Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wire Mothers

"We first make our habits, and
then our habits make us."
- John Dryden
Click Here For Success Tip # 040 

I am blessed by the blogs I read when others share their experience.  Over at 'Writing the Wrongs of Narcissistic Parenting' she posted a reminder of an experiment about monkeys being raised by wire mothers verses cloth covered mothers.  I first encountered this research in Psychology 101 in college.  It impacted what I believed about parenting and was instrumental in taking a hands on, hugs on approach to parenting.  I was told on more than one occasion that I held my kids too much.  Spent too much time with them.  I couldn't do too much for them since I was so sick for so long.  I became a huge believer in cuddling kids for as long as they want to be cuddled.   One of my kids I bought a t-shirt that says cuddle me quick.  She would run past me.  Give me a hug and be gone again.  I felt a lot of confusion about my past because my mother did hug me but in my mind I still saw her as a wire mother.  This post gave me time to think over why this discrepancy.  With adult eyes, I recognize that if my mother hugs me it is about her need and what she wants.  As a child, if I hugged my mother I never knew if I would be hugged back or shoved away because the timer was set and she wanted to beat the timer.  She was like having a cloth mother with stickers.  If you hugged the wrong way, wrong time, or wrong I don't know what, pain instead of comfort occurred.  Confusing for a child.  She hugged me and told me she loved me but I didn't feel comforted or loved.  I can't change her.  I can't explain it to her.  I can only do things differently for my kids and grand kids. 

One of the things I discovered about children, they liked to be tickled a little.  I didn't know how to judge how much was too much since I was tickled until I cried on more than one occasion.  I called it tickle torture what was done to me.  So I needed a way to get feed back from a child without giving a huge explanation.  I don't remember where I came across the game "Cut the pickle."  It is a simple way to let a child set the pace.  They put theit two index fingers together tip-to-tip.  Then I would use my finger to 'cut the pickle' and then tickle them for just a second or two.  Then if they put their fingers up in another 'pickle' I knew they wanted another tickle.  I taught myself to be more aware and sensitive to the needs of my children.  Now I don't need a pickle for feed back.  However, I do have to be careful not to rough house too much.  Sometimes I'm the one that gets the grandkids stirred up and kind of wild and giggly.  So far nobody has spanked grandma but I feel real bad if they get into trouble from their parents.  I learned that what my mother is, does not make me the same.  I create my own habits. 

At Grandma's house the grandkids play with the dishes in the cupboard. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Long time coming

"The first requisite of success is the
ability to apply your physical and
mental energies to one problem
without growing weary."
- Thomas Edison

One of the comments yesterday pointed out that making my past a non-issue will be difficult.  She is right.  How ever I can tackle the chunk labeled de-clutter and solve the pieces attached to that one thing.  To help you, the reader, know what challenges exist for me I am sharing a story of how I became so bound to stuff.

Growing up my mother was heavily into efficiency and part of being efficient was removing clutter.  My mother couldn't get a handle on her own so she made it her life's work to improve me.  My sister experienced some of the same junk but this part is about my stuff.   I was 5 when my adored younger sister was born.  I thought she was the most amazing little thing.  I was also expected to share a room with her.  Five years difference is nothing now but when I was 7 and she was 2 this difference took on catastrophic proportions.  Little sister couldn't be locked out of her own room but little sister would tear up my stuff.  Solutions that would have protected my belongings were turned down.  I felt like my mother took pleasure in me loosing my stuff to my little sister.  (Yes, as an adult I do understand that 2 year olds are just that 2.  A child doesn't see it quite that way.)  Then there was the big trash just before Christmas.  Just before Christmas, I would have to throw away 50% of everything I owned to 'make way' for new stuff.  Thing was, I didn't get to see the new stuff first to see if I would like it better.  It was an agonizing experience that my mother would set a timer for a 15 or 20 minutes of cleaning and trashing what I thought belonged to me.  During these years I learned that just because it was given to me didn't mean it was mine.  I hated these sessions of de-junking my room.  Needless to say that my mother did not do the same thing for herself.  After a while I learned to collect garbage out of the alley and stuff it in my drawers.  Then when the annual cleaning occurred I would haul out all this junk to fill up the garbage can.  Unfortunately, it taught me to keep useless crap on hand just in case I need to throw something away.  Very twisted and painful for me now to attempt to monitor my own belongings.  In order to feel something belongs to me, I feel I need to keep it or I loose a bit of myself.  Mixed up mess.  KavinCoach did compliment my younger self on the idea of stashing garbage to meet the yearly quota.  I worked off and on over the years trying to tackle the backlash, not dealing with clutter in a healthy way now. 

