We Are Family

I got my brother and sisters with me…

I decide to pull out the old rotten carpet out of the cab of the van only to discover that the floor has some serious looking rust spots. It’s been a couple of weeks since I came upon the damage and it’s been a cause for concern. My whole career has been based on solving problems. Taking complex learning and translating it into easy to follow steps for others to understand and use. This situation is no different. I got a hole and it needs to be fixed.

My sister and brother in law just happened to be down for the weekend. They are a handy pair. I have always admired my sister’s choice of professions. She had spent many years in the Canadian Air Force as a metal fabricator working on airplanes. I found out my brother in law has some experience with welding. My brother, well he is a jack of all trades and has been helping me with the project since day 1. So, in true project management fashion, I assembled the very competent team of experts who are up for the challenge and we get to work. 

With resources and know-how in place we decide a change of clothes is necessary to tackle the potentially dirty job. My sister bought my mom’s old house and some of the contents are still there. My mom’s coat still hangs in the closet next to the kitchen door. It’s coming up on the two year anniversary of my mom’s death in September. As I stand in her bedroom looking for something to wear in the closet I am overwhelmed with her presence. I take a couple of shirts off the hangers and smell them. Oh mom, they still smell like you. You are still here. Tears well up as I close my eyes for a moment. This is a pretty big hole we are trying to fix. Not just on the van floor but my heart. I hear my mom talking to me from other rooms as I walk through the house. She would call from the living room when you entered from the kitchen door to welcome you. Sometimes I can hear her voice echo through the space.

The family has had its share of challenges over the last few years and yet here we are coming together to problem solve and rebuild this van. I have heard you can’t choose your family. I am glad for that because you never know what you might need at any given moment. The universe is a way better judge on future needs than I am.

It takes some discussion and a few brainstorming sessions but finally we get to work patching the worn floor. Grinding away the rust where we can and applying new support when needed. I can’t help but make the comparison between the work on the van and work being done to heal our family relationships. You have to clear away the toxins that eat at your dynamics. Find new ways to communicate and come together. Mom would be ecstatic to see us all collaborating and getting along.

The van has helped us to find ways to connect again. It’s been a new beginning for me too. I am using tools I never thought I would have the confidence to even try. A little patience from my brother and determination to continue the work has made me excited about the possibilities for future projects and work.

We are family, I got my brother and sisters with me. I am truly blessed.

Taking Up A Smaller Space

All moved to my new “tiny space” for the next two months. I get the day to settle in then join the community this evening for Satsang. Since COVID the ashram has had to split up Satsang into two locations. Everything seems more complicated with this virus. I am grateful, to be in a community setting.

My room is about 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. Great practice for my desire to live in a van. Space is an illusion I think. I seem to have plenty. There is something soothing about a confined space. Freud might say it has something to do,with being in the womb? I am at the very North end of the property now closer to the gardens. The birds are chirping right outside my window. Good thing I brought earplugs for their AM wake up song. I spotted a group of deep blue, blue jays perched in the birch trees. They remind me of the swamis robes which are a similar blue shade.

I decided to move and get settled in so I could relax. It’s quiet right now as everyone is still out doing their karma yoga. Soon, I am sure, the building will be bubbling with activity.

I am ready to start this next leg of my journey. Joining into a community when I haven’t been part of any type of, in person interactions for almost two years. How does that happen? Easy when you go virtual and work from home. We are so disconnected these days. Consumed by accumulating space and stuff to fill it with. These little pockets of only use what you need and occupy as little space as possible are truly an opportunity to practice minimalism. Let’s making a short blog today to stick with that intent. Practice taking up a smaller space and filling it with abundance.

Namaste

Moving Day

On A Path To Awareness

Moments of reestablished balance exists between steps

I have always been a fan of walking meditations. They are used in silent meditation workshops I have attended to help break up sitting for hours and hours. You walk with purpose. Usually in a small space in any pattern you choose. The point is to focus on the breath and the senses. Some points I have been given in the past are to try walking with your eyes partially closed in order for the other sense to become more tuned in.

The meditation assignment today has added a new twist. It asks to compare the motion of walking to your life and see what comes up for you.

When you stand still you feel balanced, weight evenly distributed and your equilibrium is solid. Think of your life. You are perhaps standing still, it feels solid and balanced on the surface. Trouble is, it probably isn’t possible to stand in one place forever. You get stiff, get bored, maybe grow roots that become hard to pull up or weeds grow to impair your view of what’s really going on. Your body is meant to be in motion and your body and soul want to grow outward.

Life is motion,development and change.

In order to move, you need to decide to upset the equilibrium. Change your situation. Change your life. That can be frightening and cause unbalance. When you shift your weight or change your direction, you become off balanced. Take another step and what do you observe? Your weight shifts, balance reestablishes itself. In that moment between two steps is an opportunity to once again find equilibrium. Moments between two steps, between two events and between two thoughts are all opportunity to connect with present. Recognize the moments exists and use them as opportunities to rest and renew.

The key is in the recognition of the moments. They can help you to unlock the door to your life. The path on the other side leads to freedom.

In the words of a great band called Shinedown, “The first step is the one you believe in. The second one might be profound”

I have loosely adapted the above from the writings of Yoga Path to Awareness. I hope you find it as meaningful and useful as I do.

Namaste

Midlife Sandwich

One thing our readers are sure to notice over the next few months is the different experiences Vanessa and I are having in our midlife journeys. While she’s experiencing all the ashram has to teach her, I’m at home learning lessons about caregiving at opposite ends of the life cycle.

One one end, I have an 18 year old son who is still living at home. He’s taking some classes towards a certificate, working part-time, and weightlifting. He’s developing skills and confidence I’ve never seen in him before. It’s a pleasure to watch him become the self-assured young man I always knew was within him.

On the other end, I have my 82 year old dad living with me. While my son needs less and less parenting, my dad requires more. Over the past four years, I have become Dad’s primary caregiver. He’s lost most of his vision and is no longer able to cook or bathe by himself. I take him to all his medical appointments, do his shopping, manage his money, and try to make life as interesting as possible for him.

I’m in a midlife sandwich. How I’d love to be able to leave the house for two months to go do karmic yoga at an ashram; to have the time to be in nature, learning, growing. Right now, I can barely leave the house for an hour. Dad can’t be left alone much longer than that.

At a time when I’m encouraging my son to find his independence, I’m watching my dad lose his. Just this week, Dad asked me to look into nursing homes. He’s starting to get lost in the house because he doesn’t have enough sight to help guide him. He thinks he’s walking in a straight line, but he’s not. He gets disoriented when he finds himself somewhere other than where he wanted to be. It’s frustrating for him and sad for me. This man who always seemed larger than life, who could solve any problem, who was so giving of his time and energy – he’s fading before my eyes.

It’s a time of such mixed emotions. I’m proud of my son. I feel sorry for my dad. I feel guilt that I can’t do more for him. I feel relief knowing he will be in a place that can give him the level of care he needs – and then more guilt because he won’t be living with family. I don’t know if he wants to move because it’s better for him, or if he’s doing it for me.

We all have our own paths to walk. My son is just starting; my dad is near the end. I’m somewhere in the middle.