challenge accepted…

the other day, i talked to my friend, g***e. when we got off of the phone, she mentioned that i should do something, that hadn’t occurred to me before. 

she suggested that i put an array of photos together, that could be used as a measure to see exactly how far…i’ve come on this journey. i decided to see for myself.

(i know that a couple of these got a little cut-off, but you can still see my cheeks.) 

i guess that my biggest takeaways were the fact that i looked much less, heavily medicated. my eyes seem to open wider. i have healthy color and more clear skin. i also seem to have developed a giant, pointy chin, and roman nose.

(oh and that damn moustache…that’s what happens when menopause grabs your ass.)

and…there you have it…

my journey so far – still a long way to go
Advertisements

oprah/deepak 21-day meditation experience, day 5…

the focus of day 5: when you are real, you have infinite hope.

the centering thought: i have every hope in the world.

the sanskrit mantra: aham brahmasmi. 

the translation: i am the wholeness of universal existence. 

the message of the day: “hope…is the companion of power, and the mother of success; for who so hopes has within him the gift of miracles.” – samuel smiles 

your day 5 meditation can be found here

i used to (conclusion part three)…

it’s funny, because i must have pushed that last concert experience far out of my mind until now, because the other night i wasn’t worried about a blasted thing…other than getting myself a great spot, cursing richard for all of his bullshit, and forgetting my phone. i’ve been feeling so good, so healthy, and so well, that it never occurred to me to have any worries, even though i would be all by myself.

i had absolutely no doubts in myself or my abilities whatsoever. i didn’t think about how far or how fast i would be walking. i had to walk through the parking garage, through the hotel, and through the crowd…which was like being a salmon swimming upstream…to get myself up to the stage. i never stopped for even a moment. i was one determined woman. i was resolute in my plan to have a good time and to do what i wanted to do.

i had no muscle fatigue, no shortness of breath, no panic, no anxiety (except for over being late and forgetting my phone), and no feeling like i didn’t belong or was out of place. i was prepared. i looked my very best and i knew it. i was filled with confidence and maneuvered my way to an awesome spot right up in the front, right next to the stage, by some really nice girls…oh, and right next to the giant speakers, which i love.

i claimed that spot, planted my feet, and was completely non-displaced for the duration. the opening band was pure bathing culture. i had never heard of them before, but after listening to their 30 minute set…i decided to download some of their music when i got home. they were pretty good, visually very interesting, but their sound was a little muffled. i did really enjoy them, but i was waiting for death cab for cutie.

during the intermission, the girls asked me if i could save their spots, while they went to the restroom. i told them that i would try, but couldn’t guarantee anything. so, i spent my time trying to make myself as large as possible, to occupy as much space as possible and i found that i really didn’t need to because the people for the most part were very nice, pleasant, and respectful. the girls arrived back to their spots and they brought me a water.

i’ve got to say, that that felt quite nice. i was acknowledged, treated very nicely, and thanked. i wasn’t just stared at or talked about, or ignored altogether, like i was invisible. i guess that i’ve allowed myself to grow accustomed to poor treatment by others and have just come to accept that, as being the”norm,” but my therapist has really helped me to see that the more i value myself and show that i do, the more others will follow suit.

the lights went down and i began to anticipate something very unexpected and magical…my heart began pounding, my ear began roaring more loudly and my stomach became weightless, like it was just floating up and down inside of my abdomen, not knowing where it truly belonged. and my god, i just had a feeling, an overwhelming…motherfucking feeling…

and, i do this sometimes to test myself to see if i’m right or not with feelings. i know that it’s weird, but it’s math. it’s statistics. it’s logic. and, i like seeing how often i’m right, versus how often i’m wrong. i tell myself something like, “well, if “x” happens at this point, then “y” will happen at this point.” basically, i’m just keeping “score” with myself for myself and usually that’s something that i just don’t share.

but, i had had this feeling for several days. i don’t know if it was just wishful thinking or fate, or the luck of the draw. i don’t know and frankly, don’t care. my feeling was about the first song that death cab for cutie would open with and i just felt sure enough to bet my life on, but of course wouldn’t. so, i “upped” the ante with myself and told myself,”okay if they open with, i will possess your heart, and, you are a tourist, is at some point after…”

what sarah said, then i’m about to experience a wonderful shift in my life.” so, there you have it…crazy, stupid, ridiculous…or, just a fun game that i’ve always played with myself. anyway, so my feeling was so absolutely palpable that i felt like i might just float off into the universe. the lights were down and first i heard the drum, the lone bass drum…beating, pounding like a heartbeat…pounding with the beat of my own heart.

