A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘photography’

More Springtime views

  We took a trip out to the Lake last weekend. It was so foggy and gray. The streets are still flooded  in this little lake village of Sodus Point.        There is a street of shops and bars and houses that was  totally closed because of the flooding. We went to the beach and pier.

  The erosion on the beach was terrible.

   The beach was covered with drift wood and garbage. It is a mess and it will required a lot of clean up before they can open for the season.

  But there was some wonderful days during  the long weekend and my hubby and I took advantage and planted flowers and some new shrubs.

   I was not sure how I would fair doing with the planting but I completed planting all the pots and planters. I was in a lot of pain the next couple of days but it was so worth it. I realized I am better than I was the previous year because I got them all potted in a day. Last year it took me several days and I can remember crying being so frustrated with my fatigue and inability to garden.

  Every year is different and  every year I am amazed at how much my garden brings me joy. I am a different person. I long for the time when I do not have to work and can spend hours and days working in the soil and relaxing out there.  I will have plenty of company.

  The doves have been working on their next brood. They are so used to us now they fly in and out right over our heads. Sometime I will hear them cooing to each other in their secret language. On the other side of the deck is another bird house that had a sparrow family. We call them the Cheep-cheeps. The babies would squawk for food all the time and they looked like three little Muppets hanging out of their hole in the bird house. They have grown and moved on and now Mom and Dad are rebuilding the nest.

 Every fall I bring in some plants and then this year I had a bonus of several new amaryllis. I potted some lettuce also because what I had put in the garden was chewed.

  I do a few herbs and I will probably do basil and a few tomato plants this year.

  I had previously put in lettuce in the garden that is in front of the deck.  It really got chewed up. One night I was sitting out and the bunny, who totally saw me, came right up on to the deck and proceeded to chop away. He knew where and how to get around the sticks. We also have a chipmunk who dug  a tunnel with an entrance right in the patch. I closed it and he has now taken up residence under the deck…..

 ….Much to the delight of the dogs. One night this week, Browny actually caught the little bugger but released it. Both dogs thought it was a hoot and I think Browny surprised himself with the capture. The chippy was not hurt.  Now he thinks he is this big hunting dog and patiently waits for the next squeal.

  This little piece of the world brings much peace and serenity to all who visit. I am very blessed.

 

 

Shave and a hair cut…..it is Spring!

  These are the loves of my life. The pups are Papillion mix and the legs are my husband’s. He went into the cheese drawer…enough said if you have dogs. I let their fur grow out all winter to keep them warm. The day this picture was taken, it was 85 degrees. It was an unusually warm spring day, and we were not prepared.

 This is Browny. He is a “special” dog as in the fact he is was pretty traumatized. I have no idea of the truth of their history other than they were very mistreated. They think they were around four and five when we got them and we have had them for four years.

  He is the sweetest baby ever. But he has manic episodes where he barks like crazy at anyone near our home. If they come into the home, its even worse. He has bitten someone. He will defend his partner, Cookie, if anyone tries to threaten her. We have no idea of the true relationship of the pair other than they are devoted.

   Miss Cookie seems sweet at first, but she is a bruiser. She likes to be dirty all the time. But she adores me and her Dadder, especially me. She does not like to be brushed so by the end of winter, she is pretty messy.

  She loves to roll in the snow, but hates baths. She will go out and roll in the grass or mulch and often comes in the house covered in “stuff.” So it was time for their summer haircuts. I finally found a groomer who has a van and will come to the house. Groomer on the Go. Eric was wonderful with them and I highly recommend him.

 Cookie was mad. She did not want her picture taken at all.

  But she looks amazing!

 The B Boy looks completely different. His fur was extremely long with a long tail. Eric cut his tail, which was necessary. But the view is completely different.

  He really fits the name Monkey Boy now.

