Monday, May 30, 2016

Abundance

This past couple of days have been very stressful and overwhelming for me.  It is easy for me to focus on the things I am no longer able to do, to focus on people I miss seeing, things I miss doing, food I miss tasting....   It is easy for me to feel the loss and grief associated with my life changing.   

However that is not the most helpful focus, in fact it is a destructive habit.  So how do I change my focus, how to see all the abundance in my life admist the changes?  I am aware of how lucky I am, how much support Adam is giving me, and that there are so many people that have skills that might help.  I still feel this lack, this foggy sight that clouds my vision and prevents me from seeing all the opportunities available.   

Yesterday, the stresses of the world kind of caught up with me, and when I felt powerless that is when all the stories came up, all these imagined stressed that don't exist.  Apparently, I am not getting enough variety with my actual life and my mind decides to imagine worse case scenarios and downward spirals.  

I spend a great deal of my life right now, living with chronic pain, taking hours to cook, to train and it is one of the most self involved things I have done.   Weighing every choice, taking into account how I am  feeling and sometimes pushing myself even when I "know" better.  The chronic pain means that my body is processing extra stress hormones, and so when I hit a threshold of stress, my body collapses. It has to take the time to process all the neurotransmitters and chemicals that are released in response to a new level of stress.

This morning while I was taking time to recover, moving through my training at a painfully slow speed, evaluating what else I could do to help my body leave the fight or flight mode it was in.  I realized how foggy my sight is, how dark and bleak my focus is when it comes to everyday activities.  I spend a lot more time grieving for what I have "lost," and I stopped looking for what is new, what is enjoyable.  

Again that is a pattern for me, and one that must be broken, I want a different default setting.  There is a lot of literature out there about "good stress, bad stress, chronic stress, acute stress," and the different effects it has on the body both long term and short term.  Again, there is no "how to" guide; there is no set it and forget it button.  There is only noticing the pattern and breaking it. 

It is snuggling with Sterling and listening to his little heart beat, it is letting Adam hold me even when I want to run away and hide, it is giving myself space and saying "no" instead of pushing until I collapse, until I am not functioning at a useful level.  It is also being okay with the loss and grief, without holding on to them.  It is accepting that no matter how I feel and what my mind is telling me, I am not this disease!  

Who I am, what I am?  That is the abundance to focus on, that ability to reinvent myself.  To stop describing myself as what I used to be, what I used to do.   

Question of the day: Who are you today?   Who are you priceless to and who is priceless to you?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Caregiver versus Caretaker

I read an article some time ago about a study that was done on people that worked in the "caretaking industry."   The article was about why some people in that industry burn out quickly and others don't.  This article was not a "how to," it was simply comparing personality traits that the author noticed.  The article categorized people that had burn outs more frequently or ended up changing jobs as "caretakers" on the other side; the people that stayed in positions longer or did not have frequent burn outs were categorized as "caregivers."

What I took away from the article, boiled down to this: caregivers care for people by focusing on abundance, caretakers tend to focus on lack.   The quality of care did not seem to suffer, no one was accusing these workers of not taking care of their patients.  The focus was on the part of the caregiver, was it out of obligation, was it out of fear, was it out of gratitude, was it out of love...the list goes on.  

I have a limiting belief, that might sound absurd when you read it, understand that it is something I truly and deeply believed.  It is a belief that I have been peeling back layer by layer for a long time, and my mind pokes and looks for reinforcement of this belief all the time.  I have been locked in an argument for most of life about this.   "I am not worthy of loving and serving God."   There it is, being brought out into the light.   

Now I could spend time translating that statement, and all the different forms it takes, but that doesn't help me.  Like I said, some part of me knows it is absurd, if someone said they felt that way, I would be shocked.  The God that I have studied, the different approaches, all teach that God is love.  So where would my mind come up with such a statement?  I don't know, it doesn't matter, it is not true.  That doesn't stop the battle, this draining argument that is constantly happening.  It is what made me a "caretaker."  It is why I usually would feel drained after work that I loved, because I was using the work to fight a war within myself.  

I bring this war into the light, and allow a deep wound to be seen and heard, because I am exhausted. Because I will learn to give from abdunance, from this internal fire and a deep love for myself.  What does that mean?  

It means I stop arguing with the voice, I stop acting as both prosecutor and defense attorney.  What does that look like? Continue to make taking care of myself a priority, continue to learn that making choices and taking action to heal helps empower me.  Let my actions speak for themselves, bring life to the action not use the action as fuel and significance.  

I watch others do this on a daily basis, I am fortunate enough to have experienced this state for myself at times.  There is no "how to,"  no one can give me a flow chart, or a map I will just continue to refocus, to pick myself up and allow others to pick me up when I fall down.   

Question of the day: What limiting belief can you bring into the light today, even just by telling it to someone else?  What wants to be seen and heard?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tipping point

It has been a rough couple of days, my pain level has been climbing, I have been waiting patiently to hear about new medication only to find out that the insurance won't cover yet another treatment.  I broke down a bit.  Adam and I are extremely fortunate in that we can pay for the treatment, so I started to ask myself why the breakdown when I got the news?

