Friday, July 31, 2009

When Life Fell Apart

Eighteen years ago this week, my life ceased to exist as I knew it. You could say the lights went out in Georgia so to speak. Everything I had known up until this point had morphed into ways that I did not recognize. It was like I was viewing my life as a spectator from the outside.

It all started with so many changes in my life through various jobs, relationships, friends and events which seemed to be all part of my normal day, were nothing short of epic adventures. No Hollywood movie producer could have created a more robust picture than my life had portrayed on the big screen.

Just a few days before this, I knew that things were not going in the right direction for me but I had no way to find reverse. It was as if a steam train was racing full steam ahead to a cliff as the engineer knew the brakes did not work. I knew deep down and even stated it to a work colleague that "I was about ready to lose it in life". I did not have enough self confidence to understand that I could change the upcoming course of events and I was too weary and tired of fighting. All the strength and energy I knew, had been consumed in life. There was nothing more for me to give and nothing more for me to draw upon.

At first, it started out as a sore neck muscle which the Chiropractor was helping me to get relief from. However, it was not long after a treatment would be over that the stress and reality of life would weigh in heavy on me again and the pain and stiffness and soreness would come back with a vengeance. There was no escaping it. There was no running from it anymore. I tried to out run it but I could not run fast enough.

As the days and the weeks progressed, my body fell into surrender to something that seemed to completely overpower and overtake me. It robbed me of all my control. From soreness and stiffness into the paralysis beginning in my legs, then being accompanied by seizures, extreme exhaustion, fits of crying, confusion, feeling delirious, shaking, and just an overall desire of wanting this life to end through suicide. Trip after trip to the doctor's office with emergency ambulance rides to the hospital, I was met with confusion by the doctors and test after test revealed nothing concrete. Each trip, the doctor would send me back home to fend for myself while my family and friends tried to figure out how to take care of me. And while I was an alert, open eyed human being, there was very little I could do. My control over my life was gone. It was as if I was a passenger and a puppet master was pulling the strings.

More tests and hospitalization came next with the doctors still quite uncertain what was going on. No one had answers and all anyone around me had was plenty of questions. During one of the final muscle stimulation tests, my body determined it had enough of everything and when I woke up, there were doctors and nurses around me along with so much equipment as I saw the doctor above me getting ready to bring the paddles on to my body to bring me back. It was then that I knew I had come to the end of my road. It was the edge of the cliff.

So I remember laying in my hospital at the age of 25, thinking what has become of my life. I could no longer feel a needle being touched on my feet. My name was a very difficult thing for me to remember. Speaking a few words took forever and felt like it took more energy than climbing the world's tallest mountain. Movement was a gift if it was possible but then only something that would take forever to accomplish. Memory was gone to some far off place. And so, I was left alone with myself and my few limited thoughts. Is this the way I'm going to live out my remaining days if I have any more left? Am I going to lie in a bed as a vegetable, not being able to do much for myself or barely being able to speak a few words. Was this all I wanted for life? Was it all I could expect?

I remember making a decision to myself where I reached down deep that I did not want to be this way and I was not about to accept that which had caught up with me. This was not the way I wanted to function in life. It was not how I wanted life to be. In my mind, I made the decision that I had to fight with all the strength I could find and then some. This would not be easy but I was not going to accept the current condition I was in.

Through some miraculous insights by a neurologist, she spoke the words that began to show me a new path forward. Those words were in the form of a question "have you been through a lot in your life?". This questions was followed up by "would you like to talk to someone?". Those two questions were the beginning of my road home and led me to a psychologist who helped me chart the path ahead and it was at that moment, that I once again took my first step in physical therapy.

It was not an easy road ahead learning to walk again or just how to sit up and use my arms, my fingers, my voice and functioning in a normal way that most humans do every day. From getting myself around by a wheel chair in and out of doors and entrances to trying to walk up an incline and retain my balance, it was an epic fight that I fought. Just finding the strength to do this before exhaustion set in was like winning a gold medal to me.

Through time, therapy and healing, my body began to come back. Of course, new challenges would present themselves but knowing that if I kept myself going and remembering how I brought myself back, I knew I could do this. For learning how to take that first step again has given me so much courage and determination in life. It has provided the fuel and the energy to continue walking down the road of healing that I have had to do in my life.

None of this has been easy and there have been many days when I just wanted to give up. Some days, it has been hard to muster up the courage and the strength to take those difficult steps. It would have been far easier to just say I've had enough and stop. However, I knew that if I did this, it would mean my death. I had already been down the road of no return and I know that if I do not continue my journey that there may not be another second chance in life.

