Posts Tagged With: recovery

Day 1683: Blending

I’ll be blending several elements in this post, as usual.

My therapist, George, tells me I’ve been blending my traumatic past  experiences as a child in the hospital with my present experiences as an adult.  This blending results in heightened and often inappropriate anxiety,  fear, and hypervigilance.

Yesterday, George and I were blending our wisdom and our commitment to healing in a therapy session, separating out the experiences of  my frightened, wounded, and powerless  10-year-old self.

Here and now, I’ll be blending my photos from yesterday.

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That last image shows people in my Wednesday morning therapy group blending their experience, hope, and love to create a list of coping strategies during difficult times.

At the end my therapy session with George, yesterday afternoon, I told him I’d be blending my love for music into today’s post with this song for him.

I’m blending my thanks to all who helped me create this post with my thanks to all my readers, including YOU.

 

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 1385: Compassion

I’ve been working on developing more compassion for myself and for others, lately.

Compassion has always been a passion of mine, but I’ve been more passionate about it recently, because of:

  • the current political climate in the United States,
  • the physical and emotional challenges I’ve been experiencing as I recover from open heart surgery,
  • disappointments I’ve been encountering, including the ill-timed and unexpected  recall of my pacemaker/defibrillator,
  • the healing power of  the compassion I’ve been experiencing from passionate friends, family members, and blog readers, and
  • the undeniable importance of compassion for human connection and growth.

Can you see compassion in any of my photos from yesterday?

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I find it particularly difficult to experience and show compassion when I am in pain, afraid of the future, and disconnected from others.   Thank goodness I have compassionate people in my life like Michael, who compassionately cooked me that delicious meal and Megan, who compassionately brought me the apple cake her compassionate husband, Paul, made for me.

It’s easy to feel compassion when you’re eating delicious apple cake with some compassionate ice cream.

Here‘s some music I found with compassion on YouTube:

 

Are you compassionate enough to leave behind a comment for this “Compassion” post?

Compassion and thanks to all who helped me create today’s compassionate and passionate post and to you — of course! — for having the compassion to visit me,  here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Day 1304: Crystal Clear

Yesterday, one of my doctors — Dr. Laura Kogelman of Tufts Medical Center — said to me

Your lungs are crystal clear.

Dr. Kogelman  made it crystal clear during my appointment with her that

  1. my pneumonia is gone,
  2. my heart failure has resolved,
  3. I am ready to go back to work today,
  4. I am no more likely to contract pneumonia in the future than anybody else,
  5. we are doing a good job preventing me from getting endocarditis (a dangerous inflammation of the heart which I’ve had three times before because of my leaky heart valve),
  6. she misses seeing my wonderful dentist, Dr. Luis Del Castillo (who used to be her dentist too),
  7. it’s okay for me to go to Edinburgh, Scotland in August with my son and my ex-in-laws,
  8. she thinks it’s going to be “great” when I get a new mechanical valve for my heart in September, and
  9. she liked the idea of my transforming my future open-heart-surgery scar with a tattoo.

I made it crystal clear to Dr. Kogelman that I did NOT like her idea of turning that scar into the medical symbol of a snake climbing a rod.  I told her, “I have plenty of medical symbols on my body already” and informed her that if I do decorate that  new scar after I get it in September, I’ll probably add some flowers and leaves.

What is crystal clear to you, here and now?

Are all of my photos from yesterday crystal clear?

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Is it crystal clear to you that I made that t-shirt and that I especially like to wear it to medical appointments?

Yesterday, somebody named Jeanyne, who works at Tatte Bakery in Boston  (not pictured), made three things crystal clear to me:

  1. she loved my t-shirt,
  2. she wanted to own a t-shirt like that, and
  3. her mother,  Diane, who recently retired, is just now starting a new business marketing cool new wearable items.

Is today’s featured music crystal clear to you ?