and that, was all that i needed to hear and feel to know that i was absolutely fucking right…well, at least about the first part of my self-test. my heart was beating out of my chest, by the time that the first note was played on the piano, and a lone spotlight lit, ben gibbard, sitting at the piano playing. i didn’t need anyone to be there with me. in that moment, i had absolutely everything that i needed. i had myself and i had music.

i could let the music, the visuals, the smells, and the feelings wash over me…soak into me…and set my soul on fire. i could feel as the music exited the speaker and entered into my “good” left ear, and it vibrated inside of me, shaking me where i stood. it felt incredible. i was there at my first singular concert experience in 22 years, but i didn’t feel alone, nor was i. i was one of 1,000+.

i’ll have to say that time both seemed to stand still for big chunks at a time and move very rapidly, because the show seemed to be over in the blink of an eye. i was mesmerized and in my own little world. i wasn’t at all tired or fatigued, considering all of the walking and standing that i had done. i felt stronger, healthier, and more vital than i had been in years. i know of course, that i’m not super human and i still have to budget my energy, but wow!!

i impressed myself. i was able to see just how far i’ve been able to bring myself….from my last concert experience to this one…from huffing and puffing going up a single flight of stairs to walking all over a parking garage, a hotel, and a theater…and, from having to grimace and use a walker, to just walking and having no obstacles. i felt very blessed and very grateful for the two people that have helped me the most on this journey.

i still hadn’t heard either, what sarah said, or, you are a tourist. i didn’t care. after all, this was just a self-test, i had nothing to lose or gain. well, what sarah said, ended up being what i counted as the tenth song. i think that i must have been wearing a shit eating grin, because one of the girls whispered to me, “what’s so funny? care to share?” i wasn’t sure how to answer that question, so i just smiled and shrugged my shoulders.

and then, there it was…my song. the song that describes exactly how i feel about myself and my life as it stands right now, especially after the debacle of yesterday. you are a tourist, began and i was pressed up against the stage very tightly, with everyone else, including the girls. i could see everything, which was very exciting for me. my only wish was that i would’ve had my phone, but that would have caused me to miss the moment.

i believe that on one hand the phone removes me from being present in the here and now. it takes me from being a participant to being an observer. i guess that some part of me always knew that, but never really cared enough to put it into thought or words. maybe i spend so much time on my phone, when around people, so that i won’t have to participate. i don’t know for sure, but the thought entered my mind.

without my phone, i was forced into the here and now. i was forced to interact one way or another, to look at other people and to be looked at, to notice and get a sense of feeling for my surroundings. during my song, as i stood there and intently watched, i was suddenly aware of a blinding white light, a warmth, a pressure, a kind touch from a stranger, and words being sung directly to me, although i could not see it, i heard and felt it.

it all happened both so quickly and seemingly in slow motion, that it’s nearly impossible to describe. one minute i was standing there watching and listening, the next i couldn’t see anything, but felt someone touch the top of my head and then move their hand to my cheek, and as they did that i heard the lyrics of my song being sung, “…save the tears, save the tears…” and then, i could see, but the hand and voice had moved along.

i was kind of beside myself, not in a bad way, but in a surreal, ethers kind of way. i wasn’t exactly sure what happened and i felt myself fighting really hard to remain present, and not to “float” off to another destination. i felt for my emdr rock inside my pocket and grounded myself. i looked at the girl who whispered to me earlier, with a quizzical kind of look. she began whispering again and i was kind of able to piece together what transpired.

i guess that the reason why i couldn’t see anything was because they were shining the spotlight on the lead singer (ben gibbard) and apparently, he was standing right in front of me, with his hand on me, while singing to me, and i couldn’t see any of it. of course, i heard it and i felt it…but, i just can’t believe that i didn’t get to see any of it!! the girl told me that i was pretty lucky…and, yes indeed, i do believe that i was!!

