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Archive for the ‘meditations’ Category

Last night I was feeling kind of insecure about mistakes I’d made earlier in the day, about times when I was not my best. My mind went to the old familiar place of shame and fear that I am not good enough. Then I went to the next habitual place of “what can I do to be better?”

I think I set a lot of challenges for myself, like Nanowrimo, or this month’s, “exercise everyday for 60 min”, for not totally healthy reasons. I think I am often trying to better myself as opposed to loving myself. And maybe, probably, those two things don’t have to be opposed. But for me, loving myself hardly ever enters into my mind, or my life. I am not sure I even know how to love who I am, without the constant striving. I have a really hard time forgiving myself for not being better.

But that is not how I treat people that I love. I love my husband, my daughter, my friends, for every little part of them. They don’t have to be perfect, or better than they are. I love the whole package.

So, how do I turn even a fraction of that love towards myself? Last night, in my quasi-dream state I thought I might make it into a challenge (of course I did), something like “Try loving myself for 30 days.” Heh.

I am really not sure how to do that. I have some vague ideas about being attentive to what I am feeling when I am eating, drinking, walking, reading, etc, to see if I like how I am feeling, as well as notice my self-talk and try to develop a more loving “inner voice.”

I don’t know. I feel like I have come a long way in the last few years. Therapy and avoiding situations that reenforced a negative self-concept have really really helped. But there are so many layers to this onion. I need to keep working at it.

So, how do you love yourself? Do you have any insight? Practical, spiritual, psychological? Cause I would like to feel better about not being better.

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I am not sure if I will continue to mark the anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis after this year. But it is what I feel like doing this year, so I am going to honor that.

I thought it might be interesting to remember the highs and lows of the last 12 months. For sure #1 on on the lowest of the lows was the day I answered the phone and my surgeon’s nurse told me that my report came back positive for cancer.

That next week, when I didn’t know what stage cancer I had, I have to put on the Low List and the High List. Low because it was beyond scary. But High because I came to some kind of peace with the inevitability of death.

Other Lows (Let’s have fun remembering them together! :P)

  • Fear of my surgery. I had a irrational worry I was going to die on the operating table.
  • The tubes in my chest after the surgery, they weren’t so bad for me but they freaked Zoe out. Now she has a fear of Clowns, Spiders, Wolves, and Tubes.
  • Getting shingles on New Years Eve – Worst.pain.ever. As painful as giving birth but for THREE weeks. Do you remember the fun of not being able to wear clothes and having to huddle inside a make-shift hut, so that nothing could touch me?? Good times…
  • The Doxorubicin chemo, a.k.a The Red Devil or Red Death. That stuff was a nightmare. I was walking around like a zombie. I feared it was killing who I was and all that would be left was a Heather body, without the Heather inside.
  • Having a neutropenic reaction to the chemo (very very low white blood cell count. I think I had like half of a white blood cell left.) and ending up in the hospital for days. It was scary. I couldn’t sleep because I was the only one advocating for myself. Then I was quarantined from Brian and Zoe because we were all sick.

Sooooo, we are not even up to February yet… but the Lows List doesn’t go on and on so thickly the whole year. Trust me. In fact, after I got off the Red Devil, I mostly complained about not getting to eat sushi.

  • But then, the Sunday before Father’s Day, Brian’s Dad passed away, in his sleep and unexpectedly. That was a huge blow to our whole family. Especially because my mother-in-law, Anne, had lost her battle with brain cancer just one year prior. Losing both of Brian’s parent, and so young, really sucks and continues to suck. And I still can’t be eloquent about it.

I guess I should get on to the Highlights of the past year. There were some really wonderful moments, and thankfully, they out number the bad ones. (in no particular order)

  • Our car exploding (because our insurance covered it. Yay!)
  • Shaving my head (Thanks Zak!)
  • Zoe’s birthday presents (Thinking of you Amy)
  • The presents (from all my amazing friends, your support got me through those dark times. You restored my faith in the goodness of people. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.)
  • The quilt (I will treasure it always)
  • Jeanette (my most thoughtful and nicest friend)
  • Ohio (SO many GOOD times!)
  • Another cross country drive with my family and listening to my 92 track Beatles playlist.
  • Jumping off a cliff into the Mediterranean
  • That whole cruise (seeing The Parthenon, The Sistine Chapel, Olympia, The Coliseum, etc) with my sister-in-law.
  • Seeing PAUL MCCARTNEY in concert. ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod
  • Brian getting a very good job offer in an interesting city.
  • Moving to Philly.

Coincidentally, I have more than twice as many bullet point on my Highs List than my Low list. And I am sure I am forgetting some important Highs that should be on the list.

So, my first year retrospective… we experienced some huge tragedies. Death sucks. Cancer sucks. Fear and pain can back the fuck off for awhile. I don’t even want to tie it all up in a pretty bow about survival and strength, because that is not honest. The truth is that life is suffering and it never stops, until it does. But… (dang, I guess I can’t help but try to accentuate the positive, that is kind of my thing) life is also everything that is beautiful and miraculous. And that is the kind of year I had, a sucky, fearful, painful, sad, strong, positive, beautiful and miraculous year.

 

 

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Forgive and Forget

Today I participated in the Rosh Hashanah tradition of Tashlich (casting off). You cast off your sins from the previous year, usually through bread crumbs, into a body of moving water.

Zoe and I met a group from our new temple at Vally Green and threw sins, from A to Z, into Wissahickon.

But, other than feeding the ducks and geese there, what were we doing? Can we really give ourselves permission to have a clean slate? Can we just step forward into a new life, leaving behind an alphabet of sins (arrogance, betrayal, cruelty, doubt, envy, fear. . .)?

Putting aside the, IMO, controversial idea of “sin” itself, I wonder, not only if I will be forgiven, but I can forgive myself?

Can you? Can you forgive yourself for being human? I realize that sometimes we are no better than small children who don’t want to share, who need to get their way, and and who acts out when they haven’t had enough sleep or food or attention. So, can we, like a loving parent, reach down and gather up the imperfect child in ourselves and forgive her? Can we say to ourselves, “I love you and I understand living is hard. It’s okay and I forgive you.”

Let’s just recognize that we are not perfect adults. We have not finished growing. We can welcome mistakes as opportunities to learn. And we can also forgive our mistakes. As a friend of mine would say ‘”It’s in the past.”

 

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