A few days ago at the grocery store I rationalized that I might need some Halo Top Ice Cream for stress-relief this week, so I got two pints. I haven't felt the stress but I did consume the ice cream. Now I have to keep my cool until we depart! Dale says he'll get me a half gallon of Breyer's mint chocolate chip if I need it. Oh no... I could easily eat that, too. There's a reason I don't normally buy ice cream.
Still trying to figure out my relative lack of anxiety a few days out from major surgery to have an organ removed (with a few hundred people remotely cheering -- yes, I do appreciate you!!), but I started to figure something out yesterday: the relationship between preparedness and mindfulness. Although preparedness is thinking through what's going to happen, and mindfulness is accepting whatever does happen, these two things that seem like opposites can actually work together. Looking at preparedness first; this has to do with knowing what's going to happen to particular degree that makes YOU comfortable (a degree that might be different for everyone). So it might involve looking at maps and schedules, researching places or people, asking questions and getting satisfactory answers, reducing risks and planning for contingencies. It might be visualizing how things will play out. Ideally this is all in a productive way, visualizing and thinking through the "happy path" or how you want things to go and making you feel positive about it, and not visualizing all the things that can go wrong. I try to think of all the possibilities, but with the negative ones I don't visualize or take them all the way through the mental exercise. As far as all those other things, I tend to do them as needed in whatever time I have available, until I feel satisfactorily prepared. We've had a month since approval and we've been on this path for almost 6 months now, so has been plenty of time for preparedness.
Mindfulness is the opposite in many ways because it involves taking things as they come. Being mindful is not being judgmental or overly reactive; instead, just responding as best you can to the present moment. It might seem that you could best "do" mindfulness if you had no expectations; if you hadn't thought through what was going to happen or formed any mental pictures in your mind. You could just let events unfold, having no idea what was coming but just attending to each thing as it does. On the flip side, if you do prepare and you let these two things work against each other, you could spend all your mental energy being perturbed about the differences between what you "thought" was going to happen and what is actually happening. But this is rarely productive unless the analysis of this difference would teach you some valuable lesson about how your method of collecting or analyzing information was lacking.
What I propose, and I think I've put more and more into practice as I've gotten older (I'm over a half century old, by the way... does that make me "wise"?) is that if you let go of concern or preoccupation about that difference between what you EXPECTED and what IS, the preparedness and the mindfulness can work together. Preparedness gives you a big picture and overall idea, getting you basically in the right vicinity so that you can comprehend the more subtle aspects instead of spending all your effort orienting yourself to the larger ones. Mindfulness then lets you pay attention to the details because you already have the big picture. You can attend to the meaning behind the events, observe and understand your own reaction to them, and process them more objectively and less reactively. The result of this combination is less stress in the moment, more value taken, and a feeling of "going with the flow" because you already knew the direction of the current.
And if all else fails, go for the ice cream. :)
Just a few days left, and a few things left to do before travel on Saturday. Almost ready.
Anna Cannington has offered to be part of this program. As a kidney donor with a nephrologist brother (not to mention next level human) she will be able to provide unique insight into "other side" of the transplant process. It is particularly apt for her to join up as she is Dustin's Donor. To schedule a conversation with either of Anna or Dustin just connect with either of us!
Dustin was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy (Berger's Disease) in early 2007. He and his family know well the struggles that come with suffering kidney failure, dialysis and the transplant processes. Born from these fustrations and Dustin's love of strengths-based coaching (centered on what is best in people) comes the Kidney Koach program. This NO FEE program is for Renal patients, their families and nursing staff that want support, understanding and a little help on the path.