Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Why?

So I am breaking the rules, but technically it is my blog and I made the rule, so I can break it.  This photo was not taken by a phone, it was taken by a photographer in Walt Disney World.   I am still in awe that the photographer captured my gleeful face.   It serves as a great reminder about why I am took the risk and went on a vacation.

Less then six weeks after being told I could chose to change my lifestyle, or find other ways to cope and manage the pain in my body, I left my comfort zone.   I went with Ashley's family to Florida and was determined to make the most of the experience and also to listen to my body and be kind when it was time to rest.  

I have to say in some ways it was easier then I expected, Disney handles food allergies and sensitivities extremely well, we also had a kitchen so I was able to make most of my meals.    In other ways it was tough to not be able to physically do a lot of the things I wanted, it was difficult for me to not feel ill when I was taking twenty pills a day, and sometimes I just needed a break to go cry by myself.   

I learned a lot on the trip, I learned that it is possible to travel, and to figure out how to eat.   I also learned that it puts a lot more stress on my body and I am still taking some time to recover and rest.  

The biggest lesson I learned is that I can still have a full life, a life filled with joy and love even when I am not feeling my best.   Because for me that is the hardest part, when I am in pain, it is difficult for me to imagine a time when I didn't hurt.  It is difficult for me to imagine being able to run, and jump and dance without bracing.   However those moments exist everyday, even if it is not useful for my body to jump right now, my heart can still leap, and I can be extremely grateful for my amazing and beautiful life.


Question to consider: What is the most recent lesson you learned dealing with the stress of the holiday season?  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bone broth

This weekend I made some bone broth, and as I looked at the jars all bottled up. I remembered a blog talking about bone broth years ago.  The blogger had been diagnosed with colitis, and since she was a food blogger, she really focused on the different ways that food would help heal her body.  At one point she wrote a blog about bone broth and the health benefits and her hopes of how it would help her intestinal track.  She was also exploring acupuncture and other methods to help her manage her symptoms.     I remember reading the comments on that post and was shocked at how venomous people were about using food to heal the body.  Lots of readers commented that they were done with her blog and she had gone too far.  My heart hurt for her reading those comments and for the readers who weren't able to relate to having a chronic disease.  

When my doctor diagnosed me with interstial cystitis a month and a half ago, I started researching food, herbs and medications.  I have been weighing all the pluses and minuses.  I decided to keep with a strict diet and see how it helps.  It gets exhausting, and there are many times that I feel like giving up and just having a brownie.  There have been moments when I ask Adam if I am better off just calling the doctor and starting some medication, especially when I feel miserable.   

I ask myself constantly why am I taking this approach?   What are my values?   What is the language that I can use to remind me why I chose not to have a brownie or a glass of wine right now?   And because I am still processing this diagnosis, I am still figuring out what it means to me, the language is changing.  My focus is constantly being adjusted.   

Since I have not found stable ground yet, it makes everything seem less stable.  However I am very lucky, I have a ton of support and knowledgable people to help guide me through this process.   There are people I can lean on when the ground feels unstable and constantly changing.  

I continue going step by step, to see what is useful and what is not useful.   To decide what will help me thrive in this life, not survive.  

Question to consider:  How often do you pay attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel?  


Monday, November 30, 2015

Gifts

When I was in college I started to have panic attacks, it started out just occasionally, and then I started having them once or twice a week.  So I finally went to someone to talk about what was going on, and they decided in addition to working on biofeedback therapy to start me on some medication to get me through the last few weeks of the semester.  At this time, the medication was not the best thing for my system and I started having 3-4 panic attacks a day.  Which meant I was very comitted to the biofeedback therapy and the exercises the therapist was helping me with.  Eventually the doctor agreed that he medication was not helpful in this case and I was safely weaned off of it.     I still had panic attacks and anxiety attacks but those few weeks had taught me a lot about my triggers and things I could do to help.  Eventually I just occasionally had anxiety attacks, and rarely a panic attack.

The past few weeks I have been having a lot of anxiety attacks in the grocery store (a common trigger).  Grocery shopping, food preparation and even eating have been a source of overstimulating my nervous system.   As Thanksgiving approached I grew even more and more anxious.  I was running out of recipe ideas with limited ingredients and was stressed about going to a Thanksgiving meal and not being able to eat anything that was provided. 