from that point on, i found it incredibly hard to focus on anything, so, i just listened with my heart and closed my eyes. the band came out and played three encore songs.overall, they were awesome!! the sound was much better this time, than it was last time, in the portland, rose garden arena. i came away from my first singular concert experience in 22 years…feeling excited, overwhelmed, and emotionally and mentally spent.

it’s funny, because i still had to walk through the theater, the hotel, and parking garage to the crv, but physically, i was still fine…a little bit tired, but fine. i got to the crv and there it was…my phone. and, i just moved it aside and ignored it. i figured that i had already had more than enough stimulation for one night. as i drove back to where i live, i was hit by the sadness that i had no one to talk to about my experience.

but then, i remembered that i could always write about it instead…so, here it is…what i used to do…the final installment. oh, and by the way…i am about to experience a wonderful shift in my life and i couldn’t be more ready. 🙂

 

i recently…

…made an investment in myself…in my overall health and well-being. i bought a rowing machine, which supplys me with a great, complete workout. 

the workout  is very low impact on my joints, while working every group of muscles. my doctor said that it will definitely help to slim, trim, and tone my gut and my one “fucked up” arm. 

there is hope for me!! i have endless possibilities and unlimited potential.i can have what i want. i can both look and feel great. i can have a strong body, good health, and sound mind. i can be the person whom i desire. 

tuesday (the first part of the day, part one)…

i’ve spent a lot of time this week, trying to figure out exactly what upset me so badly, on tuesday, and why. i came to some conclusions, but they are intertwined and detailed. i don’t think that a,”normal,” person would’ve ever gotten so bothered, by such seemingly trivial events, but i’m still working on, “self-talking” myself down…

as i’ve stated before, i left the apartment in a good mood. i was happy. i had my “stems” homework ready to review, and i had therapy. i was driving and singing along with radio. it had already been an awesome morning…and, i was thinking that after the therapy of the previous week, that i was doing awesome…

i arrived and emailed my completed homework, to my therapist. she began looking at the pages on her ipad, as she printed them out. she then asked me questions, before looking at everything together, as a whole (as she always does), and that was where i started getting irritated, i think…

because, she was asking me questions, that she would’ve already had the answers to, had she waited to look at the pages that she was diligently printing out. also, she was getting distracted by other things that were going on, on her device, and she told me so. the way that she was asking me the questions, to me (at the time), felt more like a critique…

and, i don’t know if that was because she wasn’t really paying attention to the fact that each “stem,” built upon the previous one (per her specific directions), or if we were both just having a major miscommunication (which, i’m guessing that it was). i felt myself getting really discouraged, because she raved about my homework, the previous week…

and, i could feel myself disengaging and shutting down, very rapidly. i wanted to go elsewhere in my mind, but used my emdr technique and fought to remain present (even though i didn’t want to). she kept on with her questions and very uncharacteristically of the “old me,” instead of just letting it go on and on (and me, mentally leaving)…

i said, “i’m going to have to stop you there, because i’m done with this topic.” she looked at me rather surprised that i actually said something. she then asked me why and i told her, “because apparently i did them right last week, but not this week.” she then explained to me that she thought that my work last week, “made me dig deeper…”

and quite frankly, i didn’t like that answer, because it made me really defensive. and i answered, “so did you even see the stem about driving?” i had done what i thought was very “deep” work and came to some of what i thought were interesting discoveries, but she didn’t even see them…

shifting gears, she then addressed my defensiveness. she asked me if i always expected to do something right the first time. i had to think about that for a minute, but i classified the question, by responding, “when it comes to any job that i’ve ever done…most of the time, yes. i always cut the mat right the first time…there were no do-overs…”

and, in her next breath, she called me out on my bullshit. she said, ” didn’t you tell me that your mom used to assign jobs to you and then have to go back again, and do them over again the ‘right way’?” touche’…she “got me.” after which point, both parties were “back on the same page” and resuming our dialogue, but changing the topic…

for some reason, she mentioned my insurance and told me that they would pay for me to go and see a cognitive behavioral therapist once a week, while still seeing her, twice a week. she explained that she thought that it would be helpful with my ptsd, coupled with the emdr and therapy that i was already receiving. i was fine with that…

and then she said, “and you know, that i’m not firing you right?” i had to sit there for a minute and think about all of the information that i’d just heard. and then, i felt the need (as i do sometimes) to clarify what i just thought that i heard, to make absolutely sure that i understood correctly, “now, i just want to be certain that you are not firing me, right…”

