Saturday, December 12, 2015

In The Stillness

I typically find myself anxiously awaiting the new year and the changes it brings. A freshness and newness to the staleness of daily life. New challenges and goals set forth with endless possibilities. The excitement can be overwhelming.

But not today. Today I just want stillness. I want to savor today's moment without the past lurking over my shoulder or the future calling for me.

Today I'm devoid of feeling, of stress, and worry. My soul, battered by the barrage of life's daily circus, longs for solitude.  No longer racing with a myriad of thoughts, my heart quietly beats and my mind lingers amongst itself in a somber atmosphere careful to not break the stillness.

in the stillness life's a polyp
Today I rest my tired body and soul, with eyes closed as I listen to the sounds in the distance; shutting out the demanding voice of life and instead merely existing. Now is not the time for continued self analysis in a constant state of self discovery and transformation. Nor is it time for tackling the never ending duties required for living. No, it is a time for a stillness that allows recharging for the mountains that lie ahead. There is much work in reaching the summit. Battles for passage and testing of strength and fortitude. There is much to be lost so that much may be gained. It is an exhausting battle.

Tomorrow is the day to let my battle cry ring out from my chest, from my soul. A battle cry to accept nothing less than the best of myself. I will take the hardness of life and I will create, forge, and transform it into survival and light. It will etch its name upon my soul. I will become it and I will know no difference.

But not yet. Today is the day I take for myself, away from the battle scene. I let the stillness wash over me, soothing my spiritual aches. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the world. I question myself not, I search myself not. I simply be. I be in a world of violence and beauty; a world of demands and gifts; a world of damage and healing. Tomorrow I fight. Tomorrow I climb.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Finding Gratitude

finding gratitude life's a polyp

Finding gratitude for what life throws at us isn't always an easy task, especially for those with chronic illness. The daily fights for productivity and survival against a chronic illness often leave us physically and emotionally exhausted with little left over at the end of the day for much else. It isn't uncommon for us to feel as though the world is against at times, that we are being punished, that there is no end in sight. We tend to forget that every moment, every trial has something to be gained from the experience.

Gratitude may be found in the smallest of details, tucked away and overshadowed by the stress and chaos that is life. Our darker moments challenge our ability at gratitude; coercing us to focus on our trials and discount the positive, the strength within us that carries us through, and our own progress. Even with distractions, if we look close enough we can find a bit of gratitude shining through the cracks of the darkness.

During my darkest moments of this year my soul was breaking. My turmoil left me feeling terrified and buried alive. I was suffocating from the dark's heaviness. At the end of the passage, my eyes began to focus while I pieced myself back together, I saw the light. It showed me that I survived. I grew. I was becoming. The light was there the entire time, waiting for me to notice. I focused on my own darkness rather than looking for the light. Our default is to focus on our trials. It is far more difficult to shift our focus to find the light.

I look back on my life and I see the light shining brightly through each dark moment of my health issues that left me near death and the debilitating bouts of depression and PTSD. Without these moments, my life would have followed a different path. Guided by my own health experiences, my education and career paths have focused on the medical field and how I can help others with their own health issues. I'm grateful for the paths I'm following; without the darkness of my health challenges, I would be on a different path and I wouldn't be who I am presently.

This gratitude was not easily found though. It would take years before I would see the goodness of my chronic illness. It can be challenging to see the purpose in the darkness; we are left feeling frustrated, defeated, and tormented at times. I held onto my anger, resentfulness, and pain of chronic illness for far too long. It robbed me of appreciation, gratitude, and happiness. When we begin to release ourselves from the bondage of harmful feelings, we allow ourselves to discover purpose through the light.

You may be going through a distressing time yourself or remain haunted by past experiences. It may be difficult to understand at this moment what the purpose is of your trial and to appreciate the darkness. In the quiet moments of the day let your mind take a moment to reflect upon the goodness of your time. It may be small, but the goodness is there waiting for your acknowledgement and gratitude.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Routine Readjustments

adjusting to change life's a polyp

This year has been a monumental year for readjustments in my outlook and coping of mental and physical changes. I have battled changes in my health resulting in an unexpected hospitalization after an 8 year hiatus from the hospital, medical testing resulting in no answers or real solutions to new chronic symptoms, and a mental and emotional reality check resulting in a major transformation of my mind and spirit. It has been a whirlwind of a year!

