So, I’m in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The people are beautiful and friendly and the beaches can be exotic or inviting – it all depends on your mood. But, I’m really here to visit my aging parents. Rio is the city of my birth.
Anyone, with older parents knows how difficult it is to see our loved ones struggle with things that used to be easy to do. To witness their health wane. In my case I also have to deal with the distance between Los Angeles – where I live – and Rio de Janeiro.
My visits are always full of mixed emotions; happiness in seeing them and stress for not being able to stop life’s unstoppable march.
By nature I am a caretaker. When my late husband became ill, I spent the better part of two and a half years taking care of him. I was by his side every minute of his journey. My husband died at home by my side. We slept in the same bed till his last night.
Through all my experiences of care taking, I have learned that we can only give if we take care of ourselves as well. If we don’t fill up the well, it will eventually dry out.
Pain is part of the human experience. There is no way around it. Even if nothing tragic ever happens in your life – yes, there are a few of you out there – one day you will have an aging parent. One day for sure you will have pain.
It is in these times of emotional stress that we need to remember to willfully seek beauty. As sure as I am that we all deal with pain so am I that we can all have beauty. It is all around us. We just need to open ourselves up to it.
Beauty comforts inspires and fills up the well.
Diligently taking breaks to renew our emotional well allows us to go through the different pains life brings us from time to time. It also allows us to give more.
If you are today going through a difficult time find the beauty in your world. I know it can be difficult. I know you can easily dismiss it by thinking “I have no time for this”. But, you do. And it is the only way you will be able to sooth yourself and others. Go out with a friend. Do something that is fulfilling to you. Beauty is pain’s antidote.
It is hard to stay centered and cognizant when we are travelling through chaos. It is easy to get affected by other people’s emotional and psychological behaviors. We get observed and judged. And if we lose our center we become part of the chaos.
My father is sick in the hospital. He’s 86 years old, so it is hard to tell how this is going to turn out. Emotions are running high for everyone involved including me. So to support others and myself, I have to fight to take care of my well-being and stay grounded. I have to be able to access and rely on my truth in every decision I take.
In the past I have acted impulsively, emotional and without setting limits to what was asked of me but others and myself included.
As I have gone through quite a few crises in my life, I’ve developed a short list of things to keep in mind not to drown when intense emotions are flying about. They are:
We can always find a way when we have passion. Allowing ourselves to dream and to embrace the things that truly matters to us without fear.
A couple of days ago, I had lunch with a woman who had been my late husband’s friend. I had seen her once before since his passing two and a half years ago.
The friend wanted to check in with me and again offer her support. We talked for a while and then the conversation shifted to her brother. She said we both had a lot in common; he’s a Buddhist – she said. Even though I don’t know her brother, I intuitively knew what she was trying to say. She was referring to the quality of acceptance.
I watched Rabbit Hole a couple of nights ago. The film tells the story of a couple (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) who lose their 4 year-old son when he runs after his dog and onto the street. The movie starts eight months into the parent’s recovery process.
There was a line in the film spoken by Nicole Kidman that hit me in the stomach. She said something like: After someone dies the pain from the loss becomes what we have of them.
It is now 2 years and 4 months since my husband passed away. I’ve done much and have met many people during this time. I have also gone through many changes as a person. But the sadness of Chris’ loss is a constant companion. That is not to say, I don’t laugh or love – I promise you I do and quite often – but I’m always aware of the hurt within.
I can’t tell you how to live your life. Actually nobody can. I also can’t tell you how to find contentment. Again nobody can. But I can share with you, life tools I have had to learn to live and thrive. As I share, take what makes sense to you and leave on the computer screen what doesn’t.
Accepting ourselves and our lives as they are today is the first step towards appreciating life.
Without it we would keep reading the same scripts we have created for ourselves and have no possibility of a different life. We would always play the same role to the same results.
Introspection means observing and processing our own behavior. Introspection gives us the chance to catch ourselves repeating patterns that causes us pain and change. It becomes second nature to anyone who is invested in living a more peaceful and content life.
I am on my way to Miami, Florida to work on a film. I brought with me for the four and a half hours of flying, a memoir a woman who reads my posts sent me. I’ve had the manuscript for a few weeks but knowing it was a story of loss, I was giving myself time to prepare to make the descent back into my own history which undoubtedly her account would take me to.
The woman’s husband was diagnosed with brain cancer after months of irrational behavior which had everyone thinking he was either on drugs, having an affair or a nervous breakdown. As I read her painful and touching words, my hands slide down the ropes of my past. I’m going down.
I put the pages on the empty seat next to me and think; all of us go through life loosing pieces of ourselves. It is as if we are all born with leprosy. Each new loss another part of us is left behind.
As in any match you look at your opponent square in the face. You want to measure up its strength while letting it know you are not afraid.
When the bell goes off, you approach it with determination. You find your way in, you put your arms around it and you hold it tight. You smell its sweat and you dance around with it until you are able to take it down to the mat. You hold it there and you pay your respects. You let it know of its worthiness and that you will always be mindful of it.
Just the sound of the word sends chills down my spine. Despair is when you look around and there seems to be no way out. Despair is when pain has taken a hold of us and wont’ let go. I have been there and I know its shape, weight, and smell. I know it well.
I do Yoga. Sometimes we get into positions where supposedly a small number of muscles are asked to support our entire body weight for a few minutes and it feels like an eternity. Our first reaction is to tense up. Somehow the body thinks that if it tenses up it will make the task easier but instead the tension makes it almost impossible to hold the position. It is then I tell my body to let go. To release into the position. It is then I take deep breaths and engage my entire body in supporting the position.
And so it is with despair. When pain grabs hold of us we have to release into it. There is no point in fighting it. It hurts, so we breathe deeply and release into it. We acknowledge its existence – trying to run away will only add to its power – and we remind ourselves that we are only in this position for awhile. Soon life, just like the Yoga teacher, will move us to another position.