- What was happening? I began my day by checking my calendar book to see what activities I had planned for that day. Instead of focusing on just that I looked over to the previous few days “unfinished business” and became overwhelmed. Chores, errands, phone calls to make, bills to pay…the list seemed endless…and I seemed so far behind.
- How did it feel in my body? I felt tightly wound, almost shaking. It felt like I was a hamster on a wheel—running and running and getting nowhere before I could even start.
- What meaning do I give it? I am project oriented probably because I like to be in control and I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when the project is done. Seeing all of these unfinished tasks on paper made me feel overwhelmed, unaccomplished, worthless, like a failure.
- What did I choose to do with the energy and what happened? Being as overwhelmed as I was I couldn’t even focus on where to begin and although it seemed totally counterproductive, I decided to take a walk on a nearby nature trail. I began the walk very uptight, asking myself what was I doing here with so much waiting for me to do at home. As I continued on the walk I started to let go of that and enjoy the beauty around me. I started to BREATHE again. It felt as though my tension was actually leaving my body down my arms and through my fingertips.
- Gathering wisdom: I think I was given the message in childhood that the more you do/accomplish, the better person you are. (I am valued for what I do, rather than for the person I am.) Although as an adult I know better than this, that thinking is still a part of me.
- What do I choose to do now in respect to my learning? I need to remember to balance “always doing” with “just being,” have more realistic expectations of what I can do in a period of time and know my limits.
- What was happening? Describe the circumstances.
Last August, I was diagnosed with a very rare and incurable form of blood cancer. On Nov. 11, 2014, my daughter drove me to another city to be with me for my fist appointment with yet another new doctor. This one would be my second oncologist that will have a role in my treatment. This one will be in charge of my care when the chemo pill that I am currently taking stops working, and the time comes for me to have the only other care option available to me…a bone marrow transplant. A new city, a new hospital, a new doctor, a new team of professionals, all working together for the sole purpose of prolonging my life by winning the battle over these defective, rogue cells that are taking over my bone marrow and, if left untreated, will eventually kill me.
2. How did it / does it feel in my body (then, and/or now). Describe specifically or poetically. Include impulse (what I felt like doing). Name the feeling.
Needless to say, the start of the day was filled with curiosity and mild anxiety. Mixed with that however, were also some complicated feelings of guilt and disappointment that, this year, I was not going to be able to take part in any of my normal Remembrance Day traditions to pay tribute to our veterans on this important day.
3. What meaning did I / do I give to it? Includes how it fits in a current relationship, as well as recurring past patterns.
My family has had a strong military history, and it felt peculiar to not be able to pay homage, in my usual fashion, to those living and dead, family and non-family, on this special day.
4. What did I choose to do with the energy? … and what happened… Consequences can include how I felt as a result of my choice, as well as implications for others.
Once I became aware of how I was feeling, I thought everything through and came to the conclusion that though the traditional time for the moment of silence and remembrance is 11:00 AM, it would be ok to have my time of reflection, remembrance, prayer and thanksgiving at another time during this day. I also realized that I would also probably be able to see a re-broadcast of the memorial service in Ottawa, later in the day. Most of all though, I gained the acceptance of the fact that caring for my health is important, and having my own personal time of remembrance later in the day would in no way lessen the tribute to our vets. I was suddenly at peace!
5. Gathering Wisdom: What do I learn about myself? How does the learning fit within major themes in my history? How does it relate to my life purpose? What does it tell me about a specific present relationship? What is unfinished?
Funny how things happen! As it turned out, my appointment s with the doctors were finished just before 11:00 AM. I was sitting in the lab awaiting my turn to have blood work done when an announcement came over the loudspeaker. The staff and patients were encouraged to share in a moment of silence to pay tribute to the fallen, and all vets, on this Remembrance Day! There was then a broadcast of recordings of a bugler and piper playing the traditional military songs, and after our moment of silence, there was a reading of the famous poem, In Flanders Fields, written by John McCrae during World War I. What a beautiful tribute and time of remembrance!
This experience helped me to realise that although circumstances may necessitate a change from traditional routines, different recognition is still recognition, and if it meets the diverse needs of daily living, without minimizing the reason for the tribute in the first place, there is nothing wrong with it! It was actually quite moving to see a busy hospital grind to a stop and have silence take over the normally noisy and chaotic hospital environment. This was truly a moving memorial and tribute to our vets, and we did in fact “remember them”!
6. What do I choose to do now in response to my learning?
This experience has certainly reinforced my understanding of how much “tradition” means to me, and how and why I respond to days and circumstances that have traditions wrapped up in them. However, it has also helped me to loosen up some of my perceptions of what honouring those “traditions” means, and how it is done. I believe that this increased flexibility in my life will bring with it a greater sense of acceptance and peace, especially as I age and as health limitations change my ability to honour those old “traditions”, in what has become an ingrained and traditional manner. Finding new, and equally valuable and respectful ways of doing so, is not only okay, but necessary as time progresses. After all, doing things in a new way, is not always a bad thing, it is just different!.