There are no words to describe the gratitude I felt when my friend, Victoria, who was hosting Thanksgiving told me she had made some food especially for me folloing my diet and so I had no need to pack a lunch.   It was the first time in weeks, since I started this elimination diet that someone had prepared food for me.  It gave me the gift of being able to be a guest.   Adam was there when I got the message and I just started crying.

In addition to allowing me to be a guest, she also gave me some hope and inspiration to get back to the kitchen and keep experimenting.   To keep going!   She reminded me that I am worth a lot more then this illness is telling me I am worth.  

It opened the door for me to notice all the opportunities being given to me for someone to take are of me.  Adam helping to bundle me up and come up with new ideas to help keep me warm.   Adam reminding me to laugh and to get out of the house to see friends even if I got tired, even if I spend the next couple hours resting.   

I am so thankful for Victoria this weekend for being such a magnificent host and creating space for me to heal and be loved. 

Question to consider:  What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sitting on the Curb

I have been walking a lot lately.  The first day I started walking again, I went out to some trails I usually run on, and found how much I missed being amoung those trees.    So I have been walking eveyday, and somedays I am able to walk for 45 minutes some days I only make it about 20.   This weekend however, I felt like I barely made it out of the door with Adam and Sterling when the pain began intensifying.  

So these are the moments I get to practice, I get to feel what my body is doing and send it signals to relax the muscles that are gripping and spasming.   I get to pay attention to how I am walking and see if I can change something to make myself a bit more comfortable.  

After a couple of blocks, I looked at Adam and said I needed to sit down.  He was kind of enough to take Sterling back to the house and come get me in the car.  I cried a lot, and when we got home, we got out the heating pads and Adam helped me get into a comfortable position.  

Needless to say on Monday when I locked the door and started my walk I was worried.   I was worried the pain would be too much and I would be "stuck" somewhere.   I have this fear a lot, this fear of canceling plans at the last minute, of having to leave dinners early, of simply not having enough energy to face the day.   I have this fear that I won't be loved if I chose to take care of myself and stay home, or leave early or walk super slow ect.....

The funny thing is in the last couple of months a lot of these situations have happened.  I have sat crying in my car for an hour before I was able to drive, I have arrived to appointments late, I have left early...and I am still okay.   I am still surrounded by people that love me.  

So I will continue to walk everyday, with the faith that I will get stronger.  The faith that I will not merely survive but will thrive with the cards I have been dealt.  I have a great medical team and great support, so something will help, and I will continue looking.  I will continue to say "yes!"

Question to consider:  What do you have faith in?   What enables you to say "yes" day after day?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

From the other side

This is a wonderful photo of Adam taking in the view from the edge of the cliff, getting to watch the river, and see the depth of the canyon that was slowly carved by time.   It was truly a breathtaking view, even from where I took the photo.

Here is what you don't see in this photo.   Adam's feelings about walking away from his wife who had just collapsed against a rock because of the pain.   I am not in the photo, leaning against a rock, evaluating my body to determine where the pain is coming from, and if I can walk the twenty or so steps to the edge.   My feelings aren't in this photo, my feelings of frustration, of awe, of gratitude, the fear and so many other feelings and thoughts.   The feelings ultimately pass and I am able to settle into the beauty of the surroundings.   

I didn't make it to the edge of the rock that day, I did get to take in a different view.  I am getting to learn that there is nothing wrong with my view, because even if Adam and I were standing in the exact same place we wouldn't see the same view.   I got a chance to breath in the canyon air, talk with Adam about what carved the canyon, rivers or glaciers, and just marvel at the beauty that surrounded us.  

Question to consider: When you see old photos do you remember what you were thinking/feeling when you took them?   

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Comfort

I started to feel poorly, and I kept going, I kept going until the poorly turned into something a lot worse.  So I took some time to rest and figured things would get better, and they got a little better but not much better.   So I kept going back to the doctor, and eventually she ran out of ideas and referred me to a specialist.

So I went to a specialist and learned this was not going to be a quick fix.  It would get better on it's own time, not my time, not a doctor's time, the body would heal according to it's time.   I was given a new diet and a list of herbs to experiment with, to see what made a difference. A few more tests were ordered and I felt like my life had been completely changed.   

The scientist in me understands there is a difference between causation and correlation.  The scientist in me wants to know the mechanism of why something works, wants to look at the chemistry and the medical studies.  However I get to simply experiment with what makes my body feel better, what helps me heal.   I get to read books, and information about why something might be helpful or hurtful, in the end it all comes down to me.   If it works, maybe I will understand why, it doesn't matter I need to accept that it works.

