Wabi-Sabi

This YouTube explains the Japanese tradition Wabi-Sabi.  I have seen tea bowls mended with gold infused glue and they are truly beautiful.  The tea bowls, and tea cups, that get broken over the years are repaired and continue to be used to enjoy tea.  Their history is often a heart warming memory.

Wabi-Sabi resonates perfectly with yoga and the Yamas and Niyamas.  One of my favorite books is The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele.

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Seasons of Life

SEASONS OF LIFE

JOY   PAIN   SICKNESS   HEALTH   YOUNG   OLD

 

It’s a special feeling when the world shifts and your child is grown up and teaches you a life lesson.  The papers below are that shift for me.  My world shifting for the better, thanks to a few papers my daughter, Julia, wrote in college last year.  They changed my world.

I am a quiet, private, shy person by nature.  When we learned my husband had cancer, I couldn’t talk about it.  It was hard to say the word CANCER.  I didn’t want to talk about it with friends at work.  I tried not to think about it, but I was scared to death.  I was just coming to terms with empty nesting.  Getting used to a quiet house, smaller meals, no homework, two less goodnight hugs and kisses, two less before bed prayers and tuck-ins.  These things I loved.

Then, as you can see in my previous post, I learned we need to talk, share, and sit with our fears.  I’m taking baby steps at this and Julia writes these papers and posts them on her blog!!!  I really admired her and wanted to be like her.  I still have work to do because I’ve been wanting to post this for months.  But, it’s still hard.  We are all works in progress.

My husband is fine.  After many trips to The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah and THE GRACE OF GOD, he is cured.  When I shared Julia’s papers with the surgeon’s nurse at The Huntsman and they requested a copy!

My friend just had surgery at The Huntsman Hospital last week for her cancer.  The Huntsman is an amazing place.  The hospital is full of LOVE.  You can feel the love there.  Husbands and wives walking arm and arm pushing a chemotherapy pole.  So different from the feel of the emergency room I work in.  It often has a feel of anger, physical pain, crisis, and overdoses. People trying to die while those at The Huntsman are fighting to LIVE.

Julia Cox

CRWR 212A-01

20 February 2018

Rain

My mother sat in front of me, heart heavy, gazing out at the summer rain. The air smelled richly of coffee grinds. The whir of the grinder should have been back ground noise but was prominently taking center stage of our “conversation.” I didn’t know what to say. I focused on the weather. We could feel it that morning, the weight in the air, the breeze starting to pick up and then boom!

“I don’t know what to think,” my mother whispered, “I don’t know how this happened.”

“I know,” I replied.

“I’m angry, like really really pissed. I would do anything to change it, to make it so that it wasn’t him.”

“I think we all would, I know I would trade places with him instantly. He’s been through enough.”

My mother returned her glistening gaze to the table that sat stretching far between us. I felt like people were staring at us. My teary eyes glanced up to survey the Café. No, nobody was. After all, nothing was wrong in the world, everything was wrong in ours.

 

Hikes

My tiny fingers gripped tightly to my father’s shirt collar. I was flying through the trees, so high up on my father’s shoulders. Bare branches whipped by my head, my giggles lost in the breeze. I was not afraid – I should have been. Up so high in the air, upon my father’s shoulders I felt like nothing could touch me, I was invincible. I was invincible because he was invincible. We slowed to a walk next to my mom and brother. My chubby cheeks bright red from the breeze, hurting from the smile that would not leave my face. I felt a stutter in my father’s long, steady stride. It didn’t concern me at the time. He continued on, carrying me through the clouds. My father had to get surgery a little while later.

“Why mommy?” I asked, as I impatiently waited to see my father again.

“Your dad hurt his knee,” she replied calmly.

My father tore his ACL carrying me through the woods that day. He did not falter.

 

Drive

I sped along the freeway, music blaring, drowning out any thoughts that kept trying to appear, like a snake popping its head out of the pond we used to swim in, showing us just for a moment that maybe it wasn’t safe beneath the surface. I tapped the steering wheel nervously, ate everything in my passenger seat even though my stomach was in knots, counted the mile signs, anything to keep my thoughts from wandering to what waited when I got to my destination. I pounded the steering wheel, feeling the pain shoot up my palm and wrist. I tried making my eyelids barriers to the crashing sea, they were not effective and the flood pushed its way through.

