Mindfulness Monday – Meditation

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“The thing about meditation is:
You become more and more you.”

~ David Lynch

 

“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw
ourselves away and become something better.
It’s about befriending who we are already.”

~ Pema Chodron

 

“Meditation is the breath of your soul.
Just a breathing is the life of the body,
meditation is the life of the soul.”

~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

 

*all artwork on Picnic with Ants created by W. Holcombe, unless otherwise noted.  Please do not use without permission of the artist.

Stress and 12 Ways To Cope With It.

Recently I’ve been feeling pretty sick.  Having vertigo regularly and having migraines daily again is taking a toll on me.

The stress in my life has increased significantly and “chronic stress has a significant effect on the immune system that ultimately manifest an illness.” (Mohd. Razali Salleh 2008)  I don’t know how many doctors have told me that I need to control my stress.  Unfortunately, that is much easier said than done.

Stress comes in all shapes and sizes.  We have major things that cause stress, like someone close to us dying, or being diagnosed with a chronic illness. We have little things that cause stress, like a traffic jam or being late for an appointment.  We even have stress from good things in our life, like moving into a nicer home, or having a baby.  Every moment of stress can cause havoc on our health.  Chronic stress is caused more by the big things, the things that don’t just go away, but the little things can build up and be “the straw the broke the camels back”.

In mid April we moved from this a tiny little duplex that I felt very uncomfortable in to a larger house with a beautiful backyard.  This relieved one huge bad stressor on me and created a new happy stressor, but a stressor none the less.  It has been 2 months since we’ve been in this house and we still aren’t settled in, this causes me a lot of stress because I know if I was not sick, this would not be the case.

At the beginning of May we had a friend move in.  Someone who is going to be helping us out and we are hopefully going to be helping him out.  No matter how smoothly this move-in was, no matter how much we all love each other, no matter how good the situation will be, it has caused stress.  Suddenly I have someone else in my home and I’m not used to that.  I’m not used to people seeing me sick.  I haven’t been around many people at all for the past few years and suddenly there is someone living with me.  I’m not used to sharing my space with anyone other than Stuart.  This has caused a huge amount of stress.  It’s unintentional, I didn’t expect it, and I’m sure it will ease, but right now it’s there.

My father’s health is declining.  He lives over 3 hours from me.  I can’t just jump in the car and go see him. I can’t spend this precious time with him.  I can’t help care for him.  I can’t help my sister.  About the only thing I can do is give my sister encouragement.  I can text her and listen.  That isn’t real help and It breaks my heart.  The guilt is overwhelming, so is the stress.  This is the first time since I stopped driving that is has caused me such anguish.  I know even if I could drive I’m not well enough to care for someone who is ill, and I’m feeling guilty about that too.  Guilt is a huge stressor.

Of course, the fact that I’ve been sicker is a major stressor too.  A huge Catch-22 huh?

A little fairy, something I created. Creating is a great way to relieve stress.

A little fairy, something I created. Creating is a great way to relieve stress.

What can we do to reduce the effects of stress?  Well there are a few things, many of which are hard to remember when you are in the throws of being sick.  However, there are things I try to do, they include:

