Slow Going

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Slow Going

I just this week received my notice from SquareSpace, the wonderful vehicle for my Blog, of the annual renewal date approaching.  I have to say with all honesty, I had much higher expectations of my little niche blog, 'a WHIMSPUN life'.  Yet, as I typed this last sentence, I realized the gist of the problem; expectations of my blog, rather than myself.  Without a driver a car will not get anywhere, no matter how shiny the car.  My ego was quite attached to the layout and images of this vehicle, yet my drive, passion did little to put it into gear.

So the quandary; save the renewal fees (though reasonable) and admit defeat, or use the 'uugghh' feeling in my gut to really try to do more?  Give it a year and re-evaluate?  And again, my writing is stimulating the conversation with myself I should have been having much more often: why renew?  What am I hoping to really do here?  Whispers in my cobwebby mind remind me I had one primary hope; to connect, and even better, to help someone else feel less alone.

I spent quite a bit of time in the past year and a half working on handcrafting jewelry. There is a tangible reward when creating with beautiful stones a necklace or bracelet.  So different than writing, I am always so clear when the piece is finished.  That said, journal writing, which is the essence of a blog, my blog at least, has a very clear wrap-up.  My problem of late (and early) is I have this passion to write something long; a story in need of an ending! Back to the jewelry!  I created over 50 pieces just in the span of 2015.  As I sell very little, I have a display of the progress of my skill over those months, and it is so rewarding.  I have given quite a bit of my collection away; a chance for feedback, not to mention the opportunity to check my own perspective.  All in all I believe I have improved much, from novice crafter to competent crafter/artist, still leaving much room for skill and design growth.  

Unfortunately, though I created each and every piece of jewelry in the comfort of the supine position, beads on my side, large mat and try on my lap, after the holidays I had a series of lower back tweaks which really made it very difficult for me to bead at all.  Even when entering a healing pattern I faced the insidious fear of "overdoing it"; the not just possible, but very real chance of decline.  It has only been for the past week, entering the third month of the year, to have seriously considered sidling up to the beads again.  TIME is one of the most susceptible facets of life to severe disability and chronic pain.

The past few months have though shown me (again!) writing is the least taxing activity I can engage; and writing has been the longest lasting passion in my life.  I love writing.  Except when I have written over a half dozen prologues-preambles-introductions to a story stuck on the  tip of my tongue and getting bitter.  I have read enough books on fiction writing to know without a doubt, even from my won experience, there exists no better cure for writer's block than a daily writing stream of conscious, IE. journaling.  

So do I do it?  Not really.  Could this Blog be not only a shiny vehicle with some pick up and go itself, but a tow truck for my fiction writer's block?  Of course.  So what the get up and go is stopping me?  

Free Association:

I bore myself.  I know I bore you.  I whine about my pain.  You Hate I Whine about my pain. Nobody reads this anyway.  Each blog sounds like the one before.  I reveal too much.  I am afraid to be honest.  I should be beading.  I should be selling what I have made.  Nobody likes me. I am a fraud.  

Wow; where did that come from?

It came from me, the deep dark cavity which holds the essence of what I feel for myself since I have become unable to pick up my kids from school; make dinner most nights; go across the river to see my very elderly mom; take my children to anything fun; see any of my friends, acquaintances; honestly feel like I have any friends, acquaintances; walk around the block; shed the twenty (thirty, forty) pounds I have gained; and the beat goes on, and on, and on.

So of course I have nothing better to do than renew with squarespace and continue; perhaps reset and start afresh might even be a better attitude.  Either way, the enemy of good is perfect, and the enemy of piss poor is fear, procrastination, pain getting the literal best of me, etc. etc.  And, delightfully, I can still bead.  I have to stop my either or thinking, waiting for inspiration in one area to move into another.  I hope to both push and be gentle with myself.  The groundhog predicted an early spring, not to mention the scientists across the globe for the past 50 years.  I want to be rejuvenated and I will start with what is right in front of me.  I will write, I will bead, I will keep looking for miracles for my spine, I will pray as I do gentle yoga stands, I undoubtedly will suffer tweaks which may lay me out of commission.  Yet please bare with me as I simply refuse to call it quits just yet.  Even in the valley of mediocrity one can occasion upon dazzling skylines, find dreams not yet envisioned, bump into other humans who have room for friendship as I do.  I might even find with consistent practice, untying sentences as I have learned to do patiently with beading knots, I may find I have produced a treasure trove of writing demonstrating my commitment to get better, do better.  Better yet, learning to push push push when stuck in the mire, I might find I have grown from a novice at life to what I have always hoped to be; an artist at living, engaging in moments, noticing the inspiration and goodness which inevitably surround me, and certainly loving and laughing more, even with myself!

