Self love is selfish

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The river runs fast and with power, 

carrying with it all the debris of the things gone wrong with it – away!

Though dark and gray the afternoon sky

There is a fresh new hope building,

as I know that after the darkness light follows!

Today was a long, enlightening, fulfilling day.  The entire day was filled with doing things to take care of myself.  The entire day.  I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned, I prepared and enjoyed healthy foods, I went to Pain Clinic (which is 3 hours of intense therapy) and then had my first visit with the psychologist and my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) session.  I also came home and did an online  SMART Recovery meeting.  All for me.

For the last year or so pretty much everything I have done has been an concentrated effort to love myself and take care of myself.  Many view selfishness as a negative thing.  I know I used to.  Today,  I know that to love myself is the only way I am going to heal, and that is the only way I am going to have the life I deserve and desire.

It feels good.  I don’t do it perfectly.  I have probably said and done many things in ways that were less than ideal during this time.  Yet, I am evaluating it all and making every attempt to learn from it.

So what things are included in my selfish life?  What are the activities of self love?

  1.  Caring for my body by being mindful of what I put it in.  Plenty of hydration, the best food I can get with the resources I have available, resting, being mindful of anything that isn’t food or water and is it going to cause any damage.  It takes time and energy to create healthy foods to eat.
  2. Meditating has been a lifesaver.  I spend at least 10 minutes in the morning and fall asleep each night while meditating.  I purposefully choose to meditate to sleeping meditations due to a long history of insomnia.
  3. Getting fresh air has helped in so many ways.  Getting out, even if only for a 5 or 10 minute sojourn to the front porch connects me with nature.  Nature is a natural anti-depressant.
  4. Exercise.  See above.  Getting in touch with building my body back to health and connecting with the knowledge that I have a part in my health gets my mind straight.  I have begun walking 4 out of 5 days for at least one mile distance.  However long that takes is how long it takes.  I also have been doing an exercise program for 10 days now.  It also is 4 out of 5 days taking approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Mental health therapy is allowing me to process some extremely difficult situations, thought patterns and coping mechanisms as well as teaching me new tools to manage physical and emotional pain.  I currently have 2 therapists and am getting filled up with new understanding.
  6. Community.  Finding folks to hang out with and then spending time with them takes courage and time and energy.  I need to connect with others who can show me that I am not alone, that can help me with things that I can’t manage on my own and bring me a sense of belonging.
  7. Reading and learning.  I spend 30 minutes a day at the minimum to learn about something I am interested in and that will improve my lot in life or the life of another.
  8. Being of service.  Ha ha.  How is that selfish?  It is selfish in that it gives me so much joy and satisfaction that the more I do, the more I want to do.  Sharing encouraging words, finding the answer to a health question, giving support to someone struggling make me feel a part of.
  9. GRATITUDE:  Spending time each day being grateful for what is in my life at the moment is so selfish.  It is realizing what has been provided for ME!

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Production, it’s not what it used to be. Part II

I went to the Rogue Winterfest today and took a walk around the trees displayed. There were some pretty fancy things there. I loved this ornament.  It made me think how nice it would be to have a little trailer that I could take and go wherever a whim suited me to go. I’m feeling like a trip, a long trip in a trailer, would be good for my soul about now.

A cozy Christmas Camper

A cozy Christmas Camper

Two nights ago I was watching the most recent Grey’s Anatomy. It is one of the few shows I enjoy watching.  I typically watch it after the fact on the computer. Do any of you watch it? Well, there is a baby on this episode that is needing heart surgery. I didn’t realize until late into the show that the baby in question had the same condition as my son Kevin had. Today would have been  his 27th birthday. They didn’t have successful surgeries for his condition in 1985. Hypo-plastic left heart syndrome was a sure death sentence for babies.  They had tried a few experimental surgeries in St. Louis back then, but all the babies had died on the table. My husband and I decided to not put our baby through that. I wanted to just hold him as long as I could.  I didn’t want to have him pass away on a sterile cold surgical table without the warmth of his mama.  And so I did…I held him every single minute I could until his last breath was gone. Even tho it was 27 years ago….I always find myself feeling a little tilted from about December 7th until after the 13th. He passed on the 12th. My youngest brother’s birthday is on the 13th. That is my reminder that it is time to move on.,  This year, because of watching this show two days ago, I had it brought to my attention a bit more strongly than it has been in many years.  Typically, since it has been so long, it is a slow awareness that brings it to my attention.  Noticing the date and having my mind jolted into “oh yeah…that’s why I feel a bit off”.   I hope you all don’t mind me sharing this with you…sometimes sharing things eases the weight of them a bit.

