Fear and Flashbacks

On Monday I was helping my husband temporarily close in a wide doorway. He had just placed two 4 by 8 foot pieces of plywood in front of the doorway and had walked away to grab a skid to place in front of them to told hit. Meanwhile, I grabbed one nearby and was going to put it in place when I hear him shout “watch out!” I looked up just in time to see daylight coming through the door and get my arm up to block one of the pieces from hitting me in the head. In the next second, down came the second piece. The weight was too much for me to hold. Both pieces came down on my head and knocked me backwards. Luckily I fell into a an unfinished wing back chair, and while landing on it bruised my ribs and leg, it kept the plywood from crashing atop me and injuring me further. I’m battered, bruised, and sore, but luckily no broken bones.

I knew from experience, the initial pain was going to be a piece of cake. I had adrenaline to thank for that. The real struggle was going to be the days following. And sure enough, the following day, stiffness and pain ensued at a higher level. I’ve been doing all I can to take it easy and a reek of muscle rub.

When the incident happened, and it all was occurring in slow motion, my thought was “no, please! This can’t be happening again!” I actually laid sprawled over and in the chair carcass and felt like my struggle of 17 years was re-spawning me back to the beginning. I was in disbelief and utterly disappointed.

I’ve tried to rewire my thoughts and just stay in the here and now for the past 48 hours. But last night, I woke up to the pain increasing. Muscle spasms began. And here I was, mentally back to 2001 when I fell at work. Panic set it. I felt my heart quicken. “I’m repeating that pattern of pain that ultimately began the 17 years of declining health and chronic pain.” I can’t do this again.

And then I suddenly shook myself free of that thought. I began an inner dialogue with myself, a pep talk if you will…

“No, not only can’t you, but you won’t.”

“You will not be taking presciption meds to mask the pain”

“You will heal”

“You just need time”

“You will give it rest as needed and not take take prescription meds to push through and keep up with what you think the world expects of you.”

“You know and understand your limits.”

“You know your body better now than before.”

“There will be no injections”

“There will be no surgeries to ablate nerves”

“There will be no medicines to counter health issues caused by other medicines”

“You have life plans in place, places you want to visit, goals you want to meet.”

“You are in control.”

I will not deprive myself of climbing the steps of Machu Picchu one day.

I feel like I have taken 10 steps backwards after gaining 5 in the past 6 months. But this will not stop my momentum. To know that I now have all the proper tools, knowledge and experience at my disposal, allows me to be fully confident in that.

Just watch me. I didn’t develop all this willpower to be meek in my journey.

I. Will. Be. Well!

Refocus and redirection in the midst of seemingly forced life changes.

It’s hard to decide where to focus, what exactly the writing should look like. Bring in personal experiences, desires, expectations, plans….. where focus should be in time of quarentine. Life isn’t like it what we are used to and how we have set up our everyday patterns. Where should we place our time and energy? We aren’t used to focusing on mere survival. It is so much more than being in a physical place, it is what we build within that space to encourage a healthy mental space.

My yoga mat has become my refuge for getting away from the negative and the newly attained unalterable situations. However, although it has been weeks, it has often felt like years. Sometimes writing can be another place of mental reset, but it is sometimes difficult to syphone the thoughts into one cohesive topic. I find it amazing that, in a time where we are forced to slow our lives, our minds runneth over.

I have been trying to use the time to make thoughts focus on future movement: finding and setting up a new home, traveling to a few places on my wish list, taking hikes across new terrain, and spending time with family we haven’t seen for some time.

It’s a good time to recenter and refocus, but it is difficult without seeing what life will be beyond. But do we really need to see that. Do we every really see the result before we have worked through the various choices and solutions? The real battle is within ourselves to think we have to fully understand and visual that life exactly as it will be once we arrive. We take issue with stepping into the not knowing. Is it because we are unsure of ourselves and our ability to adapt and cope outside of our old patterns. Maybe we should ask ourselves if those patterns were 100% working in our favor. Yes, others will make decisions that will affect life going forward. And we will have to adjust to that. But what about those changes that might ultimately lift us from ruts we might have been in prior. Changes that might bring about new opportunities and fresh ways to consider living your life.

Think back to when you were a kid. How easily did you adapt? You crawled and that was good enough. Or so our little minds thought, as we were reaching into areas we had never chartered alone. But then you were placed on your feet and encouraged to walk. So you did. We weren’t given the choice, but yet we instinctively new the benefit in pursuing and mastering it. It didn’t matter how many falls we endured. The muscle memory of that encouragement and success propelled us through the next life lesson.

But where is that thought process now as an adult. Reunite with that resiliency you had. As children we are hopefully gifted with people who encourage us to learn and grow. I’m sure all of us had someone like that in our life, or we wouldn’t be where we are today. We were encouraged by loved ones to push through and to be confident in our ability. We were being filled with tenacity and know how to always remove obstacles, find solutions, and persist. But somehow as adults we forget those lessons. We see the obstacles, halt, and question why they are there and why we are the ones burdened with them. Rather than grow around them and use them as a way to climb higher.