Spring is everywhere, finally. We spent the day yesterday digging out the veggie garden out and turning the soil. We then planted some lettuce. I was so thrilled to be able to get down and actually work in the garden. It was at first scary getting down, it was even more scary trying to get up after being down on the ground for a couple of hours. But I did it. I am paying for it today, but that’s ok.

  Here is half of the garden with the lettuce protected from the bunnies. I put in some lettuce in pots without sticks and the chomped them down overnight. Sorry bunnies…. the sticks are back.

  Slowly the garden is getting in shape. I think of it as a canvas that Mother Nature and I work on together. Next week I will post pictures of the flowers and lilacs. It is beautiful.

 

 

 

August Garden

aug garend 3  The garden is beat up and truthfully, so am I. We have had 90 plus degrees every day (28 days to be exact) and very little if any rain. It finally rained yesterday, right after I watered all the pots. If I knew that was the key to make it rain. Actually, I watered every other night all summer. I also make up buckets of plant food water and give them that. It is a lot of work. And I am tired of it.  I will long for it around January, thinking that the work was no big deal. But the heat and humidity has barred me from sitting out there until much later at night.

aug garden 4 I do not bother with the lawn. If it does not grow we do not have to mow it.  Usually I pop out to the chair around 7:30 after feeding my bunnies, who usually join me around that time.  Petee But with the heat and the bugs, it has not been very fun.  I try not to use bug spray because… well, I am covered with Psoriasis lesions.

This is a whole other thing with this summer.  I am now on my sixth drug in a year. I went from Enbrel (after 8 years it stopped working as they all do)  to Simponi (gave me high blood pressure, like stroke level)  Cimzia (raised my blood sugar to over 400 with one shot) Otezla, the glamour drug at $80.00 a pill (which was the most horrific one of all, I was so sick on it and it made my arthritis worse) to leflunomide, (raised the blood sugar back up there to almost 400) to Humira. I have only had two shots of Humira and it is helping the PsA but not the Psoriasis.

aug garden 5  As beat up as these plants look, so am I. I am grateful for the relief on the arthritis (PsA), but I am a long way from where I was before. I can only walk short distances, and at least I am not crying when I get done grocery shopping. But the lesions are awful and they itch and hurt. My legs and arms and scalp are covered.  But the next thing issue is was something that I have been trying to avoid for the last 8 years.

Diabetes.          aug garden 4  Ever since I was old enough to go to the Doctor, they have tried to make me out to be diabetic because I am fat. Up until they started giving me all these very strong drugs, my blood glucose has been perfect. It never was above 5.5. When I first was truly diagnosed with PsA, they gave me a cocktail of Methotrexate  (MTX), prednisone, and Advil prn. My A1C went to 13 and no one caught it for a while. To bring it down, they gave me Metformin on top of all the other crap. The result was my right kidney failed. They took me off of everything and after a while, my kidney came back to about 41%. The sugar came down but it never has gone back below 6.  Now it is back up to 8 or 8.8 even off the last drug that increased it.  So now I have to take Januvia in the am and a shot of 10 units of insulin at bedtime. Already my morning readings are improved after two shots so I am hopeful we can “jumpstart” my pancreas again. If not, this is a life sentence.   My doctor told me this, thinking it would help: “I had diabetes when I was 29 and I got rid of it by losing 40 pounds.” Well isn’t that ducky? At 29, I did not have any health issues! All this shit started after my divorce when I was 47. But I could go off on a tangent about how trauma affects your health, but I am saving that as I am doing more research on it.

aug garden 1  What is keeping me together is we leave for the River next Sunday. We will be gone for 10 days. We have people staying at the house with the “kids”. They use our house as their vacation spot.

Bro Brow cooling off I am going to try to stay cool, get through this week and go to the one place in the world where I feel safe and grounded. I will have a ton of pictures to share.

In the throes of PTSD

Bunnies 2

There are times in my life when I think why? Why do we as humans struggle so much just living. Was it like this since the beginning of time? Is there anyone out there who truly has no stress, no difficulties and breezes through live without conflict? Or is this what human nature means?

