Tag: Body

Developing Resiliency

Developing Resiliency

Portland Maine
The Waves Came Crashing Full by Charlie Widdis

It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since I last wrote here. Time flies when you’re feeling good, and I’m feeling great! I didn’t think I could ever feel “young” again.  I not only feel younger than a did four weeks ago,  I feel better than I ever have in a body/mind/spirit. It’s been a hard-fought battle and I don’t pretend that there won’t be ups and downs, although wouldn’t it be great if there weren’t?

When we feel great, we always want to feel great. When we feel lousy, we think we’ll never feel good again. I continue to work on accepting the ebb and flow of life, in all its dimensions; to join forces with the rhythm of my body, my mind and my spirit as I live out my life; to pay attention to the signals each is sending me and to do what I can to cooperate with these signals, and to respond to their needs. My goal is to develop a resiliency that I have heretofore not had the good fortune to possess.

Rather than blocking  or ignoring the signals that are attempting to make themselves known to us, perhaps because they seem inconvenient or we fear what they might be trying to tell us, we might choose instead to turn toward them and to learn to trust that they are with us rather than against us. Our body is a gift, a friend, a beloved companion. It knows what we need.

It’s the little things that we do to tend and care for ourselves that fosters resiliency;  stopping often enough, and long enough to listen to what we know; to silence our minds and hear with our other senses. Most of us have lived in mental overdrive for so long, and the world around us is so very loud,  that it does indeed take a concerted effort to tune in to our bodies and to the voice of our spirit guide.

There are numerous ways to develop a practice of tuning in and each is as unique as the individual. An important first step of my healing journey was reconnecting with my body. PTSD, and trauma of any kind, can leave one feeling “outside” oneself, in a bubble, or a box.  I felt numb, detached, disconnected; I had no feelings, no sense of taste or smell, no appetites of any kind; I was unaware that my feet were even touching the floor when I sat. One of the first practices my healing guide suggested was the practice of mindfulness, tuning in to the sensations of my hands on the arm of a chair, my fingers as they gripped the arm’s edge, my feet where they connected with the ground beneath them. It was a slow process, but bit by bit, I began to let sensations back in. Eventually, I moved on to healing massage and chiropractic treatments. I was knotted, frozen, locked up from trauma.

It’s often not just a single traumatic incident that leads us into a state of numbness, but rather layers upon layers of traumas of all sizes, each compounding the one before. When we do not have resiliency, we reach a point where we can no longer ride the waves. That is why so many of us reach our breaking point at mid-life. We have held up the mountain we carried for as long as we could. It’s time to put it down.

Dorothy Sander 2014

A Word About Trauma

Along the Healing Path 

 

 

 

Holistic Detoxification Process w/ Crystal Honeycutt

Holistic Detoxification Process w/ Crystal Honeycutt

Last week I asked Crystal if she would be willing to write a few words about the detox and wellness program I’m following from her viewpoint as an expert. She went above and beyond and created this great video. I know you’ll enjoy it! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in a comment and one of us will try to answer them.

 

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

 

We All Need Support

We All Need Support

Anna Ravera WATERCOLOR
Anna Ravera WATERCOLOR

It took far longer than I would like it to have taken, for me to understand what real “support” looks like. I’m a rebellious sort, by  nature or nurture it’s hard to say, and I have never liked people telling me what to do, think, or say. It’s one of the primary reasons I did not pursue ordination after I graduated from seminary.  I couldn’t buy into any one denomination so completely that I felt I could follow their rules and dictates, nor did I want someone telling me how, when and where  to live out my faith. (I was ever so idealistic and naive!)

Instead of living under the umbrella of organized religion, I chose as soon as possible to become self-employed.  Sometimes I envied people who could cozy up to a group, business or organization and make it their life. It provided structure, guidance, answers to questions that required no thought, or questioning, or finding one’s way through the dark. Going it alone can mean little if any support, unless you make a conscious effort to seek it. As an introvert, I did not and I rarely had time.

Years ago I believed that a “supportive friend” was one with whom I could commiserate; someone who would rally behind me in my anger and frustrations with life. Of course, I would return the favor. I remember the exact day I decided I was done with that kind of support.

In my late twenties, I was working for a small non-profit organization, drowning in politics and drama. Caught in the middle of the fray, I was fired. Understandably stunned, upset and angry,  I went home and started calling whoever I thought would understand and see things my way.

After several days on the phone with various friends and co-workers, I came to the conclusion I was not getting what I wanted. In fact,  it was making matters worse. Some of the people I was “sharing” with weren’t even really on my side.  In fact, I was drowning in pity, judgement and platitudes, and feeling more and more inadequate and flawed by the minute.  In that moment, I decided I would never again share my problems with anyone, especially in that way.  I was on to something, but it took me many more years to take the step I really needed to take.

