Thursday, November 19, 2009

The place we're now in....

That's Reo. That itty-bitty person snow-plowing!

Aria learning balance. She's being pulled along by her instructor.

Aria and Rianna.

Rianna the snow eater!

January 20, 2009
Subject: The place we're now in..

January 20, 2009

Subject: The place we’re now in…

I thought I'd share with you a few pictures that capture Aria so completely as she is now. This first one was taken Saturday January 17, 2009 and the others on Sunday January 18, 2009 when we went skiing for the first time in 2 years. It was a phenomenal day with conditions that were nothing short of ideal; 34 degrees, sunny, crystal clear, no wind, and minimal crowds. It was heavenly! Reo had been skiing the weekend before with Doc and was eager to go again. When Doc saw what the weather was going to be like, he urged us all to go. Aria was thrilled and it was the first time in months that we were all well. I kept telling myself that it was time to let go a little and embrace her wellness. I know it is obvious that I would be hesitant, cautious and nervous and I don't begrudge those feelings but once again I found myself in a bit of battle between what my head knows and my heart feels. The two had yet another extraordinary conversation. This is how that went.

Head said things like, "Julia. Come on! She's awesome. Her energy is up. She's not going to be around a bunch of other kids in the play area. She's going to get tons of fresh air. It will be beautiful and she'll have a ball. Don't you want to give her a little piece of normal?"

Heart replied, "Of course I want her to feel normal. She is sort of. You know what I mean. Of course I want her to be outside, getting exercise and enjoy being alive. Of course I do...but..."

"But What?" Head interrupted impatiently. "But nothing! You have got to start putting away some of those feelings of yours and just start enjoying it all again. You have to do this for her. Put on that happy face and do it for her."

Heart is mildly irritated and beating a little faster, "Did you just tell me to put on a happy face? Are you suggesting that I fake it for her sake? Are you kidding me? That is such a bogus and insincere way of doing things and it really pisses me off!"

Head said defensively, "Whoa Nellie! Hold your horses there Missy! Whoa!!" pause. "Ah! Shoot! You're're right."
I take a deep breath.
Head continued, "No, you're right. You gotta Live True. You gotta put on that happy face because you actually feel happy. You have to be honest and project that. All that is you is the best for her. I'm sorry I suggested that you compromise that."

"Hey, thanks" Heart said, "Listen. I know what you're saying is excellent advice. I'm just anxious, you know? What if she gets injured? What if she gets over tired? What if...."

"Hey Julia," Head whispered gently, "Hey, what's really bugging you? Really. What's the real hesitation? Come on. You can tell me."

I take another deep breath.

"Letting go.." Heart began, "I've had her in this protective cocoon for a year now, controlling as many variables as possible. Once I start letting her go again, there are more variables that I can't control. It's scary. It's change. I'm sorta used to this cozy cocoon despite the boredom and monotony of it. At least I know this existence. Loosening those reins is hard. That's all."

Head is quiet for moment. "Time is the greatest healer. In time it will be less scary and you'll be more willing to loosen those reins. In time, you and she will out-grown this cocoon you've designed together and you'll want the freedom awaiting you. In time...give yourself some time. This day is but one simple step. I have such a good sense about it that I think it would be foolish and sort of stagnating for you not to take it! You can't stay in the cocoon so this may be the perfect opportunity to make the first crack in it."

"Heart was suddenly filled with overwhelming joy and true happiness exclaiming, "Make the first crack....Man I love that! You are absolutely right! I'm so there! I'm all over it. I can't wait!"

This conversation didn't take that long but for some reason I kept replaying it. It started the day before we went skiing and were preparing clothes and boots and mittens and such. It was a bit of ride up and down; Doubt and relief. Doubt and relief. Anxiety and calm. Anxiety and calm. My head and heart, however, were friends. They were not battling each other, which was peaceful for my Spirit. It was a necessary back and forth and when Sunday morning rolled around I was jubilant.

As we were driving the 2 hours it took to get to the mountains, we listened to music, we sang, we laughed, we reminisced. We had a ball. It was almost impossible to believe that a year ago we were staying on the inpatient unit at Sacred Heart Hospital and here we were heading up to the slopes. We were filled with gratitude and awe. Doc and I talked of plans, which is something we haven't done for nearly a year. We stopped making plans almost all together. We certainly didn't plan anything too far into the future. Things were so dark and murky but now the view is clearer. We talked about our gardens. We talked about camping and fishing. We talked about trees and our orchard. We talked about so many things that once defined our normal day-to-day and were ripped from us a year ago. We couldn't be certain, then, that we'd have them back so we worked on letting them go and trusted that Life would show us what else was in store. To be with him discussing those things that we value so deeply was breath-taking and I found myself visualizing my gardens with such richness and simplicity. I imagined our tent and sleeping bags and could see so clearly all of us cuddled close. I saw us playing in the sunflower forest and picking and shelling peas. I saw the kids 'working' the farmstand and painting new signs that read: Eggs For Sale. What was so grand about all this wonderful day-dreaming was realizing that if none of it happens, we'll still be ok, for you see, I've already let it go. Having it back is bonus!

