Monthly Archives: March 2018

Hard Things Are Hard

I saw that quote in a book the other day and it’s stuck with me. Hard things are hard. Why do I I think if I were doing them right, hard things would be easy? As if it were some personal failing on my part that hard things are hard.

The quote above has a corollary that was one of my first yoga teacher’s favorite sayings: You can do hard things. So why do l always question if I can do something hard? Even after all I’ve been through in this life, I seem to wonder if I’ve got another one in me.

I have found that doing hard things has helped me develop character. I’ve learned to be persistent and focused, remain positive and hopeful, have compassion, be patient, think things through, trust in my resilience, have faith in Life and myself, and to always maintain a sense of humor.

As I face another hard thing, I’m grateful for all the previous hard things. They have been good teachers. Perhaps this time I can remain confident in my ability to do hard things and remain softly compassionate with myself, as I press on. After all, this too shall pass.  

Peace Returns

I always find it fascinating how quickly peace returns when I face and share the dark times. It was only yesterday that I was struggling with my altitude and now I seem to be cruising steadily again in calm air.

I want to thank all of you who have reached out to me with expressions of concern and comfort, or who have sent good energy and wishes my way. I know that helped a lot too.

This morning it occurred to me that it is as important to write about the return of peace today, as it was to write about the struggle of yesterday. Often, I forget how quickly this can happen if I am truly present to pain, both physical and emotional. Once the light of understanding and compassion shines on pain, it dissolves. It also helps to share it and not keep it inside where it festers and grows.

It reminds me of Theo seeking love. He MEOWS very loudly, letting me know he needs attention. Then he hops up into whatever I’m doing: sitting on the keyboard, circling the cutting board, plopping down near my plate. If I absently scratch an ear in an attempt to placate him, he meows again and pushes closer, insisting that I pay full attention. He will keep this up until I turn to him, place my forehead on his and scratch the sides of his face, pouring love and attention into him. Then he erupts in that lovely purrrr of his. He can handle this for about five minutes, after which he hops down and goes happily on with his day. My pain seems to also need that five minutes of complete and total attention and love, then it moves on.

Today I feel like a mountain lake after a thunderstorm, serene and still, perfectly reflecting the sky, and the peaks.


Struggling with my Altitude

I debated about writing this entry, but I believe it is important to share this part of Hip Adventures. We all have adventures of some kind, and struggling with maintaining altitude during the challenging times is part of all our life journeys.

I am mostly a positive, sunny person who looks on the bright side of situations, even the really bad ones. This has always helped me through the dark times. And I tend to only want to write about staying in the Light.

But sometimes it is important to share about being in the darkness, the despair, the discouragement, the pain, the sadness, the exhaustion. I am in this place now, where this whole situation feels heavy and I no longer feel strong enough to pick myself up and rise above it. It’s easy to tell myself a story about how this saga will never end and I will never walk and move effortlessly and pain-free again. I am so tired of the pain and the disability.

I recognize a lot of my sense of self has been wrapped around the strength and endurance of my physical body. Now that is slipping away. With the leaving, there is grieving. As much as I want to escape, it is important for me to be with this grief, with all these dark emotions. I have no more strength to run from the pain anymore. So I let it wash over me in waves–crying when I need to, asking for a hug when I need one, taking time for myself, talking to loved ones, petting Theo, and writing, which has always been one of my main outlets.

It’s an odd thing to discover that when I’m with pain, it passes through me like a wave. Then it dissipates and there is peace and calm. Then another wave comes, and goes. Who is it who watches all the comings and goings? The pain and the relief? The sadness and the joy?

As my physical self fades, the Spirit that animates it grows stronger. My awareness of this Spirit  within me grows. It is eternal and always filled with peace and a quiet joy. This is the great discovery of turning to face the darkness, of allowing the altitude to dip beneath the clouds. The great tapestry of Life is woven of both the light and the darkness. Without the contrast, we would not be able to experience it all.

If I allow myself to settle deep within, I can feel myself at One with Everything. Here there is no pain and it is all ok. It seems I must be willing to go down into the clouds and fall into the Sea to be one with Spirit. Here there is boundless love and endless peace, and I can rest and heal. Then, when it is time, I will break the surface and fly up and out again, chasing the sun.

I love to fly near the sun. But, that is only one aspect of Life. No one gets to always fly near the sun, ask Icarus. However, I’m not sure that he really drowned in the ocean when he fell out of the sky. I like to think he found his true depths in the Ocean of Being and then learned to fly free through it all.

6 months

Today is the six-month anniversary of my first hip replacement. Two weeks ago I visited with my surgeon to discuss my next hip replacement. I guess this is my year to get a new set of wheels…

Here are the xrays, on the left my hips on March 8th, on the right my hips on October 6th:


The joint space has narrowed in the last 5 months, particularly on the lower, back side. This is what I feel, and hear, when I move and now when I sit and lie down. When I described what’s happening now, the only question Dr. Shukla and Davis (his assistant) had was, “When would you like to schedule surgery?” I picked May 16th, 8 months from my first surgery.

I am still having problems with the muscles in my right hip, mostly in the area that is over the knot on the end of the cable that surrounds my femur. Dr. Shukla says that the irritation could be caused by the cable and we can consider removing it later if the problems continue. He did warn me that if my left femur looks anything like my right, he will have to cable it. We both agree it would be great if he didn’t have to, then there would be a basis of comparison between the two sides. I guess we will see what happens. I trust his judgment.

