Saturday, September 24, 2016

Colorado

I spent a week in Colorado with my brother at the start of September.
It is hard to describe the grandeur and intimacy that I experienced with Nature.  It ranged from high craggy mountains to the tiniest most delicate flowers... pictures don't do it justice but I will post a few!







Happy...

Mushrooming!



Rio, the new addition to the family...






Feeling strong and empowered!


The Aspens were just starting to turn in the high country!



"Follow me" he says....


Old Steam engine in the middle of mining country.

The Spruce Beetle has decimated the evergreen forests...

One of the best days of my life! I learned to ride an ATV and lived to tell the tale!







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Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Servant's Heart

A Servant's Heart





This week brought me to my knees at times... mostly with gratitude though.

I have the opportunity to see people at the clinic who otherwise might not receive therapy. I am honored and humbled to be a brief part of their lives.

This week one of them asked "How can you do this job? How can you sit in a room and listen to people whine? How can you deal with all the depressing shit they bring? Why would you even want to?"

Another person asked how, as an introvert, did I deal with the constant contact of humans who are broken?

First of all, we are all broken and in various stages of healing. Secondly I am learning the balance between helping others and helping myself.

As for the first question, how do I do this job? I feel it was something I was called to do. I look back on my life and see how the journey of 56 years has prepared me for pretty much anything I hear from other people.

While I have not had their exact experience I have had my life experiences that have taught me lessons that brought me wisdom. While some of those lessons were soul shattering and heart breaking, they made me not only stronger but more understanding and compassionate.

I truly believe that we connect through pain, that our most vulnerable point is the thin place where we can touch each other's souls.



As for the gratitude...
The day I got this job, I cried all day out of gratitude. For many reasons I was hoping to be hired at the clinic. I love the world of medicine, it was close to home, the salary and benefits would finally offer me some security and I could let go of anxiety... but mostly I was going to be a therapist again.

When I look in someone's eyes and see a bit of relief and know that I was helpful, I am so grateful for the opportunity that God has put in my life. I am stunned at how often people turn and hug me. I am still amazed that they come back and work on their issues. I am amazed at their resilience, their hope, their courage, their trust...
They inspire me. They give me hope. They teach me. They touch my heart. They have honored me with a sacred trust to let me know them, really know them, at their best and worst. I am so grateful to be able to serve.

I remember a sermon from long ago about "the servant's heart" and I pray every day that I go out to have that heart, to be a channel for love and healing. It's not about me. It's about God working through me. It's about being allowed to be a conduit for healing.

I find I pray more. I pray to be open, to be humble, to help God bring healing to these broken people, these children of God. I am so incredibly blessed that each day, I look into the eyes of Christ, the suffering broken Christ. I am so grateful for this holy time, this holy job, this holy time.

I am so grateful to serve...







Saturday, July 9, 2016

Friday 8 am: Standing appointment



You lift your sleeve and show me
the scars
where the razor
bit and bit and bit
to take away the torment.
You hold out your wrist
the raised white line
shining
like a remnant
of despair.

You look at me
with eyes that have seen
too much too soon.
In the past
tears shimmered on your lashes
spilling down your cheeks
but today,
today you smiled
you laughed
you spoke words of hope
happiness
heroic words

Today you win
against the dragon
today you win
against the world
against pain
darkness,
tragedy and trauma
today you win.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Forgiveness



Today I think I may have reached a place I have been struggling to get to for several years...

I met with someone who owed me a debt, which I had actually forgiven/forgotten about. I didn't expect to see the money and had let go of that. What I hadn't let go of was anger.

I had been holding onto anger for other things that had happened actually. Things that hurt me and I hadn't talked about with this person. Today gave me that opportunity.

Now this is someone I once loved very much. Someone who is no longer in my life. We are on much different paths now and don't ever see or speak to one another; partly by chance, partly by choice.

A week ago this person contacted me and told me that they had something to give me. I figured it was probably some photographs or something of mine they had found.

But, no. They repaid a debt. And we chatted a bit, catching up on where life had taken us in the past year. They said they didn't want the money to be an issue.

That was when I decided to discuss the "issue". I was calm, I tried to honest yet gentle. I tried to use "I" statements and not blame. I am not sure if I did that as well as I had hoped but I tried to say what I needed to say.

I explained I had been holding onto anger. That I was wanting to forgive but I had been hurt by their actions and had not  told them I was hurting and angry.

