30 Sep 2013
Tags: art, chronic pain, doodles, emotions, encouragement, haiku, healing, health, pain, poems, poetry, psychology, quotes, sketches
embraces each drop of rain
the ocean hides my tears
In my creativity blog, I talked about the additional challenges we are facing and the reasons for my scarcity in the blogging world. I am still around, I am doing my best, and I thank you for being patient with me.
Multiple major areas in my life are, quite frankly, in turmoil, and the feeling of overwhelm with all of them happening at the same time is often unbearable and feels like I cannot keep my head above water. But as I realize, change is the only thing that is stable and one must somehow adapt to change, as I wrote about in my last posting. None of these areas, not even details at this point, can be ignored, avoided, or denied, or we risk lagging in improvements. They all need attention, and there is a LOT to be done.
When there is time, I try to apply the tools I have learned (and included in this blog) for addressing emotional and physical pain and anxiety, as this continues to be a very painful time. One thing to keep in mind that I learned from my pain psychologist is that it is important to have a variety of tools to help through pain and anxiety. However, even though he has taught me the tools he knows, he stressed that no amount of tools combined will replace the need for genuine emotional support from other people. Also, it is important to have multiple people to lean on, otherwise, the loss of even one source of support can be devastating.
I hope when you are facing tough times, that you have people you can count on to give you the purity of their attention and compassion.
…also, remember that it is ok to cry.
”Tears expand you, they don’t diminish you.” ~ Michael Ondaatje
The fish said, “I can’t see my tears because I’m in the water.”
The water said, “I can feel your tears because you’re in my heart.”
Lesson: We may hide our own hurts and pains but never can we lie to the people who care about us the most. Words aren’t needed for them to know how we are. (Source: Searchquotes.com)
19 Jul 2013
Tags: art, chronic pain, creativity, doodles, emotions, encouragement, healing, health, nature, pain, psychology, quotes, sketches
It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most ADAPTABLE to CHANGE.
I saw this quote a few days ago and it really hit home. My life is drastically different than it was 10 years ago, even much different than it was five years ago. I will never be able to go back to the life I had so many years ago, and have to keep moving forward, toward adapting to more changes. It’s a necessary acceptance. Some of it is good, while some of it is sad. One thing for certain, though, is that change is constant.
My “normal” keeps changing. I’m sure many of you who visit or follow this blog can relate to how that feels.
Let’s keep forging ahead!
20 Feb 2013
Tags: art, creativity, doodles, emotions, encouragement, healing, health, meditation, mind/body, pain, psychology, quotes, sketches
Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear. ~ Lao Tzu
Sometimes we just need to take a break to clear our minds or let fresh thoughts and ideas flow in. Here are just a few examples:
- If we are struggling with finding a solution to a problem, it may help to let it rest for a while. Go for a walk or do something else, and return to the problem refreshed rather than continuing to spin our wheels.
- If we are overcome by chronic physical or emotional pain, perhaps a meditative or other relaxing activity will temporarily lessen the intensity.
- If thoughts are racing through our minds, anxiety is elevated, or tempers are flying in a heated interaction, calming down can clear or minimize the turmoil.
What are some muddy waters you have faced and what have you done to let it become clear?
08 Feb 2013
Tags: art, creativity, doodles, emotions, encouragement, healing, health, mind/body, pain, psychology, quotes, sketches
Nana korobi ya oki (七転び八起き) is a Japanese proverb that means, “seven times down, eight times up.”
nana (七) = 7
korobi (転び) = fall down
ya (八) = 8
oki (起き) = get up
It is a saying about perseverance and not giving up no matter how many times you are knocked down. I’ve seen this proverb associated with the Japanese Daruma doll, which is a hollow, round Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. These dolls are weighted at the bottom in a way that will always return to an upright position when tilted over.
Never Give Up. May you always get up after a fall.
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
20 Nov 2012
Tags: art, emotions, haiku, healing, health, meditation, mind/body, nature, pain, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology
a sudden rewind
engulfs me in a whirlwind
Do you experience flashbacks of traumatic, sad or other painful events?
