Mindfulness Monday – Kindness

water scene2“Three things in human life are important:

the first is to be kind;

the second is to be kind;

and the third is to be kind.”

~ Henry James

 

What does it mean to be kind?  Often kindness is confused with compassion, but there is a difference.  Kindness is simply being friendly to a person whether they are suffering of not.  Compassion is reaching out to someone who is suffering. 

When I read Toni Bernhard’s book, How to Wake Up, (and later an article she wrote about kindness) I was touched by what she calls “friendliness practice”.

She describes it like this, “As I turn the front doorknob to leave my house, I consciously resolve to maintain an attitude of friendliness toward all the strangers I see…If I’m waiting in line, I look at each person around me and silently say to each one: ‘May you enjoy this day’; or ‘I hope you have fun today.’”

I have tried to do this practice and have found that it lifts my heart, simply sending loving kindness to those around me fills me with joy.  

I find it so fulfilling to see the joy on a stranger’s face when I am nice to them, whether it’s a complement or simply saying having a small conversation, kindness can make your day so much more joyful.

However, there are times when I find myself automatically judging people I don’t even know.  For example, recently we were riding in a “questionable” part of town and were suddenly stuck because someone pulled out in front of everyone, just to go from one convenience store to another on the opposite side of the street.  The man was driving a new Cadillac that was all tricked out, and when he smiled you could see gold teeth.  We both automatically thought, drug dealer. We knew nothing about this man except what we saw on the outside, yet we found ourselves judging him.  This is something most of us do, and I’m sure I’ll do it again, but I’m trying to be kinder.  When I find myself having these judgments I’m trying to follow Toni’s example and silently say something kind to this person anyway.  Just as Toni said, I found that this action normally stops the judgment…but sometimes it doesn’t, it’s at those times I need to be kind to myself and continue to try my best.

 

“Kindness is within our power even when fondness is not.” ~ Samuel Johnson

 

I’m certain that no one is fond of everyone, but being kind to someone doesn’t mean we have to like the person.  In this day of political tensions, prejudice, racism….I know I have never been surrounded by so much hate.  The Buddha taught, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, only by non-hatred.”  We can “not hate” someone without liking them.  When you don’t hate it’s much easier to be kind.

It has pained me to find out that some of my ‘friends’ have such differing views than I have, many of these views are, in my opinion, unethical and morally wrong.  Because of the extreme differences in our views, and often the venom that I hear spoken by others voicing their opinions, I’m finding that I don’t really like many of these people any more, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be kind to them.  I try to find what we have in common, I think we all want to be happy and to stop suffering, when I look at someone in that light, I find it much easier to be kind.  I don’t have to agree with someone to be kind.  That doesn’t mean I’m okay with their views, it means I can be nice to them, that’s a lot more than I sometimes think I can do, but let’s face it, being kind to someone feels a whole lot better than hating them, hatred makes me feel really bad.

 

That brings me to this quote:

 “Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” ~ Eric Hoffer

The more often you are kind, the more natural it will become.  Kindness becomes a habit and it grows within you, by being kind to others, you are in turn, kind to yourself. 

 

** I hope you enjoyed this different take on Mindfulness Monday, be sure to remember to be kind to yourself.

I highly recommend Toni Bernard’s books, especially “How To Be Sick; A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers”.  This book changed literally my life, and I refer back to it over and over.  If you, or someone you know, is dealing with chronic illness, do yourself a favor and check this book out.  (This is completely my opinion, no one asked me to post this, and I’m not being compensated for it.  I simply love this book.)

 

(image created by Wendy Holcombe using Autodesk Sketchbook, please to not use without permission)

 

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Mindfulness Monday – Birth(day)

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doodle by wendy – silly goose

“May I be easily able to let whatever needs to go, go.

And may whatever wants to come

be radiantly and joyously born.”

~ Tosha Silver

 

“The purpose of our lives

Is to give birth to the best

Which is within us.”

~ Marianne Williamson

 

“Every morning we are born again.

What we do today is what matters most.”

~ Buddha

 

You might be able to tell from the the quotes….Today is my birthday!  I hope you have a wonder filled day, and have a grand un-birthday. (unless of course it is your birthday too, in that case, I hope your celebration is grand!)

