Wendy is too busy with all the wonderous changes in her life to present her usual Mindfulness Monday post at the moment. So, I am stepping in with a guest post for her.
I have always found great wisdom, humour and compassion in the words of Pema Chödrön. She is member of/teacher at a Shambhala Buddist community – Gampo Abbey – in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia which gives her words a special resonance with me. My paternal roots, and extended chunks of my adult life were spent in the Maritimes. No better spot for meditation, retreat, and restoration. I just returned from the South Shore of Nova Scotia. My first visit “home” in 7 years; a truly transformative experience.
So in honour of Wendy and Nova Scotia, I present Meaningful Monday as a guest host for Wendy’s wonderful Mindfulness Mondays. All quotes are from Pema Chödrön.
When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.
Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start.
“Pain can change you,
but that doesn’t mean
it has to be a bad change.
Take that pain and
turn it into wisdom.
“To diminish the suffering of pain,
We need to make a crucial distinction
Between pain of pain,
And the pain we create
By our thoughts about the pain.
Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness and helplessness
Are all mental and emotional responses
That can intensify pain.”
“Pain is not wrong.
reacting to pain as wrong initiates
the trance of unworthiness.
The moment we believe something is wrong,
our world shrinks and
we lose ourselves in the effort
to combat the pain.”
*painting by W. Holcombe. All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission.
“Everything changes, nothing remains without change.” ~ Buddha
Okay so I started this a number of times and just can’t get my words to come out right, so I’m going to try the mindful writing for this post and see how it goes. What you are about to read will be written with my eyes closed and I’ll be taking a deep breath after each sentence….let’s see how it goes.
Okay, so deep. deep breath. In. Out. Breathe. I must take time to do that more often. The simple act of stopping and breathing with intention has helped to calm my mind and open my awareness. How wonderful that such a small action can do so much. It is amazing to me. Again. Breathe. In…. Out….. calm.
Now let’s see if I can write what’s on my mind.
We will be leaving for Tucson in a couple of weeks. Stuart starts his new job there on June 11th. Everything has been falling into place. Well, kinda, sorta. Enough has fallen into place that it all feels right. This feels like we are making the best decision for all.
A couple of weeks ago Stuart went for a job interview in Tucson, while there he also looked at houses for us to rent. Not only was he offered the job, but he found a little house for us to rent while our house sells and we start looking for a house to buy out there. As I said, it all seems to be falling into place.
Suddenly I was hit with the fact that we’d be leaving in about a month and I may not ever see many of the people on this coast again. I’m being realistic here, not pessimistic. We don’t travel much, I don’t travel well, and a lot of my family is getting older. I scrambled to try to make planes to see everyone. We tried to make plans, but first Stuart got sick with a cold, then I caught it, and my cold turned into a cough and an ear infection. I’ve been running a fever for a week. I just started on antibiotics, and I’m hopeful I’ll be all better before we leave, but it caused a lot of trouble. Between both of us getting sick and people on vacation, I’m only going to be able to see a select few. I was devastated. It really got to me. My anxiety got very high and I was just so sad. Then I started telling myself I needed to just let it go. No regrets. I can only do what I can do, if I can’t see everyone I just need to let it go. I’ll keep in touch the best I can. All anyone can do is their best. So, I let it go. It is the way it is. I accept it and I’m okay with it.
Then there’s the worry about the move itself. I did start to get all worked up about it all, then again, I started using my new mantra. “Let it go” Deep breath…. in and…. out. It’s all good. I will take each day as it comes and deal with it at that time, I will not worry about what may be, that only causes more anxiety and I need to let that go.
I was feeling really good about things. Letting go of what I couldn’t change, accepting each day as it comes, and taking care of things that I needed to take care of. (like getting all my records from doctors, getting all my prescriptions filled, looking for new doctors, taking Kiki to the vet and getting her ready for the trip….so much to do, and I’ve been getting it done) My therapist even mentioned how well I was dealing with all the change and how mindfulness has become so ingrained in me. I admit, I was feeling pretty good about it all.