I am reminded of these events and their power within my life as I prepare for another follow up appointment with my GI doctor. I anxiously await this opportunity to further discuss the possible cause of my symptoms that are reminiscent of delayed gastric emptying. After my hospitalization this year I began experiencing a gradual increase of symptoms and severity - a mix of severe abdominal pain and nausea with occasional vomiting. After trying medications and undergoing further testing I am left with no clear diagnosis for the cause of my symptoms. During my second ER trip I was discharged with the diagnosis of delayed gastric emptying yet after another upper EDG and a barium x-ray I was found to not have any difficulty of my stomach emptying. Bentyl and Carafate medications are aiding in the management of the abdominal pain and reducing the nausea. These issues have not been resolved but are more manageable although the nausea remains more of an issue than I would prefer. As I await my doctor appointment, I've been instructed to maintain a food diary in hopes of pinpointing a culprit of the symptoms. I've realized that when my portions are too large and when I eat sweets I tend to have increased symptoms. And yet meat and vegetables are just as capable of producing severe nausea as well. Such variations increase the difficulty of adjusting to and understanding my health changes.

When I was diagnosed with a degenerative joint in my neck last year, I had a difficult time accepting that I would have life long neck pain. A year later and my neck pain is now a normal everyday experience that I live and work around so that I may continue to participate in and enjoy activities. I had to readjust my thinking and my attitude. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself for having to cope with another chronic health issue. I had to accept and move on or I would forever be plagued by the weight of this chronic condition. And so I am faced with the same requirements for readjusting to chronic nausea and abdominal pain. Hopefully my doctors and I will discover the solution for my symptoms but until then I'm learning what I can do to help reduce and manage my symptoms.

With chronic illness we are prone to ongoing fluctuations in symptoms and the addition of new symptoms as we are faced with a roller coaster of changes throughout our years. Learning to ride out the twists and turns means we make readjustments thereby allowing these changes to become our new norm. It's common for the readjustment period to last a fair amount of time and after we finally become accustomed to our new norms we are once again faced with new changes requiring all of our attention and focus.

With the aid of medical providers and our own self advocacy we are able to work towards identifying and establishing strategies to manage changes to the best of our abilities. The process of readjustment tends to include a trial and error basis as we learn what works best for us and what doesn't. With each step in the management process we further enable ourselves to adjust and learn new ways of coping, gradually ceasing the mourning of how life was prior to a change and instead embracing how we can continue to live. It is through this process that one day we come to no longer know any different than our new norms. It is on this day, we are finally living and living joyfully once again.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Feeling Your Heart

feeling your heart  life's a polyp
Life is a confusing, beautiful mess full of opportunities for both joy and heartache. We can take many paths in our navigation through what life offers us yet we often choose the most complicated route. We consume ourselves with fear and worry about the dreaded what if's that are never entirely answered properly as our imaginations our set free in a whirlwind of confusion. Life is not necessarily simple in our experiences but I believe we can simplify our paths by merely feeling our hearts.

Tuning into our hearts and what we are feeling can be called many things: inner voice, intuition, gut instincts, faith, etc. Whatever your preference for terminology, paying attention to the words of our hearts and souls seems to make a difference. We allow ourselves to obtain peace and comfort as we make life decisions and let go of anxieties when we listen to ourselves.

Listening to what our hearts say can only occur when we are honest with ourselves - free of preconceived ideas and intentions. We must open our minds and ourselves to all realities, not just what we want. It is easy to confuse what we want with what we need, whether it's physical, emotional, or financial. We all have ulterior motives to obtain what we want even when dealing with ourselves.

As we begin letting go of that which holds us captive through fear and anxiety, we learn to make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time. Part of this information is knowing how we feel about a situation and about the options available.

