Adapting to Change

Adapting to Change


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!

Take a Break #2

Camera+Doodle 1
Camera+Doodle 1, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
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

Human Canaries and Friendship

In addition to many of the health issues I’ve talked about in this blog, one of the major conditions that has increasingly affected my daily life is my extreme sensitivity to fragrances and certain chemicals.  People with sensitivities like me, and others diagnosed with “multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)” are referred to as “canaries.”  We are human canaries.  The name “canary” comes from a past practice of miners who would take the birds into the mines with them as an animal sentinel, to provide advanced warning of danger.  Canaries are more sensitive to toxic gases than humans, so if the bird stopped singing, got sick, or died, the miners would know they needed to escape the mine or use protective gear before they were affected.

Low levels of fragrances and chemicals that most people probably wouldn’t notice, will make me very sick, so sick that I could be in bed with debilitating migraines, intense sinus pressure and pain, nausea and vomiting for a few days.  This includes perfumes and colognes, scented candles, scented lotions, air fresheners, scented laundry products, personal care products, even some flowers, etc.  Almost anything that contains fragrance, and some cleaning chemicals, solvents, paints, etc., will affect me.

I don’t know why I am sensitive.  I’ve seen doctors and specialists about this.  My specialist said that the only thing I can do is to avoid fragrances and chemicals as much as I can.  With me, it is an “irritant” and irritants need to be avoided.

I don’t know if there was an initial exposure that started this sensitivity, but I wasn’t always sensitive.  It started in my mid-twenties with a few perfumes and gradually escalated over the years to the point where low level exposures or even one whiff of a certain fragrance will make me very ill.  Right now, given that the “why” is unknown, the “why” to me is not as important as the fact than “I am” sensitive and need to make significant adjustments in my life and choose my health.  Other health issues themselves are already isolating enough, but fragrance and chemical sensitivities make it even worse.  This problem affects many decisions I make, and my social life is very limited.  Some of the decisions I’m faced with frequently are:

  • What products I buy – from household cleaning products to soaps, lotions, makeup, etc.  They need to be “fragrance free” or “unscented.”
  • What stores, restaurants or other establishments I visit – Will there be air fresheners, scented candles, or too many fragranced people?
  • What public events I attend – Is it indoors or outdoors?  Outdoors is better with fresh air.  In the last few years, I haven’t been able to attend events that I enjoy, like family get-togethers, ballets, musicals, concerts, parties.
  • What volunteer or other community service activities I get involved in.
  • Who I can be around and who I can socialize with – Will they be wearing fragranced products around me?
  • Whose car I ride in.
  • Who rides in our cars – Hubby has had to “de-fragrance” our vehicle when people wearing fragrances have ridden with him.
  • Whose home I visit – Do they apply perfume, use air fresheners or other scented products?
  • Who can enter my home – I have to be strict about who enters where I live.  It is the only place where we can make it safe for my condition.  Fragrances, especially many scented laundry products these days leave lingering fragrances, especially in upholstery, for several days or weeks.  Sometimes I have to leave my home and stay with my mother while hubby “de-fragrances” it.
  • What home projects hubby can work on and when – Most likely I will have to leave the house if chemicals are involved.
  • When I can go outside –Smells from fragranced laundry products emitted from neighborhood dryer vents trigger a reaction.
  • Who my “true” friends are – True and caring friends will help you.  They will be considerate, respectful and nonjudgmental of your sensitivities if they value a relationship with you.

Chemical and fragrance sensitivities is a growing problem, and it is concerning to me to learn about the types of ingredients that make up many fragrances these days.  I will post more about this later.  Over ten years ago when I was searching the Internet for information and resources, I came across only a couple of websites with passing mentions of the problem.  Now, when you Google “fragrance sensitivity,” “chemical sensitivity,” “multiple chemical sensitivity” etc., there seems to be endless hits.

For those of us who live with this kind of condition, it is real.  It’s not all in our heads.  I will post more information in the future.  But for now, here’s a question to think about (inspired by blogs from two MCS sufferers, Sherri Connell and Linda Sepp).  If a friend or loved one mentions that a certain fragrance or chemical around is making them ill, even if you are the one using a fragranced product, what would you do?

Would you choose the product?

Fragrance - Choosing the Product

Or

Would you choose the friendship and try to help get your friend away from the problem, or make yourself and your home safe when you are around your friend, regardless of the type of sensitivity they have (food, flowers, environmental, electromagnetic, etc.)?

Fragrance - Choosing Friendship

Here are a few fellow bloggers I know of who live with similar sensitivities.  If you or someone you know is struggling with chemical or other sensitivities, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section or let me know if you/they have a blog.

Take A Break

Let it clear

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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.
  • etc.

What are some muddy waters you have faced and what have you done to let it become clear?

Never Give Up

Nana korobi ya oki

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.

Daruma

Daruma Doll
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Anxiety, Emotions and Opening To Them

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.)

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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.

More

Keep Going Even If It’s Slow!

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?

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