Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Packing Up

There is a certain futility in packing up and heading off on a trip. I am reminded of the saying: No matter where you go, there you are.

It is with both a certain excitement and concern that I gather my things in preparation of visiting my old stomping ground of the summer of 1976.

I am going it alone. On purpose. I need to be free from worrying about taking care of anyone else. I will be witnessing youth in their glory playing music and getting ready to leave a form of Eden that will be etched into their memories for the rest of their lives. I know those emotional departures from summer camp. There is a part of me hoping to find the music-camp-me, the one who existed before wife, before mother, before grandmother took over.

Of course, things won't be the same on this southern campus these 34 years later. So much water has gone under the bridge.

Yet, it is the Stream of Life that I am attempting to dip my toes in and find refreshment. Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that I am trying to follow the ethereal sounds or fragrance of the Divine or find that deep sacred place where I get to meet the Friend.

Really, I am seeking Mystery. Can I look into that water and see a reflection that I recognise? Will my heart be able to pulse with it?

I'll let you know what I find. Perhaps there will be words for it.

Friday, July 16, 2010


This is the big weekend: parent's 50th wedding anniversary, preparing for an upcoming candidates night, hosting guests, and dealing with a crashed thyroid. I'm already tired.

This morning around 5 a.m., I was in that state of not quite being asleep and thinking about how I was going to get things done when I heard a loud rumble and felt the house shake. I thought that a big thunderstorm was close by. I live in a gap where noise travels around. Our house seems to be built on a rock and shakes when big things happen.

I asked my partner, did you hear that? He said that it must have been a train as he tried to get a few more minutes of sleep in before getting up for the day.

I heard it again. There must be a storm further down the ridge.

In my state of not quite being awake yet not altogether asleep, I let it rest.

I learned of the earthquake from a Quaker friend who is terrified of earthquakes and volcanoes. The idea of the earth being a dynamic force isn't very comforting to her. She e-mailed me the news.

My west coast sibling was staying overnight with us. The topic of earthquakes had come up just last night. Her introduction to earthquakes in the west was with a seasoned friend who was excited about them and showed her how to ride the waves. How funny that she brought her trembling earth with her, I thought. When asked if she noticed this one, she reported sleeping so soundly that she was unaware. It was, after all, just a 3.6.

The timing was exquisite. How utterly symbolic to witness an earthquake this weekend. My intuitive or feminine side says to pay attention to these seismic activities - whether in the earth, community, family or physical body.

I can't seem to get away from the body as major shifts keep taking place in my own body. I'm told that the thyroid affects every cell in the body. In many ways, I think my body is be doing fine. And then, I feel what I would call an earthquake in my body that seems to bring me up short. There has been continuous pressure on my chest that my doctor attributes to muscle spasms. I just know that it grinds me to a halt.

Excuse me, I have to rest a while and catch my breath.

Maybe this is just a warning shot about something much deeper moving in our family or in our culture. Or, it is just a shift that is loud and rumbling and will settle down for another 36 years or so - that's how long it has been since the area experienced an earthquake of this magnitude.

I found myself wishing the epicenter had been closer to Washington D.C. Maybe our elected officials and bureaucrats would get it, get something, maybe an epiphany about some sort of change that is aching to take place.

I am reminded of a deceased pastor who loved the mountains in my neck of the woods. He would often point out how old these ancient rocks are in our little part of the Appalachian chain. He believed that these hills and mountains were once as majestic as the Rocky Mountains are now. It's just that the Appalachian mountains have just been worn down with time and exposure to the elements.

What a very mild introduction to a much deeper power that exists in nature, our nature and the earth's. From that relatively gentle yet powerful shift I experienced this morning, I am glad to be an insignificant part of something so awesome.

Riding the waves, when they roll my way, might be the only sane thing to do.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nothing to be done

I have a friend who walks around saying that, "There really isn't anything to be done."

She usually says this when people are running around trying to fix a problem that isn't life or death. She recognizes the crazy-making feeling that happens when people get stirred up. And, for what?

Lately, she's also been known to say this as friends are in the actively-dying phase and their loved-ones are stressed. They call her seeking a way to take away the pain of loss. She said that sometimes the best way she knows how to help is to remember that there isn't anything she can do herself except to quiet down.

We all want the pain to go away.

Yesterday my body was all stirred up. I'm not sure what the cells where doing, but my chest was really hurting under the breastbone and my back ached. I was so tired that it was an effort to move. This time, my breathing was more of a challenge than in the past. I'd had this in May, except this time I was having a little more trouble breathing.

"Here we go again," I thought.

Last week, I finally got to see the endocrinology for the first time since this mess started back in April. I was prepared to dislike her, but I couldn't. She did a great job explaining things and took her time with me. She even did her own ultrasound on me pointing out that my thyroid no longer had a clear shape anymore.

It looked more like applesauce on the screen rather than a distinct organ. The scientist in me thought that was so cool. The me in me was horrified.

She explained the possibility that I could go from having a hyper-active thyroid to having a lull and perhaps a meltdown as the thyroid function switched to the hypo-active state.

Afterward the medical appointment, I had so many things to do. However, I stopped off for a blood draw before soldiering on.

I noticed that I was having more problems swallowing after the appointment. Damn her. Things had been calm and with all that digging around my throat with her fingers and ultrasound wand, I was having more trouble again.

From that point on, I was booked solid for the next several days. I was running down and then running on empty. By yesterday, I recognized the bottom when I could barely shake the feeling that I couldn't seem to fully wake up and that my chest hurt. I kept yawning. Any exertion felt like such work. Driving felt more tedious. My old symptoms were back.

It probably didn't help that one of my beloved elderly friends had a heart attack over the weekend and was in the ICU. We have over 20 years of shared experiences with the Quakers, and lots of beloved time together in a meditation group and a writers group.

Additionally, it isn't a surprise that as I get closer to the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents that my body acts out. I've been fretting over this for some time now. Their party is this coming weekend.

And then there is the Candidates Night event that I am chairing. This week the candidates' responses are due and the event is next week.

I called someone whom I was supposed to see the next day and said I needed to cancel our time together. The sweet soul on the other end of the phone really pushed me to call the specialist.

"Don't ignore this," she said.

So at 4 p.m., I called the doctor's office. At 5 p.m., I got a return call. The exam wouldn't cause these symptoms, I was told. The lab results were now showing a switch to hypo-thyroid levels and my squishy thyroid was likely crashing.

Dr.: Do you need to go the E.R.?

Me: No. I'm not that bad. I'm feeling better than I did earlier in the day.

I called a friend and decided to see if she would take me to the writers group in the evening. I didn't trust myself to drive. But going had to be better than sitting on the couch with my silent, helpless partner watching T.V.

There was really nothing to be done.

I was already on a beta blocker. Thyroid medications are a no-no with this disease process. Just waiting it out to see where it lands is the treatment of choice for 95% of people who get thyroiditis. There is the question of additional autoimmune problems, but we don't know yet.

As the evening wore on and the ibuprofen kicked in, I felt better. I got to listen to others' stories and hear them talk about their writing process. I was able to write in the company of others. I got to laugh. I was feeling better.

This morning I see the specialist. In the face of yesterday, I am feeling so much better. Go figure.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Heart Work

This morning I woke up from a dream that spoke to my condition. Jung believed that dreams were meant to do just that.

The part I'd like to share is the struggle with identity and ego stuff in the midst of a mid-life realignment.

In real life, I keep telling my family and closest friends that I no longer fit into the roles that I wear: mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, social worker, Democrat, Quaker, ... whatever I was, I can't breath in them anymore. Those clothes are too tight. However I have defined those roles in the past, they simply don't fit now.

In the dream, I find myself at my maternal grandmother's home. More precisely, I am in her kitchen. My partner and other spiritual friends are there. I try to call one of them who is missing, except I mis-dial the number.

Instead, I get a request line for an internet radio station that plays soul and love music. The disc jockey is working from his home and we can see each other from our respective places. I'm so happy to have found such a wonderful, earthy music station.

I need to know the world-wide web address so that I can enjoy this music, but to ask will give myself away. I can't think of a song fast enough to request and pause too long. He knows.

He quickly recovers and says that I am a winner and will receive pottery inscribed with my favorite love line. I tell him I can't think of just the right one.

Can I call back?

Yes, he responds.

He provides the number and tells me that he or his girlfriend Angell could answer, just so I know. I spell Angell with two L's. He can see that and asks me how I knew to spell it with two L's. I knew because otherwise, she'd be immortal.

When I get off the line, I look and see my long-lost friend in the kitchen. She's the one who embodies love of life. She's an intuitive healer who works at the individual and community level. I see her warm brown eyes and am so glad to see her. I've missed her.

As I awaken from the dream in that twilight in-between state, the line is:
My heart belongs to no-one and everyone.

Thinking this is too self-centered, I quickly amend it to be:
The heart belongs to no-one and to everyone.

And as I sit with my journal, I write:
The Heart belongs to no-one and to everyone.