I dialed my best friend, waiting and waiting as it rang and rang and rang. I hung up. I reminded myself it was pointless anyways, he didn’t want us to tell anyone.  My brother called me right after.

“How’s the trip going?”

“Oh, you know,” I replied. Glancing to my left, I saw his black truck towering next to my little car. He waved goofily at me as he passed me again. His little game for the trip. He was probably trying to occupy his mind too, I thought.

 

Jokes

“It’s the last meal shirt!” I exclaimed, ripping open the bright red wrapping paper. My boyfriend looked at me like I was crazy and glanced around at my family to find out that he was the only one that didn’t understand the cruel inside joke. It was just a plain T-shirt, bright baby blue, V-neck, with the Blue Iguana logo stamped on the back.

“I don’t get it,” he said, looking around for an explanation.

“It’s from our trip to Salt Lake,” I replied, hesitantly looking at my father.

“Oh, gotcha. Was it a good last meal at least?”

“There guacamole tasted like boiled eggs” my brother recalled, grabbing another present from under the tree. We all laughed at the humorless memory.

 

Windows

Besides the trademark stale, sterile smell that fill my nostrils instantly as I expected, I first noticed the windows. They made up the entire entrance, from top to bottom, spread side to side, just a full wall of windows. Maybe this was designed to be cheerful, open, warm from the natural light that flooded in. It felt cold. Every sign had the word “cancer” on it, an unwelcome reminder we were all nervously and uncomfortably skating around, yet there it was unashamed, “cancer,” everywhere we looked. It was unavoidable now, we couldn’t turn the corner or run back the way we came without seeing it – “Cancer.” It was unescapable, even though the endless wall of windows made it seem like we could easily break out, run, never look back. It wasn’t that easy, we found out. The windows were very deceiving.

 

Tears

I stared at the double door, waiting. My mother sat beside me, a book lay open in her lap, but I could tell she wasn’t actually reading it. My brother stood beside us, constantly moving with impatience. We talked, but I can’t remember what we were saying, it was all a way to keep ourselves sane. The door swung open making my heart jumped into my throat, but it wasn’t our doctor. My mother’s face visibly fell, making my heart hurt even more. Finally, he came out and approached us.

“Will you come with me into the private room?” He asked, his voice giving away nothing.

We all followed. Everything felt numb as I walked. Thoughts were swirling around in my head faster and faster, a hurricane of fears destroying everything in its path. Why were we going into a private room?

Once in the private room the Doctor explained the surgery to us. My father was alive. He made it through the surgery and was doing well. He launched into details about the surgery and the tumor that was removed.  I wasn’t listening. I felt my eyes fill with tears and watched my brother finally cry, no longer needing to hold in his emotions to be strong for me and my mother. I stared at him in awe as tears leaked out of his bright green eyes and streamed down his tan face.

“When can we see him?” I blurted out, interrupting the doctor.

 

Here

We all rushed to the ICU of the Cancer Center, more excited than ever to see him after the endless eight hour wait. Finally, we reached the dark room where my giant father lay sleeping in the tiny hospital bed, a nurse hovering over him. My mom and brother ran to him. I stood frozen in the doorway. After all the waiting I finally got to see the man that I wasn’t sure I would see ever again. Nothing could stop my torrential tears now. My father stirred, slowly glancing around when my mom gently embraced him.

“Where’s Juji?” He asked, concerned. Slowly, I walked over, trying to conceal my fear on the small journey to his bedside. His dark green, tired eyes looked at me lovingly. His face immediately filled with concern and struggled to find my hand. I took it and squeezed it hard, hanging on for dear life.

“Everything’s okay,” he whispered to us, “I’m right here.”

