A Righteous Fire

There is a deadly fire that burns within the hearts of some who love God.  It is a burning that drives them to use it to rationalize any action, regardless of the cost to themselves or the people who love them.  It obliterates all other thoughts, obscures vision, and is the prime motivation for all actions.  When my parents became missionaries I was barely a year old.  My parents had received some basic education about the country we were going to, and an intensive study of the language they would need to understand and speak.  It wasn’t long enough, nor were there enough vaccinations to protect them from all the diseases they would come into contact with.  I know their parents were very worried about them going, but there was no stopping them.  The fire had already begun to burn in my father’s mind and nothing would stop him from his mission.
I don’t remember much about our arrival, or the long trip across inhospitable terrain to the town where they had been assigned.  The heat, I remember well, because as time went on our family grew and one of my little sisters developed something called prickly heat, a rash that covered her whole body, and which necessitated our going to a cooler place during the hot summer months.  My father stayed in the city, but my mother, sisters and I were sent up into the mountains where the air was cooler.  We took what was considered the minimum number of servants along to help us. My parents had initially refused servants, but when the Director of Missions explained that it provided jobs and an improved way of life for the people my parents had come to serve, they reluctantly accepted.  By the time my sisters came along, they didn’t even think about it.  We had a nanny, a gardener, a cook, and a man who fixed things and could sew anything my mother showed him a photo of in each of our sizes without a pattern.  When we went to the mountains, just the nanny and the cook came, and my father stayed in the sweltering town.  Another cook was found for him, and he continued his job of teaching English in the boys school.  My mother never seemed afraid or lonely, and made any difficulty into an adventure.  She never failed to point out how lucky we were in comparison to many of the children we played with in the village.  We never went without food or clothing and our mother made sure we understood what a privilege that was.
We loved our time up in the mountains.  We had our mother all to ourselves, and she would play games with us, read us stories and lay down with us for nap time in the afternoon.  In the night if we had bad dreams, she would throw open her covers and let us snuggle up next to her until we fell asleep.  Even when we were sick, we couldn’t do this when we were down in the village.  Father was jealous of anything that took our mother’s attention away from him, which is where he felt it rightly belonged, and we spent much more time with the nanny.  We loved our nanny, but it wasn’t the same as being with our mother.  When we were staying in the mountains our father would visit once every two to three weeks, and we dreaded it.  Our father had a ferocious temper that tended to leap out unpredictably.  He would strike out at us, at our mother, even at our nanny or the cook sometimes.  He felt the nanny “coddled” us, because she would beg him to let her pick up my infant sister when she was crying in her crib, wringing her hands and saying in English, “Please, the little one cries, please” holding her arms in a cradling posture.  Our father would not relent, and seemed to get pleasure out of showing everyone he was the boss, even when it hurt us.  He was kinder to the boys he taught, although he was still strict with them.  He saw all of his actions through the lens of religion. The fire of his passion for carrying out the Word of God could always be justified by a passage of scripture he had memorized.  Our mother’s gentle, kind nature could at times calm him down but other times it inflamed his self-righteous anger even more.
The servants were afraid of him, and we were too.  Only our mother seemed able to love him, and she would try to find ways to ease the sting of his words, the lash of his temper.