 

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Holy Days, or My Favorite Things

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Holy Days, or My Favorite Things

I have never met a Holiday Season I did not want to build a fire in the fireplace and cozy up with. Maybe a marker for the whimsy gene, the idea of wrapping a tree, a house, a room with lights seems to me the makings of a more peaceful, joyful world.  I am fortunate to live in the midwest where December inevitably will offer weather which enchants the season with a chill requiring hot cocoa and snowflakes which offer Santa a landscape perfect for his sleigh.  

I resolutely believed in Santa until I was well into grade school, and even after I had the good sense to pretend otherwise, I have continued believing; at least a little bit.  I have a memory, one of my earliest, of being tucked into the backseat of our family station wagon as a toddler leaving my grandparents house on Christmas Eve.  I saw Santa's sleigh.  It is very difficult to unsee something so profoundly felt.  This was not my only occurrence with magic; rather the beginning.  Not much older I looked out the bathroom window before bedtime.  I recall standing on the toilet and finding a starlight, starbright, first star I saw that night.  I wished for a doll and vividly remember the choice to hold my wish in my heart, somehow already knowing this was the locale of all things magic.  Late that night, which may have been anytime after 8pm, I woke to noises.  My grandmother had arrived to see my parents which was not a usual occurrence.  She offered me a brand new doll; dark hair dressed in yellow raincoat and hat.  Of course I still wish on stars, but having refreshed this memory I am wondering why I do not practice this more religiously.

The holidays hold for me the practice of cherishing days with traditions which exalt them with a richness lost most of the year.  I love the traditions of gift making, gift giving, and yes even gift receiving.  This morning after sending the boys off to school in the too early dark, I reminded them it is December the first.  I sat with my coffee and allowed myself the luxury of breathing in the enchantment.  Actually, I almost missed the moment.  I stumbled into it in a simple but often forgotten practice.  On my bedside table, unearthed from the last spilled beverage, was a hotel size thin envelope of lotion.  I opened it and at once was breathing deeper for the extravagant smells of herbs.  I might have expected the plush texture of the lotion for the smell, but instead was again overtaken with surprise; the lotion itself was a profound treat for my skin.  (Templespa. Repose.  Aromatherapy Resting Cream.)  I can only describe it as heaven and necessary.  An unknown necessity which I will forget, but still a bow tied to my fondness for 'my favorite things' which the Holidays have a habit of wakening. Dark Coffee with fresh whipped cream. Organic rough soap with a bouquet which lingers.  A t shirt made of the perfect cotton and fits perfectly.  Wool socks.  Candles which smell like (fill in the blank).  Cookies baking in the oven.  Snow days.  Stockings and a tree and lights.  Finding just the right gift for my favorite boys.  

This December 1, 2015 morning captured me like magic.  It has reminded me how a combination of scents and memories can right my perspective quickly, pointing directly toward joy. Enchantment is necessary, and lately too rare.  

I realize my anxious refreshing the Etsy Store, waiting for a sale, distracts me.  No matter how much I want to be the maker of a favorite thing for another, the impatient focus on promotion is not the route for me as I believe in magic.   It is in the joy I gather as I steady and slowly create the next piece of jewelry, believing each and every piece will find its moment to create an 'aha' for another.  Most have already given me a similiar satisfaction, though rough and cramping fingers.  This is not a world which welcomes magic into our daily existence, though Magic has taken up residence and enchanted the month of December for as long as I can remember.  Today I will breathe it in.

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Is there a way to blog about pain without whining?

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Is there a way to blog about pain without whining?

