Counting Comfort Not Pain

I was walking the track on a picture-perfect day, blue sky, not too hot, no humidity,  enjoying the day yet feeling a bit sorry for myself.  I’ve been working out on this track for over three years since discovering it’s the ideal exercise for me, combining cardio, strength training and scream therapy as I sing and dance my way around the track, lap after lap, losing myself in the rhythm as I enjoy the beauty of nature around me.  Lately, though, all I’ve noticed are the pains I’ve developed from the same motion I enjoy so much.

It’s bad enough I can no longer swing around or even comfortably carry hand weights since I fell and broke my shoulder two winters ago.  Now I have a rigid joint in my right foot called “hallux rigidus,” which sounds sexy but definitely isn’t, that constantly hurts, although it’s more painful if I don’t walk.  Sometime last summer I developed a pain in my upper left hamstring that kept me from walking at all for months, much longer than I thought it should have taken to heal.  Now I can’t keep pace with the music I once danced along to, and the hamstring acts up well before I want to stop walking.

It all seems so unfair, woe is me and all that.  So I’m walking and reminding myself to focus on tightening my core, at least I can work on a flat stomach even if my legs and arms won’t cooperate.  I see a man joining the walk, someone I’ve seen every summer since I started.  He walks slowly, very slowly.  He wears black knee high socks with his shorts, and I always tease him that it’s hot, he should get white ones, and he always responds these special socks, for his neuropathy, only come in black.  He calls me “young lady” but I think he must notice my gray hair or how I don’t bounce around like I once did.

I slow down to greet him and mention how annoyed I feel that I can’t do what I used to.  He tells me he has to walk every day or else his legs get stiff.  He had total knee replacement four years ago and doesn’t want to go through that again.  Then he tells me as bad as that surgery was, it wasn’t nearly as bad as his bypass or when he had to have a lung removed.  A tumor was found in his lung only by accident when he had a staph infection.  He’s had cancer a few times, the first time cost him a couple of toes — a melanoma that he figures came from a really bad sunburn he once got in college.

He worked as an accountant for 40 years before retiring after his bypass surgery.  I’m seeing him as if for the first time, not as a senior citizen taking daily walks to keep his legs moving, but as a young man laying on the grass in the sunshine and later spending years going to work, fulfilling an important role in some business endeavor.  “I’m 72 now, happy to be here breathing,” he says.

I start to move ahead, on with my walk.  He says something about my “cool sunglasses.”  I answer, walking backwards, that I need them to protect my eyes – glaucoma.  He has that too, he says, but he hasn’t had the surgery yet, his cataracts aren’t bad enough.  I slow back down to tell him I’ve had that surgery, it’s a piece of cake.

He waves as he leaves the track, “I’ve had enough fun for one day.”  Somehow my leg and foot aren’t bothering me quite so much and I comfortably walk another two laps, farther than I’ve gone in awhile.  I suddenly feel very happy to be 61 and walking the track, even if I can’t be dancing it like I used to.  I have to find out if those socks really don’t come in white.

 

Listen when the Universe calls

You may remember me complaining about wrong numbers on our land line because our number matches the first seven digits of the toll-free number for Medicaid Transportation in our area.  We’ve gotten used to so many wrong numbers that we hardly answer that phone, only keeping it because it’s tied into our alarm system.  Usually I just look at the caller ID to see whether the ringing phone is a “real” call or not.

My voice mail message (tersely) alerts the caller they may have the wrong number and suggests they try dialing 1 first.  I often then hear the beep of pressing 1, or they hang up and call again.  Frequently the caller doesn’t speak English, or they sound elderly, infirm, or all of the above.  Sometimes I come home and find full length messages from people stating their name and the time and date of their needed ride.  I usually press delete and get on with my day.

I guess I felt I did what I could to help, alerting agencies and providers of the issue and concluded that was the limit of my responsibility.  Still, I occasionally pick up the phone, especially if the same person calls repeatedly.  Lately a few people said they tried dialing 1 but got a message that the phone number is no longer in service.  A new wrinkle, yet not quite catching my full attention.  I replied with shrugged shoulders, “Sorry, this is a private residence (!!),” hung up, and got on with my day.

Yesterday the phone rang three times in a row with the same name popping up on the caller ID.  In frustration from the constant ringing (don’t I get enough of that torture at work??), I picked up the phone.  I tried my usual speech about dialing 1, and the woman said she got the no-longer-in-service message.  I turned around and googled Medicaid Transportation on my computer which is right in front of the telephone.  “Oh, thank you,” she said, “I don’t have a computer.”  It had not occurred to me that someone could not be able to do what is second nature to me.

