Anyone who has been following my blog knows that I have been experiencing a flood of stormy emotions of late. And as is often the case, my inner world reflects the outside world (and vice versa). We had a nor’easter last weekend that caused the rivers to swell and pour out onto the flood-planes in Southern NH. I don’t know if I am in the eye of my personal storm or if it has truly passed but I am noticing a lightening of my heart today. The tears have watered and nourished the land of "me" and I feel ready for something new to grow. Perhaps it is the sunny blue skies and spring-ish weather…perhaps it is my metta practice…or maybe it is a combination of these two things plus a good cry in the car on the way home from my neuro-psych appointment on Tuesday afternoon.
I was told officially: “No driving at night or in bad weather. No driving more than half an hour at a time or to places that are unfamiliar to you (me)”. I was hoping this recommendation would change after the doctor reviewed my stellar test results…no deal. He explained that while my ability to learn and remember is still in good shape at this time (not always the case for people with MS)…my “working memory” is not. This means that in order to understand new information I have to write it down, ask questions and otherwise find ways to repeat the new data for it to stick. He also told me multi-tasking is a major no-no. If I want to fully comprehend and remember what is being said, then a quiet space is essential. Having something else on my mind, or receiving extra audio or visual input-like radio or TV or being in a “busy” environment when someone is talking to me reduces my ability to pay attention, understand and remember. Even cooking while on the telephone-you know stuff most Mom’s do- is not a good idea for me if I want to hold on to new information and maintain enough focus so that I don't burn dinner. That’s assuming I actually have the energy to prepare it in the first place! Maintaining focus when there are multiple distractions is hard for most people...but for a person with a working memory deficit it's a little like being buzzed from one drink too many.
My daughter Belin used to have T-shirt that said: "Distracted by Shiny Objects". Lately I'm thinking that shirt was meant to be worn by me!
Many creative people have what I call a “butterfly nature” when it comes to doing anything that isn’t their creative passion (then hyper-focus comes into play and we are oh so happy). I don’t know if this is the same as ADD, but I suppose it could be interpreted that way by others. (I’m not saying all creative people are like this, but a lot of artsy folks I've connected with seem to lean this way.) With the addition of a brain disorder, my tendency toward distractibility is far more pronounced than before; flitting from one task to another or loosing concentration when engaged in ordinary chores like folding laundry or straightening up the house, even enjoyable things like reading a book, making art or writing on my blog take more effort than just a little over a year ago. In someways, knowing this is like laying down a big burden...I've been really beating myself up (mentally) about what I was beginning to think of as laziness and just not trying hard enough. So far, I have noticed that shooting photos has not been effected (yay!)...maybe because it is meditative for me and is all about focusing on one subject/composition at a time. Perhaps this is also why it is so soothing to my easily overstimulated brain. (ahhh)
So of course I could say that the combination of overwhelming fatigue and the glitch in my cognitive functioning due to MS are perfect excuses for getting little done in a day…and that is true (believe me!)…and yet, I also see this as the universe aligning to tell me to be more present. Focus on ONE thought, ONE task, ONE person, ONE intention at a time. All the more reason to practice meditation!!! Metta seems to be a really good fit right now as I must make friends with this situation, with this disease that has altered my life and the lives of my family forever.
In a conference call last night, one of the notes I jotted down that Sylvia said was this: “I am safe in my benevolent heart.” I love that! What a relief. The world can be wild and windy around me, waters rising unexpectedly, life circumstances spewing all kinds of unpleasantness in my direction, my own emotions in a complete tailspin and yet “I am safe in my benevolent heart”. If I can remember that, remind myself of that by cultivating a habit of lovingkindness through metta...then I will always have a safe island sanctuary to return to within my own being.
May we all feel safe.
May we all feel happy.
May we all feel strong.
May we all live with ease.