Mindfulness Monday – Eating

fruits and veggies

“Food reveals our connection with the earth.
Each bite contains the life of the sun and the earth…..
We can see and taste the whole universe in a piece of bread!
Contemplating our food for a few seconds before eating,
and eating in mindfulness,
can bring us to much happiness.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“Mindful eating is about awareness.
When you eat mindfully,
you slow down,
pay attention to the food you’re eating,
and savor every bite.”

~ Susan Albers

 

“Mindful eating is a way
to become reacquainted
with the guidance of
our internal nutritionist.”

~ Jan Chozen Bays

 

** be sure to check out my upcoming post on Mindful Eating.  I’m working on it and hope it will be out in a couple of days.

 

*photo taken by W. Holcombe, please do not copy without permission.

 

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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

Christmas My Way – Redux

I posted this last year and I just read it again.  It made me happy.  I hope it makes you happy too.  This year, it’s Christmas my way again.

christmas-treeWhen I was 30 Christmases as I had known them changed forever.  That was the year my mother died.  Everything changed that year.  When the matriarch of the family dies the traditions die with her.  We tried to keep things alive, we had Christmas at my sister’s house as she had the only grandchild, things weren’t the same, but they were still nice.

Then there was a falling out between me and my niece.  Well not a falling out really, she got mad at me and refuses to be in my presence.  There isn’t much I can do, not that I haven’t tried, I have.  I could speculate all day what has happened between the two of us, but at this point it doesn’t make much difference.  This has however, ruined many relationships for me in my family.  Family Christmases became a thing of the past.

After Stuart and I became a family we started having Christmas celebrations with friends, as Stuart’s family lives a long way away and they don’t do much for the holiday anyway, again they are without the matriarch.  We normally celebrated Christmas day alone, just us, but leading up to that time, we went to parties and had people over to our home to celebrate.  It was a joyous time.  Then I got sick, and things changed.  We no longer got invited to parties.  I no longer felt that I could throw a party.  Then we moved so there is no likelihood of rekindling that time.  Truthfully, we’ve all changed so much, I don’t think there could be any rekindling even if we do move back to our old city, or if I miraculously got better.  Let’s be honest, my old friends really are just that, old friends.  They aren’t a part of my current life.

The last few years I’ve tried to be okay with the holiday.  But truth be told, I’ve been very depressed.  Depression runs rampant during this time of year and I was not immune.  I tried hard not to feel bad that I wasn’t surrounded by people.  I’ve had the one person near me who means the most to me, why should I be depressed?  Because Christmas is a time for friends and family.  A time for gatherings.  It was the two of us, yet I felt lonely.  And I felt guilty that I didn’t feel that it was enough.  I was depressed and felt guilty for being depressed.

Over the past few years I haven’t cared about decorations, we had no tree.  Why hassle with it?  No one would see it.  No one would care.  We’d have a little celebration.  We’d try, but it all seemed like we were just going through the motions.  Christmas is for groups of people, not just the two of us, and we didn’t have a family.

christams-decor

a little decorations making the holiday our own

This year has changed.  No we still don’t have a family, and we aren’t celebrating with any friends.  (We still don’t have any locally)  I changed.  I realized that Christmas really isn’t about family and friends.  It’s all about how you feel inside.  It’s not about giving the biggest gift it’s about giving to those in need.  It’s not about being with a bunch of people it’s about caring for those you are with.  It’s about caring for mankind.

