Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Legacy of Maya Angelou

This past week I met a friend for lunch, and we got to talking about child abuse. Yeah, we usually get into some pretty deep topics. We have that kind of friendship. We were discussing whether or not a 3-year old child would remember a physical beating as an adult. We both agreed the child might not "remember" per se, but would feel the damage of it in someway. Then my friend profoundly said, (without knowing she was quoting part of one of my favorite quotes), "If nothing else, that child will definitely remember how it made him/her feel." Wow. The truth of that statement left me speechless.

I grew up hearing Maya Angelou's quotes used quite often on the Oprah Winfrey show. I watched all 25 years, and am a wiser person for it. I loved Maya's quotes like, "When you know better, you do better"; "I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it"; “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude"; "When you learn, teach. When you get, give." The list goes on and on. She was a very wise woman. Oprah and she were extremely close friends, and this must be an incredible loss for her like it is for the whole world.

Amongst other things, Maya is being remembered for being a mother; professor; poet; editor; actor; speaker; and award-winning memoirist. She is well-known for her speech, 'On the Pulse of Morning,' on the occasion of the Presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton.

Her poetry has touched the souls of people all over the world. Her quotes just 'stick' in our heads, at least they do for me.

When people talk about Maya's death, there is a sadness there, but also this 'knowing' that she lived a good life. She's being known for making a difference in the world through her gift of language. She has left a 'mark' behind in some way. In my opinion, she has left behind an extraordinary legacy. Isn't that what we all want and hope to achieve? I know I do. 

Maya was a phenomenal woman and deeply humble. She was a graceful woman of faith who rose above poverty, abuse and violence to teach us how we, too, can transform our lives. She simply radiated joy and dignity. 

I will honor her and read her acclaimed poetry collection I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an autobiography about her childhood in Arkansas. I regret not reading it many years ago; it is a shame that I didn't. I hear it's worth reading, and I suspect I will find some treasures there. I am thankful that she shared with the world her amazing gift of language through her poetry and songs. I hope you take some time to read her writings. It will be a special treat, I promise you.

I do "know for sure" (a lesson from Maya) is she is being remembered for what she wrote in her very own words. I sense this is something she would've wanted.

"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~Maya Angelou

So, thank you Maya for the lessons learned. May you rest in peace.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Grief

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says that there are five stages of grief: denial, isolation, anger, depression, and acceptance. I think every human being experiences grief in some way, at some time in your life. It's normal. Either it is the loss of someone you love or a dream or a "thing," a relationship, a job ...something that is taken from us when we least expect it or even if we do, you still don't really "expect" it. I wish Elizabeth would've added "shock" to her list because it sure seems to fit, at least in my experience. I'm sure it fits one of those categories just nicely.

The first time that I experienced grief was when I was 16-years old, and my grandma died on Thanksgiving Day of that year. She was my mom's best friend. Grandma was fun and delightful! I can still remember her laugh. The one thing I will always remember about her is that she was always nice to me. My mom and grandma talked every day, first thing in the morning, for hours. I use to wonder what in the world they could be talking about for so long. I've come to appreciate that they were talking about Life....kids, husbands, daily stresses, etc. Because it always feels so good to talk to someone who understands or can offer a listening ear. A best friend is priceless.

I have grieved five children, my mother, a childhood, pets, dreams, and friendships. I am in grief now, it seems, once again, as life goes. The "details" don't really matter, except that I am again experiencing something that is starting to feel familiar. That many of you probably understand all too well.

What I've learned is that I will get through it. The truth is the only way around it is to go through it. It always surprises me when the feelings ebb and flow...from anger to sadness, then back to bargaining, to anger once again. You'd think it'd be a nice step-by-step process, but that isn't reality. I'm not a big believer in the famous saying, "Time heals all wounds." I believe time helps, but doesn't heal. It is a wound after all; a scar.

That song playing on the radio by Idina Menzel called, "Let It Go," reminds me, among other great songs. Music is healing, I know this for sure.

Grief stinks, but it is worth it if you learn the lessons along the way. Eventually, you will come to the acceptance, and so will I.




Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It Is What It Is

I love to run. Not a friendly stroll through the park or jog or walk. I mean.... RUN. I have been running as my means of exercise for over 20 years. It was Mark who introduced me to it from his Army days. We use to run together blasting the Styx's and the BoDeans. Great motivational music to keep us going. I still play those songs today.

The years flew by, and I needed to stop running for periods of time (pregnancy, injury etc.). However, in March 2013, I began again after months of being bedridden. I always needed to start very slowly. Run a minute, walk a minute. Out of breath, ready to quit. But I'd push myself to keep going. Time and time again.

Everything hurt. It sucked to breathe. I hated it, but loved it at the same time.

I ran my "usual" route and after much stopping and walking, I finally made it around the loop to the end. "Okay, I got through that," I thought. I began to do more and more each time until I reached three miles. It was a good place to be.

You see, running isn't just exercise for me, but rather, therapy. Been there, done that with many therapists over the years, yet I learned that I processed my emotions in this simple movement of my body so much better than therapy. Other "runners" understand this.

I realized that when I run is when I  most feel alive. I can hear the earth pounding beneath my feet; I feel the burn of my muscles; the sun on my face; I connect with the earth...Thanking Him for what I can do...Asking Him to give me strength. 

