Monday, April 16, 2012

Hi! My name is

Almost a year ago, George and I adopted a nine pound, four year old female ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from a rescue organization called Cavalier Rescue USA. Her given name was Ginger, but giving her a fresh start, we renamed her Giselle which she learned quite quickly.

Names are really important to us, aren't they? We put time, effort and care into what we name our children, our pets and for some even their cars or boats. In my immediate family, our dogs even have middle names!

Zoe, Mr. Knightley and Giselle
Though we have not called her 'Ginger' in a really long time, Giselle responds to both names. And there is another name she responds to as if it were another given name. She responds to it even when it is said with a flat intonation: 'Good Girl.' Our other dogs respond to multiple names too. Four year old sensitive tomboy, Zoe responds to 'Princess' and our nine year old stubborn cuddler, Knightley responds to 'Puppy.'

As I just recently noticed how Giselle responds to 'Good Girl' as if it were a name rather than a praise we give her, I thought about how as individuals, we respond to the names that we have been given by others or ourselves whether positive, negative or neutral. They may sometimes be adjectives, but we can adopt them as being names that reflect who we are even when they really don't: Intelligent; Victim; Survivor; Worthless; Beautiful; Failure; Kind; Nothing; Everything; Stupid; Got-it-Together; Damaged;

I had an experience recently where someone very cruelly told me something horrid about myself that I knew was not true, but I could not shake it. Even though loved ones reassured me it was not true, it really messed with me. It was as though this person had take a super-adhesive sticker with this name written on it and slapped in on my inner being. It affected the way I saw myself, how I thought about myself, and I started thinking as though this name/label must be true. I even started to feel shame because I was carrying this name/label around. It really rocked my boat and this negative name/label led to other negative names I believed about myself.

We all grow up with names we took on or were branded with and they probably shaped who we are even though they may or may not be who we are. Some people shake names/labels easier than others. Admittedly, I have to work to shake any name/label I have been given by others or myself. My husband, George, lets names/labels easily slide off his back. Over the years he has taught me how not to care what people think about me. And what a freeing thing it is. I am jealous it comes so naturally to him because it is something I have to work on daily. I have redefine myself for who I really am in my core, not the labels I got pinned stuck with.

Isn't it rotten when we grow up hearing something about ourselves that is not true, but we begin to believe it is? Maybe parents or grandparents or siblings treated us in a way that made us believe a name/label about ourselves. Maybe abuse made one's mind adopt a name.  Maybe someone in school told us we were nothing. Maybe a colleague/boss crushed our work. Maybe a friend betrayed us. Maybe fill in the blank has expectations we cannot meet. Maybe as a chronically ill person, people who are supposed to love and support us have given us labels that are not who we are.

If names were piled on stickers, I'd love to use that Goo Gone product on the pile. In fighting back against this most recent name that I let define me for a while, I sought to find what my name really is in the center of my being. And I found that name to be 'Beloved.'

No matter what has been stuck onto us, who we are, what we have done, mistakes we have made, what someone called us, what someone did to us, we have a core name that means "a much loved person." Our task is to work on peeling off all those other names that bind us so that we can experience freedom.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I am here.

Hello dear readers. I have missed you. I am slowly returning online. After such a hiatus, I find being online to be quite overwhelming. Since quite often, I have difficulty processing what I am reading, it became more painful to attempt to be online than to just let it go.  I have had other priorities which included taking care of myself, which has been hard when I love spending time with and learning with you all.

I know I have missed a lot in the lives of so many that I love. I am also thankful for so many of you who have followed me these last almost two months and given your support while I was at Mayo Clinic for two weeks. I really do not want to write about me, I really want to hear from you and how you are. The problem is, I still don't have enough resources-physically or emotionally-to get back to you all. But, getting emails especially from a certain high school friend who was one of two "average" (non-chronically ill) persons to respond to my request to "please tell me how you are" really thrills me. 

I did not feel like I had any reserves to give anyone anything, which is why I have stayed away.  We have to take care of ourselves before we can be there for others in any capacity.  In part of taking care of myself, I have learned about and made my goal something called "Otium Sanctum" or "holy leisure" which is described by Richard Foster in his book, The Celebration of Discipline.
It refers to a sense of balance in the life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves.
I have not really pulled it off, but I strive for it. For me, Otium Sanctum has meant watching and photographing the budding trees and lilac bushes. It has also meant spending lots of focused time with God through prayer, meditation, reading scripture, books, and a commentary on 2 Corinthians in a way I had not before. For me, spending time with God has been a rejuvenating fuel.

Also, I am working quite hard at pushing my physical limits. My stamina is painfully low, my muscles appallingly weak, and my weight, well, frustratingly above what I want it to be. I am in a place where I don't know where my limits are physically. Being driven, ambitious and stubborn works against me when I feel good enough go for a short walk to the lake with the dogs and find myself having gone farther than I told myself I would and then spent the next day grounded because my body wasn't ready for such a long walk. This is definitely not balance!! But I learned from the lesson.

I get very impatient because I desperately want to be doing the "average" person things...or maybe "average" chronically ill person things, if there is such a thing, which there probably isn't.

Okay, I just want to be doing more and I have trouble seeing the progress that George sees. My impatience is not peaceful. Everything is all baby steps.  The expectations I have for myself are way to high and I've started to be way too harsh on myself if I don't complete what I want to do in a day (which really isn't all that much if you look at it from an "average" point of view).  I need to scale back or else I'll stay on this roller coaster of pushing too far and then being completely incapable of doing anything. And let's not forget the health issues that complicate things. It is a fine line to walk of pushing and resting. What I really need to do is give myself grace for what I cannot do and for the mistakes I make in attempting to find balance.

I digress. I have started to have blog ideas pop into my head again, which means I am ready to write again. And I am excited.  I am not sure how to balance it as I do not like spending so much time on the computer currently and some days find it impossible, but I will do my best.

I'm fearful to exclaim "I'm back!". So I'll whisper "I am here." I am looking forward to connecting with you all again.