I talked to both my counselors about.  I understood from both of them that this is a whole bunch of triggers all balled up together.  My job pull apart and take it in smaller hunks.  At the school where I work years of clutter are accumulated in the classrooms.  Someone else's junk.  I am practicing throwing away their garbage.  I am getting much better at it.  Less anxiety while I am working.  The timer solution came in an unexpected way.  I am using the Lozilu training program.  The walking is alternated with running at 2, 3, 4, and 5 minute intervals.  A work out will look like this:
Walk 5 Run 5,
Walk 3 Run 4,
Walk 3 Run 3,
Walk 2 Run 2, Walk 3
No way can I keep track of this while I walk/run.   I had to use a timer.  Do you have any idea how wonderful that buzzer sounds at the end of 5 minutes of running telling me I can walk?  I haven't run in over 20 years.  This body is not thrilled by what my mind is pushing it to do.  I take that timer with me all through the work out.  I use it for all sorts of things for exercising.  I realized.  I no longer feel any anxiety when the buzzer goes off.  Piece by piece I am pulling apart the different parts that caused anxiety and dissecting what I feel, sit with it, let it go.  This is amazing.  I even started using the clutter by inputting into my computer the information I want to save and trashing the papers where possible.  Saved an address off an envelope.  Trashed the old card.  Logged in my medical file when I had my TB skin test and TDAP immunization.  Threw away a small stack of paper.  The beginning is small but so far no anxiety, only an excitement that this stuff is really mine and I can throw it away or keep it, the choice is mine!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


"The indispensable first step to getting
the things you want out of life is this:
decide what you want."
- Ben Stein
Click Here For Success Tip # 008

Sometimes I drag my feet, watch tv, play games....I don't want to put into writing this challenge from NewCounselor.  I talked about frustrations that bubbled up to the surface.  One of them is my life-time on going battle with clutter.  It is so tied up and wrapped around my past and feeling like if I get rid of stuff I loose a piece of myself, so many layers of yuck involved.  NewCounselor asked me why I was still letting my mother control my life.  Yes, I was keeping stuff that she would have made me throw it away.  But that is just it, I am keeping stuff to defy my mother and not because I want it or love it or use it.  It is still about her and not about me.  I listened very carefully to his challenge....make anything about my mother a non-issue.  If I keep something it is about me wanting to keep it.  If I throw it away it is about me no longer needing or wanting something.  I actually got rid of some stuff that has hung around unused for almost 20 years.  I don't see NewCounselor for a month so I will be interested in how much more progress I will make.  I have one room in my house that is reminiscent of a hoarder's house.  My challenge can I tackle this room without nausea, lightheaded, shaking, you know all the normal PTSD reactions that set in when I try to tackle mounds of stuff.  Right now I am visualizing clean.  True it is still not done but the image in my head is so appealing.  I worked a long time in reclaiming my life.  Now, I am taking steps into thriving, my past is a non-issue.  I am living here and now.  I want a space where I can work on sewing, jewelry making, projects, painting, a place of peace.  I can't create that peace in turmoil of clutter.  My mother's obsession of eliminating everyone else's clutter no longer needs to control me.  It won't be an easy habit to break.  I do not have to have things perfect.  I set the standard of what is enough.  Bit by bit I can do this. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

If you would just......

It's so much easier to suggest solutions when you don't know too much about the problem.  
 You have heard these canned solutions.
If you would just go to bed earlier.
If you would just pray.
If you would just not let them hurt you.
If you would just stop doing this or that.
If you would just exercise.
If you would just change your diet.
 The list goes on and on of how if you would just change one thing in your life than everything would be wonderful.  Some people scuttle from one guru to the next trying to find the secret key that changes everything.  What I learned was easy answers work for easy problems.  I tend to make problems more complicated than they need to be.  Sometimes I am too close to the problem and need outside suggestions to try something different.  At times I wrestle with the same problem for years not realizing I am attacking the symptoms and not the core problem. I had an assignment to talk to a group of women about emergency preparedness.  As the women walked in the room, I handed each one of them a band-aid.  I then went to the chalk board and we listed every problem they could think of that a family might face.  Everything from natural disasters to loss of employment went on the board.  We filled the board with everything that could go wrong.  Then I asked them to look at the band-aid in there hand, how many problems on this board could the band-aid fix. Yup, just one, great for a small cut.  A family needs a whole box of tools and ideas to cope with everyday problems.  During my years in counseling I learned how ill-equipped I was to cope with anything.  However, I am willing to learn and put in the work needed to change my world.  
I learned there are some tools that can help:
Persistence -  Many a person gives up when they were about to make a break through.
Learn from others - Listening and learning from others opens possibilities that I never dreamed of.
Work - I don't mean only the kind where you get paid (being paid is a good thing) but the kind that needs to be done day in day out, dishes, washing clothes, cleaning, caring for yourself, caring for pets, outdoor plants, a never ending list of things that need to be done. 
Play - I find I need to play.  Sometimes how I play seems silly to someone else but that's ok.  
For me, I need to maintain my connection with my Father in Heaven.  We chat daily, sometimes I actually listen.  I don't always follow through on everything but I keep being persistent.  
I like what my sister said..."The secret, there is no secret, life's solutions are there for everyone to learn."
I am fortunate to be blessed with amazing teachers, friends and family that give me a boost of encouragement when I need it. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

When You're Not Sure What To Do Next...

Reposted from my email.  I get Daily Devotions and the timeliness of the message touches my heart.  I was thinking about this as I woke up this morning.