This year I decided to decorate.  I never go all out like some people, that just isn’t me, but we put up a tree, and did a little decorating in the house.  It has made all the difference in our home.  We are in the spirit.  I understood just how much when my loving husband was looking through Amazon and found the National CASA Association Wish List, they provide Toys for Foster Kids, and told me that if I hadn’t purchased his presents yet he wanted the money to go to buying these kids presents.  How special is that?  So we took most of the money we planned to spend on our Christmas presents and bought Toys for Foster Kids.  Realize I did say most, I decided we needed a little gift exchange between the two of us, just a little something.

charlie-brown-puzzle

this is the actual puzzle we put together

We also have other traditions we are going to make sure we revitalize.  We always watch, It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.  This has been a long standing tradition.  This year we are bringing back putting together the Charlie Brown Christmas puzzle, and our LEGO Christmas Train.  The train will be put together this weekend.  The puzzle goes together on Christmas day.  I don’t have a lot of traditions.  We cook a few little things as the time goes on, and health permits.  We’ve made some cookies so far, we’ll make spiced nuts to give to our neighbors, we’ll make a special breakfast on Christmas day….  The point is we are making this Holiday season ours.   And if at any time I can’t do something because I don’t feel like it we can postpone until later, or just decide not to do it.  All is good during our holiday celebration.

How can you make the season less depressing and more your own?  Remember that it really isn’t about family and friends, it’s about love and giving.  Love everyone and give to those in need.  Honor simple traditions that make you happy, we watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  Make new traditions, like putting together a themed puzzle on Christmas day.  Put up decorations if you want.  If you aren’t able to put up everything you want to, then either ask for help, or try to pick out your favorite decorations and put those out.  We have a small tree, and not all my ornaments fit, so I sit my favorites around as decorations.  The point is to make the holiday your holiday now.  Don’t try to make it what it was when you were well, or what it was when you were growing up, or any dream holiday you have been trying to live up to.  Make this holiday something special, on your own terms.

Sometimes no matter how much we try to make the holiday a pleasant thing for us, it just doesn’t work, depression takes over.  For those who get depressed during this time of year, remember that you are not alone.  If you need to reach out, please do so, there are numbers at the end of this post if you are in need.  If you need a friend to talk to please feel free to contact me.

  • U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255  If you are having thoughts of suicide, call this number immediately.
  • Kristin Brooks Hope Center Hopeline: 1-800-784-2433  This hotline can help you cope with a range of depressive feelings.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1)  Responders understand the unique experiences of veterans.
  • United Way Helpline: 1-800-233-4357  They can aid you in locating a therapist, healthcare or basic necessities such as housing and food by directing you to local services.

Mindfulness Monday – Giving

stack color2

“Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.”

~ Lao Tzu

 

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.
When mindfulness embraces those we love,
they will bloom like flowers.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

*artwork created and owned by W. Holcombe, please do not use without permission.

Mindfulness Monday – Creativity

 

leaves 2

“Creativity is the way
I share my soul with the world.”

~ Brene Brown

 

“Creativity is
intelligence having FUN!”

~ Albert Einstein

 

“In short,
a calm mind is
a creative mind.”

~ Russell Simmons

 

I’d like to thank my dear friend, Lorraine, from Lorraine’s Frilly Freudian Slip, for taking the reigns last Monday and posting some great quotes for me, and on her birthday no less!  You are a true friend.  Happy birthday, a little late.

 

*artwork created on the Bamboo graphics pad  by W. Holcombe.  Please do not use or reproduce without permission.

It takes how long?

When you have a chronic illness chances are it’s an invisible illness, others have no idea what you have to do to get through the day.  With my illnesses some days I look sick, some days I can’t get out of the chair and you can tell, I’m sick.  Other days I can get it all together and don’t look sick at all.  It’s those days that confuse people.

I’ve learned that it takes me longer to do things than it does the average human.  There are many days that I can’t accomplish anything, but let’s not talk about those days.  I want to talk to you about the days I am able to do a few things.  The days I appear normal.