she looked at me seriously and said, “oh no, i’m absolutely firing you.” which really upset me, because that’s why i ask, to make sure that i heard and understood correctly…because my dad and other people have told me one story, only to turn around and change it…and then say that i misunderstood, so many times…that it makes my head spin…

she had to tell me that she was pulling my leg and i said, “don’t fuck with me like that. my dad and richard do that to me all the time, and i hate it.” she apologized and went back to talking about me going to see another therapist once a week, to help with my ptsd. she was telling me about how adding cognitive behavioral therapy would benefit me…

she said, “i want you to benefit from all of the help that you can get. i’m not going to lie to you and tell you that you’re getting all of the help that you can get.” i said, “well, why would you do that?” and what i heard next, was just jaw-dropping, to me. she said, “all therapists lie.” i must’ve have some noticeable change in demeanor…

because, she immediately began backpedaling, from there. she said, “when i first started as a clinician, my supervisor taught me that i was supposed to lie, when it came to boundary issues…but, i don’t lie to my clients. i’m not lying to you.” i wasn’t listening to anything really. oh yes, i heard it all, but, i wasn’t really invested in listening anymore…

all i could think about was the fact that here was yet another person, of great significance to me, that i’m trusting with my life, my mind, and my heart…that’s lying to me. i just kept thinking that i couldn’t really trust anyone, anymore…now. and, she knew that, that was exactly what i was thinking, because she said so…

she just kept talking and trying to convince me, that she didn’t lie to me. i thought about it logically and rationally, and made the choice to believe her, as she has helped me so much. so, we went back to talking and we began talking about my fear that i wasn’t going to be able to ever trust anyone again, fully…

it’s unfortunately been the case with me, that the people that i really should’ve trusted, the ones that only had my best interests at heart. i didn’t trust. and, the people that i really shouldn’t have trusted, the ones that only had their own best interests at heart. i did trust. so, where does that leave me exactly…other than incredibly fucked up for life?…

our hour was nearly over and i was just really ready to go. it had been a really long hour and i needed to go off somewhere, and just get lost in the city, on a photographic expedition. i started to get up and put my phone in my pocket. she said, “oh, before you go, i have some clearly “cya” (cover your ass) paperwork, that i’m having everyone fill out…”

she continued, “i just need you to fill in the blanks and sign it. i’ll make a copy for you to keep and put the other one in your file.” i just looked at her, probably very exhausted-ly, and asked what it was that she needed to have filled out and signed. she looked at me very nonchalantly and answered, “no big deal…it’s just an, “agree to live contract…”

and, there you have it…tomorrow, i’ll finish my story…

tonight…

i went to my bedroom quite early, about 9:15 pm. i’ve begun a new ritual every night before going to bed.

i’ve begun stretching, doing some yoga, planking, doing sit-ups and crunches, and using resistance bands.

i’m walking during the day to get my cardio in and then doing strengthening and toning at night. 

the combination of the two forms of exercise really gives my body a better workout and tires me out for bed.

i’ve also reintroduced something that i’ve been missing and really needing the last few months…meditation. 

i guess in all of the hubbub of my new surroundings and living situation, i allowed it to fall by the wayside. 

i feel like i’ve done myself a great disservice, but now i’ve started back up and am back in the swing of things. 

meditation has been both so healing and so centering for me, without it, my body winds down, wears out, and gets sick.

it helps with my mood and quiets my restless, chattering mind that never sleeps completely. 

it helps me to fully relax and get a good night of sleep. it keeps me from having bad and lucid dreams for the most part.

tonight, i had a really great one. it focused on using your own thoughts and energy, to heal your body.

after twenty minutes of awareness of only my heartbeat, i was able to focus attention to my foot pain and it lessened.

as i sit here now writing, it’s completely gone. the centering thoughts were: i am perfection. i am worthy. i am healed.

