Friday, August 18, 2017

Six months

Change...it is a house rule and when it happens slowly, it is easy to forget where I was before.  It is easy to lose sight of how much progress has been made.

Six months ago, I was in my doctor's office for a follow-up, to discuss what about my treatment plan was working and what wasn't.  At that point I was still getting up six-seven times a night to urinate, I was curious what else could be done, so I could get some solid sleep.   She suggested a few things, a hormone treatment, different medication or a nerve stimulation treatment which would take time.  In a world where sometimes I lose track and just want a pill to fix it, three months seemed like a long time.  But it was still the best treatment suggestion for me.

In the last six months, it took a while to even start the nerve treatment I have had two huge moments, where I cried in gratitude.  The first was a few weeks ago, when I no longer had blood in my urine, that has not been the case in years.  The second time was when I slept completely through the night without having to get up once to urinate.  

Change happens slowly, health returns and it takes time to learn what helps and what doesn't.  Is there one thing that I can say helped the most, no.  It was little things, each little thing that I tried, stuck with or eliminated.  It was both my doctor and my acupuncturist taking the time to continue providing new options and doing their own work and research to be able to find something that will help.  

Adam seems to get this question a lot.  “So Lenore is better right?”  Yes and no, it depends on where you are looking from.  Yes I am so much better then I was, I know more about my body and how to listen to it.  However, there is still a lot going on, I am still taking lots of herbs and supplements, I am still very cautious about my diet (I finally got to introduce broccoli!!!), I still have plenty of sleepless nights and days where walking is difficult and painful.  All of this effects Adam’s life as well, when I have a sleepless night even if I am not the couch, he doesn’t sleep as well.  When I am hurting, it wears on him.  Understand that is a tough question for him to answer and he sometimes needs support too.  He does so much to help me, and it inspires me to keep going.  He makes me laugh, smile and find the beauty in my darkest moments.  He fights harder for me, and has never given up; he is amazing!

However each one of the little changes and improvements gives me hope, gives me hope that I will be able to wean off regular bladder instillations.  Hope that I might get to have chocolate or spicy food again.  Hope that I will be able to run, without so much fear and tension.  Hope that I won’t feel like less then I was before because of this condition, not because of what I can or can’t do; but because my perspective will grow and change.  That I will no longer compare myself to some idealized illusion from the past and will accept every bit of myself in the here and now.

Each one of those steps forward, reminds me that life is continuing to grow and change, that I am not stuck, no matter how it feels.  Change sometimes takes time, but it happens, the question becomes what are you working towards.  


Question of the day: What are you working on right now, that has you feeling impatient?  Can you go back and see who you were six months ago and see the movement?  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Illusions

A number of years ago, Adam and I were watching a full moon rise and I turned to look at him.  I said “did you see that, the moon passed right in between the clouds, it passed through them.”  My beloved husband, looked at me in disbelief and said “what, the clouds can never be behind the moon?”   I looked at him, confident in what I saw, dismissing years and years of scientific knowledge and said, “yes it can.”   Quickly I realized his point of view and I laughed pretty hard at myself.  

Though it didn’t stop the fact that I had seen this marvelous illusion.  For a moment I really believed that the moon passed through the clouds as if it was just a prop in our atmosphere and not a celestial body.  I believed what my eyes saw, I believed the illusion.  It can be so easy to fool ourselves by what we see, hear etc…to not ask additional questions, to fail to expand our perspective.  In fact the mind likes to fill in these blanks with drama, anxiety, hence the saying “the mind is a terrible master.”    

There has been something that is weighing down my heart, something truly heartbreaking to me.  I have seen it repeated several times in the last week, in different contexts and my immediate reaction is to bury myself in the sand.  I am not that person anymore, the sand is no longer home, the dynamic of life is home.  The times when I am able to take a step back, and realize that cloud and the moon are not in the same plane, it gives me a moment to question.  I can check in with the stories that my mind is spinning and separate them from my feelings.  I can find my ground, and trust my actions.  To focus on what needs to be done, what is actually in front of me and the rest just needs to be blessed.  

It is easy for me to use the fire of emotions as fuel, to take giant leaps or run with an action.  However when that fire is high, it is also when I am the most unsettled and muddy.  It is a time for small steps, for observation, for feeling and acknowledging the emotions are not who I am.  

Question of the day: Where are you right now? Is this a time for action or for a little bit of observation?  



Monday, August 7, 2017

Bully, part two

My life is about to change, I have been working on something for almost five years now, and it is finally coming to fruition.  I was accepted into a CPE (clinical pastoral education) program at a local hospital and I will be a resident Chaplain for the next year.  These last few weeks are a bit of the countdown and rest period before that work starts.  

