The other day I didn’t have a lot of energy (shocker) but Monty did (shocker). I was throwing the ball for him inside the living room and noting what an expert catcher he is. Like the dude jumps crazy high and catches basically every ball I throw. So I started recording him. Because I have time to do crap like that. Then it was such a beautiful day outside I said screw it, if I can throw a ball in here I can do it outside too. So I brought him outside and recorded all the different ways in which Monty catches a ball. Then I made a movie out of it and put it to some fun music because video editing is another one of those things you can do from bed, and again, I have time to do crap like that. Woo woo. So, below is the result. I guess I realize that Monty makes me happy in so many ways and even watching him jump to catch a ball makes me laugh. Now we all get to watch him. And the angels rejoiced.
Health, Happiness, Monty
*Note, you can’t currently watch this video on a mobile device like your phone because of a third-party licensing issue with youtube…Booo, I know. I’m working on it.
It is sunrise again in California and I am reflecting on the last few months of my life. I just dropped my mom off at the airport to fly home to tend to other business. Newsflash, she has a life outside of nursing Mary back to health! I’m really lucky she was able to come. She did an incredible job as most Dr. Moms do alongside my sister and I am much more functional than when she arrived a few weeks ago. I can climb the stairs easy peasy this week–that is something new.
I feel a lot more at ease since she arrived and helped me to process some pretty heavy thoughts I was having. For one thing, I kind of thought I was dying, because I’d never felt that bad before and I imagine death must feel like something close to that. It’s pretty unsettling feeling like you can’t walk or hold a brush to your head or take a shower. Forget climbing stairs, I was scoring my days on whether I could walk to the bathroom or not. Since then my strength has slowly inched its way back. I still do very little physically throughout the day as to not overdo it, but I can feel some energy where there was none before, and for that I am really grateful. I’ve been drinking protein shakes from the naturopath doctor three times a day along with 12 other supplements alongside my normal pill cocktail. I’ve been drinking Chinese tea from Dr. Xu that tastes like ground up birds nest and getting acupuncture twice a week. My B12 was low so I even learned how to give myself a shot…in the butt. It’s impressive. But anyway, it’s helping. All of it, I think, is working in different ways and putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.
I notice that every day has it challenges. Mine has different uncertainties and struggles. Will I be strong enough to climb the stairs, will I get to shower, will Monty and me save the world?! And the truth is I just don’t know. None of us do. There is no certainty about what will or won’t happen tomorrow. There is just here and now. And I notice that when I examine my life with clear hindsight and an open-minded eye, I see that it’s not bad. Like at all. It’s actually kind of enjoyable! I’ve gotten to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law that I never would have had otherwise. I’m lucky to have a mom who was able to fly out at the drop of a hat and give me some much-needed help. I get to read and write as I please. (Even though it’s mostly from bed.) I get to spend ample time with my favorite person, Monty, and I get to put my very little energy towards something positive–writing, humor, optimism, and good news. There are a lot of outcomes of this seemingly crappy situation that are not themselves crappy. They’re more like great. And that always gives pause for reflection. But trust me, it’s easy to go the other direction. The slightest tip of the scale and I could see things very differently. Darker. And I have those days sometimes. I could say it isn’t fair. I could say this isn’t the life I wanted or signed up for. I could look at all the healthy people with their functional lives and long for that to be mine. But, like Iyanla Vanzant says, that’s a life path that doesn’t belong to me. So it’s important to let it go. As long as I try to get back something that was never mine, I will suffer. As long as I tell myself a sad story, I’ll pay.
We tend to think we know best for ourselves. And many times that’s true. But the problem with the human experience is that we are stuck in the mental limitations of space and time, so it’s hard for us to see our lives in the context of eternity. But that’s the truth of existence. We’re just a small part of something much larger, and we aren’t meant to see all of it at one time. I think we’re meant to just hold on and enjoy the ride, and when it’s a shit show, like my life the past year, you hold on tighter. You pull in people to help. You acknowledge there is something bigger than you, and focus your energy on balance. On acceptance. On inner peace.
The thing is, you can’t just tell yourself a happy story about your life and you’ll be happy. You have to believe the story you tell yourself. For some reason it’s like we’re conditioned to believe the sad story more than the happy one. And through the dark times especially, it’s not as easy to find the pretty things, but they are so valuable when you take time to find them. That’s why acceptance is so important. Once I stopped focusing on the happy life I would have once I got better, and instead focused on how to be happy with the life I have now, I found much more success. And it takes work. I have to remind myself everyday of the things that I am lucky for, and most of the time it’s a no-brainer. It’s family. But it’s easy to forget. To slip up. To fall into the humdrum of life and feel like you’re not where you’re supposed to be. And maybe you’re not. But most of the time, life just requires us to be present where we are. We already have everything we need, we just have to be aware of it. In The Untethered Soul, Singer wrote that “Life is surrounding you with people and situations that stimulate growth.”So before you judge your life and your hardships, try to acknowledge that this is what you need in order to become whole. In order to become who you are– the best possible version of yourself. It sucks sometimes. It’s hard. Don’t I know it. But if in the end it forced you to grow and become awesome and happy, well then, it’s worth it isn’t it? Maybe it isn’t such a sad story after all.