The New Year comes and we have high hopes. Yet soon after the ball drops our expectations can too. Reality hits and our good intentions can be dashed with one question:
What do I do next?We look around and the possibilities can be overwhelming. So we freeze. Then life gets busy and before we know it the pages of the calendar have turned.
But it can be different for you.
What do you do?
The next thing.Solomon, that wise king, said this: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" Eccl. 9:10.Here's what I think is the smartest part: If it's something your hands find to do it means it's right in front of you.What's right in front of you today?That's where you start.
Stretch out your hands, open your heart and do one little thing.
Just the next thing.
You've got five minutes. Ready set go...
-Devotional encouragement by Holley GerthFor more words of hope and encouragement from Holley, visit her blog Heart to Heart with Holley and subscribe to receive free devotional emails.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How to handle criticism

I have followed Elizabeth's blog for some time now.  She is a photographer teaching other people how to run their own business.  She is talented, caring person.  These are the headlines from her article.  I recommend taking time to review her post.

Elizabeth Halford Photography {the blog}

How to not get hurt by criticism
Posted: 23 Jan 2013 11:19 PM PST
“You have to take the good with the bad and I’m a songwriter so I stay sensitive. I have to live with my feelings on my sleeve so that means I can’t harden my heart and I get hurt a lot but I’ve learned to take all that.” -Dolly Parton on Good Morning America
1.} Are they right?
2.} Consider the source.
It’s really important to align yourself with someone who can give you valuable constructive criticism.
3.} Have compassion
4.} You don’t have to respond
Nothing shuts a bully up like silence.
5.} Manage your stress
6.} Sleep on it
7.} Lastly…
Try to remember that criticism only reprsents one person’s point of view.
Look at the most influential people. They receive gargantuous heapings of criticism. Some bring it on themselves. For others, it simply comes with the territory.
If you’re trying to make everyone happy, you’ll make no one happy.

     A totally different perspective was shared by one of my photography professors. He told me to go out and find someone that didn't like my photographs. The opposition would help me to hone my skills as a photographer. I learned to cherish his criticism. When I could meet and beat his expectations, I created images that far exceeded what I could imagine.

    On the other hand, I encountered those that no matter what I did, they will pick out the slightest error. Or more strangely the ones that what ever you say, the say the opposite. Twist and turns that make conversation weird. I think I was drawn to Elizabeth's post because it is a step by step process of evaluating negative in put. As long as I can remember, I was bathed in negative criticism. If I cleaned the bathrooms clean enough then I received criticism for not doing it fast enough.  If I was clean enough and fast enough then I used too little or too much cleanser.  If I complained, I was reminded that she was just trying to help me be a better person.  It didn't work.  She ground me down until I felt useless and hopeless.  Fortunately, I have a tenacious spirit that never says quits.  No matter how I felt knocked down I would get up again.  I learned something else too.  There are people that will point out ways for you to improve because they really do want to see you excel.   And there are those like crabs in a pot that don't want anyone else to be ahead of them.  I am learning to discern the difference. 

Same yet different

Friday, January 25, 2013

Paradigm Shift

"All life is a chance. So take it!
The person who goes furthest is the one
who is willing to do and dare."
- Dale Carnegie

Click Here For Success Tip # 026

Paradigm shift.

This is a link to one definition:

A term popularized in my life time.  I weathered several in my life.  The major paradigm shift from functioning as a multiple personality to a singleton felt like tearing out my foundation and replacing it with a new one.  It rocked my world.  Once again, I felt my life alter and move as I functioned through my daily living.  I knew that my hearing was decreasing.  For some reason, the confirmation shifted my very foundation.  My counselor and I discussed this shift. He suggested the possibility that I moved from seeing myself as a survivor to thriving.  A different mind set.  A shift in focus.  A burning desire to really live and not in the shadows.  I am relieved that Doc told me that there is no rush and we are still in wait and see mode.  I have plans.  Next month I am entered into a 5K mud run.  Well actually more of an intense obstacle course for 5K.  I am following their training, plus training from the Impossible Blog, plus I am continuing dancing.  I started with the dancing 2 years ago.  I hid in the corners and went once a week.  Now, I can attend most of the dance/exercise classes.  I like some better than others.  I am discovering strength and flexibility that I thought were long gone.  I do creak and pop now and again but I like the term 'I'm not old, I'm Crispy.'  Most importantly I am doing it and doing it consistently.  Years ago, I had a membership to a gym that I didn't attend for months.  I was pure profit.  Giving myself the illusion of exercising.  I learned about a wickedly deceptive looking exercise called a plank.  I thought how easy.  Oh my.....silly me.  The first week all those sore muscles were from this pesky exercise.  Now, I extended the time to holding it for 15 seconds.  When I started, I couldn't do 5 seconds.  The strengthening process isn't just in my body.  I am noticing a shift in other things too.  With the help of my counselor, I am going to attempt to once again tackle my clutter.  One room looks like a hoarder's room.  Like hiding fudge in the freezer for a dieter, my secret stash of stuff, mounds of it.  I didn't create this disaster in a day, so I won't clean it in a day either.  My sister inspired me when she talked about making her space a haven.  My counselor talked about my struggle with clutter from the perspective, "if I can't clean the clutter because of things that happened in my childhood, then my mother is still calling the shots."  Ugh......Wait...whoa...crumbs.  There it is...ok....roll up my sleeves and lets start digging....Anyone interested in a 35 year old Madame Alexander doll of Scarlett?

Original dust excluded upon request. 