There is this giant change coming, and I am nervous, excited and everything in between.  However there are so many questions, that won’t have answers until I am in a room with a patient, until I know a clinical assignment, until I start and get my feet on the ground.  If you have learned anything about me, one I like plans, and two my life is pretty much built around routine.  So going from full-time wife and part-time volunteer to full-time chaplain, school and full-time wife, is a bit daunting right now.   

With all the uncertainty and change looming, I feel pretty anxious about the future.  Reading through the material for this upcoming residency is exciting and intimidating.  However I made a mistake last night before bed, I was reading through the syllabus for one of the units and my internal bully started spinning.  It started telling me there was no way I could do this, I have never done it before, I don’t know how and I am just going to fail.  Needless to say it resulted in a pretty restless night.  

I got up in the morning, feeling exhausted, depleted and drained.   So I put clothes on, went down to the gym and started walking until it was light enough out to go walking down to the bayou.  I ran some errands and when I got home to start working on my studies, the bully was there right next to me.  

I had no response, I truly had no response.  So I walked away from my computer for a second, and sat.  I stopped arguing with the bully, I stopped trying to find ways to prove it wrong.  I just sat for a long time.  Thinking, looking for something in my heart, something that I had to offer that no one else in this program would.  (Which is another fool’s errand, because I don’t know the people yet.).  

Then I remembered before I left to go grocery shopping I asked Adam, “what are my skills, what am I good at?”   This is not false modesty looking for a compliment, this was a sincere question, this was me telling Adam, I don’t see it right now, help me.  He started talking and I quickly got ready to leave.  As he made a joke about not being able to handle a compliment, I made an excuse.  

While I was sitting there with this bully, I thought “why the fuck does this bully have more say in my life, then Adam?”   I made a list, a very short list of the people whose opinions I really cared about, the only people with authority to put me in my place, to help me see reality and to encourage me.  The fucking bully is not on that list.  So I told the bully over and over, “you are not on my list.”   

I thought of the few people on my list.  I thought about things they had said about me, about my ability to listen, my ability to make someone feel safe, my ability to articulate myself and the fact that I am a good fit for this job.  None of them have told me it will be easy and all of them have said they believe in me, they are proud of me, and they love having me as a part of their life.  What else would I want the people I am closest in the world to say about me at my funeral?  That I enriched their lives.  Again those people are real, the bully is not.  

My list is who I trust, the people I seek out for their honest opinions and the people I trust to help me change my focus to what is real.  


Question of the day:  Who is on your list?  When is the last time you truly listened to them and absorbed what they had to say about you and how you enrich their lives?     

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wilderness, my old friend

This past month has been incredibly difficult, I have spent more time in recovery mode then I have in a long time.  I have hit wall after wall, I have struggled through work counting the minutes until I could go home.  I have ended up at my apartment door in tears more times then I can count just because of how much it hurts to walk.  Yet, somehow I still got through the month, I still managed to go to work, I still managed to go grocery shopping and make meals.  I managed to travel a number of times even though it meant using a wheelchair. 

This past month it felt like my health was going downhill again.  I had to turn down a dream writing opportunity, because I didn’t have the extra energy.  I lost time with friends and I spent a lot more time at my doctor’s office then normal.  Asking for a wheelchair at the airport reminded me again how invisible my condition is.  

However the pain is nothing compared to the lies my mind has told me in this past month.  I live with a bully, and it will take any advantage it possibly can to tell me that I am not enough, I am unlovable and I am unworthy.  These past years of living with IC, chronic pain, ovarian cysts etc…are a tiny minuscule dot compared to the anguish this bully has given me throughout my life.   This bully that is fed by platitudes, by expectations, by shoulds and by misunderstandings.  A bully that can turn Facebook, conversations with friends, inspiring stories and other innocent interactions into something venomous.  

This weekend a line in the sand was drawn, it is a bully, it lies.  I asked for help, and I showed up to receive that help.  There is nothing wrong with self-care, there is nothing wrong with MY self-care.  It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look like anyone else’s, it is mine.   

So I hope you will permit me to to share with you, my lines in the sand.  My end of the argument with this bully, the next steps into the wilderness and wake up each and every morning and say I am lovable.

It is okay to know my limits, and to turn down opportunities.  It will always be with me, that someone saw my talent, and that I do have potential to grow and flourish as a writer.  It will be at my pace.  

It is okay to wake up a few hours early to make tea and do a practice.  It is okay to take time to take care of myself and my body.  I am not “missing out” on something because I go to bed early.    

It is okay to admit I need a nap or need to lie down.  There will be plenty of board games in the future and it was nice to have my friends still close and just be near them.  

It is okay that I don’t know what I am doing.  That is the adventure, exploring, learning and growing.  