A description of flashbacks is:
a psychological phenomenon in which an individual has a sudden, usually powerful, re-experiencing of a past experience or elements of a past experience. These experiences can be happy, sad, exciting, or any other emotion one can consider. The term is used particularly when the memory is recalled involuntarily, and/or when it is so intense that the person ‘relives’ the experience, unable to fully recognize it as memory and not something that is happening in ‘real time.’ Flashbacks are the ‘personal experiences that pop into your awareness, without any conscious, premeditated attempt to search and retrieve this memory.’ (Source: Wikipedia)
I have grouped painful flashbacks as part of the “addressing emotional pain” category because I’ve learned through my pain psychology sessions that they are handled similarly to emotional pain. In previous postings, I included some of the tools that can help with painful emotions, including having an awareness of the body and how it is feeling, physically and emotionally.
Certain situations (events, places, smells, comments, time of year, etc.) can trigger flashbacks. They can be very uncomfortable and lead to feelings like fear, sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. There are a few situations that trigger flashbacks for me. They can go as far as feeling anxiety, and a couple even resulted in panic attacks.
A flashback can feel very real, and your body may think it is a real event. When a flashback occurs, what are some things we can do to get through it? The key thing to remember is that the traumatic event in the flashback is not happening now even though the emotions, fears, and physical responses may be the same. Over time, the reactions to the flashbacks will diminish. Some with take more work than others. The goal is to get to the point where they are “just memories” and that’s it. Here are some things to consider:
- Breathe and practice relaxation techniques
- Allow your body to feel what is happening and have a curious acceptance about those feelings.
- Use some of the tools I’ve talked about to address emotional pain like mindfulness meditation, body awareness, guided imagery, etc. Click here to see more examples.
- Have empathy for yourself and coach yourself through it calmly and objectively. For example, some of the things I’m learning to say to myself are:
- “I wonder what this means.” (This is an important one for me because it involves seeking guidance from our inner advisor, which I’ve also posted about before.)
- “What was the trigger?”
- “I am remembering things very vividly, but it is not happening to me now.”
- “This is uncomfortable, I hate it, but I got through this before and I will get through it again.”
- “It will not kill me.”
- “I have the skills and tools to help me, and I know how to use them.”
Although coping with some of my flashbacks still need more work, there are a few that now carry no emotion, no hurt, and no anxiety if the memories occur…they have gradually become “just memories!”
If you have experienced painful flashbacks, what methods have helped you get through it?
31 Oct 2012
Tags: acupuncture, alternative medicine, art, chronic pain, craniosacral, creativity, doodles, emotions, haiku, healing, massage therapy, mind/body, psychology, sketches
The guidance in this posting was prepared and provided to me by my Craniosacral Therapist (CST, LMT). She has given me permission to include it in this blog either in verbatim or paraphrased. (FYI – I first posted about my initial experience with CST here.)
My CST has been treating me for many physical issues over the last couple of years including chronic pain in several areas of my body, and recovery from multiple surgeries. Weekly craniosacral and massage therapy sessions from her, regular pain psychology sessions from a licensed psychologist, and periodic acupuncture treatments from a licensed acupuncturist, have provided me with the majority of improvements and answers concerning my recent health issues.
Since the body and the mind are connected, professionals and exercises in both areas are essential for my healing. My CST said it is important to note that she is not a psychologist, and that her work includes how the mind and psyche (such as anxiety, emotions, thoughts, feelings) enter and affect the body physically. Her expertise and treatments have been very helpful for me. The information here is based on her personal experiences and materials she has come across over the years in bodywork trainings, meditation trainings, and teachings she has heard. I thank her for allowing me to include her experiences here. (This image below is a doodle I did to introduce her information.)
