Friday, December 30, 2016

Hunting Hope From 2016 Going into 2017: Waking Up Hopeful, Boundaries, and A Rose Analogy

 I felt a shift in my own energy field on the night of Christmas Day. After a lovely gathering, we had our hearth to ourselves. We ate nurturing food, cozied into our Hygge kind of life, and while the kids played a new game of Christmas Monopoly with my husband, I spent a fulfilling hour cleaning. The night was dark with the snow reflecting sparkles of christmas lights. The kids enjoyed playing with their new stuff, my husband loved learning all his new games and reading new books, and since I didn't actually get a book this year (!) my way of enjoying my stuff was akin to cleaning. I spent a wonderful hour putting everything in their new places including my children's beautiful new magic. My husband joked that it was OCD but I retorted that it's my way of playing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I extrovert I need my outer world pristine in order to reconcile the chaotic inner world which stems from dealing with so many minds, hearts and voices. As an INFJ, the less input in my life, the healthier I am. Minus a few key voices of course.

The Christmas season tends to be a time when lots of people wish to come together. While I enjoy small tidbits of this, in general, it actually becomes simultaneously one of my most stressed out yet magical times of the year. My therapist always schedules a meeting two days before christmas, and then two weeks later, for me to prepare and then decompress. He knows I love Christmas, but yet can't handle a lot of the drama, family expectations and weird mentalities that come with it.

I am glad we celebrated in November actually (CLICK HERE.) It WAS magical and perfect. The "real" christmas also had a few moments of it's own. The day after Boxing Day something odd happened. I woke up hopeful. I realized I made it through! I LIVED till after Christmas. Which to be perfectly honest I wasn't expecting. It was such a relief. My symptoms were less too and have been for awhile. What also helped with this new, fresh, breeze of hopeful awakening was that I ended up stepping back from people, commitments and personal mentalities that I realized were not serving the love flow in my life. None of the people I stepped back from were awful people. But I knew to be optimal, I needed to let them live their own lives whilst I lived mine. I knew I have limited energy. We all do, but with chronic illness my energy stores are heavier. People are beautiful but the ebb and flow of their energy is a swirl that I allow to swish around for a season, but I listen to my gut when it says it's time to for them to float away. Unfortunately, kindly stepping out, is almost always seen as a rejection, thus I try to do it with a lot of validation. Usually there have been a few moments leading up to the key second when I know it is time. I leave in either spirit or body, wishing hopeful things for both them and I. Some I step back from mentally and they won't ever really know that door is half closed (but to me it makes all the difference) while other cases it may be more obvious or intentional.

Because I often think of death daily, I live most of my life in such a way that if I died today I would have zero regrets. I try to listen to my gut and I like my life because of this. There is nothing I wish for....outside of more energy, and less lethargy...I suppose I wish for health, however, I also try to make the best of what I have. Gratitude is an attribute I am consistently needing to hone in on. Thus, boundaries for me are tough but necessary to live my best life. I harp on boundaries because I lived a life without them for almost thirty years. And it was stressful.

I find boundaries tough because of my high levels of empathy and perspective taking. It's like that quote that says, "You know too much psychology when you can't stay mad because you understand everyone's reasons for doing everything." It's both awesome and depressing to have that level of understanding. It tears me apart regularly but eventually I still have to make a choice despite that understanding. For years I allowed that knowledge to control me and open doors to every suffering, hurting, or random person into my inner life. I felt obligated to ease their struggles or at least make them feel important or validated. Then I was given a boundary book by my counsellor and everything changed for good.

Maybe a metaphor would work better? I am the rose bush. Writing that sentence makes me laugh as I am not naturally inclined to flowery speech. I can admire it generally but it is not my natural wording choice. Anyway, stay with me... I am a rosebush because I bloom after the thorns are in place. The thorns are an essential part of my being along with the soft, fragile petals.

My healthy growth is promoted by the previous months pruning. It is not enough to trim a branch or two. In my normal Autumnal seasons, it is time to cut my branches down to the barest they can be.  Even in my blooming season, a light trim is required for more abundance. Blooms that were beautiful for their season are thanked but then they are chopped and discarded for future beauty. Piles of dead weight sticks are taken to the burning pile to transform into warm energy before being released into the air. Suddenly their dead, life sapping energy becomes something beautiful away from my host. They transform. I become renewed and they become reborn. But for awhile we were both an essential part of each other.

