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!

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:

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

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?

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

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