This experience has been completely overwhelming and I am not out of the woods yet, in some ways I haven't entered the woods.  I don't know how long it will take and I have chosen to ask for a break from my jobs and my teaching so that I can heal.   

I am focusing on things that bring me comfort, like warm drinks, warm hugs and cute adorable pillows!

Question to consider: What brings you comfort?  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

50,000 words

When I write I tend to censor myself, I don't mean edit, I censor myself.  I don't even allow certain ideas or words to be written down.  I am not just referring to my blog, it makes sense to censor what I put on the internet, I do this with my own journals and my personal writing.   I recently have made the commitment to stop censoring my self in my personal writing and I have found it difficult, at the same time I have also been surprised by how easily the words flow and how much more I want to write.  How much I have bottled up, that is waiting to just get out.  

I have been staring at a door for years, I have had people putting the door in front of me for years, peering into the doorway with people encouraging me and have never comitted to walking through.  This weekend I made a comittment to walk through that door, to dedicate myself to something and find out what it looks like.    I signed up to compete in a contest to write a novel in the month of November. To write at least 50,000 words.  This link will give you more information if you are interested: http://nanowrimo.org/how-it-works

So while I am brainstorming for my novel, I have also been practicing writing without censoring myself.  To get the words on the paper, to worry about the editting later, to see where my thoughts take me and let the story unfold.  

I shared the fact that I was doing this with a good friend and he was excited.  He wanted to sign up as well and make a pact to share the novel at the end of the month.  This terrified me even more, so maybe it is exactly what I need to do.

I was so disappointed I missed out on a conference featuring some of my favorite writers, and Adam has shared some of the talks that he recorded with me.  Adam kept saying I needed to be there, I needed to hear these authors say that people who write, have stories that the world needs to hear.  That people that tend to have anxiety and depression have voices that need to be heard, despite what the mind says.  

I decided to listen to the voices that are telling me to do this and find out what happens, instead of the voices that are telling me I have more "important" things to do and I don't have time to write.  Now I am deciding that writing is an important thing to do, and some of the dumb stuff I do is just going to be left out.  

Question to consider: What is something you tell yourself you don't have time to do, but really want to do?  Will join me in November and see what happens if you decide that is important?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A more complete vision

I was driving home from the doctor's office today and a movie that I saw a while ago came into my mind.   The movie really affected me at the time, and so I thought about writing a blog post about it.  When I got home I decided since it had been a while since I saw the movie, I wanted to look up a synopsis of it, just to sharpen my fuzzy memory.   Instead of a synopsis I clicked on a review.

The author of the review was not terribly impressed with the movie.  He talked about how the movie was predictable and unoriginal.  He also critized the actress, claiming that her beauty shown through the make-up, unkept hair and lighting and so it was difficult to believe her predictiment.  That comment got me thinking.

The idea that our beauty and spirit can still shine even when are not at our best.  Even when we put up walls, and shut down.  That what someone else sees might be a better representation of how we are capable of dealing with a difficult situation.  That other people see us as more then our biography, and whatever role we are acting out.

When I got sick in China, Adam came back to the room at one point to bring me some food, and he kept telling me how much better I looked after resting a little.  I gave all kinds of excuses about why it might appear that way.   Except maybe he was seeing the strength that I had to get better, maybe he was seeing ME, all of me and not just the sick part.   When I get sick I tend to zoom in, and think of myself in terms of the illness.  I think that there is nothing more to me, then the fact that I feel awful.   So I brushed off Adam's compliment as pity.   Maybe he just was seeing me as a complete picture, someone that is capable of getting better and thriving again.   

The spirit is there to take care, so maybe the next time someone tells you how good you look, even when you don't feel like it, LISTEN.   It might just be the voice that tells you, it is going to be okay, and you are bigger then this current obstacle.  Now to see if I can practice my own advice!

Question to consider: Do you accept compliments easily or do you tend to brush them off?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Color

This morning I had a few moments when I felt like "myself" again.  So I looked around for something to do and after putting in a load of laundry I sat down in front of my ipad to color.  I have been watching some talks on vulnerability, so I decided to put those on while I colored dragons.   

