Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The importance of breathing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Looking for the stable ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

The last 30 pages

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Animal Lessons

The day Adam and I got the keys to our old house, we took Sterling over to show him his new home.   We were so excited to finally have a backyard to play with him in, we imagined that he would be just as excited.   Adam and I had this equation in our head, outside = more space to play with his ball = happier dog!   So we took him to the backyard and let him explore for a little while and then brought his ball out.   Sterling looked at the ball, ran to the door and sat to be let inside.   In the 10 years that he lived in that house he only played with his ball outside once, and it was a shocking moment.  

Sterling had a lesson to teach us that day, let go of of those equations and expectations.  Sterling was happiest inside and so we made space for him to have his own "ballroom."  Because watching him play with his ball was the most amazing thing in the world and if he wanted to play with it inside, then that is what he got.  

Adam and I went to say good bye to the house, look for any last things we wanted to grab and to bless the house for the next owners.  We have both needed some space to process the grief of selling the house, saying good bye to Sterling and grieving the people that we were that day when we threw the ball out for Sterling and he went the other way.  

Maybe that day Sterling was telling us "hey humans, think bigger, dream bigger and when the grass is too itchy it is totally okay to move on."  That house saw a lot of joy, a lot of heartbreak and a lot of change over the years, and none of it was really based on that original equation x = happiness.  Sterling, Adam and I made that space a home, and so we are taking the best part of that house in our hearts and with us for the rest of our lives.  

I can't know if I would be a happier person if life had worked out differently, but I do know that there is a Force much bigger then me leading me to my life's work.   I am happy, it looks nothing like what I expected, given a big backyard to play in I decided I was better suited to learn how to play in all the spaces, not just the ones that are expected.  

Question of the day: What lessons have your animals taught you that you will carry in your heart?   

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What can you hear without noise?

I have spent a lot of time, thinking, planning and dreaming about the moment when the pain would completely go away.  I dream about running again, the brain fog lifting, being able to drink orange juice, having more energy...all kinds of silly things.   It gives me hope, to know there are still plenty of things I want to do that I am not able to do right now, it means I have room to grow and there is still an enormous amount of passion left. When I work on my book I imagine what it would be like to be work uninterrupted without so many trips to the bathroom.  I dream about the day my husband can touch my back without wondering if it will make the pain worse.  

Monday I hit a desperation point, a flare that seemed to not be easing up or responding to treatment left me exhausted and drained.  I was sobbing on the floor simply from sorting laundry, it was hard to lay down and be comfortable and moving was not helping.  So I asked my acupuncturist if there was anything that might help, and he prescribed me an herb.   I drove to pick up the prescription, meticulously measured out the correct amount with my little electronic scale, dissolved the powder in hot water and swallowed the bitter tasting concoction.  

I sat down on the couch, and shortly tears started pouring out of eyes.  It took some time for my mind to process and register that the pain level was dropping.  The tears of gratitude and relief continued to fall for a little while as all the noise died down.  I wasn't numb, but the screaming stopped.  That miraculous moment in which the pain went away had arrived.  

What did I do?  I didn't jump down for joy, I didn't immediately grab my shoes and go for a run.  No I stayed on the couch for a while and listened to my body, the screaming might have stopped but there was still a lot to hear.  My body protested any more movement, not because of pain but because of exhaustion.  My body was more exhausted then it had ever been, running half marathons, traveling for 48 hours straight, backpacking, conditioning for sports, even that time I had mononucleosis, I had never felt anything like this.  

I mention a lot about the amount of mental focus it takes to live with chronic pain, but I had little appreciation for the toll it takes on my body.  Each and every part of my body has been working so hard to keep me going, to keep me upright, smiling and growing. So I grabbed my heating pad and crawled into bed to take a nap, to rest, to thank each and every cell for working so hard.  To thank each and every bit of me for not giving up, my will might be what gets me out of bed each and every morning, but my body works to keep me present.   

It is amazing when the noise gets turned down how many different things I felt in my body.  I could feel my ankle throbbing from where I had twisted it the day before, I could feel that my abs were sore from working out, the most miraculous thing was being able to BREATHE.   Being able to take a full breath without aggravating the pain, feeling the rib cage expand, the diaphragm and pelvic floor move, is a gift.  So I welcome my respite and instead of running around chasing after all those things I dream about I enjoy the gift of this breath and moment. 

Question of the day: What gift did you receive today?  What gift can you give back to yourself? 

Monday, May 1, 2017


I have several drafts of this post, I wanted it to be so many different things.  However, nothing felt quite right, all the ideas, all the words felt like a mask to hide behind.  

I have been awake since two in the morning with painful bladder spasms, adrenaline pumping through my body, and a little bit of screaming and a lot of crying. The crying is more about the emotions and the stories that come up, the pain will pass.  A few days of an extremely bland diet, some extra care and I will begin to see the light.  

It is the stories that stay, because it is the same ones that come up time and time again.  What did I do wrong? Really, I am asking, how do I avoid this pain?  How do I avoid the pain of being alive?  

I don't.  It is not an option, because among the hours of pain, at the same time there are moments of joy.  Feeling the warmth of my husband's hand, having him hold me, both of us feeling vulnerable and wanting nothing more in the world then to stop the pain and knowing it takes time and skill is actually a moment of joy.  Moments of wonder and awe watching snow fall at my parents’ house.  Going to bed early because I hit a wall and peacefully fall asleep.  Laughing with strangers about awkward medications and doctors’ visits and making new friends.  

At about four in the morning, I started writing.  At some point I became a writer, or I accepted that I have always gained perspective and healed through writing and reading.  So today, I will accept that there is an enormous amount of wisdom in my story and my experience and I will start to organize it all into some sort of book.  I am being vague, because I have many outlines and ideas, but today I will decide to just start, not thinking, not planning but doing that thing that terrifies me and really putting it all together.  

I just keep asking myself what is the focus?  Where do I point the compass and allow the adventure to unfold?  I have spent over five years working on changing my focus, reprogramming my brain to look for all those moments of joy and beauty and maybe it is time to just keep that focus of dynamism, of flow and change.   

Changing my focus allowed me to see the moments of joy in pain and the moments of pain in joy, however lately my focus has been on noticing both, appreciating and embracing both sides, and noticing the time when everything settles and is peaceful.  Vulnerability is about being open to all of life's experiences, it is about staying in the moment and realizing this too shall pass.  

Question of the day: What wisdom can you accept about yourself today and share?  You can tell a loved one, write it down, tell a stranger or even take a few moments and tell yourself in the mirror.  Appreciate all that you have been through and all the wisdom your experiences have brought you, own it.  It is your journey and your wisdom and your opportunity to serve the people around you.  

Reading paragraphs

Everything feels different and I don’t know if that is okay.   What I mean by that is I don’t know if it meets other people’s expectations...