It’s been just over a month since I returned home to the UK from my time in New Zealand. Leaving New Zealand was hard. Those who have read my earlier blog posts will recall that I don’t like goodbyes (see here), and even though I was travelling back home to my own family, this wasn’t easy. Saying goodbye to my sister and her family who had welcomed me so lovingly and wholeheartedly into the midst of their lives; saying goodbye to the warmth and sunshine of a Southern Hemisphere January; and perhaps the most unnerving aspect – saying goodbye to the time, space and freedom which I’d been gifted to cocoon myself in while away from the demands of everyday life.
Being back has taken some adjusting. My family had seemed to cope wonderfully well without me – and this sparked a complex series of responses from me – from relief and pride through to a little bit of fear… was I really needed any more? And if my role had changed – what should it be now? And from there it didn’t take a huge leap to move to more existential questions: “If I’m not a yoga teacher any more, and my roles as wife, mother and homemaker have changed … who am I?”. So a couple of days back into the cold and cloudy January weather and I was dealing with big and challenging questions. I don’t always opt for the easy path in life …Thankfully dogs are much simpler. Rolo greeted me with great love and excitement and seemed to forgive me immediately for my lengthy absence. We have quickly got back our routines and she unfailingly gives me unconditional love for which I’m so grateful. Our cats, Terminator and Cedric surprised me by not showing any feline petulance: they were remarkably unphased by my absence and it has been wonderful to spend the cold evenings in front of the fire with one or other of them curled up on my lap purring.
My return back to Northwich has also given me the opportunity to reconnect with friends. And these friends are able to lift me out of my internal questioning and remind me of who I am. To welcome the return of an Alison who is (a little) more sure of herself, who is less exhausted and more vibrant than before my time away. To reassure me that I have made good progress in dealing with the effects of ME/CFS but also to remind me that I need to be patient and to reintegrate myself into the busyness of life slowly and mindfully.
And this is what I have tried to do. I know that there are many factors that I need to address to enable me to return to full, vibrant health – we are all multi-layered beings who need to look for balance and health in the emotional, mental and spiritual spheres as well as the physical. And this continues to be my work. Some of what I’m doing to help myself heal feels like hard work. I’m continuing on the mammoth task of trying to simplify what we own and how we live. I’m trying to declutter, to let go of “stuff” – which in a house that we’ve lived in for over 21 years and a mindset that has always liked to keep things “just in case” or for sentimental reasons, this is going to be a long slow process.
I’m also trying to create and maintain a sense of spaciousness in my mind. Daily meditation helps me let go of the constant inner dialogue and reconnect with the still, peaceful unchanging part that feels expansive and at ease. And daily walks in nature allow me enjoy the physical freedom of wide open spaces and also a feeling of deep connection with beauty and transcendence. I continue to take my phone camera out with me and derive enormous pleasure from the photos that I take which help to remind me of how very much there is to be grateful for each and every day. And the cold weather, the clouds and the low sun of winter have come together to create many breathtakingly beautiful vistas which I have tried to photograph.
Little by little I’m learning new ways of being that will support recovery and vibrant health. I’m trying to retrain my natural tendency to worry and to let go of feeling that the world will stop turning if I’m not taking responsibility for it. This last week I was absolutely delighted to discover a new poem which given my particular tendency towards worry I’m amazed I’ve never come across before. I am going to see if I can follow its wisdom from now onwards …
I Worried – Mary Oliver
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
Mary Oliver – Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Here’s to singing in the morning x