I loved coloring as a child, I was never very good at drawing, I loved to color.  To add something to someone else's work, to have the freedom to decide if if was the clouds or the sky.   To watch a black and white drawing that already had so much life change and evolve.  When I first bought this coloring book, Adam had to talk me into it.  The drawings are so spectacular, that I was worried about ruining the art.   I didn't want to make a mistake, the art kept calling to me though.   So I finally started, just by coloring the trees, and watched the art evolve and the lines tell me what to color and what to leave.   

I got stuck with frustration of not having the colors I wanted, and not having the skill to mix the colors properly to get the exact color I wanted the castles to be.  Finally I just started testing colors, and saw new possiblities.   

As I continue to work my way through this coloring book I am completely intimidated by all the blank space, by the artist that created the work, and I feel small.  I wonder how I can possibly add to the picture.   

So I look at what the artist himself wrote:  "Color it in.  Don't color it in.  Make Mistakes.  Make it your own."  

Everytime I sit down to color, I read those words, and when I worry about making a mistake, I say them outloud.  Because as I color I am practicing being kind and gentle with myself.  I am practicing being creative and falling down and learning to pick myself up.   I am learning to zoom out and expand.  I am remembering what it was like to be a child.

Question to consider: What simple things did you love as a child?   Can you find some time to add those things back into your life?  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Looking for the Moon in China

I recently got back from a 14 day trip to China, and the last night in Bejing I went for a walk.   I was sick at the end of the trip and had spent a lot of time by the window of my hotel room, coloring, reading, resting and watching the city.    That last night however I wasn't able to settle down and get to sleep, so I went for a walk.

I was just after the full moon, so I walked around the hotel looking for the moon.   I wasn't able to see it, maybe the smog or clouds covered it, maybe it was still low on the horizon and so the buildings blocked it out of view.  I felt small walking around  this giant city, listening to the chatter around me and looking for the moon.

I was out long enough to realize I didn't need to see the moon, I just wanted to be that person staring up at the moon in awe.   I went to a commencement once where Rodulfo Anaya was the speaker.  I have never forgotten what he said about New Mexicans.  He said that New Mexicans have this need to seek out natural beauty, whether it is just glimpsing the moon between buildings in a large city, we seek it out.   Growing up surrounded by so much natural beauty, gives us a craving to find it no matter where we are.   I believe looking for the natural beauty in life is what returns me to childhood, because I grew up hiking and playing in the mountains, watching gorgeous sunsets and dancing in the rain.   Part of my childlike nature is to appreciate the beauty around me, to stand there in awe.

I don't know if this is something unique to New Mexicans, I have met so many people that look for natural beauty.  Maybe we are all just looking for out childhood again when everything was new and magical.  

Question of the day: What brings you back to your childhood?   Where is the magic in your daily life?
 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Where is the focus?

I started this blog to change my focus.  To look for the things that in my life that made me happy, to realize how much I had to be grateful for.   Eventually I started seeing the world differently, the heart breaks didn't go away, but I saw more.   Things were no longer so black and white, the world slowly brightened again and colors came into focus.  

Changing my focus was something that worked for me.  I continued to take photos of whatever made me smile, no matter how silly, or if no one esle got the joke, it was enough that I got the joke.  Slowly I started adding words, and playing with writing again.   

So I am heading into September and lately my focus has been pretty stuck.   It isn't working, and I keep zooming into the pain I am feeling, and the things I am struggling with hoping that I will find the answer. Which means there is an answer, that I believe I will get through this, that I will grow past it and towards something else.  

It has become difficult for me to change my focus, to zoom out, to zoom in to something else.  So it is time to return to basics.   For the next two weeks, I am going to return to my original format of my blog.   I am simply going to take a photo with my phone of something that makes me smile.   

I hope you will join me in this two week experiment.  Pick a person in your life to E-mail or text your photo to, you can send them an E-mail to let them know what you are doing, but after that just something that made you smile.  

See what happens!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Belief

Adam and I recently had a discussion the other day.  I was feeling pretty poorly, still have a difficult time beating an infection and I don't allow myself enough time to recover.   My tank is running low or on empty and as soon as I feel a little bit of energy, I immediately go on full speed.  It is no wonder that my body pretty much failed this weekend, and I got hit with body aches and a horrible migraine.   