The last summer they were missionaries we planned to go up into the mountains as we usually did and he planned to stay in town.  The night before we left my parents had a terrible fight, and he struck my mother physically for the first time.  It was obvious, despite the make-up she put on to cover it, and he did not seem to feel any remorse for his actions.  This was when I noticed that the servants stopped respecting him.  Leaving the village was a relief, and my mother’s spirits seemed to rise with the altitude and the distance we put between us.  The handy man came along with us.  This was unusual, but not so much so that I was alarmed.  We sang as we made our way, and it seemed like the trip was over quickly.  That first night in the mountains, the nanny put us to bed and I asked her why with my limited knowledge of her language.  “Mama sad,” she said, and pantomimed a woman crying.  I wanted to go and see for myself, but the nanny stayed in our room with us that night and I was so tired after our long walk to the mountains that I didn’t wake-up until morning.
We awoke to the sound of my mother singing, and when we went to find her we saw that she was teaching, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” to the servants.  When she saw us she stopped and excused herself, coming to help get my little sisters dressed.  The evidence of my father’s violence was still evident on her face, and it made me very angry.  I asked my mother if she was angry with him, and she replied, “Oh no, dearest one, your father is merely trying to help me to be more accepting of God’s will.” “It’s nothing, and the mark will be gone before we see him next.  You know you must always treat your father with respect, just as we do with our Heavenly Father.”  This did not make much sense to me, and I told my mother it didn’t.  “Darling,” she said, “you just have to trust in our Lord as I do, and when we see your father in a few days, you must treat him with respect and be obedient.”  “Do you understand?”  she asked.  I nodded my head, although I had misgivings about all of it.
My father came to visit that very weekend.  He seemed edgy and irritable.  Nothing any of us did or said made him happy, and he kept picking fights with my mom.  He was miserable, and wanted all of us to share in his misery.  The strange thing was, we didn’t know what was making him so angry.  It was like he was possessed by some evil spirit.  He made each of us cry at some point during the evening meal, and we didn’t see my parents after that.  The nanny put us to bed, and after we were tucked in I could hear her whispering with the cook but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  I knew they were planning something, and I vowed to myself that I would protect my mother no matter what the cost.
In the morning there was more evidence of my father’s temper on my mother’s face.  Her eyes were almost swollen shut, and the nanny spent more time trying to care for her than she did for us that day.  I saw many knowing looks passing between the servants, and as the day wore on the handy man started a large fire.  I was so upset about my mother that I didn’t really pay attention to it, but as afternoon became evening the fire grew larger and larger.  My mother did not join us for dinner, which was a quiet meal, my father spending most of his time lecturing to the servants about the fires of hell, and punishment for sins.  He spent extra time with the handy man, talking with him as he tended the fire.  I couldn’t stop worrying about my mother, wondering what had happened to keep her from us.  When it had gotten quite late, I heard the cook talking to my father.  It sounded like she was telling him he needed a good nights sleep and the she had made a special drink that would help him find ease in his slumber.  My father had another set of ears he could dominate, another soul he could warn about sin, hell and eternal burning.  From what I could hear the cook just listened, letting him go on and on but gently encouraging him to drink from time to time.  When he had finished it, his words sounded funny, like they were slurred together and he told cook he was going to bed and that he would pray for her soul.  Cook thanked him and soon I heard him snoring in his bed.  I was too afraid to go and check on my mother, and promised myself I would find a way to do so in the morning, no matter what my father said.  I fell into a fitful sleep and dreamed my father was lecturing us about scripture as he was consumed by flames.
When I awoke in the morning, nanny told us that our father had gone and that our mother was still ill and needed rest.  Since I didn’t have to worry that my father might be hurting her, I obeyed nanny’s broken messages to let my mother rest and did my best to help her entertain my sisters.  The handy man continued to tend the fire, from which a foul odor of burning meat came.  Cook said a wild deer had stumbled into the fire overnight, that it must have been deathly ill to have done so and that was the source of the smell.  She had not even tried to save any of the meat because the heat of the fire had been so intense.  By the time we went to bed that night, the smell had dissipated, and we slept soundly knowing we were safe.
My mother greeted us the next morning, her face still swollen from father’s beating, make-up a poor cover for the dark purple bruises on her cheeks.  As the days passed we regained our happy mood, and played all sorts of games with our mother and asked for all of our favorite stories.  Two weeks later a member of the mission came to visit, and said that our father had gone missing, that no one had seen him since he had come to visit us.  Our mother was very concerned and asked the servants if they had any knowledge of where he could have gone.  All three gave the same answer, that he had warned them about the wages of sin and eternal burning, that he had taken his leave to go to bed, and that they hadn’t seen him since.  They had assumed he went back down to the village without waking anyone, something he had done many times in the past.  We continued to stay in the mountains for a month, with no word and no evidence that anything had happened to my father.  The mission board urged my mother to take us back home to America, and wait for the news there.  They were no longer sure of our safety, although our servants had been even kinder of late than they had ever been.  My mother reluctantly agreed, and packed up our things for the trip back to the village, the first step in our journey back home.  The morning we were to leave, I was outside the cabin playing and saw a dog near where the fire had been.  I called to him and he trotted over proudly carrying something in his mouth.  When he came closer I saw that it was a bone from some animal.  I threw it for him and he played fetch until my mother called me to leave for the trip home.

