Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tipping Point - - Make Mine Plural Please

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
 ~  Tao Te Ching

Last Thursday, my counselor, Amber, asked me about fear.  "We haven't really talked a lot about it," she said, "so I'd like you to give it some thought.  What do you fear?"    Grrr, grief home-work.  I say that tongue-in-cheek, but the exercise, once again, has surprised me beyond measure.

You may be familiar with the popular acronym for fear:  False Evidence Appearing Real.   Recently I learned of a better one - - better for me anyway - - Face Everything And Rise.  It's the right fit for me as I navigate the ongoing spontaneity that is being a grieving widow.   Grief is a process, it takes time, and is unique to each of us.  Your grief is not mine and vice versa.  What may be shared is the physical and mental discombobulation that accompanies extreme, deep grief.  Often, the closer the relationship of your loss, the more discombobulated you may be.  I know I'm better than I was 6 months ago, but I'm still not reliable when it comes to my brain randomly misfiring.  Case-in-point last Sunday...
Sitting in my weekly Buddhist teaching class, I was aware that I was feeling physically and mentally fatigued, I almost didn't go to the class, but knew chances were high I'd feel better afterward.  Tired, hungry, and yearning for a nap, after class I said some hellos and headed home - - snapped my bag on my bike and bolted.  I pulled into the garage after the 5-mile commute,  dismounted my bike, go to grab my bag - - that is not there.  My bag is NOT on my bike.  "OH MY GOD!"  My brain had a misfire while attaching my bag, causing me to not secure it properly;  thereby it flew off the rack track somewhere mid-commute.   Overwhelming loneliness, lack of self-confidence in my thought processing and decision-making ability in a moment of urgency like this is one of my fears.   Voila! 