That same show held another moment for me. Bailey is struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was diagnosed as being “symptomatic” of OCD years ago. I haven’t  really noticed it  being problematic or pervasive much over the last few years, that is, until moving to this house I am living in. Being where things are so broken and ugly and clutterd and just funky has made me feel more anxious. There is not one room in the entire house that is completely “normal” with everything in working order and painted and cleaned. It kinda wears on me.

So that is why this little trailer caught my eye. It made me think about just wanting to get in a trailer that was all cute and cozy and just go with the flow. Wherever I wanted to go.  Of course, that isn’t going to happen.  But sometimes…letting our minds wander like that, thinking about a trip to wherever, it can help one to get through the moment.

For many many months I was really struggling with pain and  decreased energy.  That was the reason for starting this thread on low production.  Each day all my energy was used just to get a meal and maybe a shower.  It started with the intense heat of the summer, then the smoke from the fires and then the weather changed dramatically in late September and the pain in my joints escalated to where I wasn’t doing much of anything.  Or at least that is how it felt to me.

I had always been so active in the past.  I worked hard and played hard.  I work and worked a lot, always at physically hard jobs.  I worked in food service for years.  If you have been a waitress you know how demanding that is.  I worked at the brown truck company as a pre-loader lifting approximately 50,000 lbs worth of packages a day.  I owned/operated my own businesses, first doing housekeeping and then lawn maintenance.  Then I went back to school at the age of 35.  Single mom, working as a nursing assistant as well as still mowing some lawns a couple days a week in addition to taking classes to get into a nursing program.   It took me 10 years of schooling, all the time working  and raising kids and keeping a house, to get my degree as a registered nurse.  It’s been almost 3 years since I have worked at a regular job and it is still hard for me to accept.  And now, living in this house that needs so much attention and has so much cleaning to be done, while not having the strength or energy to do it,  is really hard.  Especially for someone that has symptoms of OCD. Every day I would hope to be able to clean an area or fix up something, but I just couldn’t stay out of bed long enough for weeks on end.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, the weather changed again.  We hit a cold spell.  A very DRY frigid cold spell.  Low and behold, my energy has been better.  My pain has been reduced.  NO, it is not gone, but it is better than it has been for over 4 months.  It’s been good now for nearly two weeks.  The increased energy has come at a good time.  It is the holiday season.  I have things I’ve wanted to do and things I  want to accomplish.

I am not much of a gift buyer, but I do enjoy making gifts.  As most of you know the holidays take energy if one enjoys participating.  So, I am grateful for this current improvement.  I don’t know how long it will last.  I never know if tomorrow will find me hurting too much to do more than the basics again.   I am doing the best I can to do what brings me enjoyment and fulfillment each day that I get that I feel well.  This house…it isn’t going to get fixed over the holidays. In fact, it is possible that it will never really get fixed during the time I live here.   But I can do a few things to make it have a bit of coziness during the month of Christmas.  I can bake and create lovely aromas to entice smiles and warm memories for anyone who comes by.  I can make gifts of food to share with friends and neighbors to bring a smile to their face.

These will be nice little gifts to have sticking out of a bag or stocking!  :)

These will be nice little gifts to have sticking out of a bag or stocking! 🙂

So, production WAS down and now it is better.That is how it has been with the Layers too.  They went through a rough summer.  They were moved to a small funky coop in town.  They were put with another group of chickens.  They had to deal with the heat and the smoke.  And then they molted.  But now they are looking beautiful and giving us about 8 eggs a day.  They are in a new season and production is good.  It could change again.   Production changes with the ever changing environment.  I guess I’m not so different from the chickens.  🙂

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I think there are still a few girls holding out. They must not have heard the rumor about the stew pot.

