Month: October 2016

When Sickness Gets You Down Try Some Flower Power

I’ve done fairly well avoiding the minor plagues my teenager keeps bringing home from school, until last week when I was bed-bound during a wretched sinus infection that took neti-pothold and wouldn’t quit. This one knocked me down. Almost flu-like, I was miserably uncomfortable and losing patience as the days rolled on, cursing the child for rarely washing his hands, or at least not using Purell. I wasn’t alone in this heinous fall bug, it blasted a few I know, and tried to hit Sir Husband too despite his manly-strong immune system and attempts to stave it off.

That’s the thing, I work exceptionally hard to keep illness at bay often without success, unlike my husband who doesn’t give it a thought and rarely gets sick. I’m a Germ Warrior. Un-closeted germaphobe, incessant hand washer, hand-sanitizer user and baby wipe Goddess, I also use all kinds of natural immune-boosting supplements and teas while silently chanting my way through each day with Louise Hay’s Heal Your Life mantras designed for whatever sensation ails me at the moment. I am a big believer in the metaphysical – the relationship between mind and matter. I get sick because I’m “thinking wrong.”

alisonI have friends who rarely, or never get sick. Besides what seems like extraordinary luck, their secret must be “thinking good.” The’ve got that happiness quotient – always optimistic, filled with gratitude, barely any stress – nothing seems to knock them off their game. I’ve tried to be like this but I’m not sure it’s completely in my nature.

So while I was bemoaning my viral misery to a friend, she came to my rescue with what she believes will not only cure sickness, but will cure the underlying root causes. She just returned from a long trip Down Under where she went to do some soul searching of her own and came across an Australian Bush person who believes flowers have powers and wisdom to share.

flower-power“…Each flower in creation must solve the specific problems it confronts in its ecosystem….The solutions flowers develop in response to the problems they face become part of the flower’s architecture…as well as its energetic vibration.”

So essentially – and I never thought of this simplistically complex situation of nature before – in spite of all the challenges of climate, seasons, soils, temperature changes and precipitation, flowers adapt. And that adaptation technique becomes their vibe. And that vibe keeps them healthy…blooming…alive.

Fascinating!  My friend learned other things, like the way these flowers adapt is a teaching mechanism for humans, and used in Oz as flower essence healing remedies. Nature is more than a powerful healer, it’s a teacher too.

jade-plantIn my feverish state I fell asleep reading the links she sent, and had a dream about a Jade plant – the plant that symbolizes prosperity and good luck. It was tiny in my dream, and I held it in the palm of my hand in a heart-shaped pot. It didn’t have any small, pink flowers like it does when it blooms, but I knew in my dream that it would bloom soon.

I’m thinking that’s a really good start.

 

fullsizerender

A Name Is Worth A Thousand Words, A Friend Is Worth Forever

When the nurse called my name to take me back into surgical waiting for a minor procedure, my heart skipped a beat. “Dorothea” she said, looking directly at me since no one else was in the waiting room. “You mean Deborah?” I said. “Oh yes, Deborah. Sorry I thought it said Dorothea.”

That normally would have meant nothing – mispronouncing my name. But it mattered then, because my friend Dorothea just died — and her wake was that exact evening. Clear out of the blue, boom, dead just a few days earlier. And the nurse called out her name.

angel-starsIf that doesn’t make you believe in angels, or some sort of cosmic Divine, not sure what would. I could tell you about my bathroom light flickering like crazy although the bulb wasn’t burned out just as she was crossing realms and I didn’t know it. Or how I heard her voice talk to me as if she were right there next to me. Maybe she was.

I was sitting at a stop light adjacent to my son’s preschool, where he went 20 years ago, and could hear the wee ones playing on the playground, just like it sounded back then. It was an Indian Summer day, sun shining, the leaves on the tree-lined street turning shades of beautiful autumn. I closed my eyes and let the breeze drift through the car window as I waited, listened, and remembered.

“I’m ok Debbie. I’m ok” she said.

friends-for-reasonThat’s where I met my friend Dorothea – Dottie. We were young moms, similar in age, our boys were in the same preschool class. They became fast friends, and so did we. We spent the next decade as BFFs, just like our kids, and even our husbands.

When I opened my Facebook last week to quickly check messages there was the post by her son, only minutes old at the top of my feed. I burst into tears. It was visceral, I didn’t even know where it came from. I fell out of touch with her a few years ago, not by choice, sometimes life just gets so crazy. She was now divorced, I was now remarried, our boys are all grown up.

But I was excited to see her again – when we recently moved back home we were going to reconnect. Not anymore, I didn’t get the chance to say hello…or goodbye. This circle of life thing is something. But it is what it is. And life is life, in all of it’s joy, sorrow and baffling unpredictability.

true-friendsI wasn’t sure what to do with it. I have never experienced the death of a friend. Loss of friends, sure, but as cliche as this sounds, with life there is hope. Although I hate cliches, especially when there is some kind of tragedy. Like there is nothing but the present moment. We all know this, intellectually we all know tomorrow is only a promise (another one,) but let’s be honest. Who really lives like that?

They’re not really sure what happened, and I will never know. I just knew my old friend who had a big smile and an infectious laugh. Someone who loved her son more than life itself. Someone who was there with me for a lot of years, in all of our unrefined glory.

Anyway, peace to you dear friend. And as they say, life goes on.

 

flavia1

 

Stockpiling Starbucks Before A Storm Is Definitely Self-Care

img_3018Remember Hurricane Matthew a couple of weeks ago? It pummeled a heck of a lot. Storms can be so scary. But even when classified ahead of time as potentially historic events, they’re easy to downplay in spite of the build up and hype, because they usually come clear out of the blue. Literally sunny, gorgeous blue-sky weather turns ugly on a dime. You know it’s coming from the high-tech radar, the spot-on predictions and the images of the areas it’s hit on its path headed toward you, but it’s hard to appreciate because of the calm before the storm.

We were fortunate this one didn’t make it to our northeast coast, we are usually a storm hub. But even if it did, some of us are a little lax when it comes to pre-storm prep. I’m always perplexed at what we might need. Batteries, check. Bottled water, check. Peanut butter and bread, check. I’m not good at disaster planning, so I tend to draw a blank when I have to consider what life might look like in the wake of a violent storm. My brain just freezes up. Then as the storm approaches, I close my eyes and hope for the best.

Not my friend L though – she’s a seasoned survivor of sorts, a hearty lifelong New Englander, and high-level nurse who is used to major catastrophes. Not only has she seen a lot in her life, she’s endured a lot. So when Category 4 Matthew was predicted to hit her new Carolina coastal home where she recently moved, she didn’t bat an eye.

img_3164As the pre-storm prep began around her and people were not only rushing out to get their supplies, but evacuating for safe ground, she sat at Starbucks sipping her latte watching the hectic craze. Her husband calmly got the generator ready, stocked up on food for the dogs and secured the last jar of peanut butter on the grocery store shelf. L wasn’t worried.

Until Starbucks put a sign on the door – Closing early Friday for three days due to Hurricane Matthew.

This simply would not due. Recovering from a serious health issue, L sits in Starbucks every afternoon enjoying some quiet time. It’s her healing respite place, where for an hour she gets lost in peaceful relief. It’s her safe self-care spot.

Self-care is a big deal – and not something many of us take too seriously unless there’s an incoming storm. L only recently learned about self-care since she’s spent her life caring for others. Now it’s her turn – not even by choice, but by necessity – and it’s a new concept for her. It’s hard to shift gears, and takes practice, time and daily commitment. How could she tend to herself if Starbucks was going to be closed?

sbSo she stocked up on three days worth of her specialty drink – her preparation for the storm. Whatever it takes she thought – a hurricane is an invasion on her healing time.

That’s my life story – invasions on my healing time. When I finally opt in for self-care, it’s often usurped by someone or something that in that moment appears more pressing. It seems when we need to rest or recover, unless our issues are visible or in plain sight, it’s hard for people to comprehend.

Although she wasn’t particularly safe batten-down in her home, L made it through without any repercussions. She texted me in the thick of it, a cup of cold Starbucks by her side. “This is horrible. Next time I’m heading out if it’s higher than Category 1.”

Self-care…in the eye of the storm.

 

take-care-of-yourself

 

The Big Reveal: Love Yourself More

What do I miss besides my youthful glow, my grown-up children, and that phrase “you have your whole life ahead of you”? A lot of things actually. Like writing a blog every day. Or being able to eat spicy food. Sometimes I even miss little things about owning a house – mostly the ability to do what I want with the outside decor each season or on holidays, pumpkinswreaths, pumpkins, flowers, even answering the door to trick-or-treaters. Don’t get me wrong, the freedom of condo-living is awesome and I may never again want another piece of the American Pie.

It’s only recently that I’ve come to embrace a lot of things about midlife, and not just dwell on things I miss. All that stuff you hear about getting older is true, including gaining wisdom. But instead of sharing the to-do list of successful aging, or what to put on a bucket list, I’m just going to share the one piece of essential information I now have. It doesn’t cost anything, take any time, it even doesn’t require special skills, knowledge or training. It’s actually something everyone can do.

Love yourself more.

That’s right. That’s it. Love yourself more.

For many of us by the time we get to this midlife turning point we are tired – we feel bogged or beaten down, by life, by others, even by ourselves. We think we haven’t achieved enough, aren’t successful enough, don’t have enough money or the car we hoped for by now, the paid-off mortgage, the retirement fund, many of our dreams are starting to seem like vaporous clouds floating out of reach. Not to mention our body just isn’t what it used to be.

dont-worry-if-someone-doenst-like-youBut I’m here to tell you, nothing will change our past circumstances, and while there is always hope for the future, the most powerful thing we can do is love ourselves as we are in this very moment today, right now. Our health and well being depends on it. By the way, not loving ourselves proves what point and to whom?

It’s not easy. We are a society that focuses on youth, wealth, power, money and looks, and aging gracefully seems impossible. While we can’t fight that reality, we can learn to accept and appreciate ourselves just as we are, no matter what. That perception changes everything.

zuesSir Husband and I are paying attention to the midlife people around us who appear to have this “I Love Me” thing down. They seem happy, well-adjusted, and comfortable inside their own skin. We listen to what they say and watch how they move through life. Sometimes we even ask them what their secret is. Do they look in the mirror every day and say “You are awesome” in a Stuart Smalley affirmation way? Do they imagine themselves as the Greek god Zeus?

stuart-smalley

It’s easy to feel powerless when we’ve got a lot dragging at our feet, and isn’t always easy to shake off. I know a lot of miserable people, I used to be one of them. But what we noticed is that happy people keep their focus away from life’s sludge. They don’t let it invade their personal space, or their minds. Even if their situations are not the way they want them to be, they are ok with a different “different.” We have to see ourselves, and what we want, differently.

What do I really miss? Not realizing I’m worthy and deserving of my own love long before now. It’s truly the undercurrent of happiness.

 

deserve-love

Food For Thought: What’s Hidden In Your Apple?

 

apple Iphone users, let’s talk iOS 10. Love the new night shift mode, when my phone automatically dims its light for ambiance. Love bedtime mode when my phone sends me a soothing signal that it’s time for bed and gently wakes me up with some seriously peaceful music. Love that there are new emoji options from words to memes to GIFs all with the swipe of a thumb. But I’m drawing the line at dictation, which now comes with its own set of rules.

iphone

Before iOS 10 I could hit the little microphone and talk into the text box so I wouldn’t have to type. Unlike a regular keyboard, I’m not stenographer-quick on the phone. So although it frequently overtyped what I said, it did its best to relay. Not anymore. Now we have to “Enable Dictation,” and agree to the fine print.