I went on to use a different flawed approach, going it alone. Except for my husband, I shared my personal life with no one, unless I was paying for the privilege. That didn’t stop me from listening, supporting and empathizing with the few  friends that I did have over the years.  By the time I reached fifty, I was crumbling fast. I was burned out. I was carrying a weight so heavy I was practically crawling on my knees.

It wasn’t until the accident, that I finally stumbled upon the real solution. I was no longer on my hands and knees, I was flat-out, face first in the mud. I couldn’t breathe or move, let alone think or feel my way out of the place I was in. Every ounce of security I had once felt, and I admit it was not a ton, had evaporated through my fingers. I could trust no one and nothing, most especially  myself.

Immediately after the accident my focus was on my hand. Several times a week my husband drove me to rehab, as I could not drive, and there I received loving care and emotional support from Jane, the physical therapist who worked with me. As look back on it, she did as much for my emotional state as she did my hand; helped me find the courage to keep going and to believe in a positive outcome.

It took two years for my hand to heal enough that I no longer was constantly reminded of the injury by my difficulties with typing, removing jar or gripping the steering wheel of the car.  The stiffness and pain was also within an acceptable range. Now, I’ve gotten used to the scars and the way my pinky turns under. I didn’t know that I had yet to face the bigger challenge of PTSD.

Unable to think clearly, leave the house, drive a car, or return to my writing with any sense of purpose or direction, I began to consider seeking help. For what, I really didn’t know.  What I knew was that I was terrified to go to sleep at night; that I could not “feel” my feelings; that I was not “in” my body; that I had panic attacks regularly and often over little things. During the day I was riveted to my chair in the living room by fear and immobility. At night, I managed to get myself to sleep by listening to ebooks by such life savers as Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Byron Katie, Brene Brown and so many others. That was my first step in find support and comfort.

As I look back on it now, getting back on my feet has been a step by step process that absolutely required the support of friends and professionals, but friends and professionals who “got me”, who did not offer me platitudes,  pity,  judgment,  opinions, or unasked for advice. What I needed, and what I’ve come to believe everyone needs, is understanding, compassion, wisdom and a willingness to believe in us, when we no longer believe in ourselves. We need people in our lives who reflect back to us our truest self, with love.

What I have also come to accept about myself is that I need support from people who can go deep; who can speak to me in the symbolic language of soul and spirit where I live. Traditional therapy, while I have spent more hours and days engaged in such over my lifetime, has never been particularly helpful, or healing. When I turned to Crystal for help, I turned in the right direction. I’ve learned so incredibly much from working with her and it was possible because she has always seen me as a whole person, body, mind and spirit. She addresses all of my needs while challenging me to step up to the plate.

My dear, wonderful friend Jill also has the capacity to listen to my heart, to challenge my mind and to encourage me to grow and stretch into the center of me. She reflects back to me my real self.  These two people, their advice, guidance and counsel provided the foundation for my growing understanding of support.  It doesn’t take a dozen friends, it just takes one or two of the right ones and then choosing bit by bit to make oneself vulnerable and open to their love and care.

When you are looking support, look for someone who listens carefully to what you are saying, who can empathize with you and validate your experiences, all the while maintaining enough distance and perspective to offer insight and perspective when asked.  Sounds easy and sensible, but hard to find, even in therapists and especially in healthcare professionals.  Above all else, TRUST OUR INTUITION.

Often the hardest part about getting back on our feet is taking the first step when we’d rather curl up in a ball and die, to muster up the courage and strength to risk again and again until a support system is established. Not to risk is to stay broken, to continue to hurt, to give up and give in to despair and defeat. The only way out is through, and no one else can do it for us.

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright

 

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

Holistic Detoxification Process

 

 

Food for Fun – Day #10

Food for Fun – Day #10

Durham BullsToday I woke up more clear-headed than I have in centuries! The ebb and flow of anxiety and depression has become less severe. I feel fatigued at times if I try to do too much, or don’t keep my food intake up. While all is not perfect, I am feeling better and better each day. In fact, I felt so much better last night I had an overwhelming desire to go to Tutti Fruiti’s for a big cup of frozen yogurt to celebrate! How else does one celebrate….anything!

Food as a form of celebration, fun, reward, and relaxation is deeply ingrained in my body, mind and spirit. My husband and I always plan where we will eat whenever we do anything for enjoyment. It’s part of the outing.

