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I Resolve 15/01/2012

Filed under: Mindfulness & the Senses — jillnottelten @ 3:31 pm
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I resolve to make a resolution.

It will not be a grand one.

It will be simple.

Something that I can stick to – but not trivial.

It will have meaning – but not mean the world to me (or anyone else for that matter).

It will be inspiring, though.  Something that will make me feel better for having stayed my course.

Yes.  Simple but hope filling.

It will be something that will make me feel alive.

It will need to be something that can be easy to keep – and yet a challenge as well.

I could spend a year making a resolution like that.

Perhaps this year I shall simply resolve to breathe …

… and not take every breath for granted.

 

What do you do with the Shockers? 25/11/2011

Yes, I am still here.  Still living, breathing and blogging.  Just fell victim to a couple of very shocking weeks (interspersed with some lovely moments, but very few and far between).

This week I’ve barely been able to tolerate daylight, let alone the computer screen – migraine like I have not had in a long time since my medication includes migraine voodoo concoctions … but … amidst my Barry Crocker of a week the week before and the ensuing weekend I became a bit disoriented and missed a couple of doses of my meds, hence the hole in the firewall (just to mix some more metaphors).  Yesterday I went to the GP to get a medical certificate for work and stopped at the shopping centre on the way home.  Talk about sensory overload!  My world had not yet totally stopped spinning so I had this strange spacey kind of sensation as I was walking, the noises were louder and more jarring, lights and colours still bright, smells still sharp.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough!

Work has been crazy and exhausting trying to manage the politics and dynamics within the office.  Don’t get me wrong – I like my job.  If only work could just be about going and doing your job and coming home again, what a relief it would be!  But there are systems and other people that one has to navigate to do one’s job.  Equipment that one and space one has to somehow get adequate access to do it.  Preferably in a way that lets you stay well without creating more stress than is necessary – which is where the battle lies at present for me.  At present it seems that I am destined to bang my head against a brick wall and progress nowhere and to endure life in the office that gets claimed by miscellaneous team members to serve as their staff room – while my office buddy and I are trying to work in it!!!

But alas!  These are not healthy things to dwell upon.  The goal is to work out how to attack and push through.  I had thought that we had had a strategy for the work one, but it is back to the drawing board on that one next week as it looks like this is rapidly fading into embers.

At present I am struggling not to dwell on the difficulties of the last few weeks.  I grew frustrated that my usual seasonal dip in mood was dragging on longer than usual, but didn’t really look beyond it for other triggers until much too late.  Sitting down with a friend a couple of weeks ago to go over what had been happening clarified things a lot more for me.  One of the reasons that I am so focussed on work issues over the past couple of weeks has come about because through sitting down and working through my usual triggers and warning signs with my friend revealed that my workplace is simply loaded with triggers.  There is little wonder that I have been struggling to emerge from my usual brief decline and regathering of mood.

It’s so easy to forget to go back to the basics when one gets busy.  I can sort of see why Mary Ellen Copeland, the woman who designed the WRAP suggested that going over triggers and warning signs should be something that someone should do daily to prevent relapse.  I’m not sure that I would ever go to daily, but I do know that I need to be going over my WRAP a lot more frequently than I do.  The whole point of knowing one’s triggers and warning signs is so that you can be alert to them.  It’s one thing to know them – but so easy to miss them unless you’re really watching.

So – What do you do with the shockers?  Do you beat yourself up over them?  There’s no point in that.  To me, it seems you need to do is stand back and detach a little.  Stand in the moment.  Not the future.  Not the past.  Just the moment.  Examine – and for me, it helps if I can find someone to help me stay in perspective … at least to get me going – and learn.  This helps me to see cause and effect relationships; it helps me to learn and relearn trip hazards; it helps me see things specifically rather than looming ghouls and it leaves room to remember that there were a couple of good moments in the last fortnight too.

From there I can start with a plan.  If the plan needs adjusting, then so-be-it, but perhaps – just, perhaps … next week can be a bit better …

Please.

 

Always a New Day 08/11/2011

Always a new day

Ever a hope

Dog on a chain now

No time to mope.

Look to the future

Too far to see –

Look to the past

Learn, go, move on, be.

Live in the moment.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Take hold of hope

No place for doubt.

The path isn’t cast;

Life is to live.

Strive for your hearts goals.

You get what you give.

