Sunday, December 4, 2016

Struggling with blessings

I landed in ER on Friday.  Stomach problems have plagued me for over 15 years.  I can't have soda.  I drink lots of water and I noticed over the last six months that swallowing was getting harder.  (I can choke on a banana.)  Last Wednesday I bit off more than I could swallow and it stuck.  On Friday, I finally called the doctor on my way back home from work and explained the situation.  He recommended a trip to the ER.  I beat his call so they treated me like an unreasonable child wasting their time.  Then the call came in and I was whisked away to emergency surgery to scope and pull out the hotdog plugging the top of my stomach.  Sure enough the problem was worse than expected.  I came home delighted to be able to eat.  I realized it was a blessing that the scope was done and hopefully caught the problems early enough to heal the problems without more surgery. Unfortunately,  a few people have an negative reaction to the drug used to relax my esophagus to allow the camera down my throat.  Every time I move, cough, or laugh my muscles cramp.  I did not realize until I tried walking up stairs that all my muscles can cramp and hurt at the same time.  Fuzzy brained and hurting I am struggling with recognizing what a blessing this is.  The medical care was amazing.  My body can really kick my butt, however, they were able to do a biopsy to help them know how big a mess I am in.  Fortunately, the internet provided me with the information as to what was happening with my body post surgery.  Tonight is the first time since Friday that I am starting to see the bright side of this cloud.  December is a rough month and I am struggling with adding this into the mix of all my other churning emotions.  I love the holidays and I hate the unreasonable expectations frenzy.  I'm trying to slow my thinking.  Remind myself that I am not required to do everything.  Now, I can't do anything.  If moving hurts, the likelihood of doing anything greatly reduces.  I hope each of you are finding ways to give yourself a break and let go of situations and events that hurt rather than help this holiday season. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Shame and Vulnerability

I am studying these characteristics.  One because I want to feel less of it, the other because that is what thriving is made of. 



These are some notes I took from watching the first video...

 Vulnerability is not a weakness, it is emotional risk the stuff courage is made of. 

Vulnerability is the birthplace for innovation, creativity, and change. 

Shame - don't build your home their but daring greatly explore what it is to you. 

Brene believes that Guilt is "I made a mistake."  Shame is "I am a mistake."

Shame needs secrecy, silence and judgement to grow.  

I am studying these because I know that for me to grow and thrive I need to release shame and embrace vulnerability.  Intellectually I get it, implementing it is another story. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Getting to know me

Learn about each other….
1. Are you named after someone? Yes. My grandmother.
2. When is the last time you cried? I don’t keep track any more. Crying can be for happy reasons for me. I think yesterday when I watched a video about helping each other.
3. Do you like your handwriting? Sometimes. It changes from time to time.
4. What is your favorite lunch meat? Peanut butter and banana. (This is my friends answer and I happen to agree.)
5. Do you have kids? Yes. 6 amazing people call me Mom. 15 delightful grandkids…that is awesome.
7. Do you use sarcasm? Duh….try to curb it but some situations just beg for a sarcastic answer. Put my hand over my mouth more than once to keep it from popping out.
8. Do you still have your tonsils? No. Long gone.
9. Would bungee jump? Absolutely not. I have enough thrills without any desire to jump off anything.
10. What is your favorite kind of cereal? Hot 6 grain cereal with fruit and peanut butter.
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Nope, ruined more than one pair of shoes this way. Prefer sandals as much as possible…no ties.
12. Do you think you are strong? Yes and no. Started karate when I was 56 and getting stronger….then old age does something nasty to me and I’m sitting on the couch barely able to move.
13. What is your favorite ice cream? Plain old Chocolate.
14. What is the first thing you notice about people? Kindness.
15. Football or Baseball? Sewing, crocheting, Happy Acres
16. What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself? I keep messing up the same way….some days I feel like I am running in place.
17. What color pants are you wearing now? blue.
18. What was the last thing you ate? Medication so I can eat later.
19. What are you listening to right now? Quiet….which I hear most of the time, being partially deaf, lots of quiet.
20. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Blue, the blue of Arizona sky which is not the sky blue in the crayon box.
21. Favorite Flavor? Chocolate. (Didn’t need to change this answer.)
22. Who’s the last person you spoke to on the phone? Friend but had to hand the phone to my daughter because I couldn’t hear her.
23. Favorite sport to watch? American Ninja. Is that considered a sport yet?
24. Hair color? Real or fake? Mouse brown and occasionally my niece assists in covering the increasing levels of gray.
25. Eye color? Hazel. Changes with emotions or what I wear.
26. Favorite food to eat? Cookies – school makes super yummy ones.
27. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy endings, I’ve had enough scary in real life to last me the rest of my life.
28. Last movie you watched? A Christmas one on Hallmark channel. We’ve been watching them since Halloween.
One of the questions not on this list is how did I function?  For over 40 years I lived with 5 personalities, each one taking control of their part of my life.  Counseling helped me solve the mystery of why I would go to sleep on Monday wake up on Wednesday and wonder what happened to Tuesday?  My husband would tell me to write notes to remind myself.  I would put the note in my pocket, switch and the other personality didn't know there was a note in my pocket.  I washed lots of notes before figuring out I needed to hold it in my hand until I got to where I needed to do the task and hope I knew what the note meant.  I wondered why someone kept hiding my clothes in the back of the closet.  I was confused by Flylady telling me to lay out my clothes for the next morning.  I would look at the clothes in the morning wondering why they were left out or deciding I didn't like those clothes.  Friends would ask me why I was different at school verses how I acted outside of school.  There were so many confusing things in my life.  Ten years of counseling, helped me bring down my inner walls and allowed me to work as one person now.  Some days I miss that ability to compartmentalize  so completely.  Life gets overwhelming I have to back up and find an escape route before I would switch to whoever could handle that type of situation.  I enjoy the continuity and discovering that my memory is actually fairly good.  I am an advocate for integrating but I also understand this is not always possible.  I learned a lot over the years and write my blogs in the hope of encouraging others that life after trauma can be beautiful and amazing.  

