To Wellness and Spring

 

Having fun with the new diagnosis this week. Met the new PT who was filled with nothing but encouragement for my MS after a thorough examination and assessment. Of course this will take some effort on my part, so there is exercise homework to do. I was instructed to get a playground ball, so I selected one with a Batman logo to make it extra fun. Then she gave me some activities to reprogram my brain to improve my physical self. Hey, if I successfully retrained it to reverse the negative thought process, this should be a piece of cake. I’m already feeling better.

Raising a glass in thanks for available treatments and the folks who deliver them. Especially nurse Dan who came to The Sanctuary to administer my latest steroid infusion. He carefully wrapped up the catheter for the next day’s administration. After he left, the orders for day two’s treatment were cancelled, and I celebrated learning that I’m good to go for a month with the exception of the catheter removal that Dan gave me instructions for over the phone. To do this, I stepped way out of my squeamish comfort zone, successfully completing the procedure while declaring out loud, ”Ewwwwwwwww!” More in my league was the Reiki treatment I received from friends that left me energy filled and relaxed for days after. This combination of Western and holistic medicine is doing the trick. I’m so gratetul for those dedicated health care professionals who have it in their hearts to complete those actions daily to serve others.

From the Sanctuary: Spring has sprung! A Canada goose has selected the top of my angled shed roof as a nesting spot just in time for Mothers Day. This tickles my sense of humor because it doesn’t seem very comfortable or safe to me. Like giving birth to my children in a tree, Smiles!

Earlier in the week the temperatures reached the seventies and I spent a glorious evening happily barefoot at last on the lanai with my glass of wine and spectacular show in front of me. As the sun set, I looked around and took in the explosion of leaves on the trees before me. The willows are growing their slender streamers again, adding delicate decorations in contrast to their bold branches. The close by maple tree that progressed from red bud to tiny red leaves has given birth to baby green leaves. At dusk the bats came out exercising their radar and speed against the midnight blue sky, feasting on the newly hatched insects. A mighty bird (owl or heron perhaps) flew out of the creek bed and flapped in slow motion just a few feet in front of me taking my breath away. All of this was accompanied by a soundtrack of peepers and I rejoiced in the showcase until night took over and I couldn’t see anymore.

Heading to bed that night I was at last able to open my bedroom window; less than twenty feet from the creek. Since then, my body relaxes instantly and my mind soothes immediately as I quickly fall asleep to the lullaby sound of the rushing, healing water.

To wellness and spring, may they always be a part of your life!

Until the Pink Goes Away

 

From the Sanctuary: I take a different vantage point in the Sanctuary today as part of my new “Reverse that MS” therapy. The neurologist has ordered some IV steroid treatments which have me alternating crashing for an hour and cleaning/decluttering my house for several more. We’re almost done with those guerrilla treatments, and my closets will miss them. My supplemental self-therapy was great today. Quiet nature walk and photography session followed by lollygagging and meditating in a lawn chair for an hour creekside in the sunshine; a water bottle by my side with ¼ glass of wine inside of it watching the ducks meander by. And now writing. Never saw that on a prescription slip, but it works for me!

I experienced some awesome nature sightings this week. Swooping birds were the main theme: a seagull bravely landing in front of my moving car for a discarded piece of bagel, a nearby hawk that I unintentionally frightened on the way to the mailbox who eyeballed me from a close branch and a heron splashing his way into the creek. A stunning nature scene presented itself one evening as the sun shone through the snow showers with a backdrop of two deer lying down in front of the hedgerow. If snow lingers still in April, at least it presents itself like a holiday card!

Humor came out in full form regarding this persistent winter with a weatherman snapping a snow shovel over his knee and my getting an email inviting me to a golf outing in July with the subject line, “Snow or Shine.” Lovin’ our happy, hearty Western New Yorkers! And as always when we have long winters, the new life in spring happens overnight. Today I’m embracing the fifty degree day with remaining snow on my deck and forget-me-nots all over my lawn.   Now that it is here, the warm weather is even more savored.

At glass-raising time this week: Someone once said to me about the sunsets in Florida, “We tend to take them for granted and don’t pay much attention to them.”   I thought about her words as I watched the sun sink into the Western New York horizon for the umpteenth time. I’m not there yet.   That’s my occasion to pay homage to the good of the day. ALL of the rest can wait until the pink goes away…the dryer buzzer, the mailbox, the garbage, the text messages, the cell phone. There is beauty to be beheld; serenity to be experienced, joyful moments to be cherished. And I don’t want to miss out on them. I notice the birds chirping goodnight, the buds emerging on the trees the swaying pine branches, the ever-changing clouds making way for the visible sun that has been elusive. And as it descends, I celebrate a night out this week at a fundraising dinner for an organization that my friend’s family started in memory of their Mother/Grandmother and my daughter’s role in that, my friend Carol and her kitty, a full week back to work, my job, my Capture Life Writing venture, my medical team, my son introducing me to “trap music,” etc. There is always etc, for the thankfuls never stop coming.

Sometimes you have to create your own sunshine. But today is it is here. May you enjoy it in peace until the pink goes away, and beyond…

 

 

The Magic of Being Held

 

On this Easter Sunday morning during this season of rebirth and renewal, the powers that be are playing an April Fool’s prank by casting giant snowflakes down from semi- blue skies through the sunshine. It really is delightful. I’m held spellbound by the minute-by-minute visual change. Which brings me to the theme of today’s blog, the magic of being held.

As I was waiting for sleep to come the other night comfortably cuddling my teddy bear (never too old to do this), I happened to think about how nice it is to be held. I was fortunate to grow up in a house where hugs were prevalent. I have pleasant memories of my parents hugging each other and me and my siblings often. My father was more warm and fuzzy in this respect than Mom, so when he passed away suddenly when I was seventeen, that physical touch was missing from my life.

It didn’t fully return until the birth of my children years later. Motherly hugs were awesome, offered by my toddlers as they ran toward me, willing arms outstretched. Through the years as they grew into adolescence, those arms became stiff to my loving offerings, reluctantly returned in exchange for some teen need. That changed exponentially when they moved out on their own. I was blessed to receive a strong collective hug from my son and his girlfriend after they made me dinner the other night. And my daughter held me tightly for a time in her arms the other day after learning of a diagnosis I had just received. Pure therapy.

I was lucky to know someone who taught me how to really hug. This man showed me the value of holding someone close for more than just a fleeting moment. We spent many years together, and when we parted at the end of each day, it was always with that glorious embrace and a simple kiss. My head fit perfectly in his chest and I loved the feel of my hands pressed across his back. For me it was the epitome of intimacy. What I took away from those moments allowed me to realize and expand my perspective and ability to hold others.  First, there’s the obvious physical hug. I use this for my family, friends and clients when they are comfortable. I extend the hug handshake when meeting new professionals (placing my second hand over our clasped two). I prefer this over the traditional firm handshake as a warmer introduction and gesture of trust.

I’ve also created imaginary hugs which I can give and feel by reaching out in kindness to strangers, walking through nature, and conjuring up thoughts of loved ones, (departed or not) and bring them into my arms. There are so many ways to hold others beyond the physical. Hold space for them, hold them in the light, hold them near and dear. It all amounts to the same results. The other day in the grocery store line there was a woman in front of me with a baby boy in her cart. He chomped on his teething ring between granting smiles to me as I engaged in friendly conversation with Mom. When she wheeled him out of the store, he held my gaze. Carefree, gleeful; I carried that throughout the day.

When I think about how good it feels to gather others in these examples of holding, I am always brought back to those magical moments with my hugger teachers. I’m grateful for those having become the beginnings to all of the endless ways I’ve learned to share love with my fellow human beings.

 

From The Sanctuary: After a surprise diagnosis of MS this week, I had some forced time off in the Sanctuary for some spring ecotherapy. Noticeables were prevalent as I stood by the creek, inhaled and felt the mud soften beneath my feet. In my stillness the creatures were not afraid to gather. The birds landed on branches close by and called to me and to their mates. A herd of three deer gathered to steal a look. One took a few steps toward me and then changed his mind. A mink snuck out of its nearby den to steal a quick swim before returning to safety. This morning I rescued a starling trapped in the lanai, whispering to him until he let me gently hold him and send him out the door to freedom.

Raising a glass today to wellness, renewal, and the realization of the physical transformation of The Sanctuary into Capture Life Writing headquarters this summer. It will be a healing place!

Hold that thought and Group Hug!

