Be Patient

autumn-10484_1280I write a lot of things and never publish them, so here is something I wrote close to a year ago.  Much remains true.  I’m still not patient enough, although I am feeling better 🙂

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Be patient.  I heard that a lot when I was growing up, whether waiting for dinner, for a birthday, for Santa, for school to start or end, to get my license (I was the youngest in my class), to go to college, to finish college, to finish law school, to get married.  I remember my grandmother’s surprise when I announced at age 23 that I was engaged.  “Well,” she said, “I suppose you’re old enough.”

Waiting has never been a strong suit of mine and I never did learn patience.  This past couple of years I have been really trying, and what I’ve learned along the way is that patience actually hurts.  I’m talking about soul-wrenching pain, where I consciously tell myself to breathe in, then out, in a deep and physically noticeable  way.  Often I cannot stop myself and impatience wins, generally not in a good way.

I haven’t done any writing lately.  These last six months have been difficult for me and my little family and I just haven’t been able to figure out what to say.  I feel almost guilty writing about how hard it has been for me, as I know so many people out there have faced much worse.  Most of what has happened during this time has been positive:  my son graduated from high school and decided to postpone college to pursue ski racing; we sold our home in the mountains and moved back to Denver so that my husband and I could actually live together on a consistent basis; my son moved to a new town, with a new team, got a job and is learning that growing up doesn’t get easier as he gets older; and I had surgery in the middle of all of that.  It should have been a relatively straight forward recovery from removing my gallbladder.  It has not been.

They say that moving is one of the most stressful things we can have happen in our lives.  Our the move was really hard.  We loved our home.  We loved much about living where we were.  We knew it was completely impractical.  We considered staying another year, while Riley raced out of another town.  Had we been PATIENT, maybe we would have done that.  Financially it would have been a stretch.  Emotionally it seemed like it would be hard to be split apart for another year.  Looking back, the emotion of moving combined with my post-surgery illness was probably the more difficult route.

I don’t know what is wrong with me.  I mean that quite literally.  I am sick and I don’t know why.  Since the surgery, I have suffered extreme fatigue, low-grade fever and other ailments that I won’t go into because you, Dear Reader, really don’t want to know.  As a result, this move was really taxing, and I cannot seem to BE PATIENT so I pushed myself to set up our home and get it furnished and make it a place we want to be.  I have no idea whether this has exacerbated my illness (since I don’t know why I’m sick, it is hard to say).  I have tried to get back to some sort of exercise routine and each time I work out (even just a little) I am shattered for the next three days.  The surgeon claims my illness has nothing to do with the surgery (really?!) and I’m hoping some lab tests will help solve the riddle.

I really, really want to move forward.  I have visions of long ski weekends with friends this winter, of restarting my career, of a big house warming party at Christmas time.  Today, I’m feeling completely defeated because I have no idea whether I will regain the strength to do those things any time soon.

I am trying really, really hard to BE PATIENT.  To breathe deeply in and out and wait for healing.  To sit on the couch and rest when I want to be riding my bike.  To let the house be just a house for a while because, really, it isn’t going anywhere.  If this is my new normal, I am going to need a little help adjusting to a slower, patience required life.

 

 

 

 

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Why Is Good for Me So Bad?

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A few weeks ago, while my son was skiing his way through Austria and my husband was working so very hard at his new job, I explored some documentaries on Netflix.  It should be noted that I am not usually a documentary junkie, but I had recently watched one about tiny houses because I am intrigued by people who choose to live in a box like that.  As a result of my tiny house-watching, up popped a recommendation to watch “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” by Joe Cross.  I guess I can see Netflix’s logical connection there . . .  if you get smaller you, too, can live in a tiny house . . .  Well, I was mesmerized as Joe juiced his way across America toward better health.  Wow, he really changed his life by getting all those nutrients in, getting rid of the bad foods and exercising.

Then I watched “Forks over Knives,” in which Drs. Esselstyn and Campbell shared their life-long learning about the benefits of a plant-based, whole foods diet.  Amazing.  The results of their studies and the stories of individuals whose lives were changed or, in some cases, saved were truly inspiring.

Then I watched some vegan woman pluck up a few New Yorkers for a six week trip to vegan-dom in “Vegucated.”  That one was a little over the top for me, but they all seemed to embrace the concept and get rightfully indignant about the way animals are treated, etc., etc.  I guess I could see their point.  And they all got healthier over those six weeks.

