‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

All Moved In!

Although Anya finally won her court fight for a government issued apartment over a year ago, it was only this week that she finally moved in! She was given the keys to the apartment in late October, but it was literally just an empty room with no furniture - no stove, no fridge, no curtains or flooring - nothing but 4 walls and a tub and toilet!

Slowly, over the past five months, friends have helped me to help Anya by sponsoring a new couch/bed, fridge, stove, washing machine, and flooring, wall covering and simple curtains. Today I received the sweetest photo - Sasha readying her corner of the bed for her first night's sleep in her new home. 

Anya says Sasha loves it there and is already making herself very much at home. It is the first time in Sasha's little life they will have a home of their own! No more moving from friend to friend, couch to couch. They are home. And I couldn't be more happy, if I had won the lottery. 

Sasha making her bed.
In May we head over to spend a long-awaited month with them. This will be my bed for the month of May, and it is better than a five-start hotel - bc I'll be sharing it with Sasha. (Anya, Nastia & Matilda will be camping out on the floor.)

This photo warms my heart. I can't stop looking at it...

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Good Medicine

My days these past nine months seem to be filled with the task of finding good medicine. On bad days, the medicine is fairly easy to find - its a bed, shades drawn in a darkened room, and fitful hours of attempted sleep with muscle spasms, tremors, involuntary twitches and jerks of all kinds. On good days, it can be more complicated - do I try to get caught up on life? Do bills and answer phone calls? Clean my house? Make up missed appointments? Or do I forego all that and call on true soul medicine, like walks in the woods with my kids, an hour of meditation in a quiet room, a movie with the girls, lunch with a friend? 

In the months I was new to Lyme Disease (and its many piggyback parasitic infections I have) I chose the former. I was trying to live the same life - keep up with who I was, and try to appear as pulled together as possible. As the months and bad days accumulated, I learned that this was not sustainable. 'But it has to be!' my old self would scream. 'But its not..' my new self would warn. Old self would ignore and push past all the caution tape my body and mind would wrap around itself, and use every ounce of brain power and physical strength to act normal, be normal. But each time she did, it led to just more bad days. Bad days on a scale so horrible, I wondered, truly, if I'd make it to the next sometimes.

And then about a month ago, God shined a light in my darkened mind, and I let go. 

I let go of the old me. 

I let go of the narrative I had held of myself for 30 years.

I let go of my titles: teacher, blogger, mother to the motherless, helper, advisor,
doer, go-getter, make-it-happen-er, life-changer...

I let go of my need for perfection as a mom.

I let go of all my expectations of what my life was supposed to look like. 

I let go of others' expectations for me.

I let go of my clean house

I let go of my dreams.

I let go. I let go. I let go.

Instead, I started learning to just be. No expectations, just awareness. Just the 'now.' Instead of continuing to grieve over what I had lost, I started opening to what was now. Instead of wishing I could be out in the world 'doing', I learned to spend time with myself, just being. Instead of keeping my business going and growing, I learned to let most of it, nearly all of it, go. And hardest of all - instead of being there 100% for my kids, I learned to be ok with 50%. That part still hurts, but it's getting easier. The good medicine of letting go is working.

This journey with Lyme Disease is the most difficult road I've ever walked. Harder than parenting a child with RAD, harder than building a company from scratch, harder even than the many deaths of loved ones I've endured. I never thought I'd say this, but even the international adoption process  X 4 is a piece of cake compared to this road. And the worst part is, you have to walk it so alone. No one can possibly understand the horror of slowly losing your mind while simultaneously being aware of the loss - unless they have lived it. No one can really hold your hand through it. It is a very lonely disease that not only cuts you off from all that you love, but slowly, stealthily cuts you off from your own self. 

I'm a very different person than I was even a year ago. But I'm also still me. I may have lost much of what I thought defined me in the past - my encyclopedic knowledge of Shakespeare, my ability to remember names and birthdates of hundreds of students from thirty years of teaching, my penchant for reading several books a week, write several blog posts a day, managing my business, while still keeping an open door for anyone who needs me - but I still retain the same heart. I still love fiercely and hope wildly and care deeply. I just do so much more in the present moment, one day at a time,  and with a hell of a lot of naps in between.

All the medications I am on may not heal me in the end - my recovery is not guaranteed and I'm slowly accepting this. But the good medicine of being  present in the now, the good medicine of gratitude over the tiniest most insignificant things, the good medicine of letting go of all that I was, to embrace, instead, all that I am, is taking hold in me. God is good. Even in the darkest moments, God is good.