The cure for pain is in the pain.

September 10, 2016

Some weeks ago, I had major surgery. I have been recovering since, and that recovery has included a great deal of physical pain. The surgery itself was a success; after my recovery, I expect to have a knee that is much more functional that the one that was replaced.

Extreme physical pain is a new experience for me. I did not expect it, and was unprepared. Even though I had excellent medical care and a variety of medications, I found it hard to endure the pain of the first ten days and nights.

Like every life challenge, it was an opportunity too. I believe it deepened my compassion as I thought of the millions of people who must endure such pain without the medical and personal support I am privileged to have.

So gratitude has been interwoven with pain and trying to keep my spirits up. Through the years I have spent deeply immersed in Rumi, I have learned more and more to find gratitude embedded in every challenge.

I offer these you these lovely words by Rumi:

Inside, you are sweet beyond telling. There is a sun in everyone.

I become a mirror that cannot close its eyes to your longing,

my eyes wet with yours in the early light,

my mind every moment giving birth,

always conceiving, always in the ninth month….

 

Another aspect of this experience has been the extraordinary kindness that has been shown to me by my partner, family members and some close friends. Even my young physical therapist has shown me such gentleness and kindness.

Dorianne Laux says:

For the Sake of Strangers

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.

And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waits patiently for my empty body to pass through.

All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another–a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a retarded child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.

Somehow, they always find me, seem even
to be waiting…
.

A cousin I love has these words on her answering machine:

“Make it a good day for someone.” May we all heed and practice this wisdom.


How to find your inner joy

April 22, 2016

Joy Is Your Essence

As translated by Coleman Barks, Rumi says:

In the last hour before morning
lover and beloved awake
and take a drink of water.

She asks, “Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth.”

He says, “There’s nothing left of me.
I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world made of redness?
It has no resistance to sunlight.”

This is how the ancient Sufi sage Hallaj said
“I am God,” and told the truth.

Therefore be courageous and discipline yourself.
Completely become hearing and ear
and wear the sun ruby as an earring.

Work, keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Soul water is there somewhere.

Submit to a daily practice. 
Your loyalty to that is like a ring upon the door.
Eventuallyd, the joy inside will open a window
and look out to see who’s there.

So Rumi teaches us that joy is our essence. Once we have learned that profound lesson, we can return to joy again and again.

Please my website at http://www.coupleswisdom.com for tools that can assist in this journey.]

Blessings to all readers!

–Victoria


Let Me Have One More Day

March 12, 2016
Love Poem by Tim Hicks
Let me have just one more day, 
let me have this day and let it not be my last.
Let me have just one more day to feel the sap in the stems, 
to hear the language of birds and the wind,
one more day of light, one more day of turning,
one more day balanced on the precipice, one more day
to bask and revel, one more day of the exquisite pain,
one more day to risk a bit more, just one more day 
to feel the tide’s pull, to be swept and tossed, 
to fear the loss, one more day to empty and be bereft.
Let me have one more day that I might find you and 
find myself in you, to allow the wonder of the dance, 
one more day to reveal and conceal, one more day 
without words to say what I can not tell you, one more day 
to be willing, to allow time’s victory and defeat,
one more day carried on the upwelling, my body 
salt in the tears, some kind of habitation, some kind of crystallization,
some kind of membrane between. 
I don’t mean to be trite but
I love you like water loves gravity, like lungs love oxygen,
like the grasses with the breeze, like the torrents over the rocks.
I’m serious here. My gaze wants to linger longer on you.
I have not had enough of your demands. I have more of laughter to learn….
This poem reminds me to celebrate my great good fortune in having people I love so very dearly in my life. May I cherish each day, knowing that the number of those days is beyond my control. I learned from Rumi to embrace it all, though, and I truly do. Gratitude flows through me from the first playful wags of my dog’s tail as soon as I open my eyes till the last kiss at night. To make this authentic, I must admit that between those two events, I often slip into my ego’s demands and complaints (“I took out the trash last time!”). I try not to linger there though, and usually I don’t.
Please visit my website at www.coupleswisdom.com.
Thanks to Larry Robinson for sending this poem, and blessings to all!

Dogs and Love and Death

February 22, 2016

Dear friends have just learned that their beloved young German Shepherd has a probably fatal disease. Their friends share their grief for this beautiful, exceptional animal, though we cannot know the depths of their sorrow; they raised her from being a small puppy, hiked deep into the Sierras with her, romped with her in the snow, watched her in joy at the beach, and exchanged the love only dog lovers know with her every day and night.

This morning I woke up from a dream in which an unknown woman told me “your dog has been hit.” I looked over her shoulder toward a nearby yard and saw my precious small white dog standing but clearly hurt. “Oh no!” I cried out as I woke up. Then I saw my precious one sleeping peacefully on our bed as he does every night; still, the dream said “This won’t last forever.”

In her book of poems about her beloved dogs (“Dog Songs”), Mary Oliver says: “Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also….We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.”

I think dogs are our teachers about love and about death. How to love? Unconditionally, without our ego’s list of requirements. We humans are slow learners, thanks to our egos: “I’ll really love you once you loose/gain those extra pounds, start looking like the girl/guy of my dreams, start making more money, provide me with more status, stop interrupting me, become more/less interested in sex, get your teeth fixed, start agreeing with me on politics/religion/budgeting/parenting, stop starting those arguments which are all your fault,” etc. etc. etc.

