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!
11 Jun 2013
Tags: alternative medicine, art, chronic pain, doodles, fragrance sensitivity, haiku, health, MCS, multiple chemical sensitivity, nature, poems, poetry, psychology, sketches
sometimes the impossible
is still possible
yet still crossing rough waters
There are situations where the impossible really is impossible. But there are also times when the seemingly impossible is possible if we can look at those situations from a different angle or perspective. We don’t always have to think of those alternatives on our own. Sometimes a phrase, a comment, or a suggestion from someone else at the right time or place can get us to consider things differently. One does not have to traverse rough waters in a boat if it is not available. Sometimes “leaves” (metaphorically) will get us across.
A couple of examples:
Three years ago, when my doctors told me they “couldn’t do any more for me,” I hadn’t thought about alternative medicine as an option. After hearing the doctors’ dreadful words, I was devastated and thought my situation was hopeless. Was I to remain nonfunctional and debilitated forever? My pain psychologist then suggested I try alternative medicine and said, “What do you have to lose?” He said I needed to stop relying on doctors to provide answers for my undiagnosed conditions, because I kept running into dead ends. He was right. The alternative route has been better, gentler and healthier for those issues.
My fragrance and chemical sensitivities are a struggle because it has lead to increasing isolation and a significantly decreased social life. Although it has made me appreciate nature more, and has resulted in doing more activities in nature, we still try to think of ways where I can get out into society and minimize my exposures at the same time. We still need contact with other people where possible, and I don’t want to live in total recluse. Here are a few ways we have adjusted:
- My hubby and mother are fragrance free 100% of the time, and my two best friends are fragrance free when I’m with them.
- We can have people in our home if they are fragrance free when they come. I can visit friends and family if their home is fragrance free while I am there.
- I can still go out to eat if the establishment isn’t using air fresheners or scented candles, and I am not seated next to others wearing heavier fragrance. I have kindly asked to be moved to a different table before.
- I can go to a movie theatre if it is a matinée (cheaper) and/or the theatre doesn’t have many occupants. That way I can move to a different seat if I have to.
- I can go into shops if they are not using air fresheners or other fragrances.
- I can go to departments stores if I stay away from the perfume and fragrances section.
- Etc., etc., etc.
As I’ve mentioned in previous postings, I still have a long way to go with my health and chronic pain, and I still have rough setbacks, but I have improved from three years ago. I still struggle and get discouraged at times, but I have to remember that in reality, there is still hope and there are still options.
What are some examples of where you are using “leaves” instead of “boats” to get across rough waters?
28 Mar 2013
Tags: art, creativity, doodles, haiku, health, meditation, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology, sketches
the harder we try
the more evasive the problem
try by not trying
We all need to take breaks, regardless of what we are doing. I’ve experienced the mental blocks at work where I needed to walk away from a problem and come back to it later with a different perspective. I’ve had the “creativity block” where I just cannot think of a haiku to write, a subject for a blog post, or an image I wanted to work on and what to do with it. Sometimes trying to get rid of anxiety and giving it attention makes the anxiety even worse. With chronic pain, sometimes meditation or a diversion will help temporarily reduce the pain.
There are countless examples where we need breaks. Getting an answer is part of trusting, without being critical, that putting it aside for a while will bring an answer.
I created this image above, which is a combination of a doodle and a photo of a Western Scrub Jay that visits us daily for peanuts. This is my first attempt at what I have been calling a Camera+Doodle. I have more in mind and it is the result of something different I wanted to do. In fact, it was the result of “try by not trying.”
This scrub jay does come very close to us, but I noticed the harder I try to get him to come closer, the more distance he leaves between us. If I just ignore him and go about my business, he usually comes closer. He has yet to take food from my hand, but one of the squirrels here will gently take peanuts from me. Also, a chickadee landed on my hand last fall, picked up a peanut, paused and looked at me for a few seconds before leaving. The closest this scrub jay came to me was recently when I was feeding the squirrel. He landed beside me, looked right at me and squawked as if to say, “Hey! That’s MY peanut!” The squawk made the poor little squirrel jump, and he scampered away.
Some day this scrub jay will take a peanut from me, just like in the image above. I just have to be patient and “try by not trying.”
Do you have examples of “try by not trying” that you would be willing to share? I’d love to know about it!
Linking up with:
WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY
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?
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
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:
12 Feb 2012
Tags: art, emotions, haiku, health, mind/body, nature, pain, photography, photos, poems, poetry, psychology
Thriving on a carousel
Finch: ”What!? The other birds didn’t leave me any birdseed. Bummer! That’s discouraging.”