 

My goal beginning a blog focusing on my experience with chronic pain and becoming disabled was so simple.  I wanted to build connections.  Journaling has been an integral part of my life since I was young.  My experience has taught me as I write intuitively, without editing myself, I learn something hidden from myself however simple it may be.  For example, I may be journaling and writing a sense of being overwhelmed as a mother.  If the anxiety is great I tend to free associate, write with some pressure or speed.  I inevitably will laundry list some irritations leading into scolding myself for feeling anything but blessed.  A pendulum swing between exhaustion and shame.  Interspersed will be the occasional self soothing, reminding myself I am not the only overwhelmed mother who doubts herself.  I am not the only mother who can come up short when seeking the magical formula of discipline (no 'teaching' as discipline sounds too harsh).  Usually a page and a half in I will surprise myself by writing down some hidden in plain sight truth which speaks to either every aspect of my anxiety, or just as often a truth which is separate but shadows whatever topic in my life gives me the urge to put pen to paper and write.  My journaling has been as close to a prayer as anything else I do.  I spit it all out without censor and somehow I find some meaning.  Not usually answers, but something more basic which gives me a better perspective.  The best cases leave me with a sense of surrender and peace.  A realization the original problem or worry is at worst life happening and life has a way of throwing us both snowballs and snow cones.  

Life always changes.  Surrender happens when I see myself as a simple human doing my best; relief often is as simple as acceptance of the above, combined with an ease which occurs when I can move through the day without the background narrative judging, comparing. Magic happens when the surrender/acceptance opens up my vision to how very human I am, thus connected to others.

I was once at a conference of 50,000+ misfits where a very wise woman gently reminded the collective crowd, "there is really only one of us; you know", raising 50,000+ simultaneous goose bumps.  As One.  This was one of a handful of times I felt the presence of something sacred; a part of and kindly in the care of something sacred, and maybe even more importantly, something "good".

So you might ask what does my history of journaling, stumbling and recovering have to do with the above title, "is there a way to blog about pain without whining?".  Even I have to wonder why journaling about pain has defied the above parallel.  No doubt, journaling in a blog makes it more than a bit harder to quiet my ego.  Yet I have a wealth of personal experience of sharing my heart, my vulnerabilities in public settings and finding a close parallel to the surrender, acceptance, magic outcome I have described above.  EXCEPT, when in these same forums my experience has more to do with my pain.  My pain; not our pain, the pain we all share.  Is that where the difference lies?  So how could I get so comfortable sharing foibles which I know alot of folk do not speak freely about, yet chronic pain somehow falls outside my comfort zone which had grown to be quite large. 

Ahh.  Duh, I am not comfortable with my experience of chronic pain.  I am not comfortable.  I am not alone here, as I am pretty sure You are not comfortable later.  But until I accept my experience of living with daily pain, pain which escalates with activity, pain which inevitably feels more than I can handle, until I accept this as an aspect of my humanity I will not be free to share this experience.  

Why such an urge to share?  Simple; sharing when vulnerable has been my path to learning my open and honest vulnerability is not an isolated experience, but rather a few of my fellows will tentatively or boldly approach me to thank me for reminding them of their own humanity. And visa versa!  

The experience of chronic, intractable pain is not as broad of an experience as the discomfort of learning to be honest in a partnership, learning to accept my imperfections as a mother, etc. So what?  Why not look for the similarities instead of the differences.  Why not remember the intrinsic compassion in most of humanity.  My "pain" antennae is high and probing for judgement though my experience has repeatedly taught me this is not the reality.  It may be a reality, but it is definitely not the reality of those certain folk I have found in my path who always smile and offer a kind word pretty much regardless what I say.  They are kindred spirits.  

I have not given up on this blog nor my intention to create connections and help destigmatize chronic pain.  Destigmatize; what a word and the first time I have used, expressed this idea. Yet this is the crux of the matter; sharing my humanity in the midst of living with severe pain. Believing there are others who are trudging this path with me who can use this blog to express their own journey.  Knowing that pain is universal.  A humbling sense which has overtaken my heart and breath after writing the last, which reminds me my pain which is often physical in the first impression has many shadow pains; depression, sleeplessness, hopelessness, a fear of the future, isolation, etc., etc., etc.  

