Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grief: One Thought Away From A New Feeling

I'm sorry for not writing sooner.  It seems rather perverse to complain about allergies and a cold when so many people are battling cancer and other terrible diseases.  On the other hand, I do tend to sleep a lot and have a miserable lack of energy when this is going on.  It was also a tough week last week.  My friend Judy died after a long battle with cancer.  It was the anniversary of the death of a much loved friend's son, her only child.  My daughter's friend who is only 36 was in the hospital after he got an infection after chemo while fighting his cancer.  Another friend flew to Los Angeles because one of her closest friends was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.  What is wrong with this picture?  Too much sadness.  And, of course, last time I looked, my husband was still dead.  That means comforting myself.  I wish I did it in terrifically healthy ways.  I'm overstressed.  I think I'll go for a walk.  No - I have to eat too much and sleep too much. 

However, maybe not.  I have been showing up for exercise.  I did over the weekend show up at something called Stories from the Outside Inn.  It is a two day storytelling workshop but one that uses trance, hypnotic language, and all kinds of techniques.  During the very last 10 minute one of the presenters said, "Remember, you are only one thought away from a different feeling."  That stuck in my mind.  I always seem to have a process.  I'll say I'm feeling sad so - and then I start putting together what sometimes feels like a house of cards to boost myself up into some sense of being a human being.  What was this one thought thing?  I practiced it today.  When I was out I walked past a store called "The Art of Shaving".  It's where I managed to find Artie shaving things that wouldn't trigger my asthma.  I said, "Thank you Artie for thinking of me and giving up things you loved because of my allergies."  I walked past the store where I used to buy him t-shirts.  I said (all of this was in my head) "Thank you Artie for appreciating all the things I did for you."  When I bought him one t-shirt he liked he wouldn't say thank you - he'd say "Get me six more."  It turned into a joke.  It was like I was a sniper shooting at my bad sad thoughts.  I didn't have time to miss him, feel sorry that I was seeing a place connected with him.  I shot out the sad thought and replaced it with one that made me feel good.  I'm going to practice that more.  Stop saying, "I'm so sad I miss you." and start saying, "I'm so glad we love each other forever."

For me you know it has to be real.  If the shift doesn't happen, that's okay too. However, I'm willing to think  it might be a skill like any other.  If you want to play the piano well - hitting the right notes - you have to practice.  I want to practice making my thoughts about Artie focus on the happy times and on the love. What I haven't figured out is what to do with my body - or is it my mind?  With all the tragedy I had packed into one week I was able to feel good a lot of the time.  On the other hand, I kept forgetting things.  The presenter of my weekend workshop told us to put the clocks forward.  I woke up Sunday morning and was wandering around at 8:40 thinking I had a nice hour or so.  Then I went - oh no - it's 9:40.  I learned I can get ready in five minutes but I was late.  It's like when Artie first died no matter how careful I was I always put my clothes on backwards.  Hopefully I noticed before I left the house!  Sometimes even when we are trying to get our thoughts working well our bodies remind us that all is not well in our world.

During the workshop we did the Circles of Excellence that I call magick circles.  I talked about them in another post.  You picture a circle on the floor in front of you.  You picture the emotion you want to have.  What color is it?  It can be many colors. What does it feel like?  When you have it firmly pictured in your mind you step into the circle and feel the emotion - the colors - the thoughts - swirl around you, into you, filling you up completely.  You can do a roll up.  That is touch your toes - or as close as you can get to them! - roll up slowly until you are standing tall - and as you roll up have the emotion roll up with you.  When you feel it as completely as you can - step out of the circle.  Shake yourself back to neutral.  Then step back in.  You can pick up the circle and take it with you anywhere you need it.  I got the idea of putting circles down all over my apartment.  A feeling good circle where I stand when I get out of bed in the morning.  A healthy eating circle in front of the kitchen.  A motivation - just do it NOW circle in the hallway.  Repatterning my brain.  I wonder if I walk unconsciously through all of these circles if I lay them down with intention and care I can feel better and do more.  Another: watch this space.

When we were going to tell our story we were told to wear an imaginary super hero cape.  I didn't like that one as much.  I imagined having a crown on my head and I felt myself standing very tall.  My circle for telling the story had clear rippled glass and I repeated that I was calm, complete, and had a good memory.  It made me feel different in front of the audience. No one knew I had a crown on my head - but I did.  I was the queen of the storytellers! I had told a terrifically bad story on Saturday but on Sunday I got a WOW and applause and a thumbs up.  Keep on keeping on.  .

I wish I could say - shazaam - now it's all fixed. I don't feel that way.  I do feel that I have a lot more tools to use.  I'm not moving on or living more or saying goodbye.  I'm learning to be a happy person without Artie here physically - more of the time.  He must get bored with my whining and begging.  I have this corner of photos of him with his dazzling smile and his obituary and some black roses.  Now    you can see the big picture   of my daughter Erin and granddaughter Gwendy blue eyes in the middle.  Life in the middle of death.  Reminding me to be the earth living me until it is time to be the non-earth living me.  They are moving to the east coast at the end of April.  Hooray.  I had given up on that and now it is happening. 

The story I told was of seeing Aretha Franklin in concert the night before Whitney Houston's funeral.  I wrote a little about it.  I'm going to write it as a separate story.  I think - as I will say - that some stories don't have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Artie and I have always loved each other - and that even in death our relationship continues.  Some stories circle and circle taking you higher and higher - if you let them.  If you lose your balance and there are some crash landings along the way - you can gather your pieces and try again. 

I was talking to a special woman - the wife of one of the presenters.  We were talking about how to feel good about yourself.  She told me I was one of the cool kids.  Me.  A cool kid.  That's worth showing up for.  I know you are all one of the cool kids too - find it in yourself.  Embrace it.  Try. xo

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