Image is “Silly Goose” a silly doodle by me.  It’s one of those doodles that comes from a stray mark on a page in my drawing journal.  Try it, make a swoop on the page and let it be the start of a doodle.  You can even make it silly.  😉

 

 

Migraine Awareness Month, my migraine update

migraine awareness

I don’t know who to credit for this image, but it is so true I had to use it. If you know who I should credit, please let me know.

June has been Migraine Awareness Month.  I had planned to do a few posts about migraine, what it is, who gets it, how disabling it can be, new treatments….ect… unfortunately I’ve been having some severe migraines this month and simply haven’t been able to focus well enough to write and get all the facts straight.  It’s not just the pain of the migraine that has stopped me, it’s all the other symptoms that go with it, the fogginess, nausea, insomnia, sensitivity to light, sound and smells….I simply can’t concentrate or get things done.

New Migraine Doctor – On Tuesday I saw a new migraine specialist.  He’s with Banner Health/University of Arrizona’s neurology department.  First impression, he was pretty thorough, and seemed to know what he was doing, however, there were some things he said that I felt were just rude, but it may just be his sense of humor that I didn’t get.  For example, after we went through my history he looked at hubby and said, “Did you know she had all these issues before you married her?”  Then he laughed a little and said he was joking, but honestly that did not make me feel good at all.  But he did take the time to go over my records and listen.  At first I felt that he was going to be a butt, because when I told him all my different types of headaches (chronic migraine, vestibular migraine, cluster headaches, and Intracranial Hypertension), he said, “I don’t believe it”  He questioned if I could have Intracranial Hypertension on top of the rest.  I told him I had numerous lumbar punctures and that diagnosis came from Duke, he seemed to understand then that I really have been diagnosed with these things, they weren’t just speculation.  We went through a huge list of drugs I’ve tried and if they worked at all, and we discussed other treatments that haven’t worked (acupuncture, chiropractic, a ton of supplements….).  He finally said, “So, it sounds like nothing has worked” and I agreed.  (Oh, I was given a complete exam, testing all my reflexes, checking my optic nerve….he really was thorough)  He left the room for a moment and came back with a gammaCore.

gammacore

image courtesy of http://www.gammacore.com

Using the gammaCore – The gammaCore is a non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator.  It’s pretty darn cool actually.   Most of what I’m including next can be found on the gammaCore site, you can read more about it there if you’d like.  https://gammacore.com/

“gammaCore (nVNS) sends gentle, patented stimulation through the skin to activate the vagus nerve, providing relief from migraine and cluster headache pain in a different way than drugs.

  • The vagus nerve is an important highway of communication between your brain and many parts of the body
  • The vagus nerve plays an important role in regulating pain”

He gave me a demo and it was interesting.  You take this little device and put a gel on the electrodes then place it on your neck, right where you’d check someone’s pulse, you increase the signal until you get the results you are looking for (a twitch of your mouth or side of your face) you keep it there for 2 minutes and it cuts off by itself.  They say there’s a beep, but I can’t hear it, I just notice that it stopped, I don’t know why you’d need a beep to tell you that it stops, you can feel it.  People like to give sounds for all kinds of things that really don’t need them, in my opinion anyway.  After it stops on one side, you repeat it on the other side, and that’s it.  That’s a treatment.  If pain persist after 20 minutes, do it again.  After 2 hours, if you still have pain, or if it returns, repeat a treatment.

I will be receiving my gammaCore in the mail in a few days.  The first month is free, I don’t know how much it will cost after that.  When it was first approved earlier this year Stuart called to see if insurance would cover it and they weren’t there yet.  If it helps, I sure hope that insurance will cover at least part of it.   You are supposed to use it at the first sign of migraine pain, unfortunately I am NEVER without a headache, so I need to use it at the first sign that it’s getting bad.  I still don’t feel that the doctor understood that I have a headache ALL THE TIME.   I actually plan on using it as often as I can to see if I can get some lasting relief, maybe I’ll actually have a day without a migraine!  I am cautiously optimistic.  If it doesn’t work, I haven’t lost anything.  If it does work, I will have to decide if I can afford it.