My thorns protect the soft layers of sensitive beauty. If I didn't have the thorns, I would no longer be the rose. I wither eventually and have my season of laying dormant in the dark, but when I bloom, the enhanced joy of being, is packed into every moment. I would not want it any other way.

I require sun to thrive. Protected spaces with optimal light. I may be sensitive, picky, finicky, prickly but I also hold secrets, fragrances, beauty and essence. I feel the most hopeful when I honour both.

Every flower, bush or tree has versions of this. Some need to have virtually no trimming to thrive while others will quickly spread like weeds if someone does not take care of their growth for them. Other trees know the direct route to take both in rooted being and free breathing stretches into the sun. I may be the rose but my husband is another plant entirely. I would say that my hubby is like Wisteria.

My husband is at his best when he has a supporting structure but he's far prettier. He blooms and creates stunning, friendly beauty in his season. Once supported his trunk becomes strong. But he requires that support in the first place to be optimal. Wisteria is also poisonous to small plants and animals once ingested. A warning that beauty misused or taken advantage of will have it's own methods of pushing back.

Thus, in his own way my husband implements boundaries but his require more time, and though serious when implemented, he does not require consistent trimming and pruning back. Each time he is tempted to be like the Rose, I remind him that he would not thrive that way. Perhaps he needs to give time? He may be served better by patiently waiting. Yes, he is also allowed to prune out the dead weight but his will have different definitions. His thriving conditions are different and thus need to be respected as so. He should set his own guidelines. We all need to understand the individual complexities that make up our health. Like each species of flower, tree or bush, we each need to grow from our own specifications.

Both my husband and I made some alterations to the "care and feeding" of our souls this season. There is pain when the Rose is trimmed. Initially I feel the other's stance deeply and I have to consciously shut off this part of me a few days later for my own health. But then, when the new growth starts, immense hope is found. With my husband, it takes longer. Which is why he needs to be a tad more careful about making any trims to his life. He needs to have boundaries but because of his extroversion and sensitive, sweet, chatty soul he also needs to be aware of the future consequences of those boundaries. I am introverted and thrive off of a hermit life. I NEED this to be free and kind and the best version of me. He needs people in a certain supply to get the same joy. The consequences of setting boundaries may mean that the person never flows back into his life. They may not recycle into the air again. They may just float away permanently. I am generally ok with this if our time was left somewhat in peace. My husband needs to be sure.

Thus, after much deliberation, we are both making some necessary changes in our own unique ways. Usually, I am not a New Years person (see THIS post) and I still hold to this stance, but this year, I do feel the need to reassess and tweak my branches. There is not much I need to do differently but there is some growth that is always required. I wish to remember gratitude daily. I wish to remember that it's ok to be the rose and not the sunflower. That it is ok to step back to thrive. I feel the most free with the least amount of people possible in my life. Yet, with those few I am loyally theirs in the ways I can be. If given space I bring beauty to the table. Constricted I begin to lose life. I was allowing too many voices. All of which were beautiful, but not all were conducive to positive communication. I was becoming a people pleaser again and it was bogging me down. A struggle I may always have to balance.

I taste spring. I can feel in in the air. Which is odd because in our area it will be months away. January is supposed to have averages of minus 20 and 30 degrees celsius. Yet, I can feel that hopeful zest of new beginnings and of tantalizing fresh starts. But those fresh beginnings come from dead earth renewed. The tiny buds of beauty begin from a season of hibernation. The warm sun is around the corner. It may be months away but it is ever glowing in my soul. If I died tomorrow I would be happy I felt it. I would be thankful that THIS is my life. It may be complex, short, and riddled with moments of painful pruning but it also has given great beauty, fragrant calm, and budding LIFE.

I am forever thankful for this understanding of myself and my needs. While also holding on to the knowledge of others in their own context. As I step into the light and dark of 2017, I DO hope for the world globally and individually to be less chaotic year than 2016. But that is what we all wished for 2016 when it started. To me, that sentimental wish is nice but not realistic.