Survival Kit

Came in my email and thought I would share.  Source unknown. However, I did find a copy on line with pictures. Everyone could use a survival kit.  

Today, I am giving you a

to help you each day............

Toothpick ... to remind you to pick the good qualities in everyone, including yourself.

Rubber band ... to remind you to be flexible. Things might not always go the way you want, but it can be worked out.

Band-Aid ... to remind you to heal hurt feelings, either yours or someone else's.

Eraser ... to remind you everyone makes mistakes. That's okay, we learn by our errors.

Candy Kiss ... to remind you everyone needs a hug or a compliment everyday.

Mint ... to remind you that you are worth a mint to your family & Me.

Bubble Gum ... to remind you to stick with it and you can accomplish anything.

Pencil ... to remind you to list your blessings every day.

Tea Bag ... to remind you to take time to relax daily and go over that list of blessings. (A packet of hot chocolate works too.)

This is what makes life worth living every minute, every day

Wishing you love, gratitude, friends to cherish, caring, sharing, laughter, music, and warm feelings in your heart.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Breathing is good

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
- Theodore Roosevelt

I have worked for years on improving myself. I took a "Search for Identity" class in high school.  I don't remember ever feeling satisfied with myself.  I enjoy watching a rose.  I would sit quietly and watch fish swim.  I took an evening to watch the moon rise and take pictures.  I enjoy many moments of being....I am content in the moment.  Then I go back to work on improving me.  Sometimes I feel like the hard I work to change the more I remain the same.  I make choices that keep me from doing what I believe is most important.  I play silly computer games.  I watch TV shows.  I dance.  I hum to myself.  Sometimes I hit a brick wall and don't know what to do.  Joel from impossible blog wrote a post on just that what do we do when we don't know what to do.
The first word that jumped out at me was


When I worked at a junior high in the computer labs I often ate lunch with the other teachers.  Subs were pitied and joined us from time to time.  I remember sitting in the teacher's lounge munching my lunch.  A young gentleman walked in looking like he was ready to pull his hair out by fists fulls.  I asked him how his day was going.  His retort, "I am breathing."  I smile and nodded replying, "Breathing is good."  He stopped short and stared at me.  His whole face changed, "Yea, breathing is good."

Have you ever just sat down and focused totally on breathing.  How many muscles it the air can rush in through your nose and sometimes when the air is cool tickle your sinuses.  Fill your lungs to capacity and let it sigh out.  Sit back in your chair, close your eyes, and breathe.   My daughter teaches my zumba and stretching class.  Sometimes when we are working on something difficult she will remind us to breathe and sure enough I would be holding my breathe like some how depriving myself from oxygen will help.  Or sometimes I am so focused on keeping my head together, breathing is just one too many things to do.

Another thing I learned is that hyperventilation only takes 10% increase in breathing.  Changing the mixture in your lungs can cause a variety of symptoms.  This list is from:
Hyperventilation causes the carbon dioxide level in the blood to decrease. This lower level of carbon dioxide reduces blood flow to the brain, which may result in the following nervous system and emotional symptoms:
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • A feeling of being outside yourself
  • Seeing images that aren't there
  • Feeling as if you can't breathe
Overbreathing can also cause the calcium levels to drop in your blood, which may result in the following nervous system symptoms:
  • Numbness and tingling (usually in both arms or around the mouth)
  • Spasms or cramps of the hands and feet
  • Muscle twitching
This is the list of symptoms that I told my doctors on more than one occasion.  It was a doctor at Burrow neurological institute that taught me how to breath in my hands to make sure I am not making life harder on myself.  My subconscious would pick up on the stress first.  My lungs would kick into hyper-drive and I would hyperventilate.  Breathing is good but I tend to over do it.   Slow down.  Breathe.  Refocus.  Feel.   


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Its not about me

Narcissists do great things unfortunately some of their relationships suck.  mulderfan commented on my post about MRI machines that her late brother was on a team that helped develop them.  I am thankful for MRIs.  Saved me more than once from costly surgeries.  I helped my mother at her school and felt jealous of how she treated her students.  Over and over I read blogs written by survivors of narcissistic parents, siblings, and spouses.... "Nobody would believe how they treat me when nobody is looking."  This was actually a key symptom that helped me finally realize that my mother's behavior was deliberate.  She would actually look around to make sure we were alone before she would say something cutting or just plain cruel.  She was careful always claiming that she was a New Yorker and people were just like that.  However, she spent years in Connecticut and I loved the time that a fellow New Yorker replied, "I was raised in New York and I don't behave like that."  I would have loved being a mouse in a corner for that one.  Narcissistic actors and actress may be magnificent to watch on the screen but their failed relationships are splashed across the tabloids.  I think a person has to be part Narcissistic to survive in politics.  I find them at stores, work place, freeways, events, and so many different places.  I am learning to spot them faster and when possible I set up avoidance patterns.  I have learned a thing or two.  The most powerful thing I learned is when they verbally attack me, IT IS NOT ABOUT ME.  Their frustration, their bitterness, their offended feelings are all about them.  I do not need to do anything but exist to upset them.  This frees me from needing to fix their problems, soothe their tempers, or mend my ways.  I learn more all the time.  I don't think I can eliminate every narcissist in my life but I don't need to let them run my life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Doctor Called

I was amazed to get a phone call from the doctor today.  He believes that the growth of the tumor in the last two years is not significant.  His recommendation is to wait and have another scan next year.  I am happy to know that all the plans I made for the next month will not be juggled.  Lozilu Mud Run...Here I Come.    :)

MRI Done

First step is to recognize there is a problem. 
          Done... audiologist alerted me to increase damage to my hearing.
Second step is to survey the damage.
          Done...MRI completed.  This will be compared to the MRI from 2 years ago.
Now wait - report takes about 2 days to get to the doctor then I wait for his office to call. 