I have not had a migraine like that in years, and I suddenly felt like the Lenore from years ago.  I felt defined by my pain physical and emotional and I felt defined by unhappiness.  I felt like all the work I was doing to get "better" didn't matter.  I actually cried in my doctor's office because I had finally had enough.  Adam insisted that I was a completely different person, that I was handling the pain differently, that I was using different language, and I was still functioning in my life.  

I don't have his perspective.  I don't see what he sees, and I have difficulty trusting what he tells me.  I am sure no one else can relate to the problem of people telling you, "You are doing great."  While you feel like an awkard ball of goo.  

These are the moments when the teachings come together.  When you tell yourself, that learning something new is just like learning to walk.   It is awkward, you fall down a lot, you cry, you end up bruised;  in the end I don't even remember learning to walk.  I don't remember those bumps and bruises, I don't even remember the moment that "I got it."  Eventually I was walking and growing into learning new skills.   

As an adult I feel like I search for that "Eureka moment"  the moment that things come together and I understand.  Even if the understanding goes away, I know I had it for a second.   Since I am searching for that, I must believe it exists, I must trust that I will experience it, otherwise I would search for something else.  

As I go about this new search, this new endeavor, I will either experience it or not.  One way or another I will have an answer and a new question all at the same time.  

Question to consider: What are you searching for right now?  What do you believe exists? 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Standards

What happens when you set a standard for yourself when you are 12 years old?  I am sure that I set a bunch of standards for myself when I was 12, that I have completely let go and don't even remember what they are.

There is one clear standard has remained from when I 12.  When my Great-Uncle died, I refused to go the hospital to say good bye to him.  I can still remember the anger I expressed to my parents because I decided they had given up on him.   I remember yelling "he can still get better, he has before."   I remember trashing my room, when my Dad left to go the hospital.  I remember my heart breaking when my Dad told me my Great Uncle passed away.  In that moment, I made myself a promise, I set a standard to avoid feeling that type of pain again.   That I would always go say good bye to someone I loved who might be dying, if possible.  I would not be afraid of going into hospitals, hospices or any other place.  I would be there for my loved ones.  

In reality, there is still pain associated with loss of a loved one.  Sometimes it is dramatic and sometimes it is a slow ache.   Yesterday I got a call asking me to pray for my cousin who is in ICU, and my mom asked if I could go.   There seems to be a lack of information, because we get to wait.   Wait to see if she heals.   I have been fighting an infection and need a couple of days to rest.  When I told my mom that, I was suddenly that 12 year old girl again.   

Not in terms of throwing a temper tantrum, but in terms of feeling vulnerable and exposed.  So I will wait, wait for more information, wait for my body to heal.   I will love that little 12 year old girl, that was in so much pain, say my prayers and accept that right now that is enough.   

Question to consider:  What standards did you set as a child that you still follow today?  


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Stumbling

Here I am getting settled to teach a class, at a studio to some of my dearest friends and mentors.  To say that I freaked out when one of my favorite teachers in the whole world wanted to learn from me would be a complete understatement.  Nevertheless, I showed up, with props!   

Here I was with my sequence and all of my ideas, and a group of women that were eager to play.  So I started with breathing.   Mostly to make sure that I kept my breathing, that I took a moment to remember whatever thoughts and story was going through my head of not being enough, didn't matter at that moment.  

I finished the class and wasn't sure how it went.  My attention quickly went to the future.  I was subbing a class at the studio, and thankfully I accepted last minute so I only had an hour and a half to try to talk myself out of it.  

I got to the next class, forgot my mat in the car but I still had my notes.   That carefully planned out sequence...   This might sound crazy, but at one point I realized that I was teaching.  I realized had left the carefully planned out sequence and was listening to what the students had commented that they wanted to work on so I began to panic internally.  I suddenly felt how much of myself I was sharing with these students.  

I was up there to share my practice, to share what I do.   I don't quite know how to explain it, I felt completely exposed, naked even.  I spend so much time practicing by myself, in the early mornings, that suddenly I felt like I was on display.  I wanted to run away, so many times during the class I wanted to run away.  I wanted to look around for someone else to take over, to look for the person that knew better, the person with more....   When I realized there was just me, things got more uncomfortable for me.   I kept going, not knowing what was going to come next.   

I wondered if I was going to have a panic attack, and so I continued to share my practice.  I went with what I thought might calm me down, what would settle me down.  This honestly created the feeling of more vunerability, because it was a true test of my practice.  It was one of those "I hope this works." moments.   

