Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Passenger 1

Hi Faithful Readers,

As I was pondering which topic to blog about I realized that I needed to make my MOM REPORT to my 4 siblings and Jill, Mom's/our amazing caregiver. As I wrote, it became more of a story so I submit a blog version of it here for your enjoyment.

Anyone who has an elderly parent with dementia can relate, I'm sure. So take heart. As Red Green (one of my favourite characters, in one of my favourite Canadian shows of all time) says, "we're all in this together."

Hi All,

Sorry I am very lax in getting visit report out to you.

WARNING: this is a long piece, so get a cup of coffee and relax. There is no vital info in this e-mail message.

I took Mom to hairdressers on Sat.

Her speech was pretty clear for the most part though she goes through periods when she's just nattering away and I just laugh along with her and make listening sounds and she seems O.K. with this. It was pretty obvious when she was trying to get through to me and then we'd work on it together though some sentences and thoughts sprung forth fairly easily.

As we made our way into Oakville, Mom enjoyed listening to my young friend Melissa McClelland in a CBC interview, and laughed readily at the set-up with the telemarketer. My friend Glynnie had called me earlier to let me know that the interview was coming up. So, while I prepared for this little road trip with Mom I enjoyed Melissa’s rendition of one of my favourite songs of hers PASSENGER 24 (Stop reading now. Play the video and see if you, yourself don't just want to jump into the car right now and take off, eh!?). It brings to mind many cross country bus trips of my own in my youth and just makes me want to hit the road, though not particularly with my 88 year old Mom on a journey to the hairdressers, but that’s beside the point.

Mom was good with the transfers from car to wheel chair, to chair, to chair etc. and at Milka's (her hairdresser’s name) even began to initiate it on her own when we told her we were going to move her! She gets stronger each time which is interesting. Milka and the gang there are great with Mom and Mom enjoyed the beauty shop banter, laughing along with all.

But, when we got to the restaurant it began raining. Luckily, Rob was there with umbrella and helped me in with Mom. We all had lunch together. Mom is a little confused re: use of cutlery (I cut it up for her and got rid of the knife), napkins etc. but once she gets in the swing of using fork she is O.K. though you have to watch her with coffee which can end up tettering on the edge of a plate or hovering at precarious angles over her lap.

So, everything was great til we got back to the nursing home and IT WAS RAINING CATS AND DOGS!!!! We sat in the car for a while but it didn't stop so I got out, got her wheelchair out of the back of my car and my umbrella but realized that I couldn't manage the two together enough to be able to keep Mom dry. Put the wheelchair under the awning/entrance and got the receptionist to help. She held 2 umbrellas while I managed Mom’s transfer.

As I was trying to get her attention, Mom kept grabbing an envelope that I was supposed to mail for Rod - she had kept gravitating to it all through the trip home and I kept putting it back in the slot in the dash. By the time I got back to the car to help her out, she had been working on it again and had made a nice little origami piece out of it (luckily not torn as it was a check). So, I finally had to thank her for taking care of it and then toss it underneath the seat.

But the time I got her focused on the task at hand she was a little confused and said that she wasn't supposed to get out of the car (I'd told her that when I left for assistance). As I began to shift her she got all rigormortesy on me and tried to grab everything she could to help stabilize herself. The receptionist, holding the umbrellas, kept saying, "you won't be able to do this (take her out) much more" which, like the rain pissing down my back, was pissing me off. My friends know what happens when I get that way, but be reassured gentle reader, I restrained myself.

Somehow saying "It's O.K. Mom, I've got you. Trust me, trust me" wasn't reassuring enough for her. When I realized that she probably didn't recognize me, soaking and pissed off as I was, I told her “it’s Nance” and focused on her more gently. Once we got laughing at the situation she eased up and it was fine.

As I wheeled her through the halls of the nursing home - Mom regally nodded, waved and said “hello” to all she passed - the sounds of laughter welcomed us along with comments like, "Wow, what happened to you! (I looked like a drowned rat)...Mom looks nice and dry though." That was when Mom jokingly decided she wasn't ready to go into her room and wanted to be wheeled around some more, but fortunately she needed to use the "you know what" so I had an opportunity to make my exit, landing a peck on her cheek and saying good bye, while she was sitting on the can. Life becomes pretty casual when you’re 88.

She had a great time, was none the worse for wear and I left her in good spirits.

And me? I had a good visit to the chiropractor on Monday.

Love and Light,

P.S. I'm feeling much better now that I'm all cracked out thanks to Dr. Steve. You'd think I'd been grappling with a sumo wrestler instead of a 90lb, 88 year-old, "frail" (frail my ass) woman by the amount of adjusting he had to do. He also said he could see me later in the week.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stories of my lives

I recently O.K’d the last edit of my contribution to Stories From the Yogic Heart a collection of stories of how yoga has transformed one’s life and in writing my bio, I was confronted by an odd realization.

We tell ourselves stories of our life and for better or worse these stories begin to take on a life of their own and shape our lives with far broader implications than we could ever imagine.

For the longest time one of my stories has revolved around failure, specifically my failure to get to India to study yoga during a 10 year period from the mid ‘70’s to the mid 80’s.3 times I tried and 3 times I failed due to: poor timing, miscommunication, lack of funds, yada yada yada…the list goes on and on. I began studying and practicing in my teens, well before it became mainstream – just me (the weird kid) doing yoga in our family room. The only others I knew who did yoga were middle aged western women like Kareen and Lilias on T.V. and scantily-clad, double jointed East Indian men who appeared in books on the subject. If anyone was meant to study in India it was me, or so I thought.

In one of Alberto Villoldo’s books (I’m reading 3 books at the same time and 2 of them are his, so I don’t know which one this is from – either the Four Insights or the one on Soul Retrieval.) he says that the inability to reach ones goals is due to lack of commitment. And, that was true in this case. Bottom line, there was a lack of commitment on my part, not to yoga, nor to my practice (I loved my asana practice, still do.) but towards going to India where it all began.

For, you see, I took a Straight Walk workshop with Swami Radha around the same time that I was trying to get to India. And that, though I didn’t comprehend it at the time, changed everything because in her I’d found my spiritual teacher. Her practices took me to the depths of my soul right here in Canada and formed the foundation for my present practice, spiritual evolution, the work that I do now and the way I live my life.

I enjoyed a rich yoga life from my mid 20’s to mid 30’s. I had a dedicated asana practice. I studied multiple aspects of yoga with Swami Radha from the mid ‘70’s to the 80’s through workshops and during a 6 month residency at Yasodhara Ashram and I house-sat and lived at Shambhala House Victoria (now called a Radha House) on and off towards the end of my stay in Victoria.

During one workshop with Swami Radha I voiced frustration at my inability to “get it together” to achieve my goal of getting to India. A fellow yogi said that he observed sincerity in my practice and, as he saw it, “India” resided in my heart. He was the first to voice that my path was simply different from my hatha yoga mentor and peers, no more or less noble than any other aspirant on the spiritual path. I thought he was being kind, but in hearing his words of compassionate wisdom, my heart sang

As I wrote my bio the gratitude I felt towards Swami Radha and her work allowed me to realize that throughout my life, whenever I’ve thought about my evolution in yoga, despite evidence to the contrary, I focused on a story line of failure rather than one of success.

Realizing the impact that this story of failure has had on me and my life is a paradigm shifting experience; by altering the way I view my past, my experience of my present, future and even the past itself is being reshaped. And, I am experiencing a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual shift in my being that is infusing me with a new found energy and possibility.

What this has taught me is that when we seek new vantage points from which to view our life we realize that the past is malleable and memories of it are not cast in stone. Today I give myself permission to be happy; seek out those light filled memories of success, contentment, bliss and let them reshape my past, present and future.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pubic Betrayal

Was feelin’ fine,
Was feelin’ sound,
Til one grey pubic hair I found.
Odd that the ones on my head
Don’t fill me with such sense of dread
Of my
One grey hair
Down there.