I breathe in fresh, clean air. The sweat is pouring down my face. And I think. I pray. I process.

I do this all through running. Others do it differently. All is okay.

I ran my very first "run" last June with my friend, Courtney. She challenged me to run the 10K Rock n' Sole at the lakefront and over the Hoan bridge. It was fun and exhilarating, and the most I've ever run. We weren't the "best" or "worst" time-wise, but we finished; that's all that mattered. I loved the experience.

I planned ahead and realized that the next Rock n' Sole was on my 42nd birthday, June 14th, interestingly enough. I immediately registered. I wanted to "beat" my time from last year. A goal I set, which is so important to do.

But God sometimes has a different plan.

Pain has been present in my right leg over a year in some fashion. Either it was my knees, or my shin, or calf. I was still able to run through it until April. Yeah...maybe I could've taken it easy. The combination of running in old running shoes to switching to new ones, plus my injuries, led to a huge problem. Yes, I've learned my lesson.

I realized  God is good at getting me still. After all, He does tell us to "Be still and know that He is God." I have that verse stenciled on the wall in our bedroom. It is a constant reminder of what I need to know and remember.

After months of chiropractic therapy, I wasn't getting any better. Through the encouragement of a friend, I made an appointment with a Sports Medicine Physician at Froedert Hospital. She had the name of someone, "good." I really resisted going to this appointment. I thought many times of canceling. After all, I wasn't too fond of doctors of any kind.

I ended up going and found out I have a stress fracture above my ankle. I needed 2 MRI's to see the severity. Never expected that. Thought she'd just tell me to "take it easy" like all of the others. I had an answer and a plan. All very, very good. I just needed to give it time.

I can't run. My love. My therapy. My ability to feel alive. My friend, Jackie, will put my bib number around her neck and run for me in my honor. She will run it well.

I, however, look to Someone else to meet this need of mine. And He does faithfully.

I realized, once again, how much you don't really miss something until it's gone. And I am not talking just about running here. I've come to accept that I need to accept what is. Accept what I cannot change. Embrace the good that I have in my life. Not being able to run is very minor compared to what others are going through. I realize that. Several people I know are waiting on a cancer diagnosis or waiting to start the treatment for it. There are those counting down to the end of their days. There is no room for complaint in my Life.

It is only another reminder that I have no control of my life. None of us does. We either trust something or someone.

It's that simple.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Tribute to my Mom & Back to Blogging!

I haven't "blogged" in a long, long time, but feel inspired to write today, which is the 7-year anniversary of my mom's death. I pondered many times about what to "do" with this blog, Healing Begins, which I started so many years ago. I never received healing from Lyme disease I had hoped & prayed I would receive. Instead, I've learned to simply, "live with it." What so many of us with chronic illness live with day after day. Some with "labels" that we don't really want to talk about, yet alone, think about ourselves.

We are the ones with the invisible illnesses that suffer within, but no one would know it from the outside. In fact, we try to 'cover it up' so other people don't know what we are going through. "Look strong," even if you don't feel it. I suspect that is what my Mom lived with, but what no one knew about. Not anyone, sadly.

So, I stopped writing, at least in 'blog' form, and felt that I had nothing else to add to my Story. The truth is, I was sick of hearing myself talk and write about being sick when so many other people were suffering from much more than I, and my healing wasn't coming. I felt like I had nothing to offer anyone. I had compassion, empathy and understanding to give, but no answers. No treatments to "try." Nothing I could say "worked for me," except prayer.

I keep up with my loads of medications, but long ago, I gave up "trying" something else to cure me of chronic Lyme disease and the many autoimmune diseases it brings along with it. I've accepted God's will for my life. I take it one day at a time. Is there any other choice?

I love my doctor, Dr. Glenn Toth, who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and kind. He has been more than willing to try 'something else' every time I visit, but it is I, who am not willing. Not anymore. After seeing over 30 doctors since 2006, I've been simply, worn out. That I can get out of bed and live my Life...I am grateful.

Recently, I've had several dear people in my Life  encourage me to keep on with 'my writing' in someway. I've wrestled with a few ideas. I've looked into an editor position for one of my mystery shopping companies. I've considered taking a writing or editing course. I still don't have peace about any direction, but to write here for now. I am currently writing reports for my mystery shopping job. So there is that. And I have never stopped writing in journals or could even possibly think about doing that.

While we were doing spring cleaning, Megan discovered my huge mounting of journals in my closet. Several had tumbled to the floor. She said, "Oh my goodness, are those ALL of your journals?" I, naturally, gulped and said, "Yeah, they sure are." I guess that writing has been healing for me after all.

I've realized that I don't need to know the reason to keep blogging for right now. I have no idea if I will keep the title or not. Change it to something else? Who knows? Keep the same picture? I might as well...I am in my 30's still in that one! I can't even figure out how to get the music player to work!? for Pete's sake! I'm settled with not changing a thing for now.

I do know for sure that I need to blog, if not for myself, then for someone else.

Today, is as good as any other, to start again.

My mom is, somehow, from up Above encouraging me to tell the Story.

Thank you for being a listening ear.

http://www.lorianngrade.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-mothers-eulogy.html