When you feel a strong emotion arise:
1) Focus on your breath. Connect with the physical sensations of breathing in your body. Do you feel your chest rise and fall, do you feel the breath rush past places in your sinuses or down the back of your throat? Any place you can feel the breath enter and leave, focus there. Your breath is your anchor to the present moment. It’s impossible to breath in the past or future where your mind and/or body often want to go in their remembering or anticipating. To invite yourself fully into the present moment, focus on your breath. Note how your breath feels and what you notice. After noting awareness, invite your breath to gradually become slower, deeper, more relaxed and more regular. I often repeat those four parts to myself when I feel increased anxiety…slower, deeper, more relaxed and more regular. Give yourself several minutes of this practice to slow down. Dr. Andrew Weil teaches this practice as a way to turn off fight or flight response in the body. You may be able to find more information on his website or look for his Breathing: Master Key to Self Healing series.
16 Oct 2012
Tags: art, chronic pain, creativity, doodles, emotions, encouragement, healing, health, pain, psychology, quotes, sketches
It does not matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop. ~ Confucius
Many health issues over the last few years, including high chronic pain, have slowed me down significantly. In my healthy heyday, I was constantly on the go and had a good career! Now, I move very slow and am dependent on others to help stabilize me when we leave the house. I feel like I am being left behind in this fast paced world. However, I do have wonderful people closest to me who have stuck with me, supported and encouraged me in many ways, and have slowed their pace to meet mine. This is gold!
Improvements are slow but I am better than I was two years ago. During those times when things get discouraging, it’s important to remember quotes like this. Slow is not bad. It helps one appreciate the things that whizzed by before.
Even if I am moving s l o w l y, it still means there is progress. Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? In the end, the tortoise won with slow, steady progress.
What are some profound quotes you have handy when experiencing tough times?
04 Oct 2012
Tags: art, emotions, haiku, healing, health, meditation, mind/body, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology
lava guided to safe path
Feeling angry? Have you ever been so angry that you felt like punching something (like this little squirrel appears to be feeling)?
Feeling angry is not bad. Remember, experiencing a variety of emotions depending on our circumstances, is a fact of life. They are going to happen and they need to happen, and are a natural occurrence. Anger is an intense emotion and can carry a great deal of force and energy with it. If we bottle this energy inside us, it will come out later in one way or another, such as lashing out at others or as health problems, for example. A number of tools exist that can help us analyze and express negative emotions, including anger, in a safe and healthy way. Trying to stop the energy from anger may feel like trying to stop a hurricane, but, no, punching someone is NOT ok.
It’s important to recognize that anger is generally a secondary emotion, which I discussed in a previous posting. Anger is usually a response to a primary emotion or situation, and when we analyze our anger, we may discover that there are different emotions and feelings at the core, such as shame, fear, worry, guilt, embarrassment, etc. (If we assume the little squirrel above is angry, what could be it’s primary emotion? Fear, perhaps?)
Previously, I listed a number of tools that I keep in my toolbox to help analyze and address emotions. There are numerous other ways that also exist, and each of us needs to find the tools, or combination of tools that work for us. I’ve listed these before, but here is a handful of tools that may help:
- Managing symptoms by expression:
- Talk out your emotions with a good friend or relative who is willing to listen
- Write about your feelings in a journal or through poetry
- Cry. It is “part of a healthy emotional healing process”
- Express your feelings through art, photography or crafts (like I did with the squirrel photo above)
- Do some kind of exercise like walking, jogging, aerobics, etc., that can use the emotional energy associated with the anger and move it out of your body
- Practice deep breathing exercises; meditate
- Addressing Emotional Pain #2 – Tools
- Addressing Emotional Pain #4 – Secondary Emotions
Finding safe and healthy ways to release painful and negative emotions from our bodies creates space for more positive emotions to move in, and more peace within our life.
What are some of the ways you have found to help manage anger?
- Anger – Recovery Thru My Lens
16 Sep 2012
Tags: art, emotions, haiku, healing, health, meditation, mind/body, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology, quotes
The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky.
~ Lao Tzu
a resonating voice
soundless yet influential
listen and trust it
Have you ever looked inside yourself to find answers to your questions, whether it’s help with a problem, a project, making decisions, finding out what’s behind some of our health issues and what we need to heal, determining the reason for certain recurring memories, or even why some situations seem to trigger strong emotions, etc.? Our questions can involve a variety of issues, and sometimes the answers you receive can be very surprising, as depicted in my photo above.
