One Moment Please

You know that thing where people, on the phone or in a text, will say to you, “One moment please, while I look at your account,” or whatever it is you are calling or texting about. It happened to me today and it got me thinking how long is that exactly, a moment. Sometimes it feels like a very short time to wait and then other times it feels like forever.

On the face of it, one moment please, is such a simple phrase, superficial even, but have you ever considered the beauty in it!

I Googled it and found that, in medieval times, a moment was in fact a measured unit of time. Wikipedia tells us, the movement of a shadow on a sundial covered forty-moments in a solar hour. A solar hour is one twelfth of the period between sunrise and sunset. Since the length of a solar hour depended on the length of a day, and varied pertaining to the season, the average length of a moment was believed to have been around ninety minutes.

How about that! How many moments do any of us experience or even acknowledge in our day. Made me wonder about all of my moments, you know, the special ones in my life. What if, when I die, I am asked what were my favorite moments in my life. In trying to recollect, I realized just how fortunate I am and have always been because I have so many beautiful moments to choose from. I feel so grateful right now.

My most treasured moments include my kids and grand-kids. My favorite one has to be the last time we were all together in New Zealand January 2017. My youngest son lives there with his wife and two adorable children, a girl and a boy. My older son and his, also adorable, daughter traveled with me back then for a visit. The girls were both four years old, and the boy was almost two years old at that time.

It was a day-out to Piha Beach on Auckland’s west coast. It was the Tasman Sea, the body of water that runs between Australia and New Zealand, shoved-in between the South Pacific Ocean to the north and the Indian Ocean to the south.

January is summer there and it was hot; sand burning your feet kind of hot. A volcanic beach holds onto heat so, when the tide goes out mud-pools litter the place, like many little welcome oases to dip scorched toes into. But that was not the moment I am thinking of.

The kids had a great time at the water’s edge as my sons clung to their tiny hands. Huge waves, some almost forty feet tall, way out at sea broke and rolled in. Lifeguards stayed alert on this beach which is known for fast rip currents and roaring surf. My daughter-in-law managed a swim along the edge while I paddled and took it all in, my heart overflowing. But that was not my moment either.

We resorted to pantomime for communication since we couldn’t hear each other yelling over the crash of roaring waves and battering wind while we chased our super-excited-kids back toward the sand, in the spill of those huge breakers. Afterward, there was lots of laughter as we dried ourselves, and the little-ones, on towels from various bags piled together on a beach that stretched for miles. But that was not my special moment yet.

A month or so before this trip, I had had this dream of climbing up over huge sand dunes and suddenly there we all were. With kids in hand and loaded with bags and chairs, like Himalayan sherpas, we clambered back up over the dunes to get to the showers and bathrooms at the parking lot. My younger son and his wife suggested we drive up the mountain to see some spectacular views of the bay.

We parked as high up as we could and hiked up the rest of the way. The view at the top was just like they had told us it would be, stunning! It totally took my breath away. It felt like we had traveled back in time and I kind of expected to see dinosaurs coming out of the caves down below us.  I remember thinking you could fit an entire city into that bay, it was so wide and expansive. But that was not my moment either.

My moment came when we were hiking back down. I was in the rear bursting with love as I witnessed the joy in each of them. Then it suddenly exploded in me. Contentment filled me up as we all trekked down the path with the same purpose in our hearts. We moved like one person, one unit. Getting to the car and home, for baths and bedtime stories with these precious little ones had become a single purpose uniting us all together, as one family, for one moment in time.

That will be my answer if I am ever asked. That right there was my favorite moment in my life.

What will be your moment?

Grateful heart 💜x

Pieces of Me

I recently went back for a visit – back to my starting point on this planet, to my home town in West Central Scotland where I was fortunate to reconnect with my family, my lifelong friends, but most importantly, I reconnected with my self. Had I gone back in time to a place where life was simpler, my initial hope, or was I about to discover that the place hadn’t changed at all – I had!

Just as the Earth pivots around the Sun my soul continues to pivot around my childhood home in memories of clean air, wellness of spirit, and emotional ties that bind. Initially, I observed that the passing of time, however slow, had left its mark in the town on old buildings, drawn soft lines on faces and sprinkled silver in the hair of the people I hold most dear in this world.

Excitement in the unexpected vibrancy of emerging generations of new souls rooted there, stirred in me. Times had changed in my home town, a discovery which challenged my foolish heart.