Being diagnosed with PTSD was the biggest ah-ha moment of my life. So much finally made sense in my world. Diagnosis means being aware and of all the medications and treatments, being aware the one thing that matters. Because I believe there is no cure. There is only living with it.

I have done as much mindfulness and meditation as humanely possible. I have sought treatments from cognitive behavior therapy to AAT and other forms of energy work. I am not saying they do not “work” but they do not cure. There is no cure. There is acceptance and awareness.

Last week, something tripped me over the weekend. I have no clue what. That is one of the tricky parts of having PTSD. You do not need to know what trips you off, it just happens. By Tuesday, I was in a full blown attack. During the day, I am anxious about stupid things like driving and loud noises. I jump at the slightest provocation. I am bit short in patience. But the telling sign for me is I gain a few pounds that won’t come off. And I have not changed what I am eating. My body pain level is extremely high and I have sharp pain in certain spots like my neck and shoulders which were tight as a trampoline. I cannot take a deep breath even when I doing breathing exercise. But the most telling is I do not sleep. Tuesday night I had about two hours of sleep. The rest of the week my sleep was fitful and full of nightmares that stay with me during the day.

On Wednesday, I was asked to do a presentation for the whole management group on a project I am leading. I then have to drive 40 miles one way to deliver the same presentation to another group. Just as I seemed to becoming down a bit, or maybe just calmer because of lack of sleep, this set me off to an even higher level of anxiety. Just writing this made me catch my breath. It is not that I am nervous about presenting. I just hate presenting to this group. Hate it! It is like they are sitting there with bared teeth waiting for you to make a mistake or in total judgment (which they are). Driving is another big time stressor. By the end of the day on Wednesday, I was a mess. The rest of the week I was a walking nerve fretting about it.

On Friday, I sat down to finish the PowerPoint and having accomplished that helped to calm me. Later at home that night when I was somewhat at peace, I went into my work email. Big mistake. We have a Coach from the med center who is overseeing the program I am presenting on. I am supposed to be learning from her because when she leaves in a couple of months, I am supposed to fill in. She never likes anything anyone is doing. We have had people actually go to our CEO and complain about her. She always has something to correct me on. I think she is a terrible coach. Sure enough, she hated the PowerPoint and said that she thought that only three of the fourteen slides had value. I just burst into tears and sobbed for a while. I was exhausted from the week and then this.

I did something I usually do not do. I fought back. I forwarded the email to my boss who is aware of the situation with the coach. I also sent an email back to the coach and said that it seems I never seem to get things right with her and this was making me very anxious. My boss wrote me back and said the PowerPoint was exactly what the administrators wanted and she liked it. I have not heard anything from the coach. But I felt I stood up for myself and that in itself is powerful. Shame is often a big part of having PTSD and so to stand up for myself was a big deal.

My thoughts for this week included feeling trapped. That is a sensation I have lived with forever and it is not because of any one situation. It is from years of emotional and mental abuse. I felt feel trapped in a job that is frustrating and limiting and often does not bring much satisfaction to me. It does not make me feel like I am contributing to the world. I am trapped as I need to work and the thought of switching jobs is worse than living with it….which is why I stayed in a shitty marriage for 27 years. Fear.

I hate the thought of presenting to this group because of their critical judgment. This is all management including the ones who are clawing their way up the chain and would do whatever they could to push someone out of their way.  This group also has staff that have been there a while and like the way it was always done…. Change agents are not welcome.  Fortunately, there are less of them now. There is a woman who will be in the audience who looks and act so much like my mother and I have had a terrible time with her. Her reputation is that she looks for the holes or mistakes in presentations and will pounce on any weakness. She constantly interrupts to ask for “clarification” and asks a million questions. Everyone knows this about her and it is a big joke, but it is also terrifying when she is grilling you. It does not help me that I have her position which she held for 12 years and she feels I am inadequate because I am not a nurse. When I first started, she had a posy of peers who felt the same way and made my work life difficult. A few of them have left or retired but she perseveres on.

