Ripples

2014 April 18
by Jenny

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Lately I’ve been having a really hard time with the mood cycling that comes with my bi-polar disorder. The constant roller coaster of shifting emotions is exhausting, not to mention all the stories and dramatics my mind goes into as a result of all my internal spinning.

It takes  constant, superhuman strength to stand within myself and remember that these are just thoughts and emotions, that just because they’re here doesn’t mean they’re true,  to remember that I’ve made it through this before and I can do it again, to trust that yes, this is here, and it sucks, and I’m going to be OK, all the while being bashed and buffeted and bruised and banged up and beaten by constant, unrelenting waves of pain.

It helps to get outside, even for a few minutes, so I can focus on something other than myself and my mind. And even though it’s kind of gloomy here today, I was surprised by unexpected beauty. May its peace and lovely grace continue to ripple through my soul today.

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Good Words

2014 April 2
by Jenny

Empowerment Prayer

She is Maiden, Mother and Crone
In one…

You will recognize her because she
makes genuine eye contact with whomever she meets…
She is not afraid to be direct and honest about how she feels

She charts her own course
And is willing to meet whatever comes
Because she has faith in her Journey
She’s aware of her own strength

She delights in enabling the well-being and the empowerment of others
But she refuses to subject herself to energy drainers…
She sees through bullshit instantly
She knows how to protect herself

She is obedient to her own inner knowing,
She is willing to break the rules made by others
in order to be authentic to herself

Her truth comes directly through her heart
She uses her mind as the servant to manifest it

She is inwardly and outwardly Aware
She responds more than she reacts
She no longer waters illusory drama
She no longer feels the need to control what is

She is deeply connected to her creative source
She is her own work of art in progress
She can create beauty from whatever is in front of her

She is in tune with her intuition and instinctual body
She lives in the present
Because she is willing to relinquish the past
And allow the future the space it needs to unfold

She understands that life is an ever changing flow from one moment to the next…
She willingly goes with it.

She feels deeply connected to the earth and stays close to nature,
She recognizes that she is not separate from it…
Being connected to nature is essential for her health and well-being

She has simplified her life
Released the non-essentials so that she can be spacious and free

She values her aloneness,
She waters her Soul with it
But she also
values quality time with like minded Souls

She doesn’t need a man to complete her
Her relationships are on an equal basis of respect and sharing
Unbridled sensual pleasure…

She has no time for gossip
She’s invested in raising the Sisterhood up rather than cutting it down

She celebrates the Beauty and Power in other Women
She celebrates the Beauty and Power within herself

She is just as willing to receive as she is to give
She fills her own cup for herself and overflows it for others

She understands the futility of unsolicited advice
So she shares her wisdom through living it

She envisions the Healing of the world
She offers her gifts as a contribution towards it

Love is her religion
Unity is her gospel
Laughter is her Grace

She loves to play through her inner child
Sing and dance through her inner maiden
She nurtures her body mind and spirit daily through her inner mother

Others seek her for her Wisdom
Are irresistibly drawn to her unpredictable Mystery

They feel seen and accepted in her steady gaze…
Peaceful in her Sacred Space

They are shocked by her irreverent humor
But secretly inspired, uplifted,
Given permission to be themselves

She is Maiden, Mother and Crone
In one
She is Goddess

~Caroline de Lisser

Grandma’s House

2014 March 22
by Jenny

Last weekend my husband and I went up to North Carolina to help celebrate my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. While we were there, we also got to spend time with our two nephews who are 1 and 4-years old.

The morning after the party we were sitting in my parents’ kitchen watching my two nephews play. The baby is starting to pull himself up on furniture but he’s still fairly unsteady, so one of his parents is usually close by. His mom was helping  him hold onto a chair when she looked down at him and then leaned over to talk to my mom.

“Grandma,’” she said, “I bet you haven’t had your new chairs licked yet.”

This struck me as so funny because all I could think about was my industrious little nephew crawling determinedly around the kitchen, checking out the state of all the furniture. “What’s this,” I imagined him thinking, while wearing a tiny superhero cape, “unlicked furniture?! Don’t worry, Grandma, I AM ALL OVER THIS.”

Meanwhile, after blowing through all the adults and their energy, the 4-year old was busy entertaining himself in the corner. He is all boy; just give him a train, a plane, or an automobile, and he is in heaven.

“Look,” he said, indicating his latest creation, “a tower. And there’s a princess!”

“Oh wow,” I said, “there’s a princess in a tower? Are you going to rescue her? Are you going to climb up the tower to get her down?”

There was no answer as we watched his bulldozer draw closer and closer to the princess, eventually crashing right through the tower and sending the princess rolling across the kitchen floor.

“Well, hey,” said, my dad, “it got the job done.”

My mom and I looked at each other as she lifted her palms to form an imaginary scale.

“Fairy tales as told by girls,” she  said, motioning with her right hand, “and fairy tales as told by boys.”

