Resistance is Futile

Flame Tree
Flame Tree in Snow

Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same for very long.

I take the same trail beside the St. Vrain river almost every day, and yet it is never quite the same path two days in a row. One morning last week on the trail, I was surrounded by tree branches filled with fiery autumn leaves. A few mornings later, snow completely blanketed the flaming trees and the sights and sounds of winter engulfed me.

Life is filled with cycles and shifts. From the passing of seasons to the aging of my body, change surrounds and engulfs me. And life continues to shift and change every day, every month, every year. Grasping at the old form, resisting change, makes today hurtful rather than joyful. I learned this lesson the hard way;  years ago I owned a property south of Kansas City that I loved.  I adored every inch of those 3 acres – every tree, every bush, every blade of grass was special to me.  The property was so significant and special that I wrote an entire book about the place (my first book, A Still Place).

And there was nothing bad or wrong about my love of that little parcel of land. The only problem was I clung to it and vowed to live in that spot until I died.  Silly, silly woman!  Well, life happened; I got divorced from one man and married another. I had a second baby and still I held onto that property. I refused to even think about moving. Then my husband’s job dried up and we faced a move cross-country to Chicago. And I had trouble letting go; I resisted leaving my lovely little property. But we needed to move!  The only thing my resistance caused was a slow, slow house sale and a ton of pain and angst.

We eventually sold the property and moved to Chicago. I was so sad, missing my little plot of land, wishing things were different, wanting to roll back the clock and undo the move.  But gradually, I let go. And when I finally stopped holding onto my past, I “woke up” and discovered that I was living in an amazing spot.  I found myself LOVING this new place and my new life.  All it took was letting go of the old life.

That experience left me knowing that my life is WAY less painful when I allow things to change and shift without resisting or pushing against the change. Resistance is futile! Resisting change only leads to pain and misery. 

I seem to periodically have to revisit this lesson in letting go and allowing life to unfold organically.  I can still make myself miserable trying to force today to look like some “perfect” day long past – or some fantasy day that I’ve never even experienced.  I can be so stubborn!  But when I remember that little piece of land that I adored so many years ago, I remember the value of letting go.

It’s odd; I have so many fond memories of that land south of Kansas City. 🙂 But now, I also remember all the amazing and wonderful stuff that happened to me when I let it go and moved on with my life.  And you know what? Today, I live in a space that is even more amazing!  And I would have never ended up here, if I hadn’t let go of that old place.

Life is a river; it keeps flowing and changing and moving. And in every moment I have a choice;  I can cling to the riverbank and wear myself out trying to stay right here in this spot. I can fight and resist moving downstream. Or I can let go and allow the flow of life to take me. I can let go and trust that  life can be even better around the next bend.

☾☽

Can I stop resisting and be grateful for change?

Can I let go of my urge to control and push and grasp?

Can I allow life to unfold and shift organically?

Can I just breathe and allow today to be?

 

Moon Musings

Mother Moon

I bought a lunar calendar this year. It has the year divided into 13 moons instead of 12 months.  After years of looking at the year as the month of January followed by  February followed by March… it takes a bit of adjustment to track the year by moon cycles.  After all, I have been trained since Kindergarten to track what month it is!  But keeping track of which moon cycle we are in this year has opened my eyes to nature’s rhythms and cycles in a deeper way.  And it’s shown me yet another way of looking at my world that is filled with wisdom and truth.  And I have discovered that I can use and learn from both ways of looking at the world; I can follow the cycles of the moon and stars  AND I can honor 4th of July and celebrate Christmas on December 25th again this year. I do NOT have to choose and lock into only one way of looking at my world. Truth and wisdom can be found in many forms.

Tracking moon cycles has deepened my awareness of my own cycles.  I am female, which means my emotions ebb and flow and cycle like the moon. It is the way nature wired women to operate. Don’t believe me?  Well if you’re female, find a lunar calendar and start taking note of how your mood ebbs and flows during any given lunar cycle.  And if you’re male, track your wife or girlfriend’s moods.  Try it and you’ll see how lunar women truly are.  It is not just our menses that are tied to Mother Moon. And how cool is it to be intimately tied to Mother Moon.  I find it somehow comforting.

Every year on planet Earth contains 13 lunar cycles. That’s actually not just Native American folklore – it’s astronomy.  The length of our year is determined by how long it takes the Earth to go all the way around the Sun.  And Mother Moon cycles around the Earth 13 times in the time it takes the Earth to cycle around Father Sun, whether we believe in and honor pagan rituals or not.

