Meditation on September – Episode 260

Read a transcript of this episode.What does September mean to you? How do you handle times of transition?

I've been thinking about September. I guess it started with my wife commenting, as we walked to the car, “This is the first sweater day.” She had that tone of voice, like it was the worst thing. But then she said, “I can be grateful that there’s a whole season yet to enjoy before winter.” And, that’s the thing about September. It’s the end of summer, at least here in Michigan. Sure, we’ll have some more hot days, but we know it’s trending colder until midwinter. For children (and others), it’s the end of vacation, but also the beginning of a new school year.

September is a time of transitions. It’s a time of saying goodbye and a time of saying hello. The weather is getting colder, and the trees will start turning beautiful colors. The sultry heat of summer will give way to brisk days with bright blue skies.

For many of us, it’s a time to regroup. A time to put away our summer clothes, and our summer playthings, and our summer lethargy. It’s a time to get the sweaters out of the closet, a time to get out the snow blower and make sure it works.

At my church, it’s a time we celebrate coming back together for another year. I will greet a new roomful of 7th grade youth as we begin our new journey of discovery and learning together. It is the beginning of the new year in the Jewish calendar (September 10-11 this year, 2018 on the common calendar, which is the start of year 5779 on the Hebrew calendar).

This year, September also marks a transition in the health and lives of my parents, and in the way I perceive their health and life. The first weekend of September, I drove to where my parents live, so that I could be with them for a few days, as my mother is in rehab with a broken leg that she suffered in a fall a couple weeks earlier. I have heard that stress can worsen dementia (which they both have to some degree). This certainly seemed to be true, or else I just hadn’t perceived the extent of their dementia in our visit earlier in the summer.

They both seemed confused about what had happened and what was happening. My mother did not understand why she couldn’t just go home. We had to explain that she was in the rehab facility to get better, and that she needed to stay there until she had healed enough to go home. She seemed to understand for a little while and then it was gone. My parents have been married for 66 years and have rarely been apart for more than a few days. Being separated is hard for them. Seeing their confusion and unhappiness is hard for us. Not being able to fix it is hard. Sometimes not knowing even what to say or do is hard.

Which is not to say that it’s all bad. She is recovering, regaining strength, improving in her ability to walk a few steps (with the help of a therapist and a walker!) We had some pleasant time visiting, looking at old photographs and identifying the people in them. I brought an old photo album to her room one day. It had tiny black and white photos (about 2 ½ inches the long way). She looked at the first one, which showed some sort of public event, and said “That’s Mrs. Roosevelt at the White House egg hunt!” She was there and may have taken the photo herself. We don’t know exactly what year it was taken, but it was likely in the late 1930s or early 1940s. There were photos of her and her brother with their parents, including a photo of her as a teen, posing in her bathing suit on the beach. She was a beauty.

It is a time of transition for them, and for us. This was a sharp awakening to the realities of their life in their late 80s. Visiting their home, and working to make it ready for her to come home, possibly in a wheelchair, also opened our eyes to how much they had been struggling to just live normally. We cleaned and cleaned, we washed loads and loads of clothes, we moved furniture and other obstacles to make a clear path between bedroom, bathroom, and living/dining room. It is clear they needed help, but they didn’t ask for it. We, their children, must now step up and start parenting our parents, so that they can enjoy the remainder of their life as best as possible. September is a month of transition for me today.

With change, with transition, comes a measure of grief for the days gone by. As I enter, perhaps, the autumn of my life, as my parents are clearly in the winter of theirs, I am grieving the things that are no longer there, no longer true. My parents are no longer the rocks that were always there. They are no longer people to whom I can turn for support. Instead, I must now be a rock supporting them. The Al-Anon book Opening our Hearts, Transforming our Losses talks about grief and about living and dealing with grief, as in the reading I opened the episode with.

It also talks about how we can use the tools and principles of the program to help us move through grief into new life. What are these tools? How have I used them?

I read from Opening our Hearts, Transforming our Losses, pages 102-104. I mentioned the reading from Courage to Change for September 4.

Our topic for next week is enabling. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Living with death – Episode 210

Do you fear your loved one will die? How can recovery help us live with death of those we love? What if that death was long in the past?

This show is sort of a story in 3 parts.

First, Spencer talks about fearing the death of his loved one.

Next, D shares her experience and feelings around the death of her loved one.

Finally, Michelle explores the ways in which recovery has helped her in accepting the deaths of her parents, which occurred long before she found this program.

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Living with death – Episode 210”

Say Yes! to Life – Episode 155

surf!Last weekend, I drove back to the city I grew up in, to attend a memorial service for a childhood friend. As family and friends shared their memories of my friend, I reflected on the ways we say “Yes!” to life in the presence of death. This week, I am re-issuing episode 76, Loss, with a new title. The original notes for that episode follow.

What do you do when you lose someone close to you? How can I use the tools we have learned in the program to get through a loss? I was inspired to this topic by a tragic, accidental death in the past week. It brought me to reflect on the nature of loss, on how loss affects me and those close to me, and how my response to loss is so different now than it was before I came into the program. I used this outline as a guide for my musings.

  • The story.
  • How did I deal with loss in the past?
    • Stuff it
    • Ignore it
    • Numb it
    • Isolate
  • Other kinds of loss?
    • Loss of dreams
    • Loss of friendship
      • Separation and divorce
  • Fear of Loss
  • How has the program helped me to deal with loss?
    • Feel it.
    • Acceptance.
    • Gratitude for what was.
    • Grief process — acknowledge it.
    • Less guilt.
  • How to deal with loss and grief
    • Take care of self
    • Prayer
    • Ask for help
    • Talk about it
    • One Day at a Time
    • Letting go

Our topic for next week is new topic. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Loss – Episode 76

What do you do when you lose someone close to you? How can I use the tools we have learned in the program to get through a loss? I was inspired to this topic by a tragic, accidental death in the past week. It brought me to reflect on the nature of loss, on how loss affects me and those close to me, and how my response to loss is so different now than it was before I came into the program. I used this outline as a guide for my musings.

  • The story.
  • How did I deal with loss in the past?
    • Stuff it
    • Ignore it
    • Numb it
    • Isolate
  • Other kinds of loss?
    • Loss of dreams
    • Loss of friendship
      • Separation and divorce
  • Fear of Loss
  • How has the program helped me to deal with loss?
    • Feel it.
    • Acceptance.
    • Gratitude for what was.
    • Grief process — acknowledge it.
    • Less guilt.
  • How to deal with loss and grief
    • Take care of self
    • Prayer
    • Ask for help
    • Talk about it
    • One Day at a Time
    • Letting go

Our topic for next week is how I came to Al-Anon and why I keep coming. On June 22, we will talk about the question “Should I stay or go?” Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here. Continue reading “Loss – Episode 76”

exhale – a guest meditation from Scotty B

Running!

 

 

 

The most important stage of breathing is the exhale.

— an anonymous runner

 

 

A runner said the most important stage of breathing is the exhale. A complete exhale leaves me room to breath in fully. When I expel all the carbon-dioxide, there is room for what works best; oxygen (and lots of nitrogen). I'm also able to choose whether I slowly inhale or quickly exhale.

My first two weeks of trying this out left me with sore lungs. I was not familiar with this under-utilized organ. Like any muscle that is rarely used there was a period of mild discomfort and adjustment. After the first few weeks, my lungs adapted and their capacity increased.

When I was canoeing at Herbert Lake this summer, I was able to paddle consistently for long periods with short breaks. Breathing fully in and out also allowed me to feel my feelings. My Dad had died two weeks previous. I was camping to recharge my spirit and find serenity in nature. I had the entire lake to myself.

Feeling grief and loss, I imagined inviting my Dad to see what I loved to do. I pictured him being enthusiastic and heard encouragement in his voice as I paddled. The canoe floated at the base of the mountain and I felt tiny in its cold shadow. I shared a warm moment with my father and felt connected to him. It was a small step on the road to forgiveness for myself as I could not make direct amends to him while he was alive; living amends was the best I could do.

Breathing fully allows me to feel alive, to share my feelings and to connect with people; living or deceased. I feel hope as I clear away the wreckage of my past. My Higher Power and I make way for new relationships with people in the program as I accept my feelings and myself.

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A meditation for October 30, 2013.

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