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?

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

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.

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