 

 

Julia Cox

Journal- On Losing Oneself

Eight hours. Eight hours drags on when you’re at your nine to five, staring at the clocks watching it slowly tick on to the next eternity of a minute. It felt long on my trip to Salt Lake City, driving with the music as loud as it could go to drown out all of the thoughts flying through my head, but music can’t silence tears. Eight hours of sitting on a plane that is bouncing up and down from turbulence, waiting to hit the safe, sturdy ground can feel like the longest time of your life, but I never felt an eight hours longer than waiting for my dad to come out of surgery from the cancer we just discover he had.

Holding hands. Holding hands is a romantic gesture. That moment when you were in the seventh grade and you first feel your crush brush your hand with his a few times before he interlaces his sweaty fingers with your own. Holding hands that day was like holding on to dear life. We squeezed so hard, not wanting to let go, not physically allowing ourselves to as the nurse comes back in telling us to say our goodbyes. And then back to the sweaty hand holding, as my mom grasped mine after we couldn’t see him anymore and every scenario raced through our minds, trying to see if hope would beat fear this time. It never did.

Writing notes. Writing notes that you would pass back and forth to your best friend when the teacher turned her back, giggling at the content and mischief that it held. He wrote a note, that he hid from my mom in his sock drawer and revealed right before his surgery. “Just in case,” he said, with tears in his eyes as I watched the strongest, bravest man I had ever known try not to show his fear. He wrote three, one for my mom, one for my brother, and one for me.

Missing someone. Missing your loved one when they go on a weeklong vacation, trying not to think of them every night as you coax yourself to sleep. Missing your friends after they go off to a different college than you and you skype them and talk on and on about the boy you met in one of your classes or at a party that you’ll forget about in a week. I never thought I could miss someone I hadn’t seen in just a mere eight hours, but God was I wrong. He wanted to talk to me but I couldn’t speak. The fears had won the race against hope and they continued washing over me after those eight hours of waiting, holding hands, learning of notes written in fearful moments of not knowing if you will survive, and missing my dad.

Hugging someone. Hugging someone can be an intimate moment, it can be a boyfriend comforting the girl that just found out her father had cancer that most people don’t survive. Hugging someone can be a wife squeezing her son so tightly during your eight hour wait because he reminds her of her husband in the way he talks and looks. Hugging someone was a father gently wrapping one arm around his daughter as he wakes up, trying to comfort her through her speechlessness.

These are the 480 minutes in which I lost myself. Eight hours went by, not even a full day and I had changed. I was not my blunt, hardcore, strong, stubborn, somewhat heartless self anymore and to this day I’m still not that person. I lost that part of myself during those eight hours, just as my dad lost part of himself, a tumor ridden part of himself. In those moments of waiting, holding hands, learning of notes, missing someone, and hugging family I lost myself.

 

 

 

 

 

The Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation

The Ancient Tibetan practice for Health and Vitality

By Azriel ReShel on Sunday March 27th, 2016

How Ten minutes a Day can change your Life

Some years ago I attended a yoga class where my flamboyant artist friend and yoga teacher shared an interesting sequence called The Five Tibetans. I immediately fell in love with this simple, short and totally useable sequence and it became a great resource that I turn to and use for a quick yoga pick me up. For some time it was a daily sequence, but it’s always been one I return to, and a sequence that I teach my students as a self-empowering, simple yoga ritual they can do on their own at home.

So what are the Five Tibetans?

The Five Tibetans or the Five Rites of Rejuvenation, is a system of five, believed to be Tibetan, Yogic exercises said to be over 2500 years old. You flow through the five exercises almost in a meditative dance. Each exercise stimulates a particular chakra or hormonal system and revitalizes certain organs, so that the five rites together form a complete workout for the body as a whole.

This series of movements also known as “The fountain of youth” are credited with the ability to heal the body, balance the chakras and reverse the ageing process in just ten minutes a day.

