What gives under pressure?

As my countdown to Chiapas continues, and my days and hours are filled with a mammoth translation marathon in preparation, I am noticing what is happening to my choices around time as my stress level increases.

Some days, time lies before me in an open expanse, inviting a feeling of spaciousness as I approach the day and my intentions for it. Saturdays and Sundays, and occasionally a week day, are like that.

Not this week. My dear friend and proofreading colleague Carolina, who is impatiently standing by on east coast time to proofread my translations like a horse chomping at the bit, jokingly suggests that next time they are visiting, her R.N. practitioner husband teach my hubby how to put in an IV so I don't have to eat and can keep working without leaving my desk.

Well that is not happening, but I am blessed to have a sweet gallant hubby who steps up to the plate and into the kitchen. Healthy home cooked meals around the table with family, non negotiable. Meditation, also a no brainier, forgive the pun. The more stress I am under, the more I need it. Less sleep, well, yesterday I would have said, no way. Today, as I lay wide awake and wired at 5 a.m. and surrendered to getting up, some of that went by the wayside too.

My daily hike in the outdoors, ah, sadly, that is not happening this week.

Sometimes during marathon focus periods, when life is such that whatever the task before us can't be eliminated, delegated, or postponed, because it is in fact the right thing to be doing, something has to give, for now.

Unfortunately, it is usually our self care that goes out the window, just when we actually need it the most.

So, it's helpful to pay attention, to stop and notice what gives under pressure ~ then we can sit a moment, think through our day, tune into our body/mind/heart/soul and then decide what to let go of, where to hunker down.

This too, shall pass, I remind myself as I take lots of deep breaths. And it’s all for a fabulous cause!

What about you, oh dear busy bee, what gives under pressure when you are under the gun?


A new day

I love sunny mornings. There’s something about a blue sky, and the early morning light, and that fresh feeling of unlimited possibilities.

Despite everything that is going on around the world, the joys and the tragedies, the blessings and the catastrophes, the mundane and the extraordinary, by some miracle of gravity and other forces beyond our comprehension and control, here we are. Again.

Ready to face into whatever the day brings. Even though we may have our agendas, our schedules mapped out for the hours and minutes ahead of us, actually, it’s a mystery.

I mean, who knows, really, what the day will bring? Who knows what will happen in those spaces in between the planned and the foreseen?

Who knows what conversations, circumstances, meetings, outcomes, moments of surprise, joy, wonder, bafflement, sadness, fury, tenderness await us?

Countdown to Chiapas!

Aerial view of San Cristobal church
A week from today, I board my first flight from our very own little Santa Rosa airport to LAX, where I will meet up with my fellow interpreter and dear friend Katharine Allen and the rest of the Mammoth Medical Missions team. Next day we board our flight to Mexico City, followed by another flight to Tuxtla, a drive to San Cristobal Las Casas and one more drive to our final destination, the highland village of San Andrés Larráinzar. In case you are wondering what this is all about, check out my post here.

It’s Saturday – my very favorite day of the week and I’m gathering my camping gear, making my lists, and checking them twice. So much fun!!

I’m also madly translating the handouts and Power Point presentations for the teaching week, and brushing up on my emergency room, physical therapy and obstetrical terminology. Talk about a crash course!

I am so grateful to all my friends and family around the world who have made it possible for me to join this event through their generous donations.  I am also so grateful to all the wonderful folks I have yet to meet, who have converged in their intention to bring some healing and training assistance to this village.

It’s amazing what goes into a medical mission. The hours and hours of planning. Fund raising. Sterilizing and packing medical equipment. Gathering supplies. Coordinating. Communicating. And countless other behind the scenes activities, all to make it possible.

It’s a global network of caring hearts, who are giving of their time, energy, money, resources, know-how and expertise to make it happen.

This particular configuration of Western medical providers, interpreters and support staff are about to converge and meet with a whole other world: the indigenous villagers of San Andrés Larráinzar, the local medical staff, the traditional birth attendants and local support staff.

