When Death Comes

William Stafford is my favorite poet. He wrote of the Oregon and Washington landscape in a way that was an exact mirror of his subject. Because of him, I found Mary Oliver. Mary Oliver died today.

Her online obituary states:

Her poetry developed in close communion with the landscape she knew best, the rivers and creeks of her native Ohio, and, after 1964, the ponds, beech forests, and coastline of her chose hometown, Provincetown. She spent her final years in Florida, a relocation that brought with it the appearance of mangroves. “I could not be a poet without the natural world,” she wrote. “Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.” In the words of the late Lucille Clifton, “She uses the natural world to illuminate the whole world.” In her attention to the smallest of creatures, and the most fleeting of moments, Oliver’s work reveals the human experience at its most expansive and eternal. She lives poetry as a faith and her singular, clear-eyed understanding of the verse’s vitality of purpose began in childhood, and continued all her life. “For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.”

Obituary via Facebook

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, towards silence

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

::: ::: ::: :::

Precious prayers. Thank you for the words, the beauty, and the truth, Ms. Oliver.


0

The Food of Love (and Sex)

For whatever reason, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about sex and relationships in the context of food. I am not the first person to think about food as a metaphor for relationship and sex. Laura Esquivel wrote a beautiful and haunting book about that very thing: Like Water For Chocolate. (Holy moly. Super sensual.) But musing about the metaphor got me thinking about how nourishing sex, communication, and relationship are to us humans. We need them to feed us; many of us don’t feel ‘full’ without them. Of course, we all have different preferences and flavors and meals we enjoy- but sex, relationship, and communication are meant to nourish us in a way that is similar to how food nourishes our body- giving us energy, joy, pleasure.

One thing I was thinking about was how far I have come in my ‘meal preparation’ skills over the years. I think we all start out in love and relationships making what is most familiar to us. We start with the mac-and-cheese or spaghetti or ramen noodles equivalent of love and sex. Those are the basics and we all have to start where we are. As we practice love, sex, and relationships, some of us discover that we’re terrible at cooking- we never got decent instructions from our family and friends. Some of us discover that what we learned to ‘cook’ in terms of sex and relationships is actually plastic food- not real, nourishing, or tasty. Some of us discover that we actively sabotage our own good cooking- we use salt when the recipe calls for sugar. Some of us just can’t quite get in the groove with whoever else is in the kitchen- we keep bumping into each other.

But, like cooking, if you’re committed to the process of learning about relationships, you can make some really fantastic things in your relational life. You begin to learn that love, sex, communication, are different aspects of the whole meal. And perhaps you’re really skilled at some parts but need to learn and practice more in others. I’m very good at loving people- watching and learning about them and then caring for them in exactly the way that makes them feel encouraged, seen, and loved. I have also been toxic about that skill- loving too much (where I hurt myself) or controlling my boyfriend (and husband) instead of caring for him.

These days I feel like a master chef, though. I know how to make the separate pieces of sex, communication, and love work into a beautiful feast. I know how to grow the ingredients, prepare them, and make them work into something tasty, fun, and nourishing. (This applies to other kinds of relationships as well, not just sexual or romantic ones.) One of my soul lessons for last year was that I wanted to have more opportunities to teach people about sex and relationships and how to make them better. (Which I did and am doing.) So now I also have the skills to help people make better mac-and-cheese or figure out why they keep putting salt in their recipe instead of sugar. There will always be moments of bumping into the other folks in the kitchen, depending on the relationship, but I also know a lot about how to work through those issues and make it more of a dance. It’s been fun to learn this and also to be of more service to my fellow humans.

What’s on the menu?

One of the best meals I have ever eaten was at a renovated castle in Wales. We were traveling in England and Wales as part of the celebrations for my husband receiving his Ph.D. And one evening we had dinner out on the back deck of this small castle we were staying at. We were the only people there for dinner and a new chef was eager to prove his skills to his new employer. I don’t remember what the meat was, but it was delicious and I can still taste it in my mouth, nearly 20 years later. There were mashed potatoes and vegetables, reductions and dressings, and a decadent chocolate dessert. It was memorable and amazing. There was nothing that would have improved it. Nothing more was needed.

