Friday, November 14, 2008

Living Until

"Even though we think of our goals as some future state to achieve, the real goal is always the life of this moment, this moment, this moment."                                 ~ Charlotte Beck
I have a habit of "living until." Sometimes it's a bad thing, sometimes it's a good thing, and sometimes it's just a way of creative denial that helps me survive the moment. 

I used to do a lot of living until. When I was at the magazine I thought that I would work part-time from home until I got myself stronger and could be at the office full-time again. Then I decided I would go on disability but just until I figured out a better way to handle the pain, and then I would find a way to get back to work again. And then I decided I would just do freelance work until I got better... and then I realized I wasn't really living. I was setting goals for myself that were impossible to attain. I was just existing while the world kept turning because I was looking back instead of looking ahead. 

During that time, I was living until because I wasn't happy with the reality that faced me. That happens, it's just a survival thing... but the problem was that a part of me stopped living altogether. I wasn't trying to find a way to make my life work as it was, I was very determined to find a way to make my life work like I wanted it to. To pull and cram and rearrange the facts to fit into a box that had fallen apart and disintegrated before I was ready to let it go. 

I was joking about my denial with my friend Susie the other night because I realized that last winter, when the cold was making my bones ache, I kept thinking that if I just held on until spring it would be better. But then I got pneumonia in February and I spent the entire spring in a cycle of migraines because of the increased thunderstorms we had. So I told myself to hold on until summer. Summer would be better and I would spend every day sitting on my patio, reading and soaking in the beautiful sunshine. And then I started reacting to something in the air after the flooding in our area and I spent the entire summer trapped in my house... couldn't even open a window. So I told myself to hold on until a freeze and then I would be able to breathe. But I forgot that a freeze meant winter ... and I would be right back where I started. 

Which means I spent a very hopeful and forward-thinking year trapped in my house. My ability to live in denial astounds even me. :) 

I have been in a lot of pain and my body has felt generally unwell since the cold front moved in and we've had rainy, snowy weather. It's been the kind of unpleasantness where I get sick in the middle of the night for no reason... not because I have the flu or I ate something bad... just because my body can't take anymore. And today I decided I needed something to change. Something to get excited about. It has been freezing cold here more than once and I decided whatever was in the air that I've reacted to must be gone by now. I wanted to breathe fresh air even if it is raining outside. I wanted to celebrate something. 

So I opened the window. And breathed in the air. And the reaction wasn't as bad as it has been... but it wasn't gone. While I wasn't gasping for air, my breathing changed. Eventually my eyes started hurting and my ears were sore and my head ached. I was starting to feel worse. And do you want to know what I did? 

I left the window open for a little while longer. 

Stubborn me tried to pull and cram and rearrange the facts to fit into a box again. Apparently it takes me awhile to relearn the same lesson over and over. 

It doesn't mean that it won't happen eventually. But it means that it's not happening right now. And I have to remind myself that "living until" it happens doesn't work. I may keep staying put in my house. I may eventually have a day where I feel a little stronger and try to get out despite the pain or reaction. I may not get to have a choice between the two. But I'm not going to waste my time in here wishing I was out there

I am going to keep focused on the goal of "the life of this moment, this moment, this moment." I'm going to hold onto my creative denial and hope that after enough cold weather hits whatever is left in the air will go. But I'm not going to stop living while I wait for it to happen. I'm going to focus on this moment. 

However, while I'm not going to "live until" I can get out into the world again and my window is able to stay propped open... you can be sure I will shout from the rooftop when it does. :)


  1. Hi Gitz,
    Reading your post was like taking a reflection into my own heart. I have the same pauses in time, "I'll feel better when the spring comes . . . " followed by, "pneumonia won't last as long this time. . . " followed by, "I'll recover more quickly from surgery this summer than last year. . . " followed by "I'll feel better when the spring comes . . ." I too spent this last year homebound, and didn't get to go out much over the summer/spring (for different reasons than you did, but all the same result), and really was bummed about the fact that my flowerbeds looked like the overgrown amazon instead of the beauties they were the year before. Living in the moment takes so much more effort than we realize, and sometimes those around us are in just as much denial as we are/have been . . .which makes it that much harder to accept our new reality. Here's a cheers to ya sister! (With my spring, non-chlorinated water glass-that's all I can drink without trouble, too!)
    Christina W. in WV

  2. Gitz~ I do that too. Over everything that's not "right" in my world. You continually help me to remember to live in the moment. Such a fine line of living in the moment and knowing you still want things to change. You astound me at doing that.
    Love to you~ I'm sending gentle hugs and afternoon s'mores~

  3. I adore you and your attitude. I will have a better day today, because of you! Thank you.

  4. You spoke to my very issue. I'm perpetually thinking about the next season, wondering if I'll feel better. Thunderstorms and migraines -- UGH! I know what you mean.

    Living in the moment -- Learning to be content.

    Praying for you.

  5. Sra~thinking of you often.....praying that you will have peace of mind and body. Thanks for touching my life.
    Blessings, my friend.

  6. Ah sweetie, you are amazing. My ultimate form of denial is that each and every time I go on a trip I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how I will get the house and all our paperwork organized when I get home because I'm sick of disorganization. That's been for about, oh let's say 20 years.