Monday, November 21, 2016


Made it through.  Thanksgiving was lovely, delightful, and wonderful.  I also got a nap that morning.  Plans did not go perfectly.  I shopped on the way to my daughters for dinner because I slept through the time to make the cherry pie.  I did make yummy brownies then relaxed when grandkids ate them without the appreciation they deserved.  No worry.  They were eaten.  Grandkids were happy and appeared to be delighted with everything.  I didn't stress about what I did or didn't do.  I relaxed, visited, and help put in a few pieces to a puzzle.  I didn't need to prove anything to anyone.  It was a wonderful day.  I hope your Thanksgiving was doable. 

I survived Thanksgiving. 

Get your tool box

This is a reprint from 2014 - information still applies: I added to my list

It comes every year, like clock work or calendar work. First, Halloween with hauntings and triggers galore.  Followed by Thanksgiving with demands for the perfect meal and a 'happy family' without resolving old hurts.  Then infamous/famous Christmas with expectations bigger than the National Christmas we even get a national tree any more? 
Prepare my toolbox of coping skills I've my box I have:

Acceptance that I am not perfect....I don't need to be.  In fact, I can't be.  That is OK.

Best laid plans can fall apart.  I will survive plans falling apart.  

(NEW) Someone else can plan things and they can do a wonderful job without me being less because I didn't do it.  

Have an exit plan on hand for different situations.  Practice exit phrases...."I loved being here but I am leaving now."  

Or don't go in the first place..... "The evening sounds lovely I am sorry I won't be attending."  I don't need to explain that I am sitting in front of my Christmas tree sipping hot chocolate.

Prioritize activities.  Not all activities are #1.

Skip some traditions.... It doesn't stop being a tradition if I don't do it one year.

Not having some detail completed is not the end of the World. 
NO is a complete sentence.

I do not need to explain my choices unless I choose to.

Breathe.....feeling blue breathe.

MMV (learned this from my sister) Mental Mini Vacations.  Emotionally escape to a deserted island where there is no holiday madness. Picture myself on a beach sipping coconut juice. 

Letting go means I don't need to fix it or think about it any more.

Some people will flip out during the Holidays and it is not about me.  NOTHING I do will stop their behavior because it is not about me. 

Remember that emotional black mail is still black mail.  I am not 'mean', 'cruel', or 'going to hell' if I don't meet someone else's expectations.

Crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head is an acceptable activity as needed.

Call a friend or have a text buddy to check in with during stressful events that I choose to attend.

Change all my 'can'ts' and 'have-tos' to I choose to do___________________.  I don't enjoy ___________________but I am choosing to do it anyway because some other need is being met that I may not understand myself.  No one is holding a gun to my head.  It may feel like it but that is probably emotional black mail...refer to emotional black mail above.

Christ is my Savior and as far as historians can figure out He was born in April any way.

Make choices with my happiness in my mind.  I enjoy doing things for others and I am happy doing things for them....that is part of my happiness equation.

(NEW) I am not responsible for other people's happiness.  Happiness is an inside job and I have enough on my plate teaching me to be happy during the holidays. 

(NEW) It is OK to be super excited and dread Christmas at the same time.  I call it being bi-North-Polar. 

I can add to this list at any time.....anyone want to share their coping techniques?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Gratitude, one of the steps out of hell

I spent 3 years in bed due to not understanding the symptoms of PTSD and doing all the wrong things to cope with it.  I slept on the average of 5 nights out of 7 and then only 3 or 4 hours of the nights I did sleep.  I worked hard to stay awake.  Severe sleep deprivation prevented night terrors but wrecked havoc on my body.  When I prayed, I begged to die.  The Lord told me no.  Fine, how do I get out of this hell?  Over the previous 15 years I had seen several doctors and taken every test they could think of.  Everything according to those tests were normal.  No answers from the 'experts'.  I started studying on my own.  

One of the books I came across was Life's Uncertain, Eat Dessert First.   I learned two things from this book.  In the midst of frustration and hard stuff, take time to have fun.  The other I learned the power of gratitude.  That is right, the POWER of gratitude.  I believe that changing my attitude to one of gratitude helped me start to get out of the mess I was in.  I couldn't control my nightmares, I didn't have means to change my circumstances, however, I have 100% control over my attitude.  I new it was important to be thankful but I didn't grasp the power of feeling grateful.  Gratitude can turn a gray sullen cloud cover sky into a master piece painted just for me.  Challenges became blessings.  Difficulties created diamonds.  I started looking at my world differently.  Same perspective.  Many of my photographs are about hidden treasures in the desert.  Taking time to see the bits of color hidden among the thistles.  When I am feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts, I remind myself that I am in control of my attitude.  How can I reframe the picture of my life. 

 Bloom where you are planted.

Same area as above, I changed my perspective.