Watching the kids on the slopes was just an amazing thing! Reo had a 2 hour ski lesson with about 6 other kids. He still has the Frankenstein stand, legs wide in a snow plow and arms straight out. We could hear him gliding down the mountain, "WhoooooooA!" It was adorable. I had to walk away though. He looked so little against the backdrop of that big mountain. It is hard to believe he can be on his own that way but he can and there he went. It was wonderful! Toward the end of his lesson, we were watching for him come by on the chair lift. We waited and waited. Suddenly, there he was. ALONE! "What the hell?" I'm trying to be cool but suddenly I sense the blood rushing from my head. I think to myself, not certain that I'm not muttering this aloud either, "He has ridden that thing this entire time all by himself! Was he up there all alone crying? What was he thinking? What was he doing? Was he having fun?" Yeah, yeah, I begin to tell myself. "He's having fun. He's good. He's good." I can see him clearly now and I notice that he's holding on with both hands and he doesn't look relaxed. Did I mention that this chair lift ride is long? I'm giving the thumbs up and shouting, "Wait to go Reo!! wooooHoooo!" All of a sudden I hear him cry, "HHHHHEEEELLLLLPPPP!" His skis are tipped up and he's getting ready to get off the chair lift by himself. There is nothing I can do but watch. I go over to where he's going to slide off in the hopes of helping him to get out of the way in case he falls when I notice this kid who couldn't have been more than 10 or 12 years old. He had gotten off the chair just before Reo and heard his cry for help. He turned around, faced Reo and held his arms out to him as if he would catch him. Reo skied off the chair lift perfectly, right into this little boy’s arms. I was completely choked up and thanked this little kid. I also gave Reo a big hug but didn't stick around too long. I immediately encouraged him to ski over to his class, which he did. It was incredible.

Aria's lesson was an hour long and she was hooked up with a great guy. It was sort of like Grandpa teaching his granddaughter. At first we were a little skeptical because Aria specified that she wanted a girl teacher but when Aria said to Mike, her instructor, "Ok, now let me tell you why I have a port!" we knew everything would be fine. She went with him and had a blast. He was so gentle and sweet with her and she thoroughly enjoyed herself. Despite the great fun, it wasn't 5 minutes of driving down the mountain before she was sound asleep! She and Rianna napped for about 90 minutes. She was wiped.

Rianna contented herself the entire time flip-flopping in the snow and eating as much of it as her face would allow. She was busy and active but a pure delight.

As Doc was returning all the rental gear and I was packing up the car and giving the kids their picnic lunch I took a moment to take in my surroundings. I can't say that I truly paused and breathed it all in. For some reason, my breath kept coming up short. It was strange but I let it be what it was. I just kept marveling at what a different place we're in now. A year is a long time and a short time too. It’s funny how that can be possible. I remember telling myself to enjoy this moment. I did and we did. I memorized the color of the sky. I took a long look at the mountain and the skiers, like insects, whizzing down it. It was good and I, for maybe the first time really, felt like this day was separate from all the rest somehow. It was as if I was able to be in this day for what it was without any attachment to our yesterdays or our tomorrows. I was thankful for that little insight and will continue to carry it with me.

Driving off the mountain away from the exhilaration and excitement, I kept wondering if those feelings would be left there somewhere on the sparkling slopes or if I'd be able to take them with us. This is the change that IT requires. IT is the holding on to those emotions within my heart that are so good and healing while weaving those thoughts within my head that grind me back to a different reality of facing what I know is awaiting us. Real change can't just be an intellectual exercise that finds me telling myself over and over again "you're fine...this is going to be're good....hang on to these feelings...." I think I actually have to feel that and believe that in order for it to be true. It takes time and each time I ponder it I know I'm getting closer. It reminds me of something Doc said and actually as I think of it, I'm not certain he said it but it sure sounds like him. He said, "Change isn't about the end result. Change is about trying again and again and again to get to where you want to be. When you find yourself there, you've changed." I agree whole-heartedly. It is the process and it is being wide open and honest in my process that will get me to where I want to be. What has been so challenging is that this change was uninvited, painful and forced upon me. I do believe pain is one of the greatest channels for change but it is also brutal. It is finding balance with the beauty and brutality I see so clearly now. Every moment I think of it, every moment I stay true, every moment I shun the temptation to deny my true self brings me closer to this balance. The sun and the sparkle of the mountain is within me and I'm confident will radiate brighter through me with each passing day. It is my hope and it is my belief. ~j

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