Beyond Cozy


Butterfly in Mount Ranier National Park, by Mark Smutny

I pulled a soft blanket over my shoulders, tucked my hands under the pillow and fell asleep.  Sometime in the night, I woke up with my right hand and arm numb and hurting like Hades.  Curling myself into a ball felt cozy at first but eventually cut enough circulation to my arm that my arm and hand “went to sleep.”  Note to self:  Don’t stay curled up so long you become numb.

It’s been about two years now, that I’ve lived a mostly secluded life because of health issues.  First in LA, where I was pinned inside because air pollution inflamed my lungs and put my life at risk.  then in Seattle, where it’s taken a year for my body to recover from the injury I did to it in LA with years of pollution.  My world shrank as I curled into a ball to survive.

Safe to say, I’m not the only one who finds it hard to exit the cocoon and come back to life after a time of solitude.  Folding in on ourselves is often an essential, life-saving strategy.  It conserves our energy, lets our mind and body heal from illness or grief.  It keeps us safe.

But staying like that for too long can cut us off, numb us, cause us to feel invisible and useless, and make it hard to re-engage.  Butterflies struggle to emerge from their cocoon.  My fingers tingle and ache as I wiggle them back to life.  We hesitate to reach out friends, search for a new job, adapt to new circumstances, resume hobbies we used to enjoy.

I slept through my hand and arm going numb until it became too much to bear.  I only acted when the pain awakened me.  Then I rotated my shoulder and dangled my arm.  Action, even minor, restored feeling and life.

We emerge slowly.  Testing.  Pushing through discomfort.  Pausing.  Starting again.

Feeling returns.  Life flows again in fits and starts.  Bit by bit, we wiggle our fingers, dry our wings, and begin to live again.

5 thoughts on “Beyond Cozy

  1. K H Altaner

    So glad to hear a good report. Keep on going!! Miss both of you. Remember last you spoke here @ WG. Much love, K H Altaner

  2. Owen Dave and Jean

    Oh Barbara,

    You have been SO much on my heart for the past two weeks or so. I have so much to share and to hear. Until we can talk on the phone, which is always my preference, here are some quick details from my life:

    I have moved to Villa Gardens Apt 354, 842 E. Villa St Pasadena CA 91101 phones are the same. I AM TOTALLY HAPPY It wasn’t easy but I had a lot of help and wanted to do it. My Apt is just what I want and need and I love it. I still find it hard to leave it. Fifi did not make the move. Her quality of life was not wonderful and I think the change of habitat would have been too much for her. I DO miss her a lot

    Family is fine, please continue to hold John in your prayers this week he is in Houston with the project, TEAM RUBICON. I leave this thurs for Amarillo to celebrate Kyrie’s first birthday. She is Carole’s granddaughter !! It is hard for me to think of both John and Carole as Grandparents !!!

    I am so glad to her your health is improving and was delighted to hear about your new home and “grounds” and Mark’s new interests. Is he still an Interim ? How are your children and grands ?

    i will look forward to our talk when it happens, Meanwhile MUCH LOVE TO YOU BOTH Jean >

  3. Laura Monteros

    Thanks for writing this. I thought I was the only one who wanted to go live in a hollowed-out redwood tree in the middle of the forest! Well, I still kinda want to do that. It is hard to change my social habits, and being an erstwhile misanthrope doesn’t help. Glad you are working on it! This column reads like the Barbara Anderson sermons I loved.

  4. Frank Hollingsworth

    So glad to hear you’re emerging from your cacoon, and sorry to hear that you needed one. Life takes so many different twists and sometimes the distribution curve doesn’t feel fair. Seems like I heard words similar to that watching our wedding video recently from the person who greets you in the mirror. Kathy and I have enjoyed what seems a central message of The Shack, that God is especially fond of all of us and is there with us through everything, good and less good.
    Thanks again for participating in a special highlight of our lives, and we’re still as different as ever.

  5. Sandi

    It is sooo good to hear from your quiet cacoon, Barbara! I find myself confined to my cozy little blue cottage in Bandon, Oregon. Surgeries to the cancerous bones on my right arm have left me with limited use of right arm, but praise the Lord, all is in remission. Aging gracefully has been my goal. In reality it is more a tangled tango than the smooth waltz anticipated!

    On the bright side, Bandon is a sunny micro-
    Climate easily coste into harvests of plump raspberries daily, heaps of yellow and red tomatoes to give to the EAT program (local everyone at the table hunger program) and Swiss Chard to cook in more ways than I could ever imagine . Even 13 year old Tar Baby the cat is thriving.
    Spread your beautiful wings as you stretch
    Beyond your cocoon, dear friend. You are loved. Bask in the pleasure of work well done.


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