So, I was ready.  I announced to my dear one that it was time to take control of our health and follow this whole foods eating thing.  We drank veggie juice and found some things we could eat and it went pretty well for the first couple of weeks.  I really want this to be a lifestyle thing, not a diet.  Right?  I mean, we should all eat more plants.  And processed foods are not great for us.  And animal protein clogs up all those arteries.  I had already reduced dairy a couple of years ago because it didn’t agree with my intestines.  This should be a proverbial piece of cake, right?  Wrong.  This is SO hard.

We are so programmed to design meals around meat that I’m having a heck of a time figuring out how to plan dinner.  While I really like food, I’m not one to enjoy the process of preparing it, unlike my husband who really likes food and loves to prepare it.  He studies Food and Wine magazine, while I peruse Coastal Living, just to put things in perspective.  So, I’m struggling to get the patience to find a recipe and shop for the ingredients and put them together so we can eat them.  It’s also hard because my 16-year-old believes that I have gone ’round the bend, as they say, and will not cooperate with my new menus and so he eats his things and we eat ours.  And then there is my husband, who agrees we should be better about all of this but feels like eating this way is taking away some of life’s joy.

But what really makes this hard is missing my old comfort foods.  I wish I had never experienced the bliss of chocolate cake, perfectly cooked ribs or french fries.  It would make it so much easier to be good!

UPDATE:  I just heard that today is National Dessert Day.  So I will honor it with fond thoughts of chocolate cake.

Photo credit:  Wikipedia, “Chocolate Cake”

Are You a Misplanted Tree?

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Trees are dying in my neighborhood.  It seems like every day, a crew is out there cutting up yet another big dead tree.  I live in essentially a high mountain desert, just west of Vail, and my neighborhood faces south, so it tends to bake in the sun.  The native vegetation is sparse, consisting primarily of sagebrush.  Thirty years ago, when the development of this neighborhood began, people planted trees and grass.  I suppose because that’s what you do when you build a house — plant trees to make it look nice.  Aspen, cottonwood and spruce trees.  When we bought our home several years ago, we liked how pretty the neighborhood was, with mature landscaping, flowers and shade in the summer.  We’re originally from Michigan and we like trees.

Alas, the trees have been assaulted by drought, disease and pests and they are dying.  Some are just old — they only live so long — but most are sickly.  Basically, the trees don’t belong here.  Never did.  It’s too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, too dry from time to time and the soils aren’t right, allowing bugs and fungus to get in and kill them.

So, this morning, as I listened to the chain saws of yet another crew cut down another huge tree on the golf course behind my house, I thought that these trees are like a lot of people I know, including me.  For whatever reason, whether a bad relationship, the wrong career choice, changing economic circumstances or trying to be something because that’s what is expected, people can end up in the wrong place.  And for a while, they may be ok.  Their reserves sustain them, they grow and establish roots as best they can and they may even appear to thrive.  Eventually, though, they get worn down and depleted, cracks in their exterior expose them to the elements, and they get sick.

When this happened to me a few years ago, I was completely caught off guard.  I’m fairly smart, have a decent “emotional” quotient and work hard,  I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do.  People often told me how strong I was., whatever that means.  But I was in the wrong place, at least the wrong place for me, in my job.  And with every day that went by, I became less.  Less strong.  Less patient.  Less energetic.  Less me.  Eventually, I confided in a friend and colleague that I feared I was broken.  And then, when some really difficult situations came at me, I wasn’t able to deal with them from a place of strength.

A counselor then told me something I wish I had known sooner.  When in a place that fits you, you will gain strength, thrive and grow.  But, if the core of who you are does not align at least generally with your environment, you will be in a state of constant friction.  Even if you don’t feel that friction outright, it is there and it will wear you down.  Think Chinese water torture of the soul.  Something needs to be altered, and generally our fundamental selves don’t change.  So you need a transplant.  And if that’s not feasible, at least recognizing that you are in a situation that is depleting can help you find the resources to shore up and replenish.

As hectic and busy as life may get, invest some real effort in your introspection and in the assessment of your environment.  And check back in from time to time.  Things change.  Your good environment of five years ago may not be so good for you anymore.