There is sadness here

Don’t get me wrong by the title.  I am doing really well since surgery #2, as I’ve mentioned to several of you recently.  It’s true.  This surgery was WAY easier than the first.  I guess because they didn’t remove lymph nodes and I therefore did not need a drain.  The range of motion in my left arm was supremely disabled after surgery #1, so much so that I could hardly change my shirt or brush my hair.  Day by day, my range of motion got better and coming out of surgery #2, I am happy to report it was not negatively affected at all.

So, recovery then was way faster.  I was even able to eat at the hospital before being discharged.  I only took pain killers for maybe 3 days and now (10 days later) am pretty much back to normal.

So why the sadness then, you ask?

Well, it has come up in meditation.  The first time I noticed it, a couple days before surgery #2, I was doing a lying meditation in bed.  I was focusing on my breath and of course frequently drifting off into thought (meditation takes practice and constant reminders to come back to focus).  As I delved into a total body scan, whereby the goal was to attend to the whole body and sense which spots or areas were troubled or tight or uncomfortable, my heart stood out.

My heart hurt.

It felt heavy and sad.  It was kind of weird because I don’t typically feel sad,  at least not for myself.  Even when I was diagnosed, I wasn’t sad for me, and only really got upset when I spoke with others about it.  I can feel others’ sadness but not usually my own.  I was not upset about the feeling and didn’t cry.  I simply stayed with it for a few minutes before moving onto another ache.  I accepted it completely.

Of course there’s sadness here. DUH!

I noticed it again just prior to being wheeled into surgery #2.  I was told after surgery #1 that how one feels going into surgery is typically how one feels coming out.  If that feeling is anxiety then one might wake up screaming.  If it is calm though, one would likely wake up calm.  Remembering that, I thought that it would be a good time to practice the mindfulness skills I’ve been learning and practicing in group.

My initial instinct was to do another lying meditation and just try to calm my whole body, however, as soon as I relaxed, the sadness was profound.  I even started crying.  Then I started to freak out a bit because I was thinking, “NO… I cant be upset when I go into surgery or I’ll wake up upset!”  Okay, so I was a bit of a wreck.

So, I switched to a “mini”.  Mini’s are something we learned the day before surgery in group and involve breathing in a particular way (turns out there are several ways to meditate).  There are a few different ways to do a mini that I wont go into here, but the one I chose to practice in those moments before surgery, was a square mini.

The square mini includes 4 parts of breath, all equal in length (like a square).  Breathe in for 3 seconds, pause for 3 seconds, breathe out for 3 seconds, pause for 3 seconds.  Repeat.  In group, I initially found the pauses, especially after the out-breathe, very difficult but surgery day, it worked perfectly.  It managed to calm me right down and to (miraculously) keep me solely focused on breathe for the good part of 2 or 3 minutes!  I was calm going in and calmer than usual coming out.  Success.

Finally, this past Wednesday, I shared all of this at group.  The doctor who leads our group said that often when people notice sadness, their initial reaction is to push it away as it is an unwanted or unpleasant feeling.

“Don’t push it away”, he said.  “I understand why you did pre-surgery but I encourage you to sit with it next time you notice it.  Be with it.  Notice how it feels physically in your body.  If sadness is there, let it be there and get to know it.” (this is loosely quoted from memory).

He also warned that people often say, “I’m sad.”  This is an inaccurate statement though because they are not sad, rather they are many things (I am a wife, mother, sister, daughter etc).  By labelling oneself as “sad”, one is almost encouraging the feeling to be all consuming.  It is more accurate and beneficial to say, “Oh, sadness is there.  There it is.  I know that feeling,” and accept sadness as a feeling one is experiencing rather than a label of who one is.

Sadness is here somewhere and my mission this week in meditation (“safe” meditation at home alone) is to welcome it and get to know it better.  The reason I say “safe” is because I know this will require time alone for me to fully embrace.

Do you push sadness away or have you gotten to know your sadness?

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Angels – Part 1

I need to introduce Fawna as she is a key figure in my story.  She is one of my people.  She is my angel.

Rewind a few years.  Well, 6 1/2 years ago, June 2006, to be specific.

That is when my husband and I decided to move our small family away from the bustling city of Calgary, AB and out to the country.   More specifically to the little village of Longview, AB.  I believe our family of five (at the time) increased the village’s population to a whopping 306!  It was a bit of a culture shock to say the least.  Add to that the fact that we knew no one and everyone else in Longview had grown up there and were surrounded by large, supportive families… Oh yeah, and less than a month in, we got pregnant!  Make that population 307!

Anyway, we did manage to make a few friends right from the start.  D and M lived right across the street and had a son the same age as Grace, so naturally we hit it off.  They invited us to their pig roast at the end of the summer.  I know right?  Pig roast… what is that?  Essentially it was a large gathering of friends eating food, having drinks, and socializing.  In Calgary we call this a barbeque.

It was at this pig roast that I was introduced to Fawna.  Initially we were introduced because we were both pregnant and had kids at the Longview School.  In fact, our friendship went on as such for a few years.  We co-chaired the parent council together, exchanged childcare once in a while, and Fawna even invited me into the ladies group that she and her friends had once a month.

I cant really pinpont when our relationship blossomed beyond that.  It could have been the many teas we had while discussing the care of youth at risk but probably it really began the day I went to her ranch for a vision board workshop.

I remember really not wanting to go.  I had just finished two long days of a seminar in Calgary in the midst of winter snow storms and horrid traffic.  I was exhausted and yet compelled to go anyway.  I wore my most comfortable sweats and headed west.

Fawna began the day with a chakra meditation.  At the time, I was fairly new to the experience of meditation and still did know that I almost always cry when I meditate.

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I don’t remember the specifics of what came to me in that meditation but I do remember that I stepped over into the world of “woo” that day.  Woo is my word to define everything spiritual and related to energy.   I shared with the group how scared I felt to accept woo into my being.  I was worried my husband would love this newfound wisdom about me.  I was ashamed at the grief I had given my mom about her woo-ness for so many years.

What I got from the group that day was, of course, complete acceptance.   And from my husband, also complete acceptance.

When I was trying to relay the experience to my friend Michelle, she said,

She’s your angel.  Fawna is your angel.

Michelle’s statement shocked me at first and settled quickly.  It is true.  Fawna is my angel.  She is an angel to many.  Anyone who meets her is bound to feel safe, comfortable, and protected in her presence.  She has that essence about her.  She is compassion.  She is my angel.

Do angels appear as friends or loved ones in your life?