Monday, November 21, 2011

Epiphany


I did have an epiphany this past Friday which I think might end up changing my life in immeasurable ways. A good friend of mine had an incident of his own on Friday which was also life changing and in a far more dramatic way. He had the beginnings of a heart attack. Luckily, he realized what was happening, dialed 911 himself, and was just two blocks from the best Cardiology Hospital in Illinois. He had one stint inserted that morning and is due to have two more in the next two weeks but he was back to posting on Facebook by that afternoon and out of the hospital the next day. He is naturally very introspective at the moment. He posted a quote from Anne Morrow Lindburgh today, "When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides."

It is a beautiful and thought provoking quote and I especially liked the phrase, "lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. I'm discovering that this is true of life in general. Those friends who have know me for any time at all know that I have developed a fear of riding which had become both unreasonable and almost uncontrollable. The worst part of the fear and anxiety was that it had become emotionally paralyzing and was keeping me not only from riding but living my life. It wasn't a fear of horses that kept me out of the saddle or even anxiety left over from the bad fall I took six years ago. I think I've been living in fear because of various crazy accidents that I've had in my past because it wasn't just riding I was fearful of, it was anything which involved the least bit of risk. Before I did anything, I'd imagine every possible thing which could go wrong. Huston told me once that things could just as easily go right as wrong but I never saw it that way. The fear was actually keeping me prisoner in my own home because I'd also become very fearful of driving especially on the interstate.  

Oddly, it was on the interstate this past Friday, where I had my epiphany.  I was thinking about a friend who'd had an accident very similar to one I'd had or at least nearly had several years ago. I was in the car, in traffic, on the interstate bridge between Loudon and Lenoir City, when a tire blew. It lifted the front of my car straight up in the air and spun me around on the interstate bridge until I was facing the wrong direction. This happened right at rush hour when all of the workers from Oak Ridge filled the highway. It also occurred in the exact location where my friend had an accident which didn't have the same lucky results that mine did since I was miraculously able to get turned around and to the side of the road before the traffic..which had oddly cleared just as the tire blew...was suddenly zooming by me again. My friend's accident resulted in serious injuries and I was unharmed. I suddenly realized on Friday that despite that near miss and all of the weird accidents I've had over the years that should have resulted in serious injury if not death, I've remained virtually unscathed except for the residual fear. I had this revelation while driving to a friend's barn with the intention of riding a horse for the first time in two years. I'd tried to ride my horse, Django, a week before and I froze as I stood on the mounting block and couldn't get into the saddle. When I got to Brandy's barn, she was bringing in the horse she wanted me to ride. She helped me tack her up and then held my stirrup for me to mount. I didn't hesitate; I got on the horse and I rode without the slightest fear or nervousness. I walked her a short while and then kicked her into a trot. Brandy who is not just my friend but long time riding instructor was amazed and told me as much, saying that I didn't look the least fearful or even nervous.  I told her that I wasn't. I was relaxed and thoroughly enjoying myself. I had realized that, like the John F. Kennedy said, I had nothing to fear but fear itself.  I truly feel like a new person. So, I think that living a full life "lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now." That is true of life or love or horseback riding.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gratitude

November is the month of gratitude for all of your gifts and blessings. It is also a month of contemplation for many times, we might not feel that blessed but if we just take the time to really look at our lives, even amongst trial and sorrow, we can find a silver lining even if it is a bit tarnished.

Myself, I say my "thank You's!" every morning. Admittedly, there are some mornings that take more effort but I'm still grateful for every single day. During this month of giving thanks, many of my friends have started to post a new note of gratitude every day on Facebook. I've fallen behind since I just started my list today. So, I've decided to write a thank you for every day I've missed so far.

November 1st: Every morning when I wake up, I thank God for my family and friends and I pray that he will keep them healthy and safe for another day.

November 2nd: I'm so very blessed to be married to my best friend and to have had him faithfully by my side for way more than half of my life.

November 3rd: I'm so grateful for all of the animals that have shared my life. I've always loved animals and each one of them has added to my life and taught me so much. They've always given much more than they've taken. And their unconditional love and loyalty are unmatched.

November 4th: I'm thankful that I've been able to spend most of my life doing something that I love and that fulfills me. The creativity that God added to my soul before I was born has filled my life and outlook with color and joy.

November 5th: I love November, the month I was born. I'm grateful for the beautiful, warm colors of Fall and the days which are usually a combination of bright, warm sunshine and cool, crisp breezes. It's my favorite time of year.

November 6th: I'm going to go ahead and do this one because tomorrow is my birthday and I might not come near this computer....it will be a little gift to myself, to curb my obsession for at least one day. But I am so very, very grateful for another year of life and another chance to start anew, try again and get it right!

Friday, November 4, 2011

And I wonder why I can't sleep.....

I was watching a TV program a few nights ago and one of the characters became obsessed with death when he noticed that his Sports Illustrated life time subscription ran out in 2033. He goes on the computer and checked out a site called DeathClock.com, a site which supposedly calculates the exact date that you will meet your demise and your maker. When he put in his stats, he got the exact same date which makes for good comedy. The not so funny thing is, this site actually exists. I'm sure it's just for entertainment purposes but it still is a bit morbid especially considering how almost everyone past forty is actually obsessed with death and dying. So, what did I do but check it out; I couldn't help myself.

