Friday, January 28, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: New Practices

I am preparing for vacation, not yet packing, but arranging for our house-sitters, the garden, the chickens, and most importantly, picking my books and audio for that time, which is what I mostly do on vacation: read, walk, write, listen to my iPod.

This time it will be different though because it will be a time of listening, and inward time. My intention is to develop a regular meditation practice--something I've "tried" before and never continued--and to develop a light yoga practice--twenty minutes a day of mostly relaxing poses--something I used to do but not in the last the few years.

Being in Hawaii is the perfect time to learn yet again to be present.

I am someone who has lived in her head her whole life and likes it there. It is comfortable, and it is busy. Noisy.

Recently I discovered that it is also kind of mean in there. My self-talk is not's very critical...I have begun changing this and the meditation and yoga will help tremendously in this, as will the being present. Breathing. Slowing down.

One of my best visits to Hawaii was one in which we went to a conference for LoveHubbie's work. I sat on the balcony of the Sheraton in Waikiki looking out at Diamond Head and read Jon Kabat-Zinn's "Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness". I checked the book's Amazon page and noticed that this was six--SIX--whole years ago. To my chagrin, I am still as anxious and as unmindful as ever. Thus, I'm grateful for some extra time to focus on the opportunity to apply this important teaching and to do it in Hawaii. Of course, this can be done anytime at all, but when you're breaking lifetime habits, it's helpful to have some intensive time to immerse yourself.

In the spirit of this, I'm going to unplug totally, like I did when I went to Brazil. No email, no Facebook, no Twitter, just my cell phone for emergencies. Instead, I'm taking a large blank Moleskine and planning on writing...I wrote pages and pages in Brazil...for me this was better than any entertainment I could ever imagine.

I am starting to turn away from daily tasks, letting go of things here, and preparing for the change...

~Photo is actual picture taken with my phone from the balcony.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sacred Life Sunday: Today I Can See

This is a follow-up to this post about my diagnosis with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It has now been 12 days since my diagnosis. I will be seeing a specialist in Seattle in mid-March for a second opinion and more importantly, more information on the specifics of my diagnosis and prognosis. I am doing well and am adjusting and best of all--today I can see--which I really and truly appreciate like I never have before. I expect I'll feel this way every day from now on.

I have done some things that have been helpful for me, but that maybe everyone can find some inspiration in:

(1) I have hyper-focused my life by evaluating what is truly important if I had, say, six months of vision left. What would I drop out? I'm dropping it out now. Why wait? Big changes in my life here. Everyone could benefit by thinking about this, don't you think?

(2) Although my vision is still poor, I was able to get accurate driving glasses. This means I can drive myself safely places during the day, including to Seattle to keep working on getting the other pairs of glasses I'll need. Instead of being frustrated about how blurry things are, I am grateful for every last little bit of blurry sight. I no longer feel much frustration at all, in fact. Why not always be grateful for what we do have, instead of focusing on what we are missing?

(3) I came up with a personal healing protocol of vitamin supplements (the only known thing that can positively affect AMD) and green superfoods. The doctor's nurse said, "Of course, you might think that this is the last thing you should be hearing from a doctor, and you might be very disappointed, but you need to include some specific things in your diet." I was overjoyed. There was something that I could do and it was something that I understood. Green leafy vegetables. Antioxidant fruits. I'm better with these than most people but not where I need to be, thus the superfood help. All is going well in this area as well. Why not improve our diets before we have to?

(4) I am using things instead of saving them for the future. Today is all we have. For all of us, today is all we have for sure.

(5) I am working to balance the time I spend in my head (previously 100%) with time spent in my body, focused on my body, doing things not involving my eyes and research and writing and thinking and typing and analyzing. Things like yoga. Listening to music. Meditating. Am I doing any of this? No, not yet. Not at all. Yet. But I will. I guarantee you, I will. The resistance I have to doing any of this is enormous, and it involves changing the patterns of over a half-century, but I know that it will still happen. Without striving and pushing, it will happen.

(6) Accepting what I can change and what I cannot change. I am not in control, but God/Spirit/the Universe is. And this is the way it always has been, so acceptance is what is indicated. This helps me to relax and to feel relief and to know that everything is unfolding exactly as it is supposed to.

Today is also my 11th Wedding Anniversary with LoveHubbie Mark 

~All photos by LoveHubbie Mark. They are from several years ago, thus the blond hair and warm-looking weather :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day...But What Is Going On?

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. and I wanted to share some quotes with you:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963 ~Tweeted by @CatholicDems RT by @alcreationwaits

It's good to remember Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. today. We need people like him to be on the side of the poor, the marginalized and excluded. ~Tweeted by @alcreationwaits

Particularly inspiring blog posts today for me that celebrate Martin Luther King were this one from Brene Brown and this one from Lori-Lyn Hurley.

