Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

I have been considering this year a lot, it has certainly been a rough one. I was thinking back on the past couple of years, and 2013 was certainly one of the most heartbreaking years.  However I was so optimistic that New Year's Eve, I could see all the ups and downs of the years and I was excited about what the future was going to hold.

This year on the other hand I am still in a bit of limbo.  I am excited about the future, but the future is still really foggy and out of focus.  Adam and I have been planting and nurturing lots of seeds, but nothing has quite started to sprout.  This winter the focus has very appropriately been about cleaning things out, taking inventory and being quiet.

Time is a strange thing, for me New Years Eve has kind of been about tying up loose ends of the year and looking forward to the presents of the New Year.  It is difficult to do that, because this year won't be tied up in a nice little bow, too much is still up in the air.  Too many process are still ongoing.  It is almost like I am getting a lesson on letting things happen in their own time instead of when my impatient self wants them too.

Even though a lot is in limbo and I am focusing on nurturing my little seeds there are still some great plants that bloomed this year.  I became more honest about my condition and pain level, I learned to better communicate with my doctors and other caregivers, I celebrated my ordination as a Daoist priest and I became a contributor to The Mighty.  Adam and I are learning to travel and explore while at the same time respecting what I need and despite dislocated bones, sleeping a lot and crying in airports we have come back with amazing memories.

We also said good bye to Sterling.  Adam and I go back and forth still between grieving and accepting.  That is still processing, we miss him so much.  However we are so grateful for the time he was with us and how much love he brought into our lives, that will continue on.

As I look towards 2017 and see the opportunities of moving, new jobs and new adventures, I trust that the future will begin to come into focus and Adam and I will get to open some great presents in the next year.

So where is my focus?  On patience and trust that everything is unfolding at the perfect time.  It has taken a lot of experience for me to really believe that and so I am grateful for this year of change and feeling stuck in limbo.  

Question of the Day:  Expand your focus into those fuzzy areas of your life, what do you want to create there?  Dream big and allow for the creativity to flow into that area that is not quite in focus.

Monday, December 19, 2016

WTF

Adam suggested that I put a warning before this post.  I will be talking about medical treatments that might cause a bit of a trigger in some people.  Just to let you know if you decide to keep reading.

Thursday nights tend to be my treatment nights.  So what exactly does treatment mean?  I have been a little vague about this, mostly because the treatments cause people to cringe.  When I was first diagnosed I was seeing a therapist to have someone to help me talk through a lot of the emotions and things that were going on.  Even my extremely funny and low key therapist looked at me and said "why in the world would you do that?"   Just to give you an additional warning.

Once a week I deliver my medication directly into the bladder.  This involves catherization, which I do myself.  Adam and I have come up with lots of jokes and ways for me to laugh through this process, to accept that it helps and so it is worth it.  There are plenty of risks associated with administering this medication, but I haven't found any medication that doesn't have some sort of risk.  I am extremely grateful that it is a method that works for me and even if it can be messy, painful and awkward.

This last Thrusday, the treatment did not go smoothly.  I ended up having to use multiple catheters, wasting a dose of medication and feeling utterly alone.  I didn't feel like I could call someone, because I didn't know of anyone that could relate at that moment.  I felt detached from "normal" people, I wanted to protect myself and I felt this huge wall between me and that life I was still grieving.  The tears started...

Eventually I reached out to someone, and because this person is much wiser then I will ever be he simply asked me why "protection."  It is a good question.  I don't need protecting, I was not afraid of anything.  My body was responding to being poked and prodded, it doesn't know what it medicine and what isn't; so it is reacting, releasing neurotransmitters that say "WTF."   So of course my reflex is to want to know what's wrong, to want protection.  

I kept thinking about this for the hour that I am supposed to lay on different sides and make sure the medication coats my bladder.  My body it releasing a lot of "WTF" a lot of the time.  The pain is going down, I am ecstatic when the level stays at a 5 for a couple of hours.  I am so happy that I am sleeping for five hours a night sometimes, but my body still has a while to go before "WTF" is not my set pattern.

The old part of my brain wants to keep pain private, because it might be a sign of weakness.  Even if part of me accepts that I am not my illness, it takes effort and will to overcome all those neurotransmitters that are constantly being released.  It is almost like split myself in two, I need to be fully consious of my breathing and posture and at the same time need to focus on everything else.  When the pain spikes it is a not so gentle reminder to check in with my breathing and posture, which means I tend to tune a lot of things out.  That is where I am right now, learning to breathe and navigate the world.  

My heart whispers to me, it comforts me, it encourages me to reach out and it encourages me to find new ways to soothe those neurotransmitters.  My heart is the stable, calm eye of this hurricane, but it also knows there is a hurricane.  Slowly my heart is helping to establish and reinforce that new neural pattern, that I am not my pain, or the failures or the successes.  Slowly my heart will guide me to dropping more and more walls and trusting the breathing and posture will be natural.  

Question of the day:  Who in your life is safe to reach out to?  Who or what understands that you are not broken, you just need a bit of stability in the hurricane?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rebel Challenge

I have been feeling pretty down lately, just in a bit of a funk and honestly the holidays don't help.  While I was doing my best to write this weekend, all I could come up with were ways the holidays are difficult for me.  It didn't help with the funk.   The writing wasn't going anywhere and it wasn't helping me figure out a better filter to use, some way to change my focus.  I stopped writing and waited for inspiration to strike.

This morning I was training, and realized how close the race is.  In about a month I am going to Disney!  I signed up for 19.3 miles, the rebel challenge and I know I won't finish.  It is not kind to my body to push it that much and I work everyday to do what I can.  Honestly it is a bit upsetting, accepting my limits, I have yet to make peace with them yet.  There are days I long to go for a long run.

I was considering my tendencies and thinking it might be difficult for me to start a race (the half marathon) that I won't finish.  Mostly because I have a lot of ideas about failure, about needing to push myself, about all or nothing.  As I kept running through all my stories about failure and expectations from myself and others I came up with a different challenge.

I like a challenge and truthfully I love a rebel.  Since it is not wise for me to finish the rebel challenge I decided to make up my own rebel challenge.  To rebel against my mind and the story it tells. Because I want to and will celebrate this upcoming race regardless of what happens, celebrate that my body has recovered enough that I can walk 6 miles, celebrate that I no longer collapse in bed after a long day and celebrate that my body is getting some rest and relaxation.  

Here are some quick examples of the lies my mind is telling right now:

1. You are a failure for having to go back to physical therapy again.

2. Performance and finishing are all that matters.

3. No one is willing to be around you if you are crying.

4. You are only safe if you are small.

5. No one will take the time to listen to your real answer about "how are you today?"

6. This is a stupid idea.  (hee hee)

This is just a few examples.  How do I rebel about these lies?  Not really sure.  I can tell you what I will first play with and we will see how it goes.  This is not about seeking to prove the mind is wrong.  This is seeking to not let the story control me.  This is about me making my own decision.

Here is one example of how I see myself as rebelling against the story.  I have been seeing my physical therapist again to work out some issues that have come up.  Mostly it seems to come back to my breathing.  I tend to contract my muscles, diaphragm and pelvic floor when I inhale, it is not natural for me to relax them.  It feels unnatural to allow everything to expand as I inhale to me, probably because I have this story that I need to be small to be safe.  My body still has that pattern, I bring more awareness to my breathing.  I pay attention and slowly I am gaining more competence with a different type of breathing.  Celebrating the fact that I have something to work on that will make a difference in my quality of life. 