Nov 2011

 

Black Thumb 06/11/2011

Habits.  My life is full of them.  Good ones.  Bad ones.  Helpful ones.  Ones that I have resolved to end a hundred times over, yet continue with.  I have things that I do because I like to.  Things that I do because I have to.  Things that I do because that’s just what I’ve always done.  Some I maintain consciously, some unconsciously; and some are maintained by failing to maintain others.  Habits.

I spent yesterday afternoon pottering in the garden.  Among my many little chores I spent lifted bulbs from some pots.

Now, I am very new to gardening.  My once black thumbs are currently oscillating between a brown and occasionally get a very slight hint of green (until I forget to water the garden for a few days in a row).  There is no science going on – it’s all experimentation … almost.  I do occasionally look things up on the net.  After I write this post I will be looking up what you do with bulbs after you lift them.

Which brings me to the some of the reflections that I had yesterday as I waxed poetical in my head and got very grotty at the same time.

I have never grown plants that were bulbs before.  So this year was certainly an experiment.  Some grew and some did not.  I believe that I probably planted some upside down, but can’t confirm that.  I probably over-watered some … they rotted in the soil.  Others grew and didn’t bloom.  I am not keeping bulbs of plants that did not bloom.  Some grew and missed a few days water and got hot wind and died while others did quite well.  Some even made it to bouquets for friends.

Yesterday came to the beginning of stage two of my experiment with bulbs.  I went to the pots that held the plants that had bloomed that I had liked and decided to lift the bulbs.  Not quite sure of the correct procedure I began to burrow.  Now the first pot was not so difficult.  They were tulips.  The second pot I did just to get rid of the bulbs because I still wanted to keep the pot, but needed to get the bulbs out.  They too, were easy to find.  The daffodils gave me no trouble.  And then I came to these other plants – whose name I do not recall – but the bulbs were in little nests that were distributed unevenly around the planter box and while the upper couple of bulbs in the nest were of reasonable size there were also bundles of little balls – I assume new bulbs – that would often fall free and needed fishing for.  It took a lot of work to sift through this pot to lift the bulbs.

While I was doing this it struck me that If I were this thorough with everything, much of my life would be a lot simpler.  I would not have forgotten to take my medication yesterday morning had I refilled my dosette box when I emptied it.  I would not get weary looking at the mess in the kitchen as often if I were in the habit of cleaning up after myself as I went  more regularly.  I would be exercising regularly by now instead of simply planning to start within the next month.  I would not grow weary from lack of sleep.  In short, I would be more scrupulous about my habits.  Certainly it’s laborious.  Yet, there is a purpose to these habits the same as there is a purpose to my clearing the pot.  I am seeking to be in the best of health so that I can get on with living and doing other things.  Just as I was clearing the pot so that I could plant something new in it that would grow over the summer months.  There is a purpose to maintaining habits that are mundane that is anything but.

The second reflection came to me while I was battling one-handed with my bush rose whilst watering it.  I was attempting to remove the spent blooms – I’ve been taught to do that, but don’t do it regularly enough so there are lots at present.  They’re all over the bush.  Some of them were impossible to get to without doing battle with thorns while working one-handed.  Others, within reach while able to be grasped and eventually detached, were not easy to remove.  I also managed to get spiked by the tree regardless.  Ouch.  How different the bush rose was from the geraniums which simply slip off the plant with the slightest pull.

I am much more like the bush rose than the geranium when it comes to surrendering my bad habits.  How much simpler life would be if when I noticed that I needed to change I were able to simply let go of the old ways like my geraniums.  But, no.  For me it is work.  It requires effort and often shakes up the petals of some of the other flowers during the process.  Occasionally, not just the dead rose came off with the pulling, but some of the good ones beside as well.  I think my roses are very much like my habits.  They grow without effort and bloom.  Often they serve a good purpose, but then are no longer needed.  Other times they just are.  But when they are past their usefulness and deadweight, burdensome – they do need removing.  Sometimes it can be done while I’m doing other maintenance like the watering, but I think that I am going to have to go out soon and pull them off myself deliberately.  One at a time.  Not a job that I see as stimulating, but to encourage the bush to be productive and to keep it looking healthy it needs to be done.  Now I just need to take the same path with my troublesome habits and learn to tackle them one at a time and replace them with helpful ones.

Will I be as meticulous in dealing with my dead habits that are no longer blooming as I work at being with my flowers?  Will I dig and sift as thoroughly as I looked for my bulbs when it comes to removing them?

Again I set my resolve to commit to tackle my environment and not let it get out of control  (The kitchen, living area and study are cluttered again and the floors are past cleaning time).  My dosette box should never be left empty – I used to be good with that.  There are a number of other things that I need to sit down and map out.