We listen by identifying what we are feeling and allowing ourselves to feel those feelings rather than rushing through one feeling to the next. This helps in all realms of life whether it is releasing fear and anxiety, making a decision, resetting ourselves spiritually, self-discovery, and coping with life. It is particularly useful in emotional healing from grief or trauma as we cope and adjust to a life change. Not allowing the process to flow naturally and completely can be harmful as we can delude ourselves in believing that which is false within us. Rebound relationships, incomplete grieving, and yoyoing of depression and anger are common examples of rushing this natural process.

Let us not hide from our feelings, viewing them as a weakness or an inconvenience. Rather let us honor our feelings for what they are - a gift that lets us experience life in the fullest. Joy and heartache are neither to shrink back from - both lead us to the depths of unimaginable feelings and experiences that ultimately try to teach us gratitude and strength.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Letting Go

letting go life's a polyp

On the drive home, surrounded by darkness and music, I felt a peace come over me and in that moment I recognized the novelty of this peace. It was a peace I haven't felt before in my lively, waking moments. I felt lighter, no longer bogged down by moments of the past - whether recent or long ago. I finally understood the feeling of having no regrets. I had somehow, magically let go.

This year has become to be a time of teaching for me as I continue along the path of transformation as a fire storm scorches my soul to reveal new layers. With a new sense of strength and fierceness, I am finding challenges for myself to push past my limits. I am rediscovering and redefining myself. This must be a new layer, a new level reached - I thought to myself as suddenly the stars shined brighter and the night air felt crisper than they had mere moments before. I no longer cared about all the mistakes I had previously made. Mistakes, big and small, that I lamented over for years at a time. As a soft hearted, highly sensitive person I tend to spend an exorbitant amount of energy and time reviewing details of my life and interactions. Replaying moments as they occurred and the innumerable various scenarios that could have occurred with different actions or decisions. No longer was my mind shackled with such worries. All that mattered now was this moment on - my future.

Too often we worry about what we should have done or what we wish would have happened if only we had the foresight to know the outcomes of the situation. My parents taught me to make the best decision I possibly can with the information I have. We simply need to do our best. It may not turn out to be the right decision but it is giving the moment our best that is important. I believe in this advice even when I haven't followed it closely as at times I knowingly made mistakes and other times I failed to let go of my wrong decisions. 

There is much more to life than our regrets. I once held the belief that to live without regrets was to not care about our actions and the consequences. I have learned that living without regrets is relinquishing the control regrets may have upon us. We can become full of regrets that cripple us - filling us with anxiety, fear, and anger. Fear and anxiety of future decisions and anger toward our past decisions. These reactions are not healthy but are stifling of growth and acceptance. We must learn from our mistakes and our failures so that we may make better decisions in the future. This does not mean we are required to carry the burden of those mistakes once we have learned from them. Rather let us live and learn then let go. We are unable to change the past no matter how hard we wish or how long we lament. Let us direct our energy to the future and the goodness that is waiting for us.

I do not know how I suddenly came to this freeing moment. It was not a conscious decision. It merely swept over my mind and body in an unforeseen wave. Is this not the way most epiphanies come to us though? When we let our minds freely wander, our subconscious to come to the surface without inhibition. Allowing access to the greatest depths of our minds and souls - to reconnect within ourselves. Thinking without intent, without reservation, without prejudice. These are the moments that grant me insight and revelations.

I like to take a moment, preferably in the sanctity of the outdoors. Feeling the grass under my feet, the dirt between my toes. Closing my eyes and raising my face to the sky, feeling the sun shining down upon me. Deeply breathing in the air, as it fills my lungs before slowly exhaling. Clearing my mind and focusing on the physical sensations of the world around me and my body. My eyes will begin to feel heavy while closed, my mind drifts in and out of consciousness. I become relaxed, connected to my spirit. The sounds around me grow faint in the background as I listen for the still voice deep within me. I remain in this trance like state until my spirit releases me and sends me back into the awareness of the physical world around me. I awaken refreshed, free of stress and worries and sometimes with a new revelation. I encourage you to follow this or your own style of meditation and discover what is lying under the surface.