Just Keeping it Real

Wow. I don’t even know where to begin so I guess I’ll just start by writing about the Good in my life. I have so many things I feel incredibly thankful for, but I want to share the fact that I am officially off of the opioids! Yay!

No thanks to the pain management doctor though. He was becoming less and less helpful in working with me tapering off. I think the pain clinics will take your money as long as they can while they push for you to try the “new and improved” spinal cord stimulator or another spinal injection (I’ve had 18 of those injections and they never worked, but I knew it kept my doctor(s) happy and me leaving the office with new scripts).

I had been at a standstill for months and was really, really frustrated. Then the morning of my last scheduled appointment (in August) I simply woke up and said, “I’m done.” That was a defining moment for me. Not showing up to an appointment could easily break my pain management contract. And with the opioid epidemic, it was no secret that it was getting harder and harder to find pain management doctors that would accept the responsibility of new patients.

But I truly felt those words, “I’m done”. They were Soul Words. It was a Body-Mind-Spirit moment of consciousness; the kind that can make your toes curl, like the blissful moment you fall into an orgasm. But unlike orgasms, Soul Words tended to elude me. This was profoundly different than saying “I’m working on getting off these meds that I’ve been taking for the past decade”, which I always meant each time I said it, but during that mind-blowing moment it became crystal clear to me that I would be on the meds as long as a dr. told me I needed them; that it was okay; go on, have some more. It was all simultaneous, and from the very center of my Soul, the Source of those two powerful words, I faced honesty and truth without judgement and without doubt. I was done. So I didn’t go to that appointment.

The next day I felt a little uneasy, but I put on a new fentanyl patch (which would end up being my final one) and began to take note of when I actually “needed” a pill for the breakthrough pain. I was still being prescribed 180 of the 10mg oxycodones for the “breakthrough” pain each month to take along with the fentanyl. I’ve been prescribed as many as 210 pills with the 15 patches; but this didn’t change the fact that I had way more than I should. Way more than I needed. People without the opioid tolerance are usually sent home after surgery with 30 pills of 5mg oxy, vicodin, percocet, etc. with maybe one refill, if they’re lucky. For me, that would be like getting a box of Tic Tacs, because every month the pharmacist would hand me enough opioids to kill a pack of mules.

Making the decision that I was done made me realize what a habit it had become to just take a breakthrough pain pill at the first sign of pain, even the slightest twinge. You see, it had been drilled into my head that “you can’t let the pain get too bad because it’ll be harder to get under control”. Well, of course I didn’t want that to happen!

Now I had to face the unpleasant task of re-shaping my thoughts and begin to lessen my fear of something getting out of control. Oh, the irony! At first it was awful to make myself stop each time I reached for pill and ask, what else can I try first? (and not in conjunction with?). I knew I would have to deal with some additional discomfort than what I already lived with every day.

I knew I could try an ice pack. A warm epsom salt bath. Some gentle yoga. Qigong. Meditation. The tens unit. The compound cream. Writing. Creating. Reading. Even that awful acupressure mat. I had this mental list of the things I knew I could try first and If those things failed, I took some Advil or Tylenol. Then I took an oxy. Sometimes another one an hour later. Then I began to notice that as I reached for the pills less and less, the first options were working better and better.

It took a long time though.

And I am not a patient person.

I knew I had hit a milestone when I began breaking the oxys in half. Little by little, day by day, I made progress. Then something totally amazing happened. I went a day without any pills and didn’t even realize it until I went to bed and saw half an oxy from the day before still sitting there on the shelf of my medicine cabinet.

I’m in no more pain than when I was on the opioids. I haven’t had any worse Fibromyalgia flare-ups either (my rheumatologist had once told me that long-term opioid use can actually cause Fibro). Well, no dwelling on the past decade, eh?

My therapist told me it could take another month or two to get my serotonin and dopamine levels back to normal, but at least he’s not suggesting we increase my antidepressants. I will more than likely be on the neurontin the rest of my life because of nerve damage from surgery #1. But I’m okay with that.

Moving forward, I ended up flushing 6 leftover patches and 97 oxycodones. l still have the other half of the last oxycodone sitting on the middle shelf of my medicine cabinet. When I see it every morning and night when I take my other meds, I think about how it no longer has any power over me. It’s a reminder of how far I have come.

Many Blessing on Your Journey )O(

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Weekenders On Our Own; It’s Such Fun

 

I spent this past weekend away at a beach house with 3 of my girlfriends. I’m talking about a real weekend “getaway”- as in a trip without the hubby and kids, whom I love dearly, really I do but…

Aside from me there was no one else to worry about. I packed my weekend satchel, my laptop, a cheesy romance novel, a few bottles of Shiraz and two six packs of Strongbow. Oh, and chocolate; I most definitely didn’t forget the chocolate. And of course a few Tarot decks to read for the gals.

