Wednesday, February 29, 2012


My mother has been at Anum Chara Home in Boulder since April. I brought her to Boulder because I wanted to be closer to her in the last phase of her life. Although the caregivers were mostly very caring, I was dissatisfied with the care she was receiving at the locked alzheimer's facility in New Mexico where my sister lives. I appreciated the holistic philosophy of anam chara and their committment to respecting elders. Anum chara means soul friend and that is the intent of the staff there. I also felt that my mom was overmedicated with anti-psychotics and I began the eight month collaboration with her Doctor and the staff at anum chara to slowly ease my Mom off of seroquil. She made the transition beautifully. For a period of about two months she became more and more alert and conscious. I even got to paint with her twice with the help of the caring art therapist. She smiled more and had more words. She recognized me and Gary and a longtime family friend. I could read to her and she could make comments about what I was reading. I spent many hours with her and felt more connected and closer than I had in years. This was intermittent of course. Sometimes she would be far away in her own world. I gave myself permission to stay a short time if I wanted to and began to be less attached to her condition when I arrived. All of my life I have wanted my mom to show up for me in a certain way. I wanted her to see me as I am and be willing to talk about feelings. She was much more into discussing the details of her daily life and was very clear with me that I was too intense and expected too much out of life. I always knew she loved me and I didn't feel like she knew me. She was there for me in many ways. She taught me the value of meaningful work and the importance of exercise. She instilled in me her strong value of helping other people. We didn't make the transition to an adult friendship that would have required us to move out of our mother-daughter roles and be real with each other. During the last eight months I have begun to realize how much I still wanted her to validate me. Even in her advanced stage of dementia when she was not at all capable of approving of me I still wanted approval. This has been a long grieving process: letting go of the mom that she was and embracing the sweeter older woman with dementia. In the process of accepting who she is now I have come to greater acceptance of who I am now. I have learned how dependant I am on outside validation to know that I am ok. I have become aware of how easy it is for me to pretzel myself into what I think others want of me. Out of being kind to myself about my habitual approval seeking patterns I have learned to rely more and more on my authentic self. The more I authentically express who I am the more OK I feel. As a child I learned to pretend to be someone I was not in order to get approval in my family. The more I pretended the less OK I felt. When we get the idea that being ourselves is threatening to others and squish all of who we are our authenticity becomes threatening to us. It becomes scary to be emotionally vulnerable because we are afraid we will be abandoned. Our ego or personality strategy tells us that if we are genuine we will get rejected. We learn to shut up and get back in the box. Listening to my intuition about what feels right to me has helped me to recognize and disengage from my personality strategy of judging and criticizing myself for being who I am. The idea that there is something wrong with me was a way to suppress my aliveness when my survival seemed to depend on suppressing. Now that my life is more about thriving than surviving it is time to let my light out in all of its glory. Being authentic is the antidote to pretense. Being willing to be present with all of who I am helps the little girl inside me to open her mouth wide and sing from her heart- letting go of whether she is too much for anyone else. How can you practice authenticity? What is a small step you could take to come out of the closet about who you are? The more you do the more ok you will feel. See what you think. Let me know what you notice. More on my mom's latest stage later. Thanks for listening.
Love to all of you,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

slow down be still love yourself

This weekend I was privileged to attend a yin yoga teacher training. Yin yoga is a system to bypass the muscles taking stress and bring gentle stress to the connective tissue. The idea is to surrender deeply into mostly lying down poses for five minutes at a time. I found it to be so relaxing and nourishing. All weekend I stretched into relaxing my body. It is challenging for me to just hang out with nothing to do but breathe and be there. This is yoga for graceful aging. By the end of the weekend I felt a deep sense of peace and the sound of my soul singing Yes.
I made up this little song the words of which are slow down be still love yourself .The song is the theme song for yin yoga and has contributed to joy and stillness in my life. One of the women in the workshop said that her body can't get enough yin yoga and now I understand. My mind on the other hand, is very challenged by hanging out in a pose for five minutes doing nothing. I can think of many reasons why doing a myriad of other things would be way more productive, useful and helpful to myself and to others. Practicing yin yoga puts me up against all of my conditioning to move quickly and get the job done now. The sense of urgency I feel manifests in my body as anxiety. The internal message is, I don't have time for this! If I allow the message and the anxiety to be there and breathe into it I can feel all the times I rushed myself or was rushed by another. I was toilet trained at age one so I even rush myself on the toilet. Yin yoga has made it more obvious to me how much I push myself to have a different quicker pace than I actually want. The belief that I don't have time for this comes from the belief, there isn't enough time for me. When I act on that belief I forget things, trip over things and miss exits. Stress makes my breathing shallow and choppy and my reasoning brain is less accessable.
In the last few days being present with the urgency and bringing compassion for myself with it allows a space for stillness. Being kind to myself about rushing and giving myself permission to be with what is, allows space for slowing down. Bringing love to myself when I am anxious is a very comforting experience. I just took a break to work with a lovely client. I was writing so intently I didn't stop until the doorbell rang. I love when the creative process takes me up its its wings and flies with me. I feel so blessed in this moment. My world is so filled with love. Even though valentine's day is a hallmark holiday people are being more loving with each other. That feeds the flow of love that surrounds us, that holds us, that we are.
Happy Valentines Day. Slow down Be still Love yourself