Is there a way to blog about pain without whining?  Yes.  And no.  I think I have to be brave enough to express what pours through my fingertips without too much of an ego editor, without deleting for fear of being judged as whining.  I am the judge.  Am I afraid to be vulnerable? Yes.  Am I afraid to be judged? Yes.  Am I still holding the judgement which has been shared? Definitely.  Who the **** cares?!  I am drowning in isolation, loneliness, and pain which limits my movement when biting and acute.  I am even more lost in those moments when the pain is more of a foreshadowing threatening my movements, making me feel in the same moment both lazy and cautious, scared and confused.  Above all, lonely.  

I cannot underestimate how much joy and love I receive and share with my Tim and my two young boys.  I have immersed myself into jewelry making, a craft and activity which gives me much satisfaction.  Yet the loneliness is so real, strong.  It is a haunting loss of friends I used to see often who I haven't seen this calendar year.  It is the knowledge I do not know when I will be strong enough to maintain such friendships with the ease of simply showing up like the 'good ole days'. It is the preoccupation with the pain which wraps me in a straitjacket.  It is the worry of finances, aging, needing another surgery.  It is a thousand different ways my life is different from what it was and what I always had thought it would be. 

In the clear knowledge the last rant I wrote falls clearly in the domain of whining, I will end with it as it is as honest as I get and what many or most moments, most days feel like in a nutshell.  In a nutshell of a very blessed life.  Please share in whatever way you can if your relate.  Thanks.

http://www.theacpa.org/September-is-Pain-Awareness-Month

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Ouch.

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Ouch.

It seems I am at the point in my blog to either fish or cut bait.  I have shared my intentions of writing honestly about my struggles with chronic pain and disability, and the first two introduction style posts were both uplifting, even soothing;  reinforcing the idea to share my vulnerabilities as an avenue of spiritual connection.  

Today I have a neck-head-scalp migraine which is hard to smile through.  I just put both of my sons into the car with my husband.  One has baseball practice and the other has a band concert for elementary school kids at the local high school.  My husband typically works on Tuesday evening and I had felt able to push through and do the transporting and attend the concert.  Still my husband seeing flexibility with his evening work rushed home as I was about to leave with the boys and took over so I didn't have to.  His help, no his consistent super hero efforts juggling so much of our lives, is something I cannot begrudge, though I cannot push down the shame either.

When the boys came home from school I greeted my 12 year old like I try every day with a happy how was your day.  I was lying down with ice on my neck and head and I swear part of me sensed a look on his face which I can only describe as resentment.  How can I blame him? My husband tells me it is my imagination, yet he does not see my son's eyes when they fall upon me.  My 12 year old is in a moody phase; has been for a while now.  I worry so he is burdened by what he may see as my helplessness.  I occasionally try to open up a conversation, telling him I get it if my condition bothers him. All of my fantastical hopes to raise the boys in a way which encouraged their openness seem to be fading behind his moodiness.  I wonder when, why the joyful back and forth where he wanted to share every part of his day slipped behind us.  I get he "is at that age" but I also get he is growing up in a home with a mom who is different, disabled, in pain.  Often simple routines become juggling acts burdened by short tempers and frustration as my husband operates as a single parent in a two parent home.  

My younger boy cheerfully tells me with what seems genuine indifference he does not mind I am not going to make his concert.  I tell him how I really would like to go, but.....

The choice is hard.  I could go.  The headache does not make my attendance impossible, it is more it makes it so hard for me to face traffic, sunlight, noise.  The hour of sitting prior the concert would be difficult; sitting always shoots my lower back pain through the roof.  The concert would finally start and I would be there trying to desperately hold back tears and a grimace.  Other families from the school with their smiles and camaraderie would make me want to hide.  A kind word from someone I know a bit better would inevitably trigger my tears.  He really seems not concerned if I miss.  He is nine.  I wonder if this is where the gulf began with my older boy.  I try to remember how often I missed and his demeanor?  I worry this might be how he began resenting me.