One thing I’ve learned about sex and relationships is that sometimes you realize you’re not being nourished by it anymore. For a variety of reasons, people find that their relationship just isn’t working for them and they need more or different kinds of nourishment in those areas. They start taking vitamins to keep the marriage intact, rather than learning how to cook something more nourishing- or leaving the kitchen all together. This is what affairs often revolve around. Something is missing- love, sex, communication, being seen or cared for, one person grows and the other doesn’t- and so we supplement it with another person. I don’t judge people for this anymore- I know it happens and I know a lot of people are just doing the best they can do. (What I do judge is people who don’t undertake the emotional and psychological work of figuring out what’s missing and whether they can learn to fix it or leave the relationship.) The thing is- supplements aren’t the same as nourishment. If they were, we’d all be living off of Flintstone and One-A-Day vitamins. Humans need real nourishment- in food and relationships.

There are other options, in the kitchen and in marriages. Long ago, my husband and I agreed that we could flirt with, and potentially kiss, other people- if it didn’t threaten our marriage. My husband is a fabulous dancer and when we go out, lots of women dance near him and compliment him on his dancing. He might flirt with a few of them, but then he goes to the bar, takes a shot of whiskey, gives me a kiss, and heads back out to the dance floor. It boosts his ego and it doesn’t bother me one bit. We talk about this like it’s a brownie, a small desert or snack. It doesn’t ruin the meal we have created- sometimes it enhances it because it gives us each a little ego boost and helps us feel attractive and alive. It’s a treat, a bit of fun, and we’ve both agreed to let it work this way. Because we define our relationship this way, it isn’t cheating. It all depends on how you use what you’ve got- you can make a feast from nothing if you know your intentions and you can use the space in your relationship as a chance to make something new, rather than supplementing what doesn’t exist.

In years past, I have wanted to sleep with other people, but that really seems like a step too far for me and my relationship (I’ve fixed things that were missing, in other words). It would be a true betrayal and I just can’t imagine doing that anymore. I really do love my guy, and sometimes we are so deeply in love it feels like it’s new all over again. But there are also those moments when it’s very clear I’ve not kissed anyone else for 24 years and I’d just like to have a drink with someone, flirt, chat, listen, smile, and maybe make out a little at the end of the night. It’s not going to break anything important and it keeps my spark alive.

::: ::: ::: :::

I think I’m realizing why I have been thinking about love and relationships as nourishment and food. The other aspect of this metaphor is about some of my soul lessons from this past year. If I’m a chef in this metaphor, my boundaries are the restaurant I work in and my soul lesson lately is to keep good boundaries. There are some wonderful, beautiful people inside my restaurant. They love me, they dig me, the get me, and I love them in return (not all of these folks are romantic relationships, obviously). There are also people outside the restaurant- some of whom happily walk past, no need to interact. There are also some folks outside who continue to press their nose against the glass and look at the menu taped to the window, but never open the door to come inside. In the past (even now to some extent) I will open the door and try to welcome them in- let’s say hello, let’s start the conversation about what you like and what we might cook together. But my lesson this year is to let those people do their own thing. If they want to come inside and see what we can make, they will. They know how simple it is- a call, a text, an email, a message. If they can’t extend the most basic communication, if they can’t even say they’d like to come inside and see if there’s a seat for them, then I am learning to let them do what they need to do- to stay safe and to stay away. It’s not been a fun lesson, but I get a bit better at handling it each day (well, two steps forward, one step back, anyway).

I don’t think of myself as a scary person, but perhaps I am to some people. Actually, I know I am to some folks. There are people I have kicked out of my metaphorical restaurant and some who can only come in the door but never have a meal. A couple of folks I have banished and put snipers on the roof for. So, yeah, I can be scary (but it takes a long fucking time for me to get there, so don’t be an asshole and it won’t happen.) If I can be scary, then I understand people being scared of me. And that’s okay. We’re all where we are and working with the skills and ingredients we have at hand.

