There is a community senior center in our area called BYKOTA. I always wondered about that name. Was is some type of Native American tribe that had lived in our area? Was it the name of the founder of the center? Turns out it is the acronym for the Bible verse, "Be Ye Kind, One To Another." As it so happens, not bad advice on learning to live in community.
Lately I have not been kind to myself. As you may have realized from previous blogs that my mom passed away suddenly about two months ago. In the aftermath with all the administrative things, scheduling appointments and general care of my father, I have been extremely busy and have had to take a hiatus from my work. (reason for my irregular blog postings) While schedules are still not "normal" for me and I wonder if they ever will become "normal", I have not had time to "grieve"- whatever that means or looks like. As typical for most people, I have had to keep going and do the next task set before me.
Last week was one of the first times things were a little more quiet for me. Of course, as I tried to write I was completely dry, totally blank and didn't have one ounce of inspiration. I felt exhausted, unfocused and agitated. I tried "jump starting" my work, giving myself pep talks and advice. Again I felt agitated and upset. It dawned on me that I was working out my grieve and that I needed to not fight my experience but just let things unfold as they were happening to me.
A dear friend offered me some advice on being kind to myself. After all, if I knew of a person going through a similar situation as I have been, wouldn't I tell them to be kind to themselves and to let themselves have a little break from expectations and work?
Of course she was right. Funny, I can give others lots of grace and understanding but for myself I am a grueling task master. Generally I am kind one to another but not to myself.
My journey through this time of loss is continually teaching me things:
1) Be Ye Kind, One To Another. (BYKOTA) Even though I have had at times, some words with family members, I am learning to be kind to them as they too are grieving the loss of a loved one. I am learning that everyone responds and reacts differently to loss and that is okay.
2) Be Ye Kind, Also To Yourself (BYKATY) It always seems that we forget the second part of the statement of loving one another as we love (and should love) ourselves. We are so quick to not appear to be selfish that we get the balance wrong; either we are extremely selfish and forget the part of loving our neighbor or we feel that we are not worthy of loving ourselves and therefore do everything for another. In doing so we can become shells of ourselves. We end up with no substance and no support which in turn doesn't help anybody.
3) Build in some margin into your life. Even though my work has been disrupted, I am grateful that my schedule is flexible enough and that I had some built-in wiggle room so that I can help out with my extended family when needed. I am trying to focus on that gratitude and not be focused on begrudging the time spent away from my work.
4) Do something that brings you joy. I love working in the garden. Mostly I like playing with rocks, dirt and mulch and would be happy "planting" a hardscape with combinations of the three. Occasionally the softscape of plants will accommodate me by their blooming. There are certain areas and little vignettes of plants in my garden that bring a smile to my face. Every time I walk past the entrance to the back yard, I smile when I see the iris, blue Russian sage, shasta daisies against the willow fencing. Makes me think of our time in Oxford.
5) Whatever you are doing, practice the presence of being present. I am learning to not be distracted with what has happened in the past nor what I need to do for the future. I am trying to be present when I am with others- attentively listening and responding to their needs. I am trying to concentrate solely on the task at hand and to relax and enjoy each moment.
What about you? Have you ever gone through a period of grief? What did that look like? Were you kind to others? Kind to yourself? What did you do to be kind?
Be Ye Kind: BYKOTA and BYKATY.