 

The movements are also known as “The Fountain of Youth”

According to legend, a British explorer learned the rites in a Himalayan Monastery from Tibetan monks who had excellent health despite their advanced age. Some skeptics cast doubt upon the origins of the practice, but no matter the exact source, there is no uncertainty about the great health benefits of the practice. Peter Kelder first publicized the Tibetan Rites in 1939 in a publication, The Eye of Revelation. The sequence was later popularized through a book, The Five Tibetans, written by yoga teacher Chris Kilham, who says we will never know their true origins:

 

“Perhaps they come from Nepal or Northern India…As the story has it, they were shared by Tibetan lamas; beyond that I know nothing of their history. Personally, I think these exercises are most likely Tibetan in origin. The issue at hand, though, is not the lineage of the Five Tibetans. The point is [their] immense potential value for those who will clear 10 minutes a day to practice.” – Chris Kilham

Yoga teachers are in agreement, the sequence is a simple yet incredibly, even deceptively powerful one that creates a dynamic energetic effect in the body increasing the flow of prana or chi up the spine and through the chakras, energizing every cell in your body.

 

Turning back the clock

According to the Tibetan lamas, the only difference between youth and old age is the spin rate of the chakras (the body’s seven major energy centers).This specific routine is said by lamas to stimulate all seven chakras to spin rapidly at the same rate. They believe that if any one of the chakras is blocked and its natural spin rate slowed, then vital life energy will be unable to circulate and so ageing and illness will set in. The Five Tibetans are called the rites of rejuvenation because the lamas say the ageing process is stopped by the unblocking and activation of the spinning of the chakras due to this sequence. Recent medical research has uncovered convincing evidence that the ageing process is hormone-regulated. The sequence also normalizes hormonal imbalances in the body which also hold the key to lasting youth, vitality and wellbeing.

Tibetan monks had excellent health despite their advanced age

As simple as the Five Tibetans may seem, they have a profound effect on the energy and chakra system of the body, stimulating the electrical energy of the chakras in the same way as switching on a light switch sets off a flow of electrical energy.

“The Five Tibetans is simple, practical, effective and certainly mind/body altering. If you would love to become rejuvenated, remain calm, feel more vitality, be more flexible and simply look your absolute best, then now there is a new way to experience a greater state of wellbeing that takes just minutes a day, but lasts a lifetime.” … Dr. John F. Demartini

How to practice the Five Tibetans

The Five Tibetans have similarities to some traditional yoga practices: Tibetan 1 is basically Sufi whirling. Tibetan 3 is essentially the camel pose. Tibetan 4 is like an upward table, and Tibetan 5 is a smooth flow of up dog and down dog

First Tibetan

Stand erect with arms strong, outstretched and horizontal with the shoulders. Now spin around in a clockwise direction until you become slightly dizzy. You can employ a ballet-like technique of keeping your eyes on one spot and then returning to that spot when you turn your head in a full revolution. There is only one caution: you must turn from left to right.

Breathing: Inhale and exhale deeply as you do the spins.

First Tibetan

Second Tibetan

Lie down full length on the floor or bed. Place the hands flat down alongside of the hips. Fingers should be kept close together with the finger-tips of each hand turned slightly toward one another. Raise the feet until the legs are straight up. If possible, let the feet extend back a bit over the body toward the head, but do not let the knees bend. Hold this position for a moment or two and then slowly lower the feet to the floor, and for the next several moments allow all of the muscles in the entire body to relax completely. Then perform the Rite all over again. For greater core strength activation you can lower the legs without touching the floor and then using your belly and your in breath, raise the legs up, in a continuous cycle. Be sure to breathe out as you lower the legs. An easier version is to have your hands underneath the buttocks and a more challenging version is to have the arms stretched above the head as you raise your legs.

Breathing: Breathe in deeply as you lift your head and legs and exhale as you lower your head and legs.

Second Tibetan

Third Tibetan

Kneel on the floor with the body erect. The hands should be placed on the backs of your thigh muscles. Incline the head and neck forward, tucking your chin in against your chest. Then fold the head and neck backward, arching the spine. Your toes should be curled under through this exercise. As you arch, you will brace your arms and hands against the thighs for support. After the arching return your body to an erect position and begin the rite all over again.

Breathing: Inhale as you arch the spine and exhale as you return to an erect position.