I can see now that this metaphor is a gift from my mind- a way for me to see the lessons before me and be able to work with them more skillfully. It is a way to keep me accountable to myself- to make sure I watch myself and don’t fall into the old traps. It’s allowed me to see some things about my skills, my life, and my self that I needed to think about. I live by symbols and metaphors- they are wonderful tools that you can turn around in your mind and find new things to learn, new ways to see. So, yes, this metaphor is here to help, to remind, to help me grow stronger. (Our hearts and souls really do know the way- they help us in synchronous, serendipitous, and secret ways like this.)

::: ::: ::: :::

That’s enough musing for tonight, right, fellow travelers?
Big love from the couch,
Joanna :: xoxo


0

‘Yes’

Last week was a stressful week for me and I decided on a new resolution for the year: more baths. After I finished a big goal- my Sex Surge book- I gave myself a shot of tequila, a slice of cake, a long, hot bath and a good cry.

Basic bath.

One of the things I thought about was the last part I wrote in my book. It is probably the most important part of the book and it centers on daring to take the journey that the Sex Surge calls us to. It is about daring to say ‘yes’ to what we want and need and taking the steps towards those things- even though we have no idea of the outcome.

I’ve been thinking about ‘yes’ a lot lately. What it means to say ‘yes,’ what kind of courage and curiosity it takes to step forward, how we do that, and why. Two quotes showed up last week, as I was pondering these things.

“… and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes
and then he asked me would I yes…
and first I put my arms around him yes
and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes
and his heart was going like mad
and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

– James Joyce

“So, empty your pockets. What have you got left of your life? Any dreams that were unfulfilled? Any unused talent that we gave you when you were born that you still have left? Any unsaid compliments or bits of love that you haven’t spread around?

And I will answer. “I’ve got nothing to return. I spent everything you gave me. I’m as naked as the day I was born.”

– Erma Bombeck

Saying yes is the only way we ever move forward in life. It is how we pave the road of our life. Yes by yes, step by step. No life is a straight line- we all zig zag through our decisions and their consequences. But yes is the only way we grow and change. If we don’t say ‘yes’ we don’t move, which we are also free to choose. But it makes for a boring life.

Saying yes is hard, though. There have been things in my life I knew I wanted and it was easy to say yes. College. Living on my own. Marrying my guy. Having kids. Buying a house. Those were some easy yeses. There have also been difficult ones. Moving overseas. Boundaries with family members. Moving to New England from Seattle. And there have been yeses that I had no idea what I was getting in to. Saying yes to what the Sex Surge asked of me. Getting my master’s degree. Actually being married. I had no idea where these things would take me, and yet, I said yes anyway.

Saying yes has also taught me about ‘no.’ If yes is the paving of the road, no is the yellow lines on the side- you can go over them, but the consequences vary. Some things I have chosen have cut me off from other options. When we moved overseas it cut off options for jobs and family connections- those became a ‘no.’ (Which actually turned out to be a good thing.) I have been handed a ‘no’ by some folks. When I asked for an open marriage (or a weekend pass) during the Sex Surge, I got a very clear no. And I had to learn to deal with it. I’ve had many no’s from many places and I have learned to live within those lines. (Although, I am terribly stubborn. If given a ‘no’ for a conversation about navy blue, I will always make sure you don’t want cerulean or turquoise or cobalt instead.) And certainly, with age, some things are a simple, clear no based on my own wisdom (which is to say: the outcomes of previous yeses have paved the way for this no).

Yes, however, is really what keeps us alive and moving forward. Yes to new adventures. Yes to outside our comfort zone. Yes to curiosity. Yes to joy. Yes to desire. Yes to ‘I don’t even know, but let’s try.’

