Water and Tears

>>:::<<
water
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.

Water and Tears

”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)

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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!

Traversing Rough Waters

Paradigm Shift

>>:::<<
paradigm shift
sometimes the impossible
is still possible
>>:::<<

>>:::<<
depleted options
yet still crossing rough waters
perseverance
>>:::<<

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.

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What are some examples of where you are using “leaves” instead of “boats” to get across rough waters?

MCS Awareness Month / Fragrance Sensitivity

May is national MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) month.  Briefly, MCS is defined as suffering “multi-system illnesses as a result of contact with, or proximity to, a variety of airborne agents and other substances.”

According to MCS-America, MCS affects over 48 million men, women and children of all races.  There are many substances that affect those with MCS, some of which include fragrances, cleaning products, laundry products, air fresheners and scented candles, secondhand smoke, pesticides, paints, solvents, certain foods, preservatives, beauty and personal care products, etc, etc.  Symptoms can range from mild annoyances to life-threatening reactions.

As I wrote in my previous posting about Human Canaries, I am a person who is highly sensitive to low levels of fragrances and chemicals.  They make me very sick and I could be debilitated in bed for at least a couple of days after an exposure…and an exposure could be as simple as getting a whiff of someone’s perfume or walking by an air freshener.

FRAGRANCE SENSITIVITY

The remainder of this post will focus mainly on fragrance sensitivities, which is a part of MCS.  Studies are suggesting that fragrances are becoming an increasing concern in general, and definitely for me because of its increasing prevalence.  There are more and more fragranced products that are available, and more products where the fragrance is designed to last longer (as I have seen in commercials for certain laundry products).

Health Concerns

Research has discovered a number of toxic and undisclosed chemicals in fragranced products.  Prior to the 1970s, perfumes were primarily made from natural ingredients like flowers and herbs.  However, perfume formulations have since changed.  Today, perfumes are over 90% synthetic.  These fragrances can contain up to several hundred chemicals, many of which are toxic even at low levels and can be dangerous when inhaled or applied to the skin.  Low levels can accumulate and small exposures over time can lead to health problems.  Common fragrance chemicals have been found to be toxic to the neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems.  The skin is the largest organ in the body and absorbs chemicals, which can affect other organs in the body.   Also, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrances are considered a leading cause of contact dermatitis.

Fragranced Products

Fragranced products are widely used in homes, businesses, institutions, and public places.  Some that are of concern include:

  • Laundry products – detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets
  • Scented candles and air fresheners
  • Personal care – soap, shampoo, hairspray, gels, lotions, sunscreen, deodorants
  • Perfumes, powders, oils
  • Cleaning supplies

Environmental Impact:

Fragrance chemicals enter and persist in the environment.  They have been found in the air, soil, water bodies and drinking water, and are difficult and costly to remove once they have entered the environment.

Fragrance Regulation:

The fragrance industry is mainly self-regulated.  No law in the United States requires disclosure of any ingredients in a chemical mixture called “fragrance” even if the chemicals are toxic or carcinogenic.  Depending on the type of product, the word “fragrance” may not even need to be listed.  Certain regulated products only need to list “fragrance” or a similar term, as an ingredient, but not the ingredients that make up the fragrance, even though an individual “fragrance” can contain up to several hundred chemicals.  Generally, consumer product ingredients are exempt from disclosure, some of which are protected as “trade secrets.”

Alternatives

There are many resources on the internet that include healthier and environmentally responsible alternatives.  Here are just a handful of suggestions:

  • Choose products without fragrance, scent or perfume.
  • Help institute or suggest a fragrance-free policy at work in consideration of those who are sensitive and become ill.
  • Baking Soda – a versatile natural cleaner, scourer, odor absorber, deodorizer, and is a natural fabric softener and deodorizer when added to the wash water prior to adding clothes.
  • White Vinegar – another versatile natural cleaner, grease cutter, stain remover, removes mildew, odors, and is a natural fabric softener, deodorizer and reduces static cling when added to the wash or rinse water
  • Lemon – has effective antibacterial qualities and can dissolve all sorts of grime.
  • Use better ventilation and consider plants that absorb and reduce odors, rather than using a potentially toxic air freshener that masks the odors but does not clean the air.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – for cleaning
  • Fresh coffee grounds – absorbs odors
  • A natural or organic ingredient, or essential oils do not always mean it’s safe.  Some can be harmful and emit hazardous chemicals.  (Some natural plant smells alone that make me very ill are lavender, gardenia and stronger fragrant flowers.)

Remember, being “clean” does not have a smell, and changing just one thing is a positive step to a healthier environment and healthier living.

Consideration for people with sensitivities

Even for those who do not experience any reactions to chemicals, fragrances, allergens, etc., or do not notice their existence, we might consider healthier alternatives for our own sake, the environment, and for those whose lives are greatly altered and tormented by their presence.

Please be considerate and respectful of those who say they are noticing a fragrance, chemical or allergen that is making them ill, whether it is something wafting in the environment or a product being used by someone they are with.  It is a very real problem for us and leads to loneliness and involuntary (or necessary) isolation from relationships and activities that we so much want to be a part of.  Personally, my doctor said my only option is to avoid any of my irritants called fragrances and chemicals.  Health should be a top priority.  Judgmental reactions and criticisms do not help.  Some people are so debilitated from what many would consider low or unnoticeable levels that they have had to resort to near total isolation to protect their health. I believe this is the case with some of my blogging friends who have MCS.

Friends, family and others who are considerate, respectful and even stand up for us as an advocate shows us that we are important to them, and that we matter.  What an important and necessary feeling to experience!

You Matter

Here is a closing thought to consider:  When you genuinely matter to someone, they will always be there for you.  No excuses, no lies, no broken promises. 

Related articles:

Pain Haiku #2

Pain Haiku 2a

>>>::<<<
dark clouds swallow me
relentlessly tormenting
pain monsters
>>>::<<<

Several weeks have passed and the elevated, intense pain symptoms persist.  The list of places in my body without pain is shorter than the list of places experiencing pain.  This recent increase is explainable.  There have been a few unexpected setbacks, and I need to continue therapy, stretches and treatments to get me back on track.

In one of my pain psychology sessions a while back, I showed my psychologist some doodles I had created, which included some emotional situations involving…of course…pain.  One of the recommendations he had in addition to doing artwork regarding emotional situations is to draw an alternate scenario.  For example, he asked how I would draw myself if I had more “power ” and said that drawing an alternate scenario can help you figure out an alternate in real life.  So here it is…my alternate scenario:

Pain Haiku 2b

>>>::<<<
pulverize the beasts
banish to oblivion
a bright new day
>>>::<<<

Pain is only one type of monster persisting right now.  What kinds of monsters are persisting (or have persisted in the past) for you?

Pain Haiku

Pain Haiku

>>>::<<<
pain advances
like shadows grow through the day
a new day has not dawned
>>>::<<<

Lately, there has been quite an increase in chronic pain and other symptoms.  I hope for the day when decreased pain will give me some freedom and independence.  In the meantime, I must continue treatments, therapy, stretches and mind/body exercises, including taking pain breaks with what I call my “nature, photography, and creativity meditation.”

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

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