Mindfulness Monday: calmness

“Calm the winds of your thoughts, and there will be no waves on the ocean of your mind.”

Remez Sassoon

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet, it is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.”

 Deepak Chopra

“Empty your mind of everything – let the mind become still.”

Lao Tzu

I create personalized “mindfulness” or “grounding” cards. On different coloured index cards, I print out a quote; a saying; a thought gleaned from elsewhere, or sometimes from somewhere inside me.

I carry two with me . . . always.

The first is a grounding exercise to use when I have a panxiety attack, feel like I’m drifting too far from shore, or to help be mindful of my surroundings by using all my senses. *

The other:

“Calm as a koi pond.”


* Borrowed from the “web of thoughts.” Can be modified to suit a person’s abilities and needs; I took the whole.

Look around you and find:

FIVE things you can SEE

FOUR things you can TOUCH

THREE things you can HEAR

TWO things you can SMELL

ONE thing you can TASTE

And, Wendy (who is taking a break from Mindfulness Monday today) gave me a wonderful set of 65 Power Thought Cards, beautifully written and richly, colorfully, and playfully illustrated by Louise Hay.

On one side is a saying; the reverse is a longer meditation on that specific thought/phrase/concept.

I carry around two:

“I am willing to change.”

“I express my creativity.”

Thanks to Wendy, (and Mindfulness Mondays), I am “working” on both!

image: © lorraine


Mindfulness Monday: Breathe

image; words Daniell Koepke

“Mindfulness of the breath is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful practices. Our breath is with us always and as we develop our ability to remember to focus on the breath, we can ride the breath  through many waves and storms in our lives. The breath will carry us and help us to be present for what is showing up, whether it is in people, situations or our own hearts and minds.”

Diana Winston and Greater Good Science Center

“Relax. You are enough. You do enough. Breathe extra deep, let go, and just live right now in this moment.”

Shunryu Suzuki

“Mindfulness is when you are truly there, mind and body together. You breathe in and out mindfully, you bring your mind back to your body, and you are there.”


De Quervain’s tenosynovitis in my left wrist/thumb earlier this year (you can read about it here), but you may have missed that I now have it in my right wrist.  The left wrist was treated with a cortisone shot and since then I’ve had no problem.  I’ve had 2 cortisone injections in my right wrist and I’m still in pain. … My surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, the 7th.  It is a minor surgery, I’m not even put under general anesthesia.  They just put a little incision on the inside of my wrist below the thumb (on the side, not the palm) and snip a little to release the tendons.”

But, during the recovery/rehab period, Wendy isn’t sure if she can use her dominant hand to type out wonderous things like Mindfulness Monday. So, I’ve stepped in to give her a “hand” – pardon the pun.

First, of course, I know you will be sending good, healing thoughts Wendy’s way. She may have difficulty communicating by keyboard for up to six weeks; if she doesn’t post or respond to a comment, it doesn’t mean she hasn’t been writing them in her head. 

My Tai Chi instructor has been focusing on co-coordinating our breathes with out movements. Each pose has an inhale and exhale component. As we relearn each pose with breathing, the meditation in motion of Tai Chi is strengthened.

So, today’s post concerns mindfulness breathing. Hope you find the quotes intriguing enough to explore mindfulness breathing. It is the key, the core to mindfulness in many ways.

Meaningful Monday: Compassion

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

Dalai Lama

“The compassionate mind is the mind that transforms.”

Paul B. Gilbert

“True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain, but also being moved to help relieve it.”

Daniel Coleman

image:  quotesgram.com

Wendy just needs a break today so rather than her wonderful Mindfulness Monday, I am filling in with some thoughts on compassion.


Meaningful Monday: Pema Chödrön


photo by Lorraine

Wendy is too busy with all the wonderous changes in her life to present her usual Mindfulness Monday post at the moment. So, I am stepping in with a guest post for her.

I have always found great wisdom, humour and compassion in the words of  Pema Chödrön. She is member of/teacher at a Shambhala Buddist community – Gampo Abbey – in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia which gives her words a special resonance with me. My paternal roots, and extended chunks of my adult life were spent in the Maritimes. No better spot for meditation, retreat, and restoration. I just returned from the South Shore of Nova Scotia. My first visit “home” in 7 years; a truly transformative experience.