Not everyone can live this way, to state the obvious. And it took me years to say yes in some cases- I wasn’t terribly open to yes twenty years ago. Sometimes being alive takes time to cultivate. Saying yes takes practice. I get that. (Also, I know yes can induce anxiety, fear, and procrastination in some folks. That’s okay.) But yes is still the only way we move our life forward.

Yes is the adventure. No is the course correction. But it’s all beautiful learning and growth and good for our soul. Even when things don’t go the way we want, the yes and the no we learn from are the gems of the journey. They allow us the opportunity to be ever wiser in our future yes and no. They allow us to find, at the end of our life, that we’ve spent every bit of what we were given.

May your yeses bring you joy and your nos be gentle, fellow travelers.
Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo


0

2018: Growth and Gratitude

I don’t think I’ve ever written an ‘End of Year’ post here. Or, if I have, it’s been a long time. In any case, I feel like writing one today, so here we are.

Some years I have been very into reviewing the past year and making big plans for the coming year. In years past I have also picked a Song for the Year (although, wow- looks like I did that once– ha!). Last year I simply wanted to read 3 books a month and keep up with my bullet journal. I read 18 books total and kept up with my bullet journal about 60% of the time. I’m actually not disappointed with those results, because this last year felt like a baseline year, but I want to do better this year.

This year, I want to keep up with my bullet journal, read 20+ books (which I’ve actually listed out in the hopes it will keep me on track), but I’m also adding picking a word for the year, and keeping a section in my bullet journal for a gratitude practice. I’ve struggled with gratitude in the past, so it’s kind of weird to be into it now, but I think it’s time for me to expand my heart and spirit in this direction.

[[I’m still super in love with The Little Paris Bookshop. I find myself reading it very slowly. There are gems like this everywhere: 

“Not get over it, but…then? What then? What task do the departed want us to do?”

That was the question that Jean Perdu had been unable to answer for all these years.

Until now. Now he knew.

“To carry them with us- that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole again. If we begin to forget or cast aside those we’ve lost then…then we are no longer present, either.” …

“All the love, all the dead, all the people we’ve known. They are the rivers that feed our sea of souls. If we refuse to remember them, that sea will dry up, too.”

I love all the men in this book; they are so honest with themselves.]]

::: ::: ::: :::

To start that, I wanted to look at the things I’m grateful for from this year. And also where I’ve grown- because that’s my favorite thing.

We spent our first full year in our new house this year. I love this house. I finally feel truly at home in this particular pile of sticks (it’s a really nice, comfy pile).

We got a dog. I love her.

My family and I travelled to Paris for the first time ever (well, it was the first time for me and my kids). I wrote about it here and here. It was one of the most thrilling adventures of my life. (I want to go back!)

I have been struggling with my hypothyroidism symptoms for two years and I really dug into my own fat phobia and fat shame (even though it was just 15 lbs- it was uncomfortable) and learned some new things about my self and my self-esteem and social conditioning. It’s hard to shake off, but I’m working on it.

On the flip side, I started a new supplement that makes my thyroid meds work the way they should, so my hair is growing again, my nails are growing, and I’ve lost enough weight to actually fit into my pants- even my favorite skinny jeans! The irony and ‘once you let go of it, you’ll get all you want’ energy is not lost on me.

After last week, I’m full of gratitude for simply being upright and breathing.

I’m truly grateful for my partnership and my partner. We have what a lot of people crave- and we work to make it great, it’s not just luck. And I’m just grateful for him and how we make it work.

I’m truly grateful for my kids and how much joy they bring to my life. They are amazing humans and I’m glad these particular souls are the ones I was given to parent.

I’m grateful for all the struggles I’ve had this year. I’ve learned a lot.

It’s been fun to start playing with magic and spells this year. (You may or may not know: I’m a witch.) As one of my teachers notes: you learn something new every time and I’m stumbling towards greater understanding and capacity.