Question of the day: How do you want to join me in the rebellion and celebrate what makes you unique and YOU?



Monday, December 5, 2016

Metaphors

It feels like this time last year I was tossed out of an airplane without a parachute.  As I imagine anyone would do, I started grasping for any bit of certainty, frantically looking for that parachute.   Afraid of disaster at every turn, a normal reaction to change, it activates the survival part of the brain. Looking and testing everything because something might be out to get me.  

At some point during the year I noticed there was no more gravity, I wasn't plummeting to some untimely disaster.   I was okay, I was in pain and exhausted but if there was no gravity I didn't really need a parachute to protect me from ending up splattered on the ground.  Believe me I still felt like I was falling, I just wasn't accelerating.  It was almost like there was seen and unseen help being offered along the way to remind me to trust.  

Despite the fact that I feel like I am falling, there is no gravity.  Despite the fact that I feel like all I am is the pain, I am also the person asking for help.  Despite the fact that I feel like I am grasping at a parachute that is not there, I am still being handed tools.  

As the year progressed, I found useful tools, I tried tools that weren't useful and things continued to fall away.  Eventually it felt like there was no longer any ground as more events happened through out the year.  I was in this difficult to describe space, hence me searching for metaphors that I know nothing about, having never actually jumped out of an airplane.  It was the space where my life was different, where the future was uncertain, where I didn't put so much focus on "why?," and at the same time I was aware of the fact that it was okay.  

Of course this sounds like a wonderful linear progression, it is not.  There are still times where I am frantically grasping for a parachute, where I desperately want there to be a parachute.  I just spend a lot more of my time aware of the fact that I am okay even though it feels like nothing is okay.  

Some days I long for the illusion of being on the ground before I ever got on the metaphorical airplane. The illusion that pain is something to be fixed and that you can go back to the person you were, but who doesn't long to go back home?

Question of the day:  How can you focus on being a bit kinder to yourself today?  What in your world needs a bit of appreciation?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Peace

I went to see a new doctor a couple of weeks ago, and for the first time I saw the medical record from the last year.  Seeing that huge stack of papers, gave me some perspective of what I had been through since my diagnosis.  As the doctor asked me questions, he kept glancing at the stack and finally said "it is obvious you have been through a lot in a small amount of time."   I was already nervous in this appointment and that really sent my emotions over an edge where I wasn't thinking terribly cognitively.  So when he suggested adding something to my treatment plan, I just smiled and nodded.

I didn't ask second level questions, because when I am stuck in the the limbic part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex isn't getting a lot of blood flow.  When I finally settled down and was able to give Adam a call, he asked me second level questions that I didn't have answers to.  I researched the drug online and had to make a decision.  I needed to gauge how I was feeling lately and determine if the possible side effects and my previous experience with similar prescriptions were worth an experiment.  

I feel a lot of times I live in two different worlds, two different approaches to healing the body, two different desires.  Some doctors focus on comfort and wanting quick results.  On the other side of the coin are doctors that are wanting to dig a bit deeper, take some more time and focus on the entire body.  Both sides focus on relieving the major complaints, both approaches are useful.  I tend to want to dig deeper, to change my lifestyle and see progress happen over time.  However it was time to acknowledge that I had hit a plateau, that I was getting about 4 hours of sleep a night and even though that was a huge improvement from a couple of months ago, it isn't a good amount when working to heal the body.  

I picked up the prescription with a lot of trepidation, and picked a time to take it in case I did have some bad side effects.  I needed to find a way to gain some certainty, to understand what the trepidation was about.  What was I so worried about?  

I asked Adam a simple question: "Will you take care of me?"  It seems like a silly question, maybe even slightly insulting because he has stood by me through so much.  However it is still a fear, the gremlins that whisper to me "that I am not good enough for him, that my condition makes me less valuable."  Adam is extremely patient and always lets me ask that question and talk it out with him.  He knows it is not an insult or based on previous experience.  He understands that it is something I need to be reminded of constantly, and even though it is frustrating to him, he is kind enough to listen.  

What Adam didn't realize about that conversation was that it was also addressing an experience I had when I was really sick.  It was a hard time for me, traveling and feeling like I wasn't being taken care of.  I felt like I had to keep pushing, that I had to act well, that I had to keep showing up or I would be left behind.  Because I felt left behind, my filters created this story that I wasn't good enough to travel, to accept help and to be loved.  The reality was when I first started to have flares, I didn't have language to describe how I was feeling, and most importantly I didn't know what I needed.  I was so focused on wanting the pain to stop, I didn't know what I could do.

In a year the biggest skill I have gained is when I ask Adam to take care of me, and he follows up with "what do you need?"  I generally have an answer.  Sometimes I need to sleep, sometimes I need to be left alone, sometimes I need someone to hold me while I cry, sometimes I need a break from cooking or other chores.  I am no longer stuck in that space of I don't know what helps.  That was a horrible state to be in, to be helpless, to not have language or experience to know better.  It doesn't mean I was bad then and I am good now, looking back at a year ago, six months ago I realize how many things I have learned that do help.   It doesn't help with the pain, it doesn't help me sleep at night it gives me peace to know there is always something that can be done, to know it will change and it is really okay to ask for help.  

So maybe in the end I am not stuck between two different worlds, maybe I am the peace that exists in between them.  

Question to consider:  What skill have you really made progress in, in the last year?  What do you have experience and language for that previously made you feel helpless?





Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunshine Sunday

Here is to spontaneous adventures that lead to insights and my lovely husband that makes things happen!  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Where the magic happens...

Where does the magic happen?   Where does the transformation happen?  Maybe it happens in the dark.  Adam and I enjoy going to magic shows.  We watch them and discuss them with very different eyes.  Adam is very good at spotting slight of hand and misdirection, where as I notice the patter, the rhythm, the lights and the whole stage.  It is amazing the different types of tricks that "fool" us, the ones we cannot figure out.   Adam loves to figure out how the trick is done, and I hit a point where I love the mystery. 

This is a pattern for Adam and I, it makes sense why I love Chemistry and he loves Physics.  I hit a point where I accept there is some "magic" and he wants to keep going and zooming in.  However in other areas of our lives we are the opposite.  When is comes to health for example, I am extremely zoomed in and aware, honestly I want to control my health.  Adam is much more trusting and accepting that things will work out.  I would love to blame this tendency on my current condition but that is not true.  The necessity of keeping food journals, and tracking symptoms has made me zoom in even more, but I have always had a tendancy to be easily thrown off balance when it comes to health.  

That tension right before the scales tip, before the pendulum swings is the moment that magic happens.  It is that dark place that is difficult to put your finger on, that place that is impossible to show.  It is that place where you are lying in bed and decide to face the day or cover yourself back up with your blankets and shut things out.  It is the place where you don't know how you keep going but you do.  These moments are the ones that I feel a lot of the time, having to accept and trust that can and will do something, having to accept that it is okay to say I won't do something and refining those choices to be true to myself.  