I find it amusing that churches teach about us going to hell when we die but I know from the cold hard reality that hell exists here in the present moment. It is not something you have to wait to experience when you are no longer alive. I've been to hell and back and now that my life is moving forward, I no longer fear all that for it is so familiar to me as if it is my hated and beloved twin.

Fortunately several years ago, I met some wonderful individuals who are now part of my life. Through their love and acceptance, they have helped me realize that while I've seen the dark side of life, there is a good side. There has been one individual that has helped me heal in ways that I was not even aware of. I had no idea how to continue my journey and I was growing weary but this one individual has helped me walk many miles down the path. This person showed me that all I did need was located right within myself and knowing this has given me so much freedom, so much strength and healing beyond my wildest imagination. I have been a witness in my life to having the right individuals come along at the right moments. Without them, this journey would have been more than I could have endured.

Life still presents its challenges to me each and every day. I'm faced with struggles of the past and how they impact my current day but I'm also given new opportunities to grow. Some days, the challenges seem more difficult than I care to embrace but I am constantly reminded of just how hard it was to take that physical step some 18 years ago and knowing I had the strength to do that, I know I have the strength to do it now.

The name the medical establishment gives to the condition I had is called a Conversion Disorder or according to Freud, "hysterical paralysis". You can google this condition and read more about it. To this day, I've never met anyone who has been through this in the way I have. It is rare to go through it in the manner that I did. Many people experience parts and pieces of this every day in their life only to a different degree. Many people who have experienced a Conversion Disorder from what I have read, don't always come back and recover. It is difficult. If you or someone you know has been through this, I'd love to have contact with them. I know there are others.

Just a note about the picture in this post - this picture was taken during the time I became paralyzed. This was in the early days before I had been hospitalized. Even though I'm trying to smile, I was struggling every moment just to make it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Tribute To My Mom


Someone recently asked me how I was like my mom and so I wrote the following. I realize this is personal but it helps give me a connection in life. It is another tribute to my mom, who made so much of a difference in my life.

My mom was a very warm, compassionate, caring and insightful lady. She was a beautiful lady that never showed her true age (much like I do and her father did). She was more creative than I realized through cooking, baking cakes and just in about everything she did. She was so intelligent and saw things that most others in this world just don’t see. She picked up on things that were going on with me, yet I never spoke about. She’d know what I was thinking and feeling right down to the detail without me saying a word. She just seemed to know things and to know how to navigate through life. I’ve only seen one other person who similar signs of just knowing things (and I don’t mean in a general way but in a very detailed way). And not just knowing but the accuracy of it is beyond my comprehension.

She always wanted to take piano lessons but because her alcoholic father spent their money on his booze with his Masonic Lodge friends, she never got to do that. Yet, she could sit down at my piano and pick out little tunes without knowing where a note was on the piano. I once began to teach her some of the notes on the piano. She was the one responsible for making sure I had the opportunity to take piano lessons when I showed the desire for it.

She was the peace maker in the family much like I tended to be later on until it took its physical role on me. She worked for many years as a nurse in health care especially trying to help the elderly. I worked in a nursing home when I was in high school doing maintenance and loved every moment around the elderly and now I also work in a health care related way.

She was a good communicator both in speaking and in writing, all though she considered herself to be shy and I think she struggled with self confidence. She would often teach Sunday school classes that I was in (not my two brothers for some odd reason) and she would often volunteer to put together Christmas programs for church. She answered the main phone and was a receptionist for a long time in a couple of companies and her voice was always so pleasant. She could be horribly sick that day, but you would never hear it on the phone through her voice. She tended to hide a lot from almost everyone.

Even in the midst of all that she endured and we endured, she tried to show us compassion and love and understanding. She had her faults and her own mind sets but she was more accepting and understanding in the world than most people were. She was a very simple lady, not asking for or desiring much for herself. She however, tried to do as much as she could for her family and especially her children with the limited resources she had. She tried to help me excel in every way that I could and she tried to protect me as much as she could.

My mom was a very strong lady through her personality and through what she would do physically. Although if you saw her or were around her, she would seem very meek, mild and like one of those people who you just enjoy being around. She made friends easily at church and if someone needed something, she found a way to help out.

I remember having so many Sundays where our resources were limited but she’d invite people over for our Sunday meal. She seemed to enjoy that. As a child, I remember her bringing some of the residents home from the nursing home where she worked for Thanksgiving and Christmas so they wouldn’t have to spend it alone. Most of the time, these people played the piano so it was an extra treat for me. And when we took them back to the nursing home, we would drive around town looking at the Christmas light displays.

