Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘beliefs’

I believe in rainbows

rainbow 11-4-15

Sometimes you just have to believe it is possible, while continuing to do the footwork that seems to be in line with whatever I believe is possible.

I just continue to believe no matter what barriers present themselves.  And I believe there are lessons within each barrier that help to make it even more possible.

Most people think I am just a crazy idealist who cannot see what is so horrible in this life.

It isn’t that I don’t see the horrible, the tragic, or the darkness that is present.

I assure you that I don’t miss much and am well up to speed.  I consciously choose not to focus my energies there, however. My energies are focused on finding ways to lessen all of that.  I cannot do that if I am only focused on what is so wrong.

I believe in you.  I do not focus on your weaknesses, your shortcomings, your shadow self.  I focus on my belief that you will rise to the occasion that is your life’s circumstance and you will see the same strengths I see.

I focus on those strengths because those are the building blocks that make reaching our potential possible.  Where there is darkness, there is light.  I believe we all have a little light shining in there waiting to shine.

I also believe in rainbows and I love how they appear when you aren’t expecting them.  Most wonderful things tend to do that–appear when we aren’t expecting it and when the mixture of lightness and darkness is just right.

Before we see a rainbow, we likely say something like, “The sky is really dark over that way.” And then we see the color arcing through the sky and say, “Wow, how beautiful!”

That’s all I got for day four of this writing challenge!  Shine on!  I certainly believe you will!

nanopoblano2015light

The Power of Words

WORDS have power

I have written several posts lately, but have not posted them.  It is funny to me really.  It isn’t because I think they are bad or because I am not happy with them.  I simply decided not to post them.

Instead, I have decided to share what I learned from writing them and choosing not to post them.

Words have a lot of power.  Words have the power to lift us up, drag us down and all variations in between.  They have the energy and power to heal, and at the same time, I have come to realize, that sometimes words can be a bit empty and have harmful energy too.

With selfish or ill intentions, or no actions behind them, they are simply a bunch of letters strung together into words, put into some order that makes a sentence or three.

For me, words have great meaning and power.  I don’t often say or write something that I don’t mean and don’t often share things that I am doing unless I am doing them.  Stringing words together into meaningful sentences is almost a spiritual practice for me.  I cannot expect that is the case for anyone else.

What I have learned is that this is my personal practice and my belief system about the practice, but not necessarily anyone else’s.  It’s ok that it isn’t.  It’s ok if it is.  What matters to me is what I do with my words.

My goal with my words is to pay forward what I am learning from my experiences with chronic illness and life in general.  Someone out there in cyber land may find my words helpful, inspirational, or relatable.  The intention is to share the lessons in order to help someone else or offer hope.

The lesson for me in the not posting was somewhat liberating.  I am only responsible for what I say, what I do, and how I choose to be in this life.  While I may have known that already on some level, sometimes in my efforts to help others, I accidentally make myself responsible for them too. Fortunately, I am not!  Shew!  I feel like I have my hands full already with just my own!

Amore: C-Suvivor Dog

Pee on it

Yesterday, I updated you about me.  Today, I update you on my Amore’.

Tuesday, my big dog got his stitches out.  I found out more details about the surgery, and about the results of the biopsy of his large vascular tumor.

There are two types of vascular tumors—one is benign and one is cancerous.  I didn’t research anything about vascular tumors until Amore’ was out of surgery, and I did not call to ask what the cytology results were before our follow-up appointment.

Amore’ had the cancerous type.  These tumors are relatively slow-moving, so they really cannot be treated with chemotherapy drugs to prevent their recurrence elsewhere in the body.  We were lucky that Big Dog’s was in the layers of fat in the skin (subcutaneous), although his had moved its way into his muscles as it had hemorrhaged (bled out) and grew.

While he was under anesthesia, they did x-rays of his heart, lungs, spleen and other organs these vascular tumors are known to metastasize into, and these were clear.  That is good news because these tumors always hemorrhage, and in those organs, it is fatal when that happens.