So in honour of Wendy and Nova Scotia, I present Meaningful Monday as a guest host for Wendy’s wonderful Mindfulness Mondays. All quotes are from Pema Chödrön.


“When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”

“Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start.”

“Every situation is a passing memory.”

Mindfulness Monday: Kindness

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

~ Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dali Lama

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

~ Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dali Lama

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

~ Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dali Lama.

Wendy needs some quiet time, this Monday, to recover from a migraine.

Given the season, kindness seems an appropriate theme.

And the Dalai Lama speaks so eloquently and mindfully of it.

Be kind to yourself.


image: (c) Lorraine

Thinkfulness Mondays (filling in for Wendy): thankfulness; appreciation; gratitude

Wendy chose the theme: thankfulness; appreciation and gratitude to highlight what a Mindfulness Turkey Day should be. Of thankfulness for what we have tangibly, but most importantly, for those intangibles: the fairy dust; the miracles; the possibilities; grounded in our moments; spreading hands and hearts. Appreciating the touch of a hand; a donation to a food bank; thankful for the moment with friends; aware of the needs of others; and appreciation on the need for us to help.

This Saturday is giving Saturday at my local library. I am thankful I am able to provide some tangible help: toys and books for children and clothes for their mothers.

Wendy has a nasty migraine making working on the computer right now feel deadly, so I stepped in to help – what are friends for? Please send her messages of support as she deals with yet another round of migraines, cluster headaches, vertigo, and back pain. She got so far, but needed to rest her eyes. I so understand, so here I am offering up quotes about thankfulness, appreciation and gratitude. But I would pose we should think of “thinkfulfness” – the ways in which our minds wrap their synapses around the mindfulness approach to living – including celebrations of ourselves, friends, families, and perhaps through donations, or volunteer work

So, I searched beyond my usual sorts of quotes (with Wendy’s assistance), and have more than Wendy’s usual three. These resonated with me in terms of thankfulness, appreciation and gratitude. A cornucopia, and over abundance of meditations on gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation.  I was unable to post Wendy’s lovely image; instead an unedited collage of my back yard.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.“ G.K. Chesterton

“Every day, spread the magical stardust of thankfulness into your life.” Terri Guillemets

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Anon

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A. A. Milne

“Don’t cry because it’s over, be happy because it happened” Dr. Seuss

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” J F Kennedy

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom”. Marcel Proust

“In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” Elizabeth Gilbert

“We take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” Cynthia Ozick

images are copyrighted to Lorraine; unable to upload Wendy’s marvelous images.

And to end on a musical note: a song discovered by a search that seems to fall within the theme of thankfulness.

Josh Grobin: Thankful

Somedays, we forget to look around us,
Somedays, we can’t see the joy that surrounds us,
So caught up inside ourselves,
We take when we should give,
So for tonight we pray for,
What we know can be,
And on this day we hope for,
What we still can’t see,
It’s up to us, to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more,
There’s so much to be thankful for,
Look beyond ourselves,
There’s so much sorrow,
It’s way to late to say, I’ll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth,
It’s so long overdue,
So for tonight we pray for,
What we know can be,
And everyday, we hope for,
What we still can’t see,
It’s up to us, to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more,
There’s so much to be thankful for,
Even with our differences,
There is a place we’re all connected,
Each of us can find each others light,
So for tonight, we pray for
What we know can be,
And on this day, we hope for,
What we still can’t see,
It’s up to us, to be the change,
And even though this world needs so much more
There’s so much to be thankful for.

Monday Quotes – Gifts


Greetings! I am filling in for Wendy this Monday, and as it is my birthday, I thought I would use quotes about gifts. Not just the tangible, wrapped in fancy paper with ribbon and bow. But the intangible, the ephemeral, the ethereal gifts we can give ourselves every day.

“This life is your gift to yourself…Open it!” (anon)

“The greatest gift you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.” (Anthony J. D’Angelo)

“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen.” (Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks)

image: Lorraine 2017. Please don’t use without permission. Thanks.



Today I’d like to introduce Lorraine of My Frilly Freudian Slip.  Lorraine is a good friend of mine and the author of beautiful poetry and prose.  You will find her writings at myfrillyfreudianslip.wordpress.com.

Lorraine is fighting Bipolar I and severe anxiety.  They can’t find medications that work for her.  Following you will read a first hand account of what it is like to live with “Panxiety”.