I’m sure I’m missing half of the stuff about her but she gave so much and if anyone showed me that love did exist in the middle of the horror I lived in, it was my mom. When my mom died, I had not been able to talk to her for the last 10 years and that made it difficult. However, I’ve seen very clear signs that she is around me constantly and supporting me.

There was a park in Miami that I went to shortly after I found out my mom had died in a car accident. It was one of my favorite parks. That day, it was raining but I saw the park bench where I was at, have a gleam of sunlight shine upon it and the rain stopped in that specific moment while the rain continued around it. Another year, I was there walking in the park on the anniversary of her death with Jeff and it was a very hot and still day. The wind was not blowing at all until I was talking about her and then it came up very strongly just in the exact place we were at but in no other area of the park because I checked the trees out for movement. I do feel her around me and have had several people say they see her around me as well.

Oh one other thing that I just remembered was that we both loved animals especially cats.


http://mothersdaymusic.net/

 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Death by Medical Error



Something to think about


The IOM (Institute of Medicine) estimates that between 44,000 and 98,000 people die each year from medical errors.





Even at the lowest rate of 44,000, it is higher than the annual mortality from
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents (43,458)
  • Breast Cancer (42,297)
  • AIDS (15,516)

Medical Errors are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.

A study by AHRQ (Agency For Healthcare Research and Quality) found that just one type of error, preventable adverse drug events, caused 20% of the yearly patient injuries or deaths in the hospitals that were studied.

I learned a long time ago, the hard way, that doctors in all of their testing and science and education do not have the answers. If a human does not search out through their own wisdom and knowledge in conjunction with modern health care that is available, than they are only blindly being led along life's path as sheep heading to pasture.

There is so much more we can do as humans in our own health care that does not require drugs, surgeries and billions being spent. However, if the first thing we do when we suffer any type of physical condition is rush towards the status quo in medical care, that we have given up on some of the most valuable cures in our life - that is the healing power within the human body and the awakening to so much more.

Don't wait until you are sick or in pain to start seeking the most healthful route for your life. Begin today listening to your body and taking appropriate steps to take care of yourself. Only you will know what is best for you to do and if you take those steps, your body will be a much happier place to inhabit. Not all health care comes in a pill, a syringe or a surgery!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Right Words, The Right Time

Because of my background and experiences, I am very sensitive to "words" that people speak, the manner in which these words are spoken and the subtle nuances of the voice and speech. It was a survival technique for me because through what was being said to me many years ago, I could detect what was about to happen with that person. Early detection may have meant less pain in many ways.

People that have worked for me or that know me, usually hear a statement from me, to not try and lie to me. I'll generally pick the lie up. Most of that is done through the voice but also facial expressions and most of the time, it is extremely quick for me to do this. There have been many times when I've been watching something on the TV, like a news show or one of those TV courtroom things, and I blurt out - they are lying! (even have done this with politicians). Of course, sometimes it is not so quick with me and it takes a few hours or days for my mind to process that someone is lying to me. Regardless, I usually figure it out.

So words are not just words to me. They either match up to what the person is saying or they are filler and appear to be for entertainment purposes only. It does not even have to be a direct lie either as it may be that the person just does not believe fully in what they are saying.

I remember some situations where I have been with other healers in bodywork sessions and they "say words" but the words don't have the correct timing or merit to be used in that moment. So instead of the words helping further the healing session, they detract from it. There have been so many numerous times this has happened. Yet, the right word in one of these moments has led to an enormous break through in my life.

Another situation is when you go through difficult times such as the loss of a loved ones and people use words to try and offer up compassion and concern for you. However, the words do not fit the situation and so instead of comfort, they result in a sense of frustration and pain. Just be yourself and if you are unsure of what to say, just let them know you are there for them. During a time of loss, the feeling of being alone is a difficult one.

One thing people like to do is to "force" you to feel better through the use of words because if you're feeling better, than it does not put them in an awkward spot. My own father loved the phrase, "you've got to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, dust your britches off and move on". While there is nothing inherently wrong with that phrase, the wrong timing of it can have a negative effect rather than a positive effect. For some people, statements such as this often lead to connections of negative pain from unhealed moments in their lives which lead to negative results. So while you may think those inspirational words are the best thing since sliced bread, stop and consider what you are saying. Allow that person to feel just as they are, giving them space to work through that which they are dealing with. You'll be much more effective than pushing your ways upon them will be.

