thing that comes your way?

deskofgod_32141000

2. PUT IT ON THE LIST 

Something needs done or taken care of. Put it on the list. No, not YOUR list. Put it on MY to-do-list. Let ME be the one to take care of the problem. I can’t help you until you turn it over to me. And, although my to-do-list is long, I am, after all, God. I can take care of anything you put into my hands. In fact, if the truth were ever really known, I take care of a lot of things for you that you never even realize.

3. TRUST ME 

Once you’ve given your burdens to me, quit trying to take them back. Trust in me. Have the faith that I will take care of all your needs, your problems and your trials. Problems with the kids? Put them on my list. Problem with finances? Put it on my list. Problems with your emotional roller coaster? For my sake, put it on my list. I want to help you. All you have to do is ask.

4. LEAVE IT ALONE 

Don’t wake up one morning and say, “Well, I’m feeling much stronger now, I think I can handle it from here.” Why do you think you are feeling stronger now? It’s simple. You gave me your burdens and I’m taking care of them. I also renew your strength and cover you in my peace. Don’t you know that if I give you these problems back, you will be right back where you started? Leave them with me and forget about them. Just let me do my job.

5. TALK TO ME 

I want you to forget a lot of things. Forget what was making you crazy. Forget the worry and the fretting because you know I’m in control. But there’s one thing I pray you never forget. Please don’t forget to talk to me – OFTEN! I love you. I want to hear your voice. I want you to include me in on the things going on in your life. I want to hear you talk about your friends and family. Prayer is simply you having a conversation with me. I want to be your dearest friend.

6. HAVE FAITH

I see a lot of things from up here that you can’t see from where you are. Have faith in me that I know what I’m doing. Trust me, you wouldn’t want the view from my eyes. I will continue to care for you, watch over you, and meet your needs. You only have to trust me. Although I have a much bigger task than you, it seems as if you have so much trouble just doing your simple part. How hard can trust be?

7. SHARE

You were taught to share when you were only two years old. When did you forget? That rule still applies. Share with those who are less fortunate than you. Share your joy with those who need encouragement. Share your laughter with those who haven’t heard any in such a long time. Share your tears with those who have forgotten how to cry. Share your faith with those who have none.

8. BE PATIENT

I managed to fix it so in just one lifetime you could have so many diverse experiences. You grow from a child to an adult, have children, change jobs many times, learn many trades, travel to so many places, meet thousands of people, and experience so much. How can you be so impatient then when it takes me a little longer than you expect to handle something on my to-do-list? Trust in my timing, for my timing is perfect. Just because I created the entire universe in only six days, everyone thinks I should always rush, rush, rush.

9. BE KIND

Be kind to others, for I love them just as much as I love you. They may not dress like you, or talk like you, or live the same way you do, but I still love you all. Please try to get along, for my sake. I created each of you different in some way. It would be too boring if you were all identical. Please know I love each of your differences.

10. LOVE YOURSELF

As much as I love you, how can you not love yourself? You were created by me for one reason only – to be loved, and to love in return. I am a God of Love. Love me. Love your neighbors. But also love yourself. It makes my heart ache when I see you so angry with yourself when things go wrong. You are very precious to me. Don’t ever forget that!

With all my heart, I love you,

GOD

Author Unknown, http://j.mp/d7Zebv

Blessings and love,