Strange days

Love breaks my heart, over and over again.
Love also saves me, one sacred breath at a time,
as I watch their chests rise and fall with the tidal rhythm
of life that moves through us all.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I  had to rush my husband to the hospital for a head injury he sustained while vacuuming in our garage on an up ramp.  He developed a contrecoup head injury, sub-dural hemorrhages in both the frontal lobe and occipital lobes of his brain.  Luckily, they were small and minor.  He spent the night in the trauma ICU and was then able to come home.   Unfortunately, a week later after suffering tremendous headaches non-stop, his temp spiked at 103.  We took him to his PCP, who told us to go straight to the E.R. for IV antibiotics and likely admission to the hospital.  We waited over 8 hours in the E.R. before he was given a room.  After many mishaps during his stay (like a radiology tech infusing radioactive dye into an infiltrated I.V. giving him “Hulk” forearm syndrome) he was finally released yesterday.

Our 12-year-old had been admitted to the hospital 3/23 for high fever and vomiting.  They thought he probably had acute acalculous cholecystitis, or an infected/inflamed gall bladder with no stones from his CT and ultrasound.  He came home after 10 days on a PICC line for TPN, and complete bowel rest.  Two hours after getting my husband home yesterday, our son started in with a low grade fever.  At 5:00 a.m. it was 102.2, and he vomited up bile just like he had a month ago.  So, we will probably be on our way to the hopital later today.  It’s all becoming surreal.

I used to want to be a writer.  Now I just want my son to live, and my husband to heal and try to make it a month with no hospitalizations.  Sigh.  Wish me luck.

What’s Your Limit?

The title of this post could refer to a whole host of subjects.  Alcohol, drugs, gambling, any addictive substance.  In this case though, it’s not about any of those tragic circumstances.  It’s actually about tragedy itself.  We’ve had to witness incredible human suffering in the past few years; natural disasters like New Orleans and Haiti, although there is a man-made component in both of those cases that could have blunted some of the suffering.  Better tending to the levies in New Orleans, building standards in Haiti.  I alternatively envy and pity Christians their chapter of Revelations in the Bible, complete with the Rapture – swept up to heaven, leaving the rest of us poor suckers behind wishing we’d believed when we’d had the chance.  It always bothered me, when I was a Christian, thinking of leaving people behind that I loved but who didn’t belong to my particular religion.  It seemed wrong somehow that a God of love would do such a thing to millions “made in His image.”  That was before though, back when belief was enough.

One thing about finding your limit is that the boundary keeps getting extended further and further away from you.  Just when tragedy has struck you or you and your family so many times in a short period that you think there’s no POSSIBLE WAY anything else could go wrong, something does.  Your “limit” gets expanded, whether you like it or not, and your choice is, cope or go crazy.  Going crazy isn’t an option for a great many of us.  We have children who need us, spouses we love who expect us to go on living with some sense of sanity, aging parents who we cannot abandon.  So, somehow we take it in, more and more, we swallow the tears, the anger – hell the rage, and we try to act “normal.”  Exhausted, spent, no appetite for food or sex or joy, even taking a shower becomes a major spa experience.  It drives some people to the “Tea Party,” where at least you can yell and scream and blame, blame, blame someone, anyone else.  Me, it makes me want a cigarette so much I can taste the smoke drifting over my lips, the slow, seductive inhale before the sweet release of the exhale.  I don’t smoke anymore, but I still miss it at times like this.  I suck on my nicotine lozenge instead, not a substitute by any stretch of the imagination, but something.

