It’s been over 9 months since my mother suffered from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome… since I began the legal task of becoming her Guardian, since I began the legal task of becoming my sister’s Guardian, since splitting my time between two apartments, since embarking on another challenge that my Love and I must face.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading, reflection, and writing about what has been on my mind over the last 9 months. Reading books like “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron, have helped me reflect and brought me to realize that this process has been like giving birth, but I don’t know what coming to a full-term means in my context. Perhaps this post is my baby?! In my previous post about my mother I shared my “My Five Stages of a New Single Guardianshiphood”, and this post is an extension of that. This post is my three states of a personal matter.
In order to build a house you need a proper foundation, a solid foundation. So if I plan to build a new house for my life, I would need to accept the solid aspects of my life. Real aspects such as my mother not being able to retain new memories and my sister living under my roof for at least 3 more years. My relationship with my Love has faced many challenges: long-distance via graduate school, long-distance via Vietnam, and now short-distance due to time and living arrangements. While I can’t clarify the short-term, I can clarify the long-term of one day making a family with my Love. This has to be the most solid ground I accept because it keeps me grounded. Not to say that is more important than any other solids in my life, but it is the most cherished.
I love my little sister, but 14 years of an age difference and living together a total of 5 years (2 of which she can recall) has its impact. My relationship with my sister has been one of growth. We have been able to get to know each other over the last 9 months more than the last 9 years. The most solid ground I accept about my sister is that we will have a push and pull relationship as I get to know her, not just as her brother, but also as her Guardian.
Other solids that I must accept in my life have been what has demanded my time:
-Taking an Sheltered English Immersion course for 12 weeks, for 3 hours per session, with 6 strategy implementation assignments, 2 professional network meetings and reflections, weekly Blackboard postings, a major Capstone lesson plan, and a written reflections
-Teaching an MCAS Math Course with Upward Bound once a week for seven weeks
-Teaching “full-time” at my job while wearing the many hats that come along with teaching at a high-caliber charter high school.
-Planning my high school 10 year reunion and helping to mange the Alumni Association
-Spending quality group, solo, and partner time with friends, family, and friends.
In order for a balloon to stay afloat, the gas must fill the entire volume of the balloon. So, if I planned to stay afloat I would need to stretch; pushing my boundaries to stay afloat. I’m not just trying to be metaphorical, I’m trying to be scientific! Just look at the ‘Ideal Gas Law’:
The amount of pressure and growth I can take equals the amount of events in my life and my temperament (temperature) during those challenges. If there is one thing that is constant about all of our lives, it that change is inevitable. Perhaps my connection to the ‘Ideal Gas Law’ is a bit of a stretch (see what I did there), but what I’m getting at it that I have been feeling a lot of pressure the last 9 months: pressure to support my sister and her transition to high school, pressure to support my sister academically, pressure to make sure my sister is healthy emotionally and physically (like getting her new insurance for a dentist visit, physical, and new eye glasses post an eye exam), pressure to ask for help, pressure to not need help, and pressure to just graze my ‘bursting’ point, because ‘bursting’ is not helpful for my Love, sister, family, friends nor my students. I am not trying to disregard the pressures my sister, Love, my mother, or my father feels, because I know each of them have their own and feel some of the same pressures I do.
The amount of pressure I feel increase my volume and reflects my room to grow. I grow equally by the number of events that require me to do so and as long as I maintain a temperament that augments those events. If I make decisions while I’m mad, I tend to be erratic in my behaviors. If I make decisions when I’m calm, I tend to be more comforting in my behavior. To achieve this calmness so I can take the pressure and grow from it, I must “Be Like Water.” -Bruce Lee
In order to reap a good harvest, the water must flow. This has been the most natural state for me. As I entered the unfamiliar territory of insurance applications, medical papers, court papers and dates, social security, long-term care plans, and Guardianshiphood, I had to constantly go with the flow. As I entered brokering responsibility with my sister’s father, understanding the lack of support from my mother’s side of the family, I had to candidly go with the flow. As I worked tirelessly, meet all my deadlines, maintain a high degree of functionality for my job and non-profit work, I had to consistently go with the flow.
Being in a liquid state means I must be able to adjust to any restrictions. I must shift between solid, liquid and gas. I also must strive to be all three states at once. I must strive to reach my own ‘Avatar State.’
AVATAR STATE OF MIND
In the animated series Avatar, the ‘Avatar State,’ is “a defense mechanism, designed to empower you with the skills and knowledge of all past Avatars.” (Avatar Roku) For me, being in ‘Avatar State’ is being my most compassionate, calm, and courageous self. It is critically thinking about the solid states of my life, responding well to the gas states in my life, and being flexible in a constant liquid state. When I really think about it, are we are all in a constant liquid state. Given the fact that our bodies are more than 60% water means we are all capable of achieving ‘Avatar State.’
I guess in order to do so, we must be tested in ways that stretch our perceptions of our strengths and limitations.