Thankful Thursday: Massage Therapy

All you have to do is say the word “massage” and I feel myself start to melt.  In a good way, of course.  Not in a “witch who just got a bucket of water thrown on her” sort of way.

I’ve always enjoyed massages but in recent months they have become more of a necessity.  They are true therapy for my current health condition that involves neck, vestibular and sensory processing issues.  So much so that insurance even recognizes the need and covers part of the cost.

I’m thankful for the delicious tea I get to sip while I wait for my appointment.

I’m thankful for the compassion and encouragement of the massage therapist.

I’m thankful for the therapeutic touch that releases some of the tension my body carries from its constant state of dizziness and disequilibrium.

So today I’m thankful for massage and for the positive experience it brings to my life.

DadClass 1: Face life’s challenges head on.

My dad had a way of looking life straight in the eye, no matter what it threw his way. He didn’t turn away; he faced every challenge with determination.  He didn’t retreat; he pressed forward.  He didn’t back down; he gave life his all.  And he did so, even when he didn’t feel he had any more to give.

He persevered.  I watched him try again and again to accomplish tasks, no matter how impossible they seemed.  And this made me admire him more than I ever thought possible.  It didn’t matter what the task was and it didn’t matter if he accomplished it or not.  He was and will forever remain victorious in my mind for having the courage to give it his all.

This experience leads me to a question:  How does our society characterize perseverance and determination?  All you have to do is Google quotations about these words and you’ll find that they are typically used in reference to achieving success and accomplishing specific goals. They’re about what you have to do in order to get something you want…

But my invitation is for us is to recognize the value of perseverance and determination in a way that is not contingent on the outcome.  When we do this, we are able to appreciate the process and admire the courage it requires.

It takes guts to work towards something that feels hard.  Running away from a challenge that presents itself often appears to be the easier, more comfortable path to travel.  And for good reason – lots of times, it is!  The only problem is that taking steps in the opposite direction to avoid the problem only gives it power and that power makes it grow.  And no one wants that!  Ick!  But the point is, even though it is not easy, I believe there is extraordinary value to be found in facing what challenges us.

There’s a popular quotation by Robert H. Schuller that goes, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”  This question was never really my thing and I was surprised to discover that it didn’t resonate with Brene Brown, either!  What I love even more is the meaningful question she created to use in its place, “What is worth doing even if I fail?”

The tough stuff in life is worth doing and we can only discover what is possible by harnessing our determination to work hard and persevere.  But it’s not about whether or not we fail, it’s about whether or not we’re willing to take the leap and give the things that matter everything we’ve got, just like my dad.

My brother, the April Fool

Okay, so my brother is not a fool…

He’s actually wicked smart and knowledgeable about most any topic.

But he WAS born on April Fool’s Day so this post is for him!  

 

We stroll down NW 23rd looking for a place to eat and relax for a bit.  Just walking next to him I can feel my cool points rise by at least 10.  He’s tall, confident, and has an attitude that earns respect.  We pick a restaurant and the host leads us to our table.  After a few minutes, figuring out how to balance the cast iron chairs comfortably on the uneven sidewalk, we’re settled in.

My brother was in town for a brief visit that summer.  It was last minute, due to some reshuffling at work, but the timing was impeccable.  He made it just in time to help me move into my first apartment.  I’m sure he was less than thrilled but he was a good sport and helped complete the project with apparent ease.

Shocked by my admission that I’ve never tried truffle fries he waves down our server to order a plate. Sunlight peeks around the corner of a red brick building across the street and I return my sunglasses to their rightful place across my face.

I wish I could remember what he said.  

I wish I could remember what we did, besides eat far too many truffle fries! 

All I remember is feeling happy as we talked and laughed, and sitting there in awe of the person that my little brother has become.  And for that reason, the memory is perfect just the way it is. 

To the brother who makes me laugh, and makes me proud…Happy Birthday!

 

Extra{ordinary}

He walks out the front door every afternoon.  His body is dignified in the way he moves.  His dark, close set eyes are focused with determination, as he carefully makes each step down from the front door.  He grips the black, cast iron railing, the way he used to hold his tennis racquet in preparation for a powerful serve.

Before the strike of terminal illness, my dad didn’t sit – he could do everything faster and with more coordination than anyone else: running, biking, shooting hoops, and playing catch.  Gradually that changed.  He was forced to slow down and each step in itself became a challenge.  As a recent college graduate, I had moved to Portland to spend time with my family.  I admire the courage he showed in the face of great difficulty.

I follow along behind him, just the two of us, making our way past the railings that anchor our journey.  The sun is at its brightest, directly overhead.  We sit on the smooth, ceramic bench, with the coral cushion beneath us.  The bench feels sturdy and strong.  We are grounded and safe, side by side.

There is silence before the small, tube-like sprinklers with edges of corrugated plastic rise in unison, evenly spaced throughout the yard.  We made it just in time.  With a rush, water bursts forth from the tiny hole atop each sprinkler and forms a strong mist that fans out in all directions.  On a timer, the sprinklers were consistent.  The routine brought comfort and familiarity.

A smile of delight appears on his face as he motions with a steady hand towards the radiance born when water and sunlight collide.  Side by side, we watch the moments of our lives, held in water droplets, as they dance through the air.  Each one flies up in firework fashion, and then falls gracefully to the grass to make room for the next.  A Quaking Aspen stands tall in the background with leaves fluttering in the breeze against a brilliant blue sky.

I watched as he appreciated this moment as if it were his first and his last all at the same time.  He was captivated by the wonder of something so simple that, under other circumstances, we would not consider stopping to observe.  Today sunlight hitting water is a reminder that life is as extraordinary as we allow it to be.

~Written in August 2012