Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Matters Most

I have had a health scare these last few weeks. Without going too much into it, somewhere in the next decade I'll need to undergo one - or, possibly, two - life-altering surgeries, and it's taken some time for me to absorb the news.

The problem started as a direct result of me being too chicken to get my wisdom teeth out as a late-adolescent, and I am telling you this so that you can run, not walk, your 17-20-year-old to the nearest oral surgeon and save them lots of bad problems later.

At times like this, it comes in really handy to be a yoga instructor; I have some good weapons in the get-to-sleep-even-when-you-are-freaking-out department. Even better, when ten-year-old Luke has trouble getting to sleep, we have a routine of breathing exercises to get him ready for sleep, and mental exercises to give him good dreams.

I don't know if his trouble sleeping recently is from the distinctly panicked vibe I have been unable to hide, or if it's just pre-adolescent angst, but we've been doing the get-to-sleep exercises frequently of late. And they've been helping me, too!

The good-dreams mental exercise Luke favors is actually designed to promote creativity; you imagine a plain old drinking glass, and then you shape it, change its color, what it's made of, turn it into the perfect cup for your needs right then. Once you get it looking just the way you want it, you then have the option of inscribing words or designs on your cup. Finally, you fill it up with whatever liquid you want - Luke's is usually hot chocolate, mine is tea, sometimes hot and sometimes of the Long Island variety - and drink it down.

I always enjoy this way of helping Luke get to sleep, for the relaxation we both get from it and especially for this unusual way of connecting with my boy. He always asks me what my cup looked like, what was inside, and then tells me sleepily about his own before giving my hand a squeeze and mumbling, 'see you in the morning.' It's a window into a child's mind that I think few parents enjoy.

But a couple of nights ago, I designed a cup that changed my whole outlook on this ticking time bomb in my jaw. I should say, Luke and I have done this exercise dozens of times, plus I teach it in yoga class frequently, and I have never had the same cup twice; my brain keeps coming up with new things, which I just think is so cool.

Anyway, this cup: an Old Sturbridge Village barrel mug, in that lovely red clay, with twiny lines encircling the upper and lower thirds. Usually I don't have writing on these mental cups, but my brain chose a question for the middle of this one - "What matters most?" In tiny letters, over and over again.

What matters most?
What matters most?

It's such a simple-sounding little question, and thank goodness for that - it's helped return some perspective to my thinking. It's helped me to remember to be thankful for all that I have, especially for the wonderful, amazing people in my life. It's helped me to try and be strong for them.
It's helping me remember how lucky I am.

Because I am really incredibly lucky.


topsy-techie said...

Ok...freaking out a little...I still have two of my wisdom toofies...need more information, lady!! Really, really hoping you are doing okay!!

jugglingpaynes said...

I love your exercise. I need to try that with my kids, who tend to get mentally hyper at night.

Mouth issues seem to be happening among many of my friends lately. I hope all goes well for you. I had my top two wisdom teeth removed last year when I began to have TMJ issues. It's amazing what those extra teeth do to the back of your head.

I hope you get the help you need soon to heal. I'll keep you in my thoughts.

Peace and Laughter,

Lise said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your scary news! Sending you my best wishes for good health.

Susan said...

Karen, now I need some breathing exercises! Feeling anxious for you and hoping that things will be ok. I love your cup exercise. Going to give it a try. And that OSV cup--beautiful.

Karen said...

Thanks, guys.

I am coming to terms with it; I didn't mean to cause anxiety with this post. I think everybody has crummy stuff to deal with in life and this is part of my crummy stuff.

I've been touched and comforted by your kind words and good wishes (here, in FB, and in 'real' life :-), thanks very, very much. THIS is why I am so lucky.

Magic and Mayhem said...

Oh wow! I'm so sorry. I didn't get my wisdom teeth out until I was nearly 40. I don't know what issues you're facing but I hope it all goes well. Thinking of you.

And I have to say that I LOVE your cup meditation. What a lovely ritual! I'll have to try this with my kiddos when they have trouble sleeping or relaxing. :)

Rana said...

I hope all is well with your dental issues. I hate the dentist and only have one wisdom tooth that has been pulled.

I think I need to use your meditation exercises for me and the kids.

Take care of yourself Karen!

Sparklee said...

Oh, Karen! How scary! I'm so sorry to hear this! I haven't been keeping up with my blog buddies for a while or I would have commented sooner. I hope everything will turn out for the best and you'll recover quickly.

I love the "design a glass" exercise. Dude often has trouble falling asleep and even wakes up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep. I think I'll try this with him.

I'm so glad you're able to focus on what really matters. I'll be thinking of you!

Karen said...

Thanks for the well-wishes :-)

This week, a beloved great aunt of mine passed away, and my relatives and I have been remembering her. She had some really serious health issues, one of which was crippling arthritis that began in middle age - and it didn't stop her, or even really slow her down! I remember her trekking down a woody hill and to the brook behind my house once on a visit, to gather up fiddlehead ferns with us kids; I think of her every spring when I do the same thing. And, she made the best raspberry jelly because she painstakingly removed the seeds by hand, with a sieve.

I've decided that she is a pretty good example of how to cope with the setbacks that life throws in your path.