Antibiotics are a good thing. But truthfully it was the acupuncture I had yesterday that got things moving. All of the stuck-ness in my body was awakened and I felt like I could breathe again. We’ve been working together for a long time, my acupuncturist and me. She’s a gifted healer and saying that I feel blessed to be in her care is a complete understatement. She got things moving. As I knew she would. And I felt myself coming home to myself, much like the blissful surprise of opening your door — while bundled up like the abominable snowman — after months of winter and finding it’s actually warm and spring has sprung. And you can even smell it.
As I lay on her table, my heart softened. With its softening, I realized I had been gone from myself for much longer than the winter sickness we’ve endured and I was surprised. I didn’t know I had been gone until I came home.
So there was that … plus the sad email to my coach earlier in the morning, sending out the smoke signals. Saying, “I’m not sure my heart is in this.” And then his prompt email followed by a call where we discussed what “this” would actually look like over these next few months. 80 days to be exact until Ironman Texas — I‘m counting today because I haven’t done the workout yet!
When all was said and done, it came down to what it always comes down to — choice. Only I can decide what I want for myself. After the map was laid out, we talked about postponing Texas. He said as an inquiry — not a statement, “Maybe this isn’t the time for you right now? Maybe it’s too much on you and your family? Perhaps we pull back and pick a different race?” I let that settle while standing in the locker room wearing my jeans over my swimsuit with the phone to my ear. Seeing my reflection in the mirror. I looked tired. Haggard and gray. I stood there in silence just staring at myself. “That feels really lousy.” I said after a long pause. “It does.” He responded. I thought to myself, “All I need to do is show up every day and do it. That’s it. And the rest is up to fate. And chance. And how well I can get my head engineered around the goal I have set before myself.” Just that.
So I got in the pool. And I moved gently. I let go of the workout I had been given and I simply moved. I didn’t run after my swim or do the core workout I had. I got out of the water. Showered. Went to my acupuncture appointment and came home to meet my grumpy children whose behavior mirrored the thickness of our lives and instead of engaging, I was gentle and calm. I reined them back in, reminding them (and myself!) that I am the one in charge. “We do not speak sharply to each other and we are not unkind.” As I stayed composed, I didn’t have a coughing fit and I didn’t sigh from weariness. And their hearts softened too. I could honestly see them shifting. Their behavior was still abysmal and they were still nasty but I calmly called them out on it and I think they were relieved to have me do so.
The final shift was this. An article from On Being by Parker Palmer. I don’t usually give you homework, but I hope you read it. I found myself deeply moved. It’s quick and so very much worth it. I love that he sees his articles as ” … ‘a memo to self.’ If it also speaks to you, I’ll be grateful and glad.” That is exactly how I feel about my writing and while I’ve always assumed you knew it to be so, I’ve never said just that.
But suffering, held in a supple heart, can break the heart open to compassion instead of breaking it down into cruelty. When we live with broken-open hearts, our suffering leads us to love life more, not less. Then we can become light-bearers and life-givers in a world of too much darkness and death. How to keep our hearts supple is one of the most important questions we can ask.
And that was it. My final aha moment of the day. Where the word choice danced in my mind and instead of feeling powerless … and angry … and believing that I am a victim to life’s whims, I felt my eyes brighten and I knew that I was up for the challenge of living a life engaged, where I write my own story and open my heart to all of it.
I want to know the answers to the question, “How can I keep my heart supple?” I’ll start by simply showing up and by being present and engaged. I’ll keep moving. I don’t think there’s any other choice. It’s not easy but the alternative just feels … really lousy.
Take care. Much love to you.