Mindfulness Monday – Joy

pumpkin blossom big

“Learning to live in the present moment
is part of the path of joy.”

~ Sarah Ben Breathnach

 

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes you smile can be
the source of your joy.”

~ Thich Nhat Hahn

 

“Ultimately our greatest joy
is when we seek to do good for
others.”

~ Desmond Tutu

 

 

*photo of pumpkin blossom taken by W. Holcombe.  all rights reserved

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Mindfulness Monday – Pema Chödrön

nature-lady-color-cropped

 

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us,
we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit
and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”

― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

 

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”

― Pema Chödrön

Gratitudes 3 – A Pretty Darn Good Week!

by w. holcombe

by w. holcombe

Things haven’t been perfect this week.  I did have a night filled with cluster headaches.  But I got through it, and since then I’ve been feeling, well, pretty darn good.  Until I got this little virus, but I already wrote about that, and I’m grateful that it will run it’s course and I’ll be done with it!  Plus I’m very Grateful that it really hasn’t been that bad, a couple of icky days, but that’s about it.

I am so very GRATEFUL that I found something that is helping me with my tummy issues!  I found a book that addresses the food issues that I have, but I plan to write a whole post about this, it’s so exciting! And I think it could help others with dietary issues.

I am GRATEFUL:

  • that I have a new psychiatrist!  She is so professional.  I’ve only seen her once, but she took a very detailed patient history, discussed all my medications in detail, discussed my concerns, and our future plans.  I was very impressed.  After the last fiasco with my previous doctor, it is such a relief to find a doctor who is not only professional but enjoys her job.
  • that I have been on more regular sleep schedule.  This is something I haven’t had for a very long time.
  • I am waking up with more energy.  Of course, this is probably because I am on a more regular sleep schedule, but it sure is nice.
  • I’ve been able to go down stairs every day this week. Most people probably don’t know just how disabled I have been, but tackling the stairs have been a huge task for a long time.  Most weeks I’ve been lucky if I’ve made it downstairs one or two days.  So making it down stairs every day for a week, that is a great accomplishment!
  • I have gotten out of the house many times this week!  Not only have I made it downstairs every day, but many days I’ve gone out.  I went to the grocery store….a HUGE accomplishment!  I went for a ride with the top off of the car!  I went to the Thrift store and got a new pair of pants.  I went and looked at glasses.  (I have an eye doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and will need new glasses.)  I even went out to eat, this is hard because of all the noise.  I’m also proud I went out to eat and stayed true to my diet, I didn’t eat anything that would make my tummy unhappy.
  • yoga pose 1yoga pose 2I exercised a little this week….a very, very little…but I did something!  Not only did I do a lot more in general, and you can call that a lot more exercise…I know my body is!  I did a few yoga poses almost every morning.  Just a few.  I’m trying to learn to balance more with my eyes instead of relying on my ears so much.  So I’m doing some of the standing yoga poses while focusing on a focal point.  Maybe it will help.   By going out an doing more I’m also working on increasing my stamina.
  • I didn’t let a virus ruin my week.  I was having a really great week, then I caught a virus and suddenly I felt crappy.  I thought, am I going to start feeling really bad again?  Then I caught myself….Stop thinking like that.  I can’t predict the future.  And what has been happening has been great, but it doesn’t mean it will continue.  I  will live in this moment.  and I’ll enjoy it.  If it’s a bad moment, I know it’s a moment.  It’s my moment.  And it’s OK.  (A note to Laurie at HibernationNow….Yes, I did over do it…You were right!  so I’m very tired today…but it was worth it, yesterday I had a a very fun day!)
  • I realized that even having a virus I still don’t feel as bad as I have felt.  No I don’t want to live in the past, but it was a bit of an eye opener when I realized I was lying here sick and I didn’t feel as bad as I have for a lot of the time this past year….heck the past couple of years.
  • My head hasn’t hurt much at all!  As I mentioned above, I had a night of cluster headaches, but since then….my head has been so good to me.  There’s a couple of reasons I think this may be, but I’m just grateful that it has happened!  I’m sure I’ll have headaches in the future, but to have the relief I feel now….so GRATEFUL.
  • I made my lunch today all by myself.  I cut up my own chicken today, and warmed up my own lunch.  Because of my balance issues and sudden vertigo I haven’t trusted myself to use a knife in a long time, at least without supervision.  Today I made my lunch with Stuart upstairs.
  • To hear my husband say, “It’s so nice to be able to do things with you.”   Remembering to be in this moment…..

GRATITUDES – 2

photo to share 2This week is not a full as last week, but I still have many GRATITUDES.

After weeks of waking up every night a 4am with a very severe pain in my head and neck last night I slept with a soft cervical collar on, it helped.  I still woke up in pain, but I got a lot more sleep, and when I woke up the pain was much less severe.  However, I did snore all night, and the collar does take some getting use to.  But I am so VERY GRATEFUL for a soft cervical collar, and more sleep!

Me with cervical collar

Me with cervical collar

I’m grateful that I was able to make it out to TWO appointments this week two days in a row!  First to the Pain Clinic and next to the Neuro-Opthomologist.  That is a big accomplishment.  I didn’t really think about it, I just knew I had to do it, but Stuart pointed out how proud he was of me.  I don’t think of it as being proud of me, I get upset when I can’t do it, but I need to realize, this is wonderful!  When we started to leave for the neuro-opthomologist appointment I felt like I was starting to have vertigo, but I couldn’t cancel this appointment, it took me over 3 months to get in to see this doctor!  I was scared, but I took some medication, turned the air conditioner on me full blast, and made a go for it.  It was a grueling day, filled with hours of tests.  I’m grateful that everything turned out fine.  No problems with my eyesight, except that I need new glasses!  

I’m grateful that the bunnies have grown up enough to leave the nest.  We are officially empty nesters!  Stuart was a little sad.  The first night he was very worried, he kept saying, “I hope they are alright.”  Such a sweet foster bunny dad.

bunny

I’m grateful for my friends.  I’ve lost many along the way over the past few years, things happen, life moves on.  The friends who are still active in my life are the kind you have for a life time.  My new friends are so precious, I hope you know how much you mean to me.  My dear friends, I am so very grateful for each and every one of you.

I’m grateful for books.  For the library, for my Kindle, for any way that I can get free books that I actually want to read!  Recently I’ve been reading a lot more about my gut issues.  I’m grateful that I think I found a book that is going to help me with my restrictive diet dealing with my fructose malabsorption.  I’m reading about ways to handle chronic pain using Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, I think this could also help me during a vertigo attack.  I already use some of these techniques, and it does help quite a bit.  I’m reading a lot about Buddhism, all about the different types and how they are different from one another.  I’m reading about minimalism, trying to reduce things in my life.  I’m reading about art and photography.  I’m reading a mystery, some science fiction…..  I read to relax, and I read to learn.   I just love to read.

I’m grateful for this silly goat someone shared with me today that made me laugh and laugh….Stuart laughed at me blabbing with this goat.  Blab, Blabb, Blablbelble….   I think he really laughed because I couldn’t hear myself and I was just going on and on blable, bable….hahaha

Derpy Goat

So my friends these are some of the things I’m grateful for this week.

Share with me, what are some of the things you are grateful for????

Me and my blog…..it just is.

hearts gray scale

w. holcombe’s heART

After more thought, and feeling much love, I realized hearing the “criticisms” about my blog, and/or me, hit home because I was feeling critical about myself.  I don’t think of myself as a negative person, but I was feeling it, and didn’t even realize it.  My life has changed drastically over the last 4 or 5 years, and the one thing I felt I held on to was my ability to see the best of the situation.  I never asked “Why me?”  I said, “Why not me?”  This is very important to me.  This is a part of my very essence.   I was afraid I was losing me.

Let’s face it, the past couple of years have been very challenging for this household.  Yes, we’ve met these challenges head on, but they just kept coming…..and coming…and coming……..often the solutions have not been as easily forthcoming.

It has been wearing me down.  Much more than I realized.  Not one to dwell on things, I normally allow myself to feel the emotions that go along with a challenge then I make a plan, and deal with it.  “How do I handle this?”  “What can I do?”  “What’s the best way….????”   Unfortunately, many of the challenges I’ve had to face recently have been completely out of my control, or the resolution is not easily obtained.

  • My husband lost his job…..what can I do?  I asked myself that often.  I felt guilty that I couldn’t work.  I tried to get disability and was denied.  (yes I’m appealing, but it’s taking a long time.) Totally, out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • Sandy died.  My best friend.  My constant companion.  I felt lost.  In many ways I still do. I felt guilty.  I felt I let her down.  I know that’s not the case.  The grief has taken a lot out of me.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • I’ve had added health issues.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • My health issues have gotten worse.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • My father was diagnosed with cancer.  Out of my control.
  • ect…ect…ect…….

Yep, I was having a hard time being me.  I’d look in the mirror and think, where are you?  I know you are in there somewhere….come out!   I was ready to hide.  After everything, I felt broken.  And I could not admit that, not even to myself.

I talked on here about my fears, my pain, everything.  I’ve been honest.  However, inside I could not wrap my head around the fact that I was really and truly scared that things would never get better.  No matter how many times I might have said it, and wanted to believe things would get better, the fact that they may not was driving me crazy.  The thought that things would not get any better…..that was just not acceptable.

Then I realized, I’m looking at this all wrong!  I’m thinking too much in the future.  I don’t know what the future may hold.  I have been freaking out over what has been happening, and I have been building up these stories in my mind about how my future might unfold.  These stories have not been great.  This is not a healthy way of thinking!   I cannot live in the future, no more than I can live in the past.  The only place I can live is in the present.  Yes, that sounds very Zen.  Yes, I’ve been reading a lot about this, but it makes sense.  If I’m constantly thinking about what tomorrow might bring, good or bad, I’m going to miss out on today.  That doesn’t mean I can’t make plans, but it does mean I’m not a slave to them and I’m not going to get all bent out of shape if something happens to change them.  It also means I’m not constantly looking back thinking, “I just want my old life back.”  that’s not going to happen, I’ve known that for a long time.  Focusing on the present gives me the opportunity to enjoy my life as it is, without disappointment about dreams that didn’t happen, or romanticizing about a past that I can’t have anymore.

In short, my outlook is changing.   Luckily, so are things around me.  Would my outlook be changing if things were continuing to be spiraling downward?  Yes, I think it would.  I think it has been, I just haven’t been writing about it here as much as I probably should have been.  It’s a work in progress, or to put it more correctly, I’m a work in progress.  I always will be.  So will this blog.

I want to share with my readers, my friends, this side of me.  It is time to share more of the side that is brave, positive, compassionate, and thankful!

Yes, I will continue to come here and speak open and honestly about everything – all of it!  I can’t help it, it’s who I am.  If you would have suggested that I close the blog, I would have turned it private and continued to write, just for me.  This stuff has to come out somewhere!  However, I want you to see how I am handling the rough patches,  how grateful I am for all the little things in my life, and how much I really do enjoy my life….”ants” and all.   But there will be times when I don’t handle things well, and you will continue to hear about that too.  It’s all part of living with chronic illnesses!

I’ve decided to challenge myself a bit.  Each week I plan to write a post called Attitude of Gratitude.  These posts will include things I’m grateful for that week.  These posts may include pictures, drawings, stories, words…..or some times it may just be one word….who knows.   I want to make sure I never let a week go by that I don’t think about things for which I’m grateful.  I try to do this every day, but we all know some days we just get a bit overwhelmed.

You are welcome to join me in this challenge.  We can make it an official challenge if people are interested.   I’m going to do it, for me, and hopefully to inspire others with chronic illnesses to look around and notice the little things that they can still be grateful for.

Thank you all for taking my Poll!  It was an overwhelming landslide that I should continue to write as I do.   I promise I will continue to write as open and honest as always.  I will continue to show the bad and the ugly sides of my illnesses, but I want to even it out and show the more positive sides too.  Yes, there really are some!

I’m so very grateful to have such wonderful friends!  (many who I have never met in person)

The comments and emails I received after my last post amazed me!  Thank you all so very much!

I’m Perfect.

by w. holcombe

by w. holcombe

 

“Life is simple.

Everything happens for you, not to you.

Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.

You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.”

― Byron Katie

 

 

“On a deeper level you are already complete.  

When you realize that, there is joyous energy behind what you do.” 

— Eckhart Tolle

“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle – See more at: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-i-know-theres-nothing-wrong-with-you-or-me/#sthash.nD2LjiuD.dpuf
“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle – See more at: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-i-know-theres-nothing-wrong-with-you-or-me/#sthash.nD2LjiuD.dpuf
“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle – See more at: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-i-know-theres-nothing-wrong-with-you-or-me/#sthash.nD2LjiuD.dpuf
“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle – See more at: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-i-know-theres-nothing-wrong-with-you-or-me/#sthash.nD2LjiuD.dpuf
“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle – See more at: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-i-know-theres-nothing-wrong-with-you-or-me/#sthash.nD2LjiuD.dpuf

Inspiration

I’m feeling better, at least emotionally, than I did during the last few posts.  Thanks to all for putting up with me, and showing me such great compassion.

(I have been in touch with my GYN to see about going back on the pill to see if it will help…we’ll see.)

Now, on to Inspiration.

