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

Addressing Emotional Pain #6 – Flashbacks

Squirrel Spinning
Squirrel Spinning, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
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>>:::<<
a sudden rewind
engulfs me in a whirlwind
flashback
>>:::<<

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?

More

Emotion: Feeling Angry?

Squirrel Anger
Squirrel Anger, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
volcano surges
lava guided to safe path
disaster averted
>>:::<<

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.

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What are some of the ways you have found to help manage anger?
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Related article(s):

  • Anger – Recovery Thru My Lens

More

Listening to Your Inner Advisor

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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

Conversation with myself
Conversation with Myself, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
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>>:::<<
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

Quotes From The Masters: Plato

Encouraging
Encouraging, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.
~ Plato

>>:::<<

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:
MACRO MONDAY
WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY
NATURE NOTES

Acceptance

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
no fences to confine
yet unable to soar great heights
acceptance
>>:::<<

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?

Pasque Flower

Pasque Flower
Pasque Flower, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

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:

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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.

Related articles:  

Emotion: Feeling Irritable?

Irritable #2
Irritable #2, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
nerves yearning for fly swatters
while tormented by hornets
irritable
>>:::<<

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:

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How do you manage irritability?  Please share.
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Emotion: Lonely

Lonely
Lonely, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
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:

Emotion: Loneliness (versus Aloneness)

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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.

Sweet Butterfly
Sweet Butterfly, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

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.

Cold Chickadees
Cold Chickadees, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Sitting together
an admirable closeness
Deafening silence
>>:::<<

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:

Support and Encouragement

Friend
A Friend, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

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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

Emotion: Discouraged

Discouraged
Discouraged, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Vicissitudes swarm
Thriving on a carousel
Dreams evaporate
>>:::<<

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.

Related article:

Other postings in my “Emotion:” series:

Emotion: Anticipation

Anticipation
Anticipation, a photomanipulation by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Glorious desires
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.)

More

Emotion: Irritable

Irritable Haiga
Irritable Haiga, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Fluttering embers
Glowing, traversing vigor.
Prodding annoyance.
>>:::<<

When I saw these two, it seemed like the duck facing us was irritated by the other duck.

Other postings in my “Emotion:” series:

Emotion: DoWnS and uPs

DoWnS and uPs
DoWnS and uPs, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.
(click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
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.”

Emotion: Anger

Anger
Anger, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Passionate lava
Erupts through delicate veins
Withering cyclone
>>:::<<

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.

Body Awareness – Notice the details

Notice the details - Haiga
Notice the details – Haiga, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on photo to enlarge)
This is my first submission to Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday

>>:::<<
Whispers of guidance
Subtle taps at awareness
Enlightened healing!
>>:::<<

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

Go with the F L O W

The creative process is a process of surrender, not control. — Julia Cameron

Skipper in the moment
Skipper in the moment, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
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?

These wings have a story to tell

Tattered wings
Tattered Wings, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Frayed wings reveal grief
Heart desires pristine respite
Mind soldiers forward
>>:::<<

This butterfly must have quite a story to tell.  It seems to have been through a lot, but it’s still pretty.  It reminded me of a program I saw recently on monarch butterflies.  One of the segments showed a butterfly after a very long migration northward.  She had just finished laying her eggs on a milkweed and was trying to fly away.  Her wings were tattered and transparent; her colors and design were faded; she was weak and could barely fly.  What a journey they have.

Recently launched – my new creativity blog

Here is the link to my new creativity blog:

Creativity Arousedhttp://creativityaroused.wordpress.com

Ichigo Ichie will still be a place where I share my healing experiences.  Creativity Aroused will be a place to post my art – photos, photomanipulations, poems, haiku, etc.  I’ll call it my “album of creativity.”  It will include the art I post in Ichigo Ichie, and more.

Exploring creativity is part of my healing process, but I wanted a separate place just for my creativity attempts, whatever comes to mind, and for whatever reason.

Please stop by and say hello!

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