“but, i am from iowa…”

a lifetime ago, about nineteen-ninety-one, when i had my very first, tiny, studio apartment…wendy and i were sitting on the floor, watching my old, thirteen inch, color tv…while sweating, in front of our “makeshift air conditioner”…a block of ice, sitting in front of an ancient, rusting, metal, box fan…which blew the “cool” air directly on us.

we sat mesmerized watching a brand-new breed of television show, as it unfolded before our eyes. it was the nineteen-nineties, the show was “cutting edge,””raw,” and “graphic.” the show, a pioneer in reality television, was “cops.” the show portrayed the “real” lives of men and women, in law enforcement.

wendy and i, were just enthralled by the “crazy” people screaming at each other…the drunks who failed field sobriety tests…the gang bangers who ran from and were taken down by police dog’s…and, the prostitutes and john’s getting caught in the act. we had never seen anything like it before.

we happened to catch one particular episode, where a very intoxicated woman was sitting in some bushes, drinking and harassing passers-by. she was throwing bottles, cursing, spitting, and kicking at the officer’s, whenever they attempted to crawl in and drag her out.

finally, it took two officer’s, but they were able to drag her out of the bushes. they cuffed her hands, behind her back and made her sit down on a cement, parking pylon. one of the the officer’s asked her what she was doing and why. then, he read the irate woman her rights.

the woman began talking. she was very adamant and passionate, in her message. she looked at the officer and insisted, “but, i am from iowa. but, i am from iowa. but, i am from iowa.” the episode ended, when she was placed in the back of a squad car, still insisting, “but, i am from iowa…”

to this day, wendy and i still laugh about that episode. when one of us makes a mistake and are called out on it, the excuse…”but, i am from iowa.” 

it’s funny, but that was my very first impression of what, i thought a person from iowa, might be like. i made it through forty-eight years of life, without ever personally meeting anyone from iowa. i guess that the fact never occurred to me, until i actually met, an iowan.

the iowan that i became friends with, blew my simple, ridiculous, first impression out of the water. she was very educated, well-spoken, intelligent, funny, grounded, curious, full of wonder, intuitive, feeling, and multidimensional. 

my friend from iowa was pretty special. she sang and studied opera, was an ordained minister, an interior designer with a love of architecture, a social services advocate, a handywoman who remodeled her basement, a potter, a jewelry maker, an artist, a business owner, a fantastic mother, a great friend, a gourmand, an incredibly hard worker, a professional, a dreamer, a full time student, and a registered nurse.

i miss my friend and although we no longer talk, her stories and notions of iowa have stayed with me. at one point, i thought that, we might have lived in iowa, or at least visited together…it never happened, but iowa never entirely left my mind.

so here it is…monday, december twelfth, two-thousand-sixteen…at nine-thirty-nine pm. here i am…in henderson, nevada…the middle of the desert…during the late fall, early winter. 

my wardrobe consists of: twenty-three pairs of socks and underwear, seven bras, nine pairs of shorts, nine t-shirts, one polo shirt, one short-sleeved-button-up-shirt, one set of jammies, one long-sleeved-thermal-shirt, one baseball cap, one bathrobe, and two pairs of tennis shoes.

when i look down into my lap, i see a tiny bundle, a physical-mental-and-emotional blessing, my service and support buddy, buggs, who was recently placed with me. buggs now encourages me to keep going, doing, and moving on a daily basis. he can and does go with me everywhere, and keeps me on an exercise schedule and routine, each day. 

so here’s the ironic, missing piece of this peculiar, jigsaw story…on thursday, december fifteenth, two-thousand-sixteen…at three-oh-seven pm…buggs and i will be boarding allegiant air, flight four-ninety-six…headed to des moines, iowa.

once we arrive in des moines, we will pick-up our rental car and drive to a town called, greenfield. once in greenfield, buggs and i, will be spending the holiday with my friend and her family. 

this trip is something that i would’ve never even entertained eight months ago. i was nearly one hundred pounds heavier, severely out of shape, unable to breathe or catch my breath upon exertion. i had an extremely difficult time staying awake, staying asleep, and sometimes even sleeping. i was a complete and utter train wreck. i was sad, lonely, and felt very poorly about myself. 

i am very grateful for iowa, she spun my head around and got it on straight. now, i am better prepared and ready to be absolutely present, as buggs and i, embark on this exciting, new adventure to someplace that seems to hold some kind of significance for the two of us…whether it’s just because we’ve never been there before, or because we’ve always been meant to go…we will go and come back different.

and when wendy comes to pick us up, at the las vegas airport…i am going to greet my friend of nearly twenty-seven years, with a gigantic hug, and whisper, “but, i am from iowa…”