Tag: healing

Manifest Me – One Year Later

Manifest Me – One Year Later

writer, freelance writer, poetI began this blog a little over a year ago. It’s hard for me to fathom how far a person can travel on the inner journey in such a short period of time. When going through change and upheaval it seems, at times, interminable. The thing I’ve noticed over the years, however, is that real change takes time, not to mention serious commitment and focused attention. When we dabble in change nothing really happens. On the other hand, if we dive in hook, line and sinker with plenty of support and guidance, deep, lasting change can occur.

When I decided to start this blog, I only had a vague idea of what I was meant to do here. I knew intuitively that I needed to be more honest in my writing – to write more from my heart and less from my head, but beyond that I didn’t have a clue what that would look like.  I lived my life in the shadow of so many things that were not me. It was time to dig deep and find the courage to excavate and express the real me. The universe, or God, or whatever exists to see us through these things, always shows up to meet such desires and yearnings with exactly the thing we need. Crystal was the angel that delivered the goods in this regard. She knew where to lead me and what to do to give me the support and direction I needed.

If you’ve read my posts here over the last year you know some of what has transpired and some of what I’ve learned along the way. For me, it’s been an experience that continues to spin in ever-widening circles and there is still work to be done – but there will always be work to be done – always a deeper level of awareness that we can attain – a higher consciousness we can continue to aspire toward. That is the true joy of living. Knowing there is always a richer, deeper, fuller life experience ahead of us – and as time goes on, I have found it is most often an inner experience that we crave.

Over the last year, on a practical level, with Crystal’s guidance I have been able to change my eating habits. I have been gluten, dairy, sugar-free much of the time, striving always for better than 80% free. I’ve increased my level of exercise and as a by-product lost 20 lbs. Crystal insisted that I not focus on my weight, and I didn’t. It’s always been a lost cause for me. She repeated again and again, that when we are aligned physically, mentally and emotionally with our true selves, the weight will come off.

More importantly, my brain is clear, I’m managing my PTSD better and better all the time.  I feel centered, anchored and happier more often and I have made great strides in developing resiliency.  I’m learning to ask for support, to allow myself to have support when it’s offered, and to give myself what I need when I need it.  In turn I have more to give to others.  I’ve learned to listen to myself more carefully, to follow my intuition more often and to trust that I know who I am. Is life perfect? No, and that’s okay. It’s not supposed to be. I do believe, however, that we can feel better than most of us do, most of the time.

It’s time once again to raise the ante. Manifesting Me requires reaching just beyond our comfort level as often as we can. Manifesting Me requires owning who we are as clearly as possible, lining up our insides with our outsides, not hiding behind masks, facades, or mental constructs. It requires being fully present within and without.

The next step on my journey is to raise the ante on my outward expression of true self. I am taking on this challenge by continuing this conversation more openly on my website: DorothySander.com. It will be me owning my experience in body, mind and spirit – in the world. It will be me saying what I think and feel without hiding behind an artifice or an idea. There, if you follow me, and I hope you will, you will find more of what you found here, more about what I have learned and am learning as time goes on. You will find guidance as I discover it on things such as overcoming trauma, the body/mind/spirit connection, developing deeper levels of self-awareness, and more on my own spiritual journey as it unfolds.

I hope you’ll join me there and/or add your name to my mailing list below to keep apprised of new posts, workshops, book reviews, and more. I value your presence in my life. Your experience informs mine as much as mine may inform yours. We have so much to learn from one another and so much love and support to offer one another. Please join me and thank you for being with me here throughout the last year.

Dorothy

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The Power of Our Imagination

The Power of Our Imagination

Friends and Acquaintances by Gale Franey
Friends and Acquaintances by Gale Franey

A person’s ability to imagine is a potent source of power that every person alive possesses. We may believe that our imagination has been displaced by pain and trauma or that we no longer have access to it, if indeed we had any to start. Or, we may be operating on the assumption that we need to think our way out of the emotional and psychological quagmire that keeps us fixated on our problems.  I believe,  that regardless of the state we are in, our imagination is available to us and can become a potent ally in our efforts toward health and wholeness.

We are all born with the power of imagination. Think about it. Can you remember a time in childhood when you were so immersed in play, your imagination so taken with the imaginary world you had summoned up that what your mind had created  seemed absolutely real to you?

I remember creating a home in the woods across from my childhood home. Tree trunks became walls, mounds of snow were fashioned into chairs and fixtures. What my friends and I created was absolutely real to us. I’m pretty sure to the eyes of an adult it would simply have been snow and woods. My perfectly crafted kitchen, complete with a pot of soup atop a beautiful white stove would have been rocks, and branches.