I spent the last couple of days alone, and when I crawled into bed at night I felt the darkness, the emptiness of the house that I no longer fill.  The vacancy left by Sterling and the temporary vacancy left by Adam traveling.  Honestly it sucked, I cried every night and I made the commitment to sit with my feelings, to write, and to explore the darkness.   This is how I showed my gratitude for that vacancy, to allow myself to grieve for a life that is in the process of transforming.  To accept that I might still feel like I am in the dark, but that is exactly where the magic happens.  It is not about changing the darkness but understanding its purpose is always to bring me back into light.  

Magicians create a certain amount of tension and transform that tensions into applause, laughter, exclamation and other emotions.  That tension is when the transformation happens and when the prestige is witnessed relaxation occurs.   The relaxation, the applause, the laughter might be the desired goal, but that is not the magic.   Everyone you encounter in your day that you admire, that is bright and glowing to you, has their moments of darkness or tension that created the person you see in front of you.  

Question to consider: Where do you think the magic happens?   When does the transformation occur in your processes?  





Sunshine Sunday


Monday, November 14, 2016

What is being asked of me?

One of the running groups that I follow on Facebook had a photo yesterday and the caption read something like "despite being sick I finished the challenge..."   We have all seen these posts, people being proud of pushing themselves when they are sick, people working themselves to a deadline and giving up everything. On the same page I might find posts of injuries and people being mad that they have to take time away from running, that they won't get to participate in such and such event.  

I am the same way, I want to push myself to the breaking point.  I get frustrated when I am not able to do the things I want to do.  So posts like "despite being sick...." are a huge trigger for me.  I immediately launch into a story about how if they can run 19.3 miles why am I struggling with walking 3?   I don't know their story, I don't know what being "sick" means.  I don't know how long they will take to recover from pushing their body.  

I do know that I feel like I am moving slowly.  I know that after going grocery shopping and cooking a couple of meals, I usually need time to sit or lay down and recover.  I know that I tend to limit my activities to one a day because I need so much more down time then I used to.  I can logically tell myself that my body is constantly having to use it's energy to regenerate my bladder lining and heal internal damage, but it doesn't help.  Knowing all the science doesn't give me certainty, doesn't give me a mathematical formula that says "you can do this much."   I hit walls all the time.  

This past week has felt like a huge regression and this morning I felt defeated and wanted to hide in my bed.  In truth I am making progress, it just just slow and requires me to be clear to see it.  So I looked up at Adam this morning and told him that I couldn't make packing up the house a priority right now, that I need help with continuing to make my health and well being a priority.  That I have applications for residencies I am working on, and that is my other priority.  In addition to helping to take care of Adam, I only have room for so many balls in the air.  While I braced for Adam's response, since this weekend I was focused on getting stuff down for the house.  He simply said "I am happy you see that, I was wondering how long it would take you to put something down."  One gift of this condition is that priorities quickly become clear.  

So I offered the ways that I can contribute to packing up the house without feeling so much pressure, because moving to a smaller, easier to care for place is important.  I just need to be clear on what is being asked of me in this project. It would take too much energy for me to take apart furniture and move it downstairs.  But I can work on the smaller projects like fixing sinks, planting flowers and packing up glassware.  

The grieving process is still ongoing, as I continue to accept that there are things that do not make sense for me to do right now.  That it is not about desire, passion or will; it is just something that I need help with.  In this culture we gain so much significance and praise for doing things by ourselves.  Maybe it is time to start praising the people that are asking for help too.  Because honestly, asking for help has been the hardest lesson for me during this illness.  Honoring my body, mind and spirit and acknowledging that I will not be able to do the things that mean the most to me without a little help from the people in my life.  

Question of the day:  Can you identify something in your life you would love some help with?  Can you take a step to identify someone that is capable of helping you and start that conversation?   

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunshine Sunday

I had to chose two this week.  This guy right here keeps me wanting to live life to the fullest.  It doesn't matter how that changes he wants nothing but the best for me.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Permission slips

Anyone else remember permission slips?  I would take one home for my parents to sign and then I would be free to go on field trips, or participate in extra activities.  Permission slips were this piece of paper that offered freedom and play.  So when I was listening to Brene Brown discuss writing yourself permission slips it seemed like a fun idea.  

"I give myself permission to rest."

"I give myself permission to play."

"I give myself permission to accept that something is near and dear to my heart."

"I give myself permission to fail."

It might seem a bit silly, who needs to ask for permission to look after their own needs?   I probably don't need permission, but written words are a bit of a talisman for me.  Having something in my pocket, that I can feel and touch, that can bring my focus back is something I need right now.  

While I was writing myself permission slips, I got really curious about why some things are so difficult for me.   Why it can be so hard for me to rest, when I know the benefits of it?  Why do I push myself on the days I feel good, what would happen if I used that day to really rest and play?  

This comes back to those same gremlins, the gremlin of not being enough, the gremlin related to being judged and found wanting.  How do I face those gremlins?  How do I approach those fears in a way that strengthens me?  Because right now, I do worry about what other people think.  I do wonder when people read my writing, that someone is deducing about me.   How do I get clear about that?

I need to get clear on the people who's opinions actually matter.  The people that are honest and vulnerable with me, the people who can raise me up or bring me back to earth.  These are the people that have seen me at my best and worst and love me because of who I am, not some image I project.  These are people that have earned my trust and that I trust with my stories.  So I created a sacred little space on a piece of paper and wrote a few names down.  

This little paper gives me permission to not let other people affect my worth.  To create a boundary, between what I do and who I am.   Because I welcome critiques and help with what I am doing, I have also been letting it affect my worth and how I see myself.  I have been letting the external image drive me, and as someone that is drawn to the allure and illusion of perfectionism, that is a destructive motivation for me.  

I can aknowledge that what people say and do can hurt my feeling, can make me feel proud or bring up all sorts of emotions.  I am not those emotions and the majority of people I interact with on a day to day basis do not get a say in my value and ability to contribute.  

Question of the Day: Take some time to write some names down on a small piece of paper, take some time to get clear on who's opinions really matter to you and who you are just pandering to or trying to please.  Does this exercise create some freedom in your life, or free up some energy?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

As Halloween approaches there is always a specific show in the Buffy series that I want to watch.  In the fourth season, there is an episode called "Fear, Itself."   There are so many clever lines in the episode that it never fails to make me laugh.  Plus the ending is absolutely hilarious.  

I was thinking about this episode recently, about how each character needs to confront their fears.  These fears that we have cycling in our lives from time to time, these exaggerated stories about not being enough, not being loved, being abandoned, or losing control.  These fears that play our in our heads and can cause us to take all sorts of action.   Much like in the climax of the show, when the fear demon shows its face it is suddenly not a big deal.  This enormous fear that has been playing out in our minds, can easily be squished by sharing it with the he right person, looking at the fear to see what it is or just letting it go.   This is all captured beautifully in the show while Xander taunts the tiny little fear demon.   

It is easy to look back, after the fear has been confronted and say "it wasn't a big deal, it was tiny."  But in that moment when you are buried in that emotion, in that story it feels like it might never end.  It is those moments when we have skin in the game that call for courage.  Those are the moments that I practice for, to have the peace to realize it is a story and ask myself what do I want?   I fail a lot, a lot.  However I am slowly learning from those failures and realizing they aren't failures, they are just moments when I didn't use my tools, the tools weren't available or it is time to grow.  