No curfew.

No whining.

The only person I was in charge of was me. However, shortly after arriving I nearly panicked when I found out there was no phone service, no internet (!), not even a t.v. What the hell? (it helped that I could walk down the hill about a quarter mile to get a signal and call my husband and kids when I wanted to touch base).

Well, it ended up being a real blessing. There was plenty to do and time flew by. We hit the pubs indulging in Lemon Drops and/or local ale, walked along the beautiful Oregon beach, went to the movies, visited an art gallery, went wine tasting, ate raw oysters, and slinked into a local dive bar where we sang horrible karaoke. We also played tons of board games, laughing until our sides hurt. (I think Cards Against Humanity is my new favorite game).

It was a weekend to luxuriously soak in the beauty of Sisterhood. It was a celebration of being who we are as women without gimmicks or guises. It was about truly shedding the skin of limiting societal structure. It was liberating. But most of all it was just genuine Fucking Fun. And Fun is one heck of a magickal tool to replenish and raise our vibrational frequency because it touches that tender spot of raw spirituality that lives deep within us all.

To Simply Smile

It was around the time of Imbolc that I unplugged. During that time I used my laptop strictly for daily writing and for checking emails every other day or so. I even remained unplugged quite a bit longer than I had planned on because after the first week I realized just how badly I needed it. I politely requested for my friends and family to not mention news topics (such as all things political, disastrous, entertainment, gossip of any kind, etc..) for one week. Just one week was all I asked for. I knew I might be tempted like I am with sweets, but I also knew that ignoring trivial things like Facebook would be a breeze. I barely spent time there as it was, infrequently checking in with the one small local Sisterly Tribe “secret” group I am a part of.

Most of those who knew of my intentions were shocked, some were appalled, and many simply told me I couldn’t do it for a whole week. It was crazy. Weird. There was just too much juicy info out there, loads of yucky stuff to feed off of. And what if they really needed to get a hold of me? Like what if the world was actually coming to an end, a family tragedy occurred, or the zombie apocalypse had commenced? I told them that of course those things were important to me, so please, by all means tell me! (duh!) But please call me. Don’t send me an email, or tweet it. And don’t text me to give me the news. I want a real phone call, you know, where you can actually hear my voice and I can hear yours in real time.

I will say that the time has flown by. I’ve been busy writing, painting, sketching, and madly creating some crazy stuff that I absolutely adore. I’ve carved out time for Tarot readings and tea with friends, both of which I cherish. I’ve been busy working on different areas of my life and am spending more time than ever with my husband and kids. My daughter and I are currently making our own Spirit Dolls and I have enjoyed our special time in the studio.

I have been practicing yoga 5 days a week and am thrilled to write that I have stepped down further on my pain meds. If all goes as planned, I will be completely done with the fentanyl and taking a fraction of the breakthrough medication by June, two months before my personal goal.

I thought that now I’m back on the grid I should probably catch up on some things I’ve missed out on, but the more I think about it the more I realize that I’m much more interested in enjoying the fresh Spring strawberries. They are way juicier, much easier to swallow, and truly make me smile. 

May Spring bring you new, deliciously juicy experiences that make you smile too!

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

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All You Need is Love

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Since I received the recommendation from our veterinarian to put Jazzy down, I had a lot to deal with. A lot to think about. A lot to process.

German Shepherds (some might call her a White Swiss Shepherd) are notorious for their health issues. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, pancreatic problems, Degenerative Disc Disease, Degenerative Myelopathy, Panosteitis, plenty of skin problems, Epilepsy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and on and on it goes. My only complaint for a long time was the amount of dog hair that would come off of her, even when I brushed her everyday and it wasn’t shedding season. I’d just finish sweeping when I’d see more clumps of fluff tumbling down the hall. I wish that was all it was, but for the past 3 years she has been suffering from chronic perianal fistulas that are very painful and very frustrating to treat. Round after round of antibiotics, prednisone, and $400 tubes of topical creams (not kidding) would heal things for a while, but as soon as the medication stopped, they’d come back.

I knew they had returned when the usual symptoms occurred. She is a long-haired G.S. so that means that she’s so dang fluffy and furry that it’s hard to even detect anything is wrong until it’s already gone way wrong. This time fecal incontinence happened simultaneously, and the vet told us that since that has happened, the P.F.’s would more than likely never heal and everything would only get worse from there. And apparently, it looked like she was suffering from arthritis too. At this point the only “humane” thing to do was to put her down. I wanted to wait. I wanted the weekend and a day or two after that to prepare myself and my family.