Realizing my bag is sitting in the middle of a road, I re-mount my bike, while simultaneously it occurs to me what else is missing:  keys, cash, cards, license, phone.  Pretty much full-access to SMO. Let the tipping points begin...
  • Tipping point #1:  Freakout of my absentmindedness in not securing my bag properly and lose my mind further -OR- forgive myself with compassion of my mental misfire and hit the bike to retrace my route.  "You have choice SMO, and the choice is yours, how's it going to go?" begins the extensive conversation I have in my head for the next hour. 
  • Tipping point #2:  My heart is beating faster with this awareness, and as I hit the end of our driveway, two more missing things come mind:  Boomer's drivers license and our two silver angel coins that I carry with me everywhere.  "OH SHIT!"  The adrenaline of panic fires another octave and the urgency has become paramount.  Those two items, for me, are both priceless and irreplaceable. I was stunned at the intensity that emerged at my search and recover ride. 
  • Tipping point #3:   I have no phone and can't reach anyone.  I'm completely alone.  There it is - - my other fear.  I'm alone.  Now I'm scared.   "Keep it together SMO, one thing at time,  just ride and look, that's all you can do right now."
  • Tipping point #4:   No sign of the bag when I reach my destination.  I checked at the Buddhist center, it seemed like the bag would have fallen of pretty quickly, no one turned anything in.  Feeling the momemtum of fear, loneliness, and loss building in my belly, "What am I going to do?  I need help, what do I do?" is starting to consume my brain as I make my way back to house, still looking.  Suddenly, I hear myself begin to say 12 words out loud:
      • Please Show Me
      • Please Guide Me
      • Please Help Me
      • Please Protect Me  
Out of nowhere these words become a verbal mantra that I repeat over and over and over again on the entire 5-mile ride back home.  It's all I say.  I must say them out loud to make them real for me. This is exercising my choice, again. A pleading call, to my higher power, which my brain alone can not be trusted with to keep me calm and sane.   I detach from the outcome, I don't care, I've already lost control through the funk of my widowdom - all I have is faith and trust - I hope.  I begin to feel a release that I'm turning it over, surrendering, for my own well-being and sanity so the support I'm desperate for has room to arrive and I can see it, welcome it and be grateful for it.
  • Tipping point #5:  Back at home, still no bag.  And now for the second time in 6-months I find myself having to break into my own home and climb through a window (read Three Little Words) the spare keys are with my neighbors who are out of town, their house sitter is not home.  Out comes the ladder.  The good news, I've secured the windows with the a/c running.  The bad news, I can't get in after trying three windows.  Next up is the kitchen window, higher off the ground, smaller than the others and above the sink.  It's ajar just enough for me to slide it open.  "Seriously?"   I find myself beginning to laugh, "the kitchen window?  Well, here I go..." I don't think I've had my feet in a kitchen sink since I was three months old and while I'm proud of my physical strength and agility to get into the house yet again, with relative ease, this isn't something I desire to make a career of - - climbing through windows.   Once inside, I take a deep calming breath and hear a little voice that sounds alot like Boomer, "Hey SMO, probably time to get another set of keys and put them back where we use to have them."  "Yes, I hear you Boomer.  I've got other things to deal at this very moment."
  • Tipping point #6:   Still frantic, my brain reeling with all the urgent tasks before me and fear I'm forgetting something:  I need to freeze cards, get the house re-keyed, contact the mobile carrier...I pause, realizing I'm safe, I'm in the house and it's cool.  Deep breathe.  Mmm, I think my neighbor Joe (read Chefing It Up) might be home, he has a cell phone.... Joe loans me his phone and I start speed dialing.  First the bank, new debit card on the way arriving in 7-10 days - - uh, timeout, I leave for Chicago in a week, I need the card a.s.a.p.  "Is there anyway you can expedite shipping for me?" I ask the delightfully helpful customer service rep. "Absolutely, you'll have it two days."   Next is America Express, easily done online, UPS next day, no charge.  Locksmith, can be on-site in 30-minutes.  Done.
Lapse time since I first discovered the lost bag - - two hours.  Time for another deep breathe. Okay, this is going smoothly; as smoothly as this crisis can go at the moment.  I feel I'm getting my bearings a little more.   Now for my phone - - I go to Verizon's website, as I hear another whisper in my ear, "Hey SMO, call your phone."    Brilliant.   So I dial...
  • Tipping point #7:  A man's voice answers, "Hello?"  With bated breath of anticipation I respond, "Hello, my name is Shannon, I believe you found my phone,"   "Yes I did.  My name is George, I found your bag, everything is here,"  he continues to give me his address.  About to hyperventilate with the astounding great news, I hold back my tears, "I can be there in 15 minutes George," "That's fine, I'll be at work, my wife, Karen, will be here for you."  I grab the spare car key, return Joe's phone, and put pedal to the metal the 2.5 miles to restore my life to where it was three hours earlier. 
I rang the doorbell of George and Karen's lovely home; as Karen answers the door I open my arms wide and say, "Hello, I'm Shannon O'Regan, may I please give you a hug."   She smiled and embraced me. "I hope you didn't call you bank," she says.  "Yes, I did, but that's a-ok.  Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you."   I left a little reward for George and followed it up with mailing them both a personal note expressing my gratitude for their kindness, integrity and compassion.

When I returned to my car, I sat for a moment before I drove away because it begins crashing in on me all what had occurred in the last two hours.  I was overcome with emotion in my realization that my pleas had been completely answered - - every one, to the finite detail:   
  1. Please show me:   I was shown the open window. I was shown the choice of tipping over in despair or seeking total support from a higher power - - cause baby, that's exactly what happened.  
  2. Please guide me:  The tasks at hand, and the ability to handle them swiftly, the whisper to call my phone. 
  3. Please help me:  Keeping a calm resolve, patience, safely climbing in the window, Joe's cell phone, expedited mailing
  4. Please protect me:   Joe, George and Karen, Boomer, and the 100% full recovery of my bag and all its contents.
I was shown.  I was guided.  I was helped.  I was protected.  Every step of the way.  I was never alone.      I am never alone.  I have Boomer delivering his coaching whispers, and a higher power of my understanding that fully has my back - - all I have to do is ask for help, and detach from how that help is delivered, and simply do the next right thing I know to do in that moment, no more no less.  

Last Sunday was a miracle day for me.  I'm still processing all that it has meant to me;  and it's impact in my grieving progress, confidence building, and my continuing personal transformation of moving forward in my life without Boomer physically here. 

As for my fears, I am conquering them, and proudly say I no longer have a fear that I am alone.  That has been proven completely false. False Evidence Appearing Real.  Face Everything And Rise.  I can't wait to tell Amber.

And yes Boomer, I got the 3rd set of keys on Monday; they're right where you last put them.   Thank you, Honey for always watching over me and whispering in my ear - - my right ear (read Left Right) to be exact.
"Hey SMO..." - 2004

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