Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Missy

My sweet Missy is once again struggling with low platelets. Her platelets are dangerously low and she is at risk for spontaneous bleeding. We have begun prednisone to suppress her immune system and hopefully get her platelets back up. Her vet thinks there is a good chance she has immune mediated thrombocytopenia. I need to keep her quiet and still ... as my vet said, wrap her in pillows.

Missy is fortunately feeling like her usual self. She isn't showing any symptoms and for that I am grateful. Thank you Ahnung for watching over your sister. My prayer is for Missy to continue feeling good. I am going to bring her back to the vet on Friday to get her platelets checked. She will have been on prednisone for almost 5 days. Hopefully her platelets will have gone up a little. I would like to know where they are at before we go into the weekend.

I have been reflecting on how Missy came to me ... how she was sent to me by Shen whom I lost suddenly and without much preparation to spleen cancer ... how she opened up the door to the world of 'fostering' and animal welfare in Minnesota ... how she walked me down a new path I would never have imagined ... how my life is what it is today.

Ahnung and Missy (2009)
I have had a lot of emotions come up ...  worry, fear, anxiety. In my morning meditations I find myself encouraging myself to find that calm center and to embrace all that life brings my way. I have found myself returning to the grief and the fear and the pain when I lost my first dog Splat; when I lost Shen and Shadow to cancer within 7 months of each other; when I first heard the news Ahnung had cancer and when the earth would shake and crack beneath me for almost 2 years as we walker her final walk together.

What I realized this morning is that Missy, like Ahnung, is 'sick' .... at least that is what lab tests and diagnostics are showing ... she, however, doesn't know she is sick and she is acting and feeling like her normal self. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for how great she feels. I am grateful I find myself having to try to calm her down so she doesn't bruise or bleed spontaneously.

Sweet Ahnung, please continue to watch over your sister. Wrap her in a blanket of love, light and healing. And wrap me too and give me the strength and courage to simply Be present for Missy .... to not worry about tomorrow, or what could be ... to simply Be here with her today.

Missy, Mister, Legacy and Ahnung (2011)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Walk the earth ...

This morning I find myself reflecting on wise words someone once told me as I was struggling and when there was uncertainty in my life .... she said, 'Marilou, walk the earth.' When I think of 'walking the earth' my mind and heart now go to my spirit dog Ahnung. I know she is watching over us ... We never know where our life's journey will take us. My meditation practice reminds me to stay in the moment ... to acknowledge what pops up in my mind and in my heart ... to welcome, give space, and then let it go. Sometimes the letting go is very hard. I remind myself, over and over again ... keep walking the earth; keep sitting; keep letting go; keep practicing; keep trusting my life and where I am at, and all that is happening around me, is exactly where i need to be.

I read this in the May 2017 issue of 'Lion's Roar' ... "In the space between desire and despair, between holding and letting go, between clinging and release, and between my desire for you and my desire for your happiness, which things cannot exist together, and yet which could not exist separately ... Can you see this? In this space is the unspoken thing that lives" [From the novel, Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis]

This morning I will focus on welcoming all as a guest ...

The Guest House

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!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Listening

This morning I was reflecting on the word listening. What does it mean to listen? And what are we listening to? do we even know how to listen anymore?

So often we are running so fast, distracting ourselves, waiting for some ONE or some 'authority' figure (doctor, individual in a position of 'power' or with all these degrees or letters after their names) to tell us what to do ... the other week i heard someone on NPR talk about a recent study/research done on sleep. How one group had 8 hours of sleep and how another group had 6 hours or 7 hours, and one group completely deprived of sleep. How the group that had 8 hours performed 'better' in cognitive tests than the other tests. I was talking to my partner about this over dinner last night. It seemed crazy to me that we would even need to 'study' that ... how much research money was spent so that scientists could study that? What ever happened to simply learning to listen to our own bodies? What if we listened to our bodies ... when we are tired, we rest. Why do we need to come up with studies so that scientists can tell us we need 8 hours of sleep? If we listened to our own bodies I think our bodies would tell us if we needed 8 hours of sleep, or 9 or 10 ... or 7 or 6.

Imagine if we trusted the wisdom of our own bodies ... if we didn't run from ourselves, our thoughts, our emotions, our 'demons' ... if we simply noticed them and gave them space and room .... if we listened not just with our ears but with our hearts, our bodies, our mind our souls ....

"once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit" 

~ e.e. cummings

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Rain. Water. Life. Joy.

I am looking out my meditation/writing room. It has been raining since last night. Rain and scattered thunderstorms are anticipated all day. The cardinals have been visiting often this spring, and this morning it's as if they are dancing. I think of my dog Mister (photo on left). He has always LOVED water. When we have gone to dog parks with small bodies of water, he will dive in and splash his away in pursuit of other dogs who often are stronger swimmers .... he may not be the most graceful, or fastest swimmer, but he doesn't care. He is in pure ecstasy. We haven't gone to the dog park in a while, and this morning I found myself thinking of him splashing around. We need to return there so not only can he experience joy and ecstasy, but I can also experience that with him.