The lack of words can be just as harmful as well for when a person needs to know someone is there and all they hear is silence, than they may feel very lonely. This does not mean you have to talk their ear off, but in a compassionate way, let them know that you truly are there for them and are listening to them.

It has been stated many times that one of the best things we can do for someone is offer our ears and just listen to them. As my mom always used to say, we were given two ears and one mouth - let us use these parts appropriately". In other words, we should listen more than we speak. For in listening, you are truly saying to the other person, "I value you and what you have to say". Listening to others and being there for them without any judgment or preconceived ideas allows many big mountains to be moved into the sea.

The next time you're around someone, stop for a moment and just see how it is that you interact with them. If you are the one doing the talking constantly, maybe you need to evaluate what that is all about. If you are always trying to solve or give words to someone when they are going through difficult times, maybe you would be far more effective in letting them talk their way to discovery. It will be much more powerful for them.

Also, understand the words that you use, can have positive or negative power. Just because the words mean something to you, it does not mean they mean the same to someone else. Try not to use words as if they are cheap, but use them in a way that they hold so much power and if used in the right time, who knows what is possible!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Art of Music Creation



In response to how I create music:


I'm totally different than most people I think. If I sat down to write a song, I'd be sitting there staring at the wall until I gave up on the idea. For me, it either happens or it doesn't. I don't really feel like I have any control over it whatsoever. It is dependent though upon what I am going through in my personal life or what is going on in the world around me. That influences what I do in a very dramatic way.

For me though, my music comes in one big moment. I am always creating and just playing whatever it is that comes out. I basically sit at the keyboard and my fingers play music that is created in the moment. If I thought about it, the fingers would stop so I just have to let them go. Sometimes I can sit at the keyboard and know that this is going to happen and sometimes it doesn't. Again, I don't feel as if I have control over this.

So when my fingers begin playing something, I have a nice little record feature on my keyboard and I hit record because I never know what is going to happen. I'm very picky though in what others get to hear so many of the things I create never make it to the light of day where others get to hear it. I'm just too picky. Once it is recorded, than I go back and listen to it because usually when I'm recording my stuff, I really don't "hear" the music. It isn't until I play it back, that I truly get to hear it.

For me, it is like a conversation between "someone out there" and myself or "some deep place within me" and my conscious self. I don't know how else to describe it. Once the conversation is spoken, than that is the end. It isn't like I can go back and play the music over either as I'm just as lost if I attempt to do this. I've tried to print out sheet music but there are so many notes and nuances in the music that I can't even replay the song from this format. So, it is a one time shot for me. I do wish I could go back and replay it but to this date, I've not found a way to do this.

Of course, once I listen to the song that I recorded, if it has one note that is out of place (and even if that means the note doesn't fit in the way the song goes in my own mind), the song just gets filed away on my computer. To most people, they would never hear that note, but to me, it stands out.

I know others create music in a much different way and I wish I could do that but so far, those methods are just a mystery to me as even the way I create music. It is frustrating to me that I can not replay my stuff so if I ever play in front of people, I end up just creating in the moment. Creating in the moment is fine but it takes so much energy out of me that I can not do it for long periods at a time.

I read some music but not enough to play complex stuff. Ever since my paralysis in 1991, I sometimes struggle to play music that is already written. I've recovered from the paralysis but I still struggle with getting my fingers and my brain to play in unison and with flexibility.

So much of the music growing up for me was music that I played in church or heard in church. We weren't allowed to go to concerts or listen much to a radio, so my musical influence is really the church. In many ways, some of those sounds come through in what I create. The rest of it, I have no idea where it comes from.

And when I create a song, there is usually a thought or series of thoughts (conversation) going through my mind. Most of the time I record those thoughts in my journal and then name the song around them. Many of these I have shared in a summary form on my website but for the most part, I think those thoughts come through in the music to the subconscious mind.

So that in a nutshell is how I create music. Maybe one day, I'll figure out how to do it like everyone else does.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Migraine Headaches

For most of my life, I suffered through daily headaches, including migraine headaches. As a kid in school, there was hardly ever a day missed where I didn't suffer from a headache in the afternoon. While Tylenol, aspirin and other over the counter things were tried, they gave me very little relief. Usually, it meant just living with them and at some point (normally by the next morning) they would go away.

As I got older, the migraines started in. I had witnessed my parents suffer through migraines and so I just assumed that popular medical science was correct in stating that migraine headaches were hereditary. I figured, I would live with these the rest of my life just as my parents did.