Warm welcomes rekindled abandoned feelings of belonging and love which enabled my weary soul to pull on its old comfy slippers and sit by that fire for a while. Fortified by this deeply personal evolution, I ventured out to seek the places in my memory where, through my lifetime, I had left pieces of me.

My first stop – the family home. I casually drove over there and sat quietly in the car outside for a long time as many memories from my childhood, young married life, and early parenthood flashed around me turning the inside of the car into a glittering snow globe, of thoughts. The gable ended building, wearing a new coat of fresh paint and gravel chips, acknowledged my presence.

Undaunted by overwhelming emotions rising in me, I headed over to the graveyard to say hello to the old, and young, kin-folks residing there. I felt them.

In other parts of town I visited all four homes where I had raised my children. One where we brought them home from the hospital when they were new-born, the next where they first started Primary School and another where they attended High School, and ultimately, the house where it all fell apart. Somehow, the details of that last episode are fuzzy and no longer matter – I am finally at peace with it.

I gave the best years of my life to raising my children, something I will never regret. It comforts me to know that their continued success is evidence of my love and nurturing through some of the worst times of my life. They have persevered through the changes, as have I. My kids were and will always be the best thing that ever happened to me. I have drawn tremendous courage from having them in my life. They have inspired me to continue as they, in turn, overcome obstacles in their own lives. My kids have grown to be balanced caring adults.

For a long time I avoided going back to look at the pieces I thought I had lost, however, in going back I have found healing, belonging, and bounteous love. Those early seeds of conviction and change I had dropped on the ground have since flourished and grown into tall trees deeply rooted in the culture and history of my hometown.

Back in my current home, I am grateful to wake up everyday and continue to dedicate my life to the care and healing of my fellow-man. The challenges of an Intensive Care Nurse are just that, intensive. I have found that in this life everyone is exposed to physical or emotional pain at some point on their journey. Loss and gain are not always delivered in equal measure, however, if harnessed in a deliberate and thoughtful way, our responses to these forces can become an integral part of building empathy towards others, to be the bigger person. If someone is able to take the energy from a negative experience and turn it into something positive then the world stands to benefit from the unbridled potential within that action.

Humankind is capable of many things, but we can make mistakes on our quest to pursue true happiness and unwittingly, drop pebbles into someone else’s pond. Most mistakes can be forgiven whether or not they are acknowledged by the perpetrator, so in my lifetime I have decided my heart will accept the apologies I never got and freely give the ones I feel I owe.

One of my all time literary loves, Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese born American poet and philosopher, wrote poignant notes on this matter when he said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Another gem of his, “How shall my heart be unsealed unless it be broken?”

Life’s experiences mold us and expand our understanding in ways we cannot fully imagine unless we might have the opportunity to reconnect with a previous version of ourselves. Therein lies our peace, grace, and dignity – components of the glue necessary to find and bind all of the pieces of ourselves back together again. And for this opportunity I am truly grateful.

Love

 

LOVE tugs on your heart with a gravitational force that takes your breath and makes your eyes swell, but what is this strange enigmatic emotion and what does it mean in real life. Love can drive us to take action toward outcomes we never could have otherwise imagined. It can cause us to soar to heady heights and, with equal fervor, break us down and deliver us into an abysmal pit of grief.

Is love a single emotion or does it travel exclusively in the company of its cousins namely guilt, obligation, and expectation. Do we go willingly into love or are we ambushed by it and its posse of bandits; fear, dread and remorse, who come clad in thorns and strung on the veritable scented flower. Should we weigh the bad against the good or just go for it with hope, optimism, and joy! Invariably, for me, it has always been the latter and I have been stung by the thorns, but changed forever by the giddy perfume of the flower.

When I first studied nursing, and entered the humbling halls of learning, I journeyed through every aspect of care of the human body in the functional dimensions of daily care and beyond where I found a little snippet – a gem of and an ode to – love. In Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab, we were told that cardiac cells beat away at different rates in Petri dishes in the lab, but, when they are put together in the same Petri dish, they beat in unison. This little nugget caused me to wonder what if my family, and people I love, were in my Petri dish with me, figuratively speaking, and our hearts all beat at the same time! That thought gave me great comfort at a time when I was an ocean away and couldn’t be with them.

The Oxford English dictionary defines love as, “A strong feeling of affection.”

