Day 257 “Watercourse”

You’d think that sleep would be my friend.
Like a lover she would seduce me,
lulling me into her black oblivion,
coaxing me into her ocean of darkness
a current of ever-changing images
gently rocking and soothing:

You’d think that sleep would be my friend,
But she is a multi-armed demon
tossing me from shore to shore
taunting me with her liquid blackness
abandoning me, exhausted and spent
the last laps of receding tide washing over me,
as dawn’s first rays ignite.

If sleep is an ocean,
then I am the castaway,

How did this shipwreck occur?
What sin did I perpetuate,
To set me on this tumultuous course.
What sacrifice must my soul make
For sleep to once again be my friend?


Day 250 “Sensory Stimulation”

When I was first diagnosed with ME/CFS, my doctor strongly advised against shopping in big box stores. “For at least a year,” she cautioned. Not one to comply, and still in a state of denial about the severity of my illness, I talked my husband into to taking me to a store that offered motorized carts for disabled shoppers. Half way through my adventure, I knew I was in trouble. It was not the distances one had to walk that presented the challenge (as I had naively thought), but the overwhelming sensory stimulation.

ME/CFS affects, among other things, the central nervous system. As I understand it, the nerves are not able to cope with any additional stress, and this includes the sensory input. My therapist defines it for my consideration as the amount of sensory load that my body can handle at any given time. By determining this, I can better manage my progress and avoid crashes.

Consequently, I exist in a bubble – fragrance-free, controlled lighting, minimal noise input, and reduced visual stimulus. I avoid either hot or cold foods, and am overly sensitive to touch. Minimal sensory stimulation has become my norm.

What frightens me is the thought of integrating back into modern life, where the senses are constantly accosted without thought for consequence. From my perspective, it takes a finely tuned nervous system to cope in our over-mechanized, image-popping, aurally-bombarded, scent-driven society. I marvel at those who can manage it, and my heart goes out to all who cannot.

Day 249 “The Deep Pool”

A figure of breathtaking beauty
glides across the center square,
his classic attire announcing success,
his god-like countenance turning heads.
His velvety deep voice hints at an accent,
stirring imaginations and desire.
He pauses every so often to greet another
with warmth and genuine compassion,
but his heart is set on me.

Juxtaposed to my husband,
I huddle next to the storefronts,
sidling between columns
hiding my agedness and homely visage.
I wear my unworthiness with shame
Confident only of the precariousness of this union.

He is taking me to the seaside,
Proudly leading me to the water’s edge.
Reluctantly, I follow
the shimmering lure of the water
sparkling in the distance,
and the broad open beach leering with disdain –
under the blazing reality of this day
the world will see me for what I am.

* * *

The hotel window overlooks the square
and the crowd that has gathered there.
Searching for the source of commotion
I glimpse a woman, shackled by the wrists,
chained to an ox and cart.
Horrified, compelled to help,
I rush to save her, but am too late.
She stumbles just outside my reach
and is dragged to her end.

I reel with revulsion,
My mind racing with confusion,
What crime could this woman have committed;
what sin to commit her to such a vile death?
She seemed such an ordinary woman,
tall and proud, not long out of her youth,
She had the weary look of a young mother,
stern, yet impassioned – the lioness,
protective of her brood –
now the victim of public persecution.

* * *

I stand in a darkened doorway,
a beam of light from the street
casting an eerie glow on the scene before me:
a baby, despondent from unanswered cries
abandoned in its playard
stares at me with deep, black eyes,
and attempts to rise,
raising one hand to reach for me,
then falling back on his sodden bottom.
I will myself to pick him up,
rescue him,
but am wrenched back into consciousness –
it has all been a dream.

* * *

Ego drives in the waking times,
delusions of self-understanding,
control and clear motivations
its steering wheel –
It is only a facade.

Below the surface,
a history of turmoil,
unrequited desires,
and untapped resources
simmers in anticipation,
conjuring dreams to awaken us –
metaphorical mysteries to
tantalize and illicit questioning.

The self is a deep pool,
harbouring a wealth of treasures,
reminding us there is always more to strive for,
inviting us to take the plunge.

Somewhere inside me is unparalleled beauty,
confidence, and grace,
there is merciless persecution –
both victim and participant-
and there is innocence abandoned and neglected.
Somewhere inside me,
this self-defacing identity
has hope of reparation –
and this relenting sense of futility
may uncover renewed purpose.

Calming Breath

Imagine being able to clear the clutter of your mind; to set aside all your thoughts, worries, obsessions, and just breathe.  Imagine letting go of all the tension in your body; setting aside pain, and discomfort in favour of just being.  Imagine the noise and distractions of everyday life just floating through you without sticking; your awareness not blocked, but heightened.

Through the practice of meditation, I have experienced this feeling of being suspended, at peace, in a state of harmony.  It is calming, reassuring, refreshing.  Reaching this place offers renewal, and at times, a sensation of bliss.  It is amazing how, no matter how stressed, this state of being offers such relaxation, that it shifts perception.

Breathe deeply, slowly, and let your exhale carry the tension out of your body and mind.  Take your time.  Let thoughts flow in and out.  Perceive them, and let them go.  Everything that is important will be there later.  Affirm it.  It’s safe to set all thoughts aside.

Let your in breath fill you with clear, calming energy, washing over you, helping the out breath carry away the tension.  Give your self permission to relax.  Empty yourself, body, mind, and spirit.  Surrender to the nothingness.  Suspend your grasp on reality.

Just be.

Hints for success:  Practice the same time each day.  Create the opening.  It doesn’t take long, it takes discipline.  Practice in the same place, establishing a routine.  One of my teachers suggested taking 2-3 minute intervals throughout the day where you stop and breath consciously.  She said she would find a tree, and focus on that tree, imagining what it would be like to have roots that run deep into the earth, and branches that reach high into the sky, and bend with the breezes.  She described it as strong, but calm, centered in peace.

Aside:  I learned to meditate when my children were babies, which meant that the only place I could get any alone time was the bathroom.  Meditating in the bathroom established a correlation that still exists today.  Some of my best inspirations happen when I visit the bathroom.