“When you use Siri and Dictation the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple to process your requests. Your device will also send Apple other information, such as your name and nickname; the names, nicknames and relationship with you of your contacts, songs names in your collection, the names of your photo albums, the names of Apps installed on your device (your User Data.)  Blah blah blah … It is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services. Blah blah blah … Apple’s Privacy Policy … Blah. Blah. Blah.

ssshh

Whoa…. Say what?

I actually read it this time, then said NO. And that was a downer for sure. In fact, I found it a little disturbing. Because the long, tiny fine print essentially grants Apple access to my entire life. Maybe they were already doing that and for whatever reason now have to tell us. Maybe it has to do with that case earlier this year when the FBI wanted information from somebody’s iPhone and Apple said NO. So allegedly the FBI paid big bucks to have that iPhone hacked.

think-different

I’m not passing judgment on a case I really know nothing about, because when it comes to government and corporate America, nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors. But it’s scary to think that nothing is safe. Our privacy and our lives are open game for the outside world.

It’s hard enough to live with people’s perceptions of what and who we are all about. But to actually know that everything we say is recorded in some giant database sort of freaks me out. I’m not saying anything criminal, but whatever I am saying should be between me and the people I choose, not the whole wide world.

I am guessing this goes on everywhere – social media first in the game. Every website we visit is picked up by Facebook as an advertisement in our news feed. I clicked on a random Twitter link affiliated with an upcoming community event and saw my friends’ tweets in the sidebar. Friends who have nothing to do with the upcoming event. Freaky.

That “Big Brother” thing we read about in George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four – the theory that we are under constant surveillance by an unknown quantity – is true. And there’s nothing we can do.

Anyway, I do love iOS 10. You know what they say, an Apple each day and we’ll be okay.

dont-be-afraid

 

Who Decides Whose Choice It Is? I Do!

good-dayIt’s a good thing I opted to blog weekly instead of daily – some days can certainly prove challenging. We get up, we go about our business, we’re thinking good or not so good depending on our point of reference, then boom. Something happens and our day can totally change.

While I was reveling in an all-good zone last week, I got an emergency call that my mother experienced a life-threatening blip with her serious health issues. Naturally our world came to a roaring halt. From the doctors and nurses on the ICU team, to her family and friends, the seriousness of her situation left a lot of people perplexed. Each person had their own choices to make about how to address her care, and there were plenty of opinions going on.

chill-its-only-chaosDealing with all that entailed wasn’t a choice, but it highlighted the concept of choice itself. I started to wonder if everything in life is a choice. Everything – from choosing how to save a life, to who we vote for in this election, to whether we get cable TV, to where we live, what we wear, drive, eat, focus on, do, work, go, watch, use, think…is everything a choice? Do we really have control over our choices?

Although at different ages we think differently about our ability to choose, I recently realized that I grew up believing my choices were dictated by the world around me, and were out of some kind of obligation to others before self. For my millennial kids of course the reverse is true. Historically, choices were not always a matter of choice, but in each generation the concept of choice seems to subtly shift.

The trend now is toward each of us having authority over our own life, taking care of ourselves. The “put your oxygen mask on first” rule on airplanes now also applies on the take-care-of-yourselfground. We have to help ourselves before we can help anyone else. But I have always been so selfless, I usually run out of air.

Self-care first was a foreign concept to me until this recent universal shift – memes popping up, wisdom gurus all over the Internet and TV, books, conventions, society opening the door for transformation on the concept of choices. From the food we put in our mouths to the way we think – apparently we can make decisions that impact all aspects of our life.

The problem is the emotions that go with choices are complicated and the choice isn’t always clear. We can make any decision we want but then decisions can be laden with guilt or frustration, worry, wonder or fear. Not to mention consequences. If we can learn to manage the emotions, we may be better able to choose.

Interestingly my mother either in spite of or because of her health issues, has nailed the ability to confidently make choices that are best for her. And she miraculously did it again last week when she pulled through her latest blip.

I still haven’t learned where to draw the line when it comes to who comes first. But maybe I’m overthinking it, because the choice I’ve learned is mine.

 

choices

 

%d bloggers like this: