I was so grateful when I first learned that relaxation is a skill that we need to practice. I’m grateful to have various means available to facilitate my relaxation practice, including a gentle chiropractor with a magic touch.
I’m grateful I could come home and relax with a quick pizza, small homemade crust from the freezer and some random toppings. I cooked down a dollop of plain sauce with a mix of dried herbs and garlic slices, sliced some red onion, martini olives, and the last of the summer’s spicy dill pickles, and topped with shredded mozzarella. Baked to perfection! After lunch I enjoyed a nearly perfect homemade creme brûlée, relaxing with a sense of great satisfaction that I finally ticked that recipe off my bucket list.
I spent a little time relaxing outside with the cameraphone, finally managing to get the moon halfway decently with iPhone alone. I’ve figured out the technique, and identified a challenge with rural living. I’m supposed to focus the camera first on a streetlamp, that’s what the tutorial said. My patio light isn’t bright enough or far enough away to lock the exposure and focus accurately to capture the moon when the lens is turned on it. There was a light cloud cover, which helped; the other night it was so bright the camera captured only a blinding white circle. I’m grateful I get to relax both outside and inside my house.
It only took thirty years, but I’m grateful to finally understand that relaxation is a skill that requires cultivation and practice. My particular upbringing (and our culture), for all its privileges, left me midlife in a steady state of constant vigilance and anxiety. Meditation helped open my eyes to a different way to be, and the practice of mindfulness has opened my life to a level of contentment, acceptance, and ease I only dreamed of when I moved here thirty years ago. I still get anxious, but it doesn’t bother me as much; I still feel inclined to control things but I’m not attached to outcomes. Relaxation is so much more complicated than taking a day off and putting up my feet; however, that’s what I did today, and I really enjoyed it.
I’ll admit to a bit of stress this past week since Stellar’s seizure. Actually, watching his decline over the past few months has been stressful, though I’ve been coping well. It’s felt good this weekend to have accomplished some things, and given myself permission to relax. Rocky arrived this morning for a couple of days, and the three of us spent the whole day in the garden. Rocky is recovering from ACL surgery, and Stellar is moving along on his own journey, and I was content to spend the day with them in a shady little corner of the garden reading, writing, and occasionally getting up to do a little work with the plants. I’m grateful for relaxing today.
I’m also grateful for those of you who have expressed concern for Stellar, and for me. Thank you. Please don’t be anxious for us. While he’s now on a path that is ineluctably downhill (from one perspective), he seems to take two steps down and then rebound one. He may be around for a lot longer than I thought last week, and then again, he could go out with another seizure at any moment. This is the searing uncertainty that we all live with when we choose to accompany someone we love through their dying process. The hardest part is when he gets agitated and confused. His vet is coming by tomorrow, and I hope she’ll give me something to help him with that. Meanwhile, rest assured that unless I mention otherwise, he is toodling along at his own pace, and we are both ok with it. I’ll post a special edition of Morning Rounds when he takes his last step and ascends to Doggie Heaven, because that is surely where he will go; or else straight to the realm of enlightened beings, and those two places may just be the same.