I saw this beautiful poster on someone’s blog…sorry I can’t remember where.  So I wrote to the University of New Hampshire to see if they would mind of I printed it here.  They were so nice, and gave me their consent.

Disability is an Art

The University of New Hampshire has an Institute on Disability, this poster comes from there.  They have a lot of great resources, especially if you life in New Hampshire, but even if you don’t, it’s a good place to check out.

The quote by Neil Marcus touched me,

‘Disability is not a “Brave Struggle” or “Courage in the Face of Adversity”.  Disability is an Art.  It’s an ingenious way to live.’

How many of us feel this way?

How many times have you been told how brave you are?  How much courage you have?  Do we have a choice?

But the part that really touched me was “Disability is an Art”  –  Who would ever think that?  “It’s an ingenious way to live.”  Wow! what a statement!

Take the time to really think about that.  We are disabled, we are art.  We have an ingenious way to live.

How many people, including ourselves some times, pity us?  Think that we can’t live a fulfilled life?  This simply is not true.  Remember, we are a work of Art!  We have a life no one else does, but it’s ours.  It’s up to us to make the most of it.  Our life may not be what we expected, but it’s ours, and we have a choice on how to live it.

Another quote I saw recently:

“Have respect for yourself, and patience and compassion. With these, you can handle anything.” ~Jack Kornfield

I want to talk about more than just respect, patience, and compassion for ourselves, I want to talk about showing these to everyone.

My husband and I have talked a lot about how people just don’t seem to respect one another.  Just imagine, if we showed respect to everyone we met, and they showed respect to you.  This simple show of respect could over come nearly every obstacle.  No more road rage, no more bullying, no more yelling at customer service, no more wars (yes, I know that’s a big one, but if everyone respected one another, would there really be wars?)

Even when we respect other’s we often forget to respect ourselves.  To show patience and compassion to ourselves.  My doctors and friends have told me, many times, to “Give yourself a break.”  Finally I listened, and life isn’t as hard any more.  I don’t have to do everything.  I can ask for help.  I don’t have to feel guilty because I can’t do something.  I can handle anything.  The key word there is “handle”, no I may not be able to do everything by myself, but I can find a way to handle the situation.

Look at some of the things I can do:  I can make my husband smile, I can create a work of art, I can appreciate the world around me…I notice more now because I’m not in such a hurry.  I don’t get impatient if I have to wait at the store.  I realize that the person who is trying to help, usually isn’t the one at fault.  I notice all the people who keep our infrastructure running, people we just don’t pay that much attention to.  Like the sanitation crew…they work hard, in the heat, cold, rain, snow…. but do they get appreciated?  Usually, people just get annoyed with them because they have to drive around them, or they get mad because they were late picking up their garbage.  Our mail carrier, our pest control person, the road maintenance crew…they are working hard to keep our lives running smoothly…and often they are not respected, or appreciated.

The season of showing thanks and appreciation is fast approaching, but shouldn’t we be doing this all year-long?  A note on my garbage can saying, I appreciate you!  Can you imagine how much that would surprise someone?  I always wave at the road maintenance crew, and they always look surprised.  Once after a big storm that knocked out a lot of the power lines, I took out drinks and snacks for the crew in front of our house, just a little something to tell them, I appreciate you.  A soldier in an elevator, I simply said thank you, and I saw his face light up.

I’ve recently received cards, and gifts from people I’ve never met.  A thank you card for sending someone a cook book, that I was giving away.  A set of Walkie Talkies and a card from someone, just because I needed help, and they had something I could use.  A card from a friend who went to Disney World, simply because she knows I love Mickey.  And most recently a box of goodies from a fellow blogger, just to help me…and to show she was thinking of me.  these people will never know just how much these things have meant to me.  How they touched me at a time, I really needed it.  All of these things came from people I’ve only come to know through blogging.  What a wondrous time we live in, that I can make friends all over the world through this little box sitting on my lap.

When things seem their worst, and I want to just give up,  I realize just how many people are pulling for me.  How many people, look beyond my disability and appreciate me.

At times I forget these things.  The fear envelopes me, the guilt strangles me…but the love, respect, patience, and compassion that I have received from others makes me realize, I must give these to myself as well.  They nurture me, teach me to take better care of myself, give myself a break, and stand up for myself.  It proves to me that I am a work of ART!  My life is ingenious!

My point, that may have been lost somewhere in there:

Take the time to think if you showing yourself the respect, patience and compassion you are entitled to.  If not, make a conscious effort to be better about it.

I know I am.