Mindfulness Monday – Pain

water scene

painting by W. Holcombe 

“Pain can change you,

but that doesn’t mean

it has to be a bad change.

Take that pain and

turn it into wisdom.

~Dalai Lama

“To diminish the suffering of pain,

We need to make a crucial distinction

Between pain of pain,

And the pain we create

By our thoughts about the pain.

Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness and helplessness

Are all mental and emotional responses

That can intensify pain.”

~Howard Cutler

“Pain is not wrong.

reacting to pain as wrong initiates

the trance of unworthiness.

The moment we believe something is wrong,

our world shrinks and

we lose ourselves in the effort

to combat the pain.”

~Tara Brach

 

 

*painting by W. Holcombe.  All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission.

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Mindfulness Monday – Beauty

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“In every bend of time

there is some surprise,

joy and beauty.

Mindfulness is the

light to discover it.”

~ Amit Ray

 

“Beauty surrounds us.”

~ Rumi

 

“Because of your smile,

you make life more beautiful.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“Everything has beauty,

but not everyone sees it.”

~ Confucius

 

* As I was walking into the doctor’s office, I saw this flower; it was all alone in the middle of a parking lot, sharing it’s beauty.  I had to share it with you.

photo by Wendy Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.

Mindfulness Monday – Self Love

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“Maybe the reason nothing seems to be ‘fixing you’
is because you’re not broken.
Let today be the day you
stop living within the confines
of how others define or judge you.
You have a unique beauty and purpose;
live accordingly.”

~ Steve Maraboli

“Be nice to yourself.
It’s hard to be happy when someone
is mean to you all the time.”

~ Christine Arylo

“View your life with kindsight.
Stop beating yourself up
about things from your past.
Instead of slapping your forehead and asking,
‘What was I thinking,’
breathe and ask yourself the kinder question,
‘What was I learning?'”

~ Karen Salmnsohn

Always remember, you are doing the best you can; be gentle with yourself.

**self portrait by W. Holcombe. Please do not use without permission.

 

 

 

Do you feel inspired?

inspire

We all see them, the chronically ill who are living amazing lives, even doing things above and beyond what most “normals” do.  They don’t let their illnesses stop them.  They thrive despite their illness.  These people are supposed to be an inspiration.  We are to be amazed and we’re supposed to look at them and realize, “Hey, if they can do it so can I.”  (does that really work?)

There always seems to be a celebrity who has the same disease you do.  As a spokesperson for our illness they are supposed to be an inspiration, after all, if they can do it, why can’t I?

Do they really inspire you?  Does it give you hope?  Or does it make you feel inadequate?  Does it make you feel bad because you haven’t been able to do what “normals” would define as remarkable things in spite of our illness.

For me, it’s often the later.  I feel inadequate because I simply cannot do the things I used to, let alone do extraordinary things that I’ve never even thought of doing.

It concerns me that people will compare me to those “inspiring” people and think that I’m exaggerating the severity of my symptoms.  I’ve had well-intentioned friends and family members send me articles about someone who has Meniere’s Disease and how they are are either living amazing lives despite Meniere’s, or they were “cured”.  This happened a lot when Dana White (president of the United Fighting Championship), underwent a treatment for his Meniere’s and it was a “miracle cure”.  What they don’t realize is that there is more than one cause of Meniere’s, so his treatment may do nothing for me; he has Meniere’s in one ear, I have it in both.  They also seem to ignore the fact that he had to go to Germany to have this procedure done….ummm, who’s going to pay for this?  Not my insurance that’s for sure.  and just how safe is it?  After they send these messages, I wonder, do they think I’m not doing everything I can?

When we hear that someone is an inspiration, it is supposed to be a positive thing, but inspiration can be negative.  You can inspire people to do bad things.  Look at Charles Manson or Adolf Hitler, for example, they inspired people to do all kinds of horrible things.  They were very inspirational, just not like we have been conditioned to think of the word.

The people who inspire me to try harder, to live more fully, to embrace life, and simply care more are the amazing people I meet who have chronic illnesses and can still love their life, with all it’s limitations.  I’m amazed by the people who undergo many painful medical procedures and still greet each day with love.  I’m positively inspired by those who are able to push through and do the everyday things, even when life is just so hard. The people who show compassion and support to others despite the fact that they get so little themselves, these are some of the people who inspire me to be the best me I can.