Yesterday I started to do the dishes.  The dishwasher needed to be emptied, and there were dirties that needed to go in.  For a normal person this would just take a few minutes.  I started to unload the dishwasher, I got the top unloaded and put away, then I had to rest.  I came back after a bit and started on the bottom, I put away the silverware, and needed a rest.  After about 30 minutes I went back and finished up putting away the rest of the dishes, and started loading up the dishwasher.  While loading it up I took 2 breaks.  Therefore, at the end of this it took me over 3 hours to unload and load the dishwasher.  At this point all I could do was make myself a cup of tea.  This was the end of my ability to do chores for the day.  No one would think that doing the dishes took 3 hours out of my day.  I must say that I’m okay with this.  I’m grateful I can do the dishes at all.  I only wish I could do them every day.

Last week I had an hour to take a bath before a TV show came on that I wanted to see, I thought that would be plenty of time.  Boy was I wrong.  I need to have help getting in and out of the tub because of my balance, that takes a little bit of time, but not much.  I started to take a bath as normal, a little rushed because I wanted to make sure and get out in time, but just a normal bath, then I got dizzy.  Very dizzy.  Try getting a soaking wet 135 lb woman out of the tub when she’s very dizzy, it’s just not that easy, but it’s something that happens a lot around here.  (the reason I am dirty a lot of the time 😉  Getting me in the tub, taking a bath, and getting me out of the tub, took over 2 hours.  Luckily I did have the DVR set for my show.  I know that getting dizzy in the tub is a fairly regular occurrence so I should never put a time limit on it.  But how many people do you know that can’t get a bath done in an hour?

20171028_182659

I don’t look sick.  Taken at a wedding, July 2017

Then there are days when I seem to be able to go non-stop.  Recently I had a weekend like that.  We went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  On the day of the wedding, I had my hair done, then I rested a little bit, then we had the wedding at 3pm.  The wedding didn’t actually get under way until about 4pm.  Luckily, I was just sitting talking with people.  After the wedding, we had the reception to attend.  On the walk over, I had a mini vertigo attack, because of my vertigo we didn’t intend to stay long and we had planned to have dinner with my sister and her husband.  Then I started seeing people I have known for over 40 years, and adrenaline took over, about 2 hours later, we were finally leaving  (know that all I did was sit and talk with people).  We went back to our hotel, changed and were off to dinner.  We were finally back to our hotel around 9pm.  I was going full out, all day long.  Boy was I beyond tired.  Not only was I exhausted from the simple physical exertion of it all, and the mini vertigo attack I had at the church, I was completely off kilter from trying so hard to hear all day.  (I did find out that my lip reading skills have improved dramatically.)  Of course, I couldn’t sleep due to painsomnia (insomnia due to pain).  There was only 1 station on the TV that would show captions (yeah, what was up with that?) so I was stuck for hours, watching something dumb, I can’t even remember what it was.  This trip was very enjoyable, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but boy did it take a lot out of me.  It took a week or more to recover fully.  For a “normal” person they could have made the trip in one day.  It’s about a 3 hour ride (I can’t drive).  We could have gone down for the wedding and come back that night, if I were a “normal” person.  Instead we went down Friday night, so I would be well rested for Saturday, and we stayed until Sunday so I could recover as much as possible before the ride home.  I had a lot of support for this trip or I never would have been able to make it.  My neurologist (headache specialist) sent me home with a series of shots to be given over the weekend to help with migraines and cluster headaches, both of which have increased dramatically recently.   The specialist I’ve been seeing for my back called in extra meds for me for the weekend.  If these two doctors had not increased my treatment for the weekend, I would never have been able to go and enjoy myself.  I will be forever grateful.  While there my sister took me to have my hair done, she made sure I could understood everything, even though I couldn’t hear in the salon.  She then came back to our hotel and ironed hubby’s shirt.  Without this help, I don’t know if I could have made it.

To summarize: We don’t always look at bad as we feel, we often need to rest more often than what is considered “normal”, sometimes we have to have a lot of support to do things that “normal” people do without thought….and that’s okay.   We normally appreciate things much more than “normal” people.  We care deeply.  We can still live a full life, it’s just different than a “normal’s” life.  and that’s more than okay.