The Buddha sits gazing over the altar constructed for my mediation.  Serene, unattached, free of suffering.  How do you get there?  When you are drowning in grief from all quarters, my son upstairs with an IV now for nutrition – the tube into his small intestine wasn’t bad enough – that had to get screwed up too.  My strong, handsome, sweet, loving husband who fell back in his wheelchair a week ago and sustained a sub-dural bleed, contrecoup, meaning both sides of the brain bled just from him falling backward and hitting his head on the cement.  As if paraplegia and constant back pain weren’t enough, now he has constant headaches, nausea, and just in the past day a temperature too.  My 57-year-old brother-in-law dead, in the two hours between my sister going to bed, and getting up to pee, she finds him cold on the couch – far too cold to even think of starting CPR.  My father, violent and angry in his dementia now, hitting nursing assistants and staff who try to help change him from urine soaked clothes into something dry.  Up the Ativan, whatever it takes to neutralize his behavior.  My blind, 80-year-old mother going to the E.R. because she’s been so sick from visiting every day, hoping the antibiotic they prescribed will help.  Kwan Yin, she who hears the cries of the world, I hope her ears are still open because the cries are overwhelming just in my family.

What’s your limit?  People say, “your luck’s gotta change soon.”  The reality is, it doesn’t.  There’s no limit to the sorrow, and you keep bending and bending – face on the floor by now, wondering when that will drop out too and what will you be looking at then?  Know your limit?  Don’t expect to get off that easy.  Not many do these days.  There is no limit, not in this world.  Still, I hope for myself, my family, and all others:

May there be peace on earth, may there be peace everywhere, may all beings be free.

Accepting what is.

There are times when it feels like I’m living life on a razor thin edge between sanity and complete shut-down.  Catatonia – that’s  what it feels like I’m heading for at times.  I don’t know how to have any hopes or dreams anymore.  My son has this awful neurodegenerative condition, with an immune deficiency and has already had to accept losing his ability to walk, and do a lot of things he’d like to independently.  He couldn’t eat enough to keep his weight adequate to grow, so he had  to have a tube placed in his small intestine last summer for feedings.  All had been going pretty well, but now his abdominal organs seem to be in revolt and I don’t know if it’s a viral infection (like the docs are hoping) that will be self-limiting, or if it’s cancer.  He’s had a death sentence hanging over his head since he was 2 1/2, and waiting for the other shoe to drop has pretty much robbed me of my physical and mental health.  I accept that as much as I can, but I want to be at the top of my game for him.   Trauma and drama were the key words in my family  growing up, and my nervous system is now fried and seems unwilling or unable to handle witnessing/experiencing the agonizing pain he is often in.  Watching my son suffer because of the constant tests he needs, the IV’s that he hates more than anything, having this HUGE catheter in his arm so he can get TPN (total parenteral nutrition) basically having all his food dripped in through a large blood vessel, and only allowed limited amounts of clear liquids by mouth.  The j-tube sits on his abdomen without activity these days, and getting that put in was an ordeal of proportions I cannot begin to describe for him.  The “why him? why us?” question has long been replaced by “how”?   How does a person keep going day after day watching their child suffer, doing the best she/he can to make it better and barely making a dent, and not go out of your mind with guilt, sadness, and the pain of watching his pain?  I know I need to accept what is, but I just don’t know how.  All of it seems so crazy and random.  Many people have worse situations they are coping with, so I guess trying to take it minute by minute is key.  Accepting what is when you find it unacceptable – that’s what I’m trying to come to terms with.  If it was all happening to me, that would be one thing, but my child?  For that matter, any child?

The first noble truth is that the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death is unavoidable.  That’s a pretty tough truth to make peace with.  I recently listened to an interview with Adyashanti on Buddhist Geeks (http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/03/bg-165-im-not-babysitting-your-ego/), and he discussed a form of writing where you put down only what you know, with that inside certainty kind of knowing, to be true.  None of the explanations from the tradition I was raised in made sense or felt true in the way he talked about when my son was diagnosed.  It was the first step away from a belief system that had always been problematic for me.  Years have gone by as I’ve searched for something else to help me find acceptance with the way life is.  That search continues, and seems to keep bringing me back to the Bodhi tree.  Helping my son on his journey may begin there too.  It’s his suffering, his life, that I most want to help with.  It’s also his suffering, his life, that I feel least capable of doing anything about.

