D – Death

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D – DEATH

‘I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow, 

And somehow, each of us will help the other live, and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.’

* Adrienne Rich

 Death, like money, sex, bad breath is not a particularly comfortable topic of conversation. It’s depressing in the conventional sense of the word. There is something ominous about it and its finality. It has a sense of taboo and is consequently repressed. We deny death.

 But perhaps it is no bad thing to allow some ‘depress’ and depth as we briefly delve into this reality and bring it out of its darkness.

  There are depths in the soul that come to the fore as one is aging or dying, un-influenced by the ego. There are forgotten archetypal myths, or images, that are re-assuring to us.

 They’re at least a 1000 questions about death, maybe 10,000. Maybe 7.2 billion – as many questions as there are individuals on this planet as we journey, destination unknown –

 Are we ever prepared for death? We need to go ‘down’ while living in order to prepare. Thinking of death brings a focus to one’s life.

 What of the nights and dreamtime? Dreams prepare the aging individual for death as we pay attention to them. They help our personal myth and image to emerge; they enlarge our quality of life.

 This ‘witness to death’ makes us go down deeper and wonder about own death whenever and however it may be.

 I sometimes fantasise and wonder about my ‘reaction’ and ‘being’ were I to be given a grave diagnosis. Would I go the traditional medical route? Would I seek alternative ways of healing? Would I run away and hide and not tell anyone? Would I rant and rave at that dreadful thief, the Grim Reaper? Would I reach out and be ‘secure’ in the person or persons to whom I turn? Would I spend time dusting the cobwebs in my mind, heart and soul as I live out my last days?

 How can I know how I will be until it happens? But pondering death makes me look at my life as it is now, and yet becoming –

 Do you ever wonder about death?

*Adrienne Rich; (1929-2012) Twenty One Love Poems

C – COMPLEX

 

imagination

C: COMPLEX

James Hillman : Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny  –

These are some words that define aging. Does that feel strange? Maybe not when they are more clarified.

Complexes, according to Jungian analytical psychology, are defined as parts of our personality like islands that we are not in connection with; or, we could say we lack connection to; or we are so unconscious of them that they make us act in ways that are out of sync with our personality. One of these, for many people, is the entire topic, much less the experience of getting older.

Complex is also a word for aging that implies the conscious and unconscious beliefs, ideas, feelings, thoughts, actions. Aging is so difficult because few people discuss it. Are we listening to this stage and time of life that is so immensely significant?

Perhaps there is special preparation to be done as we age. It may not be an active ‘doing’ like suddenly going to the gym or going on a raw food or vegetarian diet. But it is an important time to do some serious assessment, tying up loose ends, coming to terms with what is, making reparations within and without as need be. Paying attention to dreams is an interesting and creative way to get in touch with the inner world, as it is often full of surprises.

Aging is Being. Self. It is a conundrum. A conundrum contains, it is complex, there is not a way out, it feels trapped, limiting, full and holding, tight and can definitely be creative. The conundrum is that age is in our face. It says we cannot go on forever and we have to value and grieve that we are in the now and to use it for whatever we wish. No more endless tomorrows. The time is in the present moment. Not so easy to live in the moment.

Our task is how to use the energy in this place for development and growth. The conundrum is how to use all we know and then add some. How to expand if aging seems to be interpreted by too many as a time of contraction?

So, we are in the challenge of how to make aging a different experience. We are of another generation than the one before us. We are charged to find other ways to be healthy and full throughout life. The conundrum is how to do it?

What is a creative way through when the past models were not very enticing? We can only figure what will work for ourselves and what is in line with how we have lived and will continue to live. This means honoring the inner world, the world of dreams, thoughts, creations, ideas, feelings. It is a complex situation and requires us to get out of our own way and at the same time, to listen to our own way.

In the midst is the powerful challenge of acceptance, of dreams not created, much less answered. The next generations stare us in the face. We are to be happy for them, but are we? It is part of the shadow we all carry to feel envy and the sorrow of not having the chances anymore. Or, maybe some are content as their lives are challenging and full, their inner world interesting, they are creative and vibrant. Yes, having to cope, but coping. Not resigned but rather connected within. The world not concave but convex and open, capacity flowing. Not an easy position to create, cohere to, or be congruent.

Just today a woman spoke about aging with disgust. Her body would go, she would not be attractive to men, especially younger ones. She would lose her strength, beauty, energy. It was awful to listen to her rendition about what life held for her. Here is the complex around aging speaking.  Canceling attention and care on age and the aging process is a defeat to attaining completeness in life.

What complexes run your attitudes to aging?

B – Body

1016178_10151705693098293_1608481938_nB Body

 Our own body is the best health system we have – if we knew how to listen to it.

Christiane Northrup

 What do we make of the aging of our bodies? Now that the aging years are upon us, and visible, we cannot deny them. We look in the mirror and see those wrinkles on our faces – around our eyes, our mouths, a neck less defined. Arms less taut, legs less firm. We see a body that is very different to the one we had when we were in our 20’s or 30’s or 40’s.

