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New Banksy Rat Mural in New York by caruba on flickrNew Banksy Rat Mural in New York by caruba on flickr

 

In case you are trying to discern if you heard me correctly, you did.  I did say ROOF RATS.  Along with various discoveries by land and by sea I have been making in my new home and various acquiescence to local wildlife in my shower, in my guestroom, and elsewhere I do not think I properly equipped myself emotionally for roof rats.  And I am not sure that one can. 

 

I am in a bit of a city rat, country rat dilemma–of my own creation.  I expect to see rats in downtown Manhattan.  I did not plan on finding them hopping and tight rope walking from fruit-filled palms to electrical wires like very large very ratty-type squirrels in my backyard. 

 

I called my husband in a bit of a panic last night to relay my crisis, after reviewing the nature of the Floridian roof rat to shack up in fruit trees (yeah in my backyard) and then use electrical wiring to get into homes’ crawl spaces and such.  He began to tell me a story about a possum in his grandparents pool–he has a tendency to try to trump my issue of vermin with larger vermin stories to normalize a place that is rife with vermin.  I know his intentions are good but the results are always inducing a double shot of chills and paranoia into my system. 

 

Last night I spent jumping at every scuffle on the roof or scratchy noise above, certain with every fiber of my irrational being that roof rats were clawing their way through my roof, about to fall on my face at any moment.  I was also fairly certain that my tiny dog, who had been playing in the brush below the fruit tree that evening, had contracted some form of roof rat rabies when she began acting spastically before bedtime. 

 

These are the things that happen these days.  Induced by spending too much time in a house alone, down a dirt road, in a sort of isolation in the middle of suburbia, surrounded by nothing but amphibians, roof rats, various bugs of varying sizes, and dogs.  And lots of mysterious noises.

 

I am a therapist but this by no means makes me immune to human fallibility, human weakness, human fear, and sometimes even a tinge of solo living paranoia.  I say this although it may seem (especially after reading this blog) like a kind of “duh” statement, but often I have experienced in the therapist’s chair this sense from my clients that I am mental health perfection, somehow by profession carrying some kind of automatic immunity to any life issues, emotional struggles, or points of imperfection. 

 

In the earlier moments of my career I felt that I had to be all of those things as some sort of indebtedness to all of the people who seek my help:  I had to be above reproach, emotionally.  I quickly learned that not only is that an impossibility but it is also a disservice to my clients to attempt that or attempt to convey that to them.  I am human and the humanity and the similarities we all have with each other due to our humanness is what bonds us and allows us to work together–in life and in therapy. 

 

I will be someone who panics at the sight of roof rats and dwell on it far too long into the night.  Even if I can dissect my emotions in the morning and rationalize myself out of complete and utter rodent-induced insomnia it does not mean it won’t be a weak point.  I mean, ROOF RATS, really?  Can you blame me?

 

Occasionally I envy the relationship that is easily attained between yoga teacher or yoga therapist and client.  It lacks the barriers of formalities and often overly restrictive professionality of a psychotherapeutic relationship and allows the relationship to build from the start as one of equality, humanity, and trust.  And through the body-oriented nature of the work allows an innate ability to tap into emotion without worrying about 5 page assessments and protocols that often get in the way of the point of things–which is helping people to feel and heal. 

 

So,a big thank you to this time of humbleness and humility that reminds me of how truly human I am.  Thank you to roof rats and lizards and palmetto bugs.  Although I will continue to scour the electrical wires at sunset for the silhouettes of roof rats attempting to launch a full-house assault.  I’m no city rat fool.

 

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

Thomas Merton (Trappist Monk)

 

Bansky Rat Mural on Canal Street by caruba on flickr

 

 

Bathtubs, Holmfirth by tricky at flickrBathtubs, Holmfirthby trickyTM at flickr

 

One thing I dream for pretty consistently may seem an insinuated pleasure to some, a bathtub I can take a bath in; a big old, bubbles and whistles (well not literal whistles but you get the gist) bathtub that one can luxuriate and decompress in.  I often wonder what my life and perhaps my anxiety level might be with the addition of one of those–I have heard good things about such decadence.  Instead I have meandered through numerous years of rental living with one manner of unlivable bathing equipment after another.  And each time I think I have hit the bottom of the drain I am confronted with another even more extensive effrontery to human cleanliness. 