I am grateful that they told me the second hip could take the fast track after the first one was replaced. Though I was hoping it would last longer, I was at least prepared that it might not. But, I still feel like I’m in shock and trying to wrap myself around this whole unfolding scenario.

I’m in a better place with it all two weeks after the appointment. I can see all the benefits to going ahead with it, though I dread doing this so soon after the last one. The reality is that I am afraid to walk very much now and this is not helpful for my right hip, which really needs to be strengthened. I do what I can in the pool, and with yoga and Tai Chi. But that isn’t getting me any closer to my goal of being able to walk and stand at least enough to live a more normal life.

So, now I am doing my best to psych myself up for this. Trying to stay focused on all the positives is helpful, and knowing I have such a wonderful community of friends, family and neighbors who are here for me. I am confident it will go well, though I am prepared for a long rehabilitation. Now I will be rehabbing two hips, but at least they will be strong, balanced and correctly attached to my body. Finally having a solid foundation under me is something I look forward to! I’m curious about how that will feel and how the rehab may be different when I’m no longer wonky.

Lately, I’ve reflected on the bigger picture surrounding the events of this year. I know that I am in the midst of a major transformation of my life, not just my butt… I am entering a new phase, hopefully with more compassion, patience, tolerance and wisdom. I am realigning the deeper parts of myself, creating a firm foundation within and without. I guess what I’m trying to say is I know it isn’t just about my hips, but about my whole being, my whole life. I will never be the same after this year. And that is not a bad thing.

I can already feel the softening, the slowing down, taking hold of me. I don’t want it to let go as I heal physically. I won’t let it go. For me, life has always been a race to get things done, to reach goals, to make plans for the future, to run away from the pain of the past or the anxiety of the present. This experience has literally sat me down, forced me to get and stay quiet. I’m finding that I love the peace of stillness and silence. There is no place to go out there, nothing to do, just be here and now in this moment. Though I have understood this intellectually and pursued it in meditation for the last 27 years, it’s only now that I am experiencing it more and more. And I want more! More of less. These old hips have been a godsend.

My First Quaker Meeting

I’ve been writing for a Quaker newsletter called What Canst Thou Say?  (WCTS?) for about twelve years now. One particular editor, Mariellen, has kept me in the query loop all these years after we were connected by the death of a mutual friend, who also wrote for WCTS?.  This newsletter is a place for Quakers to share their mystical experiences and the insights which have come from their contemplative practice. Reading their essays and poems have helped me understand some of my own experiences, and to feel less alone and strange! There is an honest poignancy to their writing, which speaks candidly of the light and dark, blissful and tragic, mundane and sublime that lives in us all. Here is the website if you wish to check it out:

As my hips fell out from under me, much of my world also changed. I found myself home and sitting much more than I was ever inclined, or allowed, to do before. I felt irresistibly drawn to the writings of mystics and contemplatives, discovering a number of books on my own shelves thanks to my friend who passed and left them to me those twelve years ago. I again recognized some of my own experiences and realizations in their stories, just like I had on the pages of WCTS?.

Some time before my first hip replacement, I had a transformational experience related to a past life and I wrote an essay about it. Mariellen asked if I would be willing to Guest Edit an edition of WCTS? on “Other Lives.” I agreed to do so. More related experiences happened around my surgery and I added to the story. Now I am in the final editing process of that newsletter. It has been a beautiful process where everyone works to come to consensus about what is included and how it is edited. Editing is done gently, with reverence and respect for the offerings of each author. Here is a PDF of my essay:

My Sister, MySelf

Simultaneously, I was reading editor, Mike Resman’s book Immersed in Prayer (available on Amazon). Many of the authors in the book spoke about their experiences during silent meetings for worship. The desire grew in me to experience a meeting for myself. I remember getting online and discovering a Quaker Meeting House only two miles from our home  I had to LOL while reading their page on “Wonder If You Might Be A Quaker At Heart?” This past Sunday, I decided it was time to go.

Quakers believe that we all have the living spirit of the Creator within us. They seek to be quiet and listen to the “still small voice within.” When they feel moved to do so, they speak from this place. The Reno Friends (another name for Quakers) meets for silent worship from 10:00-11:00 on Sundays. Inside the cozy, brick house, chairs are set up in two concentric circles in a large, well-lit living room. You pick your spot and sit quietly, allowing yourself to settle and center, to be receptive to that “still small voice” and to anything Spirit might wish to impart. In my own experience, it is most like sitting in a meditation circle or group. Sometimes people speak; sometimes there is only silence, punctuated by the breath and stirrings of those in attendance. During my first meeting, no one spoke. I recall thinking how refreshing it was to come and simply listen, to wait expectantly and be still, not needing to say anything.

When the Clerk ended the meeting, we were again invited to speak and again we chose silence. Then the peace was passed to those near us–touching hands and smiling into each other’s eyes. Announcements came next. Some people left. Others stayed to talk, and to find out who I was and how I came to be there. So, I told them this story.

Here is some of what I wrote in my journal afterwards:

I forget the sweet depth I can enter when sitting in circle silently with others. The restlessness settles and my mind quiets. There were 8 of us–a small group. I sat between a mother and her son. Later, I discovered they are neighbors of mine, only two blocks away. Being here feels like coming home. Coming home to something that was always within me and has been pursuing me for 12 years now. Finally, I have turned around to embrace it. I can’t shake the strong sense of having been here before, like being wrapped in an old, familiar quilt from childhood.