Upon receiving the news of what loomed ahead, my heart grieved while I cooked up her favorite food; boiled chicken & rice. Nothing fancy, just chicken breast and white rice. She’s always been a very finicky eater and never one for table scraps. She’s the first dog I’ve ever met that would spit out bacon, turn away cheese, ignore hot dog slices, or never bother with begging at the table. She simply knew that if she did, that she would get sick.

She’s been on several different novel protein diets over the years because the dry chicken and rice food didn’t seem to settle well on her tummy. We tried everything from salmon to buffalo, duck, and kangaroo. Lamb was what seemed to be working for her the best, so we stuck with that. But really, her ultimate favorite cooked food is the chicken and rice.

So that’s what I made her. I cooked up what I figured would be enough for her final days. I chopped the chicken up fine, hand-mixed in the rice and fed it to her warm.

I massaged her muscles, let her snuggle with me in bed, even sang to her, and all the while my heart ached. I bathed her gently, brushed her, and when I would cry she’d lick away my tears. I made poultices of comfrey and lavender, and swept up the dog hair without a grumble. I was more than happy to do so, for as long as I could.

And she never once made a mess in the house.

Monday came and she was dropping her favorite toy at my feet. She started chasing the cat, and following me around the house like everything was normal.

I kept looking at her smiling at me with those bright sparkling eyes of hers until I finally got it. This was a dog that still enjoyed doing things. In fact, she seemed happier than she had been in months. This wasn’t a dog that was ready to die. This wasn’t a dog that I was simply going to throw away. I still had hope because she held that hope for the both of us in those soulful eyes of hers. I cancelled the appointment to have her put down and contacted a different veterinarian.

Today she saw her new doc. They sedated her, and as she swayed like a drunk, I gently coaxed her to lie down on the blanket they had placed on the floor for her. A few seconds later her head dropped in my lap like a stone. I pet her and soothed her as the vet and her assistant sat on the floor opposite me to see what could be done. They clipped the hair underneath her tail close, flushed the wounds, and assessed the damage. She would be okay. A completely different outlook and a slightly different medication route. She will more than likely have to stay on the steroidal medication for the rest of her life. I’m okay with that as long as she is.

I asked helplessly, what else could I do? She smiled and said I was already doing everything I needed to do, I followed my instinct. Feeding her the bland chicken and rice was the best thing I could have ever done. Feeding it to her calmed her angry intestinal tract and ultimately saved her life. She wasn’t incontinent, her body was just finally reacting to the expensive dog food!

And to think that I almost extinguished the light in those eyes makes me angry and hurt. But I will be forever grateful for the time I spent reflecting on all the things Jazzy has taught me over the years. Patience, unconditional love, perseverance, and then more of that unconditional love stuff.

 

 

Preparing for a Different Kind of Storm

My life has been busy over the past few weeks. We’ve had some storms come by, along with remnants of Typhoon Songda. The Oregon Coast weathered 2 tornadoes and while we received over 9 inches of rain in two days, we were fortunate and didn’t lose any big trees, only our power.

We held onto our plans, dropping the kids off with my parents to head home to do some much needed (in my opinion) work on my studio. As promised, my husband helped me declutter and paint. I had been gearing up for this for quite some time so when the power went out we continued to paint by candlelight and ate cold pizza while listening to the giant trees outside creak and groan with the wind. It was really rather romantic, that is until our backs both ached and we joined in the groaning of the trees. My husband couldn’t help but allude to the fact that we should be groaning while throwing our backs out doing something that was actually fun. I told him to shut up and keep painting so we could both actually finish. His only response was to flick paint at me. My husband…speechless? Encouraged by his lapse in sarcastic comebacks, I told him it would be nice if he tried not to make a mess this time. A little back and forth innuendo match ensued which made for great entertainment.

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Almost there!

What once resembled a curio/new age store now feels very “Zen” to me. A little sparse in comparison, it has become a place of serene solitude. I have organized my herbs, crystals, and tools of the trade in a way that I can actually find something easily. My craft area and supplies are separate from my writing desk. It’s a humble, quiet retreat that calms and soothes my spirit as soon as I walk in whereas before I felt weighed down in a mess of unfinished craft projects and candle stubs from a previous ritual.