After a few searches – it’s not so easy to navigate government agencies even for the computer savvy — I found the list of numbers for Medicaid Transportation by county.  The number she had was off by one, the last, digit.  I asked her where she had gotten that number, she said a social worker gave it to her.  Perhaps she copied the number wrong, or perhaps it’s wrong on some list somewhere.  I suggested she let the social worker know about the error.  She promised she would.

The woman thanked me over and over.  In perfect English.  I gratefully received her blessings and thought how nice for me, I had done my good deed for the day and was rewarded.  Then I felt an intuitive knock on my head.  Here I am supposedly surrendering to Divine guidance, saying I wish to be of service, asking to be an instrument for the greater good in whatever way I may be called.  Could the call be any clearer?

 

We Are One – Ask Energy

 

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What the world needs now is Love, Sweet Love … truer words have never been sung!  It’s really simple, if we react to hate with hate, we will get more hate, anger breeds anger, vengefulness,  more in return.  The pattern must be broken.  Patterns repeat and dynamics play out whether on a small or large scale.  I have a small personal story to illustrate the power of this law of attraction.

I was working in my husband’s office, responding to a credit chargeback where a patient was questioning part of her bill.  Always looking for a win/win resolution, I faithfully communicated with the patient and the credit company to sort out the details.  To keep the patient happy, we were willing to refund the challenged amount which was about fifteen percent of the total bill.  The credit company, following internal protocol, ultimately decided instead to invalidate the entire amount, which was considerable and had a meaningful impact on our office finances.

I was struck livid (LIVID!!!!) by the unfairness of their decision and unwillingness to respond to reason.  I could not release the anger I felt, it overtook my consciousness.  For days, every time I thought about what had transpired, fury bubbled up inside of me and flowed out in the kind of language I’m not usually known for displaying.

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A few days later, I was driving to work, not in any sort of hurry, peacefully listening to the radio when I heard sirens coming up behind me and looked in my rearview mirror to see a police car, lights flashing, barreling down the hill behind me and several other cars.  I immediately pulled over as did the others, thinking the police car was on the way to some incident up ahead.  To my complete shock, the car came to a screeching halt right next to me.  The policewoman rolled down her window and started screaming at me with I must say the same intensity I had exhibited when I got that phone call from the credit company informing me of that chargeback.  I immediately felt the connection between those two incidents.

frequencies and actions

I know I drew that anger to me, just like I believe we will continue to draw terrorism to us if we react with more violence.  And I believe we can turn the negativity around if everyone pulls together to raise our collective vibration out of the depths and into love and beyond.  I don’t know precisely how this will work, but I know the Universe, the Divine, God, our higher selves, or whatever you want to call it, knows how.  All we need do is surrender to that level of guidance and we will be shown the way.  May it be so.

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Goodbye 10 East Main

We were selling the building that once had housed my beloved coffee shop/bakery, BaklaJava.  Although I knew in my heart my time had passed for that adventure, I still felt melancholy closing the door for good.  As long as we owned the building, the possibility remained that I could do it again … if I wanted.

I hadn’t asked for time off to go to the closing, but it turned out I wasn’t working the scheduled day.  I asked my husband a couple of times if he needed me there, he said no, not really.  But that morning it was raining, precluding my usual walk on the track, so I decided to go along.

We stopped for gas along the way and my husband pumped.  He leaned into the car saying, “you like numbers, look at this.”  He had pumped 13.331 gallons of gas for a price of $33.31.   I am accustomed to the Universe communicating with me with numbers but this one was new on me.  I texted my psychic sister to ask what the numbers might mean.  Decision number, she said, could direct to completion.  I felt a message myself:  Pay attention!

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As we drove to the lawyer’s office, I felt a sadness creeping up in my chest that I hadn’t expected.  I’ve learned to let these feelings rise up, feel them fully and release rather than allow such to hang around and sneak up on me in unexpected ways.  The heaviness radiated, deepening as we approached the lawyer’s office.

We were last to enter the conference room, and I was surprised to see a younger man than I expected plus a couple I knew of in our area but did not know personally.  It turned out the three of them were together in the new venture, which would be a café of sorts.  Someone mentioned BaklaJava and the buyer’s attorney asked if it had been mine.  I solemnly nodded, yes.

I missed the entire business of signing over the building between my husband and the various attorneys and title insurer as I talked with the new owners about their plans.  I became filled with memories of the love and passion I had for that place, the sights, sounds, smells, the kids who worked with me, the customers who loved my then home away from home.  My heart lifted as the to-be café owners expressed appreciation for my former business and invited me to share in brainstorming and offer advice.   kevin2

The connections continued.  It turned out the three are musicians who play together and would be playing a Prince tribute in the coming month.  Would I like to come to a party?  Julie, the woman in the group is a doctor who’s also a writer with a published memoir.  The Universe said this isn’t an ending, but a pathway to something new and possibly wonderful.

I hugged the new building owner, wishing him all the best and offering any assistance to help assure his success.  As I was leaving, Julie said, “Don’t worry, it’s in good hands.”  No doubt.  And so am I.

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Purple Healing

I sat alone in a diner waiting as my car was serviced when I noticed silent clips of Prince performing on the far wall TV.  I squinted to read the flashing news lines thinking, oh no, something must have happened, not prepared for the headline PRINCE DEAD AT 57.

For a moment I could not breathe.  I looked around, not understanding why people seemed not to notice, carrying on as usual.  I did not know my waitress, but wanted to hug her, ask her, did she hear the terrible news about Prince?  My Facebook friends were already talking, debating, hoping the news was a hoax, as confirming reports came in.  Thus began my descent into a grief I didn’t understand but couldn’t deny.

Circumstances left me alone throughout that day and well into the evening.  I longed for a place to go, somewhere to be, someone to be with who shared my grief.  It felt personal, his death.  I always admired Prince, considered him an icon, a genius, deserving of every gushing description he’s now receiving, but I couldn’t call myself a fan, feeling I did not deserve to place myself in that category.  His hits were among my all time favorite songs, I turned the radio up whenever I heard one, but I never attended a concert, didn’t own any of his music and hadn’t even seen Purple Rain.  Yet I felt devastated he was gone.

For the next two days I couldn’t get enough Prince, listening to every news outlet, alternating between news and music.  I learned the full extent of his genius:  playing so many instruments, laying down all the tracks of his early music, writing songs for others — performing, producing, managing his catalogue, building his “vault.”  Rarely do we see anyone so talented in even just one area, let alone all he displayed.  Yet that didn’t explain why I was feeling such an unshakable sadness.

People were calling in to EW Radio to share their personal Prince stories.  I thought of watching him guest star last year on the sitcom “New Girl” with Zoe Deschanel.  The episode captured classic Prince, the balance between his superstardom and humanness.  He gave Zoe’s character the opportunity to “freak out” at meeting him and then went on to share an evening with her like a new best friend.  It was a look behind the curtain for someone like me who only knew his mysterious, remote, untouchable side; a glimpse into what I heard one fan describe as his ability even in a full concert arena to make each person feel like he was performing just for them.  It seemed I could connect to his positive energy even through a flat screen TV.  I wanted more of him.

After sadly slogging through two work days wanting only to talk and think about Prince, I decided to go out on Saturday night, despite facing work again the following morning.  I am fortunate to live five minutes from Daryl’s House, as in Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates; it was my first visit though it’s been open over a year.  That night acoustic guitarist Andy McKee, with whom I was not familiar, was playing.  I thought, hoped, maybe in a music venue I’d get the shared mourning experience I was craving.

Andy McKee’s guitar playing was indescribably soul touching, soothing and restorative.  Even watching with my own eyes I could not understand how he got so much music out of one instrument.  He performed with no mention of Prince or the terrible news, and I thought perhaps his niche was too different to hold a strong connection.  It was getting late and I thought about leaving just as he finished his set.  The filled room drew him back for an encore, and then he started talking about Prince.

In intimate detail, Andy shared his story of being invited by Prince first to collaborate and then to be a part of his upcoming tour.  We shared in his surprise and disbelief at receiving the first email invitation, the thrill of visiting Paisley Park, jamming with Prince, and planning for the concert tour.  Andy would play as the show began leading up to Prince’s entrance, and Andy hilariously described Prince’s specific idea about what Andy should wear for the occasion (involving a long fur-lined cape) starkly contrasting Andy’s usual casual style.

And then Andy played for us, as he played for Prince then, his acoustic guitar version of Purple Rain.  Beginning softly and building to the throbbing intensity a proper Prince entrance would demand, you could almost feel Prince’s spirit filling the room.  This was exactly what I needed, more than I could have asked for, and I felt unspeakably grateful for this answer to my prayer.

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Gabrielle Bernstein says in her book Miracles Now! the light we see in others is our own light reflecting back at us.  By all accounts Prince knew exactly what he wanted and went about making that happen with exceptional precision.  He was more than his music, he was an example of a life well lived.  We all wanted more.

Thank you, dear Prince, for showing me what it looks like to dive fully into being exactly who you are.  I see what can be accomplished even in a too-short lifetime by someone who is not afraid to fail, who reaches heights only attained by taking risks that leave people shaking their heads in disbelief.  I hope I can be at least a little bit like him.  Purple has always been my favorite color.

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