For those of you who haven’t ever paid attention to the moon before, a new moon is the time every month when the moon is dark and cannot be seen in our night sky. A new moon lasts 2-3 nights and then a tiny sliver of the waxing (growing) moon shows herself again in the night sky. In many earth based traditions, each new moon marks the beginning of a cycle. Many ancient cultures who were more intimately tied to the natural cycles on Earth, believed that new moon energy marks the perfect time for renewal and / or beginning new projects.

We entered the 10th moon cycle last weekend.

Several years ago, I discovered a wonderful book that shares Native American wisdom and legends about each moon cycle on our Earth; it’s called  The 13 Original Clan Mothers  by Jamie Sams.  One Clan Mother or Grandmother is said to watch over us in each lunar cycle. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the idea of Grandmothers guiding and watching over me (some would label me a female chauvinist). And I also adore the magical names that Sams uses to describe the energy of what each Grandmother focuses on.

1st Moon:   Talks with Relations
2nd Moon:  Wisdom Keeper
3rd Moon:  Weighs the Truth
4th Moon:  Looks for Woman
5th Moon:  Listening Woman
6th Moon:  Storyteller
7th Moon:  Loves All Things
8th Moon:  She Who Heals
9th Moon:  Setting Sun Woman
10th Moon:  Weaves the Web    <== Our current lunar cycle
11th Moon:  Walks Tall Woman
12th Moon:  Gives Praise
13th Moon:  Becomes Her Vision

This past weekend, we entered the domain of Weaves the Web Grandmother. Weaves the Web is a favorite of mine, probably because I spend HOURS  exploring creativity and writing.  Here is a snippet of what Jamie writes about Clan Mother Weaves the Web:

“Weaves the Web represents the creative principle within all things…Working with the truth is her Cycle of Truth.  She teaches us how to use our hands to create beauty and truths in tangible forms… Weaves the Web is the Guardian of the Creative Force in all things. She helps us express our creativity in a positive manner and use the energy available to us. This Clan Mother is also the Keeper of Life Force and instructs us to create health, to manifest our dreams, to develop and use our talents, and to access our spiritual potentials…”

Several things light up and become more obvious to me when I read about and meditate on the energy of Weaves the Web; First, as a writer I’d like to remember that Creative juice flows through all of creation on Earth. And what I write and create with that juice is not really mine to “own” – it’s just my interpretation of the the magical creative juice that fuels our world. And that juice carries fundamental Truths that permeate every corner of our Universe.

Truth can take many forms. Every spiritual tradition contains gems and nuggets of truth and wisdom that are available to help me in this crazy, confusing cycle of days known as a lifetime.  If I decide that one teacher or one school of thought is the only source of truth for me, then I lock up and limit my world and my possibilities.

Finding and holding onto truth can be as elusive as trying to catch a fish as it flashes in the sun at the surface of a lake for just a brief instant. Wrapping words around the truth to explain it is a very tricky business;  no words ever completely catch the essence of a truth because truth is an energy, a sensation of lightness and expansion. My truth creates space and opens up a new view of the world to me.  Words never quite do justice to the energy that is truth.

When I search for truth, I can choose to put blinders on and follow only one teacher as though he or she holds all the keys that will unlock me and lead me to wisdom.  Many people prefer that way – it simplifies their search for truth and wisdom. But I can  refuse to wear blinders. I can choose to search out those flashes of truth from every teacher, every tradition, every corner of the Universe that catches my awareness and speaks to me. The second way takes more patience and goes against the norm, but I find it to be infinitely more rewarding.

In every moment of my search for that elusive flash of truth in my world, I have a choice. And I choose truth in whatever form it shows itself to me.

🌙

New Moon in Leo

Image from Lunaf.com

New Moon in Leo today; one cycle completes and another begins. 

What is ready to begin or renew in my life today?

What is trying to birth that I can contribute
my energy and consciousness to ?

Where can I begin to  generate and create something potent and magical?

What lunar wisdom does the Leo moon have to share
with me, if only I will listen?

☾☽

Learn more about natural rhythms and the energy of a Leo moon here:

 Lisa Michael’s Web Site

Watery New Moon

Renewal Time

☾☽

Tomorrow is the new Moon in the water sign of Cancer.

Dwell on nurturing yourself.

Gently water yourself and your dreams with love.

☾☽

Venus

Anybody else watch Venus fly by between the Earth and Sun yesterday?  In case you missed it, here is a photograph of her crossing the setting sun in France.

The Divine Feminine Venus made herself seen with a backlight provided by the Divine Masculine Sun energy.  All in the sign of Gemini,  AKA the great communicator.  Ladies, if you are feeling the urge to stand up and express yourself, blame it on the transit of Venus!

How Does it Get Any Better Than This?

Venus Transit seen from France
Venus Transit seen from France

A Walk in the Woods

“Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine,then keep on going.”
~Mary Oliver

I went for a walk in the woods a few days ago. I love paths that are a bit wild and natural even in the middle of town. On this particular day, I am on one of my favorite trails; it meanders through  a dense patch of woods next to a big wide creek. The path has been left untouched for decades in many places and I love wandering there. But walking into some sections of this trail brings to mind Dorothy hesitantly walking into the dark scary woods with the scarecrow on her journey to Oz. Or maybe it’s Gretel wandering in the forest with Hansel, looking for her way home. Either way, the path can be a bit unnerving. I find myself humming that old Lou Reed song, “Walk on the Wild Side”, as I walk.

Deep dark untamed woods hold big, scary, archetypal energy for me and lots of other people; all those wild, uncivilized natural spaces where we might just meet something bigger and hungrier than us on the path. It is exciting and and enticing and scaryall at once. I think this is why our ancestors spent so much time trying to tame Mother Nature. Generation after generation of Americans have spent huge amounts of time and energy trying to corral and control Mother Nature;  e.g. clearing away the forests that once covered the northeastern US like they were tidying up a closet by throwing almost everything away. Or The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging and straightening and pushing around the Mississippi river decade after decade – we all saw how well that worked out for New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina made mincemeat of the Corps’ dykes.

Even logical and reasonable adults plant grass over mile after mile of suburban neighborhoods, then burn thousands of hours of free time and gallons of gasoline every weekend mowing their lawns down with military precision until the grass is a socially acceptable “tidy” length that resembles some perfectly green and uniform man-made carpet. We humans cannot seem to leave Nature to her own devices, can we?

Mother Nature scares the crap out of most humans. Mostof us either hide away in man-made homogenized boxes and pretend Nature doesn’t exist or we head out loaded for bear to try and kick Mother Nature’s butt and make her our bitch. In the end, neither way works very well.

I go visit an old tree every time I walk this path. Her diameter is larger than my wingspan. I remember the golden mean ratio – exactly how tall does that trunk diameter mean she is?  And how many rings does her trunk hold? Her rings must carry the wisdom and the history of this place at the edge of the path, this spot that she has anchored for at least 80 years . This tree has been here at the edge of this path for many, many years; she has seen all this human silliness before.

That’s where true wisdom comes from, being silent and still like an old tree; just absorbing what happens in whatever place I find myself today. And in taking the time to make the connections between what happens today and what happened yesterday on my path – and 2 years ago and 200 years ago. I need to remember to stop; get still, watch and listen to everything happening around me. And to take the time to reflect; to remember and store that longview of history like an old tree does.

I leave grandma tree and move on down the path. As I wander, I look up at the sky and realize that a storm is rapidly brewing on the horizon; it’s time to head for the safety of my house. Once home, I sit by the window in my study and watch the wind and rain thrash at the trees. Lightning splits the skyagain and again. Mother Nature is flexing her muscles. Even my tame garden seems a bit scary now. I watch the storm from a safe perch inside.

The path I choose again and again is not tame and civilized like a perfectly groomed suburban lawn. But it’s also not a solitary cabin surrounded by wilderness; I don’t require a life so wild and scary that I quiver with fear like the cowardly lion every time I venture out into the world.  I seem to constantly be searching for the middle path; in my mind I picture land on the boundary between wild woods and tame suburbs. That feels like the space where I belong.  It is the space where I feel most at home.

There has to be a way of living that is more in synch with my own inner nature. I want be find that way, to dig in and explore that middle path. I wonder if it is possible to live in way that is engaged with Mother Nature, fascinated and respectful of her powers rather than trying to subdue and mow and bend her to my will? And at the same time, can I develop a connection with Mother Nature so deep that I’m not left feeling completely helpless in her storms?

What is the middle path through this landscape? How do I become an actual friend and ally of Mother Nature? There are a thousand different opinions out there about how to walk softly on the earth; go vegan, buy local, grow your own, buy a hybrid, solar power… But I am wondering about diving deeper and making choices where I work with Mother Nature rather than doing things to her.

Whatever I choose has to come from my heart truly connecting with the natural world.  I wonder what will my life look like if I open up and deeply connect with Mother Nature? What would it look like to be close friends with this Earth? This feels like a shiftin my path… like rounding a bend on a trail and seeing a whole new vista opening up in front of me. And just like any great adventure, this new terrain is exciting and a little scary, but not too scary…

The Path Here: Nursing Then and Now

 

If you had met me five years ago, you would have never guessed I was a nurse. I managed a computer network group back then and I rarely mentioned my nursing background to even my closest friends. I left nursing back in the late 1980’s and for a very long time I was embarrassed to call myself a nurse.