Waiting is very difficult.  There is nothing to do.  No little boxes on the check list to mark off.  No snazzy music playing in the background.  I feel like a prisoner making hash marks on the wall.  Maybe I see how many rounds of "100 bottles of beer" on the wall I can sing off key before the phone call comes.  One nice thing we ended our land line service so if they want to talk to me it will be my cell phone. 

I randomly picked a folder from last year and this is what I enjoyed in the month of April 2012


Lots of Ducks

Hanging on by just one petal

Damaged beauty 


I got your back!

Descending into...

Break in the storm

Just outside my door step

Monday, January 21, 2013

Miracle of MRI

MRI Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

I had my first MRI in 1987.  I fought with my body passing out since I was 15 years old.  I wanted to find a medical reason.  The scan took hours since it was a completed imaging of my entire brain.  Proved once and for all that there were no rocks there.  Here is the really cool thing about MRI.  They can get a fairly accurate picture of what is going on in there without surgery.  I had more MRIs when I went to Burrow's Neurological Institute. Again in the pursuit of finding out what was wrong with me.  Thanks to MRIs I did not have to have surgery to biopsy lumps.  I sport 2 snazzy titanium clips that mark places tested for cancer and found to be benign.  The clips drive airport security buggy.  Now once again the magic of magnetic resonance imaging will 'look' inside my head with the least amount of disturbance possible.  I am fortunate it is an option for me.  DH can never have them.  When he was a young teenager he broke his leg and now sports a metal pin in his leg.  I will wear my MRI clothes, no metal hooks, rivets, zippers, threads, hearing aides, glasses, no metal of any kind.  The room where these machines are entirely made of plastic, including the screws that hold the cabinets together.  Without computers this process would be impossible.  I took care of computer labs for 14 years.  I watch the jumps from 1 KB disk to multi-Terabyte arrays used for personal use.  The first 8 GB hard drive I installed to run video editing software cost $1000.  Now for $40 I own a jump drive with 8 GB.  The world is changing constantly.  Amazing people all over the world are inventing ways to make life better.  Teams pulling together to create miracles.  Unfortunately, the ones that make the headlines take lives away.  I am not afraid of the MRI.  I am afraid of the results.  I am fully aware that I am not the worse case they will see but it still my head.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Angry Birds....

"Always bear in mind that your own
resolution to succeed is more
important than any other one thing."
- Abraham Lincoln
Click Here For Success Tip # 009

Eye opener this past couple of weeks. Months ago I was introduced to this computer game called, "Angry Birds."  My granddaughter and grandson, 7 and 4 years old, beat me.  Not by a little bit, my scores were all Failed.  The birds would shoot backwards off the screen.  The birds went everywhere but hitting the silly looking pigs.  I could see absolutely no point in trying to use a computerized sling shot to fling birds at green pigs.  (I now know where green ham comes from for Green Eggs and Ham.)  Totally forgot about the game.  The day the audiologist told me about the hearing loss, I did a search for the game and found a place I could play it for free.  I struggled and redid levels until 5 in the morning.  I get it.  I enjoyed splatting those birds, giving the pigs black eyes and general feeling of mass destruction that I never realized could be so satisfying.  Extreme anger, masked by calm, gives the determination to having a molecule of control over getting the pigs.  I get it now.  I am also lacking in sleep.  My interest in destroying green pigs will need to be short lived since I need rest,  I need to curl up my poor body and sleep....lots and lots of sleep. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Check out my Zoo pictures

I decided to have some fun.  Check out my zoo pictures at my other site.

I am off to the zoo again today.  Perfect weather for the animals and us. 

Thanks everyone for all the hugs and encouragement.

One to enjoy here.....