The thing is… I know this is only fifteen minutes max of my life. I know this will pass. I know I will be fine driving 80 miles as it is not snowing and I take back roads.  I know that by Wednesday night, all this will be over. I know all this. I fight to be in the present moment and not worry about the future. I know perseverating on this only adds and does not help. I am writing as another act of trying to cope. I am employing techniques that have I learned to calm. I am trying to think before I react, which is another sign of being in the throes of PTSD. My reactions are over the top and visceral. I am using all the techniques and skills I have been taught to cope. They are helping some.

But sadly the truth is I just have to wait for it to pass. I can only hope that nothing else triggers me and I can deregulate down to a more homeostatic level. I know I will emerge once again out of the rabbit hole.

Bunny and Dove

 

 

 

 

Saying good-bye

Elgin2015 From the sugar maples over head in the garden

Have you ever had that feeling in the pit of your gut when you know you have to face the end of something, and it is out of your control? That is what Autumn feels like to me. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love the season for its colors and vibrancy. But I have to close my garden. I woke up this week to find all the impatiens gone from the cold, leaves covering everything and I knew then end was near.

late may garden 2015a  Early May

My garden is my sanctuary. I did not take a lot of pictures this year. I took several in spring which is my favorite time of year. I love the anticipation of bringing everything back to life and planting the year’s blooms. I usually put in over 100 plants. This year, my husband and I raked and seeded the lawn and it came in beautifully.

chopping tree 2015  Taking down a very old tree

I sit out every night in my wicker chair. Sometimes a friend joins me. Many nights the dogs stay with me. Most nights I fall asleep. This year the neighbor cut down a huge tree which provides even more sun light and exquisite views of the moon. I hate when people cut very old trees down for no reason.

Nightview 2015 View of moon from my chair

Cookie 9-2015  Miss Cookie waiting to cuddle for the evening

lights 2015    Night lights

I have about 75 solar lights in the garden and  Christmas lights on an arbor and a bush. It is pretty bright out there at night. I love the sounds of cicadas and the occasional calling of animals like foxes in the distance. We have one set of very noisy neighbors whose children are allowed to screech well past 10 pm. But fortunately they go away on the weekends. I think it is peaceful and quiet, but as my dear friend will tell you, it is not. I just do not hear the trains. Well I do, but I like the sound of trains in the distance. It sounds like home to me.

fall 2015 garden  Garden in Fall 2015

I will put the planters away and harvest what herbs are left. I grew lettuce this year that was delicious. My roses bloomed and now do not look great but hopefully they will be fine. One of the things that gets me through the winter is thinking about what I will plant the next spring. I leave my chair under the protected part of the deck and I will sit out when I can, entombed in blankets and warm clothes, dreaming of the first warm days.

Merry Yule

little tree

Today is the Winter Solstice and we celebrate it with Yule. In my part of the world, it is very dark as the light does not arrive until way after seven am and it is dark by 4PM. Yule is often misrepresented as a counter to Christmas. It is the other way around.    Update info…. according to the below website: The solstice is traditionally celebrated at the sunrise closest to the time when the sun is stationary before beginning its transit to the north or south. This year this occurs late on 21 December, hence the winter solstice celebrations take place at sunrise on 22 December.      http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146414227

 

By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 2. The actual words of the Second Council of Tours were: “There are feasts on each day between the Nativity of the Lord and Epiphany, except the three-day period on which our Fathers established for the beginning of January private Litanies in order to tread down the custom of the pagans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

Yule is a celebration of hope and prayers and blessings. It is also a solar event marked by celebrations that have continued for eons such as in the circle of Stonehenge. If I could, I would love to witness the light beam of the sun striking precisely at the same location for centuries marking the swing of the earth on its axis. In the northern hemisphere, it is the growing of the light and the beginning or the rebirth of the earth.