Those who understand or practice mind/body exercises like meditation or guided imagery probably understand how important it is to consult and trust our inner voices, ie., tapping into our subconscious for help (also referred to as our “inner advisor” or “inner physician” – I like to use the term “inner advisor,” which I introduced in my posting here about a year ago ). This also helps build and strengthen our intuition. More
14 Aug 2012
Tags: art, encouragement, healing, health, macro, nature, photography, photos, psychology, quotes
Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.
Check out the left foot on this scrub jay. It is deformed but he carries on regardless of how limiting it may be. I’ve noticed he has more difficulty perching on the bird feeders than his mate.
As for me, I am gradually healing. It is slow and there have been bumps in the road, both large and small, but there is still progress. Even small successes are definite reasons to celebrate. Also, sorry for the long delay since my last posting, and thank you for being patient.
This post is in response to a blogging challenge by Robin in her blog, “Bringing Europe Home” where she hosts a periodic blogging challenge called “Quotes from the Masters.” These quotes can be used as inspiration for your own interpretation whether it be a photo, story, poem, song, etc. I thought the Plato quote fit well in this blog.
Linking up with:
WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY
24 Jun 2012
Tags: art, creativity, emotions, healing, health, mind/body, mindfulness, pain, psychology, quotes
To see things in the seed, that is genius. ~ Lao Tzu
In a previous post I listed some tools to help address emotional pain. One of those tools I learned is creating artwork that represents what you are feeling, such as a drawing, painting, sketching, doodling, photography, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to be an artist. The important point to remember is that the energy associated with painful emotions needs an outlet, instead of becoming trapped in the body. Just try to get it out of you. Stopping, distracting, dismissing or suppressing these emotions can surface later in other, potentially harmful ways.
When you create your “emotion” artwork, ask yourself a couple of questions. “What does this picture mean?” “What is it trying to tell me?” It may depict a primary feeling at first, such as sadness, anger, fear, etc. But try to dig deeper and notice other feelings that arise. Don’t be content with the first emotion you are creating because this could help reveal core issues that need to be addressed.
Look at the following doodle for example. Have you ever felt down or discouraged, like you were in a deep hole and didn’t know how to climb out? If this were one of your doodles, what are your initial feelings? Is it hopeless, overwhelmed…? If you dig deeper, what are other feelings that arise? List them…is it sad…lonely…frustrated…angry…isolated…irritated, etc…? The face may not depict all the emotions, but dig deeper. Notice what else you are feeling. More
10 Jun 2012
Tags: art, haiku, healing, health, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology
no fences to confine
yet unable to soar great heights
Recently, we visited a local aviary that had two resident golden eagles, this being one of them. At first, we found it odd that their exhibit was in the open, with no fencing to keep them from flying away. There was only a short fence to keep visitors at a distance. Then we read the information posted about them. Both eagles had lost one of their wings in the wild and were unable to fly, and unable to leave. The eagle in this photo kept trying to fly, though. Each time, it would position itself for takeoff, spread it’s wing, jump off the log, crash hard to the ground, and clumsily pick itself up and jump back on the log. The other eagle did not attempt to fly while we were there. These eagles will never be able to soar majestically to great heights again…at least not on their own.
Regardless of how hard we try, there are things we may never be able to do again, whether the restriction is physical, or the risk of physical or emotional injury far exceeds the benefits of persisting. There may also be other stressful situations in our life that are out of our control and that we are unable to change. Although difficult, acceptance is key. Then we can decide what to do about the situation, and determine the best course of action that allows us to move forward in a healthier way.
What are some things you have had to accept?
17 May 2012
Tags: alternative medicine, art, flowers, healing, health, nature, photography, photos
Recently, we visited at a local botanical garden where we saw these lovely, colorful Pasque flowers in it’s Medicinal Garden section. The blooms and seed heads were mingled with each other creating a nice contrast to me. As I was taking photos, we saw the following sign next to the flowers:
Interesting. I had not heard of Pasque Flower before, so later, I looked it up on Wikipedia. Pasque refers to Easter, and the flower blooms in early spring. It also states Pulsatilla have been used to treat reproductive problems, and that the plant “is highly toxic, and produces cardiogenic toxins and oxytoxins which slow the heart in humans…” Also, Drugs.com refers to Pasque flower as “extremely toxic and should not be ingested or applied to the skin.” Such a pretty flower, and it sounds like one needs to be very careful around this plant.