IMG_20160912_145828115 - Copy
photo by Lorraine of My Frilly Freudian Slip

“Pounding heart. Constricted throat. Knotted stomach. Dread washes over me. A panxiety attack.

Coming, unbidden, from some where inside my mind; spilling into my consciousness and flooding my body with anxiousness.

Breathe in through nose to count of ten, fill lungs, feel belly lift. Hold. Breath out slowly to ten.

Drift – visualize place of calm. Walking on beach, tide tickling toes. Finding beach treasures: sea glass, sand dollar. Smell sea tang. Feel breeze against skin.

But the panxiety is stronger – can’t focus; can’t concentrate. Pace. Half finished tasks lay scattered around the house – stopped in mid-flow. Forgotten. Pace.

Distract. Words on page, coloured pencil on paper. But, hands and mind shake.”

Daily, I deal with panxiety – a panicky anxiety attack – lasting minutes or hours. Sometimes the dread follows, flows all day. Few solutions to the foreboding; apprehension. Becomes so hard to concentrate that writing, my usual distraction from mental and physical pain, is almost impossible. I lose words; sentences fly off into the ether.

There are times I can force myself to lay still. To tell myself one of my “head stories.” Perhaps to drift off to sleep for awhile. This doesn’t mean I stay under long, nor that I wake calm. But when I can “nap,” my emotional and physical self gets a break from the relentless panxiety.

I have to confess turning to medication more than meditation when the attacks are furious and frequent. Always haunted by anxiety, these spells have increased in number and severity. Linked to a series of traumas, mental collapse and going untreated for several years afterwards.

I am on the bipolar 2 spectrum with chronic depression, rapid cycling, and bouts of hypo-mania manifesting in over indulgence and obsession. My bipolar isn’t responding well to medication; I am mostly teetering on the edge of instability, often falling all the way in.

Depression is my background music. Even when the volume is turned up, I can become agitated and anxious. As my depression can not be treated with anti-depressants (they don’t work), it is hard to level my mood. These swings are often accompanied by panxiety.

My anxiety has never been fully addressed. The medication I am given is not in a sufficient dose to stop the attack completely. And, I take nothing that addresses it on a daily, 24 hours basis. I seek to gain control of these attacks by other means than Ativan or Klonopin. However, often panxiety, like depression, wins. Doesn’t mean I stop fighting – I just have to do battle harder and stronger the next time.

Seeing a therapist has given me an outlet; a safe space to talk about how I feel. A person who helps me explore my mental health issues including honouring and acknowledging the traumas underlying the escalation in my panxiety attacks. Therapy can be the life-line that grounds me while I do battle. A reprieve to polish my armour.

Lorraine  myfrillyfreudianslip.wordpress.com

Living in Limbo, life with an Invisible illness. A Guest Post

I’d like to thank Maureen from Sunshine and Chaos for writing a very emotional post for us.  Maureen is on a mission to embrace the new her, a person with an unnamed invisible illness.  Her blog is very up beat, and inspirational.  I suggest everyone check it out.

Maureen told me that she thought this would be an easy post to write, but found it very hard.  She said everything about her condition is just so general.  “When you not on firm footing you’re just out there flailing.”  I think she did a great job!

I have a problem.

My problem is that I’m in limbo like my friend in the picture, Wile E. Coyote.

I have something wrong with one of my ears. I say something because the ENT doctor could only say “it” happens to a lot more people than what is realized and to try to find “a quality of life”.

My “it” is balance issues that started in 2000 and my having a chronic illness was finally confirmed by the ENT in 2005. What I have is basically an invisible chronic illness with no name.  A “we know how you’re being affected, just not what is causing it“.  I feel like Wile does in that picture. On firm ground one minute, in limbo waiting for gravity to take effect the next. I was healthy one minute, living in limbo the next without a specific diagnosis. No specific diagnosis, no possible cure,  no plan of action that can help me get back on my feet and be a contributing member of society again.

The doctors would always ask me if I would get dizzy and I would say no.  A big part of my problem over the years is that I rarely got dizzy. If I did, it didn’t last long and I would attribute it to something else such as getting up too quickly or having a head cold.  I did have a few dizzy spells a number of years ago due to water in the ear and I don’t get anything like that.  I NEVER FORGOT that feeling of the world spinning. And, I would add,  my mother had Meniere’s and I saw how she reacted and dealt with it.