(Chronic ailments holding you back, leaving you feeling isolated? Healing taking a long time? Struggles visit unexpectedly or overstaying their welcome? Many situations can leave a person feeling discouraged.) 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:
31 Dec 2011
Tags: art, haiku, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry
to soar fresh wisps of heavens.
Awaiting next year!
Have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!
(Click here for a New Year greeting on my creativity blog.)
13 Nov 2011
Tags: art, haiku, nature, photography, poems, poetry
Timid trust pleads for shutters
Mind-blast softens fright
This is the third photo in my emotion series. In reality, this bumble-bee seemed to be unconcerned about my presence. As long as I didn’t disturb it or approach too closely, it just went about its business. The results of this shot evoked some subtle feelings of hesitation and even trepidation, so I decided to enhance those feelings with some motion blur.
Related postings on “Emotion:” in this blog:
08 Nov 2011
Tags: art, haiku, nature, photography, photos, poem, poems, poetry, postaweek2011
Lows – deep, dark, lonely
Sweet and sour emotions
Highs – rare, swift, feeble
Here is another photo in my “emotion” series. (see my posting on anger). I saw a flower that had both droopy petals and lively petals, and thought I could use it to represent the experience of being on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Although, it could also apply to other rollercoaster challenges one is experiencing. Obviously, I manipulated the photo and added some unnatural blurring to the flower to evoke the feeling I was looking for – instability even when experiencing the “ups.”
16 Oct 2011
Tags: art, creativity, haiku, healing, health, macro, mind/body, mindfulness, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, postaweek2011
Erupts through delicate veins
This is an attempt to take a photo that represents an emotion that I may be experiencing. I would have a better and quicker variety of art to create if I could draw or paint, but since I don’t have those talents, I look for photo opportunities. The intention is to release the energy caused by that particular emotion and become calmer. Otherwise, the effects of the emotion will continue to build in the body with each occurrence.
As far as the bees, I watched them for a bit, taking several photos. I like this one the best. They continually fought with each other on the flower. It seemed like the bee that was on the flower first was not in the mood to share it with another.
30 Sep 2011
Tags: alternative medicine, art, creativity, haiga, haiku, healing, macro, meditation, mind/body, mindfulness, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, postaweek2011, psychology
Whispers of guidance
Subtle taps at awareness
The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground ~ Buddha
My previous posting on mindfulness meditation touched on the benefits of becoming more aware of the physical feelings in your body, both large and small. Also, when you pay attention to and study your body, you begin to notice the physical sensations that occur in your body during a particular experience or emotion.
If you ask people what they feel in their body when they experience a certain emotion, a response you might get is, “I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it.” People generally are not aware of these details. More
06 Sep 2011
Tags: alternative medicine, art, creativity, haiku, healing, macro, meditation, nature, photography, photos, poems, poetry, postaweek2011, psychology
The creative process is a process of surrender, not control. — Julia Cameron
Flow with the river
Float with the breeze, bathe in bliss
Notice nothing else
In my last post, I cited that getting lost in an activity could be considered a type of meditation for me, which allows an escape from some of the pain. I can get lost in certain music, artwork, photographing nature, etc. This is described as Flow psychology (or being present in the moment). It involves being fully immersed and absorbed in an activity to the point you are oblivious to everything else. It is being connected to an activity, to a moment. The expert on this is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist and educator who emigrated from Europe to the United States in the 1950′s. (I’m unable to pronounce his name correctly.)
The skipper butterfly in the photo above is a good example of Flow, in my opinion. This butterfly was so absorbed in drinking nectar from the flower that it was totally oblivious to me. I stroked its wings, I nudged it back and forth, I put the camera right in its face, which is how I got such a closeup shot, and it did not budge or fly away until it was done. Great Flow! Working on getting this photo and enhancing it afterwards was Flow for me.
What activity is Flow for you?
30 Aug 2011
in Alternative Medicine, Uncategorized
Tags: alternative medicine, conventional medicine, creativity, drugs, healing, meditation, mindfulness, nature, postaweek2011
The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind. – Caroline Myss
About a year ago, I began meeting with a pain psychologist hoping I could learn how to manage my pain enough to function reasonably well, and do it without drugs. I didn’t want something that would only cover the symptoms. He told me it would be hard work but I would be learning some valuable tools. I felt relief because it was the first time in a long time I didn’t have drugs pushed towards me. Someone in the healthcare community finally listened to me (I mean really listened), heard me, understood me and supported me. Wow!
At first, I anticipated being coached and refreshed on some deep breathing techniques. Instead, we started with “meditation” – mindfulness meditation. I was surprised because I had never tried meditation before, and I didn’t understand how to do it. I thought, “What does mindfulness really mean?” I pictured myself in nature sitting in the typical meditation fashion, eyes closed and uttering “ommmmm……ommmmm……” More