  • Meditate:  I usually use guided meditations, there are a lot of apps out there to help you with this, and you can find many of YouTube.  There are different guided meditations that help with different things.  I often do the body scan meditation, I’m so used to this one I can do it without the aid of a guide.  You simply focus on a part of your body, I start with my feet, and move on throughout the body paying attention to what each part is saying.  Don’t judge, and don’t worry about doing anything, relax into it if you can, but mainly just note it and move on.  For each part really pay attention.  For example, right now as I focus on my feet I notice my toes are a bit chilly, my heals are pressing into the floor, an old ankle injury is causing a little bit of pain, but nothing that should concern me; I’ll stay here for just a bit to see if there is anything more I need to pay attention to, then I’ll move on to my calves.  For some people this can be uncomfortable, getting in touch with their body can bring back repressed memories, be aware of this and take care of yourself accordingly.   This is just one example of a meditation I often do, there are many, feel free to practice this any way you feel comfortable.
  • Deep Breathing:  This is pretty simple but can be a great stress reliever.  Simply stop and focus on your breathing.  Put your hand on your belly and feel the breath fill up your abdomen and then go out.  Do this for about 5 minutes, or just take a few deep breaths when you need and carry on.  I find this very cleansing.
  • Some me time:  Find time just for yourself.  I take a hot bath with Epsom salts and sometimes candles.  It’s a me time.  Some people are not comfortable with this, if it isn’t for you, don’t do it.  See if you can find something that is just for you that you consider self care.  Paint your nails, put lotion on your feet, have a nice cup of tea …. these are all things that I like to do, find your special thing.
  • Stay in the moment:  When we are under a lot of stress it’s easy to build things up in your mind about how bad things are going to continue to be.  Stop and try to focus on this moment.  The future hasn’t been written yet, things will never stay the same.  When I’m having a vertigo attack I try hard to stay in that moment.  It’s a rough moment sometimes, but I know it will end.  I can deal with anything for a moment.  I wrote a whole post about that, Living In This Moment.
  • Bitch:  I don’t mean to wallow in your misfortune, but reach out to someone you trust and just let it all out.  Maybe get some advice.  I hold things in way too much so, I feel better when I talk to a friend and just let it go.  I have a good friend who never judges and gives great advice, sometimes I even take it.  🙂
  • Exercise:  This one is really tough for some of us.  It’s very tough for me.  However, the release of endorphins when you exercise will make you feel better.  I try to do stretches, and walk as much as I can.  Don’t let it stress you out if you can’t do this, I often can’t, just do what you can, doing something good for ourselves makes us feel better.
  • Eat Well:  Again, doing something good for ourselves makes us feel better.  When I’m under a lot of stress I often binge eat.  I crave sweets and I’m literally hungry way more often…like all the time.  I’m trying hard to munch on things that are good for me.  When I do this I feel better about myself.  When I give in and eat a lot of junk, I get even more stressed out.
  • Laugh:  How can you feel stress when you are laughing?  Watch a funny movie.  Read a funny book.  Play.  I play with my dog, she always makes me laugh.  My husband often makes me laugh too.  Laughter has really saved me a number of times.  I have been spiraling into a deep depression, but finding things to laugh about helps.
  • Listen to Music:  I can’t do this one because a lot of music sounds weird to me since I got my cochlear implants, however music can soothe your soul.  Just lay back and turn on some tunes.  Listen to relaxing tunes to calm down, peppy tunes to help you get moving, happy tunes to make you smile.  Music can melt stress away.  (My husband and I often sing out loud and make up silly songs, this makes me laugh.  I’ll also hum to calm myself.  So even though I can’t hear music it is a big part of my life.)
  • Create:  Write, paint, draw, color….do anything that gets your creative juices flowing.  When you get really involved in creating it can produce the same positive effects that meditation can.
  • Have sex:  Perhaps a little Too Munch Information here, but I feel it’s worth a mention. Having sex, talk about an endorphin release!  Not only does sex release endorphins it makes us feel close and secure in our relationship.  The feelings that are released during sex can be a great stress reliever.  (masturbating can be very releasing too)
  • Be Grateful:  When we stop and take note of the things we are grateful for instead of focusing on the things that are going wrong it can be very cathartic.  Sometimes you may feel you have nothing to be grateful for, but we all do.  Chances are if you are reading this you don’t live in a war-torn country, you have a safe place to live, you have enough food to eat, clean running water….  We take so many things for granted, but we have so many things to be grateful for, take a moment, step back, and think about things you are grateful for.  I try to list 3 good things every day.  3 things I’m grateful for.  You may find this practice very helpful too.

How do you handle stress?  Any suggestions for me and others?

I admit when I’m under a lot of stress I have a hard time implementing my stress relieving techniques, but just sitting here listing them makes me realize that I have ways to help myself and it has given me the incentive to get busy and try more of them.

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Creativity As A Way To Cope

As you look around the chronic illness community you will often find that we use creativity as a coping mechanism.  There is science to back up our intuition that creativity is a good thing for us.

“When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life,” Csikszentmihalyi said during a TED talk in 2004. “You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”

This quote comes from a much larger article on this subject I found on CNN’s site.  I thought it extremely interesting, perhaps you will too.  This is Your Brain On Crafting.

Today I thought I’d share with you some things I’ve been doing recently to spark my creativity.  I received a tablet for Christmas, it comes with a stylus so I can draw right on the screen.  I love it.  It’s hard when I have very little space, and I often have to stop working very quickly to bring out a lot of art supplies, so learning how to create art on the computer has been wonderful.  I’ve been using an app called Sketchbook. They post challenges that you can take on if you like.  This has been perfect for me.  I have had a very hard time creating art in the past year, deciding on what to do has been too hard.  The challenges give me a focus.  It’s like having an assignment back in school.  I get so involved in these projects that times goes by without me noticing.