Which plant holds the flowers that are hardest to remove in your garden?  Just how carefully are you prepared to dig out your bulbs?

I think I still have black thumbs in the habit garden and it’s time to green up.  What colour are your thumbs?

It's loaded now!

 

Arch-Enemies 02/11/2011

Do you have arch-enemies?

I do.  Mine haunts me.  I can never seem to beat it.

There are the odd occasions when I do really well against it and I win.  It feels great.  I could walk on air.

Sometimes they last for a short stretch of time – a few days, a week – two if I’m lucky.  I could fly.

And then

it all comes

crashing

down

in

a

great

big

thud.

OUCH!

And it’s not just me who is affected.

It’s not a small thing with small consequences.

What happens, you ask?

Okay I’ll ‘fess up.

I don’t wake up.  Or if I do – I drop right off back to sleep before I can haul by backside out of bed.

Then I am late for anything that I have on for the day – visits, appointments, ….work.

And we’re talking regularly 30 – 40 mins late during the mid spring and autumn – and every now and then it’s a couple of hours.  It affects other people when that happens – workers, patients … if I don’t get my work done it slows down the process of referrals going through, information getting to people in hospital and their treating teams for planning, people going home.  It means groups can’t run or other people have to cover me.  I nearly lost my last job over it.  Even when well I’m often 10 – 20 mins behind my start time.  I survive because I start before my boss and I always work back – but I can’t keep it up.

And it doesn’t seem to matter what time I ‘m supposed to start – I’ve adjusted starting times.  It’s simply the process of getting out of bed and waking up in the morning.

Once I’m up, my sensory routines are helpful.  I’ve started to experiment with some mindfulness exercises when I get time – which help a lot.  But actually waking up and getting out of bed is jolly hard work.

The other thing that happens to me is that I lose time in the mornings.  I do.  Even when I’ve gotten up on time and have been running on time something happens – I space out in the shower or getting myself a drink and meds and time just vanishes.

I started a new experiment earlier this week that I think holds promise for the latter issue – I’ve started using a mindfulness breathing meditation exercise as soon as I get up that goes for about 10 mins to raise my level of alertness.  If it keeps working at keeping me focused, I’ll be writing about that in a couple of weeks.  But for it to work – I need to get up in time to have time to do it.  It doesn’t need to be earlier – because I’ve worked out that I do everything else more efficiently when I do it.  But I need to get up.

Sleepy-head

At present I use two alarm clocks set 5 mins apart – one to arouse my attention if I am in deep sleep so that by the time the second goes off I won’t sleep through it even if I sleep through the first.  Part of me wonders whether it’s worth investing in a bed vibrating alarm clock – they make them for deaf people.  It might be uncomfortable enough to help me move out of bed more easily.  Has anybody ever used one?

I know the rules – go to bed early and get up and the same time every day.  I’m awfully undisciplined at doing that.

Take your meds at the same time every day.  I tend to get lazy and just take them on the way to bed – which admittedly is probably half of the problem.  There are some very sleepy meds among my cocktail.

Every day is a new day with no mistakes in it – yet.  Thank you, Anne Shirley – but other people remember and I need to work out the best way to deal with their memories and keep myself focused on the present so that I don’t drown in fright.

So here it is.  My arch-enemy.  The alarm clock.  That moment in time that I’m supposed to get up.  To get moving.  To get started with the day.

Please – anybody with your own ghouls – what helps you haul yourself out of bed every morning?

 

… and Again 01/11/2011

This morning I did something awful.

Well I did a lot of good things.  But today I’m not writing about the good things.

Today I made decisions that meant that I did a lot of very useful things.

I just did one awful thing.

The very useful things helped me all day.

The awful thing was left behind this morning.

Perhaps sometime, when I have been at it for longer I will blog about one of the very useful things that I did.

Today I blog about the awful one.

I felt fan-tas-tic after every one of the good things that I did.

I shocked myself with the awful thing.

BUT

I was pleased that I shocked myself.

I don’t think I have ever had it shock me before.

It means that – perhaps the good work that I have been doing is working.

It means the therapy I did has continued to change me with practice.

…. even if I did do something awful.

This morning, not far from the start of the day

I said,

“#*@t Jill, you’re stupid!” in disgust.

And I meant it.

 

Senses of Self Care 29/10/2011

There’s something centring about looking after yourself.  Basic self-care.  Hygiene and grooming activities.  There are things among them that have qualities that can relax and alert us if we are mindful of what we are doing.  A couple of posts ago I wrote about mindfulness and the senses in Send in the Senses .   Today I would like to show you some of the ways that these principles can be integrated into everyday activities.

Warm water over the skin is relaxing.  It’s soothing.  You can just stand there under warm water in the shower or sit in a warm bath and let it calm you.  (being conscious of your water consumption of course)

Or if you want to you can make it more soothing you can add a scented cleanser and smooth it on with your hands or a soft cloth.  Then again – if you want to jazz it up a little, you choose a more uplifting stimulating scent and a courser cloth or a loofah.  And okay – so the guys mightn’t be so into the scented soaps as the girls  – but the rest still works as well for them even without the scents.  On top of that are the sounds of the water and visual stimuli of the water running over you and the shower or lapping against the sides of the bath and the intricacies of your own bathroom and showering routine.

After washing, you think about how you are going to use your towel to dry yourself.  Vigorous rubbing will invigorate the senses, while gentle strokes with the towel are likely to be more soothing.  Alternately, you might wrap yourself in a towel or terry towelling bathrobe and wander around the house until you dry naturally.

If you’re looking for a basic activity that is inclined to stimulate the senses, then look no further than brushing your teeth.  A toothbrush in decent condition with toothpaste on it brushed over the teeth and gums will arouse the senses of touch, taste and smell.  Flossing is great if you’re anxious or need to slow down or focus because you have to do it deliberately and if you want to do it properly, you can’t do it quickly – so it forces you to slow down and focus your attention but gives you a task to do it with.

Painting your nails is great for the same reason.  There is a need for controlled movement – so you need to slow down and focus your attention.  Great for regulating anxiety.  It is also something that can make you feel nice after you’ve finished.  So nail painting incorporates controlled touch, slow and controlled movement, a stimulating smell – which is not necessarily why you’ve chosen the task – but it won’t put you to sleep.  I was stuck in one city while the rest of my family were in another when my Grandfather died and I couldn’t be with them.  I was very unwell with depression at the time and quite distressed.  In the end, painting my toenails is what I did to calm myself down to a point where I could think reasonably.  Then I could start to deal with my situation and emotions more logically.

For those who like a face mask – this is a beauty.  Deep touch is relaxing, so you apply the mask with a firm touch.  You follow the directions and wait while it sets, then when it is done you rinse it off.  Now to rinse it off, follow the directions on the packet but remember: warm water – calming, cool water – alerting; and soft cloth and/or gentle strokes with firm pressure when rinsing will be calming, while a courser cloth and/or more vigorous or uneven strokes while rinsing will be more alerting.  My own preference when using a mask is to rinse with a course cloth but gently with firm, smooth strokes in warm water.

If you need to shave, this is a good example of an activity that involves slow, deliberate movement.  Focusing on the movement and the sensations of the shaver on the skin can be very effective.  Most would find that this would alert touch and movement sensations, potentially smell also depending upon things like shaving creams and so on.

Another one – very touch and movement based that I find therapeutic at time is waxing.  Great for anger management.  Rip into the leg waxing.  It’s systematic.  You have to regulate it.  You eventually slow down because the waxing process requires you to.  But it’s also a useful buffer for stress, a way of alerting the senses to wake up when you’re weary or just getting rid of unwanted hair…  Waxing is rich in touch (temperature, pressure etc), it involves controlled movement and you are using your sight to inspect your work.

Brushing or combing your hair can be either relaxing or alerting depending upon how you go about it, although if you use a comb it is more likely that the result will be an alerting sensation.  When using a brush however, if one uses long smooth strokes the effect is quite different to brief, sharp strokes.  The former is calming, the latter more alerting.  Experimenting with different styles of brushing can be a great way to explore ways that touch influences the senses.

Think about all of the self-care activities that you do on a regular basis.  Washing and drying yourself, washing your hair, styling your hair, cleaning your teeth, washing your hands, washing your face, moisturising, using deodorant, brushing your hair, shaving and/or waxing, cleaning your ears, dressing, cleaning your nails – anything you can think of … Take some time to think about what sensory qualities there are to the tasks.  What movements, use of vision, scents, smells, touch, sounds, tastes are associated with them?  How are you positioned for them? Where is your balance? Your centre of gravity?  Which of these have alerting qualities? Which have calming ones? Are there qualities to any to the tasks that you do regularly that could be useful to you in other ways?

 

 
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