My dogs do not know what cancer means.  They do not understand talk of prognosis.  They do not care about such things—only the right here, right now is of their concern.  I have decided to adopt this mentality for C-dog.  I will be checking their fatty tumors for any changes, but will try not to do this every five seconds (as I have since Tuesday). 😉

I learned years ago, both prior to the intrathecal baclofen pump and after, that believing a prognosis that is generally a doctor’s best guess, doesn’t serve me in terms of quality of life with a progressive illness.  I have proved it wrong time and time again. There is no reason to believe any differently for Amore’s diagnosis.

Six Blind Men and an Elephant

"Blind monks examining an elephant" ...

“Blind monks examining an elephant” by Itcho Hanabusa. LOC description: Ukiyo-e print illustration from Buddhist parable showing blind monks examining an elephant. Each man reaches a different conclusion based on which part of the elephant he has examined. 1 print : woodcut, color. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was reminded yesterday of the story of the six blind men and the elephant.  Each of the men feels on a different part of the elephant and later compared notes. 

In some versions of the story, they disagree on what they have perceived because each of them felt only a small part of the whole of the elephant.  Conflict ensues as a result of their limited experiences and insistence on being right. 

In another version of the story, the men realized that such vast differences in opinion must mean they are missing something.  Rather than dispute who was right or wrong, they decided to work cooperatively to put the pieces each of them have of the puzzle together.  They figured out it was an elephant.

Can you guess which version of the story I tend to prefer? 

Neuroscience tells us without question that we each process our external environment differently.  How we process it is based on our internal environment, our past experiences and how we have encoded/processed those past experiences into our memories. 

To offer an example of this, try discussing what you take away from a movie with a friend.  It is the same movie (external reality), but each of you relate to and respond to something different because of the differences in how you processed the information (internal reality).

Since all of our perceptions are based on our limited experiences of our own version of reality, do we not have a choice as to whether we initiate conflict or cooperative efforts once we understand this?

I believe we do.  I also believe that we aren’t always aware that we do have this choice.  As humans, we tend to overestimate our “rightness” and others’ “wrongness.”  As we do this, by nature, we create conflict, duality and division.  If we were aware of our human tendencies, we could skip the conflict part and move on to the cooperating part.

What if we chose to be the blind men who worked collaboratively to envision the bigger picture?  Imagine the problem solving power of six individuals sharing their perceptions of potential solutions. 

Don’t think it is possible?  I believe it is more than possible because I already see it with my students, my clients, my friends and in my community.  But it starts with a little bit of awareness and a decision to work together.

 

Reflections of a “Fighter”

As I re-wrote the last nine and a half years of my life’s story, I was able to see patterns of behavior and various themes emerge more clearly.  Now that I have a break from working on the book, I want to share some of my observations and reflections with you.

Even though the manuscript has been out of my immediate view since last Thursday, I am still having some amazing revelations as I think about my story and all that it entails.  This morning, I realized just how clearly my own perception of my life as a struggle played a role in my difficulty surrendering to and letting go of things along the way.

I perceived my life as a struggle from the time I was able to understand what the word meant.  I characterized myself as a fighter and I was first fighting through the struggles of living with the unpredictability and chaos that often accompanies having a parent who is an alcoholic. 

I fought my way through that and then fought my way into recovery from an eating disorder, then depression, then…  I fought fear, I fought symptoms, I fought change, I fought for clients…

I realized this morning that as soon as I surrendered to and let go of my resistance of what was, my life started to get better.  I had tried various versions of this surrendering at earlier points in my life, but didn’t quite get the idea that it applies to everything. 

It was clear in my manuscript that I surrendered to what I needed to as I was in the process of losing my ability to function independently, losing my ability to walk, losing my ability to keep the roof over my head and stay with my dogs.  I only surrendered when I had to surrender though—it was forced on me.

When I stopped fighting the symptoms of my illness when they were so limiting back around the time I spent at the nursing and rehabilitation facility, I started trying to figure out how to work within the limitations.  I understood that was my only option left.  Taking the cooperative approach got me out of the nursing home and back with my dogs in 2005.  I was able to live independently as a result.  When I fought my symptoms, the symptoms and limitations won and were often worse as a result.