 

 

If you would like to see the photos larger just click on one and you can see a slide show that will show them in a larger size.

The assignments were:

  • Upper left – Biggest Fear – Title “The Monster Within”
  • Top Right – Female Human Animal Hybrid – “Butterfly Woman”
  • Middle Right – Modern Mythical Creature – Loch Ness Monster “Nessie”
  • Bottom Left – Person I’d most like to meet – “Siddhārtha Gautama” (Buddha)
  • Middle Bottom – Abstract Tree
  • Bottom Right – Dream Home

Do you have a creative outlet?  You don’t stress thinking you are good at it or not, just do something.  No one else ever has to see it.  Coloring books are really popular right now, this is a great way to get your creative juices flowing.  Is there something you have always wanted to try?  Photography?  Learning how to crochet?  Knit?  Cook?  Stamping? Paper Crafts? Jewelry?  Poetry? Writing?  So much to try, so little time!!

After decades of research by Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi he found getting involved in something creative produces the same effects as meditation.  Something he calls flow.

“When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life,” Csikszentmihalyi said during a TED talk in 2004. “You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know I’m very into mindfulness and the benefits of it and meditation.  So learning this made me very happy, especially since I just haven’t been able to meditate recently.

(shh, I’ll share a little secret with you, I’ve been really depressed for a long time now.  The antidepressants I’m on simply aren’t working.  Things need to change.  I’ve had a psychiatric nurse practitioner here who writes my prescriptions, but she isn’t very good at working with me since things have changed.  I’m bipolar, I’m having a severe mood change, I need help. So I’m searching for someone I can really work with, and I think it’s time for me to go back into therapy.  I’m working on it, but it is taking a bit of time.  While I’m finding the right doctor and therapist that click with me, I’ll be trying to do as much work as I can to help myself.   Including, being a lot more creative.  I plan to post  much more about my days, to see just how I’m doing, the good days, the bad days, and all the days in between.  I hope you will join me on this journey.  I might even post more of my challenges.)

Keep Calm and Create

 

 

Good – Bad – Ugly…. Sometimes it’s Pretty, isn’t it?

Thank you all for the outpouring of support and encouragement about my blog and writing and well just me being me.

The comments here and on Facebook, emails….well, everywhere…I was overwhelmed by the love!

I’m sorry I haven’t posted before now….I’ve had some bad and ugly days recently….there’s been come good and pretty times in there too, maybe not whole days, but I’ll take it!!

First right before I went to the appointment I’m about to talk about, I broke my pinky toe.  Yep, I mean within the hour before, I caught my toe on my nightstand and OUCH!!  I saw stars and everything.  Pretty little stars.  *snort*  It’s been a while now…it is still slightly sore, but it has all healed, finally!!  It did mess up walking on my hip a bit though….same leg.  But I didn’t fall!!  Good thing!!!

I was very excited the beginning of June I saw a new neurologist here in Charlotte.  She runs the Carolinas Headache Clinic in Matthews, NC…so it really isn’t in Charlotte, but it is so close it may as well be.  The first appointment I had with her she spent over 2 1/2 hours with me.  I don’t know if that is her normal time for a new patient or not.  I know she sets aside a longer appointment for a new patient, but I was also her last patient for the day so she took her time.  She gave me a very thorough exam and we talked at length about my medical history.  She was very interested.  I was very impressed.  I love my neurologist at Duke, who also specializes in headache pain (my doctor at Duke recommended this doctor, they know each other well).

As much as I have loved my doctor at Duke, I think this doctor will be able to really concentrate on me more.  She won’t be so over whelmed with all the influx of patients from the system at Duke.  (I hope that makes sense)  The doctor here is very interested in my Chronic Persistent Daily Headaches.  (I have a headache all the time, it ranges from about a 3-5 on a scale of 0-10 pain scale, I have had this headache since I was 11 years old, right after my first migraine)  She believes if we can break this headache then we can break the migraines and cluster headaches.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

She started me on a new medication, it was to hopefully help with the daily pain of my head and my all over pain.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked.  However, I don’t think we can judge it fairly.  I am on a drug called Limbrel, this helps with inflammation and I had problems getting my prescription for over a month.  (long story short…the doctor faxed in the prescription but the pharmacy said they never got it…this happened over and over, finally they got it straight…why it took so long, well I have no idea, but I finally have it!  3 months worth, thank goodness.  I had no idea how much this was helping my joints and all over pain, I was having trouble typing my joints in one of my hands were hurting so much.)

