Saturday, July 16, 2011

Conversation with the Grackle

I have mentioned that I have a depression disorder. I don't talk about all that much, as I take good meds, and I have an excellent therapist.So, I honestly don't worry too much. But, as with all of us with mental health diseases, I have days when all of my coping skills come to naught. I have always called these days my BlackBird days.

BlackBird days are the days when it feels as if a huge black bird has flown into my field of vision, wings outspread, covering my eyes and my mind from seeing anything but the darkness. I knew I had the right therapist when shortly after beginning to work with her, she mentioned something she called Black Bird days!! I nearly wept with joy to know that she got it!!! She is an integral part of my healing and growth.

My BlackBird days are much fewer and farther between than they have ever been, and when I do have them it seems it is more a matter of grief than mental illness these days. Grief, is the most difficult process!! It rolls over me in the oddest times, just when I think I am healing here comes a black day!! This week was my late husband's birthday. Plus I am dealing with the feelings that my mobility issues have brought to the fore, and the weather is just middle of July, midwest UGLY!! So there I was sitting on the deck, kinda feeling sorry for myself, which I honestly try not to allow!!

It was early morning, my favorite time of day for my deck. The sun just starting to approach the horizon in beautiful cotton candy pinks and pale lemony yellows. The morning song of the birds a wonderful backdrop to meditation.Then I saw the grackle, sitting at the end of my deck. Now a grackle is part of the family of birds known as blackbirds. It is often mistaken for a crow, it is longer, and its tail is different,and its behavior is a bit different. The thing I love about watching the grackles in my yard is that they do not hop, they walk, and the adult birds are very concerned about the younger birds. Usually, though, the grackles don't get very close to my deck, they tend to stay out in the open in the yard. So I was surprised to have a grackle sitting there about 6 feet away.

Of course, I said good morning, I always speak to any of the birds or animals that visit me when I am on the deck. Most often the bird or squirrel will scamper away, unless it is one of my regular visitors. the critters who have become used to me being there. This bird was not one of my regular visitors, so I was surprised when he just looked me in the eye, and walked a bit closer.

Now, this is the part where you can decide that I imagine things, and I would not disagree with you. But, to quote Albert Einstein...Imagination is more important than knowledge.

The grackle continued to look at me, and then the grackle spoke to me. No, the grackle did not SPEAK with words, but the grackle did speak, in the not unpleasant squawk of the grackle-it is less jarring than a crow. Hmmm, I took it to be a greeting, good morning right back 'atcha' type of thing, so I continued to speak to the grackle.

I thanked brother grackle for visiting me on my deck, and I talked about the weather, and all the time the grackle was listening and vocalizing. We had some companionable silences, and then I began to tell brother grackle about my images of Black Birds. I shared that the image of the Black Bird blinding my vision has always been uncomfortable for me. While I was sharing, brother grackle turned a bit, and I saw the most amazing thing. Grackles, are not black! Oh they look black when you see them in your yard, but sitting this close, and in the morning sunshine I saw the truth. This bird was anything but black, the feathers are wonderfully iridescent in all of the colors you can imagine!Well, that made me think!

So I talked to the grackle about his feathers, and the beautiful colors, and I started to see that my mood this morning was not a part of my depression,not a part of any illness but a normal part of the grieving process. I have several things that I am grieving. Of course, the loss of my husband is the major loss, but other parts of my life are lost to me more every day. Because of the neurological diseases I no longer am able to sew, and I miss sewing. I can no longer wield a chef's knife with skill as I cook, and I miss cooking. I can no longer just decide to go for a walk, or visit a museum. Walking is more and more difficult and painful and I must decide whether I need my cane, my walker, or my wheelchair today.

But, sitting there seeing the beautiful colors of the black bird on my deck was a gift. I could see clearly that things aren't always as you originally perceive them, and just because something changes, doesn't look like you thought it should or would, doesn't mean that it doesn't look like it is supposed to! I often say perception is reality. But the really marvelous thing is that when your perception of something changes, the reality must change with it. So, instead of sitting on my deck feeling the oppression of a BlackBird day coming on, I could learn to see that not all black birds are black. Not all sadness is depression, and sometimes you just have to grieve the things that you have lost. Part of the grieving process is to to come to terms with the fact that your life will be different, and to help you move towards that new normal.

I thought about all of these things as I sat there with the grackle, and then the grackle turned and walked away. I am so glad the grackle visited me this morning, blessed me with a conversation and a lesson. Amazing that Spirit would send me a helper in the form of something I feared-a Black Bird. How often do our fears keep us from perceiving things as there are? Perception, just like life, is changeable, and those who can adapt will always be open  to the beauty that can come even in the form of a black bird who wasn't ever black to begin with!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Road Trip-a Healing prescription!!

The summer was always our favorite time of year! Starting with Mothers Day until the end of July we were celebrating something every couple of weeks. Mothers Day-Memorial Day-Fathers Day-My birthday-4th of July-My husbands birthday-and our wedding anniversary, every two weeks or so all summer long. That all changed for me when he was killed a few weeks after our wedding anniversary, and the long, difficult healing process of grief began.

The morning before my husband was killed, we sat on the deck for a couple of hours. We talked and planned. Mr. Bill was starting a new job that day, and we discussed getting back on track financially, and we discussed our 10th wedding anniversary. We were married at a courthouse,our son the best man and  the snack bar attendant as my witness. We planned to have a vow renewal, a small wedding for our 10th anniversary.A wedding, with a beautiful dress that I had already designed- I spent a long time in the theatre as a costume designer-it would have been a spectacular dress! We would make the same trip that we made as a family honeymoon trip-going back to the Black Hills, a wonderfully spiritual magical place that we all adore.As my friend Michelle referred to it,"the place where love and family became one!"

July 30 is that 10th anniversary. As part of my continuing healing, I have just booked the trip for my son and I to take. We are not going until a few weeks later, I want this trip to be a new beginning, and if we went on the anniversary it would hurt too much.So we will go after all of the days that are no longer celebratory for me, and we are hoping to continue learning how to celebrate life again.

I firmly believe in the idea of sacred space. I after all, spend a lot of time on my deck, which is for me a place of safety and sacredness. Most faith traditions have an idea of sacred space. For me, sacred space is often more a state of being than an actual place, but there are also places where we can instantly feel more at peace, more able to access the things of Spirit. My deck is sacred space, but when I am away from home it is almost as if that sacred place is where ever I am. I visited the home of a dear friend, and her deck, which looked nothing like mine, felt the same, and was for me a refuge of meditation and worship. Staying in a convention hotel, I once slipped out of the room without waking my roommate to find a lovely secluded chair in the lobby that felt like a sacred space for my prayers and meditation. A sacred space feels right, it feels safe, and nurturing, and healing.

One of Mr. Bill and my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, was to take a Sunday drive. We always planned to buy a house, and we would drive through different neighborhoods just looking at the for sale signs. I often made him a little crazy, sometimes we would turn into a neighborhood, and I immediately asked him to get out of it, it FELT wrong. Now some of these were lovely neighborhoods, in the best parts of town, but the Spirit of the place was just disturbing. When we were ready to actually purchase a home, we looked at dozens, and I drove our realtor crazy too. When we turned onto the street we live on, I felt safe and nurtured. As our realtor opened the front door of this house before I stepped a foot across the threshold , I knew I was home.

Home is what I feel in the Black Hills. I think because it was where our life as a family began it will always be a sacred place for me. So, as my spirit heals, I feel the need to return to that place to honor the memory of the time before the grief, and perhaps to move into a time where the grief can heal. Paradoxically, I will be traveling back to the place where I experienced my first symptom of neurological disease (you can read about it in the blog post from 4/29 A Glimpse Into One Part of My Life).

Last spring when my son's health and our financial problems became an issue, Spirit told me that this trip would be provided in September. Thanks to our "Great American Road Trip" last fall, I have enough rewards points that I only need to pay for two nights lodging-and those will earn me enough points that I will be able to receive free lodging again next year!!! So, the majority expense will be gas and food, and I know when Spirit has promised something, provision will be provided. My therapist said this week that this trip is just the prescription she would write for me.

So, as I move through the minefield of birthdays and anniversaries this summer, I feel stronger, and part of that is because I know I am supposed to go home to the place where love and family became one!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July

I am not a very patriotic person. Yes, I pray for our military, and I love to read history books. But I am just not one to get all worked up over a flag waving holiday. My late husband, on the other hand was a Marine, who loved the 4th of July!! We really did balance and complete each other! I tend to think of him often on these flag waving days because of the flags flying in our subdivision. Our subdivision has approximately 100 homes. It has been a close knit neighborhood since the late 1930's early 1940's.My home is over 75 years old.

This neighborhood welcomes new families from the moment you turn into it's streets. Mr. Bill was so happy here. He soon noticed that on every holiday, flags flew, and it did not take him long to become part of the team that put them up and took them down. I Think every utility pole in the neighborhood gets a flag. Which means that there is a flag in front of most houses.

I usually sit on my deck, but for some reason this morning, I was sitting in my wheelchair on my front porch as the flags were being placed. The guys all waved at me, and I was pleased to watch them place the flags. They still miss Mr. Bill I am told!

That is the flag in front of my house!

 It was a beautiful morning this morning and I took a couple of pictures in my yard...
This is my ramp and that bush needs trimmed!

My sedum is blooming...

As well as my shastas and daylillies...

I had a lovely morning, even though I am using my wheelchair today instead of my cane or walker. Just one of those days!! I don't have anything profound to share, just a slice of my life today. Thanks for stopping by! I totally appreciate it when you do!!!