I had been a good nurse, one of the best. I learned and applied all the latest technologies to my patients, from IV feedings to balloon pumps to SOAP charting and nursing care plans. Yet most of my ICU patients were not “fixed” by their treatment. Most of them died after a very expensive hospital stay. And worse yet, the treatments I gave caused many of my patients to suffer. I witnessed the failings of modern Western medicine up close; I watched patients held in limbo on the edge of death, only half alive. I watched patients suffer as they were separated from their loved ones by the very technology that was supposed to help them.

My nursing education had given me no framework to make sense of the pain and suffering I saw around me. The hospital where I worked was one of the best in the region and the nursing care I gave was state of the art. And yet I felt anger and a deep sadness within as I tried to care for patients the way I had been taught. I eventually left nursing and found a nice safe career in the computer field where the only thing that crashed and died was a poorly written computer program. When I left, I thought I put nursing behind me. But here I am back again.

Returning to nursing after more than a decade away was like peering down into a wild, raging river, seeing the whitewater and fast current and jumping in anyway. My friends and family looked at me in wonder and asked why was I going back? Health care is a mess, doctors and nurses are under constant fire and the nursing profession seems to be having an identity crisis. Plus, I earned twice as much money as a corporate manager. So, why did I return?

While I was away from nursing, I continued to search for meaning in all I had seen and experienced as an ICU nurse. My avocation became alternative healing modalities; Chinese medicine, herbal remedies, massage, acupuncture, spiritual healing. I read all the time about health and healing and became an avid student of mind-body medicine. I read studies on the power of guided imagery in fighting cancer, and on the power of prayer in helping open heart patients to heal. I learned how the simple act of massage helps premature infants to grow faster and thrive. A new world of healing possibilities slowly opened up to me.

As an ICU nurse I had focused on the physiology of the human body. Now I delved into the emotional and spiritual components of illness. I tried many of the alternative healing methods I read about, loved some and hated others. I went through a divorce, remarriage and a cleansing emotional healing of my own. And over time I began to miss nursing. At my core I was still a healer, a nurse, no matter how many computer programs I wrote.

So I finally came back to nursing. But I am not remotely the same nurse I was when I left in frustration years ago. My idea of what nursing is about has changed dramatically. I can still remember myself as a nurse, fresh out of nursing school. I remember believing then that “good” nursing was about mastering technology, understanding medication effects and curing an ailing physical body. My focus was on the disease and how it affected the physical body. Back then I thought nursing was science pure and simple; just apply the right technology or give the right medication and the patient would be fixed. It sounds a lot like car repair in retrospect. No messy emotional connection required or desired.

It’s been a long winding road for me. The shift in my definition of nursing has been gradual over many years. I cannot pinpoint when my idea of nursing actually mutated. Like the slow building of a sunset, my view of myself as a nurse has shifted moment by moment, experience by experience until today I look around to find that I am a totally different nurse.

Today I see nursing as more art than science. Nursing is not about passing meds and taking vitals for me. It is not about whiz-bang medical technology. And it is not about curing or fixing the physical body. Now nursing is about discovering how the emotions and the spirit of a person interact with their physical body. It is about connecting with a person and helping them to heal body, mind and spirit. And it is always personal and sometimes messy and emotional work. This time nursing is about relating to people one on one. It is about creating a healing space where the mind can rest and the body can heal. It is something I do with a person rather than to them.

Do I still find value in IV meds and CT scans and laparotomies? Absolutely. I also find value in meditation and prayer and acupuncture and herbs and the simple act of touch. I have come to believe that there are many paths to healing. True health is a balance of many factors; there is no one treatment, no silver bullet cure. Each person is unique and must find the balance of treatments, both conventional and alternative, that fits for them.

I have found my own balance. I have found a way to nurse that is uniquely mine and it gives me great joy. If you meet me today and ask me what I do for a living, I will smile and tell you proudly that I am a nurse. It is good to be back.

© 2002 Nancy Lankston

☾☽

Note: I wrote this essay 10 years ago and it’s been buried in my files for years. But My nursing buddy and sister of the heart, Megan, asked me to pull it out and share it. So, here it is. Unfortunately, most of what I say about hospitals and healthcare in the U.S. is still true in 2012. Here’s to changing it in my lifetime.