I’m not saying that famous people can’t be a positive inspiration, I’m simply saying that is not always the case.  When I see a list of famous people who suffer from vertigo, it doesn’t inspire me to do anything.  I feel compassion for them, and I often wonder exactly how much they battle with their illness behind the scenes.  What are we not seeing?  The phrase, “but you don’t look sick”, sure hits home when we see someone like the beautiful Selena Gomez, who has Lupus.

Then I hear things like, “Nicolas Cage suffers from vertigo all the time”.  Ummm, really?  All-the-time?  I could believe he has disequilibrium all the time, but full blown vertigo, no way.  I simply do not believe it.  If he has vertigo all the time and can function as well as he does, that would be a miracle.  I can believe that he may have recurring vertigo, but not constantly.  I’m pretty sure I’d kill myself if I had full blown vertigo all the time.

 

Who inspires you to be the best you can be?

Do you get positively inspired by famous people who have your illness?

Does it make you feel inadequate when you hear that someone who has the same illness that you have has done something like run marathons, or started a successful business, or has won the “Golden Buzzer” award on America’s Got Talent, like Mandy Harvey did, who is deaf?

Am I the only one who is rarely “inspired” by these stories?

 

*image is a screen shot from Dictionary.com

 

A Weekend Getaway

Tuesday was my husband’s 50th birthday, and as I write this he is sitting on the floor putting together a Lego helicopter, he is so cool.

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Kiki thought she would help.

Early last week I realized that this was his 50th birthday!  Oh my goodness!  I hadn’t planned anything really.  Yes, I got him the Legos, and I planned to make him dinner, but that wasn’t enough for this milestone.  I was determined to do something special.  I was on a mission.

This mission was impeded by the fact that I can’t talk on the phone or drive.  Hmm, so what could I do?   What did I do?

First I decided I wanted to take him away, not far, just away from our house.  I wanted to spoil him, so I started looking for a hotel that also provided massages.  First I did a lot of looking on line and I even did a live chat with one representative, but the chat suddenly stopped, the hotel had to be called.  What to do?  At this point I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to follow through on my desire to spoil my husband.  Ah, but I have a friend who I chat with via Messenger almost every day, I asked if by chance she had the time to call the hotel for me, and she did!  She called and stayed on Messenger with me so she could ask me questions.  It worked out great!  It was obvious from the start that the staff at this hotel were incredible, not only was the girl at the front desk helpful, she actually went out of her way and went to the restaurant kitchen to see if they could accommodate my food requirements.  She was not asked to do this, my friend only asked if there was a gluten free menu available, she took it upon herself to try to make sure we would enjoy our stay.  She helped us book a Spa Indulgence weekend.  The girl at the spa was also amazing.  She helped us set up massages for both me and Stuart at the same time.  I wanted a special type of massage, Lomi Lomi, and she made sure I could get it.  (there is only one massage therapist who does this type of massage)  Again, my friend was amazed by how helpful these women were.  It was a very good experience.

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from inside our hotel

I also wanted to take us a little picnic, that way if we had the munchies during the night,  we didn’t have to go forage for food (or spend outrageous amounts on room-service).  Really, I just thought it would be romantic.  Again, an obstacle was in the way, I can’t drive.  How would I get the food for the picnic without Stuart’s help?  I didn’t feel comfortable asking my neighbor to take me to the grocery store, so I decided to look into having some groceries delivered.  I had a little difficulty because the first place I tried to order from had to call to get payment information.  I couldn’t give them my credit card information over the phone, since I can’t talk on the phone.  Bummer.  Of course, I didn’t find this out until AFTER I had done all my shopping.  pfft.  So I found another store that offered delivery and was able to place my order and have it delivered while Stuart was at work.  I did have to tell him we were going away for the weekend, but the picnic was a surprise.

I also got our pet sitter set up.  That was another issue I had to sort out.  Our normal pet sitter was going out of town, but she offered to take Kiki with her.  I know that my dog hates to ride in the car, she gets car sick…poor puppy.  So I called Kiki’s trainer (he helped her feel better about people coming in our house, it still bothers her, but she is much better about it)  He said he could take her for the weekend and I thought that would be the answer, until I found out how far it is to his place.  Kiki’s normal sitter’s trip would mean an hour or so in the car, if she stayed at her trainer’s it would have been a 45 min ride.  Hmmm.  Kiki went on a little trip with her normal sitter.  It all worked out, but it was an ordeal.  And I handled it all through texts, without help from Stuart.

Getting ready for this getaway took a lot out of me, but I’m proud that I was able to do all of these things without Stuart’s help.  He does so much for me, doing this for him meant the world to me.  He was pretty happy with it too.  I’m not even sure if he was happier about the trip, or the fact that I spread my wings and found ways to be a little more independent.

