Loving myself first gives me the foundation to have healthier relationships

“i didn’t leave because i stopped loving you i left cause the longer i stayed the less i loved myself.”  – rupi kaur

I can be present for my parents, but I can also have a life of my own.  It’s easy for me to prioritize them over my needs, so I have to stay aware of my needs at all times.

I ask myself “Am I living my most abundant life?”

I listen to the things in my life that make my heart sing.  When I’m in town I do try and spend time with my parents so it may seem like I’m overly devoted to them, but this only happens when I’ve been away and I feel a strong pull to be there with them.

Being there for them out of guilt and a desire to please is very different from wanting to spend time with them.  I’m learning so much about their stories, and the love they have for each other.  I love seeing my mom’s eyes open wide when I read to her.  And I love giving them and all their sweet friends the attention and hugs that they miss so very much.

Honestly I think my father is starting to understand that I have a life, and that I can’t be there all the time, that I love them when I’m away as much as I love them when I’m there.

When he gets demanding or unpleasant I can set my boundary, and know that when I leave, I’m not being evil.  I’m simply taking care of myself.

 

 

Heart to heart

“when you come from the heart, you reach the hearts of others.”

I heard this the other night as Travis Smiley introduced Tony Bennett at the Hollywood Bowl.  What a magical night it was, sitting there under the stars with my dear friend Laura who had invited me to spend the evening with her.  She and I are good at exchanging voicemails and text messages, as she and I face the challenges and wonders of life – she a single mom, juggling the demands of providing for her two young boys, and I, a daughter trying her best to be there for her ailing mom and fearful dad.  When she asked me to join her, there was no hesitation in saying ‘yes!’  I couldn’t wait to see her and give her a hug.

I knew the evening would be good for my soul.

We talked and talked, listened and listened, and caught up on all that has been happening in our busy lives.  The love was abundant and as we listened to this 91-year old legend share from his heart, every single one of our hearts was touched.  I sat there soaked in gratitude.  Just as I was feeling that there just could not be a more wonderful experience of joy and abundance, Lady Gaga sauntered on stage. The screams of surprise and glee, and the energy between these two artists who so adore and admire each other, was overwhelming and beautiful.

My tears flowed as we bathed in the pure sounds of love.

It was such a blissful night to remember.

Listening to the love, seeing past the pain, and finding gratitude for the moment

Sometimes you just want to close the door, collapse into your bed, pull the covers over your head, and cry.  Watching my mom in so much pain is unbearable.  After last night, I see why I could never be a caregiver.  I practiced patience, love and a resistance to a strong desire to run far away so I’d never have to do this again.

Yesterday, one of our loving caregivers called in sick.  And because one of our other caregivers is in Japan attending to personal medical needs we are short subs.  So I had to reschedule my day to be with my mom.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with moving her out of bed and into the bathroom, since technically I’m not supposed to be lifting with my wrist that’s still healing, but I had no other choice.  The universe is amazing, and it turns out my nephew had just arrived drove from napa, and was just in time to help me as he and I visited.  It was as if he showed up just in time to be the physical strength I needed to move her from bed to toilet and back.

Most of the day went well.  Her appetite was good, and though she was cringing through dinner, she was able to sit through most of the meal, in what I would call ‘bearable pain’.  But as the night wore on, her pain increased, and as my efforts to ease her pain failed, my need to disappear increased.

It’s the pull of the good and the bad in me that tore at my soul as I watched her in her silent scream.  There was indeed a huge part of me that wanted to stay and keep working to alleviate her pain – reading her stories to distract her, massaging her leg with the latest advanced anti-inflammatory creams, soaking her feat in a salt bath, stretching her legs that had been taught me by the physical therapist – nothing seemed to help.  I desperately wanted our night caregiver to show up, perform her magic and stop the pain, so I could leave in peace.  But when she arrived, she too, tried everything to no avail.

As I sat with my mom on her balcony, looking up into the starry sky, I tried not to look into her screaming face. I focused on the quiet beauty of the night, held her tiny hand and listened to the love I have for my sweet mom, being careful not to look at her face and the silent scream.

Basically pretending to not notice her pain, was killing me.

I closed my eyes, and listened to the space, with all my heart, and I stayed ever so grateful for the moment I had with her.