Even with all that discomfort, I signed up to start teaching another regular class.  (Next week I go from teaching 1 regular class a week to 4, with random ones thrown in.) 

WHY?   

Because the universe opened up some doors for me when I asked to find my voice.   These are the doors that I noticed and these are the doors I will walk through and see what I find on the other side. 

Question to consider:  When you want to run away screaming, what do you do to stay on task?  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Riding a bicycle

I did not learn how to ride a bike when I was younger.  My senior year in high school one of my teachers found out I could not ride a bike, and was determined to teach me.  It did not go so well.  It was a pretty scary experience for me, and I never managed to feel comfortable enough, for my friends to let go of the handle bars.  (I still feel bad for holding on to Scott's hand super tight, and yelling at him.)  

Since I never learned how to ride a bike, I can only imagine what that experience might be like for both the child and their caregiver based on observations.  I imagine there are a ton of different scenarios.   Here are a few that have been running around in my head.

For example the caregivers can clearly see that the child can balance and they bring up the issue to take off the training wheels.  The caregivers encourage the child that they are ready, and the child can then react a number of different ways.  They can agree with the caregivers, and the training wheels come off the bike. The child can disagree with the caregivers and friction might build until the training wheels come off the bike.   The child can disagree and the caregivers accept that, and wait.  

There is also the situation where the child is ready, and the caregivers for whatever reason disagree.  Eventually the training wheels come off in this case.  

Then comes the interesting part, what happens after the training wheels are off?   What does the child do with all that encouragement either from his parents or from himself?  I would love to believe that it is just like the movies and the child easily coasts down the street.  There are no bumps, no bruises and certainly no cactus bushes on the path.  At no point does the child wobble, or hesitate, or even question their ability.

In reality there are infinite outcomes to what happens after the training wheels come off the bike.  Maybe you even have your own experience that you remember.

When my first yoga teacher sent me a message asking me to cover some classes, I completely freaked out.  I needed to check with my work about the schedule, and that allowed me some time to breathe and freak out even more.  After I accepted the classes I continued to freak out, to focus on my practice, to freak out and feel the growing pains that come with teaching. 

There were so many thoughts racing through my mind about teaching and I came to this idea about riding a bicycle.   I decided I would be the kid that argued with their parents about taking off the training wheels, and then would sneak into the garage in the middle of the night,  remove the training wheels and see what happened without anyone watching me.  (Honestly, the first classes I ever taught were on the other side of the world.) 

I had a choice, I could listen to and believe the voice in my head telling me I was going to fall down or I could listen and trust my teachers belief in me and the training.  Knowing that if I fall down, I will pick myself up, and keep going.  That it is not about being perfect, or even smooth, it is about sharing something I love and continually discovering how to translate that to others.  I felt this huge amount of gratitude that Aaron saw something in me that I was not looking at.

Question to consider: What was your experience with learning to ride a bike?  What has been your most memorable bike ride?  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Appreciating Generosity

Life tends to have ups and downs.  Contrast is what helps us to understand and know what we like and dislike, what is good and what is bad.  I generally feel like the different jobs that I do allow me to either see or hear about both the best and worst in people.  Tuesday I was very unsettled about a couple of the cases that were happening at the advocacy center and I left there with a broken heart.

Today I went to visit with one of my Hospice patients, and got to watch the care he gets from all the people around him.  I got to see how his wife decorated the room, so that the things he saw would be familiar to him.  I got to see how the caregivers came to check on him mulitple time during the visit to see if he needed anything to drink or munch on.   The little things that added up to help him be more comfortable. It served as a good reminder of people's hearts.  

As I was driving to a friend's house, I got a very well timed lesson about how the good can be found in our daily lives.  How perfect strangers will come together to help another stranger, even if it might be inconvienced.  I was driving down the street, and I saw a woman on a bicycle fall.   I didn't see her moving and was worried that she might have hit her head, so I pulled the car over.  She appeared to have broken her ankle, but her head was fine. During the time that I was with her, I was amazed at the people who pulled over to help, or rolled down the windows to see if she needed anything.  One lady offered her newly purchased, unopened bottle of water.  One gentleman offered to carry her to the shade.  A family offered to take her bicycle back to their house so that she could pick it up later.  Two gentleman picked her up and placed her in my car.   I ended up driving her to a doctor, because her daughter had a bit of a drive to meet us.  I was touched by how many people offered what they had, and stopped to offer themselves to a stranger.  

I have to say that experience was something I needed this week.  To be reminded about how many caring, generous people there are in the world.   As I was driving home by myself, and interesting thought occurred to me.  I wonder if I would have noticed as much of the generosity if I hadn't been touched by what happened earlier in the week at the advocacy center.  I wondered if I only saw the brightness because earlier in the week I had seen darkness, so to speak.  

Question to consider:  What were the ups and downs of your week?   Did the downs help you appreciate and notice the ups a bit more?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What can it look like?

My last post was from my perspective about what was going on with me.  When I feel all mixed up and greyed out, I start to explore symbols, and quotes come into my mind.  I started to go into the metaphors dealing with inner light, flame and fire.  

I learned in my fire prevention days that three things are required to start and maintain a fire: Oxygen, Fuel and Heat.  If any of those three are removed from the chemical reaction the fire goes out.   Also the intensity of the flame is dependent on the quality and balance of those reactants.  It is a really simple way to look at something that seems complex.  It enables someone to take the emotion out of a situation and work to influence the fire in which ever way is useful.  For firefighters it enables them to figure out what can be removed to put the fire out, for campers it helps them figure out how to build a fire that is the right size to cook a meal or keep themselves warm.  Fire is both destructive and constructive, that is the paradox and the struggle.  Constructive or destructive depends on the focus, on the perspective.  

I can only imagine what watching me struggle is like from Adam's point of view.  I imagine it is something like watching a brilliant fire slowly recede on itself.  Eventually he looks at the coals with only a vague reminder of what the fire was like.  I imagine Adam watches the color drain from my face, my smile become more and more forced (as I struggle with my mind), and eventually he sees me let go and withdraw.  Much like the coals, it is a delicate situation to add elements slowly back into the fire, to carefully pay attention to what the situation needs.

I tend to go until something collapses.  I guess I don't tend to my fire well all the time.  When I am at the coals, it takes a while to find the balance of my triangle, to identify what exactly is Oxygen, Fuel and Heat for me now.  The fire will rekindle and burn brightly once again.  

Question to consider: What are you using for Oxygen, Fuel and Heat in your life right now?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Balance

I have been out of balance lately, and mostly feeling like I don't know if the steps I am taking are helping me restore balance or throwing off my balance more.  I also need more time for myself, and sometimes that isn't what is appropriate.  As much as I would love to spend a week in bed blocking out the outside world, it isn't my standard to run and hide in a closet.  

However yesterday I had a very interesting experience that finally solidified a lesson that I have been hearing for years.  A phrase that I never really understood.  "If you want love, give it."  That paradoxical idea that to recieve you also need to give.  My nature is to be a very giving person, and so when I didn't feel "loved" I was pretty confused by that statement. 

Yesterday I was in an excruciating amount of pain, and really wanted nothing more than for Adam to hold me and tell me it was going to be okay.   However I observed myself literally walking away from him when he tried to give me a hug.   It was like I was on automatic pilot, completely closed, not receptive and definately not giving any affection or even explanation, for why I was cowering from a hug, when I really wanted a hug. Thankfully I have an extraordinarily patient husband that understood the situation was not about him and he was able to give me some space.  

 I realized watching myself in that moment, that I was unable to recieve his hug or kind words, because I wasn't giving love to him, or even to myself.  My mind has a pattern of sending me into a downward spiral, and though I have gotten better at breaking this pattern and observing the pattern, there are still moments when I am at the bottom of a well.  Something that is not real has convinced me that I am not enough, that I can never be enough, and leaves me to sit with those thoughts on repeat.  So even though my mind is not real, it still throws ripples into the pond.   

So sometimes when I want a hug the most I won't accept it.   Sometimes I just need a little time to remember to love myself, to give that love that is always present.  Today was a day for me to accept that sometimes I will be at the bottom of the well, and that is okay.  It doesn't mean I am bad, or a failure it is just a pattern, and the more I notice it the better I will get at breaking it.  Harmony will return, because it is always present in the here and now.   

Question of the day: What brillant thing did you accomplish today?  Take a moment to shine your light on those of us that are looking for light.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Trimming down the closet

I was at work yesterday, when one of the other volunteers told me; "I am so glad you are here today, I need to share with you a book that changed my life."   She began talking to me about how free she felt getting rid of stuff, and she agrees with the idea of this book that if you need to organize, you probably have too much stuff.

