Takotsubo – the shape of a broken heart

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monochrome heart-002

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

   I’m reviewing a left ventriculography
   from a man with chest pain, MI ruled out,
   his wife dead for a post-crash hour.
   The scan shows his cardiac apex
   bulging with each beat, shaped
   like a takotsubo, an octopus trap
   a Japanese cardiologist recalled
   from his childhood fishing village,
   the scan just another broken heart’s
   beaten down story of futility and resilience.
   And I will say, “I am sorry for your loss,”
   explain the image, reassure him
   his heart muscle will recover in a week,
   all the time wishing I could hug him
   with eight strong arms instead of two.

Richard M Berlin

This seems to me to be a love poem from a psychiatrist to his patient, to broken-heartedness.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy aka ‘broken heart syndrome’ is a real medical condition with physiological symptoms. It is caused by severe stress, and what can be more stressful than the loss of a loved one. Broken heart syndrome can lead to death, and so it is that we can die from a broken heart. Nevertheless, it is usually transient as we adapt to our loss in living, as we resolve the sense of incompleteness in our mind, as we appreciate the timelessness of being and resurrect our hope.

For a reason I am yet able to articulate, this poem provides me with the enormous sense of this ‘thing’ called love, which no one has been able to objectively define yet everyone has hope to experience or has experienced.

There is a grandeur,
an exhilaration,
a comfort,
a strength…
that cannot be universally named,
only felt.
The feeling of being safe and held,
emotionally and psychically;
the reflection in another’s eyes, and
experience of you
as you
with little distortion of the lens,
filters removed.

How would you describe love as you know it, what would it be?

Perhaps there is no need for us to describe our sense of love, it is felt and that is enough. And it is enough to know that we have loved.

– FlorenceT

Living conscious – Are you there yet?

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Conscious being, some of us are and at some of the time.

When a certain insight hits us, those ‘a-ha’ moments (no, I don’t mean the Norwegian pop group), when our attention is focused on another for his or her sake, when we are attuned to our impact on the world around us. Been here?

For some of us, these instances are not persistent or sustained.

Being conscious is a habit cultivated through practice.

It does not come easy. Yet we are too busy to be mindful, to take time with it.

Stephen Levine, meditation teacher, who had spent his life assisting people in ‘conscious dying’ passed on some ten days ago. This spiritual writer of books such as ‘Who Dies?’ and ‘Meeting on the Edge’ spoke of conscious dying as a process which begins with conscious living.

To live a conscious life, we have to take responsibility. Responsibility, not blame.

We need to live light. Let go of the ego need to be right, to come up triumphant…to dichotomize and polarize what is. We participate fully in our experience of living – with the joys as with the pain. But few want to experience pain – our rational minds build fortresses to protect us from them and we assemble weapons to defend ourselves. Ah, the war metaphor… but it’s true, is it not?

To live consciously is to acknowledge pain in our lives.

To accept it but not as a tool for self-pity. Pain is a universal experience – my pain hurts me because it is mine, your pain hurts you because it is yours. There is no greater or lesser pain – just the pain. Once my pain becomes the pain, it becomes a ‘thing’ which we can observe, and let go if we choose to. Yes, we have choice too.

Pain need not be suffering because suffering is choosing to be attached to the pain, to identify with the pain, to stay stuck with the pain. Conscious living is to accept the pain and know that it is one of many states we go through. Nothing more, nothing less. It too will pass.

A phrase I have heard in recent years is the term ‘conscious coupling’ and in more recent times, ‘conscious uncoupling’. Perhaps I am more ‘qualified’ to speak of conscious uncoupling. Many therapist have stated conscious uncoupling invariably finds its source in unconscious coupling, where two beings got together for gratification of their unconscious minds. Examples? Partnering a thrill-seeker who is ‘exciting’ mistaking it for courage and strength, being with an intelligent person who ‘understands’ mistaking it for wisdom and compassion, determining not to marry someone like our fathers or mothers… Familiar?

Partnering, or coupling, is but a state in our journey of life. I have a responsibility to the conscious uncoupling, not for it. There is no one to blame, only to accept it is part of life’s journey. The once partner will remain a figure in your past, a catalyst for your growth (I hope). Whether your coupling lasts 1 or 10 or 50 years, it runs its course as life unfolds. No blame, no regret, no suffering. And in this space, the possibility is open for this human being to be a part of your present, which is quite significant when there are young children. And there are also instances when it is imperative for the conscious uncoupling to result in a strict separation, a ‘never to see the other again’ state. There are indeed many ways of being in a conscious uncoupling. It is personal. I have learnt that it only takes one to consciously uncouple to make a difference.