What it really felt like at the beginning was “the flu that wouldn’t go away”. Sounds like a bad horror flick, doesn’t it? On my bad days, that’s what it still feels like.  I had high blood pressure for the first time in my life, light-headed, slept a lot, no energy, ached a bit, lost my appetite and had a bobbing feeling in my head. Different conditions and diseases were ruled out. The flu eventually went away and also ruled out were chronic fatigue syndrome, mononucleosis, peri-menopause, thyroid, my heart (in the beginning it would beat irregularly and at times fast), brain tumour (I would get a tingling sensation up the back right side of my head that would turn into a headache) and whatever else all those tubes of blood and other tests might confirm.

The best word to describe how I now feel is disequilibrium. Here’s a definition from the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

Disequilibrium is a sensation of impending fall or of the need to obtain external assistance for proper locomotion. It is sometimes described as a feeling of improper tilt of the floor, or as a sense of floating. This sensation can originate in the inner ear or other motion sensors, or in the central nervous system.

Now that I know that the problem starts with my ear, I believe keeping control of my head movements has reduced most of the symptoms.  But they have only been exchanged with other symptoms and side effects.  What I get is a woozy feeling, like I’m in a boat and bobbing up and down on small waves.  I can be sitting still and it will feel like someone is shoving me to the right. I can stagger like I’m a bit drunk but be stone-cold sober.  Changes in the weather affects me so much more.  Before, it meant random sinus headaches.  Now I start feeling off-kilter and want to stay in bed.  Sometimes going for a walk will help me feel better, sometimes a walk only makes things worse.  I will pace the hallways of my house just so I can have a “walk” and avoid being far from my bed in case I have to quickly lie down.  I have a stationary bike that I use so that I can stay seated and not move my head.  I take my cell phone with me on even the shortest of walks, just in case I have to call a cab to get home.  On days when I want to, or have to do something, I’ll do it and have to lie down afterward so everything in my head can calm down.  And, the rare times when I’m close to feeling “normal”, I sometimes overdo it and then I can easily pay for it for a week afterwards by needing to stay in bed.

After all these years, I the person, looking back objectively, can appreciate that in the beginning the doctors couldn’t tell what was going on with me. Everyone, including me, thought it was a really bad case of the flu.  But, that idea lasted only so long. I understand that, even as the months progressed,  my symptoms were still, general in nature.

However, I the patient, wish the questioning went beyond asking “light-headed or dizzy” and included asking about “balance”.  I wish I didn’t live in a restricted-budget medical climate where a doctor is not able to order tests based on gut instincts and experience or not have someone else question some of the tests. That actually happened during one of my tests – a doctor questioned why my doctor ordered a test.  I have never had a doctor do unnecessary tests.

I also wish that the family history of Meniere’s was taken more seriously. My mother had it and I would ask if I had it or if there was a genetic connection.  I was always told no but it seems more than a coincidence that a close relative suffered from ear problems.

What I really wish is that I had a disease with a name.  I could have a fighting chance at treatments or a cure.  It would bring legitimacy to what I’ve been dealing with all these years.  People deal with illnesses in different ways.  I was only in my mid 30s when I first became sick.  You’re supposed to bounce back, not stay sick.  Some people understood.  They were usually the older ones and had friends or family dealing with various illnesses.  The younger they were, the more chances that I wasn’t believed.

Not being able to be as physically active means that my overall health and stamina has deteriorated.  Heart disease and diabetes runs in the family.  How has the loss of activity sped up the possible development of these diseases for me?  How many years have been taken off my life?  How will my final years be lived out?  We never know how things will work out in the end, but we don’t want to rush things along.

As the saying goes, I truly am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  And being in limbo means not much chance of going back to a normal life.

There are so many things that Maureen said that rings true, isn’t there?  I wrote a post not too long ago about being happy about a diagnosis.  Not that I had the disease, but that it now had a name.  It is so very hard to have a disease that doesn’t have a name.  As Maureen said, it would bring legitimacy to her suffering.   

Thank you so much, Maureen, for talking about such a difficult subject, and speaking so honestly.

