Happy New Year!

Things are so much better in my world since the new year arrived, probably thanks to a few little changes. Here are my resolutions for this year:

Exercise every day

Start each day with a grateful heart, a positive attitude, and loving intentions

Don’t eat sugar

Have more fun

It took one day to feel the effects of practicing these intentions. Eliminating sugar has an almost immediate impact on my mental health. Each day will start with some kind of devotion or meditation–whatever is important to me at the time. Today it was: “This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And really feeling the gratitude along with it. Each day in this life is a gift, and to not appreciate it is so unfortunate (and I’ve been doing that lately).

That, along with the love and support from the lovely people in my life, have made things turn around.

Yesterday was a wonderful day and I had FUN! I drove to my hometown by myself, which is about an hour from where I live now. After driving around the town and shopping at the old Wal-Mart, I met up with my friend, Michelle, with whom I went to school since we were kids. We didn’t hang out when we were in school, but always knew each other and were in the same classes many times. We reconnected over Facebook a while back when we realized we had a lot in common. Now she is a cherished friend. After that, I visited my parents at their house and we had coffee and talked for hours. It was a restorative and special day. My heart is still warm and full from that day.

As far as the exercise routine goes, I started an exercise program online today. After 12 minutes of it, my body told me to stop. So, here’s to starting small and not giving up. Each day it will get better and easier. The body is really, really out of shape.

Feeling good, feeling motivated for a new beginning.

Peace and blessings to everyone. xo

Good again

I’m feeling a lot better now. I slept through the night last night without coughing, and this is a major milestone. It means Alan can come back into our bed and things can be normal again. I go back to work next week.

I am grateful for Alan, the girls, my friend Lish, my mom and my mother-in-law for the love and support they provided so that I could lie in bed for two weeks. Without them, I’m not sure what I would have done. When I was sick I wrote in this blog that Alan didn’t provide me good enough care, and I feel badly about that now.

I am grateful for the illness because as illness does so well, it pushed me to make the decision to change what needed changing. It forced me to admit that some things weren’t working. It forced be to experience and purge a lot of old gunk, like feeling unlovable and like a failure and all of that. Things will be better from here on out because of that–at least, it will in the career domain of my life.

My astrological chart is somewhat of a mess right now, and, in my mind, this is contributing to the challenges that have been presented to me lately. It tells me I will feel like I’ve lost my way until March of 2021. Bracing myself. So far, it’s true.

A day makes a difference

What a difference a day makes. Every hour I feel better than the last. I was up and about all day today for the first time since before Thanksgiving. I can talk normally again and am coughing a bit less. Still winded and a bit fatigued, but I feel happier and more alive. I think it’s safe to say I’m going to survive this. And also it’s safe to say that I don’t ever want to go through this again.

This morning, on an old oak tree right out our back window, sat a big bald eagle. It was eating a meal up in the tree! There were about five crows huddled around it, harassing it and trying to steal its meal. We have seen the bald eagle and the crows around here a few times before. Usually when we see them, the crows are chasing and cawing the eagle away with all their might–and the eagle leaves! Crows are fearless and relentless birds. They are tough. But this time, the eagle was tougher. Seeing those birds in the tree today was a metaphor for me–the crows are the pneumonia and the eagle is me, my life. I am winning this time, and I’m glad for that.

I hope everyone out there is happy and well.

xoxo

Getting better

Today I am up and about. Despite being short of breath and fatigued, it is good to be out of bed. Physically, I’ve turned the corner. Emotionally, I’m still pretty stuck in a painful and negative place. Today it’s anger that’s rearing its head. It has been waiting to come out, I guess–trapped in my lungs.

Anger is here because my ego is on full blast right now. My ego has been hurt. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that’s how it is. I feel like I shouldn’t have to clean the house when I have pneumonia. I feel like the three people I live with should be able to take care of everything when I am sick. I feel like Alan should have washed the bedding that I’ve been lying in 24/7 for 10 days. I feel like Alan should have changed to dirty furnace filter when I asked him to a week ago so that I could breathe clean air. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because that would make me feel loved and cared for. Loved and cared for in the way that I love and care for my family when they are sick.

