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Showing posts from June, 2013

Helping Yourself

One of the things I have been working on is being more present. More in the moment. More mindful. I am acutely aware of the way the warm breeze caresses my arms, my face.  Coffee tastes exquisite.  My son's hands are softness, his head gently resting on my shoulder while we read together spreads a warm contentment throughout my body.  The wonder of complex birdsong.  The feel of my own body---grown larger--- but now relaxed in new, larger fitting clothes---acceptance.  I am aware of more subtle things as well.  I am trying to be open to the message the universe has for me.  At a time where I feel lost, and confused about what a am "supposed to do" I have put the question out there...."universe...what do I need?"  And in response, I feel like I can see in front of me, a hand extended.  Just take my hand.  It will be ok.  Trust. Faith. Love. Acceptance.  I am not a religious person (though I think religion is fascinating and would love to go back to school to st…

The Three C's in Practics

Reflecting on the 3Cs, I think I get the message finally that my therapist and doctors have been trying to convey. 

Courage---I have to be courageous in this work.  Be brave and sit quietly with uncomfortable feelings --like panic---like anxiety---like anger---like inadequacy.  Have courage I will be ok --and in my courage---and experience with each one, I gain courage that I can handle these thoughts and subsequent emotions when they happen.   I will be courageous. Compassion---I need to be compassionate with myself.  There is one particular woman who was in the hospital and then aftercare with me--a girl really---only just 19 years old---and when I hear her struggles or see her I want to wrap my arms around her and never let her go.  I cannot explain the connection....other than she reminds me of a female version of my oldest son. I just want to protect her and tell her how beautiful she is, how smart and brave and wonderful and funny and precious she is to this world.  My heart ach…

The Gifts of Imperfection - Wholehearted Living

I am making notes.  Normally I don't do this. I am a firm believer in sharing your love of reading so after I read a book, I pass it along--  to my son, a friend, a colleague--to see their eyes light up when you ask them--how they like the book --- to have them ask what is the next title in the series---to have them want to discuss the characters.  It is probably why I wanted to become a teacher, and later a librarian---to inspire and impassion others.  It pours gas in my tank to keep me going and inspires me to continue to reach higher and do better in any public service. Passion breeds passion.
This book is different thought. I am writing in the margins-- in pencil--and bending the cover back as I prop it open to remind myself what I read in Brene Brown's Introduction.  (Bibliophiles everywhere are writing their hands and tsk, tsk-ing me for abuse of a book).
In the introduction, Brown tries to further define the concept of Wholehearted Living, which I appreciate.  So ofte…

The Gift of Imperfection

This is not an easy journey.  I continue to struggle with accepting that there is no destination.  No "fixedness"--no check list--no final exam--no finish line---yadda yadda yadda--you get the point.

In "the Gift of Imperfection", Brene Brown describes it as " walking toward a star in the sky.  We never really arrive, but we certainly know that we're heading in the right direction."

I do see some light.  I do feel like I am heading in the right direction.  I just have to see it as the journey of my life --and not "The Breakdown of 2012-2013".

 "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who you Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" by Brene Brown is the next step on my journey.  What makes her work so relevant is not the fact that she is a writer and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social work but that she suffered her own "unraveling"-- a "time when  you feel a …

Crisis Averted

My son finished his exams.  He survived. 

I picked him up at 11 am when he texted it was over.   I could actually feel a giant, cloudy, slime filled, soundproof bubble of shame, blame and defeat surrounding him as he opened the door and squeezed himself and the bubble into the front seat. 

"It was bad.  I probably didn't make the grade I need. I put something for every question was bad."

I took a deep breath, hoping he would hear me through the bubble. "What I would like to do is take you to Chapters (he loves books) and we will get Starbucks--and wander and look at books.  Then, I thought we could get some lunch."

No response.

Another deep breath.  "And... you are going to text your driving teacher and tell her something came up for tomorrow and you and I are going to Toronto on the GO Train.  We will walk up Young Street and go to that comic book store you mentioned--the Silver Snail.  You can look around as long as you like.  We will get lunch…

Asking for Help

My oldest son walked into the kitchen last night while I was drying the pot I had just used to make marshmallow squares.  He leaned against the wall, eyes downcast, unfocused and spoke in a soft voice:
"Mom.  Tomorrow.  Just so you know.  Something has happened and I cannot remember a SINGLE
thing about ANY of the stuff that will be on the exam.  So.  Just so you aren't expecting anything.  I am going to fail the exam.  Probably need summer school.  Will have to quit my job.  Will get my university offer rescinded. But it is probably too late for summer school so.  It is just all over."

I put down the pot and gave him a hug.  (no hug back)

I told him it was fine. He was fine. He remembered stuff--he had an 87 going into the exam! You can't have marks like that if you don't remember stuff?! Right?

I could see the tears forming in his eyes.  He still wouldn't look at me.

"Ok.  Get your jacket we are going for a walk.  Your brain is in overload and releasi…

Defeated by a Little Red Dress?

I have a tiny closet.  It might be 7 feet long?  Across one half, a bar rests at eye level where I hang dresses.  On the other side, two bars, one above the other, hold: pants, suits, skirts, sweaters and blazers. The closet floor holds a disarray of  boots, bags and assorted hangers.  

Accustomed to wearing yoga pants in the hospital, I continued that practice when I came home in December---and January --and February......all the way through the outpatient program. Occasionally I would pluck a long cardigan from the closet but mostly the doors stayed closed. I wasn't working and had nowhere to go that required nice clothes.  When you have isolated yourself socially pretty much your whole life---there are no invites to weddings, parties, barbecues, baby showers, etc. so going to work then passes for social activity--so I wore fancy clothes and heels at work.  In February, 3/4 of the way through the adult day treatment program we decided to celebrate Valentines Day with a potluck.  I…

Remembering my Dad....

I lost my dad quite suddenly August 19, 2010.  He had been unwell for months and had just travelled to the U.S. and paid for a CT scan since the wait here was too long and his doctor didn't seem to be in any hurry. 

I spoke to him the night before he died.  I called to see how he was feeling.  He sounded a bit scared.  He said his back pain was bad and he just felt horrid all over--but his plan was to take the CT scan from the US to his doc appointment in the morning and ask to be admitted to hospital.
I suggest he go right now.  What was another day?  If you feel that bad, just go. 

Then I remembered my hubby was headed to London the next morning to see his father.  So I suggested that he could go with my dad to the doctor's ---drive him to the hospital--that way he didn't have to worry about parking and getting in. My dad was a proud man.  He thought this sounded silly. I continued to bring up the possibility of going to the hospital right now.  He was also stubborn.…

Waking Up Happy--What's With That?

 Today I woke up happy.  My laptop is positioned in the dining room on our 3 foot by 3 foot dining room table and I was looking forward to coming down here to write.  Odd thing was I really didn't have something in mind to write about. 

I have to go to the doctor for some fasting blood work today so maybe skipping my coffee is throwing me off.  But I don't think so. 

My son has a baseball game at 11 in a park I have never been to and normally that should be sending waves of panic running through my veins in the thought of trying to find the park and getting lost (like last night when the GPS led me to a sign for the park but no entrance!!!) 

But today it doesn't.

I know the lawn needs to be mowed, my stepson didn't anything for his dad and neither did I yet and Father's Day is tomorrow---again--there would normally some panic. 

But today there isn't.

The sky is blue, the sun is up and instead, today feels like a day of things that will happen--all in time…

The Power of a Few Words From Your Child

Last night I drove my 8 year old son to his baseball practice.  He has been selected to play as part of the All Star team and they have a weekend long tournament and this will be their only practice as a team before they face other All Star teams made up from his house league circle. We just pulled out of the driveway and he asked me if I had the $30 required for the new jersey and hat.  I assured him I did.  Then he asked if I knew where the practice diamond was. I assured him I would find it and it wasn't too far away
"Thanks mom, I really appreciate you doing this."

"What?" I choked. He is 8.

"I really appreciate you doing this."

I felt like the sun being thanked for coming up each day.

'Um, hey, like, no problem, I am just hanging out here every day doing my job, no real choice in the matter....but um, like, you're welcome?'
And then, since I have been working on trying to just be---to allow thoughts to come and go with no judgement. On a wav…

Accepting Acceptance

It comes up a lot.  In books, blogs, TV, discussions with friends on the same path, when I was in the hospital...and it is the hardest thing for me to come to terms with.