This time of year affects me deeply. I got married eight years ago on the 22nd. It was not a romantic reason, but a survival one. I had been facing the possibility of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I did not want to get sick and die and leave my partner stranding with no home or provisions. We were both dirt poor, in school, working crappy jobs and his daughter was living with us in my house. I wanted to make sure he would have the house. I also did not want to be unmarried, plain and simple. So we got married in a very simple ceremony at the Town Hall. I did end up with a tumor but it was not malignant. The marriage has survived although it has been difficult at times. But that is part of being married.

This “season” has been turned into something I feel is very ugly. I hate the greed and the focus on commercialism and money. I cannot control it, and I do feed into the system by shopping for presents. I used to make a lot of my gifts but I do not have time anymore because I work. I used to make a ton of cookies and candy, but I have cut that way down because everyone including me does not need the extra calories. Nothing says loving like spending hours making homemade truffles and peanut butter balls to have people turn their noses up at them and look at you like the enemy.

My biggest indulgence is in the decorating of my house and environment. I bring in greens but I have to be careful with things like Mistletoe and Holly and Poinsettias because they are all poisonous to little dogs and cats. I do put up a crèche on the mantle but that is in honor of my mother. The house is covered with lights. I have them in the windows, on my plants, on my tree, and out in the garden. The sparkle and glow fills me with joy and wonder. We love to drive around the village and look at the decorations and lights. They string white lights in the trees going down Main Street and all the little shop windows are filled with more lights. Our little town looks like it could be in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. There are rumors that it was where the movie was based on; our town and/or Seneca Falls, which is very close.

On the days I work, it is very possible for me not to see daylight at all. I counter this by making sure I have an abundance of electric lights with real incandescent bulbs on in my work space. I even have a string of lights with tinsel and bulbs handing off of it. You can see my office reflecting on the low ceiling when you enter the area on the second floor. People are always amazed when they walk into my office as it is a completely different feeling then the rest of the building. But I also have sprayed it with sage and have other “things” that change the atmosphere in there. It is my oasis of safety.

I still sit out in my chair in the cold, covered in blankets and coats. I am not out there long. But the sky at this time of year is spectacular. It is so crisp and the stars sparkle brightly. Tonight I will light candles and wish for a bright future and good health for myself, my family and friends. I will give thanks to all the wondrous things that have happened this year. I will remember my ancestors, especially my mother. This time of year was particularly special for her. She was the one who instilled my love of nature and gardens. I think if it had been another time, she would have been more into herbs and medicinal plants.

I honor the Christmas traditions for my husband and his family. So in the next weeks there will be a lot of get-togethers and feasting. Actually, that is the Pagan tradition. Their celebrations lasted for twelve days, reminiscent of the song. His daughter is back from California after nine years. Although she will not be staying with us, it will be good for father and daughter to reunite. She is staying with her mother’s family. I have to work so I will not go with him for their visit which I think is actually best. We have already visited with my family yesterday, which is always short, but sweet. We will spend Christmas with his massive family.

My favorite time is when my husband and I curl up in our chairs with blankets and little doggies in our laps, and watch old movies from our collection of classics under the glow of the tree and lights and candles. “All is calm, all is bright.” Blessed Yule everyone.

 

Curing a hot mess

kids

Tonight while I was eating dinner, I went for a stroll in other blogs. It still amazes me how many people write and even more amazing is how many write about recovery about childhood trauma and abuse. It is seriously a huge body of people who have had some sort of trauma in their childhood. The people on WordPress are only the ones who are brave enough to write about it. It is very comforting to hear how other people deal with things and it offers so much in the way of healing. It is like safe group therapy. Who knew social media would have this offering.

