Odin time is all about the heart

If you ever want to be reminded of how to live through your heart, just take some time to ‘hang out’ with a young child.  ‘Hanging out’ is very different from babysitting.  ‘Hanging out’ means experiencing the moment without judgement, fear or worry.  ‘Hanging out’ means to immerse yourself completely into the moment.  To ‘hang out with a young child’ means to become one with the heart by letting go of all past experiences and to see the world with a fresh eyes and an open soul.

It’s been raining in NYC, so yesterday I took Odin to an indoor playground and today to the Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum (which by the way is the oldest children’s museum in the nation, established in 1899 – how cool is that?).  I’m not sure who had more fun, Odin or his grandma.

I love stepping into his being, which is all about observing and absorbing and experiencing each moment in pure wonder and curiosity.  To truly be immersed in his world, I have to notice details and become totally unaware of time.  He is in love with vehicles, especially trucks, so we spend a lot of time spinning wheels and tires and steering wheels.  I play this game with him, where I let him be the lead and my guide.  I listen to what he has to teach me by participating in whatever he is discovering and not leaving that activity until he’s ready to discover something else.  His patience is intense and pure because the details mean so much to him.

Odin is reminding me to discover the joy that is in every detail of our beautiful, astounding world.  He and I stop to look at the ants crawling along the cracks of the sidewalk, we stop to pick up leaves and watch them float in the puddles that line the uneven walkways, we stomp in the puddles and feel the water splash up into our faces. And we laugh and giggle, and sing a lot.

When I’m with Odin, I get down low, and listen.  What I hear are the tiny sounds I miss everyday when I’m busy being a grownup.  What I leave is the place of judgement and the inner voice telling me things I should be doing, and I enter a place of peace, love and immense gratitude.

The Miracles of CBD Oil

I spent a few glorious days with my mom and dad before heading to babysit Odin in New York City.  I say glorious because my mom has been able to sleep through the night free of pain, and to spend an increasing number of hours awake and alert during the day.   The improvement in her days and nights became noticeable after she began taking CBD oil.  While the improvements have been gradual, they are noticeable and significant.

CBD is a high grade cannibis hemp oil where the THC’s have been extracted and as a result there are no psychogenic effects and she is more relaxed and less anxious.  I was introduced to the oil when Helen Trumble, the dog rescuer, was introduced to me at beginning of the year when I lost Danny, my dog.  She had moved from Los Angeles to be with her mother in Baltimore who was struggling with Alzcheimers.  Her mother went from lying down in bed, unable to talk or eat to sitting up, talking, eating and joking around.

This oil has remarkable benefits – she is not only sleeping longer and more deeply, she is now able to eat some food through the mouth, and is also in less pain.  The research into this oil has indications that there is actual healing along the neuro-synapses which may be helping her brain improve in its ability to transmit messages.  Another benefit of this oil is that her skin has become baby soft and nearly wrinkle free!  Maybe I’ll start using it!

I’m in NYC with Odin, and in absolute heaven!  I’ll tell you all about him tomorrow because I’m exhausted after spending all day running around trying to keep up with him.

 

The Beauty Within a Big City

There’s so much to love about London.  The bright red double decker buses, the old fashioned taxi cabs, the Tower, the Bridge, the afternoon teas, the pubs!  What I loved most was the way there was such a mix of everyone.  There were foods from all over the world, and it wasn’t by section the way we have in LA. – Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Japan, etc. – instead I was able to find Indian food, and food from Japan side by side.  There was Ethiopian, and Vietnamese, Greek and Italian all in the same block. 

I avoided all the touristy things and focused on getting to know the neighborhoods, walking everywhere, seeing how the old and new architecture were juxtaposed and somehow worked.  Each neighborhood so different from the other, and yet so diverse within.  There were tons of museums and libraries  – intentionally made free to all.  And open green parks and wonderful gardens with benches and places for people to rest – all free.  It was remarkable how few homeless people I saw.  There were churches everywhere – beautiful old churches that had signs that read,

“Open.  Fresh Coffee, Toilets and Peace available.”

“Come in for a moment to find refreshment for your body and soul.”

“This church is open for your use and enjoyment.”

I found myself stepping into these churches, and sitting, in awe of the beauty surrounding me, each time renewing and refreshing my soul, and leaving in even deeper gratitude for the gift of acceptance and love.

The streets were clean and on the pavement at each corner curb were the words painted in big white lettering, “look left” or “look right” for those who were deaf or busy looking at their phones, and the traffic signals spoke to let the blind know when it was safe to cross.  

I left London wanting to return, wanting to learn more, wanting to continue my exploration of history and humankind.  I left London inspired to be a better person.  I left London realizing that I had fallen in love with a city that had learned from past mistakes, and clearly had put a lot of thought into thinking about everyone, their differences, their challenges, and their common needs and desires.

