Mindfulness Monday: Miscellany

“Who looks outside, dreams;

who looks inside, awakes.”

Carl Jung

 

“You must live in the present,

launch yourself on every wave,

find your eternity in each moment.”

Henry David Thoreau

 

“Writing can be an

incredible mindfulness practice.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

image: © Lorraine (please do not use without permission)

I’d like to thank Lorraine for all her help during my recovery, she’s just the best!  Be sure to jump over to her blog and say hello.  Lorraine’s Frilly Freudian Slip

I wanted to give you all a little update on my surgery.  I’m doing very well, much better than I expected.  I’m able to do much, much more than I thought I would.  (Dr. Google was very wrong on that one)  I’m working on a post giving a proper update, I’m just slow going right now, but wanted to let everyone know that I’m doing very well, and thank you all for your well wishes through this challenge.  I don’t know what I’d do without my blog family.   “See” you soon.    ~ Wendy

 

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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.”

Anonymous

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.

Stress? Who’s stressed?

I swear if I hear one more person say that something that is wrong with me is due to stress I will scream!  I have felt this way for many years.  When I was having vertigo daily they said it was made worse by “stress”.  When my asthma went crazy, they said “stress”.  When I had severe GI issues for months, I was told I needed to reduce my “stress”.  You know the last time I looked stress does not cause Meniere’s Disease, or allergy onset asthma, or fructose malabsorption.  Don’t get me wrong, I know stress can do a number on you, but I feel like it’s a catch all.  If they don’t know, then it’s stress, after all if they can’t fix it then it has to be MY FAULT.

Finally, I am having issues that I think may actually be caused by stress.  I will be the first to admit the last few months have been pretty stressful.  My mother-in-law was placed in long term care, we moved across the country, I left my sister with the understanding that we may never see each other again, Stuart started a new job, I’m finding new doctors, I have to have surgery on my wrist on TUESDAY, I don’t know how long to expect to be out of commission to recover from said surgery (I hate being so dependent, not having use of my dominant hand is hard), we’re looking for a house (and not finding what we want), we’ve been looking at cars (for me),  I’m starting to drive again, we’re living in a small house that I can’t get organized because we don’t want to get too settled since we will be moving again soon, I’m suddenly surrounded by family (some of that’s good, some not so good)…………….WOW. writing all of that out was stressful, and I haven’t listed everything.

20180718_131709

This is me with a migraine, the right side of my face gets all numb and droopy.  #realmigrainepose

For over a month my migraines and cluster headaches were much, much worse, is this because of the stress, or is it causing more stress….short answer, Yes.  I must say though, for the past week they’ve been getting better, I think it’s because of the medical marijuana I’ve started using (more about that soon).  I’m having some GI issues that just don’t want to stop.  (it’s even waking me up at night, and I haven’t made it to the bathroom a couple of times…is this all from stress, who knows, but I doubt it’s helping),  I’m irritable, quick to anger, and just plain grumpy.  I’m overwhelmed and in pain, and I’m taking it out on everyone else.  I don’t like myself right now.  My anxiety has increased, but it’s not too bad, yet.  I’ve been a little depressed, but it’s not all consuming.  So, there’s a lot to be stressed about and it’s kind of taking it’s toll.

I’m trying to meditate every day, but it seems the more stressed I am the harder it is for me to meditate.  I feel like I’m not being very mindful either.  I’m living too much in the future.  We are buying our forever home and I keep thinking things like, “I don’t want a pool because I don’t want to keep it up when I’m 70”, “I don’t want any stairs because I might get sicker again, and I also we might now be able to climb stairs in a few years.”, and my personal favorite, as I’ve been going though things and deciding what to keep I keep thinking, “will anyone care about this when I die?” ….I just turned 55, I’m not that old, but I sure am living like I am.  (except I want a cool yellow car, that will keep me young)  I worry about how M’s condition will advance.  I worry about Dad, he spends all his time at the home what M, and she’s beginning to have moments where she doesn’t remember who he is exactly.  How is he going to handle it when she no longer knows who he is.  Then I think about what M’s daughter said, she told me about another relative who had Alzheimer’s and how they told her that they may not know who she is, but they know they love her.  I think Margaret will always know she loves Dad.  It breaks my heart every day though to see this amazing woman slip away.  (she just turned 77)

I really want to get back to focusing on living in the moment and simply not worrying about the rest.  Why worry about the now? It’s going to be gone in an instant.  I want to invite joy in my life.  I want to step away from the drama that I’ve found myself dropped into.  I need to nurture my inner self.

Little update on me: 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.  When I saw the doctor in Charlotte, NC, he told me that often when the injections don’t do anything that there are actually 3 tendons running through the sheath instead of 2.  He said they don’t know why but it often doesn’t show symptoms until middle age.  This is even more probably since I have it in both wrist, luckily the injection worked pretty well in the left wrist though.  The doctor here didn’t mention it, but he did comment that the orthopedics department at Atrium Health (formally known as Carolinas Heathcare System) is one of the best in the country.  (right now they are ranked number 3)  So I kind of believe the doctor at CHS.

