The Importance of Catching Balls.

The other day I didn’t have a lot of energy (shocker) but Monty did (shocker).  I was throwing the ball for him inside the living room and noting what an expert catcher he is. Like the dude jumps crazy high and catches basically every ball I throw. So I started recording him. Because I have time to do crap like that. Then it was such a beautiful day outside I said screw it, if I can throw a ball in here I can do it outside too. So I brought him outside and recorded all the different ways in which Monty catches a ball. Then I made a movie out of it and put it to some fun music because video editing is another one of those things you can do from bed, and again, I have time to do crap like that. Woo woo. So, below is the result. I guess I realize that Monty makes me happy in so many ways and even watching him jump to catch a ball makes me laugh. Now we all get to watch him. And the angels rejoiced.

Health, Happiness, Monty

*Note, you can’t currently watch this video on a mobile device like your phone because of a third-party licensing issue with youtube…Booo, I know. I’m working on it.

The Story You Tell Yourself

It is sunrise again in California and I am reflecting on the last few months of my life. I just dropped my mom off at the airport to fly home to tend to other business. Newsflash, she has a life outside of nursing Mary back to health! I’m really lucky she was able to come. She did an incredible job as most Dr. Moms do alongside my sister and I am much more functional than when she arrived a few weeks ago. I can climb the stairs easy peasy this week–that is something new.

I feel a lot more at ease since she arrived and helped me to process some pretty heavy thoughts I was having. For one thing, I kind of thought I was dying, because I’d never felt that bad before and I imagine death must feel like something close to that. It’s pretty unsettling feeling like you can’t walk or hold a brush to your head or take a shower. Forget climbing stairs, I was scoring my days on whether I could walk to the bathroom or not. Since then my strength has slowly inched its way back. I still do very little physically throughout the day as to not overdo it, but I can feel some energy where there was none before, and for that I am really grateful. I’ve been drinking protein shakes from the naturopath doctor three times a day along with 12 other supplements alongside my normal pill cocktail. I’ve been drinking Chinese tea from Dr. Xu that tastes like ground up birds nest and getting acupuncture twice a week. My B12 was low so I even learned how to give myself a shot…in the butt. It’s impressive. But anyway, it’s helping. All of it, I think, is working in different ways and putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I notice that every day has it challenges. Mine has different uncertainties and struggles. Will I be strong enough to climb the stairs, will I get to shower, will Monty and me save the world?! And the truth is I just don’t know. None of us do. There is no certainty about what will or won’t happen tomorrow. There is just here and now. And I notice that when I examine my life with clear hindsight and an open-minded eye, I see that it’s not bad. Like at all. It’s actually kind of enjoyable! I’ve gotten to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law that I never would have had otherwise. I’m lucky to have a mom who was able to fly out at the drop of a hat and give me some much-needed help. I get to read and write as I please. (Even though it’s mostly from bed.) I get to spend ample time with my favorite person, Monty, and I get to put my very little energy towards something positive–writing, humor, optimism, and good news. There are a lot of outcomes of this seemingly crappy situation that are not themselves crappy. They’re more like great. And that always gives pause for reflection. But trust me, it’s easy to go the other direction. The slightest tip of the scale and I could see things very differently. Darker. And I have those days sometimes. I could say it isn’t fair. I could say this isn’t the life I wanted or signed up for. I could look at all the healthy people with their functional lives and long for that to be mine. But, like Iyanla Vanzant says, that’s a life path that doesn’t belong to me. So it’s important to let it go. As long as I try to get back something that was never mine, I will suffer. As long as I tell myself a sad story, I’ll pay.

What’s your story morning glory?

We tend to think we know best for ourselves. And many times that’s true. But the problem with the human experience is that we are stuck in the mental limitations of space and time, so it’s hard for us to see our lives in the context of eternity. But that’s the truth of existence. We’re just a small part of something much larger, and we aren’t meant to see all of it at one time. I think we’re meant to just hold on and enjoy the ride, and when it’s a shit show, like my life the past year, you hold on tighter. You pull in people to help. You acknowledge there is something bigger than you, and focus your energy on balance. On acceptance. On inner peace.

The thing is, you can’t just tell yourself a happy story about your life and you’ll be happy. You have to believe the story you tell yourself. For some reason it’s like we’re conditioned to believe the sad story more than the happy one. And through the dark times especially, it’s not as easy to find the pretty things, but they are so valuable when you take time to find them. That’s why acceptance is so important. Once I stopped focusing on the happy life I would have once I got better, and instead focused on how to be happy with the life I have now, I found much more success. And it takes work. I have to remind myself everyday of the things that I am lucky for, and most of the time it’s a no-brainer. It’s family. But it’s easy to forget. To slip up. To fall into the humdrum of life and feel like you’re not where you’re supposed to be. And maybe you’re not. But most of the time, life just requires us to be present where we are.  We already have everything we need, we just have to be aware of it. In The Untethered Soul, Singer wrote that “Life is surrounding you with people and situations that stimulate growth.”So before you judge your life and your hardships, try to acknowledge that this is what you need in order to become whole. In order to become who you are– the best possible version of yourself. It sucks sometimes. It’s hard. Don’t I know it. But if in the end it forced you to grow and become awesome and happy, well then, it’s worth it isn’t it? Maybe it isn’t such a sad story after all.