Adam and I moved into our house 10 years ago, full of dreams.  The house was going to be the first backyard Sterling would play in (he hated playing outside), the home our children would remember, it was a place for us to grow into that suburban American Dream. As life revealed more and more of the terrain to us, those dreams shifted.  The room for the nursery became a yoga and meditation space, the living room was designated as Sterling's "ball room," we slowly filled the house with the people we actually were becoming of those dreams.  

However in the last year or so, the house has become too much for us to maintain.  It has been a struggle to keep up with daily maintance and we have started to constrict how much of the house we use.  We slowly started getting rid of things and eliminating clutter.  However I know before we put the house on the market there are some larger maintance projects that need to happen.  Even though Adam and I are facing a lot of opportunities right now and are unsure of where we might be going, it was time to ask an expert about what needs to be done.  

Adam got a hold of the same realtor that sold us this house, because we loved her and she was amazing!   We set up the appointment to have her come by and advise us on the house and to get an idea of how to proceed.

Here is where the fear demon entered the equation.  No one tells you how chronic illness will affect your life, no one tells you that maintaining your home might become too much and you might feel embarrassed about the state it is in.  So inviting someone into our home to tell us what needs to be changed is pretty vulnerable place to be.  In fact I had no idea what fear demons would present themselves before Adam made that phone call.  Nevertheless here they are and I get to look at them until the way through is clear.  

Obviously one way through is to meet with the realtor and then come of up with a plan to execute.  That solves the fear demon associated with "what if no one wants to buy our house."   

The larger fear demon is that I will be judged by the state of my home and my ability to take care of it. That my mask of everything is perfect will be shattered.  That perfection mask is a reoccurring demon for me, it is the belief that I can do everything "right" that no one will ever critized me or take their love away.  This demon cannot be taken out by planning or doing something to solve the issue, because the issue does not exist.  Perfection only exists in my mind, it is not real and provides an armor and mask for me to hide behind and prevents my true self from being seen.  

For me this demon is squished by talking it out with someone that has some compassion, perspective and appreciation.  This is accepting that my current health is more important then the state of my home and it is okay to move to something smaller and simpler to accommodate my needs.  It is making peace with all the grief of those dreams that didn't come true, celebrating the ones that did and aknowledging the extra graces we never saw coming 10 years ago when we first walked into this house.  It also helps to laugh at the tiny little fear demon. 

Question of the day: What is the most recent "fear demon" you squished in your life?  How did it feel to get through that fear and into a new state? 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Scarcity

I have a difficult time identifying when enough is enough.  It feels like I am either doing too much or not doing enough.  This week when my body told me that it was time to rest, it didn't matter if I wanted to go to work, I pouted for a little while.  I kept analyzing what I had been doing for the past couple of days, to figure out what I had "wasted" my energy on.  Of course this was a fools errand, but still part of my process.  

I finally settled down and turned my attention to one of the books I am reading.  It was discussing how people believe joy is a limited resource.  That the reason that people might have a hard time being happy for people is because they believe that if someone else is happy it takes away from their happiness.  This theme of joy, empathy, sweetness or kindness being a limited resource has come up in my trainings and other readings.  

It is a belief that I have sometimes.  I forget when I am exhausted, in pain, frustrated or stressed that fruit still tastes sweet.  Last night I chose to cancel some plans with a friend because I really wasn't feeling well.  When Adam left for an event, I realized I didn't have my normal food in the house.  Since I was in no shape to safely drive, I needed to get creative.  I needed to drop this idea that there wasn't enough and focus on what was in front of me.  (Do not misunderstand, this was not a fast and easy process.  I had a number of anxiety attacks, looking through the fridge and freezer.)  

So where is the idea that pain, sadness or all those other uncomfortable things associated with life are scarce?   When Sterling passed away, my mom told me "that's three, the cloud will pass by you for now."   It is a common belief in my family, that bad things happen in threes.   However it is accepted that the cloud will come back at some point.  For me this idea leads to fear and bracing for impact, it is  my default setting.   It is only through practice that I remember and am able to shift my focus to other things.  

Joy, empathy, connection, love and kindness are precious, they are invaluable.  Is that where this idea of them being a limited resource comes from?   That for us to hold something close and dear it needs to be a rare event?   Can something be precious and abdunant?  Can something be abdunant and not taken for granted?   

I have approached these feelings and states with caution.  Perhaps I believe that if I am in a joyous state too much that I will take it for granted, that the medicine will eventually become my poison. My struggle right now is more with energy levels then emotions I am always calculating and guessing how much energy I have.  I always want to make sure I have "enough for the swim home", maybe I need to start chosing the trust that the energy will be there to help me get home.  It is a little bit like saving China only for special occasions, why only bring out joy when things are just "right."  

Question to consider: What are you looking for more of in your life right now?  Do you believe it is a limited resource or maybe like me and you believe you are the limited resource?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Am I doing the best I can?

It is an interesting question.  Do you believe in general that people are doing the best they can?  I have had a lot of eye opening experiences that have given me the gift of being pretty generous with people. I generally tend to believe that people are doing the best they can with the tools they have.  This attitude helps a lot with the type of work that I do, and it seems to come pretty naturally.  I have triggers, we all do.  But generally when I feel triggered I wonder what it is about and do my best to learn more about the situation.  

However the other side of this, is I do not tend to believe that I am doing the best that I can do.  Because I live so much of life with the self-critic, I don't want anyone else to feel that way.  I want to believe in people because I struggle with it myself.  I have discussed the self-critic before with the self-compassion writings.  

The idea of doing the best one can do, is coming up a lot in my reading lately.  So I have been examining the question a lot. Who I tend to be easy on, and who I tend to be hard on?  Who do I expect more of and is it really fair?   This has nothing to do with potential growth or worth, just learning to love everyone including me at this moment.  When I have been walking, I talk it out with myself, poor Adam is getting to hear about research and how different religions seem to approach this question.  

Let's fast forward to today.  I have mentioned before that I am struggling with sleep, and anyone that has gone through sleep deprivation knows how much it sucks.  Anyone that has lived with someone who is sleep deprived knows how much that sucks too.  Senses are heightened, pain is more intense, cognitive thought is slower, and it is hard to stay focused at least those are a couple of effects for me.  I got a couple of hours of sleep last night, which is kind of my norm.  

I feel pathetic, I didn't go to work, I canceled some appointments and am doing my best to stay calm in bed.  Imagine my surprise when I looked up at Adam and said "My best is pretty pathetic, but I really am doing my best right now."   I meant every word of it.  Maybe that is the gift today of feeling like I hit a low point, I got this question answered.  I am doing my best.  My best just doesn't look the same everyday or in every situation, but it is enough.

Question of the day: Do you believe in general that people are doing the best they can?  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

3.5 miles

My planner is filled with numbers right now, numbers based on a training program for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge in January.  Twice a week I walk 30-45 minutes doing my best to stay on pace.  On the weekends I have longer walks, and this is where the numbers come in.  It is not a linear progression but somehow it works and the idea is that safely one will build up the endurance to safely completely a 10K and half marathon in two days.  

Confession time, I have been unable to walk more then 3.5 miles.  I wake up on the weekends look at my planner set out with a goal in mind and start walking.  Sometimes I don't make it very far, but for the most part at about 3.5 miles my body is communicating to me stop in one way or another.  

