Saturday, March 27, 2010

ESP of the Heart

Yesterday someone very special to me was going through a very emotionally painful experience – and I grieved and cried throughout the day. I was not only sad because of the cause of her pain, but I was also feeling her pain. I don’t mean to diminish what she was going through by saying that I, too, was feeling it, but I have no doubt that my feelings yesterday were somehow mirroring hers, even though they might not have been at the same level of intensity. This, I know, is empathy -- the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another (dictionary.com). I’m not sure about the “intellectual” part – I’ve always thought of empathy as being ESP of the Heart and I’ve known, since I was a little girl, that it is strong in me.

I learned early that I cannot watch, read or hear about events that are painful, sad, demeaning – basically anything negative – without having my heart twist and turn with the horrible emotions I attributed to the victims of the painful, sad or demeaning experience. I soon realized that not everyone “felt” with the same level of intensity. Somewhere along the line I learned the word “empathy” and I clearly remember thinking, Yes, that’s me! Over the years I’ve come to believe that somehow I receive information – emotional information – in a way most people don’t. I think this is, perhaps, some sort of “gift”. As I write this, I’m thinking that some people will read it and say, “Wow! Debbie’s a little woo-hoo,” or “Debbie’s a little crazy.” I don’t think I’m crazy, though; although, isn’t that what all crazy people think? Anyway, I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years and I do believe that we all have ways of communicating that we simply don’t yet understand. Perhaps someday scientists will discover that there is, in fact, a mental radio signal that we all send out and that some of us are simply equipped with more sensitive signal-receivers. In the meantime, I will continue, as I have my entire life, to avoid that which causes me to feel undue discomfort. The problem is, there are times in life, like yesterday, when I cannot avoid the discomfort because it is happening to someone dear to me – it’s not a movie, book or news report. At those times I think of this “gift” of ESP of the Heart and I think…..This sucks!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beach Therapy

As a kid I loved the beach – not just any beach, but our beach, the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington. My parents were both born and raised in that area so we spent many weekends there visiting relatives while I was growing up and then, the summer before I entered high school, my parents moved us back there so that I could attend the small local high school while they prepared for retirement. In many ways, the beach itself had a terrific impact on helping me negotiate my high school years. I walked on the beach when I needed to think; I sat on a piece of driftwood and wrote when I needed to be creative and I screamed and cried into the ever-present wind when I was upset. After leaving the peninsula for college, we went back mainly to visit family, but our trips became less and less frequent. Over the years our tastes turned more toward the dry warmth of Central Oregon’s high desert rather than the damp cold of Washington’s Coast. After my mother-in-law’s death last year, my husband really didn’t want to go back to the Peninsula – too many memories, too much dampness, too much rot.

Last week I had some business that I needed to take care of in Long Beach so I asked my husband if he’d please accompany me there for the day. The weather that day turned out to be unseasonably warm and sunny for mid-March. We had a lovely drive down, quickly took care of the business and then headed out to find someplace to have lunch. We settled on an inn that has been there for more than one hundred years. The restaurant was closed for refurbishing, but the pub was open and we were the first to venture out onto their small garden deck. We ended up relishing a lovely lunch while sitting in the sunshine, sipping beer and wine and talking – for two hours! When we finally left we headed to the beach for a little walk that lasted for 1-1/2 hours!

The two hour lunch had been wonderful, but the walk on the beach was just what I needed. As we walked, hand-in-hand, me carrying my shoes, we talked, laughed, reminisced and I remembered why I love the beach. As I look out to the horizon, I gain perspective as I realize the immensity of the earth. As I watch the waves roll in, roll in, roll in – never stopping, I feel the possibilities of all that can be done. As the wind blows and the ocean roars, my worries are carried away and I feel peace. A simple walk that gives me perspective, helps me see the possibilities and brings me peace – beach therapy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dammed

I haven’t been able to write lately because my mind feels like it has been dammed. Normally I have topics rolling around in my brain, taking shape and developing into complete thoughts and sentences. Lately, however, I have felt that I’ve had too much on my plate and the stress has created a log jam that has dammed the river of my thoughts.

I really don’t like writing these kinds of entries because it just comes across as sounding whiney and I’d much rather sound upbeat and positive, but the fact is, life isn’t always upbeat and positive. I strongly believe that we can all determine how we react to life’s events and I usually choose to react in a positive manner. However, I’ve had many talks with myself lately about my negative reaction to the stressors in my life and I’m simply not listening. I’m not yet ready to put on a happy face and move forward. So, I hope that by writing this out, I’ll at least loosen the dam and allow my thoughts to flow to friendlier, warmer waters – perhaps my attitude will follow close behind.