It is okay that I feel like the world is moving too fast.  There is no race and I can stop trying to catch up, I haven’t been left behind yet.  Honoring my pace, being honest is really the only way I will make progress. 

It is necessary to take this transition time and rest.  I won’t know all the answers going into this new job and new position, life is giving me the training I need each and every moment.  

It is okay to be happy and silly.  

I am lovable, I am love.  

It is the scariest thing in the world to ask for help, to show up and then to really be receptive to that help.  However there are so many different paths up that mountain and so many people willing to lend a hand, everyone is worth being cared for, including me.  


Question of the day: What is your self-care practice?  

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Graceful

Graceful

The definition of graceful can be having or showing grace of elegance.  It is a word I would not use to describe myself or my actions, but what if I started to look at it differently.  What if I break down the word, to mean things that fill me with grace?  What if I become graceful by focusing on what speaks to my spirit, what brings me grace?

My teacher likes to remind me that grace is an unearned gift, it has nothing to do with worth, it is the blessing of choice, the freedom to chose how to react in any given situation.  Professional dancers are graceful and elegant because they have chosen to dedicate their lives to that passion, they have nurtured their spirit with dance, and their spirit has nurtured their dance.

So what does graceful look like living with chronic pain, with a chronic illness?  Today it meant when I woke up screaming and fighting off imaginary attackers that felt like they were stabbing me that I accepted Adam's embrace, his words and his reminder to breathe through the pain.  I sleep with a weighted blanket, it weighs about 16 pounds so understand when I talk about thrashing around that, the blanket went flying.  The stabbing and spasming pain was so intense I thought I was being attacked.   (Again the mind lies.)

It took a great deal of time for me to calm down, to unlock the muscles that I was able to.  I still haven't figured out how to calm down those bladder spasms and tears just kept coming.  The grace is the ease in which Adam rises up to comfort me very early in the morning, steady and solid.  I become graceful not because the pain goes away, not because I stop fighting but because I accept the breath.  I chose in those moments where every part of me is telling me I am helpless to come back to the breath.   Yes, there are times I need prompting and the reminder but what else are our loved ones here for?

They are here to remind us of the grace inside each and everyone of us.  They are here to hold us and support us when all of our tools have broken down.  They are there to remind up that we can rebuild those tools and that life is a cycle.  

On the days that my spoons are exhausted, I come back to the breath, I come back to soft soothing music, I come back to the scriptures and prayers and trust that this too shall pass.  Sometimes I even come back to mindless TV, or cute animal videos.  The pain always passes and in the end I have filled my spirit with just a little more grace.  

Question of the day: What fills you with grace?  Can you make one of things a part of your daily life?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Gently

I have been blessed with some phenomenal teachers, teachers through out my life that have inspired me, humbled me and some times just left me awe.  There are teachers that I have been fortunate enough to spend years with and some that just come and go for a moment.  I think of these coincidences as little tests from the universe, to see see if I am present and paying attention.  The universe is always opening doors for us, opportunities but sometimes there is so much going on...   

I love maps, I love to know what to expect, what to plan for and who I need to be in a situation.  However lately my lessons have seemed to have the message look at the terrain, stop looking at the next step.  Another way to phrase this would be to trust that it will all unfold perfectly and to just let go.  The greatest lesson of course, is that I only need to be me in any situation.  I don't need to do anything, just be.  

I noticed today in yoga just how much struggle there is around this idea.  The teacher gave us a cue to follow our hand with our eyes, moving in an arc in front of us.  I had a rough time with this simple motion, my eyes would literally jump in front of my hand, to the final destination.  I finally had to really slow down my breath, close my eyes for a moment, block out the world and just focus on my hand.  I stopped the movement and just observed my hand, making new introductions to my eyes and my hand.  

I locked on to my right hand, took my attention to the blood flow and just observed.  I noticed all the little tremors and shaking that I have developed in the last year, the strength of the natural curve of my hand, that I needed to cut my nails, and finally my fingerprints.  Then my eyes quickly jumped to the teacher to see what I was “missing.”  The class had switched hands at that point and so I did my best to really follow my left hand with my eyes, to gently bring them back when I found them jumping to the destination.  

Right now, I have no map, I have only the terrain.  There is only the trust that others have walked this path before me, that the destination can be reached.   I know the destination, I know what I want and so while I keep that firmly in my mind’s eye it is time to gently bring my eyes back to the terrain.  Looking for the map, makes me tense, jumpy and disconnected, so it is time for some simple introductions to the terrain to begin.  One breath at a time, one step at a time and one word at a time, gently coming back to the here and now.


Question of the day:  How do you remain focused on the journey, when it is through the wilderness?