Oct 31, 2015

Effects of Trauma

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"Trauma affects one's body, spirit, soul, emotions." this author

I would like us all to consider the effects of stress and trauma.  I was discussing this yesterday with a woman experiencing some stress -- the mistakes, the mental confusion.  It also affects the body.  It is my belief that stress deposits toxins in the cells of our body and causes damage.  We can release some of these damaging toxins through Bodytalk, massage, meditation and crying, but - even better - is to prevent their damage.  I have been functioning:  meeting with insurance people, our cpa, financial adviser, bank, getting my car fixed.  Functioning, but marginally.  That was brought home to me yesterday.  Even though I began seeing patients again for psychotherapy and believe I was effective, as I was using an elevator it took me several attempts before I realized the reason the elevator was not working was because I kept pushing the button for the floor I was already on!  It was a time for humor and compassion for myself.  Of course, I am not functioning optimally.  Because of that, I reached out to other people to help me fill out forms, make decisions.  Let us be gentle with ourselves.

Happy Halloween

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"May the great mystery make sunrise in our hearts." Sioux Prayer

I have always loved Halloween.  The fun of dressing up as someone you aren't.  The playfulness.  The mysterious atmosphere.  When we moved out into the woods, we bought candy the first year, just in case.  Well, there was no need.  So, now, sometimes I go into town, just to see the children dressed up as princesses, princes and witches.  Having harmless fun.  Fun is something we need to make sure we have in our lives.

Oct 30, 2015

Remembering Compassion

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"Teach us, Great Spirit, to walk the soft earth as relatives of all that live." Lakota Prayer

I watched the Belief series on the OWN (Oprah) channel and was fascinated.  I loved the respectful way she approached every form of belief, even those quite alien to me -- the people who jump from 65 foot towers with vines tied to their ankles that, hopefully, stop them before they hit the ground.  They do this because they believe it will assure a good crop.  While that may seem an unusual belief to some of us, is it really any more unusual than some of our beliefs?  Probably not.  The point is, of course, to respect the beliefs of all other paths -- because there is truth in many forms.

Oct 29, 2015


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"Lord, save me from despair, and if I am in despair, inspire me to reach out in compassion to another, to do a work of peace for you." Alan Paton

Interesting advice, but I find it helps me to have a balance of taking care of myself and then also doing some reaching out to others.  As caregivers, we probably give way too much of ourselves already.  Let us be sure to fill our cup first.  Just as they announce at every commercial airplane before flight, put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.  Let us nourish ourselves, and then we will have enough to also nourish others.

Oct 28, 2015

Light at End of Tunnel

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"Let there be light." Genesis 1:3

As of last Friday, almost a month after his death and about 1 1/2 weeks after being on medication for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I woke in the morning and knew that I felt more like myself.  And, even better news, that has been true since then.  I know I am not out of the woods of sorrow, but I can see light at the end of the woods.  For all of us who have had losses and grieve (and that is every human), let us know that we will come through to the other side -- especially when we process our feelings and allow time to heal.

Oct 27, 2015

Take Time to Heal

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"In this culture we display a compulsive avoidance of difficult matters and an obsession with distraction.  If we have both an adequate level of companionship in our sorrow and periods of solitude that aren't about distraction or avoidance, then grief will transform itself into tender melancholy." Frances Weller

Someone asked me today if I was going to sell our home now.  Good grief, NO!  I am not functioning at all well enough to make that decision.  Another person said she imagined I was relieved with his death. NO, I am not --- not yet, anyway.  Grieving takes time.  The Jewish culture honors grieving for one year.  We would do well to do the same.  Yes, I am stable enough to do some of the psychological work I do, but NO, I am not stable enough to make altering life decisions, and there is no way I can be relieved until I have grieved what I have lost.

Oct 26, 2015

Reasons For Our Sorrow

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"The anima mundi -- the soul of the world -- is trying to speak.  It's telling us that its capacity to mend itself is at risk." Frances Weller

I have just loved this article by Weller in the October issue of The Sun magazine, "The Geography of Sorrow".  It helps me understand the depth and reasons for my PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) diagnosis.  It was not just my loved one's death, or even the 8 years I provided caregiving, nor the pack rat invasion -- I think, as Weller says, it is also about the tragedies around us.  War in the Middle East, droughts in California, floods elsewhere, illnesses in people we care about.  Let us be sure to find community --- a safe one -- in which to express our sorrow and perform rituals in order to heal.  

Oct 25, 2015

Finally Some Equilibrium

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"To fully inhabit this life, I first had to grieve all that I had lost." Frances Weller

Amen - which means, I agree.  I agree that we must process our grief in order to fully live.  Weller suggests that we need community support and ritual in order to process grief.  Rituals, such as writing a letter expressing our sorrow and then burning it, have proven to be effective for many.  Allowing oneself to cry is very important, because there is evidence that sorrow is held in our body tissue unless expressed.  There has been research that has demonstrated that the chemistry of tears of joy and tears of sadness are different.  We need to facilitate our own crying.  Some cultures have people who are designated to keen at deaths, thus facilitating the loved ones to cry.

Oct 24, 2015

Finding Balance

"The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by both."  Dr. Frances Weller

I think that is correct.  My work, as a mature person, is to experience the grief of my loved one dying -- and everything that goes with it (the meetings at the bank with an inexperienced and nonsupportive person, the layers of paperwork for insurance, the decisions both large and small, the credit card to be cancelled) --- And look for opportunities to be grateful.  Today I am grateful that a friend has come to help me with some maintenance projects and to participate in some supportive conversation.  

Oct 23, 2015

Dark Night of the Soul

"Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which makes compassion possible." Dr. Francis Weller

I have been experiencing, what I will call a dark night of the soul.  This term was first coined by St. John of the Cross, and it is a combination of psychological sadness and spiritual emptiness, often caused by an external event, such as a death.  I had the opportunity some time ago to be have the training to become a Nationally Certified Trauma Responder.  In that training, we were taught that a person can never know what might tip them over into too much trauma.  For me was it the infestation of pack rats into my home this summer?  Witnessing a difficult death?  The many years of caregiving?  I do not know, and perhaps it does not matter.  What does matter is that I acknowledge that I have had too much trauma in too short a time, and that has affected me.  And, I have to take the appropriate steps to return to well being.

Oct 22, 2015


"I am as all mortals are, unable to be patient." Pablo Neruda

What a relief to read those words.  It has been difficult for me, all my life, to be patient.  I once heard Eckhart Tolle say that we should not consider we are waiting, but instead should use that time to be present to all around us.  So very difficult for me.  I have in the back of my mind all those "things!" to which I must attend -- or,of course, to which I think I must attend.  It is a relief to have someone honestly say that mortals are unable to be patient.  Not that I want to use that as an excuse, but it helps me be more gentle with myself.  Sometimes I can be patient, other times not.  And that is ok.

Oct 21, 2015

Suggestions for How to Live

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"Do what you love.  Do it in the most adventurous place possible.  Do it in service of others." advice Diane Sawyer's father gave her.

I watched an Oprah Master Class with Diane Sawyer, and I love the advice her father gave her.  Too bad we did not all get that kind of advice, but we each are on the path meant for us, and - I believe - it is our responsibility to live our lives to our greatest potential.  

Oct 20, 2015

Accepting Help

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"There is a special place in hell for women who do not support other women." Madeleine Albright

I recently heard Madeleine Albright interviewed, and she said the above quote.  I found her witty and very smart, and she is right about the need for women to support other women.  I have found many people have said to me, "Let me know if there is anything I can do", which is kind, and yet, it is difficult for me to think of something someone might do.  A very good friend recently took a different approach and asked if there was anything I needed help with moving from the nursing home.  Bingo!   Indeed, there were 2 pieces of furniture that I was unable to fit into my vehicle when I cleaned out his room, and I was feeling stress about how I would get them moved.  So, she and her husband spent most of yesterday helping me move them.  I am so grateful.  And, it was a good lesson for me.  In the future I will try to think about a specific way to help someone else.  

Oct 19, 2015

Avoiding Judgment

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"Give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others."
Christian D. Larson

It is so very easy to notice the shortcomings of others, but so futile.  I think it may actually be a defense mechanism of the ego - the criticism of others - to prevent us from looking at and improving our own shortcomings.  One way to stop that is to simply stop judging and stop having conversations with other people who judge.  For each of us there is plenty of room for improvement-- we do not need to look elsewhere for how others might improve.  

Oct 18, 2015


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"We are always reasoning from the seen to the unseen." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am at a Bodytalk seminar this weekend.  Bodytalk is something I have chosen to become certified in, after seeing the miracles it can facilitate in healing the body and emotions of a person.  This seminar is facilitated by the founder of Bodytalk, Dr. John Veltheim.  It has been amazing the healings he has facilitated and the changes in the people here.  If you are looking for another healing modality, International Bodytalk website is an excellent resource.