I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks because I just couldn’t think of anything to say. Thanks for your patience. I’ve been busy working with some wonderful nursing students. I’ve got a great job. In the Health Promotion course I teach I have begun leading students in a Mindfulness Moment for the first 5 minutes of class. It’s simple – we let go of the past, not worry about the future, and just sit quietly and experience the present moment. It gets them ready for learning and they seem to really enjoy the 5 minutes to just BE. I love it.
Today Steve would have been 65 years old. Our family joined together for a celebration. I made burritos. I was going to make Steve’s famous chili but decided if I screwed it up, it wouldn’t exactly be honoring a fun memory. Our youngest son Brad made a video which will post on YouTube. Brad said he mostly remembers Steve in the last few years when he was older. It helped Brad to go through some older pictures of Steve as a younger man. It was fun watching it and remembering a life well lived. Happy Birthday Steve.
I keep learning lessons riding the train to work. Yesterday I was reading The Little Book of Mindfulness when a man sat beside me and said, “What are you reading?” I told him it was about meditation and relaxation and he asked me to share what I was learning. We got in a beautiful conversation about relaxation and the importance of seeking inner peace. People around us were listening in, nodding their heads in agreement. We really connected. The interesting part is that this man was a bit disheveled, had a speech impairment, and I judged him to be needy. Once we interacted, quite the opposite was true. He was on his way to volunteer to spend the day with patients at the VA Hospital. He was very self aware and wise.Why do I judge? He talked about the Byrds’ song Turn, Turn, Turn and the line where the Byrds sing “I swear it’s not too late” for peace. Serendipitously, I had just copied down the following quote from the Little Book of Mindfulness: We think we cannot bring about world peace. But think of this: Each person creating peace in themselves and with those around them can only, eventually, bring about peace in the world.
And here’s another great quote by Howard Thurman from the book: Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. What the world needs is people who have come alive.
There’s a great Ted Talk by Kio Stark about how we should “push past our default discomfort when it comes to talking to strangers and embrace those fleeting but profoundly beautiful moments of genuine connection.” I love meeting people on the train. They help me come alive.
It was 5:30 Friday night and I was home alone feeling lonely. I really wanted to go see Florence Foster Jenkins with Meryl Streep. It started at 6:30. I didn’t want to go alone, but I felt like it was too late to call any friends. When Steve was here we would go to a movie on very short notice. But now I felt like I need to ask someone the night before. As I headed upstairs, thinking about perhaps texting someone to go to the movie, I received a text from my friend Cindy that said, I want to go see movie Florence Foster Jenkins. I don’t think my husband would go to that one. Do you want to go with me tonight or tomorrow night? It surprised me so much I squealed and dropped my phone. I texted back, Yes! How about tonight? It starts at 6:30. Really, what are the odds that she would text me about exactly what I was thinking about? Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences. I think there’s more to it. We had a great night at the movies. After being laid up for two weeks with a cold and an injured knee, I was thrilled to get out of the house. And now I know it’s OK to ask someone to go out on short notice.
After the movie Cindy told me that she had felt Steve close by all week and he is watching over me. We both agreed that this “coincidence” was probably inspired by Steve. Isn’t that cool?
Soon after Steve’s death my son Brad recommended I watch a movie, About Time, about a time traveler. It was a beautiful, touching movie that in the end is about living life in the present moment and appreciating how awesome each day is. I want to LIVE my life, engaged and paying attention. Here are some quotes from the movie:
Tim: And so he told me his secret formula for happiness. Part one of the two part plan was that I should just get on with ordinary life, living it day by day, like anyone else.
Tim: But then came part two of Dad’s plan. He told me to live every day again almost exactly the same. The first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing. Okay, Dad. Let’s give it a go.
Tim: And in the end I think I’ve learned the final lesson from my travels in time; and I’ve even gone one step further than my father did: The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day, I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.
My daughter does yard work and gardens every morning before she goes to work in the afternoon. She suffers from bipolar disorder, depression, and a few other diagnoses. It would be easy for her to just sit and watch TV all day feeling sad, but I respect that she keeps busy and keeps moving forward. On the other had, I’ve been sick with a cold and an injured knee for the past couple of weeks, and I have watched a LOT of TV. Although I work part-time, the evenings are lonely. I have learned from my daughter’s example that I need to get off the recliner and DO something. But what will it be? I just need to figure out something that is interesting and useful, and something I can do that fits in with my vision issue, and with the fatigue that I hope is on the way out. For example I don’t want to do something that requires a lot of reading. This is part of my ongoing adjustment to life without Steve. I feel like I haven’t “landed” where I need to be yet. I do love working with nursing students at the University of Utah. I would love to go back to work full time but my health is just not there yet. The journey continues.
OK I hope this isn’t corny, but as I look at the picture of the garden path (above), I notice the metaphor. The gate is open and the garden (life) welcomes me to move forward. The end of the path is unclear but the journey is abundant and beautiful and there is much to be discovered. I just need to enter and trust. Yeah, that’s better than watching TV, which is a metaphor for watching life pass me by. Yeah?