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Once again, I am in a season of change with my body. Over the last month, my left hand has become significantly more disabled. I can’t always click the mouse or swipe the iPad. Meanwhile, I feel more breathless and tired on the days when I need to talk (and I talk to write.)
After all these years, the grief and fear seem distant, as though viewed through the wrong end of binoculars. They seem like something I should feel, but don’t. Progress? Depression? Who can say?
It’s cold outside today – only 63°. The wind is blowing the chimes so they alternately ring and clang. I am inside, safe and warm. My breath and assistive software are working together well enough to write this blog post. So maybe it’s progress… I am better at being here, in the present moment, not worrying about what will happen next.
I discussed wheelchair specification with the durable equipment consultant last week. We don’t need to worry about going cross-country anymore. My daughter is grown; no need to chase her. She was eight years old when I got the first wheelchair. Instead, I asked for the ability to recline and put my feet up. Let’s think about napping, not running. The sadness is a wistful end-of-the-garden feeling, not a cutting pain. I am older.
“Because dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs,” Martha Stewart advises us, “you’ll need less — typically three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, you need only 1 teaspoon of dried, since 3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon.”
Here I am, potent and concentrated.
On one level, there is pragmatic problem-solving. Experiment with mouth sticks. Order a new wheelchair.
On another level, I make room for the sadness. It’s an old friend by now.
And then, because I’m not dead yet and intend to live until I die, there is planning. How, exactly, do I want to spend my time? What are my priorities? I would like to do some more writing. I would like to make some more art. I would like to live in beauty.
So there we are, rules of engagement:
- Bring tender curiosity: what is changing in my body?
- Identify equipment that may make life easier.
- Stay in this moment through sensory awareness. (What do I see, hear, taste, feel, smell?)
- Make space for emotions without getting caught in a story.
- Decide what’s important.
- Find a metaphor with which to play…
Now I will go forth, amused and strengthened, because I know that – even in this frosted over garden – there is flavor and purpose and joy.