Remember that binder of daily routines, tasks, and lists? I condensed things further into a Witchy bullet journal. I have my weekly plan, daily tasks, important and not-so-important tasks, weekly menu plan, the moon phase and the sign(s) it’s currently in, the weather, Tarot card of the day, spaces for quotes I like, and my long wish list of things I want to try, places I want to see, and things I want just for the sake of wanting. I have a place for my accomplishments, several pages for a brain dump, and a place for a monthly memory collage. I also made a symptom log in order to find any trends or connections to certain activities I did, and another log to track my meditation/yoga/tai chi practices. All of this easily fits in this one little 5×8 journal that will easily see me through to Imbolc.

The process of clearing out and simplifying has led me to reevaluate the other stagnant areas of my life that are in need of attention as well. One in particular I have been avoiding for some time.

It’s not easy to choose the path opposite of least resistance, but I did. I saw my pain management doctor today and I told him that I wanted to step-down on my pain meds. I told him what I wanted in the long run and the accompanying fears that go along with it.

We agreed that over the course of the next two weeks I will step-down from my current dose of Fentanyl 75 mcg/hour to a 50 mcg/hour patch. I will also go from 80 mg oxycodone for breakthrough pain down to 60. That’s the short-term goal. If things go well, the next step will be to drop down from the 50 dose of Fentanyl to a 25 mcg patch with an additional 12.5 mcg patch if needed. At that point I’ll have dropped down to 30-40 mg oxycodone.

I honestly don’t know where it’ll go from there, but my ultimate goal is to be off of the fentanyl completely by August. I haven’t set a complete shut off time for the oxy, but that will more than likely be revealed as I get closer to my goal.

My doctor and I talked in great detail about the possible hard times ahead. I have been on pain medication for so long (starting like so many others like me; with a little vicodin, on to morphine, then to oxycontin and methadone, to where I am now) that I probably won’t feel too great and I’ll have to deal with my pain spike in other ways. He paused here and there as if giving me the opportunity to change my mind. We ended the appointment with the agreement that I give him a call between now and my visit next month if things became “unmanageable”. That made me laugh. I told him that things were already unmanageable for me in the opioid department. Duh!

So there you have it. Whatever the oncoming weather, be it storm or sunny skies, whether I’m huddled in the corner in a cold sweat or sitting in a chair reading a good book, I’ll be ready to deal with whatever comes my way and stand behind whatever choices I will make. It’s up to me now.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

Thyme in a Bottle

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Since my last post I have been working really hard to keep up with my daily tasks and routines. I’ve followed through to the best of my ability, which fluctuates from day to day. But everyday I give conscious effort to do the best I can with what I’ve got.

That means remembering who I am and what makes my life feel “good” and “on track”.
The crazy thing is that I haven’t even beat myself up for not accomplishing everything on my “list of the day” and that in itself is a major triumph.

When I woke up this morning, before I even got out of bed I asked myself a simple question; How will I choose to spend my time today? And the question didn’t make me anxious.

I say this because two weeks ago, time management was difficult. At the end of a day where all those things on my list seemed to remain one step ahead of me, I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I ended up being a crabby bitch when I started thinking about all the things I didn’t get done. I felt like I just couldn’t keep up with life.

So I took 3 cleansing breaths and wrote out the bare bones of this spell, which in part was a letter to myself, (but really, aren’t most spells merely letters to that aspect of ourselves that we are trying to connect with?) and then had a heart-to-heart talk with the Goddess.

Thyme Management Spell

Gather your items:

Your three minute egg timer
1 orange candle
1 small bottle
3 drops patchouli oil
3 drops cinnamon leaf oil
3 drops orange oil
30 drops sweet almond or mineral oil
A pinch of thyme (go ahead and make it a big pinch)
A piece of paper and your pretty purple pen that makes you happy.

Remember your simple altar setup. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). You know that during this time in your life simplicity avoids confusion and saves time!

So set it up and quit over-thinking, because I know you will want to. You just love second-guessing yourself. Keep acting that way and all the thyme in the world will not be enough.

Cleanse, cast, and invoke. Then move forward.

Prepare the oil in the bottle with a dropper, add the thyme, cap and shake to mix well. Imagine that while you are shaking the oil that you are also dislodging any negativity or frustration that comes with simply trying to keep up with life. But be careful not to break the bottle with your built up ick, because then you’ll have to start all over again, thus wasting more time.

On the piece of paper write your petition to the Goddess, feeling your deep personal need for successful time management. And remember, K.I.S.S.

I wrote to Her during my ritual, expressing my longing for less chaos and more peace throughout my days. I didn’t want to feel rushed, and I didn’t want to be angry at myself anymore because anger physically hurts me. I wanted her to know that I was willing to keep my priorities in focus, and to take charge of my actions, as each one leads to the other, and so on.

I folded the letter and held it in my hands feeling my fingers tingle with energy. When it felt right, I placed the piece of paper under the timer. Then I dabbed a small amount of the prepared oil to my wrists and rubbed them together.

I lit the orange candle and started the timer.

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I gazed into the candle flame and pictured myself going through a typical day at a calm even pace. Things were running smoothly. Appointments were remembered and household duties were under control. My mind wandered into the darkness a few times but I reigned it back in.

When the timer had sounded, I extinguished the flame and went on about my day. When that feeling of tension began bubbling up, I would bring back into focus the orange candle’s flame and feel the loving support from Her. I was then able to trust in my ability to take back control of my day.

I did this every morning for 3 days, and every other day since. I read the letter, dab on the oil, light the candle, start the timer, and then visualize a smooth sailing day. It only takes a few minutes, and within those first 3 days I began to see a noticeable difference in how I reacted to situations, and how I made better choices in managing my time.

I’m going to do this as often as I need, (replacing the candle when needed) but I choose not to waste my time obsessing about it! I will do it and then go on about my day.

The best part about this daily “blessing” is that I’m finding that if my day didn’t go exactly as planned, I don’t beat myself up about it. One of the things I’ve learned since starting this is that successful time management is the ability to take on unforeseen challenges without causing negativity to creep in and slow me down.

 

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

To Start Where I Am

Since chronic pain came into my life 9 years ago, I’ve been trying to deal with a new way of living and with it a whole new way of thinking. And I’ve done a lot of thinking in the past few weeks as I’ve hit some highs and then some low-down lows.There were times in the past week and a half that I couldn’t get out of bed. There have been days in the past week where light and sound were excruciating to my senses. Two days ago I dropped a dinner plate when my hand spasmed and all I could do was helplessly look at the shattered pieces on the floor.

The feeling of helplessness just builds up…and up…and up….

When I’m having a really bad episode and all I can do is lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, I notice a cobweb in the corner. I’ll turn my head and see an empty water glass that needs to be washed. When I turn the other way I see that my closet is messy. For days, sometimes weeks, (at one point about five years ago it had been almost 6 months) my eyes and mind will focus on all the imperfections in my home and see it as a reflection of me as a person. Me as a wife and mother and how I cannot care for those I love the most.

Then when I begin the upswing of good days, I can’t simply snap my fingers and make all the stress disappear. I fill up with anxiety every time I see my overloaded inbox, the empty refrigerator, and the giant piles of laundry. Then I’m like a lot of chronic pain sufferers in that when I have one decent feeling day, I will run around frantically trying to catch up. I’ll clean like a maniac in hopes I can get it all done before the pain returns. And it always does, and at that point it’s usually pissed.

Even after all these years, I’ve yet to fully come to terms with my illness and pain. I’ve read countless books on my conditions and have seen the top specialists. I’ve been coaxed into getting reacquainted with my body (a body that seemed to no longer like me) in order to be more in tune to our (its) rhythm. I’ve learned about energy management and how to create a schedule that works for me. I have seen the need to pattern my week so that I have active days followed by more restful days. I know I have to to do a little bit at a time to prepare for holidays, vacations, or long, hectic days. (I’m eternally grateful that things were good for the California trip) I’ve been schooled in the ways of expressing what my needs are and how to drop my pride when I have to ask for help.

Easier said than done.

I readily grasped the idea to make an outline for my life. I’m excellent at brainstorming ideas and making plans and schedules, but I’m absolutely terrible at following through. You see, I’m a list-maker. I LOVE to make lists. I have a list for nearly everything. Things I need to do, things I want to do, things I need help with, menu planning lists, shopping lists, need to follow-up on lists, home project lists, and on and on it goes.

During the bad times I’ll have short-term memory issues and terrible brain fog, getting easily confused (especially with dates and phone numbers). So I have spiral bound notebooks in every corner of the house (and in my project studio, but let’s not even go there) so that I can jot down ideas and plans as they come to me. Then when I get too many of these ideas and lists and sketches scattered about, I will tear them out and slip them into clear sheet protectors and then place them in the correct three-ring binder, complete with labeled tabs.

Then after I have everything in order, I don’t know where to begin. Which binder was the kids’ back to school supply list in? Where was the list for treatment plans? Where was the mind-map for my dream week? This eventually leads me to the fact that the current organizational system isn’t working.

So I’ll spend time flipping through the shiny plastic coated papers and sort them into new categories. Then I’ll begin to rearrange the tabs, like I’d like to rearrange my life.

I know what you’re probably thinking. That I’m a control freak. Anal. OCD. Manic. Micro-manager. Perfectionist. Hypercritical. Persnickety. Wonder Woman Wannabe.

I raise my hand in surrender. I’m all of the above…most of the time.

So here I go again. I have pared down to one small binder and I’ve put the other binders away. I am back to the basics with my original, simple day to day plan. I know it works because some of my best months in the past few years have been when I followed it. The problem has always been easing back into the routine after being out of commission for more than a few days. The perfectionist in me doesn’t want to just jump in where I am. I want to start with a clean, perfect house. I’m even sure there is such a thing. Or I think it’ll be best if I start at the beginning of the month. Or after ___________.

Well it’s Monday. I suppose it’s as good a day as any to start. I got out of bed and showered. I even followed my ‘routine’ for the day. I’ll be honest. I had a little bit of difficulty following my plan today. It wasn’t hard remembering what needed to be done, but hard to pace myself. To not panic. To not work ahead. To make myself stop between things. To not do two things at once. To have realistic expectations. And to celebrate the small successes as long as I was making progress.

Today wasn’t perfect, but I think I can call it a success.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

A Beacon of Light; a Lesson in Trust

 

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I recently spent a sunny afternoon gazing up in awe at the simplistic beauty of a lighthouse. It stood tall and proud against the crashing waves, ready to weather another storm as sentinel upon the cliff.

 

It was a fairly clear day, lacking most of the coastal fog. Looking out over the water, I sensed ethereal silhouettes of bygone ships that had traversed those choppy waters from the time the lighthouse lamp was first lit in 1873. Even in the bright midday sun, it continued flashing its beacon of light, reaching out to guide those who became vulnerable to the whims of the waves. The lighthouse could be trusted 24 hours a day to send out its never ending pulse. I had watched it the night before from the hotel room balcony, mesmerized by its rhythm; two seconds on, two seconds off, two seconds on, and 14 seconds off.

And there I was the next afternoon, standing in the sunlight and within arm’s reach of the lighthouse. Even though I was unable to see the flashing light, I found myself just as captive as I had been captivated the night before.

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How many times had I been like the ships on the crest of a wave, holding my breath in moments of vulnerability, when I knew more than ever it was time to trust. When I really had no choice but to trust.

Dare to Trust.

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Trust is precious and more easily broken than it is earned. Trust is something I struggle with every day. Trust frightens me because to trust means I am allowing myself to become vulnerable to betrayal. Many of my fears and difficulty with trust are based on past experiences such as abandonment by both of my parents as a young child. Many of my basic needs were not met and oftentimes I went hungry.

Dare to Trust once again.
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Trust is complex and delicate. I’ve seen trust lead to success but I’ve also seen it lead to loss and sorrow. To make the brave decision and go all in means I must set down my battle sword and shield. I must remove my armor and place it aside. The possibility of being wounded, to have my heart crash upon the rocks, is a powerful driving force reminding me of my priorities, my loyalties, and most of all, my worthiness.

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Dare to Trust that I am worthy of love.

I know how badly I want to fully trust, but in the same vein I also know how badly I want others to trust me. When I stand strong like the lighthouse, I can trust that others will choose to do the same. I can trust in my resiliency to bounce back from hurt. I can trust that I have learned from past experiences. I can trust in the goodness of other people. I can trust in the Goddess. And I know without a moment of hesitation that others can trust in me.

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Dare to Trust that I am not alone.

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Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Gnome Project; Mother’s Day Musings

I have always said that I don’t want or need a Hallmark card or flowers for Mother’s Day because what I really want is a hug and a kiss from each of my kids. Even so, I was brought a warmed cinnamon roll to me in bed this morning along with little laminated poems my children made at school. They took great pride in their work so I read the poems out loud and shared the cinnamon roll with them.

I was then cryptically told there was one more little thing waiting for me in the dining room. I reminded them that I just wanted lots of hugs and kisses (although I must admit the cinnamon roll was a nice treat). I was shushed and told to close my eyes while I was led by little hands to the last “little thing”.

“Okay, you can look!” I opened my eyes and was immediately face to face with a 3 foot tall garden gnome standing on the dining room table staring at me. Much to the delight of my youngest children, I jumped in surprise, my hand clutching my throat, more than likely to hold back a scream. Oh but what sweetness there was in hearing them squeal in excitement and laugh at my reaction.

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One by one, my grown children came by to share a hug, kiss, and an “I love you”. One brought me a pot of tulips, (my favorite flower) another brought me a very sweet card (even though he knows how I feel about cards) along with a tiny Tarot deck (one of the itty bitty teeny ones) and a small book on mindfulness. The third one brought over Chinese food for everyone and we all shared a meal that I didn’t have to cook which was really nice. I even got a text from my oldest daughter who leads a very troubled life. It was such a relief to hear from her.

After my older kids left, I finished loading the dishwasher with the help of my two youngest. I sent them off to finish their homework as I wiped down the counters. Smiling over the events of the day, I finished up in the kitchen and rebooted the dryer. Turning to head back to the living room, I gasped, startled by the presence of The Gnome.

He has got to go.

Maybe no one was truly aware of how creepy I would find this giant garden gnome. But then again, maybe they were perfectly aware. Perhaps that was the point. I swear I saw his eyes move more than once, following me.

Since this morning I’ve been trying to think of what I was going to do with him.

I thought about chucking it into the neighbor’s yard but realized that was silly. Mostly because I knew I couldn’t throw something that heavy (this thing is ridiculously dense) at least not well enough to go over the blackberry brambles and onto the other property. And there was also a part of me that was afraid of being successful only to get up in the morning to find him sitting in the exact same spot on the dining room table (cue Psycho violin screech)
So I’m attempting to compromise, which as a mom is something I oftentimes must to do for the benefit of my children. I would hate to hurt their feelings (never-mind pissing off Mr. Gnome). I’ve been trying to think of a secluded spot for him to be placed…some hidden corner of the far garden… somewhere very, very hidden…someplace where I couldn’t see him and he most certainly couldn’t see me. Somewhere very close to the property line.

Today I’d like to acknowledge not only the loving mothers out there but all women who choose to nurture others. It matters not whether it’s people, pets, plants, or nature. Thank You just the same. Thank You for allowing the flow of love to lighten the world. Thank You for your willingness to give selflessly of yourself without demanding anything in return. Thank You for venturing forth even when you may be frightened by what you may face. Thank You for giving all that you can to create something better for someone or something else. Thank You for loving and cherishing that which you nurture, for you are the embodiment of the Great Mother Herself.

Happy Mother’s Day~ May your day be as Beautiful and Blessed as you are.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Find Your Voice; Light Your Future

Speak, Listen, Watch, and Learn from your past experiences; all of your triumphs and mistakes. If you didn’t like the outcome and you feel that your present course is once again leaning in that direction, then it’s time to Reflect. Reflect your inner light upon your gained knowledge and look to your future; for this is wisdom and your future will shine as bright as you are willing to let it.

-Journal Entry August 2015

This morning I drew two cards from my Thoth tarot deck and placed them in front of me while sitting on the bed. The Nine of Wands and Adjustment. How succinctly put. To the point. I expected no less from the Thoth imagery and yet I only grab this particular deck when I’m feeling bold and courageous. After surviving a day like the one I had yesterday, I woke up feeling a simmering frustration within, an annoyance that felt like it was going to boil over at any moment. It was residual negative emotions and I knew I needed to direct the energy, but where? What lesson could I learn from yesterday that could make me stronger today? And better still, what about stronger tomorrows?

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9 of Wands. Today the 9 of Wands represents both the reflective and reactive parts of me. The Sun stretches high towards the sky, his masculine energy represents taking action. The Moon reaches far into the depths of the soul, her feminine energy represents intuitive realization. It’s about blending action with realization to complete what is necessary for success. These aspects are both powerful on their own working within their elements, but here they bring their energies together by reaching across the card to become balanced with one another. As Above, So Below.

VIII – Adjustment. I look at her and I see honesty and integrity in the face of adversity. She is about standing up for what you belief is right. She is a reminder to me that If I feel the need to change something in my life, something I am not satisfied with, then I have the freedom of choice to change it. She is Justice and sheds light on the path towards balance. She speaks of being objective in the face of adversity and trust that the universal law of balance will adjust accordingly. This is also represented by the Sun and Moon, Masculine/Feminine energies intersecting in the 9 of wands.

I meditated a while on these two cards and I journaled. I wrote about how I am blessed with many things in my life, but strength and balance are hard to come by. Those two things are easy to forget when I’m living in pain and feeling the fear that I feel during a pain flare. But strength and balance are the two thing needed most during those difficult times. When I don’t have both strength and balance within my life, I begin to suffer beyond the physical symptoms. The pain then begins its personal attacks on my emotions. I start to question everything I feel is wrong in my life, wondering if maybe I deserve all of this because I’m weak. Then my self-esteem plummets.

Yesterday’s experience was a rather frustrating one as it was my monthly check-in with my pain management doctor. I needed a prescription refilled for a special compound cream. The doctor’s office had partnered with a new pharmacy and she was adamant about me using it instead of the usual place. I told her I had been trying to get it refilled there for two months but there were always excuses as to why they couldn’t. They didn’t have all the ingredients, they were too swamped, they were in-between pharmacists, and my all-time favorite: The pharmacist didn’t know how to make it.

I finally gave in and left the doctor’s office knowing that she didn’t really listen to me at all. It was all a waste of time, now I was running late and had an hour drive home ahead of me. I hurt all over and I felt drained, beaten down, hopeless and even worse, helpless. I was lucky to even have a pain management doctor; a doctor that some people will wait years to get. She could end our contract at any time and I was afraid to push the envelope. I drove away without a new prescription for the compound cream and in my frustration and rush, I forgot to get the referral to the doctor she had mentioned at the beginning of the appointment; a rheumatologist that specializes in lupus and MS and might be able to help me more than my current rheumatologist.

I am not one for confrontation, and I know I have a tendency to avoid it to a fault. But just imagining myself spending another day and another dreadful night dwelling on my lack of assertiveness was incentive enough to make changes. My fear the day before allowed me to feel bullied by someone who is supposed to help me and support me in effectively dealing with my pain. The contract between us goes both ways. Where was my voice?

I looked at the cards again. There was a difference between causing conflict and being assertive. Finding my voice doesn’t mean I have to yell to be heard. I can be effective in expressing myself, my feelings, my emotions, and my needs while at the same time being mindful of the sensitivity of others when choosing my words. I brought my thoughts back to the cards. I took a deep breath and felt my inner struggle begin to cease. What was I fighting so hard against anyway? These were simply situations that I could deal with effectively, or not. It was my choice. I just needed to find my voice.

To deal with the important matters in regards to my health, I would have to make phone calls. More than likely a lot of them. This is something I avoid as often as possible, but if I wanted things to change I needed to dedicate the day to making those calls. I spoke with doctors and their assistants, pharmacies and my medical insurance company and got some things sorted out. After the first few calls I learned the truth about the price differences between the pharmacies for the same exact medication and that the “new” pharmacy wasn’t the “preferred” pharmacy as far as my insurance company was concerned.

The phone conversation with my pain management doctor took longer than it should have as I kept trying to explain the issues I had with having the special compound cream filled by the new “preferred” pharmacy. Not only did I feel uncomfortable about the lack of knowledge and organizational skills of this new pharmacy, it was going to cost me $70.00 for 60 grams when the original pharmacy only charged me $35.00 for 240 grams. This difference was huge and could not be ignored. She was insistent on using the “new” pharmacy and I kept telling her that option wasn’t going to work for me, and on and on it went. But I stood my ground and calmly persisted knowing that there was no justification to have to spend that kind of money. I had found my voice and spoke with confidence in being my own advocate. She finally accepted what I was saying  (I had been heard!) and we ended the conversation on a positive note.

There’s now a new refill order phoned in to the original (non-preferred) specialty pharmacy and the compound cream will be here at my doorstep within the week. I also got the referral to the rheumatologist and spoke to the new patient coordinator there; the paperwork will be here the day after tomorrow. This prompted me to go ahead and switch my primary care doctor with a different doctor within the same clinic; something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. He has always been unfriendly and cold towards me and I choose to no longer put up with that sort of treatment in regards to my health care if I don’t have to.

I had a long overdue conversation with my oldest child’s doctor and even compromised diplomatically with my ex-husband about the bill for her latest hospital stay. I spoke to a medical billing office and we are now getting reimbursed for charges that should never have been paid for out of pocket in the first place.

Finally, and without guilt, I made one last phone call to secure a time slot this Saturday for a floatation therapy session (I have yet to try this) after my acupuncture appointment.

I accomplished so much in one day and at the moment I feel power over my life. I had tied up loose ends and dealt with the things I had been consciously avoiding. All of those little things were causing me big stress and that stress was slowly bleeding into all other areas of my life. It spiked my pain levels and dropped my self-esteem.

Later today I cleared the deck, thanked its imagery, and put it away. It was the beautiful imagery in the cards that spoke to me at a time I was willing to listen. They reminded me that I had a strong voice, I just had to make the choice to use it. I’m glad I did because It felt liberating to finally be clear and assertive in expressing my needs, especially to those I have sometimes felt intimidated by in the past. I had a right to be heard, truly heard by others. I took what I have learned over the years since my pain began and turned that knowledge into action by weaving wisdom into power. Yes, I made the right choice and have had a say in how I light my path towards a brighter future.

May you always find your voice.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(