Tag Archives: waking up

the spinning wheel

I have been quiet lately, as I have been undergoing a challenging transition.  Amidst the tears and the pain, I know that I am growing and becoming. My life is going to be entirely different than I imagined, and my future is unknown.  But today the sun is shining, the birds are chirping gently, and despite the emotional storms of the past few months the morning breeze is gentle, as though the breath of a higher power is caressing me gently with the soothing reminder: yes, Katy, you will be okay.

And I know I will be.

Life cycles forward.  There is comfort in this spinning wheel of destruction, death, rebirth. It is the natural order of everything. We break down so we can begin again.  We fall so we can fly.


the loosening and the rebirth

This brilliant blogger wrote today:

“Resolve” originates in the Latin resolvere: “to loosen, undo, settle,” a seemingly paradoxical combination of the intensive prefix re and solvere (to loosen)… I wonder how the same word can mean both becoming settled and becoming undone.. Isn’t that also what the process of grief is?  I have become undone by it, but it also has settled into me, not necessarily always for the worse.   It has given me the resolve to do what I feel I must to honor Jim in this new life without him.

Yes. Grief has loosened me, settled me, created me into something new. I gaze with wonder at what grew in the wake of that fiery blaze, the green tendrils of life that appear among the smoldering ashes, reaching towards the sun.

I’m only human; I flinch away from pain and seek out pleasure. But if I look beyond simplistic judgement of suffering=bad and pleasure=good, I can embrace the new beginnings, the wisdom, the joy that sprung forth from the losses in my life.  I still want my mother with me, but the pain of losing has birthed (and is still birthing) something totally new into existence in my heart. This new way of being is still developing and I’m only beginning to understand how I have changed. I probably don’t seem that much different on the outside, but there is a shift in my core.  I linger longer when admiring a soaring bird or blooming rose, I laugh deeper, I am happier being me. Her death taught me how to live, and today I can it better- with more gratitude, more hope, more joy.

Like our mother’s suffered in bringing us forward into the world, our grief can unravel that which no longer serves us, burn the barriers we have built around our hearts down to a grey, crumbling ash, and allow us to be born into a new life. I have resolve- to both let go and to settle, to be rooted in my self and trust that on the wings of my suffering I can fly, in the charred remains of what was I can bloom again.

getting it

I’ve had a hard time staying in the moment.

During the last few months, there was a grim chorus chanting in my mind.  Over and over, a perseveration on the passing of my mother:

She is going to die.
I’m going to lose her.
When will it happen?

I felt pretty crazy.  Anyone would, with relentless thoughts like that.  I mostly kept them to myself, but felt driven to a dark and lonely place.

Now, its not a secret rumination, but a topic for family discussion.  We are discussing arrangements for after she has passed.  She’s receiving hospice services.  She looks great, but there is a beginning of an understanding amongst everyone, and not only the neurotic adult daughter, that this is it, folks.

The chorus has gone silent, but I now feel mechanical, and my days seem played out, as if I’m an actor in a role and my real life is tucked away somewhere else, waiting for me to exit stage left and get back to it.   I felt strangely disconnected when the hospice nurse visited yesterday, as if she represents some other alternate reality.  She couldn’t possibly be here for my mother– it feels to strange, too unreal. I nod and smile on cue, however– maybe I’m a good actor.

The fogginess (which must be some flavor of denial) drives me nuts. But my days have been very busy: caring for my mother, my grandmother, attending to out-of-town guests, coordinating holiday meals, taking care of the house and keeping in touch with other family by phone.  Maybe there isn’t enough left over for me to process, to “get it.”

“Getting it” is hard.  I remember when I visited Beethoven’s grave in Vienna as part of a college music and history course.  My professor stood in the cemetery and told us students that, above everything else, he wanted us to “get it-” to not just see a beautiful monument on a superficial level, but to understand the gravity, the importance, the reality of the place.  Have it bore deep down into our skulls, that this is real, this exists, this is where the great man’s remains are.  To feel the connection and the meaning.  To wake up from a world and from tendencies of thinking that aren’t rooted in actuality, and to be right there, next to Beethoven (and Brahms, and Schubert) and take it all in.

Maybe there is some balance I can find, between perseveration and just checking out.    Some way I can tolerate the agony of the present in order to take in the many blessings there as well.



favorite time of day

These last few days, my emotional rollercoaster has been cruising on a pretty steady decline.  My mom was hit hard with cyclophosphamide, and its been difficult to be away from her during this latest round of chemotherapy.  Even so, the magic finds little cracks to shine through in the the darkness.

Last night, I went to check on the chickens and empty out the compost bucket.  The sun was setting behind beefy clouds, and sudenly the dim, radiant glow of everything took my breath away.  Even a scratched up chicken yard, at that magic moment at dusk, looks positively ethereal. Its the lovely few minutes where the sun seeminly decides to step aside, and everything shines as if illuminated by an internal light.

I had a flashback to April, 1998.  I was seventeen years old, hiking in the woods in Northern Iowa.  If you’ve ever been there, you know the woods aren’t the deep and ancient sort, but rather gentle and friendly, with rolling hills, frequent meadows, and delicate tree branches criss-crossing above your head. The sun sunk back to the horizon, and suddenly, everything around me was glowing. 

“This is it!” I squealed to my companions.  “My favorite time of day!”

You know what? It still is.

reality bites?

“Most of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talk that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence.”  -EM Forster


I’m reading  A Passage to India on my new Kindle, which was a birthday present (thanks, Dad and Nelda!).  I spent 7 weeks in India, and I am loving this book.  Its helping deepen my own experience, even 1.5 years after I departed for home.

Is life dull?  No,I don’t think so, not even on those days which could temptingly be described as “boring.”  But I also don’t think most of us digest life very well.  Its as if we live in a coccoon 95 percent of the time, hiding from reality in all its pain, and all its beauty, all its complexity, all its mind-bending wonderfulness.    Me, you, all of us are guilty.  Yes, the world breaks through our shells from time to time, and we feel floored by the sunrise, swept away by a baby’s giggle.  But most of the time, we are suspended in some other medium.  A place of impremeable thought, or overall numbness.

Its not entirely our fault.  Human industriousness has made this way of being easier and easier.   Television, iPads, cell phones, mp3 players.  Texting, typing, wii-ing.  We move from one air-conditioned environment to another, barely stopping to notice the weather outside.  We eat our food without tasting, knowing or caring.  It seems like we spend a lot of time, well, biding time.  And is it worth it in the end?

At the moment I’m trying to avoid a moral argument, although no doubt several can spring from this discussion.  I hate to dictate what is right for everyone else, and I like the internet and my iPhone as much as the next person.  But I think we all can stand to open our eyes a little wider– I know I can.  So, I enjoy the garden, the chickens and my dog.  They keep me connected to the Earth and the present moment.  I bike to work, because feeling the wind on my skin,  bringing the morning air into my lungs and taking in the ways which my surroundings change from day to day awakens me, and fills me with gratitude for my health and my life. 

I know waking up is a process.  Might take my entire life, or more.  But the journey is already paying off.