In a nutshell: pain comes from the discord created by wishing things were different than they are.

This is a tough pill to swallow! (and I take a lot of medication --so I should know).

Pain can be avoided by accepting was is.
I feel like this concept is too big to fit in my head.  I feel like I would need to spend every day of every year of the rest of my life trying to believe that this is the case in all things. It doesn't mean you will feel peaceful and floating on air and smiling like you are on waaaaay too many "pams" (short for all the drugs often used for an acute anxiety attack---clonazepam, lorazapam, etc.) but it does mean you can avoid the pain that comes wishing things were different.
I do get it...I just don't LIKE it. 

It makes me want to have an old fashioned tempter tantrum sometimes…

Rolling in the Deep...

Part of what sent me to the hospital back in November was this intense nerve pain that radiated from the back of my thighs, up my buttocks and lower back.  Sometimes it moved to my shoulders and back of my arms depending on how I sat and what part of me was touching any kind of surface.  When I had to describe it to anyone all I could liken it to was shingles, because I have had that.  And for those who haven't---just imaging you have gotten one of the worst sun burns of your life---and someone is rubbing your skin from the inside with sand paper.  Sitting is excruciating and as the day goes on, impossible.  You clench your teeth until your jaw aches, and the pain consumes every thought so that you are irritable and impatient with everyone.  Tasks seem overwhelming and impossible and you inability to do normal things like look after your kids, fold laundry and drive the car (because you can't sit for more than a few moments) start a tidal wave of shame that slams into you and …

Dr. Dr.

When we moved to Brampton I needed to find a family doctor---at 37--not married--two weeks into a new job in a different city--sleeping on an air mattress on the floor while my partner and son were wrapping things up in our London condo where they were still living---I found myself pregant.

I went online and found a website that provided the names of doctors in various parts of Ontario who were accepting patients.  Of the few names listed I was immediately attracted to one.  Dr. Patricia Francis--a woman --who had studied in Ireland.  This to me was a sign. I am of Irish background and if you know Brampton at all you will know that finding her seems like a bit of the luck o' the Irish. 

I was escorted into a room where a lovely coffee skinned, well dressed woman with a gorgeous South African accent I couldn't place asked the reason for my visit.  I told her I needed to speak to the doctor about a bit of a crisis.  Her eyes popped open as she sat down putting one hand on my kn…

So it's NOT Just Me?

Once upon a time I thought I was alone in this.  When I had my first crisis let's call it....I lived in a small town in Northern British Columbia.  I had access to a therapist and a psychiatrist so I was lucky in that way.  However, I did not get to experience the power of working in a group setting, sharing with others to discover I was not the only one struggling with anxiety, depression etc. This time around, fragile me was placed in a hospital environment and just allowed to see that there was a me underneath of  "job me", "mom me", "house cleaner me", "homework checker me", etc.  I was pretty small while the other identities were all sharp corners -- bold and brassy and larger than life.  So then tiny amorphous me went to group sessions and met others.  We talked about what we were going through, how we felt helpless, lonely and out of control to stop it all. It was a safe community at the hospital --- and my world of support grew a bi…

Borrowing a Little Teddy.....

Today I am going to borrow from a man that has been responsible for bringing a significant joy to my life.  Whether large or small, no matter the color (I prefer brown actually) teddy bears have played a key role in my happiness.  At age 46 I still sleep with teddy bears, take them on business trips, my honeymoon, on our cruise, to my mothers when we visit (but I have back up teddy bears there).  When I die, I want to be buried with my favorite teddy bear rapped in my arms (perhaps a little Egyptian there but no cats will die, no soldiers entombed, just the bear)---and currently that role would fall to "Teddy Bar".  Originally he was a gift to my youngest from his grandparents. Sensitive to his allergies, they bought him an "allergy" bear that could be washed a million times to reduce the dust and dust mites.  My son was a year old and thought the bear was cute, but as kids do, he latched on to another stuffed toy----a gift from a friend upon meeting him--- "Li…