 

This time it is well water and lizards.  This is a new experience for me.  I have had plenty of tubs growing mold, potentially once sites of some kind of violent crime, or the tub that never was in my Manhattan adjacent apartment (ie Hoboken, NJ) where there was only enough space for a standing shower with toilet in the bathroom –see sink in the kitchen for further sanitation. 

 

But there is something about trickling well water that just doesn’t scream clean.  And even if it did the not-so-faint odor of rust that emits from the water itself and the washee following bathing in it leaves one with the feeling of needing to shower to wash away the shower.  I am more than ever thankful for very potent body lotions–which of course is additionally mosquito bait but between rustiness and bug bites my sensitive nasal cavities choose to offer me up to the tiny vampires of the south. 

 

Anyway, besides the fact of never feeling quite clean maybe I am thinking about this particular area of loss right now because it has been a particularly bad pain weekend.  I have cramping like mad and not at all sure why–besides faulty genetics and disorganized systems of reproduction.  Enemy thy name is Endometriosis.  And what I could use to deflect some of the enemy’s force might be a relaxing bath–or so I hypothesize as I bemoan not having the ability to find out. 

 

Endo as well as erratic Florida rain also inhibited my ability to take part in my first ocean view beach yoga class.  I am hoping that I can make up for that by taking one of the sunset classes this week at 6:00pm following work or try again next weekend…all depending on my pal Endo and what she has planned–we often conflict.  She’s always wanting to spend long days on bathroom floors, or in beds with heating pads on abdomens while I would rather do anything but those things.  She usually wins. 

 

Body as the enemy, and a woman.  Again I lead back into the multitude of issues related to internal or external trauma and the female elements of dueling within ourselves.  I would love a bath.  I would love a pain free regimen of care for my condition.  I would love to not have to go anywhere with backup pain medicine, just in case it gets too bad.  I would love a lot of things that are not within my grasp or within my power…like having my husband living with me in our home in Florida and going to sleep knowing that my whole family of two plus dogs was under the same roof. 

 

What I have learned in the brief period of time since the move to Florida with more clarity than ever before is that as much as we want to try to control the elements of our lives or our bodies sometimes it is just not possible and in those moments we just have to let things go.  “Let Go and Let God” is a constantly used mantra of AA programs but the overall sense of it is useful to all.  My friend Marisol over at Homefront Letters discussed the other day her own struggle within herself to want what isn’t possible and her method of giving it up to something greater than herself. 

 

Whatever we believe in and whatever spiritual path we follow sometimes it is necessary to let everything go: our pains, our wants, our control (which is often more just an illusion of our own imaginations than actual control).  We must let everything go and give it up to something bigger than us.  We can only carry so much and we really control so little.  Sometimes letting go is all we can do, otherwise we will drive ourselves mad trying to fix the unfixable or change what is not in our capacity to change. 

 

I am learning that with more clarity every day.  And sometimes the realization itself is a painful process of recognition.  Giving everything over to something that is not ourselves sometimes feels against our own instincts.  In truth it is more of a learned and acquired capacity but one that is much healthier for us in the long run.  To be able to let go of things that happen in our lives enough so that we are not ruled by them.  And also enough so that we can get enough distance and perspective that we can deal with the life issues that come up.  Again it is an acquired capacity and one that is not easy as I learn struggling with it daily. 

 

I will try to let go of the fury that wells in me when the cramps erupt and the frustration at my trickling well shower.  And I will continue to smile at my shower lizard when he pokes his head out of the drain…hoping desperately that I am not drowning him and apologizing profusely as I douse him with my shampoo run off.  He seems to take the whole experience far better than I am so far–but I guess it’s all a learning curve. 

 

Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.

Zen Proverb

 

The Last Shower by winterofdiscontent at flickrThe Last Shower by winterofdiscontent on flickr

Florida Family Vacation by skookum on flickr“florida family vacation” by skookum on flickr

 

My new home has afforded me three lizard encounters thus far.  The first was a bit intimate as there is a shower lizard that may or may not live in the shower drain that likes to languish and leer whilst I shower–he’s all eyes that one.  The second encounter was of the morbid kind as I picked up a box off of my ikea buffet in the entry area of the house to find a  black lizard who must have been unlucky enough to have been wedged under the box.  Soon after I lifted the box, made a pitiable squeal of surprise, and called my sister over, the poor thing went to lizard heaven (presumably full of bushy palms and a neverending supply of tiny insects for consumption) and we had to, eek, flush him down the toilet.  I can only hope the shower lizard did not have to encounter him on his way down. 

 

The third lizard was in our spare bedroom/doggie cage room and he was just meandering across the bottom of the wall–I think even the lizards move at a slower pace in Florida.  Needless to say I am on lizard alert, not sure where the next one will appear.  It is both an endearing and equally unnerving element of my new home environment.   I love lizards, I really do but I never expected to share the inside of my home with them, at least barring a beach bungalow life in Thailand or Nicaragua (two favorite vacation spots of mine which have geckos and lizards on every wall of every room). 

 

The amphibian element is only one piece of my adjustment to life in the Sunshine State.  The unprovoked acts of friendliness are another element and I have to recalibrate my Jersey-induced public prickliness to a more sunny and unsuspicious disposition.  A woman was standing behind me on line at Home Goods last night and asked where I was going to put the lovely lamp I was purchasing.  I jolted upright and fumbled, confused, for a reply.  After an awkwardly long pause, and her beginning to eye me curiously, I finally answered quickly that I would be using it in my entryway and walked out of the store hoping I had feigned-Florida well enough.  I can recall this piece of transition from my move to Colorado years  back and I know it takes some time but I have confidence that soon I will smile not flinch when someone speaks to me unprovoked and kindly in public arenas. 

 

Another transition piece that I have yet to get fully accustomed to is my newly hairless pooch.  Yes, I have shaved my little dog to a fully naked but not quite profane state.  She has transformed from looking like a miniature beagle with a pug/squirrel tail to looking something like a mini Jack Russel Terrier with a possum tail (see below).  I found very quickly that Florida is just too hot a state for a long haired tiny dog.  She was panting like crazy and shedding like mad with such a fury that three days into the move I decided that the hair just had to go.  She seems somewhat confused but overall pleased with her new do, or lack of a “do”. 

 

Hairless Doggie

 

On the whole we are a household a bit confused and fumbling.  Last night the bed was me plus two dogs and thank god we got the king-sized bed before the move as it was cramped even with all the space.  All three of us were twitchy and hyperalert the whole night long, jolting up at every strange noise.  Around 2 a.m. the rumbling thunder came in with force and was so close and roaring I could feel it in my gut.  A family divided by space and states I find myself languishing a bit in my own solitude as I fumble through the nuances and confusions of new geography alone.  At least, I think to myself, I have the dogs and the lizards to keep me company. 

 

In the quiet of an empty house, as I find myself more and more talking in full conversations with my dogs, pausing and intuiting their replies before I continue on with the dialogue, I know these are the moments in which quiet contemplation and a focus on inner calm is the most necessary.  I know that these are the times for which I prescribe such measures for my clients; in periods of uncertainty, restlessness, sadness, fear, and general discontentedness.  Just breathe, I tell them and then I progress forward in teaching them how.  I know I must remember these tools for myself and I must focus on self-care. 

 

Just breathe.  I will repeat this mantra and work for inner meditative peace and search with a bit of urgency for my yoga mat that I know is packed somewhere in the few remaining boxes.  I yearn desperately for the peace of fluidity in silence and breath.  And if I don’t find that stinking mat by tomorrow I’ll just have to go find a new one.  Perhaps even find a local class with my fun new iphone “YogaNow” application.  It is what I purchased it for; when I was fumbling, lost and confused…in search of a collective namaste kind of moment.  I think that time is soon nearing.

  

Smile, breathe and go slowly.                                         Thich Nhat Hanh

 

ocean colour scene #3 by macca on flickr

“ocean colour scene #3” by macca on flickr

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