To live consciously is to watch joy and pain as transitory states; which like a river flows through the landscape of our life.

Are you conscious? Practising?

– FlorenceT

Visit SilverThreading.com’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Ian McEwan for further Quotes selections and RonovanWrites.WordPress.com Louis Nizer-“The excitement has never diminished.” for more #BeWoW (Be Writing on Wednesday with positive articles to share.) offerings.

All quotes courtesy of Florence T.

2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

 

Roll up your sleeves

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This singer-songwriter from Melbourne wrote a letter to herself.  I have included the lyrics – its interpretation is up to you. 🙂 Though Susan Sontag said,

Abstract loveReal art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comformable.       ~ Susan Sontag

Tame? We don’t want tame, do we? So perhaps we ought to dispense with the interpretation, and just go with feeling. Let the emotion takes you where it will… and therein is the message.

Sadness, resignation, resilience, self-soothing, … words that spring to my mind … what about yours?

For those who can’t view the video, here’s the Soundcloud track.

Roll up your sleeves
And face the face it’s looking right back at me
It’s easier to leave it oh
It’s easier to fake it, oh oh
So I’ll go and I’ll join the free
There’s people there, they’re just like me oh
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright

So I’ll go and I’ll change my name
But they’re chasing them just like me

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Roll up your sleeves
And roll up your sleeves
Background image: Celebration by Cianelli
– FlorenceT
 © 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Who you truly are…

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“How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out…

The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is…

Ultimately, we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures or the film stars. We are the light that shines through.  All else is smokes and mirrors, distracting but not truly compelling…

To find real peace, we have to let the armour go…

Risk being seen in all your glory… You’ll come up with your own style, that’s part of the fun…

The decision to be made in this moment can either be based on Love or Fear.”

~ Jim Carrey, ‘The Meaning’

 

Love is love

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Love is love, don’t you think? Does it matter the occupation, the socio-economic background, the gender, the race, the culture, the nationality, the age, the abilities…

We love because we do, and we are loved just because. Some have a tendency to overthink, to intellectualize what is deeply emotional.  I wrote about labels we in society give to each other which serve to bound and limit our creativity, our self-expression, our sense of self. The risk is we end up allowing these labels to define us by their dominant attributes.

Here’s an interesting and recent TED talk about a heartwarming journey of two women who explored the world seeking hope and belonging.

“And in the end, love is gonna win out!”

– FlorenceT

© 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

 

Love in practice

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Love is undefinable. There may be words, strings of words for the wordsmiths among us, shapes and colours for the artists, to describe the expression or impression of love, yet its essence is mysterious and perhaps subjective.

One of my favourite quotes of all time, which I have shared here before:

“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” ~Anais Nin

And so it is with love. How do we experience love so that we will recognize it as love, and not something else? For example, when a close one gives you solutions, do you experience it as love, care… or a slight? You know how it is… the ‘don’t you know I can solve my own problems?’ stance. Or when a dear one attempts to lighten the mood with humor, is he or she met with understanding and gratitude, or with annoyance for being belittled?

I know perhaps you may say, he or she doesn’t get me… doesn’t appreciate what I am going through. Perhaps they don’t. When does the judgment of fault or wrong ever improve a situation?

“You don’t need to justify your love, you don’t need to explain your love, you just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master.” ~Miguel Ruiz

So what I am about to say is probably my ’translation’ of love in practice. Do you agree?

  • Love involves an openness to the possibility that the other is trying;
  • Love involves a desire to impute positive intentions by your loved one;
  • Love involves the acknowledgement that perhaps the other may have good intentions (even if he or she lacks the capacity to care and love you as you wish to experience it);
  • Love involves a kindness in spirit to the other;
  • Love involves a willingness to withhold judgment and seek clarification;
  • Love involves seeing the worthiness in another;
  • Love involves accepting when you are not met, in spirit or soul, by the other without blame;
  • Love involves communication in silence, of looks and gestures without words;
  • Love involves sense of safety, of being emotionally and psychically held;
  • Love involves loving yourself enough to be capable of doing all that is before.

Herein lies the crux, the most difficult exercise of all in my view. (By the way, self-love is not synonymous with narcissism.)

Our capacity to love is infinite, and if we allow ourselves to draw from this abundant well then we can love many without taking away from another. And in here too, the love we experience adds to our loving yet it is not overflowing because there is no limit to the love we can receive.

(Without putting a damper on a post about love, when one is love then nothing negative, reducing or hateful can penetrate, yes?)

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” ~Stephen Chbosky

Be wonderful, be love.
– FlorenceT

 

© 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Dare to fly

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Ronovan’s Haiku Challenge prompt words – grief and  pine – hit a spot this week. So first, my haiku.

storm

Sorrow like a storm
Cleansed the debris of this farce
No longer pining.

At the same time, thinking of Colleen’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday – to be by a poet this week – brought this contribution.

ErinHanson2e.h. is Erin Hanson, a talented 20 year-old Australian poet. Her work shows a depth of maturity and a rhythm that appeals to me. So here is one of her poems. Hope you enjoy!

ErinHanson1Incredible poem, isn’t it? You can find e.h. on The Poetic Underground on Tumblr, or Pinterest, or Instagram. Check her out!

Sometimes we spend so  much time focusing on what we have lost and the fear of losing that we fail to just stop, step back and consider the big picture. Beyond the usual ‘advice’ to be grateful instead, for me loss is just is. The judgment we place on ‘loss’ as being good or bad gets in the way of our truly seeing – that certain things are meant to be lost so we can find, that the loss in fact enhances what we have, that the loss may indeed free us, that the experience of loss is growth…

Within every experience of loss, there is a gain.  Let this gain be worthy of the beauty that is you.

Namaste!
– FlorenceT

© 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Sometimes… you have to stop

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1-Night Sparkles

This poem touched something in me today. A reminder to stop… to consider where I am, where I am going. It is a reminder in these turbulent times to breathe, consciously and mindfully. It is a gentle tap on my mental shoulder to not be carried away by fear of what could go wrong, by anxiety of not being enough; not to inherit the stressful energy of others, to not succumb to the push to act.

In the moment when one is compelled to (re)act through fear, that is the moment when one needs most to be still.  Take time to gather your self, your sense of at-one-ness with the world.  This is not procrastination.  It is how we regain our sight to see that all is well, we will hear again the sweet song of joy, we can once again feel the warm embrace of the ones who love us, to taste the tingling excitement of life.

It is then we return to the self that is grateful no matter the pain, that is grace even under fire, that is love in spite of anger and hurt.

Namaste!

– FlorenceT

 

© 2015 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

The process of surrender, or not…

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I have been feeling a little unbalanced (as in off-centre, not crazy 🙂 ) the last few days. The feeling that all is right and fine… but not.  I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Then an email turned up which led to a youtube audio clip… and voila!

I have been hung up about a thing I did at work, with which despite positive feedback, it would seem I was not pleased. I presented a paper at a small conference and the session went extremely well with lots of engagement and Q&A.  Which of course led to time running out while I was only two-thirds of the way through. I was disappointed, but more than that, it bugged me, big time. Of course, being who I am, I have been ‘processing’ this ‘bugged’ feeling and as I said, no divine revelation until now.

By now, I know it wasn’t the fact that I didn’t get to finish the paper – the full presentation is being published so no big issue.  It wasn’t that l came out looking ‘bad’ – I had lots of positive feedback and engagement. Neither was it my perfectionistic streak (only a small one 🙂 ) of getting things 100% throwing a tantrum.

What it was is encapsulated in this statement ‘I didn’t get to the punchline’. And the punchline is important to me, personally. It is a message I am compelled to share, my purpose if you like. And for one who is generally quite direct in her communication, I ran out of time? What happened?

There is no accident in life. Only lessons. And this lesson is mine for the week.

BallerinaI took my eyes off the purpose, my purpose, of the presentation – to share a message of connection. Instead I became attached to outcome and judgment.  I was drawn to an intellectual and mechanical exercise of preparing a paper, rather than communicating and sharing a worthy message. It, the paper, became a slave to my ‘more is not enough’ judgment. Academically fine and longer that it ought to be given the time I had. I was prejudging the possible response of the audience and ignored the voice whispering ‘Just be your self. It is enough‘.

I have been on a journey of living a surrendered life. “It is what is it” is a mantra, a meditation to my being. It does not negate doing the best I can, just that I am not hung up about the outcome.  It is living to a (dare I say it…) divine purpose.  I guess I didn’t spend years on a journey of self-awareness without having at least an inkling of what mine is :-). Yet it would seem on this occasion, surrendered I was not.

So here I am – regaining balance, being centered and not beating myself up about it.

Once again, surrendering to the moment of knowing – there is no mistake in life if we learn from it.

Honouring your purpose,
– FlorenceT

© 2015 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.