Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Latest posting for the Health Activist Writing Month Challenge WEGO http://blog.wegohealth.com/  

Wednesday April 18 

Open a Book. Choose a book and open it to a random page and point to a phrase. Use that phrase to get you writing today. Free write for 15-20 without stopping. 

From The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris - “We left Virginia when I was seven, and moved to Illinois. I lost the honeysuckle and the other trees of my early childhood -- dogwood, magnolia, sassafras, sycamore, and the enormous weeping wllow and white oak of a nursery school in the countryside where my mother had enrolled me."

I left Bryn Mawr PA and the old Victorian I grew up in when I was fourteen. Rushing toward boarding school and my first sense of freedom, I did not look back. Now, living in New Hampshire, I dream dreams of old hallways (this sounds like a Judy Collins song) running past dark banisters, walking up the winding cinder drive to the heavy front door. 

Much as I loved that house, I miss the ivy, broad deep beds of English ivy circling the lawns, front and side. The huge lush trees of Pennsylvania made me feel small, like I was swimming under water. In the narrow back yard, ancient pines rose high, blocking the sun, holding cool still air like the nave of a cathedral. Huge gnarled roots emerged through the thick bed of pine needles, making hazards for small flying feet as we ran to get back to the sun. How hot the black cinder drive was under those soft feet after having been chilled under the pines. We would hop and leap quickly across, letting out yips and yipes with each landing, until we reached the cool of mown grass. 

When we were bored with our yard, we ventured into the neighbors’ yards. Mrs. Carter had a grand old rambling house with plenty of shrubs to hide behind. When we saw her car leave, we would sneak closer to the house, even peak in the windows. I remember Mrs. Hentz because of her three-legged miniature collie. How strange, to see the little thing come hopping through the English ivy, yet wonderfully hopeful to see how fast he was, how agile. He didn’t know he wasn’t average. He was just having fun. Now, as an adult, I find my role models in the most unexpected places.

Most of all I miss that yard at night time, on a soft summer’s night. Pennsylvania air in the summer was moist and soft, smelling of earth and lilac. The yard would be alive with hundreds of fireflies, a visual chorus of flickering lights under the branches that ringed the yard, and my two sisters and I would swoop wildly around, wearing nothing but our underpants. Each of us gripped a jar for capturing the little lights, which we would then release before heading off to bed.


PROMPT #17: Learned the Hard Way. What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Write about it for 15 today. 

My two sisters and I had distanced ourselves from our challenging mother, but I ended up being her caregiver for ten years. As an act of survival, I applied life coaching principles to myself and I learned:

1. I am the manager of my own well-being. I can manage the thoughts that would bedevil me. I can set up my life to serve me. I can greatly lessen the number of people in my life who drain me.

2. Others (siblings, parents) are only doing the best that they can.

3. I can partner with my spouse to make both of our lives easier.

4. I can ask for support.

5. Helping can be disempowering for an other. I can serve others in their strength and whole health which does not mean doing things For them that they could do themselves.

6. Others have life lessons that have nothing to do with me.

7. Sometimes it is best to do nothing.

8. By focusing on the hardness, tragedy, or pain in life I increase it. By managing life in a positive direction I diminish trouble.

9. I have good and strong intuition that I can trust, at times even more than I can trust the professionals.

10. One of the biggest gifts that I can give myself is my forgiveness of others.

To learn the tools that gave me all of my caregiving (and life) lessons, check out "The Caregiver's Compass" or "The Caregiver's Reader", two guides for emotional balance during caregiving.

To read the story of my ten years with my mother, up close and personal, read "Exploring Hell and Other Warm Places".

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