Merriam-Webster tells us, “Love is a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” So what happens if it is not constant. Does that mean it wasn’t love!!

What about when you feel love for someone else, but it isn’t reciprocated and what if you find yourself in the opposite situation where someone professes their undying love for you, but you don’t feel anything at all – awkward!

Perhaps we choose to believe we were conceived in a moment of pure love. Probably we were born into a loving home and grew up in an affectionate loving environment. Maybe not everyone, but most. Is that where our expectations of love are formulated. What if our love role-models are a bit remiss in their ability to express love and nurture us, or the outward environment we are born into is predominantly governed by the more negative traits of obligation and judgment. Is it likely then that our expectations of love become somewhat skewed or would that experience, overall, provide us with an extra ability to overlook shortcomings in our future. 

Love has been the catalyst of countless great written works of poetry and story telling throughout the ages. Many, compelled to express love in their own inimitable way, gave us everlasting jewels like Wm Shakespeare, the world renowned Bard of Avon, in his first published poem Venus and Adonis, when he wrote, “Love comefortheth like sunshine after rain.” 

With over fifty honorary doctorate degrees, Maya Angelou defined love this way, “In the flush of love we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” 

Oscar Wilde, the Irish playwright Novelist and Poet wrote, “It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its glory and still to love it.” 

The great Ernest Hemingway told us “We’re stronger in the places that we’ve been broken.” 

Best known for her radical critique of 18th century British gentry, Jayne Austen wrote, “You have pierced my soul, I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.” 

Edgar Allan Poe, known throughout the world for his poetry and short stories said, “The most natural, and, consequently, the truest and most intense of human affections are those which arise in the heart as if by electric sympathy.”

Roald Dahl, the Welsh born short story writer, poet, and screenwriter, simply stated in his children’s book The Witches, “Love is more meaningful than anything else.” This single statement speaks to the value of love in any life.

James Joyce, the legendary Dublin born novelist and poet, expressed love beautifully in his story, Araby, “...and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.” This has to be my most treasured expression of romantic love ever.

When you’ve lived in this world for any length of time, you come to see that love can potentially survive in most every situation, even where there is hate, fear, and dread. Often it’s a two sided coin. No-one can have it all and live in a Pollyanna type of situation except – maybe for a short period of euphoria in the early stages of a new romance. However, eventually the other stuff starts to show up and we have to decide at what point we accept, or, limit it.

Balance is not only the natural order of our human existence, as in homeostasis where the body is constantly enforcing a system of checks and balances, but it is also the natural order of the universe. A shiny dime will ultimately have a tarnished side too. If you want the whole dime then you have to take both sides. Life is a trade off, not always good, happy, and loving; not always ugly, hurtful, and uncomfortable, but perhaps the challenges we encounter in life are what make us stronger. 

Love is a gift, a gain, in every form it takes whether between parents and a child or among siblings, extended family members, or between friends. Love between two people can last a lifetime in a platonic or in a romantic relationship. Love can be a currency to be both received and given. It can be shared with those we hold most dear, but be aware that not everybody will reciprocate and share their love with you!

Love can also be a torment at a time of great loss when someone we love leaves us. At some point we all leave the ones we love. No-one can live forever and be around us, but we get to keep the love we have, or had, for and from them forever. Love transcends time and space.

The greatest form of love can be the one we foster for our own life – love for our self. This love is not dependent on anyone or anything external. It is our birthright, however some people might find this concept difficult to imagine and it may even take them an entire lifetime to reach understanding and realization of it.   

In the environment where I choose to work most everyday, I get to witness love a whole lot. Not everyone who comes in to the intensive care unit gets to leave the way they, or their loved ones, might want. My colleagues and I devote our time to evaluating, assessing, and delivering care to those stricken with illness. We also spend considerable time with their loved ones encouraging, supporting, and directing them as best we can.

Sometimes we have to tell people it’s not that you lost your loved one, but that you had them.  We all take love for granted, it’s a habit, we all do it. We seem to prefer to concentrate on what we don’t have or what we want. Sometimes it’s good to look around instead of forward or behind.

When your head hits the pillow at the end of your day, go deep inside your mind and find that place where the magic happens and your fountain of love lives. Allow it to flow out and wash you and the ones around you. Swim in it, bathe in it everyday. 

Love begins inside you. It’s yours, give it away freely so more will grow in its place.