You’ve Got To Read This Book!

Well, Have You?

Have you ever read something that moved you to the point you just had to write it down?

Maybe it reinforces a belief you already have, or wish you had. Maybe it even motivates you to  take action. After all, according to English play-right Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

During this pandemic, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. My bedside table is stacked with books of multiple, shapes, sizes, and topics. I keep trying to whittle the pile down to size, but it tends to keep growing.

I’m trying to clear the clutter so I can call myself a minimalist. But one look at that stack of books totally blows my bragging rights. My bedside table screams “hoarder”.

The Alternatives

I could check books out the library. That would be the prudent move. At least I could return them. But it’s so much easier to let my fingers do the walking and order from Amazon. Ok. I’m a lazy hoarder.

Then again, Maybe I’m just a slow reader. I’m not clearing the stack quickly enough. Where is Evelyn Woods when you need her?

The beauty of books is their ability to move you to locations you’ll never visit, as well as move you to tears.

My Memorable Sentence

I found a memorable sentence last night while reading a book by Robert Kolker about a family with twelve children, six of whom had schizophrenia. What are the odds?

Maybe my history as a Mental Health Counselor and Life Coach peaked my interest in this subject, but it’s a fascinating read, especially if you’re at all interested in mental health.

It’s a true story. This family made a great contribution to science in the search for a cure.

To quote from Hidden Valley Road, “Embrace the cards you are dealt, or it will eat you alive”.

Rather than cursing your fate, it seems the antidote to your troubles lies in finding meaning and purpose…specifically…your purpose. 

With most people, it usually boils down to helping others in some fashion…putting your own unique touch on your mission, one you’re often, and maybe ironically, well equipped for. 

So, in the long run, maybe it’s how you play your cards that makes all the difference.

I’m Preoccupied!

The Problem

I don’t know about you, but I’m often preoccupied with something other than what I’m doing at the moment…sound familiar?

I remember my car wreck in the suburbs of Denver. It was totally my fault. Thankfully, no one was critically injured, but all the same, it was both unsettling and costly.

When I told my mother about the accident, her comment was, “You were preoccupied.”

She was right on, because, ironically, moments before the wreck, I was angrily telling my sister, who was riding shotgun, to please put on her seat belt. So, yes, I was preoccupied.

Doing the Dishes

This morning, while doing the dishes, my mind gave me a wake- up call.

I heard the thought, “Just do the dishes”. I actually enjoy the process of doing the dishes because I love the feel of warm water on my hands. I usually have cold hands. Every migraine sufferer knows cold hands can be an indication your blood vessels are awry.

My Life Review

I believe we’re each shown a review of our lives when we die. So, what would I see in my life review? I can imagine God telling me I’d missed half my life because I wasn’t even there for it.

It happened without me. I was preoccupied.

Our minds are like wild horses, always on the move. I admit I create my own blocks to mindfulness. A few weeks ago, my TV remote was on the blink. In the morning, I love to turn on the TV, eat breakfast, and read the news. I usually have a choice. Hear the bad news on TV or read the bad news in the paper. 

While I was awaiting the new remote, I was without TV. I had absolutely no distraction while reading the paper. I could be totally present. 

Was I happy?

Nope. Something was missing. Focusing on just one thing felt vaguely distracting. I became preoccupied with my dissatisfaction. Have you ever been reading an article and suddenly realize you’ve been totally somewhere else in your head? 

This was me. So I started the entire article from the top. Thank you, preoccupation.

I could always take little stickies and post them on the faucet, the shower, and the newspaper.

Or…I could simply remind myself to be more mindful.

Maybe then God will tell me, ”You were there for the whole enchilada!”

GRIEF

Zachary

It’s September. I’m asking myself what happened to August. It was like my 6- month visits to the dentist. Wasn’t I just there last week?

Zachary, my constant companion cat, died June 1st. It seems like yesterday.

You may be thinking, “Get over it. It was just a cat.” Well, I’m here to tell you, there’s no such thing as “just a cat, or just a dog, or to a small child, even, just a hamster.”

Zachary’s Older Brothers

I remember getting my first cat, Tyler. He was a biter. I complained wistfully to a friend “I should have gotten a goldfish.” Actually, he just needed a companion. I guess I wasn’t that exciting as a playmate. Sam, my second cat, solved the biting issue. Tyler just needed one of his own species. Some cats are like that.

Grief

Which brings me to grief. It sucks, but you can’t escape it. I’m in no way comparing the grief you experience with an animal to the death of a family member or close friend. But an animal depends on you. It’s with you 24-7. It leaves a huge hole in your heart when it’s no longer there.

As I was leaving the crematorium where I picked up his ashes, I passed a big sign in the road that said, “This too shall pass”. It was definitely comforting, but how long does it take? The fact we’re in the midst of the pandemic and confined to the home-front doesn’t allow much time for distraction.

The Mother of Grief Studies

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American Psychiatrist and pioneer in near death studies, made death her life’s work, at least that’s what she’s remembered for. She came up with the five stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 

What I learned is they don’t necessarily occur in that order. The moment the vet diagnosed him, I knew we were on a finite journey. But, looking back, there was some denial creeping in. Maybe the doctors were wrong. He actually lived 5 months past their predictions. At month four I was sure they’d mixed up the records. Ok. That may be denial.

Where Is He?

When my mother died, I asked myself, “Where is she?” I believe in heaven, but where is heaven, and what’s it like there? Was she happy? Was she with God?

Where is Zachary? Is he with God? I know he’s somewhere because energy can’t be destroyed. Einstein helped us with that one. Death is so final. 

One minute you’re here and the next minute you’re not… E=mc2, like it or not.

One minute you’re a clump of matter with a soul, and the next minute you’ve morphed into a mist of soulful energy. 

After the first shot to relax him, Zachary sat straight up and his eyes were wider than I’d ever seen them.

He saw something. I’m hoping it was his brothers, who predeceased him. I’m hoping it was heaven.