Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Inner Space

As I’m getting back into yoga, downshifting, self-injecting some quiet back in, I see how much I’ve been avoiding myself.
Case in point: Sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, faced with the perfect opportunity to put pen to page, all my hands want to do is flip through a magazine that my head has absolutely no interest in. All my legs want to do is find a bathroom that my bladder has zero interest in. All my eyes want to do is stroke the buttery texture of the leather coat hanging next to my polyester blend. All my voice wants to do is call my daycare provider to warn her that I may be late (when I know full well that I won’t be).
Yoga is all about noticing. Paying attention to the breath, floating above the thoughts, settling into the stretch. Yoga doesn’t judge. It acknowledges pain, effort, but it implores you to accept it, and move on. Move beyond. Yoga is very patient.
I am not.
I keep looking for my feet. In yoga, when walking, when thinking. (I’m always thinking.) They’re still attached, but I keep stumbling. I’ve lost the knack of stepping boldly, knowing they’ll be there to land on. I’ve had more good days than bad recently, but the bad ones are a force to be reckoned with. My highs are higher, but my lows are also lower. Not good for someone seeking balance, resilience. However, for someone engaged in strength-training, recognizing the need to rebuild from the ground up, maybe not so bad. It could be that it isn’t my feet that are stumbling, but the ground that is shifting. In that case, looking for my feet would be a rather good strategy. Stubbed toes are good teachers, after all.
Follow my limping toes up, a puzzle piece at a time, and you find my head, and my heart. Upside down, juxtaposed, and falling apart. Until the weight of gravity pulls them back down, rights them, and my whole overstretched elastic soul bounces back from outer space and reverberates into place.
And so I bend, breathe, listen to my heart beat.
I try to settle into the corners of my feet.
I let time and my self meet.


The Sweetness of Time

Whoa there, sweet young thing.
Twenty-one-, twenty-four- twenty-nine-, thirty-five-year-old woman, queen.
What are you rushing for,
or towards?
There is time, and more than,
and none.
There will never be enough,
no matter how much you rush,
so why not discover,
who you are,
where you could go, and how far?
True, the more you know,
the more you have to lose, let go,
once that next sweet young overwhelming one
comes along and replaces your space with their own.
But it seems a small price to pay,
to get to have a say,
in the making of your baby’s tomorrow.
Time is not something you borrow.


I’ve been admiringly told lately, on several occasions and by several people, that not everyone thinks like me. Acts like me. Puts as much conscious effort and heart into living as me.

I am baffled.

A) Why not?
B) I’m not that special.
C) I can’t be that special.
D) Is there really any other way?

Life is not any easier for one person than another. We all strive. We all hurt. We all struggle. We all seek. However, Best Friend recently introduced me to the great mystic poet Hafiz. And while he doesn’t answer my questions, he does answer why I have them.

The Vintage Man

Between a good artist
And a great one


The novice
Will often lay down his tool
Or brush

Then pick up an invisible club
On the mind’s table

And helplessly smash the easels and

Whereas the vintage man
No longer hurts himself or anyone

And keeps on


— Hafiz


The fact that there isn’t another way for me, the fact that I’m baffled, is why they admire.

To them, I reply:

The morning glory doesn’t care who owns the fence.


Nourishing my soul
means stitching its scattered pieces into some crazy irrepeatable, irrefutable pattern
and wrapping my heart up in it.

The ravelled sleeve of care

Head pulsing, ribs sighing.
Hip aching.
We are durable creatures, but tender.
And I am more bruised than usual.
My body bears the weight of my psychological strain, complaining.
Knee creaking, wrists burning.
Chest heaving.
It’s really not much to take note of, considering.
But the body has a way of amplifying discomfort until it is heard.
And so, ibuprofen, bath, book, bed.
And wait –
to see what tomorrow brings.
Sleep veils many things.

An explanation, perhaps.

I have a new job.
It’s a brand new world.
I’m walking home (I walk home now) with a smile on my face, listening to the birds calling my name.
I chat with my colleagues, I go for coffee.
I leave on time (mostly).
I’m still having nightmares – but less often.
I’m still struggling for breath – but not as much.

I’m learning that there’s going to be some long term damage from my old job though.
Panic is a learned behaviour. I’m walking too fast, typing too hard, speaking too quickly. I’m in a constant state of hyper-alertness – and my naturally analytical approach to life amplifies it.
The job change has helped enormously, it being the cause of my troubles.
But it’s not going to be a simple fix. There’s just been too much damage.

At the end, someone was finally able to identify that it wasn’t just a bad fit, it wasn’t just my own depression and anxiety tendencies, it wasn’t just bad management, and it wasn’t just too intense a pace and too high a workload.
It was vicarious trauma. My experience got compared to that of war veterans just back from theatre. That got my attention.
Me? My little civilian job? My bureaucratic, paper-pushing, deadline-meeting, esoteric deskjob?
But when the list of symptoms started, and I mmhmmmed to each and every one, it was harder to shrug off.
I’d been chalking it all up to my usual scuffles with depression, and assuming that I was having such a hard time with my job because I wasn’t suited to it.
(Because I wasn’t good enough at it) a tiny voice whispered, endlessly.
“Too empathic,” said Dearest.
“No work-life balance,” said my mother.

It was never what I accepted the position for in the first place, but that’s what happens sometimes in government. In comes an unexpected file, there’s a body at a reasonably appropriate level with a good range of skills, and voila. Nevermind the unknowns – everything’s got unintended consequences, and whatever it is needs to be done, now. Have a stab at it.

Now that I’m in my new position and new department, I’m starting to develop some new perspective on it all.
For one, I’m telling that tiny voice to shut up already. I was damn good at my job. I have only to look around at my new colleagues and see what little’s asked of them in comparison, and the timidity and lackadaisical pace with which they bat around problems, to know that.
And for another, I’m going to start seeing a trauma counsellor, who specializes in the topics I’ve just left (but not left behind).

Dearest is enraged at it all. Infuriated with my previous management. Terrified about my health. Frustrated as all get-out with my doctor who didn’t pick up on any of it, other than telling me that I should look for a new job (after I’d already started looking anyway), and essentially reinforcing the theory that it all led back to my own genetic predisposition for depression.
I, on the other hand, am almost surreally philosophical about it all. Detached. Amused by everything in my new job and work environment because it is in such shocking contrast to the old.

So, tomorrow, I’ll try walking a little slower. Learn to take my time.
It’s a brand new world, after all. I shouldn’t ignore the view.