How did she know?   The past weekend, I set to work cleaning out my closet again, and getting rid of stuff.  Two trashbags and a box later, I decided to take a break.   

I have not read this book, and I was not familiar with the author.  However it has been added to my reading list.  

Someone once gave me the great advice to never buy more hangers, so you are unable to keep too many clothes.  I learn every time I travel how much of my wardobe I like, how much of it I actually need for a certain amount of time.  Which probably explains why usually when I come home from a long trip, I start cleaning everything out and getting rid of things.  

I also thought about my relationship with books.  I used to read all the time, and recently I have found ti hard to read quickly, and to devour books the way I used to.   I still don't know if there is a book I would say changed my life.  I have books that I would recommend to people, but honestly those recommendations depend on their interests.  

Question of the day: What book changed your life?   What is a book you would buy for other people?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Year Four

I finished my third year of my blog, and was ready to call it a day.  Writing was becoming tiresome, it was becoming something I "had" to do.  Which is part of the reason I wrote less often, I started to write in the blog only when something spoke to me.  As I thought about a new focus for the upcoming year, I was pretty blank.

I was distracted by work and by upcoming travel plans that were constantly in a state of flux.  I just let the blog fall away, and thought it might just fade away into something I did once.   As I filled my life up with more and more, maybe this would become less significant.  

Then I went to Greece for three weeks.   I went to attend a yoga teacher training, and between the hours of yoga and theory, I started writing in my journal a lot.  I started reading a book for fun, and my reactions to it provided inspiration to journal out my feelings that came up during the teacher training.  

I came back home, looking to cultivating a personal physical practice.  To explore what it was like to find my inner teacher, to find inspiration within myself.   To not rely on classes for my practice, instead to explore the teachings I had been given.  To go deeper with them, instead of constantly adding more.  I started to feel like always adding more was letting gems of wisdom slip away, areas that I wanted to explore get covered up by this need to "know" more.    

I set my alarm earlier, and started to see what happened.  It has not been smooth, it has been really rough, to find that teacher.   She is there, I just need to get silent enough to hear her.

One morning I walked back downstairs after my practice and I had this thought.   This thought started as a whisper, and got much louder.   As I wondered what to focus on, as I was struggling to figure out how to juggle everything I wanted to do.  I walked down the stairs one at a time, and thought "damn it."   I tend to have the reaction when something clicks, when I know what to do and I may not feel ready to do it.  I have also learned that the rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, and general anxiety leave when I make a move.

So this fourth year is dedicated to finding, listening to and speaking my voice.  More importantly it will be dedicated to exploring what that means.   On June 29th, 2016  the fourth year will be up.   

Question to consider:  Have you found your voice?  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Enough, enough, enough...

A very good friend of mine told me to "enjoy paradise."    Halfway through the teacher training, my joints are aching, my emotions are a mess, and the amount of information coming at me is staggering.  So I sat down in the middle of class today to write, to ask myself the question.   "How can I see myself as enough?"   

How do I see myself as enough when I feel completely overwhelmed and small?   I feel like most moments in class I am constantly making adjustments to my body, rotating body parts in opposite directions, beginning to grasp that there is a difference between tension and stretching, between relaxation and collapsing.   (Note I still don't know what those differences might be, just beginning to grasp that there is a difference.)   So I was standing in a warrior pose and making adjustment after adjustment, scanning my body and I realized that I might would never be in the "perfect" warrior pose. For me that instantly meant that I would never be enough, that I might as well quit, because the mountain is way too high.

So I sat down on my mat and wrote and cried a little.  A voice came into my head, "you only need enough energy for the next step."   So I accepted in that moment that my next step was getting my thoughts out of my head on to the paper and breathing.  The warrior pose could wait, the next pose in the sequence could wait, even my writing could wait, breath could not wait.   

So I began some self inquiry to figure out when and where I felt like "enough"  the past couple of days. Since nothing came to mind, I simply decided that I am too tired, too zoomed in on the situation to grasp perspective right now and went back to my breath.

I would love to say that breathing fixxed it, and I suddenly felt happy and enough and all those other good things.  The reality is that breathing just helped remind me that my heart was beating, and the ground was beneath me.  Sometimes that is ENOUGH...

Question of the Day:  I tend to link "enough" and this bizzare idea of perfection I have in my head.  When do you see that you are enough in your life?