 

 

 

It’s the little things like connecting, sharing, and learning, that makes life is so beautiful and fills me with gratitude

Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing golf with a lovely woman named Kay.  It was just the two of us.  She’s been playing “forever” she told me and she now suffers from macular degeneration.  After she’d hit the ball, she’d ask me to be her eyes and I would tell her where the ball landed.  If you’ve ever golfed, this is not unusual.  It took me a long time before I could see my ball after hitting it.  You’re supposed to keep your eye on the ball , so you focus on keeping your head still and often it’s hard to see where the little guy lands.

Kay told me about the time she got a hole in one, and how she didn’t get to see the ball roll in because her eyes are so bad, but she got to hear all her friends cheer and that that was enough to make her smile.  Oh the joy of sharing the little blessings in life!

She was such a delight – cheering me on with every bad ball I hit. I couldn’t have found a more positive partner to play with as I prepare for my tournament at the end of the month.  And isn’t that most of the game?  If I can just stay positive and focused on the fun of it, the tournament will be everything I hoped it to be.  All the efforts I’m giving to prepare for the tournament may simply be that it gets me out playing and improving my game so when the end of the month arrives,  I’ll feel relaxed and comfortable relating to the ball and to the game, while catching up with dear friends.

I love that the game of golf is so much like the game of life.

When we finished our round, I gave her a hug.  And as we were leaving the clubhouse, we noticed a sign that said “Kay’s birthday is July 18”.  She smiled and told me, “That’s next week! I’m going to be 79.”  Wow!  I couldn’t believe it!

“How do you stay so young Kay? Almost 80, wow! You’re such an inspiration!”

“I just keep walking, and I try to play a couple rounds of golf a week.  And  I like to stay positive,” and then she gave me a hug and asked when we could play again.  I think I have a new friend!

finding the place to be me

Isn’t it true that we all crave intimacy?  and isn’t true that we seek security and stability, promises and predictability? But isn’t it also true that we like adventure, mystery and awe?  So how do we create healthy relationships that include both the safety and at the same time, the excitement that we seek?

When I think of all my healthy relationships, the ones where we’ve nurtured trust are the ones that provide the most opportunity to be vulnerable, and isn’t it in this vulnerability – in the naked truth, if you will – where we find the freedom to be the most creative, fun, wild and judgement free.

Purpose, passion and being in touch with my emotions

Did I tell you that I’m playing in a golf tournament at the end of this month?  Sometimes I have to agree to do things, just so I have a goal.  With this agreement with myself, I have been carrying my clubs around in the trunk of my car, and whenever I see a course, I stop and and hit a few balls.  Sometimes, I’ll plan my day around visiting a golf course, and I simply love being out in nature, experiencing the joy of time.

What has resulted from setting this goal, is an improvement in my golf game.  I’m still very much a beginner, but in my mind being a beginner leaves me so much room to grow and learn.  I love having this mindset.

Living with intention gives me purpose and meaning in life.  This doesn’t mean that I plan to become some famous golfer, because we all know that won’t happen, but it does mean that I can be open to improving.  When I can see that change is possible, this gives me hope in all areas of my life.

Instead of ‘following my passion’, I guess I could say I’m ‘living my passions.’  There’s so much to explore in life, and I just don’t want to miss living my fullest possible life.  And in living my most abundant life, I get to cultivate those parts of me that bring me joy.

Sometimes I remember to be grateful, especially after I’ve been missing it 

There’s so much I take for granted.  Saturday was 108 degrees at my parents’ place in Northridge, and it wasn’t until there was a major power outage (as the result of a huge fire at the power plant), that I paused to be grateful for the air conditioning that we were so happily sitting in.  It didn’t take long for the heat to build in their 4th floor apartment.

Thank goodness for our wireless devices.  We were able to learn what had happened, and that the likelihood of regaining power any time soon was small.  Thank goodness it was late in the day, and with the windows open my parents were able to get some evening air and slept restlessly through the night.

We knew that as soon as the sun began to peek over the hills in the morning, the heat would begin to become dangerous for our seniors.  So Grover and I  packed their things, all their medications, diapers, mom’s duopa (which needs constant refrigeration).  Then we helped their neighbors do the same.  And we headed to my brother’s place in the Pacific Palisades before the sun rose.  Made them a warm breakfast, and then headed off to teach.  When I returned, I plopped down on the couch, took a deep breath and closed my eyes and felt the peace.

And when I opened them, my dad was there next to me, patting me on the leg.  I think that was his way of saying ‘thank you.’