Connecting The Dots

Discussing the threads of my own passions which have culminated in my work as coach, mentor, presenter in my own business.

The tale of two weekends

Mary Johnson - Monday, January 29, 2018

Usually after Christmas January weekends are pretty quiet. Neil's retired and I have loads of flexibility in my calendar. That means we don't always have to place things we want to do in the Saturday/ Sunday timeframe. Well Neil's taken a 4 months contract right now so Monday - Friday have one old rhythm and the weekends the other old rhythm. So this year our January has been very busy with all weekends planned for. Except two weekends ago our plans for visiting some friends in a near-by small town got postponed due to an unexpected family situation. It was disappointing and things happen. Still we had been so looking forward to getting together. 

Now nature abhors a vacuum and so do I! When I got off the phone I immediately thought "Well we will invite the 3rd couple up! Or there are a couple of things around town I could book. Or, or, or ...." The possibilities popping into my head were endless. Luckily my wise self took me by the collar (could literally almost feel it!) and said "What are you doing?!?" The coming off autopilot came with a big outloud OH! Okay I thought. I will wait until Neil got home. We could figure out something then. My inner organizer was appeased - for the moment! Well low and behold Neil's reaction was like "YAY! a weekend with nothing on the go!" It felt funny. All of this white space and not marking it up! It took quite an effort just to let the weekend be empty of planned comings and goings. Fast forward to this past weekend and it was chock-a-block full. 

Came to remember this was our norm for years and years. Pack your weekends full. So much to and so little time (or so I told myself!). Don't like the constant planning and motion so much any more. The weekend that opened up we just putzed around the house, got ourselves outside, listened to the radio, enjoyed each others company. We handled this weekend with it's multiple happenings and each other much better I believe in good part because we had some genuine downtime. It was a good noticing.    

More time

Mary Johnson - Monday, January 15, 2018

One of my favourite things is to be introduced to a new and/or clever way of looking at the world. So it's been with Stephen Jenkinson's work on approaching  end of life. My January newsletter touched on 'living a life of consequence' because what you do matters. We aren't talking 'special' but what we do does impact our life and those around us in ways seen and unseen. Sometimes long after we're gone. 

In reading Jenkinson's book 'Die Wise' he spends a fair bit of discussion on the idea of having or making More Time at the end of one's life. Now I'm not here to talk about that per se. It was a story he shared about a young woman, terminal in her diagnosis, who was praying for More Time. He invited her into the idea that her wish had already been granted, that what was she was living was her More Time. The story dropped like a boulder creating huge ripples of thought and feeling inside me. I have been surprised at how this idea has brought me more into the Present. We often read or hear individuals talk about 'the Now.' There are many teachers who invite us regularly into this moment. Personally I have found it a great idea though typically I can step into the Now oh for about 3 seconds before I'm off somewhere else in my mind! 

Jenkinson's invitation to the dying young woman has shifted something inside me. Personally I have experienced 3 brushes with my potential death. And have not considered any of them in a significant way. Heck  I'm young, strong, have a family to look after ... will keep on going and going and going! Now I am reconsidering each day I wake up. Looking at it through the lens of my More Time. That any prayers I offered have already been granted. That's a whole new ball game for me. Quite something!!    

 So the question I contemplate and I invite you to consider is, 'How might I live my life differently if this day, morning, this hour is my More Time?'  

You don't get an engraved invitation

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, January 02, 2018

This has become a funny time of year for me. Certainly I am all over a new year, blank pages, calendar yet to be filled with interesting and enjoyable pursuits. Delight in it all in fact! Today though is also the last full day my mom walked this earth. She died 5 years ago tomorrow most uncomfortably waiting for her attending doctor for hours. It still fills me with horrors! This missive is not what this is about ..... 

For a good number of years I was on my mom to organize her affairs. There were many loose ends. I had friends who had a nightmare navigating their last parent's affairs. Had wanted to avoid this with mom. My frequently expressed comment to her was "You'll not get an engraved invitation (about when you'll die)." It was said jokingly and she would laugh. Not that it budged her for a good many years. My frustration was why can't she see something could happen at any time!

Mom's landing in Emergency New Year's Eve didn't set off any huge alarms. A cold had affected her bad lungs. It was in ER we found out she had quit taking her pills. Her blood pressure was through the roof. We could see she wasn't feeling well Christmas Day but at 88 and a half this happened periodically. Mom was contrite about the medications and was quite clear on her medical directives. She did want issues to be investigated but we danced around full on resuscitation. Mom had a cancer, albeit slow growing, COPD, a heart arrhythmia, severe arthritis and her mind sharp. Okay.

January 1st she had all the family come up on their way to dinner at our house. The next day when we visited we were told her blood pressure was under control and she'd be going home Friday, 2 days hence. Great! I started making plans to get her place ready for her return to her assisted living apartment. Mom was exhausted from not sleeping well in a 4 bed ward and was still having stomach discomfort. She just wanted to rest. So we left her to do so. The disconnect between the cheery report on how well she was doing and how my mom really seemed blew right over my head. She was coming home. Of course she was. Mom was strong and a fighter!

The next day more family and friends were scheduled to visit. Their reports said she was so very very sick. My brother, bless him, got up there at noon. With texts back and forth told me mom was quite unsettled but the doc would be there any time. I felt a need to get up to the hospital but not anxious. Carl was there and the Dr. coming! Finishing some appointments I headed up around 2:00 PM. This was one sick lady. A huge flu outbreak was keeping all sorts of doc and interns busy in emergency. The hours passed trying to make her comfortable. My mom then had a stroke. Our family gathered. Despite pleas and demands for her doc, no sign. The helplessness and frustration overwhelming. At one poignant moment I seemed to step out of my body. I came to 'see' that nothing we could, would do would change the course of what was to happen. It was set in motion. Mom would die. I was shocked out of my denial and utterly blown away. She did die, peacefully, shortly after finally receiving medication for her pain. We were numb. 

Time shifts some, though not all the pain around this. Mom did had a good run and was happy in her later years. That's a comfort. The ultimate irony though? After years of telling mom she wouldn't get an engraved invitation announcing when she would die, either did I.