 

Living the Change

As I raise my glass at sunset and close out another day, I gaze out at the white layer of late winter snow and admire my Sanctuary view that has the wind wrestling through the bare branches. Spring arrived this week with cool temperatures and a string of welcome sunny days and blue skies. I went for a short walk in the gushy grass earlier this week with the intent to remove the debris that inevitably settles into the woods during the winter. As I headed toward a discarded fast food wrapper, I heard a sound nearby. A mallard duck couple was swimming in a giant puddle. She seemed to be distressed by my presence; he wasn’t. I stood still and observed them. He swam around her a few times, getting closer each turn until he parked himself directly next to her, settling into protective stance. She became visibly calmer. Deciding that the garbage could wait, I smiled and slowly walked away.

Now, as the sun lowers to illuminate another part of the world, I’m suddenly aware of an urgent message (nudge from my spirit guide) that, like the mallards, we all need to take care of one another. Stop the badmouthing and spreading of the negative news reports and stories of how we are victimized and get on with loving and laughter and forgiving one another. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” Gandhi said. I am ready.

A fistfight erupted between two people in the hallway outside my office last week. As security managed the confrontation, curious spectators gathered. The sounds of angry screaming pierced the air and my ears, causing sadness in my heart. I did not hold it there. I wished them peace and moved on and did my best not to involve myself in the conversations that revolved around the incident for the remainder of the day. From there it was home to the radio’s gloom and doom news and commercials. More anger, victims, blame, protect my rights, lawsuits, greed…Turn it off, Mary, and Focus.

My heart and mind deliberately return to the previous weekend and St. Patrick’s Day spent with close friends celebrating their daughter’s second birthday. A house stuffed with generations of people and overflowing with celebration. Balloons, favors, candy, glitter, frosted popcorn, party dresses, all decorated with smiles. Gift opening had the guest of honor in the middle of the floor in a chaotic pile of ribbons, tissue paper and joy clutching her new Mr. Potato Head and responding to the onslaught of paparazzi with, “Cheese!” as they called her name for pictures. You could barely hear, there was so much glee. The evening ended with the announcement that it was time for a “memory” photo. This was the family’s tradition of capturing everyone together in a picture. We all did our best to squish into the shot; pets and all. The end result was fantastic…we looked like a random pile of humans that had cascaded out of a cornucopia filled with love. Four and a half hours of sheer delight creating a lifetime memory.   My digital version is being converted now to print for display in the Sanctuary gallery.

To notice and write about such wonderful things and share them with readers is the change I can be in the world. The ability to shift gears and attune myself to the beauty and love that exists on this Earth is a brainwashing skill I have consciously acquired to move beyond the negative into perpetual happiness using kind and joyful words, human and nature connections. To share this with others by building a Sanctuary is another. While I’m thinking about this, a squirrel scales the picket fence as I watch, and acrobatically leaps over and upward onto a nearby pine branch. I hope you saw that through my mind’s eye.

As I bid Goodnight to you all and another perfect day, I whisper to myself, “Be the change, Mary, live and share the change. Take care of everyone you encounter.” Both I, and my spirit guide are pleased.

 

 

Put on the Banana Suit and Play

Thirty-five years of helping young adults with their vocations, and the best quote ever for maintaining that important “follow your heart” theme comes the other day from a twentysomething, “Even if you’re wearing a damn banana suit every day; do what you love!” Thanks from Megan, my son’s girlfriend, for those wise words.

Speaking of wise words, one of my readers reintroduced me to my own this past week while reading my book, Giddy as Charged. The premise is how to reconnect with our sense of humor and use that to enhance our lives. I grabbed my copy off of the shelf and indulged in the refresher. I hadn’t read it since the editing process four years ago, yet the message was as fresh as ever. I decided that is time to tend more to that playful spirit, so I invite you to take a trip back to the sandbox with me.

When I was growing up, we had one in the back yard. Before the green plastic turtle ones, ours was framed in wood with built-in benches for us to sit on while playing. If they were occupied, we would just plop our butts inside if there weren’t enough seats to accommodate us all. There was a stiff blue and white striped canvas cover on it that slid up on two wooden planks to double as a sun shield. Magic happened there; no matter how many kids were gathered, arguments didn’t. There were no rules or roles (beyond master sculptors) or relationships, we intuitively just all got along for the express reason of having fun. We were busy using our minds and thoughts to create and share. We didn’t care about germs. If we found a clump left by an animal visitor, it was casually tossed aside by the sifter without mention. The most simple kitchen and garden tools were used; water to complete and nature offerings to decorate. The process was orchestrated by a soundtrack of perfect chattering banter; conversations of wonder, delight, inspiration, encouragement. And alternative plans if it started to rain. The sessions ended at dusk with smiles, the lowering of the lid and a promise to return the next day.

I subsequently return to the playground. I schedule a play date with girls to the Earth Spirit holistic fair and spend an afternoon with energy-filled hugging folks on a sunny day. I raise a glass this week to friends who opened an integrated medicine center and laugh out loud over why the potato masher always gets stuck in the kitchen drawer. I do battle with this until it settles back in and I declare out loud in victory to this utensil, “Hah, I win!” I enjoy signs seen from the shuttle on the way to work. On a truck next to us, “Chemistry improves the quality of life,” and below that a bright yellow warning triangle symbol followed by, “Danger, Inhalation Hazard!” Much more inviting, on the side of the animal hospital, “St. Patrick didn’t care for snakes, but we sure do. Erin Go Bragh!” And in the amused by technology department, I read about a phone app that you can download that will alert you when you are spending too much time scrolling on Facebook. Glad I deleted my account when I was still smart enough to figure this out on my own.

I proudly don the banana suit as I finish up the mission statement this week for Capture Life Writing before I send off the business card to the printer:
Sharing emotional and mental wellness through the power of words, love, human connection and nature. Eradicating the current consensus concept of mental illness.”

Spring is almost here; a nature walk in the March snow under sunlit skies through The Sanctuary confirms. The red-winged blackbirds and robins are back. They are ready and so am I to focus on launching this part of me. In the upcoming months I will be unveiling the ways I am able to help others, presenting my story about and experience with emotional and mental illness in unique theatrical fun fashion and connecting people to those who will support them. I like to think that if Americans trust a man with messy hair who communicates by tweeting, they will trust a “crazy” woman in a pretend banana costume steering them away from anxiety, trauma and mental illness to peace and back to laughter once again by listening to and encouraging them.

Jump in that sandbox today, put on your own banana suit, smile at your friends and play in whatever form inspires you for joy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising a Glass

It’s that time of the year for us stir crazy Western New Yorkers who don’t partake in winter outings because the cold temperatures don’t appeal to us. By the time February comes along, we’re fireside chatting, cleaning out closets, rearranging furniture or otherwise seeking out creative ways to keep occupied. And have fun. On a recent car ride through slushy streets with my daughter and her boyfriend, he started noticing a late winter staple; shopping carts in various states of abandon, especially in dirty snow piles. “Someone should photograph and caption those and share them on social media. Each one has a story,” he remarked. I found this idea highly amusing. The following week my daughter and I were together driving and saw more carts. Stopped at a red light we laughed and I said, “If you are on the lookout, there is always something around to laugh about.” I looked up and noticed the sign on the building next to me, “Acme Nipple Manufacturing Company.” I shared that and we laughed some more between Ouches. I received a text from her later with the photo that I’m sharing on this week’s blog captioned, “Anguish surrounds us.” Still laughing!

In other news, what started as a frequent routine in my lanai last summer as a way to unwind and celebrate the day’s people, places and events that bring fresh air and enjoyment to my life is my raising a glass of wine in gratitude to the Universe at sunset. If I’m not with someone, I will text whomever I’m thinking of at the time to bring them into the moment. This has now become a daily ritual for me in the Sanctuary, so I decided to share some of the “glass raising” occasions from this week here with the thought of inspiring simple reasons for celebration.

Raising a glass for examples of our genius 20-something generation (some label them millenials):
The lengthy “put the phones down face-to-face” conversation with my grown son comparing electricity (it scares me a bit) and Reiki (I’m a practitioner and he calls it Voodoo) and their forms in terms of energy. This began in scientific vs. intuitive disagreement, and ended with us satisfied that we were both right. When we came to that conclusion, although we couldn’t figure out how that could be possible, we couldn’t stop laughing because of it. Bonus, this 21-year old college dropout blew my mind with his curiosity-driven knowledge of Tesla, Archimedes, scientific terms, inventions and history. “I’m interested, so I watch documentaries,” he explained. Kudos to him, also, for recognizing the instability of the auto industry and interviewing according to his passions for a grounds keeping job that brought him an offer for a train mechanic position; doubling his salary. Here’s to trusting, leaving your comfort zone, following your heart and taking risks!