Family is Forever

Just an amazing day in London.  After a glorious run in Hyde Park, I headed to Cowden in Kent to visit with Sheelagh and her boys.  Sheelagh lived with us for two years nearly 21 years ago and helped us with the children when they were little.  I had never dreamt of having an English nanny, but a dear friend of mine was working as a summer camp nurse in Oregon and called me to tell me she had met a wonderful camp counselor who was looking to stay in the states for a couple of years to nanny, would I be interested?  After interviewing Sheelagh over the phone, I couldn’t resist.  She sounded wonderful.

To say that Sheelagh made my life easier is a major understatement.  Our children just loved her.  She taught them songs and games, and helped me take them to their many sporting events.  Her sense of humor and her love of children was such a blessing.  She was just such an angel in my life at a time when I wished I there were two of me to be there for the kids.   In many ways she quickly became our adopted daughter.  We trusted her and loved her like family.

I got to meet her three boys for the first time today.  I couldn’t stop crying and being moved by their every move and every word.  How could I have missed all those years with them?  They were just precious.  Each so different in his own way, each so in love with his mum, each so happy to show me everything he knows in the short time we had together.  I didn’t want the visit to end.  They are in so many ways just like my grand children.  I could see Sheelagh’s creative spirit in Bailey,  her kindness and humor in Devon, her thoughtful courage in Ryder.

Even though we live so far from each other, it was as if we’d never left each other.  And even though I was meeting her boys for the first time, it felt as if they’d been in my life forever.

Growth Begins with Being Open to Change

It’s not often that I can break away from my parents, but I know it’s healthy for me to.  Culturally, I was raised to believe that caring for my elderly parents was my responsibility.   ‘you must become a doctor.  Who else will take care of us if you don’t?’  Knowing that I let them down by not becoming the doctor they wanted me to become, somehow bound me to fulfill their idea of the dutiful daughter.

For years, I was trapped in the box of the dutiful daughter.  Over the years I’ve learned to break out of the box.  Taking actions that were not considered ‘dutiful’ definitely were out of my comfort zone.  It began with the awareness that my past, my parents’ expectations, my habits, including my feelings of guilt when I couldn’t please my parents, didn’t define me – what was familiar to me was not my identity.

Now whenever I find myself saying, “It’s just who I am,” and if I then experience resentment, or conflict, I know I have to pause and realize that I have choices – choices that have to do with healthy growth.  Stepping out the box, allows me to live large.  It’s a choice to no longer live small, and to be okay with choosing to take a step that may at first feel like guilt.  Engaging in healthy relationships is about loving myself enough to live in such a way the people I love feel free, which means I have to experience the people in my life wishing the same for me.  In other words, I have to imagine what it is to be loved in such a way that the person I love wants that same guilt free responsibility for me as much as I want it for them, even when they may be moaning and groaning, and complaining that’s it’s too long for me to be away.

Here I am, miles away from my parents.  I’m in England traveling the countryside, and then heading to London to visit friends and to explore some museums and gardens.  I trust that my parents are in good hands and that they are happy knowing that I’m taking care of myself and living large.

And I trust they love me and I love them.  It’s not my responsibility to make them happy.

 

The Baptism

Sunday my mom and dad were baptized!  It’s never too late – 87 and 90 years old.  Baptism is steeped in great significance and meaning for those of religious faith.   For many it’s the beginning of a faith – a new way of life believing in a savior and guiding light.

My grandmother was a devout Christian.  In fact my father’s fondest memories of all time are of him holding his mother’s hand as they would walk to church on Sundays.  He doesn’t remember what he learned in church, but he remembers the feeling of being close to his mom, being loved and feeling safe.

When I asked him about his desire to be baptized, he proclaimed,

“I want to be with my mother and father!  Of course that’s why! and your mommy wants to be baptized too, so she can be with me!!!”

My mom sat there listening, a bit agitated.  I could tell she wanted to write something on her Bingo card.  After much deliberation and deciphering, I was able to write down her question,

“Does this mean Daddy will be going to church from now on?”

My mom is a very thoughtful person.

My father responded, “No. I don’t have to go to church. I just want to be with you.”  He knows for sure she’s going to heaven.  She radiates love and patience, kindness and understanding.  You may be thinking, hmmmm, opposites attract.

One day, you must meet my father.   He can be a very loving man when he doesn’t let his head get in the way.

 

 

You Go Mom!

Another great day for my mom.  These are mini steps for the average guy, but for someone who has been struggling with Parkinsons, on her 10th year now, these steps are giant.  It’s a wicked disease that just gets worse.  So when there’s a day in the other direction, we are celebrating!

We have been blessed with a caregiver who loves to shower her, put makeup on her, and to dye and curl her hair.  These are things you and I do in a matter of minutes before leaving the house.  For my mom and her caregiver, this can take pretty much all morning.

And the result is a woman who feels brand new.  When I walked into her room that afternoon, she was reading!  She was holding the book we had just finished reading aloud together yesterday, and she was reading it to herself.  Amazing, given the weight of the hardback book and how weak she’s been to even be able to lift it is a gift.  But here she was holding the book, and turning the pages!  AND she was on page 12!

Life is an adventure.  When the doctors say, “it’s downhill from now on,” my mom looks at them, and says with her eyes, “oh no it isn’t….you have no idea who I am.”