(poem Copyright Nance Thacker 1984)

I’m sorting out mental clutter today, can’t you tell, as for some reason this bad poem is stuck in my head and I figured that the best way to get rid of it is to get it out into the open.

The fact is I’m so over this now.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

the gig is up - virtual clutter be gone!

Beef Pasties with Onion and Stilton, Caramel Nut Tart, Texas Beef Brisket Chili, Roast Beef with Dijon Caper Sauce, Winter Minestrone, Glazed Pearl Onions in Port, Brandied Plum Clafoutis….

“Brandied Plum what?”

Never mind. What do all of these things have in common?

This is only a partial list of recipes I will never use. So what the heck are they doing in my e-mail in box? They are there because I can have them. I can collect them and store them in a section of my computer; pull them up, drool over them (O.K. well not the meat items as I haven’t had beef since 1971), and taste them virtually without ever having to make them. Ones own little stash of food porn, available at the tap of a key.

They won’t collect dust on my shelves or take up any physical space just gigs on my laptop. And what the hell is a gig anyway? And why is it one of the top items listed in a computer’s features? I know it’s got to do with storage space but I’ve never run out of them so what should it matter? It’s like telling me that: some hot little sports car can go from 0 – 100 in 3 seconds flat (yup like I’m going to need that on the way to my yoga class and a cop’s not going to nail my ass if I did decide to test it out); or that a record player “can even play your records upside down” (told to me by a phonographophile salesman).
“Wow,” was my wide-eyed response, as I was truly impressed by this technological marvel.
When I shared this fact with a friend his response was, “So then I guess you’re intending on listening to the Ride of the Valkyries, as your boat goes down during the perfect storm?”

I don’t own a boat.

Back to my point, I’m still working the Soul Coaching program and each day I have been sorting out stuff. Stuff takes up space. As I get rid of excess stuff space is opened up. This opening feels spacious, actually allows me to breathe freer and feels so good that I haven’t been tempted to fill it up again.

My old recipe box now has 1/3 rd less cards in it. In the clearing out process favourite dishes were unearthed and brought to the front of the box. Inspired by these dishes, I actually spent a day cooking various meals and freezing them. Yes, my friends you heard that right. People who know me know that I loathe the mundane, daily routine of meal planning and cooking with a passion.

This conversation drives me crazy:

Me, “What do you want to have for dinner?”
Translation: “What would you like to make me for dinner?”

Rod, “I don’t know. What do you want to have?”
My interpretation: “I don’t consciously know, but do the Vulcan Mind Meld on me and pull out one of the many possibilities that reside in the depths of my mind and I will know that our love is true.”

Me, “I don’t know.”
Translation: “Aaarrgh” I begin to hyperventilate and run screaming from the house, jump into the hot red sports car waiting in my drive and in 3 seconds flat go blazing down the road at 100 miles an hour.
Actual translation: “I really, really, really don’t know. Please God, make this conversation go away!”

So, now I have an assortment of simple, home-made, healthy, preservative free food labeled and waiting to be plucked from the freezer, awakened from their frozen slumber and joined with a side salad for leisurely and hassle free daily consumption. Light some candles, turn on the record player, raise the stylus up to the record, ah bliss; works for me.

Back at the computer now; sorting out stuff includes, surprise surprise, virtual stuff too. Hoarding is hoarding in all its forms. Imagining myself to be some sort of gourmand, I had signed up for weekly recipes and food feature mailings from epicurious, months ago and I just keep filing them away without a glance. Turns out all of this excess accumulation does use up memory and make your computer run slower; like one’s mind which, caught up on distractions and diversions take us off the path of our true desire and deplete our energy for life.

And as I sort out this stuff I imagine my mind clearing itself of useless clutter, getting sharper, focusing on what I really want to spend my time doing while these keys are smok’n under my fingertips.

DELETE it is!