Then the bottom fell out. I expected to get to Tucson before Stuart’s step mom’s Alzheimer’s advanced too much. She didn’t know who Stuart was when he was there, but that didn’t surprise me too much, she’s really only met him in person once…well a few times over a 5 month period when we stayed in Tucson one winter, but not other than that. She knows Stuart’s dad, and see seems happy. But this week, due to side effects, they had to take her off the medication that helps slow the progression of her disease. They expect her to decline rapidly now. Dad doesn’t know how much longer she will know him. It breaks my heart. and it scares me. I’ve never been around anyone who has Alzheimer’s. I don’t know what to expect, especially if it is so advanced. I’m afraid I won’t handle it well. I just want to make things easier for Dad. If that just means washing his clothes and stuff, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll help the best I can. That’s all I can do. M is in the best place she could be for this, and I’m sure they will help me know how to deal with the situation. I’m also reading as much as I can to learn more about it. Frankly, that disease scares me. The thought of not remembering my husband, that rips my heart out. What would be worse, watching Stuart go through it. It just makes me sad. I’m working on being okay with the way things are. Accepting that I can’t change it, and simply being okay with it. Yes I think I said that before. I also got news that I can’t really talk about on here, but it has stressed me out!! Getting to the place of acceptance on this is going to be harder. No, I can accept that it’s happening, I’m just not sure what that will mean and how it will affect me, more so, how it will affect Stuart and Dad. Stuart’s not worried about it, he’s annoyed by it, but not worried. So why am I? I have to accept this, and be okay with it. This will take a lot of deep breaths. Sometimes my husband puts his head in the sand about things. I hope that isn’t the case with this. I know it will all be as it will be, and I’ll deal with things as they come up. I will try my best not to worry about what may be. One moment at a time.
Well I think I’m done for today. I’ve spilled a lot out, but I’ve been vague enough that you are probably wondering… “what on earth?”
I have a bad cold so today I’m changing things up a bit. In lieu of Mindfulness Monday I’d like to share with you an article I read in Mindful magazine. I found it very interesting and plan to put this practice to use. So you may find me doing a lot more blog posts in the future, as I meditate while writing.
I don’t want to copy the whole article here, it’s a short article, but it’s not proper to copy someone else’s work, so I’m going to give you the highlights. However, you really need to jump over and read the article to understand what this entails. It’s fun! go do it!
Shamash starts by saying: “I’m writing this article in a state of meditation. And there’s no editing required (for the first round, anyway). How am I accomplishing this? And how could you join in the fun?”
He gives us instructions on how to find out just how we can do it. I’m listing just the highlight of each point, you will have to read the article to find out more.
Set a timer for 30 minutes.
Keep your eyes closed. if you can touch type, if not, then write long hand with your eyes open
At the end of every sentence, stop for a full in-breath and out-breath.
Begin with no clear aim.
Try to find time to write regularly
He answers the question “What’s the point of journaling…..?” Here are the benefits he says he enjoys as he writes:
“My body feels happy and relaxed.”
“My mind feels calm and peaceful.”
“I’ve gently entered into a meditative state without having to fully stop “doing stuff.””
“I’m doing something different, so it feels fun and exciting. And having fun is a really important value and experience for me.”
Go ahead, what are you waiting for, jump over to Mindful and find out more about mindful writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior.
You are beneath the thinker.
You are the stillness beneath the mental noise.
You are the love and joy beneath the pain.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“In today’s rush,
we all think too much-
seek too much-
want too much-
and forget about the joy
of just being.”
“The ultimate truth of
who you are is not
I am this or
I am that, but
*image by and of W. Holcombe. do not use without permission
“We have a light inside us.
The oil of the lamp is
our breathing. our steps,
and our peaceful smile.
Our practice is to the
light up the lamp.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Be a light unto yourself.”
“Find the light and
it will show you the path.
The path that is shown by
your own light is the
only path that is right.”
*photo by W. Holcombe. All rights reserved. p
hoto first used in the 2018 Chronic Pain and Illness Photo Project, subject light
In February sometime I started having wrist pain. On the inside of the wrist right below the thumb, I would have sharp pain with certain movements. It especially hurt to hold my phone or tablet. That caused a big issue since I draw on my tablet and I had a pet portrait I was working on. Luckily the portrait is for a friend who is also chronically ill, so she understands these things.
While at Urgent Care for another matter, a suspected UTI, I had the doctor take a look at my wrist and she said I had tendinitis and needed to rest it and it should be fine in a couple of weeks. I put it in a brace and waited. The pain and swelling got worse. After about 3 weeks, I went to see my primary care doctor. She took x-rays and they didn’t show anything. She referred me to a Hand Clinic. Of course, it took a couple of weeks to get in there and during that time, the pain got worse. The brace was not helping. The brace stopped me from flexing my wrist up and down, but not side to side, and that’s what was causing the most pain.
While I waited I kept doing research to try to figure out what was wrong. If you search for wrist pain, you will find carpel tunnel, and not much else., and I did not have the symptoms of carpel tunnel. You really have to dig to find other causes. Finally I found something that fit my symptoms – De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. There was even a simple little test to diagnosis it.
The Finkelstein test is performed by placing your thumb against your hand, making a fist with your fingers closed over your thumb, and then bending your wrist toward your little finger. If you have severe pain, you probably have De Quervain’s tenosynovits.
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is inflammation of tendons on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. (see image left) So yes, a type of tendinitis, but not one that will get better with a brace.
Last week I saw the hand specialist and he confirmed my suspicions. I have DQ. He even drew a little picture explaining it. He told me the brace was useless, to just get rid of it. (freedom!) He said that a steroid injection in the affected area cures the condition 80% of the time, some people need a second injection, and very rarely it requires surgery to open the tunnel and make more room for the tendons.
So I got a shot. He tried to be gentle but, Oh boy did that hurt! He said I should feel some relief immediately because the shot has some numbing medication, and I would feel lasting relief in a day or two. If the pain comes back after a couple of months, I’ll need another injection. If it comes back after that, then I’ll need surgery.
I didn’t really feel the immediate relief he spoke of, but the next day it was like a light switch cut off. The pain was almost completely gone. By day two, I barely felt pain at all. Now, I’m still barely feeling any pain, every once in a while I’ll get a twinge, but that’s all. I’m amazed! After 2 months of intense pain, I had one shot and it’s gone! Wow, if only everything I had could be cured so easily. Yes, I know the pain could come back, but I’m taking this as a win!
What causes this? They aren’t exactly sure. It can be from repetitive motion using the wrist, like picking up a baby (I can’t tell you the last time I picked up a baby). It is often seen in new mothers and middle aged women. It could be caused by hormonal fluctuations, or other conditions like arthritis. Anything that causes swelling really. I’m thinking mine was caused by the way I was holding my tablet while drawing, it put a lot of pressure on my thumb and bent my wrist. I’ve since gotten a new computer and I don’t hold it like I was holding my tablet, so I’m hoping I don’t have a repeat of this.
Last night I was even able to finish my latest pet portrait.
What do you think?
* painting by W. Holcombe. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission.
“In every bend of time
there is some surprise,
joy and beauty.
Mindfulness is the
light to discover it.”
~ Amit Ray
“Beauty surrounds us.”
“Because of your smile,
you make life more beautiful.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Everything has beauty,
but not everyone sees it.”
* As I was walking into the doctor’s office, I saw this flower; it was all alone in the middle of a parking lot, sharing it’s beauty. I had to share it with you.
photo by Wendy Holcombe. Please do not use without permission.
“If we’re growing,
we’re always going to be
our of our comfort zone.”
~ John Maxwell
“The deeper you go,
the more you grow.”
~ Suzanne Heyn
“It’s tempting to try and
blossom before we’re ready.
Only forced plants grow that way.
Treat yourself more organically,
allow life to unfold.
* image by Wendy Holcombe. The Hosta Greets Spring. All rights reserved. Please do not use without consent.
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