The above views reflect my values and honor Martin Luther King and what he accomplished in his short life. Yesterday in church we celebrated Christian Unity in honor of other celebrations going on in the world and in honor of Martin Luther King.

Yet at this time not everyone is celebrating. Not everyone is honoring. Yesterday I got a truly bizarre email from someone I know who is in a small group I attended when I went to my previous church.

I didn't read the whole thing, just enough to tell that it was a long rant that was negative and bigoted. It gave me the creeps big-time. It was absolutely hate speech, and it shocked me that it came from someone I knew. I immediately emailed the individual involved and addressed the situation with him so that I won't be getting any more emails and to let him know that it was offensive. He was prompt in replying and in removing me and gentlemanly in his handling of the situation. Which makes the whole hate speech thing even creepier to me. It feels like someone who looks just fine--normal--just like me--on the outside is exposing their heart to me and what I see is scary and ugly and dark and gangrenous and maggoty.

Something is very wrong in our world. It feels to me like people are coming out of hate-filled closets, wanting to share their views with the world, and wanting to destroy what they disagree with. And not just mentally ill people, either. I don't know if it is just my perception or not, but it feels quite pervasive--more common that I guess I thought. It makes me wonder who else looks nice and clean and well-mannered but who deep down thinks this way.

I will post a follow-up to my last post about my diagnosis soon. But I wanted to share these thoughts with you on this holiday. What is your experience of MLK Day? How do you deal with the experience of hate intruding into your world?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: A Diagnosis

Recently I've been having some trouble with my eyes. I have very good eyes, but many eye issues, some of them genetic, and in addition a really high myopic prescription. I've also had a retinal detachment--about 15 years ago--and eye surgery. Over the years though, my eyes have done a yeoman's job of consistent hard work bearing up with all of the paces I've put them through with voracious reading, computer work, and other types of close work.

About every decade or so my vision changes and it's a big huge deal. Everything I do involves my vision and so it is a challenge to get through my life while dealing with the old glasses that don't work, traveling to get the new prescriptions when I can't see, discovering and dealing with incorrectly made glasses, coping with the frustration of prescriptions that unavoidably need to be tweaked, etc. I need to see at least an opthalmologist, optometrist, and optician and they all have to work together. I now have a good team but it will still take some time to get glasses that work.

I haven't been online as much, and each time I do go on it means dealing with eyestrain, headaches, etc. No more keeping up with my Twitter stream, and barely keeping up with Facebook, everyone's blog, etc. I haven't read a book or written an Amazon review in quite a while.

Then yesterday I had the exam with the opthalmologist. I'm supposed to go every year, but have put it off for three years because I really--really--dislike the retinal exam, and my eyes have been fine. No good excuse, but still...He found two new diseases. The first one is probably/possibly inconsequential--Fuch's guttata--I don't have it too badly at this point. The second one is serious.

So I have macular degeneration. I am pretty young to have it. It may progress slowly or quickly, and there is no way to know, but I need to be very careful with my diet to maximize a slower progression. I may die still being able to see or I may lose my ability to read, see faces, and drive "soon"--whatever that means. Since this was just yesterday I am reeling with the shock of the diagnosis and random ideas like:

  • I may only be able to read 100 more books. (See, this was actually true before but I didn't know's true for everyone.)
  • Last week I was worried about having time to do I'll be lucky if I can see art.
  • I may see my last Maui sunset on our vacation to Maui next month. (Better to be grateful to ever see a Maui sunset!)
  • I may someday not be able to keep up with my online community. Or google things.
  • My life may be limited in ways I can't imagine soon. 

At the same time I am having other more positive random ideas like:

  • I fell several times in the last ten years and never lost my vision (I have weak retinas)--I have been blessed every time. 
  • My life is not in danger from this.
  • Some things are way, way more important than they were a couple of days ago. Some things are much less important. Things are moving into perspective--a good thing.
  • Many people have low or no vision and have full lives.
  • Change is inevitable.
  • Each one of us has challenges and limitations due to disease and/or aging, and I am incredibly blessed to have health insurance, the financial resources to address this, and nutritional knowledge which may now help to save my sight. 
  • God and/or a Loving Universe will not give me more than I can handle, and all will be well.

It takes time to process a difficult medical diagnosis. Doing so is life-changing. Having lots of feelings--even being an emotional basket case for a while--is totally normal. So that's what I'm up to. I've been having some tough days...and...all is well.

All is well.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Creative Endeavors for 2011

I decided to participate in Ken Robert's "Let's Make a Mess of 2011 - The Thirty Dirty Pages Project".  You can see his lovely title page here. Who wants to join me?