 

Crystal clear thanks to all those who helped me create today’s post and to you — of course! — for all your crystal clear reactions.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 278: Elevated to tears

This morning, I read this beautiful post, Flow of Water – Flow of Life, at China Sojourns Photography.

I love that blog, every time I visit, because of images like these:

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and words like these:

“Water is pure: two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen.  It has no desire other than to be itself.

  • try to pick it up, control and squeeze it, and it will elude ~ as will a strong human spirit
  • if it remains still, it becomes stagnate ~ as will our body & mind without pursuing life
  • when it flows it becomes pure ~ as when we flow & move: life, love and our spirits tend to flourish”

“Water is resilient.  Soft yet incredibly strong.  An analogy which is often repeated, is how over time water can turn stone into sand with its relentless flow, creating such marvels as the Grand Canyon.  Water never ceases in its pursuit of life…it just keeps on flowing, bending when necessary, and without question follows its nature.”

“My favorite verse from the Dao de Jing is number eight which parallels water with human nature.  If I had to summarize the words of this verse it is: be true to who you are, keep it simple and kind, and flow with your work and in life, without expectations, and you will not be disappointed.”

When I read that blog post, today, I was moved to comment. The first thought that came to mind, was this:

Your post reduced me to tears.

Then, I thought, that’s not right. So I gave it another thought.  And I wrote:

Your post elevated me to tears today.  Thank you.

Before I wrote that comment, I also thought about my friend Marcia‘s comment on my post yesterday:

You’ve gone through the looking-glass Ann, with a wonderful looking-glass heart. And everything there turned out to be really, really beautiful,and we were all flashes of light, gone in an instant but never really gone at all. And Mr. Rogers was, in fact, an essential force in the universe. As my mom always said: “How lucky we are!”

Every time I read what Marcia wrote (including just now), I tear up.

I’m noticing the language there, too.  The term is “tear up.”   It’s not “tear down.”

When I responded to Marcia’s comment yesterday, I wrote:

I am moved to tears.

When people say “I was moved,” that usually involves tears, doesn’t it?*

And movement is good.

Even if it hurts, some times.

Many thanks to Randall Collis,  Marcia, people who see beauty (and luck) everywhere, and to you, especially, for reading today.

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* It occurs to me that this also applies to Moving Days, which, honestly, have been some of the worst days of my life.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 236: Recovering

I was talking to somebody last week about the concept of recovery, which is defined in many different ways, including these (thanks to my old friend, Google):

re·cov·er·y
riˈkəvərē
noun

1.  a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
“signs of recovery in the housing market”
synonyms: recuperation, convalescence
antonyms: relapse, deterioration
2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
“a team of salvage experts to ensure the recovery of family possessions”
synonyms: retrieval, regaining, repossession, getting back, reclamation, recouping, redemption, recuperation

Something else that showed up, in my Googling of “recovery”:

SAMHSA announces a working definition of “recovery” from mental disorders and substance use disorders.

Here’s a quote from that 2011 on-line article, from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

A new working definition of recovery from mental disorders and substance use disorders is being announced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The definition is the product of a year-long effort by SAMHSA and a wide range of partners in the behavioral health care community and other fields to develop a working definition of recovery that captures the essential, common experiences of those recovering from mental disorders and substance use disorders, along with major guiding principles that support the recovery definition.

The new working definition of Recovery from Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders is as follows:

A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

So where was I, before googling “recovery”?

Oh, yes, the conversation I had at work last week. During that same conversation, we also talked about the Ascending Coil. The Ascending Coil — which I first mentioned on Day 6 here —  is an often useful way to look at the ways we humans learn and grow. That is, we tend to go over similar territory and lessons, like this:

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rather than learning in a linear,  building-perfectly-on-what-we-already-know way, like this (which some of us might expect from ourselves):

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If those two images, above, look familiar, that might be because (1) the first one is a Slinky, which some of you are familiar with, and  (2) I’ve already shown these same images in another post, here.

