Sunday, July 12, 2009

Prescriptions for a Lackluster Reya

Outside the Museum of the American Indian on the national mall.

I loved the book, The Secret Garden. I still love the idea that the essence of healing, for the little sickly boy in the story, was a simple, two step process: 1) spend time outdoors in the fresh air, and 2) revive a neglected garden. Eventually the combination of fresh air and gardening cures the sickly boy, the little girl who has been orphaned, and even the father. It is a potent healing. If you've never read the book, by all means check it out. It is a fabulous story.

According to the cosmology of Reya, part of why spending time outdoors is so healing is because we live inside cubes; four walls, a ceiling and a floor. That shape is very stabilizing and feels safe, but what most people need in order to heal (from anything) is to get into situations in which things can change. Disorganize the pathogens, that's the first step in healing. Energy, including illness, tends to hold its shape inside cubes. But anytime you get outside, energy can and will and does shift.

Once illness (of mind, heart, spirit or body) is disorganized, then there are a whole bunch of things you can do to get yourself back to health. Rest and good food are key components, but I also believe in cultivating emotional/mental states, such as gratitude and compassion. Having fun and laughing really helps, too, as does taking in beauty in the form of music, art, or the face of someone you love. The most complete healing includes forgiveness, a state of grace that I believe is divinely bestowed.

In my own journey of healing from the recent loss of my one and only dog, I've spent a lot of time outdoors. Walking with Tonka, the vigorous young household dog, has been fantastically healing. Yesterday I hung out with a friend who is smart, quirky and soulful, someone who loves to walk around and take pictures. That really helped, too. And I'm trying to be patient, to just let some more time pass, let this thing run its course. Patience is really hard for me.

I'm praying for the forgiveness part to kick in. I'd like to forgive myself for all the mistakes I made with Jake, to let go of everything I might have done better. It would even help if I could forgive myself for still being so sad about his death. I don't want him to be alive again, all old and frail, but this sadness is really kicking my usually cheerful ass. Hey God, could you throw me a bone here?

Wish me luck!

Botanical garden on the Capitol grounds.


Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Ah, my dear, don't go kicking your butt. As you know we all learn from our mistakes and your next dog will benefit from what you have learned... from what Jake has taught you.
Yes, I did say "your next dog". It could be a young dog, not necessarily a puppy, but one who will depend on you & love you unconditionally as did Jake. Think about it. I know from experience that it can be healing.
Beautiful gardens you visited...

debra said...

Grieving is a process rather than an event. I keep reminding myself this.
You already have luck, Reya :-)

Elizabeth said...

Hum, I don't think you should get another dog too soon.
Buster isn't Skippy

Yes, the Secret Garden is an absolutely iconic, themic
(lost the word) ARCHETYPAL book.
needs editing and the remval of all adverbs
as in 'she said merrily
he grunted grumpily
she shrilled shrilly

when I read it aloud to my students I used to edit them out

Celestite said...

Barry said...

My brother and his wife recently lost their dog as well, to disease and old age.

I took them a while to recover, but sunshine and gardening helped.

ellen abbott said...

Sounds like you need a wilderness canoe camping trip. And I know just the place. Wish I could take you on one.

steven said...

hi reya, thanks for articulating the whole piece around healing so clearly. it makes so much more sense to me now and helps me understand my intuitive approach to the healing process so much better. the photo collage is so beautiful. i would love to see each picture as a window frame all joined together on one wall. have a peaceful day.

SearchingSoul said...

I wish you will fully recover from the pain of your loss. It's not easy to get over it and it may take long, but everything shall come to pass.

I also lost two dogs several months apart last year and the pain was difficult to bear. But time heals all wounds. I still feel sad whenever I remember them but I am getting used to their absence.

Be well always.

Expat From Hell said...

I am wondering, having followed you for some time now: Maybe there's a better word for "lackluster" as you characterize yourself. I see a lower gear, for sure, but also a pensive, deep, soulful writer who understands life at another level now. Quotes Secret Garden, builds dialogue and support and encouragement with a growing throng of followers. I like where this is going. Keep up the compelling, pensive work!


Anonymous said...

Reya, I wish you luck and much more. I've made mistakes with my dogs too, but we're none of us perfect right? We do our best with what is given to us. I do have to say that your post did sound quite cheerful!

lakeviewer said...

Gardening, walking, smelling and feeling the ocean. Let the world breathe in and around you.

Peaches said...

peace to you.

Mary Ellen said...

Lovely post - and wonderful insight into healing. Guess I need to get outdoors! You are doing exactly what you need to do.

JC said...

I love the sounds of nature. I live in the woods so I heara birds every day. I also love camping for the same reason.

You and your walks are the same thing.

Give yourself time ... each day will get better.

hele said...

i wish for you a bone that fills a little bit of the emptiness
followed by a sleep without dreams
and the sound of life moving
around you while laying
with your ear pressed to the lawn
warmed by the sun.

i wish you luck from the bottom of my heart.

Ali said...

Could you throw me a bone here? Pun totally intended!

Time heals everything, right? Just take YOUR time. And enjoy the outdoors. :)

Coffee Messiah said...

Everyone deals with loss differently. Some quickly, others it takes a lifetime to sift through.

No matter, you'll know when you can let go.

I once had a manx cat. A dog got in my friends yard and broke it's neck. I was just out of school, and vowed never to get another pet. I love pets, but find keeping a distance keeps my sensitivity in check.

I hope you find your peace soon.


California Girl said...

I think you're doing a good job. You are going on. You are getting up every day and putting one foot in front of the other and still writing and still taking photographs and still doing your work. You are sharing yourself with others and pondering the process and it's very healing for all. Personally, I thank you.

My dad brought home "The Secret Garden" when I was a kid. We were encouraged to read all the classics. There is another one I read and the title is lost to me but there is a fairy or a Queen fairy and I think her name is Queen Madge (or similar) and it's making me crazy not to remember.

Anybody out there who can help out?

Ronda Laveen said...

It's okay to be sad. This is a sad thing. And like a scrape on your knee, day by day the old cells will be replaced by new...a few cells at a time.

I've had many dogs. After each ones death, I always say never again. But before I know it, someone has a pup or an older dog that need rescuing and here I go again. And after each dog dies, I think I could have done this better or that better and it is probably true. But each one teaches me something different. It is something I don't think I will ever get perfect but I do get consistently better. Happy trails.

Margaret Gosden said...

DC is such a beautiful place and the photo collage a mouth watering vision of the one place I haven't visited. I have many sketches of a lily pond somewhere in the vicinity of the Corcoran, and have been working on an etching of same. So your collage was a double whammy of remembrance of things past and enjoyed but not gone. Jake lives on in a thousand ways, the bad memories will drop away and the good ones will remain.

Reya Mellicker said...

Elizabeth, you're right about the adverbs - though - the book was written in 1911. didn't they talk that way back then?

Thanks so much to you all for all these beautiful comments. I'm not in a place to decide whether or not to get a new dog, not yet. But thank you!

Nancy said...

I agree with getting oustside. I have been using the great outdoors to "get the stink off me," as I was told to do as a child.

We all go through how we could have done it better with our pets, Reya. It is a stage you will get through, it just takes time.

spottedwolf said...

Reya........without going into depth and've probably seen my "Jake" on the site. I loved him more than all the others I've owned. In his Akita-ness...he held all the traits which I admire in 2legs or 4legs.....absolute fearlessness, curiosity, perspective, loyalty and sensitivity.

You are going through what has taken me since last November to work through. Jake wasd a hunter... a warrior...and by all implications a soul-mate. He was banned from the Veterinarians since the time they tried to express his anal glands in a mistake of judgement. I still laugh over that. He had more red flags regarding public places and other animals (cats & passive dogs excepted)than you can "shake yer finger at". Your description of some of your Jake's habits make me laugh out loud. I could not bring myself to allow anyone to inject him and watch him fade from my life. He was 14 one year ago and had hunted moose, bear, deer, and all the things I and family have eaten for many years.....and he always got half of my lunches when we were out in the bush. He was my best friend period. When I went out to check on him early one morning last November.......I found all his chest hair had fallen out and there was a large, hot, tender pulpy mass over one lung. he had arthritis so bad since 2007 we'd give him aspirin and keep him inside till he wanted out.......and this dog would sleep in a snowbank at 40 below zero with a stiff wind blowing..

One hour later I walked him back to the edge of the bush behind my house....gave him a chunk of hamsausage.....and when he looked away I shot him behind his ear. he never knew any of it and was stone dead when he crumpled to the ground. I am crying as I write this because my feelings are still very tender here. I dug his grave and lined it with straw and throw toys. He sleeps with his water and food bowl and some of our hunting gear. He lies under a blessing of sage and eagle feathers. He was my son.....nothing less.

I am not ready to own another dog at this point.

willow said...

Being so sad over losing Jake certainly doesn't need forgiveness. On the other hand, if you didn't feel sorrow, you would need a large helping of some! :)

tut-tut said...

Getting outside, especially with someone else who also loves to walk and take photographs, sounds exactly right.

Pauline said...

By walking through the sadness instead of refusing it you seem to be finding your way back to happiness, despite Jake's absence.

Oddly enough, the word verification for this comment is mising - just an s short of missing...

Merle Sneed said...

Jake was a lucky mutt and you were his goddess of luck. Be sad for his passing, but glad for the fabulousness of his life.

Barbara Martin said...

Reya, sounds like you are doing all the right things to ease your grief. I have not read The Secret Garden, but will now.

rain said...

I met a lady who recently had 'mastectomy' not less that 3 months earlier.
As a yoga teacher, i had to guide her forward, all the time taking care of her pain....
I feel so much of affection for her that at times too difficult to keep her away from my mind,i keep thinking and searching on the net about how shd i ease her more along with yoga and breathing exercise.
what should i be saying...
and your positive notes added one more milestones dear reya.
i knew somewhere in heart 'going out helps a lot' it has indeed, for so many people around me and 'living close with nature, nurturing her as she nurtures us, is a true boon-a symbiosis'.
thank you dear
and you have given Jake life and after-life, he must truly be greatful from his soul, i admire you Reya........

Lori ann said...

Oh my God Reya,

I'm sorry to hear about Jake. We had to do the same thing with our 2 kittens, when they let us know it was their time. And that is the only thing that makes it less painful. That and love. Sending much to you, love and hugs.


AquaSass said...

Im incredibly impatient with pain as well...but I guess we all just want it to be over, thats why its "pain". Damn slow motion days. Keep walking, loving, and takin pictures.

Daisy said...

Reya, I've just read about Jake's death and am sitting here having a good cry with you. I've said "good-bye" to three dogs over the years. Each one was unique and special and taught me something different. I miss them still, but what they taught me lives on along with their memories.

Jake is a special part of your life and his death deserves to be grieved. You seem to me to be doing that well. Know that you don't do it alone.

Hugs from
Barbara, now the humble servant of the Princess Daisy of Alberni!