Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"My year of bad behavior"

March 19th and we're in the middle of another Nor'easter with blowing snow and an expected foot or more of this white stuff covering the tiny crocus's I saw poking through the earth over the weekend.  It's not an easy pill to swallow for those of us ready for spring in Maine.

My year has felt a bit like this crazy weather we've been having ... storms blowing in and out with some calms between the storms ... on the emotional front anyway.  A lot of these storms have come from unexpected people.  Change is not an easy thing for anyone and there has been tremendous changes in my life!

From December 2008 this train of mine has been moving pretty fast.  Five years since Jim's diagnosis, three years since his death, over a year and a half with Dave ... if you didn't get on this train you've been left at the station.  I understand this has been hard for folks.  Me too.

But the fact is, there is good in my life now and I have found happiness again.  And yet, there has been some real hard lessons and difficult interactions with a few people of my world.   I've had some time to reflect on this a little bit.  I was talking with my good friend, Kristine, about some of these interactions and she said to me, "Mary, just remember the year after Jim passed you were still deeply in grief and this can bring out the worst in people.  Allow yourself some space around the fact that you may have been a little difficult to be around at that time."

Oh.  I didn't understand this.

Another very good friend, T, who also lost her spouse to cancer told me, "Mary, I call that year after E died 'my year of bad behavior!'"

OH!  It isn't just me?

I have ruminated and looked deeply into some of the behaviors that a friend called me out on.  Yup, I went into some shame around this too.  But after hearing from these other two women I've started to give myself a break .... and yes, there was a period of "bad behavior" from me.  But maybe it's part of the grieving process.

So why do I share this?  Because this was new information for me.  If you are recently grieving the loss of someone in your life you might need to understand that you may not respond to situations in your normal way.  Perhaps you've gone a little deeper into yourself and come across as selfish to others.  Well, maybe you are and maybe you should be.  You need to go deep, there's some healing in that place for you.  No need for shame around this at all!

And if you are a friend to someone who is in this place, I share this so that you may understand that your friend may not be quite like themselves for awhile ... a long while.  Be patient with them, come to understand that they will resurface at some point in time.  But during this time of "bad behavior" just let some things roll off your back.

It's not an easy place, for the one grieving or for the friends of that person.  But, a little understanding goes a long way.

Loving you all back,


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do You Believe in Magic?

Mount Katadhin
If you're going to live in Maine, and stay here through the winter, than you might as well embrace these months of cold, snow and ice.  This past weekend is exactly what myself and thirteen other people did as we headed into Maine's biggest state park, Baxter ... home of Maine's tallest mountain, Mt. Katadhin.

A friend, Alice,  put out an email asking about interest in doing a trek into the Katadhin Lake Camps months ago.  She proceeded to make all the needed inquiries and reservations in advance to secure the  number of cabins necessary to house all those who planned on going.

Getting to this lake is no walk in the park mind you!  We all needed to be prepared to ski the 14.2 miles into the cabins on Katadhin lake bringing all our winter clothing and gear,  our own food and beverages and any other needed winter recreational apparatus, i.e., snowshoes or climbing spikes.  We were offered the choice of hauling our own stuff - done by hauling sleds behind you, much like a Draft horse pulls the plow - or have the owners of the camp take our stuff in with their ski sleds for a very minimal fee.  Hmmm ... let's see ... what-to-do ... all of us opted to have our gear transported for us!

The plan was to ski in on Friday morning, leaving early enough that even the slowest skier would be able to make it to the camps with light still in the sky.  This entails getting out of Portland and being in the tiny town of Millinocket on Thursday night in order to be up at the gate to the park by 9:00 a.m.

On Thursday I saw a few clients in the morning and Dave and I planned a 3:00 p.m. get-out-of-Dodge departure time.  This would put us at the hotel in Millinocket by 7:00.  Thursday, while at work, I couldn't seem to get warm and found myself actually shivering at times.  And my stomach was a bit upset, I had a little, tiny headache and .. uh oh, my whole body ached!  Is this the flu?  Really?  After all these months and months of planning, all the people I treated all winter long who were sick and I did not catch one virus ... now?  I was going to get sick NOW?!

I got home and explained my symptoms to Dave.  He felt my forehead and said, "you have a fever.  Mary, what do you want to do?" I said, "I want to drive up there".  His eyebrows went up in a severe question.  "What if I wake up Friday feeling just fine?  I want to be up there to decide on Friday morning how I feel."  Dave thought I was crazy but he agreed to go.  He also agreed to drive the entire way to allow me to sleep, which I did, nestled and shivering under a big-guns down jacket that a friend was lending me for this trip.  I gave myself a couple little mini-acupuncture treatments on the drive up and went straight to bed when we got to the hotel.  No dinner and socializing with the crew as they arrived for this gal!

Now, on the drive up I had said to Dave that I thought he should go on this trip regardless of how I might feel on Friday morning;  I could drive home alone and he could hitch a ride with someone on Monday.  His response was, "Yes, I think I probably will!"  I admit, this was not the response I had been hoping for!  I almost broke down in tears at that point.  But instead, I resolved to get better.   I thought about Jim; who had the will of ... of ... I don't know what of, but his will was so, incredibly strong.  I saw this when he was sick and crippled, but still he would push himself to do things that no one ever thought he'd be capable of in his condition.   I witnessed this will of his countless times over our years together.  He would not let much stop him if he had his mind and heart set on something. After a pretty severe cycling crash,  that cracked a couple ribs and turned his thigh into hamburg, he still wanted to make a four hour drive to see our God-daughter graduate from Smith College.  Oh, and he drove the entire way too; as long as he didn't sneeze or laugh he felt OK.

 So I thought about this as I shivered under that down jacket.  I thought about how Jim Daniels would have decided to go, even if he was sick.  He would put his head down and not complain and just do what he could regardless.

At 6:00 a.m. Friday morning Dave woke me and asked, "how do you feel?" The fever had broken in the night, the body no longer ached, my stomach needed food but I didn't feel sick.  "I feel pretty good! I'm doing this trip!"

Some of the crew and most of our gear
I don't know what the magic pill was that had me beat the flu within twelve hours; acupuncture?  Maybe.  Latching onto a bit of the Jim Daniels will?  Maybe.  My own resolve and my own will to just do it?  Maybe.  I honestly don't know.

What I do know is it was an amazing weekend with good friends.  The wildness in me needs to be out under stars unadulterated by any kind of electrical lights.  It needs to look at a mountain and watch the clouds swirl around the peak.  It needs to connect with the wildness of my world and get recharged.  So I'm grateful for whatever magic there was for me that allowed me to be healthy enough to get out there and connect once again.

I believe in magic!

Loving you all back,