In the hospital again.

Love is a painful process.   Obvious, not new information, but as real as crawling across the overflow of needles from the sharps boxes on your bare hands and knees when you are staying with your sick child.  I consider myself incredibly lucky, because my husband and I trust the surgeon who is in charge of what is highest and most important – Daniel’s life.  I know that when he makes a decision he weighs a hundred, maybe a thousand, different details of how what he recommends to us will affect Daniel, and our family.

I can no longer count the number of nights I’ve spent laying next to Daniel, either in his hospital bed with him, or next to him – weeping my love for him onto the pillow between us with each tortured beat of my heart.  Trying to keep the sobs silent,  so he can sleep.  My precious, beloved Daniel.  The boy with the perfect home birth.  No one could have convinced me that I would give birth at home on my hands and knees in a tub of warm water with a midwife watching my infant’s perfect peach-fuzz head crown as God only knows what else was emerging from my wide pregnant behind at the same time.

I was brought into the world already bound by a complicated contract that involved “saving my mother’s life” (her words, repeatedly over the years, not mine) her perfect, precious shield when the woman my father was having an affair with at the time showed up at our door to inform my mother of their relationship.  This type of thing continued, continues to this day, as my father slips away in his dementia.  Whatever my parents believed about love seems alien, if anything,  in comparison to what I feel for Daniel.

We drifted for hours in that birthing tub, as the midwife patiently kept warming the water for us, lost in the mystery of what we had just experienced together.  We were hypnotized, transported  to a place of such intricate, utterly natural, beauty that neither of us could bring ourselves to break the spell.  I certainly couldn’t.  You nursed on and off, amazed, comforted, eyes so wide-open and blue it was easy to disappear into them, to lose time, immersed in a mystery far beyond anything I’d known before.

Now, since your second birthday, I’ve been feeling the clock tick down the moments of our time together, wondering how a heart can still function when it is  broken time after time after time.  Each decision made regarding your care weighed down by the unbearable guilt of knowing that it will take pain, pain I’m choosing to allow you to go through, that I cannot take upon myself instead, to keep you with me for a few more ticks of that damned clock.  I wonder too, how long your will to live can withstand the tests you hate so damned much.  It would be one thing if you wrote beautiful poems that inspired others, and found meaning in your suffering, but we haven’t been that lucky my love.  For the most part, what you’ve found from your suffering has been only that, suffering.  Not that you don’t recover, of course you’re resilient, but sometimes you cannot hide the accusation in your eyes, dear one, “Another poke Mom?  Another procedure, REALLY Mom?  This is the bargain I consented to in the tub 12 years ago when everything was soft, even the light, and warm; all rounded edges with no sharp corners, the hardest part of it all the nub of your nipple waiting for the suck of  my cupid’s bow mouth, to release the sweetness of your colostrum and your milk to fill what I didn’t even know as hunger yet?”

Daniel, my love, it was never my intent to violate the sanctity of those moments.  My breasts still ache with emptiness, useless to you now, no longer conveyors of comfort, but rather a mystifying remnant of a part of our relationship that ended long ago, and now do little but absorb the wretched sobs torn from your fearful lips, sometimes absorbing the blows of your young man’s fists, saying, “No, damn you, No!!”  “This isn’t what you pledged to me early in that misty morning of September 10, 1997!  I want THAT life back – the one we thought we had been given, the one with years of happiness and adolescent rejection and slow reintegration until the day I handed you my own child, the day I could acknowledge what we both thought we had forged during those months and hours of pregnancy and birth, and I could witness YOUR tears and know that some circle, some cycle had come round, had come round right.”