Our imagination is a source of power available to us at all times. Those of us who have been traumatized or who have suffered severely in our lives have turned a good portion of our imagination over to our pain.  What is fear if not a thing devised by our imagination? Perhaps the more potent our imagination, the more severe our pain.

Since my accident and subsequent PTSD, all it takes is a flash of an image at the right moment to set my heart racing. In a nano-second I am plunged into the arena of my imagination, re-living the accident as if it were presently happening. I had just such an experience last week while exercising at the club I recently joined.

I always choose a treadmill that faces a large window, so that I can focus on the big beautiful tree across the parking lot, rather than the TVs that are on the wall to either side of the window and always on. I had done so this day, but I just happened to glance at the TV, almost a side-wise, mostly unconscious glance at the screen to my left. Just as I did, an image of a man driving a car, his face painted with impending doom and terror, flashed before my eyes.  In the following nano-second the impact occurred,  and my imagination jumped into overdrive. In a split second, I was thrust into the midst of my own nightmare. Captured unwittingly, I felt as if I had no control over my suffering.

If we can recognize the power that our imagination plays in our lives,both for good and ill, we can begin to direct its course. We can choose where we will put it to work. You may say, “but we have no choice when fear overtakes us, when the physiological effects of PTSD become the driver of our emotions and imaginations” but, I believe we do have a choice. Our basic survival instinct may be broken. Our brains may replay horrific images and memories, seemingly without our say-so, but I believe we can, bit by bit, take back our power and retrain our imaginations to work in our favor and in cooperation with our healing efforts.

Using one’s imagination to counteract depression, anxiety, and trauma is a tool that is always at our disposal. Instead of choosing to let fear run the projector in our mind, we can choose hope, beauty, love, and reinforce these things as often as possible in our day-to-day lives. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a process, a practice, and ultimately a choice.

This is the fundamental principle behind the gratitude journal. When we stop and think about something good in our lives for which we can be grateful, a mini-film plays in our imagination – a reliving of something positive – and positive feelings flood our bodies. This, my friends, is far better than the flood of fear that when left unchecked leaves us only to continue suffering.

Making the choice to pay attention to what our imagination is doing, to become conscious of the imaginings that are transporting us to painful places and choosing, when we can, to imagine positive images and outcomes can begin to create an environment where healing can take place.  Our imagination can become our best friend instead of our worst nightmare.

Backwards Thinking

Backwards Thinking

bffff3fc7ca8ab3fcb9ff07f7e7e1bc6The sun streamed through the kitchen window this morning, it’s warm inviting tendrils wrapping themselves around me like a lost lover. The relief I felt, the fullness of my appreciation for what I had been missing and the cavernous desire to take in as much of its energy as I could was  not dissimilar to the way I felt when my boys returned home after their first weekend camping trip, or my husband from a business trip.

I’ve become increasingly aware of the vast array of sensory healing that is available to us, and how little we are shown the way in a culture that focuses on illness and pathology more than it does on sustenance and healing.  We are taught to focus on what is wrong with us, not on the amazing power to heal and thrive that is inherent in the gift of life.

This is especially true when it comes to mental and emotional issues. Although the tide is changing, many of us are currently suffering the ill effects of a lifetime of living in an environment that neither feeds us nor teaches us how to manage our gifts and challenges. Furthermore, we were taught to ignore the very signals our bodies naturally gives us to guide us through these challenges.

In the simple example of the sun shining after three days of rain we are shown many things. My body told me loud and clear that it needs warmth, sun, and the loving sustenance of nature. It needs these things as much as it needs water and food.  If I had not been fortunate enough to be in a home facing the sun when it came out and had instead been in a cubicle facing a computer screen, a very real need would not have been met and my awareness of it would grow dull over time.

I remember sitting in many a classroom longing to be outside. I forced myself to go to work in an office day after day because that was the thing I was supposed to value, not the needs of my body, mind and spirit for nature. I told myself that cleaning my house and making money was more important than any signals my body might be sending me to the contrary.

We have it backwards. I had it backwards. When we work in cooperation with our body we do not become the unhealthy sloths we think we will become. Quite the opposite. We find renewed energy, renewed health, renewed focus and activity.  When we follow our instincts, our intuition, our yearnings and desires, we give ourselves what we need and energy begins to flow and health begins to blossom.

Coming back to my original self from a lifetime of backwards thinking and backwards living has been a long and not always easy process, but it has been a glorious one, a life-affirming one and one I would like to see everyone have the opportunity to experience.

Learning to fill ourselves with what we actually need rather than trying to fill ourselves with that which will never nurture or sustain us is a life long process. I experience hurdles and bumps and drift away from those things I’m learning to be true. The difference now, however, is that I stay true to who I am more often. I live in closer proximity to my soul self and perhaps more importantly I am learning how to get back there when I wander off.

The path I took may not be for everyone. We each have our own unique sensibilities, but we all also have an inner self that will speak to us when we choose to tune in and listen.  It is this inner guide that will lead you on your path of healing. It will lead you to exactly what you need and take you to the place where the sun will heal your hurts and fire up your energy and a sense of well-being will become more real than ever before. The abundance of life and love lives within each of us regardless of circumstances. It is our birthright. This I will always believe.

 

One More Hour of Peace

One More Hour of Peace

c33ce167d791d319f9af4a186ee0272bOn the mend from dental work performed last week, I’ve been  feeling a bit blue and lethargic. The gloomy weather hasn’t helped a bit! This morning, after three days of antibiotics I felt just enough better to force myself into motion. It’s difficult to know for certain whether it’s better to rest, or to move. I decided it was time to find out, so I took off for a long walk with my eagerly awaiting companion. He too was long overdue for some sustained motion.

It was  absolutely the right move. Walking, even on misty, cold days restores my soul and adjusts my perspective on life. Breathing in the moist air fed more than my soul! It seemed to vacate the cobwebs in my breathing apparatus and fired up my imagination.

Our imagination is so essential to the healing process. It expands our world view and allows us to see beyond our pain and whatever it is that is plaguing us in the here and now. Trauma forces us into a dark cave. It shuts us off to possibility. As wounded individuals, the fear and pain that is too often our constant companion takes over our imagination and turns it into a manufacturer of worse case scenarios of the highest order.

In order to thrive after trauma, we must take control of our imagination and point it in the right direction. Those who suffer the most as a result of abuse and trauma may just be the ones with the most powerful imaginations! If this is so, and I believe that it is, then the future bodes well for them as well, as when they are able to unleash this power in a more promising direction, the joy will be as high as the pain was deep.

It is difficult to understand sometimes, particularly when we have had a life long habit of trauma induced negative thinking, that we can harness our thoughts and use them to pull us out of the darkness. While it is important to understand our trauma from a psychological perspective, to grow in self-esteem and self-love, it is equally important to begin practicing a different way of imagining every chance we get.

For example, I recently submitted a few articles for publication to an agent that admittedly was a bit above my “pay grade” – but one can dream, can’t one? To make a long story short I received a rejection letter.  I wasn’t surprised and yet it triggered a spiral of negative thinking. My monkey mind went to work on me…over time! Of course, it didn’t help that I was fighting an infection and  was physically  off my game, but the fact remains it all added up to my overactive imagination turning on me.

It is in these moments, precisely in the midst of a downward spiral, that we must learn to grab hold of our imagination by a force of will and yank ourselves back from the brink. It is a choice. It doesn’t feel like one, but it is.  The trick is to catch ourselves in the act and then break the cycle. The more we are able to do this, the better we will become at doing it, and ultimately the better control we will have on how our past trauma impacts our present lives.

Going for a walk this morning was just one more step in breaking the power that trauma and abuse still has on my life. My choice to walk not only changed but it also interrupted my thought flow, it opened me up to the powerful imagination stimulus of nature. that readily available gift that always reminds me of all that is life-giving and sustaining. It grounds me in a way that nothing else does. As I walk my thoughts go, out of habit, without effort I fall into a more receptive mode. I listened to the damp woods, the trees, the rocks, the rushing stream and was able to take in their message, their gift, their strength. I was able to reconnect with my own positive imagination and I returned home renewed and restored, one more battle won, one more fear conquered, one more hour of peace.

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How Long Does It Take A Wound to Heal

How Long Does It Take A Wound to Heal

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC

The wounds of childhood run deep. They run broad and wide and fester when they do not experience the light of understanding, of compassion, of acknowledgement, of love. Tears may be shed, cries and protests may erupt in the moments during or following an injury, but when unattended, the wound is covered up with ignorance, indifference or cruelty. The injury  is ignored as if it doesn’t exist, as if it never happened. The sands of time, layer upon layer, muffle the sound of the heartbreak, cause the bleeding to disappear from sight, but healing cannot occur. The bleeding and heartbreak continue on out of sight, underneath a layer of scar tissue.

I received a laceration to my hand in an accident, now four years ago, that has a left a scar. Shards of glass from the window beside me, the window I instinctively pressed my hand and arm against to brace myself as the car rolled…and rolled…sliced the tendon between my pinky and ring finger as it shattered against me on impact. Once the car came to a standstill and I found a small portion of my senses I knew I had suffered a serious injury to my hand though I could see nothing but blood. Somehow I knew that beneath the blood my fingers had been rendered useless. I even thought I had lost my pinky. It was instinct, out of sight awareness that led me to this conclusion.

The surgeon craftsman in the trauma center repaired the damage to the best of his ability though he had to be creative with what was left of the sinewy tissue. He enjoyed the challenge. I was grateful for his confidence.  After two hours of surgery, it took twelve weeks of bi-weekly physical therapy and home treatment  to regain some use. It took better than a year for the pain to stop and two years for me to stop being aware of the discomfort of the minor malfunction. This wound, was a simple, fairly obvious wound to attend to and heal, in the overall scheme of things.

The deeper wounds, the ones that are out of sight and remain unattended, discounted by ourselves or overlooked by those who have the power and awareness to help us heal, do not receive the treatment they need, the support of a team of experts, the attention of skilled rehabilitation specialists. We are left to carry them by ourselves, live with them and to attend to them in whatever way we can.

The accident left me with a TBI and PTSD. Both were not diagnosed or attended to in my post-accident medical treatment and it wasn’t until my hand began to heal that it came to my attention that I had been crippled in a far more significant way by the accident. I had not lost my finger but I had lost my life as I knew it,  my sense of security, my ability to trust myself or the world around me. I could not think. I could not remember things for five minutes. I could not plan or execute. I could not leave the house.

In that car, that day, I had been a sitting duck. I was a passenger in the car. I had no control over any part of my life. I was a victim just waiting to be victimized again. And, I was. Thank God. In spite of the pain and anguish I experienced during the years since, it does not compare to the anguish I suffered for a lifetime prior as I lived with buried wounds day in and day out, fighting depression, anxiety, self-doubt, deep, deep despair, fear, insecurity, uncertainty, failure, failure, failure. That accident shook everything loose in one fell swoop. I was turned inside out and upside down, literally and figuratively, my insides poured on the sidewalk to be picked through and inspected.

One by one, piece by piece, bit by bit, day by day I sort through and heal, sort through and heal. If the truth were told I’m still afraid to let go of the deepest numbness that replaced feelings too intense to hold, too lethal to bear. Yet, I know this is the only way to continue healing. One must open up the wound, must shower it with attention, understanding, and above all love, allowing tears to flow, anger to surge so that healing can take place. If we keep the lid on it, it we keep the bandage on the cut it is slower to heal and may never heal at all.

Ripping off the bandage is painful. It is best done with another, with someone who loves us and who can hold space for us. It is not something that can or should be done alone. Allowing love in is part of the healing process. Allowing others to care for us, to hold us and touch our hearts again is what we all long for. It’s what we all require.

So, how long does it take a wound to heal? It takes as long as it takes, but it begins when we take notice of the wound and give it the attention it requires. The healing process moves forward each time we shine the light of truth, understanding, love, acceptance and forgiveness on our hurting places. It ends when we no longer think about it.

Reclaiming Purpose

Reclaiming Purpose


This month’s selection for the Aging Abundantly Book Club is a recent favorite, I Will Not Live An Unlived Life: Reclaiming Passion and Purpose by Dawna Markova. I posted a copy of her poem from the beginning of the book not too long ago. I am enjoying it even more the second time around. It’s a book that at its heart is poetic and filled with images, metaphors and enough symbolic language to keep me giddy for weeks. That’s just me. Something like Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea – if you liked it, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the second chapter where she shares her thoughts at the beginning of her healing journey.

“I need to recover a rhythm in my heart that moves my body first and my mind second”

“I need to take a sacred pause, as if I were a sun-warmed rock in the center of a rushing river.”

“I need a safe place in which to tell myself the truth.”

and maybe my favorite in this chapter:

“Through fear of knowing who we really are we sidestep our own destiny.”

Her words speak to me. Everywhere I look I see people racing around trying to be someone and do something only to cause unrelenting “soul leakage” as she calls it. I know I certainly felt everything she describes as I entered mid-life. It finally had all caught up with me. Many of you tell me the same thing. It just came to be the time when it all needed to stop in order to allow something different to blossom.

Change isn’t easy. Living with the rhythm of our heart and body is. It’s not perfect. It’s not without it’s challenges, but it feels like living and breathing with the universe not the world.

If you like reading non-fiction of the psycho-spiritual variety we will be doing more of it. We also read fiction so drop in. We’d love to have you!

writer, poet