Undones, Do You Have Them?

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Having faced death several times myself and recently experiencing the deaths of two very special people, I find myself preoccupied with loss.

Adoptees tend to do that of course. Our beginnings in utero had already started the prewiring necessary for our survival which was begun with loss of our mother.

Of course, I’d like to be thinking of sunshine and rainbows, but the reality for all of us is that death is inevitable. It could be tonight even.. It will come whether you’re ready or not. That is a certainty and we don’t have many of those in this life.

My life has been filled with loss as most adoptees are. The loss of our mother, our family, our heritage, our genetic markers, our family dynamics. Each future loss such as the recent losses I’ve mentioned open that old wound.

Then of course you add in the numerous losses one tends to accumulate over the years and suddenly life appears to hold nothing but darkness, silence, the sound of tears dropping, emptiness, loss of health. Living with an illness that could at any moment take my life brings it all to the frontline.

Being a practicing Buddhist I’m well prepared for the inevitable. I don’t fear death at all and in fact, at times would welcome it. Most people living with Mast Cell Disease can attest to that when you’ve spent days in excruciating pain, vomiting into a pail, fighting the anaphylaxis demons with epinephrine.

That in no way means I want to die. It means I believe one has to prepare for their own death in order to live. A close encounter with death can bring a real awakening, a transformation in our whole approach to life.

The Nature of everything is illusory and ephemeral,

Those with dualistic perception regard suffering as happiness, Like they who lick the honey from a razor’s edge. How pitiful they who cling strongly to concrete reality:

Turn your attention within, my heart friends.

The above is a verse of a poem by contemporary master, Nyoshul Khenpo. It clearly outlines the need to reflect deeply on impermanence. It’s very difficult to turn our attention within and so easy to allow our old habits, our set patterns to rule us! To reflect on this, slowly brings us wisdom. Watch how you repeatedly fall into the same old habits that always bring you suffering. Again, and again, and again. With observance and practice we can slowly emerge and change.

Your Undones…

Your undones are that persistent, niggling, feeling that is sent to you from The Universe, Your Higher Self, how ever you think of what is “out there”. It’s telling you that you have unfinished business. Business that will pester you, stress you and take your energy until you complete it. Mental nags are undones. They remind you that you have broken agreements with yourself and time and time again you’ll notice they rob you of your self respect. Creativity…gone. True joy…gone. Internal peace…gone. You are able to get back all of those things if you complete your undones.

Right now in your mind I’m sure you can identify several. I know I can. They could be unresolved conflicts, withheld forgiveness, appreciation not mentioned, love not given, goals not met, promises not kept. Your life is probably full of many more not mentioned. They come in every size, shape, and in each and every area of your life. Check your basement. It’s probably full of undones.

Let this sink in…You won’t find peace until these undones are completed. Just remember, life is short and very unpredictable.

Not Giving Up/In…to Illness

Honestly, I don’t know where to start.

I suppose when that happens, one should start at the beginning. Mast Cell Disease, Finding Heart Horse and book signing or  adoption thoughts. As I sat staring at the keyboard I realized in fact they are all connected, all intertwined in a tangled web inside my body creating havoc at different times.

Perhaps, I’ll do them individually starting with now, right this moment and where my body is physically.

I arrived home from an eleven day trip to Ontario last saturday. Arrived at 11;30pm, was in ER by midnight. The first part of the trip was a book signing with Hay House I Can Do It Conference in Toronto for Finding Heart Horse.  Exciting..yes, absolutely!  I prepared for weeks before-hand, drinking hemp smoothies, resting, taking extra meds pre flight.  I wore my support hose!  I drank litres of water the day before.  I meditated, felt organized and confident that I could do this.  I’ve flown to India for heavens sake…Toronto would be nothing!  My first wake up call came shortly after being in the air for a while.  Planes are acclimatized to 7000ft, usually not a problem for me.  This time, however, I started feeling drowsy, unsteady on my feet, headache, almost nodding off a few times.  Low O2 saturation!  Of course!  If my saturation is low to begin with they drop several points in flight.  Wake up call!

I discovered, I still have a lot to learn in “how to be sick” and live life at the same time.  I’ve always pushed through, gotten things done even if I felt like I was on my last legs and here, this time, I thought I did everything right.

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“There is sickness here, but I am not sick.”

“Of course! There is sickness in the body, but am not sick.!”

Toni Bernhard

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I have repeated those lines many times and contemplated the “I” part.  As a Buddhist, the teachings show “anatta” or “no fixed and unchanging self” so who is the that isn’t sick?  In Toni Bernhards book, How to Be Sick she quotes from a wonderful book that I have read by Joseph Goldstien and Jack Kornfield called Seeking the Heart of Wisdom:

Just as we condition our bodies in different ways through exercise or lack of it, so we condition our minds.  Every mind state, thought, or emotion that we experience repeatedly becomes stronger and more habituated.  Who we are as personalities is a collection of all the tendencies of mind that have developed, the particular energy configurations we have cultivated.

 I was wondering where  went wrong in my planning as I became quite ill I reminded myself that  is nothing more than a thought, or feeling held  so tightly that we believe it to be real.  We are temporary beings, made up of moments that come and go, parts put together and taken down and sometimes, we just don’t have control over what we think we do.

 The above picture was after a night/day spent in the ER with anaphylaxis.  I knew it was coming, could feel the buildup, yet couldn’t stop it.  It took a tremendous amount of medications to stop the process and allow me to breathe.  All done in the trauma room with people grabbing “parts” and starting IV’s, asking questions, taking X-ray’s, talking to each other.  I wanted to scream..wait!! I’m a nurse!  I’m not a patient!  Wait…this isn’t who really am!  But, in the moment it just was….  I was the patient..my body was sick.

Becoming okay, accepting that everything changes whether you like it or not is freeing.  Our lives go up and down, our thoughts come and go, our good days and bad days do the same, sometimes influenced by what we do and sometimes not.

Having an “invisible Illness” is more than a challenge.  Comments are made, judgments rendered if people can’t “see” the inside destruction that is happening.  To stay in a place where you don’t take these things personally is a lesson in itself.

I have Systemic Mast Cell Disease, Dysautonomia, 3rd stage kidney disease and Lung Disease requiring a bronchoscopy.  To the onlooker..on a good day, I look fine.  You don’t see the symptoms in the diagram.  I refuse to give in to the many labels and will continue to live my life as I have, perhaps differently each day, certainly with more awareness, but I will continue.  I refuse to be a victim whether it be from adoption, abuse, rape, and now illness, all of which, I might add…fit together and are part of…

” When we settle into the present moment, we can see beauties and wonders right before our eyes-a new-born baby, the sun rising in the sky.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

By healing our minds and living in the present moment we can not only survive, but thrive.  Even in excruciating pain which is prevalent in mastocytosis, one can ride it like a wave while not berating yourself with the tapes of the old days.  You know the ones..I shouldn’t have overdone it yesterday…I’m afraid the pain will never go away…and many more personal ..should halves, would haves.  If you can just recognize as you wander into those old tapes and bring yourself back to the present moment with a simple word..you will see change.  Focus on your breath..you have to be in the moment to do that.  Meditate, eat well, stay away from stress, be kind and gentle with your body allowing it to rest when it requests…all these help.

 Together we will teach.  Together we will learn.  Together we will find support.  Together we will be okay.

We can do this.

Re-Surfacing

  

Medicine BuddhaThis is my Medicine Buddha Thanka in my meditation room.

It was given to me by my wonderful Tibetan friend Namgil from India.  His Father painted it just before he passed on.  I’ve been spending a great deal of time in there the past few weeks.  Well, there and the ER as you saw on my FB.  

I’ve been sitting, laying, reflecting, meditating, shedding tears… trying to understand the concept of loss and pain, both physical and emotional.  I always think I’ve got it….until it happens the next time.  Mind you…considering how I was a few years ago, I’m so much better at recognizing and stepping outside of my physical self to observe.  Being in the presence of the Medicine Buddha helps, just as being in any kind of spiritual place brings a sense of peace, belonging and clarity.

His deep blue, ties back to a master healing stone Lapis Lazuli.  The deep blue is associated with the brow chakra,  The attributes of the brow chakra are discernment, clarity, vision and seeing beyond illusion.  How appropriate for me at this time.

In his hand he holds the myrobalan fruit, representing all of the best medicines in the world.  Being so ill these past few weeks I soak in the energy this brings.

His right hand gesture represents and symbolizes the eradication of suffering.  Especially the suffering of sickness using the means of relative truth.  The left hand is resting in his lap palm upward symbolizing meditative stability.  Meditation is looked upon as a tool to aid in the eradication of sickness and suffering, both of which have been a huge part of my life.

How? By digging deep into the very roots of the pain and suffering and finding the absolute truth.  I’ve written about digging in the dirt and finding our own diamonds buried underneath the rubble and baggage we carry around.  It’s a lifelong process, this digging.

This has been National Adoption Awareness Month.  I don’t need to tell you how much has been discussed amongst the First Mothers, The Adoptees, People trying to change the system in hopes of making things better.  Post after post written about the atrocities of adoption and how it’s left behind a trail of people with broken hearts.

 I’ve thought endlessly of how it has affected me and those around me.  I’ve had to re read FINDING HEART HORSE several times this month in preparation for printing.  These reads have brought deep reflective tears and awareness for the young girl who suffered so much trauma.  Interesting.  I thought I was done with the tears.  It was with compassion this time, with understanding and acknowledgement that came from my heart.  Different than before.  Even pain has layers.

Much of my suffering comes from a lack of connection rooted in being taken from my Mother.  Now many are lost to me and my heart breaks sending me into a dark place of despair.  I know many of you have felt that loss, that darkness, that aloneness even when in a room full of people. I know some of you are sitting there now. When the actual people move on you are left alone…with yourself and your Medicine Buddha or as in my book…your Heart Horse.

I’ve tried to repair the cracks.  I’ve used crazy glue to mend the pieces that fell completely out.  I’ve read, and prayed, and forgiven.  Yet I cry alone.  No matter how you look at it, unless you are there for yourself, love yourself, accept yourself you will always be looking outside and you will find nothing.

In the ER I was by myself.  They pepper you with questions while you are gasping for air, tangles of tubes and chaos around you.  “Who’s your next of Kin?  Who should we call if we intubate?  Who is your next of Kin?  Over and over.

 When I first found my birth family I was so excited.  I finally had next of Kin and put their names everywhere never thinking that one day the space would be empty once again.   Such a simple thing to so many…next of kin.  When you are adopted and live your life with no information, no history, no kin..its just so amazing to have names to put down….such a simple thing and yet so important.  Next of Kin.  Such a loss then and now.  

ImageThe sooner you figure this out…the better.

 Less suffering, less chaos.  Easier said than done, I know.

So, I’m laying in my meditation room contemplating some pretty heavy subjects.  Death for example.  How fast life can change.  In an instant someone is gone.  We see it on the news everyday.  Do we take time to really think about the person, about their families, those left behind.  Did they argue that day over something so silly as a spilled coffee.  Did they say goodbye with a kiss,  Did they say thank you for all that that person has done for them.  Perhaps its only when you come face to face with your own immortality that you raise these questions.  I would hope everyone thinks about these things.  I know in reality they don’t .  How many people live with regrets.  Regrets of not doing, not saying, not forgiving.  I am working hard to not be one of those people.

I’ve had several near death experiences in my lifetime, each time vowing to make each day count.  To be generous of spirit, loving and kind.  To make amends for my wrongdoings.  To help those less fortunate and be there when needed for those who call out.  I make it my daily practice.  Sometimes, i fall behind and slip into my own pain body.  After all, we are all only human.

We all want the same things really.

 To be loved and respected.  To be heard.  To be wanted and cared for.  To be happy.

After coming home from the ER this last time, I was reminded once again how fast life can be lost.  

