Almost three years ago I wrote a posting titled Musings- Life And Lemons. About a month ago, life served me a big lemon. I should be used to lemons by now, you’d think. I mean life is a big mixture of lemons and strawberries – or bananas, or mangos, or whatever other fruit is your current sweet-flavored favorite. But somehow, I guess, there’s a subconscious part of me that thinks I should be exempt from lemons, despite the fact that they keep appearing on my plate, and so they tend to side-swipe me when they happen.
So what’s the latest and greatest in the lemon orchard you’re wondering. It may or may not help to understand why I think this latest event on the road that is my life is a lemon, a big lemon. I’m sixty-eight years old. So, OK, technically I was only sixty-seven when this lemon appeared on my radar. But that’s another reason it was a big lemon – it messed up my birthday!!
On Friday 27 April, I headed down to Winter Park to participate in the last-but-one class of the second year of my Audire course. Ruth, my friend who has just completed her third and final year of Audire, drove us down in her truck/van/SUV (not sure which label fits her vehicle; suffice to say it’s big enough and strong enough to haul a good sized trailer). We always go down on the Friday night before class so we can get a good night’s sleep and avoid having to get on the road at o’dark thirty to be at San Pedro retreat center by 8.30am on Saturday morning.
As always, I met up with my dear friend Bickley to enjoy a superb dinner. The dinners with Bickley are always wonderful because we choose a different ethnic restaurant each month so that we can delight our palates. She and I are food aficionados and most of her other local friends are “plain-American-fare” eaters, so she doesn’t get to indulge her more exotic taste buds very often. We had a great Cuban meal that Friday evening and enjoyed even more wonderful friendship time as we caught up with each other since the previous month – which had actually been two months because of the strange class schedule we had this year.
After dinner, Bickley dropped me back to San Pedro and I settled in for the night. Before getting ready for bed, I called my husband, Richard, to tell him about my enjoyable evening with Bickley and to say goodnight. Everything normal so far; not even the hint of a lemon. I prepared myself for the night and got into bed and, out of nowhere, I started experiencing some serious abdominal pains. My immediate thought was “oh no, food poisoning!”. I got out of bed and made a mint tea (good for digestion) and made sure I had a large container of water beside the bed. The pains continued and I resigned myself to “waiting it out”, flushing my system with the tea and lots of water.
By midnight I was worried. The pain hadn’t eased up so I called Ruth who was in the room next to mine. I could tell that she had been deep in sleep. What I couldn’t know was this was the first night she had been able to get to sleep fairly early after two very stress-filled weeks and lots of disturbed nights. I explained what was going on and asked her if she thought I should “call someone”. Ruth sleepily agreed that it sounded like food poisoning and said that there wouldn’t be anything anyone could do and that I would just have to wait for it to “go through my system”. She did however suggest that I lie down quietly and gently massage my tummy and think happy thoughts.
At 3am I was a little mentally hysterical. It occurred to me that the pain hadn’t diminished and it had not even begun to “move through my system”. It was a steady low-burning pain in both my upper and lower abdomen and there wasn’t a single sign of a rumble, a gurgle, a grumble anywhere in my intestines. It was at this point that I made a decision to call 911 and get help. I called Ruth and let her know and she said to open my door so she and the paramedics could get in.
At this point I will make a long story short. A shot of morphine, a 4-mile ambulance drive, a three-hour ER stay, and one cat scan later, the ER doctor informed me that I had an acutely inflamed appendix. Now I ask you, isn’t appendicitis a “kid thing”? Or at very least, a “teen thing”? When was the last time you heard of a sixty-seven year old having acute appendicitis? So what was I to do? “That can’t be”, I firmly told the ER doctor. (Fortunately my husband hadn’t quite arrived at the hospital by then so was spared the embarrassment of that moment.) Hopefully the ER doctor made allowances for the fact that I was under the influence of morphine.
So at about 2pm on Saturday 28 April 2012, I was surgically separated from my appendix. As I waited for surgery, I remember feeling irritated that I was missing class, especially as it was a class that I had been particularly looking forward to. I also remember being frustrated because our next class was in just two weeks and I had to prepare an end-of-year integration paper as well as other homework and I wasn’t going to be in the best of shape for the next few weeks. I found myself thinking that it was my birthday in a few days and how was I supposed to celebrate if my head was still full of anesthetic and narcotic pain-killers, and my body was still weak from the whole surgery thing. This was a very bitter lemon indeed.
Thank God I got out of that kind of thinking pretty quickly! I cannot remember if I got there myself or if it was Richard who spoke it into reality, but I do remember at some point being grateful that the acute appendectomy was happening now and not closer to our trip to Italy at the end of June; even more grateful that it didn’t happen during that trip! I remember suddenly being grateful that I was being taken care of and receiving good medical attention (the staff at Memorial Hospital, Winter Park, FL were all wonderful!). And I remember also feeling grateful that I had decent medical insurance that covered this care. I got to making lemonade fairly quickly, especially once I got my pain meds!
I went home just a little over twenty four hours after being taken to OR, thanks to the wonders of laparoscopic surgery, and I experienced gratitude on a whole other level. I was truly grateful that Richard is retired now and is always at home (didn’t think I would be saying that so very sincerely!), and for the very intimate and personal care that he gave me as I made my recovery from this whole event. I was grateful for all the prayers and cards that friends sent my way and the telephone calls that showed how much they cared.
Another lesson in gratitude learned. Another lesson in being flexible and to expect the unexpected. I got my integration paper done in time despite having a befuddled brain for a few weeks (anesthetic can really mess you up mentally as well as take your knees out from under you physically), and I was well enough to attend my class two weeks later. My birthday celebration was low-key and a little delayed but it was still a celebration. In fact it was more of a celebration (internally at least) because I was still around to celebrate. So, even though I’m a slow learner, I am still teachable and I am learning to make lemonade out of life’s lemons.
This is another catch-up which I referred to in my posting Freedom- Also a Loss. I had my Qigong experience in Orlando back at the end of April this year. I read Natural Awakenings, a free monthly newspaper that is mainly geared to health and alternative health practices and modalities. For three years I had seen the advertisement for the Qi-Revolution event in Orlando in this newspaper and my curiosity was peaked. But each year by the time I got around to checking into it, I already had another commitment.
So this year, or rather last year, because the initial advertising came out I believe sometime in October or November of 2010, I made sure I put it in my planner at first sighting. Shortly after that I completed my registration and I was set to discover what this “energy event” was all about. Because I saw the word “Qi” (which is pronounced “chi”), I had an idea that it was something akin to Tai Chi with which I am familiar. However, nothing prepared me for the 4-day experience that I had with Qigong.
The event was held in one of the huge conference rooms at the Orlando Convention Center. When I entered the room on the first day I remember my first feeling: overwhelmed. There were more than two thousand people present for this event and I didn’t know a single person. The energy level was high and I was aware of a sense of anticipation buzzing around the room. The second feeling was an old enemy re-presenting itself: a feeling of “less than”. Old toxic thought processes began to invade my mind.
“You shouldn’t have come here Margo, you’ll probably not be any good at it.” “Most of these people are younger than you, what were you thinking of?” “You’re going to make a fool of yourself in front of all these people.” “How do you expect to keep up with everyone especially with the pain in your hip?” And many other forms of “You’re no good”, “You’re not good enough” etc, and some other self-sabotaging phrases. You get the picture.
After taking some deep breathes and centering in on my God, I was able to clear my mind and fill it with some positive affirmations. Only then could I allow myself to feel the excitement and anticipation that was like an electric current all around me. Only then did I really look around and notice that at least one third of the people there were over fifty, and quite a few were over sixty,and the really “young ‘uns” were a minority. I smiled as I watched the negative thoughts scurry out of my head.
Within two hours and after some great stretching exercises, we were all, yes all, more than two thousand of us, going through the first Qigong form. I had no idea that it would be take about an hour to do this, and I am so glad I didn’t. I think I might have panicked and run away. But what was so amazingly awesome was that I was able to keep up, stay focused, and complete the whole form. On top of that, what was wonderfully boosting for my self esteem was that younger people were needing to take a break half way through.
