comfort, diet, doctors, healing, hope, living and growing, moving on, struggles

Waking up to a new reality

After a lifetime of stomach issues and medications that solve one problem only to create others, I decided I had had enough.   I couldn’t just keep doing what I had been doing and expect different results.

But I liked tried and true.   I liked mainstream.   I trusted it.  But the reality is that mainstream was getting me nowhere.   As a patient in my current health plan…the same health plan I have been at since I was EIGHTEEN, I have no less than 8 doctors.   All but my primary care doctor are specialists.   But it seems they never talk to each other about me.   Despite having access to my files, each one treats me independently of the other.   Each specialist only sees in me, their specialty.   The stomach doctor, treats my stomach, the skin doctor, my skin, the eye doctor my eyes…etc.

If any of my symptoms were ever connected, I would never know.

So I threw in the towel and headed to a new place.   A Holistic, Integrative doctors office, where one doctor wanted to know ALL my symptoms.   He did not want to know my diagnoses, he wanted to hear about my symptoms.   And once I started, I discovered the list – when taken as a whole, was pretty daunting.  And perhaps, very much connected.

He made suggestions, I followed them to the letter and….I am NOT cured!   Crazy, right?  Here’s what is really crazy.   For the first time in 51 years, I felt LISTENED TO.   Someone acknowledged my symptoms and really thought about a treatment plan.   I tried a 30 day elimination diet.   This is where I ate absolutely nothing I was familiar with, gave up everything that had previously got me through the day and tried a brand new way of preparing food, all at once.

I won’t lie, I hated the process and I complained…a lot!   What I didn’t understand when I started was, that this journey was going to change my life and my thinking.   Slowly over the years, I have developed better eating habits.   Got rid of soda, added fruit and veggies….but what I didn’t know is how much I DIDN’T KNOW!

Lately I feel like I’m living my very own science fiction story.   It’s like I fell asleep knowing how to feed myself and my family and I woke up realizing that nearly everything I ever thought I knew about food was wrong.   I hadn’t only been making bad choices for myself but I had been training my kids in poor food choices, their whole lives.

It was, and continues to be, overwhelming.   I still am searching for what is causing my stomach problems.   And I am still working on that elimination diet, even though I am well beyond the initial 30 days.   I have learned tons about my body.   And I have learned even more about food.   Real food.   It’s been a huge adjustment.   But there is no turning back.   Processed foods, sugar, additives, chemicals….I don’t want them.   But my repertoire of replacements are slim because I still have a lot to learn.

I consider myself lucky though.   With so many resources available at this moment in time…books that give me the real scoop on food and grocery stores that finally offer good choices, I feel like I ‘woke up’ at just the right time.

Food defines us in ways I never really thought about.   But so do illnesses.   If I can use food as a way to help my body to heal from a lifetime of less than stellar choices…I am determined to do so now.    The path is uphill, but I think it will be well worth the effort.

 

 

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childhood, comfort, death, dying, healing, home, hope, living and growing, moving on, peace, school, Uncategorized

Stepping Back to Move Forward

About a year ago, I received an invite to an Elementary school class reunion.  Seems harmless enough, right?   But for me it churned up a whole host of feelings I had thought I had buried.   Here was my problem.   I had HATED elementary school.   With the exception of Kindergarten and 6th grade, the years in between had felt like hell to me.   I had very few positive memories related to school and none of the good memories included my classmates.  Saying no to that invite would be easy.

But it nagged at me.   The fact that the emotions from 40 years ago were as strong as ever was a shock and a disappointment.   I thought I had moved on.   Middle school was ok and high school was excellent.   Since then, I had created a very happy life with many good friends, a great marriage and wonderful children.   How could something that was long over, still matter so much?

Elementary school didn’t start off horribly.   Kindergarten was a blast.   First grade was ok.  But a series of events happened in the summer after first grade that set in motion, changes I couldn’t control as a seven year old.

