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Friday, June 29, 2012

Hiding under a bushel

The stoic reading for this morning was a passage from Epictetus where he quotes another teacher.  The gist of the passage, (click here to read it), was that we should not tell people we identify as a Stoic or follow Stoic philosophy.  The reasoning behind this was that when we mess up, as humans often do, the effectiveness of the philosophy will not be put into a bad light by our failure.

Honestly, I wonder if this "policy" was the reason that this incredible way of living became unknown and fell into disuse, except for the parts of the philosophy that became part of the early Christian teachings and tradition?  Michel and I decided about two years ago that we would use the label of Stoic in the community.  People would ask us what we believed, what we used as a guidepost on the hazardous roadways of life and we began to answer Stoicism.

I, personally, believe that Stoicism has something for everyone.  Whether they choose to wear the label of a Stoic, or just take some of its teachings/practices into their own personal practice, people need to know that there is a rational alternative that can work with their own personal thoughts around belief and divinity.

Of course, in allowing ourselves to be known as teachers, Michel and I have opened our lives up for scrutiny and recrimination.  We continue to identify ourselves as students though, as we are students of Stoicism, and share the knowledge that we have learned with others.  We will always be students as the Stoic Sage is a goal that consists of an ever moving target as we continually strive to perfect and craft the life that we are living.

We are crafting a life together, artists continually striving to sing the perfect aria, or create that perfect sculpture.  Our craft is the art of living and living well.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back to Reality with a Bump

Hard to believe that it has been almost a month since my last post, written almost on the eve of my daughter's wedding.  Well the wedding was beautiful and everyone celebrated  a "love that even time will lie down and be still for."  Here are some pictures from the blessed event -

At the wedding my normally vibrant mother was in a wheelchair.  She had been suffering with incredible pain in her right leg for a few weeks and had gone for blood tests, xrays, etc.  The weekend after the wedding her pain was so debilitating that she headed to emergency to find out some answers or at least get some relief for her pain.  Well after receiving bone scan results we discovered that she was suffering from the effects of Paget's Disease, a chronic bone disease.  The disease had effected her hip and she is now on complete bed rest for six weeks to see if that will help her hip heal.  If this is not effective in arresting the disease she will need to have her hip replaced.  Paget's is actually a fairly rare bone disease that seems to be genetically passed on.  We all have to get tested, my sisters and I especially, as we seem to be experiencing some symptoms of the disease in our own bodies.

Well for the past few days I had been feeling somewhat down, quite blue in fact.  Yesterday seemed to be the culmination of my blue feelings.  I felt like the weight of the world had landed on my chest and could just not shake my feelings.  I tried to figure out what particularly was bothering me...  I am a blessed person.  I have the most amazing husband and family that anyone could ask for.  I had a wonderful childhood and have sisters that I am blessed to be able to say are best friends.  I have amazing friends that I know would seriously contemplate giving up their life for me if the situation warranted it.  What could possibly be bothering me?  My mother is getting care that she needs and is slowly recuperating.  Even the looming Paget's diagnosis for myself was not seen as a bad thing as it would finally give me an answer to all of my various aches and loss of mobility in various bones, muscles, etc.  So just what was "wrong" with me?

On our way out to visit a friend for his birthday celebration, I opened up to my husband, Michel.  I told him just how down I was feeling, etc.  I then proceeded to have a good cry.  I felt like a terrible Stoic, breaking down under the weight that I was feeling.  I then proceeded to think of things that I would like to change in my life...   My weight, lack of motivation, opportunities for musical expression, etc. and realized that I can certainly make my best efforts to mitigate the circumstances.  Even then all of the things that are important to me, most of these things are NOT in my control.

It is the societal pressure of success that was the underlying factor to my depression.  Success as society sees it is the Career (note the capital C) and the Lifestyle.  I am not successful in society's terms as I have no Career and cannot sustain the kind of Lifestyle that we are supposed to want in today's society.  I am a woman, aspiring Stoic, wife, mother, lover, friend, mentor to some, spiritual adviser to others.  All of these roles are WHO I am.

I am living my life as a voyage, a voyage to wonder.  Like a sailboat there will need to be course corrections from time to time when the winds of society threaten to take me off of my course.  Yesterday was a day of course evaluations and now to get back to some corrections to keep me steady as the wind blows.  Destination:  The second star to the right and straight on until morning!

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Broken down at the side of the road"

I am feeling rather worn down lately, experiencing a lot of pain in my bones and joints and somewhat emotionally fragile.  My mother is going through a health crisis which has her in a hospital and unsure of what the prognosis is going to be.  At the moment she is unable to put any weight on her legs without being in excruciating pain.  We are hopeful that she will be able to gain her mobility back but it is by no means a certain thing.  There are implications due to her diagnosis that have impacted my health outlook and that of my immediate family members, sisters and children.  It appears that more than one of us might also be suffering the effects of this genetic illness, myself included.

After 9 hours of travel over a 36 hour period, sleeping in a "strange" bed and a lot of walking through hospital hallways, I am feeling very tired and achy today.  Hopefully today will be the day that we get a better idea of what the prognosis is for my mother and whether she will fully recuperate or whether the disease has done too much damage and that life needs to adjust accordingly.  In this circumstance I must be patient with the cloud of unknowing...  unable to plan or act due to a lack of the details.  This is out of my control...  I must bow to the fact that I am not in control of this situation and must let it go until we have enough information to act upon.

The implications to my own life from this information is not yet apparent.  I have to get tested and will then have to rationalize how the results of those tests impact our life, my husband and mine, moving forward.  Once again, determining what is in our control and what is not, and taking appropriate action based on those conclusions.

At the moment I feel like a car that is broken down at the side of the road, out of gas and in need of repair.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be a little bit better.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Horizons ahead...

and now there are Six of us

Well the wedding went off without a hitch, well one small mixup on the seating plans, but nothing that was even noticed by the majority of those in attendance.  Such a lovely wedding filled with poetry and a reading from Musonius Rufus on Marriage.  Rooms filled with family and friends who came to witness the beginning of a relationship and the expansion of our family unit.

Now the crafting process begins again...  What do we wish our life to look like, what is priority, what matters?  All questions that we need to continue to answer as we craft a life together.  All the while focusing on virtue and fine tuning what matters.  We are now a couple living alone.  No echoes of children or teenagers sound through the house.  The birds have all flown from the nest.  What is our next adventure, what treasures lie just around the river bend?