Boxing gloves

Boxing gloves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It takes a lot of energy to fight things, no matter what they are.  It takes significantly less energy, and directs the energy in a different and more positive direction, to work cooperatively with that thing instead.   I understood that about my symptoms, and as I have shared with you in the blog, now I have realized it is best to do that with fear and with pain as well in recent years.  Surrendering to and/or letting go of the resistance doesn’t mean giving up, but I think I might have had the idea that it was the same thing. 

I was a fighter and fighters fight things, they don’t let go of things or surrender to the “is-ness” of things and figure out how to work with that “is-ness.” 

Perhaps you all already understand these ideas, and perhaps I already understood them, too.  It really wasn’t until this morning that I felt that understanding to the core of my being.  I have talked a lot about surrendering and consciously surrendering in my blog posts.  It kept coming up as something I needed to take a look at, so I kept looking. 

Now I know when I feel like getting out my boxing gloves to fight something, that instead I need to take a breath, a step back, and look at the resistance first.  I could be resisting something so much that I miss the opening to solve a problem more creatively. 

If I had fought the pain, as I have shared, I wouldn’t have a book written.  If I had continued to fight the fear, I would have been frozen throughout the pump drama.  It is exhausting to fight and according to my book, it didn’t serve me well at any point really.  It held me back from moving forward and I have it in writing.

Are you a master resister like me?  What are you fighting?  Are you tired yet?

Fear: Curtain Call

It is always my hope that you may take something from what I write to help you in your own journey.  I am certainly always reaping the benefits of what I write, and love having the opporunity to share it with you! 

As the curtain begins to close on Fear to end this series, I would like to recap what we have learned about Fear to pull it all together.

  1. Fear is present when we give someone or something our personal power.  You can begin to notice when this occurs by thoughts like, “I would never be happy without _____.”  Remember that you have the power to create what happens next in your life—that power is inside you, not outside of you.
  2. Fear is present when we develop unhealthy attachments to things, places or people.  You can hone your awareness of attachments by noticing thoughts like, “____ is my reason for getting up in the mornings.” Or “I feel whole because of _____.”  Change and impermanence are the “givens” in this life.  You are already whole and believe it or not, you are physiologically programmed to wake up each day without an external reason.
  3. Fear is not present when we are present.  If we are fully present in the moment, right now, there is no room (or purpose) for fear.  Try to remember a time when you were so engrossed in an activity that you lost track of time.  Create your life so that it revolves around more of these activities!
  4. Fear serves a purpose in our lives and can be our ally.  By paying attention to whatever fear is saying to you, you can better understand it, and therefore better understand yourself.  We cannot better understand anything without first taking the time to look at it and be with it.
  5. Fear loses its power over us when we can look at it through the eyes of love and compassion.  This is a process, so perhaps start with a smaller goal.  Try making it your goal for an hour or a day to send love to the things or people in your life that annoy you.  See how this can become automatic after some practice, and then work your way back to Fear from there.

I cannot tell you how thankful I am to have you to share in this process.  This series, as well as my Box series, has been quite the catalyst for me in my own life. 

The visualization exercise I shared is how I experienced it.  I decided to take time to write Fear a letter with my own list of questions after Act III tried to keep it simple, so that your mind could fill in the rest of the details.  The general scene and conversation that took place was how it unfolded for me.

When my first fearful memory came right to mind, and then when Fear shared with me that she had been there for me because I needed her, it truly was transforming for me.  My perception shifted more fully to having a collaborative relationship with Fear.  So much so, that I decided to do the same type of exercise with my pain–perhaps I will share that with you as well, although pain and fear seem to be kissing cousins and it might be a bit redundant.

If you couldn’t find 10 minutes or were too anxious to try the Intermission activity, not to worry, it will be in cyberspace for you when you feel you are ready.  It is my gift to you because the experience was indeed a gift I was ready to receive. 

As Fear takes a bow and exits stage left, please feel free to share your experiences, thoughts, questions or struggles about this Fear Series in the comments below. 

 

Kitt O'Malley

Bipolar Writer and Mental Health Advocate

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