While planning this trip I was so worried that we’d get there and I’d start to feel bad and would ruin everything.  Of course, Stuart wouldn’t have thought it was ruined, but I would have.  It would have broken my heart.  As it turned out, I didn’t sleep well on Friday night and Saturday was a bit of a challenge for me.  I was very dizzy all day and simply felt, bad.  Truthfully, I wanted to stay in bed and sleep all day, instead I got up, had a good breakfast with my husband, and went to the fitness center and did all of my PT exercises.  I was hoping exercising would make me feel better, it didn’t.  We had talked about doing something on Saturday, either before or after our massages, which were scheduled for 2pm, that didn’t happen.  We just vegged and spent time together.  Then we had our Spa Experience.  oh my goodness….

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all ready for my massage

When we arrived at the spa we were taken to the dressing rooms and were given plush robes and slippers to wear.  We were given fruit scented water to drink as we waited.  It was so relaxing, I’m relaxing right now just thinking about it.  We were then taken to a darkened room and were given most delectable massages.  It was a dream.  Afterward, we were again given water in wine glasses and settled in to rest a bit before leaving.  There were also snacks and tea available if we desired.  There were these fabulous lotions there and I actually found one that I like.  Most things have way too much of a scent for me, almost everything I have is either unscented or has a lemon scent, this lotion smells like Fresh Melon.  Stuart loves it, and it doesn’t make me wheeze or give me a migraine…score!

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On both nights we had dinner at the restaurant in the hotel.  The first night we had steaks, they were delicious.  I felt that the vegetables had too much oil on them, but they were still tasty.  The second night we both had fish, it wasn’t as good as the steaks, and again I felt like the vegetables had too much oil.  They were both good meals, they just didn’t seem to be on the same caliber as the rest of the hotel.  Except for desert, I had chocolate crème brûlée, it was divine.  I saved some and had it on both nights.  Stuart had a salted caramel cheese cake, it was go good.  A bit too sweet for me, but very good.  Really the crème brûlée was a bit too sweet for me too, but it was oh so good.

There’s more to tell about this trip….but I might keep that to myself.  😉

This week I’ve paid the price for my excursion, but it was worth the pain and the dizzies.  Stuart is worth it.  It was nice to take care of my caregiver.

Sometimes, it’s just worth it.

 

Have you accomplished something that you didn’t think you could?

Do you sometimes think “it’s worth it”, when you know you are doing something that may deplete all your reserves and have you flaring for days?

 

 

A day of trials

 

caring hands

Yesterday was filled with the trials associated with migraines and slow vertigo.

I barely got out of my chair today, and that’s okay.  I spent the day focusing on self care, taking it slow, and not beating myself up because I couldn’t go to PT, or do any of my exercises.  Luckily, hubby worked from home today, so he was here to help me any time I needed to navigate the world around me, like…umm….going to the bathroom.  My walker is great, but it doesn’t make me feel as safe as he does.  (if I really start to fall, the walker just comes with me, hubby holds on tight….I wish everyone had someone like my Stuart in their lives)
How do you handle a day of trials?

 

*image by W. Holcombe, please do not use without permission.

I did this!! A reflective look at 2017

2017 collage

January is the time that people make resolutions to do things differently (better) than the year before.  My theme for this past year was “Just Stop”  (just click here and you can read that post), I will continue to “Just Stop” in 2018 and beyond, but for now I want to look back.

This year, I’ve decided not to make resolutions, sure there are things I want to change, things I plan on doing, things I want to do….The whole Bucket List, you know, however, there is something we often don’t do, we don’t look back and see what we have accomplished.  I think we need to do that more often.

When we get sick we often look back on our “old life” and can’t see how much we’ve accomplished since we got sick.  We keep thinking about how we can’t do what we used to, I see so many people with chronic illnesses doing amazing things every day, but they can’t see it.  They keep looking back at what they used to be….never forget, you are still the same person.  The old self and the new self is the same self.  Let’s put those together and be okay with it.  (yes I know that isn’t easy, even when you feel you have gotten to that point, there will still be times when you think about the “old me” longingly)

So I decided to sit back and look at 2017, and just think about what I accomplished, and I was pretty amazed at what I found.