I know we are experiencing something that is uncomfortable, confusing, and feels confining. But, it is all about how we view this time, harness it, and plan for the future, that causes us to fall into its grip and swallow us up or ignites us to grow bigger. We cannot see what lies ahead, but we can decide to move the obstacles as they present themselves and find ourselves a comfortable or perhaps even improved life beyond it.

A particular situation stirred these thoughts in me. My eldest grandson, who is typically a “follow the rules” kind of kid, and whose confidence is just beginning to emerge, evidently had decided his bangs were bothering him. Aren’t we all experiencing this given we haven’t had haircuts, at least professional ones, for nearly 2 months!? While his mom was busy working out and dad was giving his two younger brothers a bath, he went into the kitchen and grabbed a pair of kid scissors. He then boldly began cutting his bangs. Now, mind you, he had not expressed this visual impediment aloud, until his dad walked in to find him addressing it on his own. Although taken aback, dad just asked him what he was doing. After and explanation of how bothersome it was to have them blocking his vision, he was allowed to proceed with his remedy. His hair was then styled by his dad; AKA, buzzed off.

Even having no experience with that task at hand, he tackles it with a determination and certitude that the outcome will be nothing but an improvement and be met with positive results.
The pride in the accomplishment and a new skill formed is obvious in that stance and grin.

This is precisely the way I want to tackle the current situation and all hurdles going forward. Why not cut to the chase of what we need to change in our life that wasn’t working us toward a positive direction or serving to fulfill us, We need to get past what appears to be blocking our vision.

This is the opportunity to grow, learn new skills, and be reminded that all of the falls, hurdles, and setbacks now provide more experience than we had when we took our first step or handled our first pair of scissors in fumbling, uncoordinated, hands.

Trim away what blocks the view. Then grin proudly to have succeeded at your best possible attempt.

The willpower exists. Employ it. No, do one better, capitalize on it.

Be powerfully well.

(Featured image: Keepinspiring.me)

A (3rd) shift in life and mindset during stay at home orders.

Unprecedented times. How many times have you heard that lately? But it is true. Most of the generations today have never lived through such trying times of uncertainty and social isolation. And I believe most of us are digging deep and analyzing how we chose and need to live life now compared to how life was pre-Covid19. It’s only natural to compare what once was to what we are currently living through. There is a huge sense of loss on many levels at this time.

I have to admit, at the start of this, I was not in the least filled with dread or concern with being told to shelter in place. I looked at it as my responsibility to work toward the common good of all. I certainly didn’t want to put my family in harms away, nor did I want to be part of a chain that might possibly transmit the virus to others. I tried to look at it as “life as usual”, with just a little tweaking.

I have been doing a lot of tweaking and self evaluation prior to all of this. At the end of last year, I was no longer taking care of grandsons. I had, at that time, decided I needed to look more at my health issues and put my entire focus on that. It was a large part of why I could no longer physically keep caring for them. Pain, inflammation, and digestive issues had taken over too much of my life. With all the extra time on my hands, I wanted to utilize it for a positive change. Admittedly it was mentally difficult to not have a purpose. To place all the focus on myself seemed selfish. I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually making a crucial health choice and that it would ultimately be important for me to do so as to enjoy traveling with my husband, be physically able to play with grandsons, and live out all the other nuances I had desired to have in my life. I was tired of the daily doldrums and disappointments of deciding what I had to eliminate from each day in order to push through it or to take part in any small things that brought me joy. It was time to tackle and eradicate the issues that were forcing me to make these upsetting and mentally debilitating choices.

When my health issues came to boiling point about 16 years ago, I took it as a sign that I had to slow down. I had to not be that “yes” person who took on more than I could cope with because I would become a disappoint. I used it as a wake up call. I knew I needed to slow down, but it wasn’t until a critical point that I actually took action. Despite all I have tried, I’ve not overcome all the issues that are depleting parts of my life. My second wake up call was that moment I had to tell my son I could no longer take care of the his boy in a way I felt they weren’t being affected. I weep now at the memory of that confession to myself that I couldn’t carry on with something that brought me such joy. My life was being controlled by an internal monster. I felt had lost everything that defined me because of it.

Two months into tying to regain myself and my life, I know I still wasn’t being honest with myself in what I truly needed to be doing and that I still wasn’t giving it enough. I was mentally giving up and allowing the pain to consume me. I felt lost and wasn’t sure where to turn. Some of it was because I was mourning the loss of time with the grandsons. I was trying to get more sleep as I often only slept only 4 to six hours a night. I was getting more sleep, but it was taking me 10 to 12 hours to get the needed 8. I did remain focused on eating right and tried to get some sort of physical workout when pain levels weren’t soaring. However, mentally I was drowning and the pain was winning yet again. I remained in the “fake it till you make it” mode and throwing on a convincing smile.