Our dog Rudy scans rooms to see who might need a little extra love, and walks over, wags his tail and offers it. He starts every day with play and kisses, and ends every night with cuddles and kisses; now there’s a love model worth following! And in between he never has a bad hair day, never fails to welcome us home as if our return is the greatest thing since the IPhone, is always ready to play, always ready to love, forgives our mistakes instantly, and never holds a grudge.

Even in the best cases, our dogs live relatively short lives; because of that, they offer lessons about death too. They always leave us before we’re ready. Death is coming, and whether we’re 8 or 80, we get closer to it every day. I trust/know there’s incredible beauty on the other side of death, but so far I haven’t been given any information about whether our canine friends will be there.

Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the work and life of Philip Toshio Sudo, who wrote wonderful books including Zen Guitar, Zen Sex, and Zen computer. He met and married his true love and lived six “blissful” years in Hawaii with her; they had 3 children. Those kids were 1, 4 and 6 when he died at age 41, a year after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. He was scheduled to have a devastating surgery in New York on 9/11. He died in 2002. His widow says that one of the books he carried with him spoke of how to be resolute about death. In the way of Zen, Phil apparently accepted his fate, grieving mainly for the pain of the wife and children he had to leave….

I don’t know what Phil felt about Sufi poets like Rumi, but this poem except means a lot to me: Rumi says:
“….The human seed goes down into the ground like a bucket
and comes up with some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here, and immediately
opens with a shout of joy
there.”

I posted the above on Facebook today, but I wanted to share it with readers of this blog too. I am interested in contacting Phil’s widow, Tracy Buell Sudo. Can you help?


My Happy Marriage

February 6, 2016

It took nearly 18 years together to learn to be truly happy. Perhaps we are slow learners; I’m pretty sure I am. For one thing, I had to learn to choose recovery instead of addiction. That was 13 years ago. I don’t think a truly happy marriage can exist if one partner is pursuing an active addiction. Even being an intermittent, functional alcoholic–as I once was–is a barrier to the kind of relationship which is authentic and includes profound bonding and deep communication.

Saying goodbye to addiction:

Perhaps I should define my terms. “Intermittent” alcoholics have periods of time when they drink normally or not at all. In my case, when I went on diets several times a year, I would not drink at all for weeks or months. “Obviously, I don’t have an alcohol problem,” I’d say to myself, because denial is not just a river in Egypt. When the diet was over though, I’d have one glass of wine at dinner, and within a few weeks I’d be drinking every day and too much. “Functional alcoholic” means I had a job, I never drank while working, and very few people knew that I had a drinking problem–only those who had seen me ruin a special occasion because sometimes I could not control how much I drank or my behavior after the first glass of wine. Sadly, it was primarily those who were nearest and dearest to me who witnessed or were hurt by those occasions; recalling this brings back the regrets I will always have.

By grace, the day my younger son’s first child was born, everything changed. Holding that precious baby, and overcome with love for him and for my children and their children, I knew that continuing to drink would fatally compromise those relationships. I stopped drinking that day, and never looked back. 90 AA meetings in 90 days, working the steps, making amends–through grace I did it all. The results have been profoundly positive. The classic alcoholic’s fear that I would never again have fun was the opposite of the facts.

“I love you just as you are.”

Just as important, on the road to a truly happy marriage, I had to become totally willing to accept and affirm my husband just as he is. I think it was a turning point when I began to feel and say, “Not only do I love you, but I am 100% satisfied with you.”

Having a deeply joyful and committed marriage is grace, it’s joy, it’s one of the greatest sources of gratitude in my life. In future posts, I will have more to say about this path and how it can be your path as well.

Blessings to you and yours, dear reader! Please visit me at http://www.coupleswisdom.com.


Rumi’s Wedding Day

December 18, 2015

Today is the 740th anniversary of Rumi’s death. He called it his “wedding day with the Beloved.”

Rumi is one of the great souls, the wise ones who teach us that there is nothing to fear in death. As one who has visited the other side and found unfathomable beauty there, I honor Rumi for his profound teaching. Through years of immersing myself in his ecstatic poetry (as translated by  Coleman Barks), my life was forever transformed. His wisdom permeated my selfishness, my fear and my attachment to my ego’s relentless demands.

Here is Rumi’s concise teaching about the profound journey of death. I was privileged to hold my mother’s hand when she breathed her last. I dedicate this poem to her and invite you to think of someone dear to you as  you read it and hopefully take in its wisdom:

On the day I die, don’t say she’s gone/he’s gone.

On the day I die, don’t say she’s gone/he’s gone.

Death has nothing to do with going away.

The sun sets, and the moon sets, but they are not gone.

Death is a coming together.

The human seed goes down into the ground like a bucket,

and comes up with some unimagined beauty.

Your mouth closes here

and immediately opens

with a shout of joy

there.

Blessings to all–

Victoria

=================

Please visit my website to see if there’s something there that can add beauty to your life: it’s www.coupleswisdom.com


Finding True Love and Passion Again

December 8, 2015

The show mentioned below is now available as a podcast.

Would you like to know the secret to true marital happiness? Check back here and on my website: http://www.coupleswisdom.com. Soon I will post the true secret to long term sexual joy, and finding true happiness together.