  • I worked hard and lost 45 pounds.  Cool.
  • I started exercising.  Just little things, but it’s a whole lot more than it used to be and I’m getting stronger so I can do more.
  • I overcame some pretty severe side effects to a medication.
  • I worked with my doctor and found the right medication, I didn’t give up.
  • I survived breaking my foot while alone.  I simply iced it, propped it up and waited until Stuart got home to take me to Urgent Care.  I didn’t panic.  yay.
  • I reached out to the local Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) chapter and I’m meeting new people through it.
  • I participated in the HLAA Walk4Hearing.   How cool is that?  okay, so I wasn’t able to actually “walk” that day, but I raised money and I went out there and showed support.  and I got a t-shirt to prove it!
  • We had visits from 4 groups of out of town guests this year, and I handled it all well.  (that doesn’t mean it wasn’t challenging, but my guests know my limitations and love me anyway, so it was easier)  I haven’t had guest come to my house in a very long time!
  • We went out of town to see the eclipse!  That was so cool; a little mini vacation centered around a most amazing event.  (and I made a new friend there too)
  • I went to an out of town wedding for the daughter of my best friend from the first grade.  I felt beautiful (that isn’t something I’ve been able to say in a long time).  I had a wonderful time, and I saw people I haven’t seen in 40+ years, that’s amazing.  (and now I’m in touch with another grade school friend who is just the sweetest lady, I just love her.)
  • I’ve had less vertigo this year.  Actually, I do have vertigo often, but it doesn’t last long and I’m not completely incapacitated for hours and hours….um..days.  I don’t know how much control I actually had over this, but it’s a huge deal for me.  (I’m actually thinking something I’ve been doing may have helped, but I’m not sure)
  • I made some new online friends, and have gotten closer to some old ones.
  • I went to a Christmas party where I knew no one.  (the HLAA Christmas party)  I arrived right when the party was ending (yes I read the invitation wrong, I thought it started at 7pm but that was the end time!  hahaha)  I still met some awfully nice people. (I knew these people would understand if I couldn’t hear them.  I exchanged many emails with the chapter leader beforehand and she made me feel most welcome and understood my fears)
  • I went to a family Christmas party at my cousin’s house.  I haven’t been to a family holiday gathering in something like 20 years.  I was very nervous, but it went well.  I met some wonderful people who were so supportive of my hearing loss, they even practiced sign language with me, I didn’t feel left out, it was nice; and I look forward to nurturing that friendship.
  • After going to those two parties (and the wedding in October and the Eclipse in August), I realized I can do this!!  I can socialize again.  No, I might not hear everything, I might have to ask people to repeat themselves, to look at me when they talk, and I might have vertigo…..but it really feels good to know I can do this!!  That knowledge is a huge accomplishment.
  • I searched out and found supplements to help with my conditions.  Not a lot, but some that have made a little bit of a difference.  I feel more empowered the more I learn about my conditions and the more I am able to help myself.
  • I have been home alone often and I didn’t die.  Okay that may be a bit melodramatic, but Stuart used to have to work at home almost every day, now he goes into the office.  Some days I do need him to come home to help me, but I do not need him to be physically with me all the time.  awesome.
  • I baked during the holidays!!!!  I haven’t been able to do that in YEARS!  and I love doing it, so this was amazing for me!!
  • I enjoyed the holidays.  I know that’s not much of an accomplishment, but the holidays can be hard, and have been at times very hard.  This year I sang carols for over a month!  I shouted “Merry Christmas”  to a Santa that was waving outside of a store and it was joyous when Stuart told me that “Merry Christmas”  was shouted back.  (I felt like I was in a Christmas movie)
  • Most recently I’ve begun to “paint” using the AutoDesk Sketchbook app, and I’m creating some pretty nice pet portraits.  I’m pretty happy about that.
  • I started Loom Knitting this year!  I’ve made a number of blankets, scarves, and the coolest pair of socks ever!
  • one more – I only had 2 or 3 (I think) seizures this year.  (if you don’t know about me and seizures you can read about it here: Psychogenic Seizures…)  How cool is that?  Yep, therapy works when you work hard.

Now, I challenge you to sit back, take a relaxing breath, and think back over the year and only think about things you have accomplished (or some wonderful things that happened).  There were a lot of things that went wrong this year (like the awful medication side effects, and watching our country fall apart….)  but it really doesn’t do me any good to think about that stuff.  Look at all the things I did!!  That is worth a reflective look at 2017.

(about the photo above: From left to right starting with the top left:
Me and Kim, me and Lisa, Walk4Hearing t-shirt
Baked Christmas Goodies, silly Christmas light necklace, me in Santa hat
Stuart modeling the cool socks I made, a portrait of Max, Me at the wedding)

I’m on Instagram now!  (Not as Picnic with Ants, just as me)  If you’d like to check it out, I’m wendy.holcombe