Pain is the path

I’ve written before about being the caretaker for my father who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, and, now Lewy Body Dementia.  See What I’ve Learned Being The Caretaker For My Dad With Parkinson’s.  I am now pleased to report that walking with my dad along this path has broken me wide open, in the best way possible.

Last year when my father got really sick, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown every other day.  My heart was broken, but I couldn’t touch that feeling.  I was so spun out in worry and control and “doing,” that I couldn’t simply be present with the heartbreak and fear.  I am blessed to have amazing support always – friends who walk beside me daily, and a relationship with a Higher Power, that I rely on constantly.  But even with that “community,” I couldn’t feel what was happening, and, instead, just DID things.  I was a human doing, and not a human being.  I got things done, made sure he had the proper care, and that he was safe.  I DID all those things, but I was checked out emotionally for the majority of it.

Today, it is not that way.  Today I am emotionally plugged in with the pain.  My father’s illness has taken another nose dive, and things have gotten scary for us again.  But there is a different me who is BEING with my dad these days — a present me.  I am feeling the heart break and the sadness and the fear today.  I am sitting with those feelings.  I am STAYING right here.  I have cried with him, held his hand, listened to his fears and concerns, without doing a million different things.  I whisper to myself when I am most afriad, “just stay. stay right here, Cyndi.  Just stay.”  And I do.  I stay.  I stay with heart break.  I stay with fear.  I stay with sadness.  I stay with it all.

So, then the question becomes: what changed?  How did I go from a human DOING yesterday to a human BEING today?  


Today, I meditate. About a month or so ago, during yet another transition in my life, I decided to commit to the practice of meditation.  I made a daily 5-minute meditation commitment.  I enlisted a “meditation buddy” to send me morning reminders, and I forced myself to sit and stay for 5 minutes.  When my dad’s illness took another nose dive, I was already 2 weeks in to my daily meditation practice, which had increased to 10 minutes per day.  The difference is noticeable.  

I have learned through this meditation practice to sit and stay with whatever comes, inluding fear and sadness.  I have sat and watched my thoughts pass by like clouds or balloons floating in the sky.  I have watched them come and go without my being attached to them.  I’ve allowed them to just be.  I haven’t tried to change the thoughts, and I haven’t tried to stop the thoughts.  I just sit and watch them go by.  I stay present for whatever they are.  I just stay.  And in staying, I have begun to see that whatever comes up for me is what it is.  Whatever it is, that is my path.  Whatever is right in front of me at any given moment is what is in front of me.  I don’t have to change anything.  I don’t have to force things to go my way.  I don’t have to work and push and struggle.  I can just let these things be as they are.  Including my dad’s illness.
Through the practice of meditation and staying, I am walking through life a bit lighter.  I do not struggle.  I’m not perfect, of course.  And when I find myself struggling, I find a way to take 5 or ten minutes to sit and count my breath, to feel myself sitting, feel the weight of my body on the earth, and stay.

I am far from being a meditation guru, or yogi; I am a beginner.  But, as a result of all the sitting and staying, I have come to see that walking through my dad’s illness IS my path.  It is not something to struggle against or change.  I couldn’t if I wanted to, anyway.  It is the path I’m walking today. It is my path to peace and acceptance.  It is my path to get closer to the truth.  It is my path to get closer to my Higher Power.  It is my path to love.  Yes, this journey is still scary.  And, yes, it is still hard.  My heart is still broken.  But the miracle for me is that I’ve learned I can stay with the hard, the scary, the heart breaking.  Perhaps tomorrow I will resist and struggle and completely check out.  But today, I’m staying. 







A “call” from the Universe

While at work at my “day job” today, I had a brief, random encounter that left a large impression on me.  

I had stopped to sign out at the security desk from a location I frequent occasionally for work, when the “security officer/ receptionist” on duty, a woman I’ve only spoken to once or twice in the past 5 years or so (and even then only to exchange pleasantries), stopped me and asked if she could talk to me for a minute.  I said sure and braced myself for her to ask me a complex work related question, but instead she asked me, with eyes filled with curiosity and love, “what is your passion?”

Confused, I asked her to elaborate.  “What would you do for a living if money were no object?  What do you love to do,” she asked.  I paused, apparently for too long, because she said (sounding quite worried), “you don’t know?!?”   

I replied that I did know.  I would write. I love writing. I told her that writing is the one thing that I can lose myself in. That it’s an activity where I can lose track of time in complete enjoyment.   She smiled and then asked why I don’t focus entirely on writing if I love it so much.  I paused and smiled and explained the situation with my student loans and need for secure income.  She nodded in understanding. 