I am not sure that I can explain exactly what Qigong is, but I will attempt to do so. Please be aware that this is my own subjective explanation. Qigong is the practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for the purpose of exercise, healing, and meditation. But it is so much more than that. Through the use of slow, controlled, focused movement the practitioner is brought to an awareness of the natural flow of energy that constantly surrounds us and that we have in us. Through the practice of qigong it is possible to “harness” or “increase” this level of energy, bringing more into the body and sharing it out with the world. It is what I refer to as the God energy. I found the whole experience to be very spiritual.
I do know that I felt a tremendous “high” after that first session. My body, despite some fairly severe pain in my left hip, felt alive and as though I could do almost anything. I was very mentally alert and was aware of a sense of joy and lightheartedness. It was as though in some way I had accessed a deeper part of me, or perhaps I had learned a different way to access my soul. And by the way, no longer did I feel like a stranger in a crowd. I felt like I belonged.
On the second day we did more Qigong and also learned a form of energy breathing. If you want a serious natural high, then energy breathing is the answer. This is something that I will not attempt to explain here because I don’t think I could do it justice. You’ll just have to check out www.qigong.com and see if there is an event near you and try it.
The other major component to this 4-day event was the approach to food healing. Much of this I had heard before but in bits and pieces. Jeff Primack, who is the driving force behind “Supreme Science Qigong” and the leader and main presenter of the 4-day Qi-revolution event, has taken all those “bits and pieces” and presents them as one whole healing source. It felt as though someone finally gave me the key to the lock and showed me how to turn it.
I have been working diligently on my approach to food for many years, but since this event it has been easier to bring things into place within my daily diet. I am sixty seven years young, with just as many years of bad habits about food, plus I am a slow learner. There are times when I can really follow true healthy eating, and there are other times when I just muddle along as best I can. But somehow, since my Qigong experience, I manage to come back to the full healthy approach. I am just so very grateful for this experience that has taught me to incorporate some very specific things on a daily basis into my nutrition plan today. Thanks to that I am almost totally free of arthritic pain. My energy levels are so much higher and my body feels healthier in general.
I have just read through this posting and I realize that I have given a very poor “nutshell” idea of what my Qigong experience was about. I guess it is something that you have to experience personally to have a full or better understanding of it rather than just reading words. Much as I love my words, I am very conscious of the fact that sometimes they simply do not do justice to an event or situation. This is one of those times. Please check out Qigong for yourselves. It really is quite amazing and will probably change your life forever.
So while I collect my thoughts and get ready write on some specific topics that have come up for me over the past couple of months, let me share some words of wisdom from others. I think if I had lots of money I would have a house with a huge library that would house not only lots of books, but collections of all the words that I have read over the years that have impacted me deeply or influenced me in some way. Here are a few more of those precious words.
“Everything that I think, feel,say, and do belongs to me, and everything that you think, feel, say, and do belongs to you.” (Paul Ferrini)
“I cannot think myself into a new way of living; I have to live myself into a new way of thinking.” (AnShin Thomas)
“Know that making a commitment to your happiness, to your health, to your fitness, to your family, to your abundance, to your career, to your mission in life, to your love, to your friends, to your community, to your creativity, to your spiritual life, is all the same thing. It is all a commitment to growth, to wholeness, to being your best, to living life fully and gratefully starting from where you are right now!” (Jinjee)
“Making amends without forgiveness leads to dishonesty and lies.” (Anon)
“Everyone who’s human deserves to be treated with some dignity – whether they’ve done good things or bad things, they have to be given hope.”
“When you stop resenting what anther person can’t give you, you begin to appreciate what they have to offer.” (Anon)
“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.”
“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” (Mark Twain)
“The fact that Christianity is a religion of love makes every evangelizer the teller of a love story, the singer of a love song. By example as well as by words evangelizers must be teachers of love.” (from John Paul II and the New Evangelization)
“The power of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts, but by his ordinary doing.” (Blaise Pascal)
“When people envy me I think, Oh God, don’t envy me, I have my own pains.” (Barbra Streisand)
“He paints the lily of the field, perfumes each lily bell; if He so loves the little flowers, I know He loves me well.” (Maria Strauss)
“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts f people.” (Mother Teresa)
“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” (Thomas Fuller)