What do I do?  I keep getting up and walking.  I have no idea what will happen in January and my lack of confidence in my body breaks my heart.  Finishing these races is not supposed to be my focus, but I really like the idea of being able to finish.  I love the idea of being able to show myself that I am not as ill  as I feel a lot of the time.  I want to feel like my body is thriving again and not just surviving.  It is not useful metrics, but honestly the desire to finish is there.  Last week as I hobbled in the door Adam was a little concerned.  I just told him I needed to figure out another muscle imbalance.  However I felt really defeated.

This week as I worked on correcting the muscle imbalance and changed my stretches again.  I realized how lucky I am to be able to walk 3.5 miles, to have learned so much that I have the confidence I can help bring more balance to my body and help it function better.  Sometimes it doesn't feel like I am making progress at all because the finish line or the goal seems so big compared to where I am.  It is the little steps that will get me there. 

Perhaps the little steps will eventually lead to a giant leap forward and perhaps not.  I just know that 3-4 times a week I will continue to take this training one step at a time.  

Question to consider: What is a goal that you continue to strive for even if it seems to big for you?  What keeps you going through those moments when it feels like you might never improve? 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sunshine Sunday

Adam and I got to go to a yoga class this morning together and then we went to brunch.  Glad we took the moment to take this photo and enjoy each other's company.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Multiple hit Hypothesis

When I was studying genetics in school, we learned about a hypothesis about the role of mutations in DNA in cancer.  Knudson proposed that it took at least two hits, or two insults to the DNA in order for certain cancers to develop.  

This idea never really left me, both when analyzing chromosomes and in life.  Because I saw some truth to what these researchers were discussing.  The truth I saw was that there is always context to each patient, each situation.  It always served as a good reminder that even though I was looking at the genetic make-up of a person there was always something else that I would not be able to see.  There are so many factors that make up one's health and well-being.

Right now I feel completely exhausted and overwhelmed.  As I was working on the grocery list and planning out my day this "two-hit" idea came into my head.  My illness is an evolving learning process and it is a hit right now to my nervous system and life.  (It doesn't mean that I am not living a full life or happy life, it just means that I am still adjusting to same major life changes.).  Then I received a second hit, Sterling passing away and some other major life decisions.  Understandably I felt like my health took a couple of steps back and honestly my focus shifted to some more pressing matters.

Adam took me for a walk to get me back to focusing on my health.  Here I was walking around the neighborhood in my pajamas and slippers and Adam just kept telling me what I needed to focus on.  That pesky foundation: eating, drinking, sleeping, resting, relaxing and playing.  While we walked around the neighborhood, he asked how he could help with food.  This is a really scary idea for me and so I put my armor on and said I would continue to handle it, that it is hard to trust someone else.  

I wasn't seeing the larger picture, I was so focused on one of the hits that I was missing all the other hits that were contributing to my latest flare.  Adam in his wisdom decided not to press me, instead he used helpful experiences that I have had.  He has noticed who I trust with food preparation and who I am comfortable around.  He didn't argue with me that I must trust those people, he simply started to make arrangements for me to have food made by those people.  

He has paid attention and knows how difficult it is for me to accept help.  (I am stubborn which is one hit, the second hit is food is honestly terrifying right now.  I have had so many reactions to food, that I am extremely cautious about trying something new.)  He has made time to drive me to acupuncture appointments, to help me with laundry and to lend a hand in ways that don't make me feel sick.  He has helped enourmously the past couple of weeks to help me put on some weight and double the amount of sleep I tend to get.  

It is an interesting experience though, right now my body feels more tired and my mind less sharp despite getting four hours of sleep and eating more.  It is relaxing a little bit into this experience of being care for, and letting go of some of the tension I didn't even know I was holding.  I told Adam I wanted to just stay in bed for a while, so we are working on getting food and stuff in place so that I can spend the weekend resting.   Maybe that will help lessen the blow of some of the hits to my health, and even if it doesn't I get a weekend of food, blanket forts and cuddling.  Sounds like a win to me.

Question of the day:  What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thank you

There are many types of spaces in this world and many types of keepers of those different spaces.  When I started this little space on the Internet, I was very careful about what I posted and what I said.  Honestly I was going through so much I just wanted a little place of happiness and brilliance.  However as more people talked to me about what I posted and how I was looking for things, I opened up a little bit at a time.  

This space belongs to us all, everyone no matter if they only viewed one photo or one post has contributed to this little space.  This little corner of the Internet where I feel pretty safe and at home.  This is a place where I am able to be honest, show the good and the bad of my journey.  

Because even on my worst days, there is always some good.  Even when I feel alone, there is this tiny little home where I feel free to babble a little bit and look at my life.  

Thank you for helping to create this space, for giving me a place to write and practice.  

Question of the day:  Who are you thankful for today?  If possible take a moment and let them know.    

Monday, October 3, 2016

Stepping out of the Comfort Zone

I am currently listening to Rising Strong by Brene Bown while I train (walk) for this upcoming run next year.  I find myself pausing the book again and again, as I want to take time to hear what she said.  This morning I felt like a failure, because things are not going according to plan.  I LOVE plans. I stopped the book to allow myself to take time to absorb her take on storytelling and the Hero's Journey.  (Disclaimer, I am just saying what I heard, not attempting to say what she actually said or quote her.)

I love the mythology of the Hero's Journey!  When I was still in college and obsessed with Harry Potter, I had spent so much time reading and learning about the Hero's journey in an effort to understand where the story was going.  (The fifth book came out while I was in school).   I used to joke that if I ever became a Chemistry teacher, I would refer to my class as potions class.  The fascination with the Hero's Journey came long before that, deconstructing Star Wars and even the Bible lead to long debates with some of my family and friends.  Identifying the archetypal characters and understanding the role they play in the overall story, and therefore hoping to understand this crazy roller coaster of life.

I even have a fiction story started using that construct, but I was always missing an understanding about a part of the Hero's Journey.  It comes in Act Two, having to really understand and accept a character's motivation to continue on after the glamour of the call wears off.  It is that time in the unknown, in the uncertainty, the pause between the monkey bars, it is going out of the comfort zone.  Brene said something like act two starts when the main character has done everything comfortable to resolve the situation and finally accepts what it will really take.  This is leaving the scholar world and entering the warrior one, it is embracing the time when one is in the dark.  

Why is that important to me?  Because there are many times I have done something that is out of my comfort zone and been surprised with what happens.  There have also been times where I have walked away and thought, "not the best idea."  However I love certainty, I love knowing how the story will turn out.  That is probably why I read so many Fantasy stories, they tend to always work out.  No matter how dire the circumstance, it all comes together.  I know the story before it starts.  It is always okay.  

Storytellers rarely discuss those moments in the dark, when the mind is going back and forth between what is comfortable and what needs to be done.  They are summed up quickly, so that the story will continue.  Maybe that is why I wanted to understand, to feel, to experience the hero's motivation.  I needed to understand leverage, leverage that closes the door behind you and prevents you from going back.  However that leverage might not be enough to keep going and so sometimes I get stuck in the dark for a while. 

The dark is part of the process, it is that time to find that motivation, to decide where that next step is, it is out of the comfort zone and therefore it is where growth happens.  We have all experienced that second act in one way or another. It is where we gain skill and some sort of experience that will help us the next time we enter that dark room.  The experience and skill is that we got through it, the flip side of that is we also remember how much we didn't like it.  It takes something that cannot really be put into words to allow the door to shut and take a step into the unknown.  

