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?  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Better Questions

I recently went to Greece on a retreat for 10 days.  While I am still processing a lot of those experiences, when I got back home I fell down pretty hard.  It was a lot to ask of my body to travel there and back not to mention the activities and managing food  and treatments while I was there.  

I came home depleted and exhausted.  My body was having difficulty adjusting back to the time change and I spent a lot more time then I would like in bed doing nothing.  I do mean nothing, not sleeping, not listening to music or books, just simply laying down and not moving.  I needed to ask Adam with help with groceries and food, which puts added stress on him.  

So what is my tendency in these situations?  How do I feel about myself?  I feel pretty terrible about myself, my self critic will kick in big time and my self compassion drops to a zero.  None of this pattern helps me recover faster, it is just another draw on my energy.  So how do I change that?  How do I transform this pattern of I am worth something when I am "well" and I am not worth something when I need to rest and recover?  

I could go into patterns learned in childhood, that I have since reinforced through my own actions.  But for me this is a feeling, it is not logical.  Understanding the creation of the pattern is not enough in this case, it must be interrupted again and again, new pathways need to be formed and nurtured.  One way to do that is to become a question ninja, to ask questions until one opens up a door.  

It is about having the patience with myself to ask a lot of questions, because when I feel poorly I am not terribly receptive or connected.  I want to push the world away and curl up in my little ball and not be seen.  Which again makes it really difficult to ask for help, or even accept help that might be offered.  

So here are some questions that made me stop, that opened up some new doors, and changed my perspective a little bit.  Yep, I am still exhausted and I will be resting for the next couple of days, but I will slowly step away from that self critic and through some new doors.

  1. Do I want to be perfect or healthy?
  2. Do I want to accept that I am human and have needs or continue to repress them?
  3. Do I want connection or significance?

That allure of perfection is a common theme for me, and a complete illusion.  Health and well-being on the other hand is real, and I am worth being real, human and connected.  


Question of the day:  What are questions you ask yourself to break your patterns?  What patterns need a slight perspective shift?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The importance of breathing



Ever have those moments that start to snowball?   That it starts to feel like everything is starting to go wrong and you start to believe it is just going to be one of "those" days.  

My moments started before I went to bed, while reading through some literature on medication, I noticed that the one medication I take everyday, the first thing I take as soon as my alarm goes off has peppermint in it.  I recently discovered a sensitivity to peppermint.

I just burst into tears, kicking myself, beating myself up for not noticing sooner.  It is a common thing, forgetting to ask if something is in food, and then having to face the reaction.   It is cause and effec; as much as I pay attention, as diligent as I try to be I make mistakes.   

Things started adding up through out the next morning, to the point where I had forgotten my water, my bladder diary and my notes for my doctor appointment.  I pulled into the parking garage and felt stupid, irresponsible and exhausted, and it was only 8:00 in the morning.

Immediately that little voice spoke up and said "well it is just going to be one of those days..."

I refused to believe this needed to keep snowballing.  I did the only thing I could do, I started taking some very deep breaths.  Silently telling myself to reset, to forgive and move forward.  

I wish I could say that it was a magic moment and my feelings of stupidity and irresponsibly went away.  I still felt that way, I still wondered if the doctor would refuse to give me treatment that day or if I would have to drive home and then back.  But those decisions were out of my control.

The importance of breathing is to remind me to keep moving forward, gently and remember that new treatments come with new stresses.  It brings me to the present moment, to look around and discover my resources.  I still got myself to the doctor, I am still showing up.  

Yes, the last couple of days I have been so exhausted that I have made decisions between eating or showering, between washing dishes or laying down on the couch, I feel like a mess, the apartment is a mess but one gentle step forward at a time with as many deep breaths as it takes to keep showing up.

Question of the day:  What is the reset button you need today, what will remind me you to be just a little gentler with yourself?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Looking for the stable ground

Here I am in the doctor's office, taking another chance.  This is a really difficult thing to explain, the uneasiness of trying something new.   It took a number of months to get this appointment, this chance at "the best option."   Words that I have heard so many times in my life, not even related to interstitial cystitis, also related to infertility, to migraines, to pelvic pain and irregular bleeding.   