Perspective begs me to share we are not an obviously broken family.  I believe I can say with honesty, we are a family who is often mishapened and exhausted by efforts born of love.   I keep a mental tally of how often the boys have missed opportunities because of my disability; rarely.  More often I have missed participation in their lives away from home.  The disability entered our lives with such a subtle force we began shaping our life around where my body could be more comfortable.  Our bedroom has become the dining room with a blanket on the floor and the family room where we share with laughter one netflix series at a time.  The boys often argue who sits closer to me, though the littler one has a force which his elder brother cannot match.  They both know how much they are loved.  They are both brilliant and behave magically everywhere, but in our own home.  They bicker constantly and whine incessantly and in many ways seem "ok"; pretty typical of boys their age outside their unusual intelligence and aptitude.  

I would like to do better, be more.  My mantra this past month has been to push myself further into activity, less concerned with pain's repercussions.  My attitude has been upbeat if not jolly, with the hope of truly putting this into action.  Today I could not meet my mantra.  I could have pushed through if my husband had not been able to match this particular juggling trick, but I would not have been jolly.  I hate it when the pain is so dominant to squash my happy spirit.  I am shamed to say the pain can squash my hope.  I am crying just wondering if my pain has created disappointment in my son.  

My husband just called to say he got the younger boy to the concert, and then the older boy to his practice.  He was driving back to the concert and wanted to apologize he did not see anyone at the baseball practice, which finishes first, to give our son a lift home.  I would need to pick him up.  Which is fine!  I can do that!  I want to do that!  Maybe we can chat about his practice, how he is working on his slide.  Maybe he can hear my love in my voice and remember I am still trying.  I have not given up.  I will never give up on these boys!  The tricky part is not giving up on myself.  

 

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Point(s) of Departure

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Point(s) of Departure

An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought.
— Pablo Picasso

The phrase 'point of departure' was a phrase which echoed in my mind as I began framing the focus of my blog.  Like the opening page view of ships at sea (or not) I wanted to explore the disconnect between my wide open dreams and the present realities which have felt akin to being landlocked. As I shared in my original entry, I am still finding my way accepting the physical limitations which are so disparate from the spirit of who and how I see myself.  Likewise, the point(s) of departure from my fellows as my body simply could not reach the faces I wanted to reach has been difficult to resolve. I began to see just how many levels I was experiencing a separation.  One step forward, limp lag fall back.  

I googled 'point of departure' sure this phrase was larger than my own conceptions only to find the opening quote attributed to Pablo Picasso. Of course I congratulated myself for finding highbrow company.  

Reading Picasso's quote is heady stuff, lifting the phrase into the clouds.  Each reading spins my mind more than a bit, and when I think I grasp his 'aha' I find it has slipped away. With one exception; without any doubt I find Picasso's 'point of departure' a more freeing view than my original brain storms around these few words. It seems to me to express expansion where I saw limitations.  The counterpoint between visions seems to me where the answers might be found.

I was reminded just how ethereal any concept of self actually is.  It is little more than an idea, yet it seems the trappings of self convinced me rather of the all together different 'ideal'.  It awakens me once again to the pitfalls of attachments of most any kind, especially if I limit myself to an ideal. Life or better put, living!, is all about the elaboration, the transformation, the unexpected conversation. 

(Note to reader!  I am in cerebral outerspace; please breathe deeply so you may not die of lack of oxygen.  Or boredom.)

What I sense with the force of a butt kick is the universal condition of becoming disconnected with ourselves for infinite reasons.  I am truly not all that unique!  The particulars of each of our conditions which may throw us in deep water may be as infinite as the shades of blue reflecting off the calm sea; it is still the same sea. No matter if adrift for loss of compass, mutiny, iceberg, or foreclosure on our dream ship, the point seems to be "so what now, what next?".  

I blush with the heart knowledge I have been beached for many years and though I have dabbled in 'what is next?' I forgot about 'why not!'. Idealizing, romanticizing what seems improbable somehow prevented me from reaching into the grab bag of this universe to discover new dreams, different dreams, better dreams.  Big Dreams!!  I hang my head a bit, admitting to myself, deep inside I felt I did not deserve them.  Such a subtle, almost imperceptible shame for having become disabled. No worries! I realize the limitations I have operated from, knowingly or not, for far too long are nothing more than...

a point of departure and no more. I believe it is time to elaborate. I know it is time to transform!

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