Posts Tagged With: forgiveness

Nana 101

Yesterday, my grandmother, Michaela Marina Durán (née Moreno), would have turned 101 years old. She passed away in 1985, when I was three years old. Consequently, I don’t know her too well, but one of my earliest memories of love is from Nana. I have a strong image of her in the doorway at 558 Ramona, holding a baby (although I can’t think of who that would be…maybe a toddler version of Monica or Justine :)). I don’t have any words associated with the memory, just a clear image. And a powerful, visceral feeling of love coming from her.

It’s difficult for me to conceptualize the time period she must have lived in or her life in general. 1914 was such a different time for women, especially women of color. She was the mother of eight children, and I’m told she also miscarried three times. 11 pregnancies…I cannot even imagine. Having only one baby makes me question her overall sanity for going forward with the process seven more times. ;) There have been multiple times already over my one year of motherhood and 9-10 months of pregnancy that I have asked Nana for strength and felt her love in return. When I was going through my insane labor process, I felt her very brightly and I know she helped me stay alive and healthy to push out my baby boy.

Why talk about this now, after a full year of silence on this blog? Why visit these memories? I don’t know, really. I was in yoga last night and during savasana, it dawned on me that I’ve been receiving a lot of messages lately. These messages are becoming more loud and urgent in my brain, and are even showing up in my dreams. I have a calling to serve others. I know that, and I’ve known that for awhile. I do help people in my job/career now, however there is a larger audience for me to speak to and I have to start taking those next steps. I want to support others with IBD to find balance. I think it’s the only way I will “cure” myself of my chronic disease. I will come up with a series of postures and call them “Yoga for IBD.” It’s a concept my friend Joel cae up with and tried to get me to help with many years ago, but I pushed him away. I will also go back to school and learn more about mind-body medicine model with the intention of helping other UC’ers with their pain, balance and journey. The question is when? I don’t know, but the messaging is becoming louder that I need to start something quickly. My first step is returning to my writing. And today I wanted to write about Nana’s love.

I don’t have many pictures of my grandmother here at the house. Just three really. Although they are prized possessions to me. Two of them have love notes on the back from Pop, my grandfather. They were married on April 12, 1941 and stayed together until she passed in 1985. These love notes were from 1938, when he was still in treatment for his tuberculosis and she was there for a visit. It is moving to read his words of love to her, penned so beautifully, so long ago. I now see why my dad is such a romantic.

Anyway, this post is a ramble, but I needed to get it done. I will be taking the next steps toward my recovery and eventual balance with my colitis, and that all starts here for me. Thank you for your patience as I moved through my silence in writing and I hope to see you all here soon again.

My music corner tonight will be courtesy of Ben Harper. I pieced together a video with the pictures I do have of Nana and Pop, along with the other family photos I have here at my house. I don’t have many, still they all show the love and happiness through the foundation that Nana and Pop laid out many years ago. I love you Nana, and Happy Birthday.

Categories: Balance, Healing, Love, Self-care, Self-love | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

I was never happy with the way I looked

A few months ago, I was listening to A Prairie Home Companion which is a public radio program most widely known for their Lake Wobegon bit where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”  I catch this show occasionally on NPR when I am driving on the weekends, but I never got around to finding out specifically when it aired.  I enjoy the happenstance of it because I love the show and I am always entertained, so it’s like a fun surprise when I find it.  My favorite bit is when they tell a story and pair it with sound effects that are incredible to listen to.  Really makes the story unfold before your very….ears.  One of the funniest I’ve heard is titled “Rhubarb” which ruthlessly makes fun of Californians, our bizarre eating habits and food allergies.  I know my mother-in-law will enjoy that one a little too much.  ;)  You definitely have to listen to it rather than read it.

One prose poem series struck a deep chord with me though and I haven’t been able to shake it since I heard it in November.  It was a four poem series read aloud by the author, Louis Jenkins, and they were each incredible.  The final poem resonated with me so much that I have since found myself approaching my self-image in a completely different way.

If you would indulge me and watch the video….rather, if you would click on the video, then close your eyes or turn the image off somehow and just listen to the poems, it will be much more powerful.  The video is distracting of where your mind can take it.  All of them are great, but I am going to reference the last one.  So if you can’t spare 5 minutes to hear the whole thing, then you can start at 4:10…..I would suggest you do yourself a favor and listen to them all.  :) Here are the poems:

I love these.  Each of them is funny and thought provoking.  However, while I was listening to these real time in my car and heard the line “I was never happy with the way I looked” I was immediately overcome with tears and sadness.  How many people go through life this way?  And for what?  I think it’s not exclusively women, either.  I think for most of us, self-image is intricately tied to our self-worth.  And the negative crap we pour on ourselves day in and day out is exhausting.  I don’t like my thighs or my hair is too oily or my face is so covered in acne that no one will want to look at it.  I’ve recently watched videos of myself when I was 10 years old and while watching, I started having negative self-talk about how I looked in the video!  At age 10!  What kind of sickness is that??