The past month has been filled with the worst migraines.  Let me give you a little run down….Out of the last 25 days I’ve had 22 migraines, 1 cluster headache, and 15 attacks of vertigo.  On July 2nd a vertigo attack started around 3pm and lasted until after 3pm on July 3rd.  (July 2nd was my birthday…I will just have to celebrate 364 Un-birthdays!!  Want to have a Mad Hatter Tea Party with me??)

Can you guess why I haven’t been posting?  Or reading my dear friend’s blogs?

I admit the depression took hold of me and jerked me around a bit.  I think I had some reasons, even if I didn’t have Bipolar I disorder, but I admit my emotions do go a bit extreme because of my illness.  The demons didn’t knock on the door, they busted it down!  For a while there I thought I was lost.  I was drowning, big time.  I was having panic attacks, heck I’m still having a few of those.  I’ve been having trouble going out of the house again for few of having attacks.  I hadn’t been doing my mindfulness practice…except during vertigo attacks, and sometimes not then, sometimes I would completely freak out.  (however, I’m relieved to say that most of my vertigo attacks have been mild, by that I mean slow rotation, they haven’t been rapid spinning….but I won’t go into detail about what they were like.  Just know they aren’t as scary. However, I will just say….they are exhausting.)

I’ve been trying hard to pull myself out of the depression.  The odd thing about this, the medication that the neurologist put me on is actually an antidepressant.  I was really hoping it would help with this too.  However, I think the fact that I was in a lot of pain, and had so many headaches and vertigo when the medication I was taking was supposed to be helping…well this was making me more depressed.  Makes sense right?  Plus I have a few other things going on in life that are stressing me out too.

Recently I’ve been diving into my mindfulness studies again, and trying to meditate.  Meditation doesn’t fix things, but it just makes me be here.  I was so caught up in the fact that I was in pain, that is where I was, I was hurting, angry, sad, scared, did I mention angry…oh you would not believe the anger that was popping up!  wow!  I hate it for Stuart the past few weeks.  At least he couldn’t hear the even more snappy things I was saying in my head.  ewww.

something I need to remember

something I need to remember

So, I’m focusing on just being here.  I’m taking a lot of deep breaths, and I’m just trying to be me.

On a different note….I’m in physical therapy now to help my hip get a bit stronger and have more range of motion.  I have a day in the gym one day a week and a day in the pool one day a week.  The pool is wonderful.  However, I’ve had to miss a few sessions because of the pesky vertigo.  The last PT session, the therapist really showed me that I am not as strong as I thought I was, she kicked my butt!!  Whew!  However, I’m afraid that the new exercises that I have been doing have aggravated the back injury.  I have been in so much pain.  The sciatic nerve has been shouting at me.  It’s not just yelling on my left side now, it’s screaming on both sides.  I’ll talk to her at my next session tomorrow.  I may have to go see the spine doc again.

Well….I can’t think of much more to say today.

I don’t know if I’ve covered good, bad, ugly…and a little pretty, or not.   But there is some of all in my life.

Good….focusing more on mindfulness again.

Bad….vertigo, migraines, back pain…being really mad there for a while.

Ugly…umm, vertigo sometimes, and you don’t want to see my face when she’s kicking my butt in PT.  hahaha

Pretty….My new headache doctor, she’s really pretty – but not as pretty as my Physical Therapist, oh my!  The feelings I get from both my new headache doc and my PT.

When it Rains…..

I’ve had so much going on, not just getting ready for the surgery but other things happening too.  As they say, “When it rains”….learn to dance.  (ok, I’m paraphrasing)

quote by Vivian Green. image from - www.background-kid.com

quote by Vivian Green.
image source – http://www.background-kid.com

As I mentioned in my last post, a few weeks ago I started having positional vertigo.  If I moved my head in certain positions I had violent vertigo….left for a very limited life.  I’ve had something like this before but it was associated with my migraines.  No migraines with it this time.  After a few days I tried to get in to the doctor here, but no appointments for a few days (13 days after it started), so after 12 days, it finally stopped, the day before my appointment.  I did see the doctor and I was diagnosed have Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).  He said this will most likely pop up now and then forever.  It is caused by crystals in your ear coming loose and going where they aren’t supposed to, the vertigo stops when they go back.  (I’m just touching on the highlights of what he told me here.)  There is a maneuver, called the Epley maneuver, that the doctor can do to get the crystals to go back, sometimes the crystals go back on their own…like mine did.  BPPV can cause one to have feelings of vertigo, dizziness, nausea, lightheaded, and unsteadiness.  It will most often dislodge again, over and over.  I’m not supposed to look up, or bend over very much, and be careful when I’m lying in bed how fast I turn over…..