I’m also very grateful that I have been given the chance to fight for some things that are very important to me and to fight to stop things that are morally and spiritually repugnant. I’m trying to use my privilege to make the world a better place- and this has been weird and uncomfortable, but also a good practice.

 

We travel ever upwards (we hope).

Photo by Reid Zura on Unsplash

 

The other side of this year has been about growth. Growth, in my experience, is about the places where we cry, gnash our teeth, surrender to reality, and then we learn to behave in new ways. Better boundaries, clearer goals, letting go, and the like. It’s the hard work that our hearts and souls demand of us.

I got some very clear guidance a month ago about what’s next for me:

  • Telling the whole truth, instead of just doling out pieces of it.
  • Limiting connections to folks who are on my level (or will at least try to get there).
  • Continuing to be passionate and fearless and letting go of those who don’t want to run with me.

These are the things I’m taking into 2019 with me, the new ways in which I will behave. I also learned some other things, too.

One of the biggest lessons for me this year is that I’m probably going to be attracted to other people at various points in my life. For the first 22 years of knowing my husband, I was never attracted to anyone else. But then, the Sex Surge happened, and I’ve been attracted to two other people. One of the clearest things I know from all this is that it’s probably going to happen again, and how I handle it is the most important question. Do I want to destroy my marriage for a crush or somebody who is cute or intelligent or interesting? Nope. Not a bit. So, I proceed with that end in mind. Having a crush or a sexual attraction to someone else isn’t going to kill the great thing I’ve got with my husband; I know that now. But I also need to be mindful of my needs and what lines are crossable/not crossable and to enjoy the gifts of relationship and attraction.

Related: sexual energy does not need to be coupled to sexual expression. I am reminded of this constantly. Sexual energy – libido, turn on – is simply the most heightened aliveness there is. It isn’t required to be expressed in any sexual way- there are a thousand creative and joyful ways to live it out besides with your clitoris/penis. It can simply shine straight out from your heart.

I also figured out something a couple of days ago that I’ve been struggling with for a bit. Bear with me- this is one of things where the puzzle pieces came together in my mind but I might not always write clearly about it. Nevertheless, I will try.

There has been a lot in my social media feeds the last couple of weeks about soulmates and woundmates and such things. I’m not a big believer in soulmates, but I am a 185% believer in soul work. Soul work is the work that we are called to do, in our heart or soul, because of an interaction with or attraction to someone else. I’ve been dealing with this kind of connection for more than a year- can’t quite connect, can’t fully let go (or be let go of, in this case). And as I was thinking about this a couple days ago, I asked myself: what do I know about this already? The answers were clear and also interwove with each other to create a new level of understanding for me.

First, I know that the kind of push-pull attraction that can’t let go is always about something else. I bolded, underlined, and italicized that for a reason. Sexual attraction is the easiest doorway for connection so that people can come together and do whatever work it is their soul is asking for. Especially if it’s a connection that can’t seem to resolve one way or another. The attraction is the big door that they need to go through, the sexual nature of it is the neon arrow that flashes and points towards the door, drawing them in. If the attraction brings them to connection, it’s done its job and they will walk through the door to the work they need to do.

Second, I was reminded that there are a 1000 steps between attraction and fucking.  What that means in this case is that people can be attracted in that “can’t let go” kind of way, but there are many levels at which to connect. Let’s look at them in these categories: talk, touch, kiss, fuck.

If there is soul work and it’s being brought out by attraction that won’t quit, you have to interactyou have go to through the door to figure out what the work is. But you don’t have to give in to the depth of desire; you can simply talk with the person. Talking is difficult, in some ways, because you’ve got to keep your desire in check. It’s also difficult because you’ve got to be as honest as you can possibly be – but telling the truth based on attraction is usually a big leap. (Not for me, honestly- I crave to both tell the truth and be told the truth by others.) Most people would rather slip into the ease of sex than talk about what’s going on between them. You have to ask big questions and be totally honest with yourself and the other person: Why are you attracted? What makes it difficult to let go? What do you want from a connection? If we did X, what would that do for you? As you reveal the answers, the work you’re supposed to do for soul growth becomes clear- it shows you an old wound that needs healing, it shows you a further step you need to take, etc. And, of course, talking is the most spiritually and emotionally clean option, so it’s sort of easier in that way.