I still get “stuck”.

Today when I was working with my physical therapist she asked me to move in a specific way.  I couldn’t do it.  I listened to her directions and thought about what she said and tried to make my body follow the instructions and I couldn’t do it.  I was stuck!  There was a block in the neurotransmitters making it so I could not send a “move” message to that particular part of my body.  It brought tears to my eyes.  Realizing I was stuck and have been for who knows how long and that being stuck is potentially a big part of my pain, at least the pain in my back was really mind boggling.  I was really blown over by the emotions that were attached to realizing that I have been STUCK for possibly a long time and I didn’t even know it.

We get that way in life sometimes.  We go along and find a way of doing something and it works for that time and so we do it the same way over and over not realizing that there might be an easier or healthier way. We often are completely unaware that our “body mechanics” are a bit off, or our way of seeing things is with glasses that only have pinhole openings. Or we were taught by our families and friends that “this is just the way we do it”, and so you listen and follow the examples you’ve been given and get stuck doing it the way everyone you know has done it for years.  Even if it hurts.  Even if it causes pain that limits movement.

My therapist has me doing Stott Pilates, which is based on mindfulness of body movement.  Breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement and head and cervical spine placement are the key focus areas.  Today we were working on my pelvis which is where, based on multiple MRI’s, I have a bulging disc at L4-5.  It is an area that has been injured over and over.  What she asked me to do was this:  I was lying on my back, breathing through my back, keeping my entire pelvic area relaxed and loose, like a bowl of jelly.  I was doing pelvic tips, like rotating the bowl of jelly.  You have to be able to think a bit creatively to do this.  Anyhow, I was able to do it one way, but when she asked me to reverse it, my brain couldn’t get the message from the thought through the neural pathways to the muscles.  The path had not been used for so long it didn’t recognize the message.  I had created another way of using my back muscles that did not include moving the way I was being directed.  Weird, huh?

So why did it make me cry?  Because realizing that my brain can’t make my body work by doing a movement that should be natural somehow triggered my limbic system.  That old reptilian part of the brain, the one that connects movement and emotions.  Makes sense if you have a basic understanding of the limbic system.  Having it make sense doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not going to have the same response that I did.  It was a bit mind blowing actually.  To realize I had lost control of movement and hadn’t really been aware of it.

I didn’t know all of that before today.  I didn’t know that I had mindlessly used my back in a certain way because it worked, but over time it really was preventing me from moving correctly.  The positive thing about all of this is I know with this knowledge I now can work at retraining myself to do something that I can’t even imagine yet!  That’s how mind boggling this kind of work is.  I can’t imagine what it will feel like to make a specific part of my body respond to a command to move a specific way that it isn’t even recognizing right now. I have taken my movements for granted too long.  I now have to actually think and in some instances re-think the way I move!

I was able to see a relationship between this physical being stuck and how I have been stuck in behaviors and characteristics that have hurt me in many ways.  Some of my behaviors were a means of coping with a situation at a time that worked, and then over time it became unhealthy.  The same can be said of my characteristics.  They have evolved, and at some point, some of them became unhealthy and I was stuck.  I was doing what I needed to do at the time, and it worked then.  Since I have been working a recovery program, I am more mindful of my behaviors and character.  I have an awareness of where change is needed and have worked at practicing new things.  It feels so foreign at times, and even today, more than 3 years into my recovery, my pathways to the old thoughts and pathways can still be triggered because they were used for so long. The new ways, my healthy ways, can still sometimes feel so foreign and odd.  So I keep being aware, taking a good cleansing breath and really thinking about it, and move on to doing it the way that brings me to balance.  For me, balance comes with being mindful and exercising my soul in ways that move me with ease through life.