I’m learning I have to be careful about the story I tell myself. Because if it’s a happy one, that will be my life. But if it’s a sad one, that will be my life, too.
Good morning world! Guess who’s up at 7 am?! I haven’t been up this early and actually felt alive in a long time. I woke up in pain but I wasn’t weak like I’ve been and the best part was this; I woke up just in time for the sunrise. It’s funny that such a phenomenal event like that happens every, single, day, and how seldom we actually see it. Or stop to watch it. My immobility in the last few weeks has left me observing the worlds tiny gifts that I didn’t used to see before. Like yesterday I watched a spider web glisten in the sun and was like whoa, that’s beautiful dude! Because my life has become so contained, I’ve been seeing the small things surrounding me, and suddenly they seem just as big as the things I used to strive for- independence, health, conquering the world. Those kinds of things. It reminded me of something Mark Nepo said in an interview that I wrote in my notebook. He was talking about finding “the special” in everyday life and how important that is to happiness. “Become easily pleased. Find what’s special in everything. Everything glows. There are more distractions and distortions now than ever. The challenge is how do we balance–how do we hold at bay all the voices that are forever crowding in, and hear the voice of own soul.” The answer, he said, lies in stillness, reflection, and “spiritual aerobics.” I liked hearing that. And I find the special little things often outside when I’m on a walk with Monty. A fallen birds nest or a bright red door or marshmallow clouds, a little kid with a suitcase or an old man with grocery bags. Whatever it is, it’s easy to miss. But I notice that when I’m quiet I am surrounded by extraordinary things. You don’t have to travel across the world to see incredible things. It’s more about a change in perception than location. We have a tendency to think happiness is “just over there,” beyond the next hurdle, over the fence. I keep hearing that happiness is something already within you and I see now, it’s just about accessing it, activating it. It’s gettin deep in here yall!
This week marked the beginning of a new project: GOOD NEWS IN PLAID! Woo woo. This project started pretty unorganized and is still coming together. But I have to say, I feel better after I report good news. I like hearing other people’s good news. And I enjoy avoiding politics, terrorism, disease, and murder. Who knew? In the beginning I was like why am I doing this? I don’t even feel like moving! But then I was like, wait, I have nothing else to do. I might as well report good news. And it’s something I can do from bed, or the floor, or the couch. So I’ve been recording myself (and Monty) everyday reporting a few pieces of positive news from my own life and other people’s. Yesterday, 32 people left comments reporting their good news on Facebook, so I recorded myself reading everyone’s little bits of good news..without reading through them first. Then I showed it to my sister and realized it was a 10 minute long video and one of the more awkward things you’ve ever seen in your life. So she recommended I edit it down to like 5 bits of good news instead which is probably a better idea. I try to disregard the ridiculous parts of the video where I look and sound like a moron–like when I ask “You can make your own cheese??” (You’ll see) My sister laughed for a good ten minutes at me for that one. But it’s just about positive energy and good news, so I’m sticking with it. It’s also really hard to find the music you want on YouTube, so this video ends super cheesy and the music sounds like something that would come at the end of that movie Precious or on a Cadillac commercial. But anyway, Keep the good news coming…I love hearing it and reporting it, and I think everyone agrees that the world could always use more good news. Below is segment 2 and 4. You can see all the videos at goodnewsinplaid.wordpress.com. I’ll continue to post 1 a day.
In other news, I started seeing two new doctors. One is a Chinese doctor who practices traditional Chinese medicine and is the most delightful man you’ve ever met in your life. Doctor Xu (pronounced Sue)It’s a whole different approach to health, but a lot of it makes sense to me. It seems to work with your body instead of just supplementing pills for symptomatic relief. And since this illness manifests itself in entire body system malfunctions, it feels like a good approach to take. After looking at my tongue and nails and asking a few questions he said “OK, I fix you. Two or three months. I fix you.” He makes his own chinese herbs and creates a tea out of them based on getting your body back in balance and “lighting your internal flame.” Haha. Whatever that means, I’m up for it. He also helped my sister out a lot when she was experiencing chronic migraines and often sick after college. So now he gets to try to heal her sister. His Chinese herb teas taste like what I imagine a bird’s nest ground up in a blender with some carrots thrown in would taste like. But if it means getting better, I’ll try anything. He also does acupuncture which I really like and cupping which feels awesome. But it leaves you looking like you’ve been attacked by a circle monster. See?
The other doctor I am seeing is a Russian woman who practices naturpathic medicine. She believes that I didn’t get rid of the lyme disease on the first go-round and so I am still fighting that with “co-infections” and that’s most likely why I feel like I’m dying. :) Anyway, she has a plan, and Dr. Xu has a plan, and I’m trying it all. Open to anything. Maybe with a combination of Western, Eastern, and Russian Naturpathic medicine, I will get to feeling like a human being again. As my mom says, “All the kings horses and all the kings men will put Humptey Dumptey back together again.” It all sounds good to me.