January 09, 2022
This week a perfect storm arose. I ruminated over circumstances until I felt sorry for myself. This sympathy may have even appeared a little comforting at first, but not for long. We are all victims of circumstances in one way or another, but when we really buy into it, we accept additional burdens and stigmas and give up our freedom to see a way out, or even a way in.
Rather than leaving for a personal retreat in Umbria, I got sick with covid. This was not what I planned for the continuation of surgical healing. Although this variant didn't make me super sick, there was no energy to be had. I isolated in my room in the monastery. Daniela had coordinated from New York with friends here to be on call and bring what I needed. She also kindly reached out for back up in case things should worsen, and health practitioner friends for what I should take.
Nooo.. after weeks of being pampered in kindness and care by so many beautiful souls, I desperately needed to turn the table. It was my turn to be in reciprocity, not the one who still needed special attention. This inner fight caused more suffering than anything else.
To be alone in a country without the language, recovering from surgery, in isolation with no food and a covid stigma. This perfect storm also allowed me to see my mother in me. I had to own that I too was like her. Givers make lousy receivers.
My beautiful mother Rita had a heart of gold and would give the shirt off her back or the last dollar in her bank account for anyone in need. She was always generous with everything she had, especially her prayers. In later life she was hit by a car and crushed her knee. Post hospital she lived with one sister for a month, then another for another month. The woman that we met in recovery was not the woman we called mom. She was frustrated, and intolerable. She could’t stand people waiting on her. That was her job in life. One she did with grace and love. She had no tools to be on the receiving end. Now I saw myself as that person.
It was a good teaching to have to revisit. I remember telling mom then that by not allowing others to help, is to deny them the right and opportunity to be the giver. A role she cherished.
I really benefited from this reminder and became much kinder to myself, adding lightness and humour to whatever arose. However, it was still easier to eat porridge and clementines for days rather than ask for help. Old ways die hard.
Through the week I slept and slept and slept some more. Not forgetting to give thanks for the gift that is and everything else that arises in these unexpected times. It’s not just what we plan that we want to be present for, it all that shows up. This was not the retreat I planned, but it was a healing retreat, none the less.
When strong emotions arise, breathe with them. “Breathing in, I am aware that I am frustrated/angry/sad; breathing out, I am here for my frustration/anger/sadness.”Or as dear Thay always says,“hello old friend.”
This mindfulness practice can take any scenario where we feel sorry for ourselves, capable of spiralling outward into energetic chaos to an inward spiral of understanding and befriending ourselves when most in need. It reminds us that the seeds we water are the ones that will grow.
I hope this note finds you in loving kindness towards yourself and all you encountered this first week of the year.
If you inquired about the retreats and haven’t heard from me yet, stay tuned. I’m on the rise.
From Italy, to you with love, a bow and a smile,
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