Then, there’s touch. If the sexual attraction is strong enough, touching can sometimes tell you a lot. What happens when you touch? Does the desire dissipate or shift in some way? Do you have any kind of visions or memories? What does your body do? What feelings run through you? You have to be very mindful and attentive to what happens in your body if you go this route, but it can yield a huge amount of information about the work you need to do for your soul. If you add talking to the mix, you’re probably going to hit the target very quickly and figure out why you’ve been connected to this person.

Next is kissing. This level of interaction is where the emotional entanglements can lead us astray from the work we have to do, but the intensity of connection can give us much deeper information about what’s going on in the desire for connection. You have to really ground yourself in awareness and attentiveness if you take this route. You have to ask all the above questions, plus things like, “Did I feel relief in kissing them? Was it a relief of sexual tension or a relief like coming home?” What did I see in my minds eye when we kissed? What happened in my body? What memories arose? You need to be able to disentangle the sexually related feelings from the emotional lessons it brings up. Of course, kissing is so much more fun than just talking or touching, but it’s also more dangerous if you’re not careful or not with someone who knows how to handle the energy and what develops.

Lastly, of course, is having sex. Most definitely, this is the easiest (and probably most desired) option for people who feel pulled to each other. It’s very pleasurable. It doesn’t require much thought or trust- you just give into the feelings and desires. (I find it incredibly interesting that it’s easier to have sex than it is to talk when we’re in these kind of soul-attraction relationships. I think that says a lot about our humanity and how comfortable we feel with sharing our souls; we’d rather share our bodies.) Of course, having sex dissipates a lot of the sexual desire and tension, but it also entangles us emotionally and energetically in ways that might make it more difficult to find the nature of the soul work the two people need to do. Again, mindfulness and self-awareness are key. That said, I believe that sometimes this is exactly the right choice- there is no other way to find the work that you’re being asked to do.

I figured these things about because I got very close to being able to talk to the person I have this kind of connection with. It super sucks that I’m not going to be able to have the talk, because that only leaves “figuring it out on my own” as my way to deal with this. Of course, figuring it out on your own is also totally viable, but it takes a lot more work and it often takes a lot longer. Growth junkie that I am, it’s what I’ve got, so I’m using it. Because one thing I also learned this year is that when people say ‘no’ to connecting or interacting, you let them be. Not everyone wants to learn or help their soul heal or grow, and that’s their decision.

The coolest thing about figuring this out is that I can be totally fearless the next time I’m attracted to someone. I know that attraction is just the doorway for the work. And I can decide what level of interaction to ask for. I am wise and attentive and aware and so I’ll gain a lot from whatever way the other person and I connect. Because I understand how it works, I can walk into it with more clarity and skill and openness (and less attachment, hopefully). It feels really grounding to have previous lessons come together like this and help me understand how to handle these kinds of attractions in the future. Even if I don’t get to have my conversation, I get to have this understanding and that’s so awesome it kind of makes me cry.

::: ::: ::: :::

This year has given me a lot- a lot of grief and struggle, a lot of growth and grace. I’m grateful. I don’t have many plans for 2019- except as listed above. I think Life is enough of an adventure on its own, I don’t need to go looking for much new! exciting! stuff. And I don’t need to set high expectations for myself anymore (I’m sort of over that).

Fellow travelers, I hope that you’re finding useful lessons in your life – this year, this month, always. I hope that the lessons your soul seeks come to you with grace and desire and fun rather than the spiritual equivalent of being whacked upside the head with a 2×4. We all have things to learn and trials to bear- remember not to compare your miseries with another’s. I hope that, whatever it is you have to learn, you are given an equal measure of joy. And I hope you strive to become ever more your self.

