Have you ever had the urge to enter the wilderness with a backpack, but dismissed it as an impossibly silly dream, because you felt too old and out of shape? I am here to tell you that you can do it! You don’t need to be young, thin, athletic or tough. Here is my story.
A few years ago, an older, well-dressed woman walked into my therapy office. She seemed agitated. Nervously, she told me that she was unable to eat or sleep because she was troubled by sexual fantasies about her best friend’s husband.
Oh, how we wish for things to be different: Our bodies strong and healthy and, preferably, slim. Our children stable and successful; our grandchildren happy and thriving. Loved ones alive and healthy. Our marriages deeply loving, or else wishing for that elusive man to complete us. Plenty of money in savings.
I am a typical earth mother – nurturing, a good listener, a therapist and a caregiver. In contrast, my close friend marches on Washington, travels to third world countries to fight for the preservation of environment and has tied herself to a tree to protest corporate greed
As the Buddhists say, “pain and pleasure, praise and blame, loss and gain are the natural waves of being human.” Just sitting quietly in a wicker rocker in the sunshine, I am pulled up and down by text messages, phone calls and the fluctuations in my own mind.
I sit on my living room floor, in front of the fire, after my morning tea. This is my time; time to slow my breath, relax my body and just be present. This is my way of soothing my mind and releasing the tension in my body. Nothing fancy, nothing strange; this is mindfulness meditation and I love it.
My view of the world will never be quite the same.
This past week, a friend and I attended a mind-blowing exhibit at Dennos Museum in Traverse City. It is entitled “Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon,” and is based on the work of photojournalist/storyteller Paola Gianturco. She chronicles the stories of grandmothers around the world fighting for a better future for their grandchildren.
At over sixty, we have learned to be optimists. Look on the bright side. Whistle a happy tune. Be very grateful for the good in our lives. When we feel down, we distract ourselves.
Aaahh, the smell of roasting turkey. Sounds of jingle bells and children’s red-cheeked laughter. Visions of shiny wrapping paper and sparkly trees and glowing menorahs. Joy and connection. The happiest time of the year.
Except when it isn’t.