A fellow blogger asked us to join him in making a gratitude list. I used to do this often. Now, I think of things I am grateful for, but keep them in my head. There is something about writing them down in black and white that gives them more power for me. Join us, won’t you – make a list and share it with the world!!!
- for being able to finally catch up on my blog-readings for the first time this summer
- to have found such inspiring blogs to read
- for hope
- for open-mindedness and willingness
- for the however-wavering-ability to learn new things about myself and others if I am honest
- for the new-found ability to live in the moment and not judge experiences as good or bad but just experience “what is.”
- for my awesome, awesome psychiatrist and equally awesome counselor
- for my recovery from alcoholism
- for my relationship with God
- for my husband and children
- for my friends
- for nature
- for art
- for the ability to read, write, walk, talk, see, hear, eat, feel, and breathe (I have to remember that not everyone can do these things – that’s why there are wheelchairs, feeding tubes, ventilators, etc.)
- for pain (without which I would not know comfort)
- for sorrow (without which I would not know happiness)
- for anxiety (without which I would not know peace)
- for the emerging ability to access a timeless, spaceless state of being where the mind has no power and therefore, cannot disrupt serenity.
- for access to a wealth of knowledge and people with whom I can connect instantly via the internet
- for freedom of speech and religion (I have to remember that communism still exists in this world.)
- for the stars, the rain clouds, the breeze, the sun, the soil, trees, flowers, bugs (well maybe not the bugs, especially wasps – they really freak me out, and what purpose to they serve? Seriously, does anyone know???)
- for a sense of humor
- for my country
Happy 4th of July to all my state-side friends!
On a path to clearer views, I find myself looking up and realizing that life is nothing more than an illusion of what my mind (ego) tells me it is.
I am baffled by people who are always up-beat and positive; who love life even when things are tough; who see the good in even the most painful events.
I am writing this post and my husband, who is in the other room, just started taping up some boxes he needs to mail. Now, all I can pay attention to is the god-awful screeching sound of the tape being pulled from the tape-gun as he wraps it around the damn boxes! Like nails on a chalk board, I tell ya!
ok, I think he is finished. Like I was saying, my reality is nothing more than what my mind tells me it is. Let’s look at my outburst about the tape-gun just seconds ago. My thoughts went something like this: “Well, that made you lose your concentration which is extremely annoying! When is he going to stop doing that? I want to write and cannot with all of that racket going on!”
*uck – he’s at it again. I’ll be back…
ok, now I know he is finished because this time when the silence returned, instead of continuing to write this post I asked him nicely if he was done using the tape-gun and he said, yes. Now, I don’t have to worry about being interrupted and startled by that horribly loud sound.
One of the disadvantages of being a highly sensitive person is that what may be an average stimulus to most people is an overpowering stimulus to me. I am particular sensitive to noises. My sensory system gets overloaded if I am around too many people for too long, if the TV is too loud, if the kids have friends over playing, when car commercials come on the radio (I have to keep from going ballistic until I can turn it off), when people come in and out of the house repeatedly, when kids are outside playing loudly or a dog continuously barks… I just can’t seem to filter these things into the periphery of my awareness. Instead they dance obnoxiously in front of my face until I feel like I am going mad. Can anyone relate to that?
I am also extremely sensitive to temperature changes, bright lights, and odd smells, like when the dog needs a bath or the hamster cage needs to be cleaned. Maybe the smells are just a mom-thing, but while these noises, tactile sensations, sights, and smells are noxious to me, no one else seems to even notice them. And by noxious I mean that I get highly agitated and sometimes feel physically ill because of them.
Well, this post turned from how my mind decides what my reality is to how my sensory system is highly sensitive.
There is a fine line between what we can and cannot control. In my experience, mental illness is a biochemical phenomenon that cannot be entirely relieved by positive thinking because a large part of the illness involves the inability to control my thoughts.
Thus, “thinking positive,” “being grateful,” “pulling myself up by my bootstraps,” “getting over myself,” and other such platitudes are often ineffective. For me, until medication rearranges my brain chemicals, cognitive behavior techniques are useless. Honestly, for me, they don’t even work that well when I am properly medicated.
What works for me is getting out of my head completely. Excessive thinking is like poison for me which is why I have cut way back on my blog posts. I love reading other people’s writings, listening to positive speakers share their experiences, and creating fine art because the voices in my own head go away during these times – times in which I am completely in the present moment, not thinking about the past or wondering about the future, but experiencing exactly what is going on in the moment – as it is with no judgment of it being “good” or “bad” or otherwise, but just noticing and experiencing.
I did this with the tape-gun incident the second time around. I stopped writing, closed my eyes, stopped thinking and just listened to the sound. To my surprise, my agitation subsided.
Acceptance is the key to relieving most, if not all, of my suffering. Acceptance is the key that unlocks the door to inner peace within me no matter what is going on around me.
Now, if the TV was on, the kids were fighting, and the dirty dog was lying at my feet at the same time my husband started taping up those boxes, I am sure I would not have been able to do this. But, I believe with practice, someday I will be capable of it.
How’s that for positive thinking?
On this last day of January 2012, I give you my
final three “Writing Moment by Moment” moments:
1. Sunday, I was DEPRESSION-FREE for the entire day! I can count on one hand the number of days that has happened in the last three years so, it’s truly amazing when it does!
2. Yesterday, as I sat outside in the mild January weather, and kids were playing in the street, I reveled in the sound of their basketball pounding the concrete and their baseball smacking into their mitts.
3. Today, I had a terrible migraine (are there any other kind?) However, unlike a mere two months ago, I now have medicine to take that relieves the excruciating pain. For that I am very grateful.
What moment are you grateful for today?
Sunlight reflects off of the hood
of a black car parked
across the street.
Naked tree limbs reach up
while wheat grass flutters
in the breeze.
I inhale winter’s crisp air;
exhale steamy puffs
of my own.
I hear cars zoom by
off in the distance; inside,
the washing machine
My finger tips are chilled
as is my nose while the sweetness
from a chocolate chip cookie
lingers on my palate.
The garage is cold yet, the sunshine
on the grass and street warms me.
White clouds blanket the blue sky;
they are still
like the thoughts in my mind.
This mindfulness exercise was a result of me sitting outside for less than five minutes. I can only imagine how much I would notice if I practiced mindfulness in all of my daily activities.
Mindfulness involves a conscious effort to observe what is through your senses (i.e., eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch) both inside and outside of your body without giving any subjective thoughts, opinions, judgements, etc. nor attaching any emotions to what you observe.
In other words, everything that you identify through your physical senses is not to be tagged with thoughts such as “That is beautiful” or “This is awful” or “That makes me feel sad” or “That is so exciting!”
Give it a try and let me know what you experience in your moment.
we do not remember days; we remember moments.
How fortunate I felt the moment I accidentally stumbled across this beautiful piece of art by Cornelia Kopp!
What moment are you grateful for today?
#23 – A beautiful person gave me permission to accept help without feeling guilty and to take extra-special care of myself because I am “going through a healing period” which I need not minimize. A weight lifted from me in that moment.
#24 – I think that I finally get what “mindfulness” means versus distraction. Here’s a fun fact:
“Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density…in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.” ~Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30;191(1):36-43. Epub 2010 Nov 10
Now, to practice it…
What moment are you grateful for today? I had three wonderful “in the moment” moments today – the above two and a third which I posted here.
For more on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.
Although the temperature was chilly today, the sun’s rays reached out and touched my cheek like the hands of God, Himself. I melted in the warmth.
What moment are you grateful for today?
For more information on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.