Doctor after doctor have warned me about not putting on weight as it would exacerbate the pain I was already experiencing. I knew I had to move more in order to keep the pounds at bay, despite how much it hurt. Unfortunately, hitting my mid-50’s, the number on the scales was creeping up. My husband and I were taking walks, albeit not as long as I had hoped. It was just so painful to move. And I was walking indoors in order to keep moving and was doing yoga, although at times that was even difficult. Trying to refocus through Mel Robbins program Best Decade Ever helped pushed me through the harder days and to remain hopeful for a better future despite the pain. It was during this time a high school friend who I had been chatting via IM with about supplements that help reduce pain, told me about a product another mutual high school friend was using. Being a skeptic, I merely stalked her Facebook page for awhile until I finally got up the nerve to comment. When she reached out to me, I, with my doubt in tow, let her explain the premise behind the products. A few weeks later, I decided to take her up on a three day trial. From there, I decided the products were worth a 3 month trial.

I was just at my third month of using the Plexus products, when the stay at home order was enforced. It was then that I felt this mental push to up the ante. Life once again, was directing me to step back. I was feeling the positive effects of taking them, but I was still saying quite ugly things to myself. Negative talk can take you down a deep rabbit hole both mentally and physically. So, while I was further losing myself, the world seemed to spinning into an unknown dimension. It took my thoughts back to 911, when our nation made a collective gasp and we all had a mutual understanding, empathy, and alarm for the suffering that was occurring. This seemingly unwieldy situation is happening on a global scale. This, this overwhelming lack of control, has been my third wake up call. I had to gain some control over this world of chaos within my personal space.

I have to admit this ability to cope waxes and wanes. However, I’m sure I am one among billions who are feeling the mental strain. But this third, and deeply immense wake up call, has brought me further into seeking positive change. I have a long way before I feel I am capable of eliminating my mental struggle. I’m still questioning my ability, but not my determination. I am walking more. I’m resisting the need to stress eat. I meet my insecurities at the yoga mat at least 5 days a week. And I am taking advantage of the plethora of free programs, videos, and blogs that encourage self discovery and self love. I’m tweaking my Plexus products to get the best results for my body and needs. And each night I read at least 15 minutes in order to remove any negative thoughts of the day. I’m not sure what will bring me to the edge of my best health yet. But, with the uncertainty of what we are currently living in, I do know I want more than just a mediocre existence. And while being asked to shelter in place, I feel the need to start building something that will be better when we come out on the other side of this.

I’m also hoping the world also emerges more peace-filled and whole.

Forward from here.

I’ve been reluctant to start this blog. Just as reluctant as I was 18 years ago to accept I have a chronic issue. I couldn’t name it aloud, because I refused to accept it as part of my life. It, in my eyes, showed weakness. And never would I allow anyone to see me as such. This has been my curse since a child: to be perceived as weak and to do my damnedest to prove to the world otherwise.

I know some of the graphics and titles on this page might make not sense to you at all at the moment. Because in the context of this blog narrative, they don’t. I’m a perfectionist by nature, and although that might often serve me in certain situations. In this one, it hinders me. Therefore, I decided to forego making the blog all pretty and organized at the onset, and, instead delve into writing. It will all meld given time. A commodity I also often deprive myself of.

So, here I am, nearly 56 years old, and owning up to a weakness in my body. Which has ultimately crept into my mind, my well being, my day to day life and my personality. But, I have grown to see within it, my strength.

Today’s strength is writing despite my fear of failure, my current pain levels, and my reluctance to show such a personal side of myself. Cocooning my true self is truly safer than what might transpire here. However, I propel myself forward with the hope it won’t be as scary as what I’ve convinced myself of.

So, why this blog? I have been working to find answers on my own for so long, and I have come across so many others trying to do the same thing. I’m not so sure how parallel our symptoms might run, but I do see the mental struggle is. Therefore, maybe as I share a new perspective, idea, answer, to one of my issues, perhaps someone else will find something that they can utilize to alleviate or lessen theirs.

I’m trying to move out of my cocoon, where I feel alone in my suffering. The hope is to transform. To move, along with others, by utilizing this long standing willpower within us, and use it to create well power: the power of being a healthier version of ourselves, that lends itself to living within the power of stronger well being, both mentally and physically, to reconnect with the person we were before our bodies were besieged, and to living out dreams long left abandoned.

I’m committed to this desire . I need to be. It has what has gotten me this far. But I need to keep reaching, because the longing for it festers as deep as the pain. I’m in it to win it. And, I hope you will be, too.

You deserve to be well. You deserve to be understood. You deserve to bring back those dreams you thought were gone forever. You deserve to watch, and feel, and revel in them coming to fruition.

Let’s do this!

(And, bam! Publishing before I tweak, re-tweak, and self doubt comes a knocking.)