To contact Gika Rector, call 713.213.7643 or send e-mail.

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Seeking Clarity in the Tangled Threads

threads

This year hasn’t worked out the way I planned. My family lost two little lives before they even had a chance to truly begin. A business venture fizzled into frustration and disappointment. An intimate relationship broke into a distant friendship. A dear friend moved across the country—still a cherished friend, but distant geographically. An elder in our family moved geographically nearby, but dementia seems to widen the gap between us—or between us and who she used to be. …more

Breathing Room

Breathing roomFinding yourself with no room to breathe? It’s especially challenging during this time of year, when we’re rushing around, fighting the traffic, ticking off our list of things to get—hurrying up so we can sit around the hearth, expressing our gratitude, with people we love, but don’t always enjoy.

Here are a couple of simple suggestions.

Breathe.

Take a moment to breathe. Sit or stand still. Exhale deeply. Exhale a little more. And a little more. Hold the breath out. Pause. Wait until it’s time to inhale. Let the air in and notice where the air goes. Pause. Repeat. And repeat again, as often as you like. …more

Grief and Gratitude

I don’t like to think of myself as greedy, but it does occur to me that I want a lot. A whole lot. As in, maybe too much to ask for. I want a long, full, rich life. And I want all my friends and loved ones—including you—to have long, full, rich lives.

What I’ve noticed lately is that I’m afraid I’ll miss out. I recently lost a few people who were near and dear to me.

Empty chairsOne was 86 years old. He had a long, rich, full life and knew it. He seemed satisfied with his life, but he would have happily welcomed more. He was my father-in-law, and I can’t begin to express how much richer my life is because of his life and the way he lived it.

Another person I lost was half my father-in-law’s age and died suddenly. She lived a rich, full life, but it was much too short for me to get to know her as I would have liked. My life was richer and fuller because of my brief acquaintance with her.

I’ve also lost two of my brothers recently. They were younger than I, and they missed out on some things that I hold dear. It makes me sad to think that their lives might not have been as rich and full, and certainly not as long, as I would have liked. And, again, my life is richer for having been their sister.

Grieving is a curious experience. I find myself feeling sad and tired. And then I find myself wanting to reach out and go for the gusto—do the things I’ve always wanted to do, go the places I’ve always wanted to go, live life to the fullest. And there’s also the realization of what I don’t want. I don’t want to lose any more friends and loved ones.

I keep everything. I’m not a hoarder, but I don’t let go of stuff easily, and I feel especially determined to keep my friends and loved ones. The odd thing is that when I hold on too tightly—to people or to stuff—my life feels less full. When I enjoy the moment, enjoy the presence of others, even when I experience the sadness and grief and confusion, my life is richer, fuller, better. As far as how long a life ought to be, that’s a mystery. It can seem very long indeed, and yet, no matter how long, it’s the blink of an eye.

Thanksgiving is next week, and I’m thinking about gratitude. Gratitude for life in all its mystery and confusion and grief and grace. I’m so lucky. I wish you much to be grateful for and a very happy Thanksgiving celebration.

A Simple Thank-you Will Do Quite Nicely

Menil Magnolias
Menil Magnolias
by Gika Rector

I paid for someone’s dinner the other night, and she thanked me kindly. I made a trip to help someone with a daunting chore. She thanked me for coming, even before we got started on the work. Nicely done, and what a difference it made. Being acknowledged for doing something helpful or nice adds to the quality of the exchange. Makes it a little more worthwhile.

These experiences put me in mind of another situation, in which I’ve been both acknowledged and rebuffed. The acknowledgements help me move forward; the other stuff makes me wonder if it’s worth it, which in turn means it takes that much more energy to do what I do there.

So here’s what I want to say about this: please thank others for what they do. And if you disagree with what they do, it’s okay to communicate that. Please, just include appreciation for the efforts they make, and do it with respect and courtesy. It’ll make the world a nicer place—at least your corner of the world, for a little while.

And please let me know what kind of experiences you’ve had with expressions of gratitude. What kind of results are you noticing? Oh—and thanks for reading.

Pain and Grace

I’ve known her for a really long time, but I don’t remember our first meeting. I do remember our first road trip. I drove and she told me stories the whole way—there and back. I was totally engaged, listening and laughing and wondering which parts of the stories I should actually believe.

Menil Magnolia
Menil Magnolia, salt print on silk
by Gika Rector

She was fun, totally fun. Life was an adventure, a joy, something to relish with friends and loved ones. Until it wasn’t. Until it all came crashing in and it was too much.

I’m smart, and I’m interested, and I’m curious. But it still took me a while to notice the pattern of her life. Happy, lively, engaged, generous and fun, crashing and burning. Dark and stormy. Tears. How to keep going? Too much pain.

Once, I kept her going, when she had decided to end it. It took her a long time to forgive me. …more