It is always an unknown when such divergent world views come together…

Who knows what challenges we will face, what cultural bumps will present themselves?  And who knows what magic we will create together? 

Who knows what the power of such shared intentions can bring about – besides the obvious benefits of the no-cost elective surgeries, and the intensive skills training in maternal health, rural ER skills and physical therapy for local medical providers?

I can’t wait to find out!

Reflections on sight: A gentle invitation

Close both eyes to see with the other eye. 

I love this reminder.

Especially on the days when my eyes are blurry from staring at the computer screen for hours on end. It is such a relief to take a few moments and close my eyes.

But obviously Rumi was not thinking of computer screens. It’s a deeper kind of seeing he was referring to. One that we perhaps forget in this era of ever available screens of all depictions, on our desks, in our pack packs, in our pockets and purses. Screens that keep our eyes and our minds busy lest, God forbid, we should be bored for a second.

But I am wondering about boredom. Those little empty spaces, when we are between things, perhaps waiting in line, waiting for a page to load even… and we are so quickly, automatically even, drawn to check some other screen.

But what if we actually were to take those moments, and instead of frantically looking for something else to see, we just were to close our eyes, and see what we might see with this mystical third eye Rumi might be alluding to?

What if, when we can’t see our way, we were to stop looking outside ourselves for a solution, and instead looked inward, to the seat of wisdom that lies beyond what is obvious at first sight?

What if there is some part of us that already knows, that already sees, and all we have to do is look away from the world long enough to allow that inner vision to come to our consciousness?

Nose to the grindstone

Do you ever have one of those days when you are just in the zone, focused single mindedly on doing your thing, barely pausing to come up for air?

This was one of those days. Sometimes they are just necessary to get things done. Not my first choice for how to spend a day, as I am rather fond of pauses, and deep breaths, and sitting in the sunshine on my deck taking a break.

But it got me thinking about all the folks around the world, who have their noses to the grindstone for hours, days, weeks and years on end, because they have no choice.  Because in many parts of the world there are no such things as mandated breaks. And lunch hours.

So, I am just giving pause now at the end of my work day, to be so grateful for the flexibility, and freedom, and choice that I am privileged to have as a self employed entrepreneur.

I am giving pause to hold a big, grateful place in my heart for all the workers of the world, the men, women and children who face insurmountable challenges, and who do the right thing, every day, to take care of their families.

The mystery of time

Spending time with my 88 year old mother gets me thinking about the passage of time. Since her short term memory isn’t so good, we often spend time talking about the past, a lot of which she does remember quite clearly.

It makes me wonder, how do we mark the passage of time?

And where does it go once it’s gone?

It seems universal, this experience of time speeding up. You wake up Monday morning, and before you know it, it’s Friday and you wonder, where did the week go?

Or as Dr Seuss puts it so eloquently, “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

Then I wonder, well, what is time anyway? Is it the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks we schedule and program and cross off our calendars?  Or is it something else, something more elusive, more meaningful?

Then there is what physicist Sean Carroll calls the “arrow of time” – the fact that the past is different from the future. And why can we remember the past but not the future?  There are things that occur that you can’t reverse – like in his example – “You can turn an egg into an omelet, but you can’t turn an omelet into an egg.”

We all experience the  passing  of time– the changes it brings with it. My kitten is getting bigger. The roses are blooming. The leaves are coming back on the trees. The weather is changing. And on and on it goes, through infinity, apparently.

Here’s the one thing I can say with certainty. The more fully I inhabit the present moment, the more time I seem to have.

The more I am distracted by negative thoughts of the past (especially regrets, rehashing and the like), and fretful thoughts of the future (such as worrying) and not fully inhabiting this very moment, the faster time seems to go by. Because I was not present to it.

Funny how that works!

Maybe that’s why time seems to go slower when you are a kid, because, kids, as anyone who spends time with them knows, are very much in the present moment.
My granddaughters teach me that all the time.

So, this mystery called time, shall probably always remain a mystery…. But what we do with it, now that is something we can decide.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

What will you do with the time that is given to you?

 PS you might also enjoy Time for a Pause, You are not behind