One HUGE thing I hate about the gammaCore is that it’s disposable.  Why can’t they make it so you can charge it or change the battery or something, having to replace this device every month is so wasteful and bad for the environment.  I’m having a very hard time coming to terms with that.  I can only think that they do it this way so that people will have to buy a new one each month, that’s just a rip-off.  What am I supposed to do with all these used devices?  If nothing else, they need a recycling program.  (Yes, I will be suggesting this to them)

Medical Marijuana – I also had an appointment on Wednesday to get approved for my medical marijuana card.  Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona and severe migraine is on the list of conditions that can be treated with it, so I decided to apply.  I should get my card in a couple of weeks.

Full disclosure here, I have been using marijuana to help me for a couple of years now, but I had to rely on what I could get on the street, I don’t know the strains, or anything like that, so results have varied.  Sometimes when the pain hits I can vape a little and it is gone, other times it just makes me feel funny, and other times it does nothing.  I’m hoping that getting it from a dispensary where I will be assured of quality and will know what strains and hybrids I’m getting, I will be able to medicate more successfully; more pain relief with less high feeling would be optimal. After I started using a little every night before I go to bed (I made brownies) my vertigo has been reduced drastically.  When I can’t get it, I have more vertigo again.  This is not an approved condition in Arizona (Meniere’s is an approved condition in some states), but it should be.  I can’t be 100% sure that it’s the marijuana that has helped my vertigo, but it would be some strange coincidence if it isn’t.  It even helps stop an attack….if I start to have a vertigo attack I will vape just a little and it will often stop it, even if it doesn’t stop the vertigo, it stops the vomiting.  I cannot stress how important that is.  The only reason I will go to the ER with all of this (vertigo or migraine) is if I’m also dehydrated.  Throwing up for hours on end will cause dehydration, I know that the marijuana has stopped me from going to the ER numerous times.  I’m so very grateful I have found some relief through medicinals.

As I navigate this new world of treatment, I will post more about it and give you lots of updates.  To learn more about how medical marijuana can help with migraines there’s a great article here: https://www.marijuanadoctors.com/conditions/chronic-migraine/

Now, it has taken me many hours to write this post, so I will close for now.  Hopefully my head will calm down soon and I will be able to write more often.  I would like to thank Lorraine for being so kind and helping me keep up my weekly Mindfulness Monday posts.  They mean a lot to me and it was really hurting me when I couldn’t post.  Thank you Lorraine, you are the best, I love you my friend!!

Have any of you tried the gammaCore?  If not, would you?

How about medical marijuana, have you tried it?  Did it help?

I’d really like to know your experiences.

 

Finally some promised pictures.

I’m still not able to type much, a lot of hunting and pecking with just my left hand, but I’m managing to do a little.  My wrist has not improved, the shot did not work, I go back to the doctor on July 2nd (which just happens to be my birthday).  Wish me luck.

 

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Welcome to our home.  The top photo isn’t very good, but it’s of the front gate.  The middle row from left to right: the front porch, the pool off the right of the house, the kitchen over looking the living room.  the bottom row, left to right: the bathtub/shower, flowers from my neighbor, the sick in the bathroom.

When I first visited Tucson I wondered why so many houses had bars on the windows and walls around their homes, well I found out.  The bars are because so many houses eight used to have, or still have, a Swamp Cooler.  For a Swamp Cooler to work, you have to have the doors and windows open.  So it’s not because the whole town has a lot of crime, it’s a deterrent for when people have the Swamp Coolers going.  (Swamp Coolers cool by adding moisture to the air, it’s really cool actually. but it only works in places with no humidity).  The walls are often added if you have a pool.  It is also a law that if a window in your house can open and it opens out to the pool, it must have bars. The pool must also have a gate that locks, or has a latch way out of reach for a child.

The house we live in was built in 1943, I think the realtor said, that surprised me since that was a time of rationing.  The bathroom was tiled in the 1970’s, the owner loved Fiesta-ware and the tiles were bought to kinda match that. I love it!!  The kitchen was also tiled like it at some point, but they remodeled the kitchen not long ago and the cool tile went bye-bye.  You can see the new stove in the tiny kitchen, and the tiny living room beyond that.  The living room is so small we had to get rid of our couch, and the dining area is so small we couldn’t fit a regular size table in it.  Too bad, because the house is pretty cool other than the tiny rooms, if they were bigger we would consider buying this house, but it simply won’t work, so we are on the hunt for a house to buy that meets our needs.  This property also has a guest house, which would be perfect for us when Dad moves in, but as I said, the main house just doesn’t work.