Today was a stressful hot mess. This whole week was bad. I am not sure if it is the impending snow and greyness or the oncoming approach, which gets quicker every year, of the holidays. I knew it was going to be a day for me as it started actually yesterday. I was in a situation that has been building for some time with one of my employees. There has been a lot of conflict building within the agency with her in ability to think before she speaks or in most cases email. I have been putting out fires all due to her lack of filter. Unfortunately, she crossed the line into HIPAA waters and I had to come down very firmly on her. Yesterday at the end of the day, she absolutely refused to follow my directive. Instead of getting into then, I asked she call me in the morning. I did not sleep. She called, and the conversation escalated into an outright refusal to follow a policy. She responded with a comment that she knew would push a huge button with me and it did. But I said I would look into it and take her claim to the next level. When I did, I was told to discipline her. I am not crazy about conflict. But I know insubordination when I hear it.

When I came home early because I was absolutely spent from other issues and this one, I walked into a house with crap on the floor. Not just a little doggie poo, but diarrhea. After cleaning that up, I had to make a phone call that also turned into a nightmare. An hour later, I had reached my boiling point and burst into tears. The tears became screams and sobs. I crawled into bed for a comforting nap only to have a return phone call, not once but twice from the one I initiated. A nap was out. I got up and went to feed the cat only to step into a hair ball mess with my new slippers. Sigh.

But in the middle of all this I discovered two things to relieve myself. One was screaming. It took all the bent up frustration and feeling of being trapped and released it. I have a huge issue with feeling trapped. I have talked about it in other posts. My screams were low guttural howls that released a lot of negative energy when I did it. I cried for a brief time afterwards, much like a child does. And after reading someone else’s post, I realized that is actually what happened.

Because of what happened as a child, I often return to the reaction of the age when I was first exposed to being frustrated and trapped. I hold everything in, because that is what you are told to do. And you keep taking it and taking it, because it is what you are told to do. Then at some point, you explode. But you explode at something that is safe. And then you are labeled as a cry baby because you over react to a stimulus that seems innocuous to others.

After my release, I lay in bed and just thought about stuff. I realized that the employee went for my jugular because I had exposed a vulnerability to her. She knew exactly what to say. She felt trapped and used whatever weapon she had in her arsenal. I am not condoning her behavior; I am trying to reason why it stung me so much. I pride myself on being a fair boss and have always given her the benefit of the doubt. I have gone to bat for her when I have been called on the carpet for her behavior. What really set me off was she betrayed me. I have a huge problem with betrayal. (ya think?)

As I lay there trying to nap, my foot and legs started to cramp. This is an ongoing issue for me. I get so tied up in a knot that my muscles spasm. The one foot became excruciating. I tried something and it worked amazingly. I said in my head that I was feeling trapped because of all the above mentioned things. I said clearly in my head that she was still holding on to my foot and I was allowing it. In my head, I cast her off. In about two seconds, my calf muscle spasmed and I felt something pop and flow and my foot completely relaxed and was fine. I cannot tell you how it actually surprised me. I felt my whole body relax and I smiled.

I read tonight someone’s post about loving her inner child. It hit home. I realized that I again have been neglecting my inner child and actually my whole self. I get on a roll of doing for others and forgetting my needs. As much as that sounds so altruistic, I think women tend to do this naturally. We forget to nurture ourselves. When I do forget, it is my inner child who says ENOUGH! Time to go play. I want to honor her more often because she really got the crappy end of the stick.

And speaking of crap, I am not sure what the animals got into. I think they are feeling neglected too. So tomorrow will be a day of love and cuddles. It is one year ago the little doggies came into our lives. They were scared and very nervous. But it did not take long for them to know how much they are loved. I have been working a lot. We usually spend time together outside in the garden, but I am not going to sit out in the snow and neither are they. But I will pull them close this weekend and my husband and I will celebrate their love for us. I will nurture myself and spend time doing things this weekend that bring pleasure to me and refill my lamp.

B Boy  Princess