Don’t Worry Mom, Your Torch Has Been Safely Passed On, Or, If It Hurts, Then Stop Touching It

2014 March 13
by Jenny

As part of our efforts to sneak healthy changes into our lifestyle, last weekend my husband made each of us a standing desk to use in our offices here at home. While he uses a desktop with two large screen monitors, I use one large screen monitor and my laptop.

When he first set up my system he tried to convince me to let him hook up a separate keyboard , so that I would  just use my laptop as a second screen. This idea I rejected on the grounds that none of the keyboards we tested “sounded right”.

My husband has been with me long enough to know that there’s no response to something like that, so he let the matter drop. But after almost a week of working up so high my wrist and elbow really hurt, so I just called him at work and asked if we could go look at keyboards tonight.

“OK,” he said, in the tone of someone who is excited that I finally came around, but is wise enough not to push.

“I know I haven’t wanted to do this before, but I’d really like this sharp pain in my elbow to stop.”

“”Mmm. Can I make a suggestion?”

“Um,” I said, suspecting what was coming, “should I stop?”

“Yes,” he replied. Move your laptop back down and just sit for today.”

“OK,” I agreed, unlike my behavior in previous similar situations.

So I’ve been happily working away on my old desk, enjoying the reprieve from arm pain until I caught myself  thinking, “Man, why is my neck hurting so badly?”

You know that skill that you supposedly develop as you grow-globilization, maybe-where you learn something important from a situation and are then able to use that lesson in new situations? Well apparently I don’t, because it took me MANY MANY LONG MINUTES until I realized that if I moved my laptop down a level, perhaps I should move my screen down as well.

No one tell my husband, okay?

A Quick Peek Into What’s Been Going On Around Here Lately

2014 March 2
by Jenny

1. My husband, calling me from work.

My husband: “Our girl scout cookies are here.”

Me: “Cookies!”

My husband: “I was able to get the extra Thin Mints you requested.”

Me: “Cooookkkkiiiieeeessss!”

My husband: “The house owes me $35.”

Me: “OK.”

My husband: I just spent thirty-five dollars on cookies!”

Me: “And they are worth every penny.”

My husband: “WE HAVE OUR OWN BOX OF COOKIES!”

Me: “And?”

Loud thunk as my husband’s head hits his desk in despair.

2. My husband, calling me from the airport on one of his many recent business trips.

My husband (talking very slowly and sounding kind of funny): “So, we had a little excitement here.”

Me (thinking that maybe he missed his flight): “Oh?”

My husband: “I refused to go through the X-ray machine, so I had to have them pat me down and run the wand over me.”

Me (wondering where this is going): “OK?”

My husband: “They also did that thing where they swab your hands and clothes to look for…whatever it is they look for. ”

Me: “Uh huh?”

My husband: “Well, they found something on the swab and it set off all the alarms. So then they unpacked all my stuff, x-rayed it, took me over to the side,…(long, involved explanation that kept going on as I grew more and more frantic.)

Me (cutting to the chase): “OMG, ARE YOU IN JAIL?!”

My husband (in that slightly condescending tone that people take when speaking to someone they believe is needlessly overreacting and unnecessarily hysterical): “Um, NO-oh. I would have led with that.”

A Little Bit Of Breathing Room

2014 February 26
by Jenny

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Today is not a good fibro day. (Although, is there even such a thing as a good fibro day, or is that just an oxymoron?)

If you’ve ever seen the TV commercial for Lyrica  where they show the inside of a person that appears to be nothing but endless pathways of fire, that’s pretty  much what fibro feels like for me: burning pain that radiates from the tips of my index fingers, up and down my body to the soles of my feet. It’s like someone took a cigarette lighter and jammed it down into the deepest layer of muscle in my elbows, shoulders, knees, and other, euphemistically-named “trigger points” (I guess “spots where you’re lanced through with white hot pokers forged in the deepest fires of hell” is a little off-putting), and then left it there to smolder until my entire body caught fire.

My body reacts to this pain as it would to being punched. It steals my breath. I collapse into myself and brace for another blow. Everything in me constricts until I am just a mass of fiery knots being pulled tighter and tighter.

But it’s not just my body that closes off; my brain also closes down into survival mode. I’ve learned that in really bad flare-ups I do, temporarily, lose my mind. I am locked out of my higher brain functions because it’s taking all of my resources to just keep breathing through the crashing waves of pain.

So one of the coping techniques I’ve had to learn is how to create even a hair’s breadth of inner space where I can separate myself from the pain and figure out how I can help myself feel a little bit more comfortable. It is not easy. It is a practice, one of the hardest ones I’ve ever undertaken. It’s a muscle I’ve had to consciously build up over the past 6 years.

Pain meds help. EFT helps. Working with Lynne helps. Taking a deep breath helps. TV on DVD and books on my Kindle help. And the newest tool in my collection, Curvy Yoga, helps.

Breath by breath, in tiny ways, creating little moments of relief.

 

 

Good Words

2014 February 21
by Jenny

“Kiss your own fingertips
and hug your own curves.
You are made of waves and honey
and spicy peppers when it is necessary.
You are a goddess,
I hope you haven’t forgotten.”