In my most recent follow up with my specialist, I was full of gratitude and relief that something was helping immensely.   That all the different treatments, tests, physical therapy and diet modifications had resulted in an upward trajectory.  Considering where I was a year ago, still in and out of the emergency room, this has been a huge change.  As I was catching up with my doctor and emphasizing the improvements in my life, I hesitated.  I thought do I even mention anything, do I even ask for help with nocturia?   Or do i count my blessings, and stay on this treatment?   

I was taught to be grateful for what I have, to realize how much worse it could be and to not ask for too much.  But still getting up to pee three to four times a night on average is a little disruptive to a sleep cycle.  So with my heart pounding, I asked what else could be done.   I asked if there were more ideas.  

I was left with the best option, regular weekly visits for three months for my tibial nerve to be stimulated and hopefully my nervous system slowly reprogrammed.  I was given some literature to look over and decide.  I had two months, to consider, to weigh the options, and to research.  To go over the worst case scenario over and over, because that is how my brilliant mind works.  Not focusing on the best case, but the worst case.  (Still need to practice changing my focus over and over again.)

However it wasn't until a few days before that appointment that anxiety really started to set it.  Remember I had spent two months going over the worst scenario over and over.  As the appointment loomed closer, that seemed to be the mostly likely scenario and finally the only scenario and I felt completely trapped.  I had just proven to myself how easy it was to reprogram my nervous system, that all the research and focusing on the worst case scenario and narrowed my vision, my perception and my belief of what was possible.  

So why?  Why this belief in the worst case scenario?  Because when it comes to my health, I would rather live in disappointment then be disappointed by something not working out.  Being disappointed hurts, it stings and reinforces this idea that that there is something wrong with me. But why chose to live in that state?  What was I doing?   

Yesterday, I spent the day reexamining the literature.  Deciding to look at the best case scenario, deciding to look at the whole spectrum of possibilities, and still the anxiety is there but the disappointment is gone and that is when the knowledge that everything changes shines through.  That belief that I always find my way back to, that it will get better, that it continues to get better and I continue to learn and live.   This is not that shiny place of everything is sunshine and rainbows, this is the stable ground of being able to observe, be open and patient.  It is a solid place to move from and to return to.  

I sit here feeling the pulses in my leg and trusting the path will continue to change, grow and evolve, that something much larger then me is weaving the tapestry and even if I end up being disappointed it will all lead to better service.  


Question of the day:  When is the last time you let yourself believe it was going be alright?  Do you find yourself entering situations already disappointed as a defense mechanism for vulnerability?

Monday, May 22, 2017

The last 30 pages

Almost two years, I have been working on filling this journal.  I started it when I went to Greece and it seems fitting that I finished it right before I head back to Greece.  This journal explores yoga teacher training, 40 rules of love, the Daoist Precepts I accepted as a Priest, discussions about some scriptures and the last 30 pages are what I hope will be the start of my book.  

It might be more accurate to say those last 30 pages are what it took to convince myself that I have a story worth sharing, that there is some wisdom in it that I have gleamed and that someone out there might benefit from hearing it.  

It is easy for me to write, I have countless journals that I have filled with my journeys, but it is a different game for me to say. I think there is some wisdom here, I think someone can benefit.  Writing is a state changer for me, it is a way that I gain perspective and sometimes it takes years.   It has taken almost 30 years to change my language about something, and I was surprised what started to come out when I finally admitted maybe I have something of worth to offer.  To accept that something from my own life, not some knowledge I have read about, not someone else's story but my own is worth sharing as much as the other people's lives I value.  

How do I reflect that in my life?  It is one thing to come to that conclusion, it is quite another to live it.  It is a journey of bumps and bruises, that I can't predict.  For now, it means that I will continue to work on this book for as long as it takes and I will notice the opportunities to share my own story instead of someone else's in my everyday life.  

So thankful for reading and supporting my writing all of these years.  The little bits of encouragement I get every so often, help keep me going and sharing.  Love you!

Question of the day:  How do you reflect your own beliefs in your life?