‘Body’ is an issue not properly addressed or understood for its psychological significance. We all have different emotions when we contemplate our changing bodies. If we see with eyes wide open and are graceful, even grateful, in accepting the wear and tear when we see the evidence in the mirror, we are fortunate. We are especially fortunate if we are healthy. But It is one of those subjects we would rather not talk or think about too much, perhaps in part because we do not want to accept the reality of aging, of itself, and especially because of how our bodies age. It’s what we see – and what everyone else also sees.

 There may be a sense of loss of youth and all that it stands for. Our energy may be diminished and we cannot accomplish what we did all those years ago.

 What of it? We may have climbed mountains or dived into deep seas in our younger years. Does this mean that we have come to the end of the road? Can we journey no longer?

Not at all – as our bodies shift and re-shape, so do our energies, in ways different to before.

 What do I make of this? I am different, I am older, I am within the radar of ‘old-age’. It looms; and if not large, it is still there.

Who am I now? This is the essential question. My psyche inhabits my body. I honour them both as they interact with each other. I ask the question: can I inhabit the moment, and accept the oscillation between sorrow, loss, joy and movement. Body language is both body and psyche, conscious and unconscious, and reveals how carefully we listen and attend to the whole scenario.

 Of course our bodies have changed over the years. And they will continue undergoing change as we move into becoming older. The slings and arrows that life throws at us may incapacitate us in physical and psychological ways. We do regenerate but at a slower pace …

 Can we make use of this opportunity as we age and turn our ever-present energies to a more depthful attitude towards this issue of aging? Can we see aging as yet another stage of growth? Will we take pride in our bodies we inhabit? Can we let go of the myth that continues being perpetuated i.e. older bodies are distasteful?

What do you think of your body as you age?

A – Attitude

A – ATTITUDE

Virginia Woolf: I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.Becoming

                    Aging is something we do every day. It is necessary to life and something we cannot avoid.

Yet, when we get older, whatever that means, we begin to feel worse and worse. We get less notice, less attention and less of anything. Shame, upset, ignored, and this is insulting. Yet all these words describe the attitudes towards aging that we all hold individually and culturally. In fact, too few cultures revere the aged.

Have you ever had the experience of walking through an airport and all eyes were on the woman ahead? She was younger, not young, but younger. All eyes on her. It is an awful feeling, a sense of non-being that slams into awareness. It seems that the older we become the more this occurs.

Why? This is what we want to explore as we look into the attitudes on aging. We want to heighten awareness. Aging happens to us all. The question is not when, as it is there daily, but how we will cope and use age to encourage and develop. We are not only on a descent but on an ascent into a more complete rounding out of our personality.

After all, if not now when?

We ask what attitudes do we carry that want to deny, dishonor, disrespect. We want, in general, to make aging an advantage rather than a disadvantage. The wisdom of age, the experience, the ability to love and learn are all aspects we cannot forget.

In these writings we will bring forth the areas of aging that assist and those that do not. During this A to Z challenge we explore aging from all perspectives. This is a challenge of awareness, keeping conscious, and bringing forth our attitudes to aging that assist and enable.

We are reminded of Virginia Woolf’s saying: ‘Nothing is real until it is written’. We have given aging form and substance from our different perspectives. We’ve picked it apart and put it back together again and we’re putting it ‘out there’.

We’re aware more than ever of the inexorable passage of time, always in motion, the movement of it measured in part by the moon and the seasons. We face changing circumstances, whether through illness or death, accidents, unplanned for and unexpected events that come out of left field. We wonder whether it is because we fall well within the radar of aging that we realise people of all ages think about aging.

More than ever, we wonder how many years we have left on this earth to experience it. We wonder how to best shape these experiences and put things into place so that we do what we actually wish to do. Or feel or think we want to do. Or that we need to do – for psychological health and inner and outer well being.

The big responsibility is aging gracefully, fully, knowingly, consciously and using this as a time of personality expansion. Aging means being more, not only less; able, not just disabled; complete rather than not.

                     Do you ever wonder where your attitudes about aging came from?

April A-Z : The hour cometh!

aging and becoming

 APRIL A-Z Blog Challenge

Hard to believe that 1st April is almost upon us! It’s early next week so help me!

Are Susan and I ready? I arrived here at Phoenix on Wednesday (after several days in New Jersey) and up until now there has been insufficient time for the two of us to focus on editing the posts and scheduling them. We plan to look at them later today – we’ll reread,  refresh and recheck, on a one on one basis as contrasted with how Susan and I constructed our posts on opposite ends of the planet! …

Our posts are specifically on ‘aging & becoming’. By bringing this topic into the open we hope to break preconceived ideas of women who reach a certain age being past it and having no creativity or use. This is self-limiting and implies lack of growth and development and is stultifying of creativity. It is a challenging time to be sure – aging stretches one’s personality; there is more to contend with, more than imagined.

I was unable to take part in the Theme Reveal; I had difficulty in connecting with the linky link while in Johannesburg South Africa, and when I landed in NJ  on 21st March (the equinox) there simply wasn’t the time or occasion to ‘ask for help’.

I’ve been spending time going through the people who will be blogging from 1st April on this amazing April A-Z blog challenge and commenting on their posts. There are no prizes for ‘best’ or ‘most original’. It is simply a way of saying whatever that person wants to get out into the blogosphere.

