Learning about Love: Day 84 – A Hole in my Heart

An empty bench by the river.

A twinge of loneliness came to visit today. An empty feeling in the pit of my stomach emerged and I knew it wasn’t hunger; at least, not the hungry for food kind.

The lyrics of a song came to mind: “Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody.”

I sighed thinking how lovely it would be to have a special someone in my life. Someone to go on outings with. Someone to have fun with. Someone with whom I really clicked.

When it comes to men, I haven’t had much luck.

Relationships have always been a challenge for me, as was choosing a good man. I had good men interested in me. I just wasn’t interested in them.

I took on the challenges; the ones that needed my help.

When it came to relationships, I lost myself.

In hindsight, I think I lost myself in relationships just like I lost myself in cigarettes and alcohol. All of these things served as a diversion. Although I wasn’t consciously aware of this at the time.

Cigarettes, alcohol and needy relationships distracted me from the hole in my heart. A hole that began very early in life. A hole that was passed down. A hole that didn’t belong to me, but that I took on anyway because I was too young to know it wasn’t mine.

My story is not a new one. It happens all the time in society. Everywhere one looks, one can see someone putting their crap on someone else.

We do it unconsciously and we do it habitually.

In learning about love, one can wake up to recognize unconscious behavior, beliefs and attitudes.

I learned that the hole in my heart is the love and compassion I didn’t have for myself. It was the missing lesson in early life that begged for attention until I was ready to hear.

I’m listening now.


Learning about Love: Day 10

Sunbeams on the water.

What would you do today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?

A while ago a Facebook friend shared an article by Bronnie Ware, titled Regrets of The Dying.

Bronnie worked with patients in palliative care where she helped care for them during the remaining weeks of their lives.

“People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.” ˜ Bronnie Ware

I know what Bronnie means by that quote. Long time readers know that last summer, I experienced a serious health emergency. The situation definitely played catalyst in a perspective shift. I wrote about it in a post titled, “In the End, Only Love Matters.”

Back to the article — Bronnie lists the top 5 regrets that were common themes with the majority of her patients.

The first is that they wished they had the courage to be true to who they were instead of what others thought they should be or do.

 “This above all:  To thine own self be true.” — William Shakespeare

Number two is that they wouldn’t have worked so hard and spent so much time away from loved ones.

Third, they wished they had the courage to express their true feelings.

Fourth, they wished they had stayed in touch with friends.

And finally, they wished they had allowed themselves to be happier throughout their life. At the end of life, they realized that happiness is a choice.

Why does it seem to take a catastrophic event to effect a change?

If I knew I would die tomorrow, I would drive to my sister, I would hug her and tell her that I love her.

Learning about Love: Day 6

Hello My Wonderful Fellow Human Beings! I’m so excited because I have an awesome article to share with you today.

Elana Miller MD is a psychiatry resident at UCLA and an awesome writer. She is launching a new blog on July 3rd called Zen Psychiatry. I just received notice that Elana authored a guest post at Goodlife Zen. It’s titled, “how to find compassion in your most difficult moments.”

Elana uses her own experiences in residency and lessons learned to illustrate five “how-to” principles that will help you stay kind and empathic in challenging circumstances.

Be sure to check out Elana’s great words of wisdom as soon as you get a chance. Also, you may want to check out earlier posts from Elana at The Psychosphere – Experiments in Examined Living. A favourite of mine is, Zen and the Art of Not Being An Asshole.

If you are new to this blog and wonder what this is all about, I’ve given myself a 100 day “Learning about Love” challenge. So — for the next 100 days, it’s all about love. My good friend calls it a “love makeover” (hehehe).

Thank you to all who accompany me on this journey. I really appreciate the support and wonderful comments. 🙂

I created a Facebook page for The Meaning for my Life to build a community where like-minded individuals can share the meaning for their life as well as items of inspiration to help keep us focused on Love, Life and Presence. Just give us a ‘Like’ and your in (hehe). The Like button is in the right sidebar under ‘My Story’ pages.

I Found the Meaning for my Life

“The road is long

With many a winding turn

That leads us to who knows where

Who knows where

But I’m strong

Strong enough to carry him

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

So on we go.”

Lyrics by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell.

It seemed like an ordinary day.

As I returned home from the grocery store, I met Eileen. Some of you know Eileen from My New Friend. Eileen’s 92 now. She had another birthday.

Eileen was on her way toward the parking lot. I was on my way toward the apartment complex where we live. We met just outside the door to the building. Eileen noticed the grocery bags dangling from my hands.

“Here, I’ll open the door for you.” Eileen reached back into her pocket to retrieve her keys.

“Thank you, Eileen. How are you doing?”

“I couldn’t be better. Here, I’ll get the other door for you as well,” she offered while she scurried toward the inside door that led to the hall where my apartment unit was.

I followed, protesting, “Oh, no, you don’t have to do that, Eileen. You’re on your way out.”

As she stood holding the door open, looking up at me, she beamed, “We’re here to help others. I know that more than ever now.”

My heart melted.

“May I give you a hug, Eileen?”

Eileen smiled. The light shone through her eyes. I dropped the grocery bags to the floor.  We hugged.

Love Itself spoke to me that day.

In the End, Only Love Matters

Life lesson 20,622.

Some of my blog readers know that seven months ago, I experienced a serious health emergency due to rheumatoid arthritis and/or RA drug induced complications (click here to read).

The events that occurred on that day as well as the two months that followed turned into a life altering experience that I haven’t shared much about.

I’m ready to share now.

The story goes like this: In 2009, I realized that while it was true that I was breathing, I wasn’t really living. For years, I wasn’t engaged with Life. On the outside, I went through the motions doing the things I had to do each day. On the inside, life was hard, full of disappointments and burdens. There wasn’t much about life that impressed me.

Something had to change. Being stuck in the drudgery was no longer an option. I had to find a way to live happily engaged to loving Life.

So, I began this blog in 2010, called it “Grandeurvision” with the sub-heading “a woman’s journey to a meaningful life” and set out to change my life.

Throughout 2010, good fortune came my way. I was able to experience coaching by a couple of really great life coaches. I attended some very empowering workshops and met some really awesome positive people (including blog neighbors).

Headed in the right direction, life was changing. I felt enthusiastic about living.

Unbeknown to me, the best was yet to come.

The best was the serious health emergency that occurred seven months ago. That’s when the “full monty”, “the whole nine yards” came to light.

The shock, at first, felt like I ran into a brick wall. My world suddenly stopped. There was nothing to do, except lie in the hospital bed. It was the closest I’d ever come to death.

Funny thing is, I lived most of the years prior not really wanting to live. Now, I had a close to death experience. It called my name to say, “Pay attention here, Marianne, this is really important.”

So—I was lying in my hospital bed in the cardiac ward unable to sleep at 4 a.m. when the man in the bed next to me began talking in his sleep. I listened intently to hear what he was saying, but disappointed to realize it sounded like gibberish. In fact, it sounded totally alien, like he was having a bubbly conversation with a being from another planet. His pitch rose and lowered in a melodious kind of way.

It seemed like his conversation went on for a really long time. Eventually, the night nurse heard him. She went to his bedside, called his name several times while gently nudging him. Still dazed, he mumbled something about the bathroom. He wasn’t able to stand up, so the nurse called other nurses to help sit him on the commode.

The nurses had him half out of his bed when he collapsed into unconsciousness. A code blue alerted hospital staff and within seconds  a team of  8 or 10 health care workers arrived with equipment to resuscitate him. It took an awfully long time to stabilize him. Then, they moved him to the intensive care unit where his needs would be cared for better.

Throughout the entire time, I was in the next bed, shaking and praying to God, “Please don’t let him die.”

This is where the “attention” part came in.

Within a handful of days, two serious life and death situations  presented; one that happened to me (hence the reason I was in the hospital in the cardiac ward) and one that I witnessed (the man in the next bed).

It was as if Life would make sure I wouldn’t miss this lesson. I was afraid that I would die and I was afraid the man in the bed next to me would die. In the grip of the fear of death, a  gift emerged. It was a clear realization that I wanted to Live and I wanted the man next to me to Live.

The experience opened my eyes to view Life differently.

Life is no longer about having stuff, doing stuff or being a “somebody”. Life is about the fact that I’m being Life Itself. I’m not Marianne living Marianne’s little life. I’m Life acting out Life through a physical body experiencing events. I’m experiencing Life living and being Life. It’s the most sacred thing I’ve ever felt.

On a sensation level, the shift in perception is huge. On a thinking, writing or speaking level, the shift can hardly be explained.

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing or what I’m having. It doesn’t matter whether this body is diseased or healthy. All that matters is that I’m living and loving in this moment. That’s all that matters.

By pleading and praying for the man in the bed next to me, I was loving him — a man who was a total stranger. I wanted the same for him that I wanted for myself — Life. I wanted Life for both of us.

Microsoft Images

While we are here, experiencing Life in this body, it is a privilege and an honor to spend time with others, to share, to give, to help.

In the end, when faced with death, all that really matters is how loving and kind we were to ourselves and to others.

Is it really possible to live with the awareness of this truth in each and  every moment?

Thoughts about the Japan Crisis

This morning, I turned my computer on to find my inbox full of news from the crisis in Japan. Most of the news talked about the world-wide effect of the situation, warning people to protect themselves from contamination.

Initially, I panicked. I must warn my loved ones and friends, I thought.

As the day unfolds and I read news articles and watch videos from BBC, CBC, MSNBC, CNN etc. etc. it became obvious that there is no protection from something like this.

Story after story relates devastation beyond belief with no immediate relief in sight. Hundreds of thousands of people suffering unimaginable conditions. Thousands upon thousands of people putting their lives at risk and working to help in every aspect of recovery. One BBC article reads, “Japan crisis ‘worst since WWII’

My heart weeps for everyone affected by this awful, awful tragedy. I am sure that my sentiments are felt by millions upon millions who watch, as the crisis unfolds.

No. There is no protection from something like this because each one of us is affected no matter where we live in the world.

Every single human body on this planet collectively contributes to the living organism called “humanity” just like every single cell in the human body collectively contributes to the organism called “person”.

What affects one cell or group of cells in the body, affects the whole body. And so it goes with humanity. Whether we want to recognize it or not, what affects one human or group of humans affects us all.

So let us help one another, have compassion for one another, respect one another and pray for Japan.