Anna has been very caring and loving, and being that she’s only ten years old, I don’t expect a huge amount from her in terms of caregiving and house cleaning. She’s probably been the most attentive one in the house. It’s meant a lot to me. I feel unconditionally loved by her. It is a gift, and I am grateful for it. There have been a a few times over the course of 20 years that I’ve been bedridden, and each of these times I’ve gone through this same thing. Feeling forgotten, feeling uncared for, feeling unloved, living in a dirty house. What am I supposed to learn from this?

I really do believe that these feelings and events are here to teach me something. What is it? Perhaps I need to learn that I am loved and lovable, with or without the kind of demonstration of love that I prefer. I want acts of service. That’s my love language. What better time to provide that than when I’m sick? At least, that’s my logic.

The logical part of me know I need to just let this go. Let go of the need for a clean house. Let go of the desire to be loved through acts of service. Let go of the judging part of me that thinks I’m not loved. Let go of the guilt I feel for admitting these feelings and writing them in my blog. Because feelings are okay. And because I am loved, probably more than I will ever know.

Celebrating a 5-year pneumonia anniversary with more pneumonia!

That’s right! It’s about a month late, but still. Congratulations to me! In October 2014, Alan and I had bacterial pneumonia and felt like I was on the brink of death. Here I am now in November/December 2019 and have had viral pneumonia for almost a week. I don’t feel like I am on the brink of death this time, though. Apparently, viral pneumonia is rarely fatal–so, that’s comforting. I’m probably going to come out of this alive.

What is there for me to learn this time? The emotional backdrop that preceded this bout with pneumonia is similar, though less intense, than the backdrop of five years ago. Five years ago, I was bursting at the seams with way too much on my plate. This time, there was a full plate and I was starting to pull at the seams a bit, but it was manageable. There was a great deal of emotional suffering and holding on to beliefs and feelings that were hurting me. But, I wasn’t about to lose my mind, necessarily. And so it seems the main trigger has been emotional stress, and perhaps also that a child coughed on me multiple times.

The details of the emotional stress will be spared in this blog. All that needs to be said is this: the relief of suffering comes in letting go. It is in letting go of judgment and of wanting things to be different, and choosing unconditional love and forgiveness instead. We can even be as radical as finding a place of gratitude for the whole situation that came with the pain. Suffering is a teacher of sorts.

So, I’m working on that. Letting go. Forgiving. Loving. Finding gratitude. Remembering I’m not better than others. Being “hurt” is a function of the ego; the ego loves to make a victim of itself. I’m working on reminding myself that the events that transpire are events that are here for me to learn and work out my karmic debts.

A day at the goat farm

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Today we went on a wonderful homeschool field trip to Poplar Hill goat farm. It was a true learning experience that was so much fun and basically unforgettable.

We’ve been drinking Poplar Hill goat milk for years, so when I learned that the farm offers tours to the public, it only made sense to make a homeschool field trip out of it.

For $60, we had a personalized tour that lasted over 2 hours. We bottle-fed newborn goats (the girls’ favorite) and toddler goats, fed adult goats hay and grain, and gave fresh water to the “man goats”.  We saw newborn goats that were born today, observed a machine milking, and tried our hand at hand-milking a very cooperative mama goat.

When we were done with the tour, we bought fresh goat milk, goat cheese, and goat milk soap to bring back home.

As an added bonus, we played with a farm cat and rabbits, too. We petted and fed goat milk to the friendliest farm dogs we’ve ever met.

For our suburbanite family, it was a magical day! “The best field trip EVER!”

On feeling secure and being loved.

I am in a pretty good and secure place now.  My family has had a long stint of illness  this fall; the girls and Alan have had bronchitis over the last 2 weeks, and I have been well.  It’s been tiring to care for everyone but somehow I’ve managed and have met the demands of school and internship without having any major breakdowns.  I am beginning to think that I am capable of handling this thing called life, even when it throws in the unexpected.

I am also beginning to see how many people have my back.  I have had so much support over the last month, from being cared for when I was sick, to receiving words and gestures of love and support from friends, to my school being super supportive about my absences and letting me make it up, to my internship giving me the space I need to care for myself and my family–and no hard feelings or guilt involved.  I think there was an important lesson for me to learn here:

I am taken care of.  I matter.

I really, really like my work as a therapist at Park Avenue Center.  Now that I am doing individual and couples counseling as an MFT student, and no longer doing the LADC work–I just love it.  I know this is what I am called to do, and it makes me feel settled and secure.  I feel like I am contributing and no longer a burden to the center.  I know how to do a lot of things now.  I love working with the clientele at the center I am at. They need this and they appreciate it so much.  I don’t even have to be good for them to appreciate it; I just have to be present and listen to them.  Which is good, because I am nowhere near being a good therapist–but thankfully I am able to listen and genuinely care, and sometimes that is all they need.

Sometimes I feel self-conscious about this blog and how it’s “all about ME.”  It’s kind of self-absorbed.  And then again, it’s the place I can sort out all of these things I need to sort out so I can figure out my life and myself.  It’s healing and rejuvenating.  I do care a lot about other people, not just about myself.  I also know that I have to know myself and love myself first in order to be my best self.  My blog helps me with that, I guess.

I have been really crabby at home lately.  Really anxious and controlling.  I think it has to do with feeling out of control in many ways, and that my home is a place I can express some form of control.  I want my house neat and clean.  It is soothing to me and allows me to focus.  I wish my family felt the same.  They don’t.  I am still the house manager like I’ve always been, only more crabby and demanding. I’ve also felt confused in my marriage and what is ok to expect and what is not.  This goes back to my “boundaries” work I’ve been doing for a while.  It’s a new layer.  I don’t know what is ok to expect, and what belongs to me and what belongs to him.

The Sandplay training I am working on is going well, and I still feel very drawn to continuing and using it in my future as a therapist.  I think I want to eventually have a private practice with a specialty in healing childhood trauma through the use of Sandplay and other modalities.  That is what gets me excited about my future.  I think I am becoming more drawn to working with children.

Alan and I want to buy a piece of land somewhere in WI or MN.  Private and secluded, somewhere we can have a family getaway and build an off-grid cabin someday.  I think we can actually make it a reality someday soon.  It is really, really exciting and I think about it every day.  We hope it will be quiet, have some water access, either on the land or close by.  We’d like a chunk about 20-40 acres.  Maybe we could even live there someday if it would work for our careers.  We both love the country.  We also want a city close enough, especially one with a co-op so we can get our healthy groceries.  The Superior area is looking rather good right now.

Anna is not super happy about Kindergarten anymore.  We’re trying to talk about it a lot and help her with coping skills, and it seems to be helping somewhat.  We’re encouraging her to make the best of it and remember it is over in 6 months.  After that, I think I’d like to home school her for a year.  We could all use a respite from the craziness of this year.  It sure would be nice.

The other night, Anna wanted to snuggle me in my office chair.  I thought about how it was hard to get the space I needed to do the work.  But how could I resist? Then I picked her up and snuggled her.  She melted into me and I could just feel her love.  I felt how wonderful it was to have this being whom I so deeply love, right there close to my heart, loving me right back–while I do my work.  What a blessing. I love her so much. She is such a gift.

Having children is such a healing experience.  I have been thinking of that since that moment in the office chair.  For those of us who did not feel loved as children, or who felt loved only conditionally, having this unconditional love to give and to receive with our own children is such an incredible gift.  Yes, it is time-consuming and sometimes stressful to have children, and it opens us up and heals us in the most incredible ways, which makes that work and stress melt away.  I am so grateful to be a mother.  It’s such a beautiful thing.  It’s such a beautiful thing to love and be loved unconditionally.

A sand tray therapy adventure

The weather has warmed up and the ice and snow has melted from our driveway.  It’s amazing how this little change has warmed up my body and spirit.  I can handle these mild winter days.

This time of year, being cold and restrictive, tends to bring up old things that I need to work on, ie I get depressed, anxious, and so forth, more than usual.  It’s a good thing, though.  It’s good to deal with those things and move on.

I’ve seen a wonderful therapist for the past several years, and each of those years I have seen her around Christmas time.  I feel like my chapter with her has come to an end and it’s time for a fresh start, so this year I went for something new: sand tray therapy.

Today I had my first session, and it was really, really amazing.  It was a very productive and healing session, more than talk therapy would have been.  The process was very intuitive and revealing, healing, and also exhausting.  After my session, I just wanted to be quiet and I cried a lot.  There was a release of a lot of things, and it felt very good.  I took a long nap, and when I woke up, felt cleansed.

I would very much love to become trained in sand tray therapy along with my training as a psychotherapist. Using the creative process to access healing is a really powerful thing and I am really inspired by it.  Someday when I am fully licensed (4-5 years from now!), I want to have my own private practice and incorporate sand tray therapy into it.

So anyway, some powerful realizations came up during my therapy today.  First, the love my mother gave me when I was a tiny baby–that’s the greatest treasure of my life.  It was the seed that I have carried with me all of my life and what has kept be going even in the darkest of days.  Knowing I was loved and wanted and having that warmth and nurturing that my mother gave me, that is something really, really special.  I feel blessed to have that.  My session today brought that gift to my consciousness, and I am very in touch with that feeling today.

Another powerful realization that came up was about Alan. Alan is my shield.  In the tray, Alan was a tree that was made of metal, and it stood behind me on top of a mound–our little world. Two babies were at my feet, one on either side. I was facing away from Alan, oblivious to him. He is my strength and my protector and he is always there for me, but I tend to not see that.  I tend to think I have to do all of this on my own, work really hard to hold on and protect all that I hold dear in my life and to ward off perceived threats.  I can choose to turn to face him and see him being there, and that makes me feel so good and comforted.  When I turned my figure around to face Alan, or the tree, I couldn’t keep from crying. We can do this together, and our little world is as special to him as it is to me. It was very healing to realize this, and reignited that love and warmth I have for Alan in a very big way.  He, along with the love from my mother, is also one of my life’s greatest treasures.  It’s hard to comprehend how lucky I am to have found him, especially considering how young and immature I was when we met.

I started out the sand tray by burying a big, ugly, two-headed creature under a mound of sand.  In top of this mound, I placed all of the objects representing my present life and what is sacred to me (babies, tree/Alan, myself, and several egg-like objects), my little world.  At the end of the session, it was time to take out that creature and look at it and deal with it.  It is my self-hatred–the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.  It’s something I don’t want anyone else to see and I expend so much energy in hiding and keeping buried under my world.  If it came out, I thought my whole world would fall apart.  I knew I had to get that ugly thing out of there and face it, and it was a really powerful thing to do. To let it out, I had to carefully move all of my “life” off the mound and place them in a new area, a safe area that was flat and from with no one or nothing could fall down from (like the mound).  I had to stay on top of the mound and face the creature, and in the meantime, my kids were off to the side. Then I buried that ugly thing in another place and put a gravestone on top of it.  Around the burial site I placed my protectors: a three-headed dog, a cobra, and a large creature that was part tree and part human.  They are the parts of me that create boundaries, I think–maybe anger and defense and loyalty. My new life, without the ugly thing buried under it, felt safe and grounded and good.  Life without the ugly thing is good.

In the end, I came to realize that my life is filled with treasures.  I know how to handle the ugly things and keep them at bay, even though I haven’t felt that in a long time. Maybe it’s just that I needed to see this in the sand tray.

My therapist gave me some photos of the sand tray throughout the process.  Maybe I will post them on my blog later on.

 

 

 

Sweetness and sickness.

Yesterday I was sick. While I felt pretty miserable, there is a gift that comes with being sick.  It comes in letting housework go, in letting everything go, and simply being present.  Being sick always makes me extra grateful for how good I normally feel and for what a gift it is to have good health.

While spending much of the day on the couch and/or bed, I was deliciously present and connected to my sweet 4-year-old Anna. I watched, admired, and chatted with my little munchkin.  I even took some pictures.

This is what we did:

she watched 4 (yes, that’s FOUR) movies while I laid on the couch

played with PlayDoh and chatted with me while I laid on the couch

she “read” me lots of books while I laid on the couch

she took a bath while I sat on the toilet (lid closed)

my sister, Annette (aka Auntie Daja) came for a visit to give Anna her birthday present (cute overalls and a skirt, which Anna promptly changed into, then out of, multiple times)

After Mia came home, they both eagerly got me things I needed and were so happy to take care of me, and so did their daddy.

I am not quite sure what Anna ate, but I guess I fed her here and there.  And I watched her.  I soaked her in.

Here are some pictures I took of our special day:

 

 

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Today I am on the road to recovery.  Fever and body aches are gone, though a very sore throat and painful ears and no appetite remain.  Today I get the day to myself, to rest, sleep, and get well.

Alan took Anna to work with him and will bring her to his parents’ house over lunch.  I have amazing people in my life.

I am grateful.