That is not the future we have though.  You know I am waiting for you Mom, back in our hospital bed, to do the best you can to salvage what is left to us.  As always, with a heavy heart, I will return to you beloved Daniel and at least do all I can to make something of beauty from what the random twist of genetics stole from us the day you were conceived.  Whatever the pain still in store, whatever the suffering still to bear, the magic we had those first few hours can never be taken from us.  And I will carry that magic, whenever you can’t, for both of us, for as long as that twisted, sadistic clock gives us in ticks and tocks.  We are still that mystery, imperfect for certain, of mother and son.  Our lives give honor to that, and it is with honor, with the deepest love and respect, that I will return to you now.  You are my love, you are my life, we are who we are, and there is something of honor in each moment we live together.


My blogs have both tended to be journals, or perhaps a series of personal essays, which is what the definition of a blog was originally.  (www.Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary/BLOG)  Neither of my blogs have generated much interest from the online community which hasn’t surprised me.  It’s been a benefit in some ways, because having a place to put my thoughts has prompted me to disgorge them from swirling endlessly around in my mind.  Almost every writer I’ve read advice from has said that in order to write well, you have to spend a lot of time writing badly.  Both of my blogs contain ample evidence of bad writing, and I hope a bit of good writing here and there.  The audience my writing is aimed toward is narrow.  How many women do you know who are married to disabled men, have disabled children, have experienced childhood trauma, want to help others who have been traumatized by discussing ideas of how to process it, want to write for a living, have lost faith in the religion they were raised in (Christianity), and are pursuing Buddhism through meditation?  Probably not too many.  Two of the topics dear to my heart, disability and trauma, are subjects that aren’t very popular in American culture during good times, let alone during a recession/depression as bad as the Great Depression of the late 1930’s.  What is foremost in people’s minds right now is surviving financially, finding work (if laid off, or out of work), and how to explain why there are no presents under the tree this year.  “Merry Christmas Susie, your present is that we paid the heating bill for the month!” (can you imagine the squeals of joy?)  Already worn out from the bad news, the bulls**t in politics, the swine flu, the increasing poverty and disparity between rich and poor, climate change, ongoing scandals, and the daily reality of problems inside our own homes, how can anyone find the time, or the stomach, to read about someone else’s “personal journey”?  My heart goes out to each and every one of us.

Returning to the original topic, my blogs also tend to suffer from a lack of clarity, or focus.  My thoughts wander extensively depending on input throughout the day, and finding clarity gets lost in the endless to do list of calls regarding my disabled child’s health needs, calls to my siblings as we struggle to find a way to help my 82-year-old, blind, mother take care of my severely demented father, (all but one of us live out of state), and meeting the needs of our two dogs, who both need “exercise, discipline, and affection” as Cesar Milan puts it.  Chronic sleep deprivation, and a hyper-excitable sympathetic nervous system further complicate my attempts to stay on topic with a frazzled brain.  This is the state of being many 40-something women are in, but I’ve not yet found helpful tips to manage my own scattered life, let alone any that I could generalize to help others.  The crux of the issue is that writing has to be my primary “job” and for someone who has always put her own needs last, it’s extremely difficult to justify spending the necessary time on it.

Clarity – it’s where I started this, and where it logically ends.  Prioritizing my writing is going to have to be my foremost goal, or it will continue to not get done.  I guess that would be my suggestion to try and help other men and women struggling with the impossible task of meeting the needs of the incessant, nagging voices that fill your/my head in every waking (and many sleeping!) hours.  Look to your heart, and put your heartfelt dream at the top of your list of priorities.  Put as much time as you can into it, and try to make peace with where that takes you.  Finding clarity around that may help all the other demands fall into place.

Seasonal symptoms

Nightmares that tear at the fabric of sleep

days lost to depression at the hatred in speech

news of no relevance or negatively biased

pessimism reigning over hope’s tender blossoms.