Some sites do say that this can happen only once.  I know someone who had this happen once and never had it happen again.  Maybe I’ll be one of those.  (one can hope.)  I have having very strong feelings of lightheadedness, and unsteadiness.  When I turn my head too fast I am wayyyy off balance!  Johns Hopkins has a very good write up about BPPV, what it is, how it is treated, and the prognosis.  I won’t try to summarize it here when you can just read it there, it’s a pretty short article.

Yes….I have a 3rd thing that causes vertigo.  I’m such a dizzy broad!

Last week I had a real scare, it happened so fast I was just in shock the whole time.  I suddenly had pain, swelling, and a big knot (sorry it was just too big for me to call it a lump) in my breast.  I wasn’t concerned at first because I know most often breast cancer doesn’t cause pain unless it is very advanced and symptoms don’t come up so fast….I mean within hours.  But there is a breast cancer that can do this, it’s called Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  That stuff is scary!!  My doctor got me in for an emergency mammogram and ultrasound, and an evaluation from a Breast Specialist, within days.  They took a lot of pictures an it hurt like the dickens because my breast was is sore, even the ultrasound was very painful.  But I’m happy to say, I’m fine.  Even though I’m post menopausal, for some reason my hormones decided to make my milk ducts go crazy.  Now everything is going down…slowly, and the pain is going away.  Thank goodness.  But it was very scary there for a while.  I didn’t have all the symptoms, but I could have been in the very early stages, and they normally catch it at Stage III or IV.  It is hard to diagnose and is very aggressive, the normal life span is 5 years!  Yes, I’m preaching a little bit about Inflammatory Breast Cancer, I feel more people should know about it.  Here are a few links that talk about it, take the time and look over one of them.  Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation, National Breast Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society are all good site to learn more about Inflammatory Breast Cancer, they are all written in a different manner, so check them out and read the one that speaks to you.
I was beside myself for those few days, only my meditation got me through, but I still had a vertigo attack the day before my mammogram.  Even now my head is spinning (not literally this time) that I had no idea about this kind of breast cancer, and how fast things like this can happen.  I really thought that all of my chronic illnesses had made me realize how precious life is, and that I should never take anything for granted, but when I thought about possibly having this, I thought….. I’m going to stop putting off things!  I decided right then, I’m going to always live as if I only have 5 years to live.   Stop putting everything off because I don’t think I deserve it because I don’t contribute, because I’m sick all the time.  If there is something I really want to I’m going to try and do it if it’s at all, yep, I’m going for it!  I don’t want to regret that I didn’t do______________.
I really never thought I would feel that way.  I realized recently how many things I don’t do because I’m afraid of how I will feel the next day.  Because I don’t have enough “spoons”.  You know what?  I’m going to borrow those spoons from tomorrow, and of tomorrow comes and I can’t get out of bed, so be it.  There are a lot of times I can’t get out of bed even though I did do what I wanted.
I thought I lived my life to the fullest and didn’t worry if my life came to an end tomorrow, but when this scare came up, I thought…”I won’t be able to do ____________, or _____________….why didn’t I do __________….Stuart and I never got to ___________.”    That has to change.   Sure finances stop a lot, but we can’t save for a tomorrow that may never come.   Some things we need to do now, instead of saving for the bigger things later.  We need more joy in our lives today.  We need to dance in the rain more often.
On a different note…..
We went to the class about for people having knee or hip replacements at the hospital this week, right before my Pre-Op appointment (yes, I’m healthy enough go through surgery).  Everyone in my class was having a hip replacement.  The person teaching the class started by saying that most everyone there was probably there because they had arthritis in their hip I shook my head, no.  She looked at me, sitting in a wheelchair and said, “Do you have Avascular Necrosis?”  I shook my head, yes.  She said, “I’m so sorry, that is so painful.”  Every eye in the room turned to me.   I have to say, I was wondering why everyone there was able to walk in with no cane or anything.  Only one person had a slight limp.  I had to remember that I can’t judge their situation, I have no idea what is going on with them.  I was just surprised.  When they told me about this class I thought, “Really, they expect people who are having a hip replacement to sit through an hour long class?”  It seemed to be no problem for most people.
I kept wondering why they didn’t give out the hip motility items, before surgery, I know I need all of the help I can get now, and assumed everyone did.  I know now, not everyone needs so much help before surgery.   (The hip motillity items I’m refering to are the devices we get after surgery.  A walker, cane, 3-in-1 toilet, shower seat…..ect)
I do have a walker, 2 actually, one that is very sturdy and will help me when I’m starting to walk again after surgery (and helps me a lot now); another that helps me more with my balance issues, it has a nice seat and everything.  We put in a bar in the bathroom.  It has helped me a lot so far, and will continue to help me even after the surgery with my balance issues.  I’m really looking forward to getting everything else.  Our insurance covers motility devices, Stuart is going to call on Monday to see if they will cover some of these things if we buy them instead of getting them from the hospital.  The person teaching the class sounded as if they will, and it will cost less.  Also, some things they will give me at the hospital isn’t going to work as well as some things I could get on my own.  Crossing fingers here….or we may just be getting some things on our own, without insurance help.
My surgery will last at most an hour….probably less.  Then I go to recovery….they have a fancy name for it, I don’t remember it. I will have a nurse assigned just to me. I thought that was pretty amazing.  After a few hours there, I will go up to my room.  I should walk a bit that day.  It really depends on how the anesthesia affects me.  I won’t be having traditional anesthesia, I will be having a spinal block, much like an epidural a woman has when she has a baby.  I will also have an anesthesia much like what you get when you have a colonoscopy, so I won’t under general anesthesia.  Therefore, there are a lot less risks.
They will spend a lot of time with me in the hospital to make sure I know how to take care of myself when I get home.  Stuart will also be there to make sure he knows things too.  He has to be with me at home all the time the first few days.  I will have a Physical and/or Occupational Therapist come to my home 2-3 days a week.  So I can’t be slack with my therapy!  haha   No worries with that, I really want to get to moving as quickly as I can!
Surgery is 9 days away.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve had vertigo so much!!!  I hope I’m getting it out of my system.  I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to have an attack and not forget all about the rules when it is going on.  But I will make sure I know how to do these things before I leave the hospital.  I have special needs and I will make sure they are addressed.  That’s what it means to be are an advocate for yourself.
Don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch and all of that, but…..
Soon I should be able to dance in the rain with much less pain!

A time to think of my…Gratitudes.

 

gratitude quote

There are days when you have a hard time.  Days when you can’t think of anything but what is going wrong.  It’s on those days that I find it most important to step back and look around me at the things I’m grateful for.

Today is a day I want to really look around and pay attention to what is in front of me, I know I have so much to be grateful for!

  • I’m grateful I woke up today.   What?  You think I’m joking?  I thought I’d start at the beginning of my day, and I thought what is the first think I’m grateful for today?  I’m grateful I’m here.  I’m grateful that I’m alive.  I’m grateful I can breathe.  Oh there is a good one!  Last night I had a very difficult time breathing, I coughed and coughed, and had a hard time taking a deep breath.  I had used my inhaler and it didn’t seem to do anything.  I did a nebulizer treatment, and I could breathe better, but of course I had the shakes for a long time afterward (I really hate that thing, a necessary evil).  Then I started coughing again, and well, it was a not so great breathing night.  Just one of those nights for me.  I did sleep without much coughing, so that is great!  We’re working on getting the chronic bronchitis under control, but haven’t gotten there yet.  I’m not complaining.  Last night was a rougher night than usual, the weather changed….rainy, damp…that makes it worse.  Again, not complaining, just stating the facts.  I accept it as it is, and I am fine with it.  I will be going to a new pulmonologist soon and we will work at getting this more under control.  I am very grateful that I can breathe better today.
  • I’m grateful my husband can walk our new dog every morning, and she is so good about it!  When we first talked about getting another dog Stuart said he didn’t want to have to walk it.  Then we met Kiki, and knew she was the right dog.  I was having hip problems, but thought it was going to be over very soon.  The doctors thought it was just a little inflammation, I was scheduled to get a hip injection and they thought that would be the end of it.  So when we decided to start fostering Kiki, I had planned to be the major caregiver.  Little did we know I would fall the night after my injection causing me to have a herniated disc in my back, and now a month later, I’m still not walking Kiki.  I’m still not walking much at all.  However, Kiki is the best dog about taking walks.  If you are in a hurry, she will go very fast.  She isn’t the kind of dog who will just go out and sniff and sniff just for the sake of it.  If you go out and walk out to the tree and then walk back toward the house, she will go.  No problem.  Often, in the mornings she will run Stuart outside, go real fast, and run back in and go back to bed!  She says….”Bye Dad!  I’m ready to go back to sleep!”  He has even said that he likes taking her for walks!  I’m a little envious.  I’m very grateful they have bonded and the walking issue, never became an issue!
  • I’m very grateful my doctor thinks my herniated disc will heal with just a little physical therapy.  Yep, right now I’m bored out of my mind.  I’m so tired of not being able to do anything. I can’t walk far without pain, I keep waking up because of pain, I can’t sit long without pain, well it just hurts.  I’m so relieved that the spine specialist thinks that I will heal with very conservative treatment!  Yay!!   I’ll happy dance when I can!!
  • I’m grateful I didn’t gain weight while taking steroids.  Oh boy, oh boy can we get happy about this one?!  The steroids made me go out of my mind, I was climbing the walls and wanted to destroy people, but I didn’t gain weight!  I didn’t weigh myself for the past month, it was too hard to try to step on the scales, I finally weighed this past week.  I lost 4 pounds!   For inquiring minds….that is a total of 44 pounds lost so far!! 