I’m too toasting my daughter’s first blog. She has always loved nature, animals, food, photography and writing. A vegan and artisan whose mission it is to save the planet, she writes about such things. If you’re interested, check her out at Earthboundsoul.com. Additionally, a new client (I’ll call her “L”) at work came in to sign up for our High School Equivalency Program. Her enthusiastic demeanor immediately brightened my day. We exchanged pleasantries as she told me she had started as a housekeeper for Motel 6 and quickly graduated to front desk reception. The reason was obvious. I told her about my admiration for their spokesperson, Tom Bodett, and my preference for their simple over ritzy accommodations because they will leave the light on for me. She agreed. When I asked her about her path, she doesn’t know where it will lead, merely content starting with that High School Diploma. This inspired me to Google Tom Bodett and I found his following relevant quote, “The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” Rock on, “L”, you are already Summa Cum Laud in life. High School should be a piece of cake. Also celebrating new friend Adam who is passionately inspiring young folks through his already successful organization, Warriors of Success. I was privileged to be guest on his podcast. If you care to listen to our first exchange, you can hear it at https://anchor.fm/warriors-of-success/episodes/172a974.

Lastly, to any psychiatrists who may be reading this, I am aware the latest trend is diagnosing what’s known as co-occuring mental illness which pairs mental health with addiction labels. In this case I would be “bipolar” and “alcoholic”. Guilty in the mental health system, yet I prefer to consider myself happy and appreciative; a joyful celebrator of life, resurrecting a superb tradition. No analysis necessary, just a way to navigate life via fun.

Cheers, Everyone! Go forth and play.

 

Special shout out to Addy’s Wine and Spirits of Williamsville, NY who support my glass raising with discounts and great customer service. Thank You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Colored Implants

I honestly do view the world through rose colored glasses. Let’s just say I wear the corneal implants. They complement my blue eyes, making them sparkle. After all, everything I view with them makes me smile. My vision is much more clear now that I have them. Before, I wasted much time and energy on the negative; it was exhausting. I’m ready to focus only on the good about life. Because I can.

The highlight of my week came in the form of a phone call yesterday at work, quite by accident.  The incoming calls were busy so I picked up a stray to help out my coworker.  I answered with the Good Morning greeting I’d used hundreds of times before and this smiling voice said, “Oh, you have the friendliest voice, I knew I was meant to call now.”  The woman on the other end had one simple question about our services, which I answered, yet our instantaneous divine connection inspired a conversation that continued on for ten minutes.  She told me her name.  When I told her mine she immediately made mention that she knew it was no coincidence that it was also Jesus’ Mother’s.  That association made me a bit uncomfortable; I did not feel worthy, yet she insisted. Back and forth we went, exchanging kind sentiments and compliments and words about blessings.  She shared with me that her mother had been murdered a year ago. I admired her free comfort in telling me that; I can only imagine such pain.  Yet she spoke poetry when she declared that my words were like an “order of tea and biscuits delivered straight from London; a refreshing cold glass of lemonade sipped on a porch on a hot summer’s day.” She explained that people came into her life every day that kept her away from the darkness of her experience.  I’d never received such a phone call before. Our exchange of laughter, loving words and hope was spontaneous and blissful. After we hung up, I felt her and her mother’s spirit surge through me and paused to take a breath to revel in it and feel the smile and tears of joy that rested behind my eyes. That feeling returns as I type this. I don’t have the words to describe such experiences; they just defy vocabulary, so I’ll say, “Heartfelt Thank you and Love, My Friend.”

My fun this week included witnessing two important skills I would like to acquire that aren’t appropriate for a resume, but a must have for life: walking through falling snow in a parking lot reading a paperback without missing a stride (I can transfer this one to the beach) and turning polite conversation about recipes into having someone cook something and deliver it to you the next day. I believe both are worth practicing. I also became aware of something new that causes me to giggle: hearing an approaching vehicle that sounds like it has a testosterone engine and expecting an attractive sports car, and when it comes into view it looks like an SUV your grandmother might drive. I had glee time with a special toddler playing Head Shoulders Knees and Toes and hearing her version of “I love you,” where she adorably left out the word love, yet her face said it all. And a quote shared by my co-worker brought back comforting and laughable memories:

“If you wanna know who your tribe is, speak your truth. Then see who sticks around. Those are the people who get a spot in your blanket fort.”  True Story!
Who’s under the dining room table with me?

Keep speaking and having fun!