Photo by Philippe D. on Unsplash
Sometimes when we’ve worked our buns off for years to improve our health— changing our diets, moving more, meditating, tapping or otherwise calming our nervous systems, it can be so easy to be lulled into an over-confidence that the good health you’ve achieved will somehow never be rocked seriously like it was in the past. Then a challenge comes along that sets you back, slowing you down and bringing back memories and feelings you hoped were well in the past. Ugh! Maybe not to the same degree as before, but still popping up disconcertingly.
This happened to me on and off in the last year, especially from mid-winter to the early spring. Shoulder tendonitis in my non-dominant arm that was not a result of injury. Occasional back spasms, and some pain and swelling in joints only on the left side (really?), again with nothing specific to precipitate it, except perhaps for slightly more time spent sitting during the colder months. Thankfully, I had plenty of skills to help me not go down the rabbit hole of anxiety and/or depression, but it was still unsettling. Small doubts crept their way in. Was I doing something wrong? Divine Love — you still have my back, right?
I do know that every problem, whatever the cause, has the capacity to teach me something meaningful, to help me grow in some way, though truthfully it never feels like a “gift” at the time! Answers don’t always come right away. Sometimes they are revealed slowly, a bit at a time, so we can process them fully and deeply. I always read inspirational or healing books for about 20-30 minutes every morning as part of my self-care routine. Somehow it clears my busy brain and softens my heart, so I can prioritize what I really value in an intentional way — like a letter from God on how to have a joyous and productive day!
I think because I specifically ask for help and guidance, I’m often fed little pieces of the answers I am looking for. Not all at once, but eerily sometimes giving me just what I need to hear on that particular day. It’s downright spooky! When I borrowed a book from the library, called “Everything Is Here To Help You” by Matt Kahn, it became almost a daily occurrence. His is not a writing style I usually enjoy — not many stories and few metaphors to bring the ideas to life. I slogged through the beginning, considering returning the book for a better, more appealing one. Then one day, the words I read, in the form of questions to ask myself, gave me goosebumps. They were exactly what I needed to hear. An answer to my “ask”... at least in part.
For the next 2-3 weeks I began to look forward to the few pages I’d read every morning. Sitting by the hour with it was counter-productive, as I could really only digest it a little bit at a time. What message did it have for me today, and how could it help me “roll with” the effects of my latest troubling physical symptoms? It helped me tune into the thoughts, feelings, and sensations I was having, with greater love and compassion — my own, and that freely available in the universe. Receiving these messages in such a timely way helped me regain my perspective very quickly.
After reading that book, I got one more episode of back spasms. I could not believe how calm I was! I reached out to helping professionals — a bit hit and miss, but no matter. Eventually the right person with a plan that I resonated with completely, showed up. No instant answers or results, but I’m so O.K. with how it’s all panning out. I trust her, and I trust the Divine who walks right alongside me. I lost very few days of walking, and boy, do I love the strength and solidity I feel as I march with energy up and down the hills of my neighborhood! I stop to notice something beautiful or entertaining in nature, or have a chat with a neighbor. Life is so very good.
I just turned 69, and the senior years are known to have their challenges. This latest one’s gift is that it helped me grow in the trust that I can, and will, be able to handle the setbacks that come to us all, with more patience and love than I used to have. Now what does all of this have to do with climbing a spiral staircase — a concept from Matt Kahn’s book? I used to find myself “revisiting” difficulties similar to the past (especially pain issues), with the grim sinking attitude of “Crap! Here we go again!” Practitioners would say soothingly that it’s like the layers of an onion. We are back in that state/situation, so we can heal another piece of it. OK, I understood the metaphor, but it wasn’t enough to erase the dread.
The thing is, once I realized we are not bringing our old selves to the current challenge, but our updated, more healed and integrated selves — the feeling becomes very different. We can get back to a place of calm, connection and support more quickly than we used to, simply because of all the work we did to grow new skills and foster better habits! Possibilities that could help us come out the other side, pop into our heads more quickly and easily. Ones we might never have thought of — 10, 5, or even 2 years ago! How incredibly cool is that? We can ride the wave of that choppy sea more gracefully, with less wear and tear on our nervous systems, learning from all of life’s experiences.
So rather than looking at such challenges with an automatic “Well, this sucks!”, I can recognize that I’ve done a lot of “climbing” before encountering this latest bump in the road (that “turn” in the spiral). I pause and accept what is here right now — without quite so much self judgment (what did I do wrong?), or wasting energy fighting or complaining. Kindness and compassion heal the worry and angst, lifting me up like a gentle wave, carrying me to relative safety — that birthplace of our most creative and inspired ideas! I make the turn and continue to climb up the spiral staircase of life to the next “pause”, the next challenge. I appreciate the optimism and “can do” spirit of this upleveled way of looking at life’s trials. I think I’m going to have to ditch that onion metaphor!
I am excited, and just a wee bit nervous about starting a Blog. A book is edited and re-edited till the cows come home, until I feel comfortable with both the message and the tone or “feel” of the piece. If I did that with a blog, I don’t think I’d ever get it out there! It’s more of a “state of the moment” sharing --- what I’m thinking or feeling about a topic that I judge may resonate with my readers, very specifically from a present moment perspective. This will not be a daily, or even necessarily weekly offering. I will write when I feel moved by the Spirit to do so!