Third Tibetan

Fourth Tibetan

Sit erect on the floor with your feet stretched out in front of you. The legs must be perfectly straight, with the backs of the knees well down or close to the floor. Place the hands flat on the rug, fingers together, and the hands pointing outward slightly. Chin should be on chest and the head forward. Now gently raise the body on an in breath, using your core strength of your belly to lift the pelvis, and at the same time bend the knees so that the legs from the knees down are practically straight up and down like an upward table. The arms, too, will also be vertical while the body from shoulders to knees will be horizontal. As the body is raised upward allow the head gently to fall backward so that the head hangs backward as far as possible when the body is fully horizontal. Hold this position for a few moments, return to first position on the out breath, and relax for a few moments before performing the Rite again. When the body is pressed up to complete horizontal position, you can tense every muscle in the body.

Breathing: Breathe in as you raise up, hold your breath as you tense the muscles, and breathe out fully as you come down.

Fourth Tibetan

Fifth Tibetan

Place the hands on the floor about two feet apart. Then, with the legs stretched out to the rear with the feet also about two feet apart in a downward dog, push the body, and especially the hips, up as far as possible, rising on the toes and hands. At the same time the head should be brought so far down that the chin comes up against the chest. Next, allow the body to come slowly down to a ‘sagging’ position in an upward dog, with only the toes on the floor. Bring the head up, causing it to be drawn as far back as possible. The muscles should be tensed for a moment when the body is at the highest point, and again at the lowest point.” Be sure not to strain the lower back, by bringing strong flowing movement to the upper shoulders. Those with lower back injuries can bend the legs as they go into upward dog.

Breathing: Breathe in deeply as you raise the body, and exhale fully as you lower the body.

Fifth Tibetan

Gain a more focused and purposeful mind

As with all yoga practice, it is important to synchronize your breath with the movement. It’s best to do the exercises in the morning because they get your energy going. But it’s highly likely you will fall in love with the sequence and want to repeat it during the day. To begin with it is best to complete five to seven repetitions of each rite every day and to work up to 21 repetitions of each of the exercises. Usually this takes about 10 – 12 weeks. A lot of people are keen to reach 21 repetitions quickly, but it is best to gradually increase the repetitions. The recommended slow build up process allows your body to develop a strong foundation upon which to improve your flexibility. And it also is important due to the effects of the Rites themselves.  They can initiate many changes in your body’s energy and balance systems. Although this varies from person to person, it is generally best to allow your body time to adjust.

It’s important to pay attention to what your body is telling you and not to strain or force any position that causes pain. There is also a simple and adapted version of the Five Tibetans for those who have injuries or cannot perform the sequence.

When you make this sequence part of your daily practice, you can experience an overall improvement in your health and wellbeing and perhaps the most important benefit, is a dramatic increase in your levels of energy. Other great benefits are a greater resilience to stress and the ability to stay centered. As with all yoga practice greater flexibility in body and mind are usual. Most people report a more focused and purposeful mind and greater awareness, which then creates a happier and more fulfilling life. This sequence really improves the quality of your life.

Experience an overall improvement in your health and wellbeing

A complete and balanced practice

One of the great things about the Five Tibetans, is it is a quick and simple practice that can be done by anyone, regardless of age or fitness levels. It is an incredibly simple ten minute routine that can easily be slotted into your daily life, yet will have major spin offs in all areas. It’s free, and it’s yours. A self-empowering practice you can do on your own anywhere and at any time! The Five Tibetans strengthens and stretches all the main muscles in the body. Just as Sun Salutations make up a complete sequence, the Five Rites are a complete and balanced practice.

The 5 Tibetan Rites

In just ten minutes a day you can:

  • Reduce stress
  • Feel younger and more powerful
  • Slow down the aging process
  • Improve strength and flexibility
  • Enhance vitality
  • Calm the mind
  • Create greater mental clarity and focus
  • Improve your breathing so its deeper, slower and conscious
  • Strengthen lower back and core muscles
  • Improve your libido
  • Supports menopause and hormonal balance
  • Be more centered and at peace
  • Lose weight and develop muscle tone and core strength
  • Improved digestion and elimination
  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Develop better posture
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Support deeper sleep

 

 

What We Resist Persists

 

white ceramic cup
Photo by Saif Selim on Pexels.com

 

I took the long, long way to recovery with my first heartbreak.  You can read from my first blog I started running trails.  I still run today, but not with any fierce anger, grief, or with a poor me, “I” mentality.  Now I run free!