It’s Thanksgiving Day a few hours south of me.  A day where families get together to celebrate gratitude.  Something we need to pay more attention to each and every day.  For those who are alone and in pain on this day, know I’m thinking about you and sending loving energy.  I know too well what that feels like.  Look inside, look at the small things and be grateful for just taking a breath.  Just taking a breath, nothing more.

I believe the essence of all teachings, from all forms of spiritual communities is the same.

Commit not a single unwholesome act.

Develop a wealth of virtue.

Tame, transform, conquer this mind of ours.

 Be Peace, Compassion and Wisdom.

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We Are What We Think

“We are what we think.

All that we are arises with out thoughts.

With out thoughts we make the world.

Speak or act with an impure mind

And the troubles will follow you 

As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.

All that we are arises with our thoughts.

With our thoughts we make the world.

Speak of act with a pure mind

And happiness will follow you

As your shadow, unshakable.”

From the Dhammapada

 

Self-Love Challenge….Kindness

ImageThe Buddha Maitreya’s name is derived from the Sanskrit “maitri”.

 “The very name “maitri” means “loving-kindness”…..Now, in today’s world, we really need maitri, Maitreya, loving kindness.

Dalai Lama

As I was sitting having my coffee this morning reflecting on the painful events of the past week I couldn’t help but notice the aroma of lavender and roses.  My plan for todays blog was actually going to be about Mast Cell Disease of which I have and have been fighting with all week.(it won this round but not the next)  I have MCAD, just one of the many mast cell activation disorders characterized by accumulation of genetically altered mast cells and/or abnormal release of these cells’ mediators, affecting functions in potentially every organ system.  The symptoms are debilitating and life limiting in many ways.  This morning i was in a great deal of pain and my eyes were blurry and crusted in disgusting substance rendering me almost unable to see.  My plan was, as I said to talk about my life with this horrible disease and what a difficult week it has been…my awareness of the wonderful smells told me different.

I just sat, eyes closed and took long deep breaths of the aromas and opened my ears to the delightful eagle conversations as they passed by my deck.  In the background the lulling music of Deva Premal played softly and I smiled as I recognized today’s blog wouldn’t be about how awful I felt, but how grateful I was to be surrounded by such peace.

Right in front of me, sitting on my mantle was the evidence of kindness shown to me by a good friend.  Above you see the Roses of Kindness.  I wish you could smell them as I am…a hint of lilac and rose mixed in with essence of love.

So, what is Kindness?

It is synonymous with Love, except that Love is a state of Being and kindness is a state of  Doing.  If you can create each human interaction to be a moment inspired by Love, you are practicing Kindness…..  Love gives us the ability to see people on our path as the perfect buddha beings they are, and then kindness allows us to bless them with loving acts or deeds.

For many of us that have experienced adoption or PTSD from other traumas it’s very challenging to accept acts of kindness, in particular when they come unannounced and from a place of love.  It all boils down to that basic belief, that ugly core that stores the information that we aren’t worthy of such generosity, such love.  

I tore my rotator cuff in 05 and was in excruciating pain for 2yrs plus.  I didn’t ask, more than the first time, for medication because I had admitted that 30yrs previous I had used drugs…back in the 60’s…Horrors.  I was judged by the physician so never asked again.  I didn’t ask for help to do anything even tho’ it was my right shoulder and the slightest movement would bring me to tears.  I was in the beginning of a reunion and wanted to be there for everyone as the “good little adoptee” would be.  Surgery was far away and I began taking cortisone shots to allow me to move and manage day to day.  One day, my orthopaedic surgeon was away and I was in such pain I had to find another doctor to do the injection.  Not many GP’s are comfortable doing it but finally I found one and sat in his office waiting for any relief.  I was so grateful for him doing this he was already top notch in my book.  After the injection into the shoulder joint he helped me on with my shirt as I sat.  When I got up to leave he reached up to my collar…pulled it slightly and arranged it neatly with a smile and pat on the shoulder.   I was so taken aback by this small gesture of kindness that came out of the blue, I burst into tears right there on the spot.

Kindness given freely with love overwhelms me, touches my heart in so many ways.  It’s something new and takes me into uncharted waters of my soul.  I have given it freely all of my life and now, at this time in my life I am open to receiving fully,  feeling fully the love that it carries.  

