Learning to be my own best friend

Being my own best friend is more complicated than it sounds, since it is an inside job.  The faces of main players in my life continue to shift.  There are some brand new faces; there is a return of an old face with a surprising new purpose, some steadfast faces prove to be even more important, and sadly some faces leave.

New loving faces show up in work, at yoga training, and while I am busy being my quirky self in public places.  They breathe new life into my world.  As they remind me of the purpose and power in sharing our stories. For that is when we can truly be present and have the opportunity to learn from one another.

The returning face is most surprising.  Actually, I wondered if hell froze over when I heard from this old love.  He shows up now as an understanding friend without all the mess of a relationship.  Our lives have a great deal of overlap and common ground.  It is reassuring to been seen exactly where I am right now in the eyes of someone who knows me from long ago.  We have buried many hatchets, and stopped beating dead horses finally.

The faces of my brothers and the sisters-in-love, shine so brightly now.  We all have come together in new ways to support and simply be a listening ear for each other as we navigate our aging parents.  My heart warms whenever I think of them. Meanwhile I radiate gratitude in their direction constantly.  The faces of my mother and father also shine brightly in their love for me along my journey.  I see something different in them; they wish they could speed up my healing more than I do.

Over the past year faces have left my inner circle as well.  I intellectually understand that people share their lesson and then leave our lives.  Yet my heart is heavy and sad every time someone I love leaves.  Suffering is optional, but some days my tears flow when I think of them.  I miss them and the gifts they brought into my life.  Although I get to keep the gifts, I no longer see their faces.   I miss having their hands to hold in yoga class, the talks of future, sharing music, laughing until I cry, having a hiking partner and the other good stuff.  That is the dirty trick of nostalgia; the belief that things were better than they really were.  They are no longer in my life due to a variety of circumstances and choices, which means it is better to miss them than have them in my daily life.  With that being said, there is not a day that goes by where I don’t long for some aspect of the life I thought I had with them.

Navigating these changes, the pleasant and not so pleasant ones, is challenging for me.  I am a doer by nature.  Much of this phase in healing requires me to be still and to stop doing many things.  Actually, I am presented with a current shift with someone I dearly love where I am to do nothing.  Ummm, I am not so great with that.   Time helps to heal, because it give some distance to the rawness, but information came to me that feels like a punch to the throat, heart, and gut simultaneously.  I must let myself go from the stranglehold of attachment to an idea of how life should be.  People make decisions and sometimes it is with mixed intent; to be good to one person while devastating another.  I saw a Wayne Dyer quote that spoke to me the other day.  “Love, is my gift to the world.  I fill myself with love and I send it out into the world. How others treat me is their path; how I react is mine.”

I focus on continuing to send love while paying attention to my reaction to how others treat me.  Surrounding myself with loving people is part of the healing process. Navigating all the emotions is where I need to be my very own best friend.  It is important to have grace, compassion, understanding, kindness and patience with myself as I do with others when they are hurting.  All of the beloved faces in my life can only provide so much along this healing journey of mine.  The rest of it is up to me on this inside job.

Acting as my very best friend I recognize that sweating tends to shed the funk I sometimes find myself in.  Running, hot yoga and hiking are at the top of my “To do list” every day.  Meditation and writing are always a close behind, since they help to soothe my soul as I process the newest lessons of life.  My best friend says I am way overdue for a night of dancing!  Is anyone up for a night on the town with me and my “best friend” self?


Kristin Springfield


Filling in the holes of Swiss cheese with…….

There are so many situations in life that trigger our fears.  Those fears can range greatly.  Like the fear of being rejected or of physical harm happening to a loved one.  We want to make good decisions and love at the same time; at least that’s the story I tell myself.

The past several months have been riddled with situations where I only have partial information.  That is true for most of us most of the time.  We see life through our own filters and have a tendency to fill in the gaps with our own stories to support our feelings, fears, judgments, hopes and most of all comfort.

I look at most situations like they are Swiss cheese and full of holes.  If I am not fully present and aware, my mind will quickly fill in the gaps so I have a complete picture.  The challenge with this practice is that when my “Filler” turns out to be wrong I am still left with Swiss cheese.  Sometimes the holes are never to be filled in a way that creates comfort.  Actually, discomfort is the foundation for growth. For when we are comfortable we can pretty much check out.

One of my current Swiss cheese experiences is with regards to my beloved father and his dementia that is progressively deteriorating.  This is a disease process that is heart breaking for all involved.  I am in healthcare and have worked with people who have dementia for over 20 years, but as a daughter the experience is quite different.  This man has been the patriarch for the family.  Now I step up to the plate with the support of my mother and brothers.  We are pulling together in ways that make my heart sing loudly.

Our Swiss cheese is all about how Dad is doing with regards to his memory and awareness of life today.  There are moments of brilliance where he is very lucid and then moments where he is not.  He knows who everyone is, thankfully.  He gives the best hugs, holds hands and says he loves me in ways he never has before.  It is wonderful to have these moments now.  It is also hard, as my heart is heavy when I leave.  This is sometimes just so hard to navigate emotionally.  I can take care of all the tasks and details, since there is a process for those.  They may be tedious, but the emotions are a different game!

I want to fill in the holes of this situation with ideas of comfort.  Like he may be clear cognitively on my next visit, or that he knows I am doing the very best I possibly can to honor his wishes, and that he is a peace with this disease.  My brothers fill in the holes differently to create comfort for their hearts.  My mom has the biggest holes to fill as her husband has changed so very much in their relationship dynamic.  Yet at the end of the day it is still Swiss cheese with many unknown holes.  His functioning ranges from independent to dependent.  That level support needed can vary within hours of the same day.

I seem to have a gift when it comes to emotions.  My father and I have become very close over the past five years.  We healed from all of the treacherous teen and early adult years.  Much of my life I wanted his approval and for his love to show up in a manner that I recognized and in a way that I wanted.  That is not how things happen, people show up how they can.  After many conversations, I learned that he has always been proud of me and loved me more than I could possibly imagine.  I spent endless years believing he did not, I was so wrong!  I remember the moment this realization occurred.  First I cried and let the weight of craving something I already had go.  I think my dad knows at a cellular level that I connect with him emotionally in a very safe way.  This means he is fully open emotionally with me.  What this looks like is mostly tears when he holds my hand.  I do all I can to be present, hold his hand, and love him.  I want to fill in the gap with peace not only for myself, but for him.  Yet at the end of the day, I can’t.   It is a gap where emotions come through and I am the one my dad sees as safe.  I am honored to provide that safe loving place for him as he did for me when my heart broke at the end of my relationships.  Yet it is not easy.

With this gift I focus on slowing down my life personally.  We spend much of our time rushing to the next level only to find the great stuff was along the journey.  I no longer rush to find comfort.  I try to soak up and enjoy every step along the way while my mind and body work like my dad wishes his did.  For it is in the small moments of connecting with others that make life grand!

We all try to navigate the Swiss cheese of life.  Patience, breathing, meditation, yoga, running in the woods and tree hugging help me to stay present.  The power of friendship and connection with others is truly remarkable!  I am forever grateful for all of those who support my dad, mom, brothers and me along this journey.


Kristin Springfield
Deliberately slowing down