Zombies have a more interesting life

Friday, January 18, 2013


Music washes away from the soul
the dust of everyday life.
- Berthold Auerbach

Thursday I had a session with NewCounselor (misnamed since I have worked with him for 2 years.) I so appreciate his perspective and his ability to help me see my life in a different light. He also makes great suggestions that when I am able to follow them helps me to improve my life.  I was able to go in early and we started right into me dissecting my reaction to finding out about my increased hearing loss with the implication that my brain tumor is probably growing.  Timing is amazing.  My phone started ringing as I neared the freeway exit to his office.  I didn't answer my phone but my anxiety shot through the roof.  I paid extra special attention to my driving.  When I stopped in the parking spot, I returned the phone call.  It was the MRI center setting up an appointment for my next brain scan.  Only took two days for the message to come to me and I am going on Monday.  I feel real uncomfortable when medical people get things done quickly.  I learned that the faster you get in for appointments the more concerned the doctor is about your condition.  NewCounselor didn't have an appointment before mine today so invited me in early.  I felt relief to be able to talk about everything so quickly.  I was trying to stay calm but I am anything but.  I did what I was trained to do and intellectualized what was happening.  NewCounselor reminded me that he was the last person I should try that with.  I stopped.  Then he asked the question that hit right at the core of my fears.  "What will you miss most if you lose the hearing in your ear?"  I started to cry.  Music.  I will still have one ear so conversation is difficult but not lost.  I noticed in the last few months that I can't pick out familiar melodies.  I love music.  I spent 9 years in piano lessons and years in choirs.  I hum to myself when I work.  I have a yearly pilgrimage to listen to Cast in Bronze.  My left ear is making hearing music much more difficult.  My singing is now all off key.  NewCounselor asked me what my grief would look like?  He gave me permission to feel the deep sorrow of loss.  I don't need to minimize it, intellectualize it,  or any other ..ize it.  I can feel it.  Then he helped me put things in a different perspective.  Encouraged me to voice what I needed and gave me little tiny words I could use to express it.  Underscored why I am still in counseling, I don't know how to live.  He teaches me what I don't know about living.  I am blessed with a counselor that encourages me to grow to meet each challenge.  He assured me I didn't need to follow his suggestions but I am learning that he has excellent suggestions to improve my life in the midst of great challenge.  I realized that all the way home a tune was humming around in my head. 

Abstracted flight

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Today's quote on my igoogle

"When life's problems seem
overwhelming, look around and see
what other people are coping with.
You may consider yourself fortunate."
- Ann Landers

I took pictures for a group that supported special needs kids, at every event were oxygen bottles, feeding tubes, and wheel chairs.  I joke about having a cheap shot body but I know plenty of others that are much worse off than I am.  When I found out I had cancer 11 years ago, I passed out the first time I said the words.  Surgery and two years later my oncologist said the magical words, "I don't get to say this to very many of my patients, I don't need to see you any more."  I smiled and replied, "Don't take this personally but if I never see you again, I will be delighted."  Cancer hasn't come back in 11 years.  Now, I have extra junk in my head.  I joked more than once that I had to have rocks in my head to do some of the things I have done.  (Costumes for 9 plays in one years was not one of my brighter moves.)  For some reason, when I first found out over 2 years ago, I chose to ignore it.  Because of location they wanted to monitor but not do anything right away.  I didn't go back for the follow up MRIs.  Too complicated to explain.  When my audiologist let me know that my hearing loss increased, I had a choice to make.  Continue to ignore what was happening or take action.  I couldn't remember the name of the doctor I saw.  I did remember where the office was.  I walked in and asked the charming receptionist, who did I need to see?  Little information from me and voila.  I am now waiting.   Waiting sucks.  Now tension head aches seem sinister and my sleeping is shot.  Fortunately, I don't get head aches very often.  I do have the peace of knowing that the tumor is relatively new.  I had brain MRI scans in 1987 and some where around 1995.  No tumors showed up in either of those.  I think part of my frustration was 2013 looked so bright and exciting.  For a Christmas present, I signed up for a 5K mud run and amped up my exercise program to be ready for it.  I was so excited for this year.  I feel a little like taking off on a race and running full tilt into a break wall less than 100 ft (30 m) down the road.  Or maybe it is just a 2x4 to get my attention.  Hard to know.  I am keeping a friend in my prayers that had surgery recently for cancer.  She is not blogging yet so I hope and pray.  Thanks to everyone that are keeping me in your thoughts and prayers.  I feel comforted.  Thank you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


You know you have seen too many doctors when I can totally predict exactly how the appointment is going to go.  You come in. Fill out paperwork.  Wait in one room then another.  Talk briefly to the doctor and then be told they are sending you for tests.  I really like my doctor that sends me for the tests first then we just discuss the results.  I understand that some people go in for the smallest ache or pain and want instant feel good, so the first visit is a screening process.  I am kind of used to not feeling good.  Stomach problems plagued me all my life.  Hearing loss started years ago.  Sleep apnea was confirmed.  Thyroid packed up and quit.  I joked with a friend of mine that the reason people over a certain age talk about their doctors all the time is because that is what you do All The Time.  At one time in my life, I was seeing 5 different doctors on a regular basis.  I believe we were thrilled as spirit children finding out we would come to Earth to get a body.  I, for one, didn't understand that I would get a cheap shot body. I remind myself with all the problems I have, there are so many that struggle with much worse.  So now, I wait for the call that sends me for an MRI.  I started counting how many MRIs I have had.  My first one was about 1987. I passed out on a regular basis and decided after my last child was born to track down the problem.  I searched for a medical reason.  I was inspected, detected, tested, poked and examined in so many different ways.  At the earliest time my doctors suggested that counseling might be helpful.  I was furious that they implied that my health problems were all in my head.  Now after 10 years of counseling I better understand how a sad, hurting spirit can cause pain to the body.  But I also learned that a hurting body can cause your spirit to be sad.  When my thyroid quit, the doctor at the hospital asked me why I didn't notice how tired and depressed I felt.  I would that be different than how I already felt from depression?  Mind, body, spirit the human triad that one effects the other.  Mind over matter works.  I also learned that "If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."  I have friends that just had surgery.  I have friends that battled health problems everyday.  I have friends that depression is an uphill battle no matter which direction you go.  I have friends that each understand that challenges I face every day.  Most days, I don't talk about it, but it is always there.  I am waiting once again.  There aught to be some snazzy music playing in the background like they do in Jeopardy.  Thanks to everyone that have posted encouraging words.  I appreciate knowing that you care.  Have a beautiful day.