To participate, you draw a hand drawn page every day. When you have 30 you turn them into a book. The book can/will be messy.

The rules are:
(1) Draw something.
(2) Write something.
(3) Make a page.
(4) Repeat daily.
(5) Get out of the way!

Only rule #5 is mandatory. I am going to do it. I like that it can be ordinary or bad (as in messy and/or done by someone with zero talent). I know I'll enjoy this because I fit right in. And hey, at the end I have a book.

And I am still in The Queen of Creativity's Castle. They are all so good over there. I haven't participated as much as I want to, having trouble moving forward, still. I think that the messy drawings from Ken's group may help me to lose my fears of showing my art. Thus, more participation here in Kate's castle. It is more of something I aspire to than something that I can actually do. Today. But maybe not tomorrow!

And lastly, Leah's Creative Every Day for 2011. I'm up for it, Leah. I skipped 2010 and missed it. So I'm back. Creative every day enhances my life. I like the reminder and the accountability.

So I'll be looking forward to some good creative times in 2011 and look forward to sharing them with you!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sacred Life Sunday: Epiphany

This is the first Sunday of the New Year. "Epiphany" doesn't refer to the fact that I've had yet another aha moment, but to a time in the church year when Jesus came to earth and to the mystery of His incarnation. In the West we celebrate it with the story of the three wise men bringing gifts.

I truly love how my church has a liturgical calendar that goes right along with the seasons. Stories are celebrated over and over again on a schedule with a rhythmn to them that is coordinated with all the things that nature is doing at the same time. Cyclical ways of measuring time are fascinating to me. They are repeated yet they are never the same.

I wish each of you a blessed day.

Tomorrow I am going to blog about some creative projects for the year. Today I am actually going to get started with them. I really and truly am. I  am committing myself here so I actually DO it instead of put it off for more mundane tasks. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Well, I got the wrong date for "Epiphany" :) It is coming up this Sunday in the official liturgical calender. This means I get to celebrate it twice! Whoo hoo!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Word for the Year: Valid

This word for the year requires some explanation, because I really want you to get how big it is for me.

Originally I started with the idea from this post by Patti Digh that I wanted to let go of striving. Yes! This passivity, or even better--surrender--is something that I want to incorporate into 2011. I don't want to push or try or force anything. I want to allow, to unfold, to unfurl...

I still want to do this.

Valid is something that I am. Not something I need to try to attain. But I haven't known this for most of my life.

For years I was an "invalid" (see the not "valid" in "invalid"?) and my greatest fear is, I've realized, becoming an invalid again...this was how the word "valid" first began to speak to me. My mother was someone who suffered, and I have been like her. I had CFIDS (chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia) for more than a decade, plus abusive husbands, poverty, and a panoply of physical ailments to deal with. I was like my mother in other ways, too. For years I lived as though I had no voice, no joy, no power, no money, no anger (when I should have), and submitted myself to harsh religious systems (and at times, cults) to find meaning in life.

All of this has changed as I've grown older, and especially since I had my first blog, tappingluau, and now happyluau. I'm not the same person I was. However, the sense of being "not enough" or of being of little worth has still been a theme in my life. With some of the counseling I've been having, plus the tapping (fasterEFT) I've been doing as a spiritual practice, I've realized this recently.

"Valid" says, to me, that I have intrinsic worth, intrinsic value, and that I matter. I count as much as anyone else. My opinions and beliefs matter. My feelings matter. My wants and my needs matter. I don't deserve to be treated poorly or tossed aside. I am not invisible. I am not (as someone in a significant relationship referred to me in the past, really!) a "car in the garage" to be used whenever someone (say, that person) decides I am useful. I am neither an invalid nor "not valid" nor inconsequential nor "not worthy". I am valid. 

Now to most of you--my dear blog readers--this sounds so obvious it would almost be silly. Yet as I wrote the above, I cried. It is so profound, and something that I've never applied to myself at a heart level.  It is key for me in being able to select my own church. It is key for me in being able to lose weight. It is key for me in being able to stop taking poor treatment from people, and for becoming angry and acting appropriately when I am treated poorly. It is key for me in stopping self-defeating behaviors and sabotaging my own success. It is absolutely vital for me in being able to be who I am.

There is nothing I have to DO to be "valid", either. I just am. That is the "allow" and "surrender" part. As I keep believing this, re-membering it daily, and applying it to my life, things will keep changing in 2011. This whole process will unfold and unfurl and without striving my life will become what I need it to be.

I can't wait.

~Photo of a bird's egg in our garden by LoveHubbie Mark, edited by me