  • I’m grateful I understand I can’t trust my emotions right now because of the steroids.  I was actually very proud of myself for my self control and for understanding that it was the steroids that were making me feel so horrible.  They are still nagging at me a bit, I have one more dose, but you know it will take a little while before they are out of my system….so I can’t trust my emotions.  That is a good thing to keep in mind.  It is very difficult for someone who is bipolar to feel this way.  I am always very on top of my emotions, very in tuned to how I’m feeling.  I have to be.  If I start noticing that my feelings are our of sync with how they should be, I need to talk to my doctor.  By this I mean, I need to watch out if  react to something in an inappropriate way.  For instance, the other day, I said to Stuart, “Why don’t you use your damn common sense once in a while?!?”  in reaction to him just asking me a simple question.  This was VERY inappropiate!  I do not talk to him that way, and I couldn’t calm down.  I was sitting there suddenly saying….”I don’t act like this any more!  I don’t feel like this anymore!”   I took some deep breaths, centered myself, and calmed down.  Apologized over and over to my dear husband and explained I couldn’t help it and it would probably happen again.  I was full of anger I couldn’t control and he was probably going to get the brunt of it.  He was a dear sweet love and hugged me and understood.  Yes, he did get it a couple of other times, nothing like that time, and we dealt with it very well because we talked about it and how the medication was affecting me.  I’m so grateful I have a husband that communicates with me and understands about uncontrollable emotions due to steroids.
  • I’m grateful for a small place to live.  I’m grateful for a place to live that is safe.  I’m grateful for a place to live that is peaceful.  I’m grateful for our place.  I have been a little ungrateful for out little place lately, and just now I realized just how very grateful I am for this place.  I really do love this little place in many ways.  I love that it is small.  I am very grateful I do not have to climb stairs right now.  I couldn’t.  It is so much easier for me to get around this little place.  I have been feeling a bit claustrophobic in here lately, and way too isolated.  I know it’s because I just can’t do anything.  My mind wants to do something and my body says NO.  (yeah I’m working on that)  I’m very grateful that of all the places we looked at to rent we found this peaceful little place.  It is quiet here, (yes that is so important to a deaf person…haha).  There is little traffic on the street.  There are more people out walking their dogs in my neighborhood than there their are cars that pass by!  I just think that is so cool!  Yes, as I write this little piece I’m much more grateful about the place I live.
  • I’m grateful Kiki loves her new toy so much!  Yes it is the little things that bring joy into our lives!  Kiki loves her little toy so much!  She has forsaken all of her other toys for the one she picked out at the pet store.  It is a little beaver…I think.  It has a recycled bottle inside so it crunches, and it has a squeaky toy in the tail.  She loves this thing so much!   She carries it around, and gets so excited.  She will chase it, she will play hide and seek with it, she will run and get it and bring it to you just to show it to you…..”Look!  LOOK!  SEE! my toy!!!!”   She takes it to bed with her.  She doesn’t play with it in bed, no she just has to have it with her.   If I’m in a different room she will go check on me then she will go and get her toy and bring it to the door and show it to me….like she is showing the toy where I am??  Then she will leave.   She has so much fun with her toy, and it brings me much joy playing with her with it, and just watching her with this toy!  I will never get tired of watching her play!
  • I’m grateful my husband took me out yesterday for a short trip to the mall and I found a bra that fit – First Try On!!!  don’t really need to follow up on that one….but I will!  I must say, this is the very first time this has happened, and it is amazing to me.  After losing so much weight I went in and completely guessed my size!  I was not up to trying on a lot, this bra was on mega sale and I thought, OK, I’ll try it.  I had on an old bra that was too small, so I adjusted the size from it….and Wow!  I’m still amazed that it fit, and it just looks and feels so great.  No gaps, no pinching, no pulling…..I’m a happy woman!  It was also on such a mega sale I won’t feel bad if  when I lose more weight and soon need a different size!  One thing that is a little different about me losing weight….I have bigger boobs.  I’ve always liked my breast.  I have felt they were just the right size, not too big, not too small…just right.  When I gain weight, they have always stayed pretty much the same.  They didn’t get really big with me.  (a lot of women gain a lot there, I didn’t.)  Yes I’m silly, but just thinking about it, if things keep going as they are I’m going to be a bit bigger.  Right now I’m a cup size bigger than I normally am at this band size.  Stuart likes it.  hahaha  However, I can’t imagine him not liking anything about my body….he is a bit biased.   and I’m very grateful for that!