Instead, I hope to focus on the daily. The wisdom that is from each person working in their small area, within their gifts, understanding and scope, to do what they can do best and love what is in their path to love. It's the baby giggles in the midst of feeding and gross diapers. It's the way the dust looks like sparkles instead of decay when the sun hits a puff in the air. In that I find the greatest amount of hope.

How do you latch on to hope within your own context, persona and individuality? Happy Hope Hunting...

Song Choice: There are a lot of Rose songs you can look up but I actually wanted to leave the song, "Won't let you Down" by Meagan Trainor because it's first and foremost a song to self and then to those we avidly make the choice to love with commitment:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

20 Blog Questions to Ask Yourself (and Others you Wish to Know) and My Answers To Them

It's nine days till Christmas! For a comprehensive list of my favourite Christmas albums, Holiday Dvds, Seasonal Blue Rays and Christmas Shows/Movies list click HERE. It's a handy list if you wish to get into the season.

I was sent a list of random questions and read more I liked on THIS blog, so I kept the ones that I felt were fun. Since I am an introspective type of person, I found them insanely easy to answer quickly. Plus, I am sick and can't concentrate on reading and a frivolous post is just what I need to write! What else am I supposed to do? Some of them were unique or fun questions that I will probably use with my children when we are bored while others were quirky, philosophical or random.

1. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year old self if you could:
I actually wrote a post when I turned thirty to my younger self full of advice I still hold to ( and maybe need to put back into my life again in the current season of struggle.) Found HERE.

2. What are five things that make you happy right now?
 Currently I am hoarding tissues and tea along with club soda, aloe vera gel, and disinfectant. Instead of wallowing in miserly misery I have decided these little things are bits of happiness I would not have had a century ago as a cold I guess that is what is making me happy? It's hard to find creative answers to this question after spending five days confined to my bed. I've been catching up on my shows, so I will also leave my five favourites on TV currently: The new show Timeless, the current season of Legends of Tomorrow, Once Upon A Time, The Flash (Again the newer season is FAR better writing this year and I like cheesy fun!), and Brooklyn Nine Nine.

3. What it the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
Yikes, that is a tough one. I could name a few off the top of my head; miscarrying and haemorrhaging, going through daily life not aware of my disabilities nor different brain wiring, getting the damn Norovirus flu three times and being in the hospital for that, helplessly watching my husband carry grief, a certain medical test I still don't want to talk about, allowing life to happen to my children, staying silent to ignorance because speaking would be throwing pearls at swine, yet wishing I could offer an alternative perspective....There is more but those are the immediate, less deep answers that come to mind. I've also had a pretty good life.

4. What are 6 passions you have?
I try to lay off of disclosing these generally as I used to put them out into the world way too I just write about them. Lucky you! Any reader could probably guess a few of my passions. Here are six: Improved Health Care and Patient Autonomy and Comfortability, Respect for different Wiring and Challenging Ableism, Education Being Completely Re Thought Instead of Dumbing Us Down (read the book), Women's Rights and Finding Ways to lessen Human Trafficking Which Goes Into our Own Mentalities as Well, Decorating and Creating Safe Homes and Spaces to Create a Better World, Challenging the Religion I grew up With and Making sure that Other Victims of Abuse in Religion Know They are Worthy Simply Because They Exist, and Personality Growth, Cognitive Functions and Basic Psychology.

I am a passionate person so that was hard to narrow down and I could go on, but if one would listen to most of my posts or conversations with my bestie, they would centre around these themes in general. Obviously, I am not including my main passions of my husband and children and those I love in my life on this list. That goes without saying.

