I recently felt a little like the wood dove perched on the corner of the railing in the outdoor cafe, mere yards from where I was sitting. He looked cold, wet and out of sorts.
It was a cold and very wet day and I had got the time wrong for meeting some dear friends – I had an hour to kill. I had been getting a lot of things wrong lately, and I was not even sure if we were meeting to eat or just have coffee. After sitting restlessly for a quarter of an hour I decide to order a quick bite that I could finish before they arrive. Lately I had been doing a lot of eating for the sake of it and not out of hunger. Another bad decision as the sandwich was not too edible, but the wood dove benefited from my abundance of leftovers. I consoled myself with a few squares of chocolate from my handbag which I was not about to share.
Yes, I was cold and rather empty of what I felt I should have and feel. I was annoyed and out of sorts. Yet I was not alone. The dove was there by me, trying to stay warm, like me. He did not move from the railing where he was perched, a few feet away. He was not threatened by me when I shifted uncomfortably in my seat at least a dozen times while I waited for my friends. In that time frame, he was my companion, indulging me, my indifference and out of sorts-‘ness’. He understood what I could not even put into words. A silent understanding. And it was enough.
When my friends arrived they got me to laugh and I got them to pray for me. And all was well.
When I looked for the dove as I was leaving the cafe, he was gone.
I’m being asked regularly how I am, ‘How are you, really?’ And I answer truthfully, ‘It’s coming’, because it is. My back is coming on well. Movement is returning gradually, and the more I keep myself moving the better it gets. It seems to object when I decide to lie down and rest during the day, but at night it recognises the need for rest, and lets me be.
My breathing technique is improving and when my body reacts with the odd spasm or pain when moving a certain way I remember to breathe, and respond positively, rather than clamping up and thinking, ‘Here it goes again!’ Each little step forward is a triumph, and even though it doesn’t look like much to observers, it is huge for me.
I have been thoroughly enjoying my swimming pool. It is the most relaxing place to be, especially at sunset. I wonder if I would really be using it this much if I did not have a muscular issue. It does help that the weather has been so hot that the pool is warm and inviting. I am hopeful I will still have this enthusiasm for swimming when it comes to the ‘winter’ months and the water temperature decreases dramatically!
I took my little godson to the school fair last Saturday. I resolved before I went that I would let him do whatever he wanted and not control his afternoon. He chose to go on no rides or jumping tents, but got lots of lucky dips, bought some old grubby toys, and played the few games over and over again – tic, tac, toe, throwing the ball through the holes, fishing for bottle caps … And he did well.
Bless all the volunteers and teachers who worked so hard in the intense heat to make it a huge success. When nothing more could fit inside my 5 year old charge’s backpack, and the weight was starting to tire him, he said, ‘Let’s go, Aunty Debbie, it is hot and my backpack is full’. Perfect wisdom from a precious 5 year old!
I have learned to breathe! Breathing that works for me and gets me through the pain. Yay!!
Yes! There has been improvement in my back pain. I was told by my beloved Pilates instructor to ‘practice breathing so that it becomes second nature’. But why do I need to be so aware of my breathing when it is meant to be the most natural thing in the world?
When we are busy, stressed, in pain, concentrating on a particular important thing other than breathing, we tend to tense up and subconsciously choose many different ways of breathing that are not always good for us. For me, when I am in pain, or trying to avoid pain, which has been the case this last month or so, the last thing I am thinking about is to breathe, and breathe ‘properly’. It just happens, right? At least it’s something you don’t have to focus on, worry about, with everything else going on! Except it is …
For me, when I tense up I stop breathing, even hold my breath, and that is when things go haywire internally, when the work starts, to get by in the next moments, protecting that painful sensation and doing my utmost to make it stop. What I was doing, before I was enlightened, was the opposite of what I should have been doing. To breathe. Every day activities can cause a tensing up, for no particular reason, like speaking on the phone, and breathing through them is helpful.
I now am aware, so much more, about my breathing, and I have discovered that I do have to practice at it. Breathing in deeply for a few seconds and out for a few seconds, so that the air reaches more parts of my body that count, and I am not just breathing to survive.
I remember an exercise in relaxation when I was about 10, lying down in the school hall, and the teacher coming round and lifting our arms and we were supposed to let them drop naturally. I was one of the ones who rigidly dropped my arm, concentrating, over-thinking, rather than just abandoning it to gravity. And I remember watching as many of the others let their arms go and how their joints did their own thing, folding easily one way or the other as they fell without any fear with a flop to the floor. And I thought, maybe I can be like that one day. One day is now.
He must have read yesterday’s blog and wants me to know that he is listening.
After a bad night’s sleep I went to Pilates in the morning and did a lot of stretching and practiced my breathing technique. Something as simple as proper breathing can make a huge difference. The tense way I have been moving around as self protection from pain can have the opposite intended effect. I am now trying to be more ‘daring’ with my every day movements, and using the breathing .
Thank you, dear Father, for giving me the encouragement I need to keep going more positively, and for the ease I am feeling in my joints. And thank you for reading my blog!
I am in pain. I have had lower left back pain for the last 4 weeks or so, and it has been gradually getting worse. I cannot explain how it started. It was not a fall or an accident of any kind. It could have been triggered by pulling a suitcase down from a high cupboard, but who knows? It does not hurt when I am walking around. It hurts when I get out of bed, getting in and out of the car, and is worse when I have been inactive. Easy motions like bending down to tie shoe laces or drying the bottom half of my body after a shower is a long, drawn out task. Spasms come and go. What have I done about it? Physiotherapy, heat therapy, exercises in and out of the pool, Pilates, massage and most recent Osteopathy. So far no ongoing relief. Next step is acupuncture. My best friend describes it as ‘Dry Rot’. I continue to pray for everything to get back to normal, for the pain to go.
I am in pain. My waters have not broken but the pain is intense. I am in hospital being induced at 9 months 2 weeks, and although I was told that second labours are supposed to be easier, it is NOT looking that way. The pain comes often, and the breathing is my only source of comfort. A minute seems like much longer. My husband is standing by anxiously, helplessly, with each contraction getting stronger. When the doctor comes to break my waters, even worse pain, if that is possible. Stomach and back pain at its best. Yet there is a light at the end of a tunnel. I will have my baby soon. It will all be worth it, and I will forget this pain. And yes, my prayer for a beautiful, healthy baby was answered.
I am a Barbadian national, without an accent, married 26 years to a fantastic funny British guy, and I have an amazing son and daughter, 2 cats and 2 dogs. I have been a secretary when shorthand and typewriting were the norm, a hotelier when telexes, faxes and phone calls were the main form of communication, a house manager, and I’m a homemaker and a writer. I write many notes (and hardly ever go back and read them!), letters, poems and I like to journal. I love chocolate, family and swimming. I came to know Jesus personally in a dramatic encounter when I was suffering from Post Natal Depression, and I have a deep compassion for people who struggle with any form of depression.
I have talked about this for so long, to write about testimonies of answered prayers, and put it into book form. As a mom of grown children, I have been involved in many school prayer groups over the years, as well as my own church prayer group, and a beautiful ‘dolphin pod’ of women. So many prayers have gone up, and I’d like to share the outcome of some of mine. I pray that you will find what you read to be encouraging and helpful in your own journey, as I do when I hear testimonies about what God has done in situations, many seemingly hopeless, and how he comes through far above what is expected or hoped.
This is the introduction for my #write 31 days series where I will be writing for 31 days in October on the topic Testimonies Answered Prayers
I have taken the second #write 31 days challenge, that is blog writing every day for 31 days in October! I will be sharing testimonies of God’s work in my life, answered prayers, stories of encouragement and whatever is put on my heart. It is long overdue to share the goodness and faithfulness of God in my writing.
The time has come to bare all. No more smiling and pretending all is well. Pain, especially back pain, is pain, and I want to begin logging it, the things I will be trying, exercise and the little things that frustrate me, things like mastering buckling shoes, getting off of a massage table … and the relief that I will have over the next 31 days. Because relief will be found. Or I will go mad! And, unfortunately, many people have aches and pains so I should be in good company! Whether you will want to read about my pain is another matter, but let’s see.
I was going to write on a different series for this, my second #write 31 day challenge, but then I determined why not write on something that is occupying so much of me right now. The more I thought about it the more I resolved that this was it, take the bull by the horns, and get it out. What do I have to lose?
So for the next 31 days in October I will be joining thousands of others in this challenge to write every day on my blog. If you choose to follow my blog and you don’t see me one day, don’t panic, I may be having a bad back day, or that will be my excuse! Thank you for reading!
Recently I returned from a wonderful two-week holiday on the East coast of Barbados. One of my family’s favourite places, it is only 20 minutes drive from our home, yet everything is different there. The salt air and breeze invitingly puts you in holiday mode immediately, the smell and sound of the Atlantic ocean, just steps away from our basic rented cottage. It was a treat to be there. Dry sand always underfoot, and never growing tired of watching the waves from the balcony. The massive ’round rock’ a few hundred yards away from our house, sitting comfortably on the beach, providing shade and a bench at the top for those who were adventurous enough to climb to the top to survey the magnificent view of crashing waves all the way to Africa and coastal scenery as far as the eye could see.
One of my favourite things to do is snorkel. There are many rock pools that come out at low tide on the East coast, when swimming is not dangerous. A well-known pool among the locals is the ‘Barbados Pool’ as it is in the shape of Barbados. It is only about 12 by 21 feet, but it is deep enough to cover a person standing to their necks, and it is one of the largest of this depth. There is always enough and more to see, even though only a modest aquarium size.
About 10 feet from the shore I put my first steps in to the pool, being careful not to touch the sides which are adorned with prickly white sea urchins. My body adjusts to the cool water and I quickly feel refreshed and ready for my adventure, with snorkel and mask adorned. A stunning bright orange sea centipede can’t help but catch my eye immediately. Six inches in length, it glides and arches its way through the sand and around the rocks at the bottom effortlessly. Her mate is not far away, smaller and ugly, but carrying out his important duties before moving back to join her. Made with the most perfect hands, no detail is overlooked, this sea creature senses danger of a shadow overhead (me) and responds by extending her built-in white daggers all over her body. I wonder if her sting is as intense as a land centipede?
The white sea eggs of all sizes that surround the walls of the pool have each caught something different in their spikes: leaves, little pebbles, shells, string, biscuit wrapper … A small rock lobster is hinged on a large sea egg, but its insides are gone, delicious flesh eaten by a fortunate prey, part of its shell sits on another nearby ball of spikes. Fish, varieties of aquarium size, brightest yellow, purple spotted, stripes of orange and black, inside and outside of rocks, holes, the rock formations a playground or an intricate water maize. Tiny Soldier crabs on the move on the sand and other crustaceans that I wish I knew the names of.
Surges of water enter my haven with larger waves – the tide is coming in, I have been lost in time. I don’t want to leave. I position myself more securely so that my body parts avoid the white waiting spikes and continue to explore through my mask for a few more minutes, getting up close with the reef in all its glory.
soon forced to climb out of the pool and wait for another low tide, another day, and I feel exhilarated, thankful for this natural aquarium at my fingertips, always different, always waiting for me.
Deborah (Debbie) Buckmaster has been sporadically blogging for a year, and loves to share her heart, her journey, and hopes to touch lives in the process. She enjoys praying in her different groups and longs to share in book form all that God has done in her life and the lives of others.
Do you know the crickets that come out at dusk? The ones you don’t know are there until you hear a high-pitched chirp or buzz? One of these just followed me on a Caribbean cruise for a week. It was always in the same approximate spot, on the second deck, under the steps, or behind the heavy steel door. I couldn’t actually see it, but it was always there.
Crickets are the size of small thumb nails. Was this one afraid, so far from its home, with salt air and sun beating down, in a strange environment, in a new place every day? Did it know that it might get picked up by a Booby Bird looking for a snack, or get squeezed in the door or sprayed with insecticide?
Cricket fears have to be massive compared to human fears. My first memory of fear was losing sight of my mother in the supermarket, a 3 minute separation seeming like hours. Other fears surfaced, as they do. Fear of the unknown, fear of getting into trouble (yet still doing the trouble), getting hurt, learning to swim by being glued to the edge of the pool, raising an arm to answer a question in class, asking for help …
I recently heard at church the definition of fear: When I believe that apart from my best efforts something undesirable is going to happen and I can’t stop it. The roots of it are conditioning (born into it), concealing and spirit of control. Hmmm!
Fear or worry can be grouped in many stages of my life to date, such as those teenage fears of being ridiculed, stammering (so better not speak at all), talking to boys which was worse than not having a boyfriend at all, then fearing being left a spinster … The stage of having children can bring many fears, but I am lucky to have had my children in the nineties, before the Internet and T.M.I. The fear of getting sick, yet after a diagnosis of stage 4 Melanoma over 20 years ago it takes a lot to scare me where my health is concerned.
There is one unseen illness that caught me off guard and caused a major turn around in my life. The path of depression has allowed me great things: empathy, dependence on the person of Jesus, to stop holding on to control and having to be strong all the time. Does that mean I am never afraid now? Of course not, but instead of concealing it and struggling on my own, I try to remember to reestablish visual contact with Jesus and gain a little more freedom from the big ‘F’ each time.
Eventually that fear will become the size of that chirping cricket.
Deborah has procrastinated long enough from writing and is finally taking the plunge. You can find out more about her story by visiting the archives of this blog (specifically early October of Prison Break of Thoughts).