I’m learning I have to be careful about the story I tell myself. Because if it’s a happy one, that will be my life. But if it’s a sad one, that will be my life, too.

Health, Happiness, Stories.

It’s OK To Ask For Help. Help!

It has taken me a long time, a very long time, to admit what I am about to. It’s not a very big deal at all, but I’ve spent a long time fighting the very notion of it, and in the end it’s completely true; I am totally reliant on the help of other people right now. I need help. I can’t do life on my own. It’s been this way for a while and though many times I’ve picked myself up by my own bootstraps as they say, and I’ve done all I could to live a life that is mine and have a struggle that I conquered, it just isn’t the case. And why that would be so hard to admit or accept for me, I have no idea. It must be the ego in me. It doesn’t want to admit I need help, but the simple truth is, I do! A lot of it. It’s all so silly. Sometimes life is hard and sometimes you need help. It’s OK to ask for it. And if someone offers it to you, you should accept. The world is full of good people and many of them are happy to help someone out in need. We’re in this together people! Independence is important. Solitude is a gift. But there are 6 billion people on the planet and I don’t think we were put here to suffer alone. This is where and why love exists, and I am seeing now that I need to channel my old fire for autonomy into pure grace and gratitude that I have people who are willing to help me when I’m down. Even when sometimes I don’t deserve it. When I have nothing to offer back. When I resist it. They give it anyway, and I am incredibly lucky for that, for them. It’s really time for me to let go of the anger that I can’t do it on my own. (I think they call this surrender.) Little by little, I feel my pride give way to acceptance. It hurts. It’s hard. It doesn’t always present me in a very pretty light. But there is freedom in admitting you need others, and I’m getting there; slowly letting go of a life path I had in mind that didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. Well boo hoo. It happens. The universe had other plans and here I sit in California listening to coyote puppies howl outside and trying to understand grace. I know it won’t always be like this. Things don’t stay the same. And the truth is it doesn’t matter whose couch I’m on or which family member I’m bumming off of. The key to my happiness is just being where I am. I really need to let what was, go. Let what could have been, go. There is just this, just where I am now.

The model citizen in this whole experience is easy; It’s Monty. Two years ago he happily rode in the backseat with me after the day at the hospital–let me use him as a pillow on the hour drive home to my parents house. It was a gradual move-in, but Monty seemed like he knew we were there for the long haul and quickly embraced our new house. (He was right.) I remember waking up one morning to find my mom feeding him cantaloupe off of a fork and laughing. Marc took him to the prairies with him and they quickly became partners. When I was too weak to play he slept. When I was sad he would fart or do something equally meaningless but would somehow lighten the mood. When I decided to go to Colorado, he got on a plane with me and we went, and he didn’t lose his temper when we were delayed for 6 hours in the Houston airport. He played fetch with a rubber band and then he waited patiently. When I came to California he came too, swam everyday and had a really good time. When we moved into an apartment with my sister and brother-in-law with not a lot of space, he made himself at home. I’ve always wondered what Monty in a bad mood would be like. I’ve never seen it. Every day is literally the best day of his life. He wakes up so excited. Could I be like that? It seems worth it to try. I’ve never seen Monty stub his toe and then yell “mother fuckerrrr!!!!” like I did the other day. Or complain about the agenda or the situation or his crappy pebbly food. It’s like all he does is love and embrace everything. His energy is really good to be around and I don’t take it lightly. I know I’m a little obsessed with him and people say “It’s just a dog, Mary.” But what does that really mean? I’m just a human. Monty seems to have something figured out that I don’t and I don’t see the problem with learning from another species. Some things, they just get. Anyway, it’s fun having him along.

Model Citizen.

He is just another part of the “Help” I’m receiving. The best part about dog help is that you don’t really have to ask for it, they kind of just know. So whether it’s Monty keeping me company in bed, my sister carrying me up the stairs, my mom counseling me through dark stuff, or a million other ways in which I am being helped by other people, I am finally comfortable admitting that I need it and I need them, and that’s OK! We have a tendency to want to do it on our own, but I promise it will be easier when you don’t go at life alone. Especially through the rough times. Maybe one day I’ll be able to return the favors to my friends and family. Pay it back. Or forward. Technically I’m in debt to a few family members like a jillion dollars but one day I tell them, I’ll pay our bills and take us all to Hawaii. Or I’ll do the house chores for them when I’m on two feet again. Or I’ll just keep being the lifeless girl on the couch who tells jokes every now and then. At any rate, I’ll keep trying, and I’ll continue accepting the help from the troops who were called in.  As hard as things get, it’s nice to recognize that I’m not in it all alone. Dare I quote the Beatles “I get by with a little help from my friends?” Oopse, I just did. Well there you have it.

Health, Happiness, Help!