Tuesday, February 19, 2013


If we tend to things at their deepest level, our repair will be so much a part of who we are that there will be no scar. - Mark Nepo

The cold, strong wind made conversation difficult so we mostly walked in silence today.  Above the wind we could hear the groaning of the shallow river as the ice stretched and claimed more purchase of the flowing waters.

I could hear my companion's breathing singing a dissonant chord with the river.  Just as the river groaned at the discomfort of water turning to ice, so did her body protest in puffs at the lungs' request for more oxygen.  I imagined the dark blue carbon dioxide laden cells waiting impatiently in a cue to receive more oxygen as she breathes in.  When the oxygen arrives, they drop the carbon dioxide, grab the oxygen, and head out the door to find their way to the heart to learn where they will be sent.

The body is an amazing machine.  I am always so awed when I remember that even though we all are very different in size and appearance, our insides all look and work pretty much the same.  Breath in, breath out.  Heart beats, beats, beats, beats, beats, beats.  Repeat.  When parts of the body don't work as they're intended to, we have solutions for that.  Broken bones get set, hormones can be administered to alter or support organ function, surgery can remove organs that we don't have use for or that are causing problems for us.  The functions and cures of the physical body can be planned and mapped in very similar ways for everyone.

Then there is the non-physical part of us - emotional, spiritual, mental - all the aspects of us that are as prone to disease and breakage as the physical body, but lacking the clearly prescribed treatments for physical healing and physical wholeness.  These obscure and less easily mapped parts of us come already assembled inside our amazing physical self when we arrive on the planet as infants.  We have instincts as well as nurturers to help us grow into beings who can take care of our own physical and non-physical selves.  But oh my!  The experiences we have and messages we get before (if ever) we learn to be our own care-takers and nurturers . . . . . . fill in your own story here. 

I have spent great amounts of time working on healing and growing past some of my early experiences.  In my honest assessment of my life, I also acknowledge that my children, now adults, spend time working to heal and grow past some of their experiences handed to them by me in their early years.  There will always be scars of one sort or another on my body, in my mind; on their bodies, in their minds.  My goal for me, whether scars can be seen or not by others, is to see the scars as a part of the beautiful landscape that is my body, my soul.  The scars, regardless of how faint or pronounced, are part of my landscape. Under them all is that wholeness I arrived on the planet with all those years ago.

My friend's breathing and the river's groaning was not the only labor I was aware of this morning on our walk.   I noticed that trees with limbs broken in this year's storms worked to keep their movements in check so they'd incur no more loss; the ground had frozen scars to protect any remaining plant life where wheels and feet peeled away turf; large and small stones, like well trained sentinels, stood their ground to hold the whole landscape down so it would not blow away; and me, I consciously worked to transform thoughts in my mind to feelings in my body. Every one of us called out our greetings.  "Hang in there," we all said.  "Don't let the cold overcome you.  Hold each other however you are able to hold and be held."

All the while, I thought the annoying wind was trying to drown out our collective voices when really,  groaning like the rest of us, she was trying to get our attention.  "Notice me," she blasted.  "I am a part of all of you.  I want to be held, too."  Then she ran ahead of us, waiting to demand tribute at our next turn.

Monday, February 18, 2013


We think that accomplishing things will complete us, when it is experiencing life that will.  - Mark Nepo

This morning I woke a bit earlier than usual to meet a friend for a walk in a nearby park.  The idea for a daily morning walk percolated into my mind after having my 1,359,032nd lifetime conversation about health, weight, or exercise.  It was about the 456th conversation with this particular friend.  What I realize as these conversations continue to seep into my life most days, is that they are changing.  The conversations I used to have about exercise and weight (I rarely used to involve health) were all about how many pounds I wanted to lose and what size jeans I wanted to fit into.  I would begin a fitness program with enthusiasm, not only anticipating the size 6 jeans, but also imaging an ideal weight that would translate into ideal hair, accessories, intelligence, personality, and my life situation in general. All these things became the positive side effects of losing weight.  That had to be how it worked since I named my excess weight the cause of all that I did not like in my life.  (Self-loathing: strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt; harsh criticism of perceived faults and mistakes.)

I have a few regrets that I put so much energy into the goal of losing weight . . . . since I was a teen.  The preoccupation with the possibility of life being lived at an optimal weight has been my constant companion.  This preoccupation, like a codependent partner, fools me into thinking from time to time that it has my best interest at heart.  Instead of encouraging me to take risks and pay attention to the stirring of my heart and soul, the preoccupation just kept pointing out that what I was wearing made me look fat.  So much of the beauty and joy that was, has always been, standing right beside me each day of my life was unseen and unrealized because I was trying to get a glimpse of my thinner life that was neatly folded and waiting for me with the size 6 jeans in the back of my closet. 

I tell myself, that's all changing.  And most days it is.   I won't lie - I'll always dream about smaller jeans,  But, today, I woke a bit earlier than usual to meet a friend for a walk in a nearby park.  Today, my goal was not to start another bid for weight loss, not to improve my health, not really even to exercise.  Today my goal was to get outside and be part of the larger community of life that I am part of.  Done.