I remember the tears flowing freely last year

as we watched a new president’s inaugural address

how much have we lost in the days since then

in millions of dollars and time and emotion?

we cannot move forward when divided by anger

while the greedy snicker at the success of their lies

seasonal symptoms of Christmas once were

irrational giving, impulsive compassion,

this year what has greeted the coming of Christmas?

a doctrine of  hatred, division, and strife

promoted by powerful voices that scream

and besiege us with dark, fearful visions they see

what has now happened to the world we share?

we are fractured, and splintered, against one another

let’s vow to let no one and nothing divide us

let’s look to the river that flows through us all

of love, of forgiveness, of charity, of light

and turn our attention away from the voices

that play up our hatred, our selfishness, our fear

they cannot succeed if we refuse to listen

let’s open our ears to our hearts’ cries for mercy

and see how much strength we all share in our union

as humans on a journey from form to divine,

as humans on a journey from form to divine.

May love reign.  May peace prevail.


Navigating the stream

Writing at home full-time is a dream of mine.  I realize it’s a dream shared by millions, if not billions, of people and very few have the privilege of living it.  You need a benefactor, or a windfall of money, to sustain yourself financially and that’s if you’re only trying to support yourself.  In addition to the practical reality of surviving, you also need self-discipline and self-confidence to keep at it when your ideas dry up and you doubt your talent.  The two blogs I write have generated little interest in the online world, but that doesn’t take away the joy I’ve found creating them.  It’s a benefit that few people have read either one because I haven’t had to withstand scathing criticism, deserved or not.  Praise, I suspect, is less apt to be found from writing in this way although it’s nice when someone comments positively.

The two enemies I most commonly encounter daily are fatigue, and loss of time.  I live with a man who can survive on 4 hours of sleep a night during the work week, and then “make-up” for what he’s lost on the weekend by sleeping in.  This is not a cycle that works especially well for me, and being a light sleeper I end up getting very broken sleep as well as too few hours of it.  Once everyone has left for work and school, I usually crawl back into bed and grab an hour while I can.  This has a HUGE impact on my productivity.  Guilt inevitably follows these naps and I often find it’s 3:00 before I’ve actually begun anything.  This leaves me with 30 minutes until the first child gets home from school, and the other two follow in succession soon after.   This is where time management skills would benefit me greatly.  It is so easy to get buffeted about by the stream of thoughts and emotions that cascade from my fractious mind.  Checking my email is often the first thing I do when starting my day.  This can take minutes to hours depending on what newsletters have arrived with links to other websites that lead me inexorably toward accomplishing nothing, other than reading, which while mentally rewarding does not generate anything I can point to as a “product.”  Attending to my blogs helps make the day seem worthwhile, but the benefits to my family are hard to assess. (a more mentally balanced Mom?)

The physics of time makes no sense to me, whether due to my PTSD, my inborn genetics, or some combination of factors.  Minutes, even hours, disappear in a stretch and I’ve yet to find a way of reclaiming them.  The tool I’ve found most helpful in staunching the flow of  insensible time loss from my day is mindfulness practice.  It’s slow going.  That’s probably best though, with the time left in this life running quickly by.  Anything that can help bring me back to presence, even for an instant, is a blessing.  Spending time with my Father, which I shared about in my last “Reintegrating” post, has shown me how vital being present is.  A moment of thankfulness is here, right now, for that.  To those of you who are successfully living the dream, I’ll be watching for tips as I continue in my own pursuit of it.



I’m embarrassed at how much time I’ve taken away from writing in either of my two blogs.  I signed up for NaNoWriMo and I’ve written less than 1000 words for that, so no excuses there.  Chronic fatigue is part of it, lack of light with the time change another – has either effected you?  Buddhist practice has also been taking up more of my time, and that tends to make me censor my writing as “thinking.”   Whether that is useful or not for a writer is questionable.  Are there many Buddhist novelists, or short-story writers?  There are plenty of poets, and lovely poetry in many spiritual traditions.  My hope is that as my practice evolves, my blog posts will as well.  How many people actually want to hear any one individual’s stream of consciousness?  (can’t believe I blogged about perimenopausal symptoms – B-O-R-I-N-G!!)

I’m giving blogging some distance, and will see what is left when I come back to it.  Hopefully, more substantive posts which can be of interest to a wider audience.  I won’t ask that you stay tuned, but hope to be back soon.

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