Kindess begins with respect for ourselves.  As an adoptee and survivor of many trauma’s and abuse it’s a lesson that takes years to practice.  On the outside, in the mask of whatever role we are playing we are respected, as I was as a RN, but it’s the hidden self that once set free after reunion that needs to relearn…respect for self.  When we experience difficult emotions, we can hold them in gentleness or we can beat up on ourselves in ways that erode our confidence.  If we make kindness the basis for our daily spiritual practice, we can contribute serenity, compassion and happiness to our complex world.

Today, may I mindfully cultivate compassion and understanding for myself so that through kindness I can add happiness, not pain to the lives of others.

 I will always remember my Kindness Roses from a garden just down the street…thank you Bill

Day 12 of 40 day Self-Love Challenge

ImageToday, I will practice Gratitude.  I will get in the habit of saying thank you, even for the “problems” in my life because these challenges are valuable lessons I can learn from.  Gratitude is the key that turns problems into unexpected gifts.    

Melodie Beattie

I am behind in my 40 day challenge and I’m okay with that.  I feel no need to catch up.  This Self-Love “thing” is challenging enough thinking about never mind writing about.

I know someone today  in total meltdown, on the verge of giving up and that makes me sad.  I’ve been there many times and in retrospect (now that I’m old ) I see they were times of huge growth and change and were for my benefit.

The picture above was one I took in India several years ago.  He had nothing more than what you see in that picture.  No home, no money, no food, nothing.  To me, he looked on the verge of collapse in the 40 degree India heat and I offered him my water and some rupee’s.  He thanked me and said in his broken english.  “My heart is happy…what you see outside is nothing.” It was as if he could see my thoughts.

I think about him a lot actually.  When problems come into my life and my friends, we tend to blame ourselves.  That we were the one that caused it or the one to blame.  

We speak harshly to that inner child, cruelly at times as so many of us heard as children.  We continue the pattern because we think we have to.  Because we think we deserve to feel hurt, sad, alone, broken.  

We are responsible for our own thoughts and emotions.  We are responsible for our reactions to what others “do or say or act” towards us…not them.  Their actions belong to them alone.  It has nothing to do with us.

So many people aren’t grateful for their lives because they don’t see the miracles that we all are underneath the external trappings.   Gratitude in fact leads to happiness and happiness is an attitude afforded to us all…even my friend in India.

It’s within our power to feel happy through the ways we look at our lives. That’s why I chose to embrace the problems that come my way now instead of fighting with them and being discouraged that there are so many.

If you think of life as a collection of small moments, perfect moments as my friend did with a few rupees and a bottle of water.  A moment of bliss added to the mosaic of our lives here and there, scattered about with abandon in between the problems and uncertainty..we will keep going. 

Instead, most people think they should always feel happy, have it constant and continuous or else it’s not happiness.  One giant piece not little bits scattered around..that’s what is expected.

It’s not possible.  It wouldn’t be happiness.  With nothing to compare it to, how would you know?

You can be having a perfectly lovely day and wham…a parking ticket and the whole day is ruined.  What a shame that we toss out our sacred pieces of perfect bliss because we think they are to insignificant to call happiness.

To let one problem or even several negatives erase the perfect moments we have, creates a pattern and a spiral downward.  It’s okay to have a rough day, a bad day, a sad day.  It’s not the total picture of our lives and its difficult sometimes to remember that.  

Nothing is permanent in this life, neither the good, nor the bad and if we can choose our thoughts, doesn’t it make sense to view things in a different way.  A way that doesn’t cause us so much suffering.

As I write these books of my life I often wonder how I survived such

trauma and pain.  It’s all in how we choose to look at things.  Problems have given me resilience and strength because I faced them head on.  Each one a building block in the foundation on which I now stand firmly grounded.

Don’t let life steal away your perfect moments.  See them as they happen and take a moment to protect them and store them in your heart.  They are your life building blocks and problems you confront are lessons of gratitude in disguise.

Thank you for all of my life lessons. I look at myself now, knowing my strengths and weaknesses.    I am grateful.