A few weeks back I hit a problem with regard to my previous post regarding subscribing to new posts by email, but with the help of my son Mike we got it back on track. The subscription widget wasn’t too robust but there is now a more robust email subscription option that displays the new post in the email, and it is easy to manage. However, it requires a two-step verification process, so if you were already subscribed you would have received an email asking you to verify your new subscription. May I ask that if you had subscribed that you confirm this new subscription, or if you are new to these posts that you can please consider subscribing in the email subscription box on the right – it’s just your email address and you may opt out at any time. Thank you.

So, good luck to us all who are partaking and to those of you who read our posts we hope that you find something of value in them. Please feel free to comment – always much appreciated!

Count down to April A-Z 2014

The count down begins!

3 weeks to go!

Next week I leave South Africa to travel to the US on my own. I can hardly believe it! First the east coast (NJ), then Phoenix, then San Francisco – then back home again. I’ll be in Phoenix some days before the 1st April, when Susan Schwartz and I will revise our posts and hopefully push a button and UP will appear our posts on the accompanying day of the letter. I’ve been saving our posts in the draft folder of the A-Z – a mission.

 I did not have a theme for last year’s A-Z blog challenge, my first time. This time the theme is very much on ‘Aging & Becoming’. As mentioned before, Dr. Susan Schwartz and I are collaborating on this and each post will alternate between the 2 Susans.  I am not sure having a theme has made it any easier – it is challenging nevertheless, as was last year.

I sincerely and deeply thank many co-hosts e.g. Guilie, Damyanti, and many others who have gone beyond kindness in helping me create a link to my comments on other blogs. And for all the co-hosts’ ongoing, helpful posts as to to A-Z guidelines. Their encouragement is contagious!

 I know only too well how irritating it is to jump hoops to comment back to the person who  commented on yours. I know this has been the case with mine. Many of you use Bloggers or blog.com as your host. Mine is WordPress and this has caused difficulties in the past, now resolved.

I’ve been jumping around on the list which is growing steadily and leaving comments and I’m amazed at the number of posts that do not yet have the A-Z badge displayed. Those who have not yet put up your badge please do so! And those who have captchas really need to remove them – please!

Please use the sign up on the right hand side if you wish to automatically receive my blog posts. I would so appreciate this. Usually I email many friends to say I have just put up a post, but I don’t think I will do this any longer after this one. It feels to me that I am putting pressure on the receiver and it is time consuming on my side.

Re: images to use on blog posts – a tip. On Google, there is an images button and these are free unless they have a watermark! I’ve been checking them out for suitability and use for mine and there are some great ones.

I know that many if not most of the A-Z bloggers are from the US and that the weather is improving with signs of Spring! So great! Here in SA the weather is really cold and damp and we’ve had tons of rain up here on the highveld. It’s enough already…I’m so looking forward to coming to the States … it’s been too long since my last time.

All best as the count down begins!

Aging & Becoming

Aging & Becoming

soul

Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage: Anais Nin.

The 2 Susans, one in Phoenix Az., and I in Johannesburg, South Africa, are preparing our posts for the April A-Z blog challenge 2014. We’re hoping to be able to schedule them so that come the day, come the hour, we can just press a button and voila! UP they appear!

In the April A-Z blog challenge we’ll be posting on topics on the theme: ‘Aging & Becoming’. 

We’ve done several so far over the airwaves, all still to be edited and fashioned according to the A-Z script – (not too long for one thing). And still more letters of the alphabet to do. I’ll be with Susan in Phoenix towards the end of March. I can only imagine two non-techie non savvy individuals trying to get this all sorted … press a button and UP they go? Pictures, quotes and body of post?

We’re enjoying doing them though it has been tough putting into 500 words or so what we want to say for that particular letter. We do not know whether this is a topic that will garner interest on the April A-Z blog challenge. Naturally, we hope that our psychological posts are of interest irrespective of age and across all ‘fields’. Naturally, we hope that our blog posts receive attention and comments – whether in agreement or not. (No attachment to outcome I keep telling myself …)

For the last several months Susan and I have been working on a collaborative effort i.e. a book on ‘Aging & Becoming’. It is very psychological – from the psyche – the only way.

We’ll be posting blogs on topics covered in our book.

In our book we combine our diverse experiences of life and share our perspectives and cogitations. We note how ‘aging’ is applicable to us and we wonder how this process is shaping our lives. We’re both in a different place emotionally than several years ago. We wonder about yet ‘becoming’ as we step into this particular stage of our lives – one with its own challenges, peaks and valleys. Still able, and yet feeling tremendous shifts.

We comment in our book – and will do so in the A-Z blog posts as well – about, inter alia, the conscious and unconscious restraint against the older woman in Western oriented cultures. Because we feel the restrictions around ‘age’ we decided to write about it. We felt that something needed to be said.

We continue to work on our book ‘Aging & Becoming’ on a shared document over the continents. Sometimes we lose several pages of the document which is very upsetting. Somehow we find them again. It’s a bit like aging – lost and found. Losing and finding – and not just documents.