5. Which Celebrity would you crush on, wish to spend life with, or find attractive?
The Character Blaine on Glee wins hands down...even if he was gay...I would still want to be his best friend at the very least. He is so cheery and well, perfect. Luckily the actor is my age so I don't sound insanely inappropriate...but Blaine wins.
Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, Gene Kelly, Harrison Ford, Darren Criss's Character Blaine on Glee, Milo Ventimiglia's Character Jess on Gilmore Girls, and Christian Kane's Character on Leverage...other than that the rest of my list consists of women... Helena Bonham Carter, Haley Attwell, Jennifer Lopez, Emma Stone, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Lana Parilla, Judy Garland...I could go on... In the men's case I am usually more into their characters that they play than the actual actors in general although they are pretty talented people. In the women's case, I am just insanely attracted to their beauty, charm and persona and wish I could emulate them even to a small degree. But if I had to pick just one to spend the rest of my life with (besides Blaine) it would be Chris Pratt because he is the most like my husband in face, humour, personality, and general life outlook. Chris Hemsworth's role of Thor also is uncannily like my husband. I had a friend that thought Thor was over the top dramatic and his personality made him even more unbelievable.  I pointed out that my husband has the same exaggerated gestures, booming genuine laugh, dramatic phrases (My husband has literally exclaimed even before that movie, "Another!" after drink),  deep voice, huge arm muscles and lovely smile crinkles. So I would chose either of those two IF I had to, because my husband is still the person I would most wish to spend the rest of my life with, but I would rather have him, the real deal whom isn't a celebrity, at the end of the day.

6. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
Cooking. Life would be SO much easier if I could cook.

7. What is the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
 Patriarchy. Discrimination. Gas lighting. Medieval View Points. Blatant ignorance when the person disregards wisdom or intuition completely even though they have the privilege of learning a different perspective through resources available to them. Also, discrimination to myself and my family due to our differences on a personal level. Injustice in small daily acts in the name of God and Christianity.

8. If the average human life span was 40, how would you live life differently?
I wouldn't. I love what I wake up to every day- my children and husband. I would, however, try to find ways to manage my body issues quicker and a clearer path to health if I could.

9. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?

10. What's something you know you do differently than most people?
Perspective taking. It blows me away that most people do not step into other's shoes and try to see how they see the world, their unique religion, their unique brain wiring, and try to respect it even if they may not hold to the same ideals. I thought everyone did this as I have done it since I was a child, but I came to only find a handful of people who actually practice this daily as I do. Most are Infj's or Intj's which makes sense as our main cognitive function IS perspective taking, but I find more than anything, this is a muscle that is exercised and I try to keep it in use...much to my own chagrin... as often I am thinking as my enemies or feeling empathy understanding why a killer made a choice even if I vehemently disagree I can get WHY. Most people don't get that.

11. What is one thing you have not done that you really want to do? What's holding you back?
There are two things which come to mind. One is give a few people the full force of my rage and get justice back or maybe sending them, well many songs come to mind, and that would be a ironically fun way, but there is no point in that and it wouldn't be as fulfilling as I imagine. The second is having a long chat with a high school friend because there is so much unresolved there...but again, because of the people we are, it would most likely be more complex than either of us would desire. Plus, life moves on. In both cases, being held back is probably a good thing. Other than that, probably cook and drive without being dyspraxic but when life gives you lemons why wish for lemonade?

12. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
Yes, the last two points above. Mostly they don't bother me but every now and then I actively need to let them go ...until they pop up into my obsessive mind again:)

13. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
 I know which one I am and which one I wish I could be...

14. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
Yes, that is always my rule but I have come to learn that it's not necessarily the type of friend my friends always want to have. For instance, if I loved to give gifts, another friend may view that as stressful to live up to or it may not be in their love language thus I can not expect them to be that type of friend back to me. It's unfair. And vice versa. Or another example is that I like my space. A lot of it so I give others a lot of space in general, to which I find that they think it is neglect. I am working on not just being the type of friend I would like to have, but being me, yet being willing to learn and grow with the people I care about.

15. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
What is truth? lol.

16. Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones?
 The later is profoundly worse as I already forget most of my memories unfortunately...but life is still good.

17. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
Famous would be my worst nightmare so, no. I get leery when this blog gets a certain amount of hits...especially the spammy ones from Russia...Ack! Anyway, I don't understand the lure of fame at all. I am glad some people like to entertain enough to be famous as I enjoy all forms of human beauty on the screen but I would never want fame. Yuck and yikes. However, I am a little vain and my looks have taken a hit in many areas as of late, though I am ok enough and never was an extreme beauty, but if we are talking about magically waking up more attractive but living till 80 instead of 90- heck yea I would. As long as I didn't have to have surgery or work out a lot or starve myself...then yes. ha ha. I guess I am not overly ambitious about beauty...