03 May 2012
Tags: art, emotions, haiku, healing, health, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology
nerves yearning for fly swatters
while tormented by hornets
Are you feeling extra touchy? (male finch on the left with the evil eye)
Do others feel like they are walking on eggshells around you? (female finch on the right)
Irritability is a normal emotion depending on your condition, health, stressors, hormones, etc. Here are some tools and links that may help with the emotion:
How do you manage irritability? Please share.
12 Apr 2012
Tags: art, emotions, haiku, healing, health, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology
Calm, cool water
embracing each drop of rain
The lake hides my tears
Expanding on my last post about “loneliness” versus “aloneness” I’m using this photo to represent both being alone and being lonely. By the way, does anyone know what kind of bird this is?
(I’m using one of my artwork “tools” again to help address emotions. See my posting on Addressing Emotional Pain #2 – Tools.)
Other postings in my “Emotion:” series:
29 Mar 2012
Tags: art, emotions, haiku, healing, health, mind/body, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology
As they pertain to emotions, my interpretation of “aloneness” and “loneliness” are:
- Aloneness – a geographical separation, apartness or isolation from other people (your health condition can contribute or cause you to be separate and alone); a mental separation from others (such as being focused in an activity by yourself).
- Loneliness – a separation from others due to a lack of connection with people, or lacking emotional support, compassion and encouragement.
This first photo demonstrates “aloneness” to me. Even though one can feel alone and lonely at the same time, I get a feeling of peace, calmness, content and warmth from looking at this photo. The butterfly is alone and immersed in collecting nectar, but does not appear to be lonely at all.
I used the second photo below to demonstrate emotional loneliness. Even though people may be physically very close, the emotional distance between them can be as far apart as the planet Pluto is from the Sun. They are not looking at each other, they are not connecting, they are not listening to each other, and they may not be supporting each other emotionally. I also feel a lack of compassion. The snow and ice also adds to the coldness of this photo.
an admirable closeness
I’m using one of my artwork “tools” again to help address emotions. See my posting on Addressing Emotional Pain #2 – Tools.
Other postings in my “Emotion:” series:
20 Mar 2012
Tags: alternative medicine, chronic pain, emotions, encouragement, healing, health, invisible illness, photography, photos, psychology, support
True friends and family fly to you when you don’t have the ability to fly yourself. They support, comfort and encourage you physically and emotionally. ~ Fergiemoto
Finch (right): “I’m so discouraged.”
Junco (left): “I’m there for you. How can I help? You can talk to me…I really mean it.”
Remember that close friends and relatives struggling with chronic/invisible illnesses or pain need us to be there for them. Here are some ways to show support and encouragement:
- Slow down. Listen with your whole body and 100% of your attention. Look at them and acknowledge you are truly hearing what they are saying. To the person talking, this is more valuable than all the gold in the world. Never underestimate the power of holding the space for someone who needs a listening ear. You may be their life-line.
- Let them know you are truly there for them and that you are listening. Silence when a person needs to know someone is really there can lead them to feel lonely.
- Avoid interrupting them while they are talking. Let them finish speaking before you respond. When you are talking, you are not listening.
- Allow the person to feel just as they are. Avoid judgment, lecturing, criticizing, ridiculing, etc. Telling them to tough it out, quit complaining, pull it together, they have a low pain tolerance, they’re crazy, it’s not a big deal, or threatening to stay away can lead to negative results. Sometimes the pain inside is much more intense than the pain they are showing.