Question of the day: What is your hero's journey?  Which Act are you in right now?  Who or What inspires you to keep moving?  



Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sunshine Sunday

Adam is super sweet and goes to the effort of making the bed nice and cozy for me before bed time.  He even tucked in this little frost pup, so that I would have a dog to cuddle as I fell asleep.  We each find our own ways to make the other person smile right now.  Even just a tiny smile goes a really long way.  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Loneliness

I recently read a post on Facebook about the loneliness of healing, this short little post touched on so many of the lessons I have been learning not just about healing about about life in general.  Adam and I have been together for over half our lives, in that time we have grown in the same directions.  There have been plenty of moments where we have sat down to have an honest conversation about our dreams and visions and make sure what we want is the same thing.  In our time together was have faced grieving family members, friends and dreams.  We have learned that both of us go through the process differently and often times when one of us reaches for the other that is the moment the other person needs some space.  

Unsurprisingly this has lead to some arguments and even worse long periods of time where someone withholds and is passive aggressive (usually me).  Because those moments of reaching out, asking for help are moments of vulnerability, moments where the heart is open and ready to receive.  The trap is that one of us wants something specific, receiving love needs to look a certain way.

For example, if Adam comes home from work and sees me crying.  His immediate reaction is to hold me, to hug me, however if I am crying because of nerve pain, being held can sometimes intensify the sensations.  But in that moment if I turn away from him without explanation, his heart breaks and he launches into a story.  My guess is that he launches into a story about how he is not doing enough, that he can't fix it.  At the same time I am sitting in my own story of pain and not being enough myself. These two stories can snowball and feed off each other.  We have done that dance and that fight so many times we could do it in our sleep.  

Right now Adam and I are dealing with some major life changes and grief.  Sterling meant something to us together and he also meant something unique to us an individuals.  Our house feels vacant and both of us dread being home alone, at the same time being alone gives us time to face that grief the other person can't quite grasp.  When Adam and I came home from the vet, we saw the last toy that Sterling had played with.  He had dragged his monkey out and left it in the middle of the room.  Neither one of us could manage to move it.  Each one of us felt something different when we looked at it and we also felt the same thing.  

Adam is one of the strongest, smartest and most capable people I know.  He amazes me all the time, if he only knew how many times I just stare at him in awe and gratitude.  He also loves me unconditionally, and patiently reminds me of this all the time.  However he can't fix my health, he can't bring Sterling back and he can't make the process of grief go any faster.  (Though maybe there is an equation for that.  Lol).  I might be one of the most caring and compassionate people that Adam knows, but right now I am pretty tapped out.  I can't fix his grief and I am struggling to take care of myself.  

What can we do?  How do we make space for both of us to heal together and separately?  Adam helps drive me to appointments, and I need to make sure I tell him how much that means to me.  That he is doing so much to help support me.  I need to tell him that I really want a hug from him but it might hurt, I need to remind him that playing with my hair is super comforting, that him being next to me helps center me and soothe me.  We both need to find ways to allow that heartbreak and receptivity be filled with loved without making it have to look like something.  

I do my best to keep Adam's favorite foods in the house, to make sure he has things he enjoys eating. I even brought home eggs as a surprise comfort food for him.  (Eggs are a huge trigger for my bladder and so they are not around much.).   I make sure he knows it is okay to tell me he needs space and needs to get out of the house.  That it makes sense to me and I don't think he is running away from me because I believe I am a burden.  He trusts that if I interrupt his time out it is for a good reason.  

Adam and I both understand love differently, and we express and receive love differently.  In times of change, we offer what we understand love to be, and hope it is enough.  Both of our hearts are hurting right now and each time we go through something we learn more about what the other person needs. We learn to talk and communicate, we learn to give each person space and be patient even though we know they are hurting.  Healing is lonely because no one can do it for you.  No one can eat, drink, exercise for you, no one can identify what will help except yourself.   

I have been struggling a lot.  I have hit the ground really hard and have some pretty impressive bruises, which finally got me to the point where I not only asked for help but was willing to accept it.  That is the beauty of heartbreak, we allow more into our lives.  That moment of loneliness, that vacant feeling when I feel abandoned and alone creates space for me to receive.  It is still up to me to say "yes," and I am learning to accept my vulnerability and allow the process to continue.  

Question of the day: How hard is it for you to ask for help?  When someone asks you for help, think about the courage it takes and how vulnerable they are.  Take the time to hear them and yourself, we all want to be heard.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I can be stubborn

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday and he point blank asked me what I have been doing for fun.  I racked my brain, I could have spun what I am have been doing and working on as "fun."  I keep doing it all and so I am getting levels of enjoyment out of it, but in terms of doing something purely for fun, something where time flies and where I feel relaxed and at ease.  I am not doing those things at all, in fact I have been finding excuses to not do them.  Putting them off until I feel better, prioritizing other things because energy and resources feel so limited.  

This weekend Adam wanted to schedule a date morning, and I felt so overwhelmed I was not able to even think of a time that would work.  Adam and I have gotten hit with some major life changes in a short amount of time and we are scrambling a little bit right now, because those changes will trigger more changes.  It is no surprise that this has caused a little bit of a setback in my health and my self care.  

I have let some people down but mostly myself.  I took on more then I could handle and continued to take on more then I could handle.  I was completely overwhelmed with must do, should do and want to do.  It got to the point where I do not have enough perspective to know the difference between must and should. My perspective has shifted and it is time to clean the filters.  

It is time to give myself some time and space to recover, to be selfish.  Those want to do, those things that feed my soul and help me thrive need to enter my life a little bit more right now.  I am in a place where I don't believe my short-term goals are possible, and they aren't if I continue to neglect myself, to push myself over and over.  

There are so many sayings out there about reaching for your goals, to take leaps, and to keep going.  It is time to rest so that I am clear on where to go as Adam and I handle these major life changes.  Which means I get to be honest and really look at my actions lately and see what really builds me up.  I need some help, and frankly I am not even sure what I need.  Everything is okay, and I am excited about these upcoming journeys, however I need to find my ground and get my symptoms under control.  

Focusing on myself is one of the hardest things for me, and it takes me falling down a lot and looking at all my bruises and hurt to bring me back to that.  Whatever works I guess?   

Question of the day:  What are some of your favorite self-care rituals and routines?  As you prepare to stand back up what do you enjoy doing for rest and relaxation?   Everyone goes through so much in their life, what really comforts you and prepares you keep going?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunshine Sunday

My original intent with this blog and my continued intent is to honor both the good and bad in life.  To realize and accept that it the sun can be shining even when it is raining.  My tendancy is to focus on what is wrong, it is the first thing I tend to see.  I decided the best way to work with that is to learn to look for what I don't easily see and notice, to change my focus.  Sometimes context requires us to zoom in and sometimes it requires us to zoom out, and a lucky few of practiced enough that they are able to grasp the entire scope all at once.  

Grieving Sterling is going to take time, it is a process.  For over a decade he has been a presence through all of my processes, he has been a source of love, joy, comfort and patience as I went through life.  Now there is the opportunity to notice other sources, sources that were not seen because I focused on him.  Nothing will replace his presence, he was unique and significant to me in ways that word will never capture.  But that doesn't mean love, joy, comfort and patience are not all around me.  

