Sunday, September 16, 2007

Passionate Mondays

I was with my mother for the last five days in Santa Barbara. She is not doing well and we are all struggling in learning how to take care of her, help her, preserve her dignity and hopefully making it possible for her to live out her remaining time pain-free. However, taking care of her is not the biggest challenge. The most difficult thing to learn to do well is to take care of oneself while taking care of another. It is so easy to give your all to someone you love, and have nothing left over to nourish yourself. I have been preaching about this to my father for the last six years as he has cared for her, and now that I am spending more time with her, it is my turn to practice what I preach. Ha! It's not easy.
So, Saturday, a particularly demanding day, I took a walk, which is a daily practice for me. It was not my usual fast-paced walk in which my goal is to raise my heart rate and break a sweat. This one was a walk to unwind, give my body and mind some space and nourishment in the fresh air. I let myself notice the details around me, the smell of the breeze, the beauty of the Spanish style houses, the amazing diversity of flowers and plants. On my walk I realized that my "Passionate Monday" post was only two days away. I thought to myself, "how can I possibly feel passionate in the middle of all this? How am I going to post something when I don't feel it?"

Ah-Ha! The light bulb came on. The fact that I was finding the subject of passion difficult is exactly why I needed to post something about it. Whether it is a rotten Monday at work, your kids are late for school and screaming, your puppy messed on the floor, your having a fight with your boyfriend, or you are taking care of your dying mother, we can all find a way to put passion into our day. If we can succeed in making ourselves more passionate about life in general, life on this earth, then even on those difficult days we can find some peace, gratitude and reason to smile. As I have written before, I believe that life is full of suffering for all of us. It is precisely what we do with the suffering, with those lessons, that gives us quality in life and our opportunity to learn and grow.

As my walk continued up toward the Santa Barbara Mission, I decided to sit and contemplate on the beauty of the earth. In front of the Mission is a rose garden. It is at least an acre or two of as many varieties of roses as you could imagine. It is also a place that holds special meaning to me not only for its beauty, but it is where my husband and I were married. I reflected on our love, a very strong and deep love. I reflected on how the people that I am most drawn to in life are those that, like me, take joy in the little details of life and this earth. Many of those people are writers, photographers, cooks, who are instinctively drawn to the little treasures that life has to offer. They get passionate about a food ingredient, a bug on a sidewalk, a four leaf clover, a statue in a garden or dew on the grass.

Here are a few of those small details that I saw on my walk, most of which I would have missed would I have been doing my "exercise walk":

On this Monday (or Tuesday for my friends in Europe or points east), find your passion by noticing the little details around you and finding joy in them. It is precisely those small doses of beauty that make up the big, mysterious, magnificent, brilliant picture and that keep us going when times get tough.

Have a Passionate Monday!


Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I have stumbled onto your blog. I love the way you share your passion.
My heart breaks for your and your family, it is so hard to watch your mother fight her disease. I have been there as well.
I am also passionate about Italy... and lots of other things. Life is good!
I will be back to visit- If I can find my way!

katiez said...

Thanks for the reminder to stop getting so lost in my thoughts that I stop enjoying the moment...
My thoughts are with you and your mom right now!

Frida said...

Good for you! Practicing a little of what you preach, slowing down your walk, taking in the details and the pleasure of the moment. Yoga in practice. Thinking of you at this demanding time.

stacie hunt said...

Dear Friend...sharing the reality of "pre-loss" in your family is an opportunity to gain support, that most wouldn't think of attempting. It feels too private. In sharing your story, you actually gave comfort to me (going through similar pre-loss) and also, as I see, to others. Thanks, Jeni-girl!
BTW...fab blog!

The Passionate Palate said...

Sandi - glad you stumbled by! Thanks for your kind words of understanding. Do come back.

Katiez - I'm glad the reminders for myself help others too!

Frida - Practice, practice, practice...the alternative is not attractive! I love the recent post on your blog too.

Stacie - so glad to "see" you here! I know you are going through very similar things and I was just thinking about that this morning. My heart is with you too. And thanks for the compliments. xo

Toothfairyrecipes said...

As always you've posted a wonderful and inspirational post. I think you should be proud of yourself for devoting your time to your Mum and for your passion and love towards those around you.
Be storong and take care of ypurself.
X Matin

The Passionate Palate said...

Matin - Thank you! You make me feel better. :-)

Tamara said...

My mother, too, has Lewy Body Dementia and that is how I found your blog.

I loved this entry. You are so right about caregivers losing track of caring for themselves. This is a great reminder to keep looking for the beauty in life despite the ugliness of an illness.

You and your family are in my thoughts.

The Passionate Palate said...

Tamara - you are only the second person I know of that even knows about Lewy Body. I would be happy to share experiences with you. Feel free to email me at passionatepalate AT gmail DOT com. I will hold you and your family in my thoughts as well.

tongue in cheek said...

I admire you as you strive to see joy even as your suffer with your Mother's illness. It is hard to do. It is like a prayer... to hold on to both and live with peace.
Thank you for the reminder and showing courage in doing so!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Hi Jeni! I am so glad you were able to find something passionate on a day that you needed it the most. I spent almost a year taking care of my mom when she was ill. It was extremely stressful and hard, all the while I felt to selfish for feeling that way. I used to take walks a lot and read a lot for sanity. I am glad that you were able to find some peace in that rose garden. My thoughts are with you and your mom.

african vanielje said...

Ciao Bella. I love your pics, they are little snippets that we normally just pass by. Passionate Mondays are a great idea. And slowing down a little is good too. I know you have to do what you have to do, and people telling you to do it different is just annoying. But I'm glad to know you are reminding yourself that you are important too. Have a good weekend. xxxx av

The Passionate Palate said...

TIC/Corey - yes it is like a prayer - at times as much as "in breath, prayer, out breath, prayer". It's an exercise in learning how to live.

AV- Thank you for all that. I need these little reminders to take care of myself so much.

xo to all- jeni

sognatrice said...

Gorgeous! I love, love, love the door :)

The Passionate Palate said...

Sognatrice - me too!!! I even put it on my computer as a screen saver. It conveys peace and calm to me...which I need right now. :-)

Christina said...

Walks have saved my life many times. I swear, I always, always feel better after a slow, observant, contemplative walk. Thank you for sharing your discoveries with us. Thank you also for taking care of yourself.

The Passionate Palate said...

Christina - aren't walks amazing? Especially, as you said, a contemplative walk. Thanks for the sweet words.

The Passionate Palate said...

Jenn - really know what I am feeling from your experiences. Thanks for your words of support.