We have teachers all around us. They come in human form, in books, nature, wildlife, rocks, mountains, rivers, tragedy, loss, poetry, music, silence .... for me, my Papa knew the hurt little girl in me needed the unconditional love of a dog in order to open up her heart again. When Ahnung crossed over to the spirit world she waited a couple months then sent me Ishkode ('fire' in ojibwe) from Leech Lake. She was a fireball of a puppy. Ahnung knew I needed to laugh more in my life ... and with Ishka, laughing more was something I did!! Ishka is a smart, smart girl with a very active mind. I remember as puppy how she would drag downspouts off of my house. And like her brother Mister, she too, loves the water.

Every morning I take time to quiet my mind. An intentional time for quiet and space. To notice the flurry and chaos of my mind. To intentionally create space ... yes, the semicolon, the comma. If i didn't, my sentences, my life, would be one incredibly long, run on sentence, and I would fizzle out. I reflect on poems and words of great writers like Mary Oliver, Rumi, Mary Sarton, Wendell Berry ... I allow myself the time to reflect and question, and to simply Be in a place where I encourage my mind and heart to simply notice. It's not easy at times .... so i gently nudge myself to keep on practicing. It has served me well for decades; it has saved my life; it has allowed me to create new paths where paths never existed.

We are all teachers. We are all learners. We are all exactly where we need to be.



Friday, April 14, 2017

Returning ....

Spring has arrived in Minnesota, yet the image that calls to me is an image i took several winters ago in my front yard. I've taken a hiatus from writing on my blog. At times I've been hard on myself for not writing .... a voice inside of me kept telling me i needed to start writing again. Not just morning journaling. I needed to write for my blog. Reflection writing. It has been a gift for myself to be able to go back through my blog and read my stories, my reflections, and even the heartache as I went through what has been my most painful loss in my adult life ... losing my Ahnung; my soul; my heart. I needed to write to let out all that was inside of me; i needed to write to heal myself; i needed to write to give words to the messages my Ahnung was sending to me; writing was as essential to my survival as air was.

Tonight as I was hiking with my dog Ishka (my bridge to Ahnung) I could feel the spirit and the energy of Ahnung flow through me. I feel her every day. August 25, 2017 will mark 4 years since i held my sweet girl as her spirit was set free. It has been a journey. An amazing journey as I have discovered places inside my heart i never knew existed; as I have experienced laughter again, and almost 8 months ago met the love my life. It was, and still is, terrifying to open up my heart completely and fully, to another human being; to let her in ...to risk being hurt, and to be vulnerable. But I believe Ahnung brought us together.  She tells me, there is more to my story ....

In my hiatus from blogging, I continued to practice 2 simple things that have kept me sane and grounded for decades ... meditation and journaling. Last January (2016) I got myself a personal trainer. I needed a boost to get myself going. After my diagnosis with my heart condition I was hesitant to workout. I realized I did not feel good physically. I was using my heart condition as an excuse to not workout ... my cardiologist never told me don't exercise; he simply said to refrain from high intensity sports as I was at higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest. I made a decision to get my physical health back ... in my first session with my trainer when he asked me what my goals were I said, I just want to feel better. No weight goal. I said, I am tired of feeling crappy, of feeling tired and low energy .. i just want to feel good. I was committed to a lifestyle change, not short term fixes. A year and a half later, I can honestly say I have never felt better physically. Every day I run or walk. It is my way of grounding, of releasing stress, of connecting to Ahnung, to the wise spirits that are around us .... to noticing the miracles of life present in so many ways.

So I have no idea where my blogging will go ... what stories, what journey, what reflections ...

I wrote and blogged almost every day while I was going through some of my deepest and darkest moments. Truth is ... I am happy now, most of the time (yup, not all the time! If i said I was you would know I am in denial!) ...  my heart still aches and misses Ahnung. She was right though .. there would come a time when the piercing pain right through my heart would ease, but I had to allow myself to feel the pain ...

So nothing profound in this blog as I return from a long hiatus .... I decided to just type away. Sometimes you need to just get started, so that's what I am doing.

And I end with a photo of our fur family .... we now have 5 beautiful pups ... (from left to right: Missy, Legacy, Mister, Ishka, Piper ... and above them, spirit dog Ahnung) ... ages are 12 yrs, 6 yrs, 10 yrs, 4 yrs and 16 yrs old!!!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ahnung's 3rd Anniversary - Anger and Grief

