Gifts from the Frontlines...
For those who show up...however they can for love
I admit that I may have a problem...I love my life and what I do but... sometimes my need for distraction gets a little alarming. Police procedurals work well. I like the ones, which are not too bloody, and generally where they get the bad guy (or girl) within the 45 minute format. I am not above "Cozy Mysteries" in the English genre traditions, too. Science fiction is also a good fit for me as I like science and new, interesting ways of thinking about humanity and our collective learning edges. All these shows reinforce my idea of a hopeful but, indeed, changing world; they also relax my mind, a bit, and take me out of other people's stories, of which I hear quite a lot.
They are also a form of rest. Restorative activities, ones that we can take in, are very important to find and employ. Right? Maybe digital detox can work in reverse. It eases the stories out of our heads and programs us with new stories...this can be good, as long as we are discerning in our choices, right?
But what is too much? Two shows? Four shows? Six in a row?
Let's set aside the addictive way each new show on Netflix (and other streaming services) rarely end on a satisfying note. They create a skillful climactic up tick that hooks and funnels you into the next episode (STARTING IN 3 SECONDS...). HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
More Qualitative than Quantitative: meditation as discernment
The real question that is up for me is: What is underneath my need for distraction? The answer could be very different on different bingeing...days. Maybe it is boredom? Or fatigue? My own lack of imagination? Maybe it is fear?
This is why I must meditate each day....to be awake to what I am doing and how I am using my time...because none of us have all the time in the world.
Here is another question that came to me from my spiritual director because she knows my need to strive. (I can't help it; efforting is part of my inbred prairie constitution.) Here it is. See if it changes your life, like it is changing mine.
What is the highest return on my soul's mission... &
(wait for it...) EASIEST for me to do? - Rev. Dr. Megan Wagner
Maybe the distraction is generative? Or perhaps, it is bridging me to some insight.
Maybe it is play.
Play Daily is a rule of mine. Play is part of the journey...actually maybe it IS the journey. What if, (and this is another question from that same wise woman...) it was of the UPMOST importance to the Universe, (to the Holy, to the Almighty, to the Holy One of Many Names,) that we are in play and joy?
What if that was the ultimate use? It is an important question, right up there with how much MORE can I do? More. More. More, which leads to the idea that we don't have enough ...or are not enough just as we are.
It is good marketing, of course, for product sales but not fodder for the good life. Gratitude is fodder for a good life. It is a superpower.
My Playtime: Did I mention that I am recording an audible book?
(I am also binge watching a Canadian Sci Fi series called The Travelers, which is a kinder and gentler bodysnatchers who are trying to save the world in 3 seasons. It is thoughtful...and a lot of fun.)
Have fun today... that is our job, too.
I learn my own critical lessons at my patient's bedside each day (which I already knew...but apparently keep forgetting).
Life reminds me as watch over them. I find this curious. Frankly, it both sucks and is lovely in equal measure. And it's, for sure, humbling.
As a hospice and bereavement chaplain, I support people who are near the end of their term here...and those who are reconciling their lives after the loss of a dear one. The edge of life and death, reminds me about how to keep my own life, well-lived by those very small and powerful habitual methods...each day.
Practicing the small powers...
I am seeing the power of dailiness in beneficial habits and rituals. Those little daily tasks that are almost automatic for us can be grand boosts to our lives taken on the whole. What do I practice daily?
In my life, I have more commonly used grand efforts, all-in ventures, and dramatic grabs at the success ring du jour. For example, my body's illusionary capacity for long hours and hard work is one, and my wilfulness in forcing and pushing things and people (ahem...usually politely) along on my prescribed path to the promised land of Secretariat-like wins.
What I practice accumulates and compounds rewards. My personality is quite a bit more artistic than methodical, so this revelation does not come naturally to me. By 'methods', I mean that I/we/you do NOT have to be original in everything, but the benefits of PRACTICING the proven and even ancient paths reap for us exponentially. I can, effectively, renew me, and not get depleted in the first place.
Focusing on my own sustainability, and modeling self-care-as-a-circle for others, I need to be wiser...and more methodical in the dailiness of my own life.
The even better news is these small ancient methods are at hand. They are both always available and simple.
Breath and death is mother to us all. Right?
Your breath is your first task, which it was the moment you were born. It was, literally, the first thing you ever did. It will also be all our last tasks on this Earth - pretty much by definition. But do we think about the quality and power of it, daily? A Good life in our /this middle passage depends on it.
Breathe like a Diva is our first method of power. This is, of course, not new information... The other usual suspects are here:
But I propose a re-framing here...
I suggest some more inspired 'habit' categories, which might help us/me think about them more creatively... yet still in methodical ways. How about these?
The good news is this innate wisdom is at hand. It may seem to drift away but it only settles in deeper. It is waiting for me/you/us, patiently in our dark, as we drop down to our heart centers or (in a more Judeo-Christian framework... to our kingdom of god within). How we fill up these categories will light up our lives - daily. Do that. (Paraphrased from Howard Thurman...). Make it your method, your new small habit. No time? Do it for 5 minutes. See where it takes you. This spark will light you up. It will breathe life back into all the days we have...
Heart, tell them what you came for
Heart, tell them what you came for
Heart, tell them what you've been daydreamin' about
- James Blake, Tell Them
Care to share your categories, methods or daily habits that inspire and renew you? We need your spark and voice because sparks begat sparks...
An eclipsing moon in the East greeted me when opening my door to the still dark day. Before early morning chores (before I fed my two cats—Smith and Wesson, before even coffee…), I saw, but did not know, if the show was almost done or just beginning. However, I knew with a different part of me that it was to be spectacular.
This is the oh-so-human way of discerning: head and heart. These days, as a hospice chaplain, and caregiver to caregivers, I listen more carefully now.
The eclipsing heart is unbalanced... (read more...click below)
The Kaiser palliative RN symposium where I was speaking about resilience for pro caregivers...and my book...was easy (and went quite well) once I stopped reading my notes and spoke from my heart. I don't know how many times I need to learn this lesson—speaking with people, not at them.
It is so easy at bedside in hospice (or supporting my bereaved) to still my noisy mind, listen deeply and respond from that place...or let the space be empty. In good design, they call it "white space".
But... it feels so different when sixty-five palliative nurses are watching you, waiting for my amplified words to fill the gap between us—my words.
Oddly, it's not. As a chaplain and a woman of (growing all the time) faith, I agree with the radical French Jesuit theologian, paleontologist and geologist, Teilhard de Chardin, when he said:
"We are spiritual beings, having a human experience."
If that is true (and I have ample life, bedside and death bed evidence of this), then there is just one of us here, or at minimum we are nuclear family. My point about speaking up (and speeches) is that we are all among family—all the time.
Sweet, right? (And, it's a better tactic than imagining all of you/us naked...)