My migraines have improved some since I started using medical marijuana.  Most of what I’m taking is a very high grade of CBD oil.  I will write a post soon telling you all about my journey through getting a card, learning what to buy, and my experience in the dispensary.  The gammaCore has still not arrived.  The doctor’s office dropped the ball when ordering it, then they didn’t put in the request for the free trial for the first month.  (they did change offices this month, and my doctor is new and has been the only doctor in the group to prescribe the gammaCore, all of those factors led to the good up)  The gammaCore company called Stuart last week and told him that it should be no problem getting it approved by my insurance.  If that is the case, why haven’t I received it yet?  I sure could have used it this past month, the cluster headaches have been killer (literally, if I thought I had to live in that kind of pain all the time, I’d kill myself.  Cluster headaches are called Suicide Headaches, because of that very reason, people will kill themselves to get relief.  I start Botox in about a month; I was supposed to start on Thursday, but that was my original surgery date so we cancelled it.   The monsoons are causing a lot of severe barometric changes almost daily, I’m sure this has been one of the reasons my migraines have been so bad, so hopefully they will get much better in a month of so, when the monsoons are over.

 

It’s late and I have a headache, so this post was not even read over to check for errors, please forgive any typos, grammar errors, or other atrocities.

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness Monday – Storm

20180727_213411

Monsoons 2018, by W. Holcombe. all rights reserved

 

“You can’t calm the storm,

so stop trying.

What you can do is

calm yourself.

The storm will pass.”

~ Timber Hawkeye

 

“You will not be

the same after the

storms of life;

You will be stronger,

wiser and more alive

than ever before!”

~ Bryant McGill

 

“The great benefit of

practicing mindfulness…

is the presence of mind

within a storm

 of emotions.”

~ Phillip Moffitt

 

*photo was taken in Tucson, AZ , off my front porch, during monsoon season 2018.  It’s am amazing time, I wish I could get better pictures for you.  The monsoons are full of beauty and power, but…another of it’s secret powers is to cause super duper migraines.  Ahh.  Please do not use this image without permission.

 

 

Mini Update … I tried

I know you can normally find Mindfulness Monday here each week, I tried, but I haven’t been able to write much and I thought I’d explain why.  (it has taken me many days to write this post, so bare with me…mmmkay?)

You may recall that I had 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.  (you can see pictures from the first injection here)  I had the second shot on my birthday (July 2nd) my wrist felt better the first day after the injection, but by the second day I was back to the original symptoms and by the 3rd day it was actually worse.   When I went in for the second injection he gave me the option of having surgery or trying the injection again, he told me that if it didn’t work to just call and schedule the surgery I didn’t even need to come in again.  So I chose to try the injection again, to say those injections are not pleasant is a huge understatement, but I was really hoping to avoid surgery.  After a week, when it was evident that the shot didn’t work, we called to set up the surgery and were told that it was too soon after the injection, I have to wait 4-6 weeks.  I was not a happy person.  I have a lot of limitations because of this issues; I can’t write or draw, I have extreme difficulty brushing my hair, typing, cooking, picking things up with my right hand, swimming…I’ve wearing a brace that holds my wrist and thumb stable, if I don’t wear the brace, I can’t do much at all…unfortunately the brace has started to cause issues on it’s own, 20180717_113113

so I have to stop wearing it.  The good news is that the surgery is almost always successful, and it’s very minimally invasive, in fact they often do it with local anesthesia.  (I will admit I’m a bit intimidated by that, I don’t want to see them cut on my arm…ewww, but I also hate going under general anesthesia, so we’ll see)   I was having a hard time accepting that fact that they were making me wait for the surgery, honestly I was pretty pissed; then I remembered that the way to happiness is acceptance.  I decided to look at the whole situation differently.  It’s only a few weeks difference, they aren’t saying I have to be stuck like this forever.  I stated taking extra supplements that are supposed to help with joint and inflammation issues, hopefully this will reduce the swelling and some pain.  (if you’re interested I’m taking extra turmeric, collagen, glucosamine..I think that’s all)  Even though I’ll still need surgery, if the swelling is down, it should help with recovery.  Accepting this situation made life a bit happier.

On another note, I’m having increased migraines, often with migraine associated vertigo, and cluster headaches.  When we first got here my head actually felt better, but that didn’t last long.  Bright lights are a big trigger for me and it’s really bright here, more than that, now it’s monsoon season so the barometric pressure has been all over the place with crazy storms almost every day, my head is definitely feeling it. 20180716_172608

I’m also having a lot more cluster headaches and I don’t have anything to help them.  I saw a new headache specialist about 3 weeks ago, I wrote about it here.  I felt optimistic after that visit, but I haven’t received the gammaCore that he prescribed, it was supposed to arrive in about 5 days.  We called to find out the status and no one called back, so we called again, and still no call back.  I know that the office was moving but that doesn’t excuse them from paying attention  to their patients.  **Update**  They called late yesterday and it seems that the doctor didn’t have us fill out a form that he should have, so it delayed everything.  The nurse who called said she’s fill it all out and we could sign it the next time we are there, so the gammaCore is now on it’s way!  I should receive it by the end of the week!  Thank goodness.  (the gammaCore treats both cluster headaches and migraines!  again, Thank Goodness!!

So that’s what’s been keeping me away….along with other stress, but that’s for a different day when I can actually type without being in intense pain.  Hunting and pecking with my left hand is not fun.  🙂

“Accept – then act.

Whatever the present moment contains,

Accept it as if you had chosen it.

Always work with it,

Not against it….

This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

 

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)

 

Mindfulness Monday – Birth(day)

silly goose

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.  😉