In the summer before 2nd grade my paternal grandparents both died.   Within 8 weeks of each other.   This had a devastating effect on me.   At the age when most kids are grappling with death and what it means, I was given a double whammy.   I became convinced that both my parents were also going to die.   For some reason, I firmly believed that I was the only one who could stop them from dying.   I believed a monster would come to the house and that if I wasn’t home, the monster would take my parents.     I couldn’t convey any of these fears to the adults in my life.   I could only take action.   Often I would start to walk to school and then run back home in a panic.   The crossing guard would come to my house and march me back onto the path towards school.   I became more resistant.   Soon, my mother had to walk me to school.   I had been walking myself since I was 5 years old so this was quite a set back – for her and for me.   And with my peers, it was the beginning of social suicide.

Eventually it got to the point where my mother had to not only walk me to school but stay in the class with me.   If she tried to leave, I would start to sob and cling to her.   Eventually the 2nd grade teacher took a stand and told my mother that she must leave and that she would take care of things.   Her sternness worked.   I gave in and stayed and my mother left.   But those bouts of crying in front of my classmates had done permanent damage.  I was labeled a cry baby.   I was ostracized and the regular brunt of jokes and teasing – for the next five years.  Not by everyone.  A few were kind.   Many were neutral – in that they didn’t participate in the teasing but they didn’t speak up either.   I don’t blame them.  Social hierarchy is a formidable thing to overcome when you are young.

In third grade, one popular girl who was still playing with me, told me something devastating.   One day she just said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t be seen playing with you anymore.”   Wow.   Sadly, even as a child, I understood.  I was seen as the weak link.   A handful of loud, but popular kids had made it clear, it was not cool to be my friend.   The elementary school years became a lonely, unhappy time.

It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I was able to express to my mother, why I hadn’t wanted to go to school in 2nd grade.   By then, I was in a much bigger school, with a wide variety of kids and the opportunity to be fully myself.   I was no longer lonely, no longer a cry baby and I certainly didn’t need or want the friendships that I was so desperate for in elementary school.  Life moved on and I was grateful for it doing so.

And then that reunion invite appeared.

And although I initially denied what I must do, eventually I knew I needed to go.   I needed to forgive them.   To release both myself and them from our old roles.   It was a dual invite.   The past was inviting me to remember and God was inviting me to walk back into those memories with Him at my side.  He knew the hurt I had carried, even if I denied it.  He knew that for me to move forward in this area, that I would need to step back.  God reminded me that if I had changed, that it was very likely, that they had too.   I knew if I had met any of them, today -without knowing them from the past, that I would probably like them.   And they would probably like me.

I did go.   Granted I needed a glass of wine, as soon as I stepped in the door, to help me not appear as tense as I felt.   It was awkward.   I knew I could ask my husband to go with me.   That he would bridge things for me and make me feel stronger.   But I went alone.   Because I needed to put my past to rest.   The much older me had the strength and the words the seven year old me didn’t have.

Here it is almost a year later.   And as I now have some of these early classmates as friends on Facebook, I am reminded.   They too, aren’t who they were when they were little.   I wish my elementary school experience had been different.   But I am no longer angry or hurt about it.   It taught me that it is very important to be able to express yourself.   I have learned that the underdog needs a friend.    And I acknowledge that many of us are unkind to others at some point in our lives.   Perhaps the greatest lesson learned is that building yourself up, at someone else’s expense comes at a great cost to both parties.

And now, I want to be connected to them.   We are the same age and of the same time period.   We remember things that others haven’t experienced.   This matters.  I’m actually looking forward to the next reunion; to discovering more of who these people from my past have grown into.   The next reunion won’t have the same cloud over it for me, I now welcome the chance  to step back and move forward.  🙂

 

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comfort, death, dying, eternal life, families, home, hope, living and growing, military, mourning, moving on, music, peace

Major Tom

Shortly before my dad died, a song came on the radio.    I hadn’t heard it in many years.  It immediately struck me that this song would become connected to my fathers death.

https://youtu.be/Ixfqr10bs3s  Major Tom – Coming Home by Peter Schilling.

Having served in the Air Force, my father retired from the military as a Major.  Even 40+ years after his retirement he was still introducing himself as Major Tom.    I remember his pleasure when this song came out in 1983.

Several days passed after my hearing it on the radio.   My siblings and I had started sleeping over my parents house in anticipation of my father dying.   We did not want to leave him and my mother to walk through that valley alone.

Four, three, two, one – Earth below us
Drifting, falling – Floating weightless
Calling, calling home……..

The night before he died, my brother and I were sleeping over.   I had woken up around 3pm to see if my father needed his meds.   He was alive but quiet, I decided to leave him alone.   I went back to sleep.   Shortly after 5 am, I was startled awake.  A sense of urgency caused me to jump up and rush into the room where my father was.   I slipped beside his bed and listened.   My brother had been in a recliner beside my dads bed.   He rested his hand on my fathers chest and we both looked for signs of life.    We quietly called his name.    For the first time in our lives, there was no response.

Back at ground control –There is a problem
“Go to rockets full” – Not responding
“Hello, Major Tom – Are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on – We’re standing by”
There’s no reply……..

My brother assumed the awful role of going to tell my mother.   While he was waking and then telling her, I had a chance to one last time tell my father thank you.   To tell him, he had been a good dad.   I told him I loved him and I was going to miss him.   As my mother entered the room, I left to call my other brothers and sister.   And so began the truly, most exhausting day of my life.

Earth below us – Drifting, falling
Floating weightless – Coming home….

By mid afternoon, I arrived home.   The mortician had come and taken my dads body, calls had been made, events set in motion.    The trip to the florist has been forever stamped in my mind.   As my sister and I sat there trying to pick out flowers that would somehow express the magnitude of our love for this man, I was overwhelmed with exhaustion.   Every movement and thought was an exercise of sheer will power.  My physical body and my emotions were tapped of all strength.  When I finally arrived home I laid down on my bed, too tired to even cry.

As I laid there, I sent a friend a text telling her what had happened.   Her texted response, “Oh, Beth, I’m so sorry!” was spoken into my heart as if she had said it out loud to me. The sincerity of those words had an effect on me that I still can not describe.   My broken heart responded with a relieving flood of tears.

Desperate for something to soothe the pain, the song I had heard a few days before came to mind.  I found it on youtube and within minutes was listening, and sobbing and unknowingly starting down the path to healing.

The words continued to comfort me in the days and weeks following my fathers death.   My father was like that astronaut in the song, heading into the unknown.   My Dad understood that dying would be his last mission.  He knew that he was heading into uncharted territory.   A countdown had begun.   We all knew it as we gathered around him in his last days of life.   In his last week of life, He repeatedly asked about my mother, did we know where the paperwork was?    We reminded him, he had done a good job, that he had made sure her needs would be met.   And we were here.   We would take over.   He could rest.

Far beneath the ship – The world is mourning

They don’t realize – He’s alive
No one understands – But Major Tom sees

“Now the light commands – This is my home – I’m coming home”

These lines in particular give me peace.   He is no longer here because he’s gone home.   My mind wants to war with that idea.   We are his home, it cries!   But that is not the truth.   We were part of a place he called home for 88 years but his true home, where he will spend eternity, is not here.    And I am reminded that he is very much alive.   His soul, the truest part of him, has not died.   He has gone ahead.   Not with a goodbye.   For those of us who believe, his death comes with a simple thought – ‘I’ll see you later….at home.’

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living and growing

A New Perspective for 2015

Bonnie Gray, the author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace, encourages her readers to ask God for a ‘word’ at the beginning of each New Year.

When I discovered Bonnie’s writings last year, I tried this and the word I received was ‘rest’. And much to my surprise, I actually have been learning to rest. I’ve learned that I can stop toiling at night – that not every hour has to have some pre-determined idea of productivity in it. I’ve learned that I like to rest. It’s not painful any more. And I’m growing in my ability to rest in Him and to rely on His time tables and not my own. The mantra’s ‘this to shall pass’ and ‘if it’s meant to get done, it will get done’ have been a solace to me. I have seen the truth in these ideas and by allowing them to be true, I have gained greater freedom from worry.
This year, Bonnie made the suggestion again to ask the Lord for a word for 2015. So I did. And at first I heard only silence. But I kept asking. And eventually a word came to mind. A word, I promptly dismissed. However, it pursued me. Nagging at me. And my response? “I don’t want that word! Bonnie’s word for 2015 is ‘Beloved’. I want a word like that. One that makes me feel special and loved.”

I was sitting in church a few weeks ago and the word debate was still going on in my mind. I was telling God that I didn’t like or want the word he gave me.
The word was ‘quiet’. 

Weeks had gone by and here I was still arguing with God over the very thing I had asked for. Sitting in church that day though, I started to be honest about why I didn’t want it.
I told the Lord,Quiet is a weak word. I want a word that makes me feel better, stronger, loved….. ‘quiet’ isn’t going to do that.” And as I sat there, worries flooded my mind.
And God in his grace, gave me a nudge. I was overwhelmed by my worries and in that moment, I took my word and I spoke it to my worries. “QUIET!” And like the vaporous things worries are, they vanished. Gone. And I felt still.
And in that moment, I realized how foolish I had been. Quiet is a weak word? No. It’s full of power and strength. It’s an incredible gift. God had quieted storms and water. He spoke quiet into people’s hearts and minds and bodies. I was humbled by my foolishness and God’s kindness.
A short time later, I came down with a stomach bug. My body was NOT quiet. It was chaotic and out of control. I tried my quiet word again. And it did nothing. And I learned something. God reminded me that his gift is not a magic talisman. There was nothing wrong in trying to speak quiet into my body. But my disappointment in it not ‘working’ was where the learning needed to happen. Had it worked I might have been inclined to try that word in every situation. God was telling me that the power in the word only came from him. The quiet that He is offering is still bigger than I fully understand.
So, I’m trying to be more open now. To see what the Lord will do with this word in my life in 2015. He and I both know very well, that I have a heart and body and mind that desperately need quieting.
I encourage you to ask for a word…..and to learn from my mistake. Don’t fight it, if you get one. Accept it as a remarkable gift from the One who knows you better than you know yourself.

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All of Me

The first time I heard John Legends song, “All of Me”, something stirred inside of me. The stirring became an obsession as I began playing the song over and over again. The words were getting at something I was feeling but hadn’t yet been able to express. (If you aren’t familiar with the song, both a link to hear it and the lyrics are listed at the end of this blog)

I’ve been married 26 years. Happily. But this song exposed something that I hadn’t realized. I had been holding back in my relationship with my husband. And it was the “all of me” line in the lyrics that showed me this. I started to realize that I wasn’t really giving my all. I was giving my ‘most’.

I started to look more closely at my thinking and here is what I discovered…..

What I determined was unlovable about me, became something I had long ago decided my husband must also see as unlovable. It occurred to me that maybe I would lose that assumption and see what happened.

I was also struck by the line, ‘love your curves and all your edges.”. I know my husband very well. And he has some edges. I think up to this point, I had viewed marriage as making allowances for each other’s edges. But what if I actually started to love his edges? What if I saw his edges as a vital part of who he was?

And as I consider my marriage, I realize that with him, even when I lose, I win. Maybe things in my life don’t always go as I plan, disappointments come, frustrations pop up….but at the end of the day I am married to this amazing man. Even when I lose, I win.

Offering someone all of yourself requires great risk. Even having been married for a long time, there continues to be a part of me that wants to avoid risk. But sometimes not taking a risk is the biggest risk of all.

Now and then, I marvel that 32 years after we first met, I am as intrigued and attracted to my husband as I was on our first date. He is my worst distraction. Nobody’s opinion matters more than his. He is crazy and I am out of my mind. We know this. We embrace it. It’s what makes us laugh.

So what happened when I stopped deciding for him what was unlovable about me? He’s more relaxed. I don’t know that he ever hated those things. But my determination that he must, stood between us. When I took a risk and offered them to him (by letting go of my preconceived ideas) I gave him a gift in the form of trust. Without knowing what my motives were, he accepted the gift and my risk was rewarded.

What happened when I moved beyond just accepting his edges and began to love them? The change is in me. My ‘edgy’ responses towards his edges have softened. I want to love all of him. Not just the easily lovable parts. What good is it if all I can offer him is just a slightly stronger version of what the rest of the world offers him? In trying to see this differently, I have discovered that his ‘perfect imperfections’ are precisely what makes him HIM. And I love him. I don’t love a perfect idealized version of who he is or who he could be. I love him. His imperfections are perfect imperfections. They have always been what makes him uniquely him. My perspective has changed.

He is my end and my beginning. I love that the lyrics are written in that order. He isn’t my beginning and my end. He is my end and my beginning. The best part of my story starts with him and it will end with him. Every day together, is a new beginning.

Someday, one of us will be gone before the other. And if I am the one that goes last, I don’t want to live with any regret. I don’t want to think then of things I could have done differently. And if I were to go first, I want the assurance that I gave him everything I could, while I could. So every now and then I play this song. It’s a reminder to give it my all.

http://youtu.be/Mk7-GRWq7wA

“All of Me” by John Legend

What would I do without your smart mouth?
Drawing me in, and you kicking me out
You’ve got my head spinning, no kidding, I can’t pin you down
What’s going on in that beautiful mind
I’m on your magical mystery ride
And I’m so dizzy, don’t know what hit me, but I’ll be alright

My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, ohoh

How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I’m around through every mood
You’re my downfall, you’re my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for you

My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, ohoh

Give me all of you
Cards on the table, we’re both showing hearts
Risking it all, though it’s hard

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, ohoh

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Dad and Me

I had a revelation of sorts last week.

It happened while I was driving in my car. My brother made some cd’s right after my dad died. A collection of songs that my dad loved and ones that reminded us of him. Over a year later I’m still listening to them. But then I also have other songs I listen to. Songs that reflect my processing of his aging, dying and death.

So, there I was driving, my music was playing and I was thinking of my dad and I realized something had shifted in my thinking.

Before he died, I worried about how I would survive without him.

After he died, I discovered survival is not only possible, it’s the only viable option.

But I missed him. The loss of his physical presence was overwhelming. Some days it would be crushing and on other days it was and is, merely a dull ache.

Until last week. When I realized that through his death, I gained something I didn’t anticipate. When he was alive he was often on my mind. His influence was steady in my life. But there were moments, and stretches of time where I went about my life not thinking, consciously, too much about him.

Until he died.

As I passed the one year mark, I realized he is with me now in a way he wasn’t when he was alive. I feel him with me. Not in some sort of ghostly way. But somehow I feel like he has become a part of me, a part of my skin and my bones, my heart and my mind.

And I realize, that’s a gain.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’d take him back, in his old physical form in a flash. Without hesitation, I’d give up this new feeling for a more tangible one I can wrap my arms around.

But that’s not an option. The realization of what I’ve gained, despite the loss, is a gift. It’s one I think I don’t fully appreciate yet because it’s new. I was use to my old relationship with my dad. It was comfortable and safe and known.

This new relationship is more really, a relationship with myself. All that he has instilled in me, now seeks to be given life. He is not here to protect me, to save the day, to provide for me. I must do it without him. But he didn’t leave me empty handed. He left both my hands and my heart full.

I feel compelled to act where he once would have. I am still completely me, but now, I am also more.
And since the only choice I have in this matter, is how I respond to this gift, I choose to embrace it.

Even if the return of the embrace is only felt in my heart.

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Jesus and Me……Circa 1969

kalizasheart

Do you ever feel like you were more connected to God when you were a child? For me, it was simple when I was very young.
I loved Jesus and Jesus loved me.

But as I grew, I grew away from the simplicity of that thought. Loving Jesus was complicated. Being loved by Him was even more complicated. There were so many rules. So many things to consider. As I started to discover that I didn’t keep the rules very well, I began to imagine His disappointment. And the divide between He and I started to grow.

Years later, I re-discovered that Jesus loved me and eventually re-discovered that I loved Him. But I had years of broken rules and real and imagined disappointment to wade through. They had to be examined and dealt with so that I could allow Him to love me fully and to love Him fully…

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