18. When was the last time you marched into the dark with the only soft glow an idea you strongly believed in?

19. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
 Well, lately I have felt like I am just being alive with all my health complications and it sucks. I hope that changes and I do what I can. But I know what truly living is and the writers of most of these questions on this list wrote an excellent blog post about it HERE. I HIGHLY recommend the read. It's INFINITELY better than my post...and I actually agree with it all too which is handy for me:)

20. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
Sigh. Five minutes ago, every day... Just now. I kind of wish I wasn't so aware...and also that my breathing wasn't so stuffy...

What about you? Pick one of your favourite questions and answer by email, comment or text if you know me:)
Happy Holidays!
Song Choice:I thought I was maybe going to write another post before christmas but due to scheduling that is unlikely so here is one of my Christmas oldskool favs I find calming::

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Art of Illness, A Consideration for the Chronically Ill During Flu Season- Admonishing Ableist Mindsets, and Convalescing

I love watching the light bounce off my sun decor in my room. It's one of my favourite views upon waking. I'm always stunned at how decor plays a part in my inspiration and helping me appreciate small moments. It also helps when I am sick. It's the small things. I have been run down with a bad cold and coconut oil has also been a soothing companion after my many nose clearing showers. It has helped my lips and face feel less cracked. If I have to be sick, I know I'm in the lap of luxury in my home. 

Being sick has come with a few reminders about the art of illness and considerations for those in our path. Our culture is not a warm one for ill people. We think we are indispensable and so are our children so we send them to school, hours after (or worse- during!), sickness. We thoughtlessly expose people with different immunities and issues. (for a
A docs suggestion of timelines CLICK )
The process behind this mentality is far reaching into facets of ableism and culturally accepted false beliefs on strength versus weakness, bravery versus cowardice, ability versus disability and most of all our own belief in our indispensability and worth. Yes, we are worth a lot individually but we are also replaceable for a time period of healing.

 I have been hit hard by this simple cold and it has been a reminder to me that my boundaries on having people over if they've been sick or exposed to people recently sick (within a two week mark) is not extreme. It was my lack of diligence that brought me here and yes sometimes sickness just happens but I know how I got this one. It's on me. Years ago, each time our children came home from hanging with one segment of their cousins we would inevitably be sick. Pretty much every time, we ended up sick within a week of hanging out. There was always a runny nose, a tummy bug or an intense cough. Because the family belief was that if you are sick, it's just part of community life and eventually you will get over it, thus spending time with people matters more. But what about the other people? Do they seriously want sickness? Is that truly community or is it simply believing in one's own worth a little much? What about the immune comprimised?

Maybe for some that truly is a form of love, but if you hold to that, be willing to support those you get sick when they come down with the same bug. If it's about community truly, then one would hope you are making meals for them or cleaning their home or taking care of their children because of the illness you passed on. There actually IS responsibility that comes with contagious conditions. Responsibility we trivialize as a culture.

Can school be caught up on at home? Is your child really that important to the team? Maybe it's important they learn how to play without them? Do you need to attend that function? Yes the child may be disappointed on missing that party, but there could be other children at that party who will suffer deeply for your choice. Your child also learns to respect others and make sacrifices for health by staying home. They can make up another moment when they are well.

 I'm sure most people can get by without you and you can make it up to them another time. For myself, this week alone I cancelled four appointments that WERE important. One was even a specialist appointment that took months to get in, but waiting an additional month will not kill us in this case, so I tossed it. Because I should be staying home, not passing my germs into the world, and building health to the best of my ability, so I can once again be my normal. I also can not be a caregiver to those in need, due to many factors including my body composite, so I make sure I come with fair warnings, considerate asking, and informing so that a person chooses what they can handle because I know I will not be holding their hair over the toilet bowl.

Contagions matter. People who are chronically ill are not contagious but when they come down with something that is, they follow these rules generally, because they know what it is like to suffer and be sick...and how an extra bug can take someone down quickly.