Hmm Hmmm there has to be something good in this murky mess.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blogs on Healing

I see PurposeFairy on Facebook.  Most of her notes are short and uplifting.  She shared her recipe for getting back to her happy place in "How I healed myself from unhappy syndrome."

At first I was going to comment on how my challenges are different and how this part of it or that part of it doesn't work for me.  Tonight I felt differently.  This is her recipe and it works for her.  Several of the quotes are favorites of mine.
When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking. ~ Albert Einstein

Some of the quotes are new to me but probably familiar to some of my readers.

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him. ~ Buddah 

Sometimes I need to sit back and consider someone's perspective without trying to apply it to myself. Allow myself to sit with it a while. This is a concept NewCounselor is trying to teach me.  I am noticing that when I am struggling with a feeling or a reaction I need to give myself time to sit with how I feel.  If I sit with a person, we usually have a conversation or some sort of connection.  I am starting to realize that I need to have a conversation and a connection with my feelings.  I mentioned the web page about connecting with your inner-kiddie
This is her method and it works for her. 

I had my own style of disconnecting from all emotion.  I wasn't sad.  I could laugh.  But I knew it wasn't working for me.  I wanted something different.  I did try many of the things that Purpose Fairy mentioned.  I tried all sorts of things on my own.  I didn't realize that a major crack existed in me.  Counseling was an answer for me.  It worked.  I learned a bunch of stuff about myself.  I learned new ways to look at the world.  Tough stuff still happens.  I now what I need to do to step in the direction I need to feel at peace again.  My route is different from both of these other blogs.  I won't have answers for other people.  I have some great suggestions that I found work for me.  I share what I learned willingly.  I hope that what I write someone can say, "Hay, that is something I can try."  Or maybe, "Oh my, someone is facing a challenge similar to mine, I am not alone."  Different approaches work for different people.  There is one message that runs through all of these blogs, mine included, "Happiness is an inside job.  Only you have the power to change your life."  That was so cool when I internalized, I have the power to change my life.  I can't change the circumstances but my attitude is all mine to decide what I want to do with my life. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bigger Challenges

“Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty.”  --William Bennett

I argued with my DH because he couldn't understand why I always had to have an "A" in my classes.  I finally found the words that made sense to me.  I didn't need or even care if I got an "A" in a class.  When I chose to invest my time in a class I usually took it to get a certain amount of information.  In my quest for knowledge the teachers required less for an "A" than I expected to get out of the class.  I was furious the semester that a grad student blew off the class taught us only half the information and gave everyone an "A".  I may have gotten an "A" but he cheated me out of the information I was supposed to get in the class.  I still found the information but I paid for the class and felt I shouldn't have to go somewhere else to learn what I wanted to know.  Now I have a big challenge.  How do I approach this so that what I am striving for exceeds expectations?  I learned that when I aim for past the mark I go further than if I just try to do enough.  I have written here before that sometimes average or good enough is all I need to do.  I learned to choose my battles.  I don't have enough energy to win every battle so I look for the most strategic ones I need to over come.  I am astounded when I look back and see some of the things I accomplished.  One of my favorite comic strips is Garfield the Cat chasing Odie dog up a tree.  Arbuckle explains to the treed Odie that dogs can't climb trees.  Garfield's bubble proclaims, "It is amazing what one can accomplish when one doesn't know what one can't do."  Joel in his impossible blog challenges people to reach farther than they ever reached before.  I am finally getting to the stage of acceptance where I am getting ready to work and work hard.  I am working on other things to get the finished to clear my calendar to get ready for what comes next.  I appreciate mulderfan reminding me that I need to enjoy the day.  I am still working through a lot of emotion.  Takes time.  That's ok.  I can do this a bit at a time.  Need to sleep now.  Good night.   

