Saturday, February 11, 2012

Road Signs

I think I've been a bit overly distracted by the big road signs in my life. There is no map to our lives right? So we go along somewhat trial and error, down different roads, some dead ends, some superhighways busy with fast-paced noise. I think it's been easy to get distracted by the big road signs -the "Turn Here!" flashing lights, neon bright signs. Like graduating from high school and the big "Go to College" sign. Easy right? Just take the turn. Of course I've definitely taken my turns onto smaller "road less travelled" routes, some even that had "Dead End" signs I insisted on taking anyway.

It's funny though that as a child growing up in the country on a huge piece of property, that I have found myself often on these well travelled roads. I mean, as a kid I used to wander aimlessly across pastures and through woods with little knowledge of where I was going. I was usually following a well-worn cow path through the tall weeds and thick undergrowth. I think there's something symbolic about these contrasting ways of navigating territory.

Where I live now, you don't leave the people trail because you could get lost or you might destroy plant life or something like that. So you get yourself on a hiking trail or sidewalk or bike lane or paved road and you go to somewhere. You travel to a specific destination. No Sunday drives wasting gas aimlessly exploring the countryside. No weekend ambles following the minute signs of an animal road. No looking for the broken grass, inspecting each step as you take it so you don't accidentally disturb a snake or step on a cow pie. Just head up, look straight ahead. Get to the end of the trail so you can say you hiked it. Get to the store, get to the movie, get to work, get home, get to school....

How can we follow Rumi's advice and let ourselves "be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what [we] really love?" How can we see the imperceptible signs of where we want to go when we are so distracted by the neon, flashing, "Turn Here!"? How do we listen to the whisper of our hearts when the rush of traffic is around us?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Atomic Attractions

OK seriously I have been thinking more about the whole orbits thing. I'm taking a chemistry class right now and we just finished studying about atomic orbitals. There are two basic shapes for the orbitals of electrons around the nucleus of an atom in extremely simplistic terms. The electrons may make a spherical orbit around the nucleus or they make a dumbbell shaped orbit. The spherical orbitals are called s-orbitals and the dumbbell shaped orbitals are p-orbitals.

Enough chemistry. The reason I bring this up is that I really think we each have different types of energy that lead us into relationships that resemble the s or p orbital. S people draw us in and our life begins to revolve around theirs. P orbital people engage more in a dance around with us looking more like the back and forth and interplay of a dumbbell shape. Maybe it's not that we are either p people or s people, but rather how our energy combines with someone else's that makes the s or p dance. When you can recognize if your shared energies are making one of you revolve around the other, rather than dancing back and forth, then maybe those are unhealthy relationships. Maybe there's no good or bad orbital relationship, maybe there is just one you prefer to the other.

Monday, February 6, 2012


It occurred to me last night that we are all like little planets with our own orbits. Some people's orbits work nicely with your own, other people's orbits repel you. Then there are those whose orbits try to take over your orbit, that pull you in and have you circling their life. Being aware of the pull of other people's orbits seems to be a good way to ensure you are respecting your own boundaries. What I mean is that I don't necessarily think that one orbit is better than another and I don't mean to judge how another person's orbit affects mine. I am just thinking that, in the moment I become aware of how their energy is impacting my energy, I am more aware of my own needs/boundaries/shifts etc.

Friday, February 3, 2012


This morning I came into work and ran into a dad whose daughter was in a car accident months ago. They have been staying with us the entire time as she gets strong enough to be transferred to another facility for rehab. We have two older teens here right now who have been with us for months and are recovering from car accidents (MVA's). Each time I talk to these parents, I get a glimpse of what could have been my experience and I am left feeling like a ghost of myself has just walked by.

We see so many different families here, but MVA families hit way too close to home for me. For those of you who didn't grow up with me, I totalled my car when I was 17. I hit black ice, likely overcompensated, went off a 13 foot embankment and was thrown from the car. If it weren't for a very small ditch within the larger culvert where I landed, my car would have landed on top of me. Because of this little ditch, the car landed upside down straddling that ditch, settling down a few inches above me. The force of the accident broke my back and punctured a lung. I spent a week in the hospital and then a bit more time at home recovering. It was a hellish time, being trapped at home with my mom, as a grumpy teenager who had previously been counting the days until I could leave said home and mom. If you've read Ethan Frome, I had nightmares at the time of being stuck there forever like the broken Ethan in his loveless marriage.

Now when I encounter a family who has a child who was not so lucky, who did not escape so unscathed, who may be at the mercy of other people's caregiving for the rest of their lives, I go cold inside. I stop in my tracks and thank the universe for my luck. I also thank these parents for the care they give their children. I slump a little thinking of how they must feel to watch this bright future change completely. They claw their way toward hope, toward a different future, one they have no blueprint for. I send up my wishes for their self-care, for the progress of their child, for their patience and for a loving community of support for them.