Today I did that.

And I let it go. I let go of the anger. I saw my words register, I saw pain in their eyes. I didn't want to inflict pain, since I know how it feels, I just wanted to say my piece. To gain peace.

And then we said goodbye. I think maybe this was the final goodbye. I don't know that we will be friends again. I don't think our paths will often cross, but when they do, I hope to look with eyes that hold no anger or judgement.

I am grateful for the repayment of the debt. I admire the person for doing that, for being accountable and being true to their word. It showed me they have grown and changed for the better. And for that I am happy for them. I wish them the best. I wish them all the happiness they never found before. I wish them only good things.

I really think I let go of the anger, of the past, of all the hurt and pain we caused one another. I hope they can forgive me of that past as well...

My heart feels odd today: lighter, a bit sad, a bit hopeful... maybe this is what forgiveness feels like.




Friday, July 1, 2016

Wow... just wow.





What a week! I had an epiphany that it is so rewarding to be a therapist to people who want to do the work and are not court ordered or sent by DCBS or are forced to be there for any reason...
I know that sounds simplistic but it was an eye opening realization for me.

This week on a single day I worked with someone with Huntington's Disease, a person from an Arabic culture, another from an Asian culture, someone dealing with lupus and someone who was struggling with their sexuality.

In one week I see transgendered people, Muslims, Arabs, Christians, Buddhists, black, white, gay, straight, young, old...

I have written letters for emotional support dogs, housing, legal issues; made food referrals, talked with doctors about how to help the patients lose weight, stop smoking, drinking, drugging.

I pass out tissues and cold water. I get hugged. I get to witness the best and worst of the human condition.

I am amazed at how quickly people divulge their life story; the good, the bad, the ugly.
I am amazed at their strength and resiliency; their courage, their hope, their trust and authenticity.

Every day I leave astounded at my good fortune. Amazed that I have found my life's calling and my dream job. After 3 months I have found my footing and I love it. I feel like Owen Meany in that everything in my life has prepared me for this moment...

I am so very grateful, blessed and deliriously happy. Life doesn't get any better than when God's plan falls into place after years of doubt and fear.




Monday, June 27, 2016

Not the bad kind...





Today I sat with a man who has been out of work for 2 years.  He had a wife and kids. He is tall, young and burly. On his foot is a huge walking boot. This Wednesday, the surgeon is removing part of his foot and ankle and replacing it with a cadaver bone, tendons and ligaments. He is worried. He is tense and repeatedly wipes the sweat from his face. We do some deep breathing together.

A few weeks ago he told me how much therapy is helping him; learning the relaxation exercises, being allowed to weep, being validated. He told me that he told his wife that he liked my smile and the way I looked at him. I saw him as a human of worth he said...

Today as we talked he told me he was a Muslim... "but not the crazy bad kind, Miss Martha, I am not that kind..." and my heart broke.

He is a sweet gentle man who loves his wife and kids. He wants so desperately to work again. He wants to get better. But he fell through the cracks. He was treated by a doctor who misdiagnosed his injury and sent him back out to work on a broken foot which then became infected and he nearly died. He contacted a lawyer and was told "the doctor is a big man, I will not win"...

Again, my heart broke for him. He is not the only person I have seen lost in the system

He has applied for SSI but was denied. He is now going on 2 years of not working. His wife gets up at 4 am to work at a children's daycare. They have almost used all their savings to stay afloat. They moved here from Venezuela to pursue the American Dream and almost made it. They were ready to buy a house when he was injured. He doesn't drink, smoke or do drugs.

He is not the only person I have encountered this month wanting to work, to want to not be in "the system".

I have sat with Muslims, Christians, men, women, gay, straight, transgendered, every race and color and religion. By and large the majority are hard working people just trying to do the right thing.

Broken people trying to heal in an ever increasing broken world...

Often when they leave after baring their souls, they hug me. They shake my hand, they thank me. For a brief time they are heard. They matter. They get to say whatever they need to say. I am so incredibly honored to share this time. I am so blessed to be a conduit for healing. I spend holy time with them. I see the Christ in each face that walks through my door. I see the brokenness of the world and the incredible love of God. I am so very blessed to be a servant to a loving God.





Saturday, May 14, 2016

Transgender...

In my new job I meet an amazing array of people. Among my clients I seem to be building a base of LGBT individuals.

Although I am a heterosexual woman, I still find so many commonalities with them, as I do with all my clients. And I don't judge them. All I see is that they are hurting and I hope in my small way I can lessen their pain and teach them ways to cope a bit better.

I ran across this article:
https://baptistnews.com/2016/05/13/seven-things-im-learning-about-transgender-persons/

It seems to be a sensitive thoughtful article. I want to share it so people understand a bit better.

All the controversy over bathrooms in my book, is just ridiculous. As for saying that gender identity issues are "psychological" and can be cured, I disagree. Our mind/body/spirit are entwined, yes, but sometimes we are as we are born.

So much more to learn... but in the meantime, so much more compassion and love is needed.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Oh my heart...


Yesterday was such a beautiful weather day: sunny, cool with a breeze, things blooming and leafing out. 

Yesterday was a heartbreaking, devastating, mournful day too.

I was with my friend Elisabeth going to visit her dog, Carlo, a 13 year old OES (Old English Sheepdog) who was in the ICU after being bitten by a brown recluse spider. He has several issues before that caused concern, a heart condition and breathing issues coupled with some old age stiffness and weakness. But he had been improving! He was getting to go home! His wounds were improving!
We were excited to go get him.

On the way there, I checked my Facebook to discover that my friend Alexine had just lost her 17 year old cat, Kody to cancer. My heart broke for her. She is pregnant and has had Kody for 13 years. I had so hoped he would make it to meet the baby. But he was tired and it was time. Alex posted a beautiful tribute to her long time companion who had seen her through so many life changes as a student, a vet tech, a wife and now a therapist. He moved several times with her. He brought her comfort in times of angst and grief. He was a purring lapcat with a penchant for bread. He was her first baby...

I know how much she loved him and what a great life she provided for him starting the day they rescued each other...

After reading that post I was looking forward to see Carlo and anticipating a happy reunion and trip home. The vet had told Elisabeth he was improving. We got there and he was rolled in on a gurney and he was so excited to see his mama that he rolled off the gurney! He gave her kisses and sat smiling his big goofy doggy smile. The vet came in and talked about home care, asked Elisabeth's opinion and gave the thumbs up to going home. 


After taking out the tubes and changing the bandages and getting his meds together, the techs brought him to the car, he was sitting up and looking very happy. On the ride home, he sat up looking out the window, smiling. All the way home his mom talked to him and held him. As we pulled into his street, he got agitated. We pulled into the driveway and he collapsed and started breathing hard. He passed out and we tried to resuscitate him, but he was gone. He lay there looking peaceful as if he were just sleeping. We were in shock. He took the decision out of everyone's hands about whether to euthanize him. He exited on his own terms, home at last. That had been what his mother wanted, to bring him home, out of the hospital with all the tubes and cages. She wanted him home and I think he held on until then for her sake. 

When one loves animals as these two friends do, there is a heartbreak that is indescribable to those who have never had long term pets. No one can understand the comfort and unconditional love shared by a life with an animal companion unless one has lived it. They take a piece of our heart with them when they die. They are so loving and forgiving and live in the moment and are the holiest of holy here on earth. 

My heart breaks for my friends. I have been there and I know the feeling of loss. I knew Kody and Carlo and loved them too. 

My fervent prayer is that they await at the Rainbow Bridge, playing in the fields, waiting for a loving reunion one day... 





Friday, April 1, 2016

Old Crow Medicine Show



Young pups, stellar musicians, buskers, hillbilly rockers... how does one describe Old Crow Medicine Show? A group of performers who all play several instruments led by a high octane front man who brings rockstar charisma to the stage.

I had front row seats just stage left of center. I could see the broken strings of the fiddler's bow. I was thatclose!

It was my first concert in decades and what a way to get back into concert going!

The energy was palpable. I could feel the drumbeats in my gut. I got lost in the performance, totally forgetting where I was, what time it was, just totally immersed in the moment, in the music zone.

The crowd LOVED them. The frontman, Ketch Secor, came off as a goofy, versatile, sexy, talented singer. Cory Younts, musician and clogger often took the stage to cut lose as a limber dancing man.
They brought passion and joy into their performance. It was obvious they loved what they did and each other very much! And that the feeling was mutual between the audience and the band.

It was seriously one of the best experiences I have had in a long time. To be alive and lost in music... I will have much more of that in my future.

Rock me mama!
https://youtu.be/Y1D2UH1t6Eo