There is no time table for one's journey through grief, loss, pain, trauma. Today is the 3rd anniversary of the passing of my soul spirit, my soul dog, my heart, my Being ... my Ahnung. This year, for whatever reason, has felt different. I became friends with Grief, with Anticipatory Grief as together with Ahnung I prepared for the day (Aug. 25, 2013) when I would have to hold her in my arms and her spirit was set free. It didn't matter though ... I didn't feel like I was prepared but I knew I had to keep my promise to Ahnung. That I would stay with her, that I would walk with her, I would love her with every fiber of my being, and I would listen .... listen ... really listen ... and when the time came, I would let her go. This year, as her anniversary approached, I found myself wanting to just disappear .. to isolate ... to lose myself in 'something'. So I walked and I walked and I walked. 'Walk the Earth, Marilou'. And I became frustrated at times because my left knee which I had injured on March 26th despite physical therapy was not healing and I couldn't run. For me, running was a spiritual practice for me. All the while I keep telling myself to be okay with whatever. Then a couple weeks ago, while walking with Ishka, these words appear ... 'it's at a cellular level' and then the image of my acupuncturist appears. I hadn't seen my acupuncturist in many years, yet she was the only healer I had that really saw me as a whole person. So I reconnected with her. And I have since discovered there is so much more under the surface which I need to heal. And I came face to face with an emotion I have tried to bury. I used to write to Grief ... i invited her into my home; i became friends with her. But lurking in her shadow was  Anger. And I shut the door on Anger and kept her at arm's length. Truth is, I have never been good at Anger. I have been afraid of Anger. I used to also be terrified of Grief. That I would be swallowed by Grief ... by Anger.

So I have been trying to allow myself to feel this 'bad' emotion ... this 'scary' emotion. Funny though ... when I write to Ahnung and I tell her how much I miss her and I begin to venture down the path of telling her how angry I am, I find myself asking for her forgiveness and apologizing for even having feelings of anger. I'm afraid to tell her I am angry not just at the circumstances, but I am angry at her for cracking my heart wide open and then leaving me. There is so much more I want to say but I don't know how to say them to her, or maybe to even allow myself to say them.

This morning as I was journaling and looking out my writing/meditation room I could hear and feel Ahnung's spirit, giving me permission ... giving me permission to feel anything and everything I need to feel; to not judge my emotions and say they are 'good' or 'bad'; they just are. And then as if to assure me she was with me, a red cardinal swooped down and landed on the post on my wooden fence. He didn't just 'fly by'; he landed on a post then flew to the next, and then finally on a post where the sun was partially shining down on him. He picked the post at the intersection of sunlight and shadow and remained there for a few minutes.

And in that moment, I could hear Ahnung telling me we need both the sun and the moon; light and darkness; joy and grief/anger. It's okay for me to tell her I am angry.

Ahnung, I am angry. I will try to allow myself to feel those emotions, but right now, on the 3rd anniversary of your passing, I just want you to know that my heart aches for you and I miss you and I would do anything in the world to have just one more walk with you.

"Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with their heart and soul, there is no separation."

~ Rumi




Friday, July 15, 2016

Reconnecting with Ahnung through Ishkode and Place

On Wednesday I was able to walk the same area I used to walk with Ahnung ... this time I was with Ishkode (aka Ishka). After Ahnung was was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 we would take regular trips (mostly in the winter months) to Grand Marais and walk along the rocky shores of Lake Superior. The quiet of winter was what I needed. The stillness allowed me to simply Be in a sacred place with Ahnung. Two days after Ahnung crossed over into the spirit world in August 2013 I returned to Grand Marais ... to the exact Place we visited ... and there I cried and I cried and I cried ... I wrote and I wrote and I wrote ... and I scattered some of her ashes into Lake Superior as I wished her safe travels and thanked her for all she has given to me, and continues to give to me. On Wednesday morning I needed to reconnect with Ahnung; i needed to feel her spirit and to be in the same sacred place we shared ... to soak in her energy, her wisdom, her calm. This time, I had my beloved Ishkode with me, whom Ahnung brought into my life in the fall of 2013 to help me in my healing, and maybe to also remind me, she is always with me. Ahnung taught me to listen, to truly listen. She also taught me to be willing to love fully and completely even knowing our time was limited and that my heart would be broken. She taught me that my heart never really breaks ... or at least not in the way I fear it to break. She taught me my heart will break, but it will break open and that I need to just be still and Be in whatever place I am at, physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally.

There is something very sacred about certain places and spaces for me. My home is a sacred place and space for me. My morning ritual of meditation and writing and the burning of incense grounds me every morning. My walks with Ishka connect me with the Earth and with the skies and with Ahnung. And the sound of water, especially Lake Superior water, brings me to a place of peace.

I have this quote hanging in my meditation room ...

"In the end what matters most is
How well did you live
How well did you love
How well did you learn to let go."

Ahnung means 'star' in ojibwe. Ishkode means 'fire' in ojibwe. Through the spirit and energy of two reservation dogs (one from Red Lake and one from Leech Lake) I feel I can reach for the stars and I am reminded to always look within myself so I never lose track of all that fuels the fire and passion of life inside of me.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to walk the shores of Lake Superior, in the exact space place I used to walk with Ahnung ... this time with the puppy she brought into my life just 7 weeks after she crossed over into the spirit world.

miigwech Ahnung ...

miigwech Ishkode ....