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I am snowed into my house. There is a blizzard warning in effect outside, and I believe it. Blowing snow makes it difficult to see anything except for the two foot icicle hanging outside my dining room window. Occasionally, I can get a glimpse of desperate starlings trying to eat from the bird feeder, hanging on for dear life. Some of our trees are touching the ground, bent completely over.

This isn’t new. We had a snowstorm (much bigger) this past weekend, and another one around Christmas. Our orange plastic snow shovel is cracked from use, and all the stores were sold out of new ones. These have been interspersed with smaller snows, which would typically be large snows for my area (six inches, anyone?).

The first snowstorm was very exciting. White Christmas, oh boy! Children out of school, adults out of work! Sure, there was a lot of shoveling, but we had plenty of people to do it. The mountains of plowed snow that blocked crosswalks and parking spots were a bit of a nuisance, but we had plenty of 50 degree weather a week or so later that helped melt things down.

It is getting old.I am tired of the snow.

I try to keep a pretty positive attitude. This snow…ugh. The issues are so multi-faceted, I think it deserves a bulleted list:

  • While it is snowing, I am stuck inside the house. Everyone’s nerves get frayed. (We’ve made jokes about the Donner Party.)
  • There is a risk of power outage (we’ve had two so far), which raises the specter of a cold house, food going rotten, no cooking, no light, no computer, no internet to connect me to people outside my house.
  • The snow restricts my movement, where I can and cannot go. I sometimes find myself feeling trapped, shackled, caught, caged…you get the idea.
  • After it stops snowing, we have to extricate ourselves from the house. After injuring myself once trying to help, I’m leery of going out in what will probably be waist-deep snow and ice.
  • It will be a long time before all the snow melts, and I find those gray, chemical-covered piles of ice chunks by the side of the road really depressing.

Perhaps most importantly: Snow brings out interesting things in people. There was the very nice man with a bobcat who helped dig out cars out (for free!), and there are people who buy five snow shovels at the hardware store (leaving none for the rest of us). There’s graciousness and there’s pushing and shoving. I’m slightly afraid of what all this snow will reveal of my personality.

It’s interesting. People pay good money to go on meditation retreats, live a more ascetic lifestyle for awhile, go silently for a week or a month, eat simply, and take a break from the technology and hubbub of 21st century life in a Western country. Yet when offered an opportunity for a free retreat with snow-covered vistas, I feel myself clawing at the door. Who knows, perhaps that is how I would feel if I chose to go on one of those month-long retreats.

So, I’m trying to reframe my outlook on the snow. I’ve mainly been catching up on video games, guilt-free (no “I should be doing something productive” fears echoing through my head.) I want to take advantage of the opportunity to take some deep breaths and ask, “What is happening for me right now?” To slow down. To breathe, and let go of expectations.

I might as well enjoy the view of two foot icicles, too. They really are amazing.

I wrote the following piece after a visit to Guatemala in 2004, and it’s more “creative writing”-y than some of the other things I’ve written.

I think it’s very relevant to healing issues that we are able to let go of control when there’s nothing we can do to change a situation. Buddhists call this principle equanimity. Greeting card writers call this principle “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Alcoholics Anonymous refer to the Serenity Prayer. It’s all the same principle.

I should also mention that this piece can be read as romanticizing of daily life in Guatemala without suitable historic, cultural, or social context. Bear in mind that I was years younger when I wrote this, and that there is much more to Guatemala than dangerous public transit. So, if you can, bear with my younger self as I explore life lessons found in daily experiences.

***

I had heard stories about the “chicken buses” typically found in Central American countries.  My mother—who lived in Guatemala for two years—talked about them with a knowing laugh.  Chicken buses:  even the name sounded uncomfortable, the harsh consonants jammed together like people on the bus.  Traveling with livestock was not my idea of a comfortable journey.  But then, how else are people who don’t have cars supposed to carry their chickens across long distances? Read the rest of this entry »

We had the mother of all snowstorms this weekend, with 29″ dumped on every surface. It’s beautiful, and it also presents many practical challenges. (These include power outages, being housebound, snow-weighted trees, and making a space for the terrier to go outside and use the bathroom.)

Saturday night I was keeping my friend company while she started clearing off one of our cars. The power was out all around the neighborhood. The storm clouds had passed. The sky was a deep purple, reflecting the light of the snow and city lights in the distance. All of our street lights were out, giving a much better view of constellations punctuated by the occasional whispy cirrus clouds. Partway through shoveling, the power came back on. Some of the constellations disappeared, but my disappointment was tempered by the promise of having heat for the night.

That was the wonder of the snowstorm.

We also probably lost at least two trees, which succumbed to the weight of the snow and ended up almost touching the ground. I spent a good bit of the day of the storm wading through the ever-accumulating snow (it ended up reaching almost to my hips) and shaking trees off to prevent further tree death. My friends did a lot of the work, but just “walking” through the snow proved difficult.

Then came my body’s reaction to the experience.

I won’t bore you with an entire catalog of the pain. Suffice it to say that every joint in my legs was sore and burning. Other parts of my body would periodically pipe up, as though saying, “Me too! Pay attention to me too! I hurt too!”

I knew what would help: very light exercise (stretching or walking), meditation, medication, a hot shower, taking it easy by staying out of the snow…

Knowing is easier than doing. It was as though the pain had taken over my brain, and all I could focus on was how much I hurt. Add to it the increasing dismay at being housebound AND in pain, and I was not a happy camper.

I recruited my friends to help me out. Sometimes I just need encouragement to take steps in the right direction. I unhesitatingly took my pain medication, and got to verbally express some of the pain I was feeling. My friend helped me pick out some nice shampoo, and I took full advantage of my shower chair and hot water. I just let it wash over me.

Then I took my big step. I decided I would get situated for a meditation. I got out my mp3 player (which has several guided meditations on it). I decided I would see how meditation went – I wouldn’t force myself to do it for a certain period of time. I just let my meditation be what it was – a way to get in touch with what was going on in my body.

It was painful, at first. But because I have some experience with doing mindfulness meditation while I’m in pain, it was not unexpected.

There was this remarkable feeling of openness that happened during my meditation. I realized how much of my body actually feels pretty good.

This next part may sound crazy, but bear with me. (Having a familiarity with the Buddhist idea of equanimity might help.) I realized that when I found a part of my body that was not in pain, I thought, “Oh good, it feels great!” When I found a part of my body that was in pain, I thought, “Drat, that hurts. Maybe if I focus on it, it’ll stop hurting.”

Then I tried something different – letting go of the idea that pain is good or bad. However terrible the experience of pain is, it is a million times worse if I dedicate my conscious mind to thinking about how terrible it is. I also have a tendency to dedicating my conscious mind to how I want to feel good all the time when I’m enjoying myself. If I do that, I’m not actually enjoying myself anymore – I’m just dwelling in the desire to feel good more often.

So I just let go. I allowed myself to be in pain without judgement. The pain was still there. It still hurt. But it wasn’t in control of my consciousness anymore.

Now I can just be.

My Etsy Store

A fibro-friendly item from my Etsy store

I've been working on making fibro-friendly jewelry. I'd love it if you checked them out by clicking the image above, or going to www.etsy.com/people/RogueCrafter

About Me

This blog is intended as a place for me to reflect on my own healing journey, in the hopes that others may also gain insight from my experiences. I've "borrowed" a line from Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken:

'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.'

I think the most important thing for me now is that I feel empowered to be a force for positive change in my life. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

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