Meniere’s Treatments, Guest Post – Lin

Lin, known in the blogosphere as LinLori, has a very interesting blog.  You can find her at linlori.com.  Lin is a mother of 2 toddlers, and wife to “MarvMan” who is currently active duty Navy.  This is her story of being diagnosed with Meniere’s and the treatments she has tried.
When Nothing WorksAs I write this post, my mind is swirling with all sorts of things. My kids are getting ready for me to start homeschooling them, we’re getting ready for a cross-country move, I’m trying to clean out my house of unnecessary stuff, we have to figure out how to get two vehicles from one end of the country to another with only one of us being fully able to drive 10-12 hours a day – and of course, that isn’t me.So I’m hoping that what I write makes sense, will help some, or will at least be something other Meniere’s friends can commiserate with. We have nothing if not each other.

My first attacks actually started while I was active duty Navy. I’d been crouched under a dark aircraft for a good couple hours working on an engine and when I came out into the bright hangar bay, I got dizzy. It was easily brushed off as, “A head rush. Clearly I was under there too long.” But they continued.

And of course, before seeking a doctor’s advice, I got pregnant. And so any complaints of dizziness were brushed off as, “Well, you’ve got double the amount of fluid in your body right now; of course you’re going to be dizzy.” So it continued and I thought it was just a bothersome thing I’d have to deal with because, clearly, my body was more sensitive to how much fluid was in it than most people.

It wasn’t until after my separation from the Navy (honorable, just early for parenting conflict reasons), and after our second child that my husband said, “You know, I think you should go have this checked out.” So I did.

The doctor said it was BPPV – benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, as we all know – and there wasn’t anything he could really do about it, except give me some exercises to do and tell me to come back if it got worse. Well. Thanks for that, doc.

And then we moved from Washington to Nevada. For a time, I ignored the “spells,” as I called them. What else was I to do? But,  of course – they got worse.

So it was back to the doctor with me. This time a new doctor, on a new base. He repeated many of the same in-office tests and checked my ears, cleaned them out, and gave me a referral to an ENT.

The ENT agreed with the BPPV diagnosis initially, and sent me for balance therapy. It helped a bit, and I enjoyed the sessions and the physical therapist I was working with.

Then I had a seizure.

Seizures are, of course, not usually related to Meniere’s, but migraines are related to Meniere’s and – to all our best knowledge after over a year and a half of research and trial & error – this seizure was migraine related.

Thus began the experimentation into how much effect, if any, food had on my Meniere’s. This is what we learned:

MSG has an insane effect on Meniere’s for me. If a food has MSG in it, within fifteen to thirty minutes of consuming the food, my heart rate will be doubled, I will be short of breath, experiencing hot/cold flashes, and – but of course – vertigo attacks that leave me bedridden.

The label “MSG” also happens to include High Fructose Corn Syrup. So you can imagine the rage I have at those, “It’s just like sugar!” commercials. No, it is not.

Of course, salt has an effect, from previous knowledge of how sensitive I am to fluid retention. So I’ve greatly decreased my salt intake.

In addition, I, the big coffee drinker, have had to seriously cut back on the caffeine intake. I usually only have a cup in the morning, and perhaps one in the afternoon or one in the evening. The interesting thing here is that I don’t feel as awful if I stick to grinding the beans myself and brewing it in a press-pot. I have yet to figure out the connection there.

What other treatments have we tried? Well.

Diuretic – The diuretic does seem to help, especially around my monthly cycle.

My first ENT had me on so many steroids…

Oral Prednisone – This. One. Sucked. I felt nothing but the side effects. I was moody, always short-tempered, tired, loopy, and I gained seven pounds.

Ciprodex ear drops – This was after the ENT installed a tube in my ear drum in order to better administer the ear drops. I’ll cover the tube in a moment. The Ciprodex really didn’t seem to help all that much. My inner ear was incredibly sensitive to the temperature the drops were at, and it seemed to actually spark a vertigo episode rather than help any.

Steroid injections – I don’t remember the name of the steroids they injected through the tube, but these? Did nothing.

So when I got sick of my first ENT running up the insurance costs for steroid treatments, I found another ENT. This one now has me on

Triamterene – water pill, of course
Elavil – Anti-depressant, with surprisingly unexpected helpful effects for those with Meniere’s
Meclizine – Emergency anti-nausea anti-vertigo med for when I have an attack.

Unfortunately, as with the past few days, we’ve discovered that the Elavil – a second round after a 1 month break – is no longer working.

And, thus? The search continues. I’m only 26 – there’s time, right? 😉