Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘being present’

Happy New Year!

I have written three different posts in the past week and none of them found its way onto my blog.  I didn’t post them because they were superficial and not at all where I am.  In between, something in life would happen to remind me of who I am, and where I am right now, so now you get what’s real.

The truth is, publishing a book about a challenging time in your life will stir up some crap.  The crap it stirs may not be what you think.  I am not traveling back in time revisiting emotions but I am again challenged to consider what I want to create in my future.

A future that, in that period of time about which the book is based, I wasn’t sure I would even have.  While I was busy these last few years making a difference in whatever time I had, I failed to realize that there may just be much more time than I had considered.  I am pretty sure on some level, I thought I was cheating the universe with each year that passed allowing me to do so.

I constantly remind myself that it was simply a colossal detour, it is in the past, not in my present or future.  Clearly, I have moved forward from it in action and in rational mind, but emotion often is more difficult to bring forward.

I am not just that young woman who became ill and homeless.  I am a competent and capable professional with more capacity to influence change than I probably ever will realize in my lifetime.  I am both that young woman and that middle-aged woman all rolled into one.

So now, the questions I have for myself include “How do I want to spend my time?”  “Where will I make the most impact?”  “Am I where I need to be to do that?”  “Is what I am already doing enough?”  “Can I broaden that scope?”  “What do I need to do to make whatever those answers are a reality?”

Honestly, I am not sure it matters how much time any of us have.  I think it matters more how we spend that time.  For me, it also matters whether or not my time is spent doing something that answers those very questions.  What I am doing is wonderful and I love it, but there is a gnawing somewhere inside that tells me that I can be and can do more.  More what and more how will have to unfold as I become clearer on what those mean.

I have a feeling 2018 has a lot in store.

 

 

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Celebrating Life and Death

mom

As I remember it, twenty years ago tonight, I got a call from my older brother.  He said, “Your mother is dead.”  To which I replied, “What do you mean she is dead? Where is she?”  He then said she wasn’t dead yet because she was at the hospital.

We were all there in the ICU waiting room when I suggested we all leave the hospital.  After years and dozens of what we thought was the last trip to the hospital, I said, “She is not going to die just to spite us, so we should probably go home and get some sleep.”

And we did.  I didn’t rush to the hospital the next day either.  I told my husband at the time to go to work because I didn’t figure anything would happen yet.  I don’t remember what everyone else did.  I only remember what happened once I got to the ICU waiting area and no one from my family was there.

I called back to the ICU nurse’s station and the nurse asked me to come back there so she could talk to me.  I asked, “Is she dead?”  She replied, “Ma’am, please just come back so I can talk to you.”  I demanded she tell me before I went through those large double doors into the ICU.  Perhaps I made a bit of a scene in the waiting area, but I don’t recall and am certain I didn’t care.

The nurse finally said that yes, she died earlier.  I was shocked at what I said next,  “Is she still here? Can I see her?”  I am not a fan of dead bodies, but I had to see for myself if what she was telling me was really true.

It was.  I saw it for myself while my stepfather and his sister stood on either side of her body.  Somehow, I was told that everyone was at my grandfather’s house and given directions on how to get there.  I only remember the walk to the parking garage at the hospital.  It was cold, dark and I don’t remember knowing what to do next.  Then I have flashes of memory at my grandfather’s house.  My husband found his way there eventually, although I have no real memory of how all of that happened or how I got home from there.

Ironically, after twenty years, the parts I remember are the same as the week after she died.  Even as clearly, I remember the true gravity of the situation a few weeks later.  I had waited for mom to get sober for years.  It took a few weeks for it to sink in that the hope I had held onto so tightly for mom to get sober and be more mom-like had died too.  At that point, the real healing could begin.

Twenty years later, I have a better understanding of why mom was the way she was when I was growing up.  I have a better appreciation for what was good about her and for those characteristics that I share in common with her.  I certainly would not be the person I have grown into had it not been for her, so for that I celebrate her life.

 

 

The Gift

Pure Presence

As I was driving home today, I realized just how many relatively small interactions with others had such a profound impact on me.  My mind was replaying them much like a scrambled movie or an out-of-order slide show.

Some interactions were good for a laugh, some were heavy and intense, some were neutral, some were sad, some were happy…

Again today, I was out and about around HEP’s campus doing one thing or another, so I had the opportunity to interact with many people.  Each of those interactions, no matter the impact, came rushing back through my mind as I drove myself home in the rain.

Ironically, the bulk of my day was spent at my desk working on behind the scenes sorts of things like policies or forms.

I wonder how many days I have similar interactions and am not as aware or as conscious of them or the impact that have on me as a human.  I felt every interaction today.  I wonder just how often I might have a casual encounter with someone who may very well be as impactful for them as it is for me.

The presence of mind to notice today was my present.  It was nice simply to notice just how much power human connections hold.

Were you conscious in your interactions with others today?  Did you notice how you felt with each one?

It is day 19 and I nearly forgot because I was replaying my day when I got home!

nanopoblano2015light

 

Here we go!

duke tribute cake

Today is the first day of November 2015.  It is the first day of the setting back of clocks one hour.  It is the first of all of this that I am starting without my Duke in the house balking the change of feeding times and walking times.