I am so grateful for an opportunity to be living my life both emotionally and physically with mindfulness.   I need the awareness of where I am stuck and some help in moving with ease the way I was designed.  I am finding that help with the connections God is placing in my path.  Thank you God for knowing what I need to be Unstuck!

Moving Day!

MOVING is something I have way too much experience at. Seriously. I am not a military brat either. A couple of my moves have been because I was seeking change. But most of them were because of life circumstances deeming it the only option. Let me try to list the various moves I am aware of or can remember:

Hospital
Grandparents house
Duplex on A street
House on Delrose Drive
Duplex on 7th and N or something like that
Apartment in Beaverton by McDonalds
Apartment in Beaverton that were gray
Apartment in Aloha by the train tracks (went to the BEST school there for 3 or 4th grade)
Place in Lincoln city (yuck)
Grandparents
Apartment in Newport
Apartment in Santa Clara
House on 16th street
House on Peidmont
House in The Dalles
Apartment on 16
House in The Dalles
House on 19th in FG
Apartment in FG
House in Hillsboro
Garage in Cornelius
Grandparents
Apartment in Springfield
House at MP 27
House on Partridge Way
Grandparents
House in FG
House on Piedmont (across from house I lived at in middle school)
House on Lawnridge
Apartment on Centennial
House on M st.
Apartment off Harlow
Apartment on Gateway
Duplex in Springfield
Arlington, WA
Centennial apartments (same as before)
Parents
Basement apt off Wilson St.
Apartment in S. Salem
Apartment in W. Salem
At a friends
House at Murphy
Barn apartment where I am now.

Hey…if I didn’t miss any it’s not as bad as I thought. Only 41 moves. The move to House on 19th was my first move as an adult!

What have I learned about moving? Get rid of it if you don’t use it or love it! I have trimmed down what things I MUST have with me to a minimal amount especially in the last 5 moves. I spent years collecting and trying to save or keep. Now, I can look at so many things and so easily say…I don’t need it or love it or want it.

Basics needed: A place to sleep that is comfortable and warm. I am very fussy about my bed. Water and food. Warmth.
Things that make it nice for me: Decor, friends, fresh air, being in the country.

There are various levels of safety in my coop.  The red gate keeps the dogs out, the locked gate keeps the predators out and now there is a wire wall to keep the babies seperated from the big girls.

There are various levels of safety in my coop. The red gate keeps the dogs out, the locked gate keeps the predators out and now there is a wire wall to keep the babies seperated from the big girls.

Today was my girls 4th move in 8 weeks. They started out wherever they were born, then moved to the Farmer’s Coop, then to the little brooder I had for them, then down to the big brooder with M&E’s group. Today, they are moved into the coop! They dont’ have complete freedom in there yet, but it is their new home where they will be for as long as I live here at the barn.

The little girls are safe from the big girls here, but still able to be near enough that the big girls get used to them and vice versa.

The little girls are safe from the big girls here, but still able to be near enough that the big girls get used to them and vice versa.

The babies are now housed under the poop board.  The big girls still can get to their roosts and nests!

The babies are now housed under the poop board. The big girls still can get to their roosts and nests!

Here they are, checking out their new digs!  Eating and drinking are most important, aside from being safe, which they are!

Here they are, checking out their new digs! Eating and drinking are most important, aside from being safe, which they are!

When I moved the girls today, I made sure they had all that they needed as well as a few things to make it nice. The have a clean coop that protects them from the elements. There is a water source and food source available. They have some colorful feed bags to look at. They have one another. They have dry bedding for a place to sleep. They can be entertained by the big girls coming and goings.

I think they have a pretty good situation for their integration with the rest of my flock. For the next few days they will stay in their little place in the coop under the poop board. I will open it up and close the door to the coop and let them run around in there for a couple hours each day, while the big girls are out free ranging.

Checking it out and fluffin it up

Checking it out and fluffin it up

Their move was so easy. I created a safe place, put the waterer and feeder in there and then hauled them in two armfuls of chicken love! I can’t wait for them to have freedom to roam the hills like the big girls do! 🙂 That is where all the best parts of living here are! Moving day was the easiest ever. I sure hope they are happy in their home!