Someone once said, what we resist persists.  I’ve had a lot of resistance in my life.  Coming to terms with child abuse, running a code on my Dad (he died looking into my eyes), many other deaths in my family, a witnessed death of a small child, a chronic hip injury, a phone call from my husband telling me he had a growth in his pancreatic duct………

I couldn’t run after my hip injury for many months.  So I started doing yoga.  Yoga, meditation, and the article below helped me through my RESISTANCE.  They got me through my grief, fear, and hours of waiting for tests, surgery, and diagnostics at The Huntsman Cancer Institute.

 

“This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!…..

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing

And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.” Rumi

 

Exert from one of my favorite books, Radical Acceptance (2003) Tara Brach

Inviting Mara to Tea

“The night before his enlightenment, the Buddha fought a great battle….

One of my favorite stories of the Buddha shows the power of a wakeful and friendly heart.  The night before his enlightenment, the Buddha fought a great battle with the Demon God Mara, who attacked the then bodhisattva Siddhartha Guatama with everything he had: lust, greed, anger, doubt, etc. having failed, Mara left in disarray on the morning of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Yet, it seems Mara was only temporarily discouraged. Even after the Buddha had become deeply revered throughout India, Mara continued to make unexpected appearances.  The Buddha’s loyal attendant, Ananda, always on the lookout for any harm that might come to his teacher, would report with dismay that the “Evil One” had again returned.

Instead of ignoring Mara or driving him away, the Buddha would calmly acknowledge his presence, saying.  “I see you, Mara.”

He would then invite him for tea and serve him as an honored guest.  Offering Mara a cushion so that he could sit comfortably, the Buddha would fill two earthen cups with tea, place them on the low table between them, and only then take his own seat.  Mara would stay for a while and then go, but throughout the Buddha remained free and undisturbed.

When Mara visits us, in the form of troubling emotions or fearsome stories, we can say, “I see you, Mara,” and clearly recognize the reality of craving and fear that lives in each human heart.  By accepting these experiences with the warmth of compassion, we can offer Mara tea rather than fearfully driving him away.  Seeing what is true, we hold what is seen with kindness.  We express such wakefulness of heart each time we recognize and embrace our hurts and fears.

Our habit of being a fair weather friend to ourselves — pushing away or ignoring whatever darkness we can – is deeply entrenched.  But just as a relationship with a good friend is marked by understanding and compassion, we can learn to bring these same qualities to our own inner life.

Pema Chodron says that through spiritual practice “we are learning to make friends with ourselves, our life, and at the most profound level possible.”  We befriend ourselves when, rather than resisting our experience we open our hearts and willingly invite Mara to tea.”  Tara Brach Ph.D. Finding True Refuge

Printed is Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com)

My practice worked so well, I thought, I need to share this!  I became a yoga teacher in 2017.

Challenge:  start each day with a cup of tea in silence, simply being present with your Mara, your thoughts, and the tea, and see how this changes your day.   Then, if your Mara shows up in your thoughts during your day, acknowledge him, be kind to your feelings, and say I have radical acceptance.  After a week, or two, let me know how you feel.

 

 

TIME

Guest Blog by my daughter, Julia

Julia Cox

10/29/17

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to see people age that are right in front of you? We look upon these peoples faces that we have known for as long as we have lived and just graze over the tops of their surfaces. We don’t take in the lines and bumps that have come with time. We skip over the sun spots and the creases that begin developing until one moment we stop for a second, maybe because of an old picture or just because of the silence and we realize that time has taken it’s toll. We see the sun and wind that these people loved so much has changed them as much as it has changed us. We see the lines from the giant smiles and laughs that they have shared over the years. There are creases from nights of worry and stress and there are scars from the work they put hours and hours into, trying to grow their lives from the tiny seeds that they started from. The bones we feel when we hug them have been broken and weathered, and the hands we hold have held many more before ours.

