There are moments that happen in life when one is forced, compelled and arm-twisted into doing something so intrinsically against one’s  nature. The Divine makes it so, I believe now, to perpetuate in us a sense of grounding, of centeredness, of peace. You are made to simplify things, not complicate it. I recently thought that though I learnt a lot from Martha Stewart as a new foreign bride on these shores on how to do things, I am leaning towards placing some blame of this great burden of “doing” so much on her. Why should it be so complicated? Simplify and live! I love that the Latin word for it has ‘care’ in it. Because simplifying your life, as I have very difficultly learnt, means to to really care. joy in simple

This being the Lenten season, and this being a year that began for me with so many challenges and pain, these past months have forced me not just into bed rest but also, mind rest. I am the perpetual worrywart, the have-to-get-it-done-even-if-I-die-for-it-tomorrow woman. I already feel second rate for being a stay at home, non-outside career woman. I beat myself up for the slightest mistakes, assuming how large that mistake looms in the eyes of others on the outside looking back at me. I learnt about being vulnerable and it being okay when I heard Dr. Brene Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability and shame a couple of years ago. Although I thought I ‘got it’, I actually only got some of it. I suppose it is why life is called a journey. You make plans, you buy tickets, you pack your bags, you fly, you get to train stations late or miss a connection or you get stuck next to a stinky open-mouth snorer on a 14 hour flight. Or you make a life long friend when she helps you lug your heavy ass bag into the RER train in Charles de Gaulle airport. Have a couple who fell in love after being single for 50 years and hear their stories around your dinner table after meeting them at a random breakfast joint downtown Seattle. Journey. Will the road you choose be an open or closed path? That is what my journey is about right now.

The year 2012 ended like the story of the dragons in the Game of Thrones where they all died out and all that remains is a myth. I sometimes look back at it and wonder if some of the things that happened actually did or did I conjure it up like some skillful, hallucinated soothsayer. There was so much beauty in that year, so many laughs and reunions, truths unveiled, love among a brother and sister rekindled and restored; walking the labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral and being healed of my knee pain that is still gone to this day; morning coffees with my Papa’s best friend retelling old stories and giving me insight to the first man I ever loved. Then the flip side. Friends who bailed on me in baffling, heart-wrenching ways; travel plans run amok; legal issues regarding my parents estate and my mother’s strange ways; new lumps forming from the Dercum’s Disease and the mind-numbing pain that came with it; getting yet another diagnosis, this time that I have mast cell activation disorder which explained a lot of symptoms I was experiencing but scared my wits to bits anyways. And somewhere between then and the end of the year, I gave up.

I gave up trying. I gave up wanting to try. I saw no more purpose in believing or my reason for existing. I felt I have had enough of my share of crap and crappiness. Sod the world and the people in it who could not give me a glance of compassion or a word of encouragement. I was done with the selfishness of others towards those who suffer but had tried to put on a brave face. The arrogance of holding back a kind word so desperately needed by a yearning ear. No one around me seemed to be open to the idea of being open. Open to be real. Open to be authentic. Tell me how you really feel. Open to me being real with them. Yet, I am supposed to be open, courageously be vulnerable in the face of such apathy? Sod, sod and sod it. Yann Martel said, “When you’ve suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling.” How true I found this statement to be!

In such a moment, the day eventually came when I snapped. I lost it. I was losing it but just did not understand or recognise it as such. For some odd reason, I wrote a poem and two dear friends caught on something was not right immediately. They contacted Brett and thankfully, he got back in time. Long story short, I am now on some new medications that will help me through this time. It pained me to have to succumb to this. Me, the defiantly joyful one, now on anti-depressants. Oh, the irony! But, it was necessary and much needed. With all that was going on not just emotionally, but especially physically, I needed help. The endocrinologist said I was going through a ‘slow’ crisis with my Addison’s Disease which shuts the body down and you are extremely fatigued, cognitively impaired and prone to passing out. Forced to shut down. Retreat my child, The Divine says. Rest. Give it up. Surrender. I (the Big “I”) got this.

It has taken me weeks of this new routine to finally calm my mind at night that I can actually sleep without waking up to use the bathroom and immediately begin making a mental list of things to do in the morning, for instance. Or be okay that I have a bunch of baby gifts to hand out or mail to friends who had babies six months ago! Or mail out thank you cards… or this or that… I have come to accept that they will understand and not judge. And if they do, then, so what. It’s on them, not me! I have to take care of me. Self care. Not because of selfishness, but because God created me wonderfully and creatively and I need to honour His work. And I also have come to understand and accept that just because I have something to say to someone, it does not mean they are ready to hear or accept it. And that is okay too. I am learning balance. Slowly. But surely. Step by step. I know I will goof up here and there but I shall ask God and others for forgiveness, forgive myself and move on.

I have slowly found joy again in the creative process. The paints and brushes are out. I’ve already made a sketch in the Matisse moleskin Ms. Ellen gave me for my birthday 🙂 When my hands tremble too much from the mast cell activation disorder (MCAD) or Dercum’s and I can’t hold a paint brush or type a word, I refuse to feel like a invalid anymore but allow myself just to go rest or look out into the new spring garden outside my window. The brightness of the bobbing heads of the violet, yellow and maroon pansies make me smile each and every time. Simple joy. And we got a new little Bengal cat!! Jaspurr is filling our hearts with so much joy and laughter. The innocent love of a little creature is so precious and I know he will be such a healing component to my life from now on. I want to cultivate being grateful and practice seeing the light of joy even in the darkest of hours. And when I need help, I will be humble to ask for it. As Sugata Mitra said, “But the perfect tools aren’t going to help us if we can’t face each other and give and receive fearlessly, but, more important, to ask without shame.”

In the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, tomorrow is the Sunday of Forgiveness during Lent. I do not know if I can make it to church tomorrow. I will try. ‘On the evening of the Sunday of Forgiveness the Church conducts the first service of Great Lent, the Vespers of Forgiveness, a service that directs us further on the path of repentance and helps us to acknowledge our need for forgiveness from God and to seek forgiveness from our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the first time that the Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim accompanied by prostrations is read. At the end of the service all the faithful approach the priest and one another asking for mutual forgiveness.’ (taken from SimplyOrthodox ).

I end by asking each of you, my friends, my brothers and sisters, to forgive me, word and/or deed, for that with which I may have offended you by this past years. Bear it not against me. May peace and love rule between our souls and may the Light of Heaven shine upon each of our paths as we journey on.

(photo credit: pictureperfectforyou)

2 thoughts on “Simplificāre

  1. Christina McDonald says:

    Gina, thank you for your soulful words. It is not always easy to understand the challenges put in front of us or to accept them. I think it essential that we forgive ourselves because it is in forgiving ourselves we can forgive others. It seems we sometimes make things too important and by simplifying, as you talk about, you can relax and often there is less to forgive as a result (our mind sometimes magnifies things and there really wasn’t a need to even forgive ourselves). I do not have the gift of words as you do – am am pleased to see your words and what you are expressing in them. Small moments, watching Spring arrive or Jaspurr play, bring moments of joy that bring moments of life that lead to more moments of joy and more moments of life. Enjoy the moments and there is nothing that you need to ask me forgiveness for.
    With love and hugs… christina

    1. ginabentley says:

      Thank you, Christina. I love our friendship.

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