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Over Whelmed

"The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one."  - Mark Twain

Click Here For Success Tip # 081

 I go along feeling like I am doing fairly well when another challenge lands in my lap. Some challenges I go looking for, like finding the blog on doing impossible things and adding to my exercise program.  However, other challenges come to me unasked for and not completely welcomed. Mark Twain's words apply to any task.  When I started counseling, we first spent several months surveying the damage.  Then each session we tackled one more piece of the puzzle.  Many weeks I felt so little was accomplished.  A writer friend was upset because she feels like her effort of editing 6-7 pages a day her progress was not counted.  But consider that in 10 days she would edit 60 pages.  In 30 days 180 pages.  In 60 days, over 360 pages which is longer than most books.  She can feel frustrated because editing the book took 2 months or consider that the 2 months will pass anyway and at the end of two months the book is done.  I learned that many times the size of a project is overwhelming but cutting it up into more digestible pieces make impossible task possible. My kids were raised on 'cutting up the elephant' to accomplish what needs to be done.  When I became very sick I could only be up 20 minutes a day.  There were few tasks that I could accomplish in so short a time.  But when I put all those little pieces together, I could still accomplish things that I needed done.  Now, I am overwhelmed again.  So I look at the project and first decide I want to do it.  Every day there are opportunities all around to join some effort or start some project.  I have a room of partially finished projects.  Some I am recognizing will never be finished since I didn't actually want to do them in the first place.  Others are in different stages of completion but are low priority right now and in time will be finished but not too soon.  I didn't look for this new task.  I don't want this new task.  But my body didn't ask my opinion.  Two years ago, my audiologist discovered that one ear is loosing hearing much faster than the other one.  He sent me to a specialist and they found a brain tumor.  For two years, I haven't thought about it much.  Now this past week, my audiologist confirmed that my left ear can no longer understand words no matter how loud the volume.  The tumor has grown.  Now the task is to see the specialist again to see what my choices are.  I feel frustrated because I was handling what I had and getting stronger and taking on an impossible challenge and now I have a much bigger challenge than I really wanted.  I will be seeing the specialist on Tuesday.  I believe the first step will be another MRI.  After that I will find out what my choices are.  In the mean time, I still have other projects to do.  I am continuing my new exercise program and am surprised at the things I am doing that just a year ago I thought I couldn't do again.  I actually ran for 10 minutes Friday along with other exercises.  I think part of the overwhelming feeling I have is I don't know what needs to be done yet.  Like being too close to the side of the elephant all I see is one big elephant.  Time to step back.  I know how to do tough stuff, just a bit at a time.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Importance of enduring.  

I know that some people put enduring at the end of a discussion because of the scripture 'endure to the end' sounds like something to do until the end.  But to me, enduring is sometimes something I need to do at the beginning, middle, and end of a problems.  Sometimes enduring is what I do until I get to a new understanding that will lift me from where I am at to where I need to be.  I don't have a recipe on how to do this.  I collected many ideas together that I will share.  I was taught that different things work at different times. My theory is the more ideas and tools I have available to me the better my chances are to make it through another day. Sometimes enduring means I can't change my circumstances right now so I need to accept where I am at or it might be that setting appropriate boundaries are needed to endure a relationship.  This poem by Reinhold Niebuhr comes to mind:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

This poem plays a vital roll in my thinking.  

Definition endure:

transitive verb

1: to undergo (as a hardship) especially without giving in : suffer <endured great pain>

2: to regard with acceptance or tolerance <could not endure noisy children>

intransitive verb

1: to continue in the same state : last <the style endured for centuries>

2: to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding <though it is difficult, we must endure> See endure defined for English-language learners »
endure [ɪnˈdjʊə]vb
1. to undergo (hardship, strain, privation, etc.) without yielding; bear
2. (tr) to permit or tolerate
3. (intr) to last or continue to exist
1. experience, suffer, bear, weather, meet, go through, encounter, cope with, sustain, brave, undergo, withstand, live through, thole (Scot.) He'd endured years of pain and sleepless nights because of arthritis.
2. put up with, stand, suffer, bear, allow, accept, stick (slang), take (informal), permit, stomach, swallow, brook, tolerate, hack (slang), abide, submit to, countenance, stick out (informal), take patiently I simply can't endure another moment of her company.
3. last, live, continue, remain, stay, hold, stand, go on, survive, live on, prevail, persist, abide, be durable, wear well Somehow the language endures and continues to survive to this day.
"What can't be cured must be endured"

But I also recognize that what I thought I had to accept wasn't always true.  For years I was told that my mother is doing the best she can and I had to love her.  My counselor let me know that I don't have to love her and I needed to set appropriate boundaries.  Enduring my relationship with my mother is simple yet complicated by emotions I am just now understanding.  Writing about enduring would people be reading it thinking that I am going to tell them some magical mystery?  To me there is nothing magical or mysterious about putting my head down and just taking one step after another.  I used to go to girls camp and I went on the "baby" hike.  There were always one or two girls that were in the back that struggled to make the hike.  Some had physically problems, some felt it was just too hard due to lack of experience with hiking, I persuaded them to get past the point that would qualify them for their camp hiking badge.  I did it by setting much shorter goals, "You can make it to that big rock you see," and encourage them to keep moving.  Once they really sat down in a comfortable spot getting them to move again was impossible.  Endurance has no magic powers other than keep moving forward.  There is no recipe, what works for one person won't work for someone else.  It is not concrete so I can't take a picture of it but endurance was the beginning of beating suicidal thoughts.  If I can endure this nightmare one more night. If I can get out of bed and move to the couch.  If I can sit at the table and have the kids bring me the ingredients for dinner they will get dinner one more day.  Beating suicidal thoughts takes thinking past the no hope point, even if it is only five feet.  I think what triggered my thoughts so heavily is someone on another blog posted another person's suicide note.  It rocked my world because I could have written that note before counseling.  To me the first step out of darkness is being willing to endure the dark until I can get to a lighter place.  Counseling taught me more tools to use.  Endurance kept me going long enough to learn them.  Just as Satan's most powerful tool is the wedge of doubt, Christ's admonition to endure gives people enough time to find a way to keep heading towards Him.  Once people stop, getting them to move again is almost impossible.