Unlike the TV sitcom version which asked if the participant brushes and flosses regularly, the real Death Clock only asks for four pieces of information: your date of birth, your outlook on life (optimist, pessimist, or neutral), whether or not you smoke and your BMI. It actually has a disclaimer that goes on and on about how obesity kills and that losing weight and exercising can significantly extend your life. The first time I tried it, I put in my actual BMI, knowing that I do need to drop more than a few pounds. My date of death was announced as January 18th, 2033. There must be something about that date. Maybe it's the end of time because it certainly seems like a lot of us are kicking the bucket in that year! January 18th also happens to be my husband's birthday. It would be a lousy gift to have your wife die on your birthday but Steve says it doesn't matter since the "Clock" has him perishing six years prior to that date anyway.

I know this is all a bunch of nonsense but with all of the talk about how being unfit and fat increases your chances of dying, I thought I'd put in a really low BMI and see how many extra years of life it added. So I did and............it added a little under two years......!!??  So, I starve myself and work my butt off and I don't even get an extra two lousy years??? I was more than a bit upset...even though I do know it is all nonsense....until my friend Daryl Lunsford (I love the way his brain works!) pointed something out to me, "Remember, though...every year, the Death Clock is in Daylight Savings Time for 6 months, so every November you get that back. 22 years of that amounts to another 11 years, so you're looking at 33 years minimum right off the bat. And then there's Leap Years... :-D" Like I said, I do love the way he thinks.:)

And before all of your avid dieters who are working so hard to lose the deadly weight get your dander up at me, I am still trying to be good. I'm at least moving more and I have good intentions with the food. My current problem lies in this busy time of year when I'm doing my best to pull everything together so I can end this year in the black. Consequently, Steve has been doing the grocery shopping. He's pretty good with picking up what's on the list but he always supplements the list with other items that he likes and he knows, I love. So, after sleeping in this morning....will explain that later...., I made us a breakfast of sausage (turkey at least), eggs (three a piece...yikes!...but I do love eggs), biscuits (which I coat with butter spray and garlic before baking), fresh tomatoes (yeh! for healthy;-), and some potatoes that I put on last night and by the time we woke up are now potato mush so I topped them with cheese to disguise that fact. My, oh my!! So, I think it is time I bite the bullet and manage to make it to the grocery store myself this weekend to buy some healthier fare.

This Sunday will be my 56th birthday. I was hoping to lose more weight before that date but that's not happening so I've decided that it will be the day that I finally get back in the saddle, quite literally, for the first time in nearly two years. It's a long story that I won't go into but I had a bad fall from my horse Mouse six years ago. It has been a long journey trying to overcome my fear of riding after that. I thought I had it whipped a couple of years ago but then it seemed that everything happened to keep me from riding and the more time that went by that I hadn't ridden, the more fearful I became. I came to the realization last week that I'm dealing with geldings now and they are both pretty laid back. Django can be a bit spooky but he's very easy to control when he does spook and generally does nothing more than a bit of hopping. Mouse on the other hand is an unpredictable mare or maybe she's actually a predictable mare since she is the best horse you'd ever want to ride most of the time but when she comes into season, watch out! I've said that I can identify with that. My days of monthly mood swings are long past now but I do remember becoming almost homicidal at times over the smallest offense. So, I can understand Mousie and her not wanting to be saddled much less ridden at certain times but these boys are boys. I don't think I have anything to worry about with them. They are not going to try and take over control while I'm in the saddle and I know that I can handle the situation if something does startle them and takes their attention away from me. So, last night's heavy rain should be dried up by my birthday on Sunday and I plan to ride my horse, Django, as a birthday gift to me. Too many beautiful autumn days have come and gone unridden and Django wants to be ridden (he is a lovable but obviously strange horse, lol.)

Now, finally, the reason that Steve and I both slept in today. My reason is the same old, same old. I woke up hurting around 1am and then couldn't get back to sleep. I could have washed the dinner dishes that were still in the sink or cleaned house a bit but instead, I sat in here and played Words With Friends and HotShots on Facebook until nearly 4am when I finally decided to try bed again.
I had just settled back into bed when I heard this horrible commotion and someone shouting angrily and it sounded as if it was right in front of our house. I woke Steve up, as much to stop his snoring as to get his help, and the two of us crept out of bed and toward the bedroom in the front of the house so that we could see what was going on. When I reached the hall, the direction of the noise seemed to change and I realized that it was coming from the kitchen not outside. Not to worry, it wasn't a burglar and I knew the source of the racket. When TV switched to digital, the little TV in our kitchen no longer picked up a signal so I hooked it to my little used laptop and transformed it into a monitor. I thought that I'd use them to monitor my diet....talk about good intentions....but mainly, I watch TV and movies on them while I cook and clean in the kitchen. We've recently discovered why the laptop has been burning through batteries at an alarming rate (especially considering that a battery is over a hundred bucks), the lid does not close completely and the computer will stay on even when closed unless you completely shut it down. Lately, it has mysteriously been turning itself and TV and movie back on even when it's closed. What I can't figure out about last night, when it was a very loud police program that was making all of that noise, is how did the TV also turn back on?? I turned both off before I went to bed last night. Also, how did the computer start that police program when I had paused the sitcom, The Middle, before closing it and the page was still closed? There was another page that had been opened and the police show was playing on it. Sooooo, the good news is, there wasn't a bloody gun battle happening on my front lawn last night. The bad news, our resident ghost evidently has developed a passion for late night TV viewing and loud, violent shows.