When I asked her why she randomly stopped me to ask this, she told me that she had been thinking about this issue of pursuing ones passion a lot lately. She had done theater for years and loved singing and acting.  When she said this, I could totally see it. Despite her security uniform, I could see her on stage, singing and dancing and acting. I noticed that she had eyes that sparkled and were full of mischief. That she had a voice that seemed straight out of a fairy tale – soft yet high pitched, like a fairy from a magical land.  I had briefly interacted with this woman in the past, but never noticed these beautiful qualities that I saw today when she shared her passion with me.

I told her that I could see her acting and singing on stage and hoped that she would again soon.  The phone at her front desk rang and she had to take the call. I waved goodbye and walked away.  As I was almost to the front door, she held the phone away from her face for a minute and yelled out “I hope you start writing again.  Even if it’s just in a journal.”  I waved and called out that I would.  

And so, here I am, just a few hours after that encounter, sitting at a counter of a favorite cafe writing a blog post, after devouring a spring salad that (strangely?) never tasted better.  

I hear you, Universe.  





“All of our suffering in life is from saying we want one thing, and doing another.” – Debbie Ford

I, like many, tend to learn things the hard way.

Recently, my therapist called me out on the fact that I said I wanted one thing and yet I behaved in the total opposite way.   I did not like hearing that and basically stormed out of her office.  However, a few days later, I came across the Debbie Ford quote (above), and could not deny the truth of my therapist’s statement.

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I have always been borderline obsessed with music, as a listener, not a musician (sadly).   One of my earliest happy memories is of me sitting on a swing singing my favorite songs over and over again.  I love getting lost in a song.  I love seeing bands play live.  Music  is a big part of my life.  Putting my headphones on and listening to a favorite song takes me away from all my cares and worries – at least for 3-4 minutes.

Lately, with all this stress going on due to my father’s health decline, music has become a favorite form of therapy for me.  Whenever I get the opportunity – in the car, out for a run, or just a moment to sneak away alone – I frequently turn to my Spotify list.  I am the type of music listener that gets totally obsessed with particular songs – when I’m obsessed with a song, I can play it over and over again and be totally transported to another place.  Usually my song obsessions last for a couple of months, max, and then a new song will enter my world and it will become my new obsession.

These are the songs I am currently obsessed with.  I thought I’d share them with you.  Some are sappy love songs, some are rocking numbers infused with hooks and great melodies.  The only requirement for a song to get into my “obsessive listening que” is that it have a hook — that moment in the song that grabs something deep inside of you and won’t let go.  Good stuff. 

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I have written plenty before about my struggles with weight, exercise, dieting, and running (see posts here and here and here).  This is not one of those posts.  Although it is about running, it has little or nothing to do with running for the sake of “exercise” or “running to lose weight.”  Instead, this is the REAL reason why I run (and why I need to run more).

I run for my mental health.

I run for meditation.

I run for peace of mind. 

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What I’ve Learned Being The Caretaker For My Dad With Parkinson’s

First off, let me once again apologize for being such a bad blogger.  I had a little writing block period, followed closely by a decline in my dad’s health that has kept me, the caretaker, sufficiently stressed and busy.  Thanks to suggestions from some lovely friends, I am blogging again.  If I’m going to be home bound for a while, I might as well do something creative that I love — and, here we are!

My father has Parkinson’s.  He is 74 years young, and was diagnosed almost 4 years ago.  My mother and he were married for over 40 years before she died in 2010.  I have one sibling, an older brother, but he lives with his family in Alaska.  All that adds up to the fact that I am my father’s primary caretaker.  I moved in with him after his diagnosis (and shortly after I got sober — “hello, responsibility wake up call!”).  For the most part, his illness has not affected his life that much.  He still lives in his home.  He still has his cat.  He still sits in his recliner watching baseball and eating ice cream.  It has, however, affected my life.  A lot.  And despite my frequent pity parties and whining about it, it has mostly affected my life for the good.

Here is what I have learned, thus far.

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The Best Thing I’ve Ever Made: Steakhouse Cauliflower “Rice” // PALEO

I am pretty excited about this post, you guys.  It’s been pending for a couple of weeks now, just waiting for me to photograph the process.

I totally stumbled upon this recipe when doing one of those “throw-whatever-is-in-the-fridge-in-a-skillet-and-see-what-happens” kind of nights.  What happened this particular occasion was MAGIC!  Yes, pure, stick-to-your-ribs, steak-y magic.

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I happened to have left over steak from a super yummy dinner (but, not so yummy date) at Texas Roadhouse.  I had the 10 ounce rib eye, and fortunately, had 5 ounces left over and sitting in my fridge.  I also had onions, mushrooms, cauliflower “rice,” and beef broth.  The rest was HISTORY!  Delicious history.  

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