I looked upon my families faces and saw something I had never seen before. I saw the years. I saw the many years of work, and pain and stress that have built them; the tears that have streamed down their faces after losses and being beaten down. I saw the wrinkles around their eyes, from squinting in the sun or from those fleeting moments when their smiles would reach so high they would just barely touch the corners of their eyes. For the first time in years my eyes hovered upon these faces that were once so familiar to me and realized that they weren’t so familiar anymore. In these moments of trying to capture these once so familiar faces I saw the effects time had on them. Time knew them so much better than I and had been working on them while I was just barely glancing over them. Time was showing me that no matter how hard I tried it would always win. But, time also showed me how much beauty it brings. My mother’s sun spots remind me how much she loves being outside and how she was always dragging us on different adventures. My father’s wrinkles on his hands describe the hard work that he put in to give us the best lives we could possibly have. My brother’s wrinkles around his mouth shout out that he has always been one of the happiest people I knew, and he always smiled with his entire face. My boyfriend’s scars are a reminder of his recklessness growing up and how much he loved to cause trouble. These faces that I have known for such a long time, now tell stories that can only be heard if we take the time to hover upon these pieces that have been added over time. If we don’t take the time to recognize these pieces, then we miss out on the beauty that time has added and the story that they are telling us.

An Unusual Keepsake

 

Note:  I wrote this essay 4 years ago, hoping publication, for THE SUN Magazine.  The contest was to write about an inheritance.  To my knowledge, it was never published.

 

An Unusual Keepsake

In memory of my sister

 

My sister was killed in a car accident.  I was the oldest, and it never occurred to me Brenda would die first. In my mind I always pictured us growing old, together, and we’d care for one another’s children.  We’d rock away our retirement years, we’d burry our parents, together, and then, I’d go first.  I actually used to worry it would be hard for her being the only one left.

To cope with the pain and anger I felt after the accident I started running.  For the past 17 years I’ve ran, mostly trails.  I’ve found, in nature, the ability to accept, grow, love and find joy daily.  And, I bring half a purple handkerchief that I found in my sister’s belongings.  There was jewelry, books, a stereo, furniture and photos, but of all the valuables this purple handkerchief, of hers, is the most special to me.  I suppose she wore it branding calves one year with our Dad to keep the burnt flesh stench at bay.  I’ll never know.

On my runs, I use it to wipe my brow, or more often my nose.  But, most of all it has given me a sense of her with me.  Her spirit with me.  My purple keepsake and I ran thousands and thousands of miles over the last 17 years.  It has been with me on several half marathons, a full marathon, and many trail races including The Bridger Ridge Run in Montana where I live.  This summer I let it blow in the wind up on Siyeh Pass in Glacier National Park.

A few times over the years my heart has skipped a beat as I feared I’ve dropped it somewhere on the trail only to breathe a sigh of relief, and comfort, when I discover which pocket it’s in.

My purple handkerchief is getting thin with a few holes, but it has been my constant running partner and brought me more joy then a hankie would usually be famed to do.

Current time addition:  I ran with that purple hankie today.  I also sometimes run with a hankie of my Dad’s, now that he has passed.

In November I am running the New York Marathon.  That purple hankie will be with me, and have asked loved ones of my departed friends if I could have a hankie of theirs. I hope to grow my hankie memory scarf in honor of knowing these fine people.  If the hankies don’t arrive, I will run the marathon with a mile dedicated to their memory, and our happy time together.  Also, as an Emergency Room Nurse I am dedicating a mile to someone whose death affected me greatly, but don’t have means to get such a keepsake.

The hankie memory scarf isn’t a sad thing.  Their passing before their time always will be, but I am going to think, they dropped their body……… and will be in the wind with me.    I often touch the tall grass, or feel the wind on my face, and know their spirit is with me.

wolfman run