I’ve been popping into the A-Z blog challenge list and making brief comments here and there. The list will no doubt grow as 1st April looms ..

Your comments are always welcome. And so is sharing on various social media – thank you.

Please subscribe in the box made available if you wish to receive posts leading up to the 1st April and the actual challenge itself.

Aging & Becoming

Becoming

Aging & Becoming –

Miriam Makeba: Age is getting to know all the ways the world turns, so that if you cannot turn the world the way you want, you can at least, get out of the way so you won’t get run over.

I’ve signed up for the 2014 April A-Z blog challenge! I did it last year – it almost did me in, but I enjoyed it hugely. Meeting people from different parts of the world via their posts and commenting on theirs and having reciprocal ones on mine was such a treat and made it all worthwhile. Son Mike in Cape Town put me on the list last night with all necessary links. Thank you Mike.

This year, Dr. Susan Schwartz, Jungian Analyst in Phoenix Az and I are collaborating on this. Each will do alternate letters though the posts will appear on my Garden of Eden blog. Aging & Becoming is a topic of particular interest to us as we both fall well within the radar of aging.

We’ll be approaching this in a very psychological way. Our posts will not be ‘how to’ or ‘self-help tips’ but we hope that they’ll provide a way of looking at Aging in a depth-ful and meaningful way.

I’ll be visiting the States from home town Johannesburg South Africa. I leave on March 20th (9 months exactly after my horrible car accident, and the day before moving from old home to town house) and arrive on March 21st – the equinox. There is something serendipitous about that! I’ll be visiting my bridesmaid in NJ, then Susan in Phoenix, thereafter my sister-in-law in San Francisco. Susan and I plan to put to the finishing touches to our book on this subject in the few days that I’m there. We’ll also schedule our posts for the A-Z so that they come up on the day. We both hope that some of your comments may be used in the book, with your permission of course.

So, the challenge begins on April 1st. For every day (except for Sundays) we will be posting   on Aging. B will be ‘Body’ ..

What are your thoughts on this? Please let us know .. we’d appreciate your comments, thank you! And please share, if you will. Thank you.

– Mandela – Madiba – Metaphor – Mandala – mourn – celebrate – reconciliation –

2 years on – my post then on Mr. Mandela’s death. Today, here in South Africa there are various commemorations going on, past clips on TV. I thought I’d check out my post from 2 years ago, and am re-posting it today –

Our absent father – o how we all need leaders such as he in these troubled times – peace and reconciliation –

 I woke up to the news at 7.00 a.m. this past Friday here in Johannesburg, South Africa. It seems that many had heard the news in different parts of the world before we did. The announcement was officially made some hours after his death at 8.50 p.m on Thursday night.

Did it ‘help’ that we had been expecting his death for a long while now? No, not really. Death is always sudden and shocking – it’s so final –

Friday was wet and cool. I was in my car much of the time; hearing people call in to the radio station expressing their shock and sadness was a release valve for me. I was in tears most of the morning with ongoing pangs somewhere in the region of my heart. I got to the clinic for my afternoon shift just before 1.00 and saw a prominently placed large table inside the clinic with a large head and shoulder framed photograph of Mr. Mandela placed against the wall. There were zillions of small, already burnt candles on the table. Again, that pang – I looked for a lighter but there wasn’t one. The girls at the rooms said that earlier in the morning all the candles were lit and the entire staff of the clinic had gathered around the table singing and swaying. Pat and Lyn said they had never heard anything quite so beautiful or seen anything quite so moving. I can only imagine – plaintive, beautiful singing, chorus, dancing, ululating –

 I remember that day on 27th April 1994 when we cast our vote, black and white, voting for a democratic South Africa for which we had fought so long and hard. O such a day of celebration! – those long, long queues from early morning to late at night, walking alongside fellow human beings to cast our votes, the majority of whom had been denied the vote since 1948. Also, such celebration when he was released from prison in February 1990. We came alight and alive. Such a sense of rightness and gladness, a sense of practical freedom at last in the air, each having a vote, breaking from the bonds of apartheid, and separateness. Voting for Mr. Mandela as president of our beloved country. ‘Never’, said he, ‘Never again. Never again will we have one claiming superiority over another ..’ *

I saw former President Thabo Mbeki addressing people at Oxford Road Synagogue last evening wearing a yarmulke, on TV, emphasising the need to remember Mr. Mandela’s life and all that he stood for; and to remember the constitution as the struggle continues for inter alia economic freedom.

The spotlight on him during his lifetime will be on him again as people from all corners of the world come to pay tribute to him and to mourn his passing. 85 current heads of state as I write, 10 past heads of state, royalty, dignitaries, eminences, the famous, celebrities .. …

We celebrate his life at the same time. A beautiful paradox. Or, if not a paradox, most certainly a bringing together of those two seeming contradictions. We mourn the passing of Mr. Nelson Mandela, and celebrate his magnificent life, for which we are in eternal gratitude. As we mourn our loss, so are we celebrating his life. There is a reconciling of those two powerful emotions, coming together in a magical way, uniting our nation. Us, as South Africans. We, as people. It is a shared pain. And a shared remembrance of all that he stood for. Prepared to sacrifice his life no less. There is unity amongst us, of all shades and hues, of all ages, now, as a nation, as we mourn and celebrate.