So this is what I wanted to say, today:

When I was having this conversation, last week,  about the process of recovery and the Ascending Coil, I saw something differently.

I saw the word recovering* like this:

“Re-covering.”

Re-covering similar ground,  as we grow.

Re-covering similar problems, sometimes with a sense of despair: “Will this ever end? Will I ever learn? Will things ever work out for me?”

Re-covering similar lessons, learning something new each time (even if it feels like we’re not learning well — or quickly — enough).

Sometimes, as we re-cover that ground, it might seem like it’s the “same old same old”….  like there’s “nothing new under the sun”**.

This is what I saw under the sun, yesterday, in a place I’ve been many, many times before:

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(sigh)

It’s all about recovering, isn’t it?

Thanks to SAMSHA, slinkies, sunsets, and to you, too, for reading today.

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* I could have seen the word “recovery” like this: “re-covery”, but since “covery” is not a word, that would have been the end of that.

** I’ve been thinking a lot about “clichés” this year. For more about that, see here.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 164: Unfreezing

When I was a kid, I had lots of scary experiences in the hospital, all by myself, because my parents weren’t allowed to be with me.

I remember listening to the beeping sounds of heart monitors, in the darkest part of the night, feeling frozen.

I’m writing this blog post from a cot in a hospital room, next to my amazing 15-year-old son, who is recovering quite nicely from a procedure, this afternoon, to correct a “spontaneous pneumothorax.”

Earlier, this was the view from his hospital room as day turned to night:

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It’s the darkest part of the night, right now. The only sounds I hear in this room are reassuring ones, including those of my son’s undisturbed sleep.

Each moment I’m with him now, I’m unfreezing.

Thanks, so much, for witnessing this.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 110: Arrrghh! I might still be in this guy’s movie

Writing this blog, this year, has turned out to be therapy for me. And I’ve especially needed This Writing Therapy, this past week, since I live — and work — in Boston.

Yesterday, I wrote about how weird, how awful, it was for me, that all the scenes on TV —  as they hunted for the Boston bombing suspect — were so friggin’ familiar.

And that surrealism continued throughout the day, after I published the post in the morning.  Every place the media went, every place they set up their cameras — all were super familiar to me.  I recognized everything.

And the climactic scene, last night, in Watertown?  Hovering in the background, as the news media people waited, was my favorite diner.

Deluxe Town Diner

The Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown. I’ve spent countless hours at that diner.

My favorite t-shirt, which I wear when it finally gets warm enough in these parts (like now!),  is from that diner.

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All the people I love in the world?  Most of them have been to that diner with me.

I am grieving for that diner, right now, in a way. I feel very sad, as I’m writing this —  for how that diner — and all those other familiar things —  have been tainted, in memory, by the violence in and around Boston this week.

But I’m also mad right now, as I’m writing this.

(Anger is part of grieving, too, which you may already know.)

Here’s why I’m angry, right now.  I thought this was over (for me).   Like most people, last night, I was relieved when they captured the guy, and he was alive. The media told us he was on his way to a Cambridge Hospital.   It was over.  The healing could begin.

And I woke up this morning, eager to write this blog post.  Eager to write about lots of things I’ve learned, from this experience.

I love when I’m in that place, of eagerness to learn.

I’ve blogged about something, several times this year (because it’s important for me to remember).   When I’m feeling bad — helpless, powerless, depressed — my own personal experience of  “traumatized” — I forget something. I forget that I will get through that bad period.

But I always do.   I  always move through the bad times and come out the other end, with lots of gifts.  Those gifts always include some sort of wisdom — things I’ve learned that I can apply to my journey through life.

This morning, when I woke up, I thought I was through the Bad Time — the time when things feel out of sync, unfamiliar, scary, overwhelming, confusing, shocking — of this Boston Trauma.

But I’m not.

Now, I’m reading that the media is reporting that the guy might be at the hospital where I work.

So when I go back to work on Monday (after missing work yesterday, because my home was on lock-down), I’m assuming that my world will look different.  The media will be there.  The police will be there.

When I was talking to people — staff and patients —  last week, at the hospital where I work, I could see that people were traumatized by the proximity of the pain of the explosions.  Some of these people had run in that Marathon.  Almost everybody knew somebody who was in the race or watching the race.

And, according to the media, several of the severely injured people from the bomb blasts were at the hospital where I work. Staff talked a lot about how we could help others — and ourselves — deal with the nearness of all this.

I am so angry at “the bombing suspect” (as the media calls him) right now. I’m so angry I can’t even go there — write about it —  right now.

I’m especially angry that I might still be in this guy’s movie.

I’m also angry at the media — the ones who are making this friggin’ movie.  I’m especially angry about the misinformation that the media puts out there. I’m angry about the mistakes they sent out over the airwaves — throughout this experience that overtook my home — without ever owning their mistakes.

Digression about Why I’m So Pissed at The News Media

As I wrote,  earlier this year  (regarding how Weather Forecasters Never Admit When They’re Wrong, here),  it drives me up the wall when people promote speculation as fact. I don’t like when people  say they’re sure about something, when they’re not sure. And I don’t like it when they don’t own their mistakes.

The more powerful the people are who promote Speculation as Fact — the more angry I get. I judge it as irresponsible – because it hurts more people.

That drives me up the wall because I, personally, am soooooo careful to  say: I Am Not Sure About This.  That is a value of mine — to own when I don’t know something. I don’t want to mislead people. I don’t want to use my power — my expertise — to give somebody the wrong information.

The 24-hour News Media?  That doesn’t seem to be a value of theirs, at all. And I can understand the forces that dicate their being that way — that viewers want to know what’s going on, that they don’t have time to fact check, etc. etc.  But it still drives … me … up … the …. wall.

End of This Digression

So, right now, I’m assuming that my place of employment — the location where I get to do work I love — might be crawling with the media on Monday, when I go back there. Lots of law enforcement around, too.

Can you picture it?  Imagine what that might be like?

I’m imagining this: Bright lights, armed people.

The volume — and the visuals — turned WAY UP.

Dear readers, I was so ready for my world to start looking normal again.

For me, it might still be Trauma Central, on Monday. Because this is how I am defining Trauma, right now. It’s when the familiar and the safe becomes strange and frightening. It’s when we have trouble seeing past that, to a return of normalcy.

Damn it!

Well, as my sister said to me this morning, if he is there,  he won’t be there for long.  That helped — to look ahead to when my personal healing can begin.

And it’s a relief to know, that for many people around me — the people who were “locked-down” yesterday, the people who recognized the locations on TV yesterday, the people for whom the Boston Marathon was a comforting touchstone, the people whose sense of reality was disturbed in any way by the bombings here on April 15 — the healing process DID begin, last night. It began with the capture of the suspect, last night, in Watertown, MA.

I felt that relief, last night, too.  And I guess — I know —  that I will feel it again.

And for the rest of this weekend, I can try to help that healing process along, before I might need to return to the Familiar/Unfamiliar at work on Monday.

I will use those things that help me,  this weekend.

I’ll be more in the moment. (I’m not at the hospital, now!)

I’ll listen to music I love.

I’ll walk around my no-longer-locked-down town, and take in all those beautiful flowering trees — the ones I wait all year to see.

I’ll connect to people I trust.

I’ll talk about it.

And I’ll write about it, here.

Thanks for reading, as I do.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day 35: The Next Right Thing

For today, I would like to continue the illustrious tradition (that I established yesterday), of discussing the meaning of a term or phrase. Yesterday’s term was “Object Constancy.” Today’s phrase is “The Next Right Thing.”

Yesterday, I Googled “Object Constancy” before I shared my assumptions about it. Today, I would like to start this way:

I want to ask you, dear reader, what your assumptions are about the meaning of the phrase “The Next Right Thing.”  Maybe you’ve heard it before; maybe you haven’t.  In any case, what do you think it means?

(silence, so you can think about that)

(Actually, if this were a game show like “Jeopardy”, thinking music would be playing now.

Da da da da,

Dee dee dee.

Da da da da,

DEET, da-da-da-da-da,

Da da da da,

Dee dee dee,

DAH! da da da,

Deeee, deeeee,  deeeeeeeh.)

Okay, now that you’ve had some time to think about what “The Next Right Thing” means to you (assuming that the “Jeopardy” theme song hasn’t obliterated all other thoughts from your mind) (if so, my deepest apologies) …. I will now Google that phrase.

Hmmmm. Actually, I’m not seeing any “easy” definition of the phrase. (In other words, there’s no Wikipedia entry for it.)  Here are two links I clicked on, and found helpful: here and here.)

Okay!  It’s time for me to tell you my own personal experience with the phrase  “The Next Right Thing.”

I know that “The Next Right Thing” is a phrase, or slogan, associated with 12-step programs. I have witnessed many people use that phrase as a guidepost. I’ve seen them use it as Something That Helps — in their personal path of recovery, in moving forward, in letting go of judgment, in so many different ways. I have felt grateful and privileged to witness all that.

And I decided to use it this morning for myself.  And that phrase came to me because I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed today.  Here are some reasons I’m feeling overwhelmed:

I planned a party for several weeks; now that’s over.

I’m going off on an adventure tomorrow, flying in a plane by myself to somewhere I’ve never been before.

And I haven’t started packing!

I have a friend staying over, and what I’d really like to do is just hang out with her, but I’ve got all these things I should be doing.

And  I’m not feeling great, physically.  Nothing serious, just some muscle aches and the same damn cold lingering on, but the physical stuff does have an effect.

(By the way, I’ll probably write a future blog post about how helpful it can be just to List What’s Stressful, Right Now.)

(Notice that this post is long, with lots of digressions?  Among the reasons for THAT: (1) I’m on vacation so I’ve got more time on my hands and (2) I’m overwhelmed!)

Anyway …  so where was I, before the parentheses?

Heaven knows. But let’s go back to my topic: “The Next Right Thing.”

I know that it will help me today, to identify the next right thing to do.  But here are some thoughts I’m having about THAT:

What the hell is the next right thing? How can I figure THAT out? I’m so overwhelmed!

Well, here’s the deal. There are SEVERAL Next Right Things I could choose right now. I could start packing.  I could tell my friend I need a couple of hours today for myself.  I could get a massage to relieve the muscle aches!

And, actually, I already did do one Next Right Thing for myself this morning.

I wrote this blog post.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day 29: Personal Medicine

I first heard the term “Personal Medicine”  at a mental health clinic where I used to work.   The term was coined by Pat Deegan, PhD,  who describes herself, on her website, as  “a thought leader, innovator and inspirational speaker in the field of mental health recovery.”

And she really is.

She defines Personal Medicine as follows:

Personal Medicine is an activity someone does because it helps them feel better or increases their “wellness.”  Personal medicine can be things like:

  •  Working as a carpenter
  •  Being a good parent to my 3-year old daughter
  •  Vegetable gardening

Personal medicine or — as I often call it — “What Helps.”

This morning, as I continued to deal with some challenging circumstances, I decided to identify and administer my own personal medicine.

So I gave myself some prescriptions and — like a good patient — took them STAT. These included:

Rx #1:   Reaching out for assistance with some daunting tasks.

Rx #2:   Identifying and challenging some distortions (the ever-popular mind-reading and fortune-telling) that were causing me undue worry.

Rx #3:  Treating myself in a kindlier, gentler fashion.  (This is a fabulously appropriate prescription for when you’re having a difficult day, even though it might feel tough to swallow).

And all these prescriptions were good for what ailed me.

And no side effects.

I’m wondering how you’re doing, dear reader, in prescribing your own healthy, personal medicine.

No need to hold back, even if it’s habit-forming.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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