I will leave you with another excerpt from The Little Paris Bookshop because I think it is so fitting:

“On the postcard Perdu wrote Catherine that night were the phrases Max had invented that afternoon so he could present them to Samy at dinner…

Star salt (the stars’ reflection in a river)
Sun cradle (the sea)
Lemon kiss (every knew exactly what this meant!)
Family anchor (the dinner table)
Heart notcher (your first lover)
Veil of time (you spin around in the sandpit to find you are old enough to wet your pants when you laugh)
Dreamside
Wishableness

The last word was Samy’s new favorite. “We all live in wishableness,” she said. “Each in a different kind.”

Big love and happy New Year’s Eve,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

0

The Best Worst Christmas Present

I’m posting this at exactly the moment yesterday when I got to experience something in my body I’ve never experienced before: fainting.

We were on a Christmas walk yesterday when I started feeling a little weird- and then I started feeling a lot weird. And about thirty seconds later, I passed out. When I came to, I thought I could get up and walk the two blocks back home. And about thirty seconds later, I passed out…again.

I got to ride in a red sleigh (also known as ‘the ambulance’) which was directed by not one, but two guys named ‘Nick.’ Two Saint Nicks driving the sleigh- hey!

As we made our way to the hospital, I was overcome with something that was a cross between labor pain and food poisoning. Which is to say, it was almost the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life, coupled with feelings of nausea and the wish that I would throw up (because it would feel better than the nausea). The symptoms of shock arrived next.

In the end, we found out that I was severely low on a couple of electrolytes and I was treated with IV meds and left the hospital around mid-morning today. But I learned a few things I wanted to share.

Our bodies are beautiful and fragile as fuck. I train my body to be strong and listen to it so we have a trustworthy relationship, but getting sick always throws me for a loop. It’s good to be humbled sometimes and remember just how valuable and easily broken our body is.

I am indescribably grateful that my body did exactly what it was supposed to do. Passing out twice was exactly the right response for what was going on in my precious meat suit and I’m so glad it did what it needed to do. I’m also incredibly grateful to have a partner who was trained as a CNA so he caught me and lowered me to the ground safely, twice.

I am so glad that intravenous medications are available to me. Modern medicine is the only reason I’m alive.

 

It’s the small things.

Photo by erin walker on Unsplash

 

I got the chance to practice some radical relaxation in the hospital. It’s nearly impossible to sleep in a hospital (which is sorta silly if you think about how healing sleep is, and you can’t get much of it in hospitals) and so I had to practice deep relaxation to get myself in a calm, healing space. I’m glad I have years of meditation practice under my belt to make it easier to settle, breathe, and focus.

I am incredibly lucky to have good health insurance. I would not have healed as quickly without it. (We need nationalized medical insurance in America. There is no way around it.)

In my quiet time, I was able to figure out how to express gratitude to someone who I really only connect with via social media. I have been wracking my brain for the last few days trying to figure that out. And then, once I got quiet and settled, an option appeared.

For the medical staff that cared for me, I am also deeply grateful. From EMTs to nurses, pharmacists, x-ray techs, CNAs, doctors, et. al. Total gratitude.

For the ways that family cared for me while I was in there. Even though our Christmas was slightly ruined and slightly late, it was still merry.

I’m not going to be as ‘bright’ as normal for a few days as I heal, but I am so glad to be breathing. Life is such an amazing gift. I am even more grateful for the simple things (mineral levels that are on target, decent food, warm blankets) but I’m also truly glad to be alive and feeling mostly normal today. This is, perhaps, the dark side of sensuality. When things don’t work as we wish for them to in our body, it is a different perspective on sensuality and what we are willing to feel and experience with our body. Are we willing to stay with the pain, the disappointment, the difficulty of the body? Because that’s sensuality, too.

I hope you’re well, fellow travelers. And I hope this reminded you to enjoy the feeling of health and wellness. And to be grateful for the small things: being alive, feeling well, breathing, moving.

All my love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

0