The world is arriving on our doorstep here in South Africa. It’s already begun. We have MAJOR security issues to attend to. We must deal with all unprecedented, convoluted logistics in a practical way as we are about to experience a particularly large event in history.

Mr. Mandela will be laid to rest on Sunday, at his home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, the Wild Coast, the Transkei – on the other side of the Kei River. He was born into royalty of the Xhosa clan, of the abaThembu tribe in Mvezo; his father was deposed as chief magistrate when Mr. Mandela was 5 years old, and Qunu became their refuge and home. He had a happy childhood it seems and developed a deep love for the Transkei and its land, people and Nature. Qunu will be descended upon by thousands, including the villagers from that rural area and further afield. There is a memorial service tomorrow at the FNB stadium, more commonly known as Soccer Stadium, in which we hosted the 2010 Soccer World Cup. There will be thousands and thousands of common people, people like me, as well as heads of state and dignitaries and attendant security. I trust we will rise to this monumental practical task of ensuring security and smoothness for all.

Imagine, on the outer level, as an act of homage to our Madiba –

It is not the time for anxiety right now. We have a common purpose in celebrating and mourning and our attention needs to be there. It is a loss, to each of us in some real way, to our country as a collective, to the wider world …

I would imagine that from next week when all have left to return home, and when the dust begins to settle, we will, as South Africans, sigh a collective breath. But when we gather our  breath again, will we continue to honour Madiba and all that he stood for?

We will have to take a deep collective breath of courage when the dust is at least partly settled. We have huge issues ahead. The freedom of the press is under dire threat. As I write, the owner of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings who recently bought Independent News and Media PIC (for a cost of $194 million) has fired the executive editor from The Cape times for reporting on alleged corruption within – just this past Friday. Our public protector Thuli Madonsela is under fire from parliament and the government for her exposure of corruption in the government. We have gantries for road users that have just come into effect about which we are protesting. We have an election looming next year. There is much else that is of great concern. Education is an ongoing worry and a disaster for the masses.

But, for the moment, it is not a time for anxiety about those matters. It will be though, and we will continue the struggle in Mr. Nelson Mandela’s name. It is necessary to make Mr Mandela’s name continue to be an inspiration to us – keep him alive as a symbol of reconciliation.

I hope that we as South Africans, will rise to this, once the dust drops. It won’t be easy. Hopefully, those who have visited from different parts of the globe will also let his name continue to inspire – we are grateful for your outpouring of shared grief and respect.

Hambe Gahle, Madiba. Go well, rest in peace. We will never forget you. We will honour your legacy. Thank you.

* My son met him some years ago at his home in Houghton when his school jazz band performed for him. He was fit and well and my son knows that he was hugely privileged to have Mr. Mandela shake his hand and beam on him. He made this song some years later in honour of Madiba’s birthday last year in July 2012.

The link below is ‘The Kifnness’ recording of ‘Never Again’. http://soundcloud.com/thekiffness/the-kiffness-never-again

Living in the Now

Waves crashing
Shandu and Dave at Beacon Isle. Photo: Oda Tungodden

I spent such a wonderful afternoon the other day with my two sons Mike and Dave on the beach here in Plettenberg Bay. Others with us were Shandu aka Black Norris, Dave’s partner in their band, The Kiffness. James, Mike’s good friend was with us, as was Oda, Mike’s young girlfriend, a Norwegian lass.

 In fact there was no beach where we sat – the tide was extraordinarily high, waves crashing over the grass and boats being unmoored. This was on Sat 2nd November, the eve of the new moon.

Some brave souls were out surfing quite far back. Mike and Dave were thinking about it, but elected not to. They went swimming though. They know about rip tides and if one gets you completely unexpectedly, one has to relax and keep the shore in view and not frantically swim against the current – one of the times when it’s not advisable to swim against the tide!

James and I were talking while keeping a weather eye out for the bathers. We talked about that moment of panic when it seems as if your life is in danger, whether by a rip tide as I’ve described above, and/or whether another person poses a threat to you. No doubt there are other examples in other areas in our lives, as in eg illness; and, as James said, when the front tyre bursts on your motor bike and your instinct is to lean forward to try and control the bike in this dire circumstance, that the better thing to do is to lean back, actually quite far back

What happens in that split second when one’s life is suddenly threatened?

It’s an interesting thought to me; James and I discussed it at some length.

Does one remember what one knows in this moment of panic and use that knowledge to avert disaster? Does that knowledge kick in somehow at the very last moment? Does one call upon the angels or some Godly personage to save us? And what if one is not saved in spite of using all available means? Can one be saved in spite of unavailability of means? Can its very unavailability be the very thing that saves us, if we are indeed saved. And if so, what is that other worldly something that came into play at just that moment when it was needed? What forces were at work that averted a certain disaster? Going with the flow and trusting the process? Surrender to the moment?

We were sharing powerful stories and anecdotes when the guys called James and me to join them on the rocks a little way away to check the waves that were crashing on the boulders below the Beacon Island Hotel.

They came up to us and said we must come and check the awesome waves crashing on the rocks, a sight to see, come, come, now…

And a sight to see it was indeed! O those huge waves huger than usual, smashing their strength onto those enormous rocks, sending magnificent sprays skywards!

O what a happy hour or so it was on those rocks with my lads and their friends all of us in our element somehow. I felt happy in a way I haven’t for a long time, a different kind of happiness. One of joy being in the moment, approaching the rocks to watch the waves and jumping away from their explosive crashes in the nick of …

Seeing, witnessing and being a part all of us having such precious fun, and being there and laughing, and I being a bit scared some times that I would get knocked over, or someone else would – and seeing the poses that we all made and taking photographs as the waves hit the boulders and seeing them all throw their arms out wide embracing the magnificence of it all,  are magical moments that will stay with me forever. The photograph above – one of many – was taken by Oda, I think on her phone. Hot chocolate afterwards on the lawns of Beacon Island watching the day turn to evening – a death to the day –

Seeing Shandu – aka Black Norris – and Dave perform the following evening on the beach on the night of Diwali and listening to Leela make a speech before they came on, in honour of Diwali and more besides … and seeing these two amazing performers in action on the stage giving it their all and more and everyone happy and bopping and dancing and moving their feet, from old to young was something for which I give profound thanks –

These days have given me an experience of living in the moment. Not planning anything, letting things happen in their own time and place. A sense of unfolding and being enfolded by the warmth of these lovely young adults, in Nature, being in the Now and enjoying life and all it has to offer.

Being with my lads over these few days has been so special. My sister has been holidaying in Wilderness for a few days an hour’s drive away, and she joined us on Sunday morning and spent the day with us and the night, so also saw Davey and Black Norris in action. My lads and sister are now all back in Cape Town …

So this is a dedication to my sons and their friends, my sister and my husband who have been touched by this special time. For me it felt as if fairy dust was in the air when we were all together. Oda and my sister gave me a foot massage on Sunday evening; I had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time, maybe ever. Though the dream I woke up with the next morning was a bit disturbing and puzzling. I am still trying to fathom it ..

No more to say for now, except to say I am sorry that my last blog was unable to take comments for a few days when it was first posted. But thank you so much to those of you who did post when it was ‘sorted’ by son Mike.

Life – Halloween

Jung

 My last blog post was in August – that was on ‘Pain-Gain’. Unbeknownst to me was that, when I put it up, a film had just been released of ‘my’ title … I knew nothing of it!

I’ve been AWOL for a long time in terms of putting up a post. I enjoy blogging and reading others’ and commenting on them. I have a real connection with those bloggers even though I’ve never met them but they are friends in the true sense of the word because they share of themselves and their experiences, their thoughts, their observations.

What is especially gratifying to me is when you, many of you 🙂, make observations and comments on my own blog. I learn something of value from those comments; and it is so wonderful to me that my post has been appreciated and that many have ‘gained’ something psychological from them. So there is a 2 way gain! So, it pains me a tiny bit that I haven’t put up a blog for a long time. I have no excuses ….

Months back, I much enjoyed the April A-Z challenge; it was very hard work coming up with a topic every day for each letter of the alphabet (though we got Sundays off) and writing a blog, every day, on each letter. I loved it; all my 26 posts were very psychological. Very, very hard work. Sometimes I was still at my computer at midnight and I’m a gal who likes to switch off the lights at 10.00 p.m. and turn in. But the work was so worth it – I loved writing them and receiving comments and reading some amazing posts (I learned a lot from them). I’ve excerpted, though not in full, a few abbreviated comments from a few of my own blog posts of that challenge – italics mine for emphasis.

‘A’ on Aging: Carol says: ‘… I dig deep in my psyche and my mind to root out the old stuff, old emotions, experiences, the habitual thinking thereof that blocks my progress towards enlightenment, as I also look ‘up’.

Carol continues later: ‘I look at my body and dislike that I see some new blotch or wrinkle or sign of aging that wasn’t there last week. Yet, I find that my heart and mind, my inner spirit are stronger and wiser’.

Gwynn: ‘…It is important for us all to be responsible for our health no matter what the age’.

Susan: ‘...’Aging is soul work, for sure and what a privilege if we get to do it‘.

‘B’ on Blame – that was a very tricky one to illustrate how ‘blame’ and ‘denial’ were the first human instincts of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the creation story/myth. And how this pattern seems to be deeply ingrained in our psyches.

Patricia said: ‘…Therefore to discover that you don’t have to blame anyone else, and that it is okay to accept responsibility for your decisions in life is setting yourself free. You have freedom because you know that you know who is responsible, yourself. ..’

Dino:‘…I like how you pick out that it’s their denial that really upsets God’.

Misha on ‘Change’: ”…changes are hard, but they can bring wonderful opportunities you’d have missed otherwise’.

Dan: ‘…fresh start… don’t look back…’.

Susan on Freedom: ‘Does freedom unbalance us so much as to cause the anxiety necessary for growth? We tend to do nothing when we are bathed in comfort. A reminder about why it is hard to be free but how easy it is to wish for it’.

Why? was great to write about. Also its opposite Why not?

 Zorba: at the end of which I quoted Zorba: “Every man has his folly, but the greatest of all … is not to have one.” Many especially loved this post.

To me it seems on this Halloween eve, that something is in the air. Maybe it has to do with ‘spookiness’ in some way. Why not? Let a little ghost or fairy or daemon or demon in for a while? Let the unconscious be stirred and spooked so you can go down. Into the depths … and know yourself a little better.

My hand and fingers are a huge lot better. I am not able to make a fist at this stage but I have good function of my damaged hand. I can floss my teeth, I can use a knife and fork if a little clumsily at times. I am well. Life is busy and complicated but there is always time to breath deeply and do a yoga stretch and look at my pretty garden glowing and growing by the minute from all the summer rain storms we’re having. I am grateful for eyes to see and believe that gratitude and generosity to self and others is a corner stone of healthy living.

Very dear friends were here from the States from mid September to early October. Susan (same name) and I are collaborating on something – it is a bit of a secret at this stage, but I will keep you posted. Yes, ‘it’ is psychological. In a way I am putting this out there … a nudge – universe? are you listening?

 There seems to be something lighter in the air in amongst all the darkness. We’re protesting about the poaching of rhinos, elephants; lions. We’re protesting about corruption in the government; we’re protesting about rape – as are men’s groups; we’re more concerned and active about our environment and our beloved planet and we don’t litter; we’re aware of potential dangers of GM foods and deforestation; we want a better world where we live in harmony and know that we pose no threat to another. We’re learning that we each have a voice and if we have something to say, we say it. We hope that we tread lightly upon the earth and the people we meet. We extend kindness and compassion when we can. We hope that however we express ourselves is of benefit to self, and maybe others.

 

We want to be more of who we truly are.

Pain – Gain

imagesofhandlight– PAIN – GAIN – 

“Tell us of Pain.” And he said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses understanding. – Kahlil Gibran 

No one enjoys the experience of pain. It can strike us in the heart, mind, soul and body. It tiring and draining on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Not only our own pain, but when we witness others experiencing pain on any level.

Those of you who have read my last several blogs on my accident and injuries over 2 months ago and who know of the subsequent difficulties with my damaged hand and fingers, will also know that I wrote psychologically about it. Which is what I plan to do again in this blog post.

I am not going to write a treatise on pain but will simply share with you my own experience of physical pain and how I am now looking at it in a different light.

After the pins were removed under anesthetic just over 2 weeks ago, my hand and fingers were pretty numb for 24 hours and all was well – or so I thought. As soon as the overall numbness wore off, the pain was intense. Subsequent visits to the hand therapists were re-assuring in that this was to be expected; I was urged to continue to use my right hand as much as possible to get used to using this foreign appendage in spite of wearing a stretchy bandage (coban) on my individual fingers to keep the swelling down.

All seemed to proceed apace. And then several days later (last week) the numbness on the pads of my fingers started wearing off. The pads on my fingers had been numb for over 2 months. It was good to get feeling back into those pads. O good, I thought. I had been protecting those fingers as if my life depended on it, knowing that I had no feeling in those pads.

But then an extraordinary thing happened. Pain came in a different guise, in full force, to those pads. This was almost too much for me. I took a multi strength pain killer, which helped on the physical level.

How do I relate to this psychologically?

We know that there are times in our lives when we are numbed. A broken heart brings us to our knees in agony; death floors us; depression wipes us out, losing a job, losing a limb – the list is endless in the ways in which life throws its arrows. When we are numbed, we are ‘protected’ from feeling and we can unconsciously live in this cocoon of numbness for a long, long time. We may take pills, take to drink, mind altering drugs, to keep us shielded from our pain.

But then, in time, feeling comes back – along with its partner, pain. This was my experience when the feeling in my finger pads returned; it was very painful. The nerves were re-generating. And if I extrapolate this to the wider world and not just my fingers, I see that this is true too. When we are no longer numb from pain, and give up the medications in whatever form (drugs, drink etc) we have been taking to keep the pain at bay and engage with feeling in life again after e.g. great sadness, painful feelings will have to faced. Numbness is no longer there to protect or shield us. Those feelings on many levels are a reminder that we are alive, that our ‘nerve’ is returning.

So, this is my offering for today. I am just back from the hand therapist. Last night the nail on my middle finger came off and I can see the new nail emerging. The forefinger looks gross with its black and yellow nail; this too will come off in time.

It is an ongoing process. I am pleased that my physical pain has value. The nerves are starting to work again. I am taking the bitter potion that is pain and seeing it as necessary in my healing.

moving – settling – part 5

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Thank you all who’ve read and commented on previous posts or those who have written to me personally. As I’ve said before, I’ve learned much from your insightful comments, and for this I am very grateful. I am also enormously grateful for your empathy.

I am grateful to friends who have visited and phoned, checking up on me and willing to help. This has been a learning curve for me, knowing that people care. I have often felt that it is easier to give than it is to receive; I am learning that it is equally important to receive. People do like to help and I need to learn to accept their help and not be so ridiculously feeble about accepting their generous being.

We are still settling in, albeit rather slowly. The garden is looking especially pretty and I can’t wait for Spring which is just around the corner. Already buds are appearing although it seems too soon. We’ve barely experienced a ‘proper’ highveld winter where the temperatures drop below zero at night. The days continue to be warm, bright and sunny and our azure blue, cloudless skies are to be seen to be believed. But where are our winter frosts that, although damaging to plants, are so necessary to spurt new growth? Where is the ice on the ground in the morning? Where is the biting cold?

Well, we’ll see what happens. Maybe the winter is still to arrive with a vengeance.

I go in for surgery under anesthetic this coming Thursday morning for removal of pins from two fingers on my right hand. These were very badly damaged in the car accident. The hand therapy three times a week has been extremely valuable in that the dense scabbing has been delicately removed from the top of my hand as well as on all of my fingers especially on the top of them. The removal of thick scabs has allowed for the growth of new skin underneath. The scars on top are pretty knotted at this stage; they are massaged religiously by the therapists as well as by me during the day so that they do not become fixed and overly restrictive in the use of my hand. I am a long way off from making a fist. My fingers can now almost make a right angle to my palm.

 For a long while now my right hand has been like a foreign part of me. A few days back, the therapists said I was to start using my right hand so as to become familiar with it. It was amazing to me how foreign it felt and how anxious I was about using it. Wash your hands normally I was told. Use the soap in your right hand. Use it in the bath. Just use it and become familiar with it. Try to use a knife and fork. Pick up a cup, move things around, use your right hand.

I am trying. Practice makes perfect. If I go out, I use the splints on my fingers and bandage my hand with a light cotton bandage as a protection usually keeping it close to me across my middle. Or, if not the splints, then a padded winter glove. I am wearing a glove as I write, occasionally using my well padded forefinger to type, giving my thumb and baby finger a break. I am not using my middle finger, the one that was almost chopped off.

I am using the same picture I have used before at the top of this post, with good reason. Perhaps when the winter has passed, and spring is in the air, and my hand is healed and functional, I will be able to bring both hands together so that the left may know the right and vice versa.

moving home – part 4 – existential questions

wound

Well, the wounds to my hand are healing. It is less painful and a change of dressing and hand therapy 3 times a week is helping. My body is less sore. I can type with my left hand and the use of my now free right thumb makes it less difficult. The townhouse is still in a pretty shambolic state with boxes and paintings and stuff all over the place. How I would love to just sort it out once and for all!

The existential questions that have come up for me are not: ‘Why me dear Lord?’ Or, “What have I done to deserve this?”.

The questions that I am dealing with right now as I heal, concern ‘impermanence‘ and ‘developing patience’.

I know that one of the Buddhist tenets is the impermanence of lives and things. I am not even considering my own life (miraculously spared) for the purposes of this blog post; rather, I am facing the necessity of addressing ‘impermanence’.

I am faced with tossing things out – permanently. Much has already been given away – furniture, curtains, household goods, clothing, endless other things I was ruthless about in my desire to simplify before the final move to the townhouse.

But what to do with my late father’s school and university reports; writings of my late mother’s; my own; photographs; correspondence –  consign them to non-existence? What does this mean if I do this? Have their records served their purpose and now I must let go my attachment to them? I know that I will not be invalidating my parents or myself if I destroy what was once theirs and mine … but still … photographs of grandparents? Records of my parents service in WW2? All that history, to be no more? Will I ever regret this action if I carry it out? Can I let go of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ as well as on behalf of my parents and ancestors? Can I be dispassionate about this?

And more to the point, is this how it will be when my children consign my ‘stuff’ and my husband’s stuff to the flames or the garbage bags when we die? Will our lives in material form before our deaths be extinct? What will they do with all the family photographs  through the years lovingly kept and only occasionally  looked at? How many collages can I have made? I do not want walls populated with collages; one or two, yes.

I will be pondering this in the days to come.

On developing patience: this is something that fate has decreed upon me it seems to me. I no longer dart here and there, doing everything quickly and efficiently and, as I have come to realise, having a false sense of pride in my ability to do this. I have to go slowly, dress slowly, I eat sitting down. I walk to the offices of the hand therapists and take that time to observe my new surroundings, or contemplate a dream, or just think about nothing.

I know I said earlier that I would just love to get the townhouse sorted once and for all, but I  know that this will take time. I quite like going slow and not being in a rush. There is something of value in this, for me. I have changed my study a few times. I am not rushing it. I still need to unpack boxes and be ruthless in sorting and tidying it. It is winter here in South Africa and though it has been a long time coming, it is now here. Up here on the highveld (2000 m above sea level), it gets bone-chillingly cold although the sun may shine brightly. It is an inward time as Nature rests. I feel in tune with Mother Nature. I think I am developing patience with regard to myself, to me, me-time. I think patience is saying; be kind to yourself, be compassionate, don’t rush… all will be well. I want patience and I to be friends. I want her to show me the way.

Thank you all who have been on this journey with me and your comments and more recently your concerns. It brings a swelling of blood corpuscles somewhere about the heart.

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