I don’t know where this overly critical negative self-talk started or how I got so sucked into it, but ever since I heard that line from Louis Jenkins, I have been seriously reconsidering how I consider myself.  I cannot think of anything more sad than never liking how I looked, ever.  To have that as a final reflection on my life…..I don’t know, the thought kills me.

It is a practice to look in the mirror with clothes on, clothes off, whatever and directly say “I like how I look today”.  It’s a strange feeling being okay with yourself.  I’ve felt it emotionally before, and even felt it physically (on the inside) by being “okay” with my colitis.  Trying it on with external physical beauty was a whole new and awesome feeling.

Okay, of course, you also don’t want to go around like “Gosh, I’m the prettiest thing ever and I am so much better than everyone since I’m SO gorgeous.”  Obviously there’s a balance.  It’s like yoga: a non-judgmental look at yourself with zero expectations.  You don’t have to hate yourself or how you look; that’s not a pre-requisite for being a good person.  Here’s a kooky idea: try on being happy with how you look, even for five minutes.  Just as an experiment.  Then maybe you’re happy with it for an hour.  Then for a few hours.  Then maybe, one whole day goes by where you are happy with how you look!  Now that’s crazy talk.

At any rate, I still struggle with this concept but whenever I am feeling particularly scathing toward myself, I think if this poem and it puts me back in a better frame of mind.  Now if I could only remember what it is I came down to the basement for….

ALISA’S RECIPE CORNER

Instead of music, I’ll mix it up today with a recipe for plant-based lasagna.  Plus Vegetable Lasagna always makes me think of Seinfeld and laugh.  I made this the other day for a potluck and it was actually good!  Took a lot of time; this is not a “quick and easy” recipe because you have to create the noodles by hand from the squash.  But it was delicious.  FYI, the “cheese” recipe makes way too much for this lasagna.  Do not pour all the extra cheese on the dish…I did that and it overwhelmed everything.  Use the directed amount and I’m sure you’ll be fine.  There’s a lot of other fun, less time-consuming recipes on the YumUniverse website you can check out too.  :)

Vegetable Lasagna recipe

Categories: Self-care, Self-love | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Supplementary manifestations

Light on the end of railway tunnel.

Supplementary manifestations….sounds more lyrical than “new stuff,” or “current updates” doesn’t it?

There’s a lot to share, but I’ll try to keep it to a reasonable amount of words.  I had a follow-up appt with my GI at the beginning of the June (seriously, has it been that long since I wrote on here??).  He went over the photos with me and re-iterated how well everything is going.  Two things that stood out:

1-I don’t actually have any ulcers right now.  What?  Yeah, apparently it’s just inflammation and mucus.  Although this is good news, it is confusing and frankly, disorienting….which is probably a good thing.  I think it makes for good character development to have your freaking world rocked every now and again.  I’m so used to identifying with these damn tiny little ulcers that I have to now redefine myself.  Do I have to change the name of my blog?  Maybe I should dye my hair a new color.  Do I have to get all new friends and buy new clothes?  I hope not, it all sounds like a lot of work.

2-the “healthy” part above the inflammation is still classified as “inactive colitis” according to their biopsies.  Although this should not have come as some huge surprise to me, it did.  Basically, this stuff doesn’t go away easily, or at all.  It’s like the UC is saying: “Hey, in case you forgot, I will be with you for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  Just making sure you don’t forget and F things up again!”  I realize it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but goodness, it would be nice if it just freaking went away already.  And for good.

The doctor patiently explained again why a daily medication would be helpful.  It would reduce the chance of another bad flare by 50%.  He likened it to a vitamin that you take in the morning, just to make sure everything is running smoothly.  He explained it as a topical intervention….it goes directly to the colon, where it needs to and only affects the first few levels of cells.  The one he wants me to take is not an immuno-suppressant like many other UC drugs are.  It’s safe and relatively harmless on paper. He complimented me on all of my hard work and said I was 90% of the way there.  This just helps you get to that last 10%.  It all sounds very natural and easy when he says it.  :)

Fast forward to a yoga class I took on Saturday with one of my favorite teachers.  After working us really hard for 60 minutes (I thought I was going to die a few times during the flow), he had us sit and meditate.  He asked us to think about our greatest teacher in life.  What it is that keeps us inspired and focused.  What keeps us coming back to our mat.  He asked us to thank those teachers and pay respect to all of them.  I just sat there and cried like a crazy person.  I have had amazing, humbling, brilliant teachers.  But none of them comes to close to changing my life like UC has.  What choice do I have but to be grateful for this annoyingly efficient teacher and spotlight?  And I’m close.  I’m ridiculously close.  I’m 90% of the way there.  I don’t want to turn it off now with a prescription.  I’m still a work in progress.  Maybe I always will be.  But at least I’ll have found my way by listening to my mind, body and spirit.  I know what I’m doing may not work for everyone, but I am absolutely happy that it’s working for me.