Sunday was a day that I looked forward to, I got to go through my photos of Sterling and pick one.  I got to share a moment of my time with him and express my love and gratitude for him in a way that meant something to me.  Last night as I climbed into bed and my eyes snapped awake I wondered what in the world will I focus my Sunday photo on?  Was it disloyal to Sterling to start a different theme on Sunday?  I decided that Sunday would still be a day to look forward to, and just go back to sharing a photo, maybe a story about a moment in the week that made me smile, and "Sunshine Sunday" popped into my head.  

Nothing like remembering the light is there even in dark times to remind me that I can always change my focus.  Both light and dark exist, both have their beauty and purpose, both have their time and place.  Changing the focus is about accepting that I can chose to shift, to move or even stay still; it is not easy, it is not a quick fix, it is a commitment to doing the best I can in the moment.  It is a commitment to not staying lost in the dark just because that is the first place my focus goes.  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sterling Sunday



Last night, Adam and I said good bye to our little pup.  Words fail me pretty often, but here I am up in the middle of the night working to put something down.  Letting the tears fall because he will be missed.  

I might have mentioned it before but just in case, Sterling saved my life.  He kept me moving for over a decade, and it was time for him to rest and give me the opportunity to learn I will keep going without him.  

Adam and I held him with gratitude, peace, relief and grief.  He will always be in our hearts.  Rest in Peace Sterling Q.  


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Training "begins"



There was a time that I decided to sign up for my first half-marathon.  Ashley gave me plenty of reasons of why I could do it and she inspired me to give it a shot.  Despite having surgery in the middle of training, I still went and ran the race with her.  I had to modify my training because of the surgery, and being relatively new to running I managed to get to the finish line.  The race and the weekend was so much fun, I would not trade those hours of running with Ashley for anything.  It was the most quality time we had gotten together in a while, and even though my tendons were protesting I kept telling her that I would run another race with her.   Less then a month later we signed up for not just a half-marathon but a challenge, a 10K and half-marathon back to back.  We started to plan Star Wars themed costumes and encouraged each other as the training dates approached.  

Then life happened, eventually I chose to defer the race.  I could barely walk without severe pain and running seemed unreasonable as my lifestyle changed.  Not only did I defer the race but I didn't think it made sense to travel to Disneyland and cheer on Ashley as she completed the race.  Last January as Ashley sent me videos and dedicated her run to me I felt heartbroken and a bit angry with my situation.  I remember crying for a long time, as I watched those videos, as I cheered for her from far away.  That is another memory I would never trade, because I was so touched and proud of her.  She has her own battles and it took a lot for her to get there.  

When June came around again, I was used my deferment and signed up for the Rebel Challenge coming up in January.  I was still not able to run and did not know what the future would bring.  I wanted a challenge, something to shoot for and if I am honest something that I could achieve that would help silence that voice that continues to tell me that it is hopeless to plan for the future.  That voice that tells me my life is over and that I am tired of arguing with.  I am tired of saying my life looks different now.  

Enough with the past...this week is when the training program starts.  Instead of buying new shoes to break in, I bought Ashley and I shirts as a talisman.  When I showed Adam the shirt his response was "I am not sure that is the best inspiration for you."   

I started to think about that.  He was correct, and he got me to look at some of my beliefs about my worth.  I grew up with Star Wars and I had given this statement a meaning that I wasn't aware of when until Adam pointed it out.  It was directly tied into how I view my worth, because if I put effort into something and it didn't live up to my expectations I devalued myself and my efforts.  

Monday when I started my training program, I used the time to really decide what that statement means to me now.  What is a useful way to use that statement instead of a way that correlates my worth with results?   

The statement is about results, it is not about action.  There is no judgement in the statement, even though I tend to hear one.  It boils down to doing the work, and letting the results happen.  There is so many different variables involved in results, and many are not something I have control of.  That statement is about committing to the work, trusting the universe to provide the best outcome and not using the results as a way to critique my worth.  

As I work with my body, I will focus on trusting it and believing that we will communicate.  That if running is not something that makes sense then I will do my best to show up and not concentrate on the finish.  In the end my desire is to enjoy time with Ashley, play and reconnect.  The race is simply the vehicle and something we both enjoy and connect over.  It is not about the finish.  





Monday, September 12, 2016

Embracing fear

Fear is a story.  I feel afraid that I won't be seen or heard, that I am not enough, that I won't be loved.  I feel afraid that I have never been loved for who I am, afraid that I will never even grasp who I am.  However, those fears have been with me for a very long time and mostly it is just a tape of the mind.  The "what if" game can provide a lot of entertainment and emotion to keep fueling the downward spiral of "what if."  

Unfortunately I have yet to discover some magic cure for the "what if" game.  Mostly I pay attention to foundations and ask myself a lot of questions about eating, drinking, sleeping, resting, relaxing, playing ect...  I am continuously reminded that competence and skill overcome fear.  I tend to forget the impact of getting through something.  That is where we gain skill, getting knocked down and getting back up. It isn't so important how long it feels like we are down, it is the getting back up.  I am starting to accept that it is chosing to get back up and then fighting through all the obstacles is where we get our skill and how we learn what we are passionate about.  

I feel two different types of "fear". One is the fear that is created by the mind, the stories, the imagination put into the "what if" game.  This is where something triggers a downward spiral of imaginative events that could not match reality.  This is where the "shoulds" live.  Honestly this is the fear I spend a lot of my time with, this is where I fall down and continue to get back up.  These are the hardest falls for me, because when I am down, I don't remember that I know things to help me get back up.  Which is when my mind will deliver the final blow and tell me that means I don't want to get back up.  Because I don't remember how to get back up, I am ashamed to ask for help and am completely disconnected from reality, the mind has pretty good control of me. 

The second type of "fear" is more like caution, it is based on my experience.  It is actually useful, when it is used as information.  (I am cautious when climbing ladders, because I fell once.  I have a rule in the house that if someone is going up on a ladder that someone else needs to be in ear shot, because when I was little my Dad fell and luckily my brother was running late for work and was home to help him.)  This fear informs me and reminds me to be gentle, to pay attention but it is rarely paralyzing.  This caution serves to remind me that I have gotten back up, or some one else has gotten back up and asks me where my skill is.  

Right now I am dealing with both types of fear.  I am weaning myself off some medication, and this is a second attempt.  Last time I did this, things did not go smoothly, and I stayed in pain for long enough.  However, I also learned from that experience.  I had a long talk with my doctor about how to proceed in the future.  So I do have some skill, I have plenty of people I can ask to help me and it is a reminder to be gentle with myself as I start to wean myself off bladder medication that has helped enormously.

I am not a neuroscientist and it has been a while since I looked at my notes.  However I wonder if both types of fear activate the same centers in the brain, if they release the same neurotransmitters.  Because a lot of times when I am dealing with caution, fear also shows up.  

What is the story?  Is the mind riding that wave of neurotransmitters?  Because I also spin the story, that if weaning myself off the medication goes poorly again that is means I am not enough, that I haven't done enough to help, that I did something wrong.  The reality is my bladder lining may not be healed yet, for who knows what reason, there is only one way to find out.  The first step is to find out how I am doing, and then make a decision after that.  

Since I received my diagnosis and the doctor told me her map for how to treat this illness.  I have gotten to accept the map is not the terrain, that the doctors cannot predict what will help, what will make it worse, and how fast things will change.  Everyone that I have seen has reminded me to listen to my body, that the knowledge is there.  One of the biggest challenges of this illness has been for me to communicate that information to my doctors.  To ask for help and challenging myself to trust the terrain instead of the map.  

Question of the day: What is one of your hard won skills?  Take a moment to think about how many times you got back up to win that skill and appreciate yourself for continuing to rise.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sterling Sunday

Poor little pup, I accidentally trapped him while sorting laundry.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Secrets of the heart

Aww, the allure of perfection.  Why is it so alluring to me, what is its magic spell?  It is this illusionary world where criticism doesn't exist, it is a place of complete certainty and acceptance.  It is this rose garden of lies that the mind wants you to believe in.  My mind wants to me to believe there is always a right choice and a wrong choice, that at any given time life is black and white and I should've figured it out by now.  This is the voice that tells me other people wouldn't understand.
 
Because of this fear, I tend to keep things close to my heart.  I tend to keep experiences as burdens to carry, things that become unspeakable, and because I struggle with confidence in my language eventually something that will never be able to be communicated.  All of this creates boundaries and flow charts in what I need to do to get love.  

Because I am so focused on the flow chart, I tend to miss playful moments.  For example, I asked Adam to take a photo of me doing a yoga pose on this bridge.  I was having a difficult time with my balance and kept toppling out of the pose.  In some instances that would have been a playful and enjoyable moment, in other instances I could've really critized myself and made the rest of the evening miserable.  What is the difference?   

If I could slow down time, then watch frame by frame as the neurotransmitters flow through my body, I still don't think I would be able to understand.  Because I am starting to observe that sometimes the initial reaction is just a reflex, however at some point the knee jerk reflex has passed and that is the moment the decision can be made.  Does this become another secret in the heart?  Something that is used to create shame and use up energy or can I close the door on the burden, put it down and leave my heart clear and open?

Question of the day: I believe our biggest secrets of the heart, the biggest things that we are carrying right now are not what makes us unique. I believe sharing these secrets can help someone feel like they are not alone in their struggles.  One of mine, something that always tends to make me feel like I will have love taken away is how much I doubt myself.  How many times in a day I believe I am not enough, and want to be reminded it is always okay.  

What is one of your secrets in your heart? 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Debridement

It is uncomfortable not knowing, not understanding or having no way to communicate my discomfort. Yesterday I messaged Adam and told him it felt like I had been through a bit of a debridement.  That some very old wounds had been uncovered, irritated and finally cleaned.  These wounds that had been making me uncomfortable for who knows how long, wounds so old that I couldn't pin point a source and now I felt them again.  Now that they had been cleaned and all the debris removed, I wasn't sure what to do with the discomfort and the space that had been revealed.

When I was in college I was learning to rollerblade and made a mistake and had a choice to enter a busy intersection or to throw myself in the dirt.   I didn't see another way to stop and because entering a busy intersection out of control seemed like a horrible idea I dove into a gravel driveway.  The result was not pretty, luckily my wrist guards protected my hands and arms but my legs were a bit bloody.  I took off the rollerblades and began to slowly and tenderly walk home.  The fall was not too bad, cleaning out the scrapes and cuts was terrible.  I remember sitting in the shower and taking breath after breath to help me get ready for more cleaning.  I remember wishing for my mom or dad who had cleaned my scrapped knees so many times, I remember wishing for anyone to help and hold my hand.  

After the cuts were cleaned, I left them alone.  I didn't go picking at the wounds, I didn't check every few seconds to see how the healing was going.  My body had that healing process under control, I needed to stay out of the way and let the wound heal.  

So what does that look like with old emotional wounds?  I tend to keep picking, to keep checking in, to continue to poke and rub salt in emotional wounds.  I have this feeling that it is important to do something, because I feel uncomfortable.  It is that desire to be comfortable, to not make space for the discomfort that continues to irritate the wounds, that resets the emotions in me.   It is continuing to ask questions to figure out the lesson.  

This morning for a brief instant things clicked, the idea of leaving emotional wounds alone to heal is a necessity.  It is not necessary to fill that space with doing something or being something other then what I am.  Discomfort is a gift, it is a huge fucking gift.  If you miss someone it means they mean a lot to you, if you feel grief over not being able to do something it is because it is important to you.  

I am unsettled about not being able to go to China.  My mind has been racing and making up all kinds of stories about it, it is searching to fill that gap with entertainment, with distractions, with anything it can.  Maybe I can just relax into the discomfort of all the feelings and meanings I have about this trip and maybe I when I relax I will start to let go, to loosen the grip and create space in that dscomfort and be grateful.  

I have the gift of feeling how important that trip was to me for so many reasons, and even though I don't get the gift of going on the trip, I get something different.  I get the drive and determination to continue my discipline, the motivation to keep going, because being a Daoist Priest is something I am, and something that I rejoice in being able to do.  My teacher continued to tell me it was not about a piece of paper, it comes down to the work.  Maybe I am starting to accept his point, little by little the discomfort and void is being filled by what I want and who I am.

Question of the day: What discomfort are you feeling right now?  


Monday, August 29, 2016

Temptations

We live in a world surrounded with social media, advertisements and the desire to always be more then what we feel we are.  Life moves very fast, and there always feels like there is more we should be doing.  I tend to feel like I will get left behind and be replaced because I am not able to keep up with such a fast moving society right now.

I was walking through the grocery store last week, remembering how good toast tastes.  I was looking for something to help settle my stomach and a bit of comfort food.  I found myself grabbing the usually veggies I eat because I have that pattern and looking longingly at the bread.  I started thinking about the foods I eat now and wondering what might satisfy that craving of bread.  Mostly I wanted my stomach to settle down, I wanted to feel better and at some point in my life toast was the magic cure all for nausea.  

Times have changed and there are other things that help me with nausea, so I focused on those.  While I haven't had much of a reaction to gluten the few times I have had it, I have learned it is better not to experiment when foundations are already low.  

The flip side of that is when foundations are low is when I am most aware of all those temptations.  Whether it is lack of sleep, a hard day of work, or just lots of little pebbles of stress, there is a tipping point.  That is the point and the edge where willpower feels exhausted and skill becomes a necessity.  The skill of knowing thyself, I didn't get bread because I know it does not makes sense when I am not feeling well to add more unknowns in the equations.   If I had chosen to get bread, it would have been because it made sense to me that it would help with the nausea.  Neither choice is wrong, it is simply a matter of understanding myself and identifying what I need.  

A couple of months ago I had a bad reaction to some medication and got extremely sick, and honestly was not able to even stomach any other food then some toast.  So Adam went out and bought me some bread, because I didn't know what else I could eat.  It made sense.  

The next time you find yourself eating something or buying something you "shouldn't," ask yourself "does this make sense?"  Being able to understand what you want, what you need and the context of the situation have helped me approach temptation with much more clarity.  

In the last year, I have changed my lifestyle, what I eat, what I wear, what I do for fun and it is not the first or last time in my life that things will change.  I am no longer the bull in the china shop, velocity and force are not terribly useful when it comes to my health.  So it will remain one step at a time, and I will continue to learn patience and trust even while I feel like the world is passing me.   

Question of the day:  Look back at a moment when you gave in to temptation and felt guilty about it. Zoom out of that moment a little bit by taking out the emotion and look at the context and the outcome.  Did it make sense? Did you learn something from it?