He loves to cook and loves to eat and his favorite pastime is planning our meals, in or out. Whether it’s a picnic on a trip or going out to a nice restaurant, it’s a central focus. Fortunately, we eat fairly well most of the time and our finances have never allowed us to indulge in dining out on a regular basis, but a change in perspective will have to be made for me to hold fast to this new lifestyle.

Finding ways to enjoy time together, without food as a significant part of the experience, will be a challenge. Every year we go to opening night at the Durham Bull’s. It’s coming up in a couple of weeks, and while the game and ambiance is always enjoyable, ballpark food is part of the fun. It’s something we only do once or twice a year. Much of it I could do with out, and usually do, but there are a few items….well, I’m just going to miss. I do not want to slip into deprivation mode on such occasions, especially if my husband chooses to indulge.

Scott has been cooking up a storm for me and helping in every way he can. Still, I know he is struggling with deprivation. He wants to support me, but he wants his pasta! I keep telling him to cook and eat what he wants, and I will take care of me, but I think he’s trying to eat healthier, and for the moment is sticking with it .  It’s made cooking more challenging for him,  allowing for fewer opportunities for creative expression.

These are all things to sort out and it will take time to do so.  Change is never easy. Even if it’s entirely worth it!

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

Holistic Detoxification Process

Along the Path of Healing

Coming Full Circle – Day #4

Coming Full Circle – Day #4

Wisdom
The Storyteller – A Wise Old Sage by Holly Sierra
Click on Image for More Info

My family moved from a quaint little town not far from Erie, PA, to a small paper mill town on the Androscoggin River in Maine. My father, an electrical engineer,  was perhaps, taking a step up the corporate ladder. Just shy of my third birthday, my mother, my two older sisters and I traveled by sleeper car to our new home. The change was a shock for most of my family, which at that time included five children and my grandfather in addition to my parents and various pets.

I was the youngest and it was my innocent good fortune that I did not carry any preconceived ideas into this beautiful, untarnished part of our country. Indeed, it was magical to me. I loved the snow, the crisp, fresh air, the people, the endless woods and giant rocks. Nature was my refuge, a means to escape into a world that I understood and that fed my soul. I was mostly invisible in my family and in the house,  and so I found a freedom of expression in the great outdoors, where I could connect deeply with my life force.

Raised in the Episcopal Church, we attended weekly services at the local parish. Many of my friends were Catholic, and while my immediate family paid little attention to Lent in a practical  sense, it became a tradition/ritual that I took on each year with heartfelt commitment.  During Lent of my third year, I decided to give up sucking my thumb, and as a symbolic gesture of that commitment, I gave my favorite blanket to my “younger” cousin. The first night, as I drifted off, I was aware of the absence of my usual comforts, but I held fast to my decision.

To my dismay I awoke the next morning with my thumb in my mouth. I had faltered, let myself down…and it was in my sleep! Oh, no!  In spite of my disappointment, I continued on.  I made it through my very first Lent  without any further mishap.

I bring this story up for a reason. I remembered yesterday that it is Lent. As you probably know, Lent is a forty day period of time during which many Christians prepare themselves for the celebration of Easter. It is a time of fasting, prayer, repentance, moderation and the focused practice of a spiritual discipline.  While I long ago gave up following the Christian Liturgical calendar, it strikes me that my life has come full circle, that there is some sort of serendipity involved in my recent dietary undertaking at precisely this time of year.

Spirituality has been a central focus throughout my life, though I shoved it aside during my thirties and forties. At mid-life, and particularly over the last several years since the accident,  I find I turn more and more to spiritual teachers, to prayer and meditation, to the larger spiritual force that lives both within and without; I turn there for strength, guidance and understanding.

I no longer live within the structure of the Christian tradition. I find it too limiting, too often off-center, but I will always be drawn to, and see the value in many of the religious traditions, practices and theologies. They have deep, symbolic meaning in a world that has lost sight of its existence and power.

A period of fasting is a century old practice in most religions, and my experiences over the past week have reminded me of its value. Food is a life-giving substance, without which we could not survive. In our world of abundance, we have lost touch with this, both in a very real sense and a symbolical one. It is a gift of the earth that nurtures, restores and fills us, something for which we should be grateful.  When we take it for granted, become numb or indifferent to its connection to our life force,  we run the risk of forgetting that we are mere mortals. In the process we not only overlook the gift of abundance, we disrespect and overlook another very important gift – our body, and all of the abundant blessings it provides.

We are not just our mind, or our heart, or  our soul, just as we are not only our body. We are all of those things, and as we strive to respect and care for each, we  care for the other.

Lent is a reminder. Fasting is a reminder.  Each helps one gain a new perspective or awaken an old one we may have forgotten. Taking a step back from, or outside of, our day-to-day viewpoint  offers us an opportunity to get things back in balance. We need those opportunities. We need to provide them for ourselves when we can.

Dorothy  3/15/2014 copyright

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

The Morning After the Night Before – Day #2

The Morning After the Night Before – Day #2

Tiffanie At White Sands by Woodie Duncan
Tiffanie At White Sands by Woodie Duncan

Nobody should have to drink swamp water first thing in the morning. I just have to get that off my chest. Even if it tastes sorta okay, really that’s a stretch, I feel more like a frog than a human being. It just isn’t natural! Give me spinach and lettuce  if you have to, but icky green water? No thanks!

I made it through Day #1. My only cheat was coffee with a splash of fat-free half and half. I started Day #2 the same, so now that my confession is complete here’s what I’m discovering.

It was both easy and hard. Easier than I expected, hard because it took work, focus and argh discipline. When I went to bed, after a cup of home-made vegetable beef soup and two Tylenol, I thought there’s no way in hell I can keep this up. I have to admit, however, I was proud of myself…a little.

The most valuable tool that I used throughout the day was something I’ve been practicing for some time: mindfulness, staying in the moment. When my mind wanted to jump ahead to dreading my next meal, or lack thereof, I brought it back to the moment. Just now. Be here. When you are here, you can’t wallow in self-pity or despair over what could have been or  might never be. I will, can, and do drink the swamp water  in this moment. That’s it. That’s my only thought, and then it’s done, and I can go back to writing.

I have an intellectual awareness that food = comfort, and have paid lip service to how it’s impacted my life, but yesterday, I began to explore the connection in a deeper, more personal way. First, there is almost nothing on this diet that offers me comfort, except for the sweet potato that I had at 3:00.

Comfort is an illusive thing and often, it is not even clear what need we are trying to meet. Yesterday, I realized that I have a powerful need for security. It’s stronger now perhaps  than it was in the past, as I have come to  a place where I have almost none of the typical types of security, such as a steady job, certain income or a husband with same. I do not have the external structures I once had, such as kids to raise, parents to care for, or again a job outside of the home.

Over the last several years since the accident I unconsciously created a meal regimen that offered me structure, security and comfort all in one. I found healthy foods that I enjoyed for breakfast and lunch and that’s what I ate…every day. Eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, fruit/yogurt/nuts for lunch. Dinner was whatever my husband fixed, and as I’m not a fan of dinner, it was simply a meal at a structured time that filled my stomach.  I moved on with enjoyment, however, to a cup or two of decaf coffee with flavored cream and later a bowl of cereal and/or a low-fat fudge pop. All of this comfort food, albeit healthy to some extent,  is not on my food list now.

The absence of the opportunity to find structure, security and comfort at meal time and beyond is forcing me to look at new ways to fill this need. Interestingly enough, today I was eager to write down my foods, take my supplements and write this blog. Ah, structure, of a different sort. Security can be found in participating in planned, creative or functional tasks. It’s only the beginning.

I had very dark, vivid and ominous dreams. It must be my “rebellious liver”! I’m always amazed at the creativity of the psyche. If I could have recorded my dream, it would have made an awesome horror flick. Where does all that stuff come from???

Before I end I have to say a word about my husband, Scott. I would not be honest if I did not say that we have had our difficulties during our thirty-two years of marriage, so those of you who are single, please don’t assume as I did when I was single that it is an easier or better life, because it is not. It is different. It presents its own opportunities for growth or avoidance of growth. Single or coupled, in the end we must always face ourselves. Perhaps being single offers one a better opportunity for an authentic life as one is forced more readily to face oneself,  but I digress.

Scott has supported me in every endeavor I have ever decided to undertake. He never questions my choices, criticizes my madness, or stands in the way of my valiant attempts to be me. In fact, he almost always jumps right in and participates in whatever way he can. When I opened Baby’s Best, my used baby furniture store, and I was 7 months pregnant, he was right there beside me,  hauling furniture, putting up shelves, and keeping an eye on our then three-year old son. When I said, “Let’s move to Virginia”, he rented and packed the truck while I sold the house. When I said, “Let’s buy a fixer upper”, he was right there, knocking down walls, laying flooring, and installing appliances while

Breakfast Day #2

I painted and painted and painted. When I decided to sell jeans on eBay, he bought and assembled shelving and helped me turn one of our spare bedrooms into a warehouse. That’s just the short list. Now, as I attempt to modify my health, he is right there with me, unceremoniously preparing meals for me like the one in the picture (my breakfast). After a hard day of work he made a luscious meal of salmon and veggies and a pot of soup. Already, on Day #2 I can see how instrumental he is, and will continue to be in my  success with this program. Thank you, friend and soul mate. You’re the best.

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection