"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Flaming Volcanoes and Receeding Glacial Ice

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost

On my birthday, over a week ago, for the first time in recorded history, there was snow in all 50 states, if you count snow capped mountain peaks in Hawaii (Haleakala, Hawaii pictured above.) Meanwhile, the Winter Olympics were going on in British Columbia, and the US was actually having to send snow to Canada because they did not have enough for the events. I don't have television, so I haven't seen much of the Olympics. At a friend's place the other evening, I did enjoy watching some Ice Dancing and the Women's Skeleton.

I had the opportunity to do the Skeleton on the track in Calgary, about nine years ago. What a thrill; though I spent more time signing waivers than it took to descend on the sled! I have been to 7 of Canada's provinces and to 49 states, Hawaii is the only state I'm missing. I'm hopeful for a vacation with a romantic partner there someday. I just have to finish interviewing applicants and hire someone for the position. (Please note, cooking skills required.)

I've been makin' bacon (ok, burning it) and eggs for my younguns and just generally enjoying a lazy Sunday morning, reflecting on the week, catching up on reading other's blogs,the news, listening to my 9 year old practice piano, and looking forward to a day of flying around these beautiful snowy mountains, doing aerobatic stunts, like the one EG calls the Negative G Remover (a Maneuver that temporarily defies gravity, removing one from their seat), and landing at a local ski resort's airstrip for some tubing with my daughters and one of the best friends ever, BB. (O.K. - here are pictures, I wrote in the morning, added photos at the end of the day.)

It has been a quite difficult week, actually. I'm distressed, worried about my mom who has just gotten a diagnosis of chronic pulmonary embolisms (emboli?). She is just 57, and I hate that she is struggling so much, so young. I fear her loss. My dad died 10 years ago. He was only 51. I feel powerless to do anything at all to help my mom. Here is a picture of her with my youngest, about 4 years ago.

The week was also laden with heart wrenching client trauma: Haitian earthquake relief workers returning, more war stories (Afghanistan), children's deaths, suicides, rapes, so much suffering. I feel at times eviscerated. There is nothing left in me to give. Compassion fatigue is the clinical term. By the end of this week, I was on the verge of tears constantly, such that any personal emotional provocation nearly sunk me. This is a time when having good friends, moms, sister to talk to is critical. Thank you each and everyone.

I also utilize my own therapy and supervision to absorb the overflow. My sister is a constant source of support. BB is a tireless confidant. (In case you're wondering, BB & I tried the romance thing, but I've found that with him as a friend I can love him unconditionally. As boyfriend/girlfriend - we were oil & water, cats and dogs, all the cliche's - it was fabulous in some ways, but in important others, it just did not work. I am grateful to have him in my life in ways that do work.)

I have new neigbors who are becoming good friends, too. GW moved in right across the street and we were saying initial hellos and were surprised to find out we are both psychologists practicing psychotherapy. (My two other closest neighbors coincidentally play in the community band with me.) Last night we went out with GW and her boyfriend for a very fun dinner at a Hibachi place. EG was enthralled by the chef's food aerobatics - particularly his creating a volcano from an onion.

GW and I discussed how being a therapist, listening hour after hour each week to others' lives, creates a need in our off-time to be a bit narcissistic. It's my turn to be heard some, when I'm off work! And we talked about how our expecting our patients to disclose so openly elicits within ourselves a freedom of speech and sharing, perhaps an openness that other, non-therapists would not find comfortable. Privacy? I have to worry about it too much with others' stories. This self-disclosure is also part of the recharge process, for me; I empty out the overflowing tanks and make room for more. If I can cathart all of this about myself, it refreshes me enough to keep going - keep containing clients' stories and pain.

Another bonus to my energy store: a budding friendship/romance was recently tested and has resurfaced. This person has been my muse. Each encounter with him seems to recharge my creative batteries. I need to thank him for his wisdom, his effortless and nearly constant subtle humor, and his shared, vulnerable, humanity . . .oh, and for cooking Southern comfort food for me when my strength falters. I wrote the following to my muse:

. . .So, I really long for physical contact, giving as much as receiving - it seems the only unguent for all the emotion that I take on each week . . . I give a lot to my daughters, but also want/need adult, mindful contact - the feeling of someone's skin - someone warm and breathing, sighing, snoring, the simplest touch is curative for me. When I'm beside you, maybe just our feet touching or my hand on your arm, I'm in touch with life, it is not removed. I am part of the world, grounded that way. Sometimes when I'm in the office sitting across from a client in so much pain, I feel almost as if I'm floating above the scene - so that I do not become overwhelmed in empathy and can continue to access the knowledge, skills, etc to help them in the way they need help from me. It is hard to be so close and yet so distant from 20 - 30 human beings each week. I don't know if someone who is not a therapist can understand what I'm talking about. . .

For my blog follower, James, who felt my cliffhanger was unfair: This is the same muse who inspired the letters copied in California Dreaming post. I told you the story was ongoing - who knows where, but I'm gaining a lot just by having this person in my life for whatever season(s) he remains, in whatever form our relationship evolves.

It has been nearly 50 degrees Farenheit at my home today. The ice is melting. Much has calved off the roof and re-covered previously cleared pathways, so more shoveling is in the forecast. However, it is going to thaw, eventually, this tundra will be no more. The permafrost will recede into a muddy soup, and then, I'll probably miss it. A few more things I want to say before I sign off:

Remember that anger is usually a mask for hurt. Hurting people hurt people.

Every relationship, every person you encounter leaves a mark on you, and you on them. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Almost any ice can be melted with a healthy amount of forgiveness. Not every relationship need return to previous incarnations, but any relationship that has impacted us deeply may have a place in our lives. (There are obvious exceptions, but I'm speaking generally.) Reconnect, forgive, love your history, it has made you who you are now.

Saw at ski resort restaurant at lunch today. Being Important is Nice. Being Nice is More Important.

(look at the skiers on the slopes in pictures above, they look like tiny ants!)

And finally, more lyrics/poetry, shamelessly copied but with attributions to the source.

Everybody Get Together
(Chet Powers)

Love is but a song to sing
And fear's the way we die.
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry.
Though the bird is on the wing
You may not know why.

C'mon, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now.

C'mon, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now.

Some may come and some may go
He will surely pass.
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last.
We are but a moment's sunlight
Fading in the grass.

C'mon, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now . . .

1 comment:

  1. It is wonderful to have a muse. I hope he helps you in your quest for sanity. What a fascinating life you are creating for your girls, so full of adventures. Great job Mom!