Which leads to my other MD appt I had in June, this time with an integrative, Ayurvedic, yoga teacher who just happens to be my new primary care physician.  She is amazing.   I am grateful to have her on my side.  We had a two-hour appointment where she went through the most comprehensive health history that any doctor has ever walked me through.  She (ironically? fittingly?) said the same thing as my GI: Alisa, you’re almost there, we just need to tweak that last 10%.  The HOW was different though.  She prescribed VSL#3 which is a behind-the-counter, super strength probiotic.  I didn’t fill that prescription either.  I’m so stubborn!  haha.  I already have a probiotic that has been working great for me, therefore I’m happy with it, no need for the VSL.  She did make a number of recommendations that I am following, though.  In terms of herbs, I’m now taking triphala, curcumin (turmeric) and aloe vera juice.  I’m also supposed to be doing a digestive tea daily with fennel, coriander and cumin, but I’m still working that one into my routine.  In terms of lifestyle, she recommended more restorative yoga, warming foods, soothing activities, and of course, less stress overall.

For today, there is a growing light at the end of the tunnel: I won’t always have to have colitis as a reminder to be nice to myself.  It’s fine for now (that’s for you, Papa!) but it’s not exactly a sustainable situation.  Knowing that makes it that much easier to let it go, which I’m doing slowly.  I’m learning how to be a real person, functioning in a healthy way on my own, without the help and guidance of my colitis.

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

Does it make me a teeny-bopper if I love the new Bruno Mars song?  Is that who buys his stuff?  I don’t even know.  I’m not saying I celebrate his whole catalog, but I’m digging his new wannabe Michael Jackson/Earth, Wind & Fire song, Treasure.  I never got into disco music overall, but this song is just fun.  Check out the music video and you’ll swear it’s actually the Jackson 5 dancing around.  Despite what I said on my last post, I do love when people rip off other people and do it just as well or better.  So keep on rocking it, Bruno.

Bruno-Mars-Treasure-Video

Categories: Balance, Colitis, Healing, Love, Patient History | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Gratitude and Forgiveness

My previous post was such a huge weight lifted from me that I’ve been finding it kind of difficult to return to writing.  But before another day passes, I need to say thank you to all in my life who have continued to read this blog and continued to talk to me about this journey and continued to be amazing supporters of my life. I turned 31 on Tuesday (yay!) and was fortunate enough to have a few celebrations so far (hooray birthday month!).  For the biggest party, my family and I took over a restaurant in the OC which was great…we had about 10 people more than I thought we would but this was not a deterrent for the Duráns.  No, we just started grabbing tables and chairs until there were enough.  I loved it, plus the waitress was really laidback, so it was perfect.  I love all of my family and their spirit so much, and to have a huge group there to celebrate was very special.  Plus we had some east coast family present too with Jon’s mom and sister at our place for the weekend!  Everything came together perfectly.  Thank you.

Thanks to the many friends who always are there to celebrate with me too.  My WT friends made it to the OC celebration (even though one of them was about to pop out a child right there at the table!  Now that is love.)  And I actually had a similar overflow situation on Tuesday night in SD when we had a bunch of extra people around a table for 6, but we just got rid of a few chairs and stood around (it was a high bar table).  Everyone around me is so flexible!

The demonstrations of love that are all around me constantly force me to look at my life in new and fun ways.  I’ve been making my dedication for yoga practice one word lately: love.  And what is a more appropriate day to celebrate LOVE but today?  My parents taught me a long time ago to come into each day with gratitude and forgiveness, which to me, is a huge part of love.  Such strong and important concepts to approach life with.  If you apply gratitude and forgiveness to each part of you, your life and those around you, everything becomes much more clear and simple.  For me today, these words are my token of gratitude.  As for forgiveness, it can be a challenge.  I see forgiveness right now on par with acceptance.  I accept myself as I am today and I invite you to do the same!  I am where I need to be and I accept and forgive myself.  Deep breaths.  Happy.

Happy love and Valentine’s Day to all!

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

Today I am hearing Aunt Cecil in my head sing the prayer of St. Francis.  I tried to find a good substitute on youtube, but nothing compares to my Aunt Cecil singing.  She has a powerful gift that moves me and so many others.  I hadn’t heard this song in a long time and it popped in my head the other day and has been sticking with me ever since.  I looked up the words again (which vary greatly depending on the translation, but I pieced together from what I remember singing as a kid) and wow.  Super powerful.  Even though it originated as a Catholic prayer, I hope even some part resonates with you on some level.

PS–Thanks for being an inspiration Auntie Cecil.  I love you!

Prayer of St. Francis

Make me an channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon now,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me an channel of your peace,
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

O Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul.

Make me an channel of your peace,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying we are born to eternal life.

Categories: Love | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.