Ruby is a fan of routine, but she is fine with an hour or two differences in routine on the weekends.  She does not even care if the walk is happening in the dark in the mornings or in the day light, as long as she is getting a walk.  I will be curious about how she feels about the evening walk in the dark this week, actually.

I have enjoyed the additional hour of sleep today.  I have enjoyed being one hour ahead of myself all day and feeling like I was getting so much done before the time it would have been last Sunday.

Just the same, I am not sure I feel any differently physically about what time it is now.  I am as tired as I would be at 8pm even though it is barely 7pm as I write this.

I am excited for a new month, no matter what the time and daylight situation is because October has kicked my butt.  There was so much change in such a short period of time that I am not even sure what has happened last month.  It was all good—that I am sure of, but the rest is blurry because it happened at a warp speed that I am not yet accustomed.

There are intermittent distractions, but overall, I am focused and I am authentic and I am all about the mission before me.  I am struggling to keep those involved also focused on the mission, but I personally am quite focused.

What is interesting is that the mission as I see it has gotten larger as the days of October blew past.  The big picture is bigger and the mission is larger than I first thought as I entered into October.  It is ok.  I am rolling with it and it makes sense.  What is happening is bigger than me.  It is bigger than anyone who is involved in the mission combined, really.  That is ok.

I will rise to the occasion.  The folks involved will rise or not.  It is ok either way.  The mission is moving forward with or without us and that is quite clear.  Let us all rise and move toward something more!  Duke would want that.  Duke would expect it to happen, so here we go!

 

 

 

Keepin’ it Real!

On my bathroom mirror, I have written:

Stay Focused.

Stay Authentic.

Remember the mission.

I think I wrote it a few weeks ago and I cannot even remember why I felt compelled to change the previous message.  What I do know for sure is that I see it far more than I have seen many of my previous bathroom mirror messages, and it makes me think every time I do.

Am I getting distracted?  Am I being authentic?  Do I remember what I intended to be doing?  I tend to be more easily distracted in real life, so I am reminding myself to stay focused on my intentions for this year.  Authenticity is synonymous with being genuine, but I like the work authentic better.  Am I keeping it real?

A few weeks ago, I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to do more.  I was ready to do more once Duke’s work here was done, so I was ready and felt like I couldn’t.  I felt like I couldn’t have the reach I believed I needed to help people help themselves—to help even more people to help themselves.  It was authentic, and it was not self-serving in the least.  Quite the opposite really.

Bam, Pow, Shazaam…

Three weeks later, I am in a position to expand the reach to more people.  In a whirlwind of interestingly timed events and genuine speaking out for the mission of a broader reach, it happened.  It all seemed synchronistic and very fast for me.  I am fairly certain that I played only a very small role in all of it, except for authentically expressing myself at the opportune times.

My poor brain was reeling after so much positive happening, one thing after the next, and I was looking forward to a much-needed break from it to assimilate and process all of it over a three-day weekend.

I started thinking about authenticity most of all.  I value this very much both personally and professionally.  I know if someone is being real or genuine quickly in an interaction.  I want to make sure that I am being real and genuine too.  I am not sure I have ever been more authentic in my life as an adult, and I am proud of that.

What I have learned is that being authentic gets you farther, and further serves you than trying to be someone or something you aren’t.  I learned that long ago, and now I learn it again, but on a different level.  I am starting to really enjoy just being me.  I love having no hidden agenda.  Whatever is, well, it is.  If I want to make it better, then I just say so because there is nothing to lose by doing so.

So, I am keeping that message up on my mirror for a bit longer.  There is a lot of work ahead.

Ten Years of Mays and Happy Mom’s Day

may dogs 14-15

May is always a significant month for me, and I think I write about it every year.

This May marks 10 years since I broke out of the nursing home and embarked on independent living that everyone seemed to tell me was not in my future.  My Duke and Amore’ returned to me on the month of their 4th birthdays, and we proceeded to create a new life together.  I find it hard to believe that in the 10th year after homelessness and nursing home experience that I am where I am.

It is a bit more intense this year for me.  So much so, that I have to think about it in little tiny bits and pieces.

In the month of May, I met the older “sister” I always wished I had through an interesting turn of events, and it is a decade long friendship that certainly was well-timed for figuring out how I wanted to start my new life chapter back then.

May is the month of my mom’s birth and mother’s day.  As I inch closer to the age she was when she died, these have a different feel to them.  I cannot imagine feeling like giving up in this life at such an age, but I am old enough to be able to see clearly the good things I got from mom and to appreciate her.   It has become the month when I celebrate all of the moms who have adopted me over the years.

Five years ago, Duke became an official Therapy Dog at the Homeless Emergency Project.  He not only celebrated his 14th birthday this month, but he also celebrates a 5th work anniversary.  I can hardly believe the number of major life events he has been witness to and been both my lighthouse and my grounding.

Last year, Ruby entered my world in May and so did many of her greyhound rescue folks.  While it has been a challenge to integrate a unique little soul into our household since the loss of Amore, she has certainly kept me focused, grounded and present.

I am always fascinated how one month out of twelve can hold so much significance.  Even if I only look at the last 10 years of Mays, I can hardly believe the number of events that have contributed to the me I have become.

As you celebrate Mother’s Day today, I hope you will take a few minutes to consider where you might have been ten Mays from now.  Honor the differences, honor the change and honor the growth.  I think mom would be proud.  I certainly am.

Kitt O'Malley

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