- Be there with them, physically and emotionally. Don’t try to fix it. More
14 Mar 2012
Tags: alternative medicine, chronic pain, emotions, healing, health, mind/body, pain, psychology
Baby steps…toddler steps…sometimes this is the pace we have to take to achieve our end goals and desires. Overcoming any kind of struggle can be very daunting, frustrating and discouraging, and setting large goals can seem overwhelming. They require patience that sometimes we don’t think we have anymore. It’s easy to get over-ambitious and all too often, we are looking for an overnight success, which is understandable. In the meantime, we overlook and neglect the small accomplishments that lead to larger victories. Busy schedules can bog us down; pain can seem to overtake our entire waking moments that we wonder if there is ever an end; then we miss the chance to celebrate those wins. Progress is good at any level because it means we are headed in the right direction. I realize this is easier said than done. Believe me, I’ve been there many times.
When you have a success, do you say a quick “yay”, move on as if nothing special happened, and then rarely or never give it another thought? The next time you have a success, remember this: Recognize…Reward…and Celebrate! You are working hard to reach your goal, so don’t brush it aside. The body and mind need the reinforcement and encouragement. When you celebrate, you are helping to breed an attitude of “I’m successful” to your mind, which will then breed more success. One success leads to another to another and hopefully you will accelerate the process of reaching your goals, i.e., the snowball effect. Mental health affects physical health. More
06 Mar 2012
in Alternative Medicine, Conventional Medicine
Tags: alternative medicine, conventional medicine, drugs, healing, health, humor, jokes, medications, side effects
A Short History of Medicine
“Doctor, I have an ear ache.”
2000 BC – “Here, eat this root.”
1000 BC – “That root is heathen, say this prayer.”
1850 AD – “That prayer is superstition, drink this potion.”
1940 AD – “That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill.”
1985 AD – “That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic.”
2000 AD – “That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root!”
The source of this joke is unknown, but when I saw it on Magsx2 blog, it caught my attention. (I can really relate to the last line of the joke!)
23 Feb 2012
Tags: alternative medicine, emotions, healing, health, meditation, mind/body, mindfulness, pain, psychology
Knowing others is wisdom; Knowing the self is enlightenment; Mastering the self is true power. ~ Lao Tzu
Recognizing our primary and secondary emotions helps us understand what our core emotions and issues are. I talked a little about core issues in my previous post on body awareness. Simply, secondary emotions occur in response to a primary emotion. Eventually we may unknowingly bury our primary emotions until they are unrecognizable. The problem with this is that we may think our secondary emotions are what we are really feeling, and address those, rather than addressing the true and primary emotions.
Anger is a good example of a secondary emotion. Anger is usually a response to a primary emotion or situation. When we get behind our anger, we may discover that there is a different emotion at the core, such as shame, fear, worry, guilt, embarrassment, regret, sadness, loneliness, etc. Anger, although an intense emotion, is more acceptable and easier to admit to than showing vulnerability. If a primary emotion is shame, people usually don’t want to admit to shame, so they may respond with anger instead. Some will want to push back for safety, and get away from the true emotion with a few sharp words of anger.
Irritability can be a similar response to anger. It is usually a secondary emotion (other than hormonal). What about anxiety? It could be a secondary emotion to fear.
If we don’t address our primary emotions, they likely won’t go away. We may not express them for a variety of reasons, such as habit, upbringing, social situations, etc. Therefore, secondary emotions may end up hindering us because we are not addressing the real issue, nor are we expressing them appropriately. Also, we probably won’t be able to understand what our primary emotions are without understanding how to use self-awareness tools, some of which I have talked about in this blog. Tools such as body awareness, mindfulness meditation, emotion focus therapy, guided imagery, downward arrow exercise, and so on, really help us listen to our bodies and feelings. You may have a different tool that you have found to be effective for you. Something to keep in mind is to keep asking yourself, “what am I feeling…what else am I feeling…what else…what else?”
It’s like deconstructing a recipe. When you taste something, there is an interplay of ingredients that make up the overall taste. But savor the flavors and notice the individual tastes and sensations. What’s making up the taste? For example, you may find that you taste cinnamon, pepper, lemon, etc. So..…what’s really making up your emotions? Try to deconstruct it and see what you find.
Don’t always be comfortable with your first emotion. Try to find out what it is really about. Recognizing deeper emotions can be very helpful part of a healing process!