Honestly it was just the tipping point in a week of my patience and resolve being tested.  Plus the fear that we are going to spend this money and find out the treatment isn't successful.  I am constantly practicing, I am constantly using my tools and reminding myself that I am making progress, that I am getting better.  The mind is relentless in its pursuit, to find weak points and trigger points to bring up fears and then I listen to those fears and my focus quickly changes to find coraboration.   

That is the thing about focus, I can always find what it is I am looking for.  When my foundation is worn down and I feel like I am drowning a bit, it takes effort to change the focus, to not allow my old patterns and behaviors be reinforced by data.  

Data can be read so many different ways and if I am looking for a way to reinforce weakness, I will find it.  Honestly I feel weak and helpless a lot of the time lately, then I remember I have exercises, meditations, and people that can help.  That doesn't make me weak, that means I am doing what I need to do to take care of myself.   It doesn't help to compare myself to my coworkers, or friends that seem to have endless amounts of energy compared to me.  It doesn't help to compare my healing journey to others.  I read their stories and I talk to people because it inspires me that something WILL work, reminds me that things are working.   The mind is what wants to compare, it wants to a linear timeline for how long it will take, it wants me to believe I am lacking.  

This has started me to wonder what is abdunant in my life right now, to shift the focus away from blood test results, symptoms, and canceling or shifting plans.  

There are many people in my life that are understanding and help is such little ways, offering to pick me up, to come over and keep me company, to really listen to my frustrations (not to fix them, just to give me a chance to let it out), to sending me quotes or beautiful photos and simply giving me a hug when they see me.  My schedule is flexible enough that I can see my Physical Therapist, Acupuncturist and Doctors almost anytime.   I have a husband who is extremely patient and continuously reminds me that it is getting better, who gives me things to look forward to, and who understands when I say I am unable to do something.   I have the greatest little dog, that is happy to take naps with me.  I have enough time to heal.  I have enough love to learn how to give from abundance instead of from lack.  

Question of the Day: What is abundant in your life right now?  For a couple breaths, stop listening to the mind chatter that wants you to believe you are lacking anything.   All I need is within me now.  

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Moving

Yesterday I woke up early and did my exercises and then needed to go to the grocery store early in the morning before seeing my physical therapist.  My pain level was at about a seven, and I could feel where the imbalance was in my spine and sacrum but I was not able to quite figure out how to correct it.  So while I drove to the grocery store I came up with a challenge for myself.   I told myself to move, walk, sit like I wasn't in pain.   What would that feel like?  How would my bones stack up and what muscles would release if I was moving without pain?   

I started walking through the parking lot, extremely slowly, not because of the pain but because I was paying attention to my posture, my muscles and shifting my focus to what it would look like to move without pain.  Did it drop my pain level?  Nope, not really.   In fact if someone saw me moving so slowly and carefully they might even see someone that was in pain.   It simply gave me something to focus on, it gave me the opportunity to visualize and work towards that physiology that didn't hold chronic pain.   

I spent months in a ton of pain, and a lot of that time I spent curled up in a little tight ball, protecting myself and finding a position that was safe.  Unfortunately my body tends to hold on to patterns, and there are days that I don't know if I am in pain because of my disorder or because I am still working to open up those muscles, to stretch those ligaments that contracted to help protect me, to help comfort me.  There are days I have no doubt that the pain is because of my bladder and I do the best I can, I still do the best I can with moving and breathing into the areas that hurt.  

It takes work, it takes practice and sometimes it takes all the focus that I have to move, to keep moving slowly and allowing the body to work with me instead of fighting it.  Then there are the times I fight the pain, when I am fighting myself, when I feel bitter, when I push people away.  Those times are valuable, they give me a chance to break a pattern, to observe a pattern or simply understand patterns in general.  

Yes I have a lot of techniques, and medication to help with pain.  They only work if I use them, if I practice them and if I use them correctly.  As I work on visualizing a straight spine, as I work on feeling what that would be like and I practice what I think it looks like.  I have to ignore the little voice in my head that tells me "how do you know you are doing correctly?"   I am rebuilding a relationship of trust with my body, that as I gain awareness I will slowly be able to correct little tiny imbalances, which may or not lead to less pain.   I know that working slowly and with determination is what will cause the larger changes, and continue to give me information about what works for me.  

I long for the day that I feel "normal" and yet when I fell asleep last night I was so grateful for this body that carried me through my day of grocery shopping, body work, martial arts class, yoga class and giving hugs to people I love.  I was so grateful for all the healers, doctors and teachers that have taken time and energy to help me understand my body so that I have a toolbox to draw from.  At the end of the day the pain didn't matter so much, I am still able to move.   It serves as a good reminder for me that progress is happening, and no matter how much time it takes I am grateful that I am able to keep going.   

Question of the day:  What progress are you grateful for today?   What have you been nurturing in your life that you are proud of?