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There are many suns all around the outside of the house, that’s kinda cool.

I took a walk around the neighborhood the other day and I saw all these cactus!  The barrel cactus, the paddle cactus, prickly pear, and the big daddy of all the Saguaro. (you might not be able to tell from the photo bur the Saguaro has blossoms (well buds or dried of blossoms anyway), they don’t bloom every year so this was a treat.

These photos are all from around the house.  I especially like the last one.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the little trip around my new digs.  I have a few shots from the trip across country if you’d like to see them let me know and I’ll post those too.  🙂

*all photos were taken by me, W. Holcombe, please do not use without permission.

 

 

Mindfulness Monday – Family (Ohana)

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“I don’t care whose DNA had

recombined with whose.

When everything goes to hell,

the people who stand by you

without flinching-

They are your family.”

~Jim Butcher

 

“That’s what people do who love you.

They put their arms around you

and love you when you’re

not so lovable.”

~Deb Caletti

 

“You must remember,

family is often born of blood,

but it doesn’t depend on blood.

Nor is it exclusive of friendship.

Family members can be your best friends, you know.

And best friends, whether or not they are related to you,

Can be your family.”

~Trenton Lee Stewart

 

*photo taken at Wendy and Stuart’s wedding (I’m the one in yellow)

Thank you to all who are members of my Ohana.  I love you.  ( Part of Hawaiian culture, ʻohana means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional). The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.’)

“Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” ~Lilo and Stitch

family-1

Just because they are gone, doesn’t mean they will ever be forgotten.  Pets are Ohana too.

Meaningful Monday – Suffering

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“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching,

and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be.

I have been bent and broken, but

—I hope—

Into a better shape.”

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“There is the solitude of suffering,

when you go through darkness that is

lonely, intense, and terrible.

Words become powerless to express your pain;

what others hear from your words is

so distant and different from what you are actually suffering.”

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

We must look deeply in order to understand

the needs, aspirations, and suffering

of the person we love.

This is the ground of real love”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

*photo by W. Holcombe.  Baby Opuntia (prickly pear) Cactus.  Please do not use without permission.

I did things a little differently this week, the not all of the quotes would be considered “mindful”, but I felt they were more meaningful this week.

 

 

I want to be a better friend to those who are in pain.

 

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*Content warning: This post discusses suicide and depression.

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook and I had to share it with you.

Why “I love you” and “Please reach out” are the crappiest things to post after someone has died by suicide – by Deanna Zandt

I have been one of those people with good intentions who have simply said the wrong things, and for that, I’m deeply sorry.  I have been there, yet I still don’t know what to say when a friend is in their darkest moments.  I need to always remember, I didn’t want to die because I didn’t feel loved, I simply wanted the pain to stop.  It helped me to have someone sit with me, hold my hand, and simply be a witness to my pain.  It helped me to know that they would help if they could, but that they didn’t try to force this false help on me.  I know these things, but it’s very hard to do these things for someone from afar.  I can’t simply sit with someone when they are in pain if I can’t be physically with them.  Often, when I reach out to someone through texts, or messages, I don’t know what to say after that initial contact. Silence is unacceptable when you are texting.  I want them to know that I care, and I simply want to be there for them.  I know I can’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.

I also read another article I found interesting: Depression and Suicide: Being mindful and accepting of the pain of the dark days – by Jack C. Surguy M.A. 

Jack Surguy mentions something that I found helpful for me; by accepting that everything changes I can take solace in knowing that these feelings will not last forever.  (even if they feel like they will)  When I’m am suffering I know that it will end, that is actually my mantra when my emotions are all out of wack, “this will end”.  I guess it’s a variation on “this too shall pass”, but that sounds trite to me for some reason.  I promise no matter what you are going through right now, good, bad or indifferent, it will change.

I hope you find both of these articles interesting and possibly helpful.

Right now my wrist is killing me, so I need to stop typing, but after the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I felt I needed to talk about this, I want to do better.  I want my friends (you) to know I love them, that I care, and that I respect their pain.  I want them to know this every day, not just times like these.

 

* photo by W. Holcombe.  A red yucca plant viewed while lying down looking at the sky.  I found it stunning.