Emery Allen

The Gap

2014 February 15
by Jenny

Today is one of Those Days, a day where all I can see is the Grand Canyon-like chasm that exists between the projects I’d like to work on and my actual capacity.

This was a rugged week. My husband was out of town all week on business, so it was up to me to hold things together on the home front. That by itself is always a challenge, but it was made even more difficult by Atlanta’s second winter storm in as many weeks. And I know I was tired and anxious, but I got really triggered by all the mean comments-some global, and some directed at me personally-about how we were overreacting, drama queen Southerners who couldn’t find their own ass with both hands and a map, and how we didn’t deserve any sympathy whatsoever, get back to us when you have a real emergency.

But this was a real crisis for me (and many other people too) that did have the potential to turn into a serious emergency.

You don’t get it, I wanted to say to all the people who mocked me on Facebook. This was the first time I’d ever had to deal with potentially dangerous weather all by myself. Always before I’ve been with my husband or my dad in this kind of situation, and I don’t have their skills or physical abilities. I don’t have any physical abilities thanks to fibromyalgia. You try coping with aggressive weather in a body compromised by years of chronic illness.

You don’t know, I cried to myself, that the last time we had a significant accumulation of ice a tree crashed through our roof, and that I still have nightmares about it. And you can say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but our house has been struck by lightning three summers in a row so yeah, whatever.

You have no idea, I yelled at the national news media, what it’s like to have to make calculations like, should I take the medications I need to manage my illness but cause myself to be unable to respond to any crises because of all their side effects, or do I forgo the medication and be able to cope with potential emergencies, and suffer agonizing pain instead.

You can’t imagine, I raged at New England and Canada, how terrifying it is to face a possible power outage when you depend on medical equipment to manage your illness.

So today, I am done. I am empty. I’ve got nothing left. My husband is back home, and I don’t even have the energy to sit in a movie theater with him for a couple of hours.

It is really, really hard to be here in this gap. Unless you’re in it-and may you never, ever have to be-you can’t understand it.

So yay me. Yay Atlanta. Yay the South. We totally rocked this. If I have to be snowed in and iced out there’s no one I’d rather do it with, and no place else I’d rather be.

Word Of The Year Week 6

2014 February 11
by Jenny

Here are some of my favorite visions from the past week:

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When I Don’t Want To See

2014 February 9
by Jenny

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This week my inner Vision got a little cloudy because I got stuck in a story that my mind was running, and so I ended up in an anxious, paralyzed, beating-myself-up kind of place.

The past three or four weeks have been really good for me. My pain’s been pretty manageable, I’ve decided what projects and goals I’d like to work on this year, and, most importantly, January has been SUNNY. But then a few days into this week my pain suddenly spiked to over 10 levels (the “official” pain scale does not have nearly enough numbers to rate fibro pain) and I freaked out because, WTF, pain?!

Pain always knocks me out of alignment, especially when it’s so unexpected. So I found myself madly scrambling around, trying to find an explanation for why I hurt so badly. And, as so often happens for me, the explanation my mind came up with was to blame myself for everything. Clearly I must have done something wrong this past month, so this pain must be all my fault. And since I had caused this pain myself, I deserved to suffer for my mistake (or so my story went).

This, unsurprisingly, only served to paralyze me in anxiety and shame, which in turn then stirred up more pain.

Luckily I talked to Lynne who reminded me to question my thinking and took me through “The Work” by Byron Katie, one of the most helpful tools I’ve learned for dealing with my monkey mind.

“The Work” is a series of questions you use to help untangle the stories that are causing you pain. Here is a sample of the dialogue I had with thoughts:

My story: This is my fault. I caused this pain. I deserve to be punished and suffer.

Is this true? YES! It is the truest thing that ever existed! Why are you even asking me this?!

Can I absolutely know that this is true? (Can I absolutely, 100% guaranteed know that I did “x”, which caused this pain?) No.

How do I feel when I think this thought? Horrible, awful, ashamed, anxious, afraid, sad, stuck. (Related questions: Is this story working for me? No, not so much. Can I think of a good reason to keep this story? Not really.)

Who would I be without this story? Free, forgiving, accepting, compassionate, kind, understanding, open, loving, creative.

Is there a story that feels as true or truer than my original story? I don’t know exactly what caused this pain flare-up.

And that’s the part that got me stuck. I HATE the randomness of this illness. I hate not being able to predict how I’ll feel in the next hour, let alone next day or next week. I hate not knowing “why”. I hate that things can be going really well, and then suddenly they’re not. So I scramble to find a reason, any reason, for why this might be happening. Because even if it means blaming myself, convincing myself that there’s some kind of explanation for my pain feels a lot better than having to accept that sometimes it happens for no other reason than the fact that I have fibromyalgia.

Which sucks. A lot. But if  I can get to this point in my thinking, I can at least stop adding mental suffering to my physical pain.  It’s not much, but I’ll take all the relief I can get.