 People with chronic illness, cancers or different daily diseases are hit harder and sometimes have life threatening complications from bugs that may only run normal immune systems down. The bugs are no fun for anyone, but for most normal immunities they are simply the "common cold or flu." But speaking for all those who have different bodies and may not be as vocal as I am...If you know a person with a daily disease, cancer, extra health complications and chronic conditions and you actually love them, be extra careful when you have been exposed to something. Show up in other ways and wait the two weeks out. It sucks but it's infinitely better then sending your friend or family member to the hospital. 

Those of us who have chronic conditions need to be stronger in our boundaries. We want to get together sooner rather than later, so we say, "It should be fine." Sometimes this is true, but most times if we can, we should wait it out. If my cold gets much worse (and thus far I think it's only an aggressive cold) I will have to go get oxygen and IV. Not because I'm a baby but because already I am low on oxygen, dehydrated and my cell size is a quarter of what they are supposed to be so my body doesn't do this well. I'm staying in bed and drinking water and vitamin C all day. When I get up my heart pounds and it hurts (a common symptom of low ferritin and cardiac arrest is a possibility) but it's under more stress trying to breathe and recover. It's not that sufferers are trying to be pains or attention seekers... in fact generally we go out of our way to seem less high maintenance but the truth is that we have different bodies so we also need different rules of living. It's actually ableist of us to view ourselves as capable as everyone else. We are capable but it shows up differently.  It's also ableist of those that love us to ignore this difference.

Ableism also applies to mental differences as well. It's huge in the disability and disease community. Most people aren't even aware of the term ableism. Exposing ableism is the current human rights movement.  Ableism is just as ingrained as prejudiced mindsets. A small example is that often we view those who don't get ill as strong and that they are doing something " right" and we view those that are sick as making bad choices or wrong. Basically it's discrimination in favour of able bodied people. I know a gal who can't do a lot of things or speak on her own - she requires 24/7 care but she can type and her blog is one of the most beautiful things I have read. The perspectives she owns are because of her unique condition. To read more on ableism click HERE.

I wrote a post last winter about the Art of Convalescing and Intentionally Engaging in Hygge (CLICK) Hygge is a Danish concept that our family tries to practice. Our Christmas Eve day is also based on the cozy, winter idea. I highly encourage you to click on the links in the cited post and learn about convalescing and Hygge. 

We have generally forgotten how to be a patient. Patient literally means to wait it out. Convalescing is about honouring the body during illness. We push ourselves and threaten our communities by exposing ourselves too early when we are recovering. It is important that we learn how to be sick properly. That we take time to rest and honour the vessels we travel through life with. If everyone actually stayed home and convalesced for the appropriate time, the sicknesses that circulate around would probably be cut in less than half. In general, the time we would take for our children and ourselves would pay off with less days of suffering in the end. Not only that but if we believe in any aspect of hospitality or grace, the concepts should extend to how we conduct our bodies when sick and how we expose others. Our choices with small illness, the common cold, flu bugs and stomach bugs affect lives. I know sometimes after a long illness we just want to get out. If that is the case, go for a walk in nature where people are not exposed to you. Don't go to the local bookstore for a break after your child just threw up on you. Find respectful ways to both yourself and those around you to find respite. At the very least, give those you love the option of hanging out and warning before hand, and if they choose to still hang out- that is on them. The consideration is key. Individuals in families may decide to take care of each other despite illness and that is something to applaud. They may risk a bug for someone else and as long as they are taking care of themselves in the mean time and not exposing others in the process, this is commendable. The choice aspect and for warning are crucial. It's a completely different story to sacrifice oneself for another if one is able.

I'm thankful to those who know the rules in my life to keep me healthy and give me the choice to hang out despite the illness or to gently put the option in the future. The pre warning when our children play is huge. Playdates can always be postponed. Friendships can carry on at a later date. Many events we think are so important can often wait while we or others recover. That is the ultimate consideration. The consideration of time and individuality.  Give yourself grace and nourishment and extend that hospitality to others. (
I don't actually have a song that comes to mind currently. My brain is fuzzy from illness, however I do have a new christmas song I love this year by Kacey Musgraves for a listen: