Decades ago, after the birth of my daughter, I engaged in the first of my how to workout at home activity. It was a VHS tape to “walk off weight.” In the 45-minute daily regimen the happy, energetic leader would proclaim as the scenery out her staged window would change to rain: “no matter what the weather you are here to just keep moving.” Living in the rainy Northwest, this attitude and mantra rings true today. I’d often hear this repeat in my head when facing a dreary day.
Keep moving. Or, as Dory in Finding Nemo says, “Keep swimming, just keep swimming.” I’ve used this thought more than once as well.
Fast forward through my deep physical and emotional dive into “who am I today?” since the death of my husband, and including my mother’s last year, I’ve discovered keep moving takes on a completely new meaning. For me, keep moving is the invisible processes that become visible. Keep the flow of heart, circulation, breath, digestion, mental clarity moving. Good health. Connect and balance my mind, body and spirit by gathering unseen energy for healing hands, through study and practices of Yoga, body mechanics, Chakra systems, Feng Shui, Tai Chi. Mindfulness. Presence. Wholeness. Keep it all moving. Release, and importantly, replenish.
Moving for my husband during his year of hospice care, being his legs up and down the stairs as he remained room bound, took its toll on me. As he slowed, so did I. I wouldn’t know to do differently, because like every loving caregiver I’ve met, one will sacrifice themselves for the experience. As I slowed to a painful climb up those stairs his last few months, I knew I just had to keep moving. Until he didn’t. Until I couldn’t. It showed up as the breathless grief, the tsunami waves of loss, the head surgery for my debilitating vestibular order and the most recent, four years later, hip replacement. I told very few at the time of my slow crawl. I doubt anyone could understand the stillness I had to endure to survive then as I sought how to get energy back in my body. I barely recognized it. It is difficult for me to admit that there were days all I could do was look at a jigsaw puzzle with my body draped across an exercise ball concentrating on finding one more piece to indicate progress in life. It was my only way to keep moving for several weeks.
Finally, I have broken through my lifetime of dammed up energy to sustained physical and emotional ease. Yes, happiness! I have energy. I am energy. I get it. I have come to truly know in more than words that the center of our relationship with our self and the world emanates through our heart, the pulse of energy. Of course, the heart is the symbol of invisible energy and connection called love. We all know that it is the heart that breaks in the pain of loss. In coaching, I call this knowing feeling the visceral understanding that comes as a personal breakthrough and trust into, and of, self. Now, I can see how loss and its subsequent moving though grief is a powerful change agent into compassion, resilience and purpose. Yet the action steps can be, usually are, extremely difficult.
It’s About Creating Flow
I have a current story that corresponds with this real change in me.
The most unexpected aha for me of how critical “keep moving, keep the flow” is to healthy life appeared in the maintenance of my outdoor birdbath water fountain. This fountain represents so much to me. I bought it last Spring after my mother died as an item to consciously increase the positive flow of energy into my house and life. This fountain came about as the result of having attended a Feng Shui Intensive immersion course just two weeks after her death. The fact I could attend is a fascinating story on its own. I still am in awe of how it transpired. Nonetheless, this program has been life changing for me because it has been a breakthrough in my personal visceral understanding of universal energy, environment and human connection as whole and authentic. This is my entry in a personal spiritual articulation for myself.
So, the fountain… When I came home from the Feng Shui Institute is when I realized I could not, as one person, fill the house any longer. This experience led me to my decision to downsize and move. I loved the house. I had just the year before fulfilled my desire to tear-out-the-grass and landscaped the front yard with beautiful rocks and plants and berries. The birds and deer and insects stopped by. I would drink coffee and write and meditate and pull weeds gladly. I connected with the earth again. (I recommend this highly as grief and life work!) The water fountain was placed to bring flow to the front door, the Feng Shui area for career and life path. A torch-like light gives added movement to my bubbler of water. It would turn on in the morning and off at night. Apparently it worked, because the flow brought my buyer to the front door within 48 hours of listing – at a bold and full asking price offer! I made sure the bird feeders and the fountain were excluded in the sell to carry with me to my new unknown home.
The New Home
The fountain is sentry to the entry door to bring positive flow in my new location. I watch the birds happily bathe. As Fall approached just a few months after my arrival I wondered how to keep it from cracking when it got cold. Did it need a heater? Cleaning it out every few days was an ongoing, messy chore to keep the birds in fresh water. Would I do that in the rain and cold, realistically? Maybe I should just drain it. Poor birds; they need water all year. So at the garden shop where I bought it I asked the best way to deal with it during winter. She told me they just keep their fountains running all winter, everyday. Moving water. Although outside, their fountains are protected by building and eaves. Mine is exposed.
So I drained my fountain. For about three days. And I was sad because the birds swooped down to bathe in the emptiness. So I filled it up again and plugged it in for 24/7 flow. But I had no down time with the light. So I plugged the bubbler in the electric current full time and set the light on a timer. I’d just have to clean it regardless of the cold and rain I thought. And a week later I learned an important lesson. With the flow of water always moving, I didn’t have to keep cleaning out the fountain. It stays clean. It was stopping the water that allow the gunk to build up. The work came from stopping and starting.
With the flow always moving the cold can’t set in and freeze – well, if given enough flow and water. This too was severely tested as I returned from my warm weather Bahamas swim in December to a week of freezing temperatures. The bird bath looked liked Woodstock’s ice skating rink. Was the fountain working? The light came on but that was not enough heat I figured. I couldn’t see the water moving. I couldn’t hear the pump. I couldn’t bust through the ice to check the pump. But the fountain topper was not iced over even if there was not much of a water bubble! Will I burn out the motor? Was it dangerous to keep it running? I felt a panic. Could I trust that the moving water was actually moving? No. I unplugged the current and heated the bath in the iced fountain by hand with containers of hot water. Then I bravely plugged it back in. Whew. It worked. And froze again overnight. Same fear. So I headed to the garden shop for a heater and turned the bird bath into a hot tub! The steam rose to the sky. I don’t think the birds were very impressed. Then I worried about burning them! Fortunately, our weather turned back to Northwest rains the next day.
The cost and time to get the heater wasn’t necessary because the water was still flowing even it almost imperceptible to me. A continuous flow take less to maintain. Moving energy is cleansing. It replenishes naturally.
The water flows through the fountain because of the continuous current sent through a pump, like a heart is the life sustaining pump in our body pushing blood and oxygen to every cell. It requires a flow of energy, of love, of connection. It needs to stay clean and nourished and moving. The ice can freeze and slow and even stop the fountain if it is too thick. But even the smallest of trickle can get us through the most difficult time.
As long as we keep moving.
Now I Know
I told myself that one way I’d know a return to wholeness, balance and health after hip surgery is to be able to go dancing again. These days my TV is tuned to a DVD of Tai Chi. The movement is intentionally slower than the cardio workout tape of the years a ago. It is a dance of breath. A dance of flow.
I am connecting to my inner dancer. It’s not ballet nor gymnastics of my childhood. It is not the choreography of modern dance and movement studies of my college days. It is not disco and swing of dating years. It is a more refined and intentional movement that matches who I am today.
I am different and the same. I have grown in heart and spirit. I am full of new energy. I can dance. I just keep moving.