    I really came back today because I wanted to tell you how much I laughed yesterday -- those poor doggies. And my husband laughed and my daughter, a vet tech laughed. And oh how good it feels to laugh, even if its at the expense of our helpless, furry (or is it furless) friends.

    Haven't heard anything about PW's sponsorship offer. Did you? I understand why it would be kept private but I am curious about the results.

    More gentle hugs, smooshy soft ones because that's what my grandma body is like, smooshy and soft. I'll be back!

  7. Sara you are such an amazing woman. I cant tell you how glad I am that I met you out here in blogworld. I think there's a book in here somewhere, with all your marvelous thoughts on the topic of suffering, faith. I'll be the first one to buy it!

  8. Sweet Sara, you've brought me back to the time my first little boy was born. I just didn't get the one I ordered up! Oh how I tried to stay in denial... he was colicky, temperamental and hard to comfort. We had some dark days. I kept hearing people say "and this too shall pass" (living until). But the more I waited for the perfect baby to show up, the louder he cried. Finally, one night I HEARD him.

    I too surrendered. Finally, slowly, when I let go, we formed a bond. And as long as I stay in the moment with him we continue to grow that bond. He has needed me to be more for him, to grow and stretch as a mom. And the more I have learned to stay in the moment with him, no matter how painful, the more he has shown me. He is an AMAZING treasure, but you have to dig deep to reveal his GLORY.

    Thanks for my "soapbox" moment. Blessings Gitz!

    BTW, is that ANOTHER hint at a book? I"m just sayin...

  9. Awesome! Never give up....Look forward to everything that comes your way! And thanks for giving me a breath of fresh air as we experience our own cold front over here!!!

  10. I've been living in the "until when I loose weight" mode for 30 years. After reading this post, I think I'll move on to the "live now" AND try to loose weight "while I'm living" mode! (Have I wriiten this so that it makes sense?)

    I've put off doing so many things, because I am overweight. (Of course some things I really can't do because of the weight - but some things, are just because I feel like others "will judge".)

    I've also kind of "boxed myself in" to thinking about all the things that I will do...after my next knee surgery, or when the vestibular intolerances go away, or
    when they come up with better medication for this or for that. Instead I need to be thinking about...okay, because I can't go out much, I can spend more time reading, or taking an online class, or working on scrapbooks/albums.

    Thank you Sara, for opening my eyes to the "Now" instead of the "Until When".

  11. Gitz, you are amazing. Every blog has this as it's underlying message. You really do live this philosophy out before our eyes.

    I have a psychologist friend in NM who once called me on my "when..." attitude. I try to pay attention, but it is hard for me!

    I read this before we left to do the show, and because of your post, I took two little girls and one VERY sleepy baby Macy out to a ridiculously late lunch with Lisa and her girls. There were several good reasons to wait until a better time (like the spilled apple juice I soaked up with my coat and pants), but we decided to do it anyway. I am so glad we did. Thank you!

  12. Thanks for your posts. They really get the message through.
    You are one heck of a writer!

  13. @wfamily: I SO get it. It's about accepting it for yourself, helping others accept it and - if you're like me - relearning lessons over and over. Cheers to living your moments...

    @robin: I think part of it is learning to live the now during change too. Living in your moment might be acknowledging where you are in your process of who you're becoming. I think you're doing a great job of that.

    @gina: THANK YOU.

    @michelle: it's hard not too look ahead sometimes, isn't it? But I find I'm so much happier when I just focus on the "now."

    @ruth: chin to the wind, girl.

    @tamsen: I haven't heard anything... I'm hoping that's because they haven't made a decision yet. I would so love that opportunity. I'll let you know if I hear anything.

    @liz: I'm so glad we met too... and as soon as we get your books out there I'll just ride on your coattails with my book. deal? ;)

    @vicky: What a lucky boy he is! Reminds me of when Jenny McCarthy talked about therapy with her autistic son and learning to speak his language rather than trying to get him to speak hers. We should all learn to do that for each other better. Great soapbox.

    @crazydaisy: thanks... not sure if it's fresh air or a lot of hot air, but I'm happy to share.

    @neas: good for you! can't wait to see some of your scrapbook pages!! ;)

    @anita: I'm going to assume Macy was responsible for the apple juice spill? I'm glad you had a good lunch and hope the show went well. Loved Alexa's video.

    @abw: you're too kind. hope things are going well.

  14. Hi Sara, I just saw the link you posted in your comment about specialists. It´s true... I only have to "worry" about telling him my symptoms etc. as accurately as possible.
    I'll let you know it goes.

  15. Thanks for that.

    I can't help but think of Paul. Stuck in jail (which I'm sure your sickness must feel like a sort-of-jail sometimes?), not a place anyone of us would like to frequent I'm sure. Yet he managed to take his circumstances and pen God's words.
    I'd probably be crying in bed most days, waiting for someone to come and tell me I was going to be okay..
    yet, you, like Paul, live in the moment, the day, and give it all you've got.

    Thank you.

  16. thank you so much for so openly sharing your journey...

    i'm guilty of "living until" far too often as well. and i've discovered that the "until" is almost always a myth...

  17. wow. that is an incredible post about what's going on inside of you. I can relate to what you're saying SO much. Even though it's totally unrealted to bodily illness. I think that most of us are guilty of living this way and it needs to stop.

    Thank you for opening up my eyes to that very fact. I'm going to stop "waiting until" and start living NOW.