  • oh there is so much to be grateful for!!   I’m feeling so much better than I was when I started this post!  I’m grateful I have so much to be grateful for...here’s a few more….
  • I’m grateful I got to tell my sister how I was feeling about some things.  It doesn’t matter if things don’t change,  I’m just so grateful that we talked and I know she knows some things now that were stuck in my head and I needed to let it out.  It’s hard to put some things in the past if you don’t know if other people have put it there, or heck, if they even know about it.  Yeah, try to wrap your head around that one.  I just feel better about things.  I’m grateful for that.
  • I’m grateful that I’m emotional.  (no one needs to understand that one.  It just really used to bother me, now, I’m glad.  I like having deep feelings.  It may hurt a lot sometimes, but it is also pretty darn great other times.  Being “emotional” is not a bad thing.)
  • I’m grateful I found this meditation on forgiveness….I needed it…. Forgiveness Meditation    (this is just a written page, not a link to a guided meditation, read if you want.  I liked it a lot.)
  • I’m grateful I have some friends I can reach out to, even if I don’t have any I can see in person.
  • I’m grateful I have clean water.  (I really don’t like the water from our tap here, we have started using bottled water, and I’m so grateful for it.  It really makes me think a lot about people who can’t get clean water at all.  I’m so very grateful that not only do I have running water in my home, but I am able to get wonderfully clean water whenever I want it.
  • I’m grateful I have access to fresh food.  Something else I have thought about a lot lately.  I have talked a lot about the change in my diet, how I’ve lost so much weight and how much healthier I am because of my new eating habits.  I haven’t mentioned some of the other things I’ve noticed that I can only attribute to my diet change.  My hair is thicker.  My fingernails smoother and less brittle.  My skin is clearer.  I can tell you I haven’t changed my hair products, nor have I done anything different to my nails, so I can only attribute those changes to my diet.  I did change my facial wash, but I will admit I don’t use it every day.  I am a self proclaimed foodie.  I love good food.  I love fresh food.  I’m grateful that even though we have had very lean times over the past couple of years, we have always managed to eat as fresh as possible.  We have cut corners every where we could so we could spend a little more on our groceries.   We do still spend wisely in the grocery store, but let’s face it, fresh fruits, veggies, and high quality meats are expensive.   For some people it is a matter of choice, but sometimes it is a matter of not being able to afford food…period.  Can you imagine if you simply could not afford to buy groceries at all?   There are so many people who go to bed hungry every night.  So many people who are malnourished.     My gratefulness about food is huge.  I’m so grateful that I now have the knowledge to be able to nourish my body in a healthy way, and am able to provide it with all the food that it needs.
  • I’m grateful I have this blog to write about things….and I’m very grateful that there are some people out there that read it.   Yep….this is what I needed today.

 

I really do appreciate life so much!

I love my life!

Do I have challenging days?  Yes!

Will I feel bad on days again?  Yes!

Do I accept my life the way it is?  Yes!

Do I wish it were different?  Sometimes….I’m working on a NO for that answer, but I think “Sometimes”  is pretty good.   I still love my life, just as it is, even if nothing changes, even if it gets worse, I still love my life!!

That’s pretty important I think.  I love my life, all the good parts, all the bad parts, all the fun parts, all the hard parts….I love my life!