When my mom died, the frequency, intensity, and duration of the migraine headaches increased. It wasn't long before I was missing days of work, taking trips to the emergency room and taking prescription Imitrex to function in life. I still remember sitting on the bathroom floor at massage school puking my guts out and just wishing I would die as the migraine headache continued to intensify. I could not even drive myself home that night let alone it was almost impossible to walk out of the building to get in my friend's car.

As I continued to talk to people who suffered from migraine headaches, one thing became achingly clear to me. These people were struggling to find relief from anything that worked. Prescription medications as well as injections would work initially but then after some time, these things offered little or no relief. I still remember my horror and shock at hearing these things because I could not imagine going through them with out something that took the pain away. So my quest began to find ways to not have to suffer from these headaches and migraines. I was not at a point where I thought they would ever go away but if I was able to slow them down and decrease the intensity of them, I would consider that a great joy in life.

In the following article posted on CNN, Headache Prevention - Headache Awareness, they list many good things to consider in the treatment and prevention of headaches.

Common Triggers

  • Stress
  • Drinking alcohol/red wine
  • Sensory overload — exposure to bright lights, loud sounds, strong smells
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Exercising too rigorously
  • Hormonal changes
  • Not eating frequently enough
  • Smoking
  • Straining your eyes reading or sitting at a computer
  • A difference in your caffeine intake
  • Food additives or naturally-occurring substances, including nitrates in processed meats, MSG in fast food and Chinese food, tyramine found in certain aged cheeses and soy-based foods, and the artificial sweetener aspartame

Headache Prevention
  • Good posture
  • Move around during the day
  • Use the right pillows at night when you sleep
  • Stay consistent in your life with your
  • Get an appropriate amount of sleep
  • Stick to an exercise routine
  • Healthy diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay away from caffeine, soft drinks, tea
  • Manage stress

These common triggers and prevention techniques are all good but unless you find a way to get to the underlying cause of the headaches, they will continue. Stress, in addition to diet and exercise is a very good place to start. Even if you are unsure of how to get relief from your headaches, begin today to do something. For when you begin that process and if you allow yourself to learn and go from one step to the next, you'll most likely be as surprised as I have when you no longer suffer from these.

For me, I gave up on the medications because I could quickly see that they were not going to solve the problem. I began to see a chiropractor, Dr. Canali in South Miami and while I did not initially go because of the migraines, it helped me greatly. I'm not saying that I don't ever get severe headaches but I don't get them on a daily basis nor do they get as intense as they were getting. I've learned as well, how to deal with the stress in my life as well as the underlying causes. Life is so much better since these have gone away. Most importantly, I found out that migraine headaches are not a life sentence and they don't have to haunt you each and every day of your life. In addition, I don't have to rely on medications to take care of them either.

If you are suffering from headaches, don't just accept the fact that some "cause" is the end all to them and there is nothing you can do. Don't accept that for a moment! Know that in many cases, there is so much more you can do than you might be aware of and allow yourself to hunt for the right solution in your own life. Just don't settle for the status quo and for medication as a long term fix. Like I shared in this, I thought it was a life sentance but have since found out that it is not. That just makes me want to get up and dance the happy dance!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care

I continue to be amazed at what our country, society and world views as "health care". If you say "health care", the first thing that comes to the mind of most people is going to a doctor for check ups, tests, medications and procedures. Ok, it might include a few other things to a few other people, but mostly that's what is portrayed in this world.

While there is a need for doctors and medicine and health care as described, that is only half of the picture. I know the medical association, the doctors, the pharmaceutical companies do not want you to think otherwise. For if you do, their corporate profits will go down.

Contrary to what 99% of the population thinks, there are so many other things that one can do to take care of their health. Yet, those things are in the minority and somewhat sampled on an occasional basis. And if you do not agree, just take a moment and look around you to see what the vast majority of people are doing for medical care. That is where the proof is to what I am saying.

In order for us to shift the paradigm that we have all fallen into, we have to examine some basic facts.

  • #1 Much of our life experiences including our past, influence our present moments. If we do not deal with the past, it will deal with us. That is a plain, pure and simple and a proveable fact!
  • #2 We often ignore the true message of the pain or health condition we are facing because it is easier to pop a pill, than to deal in the nitty gritty stuff of our life. Sometimes pills are needed in certain situations but they should not be the first thing we turn to.
  • #3 We often make much more out of the situation then we need to because often (I'm not going to say always or 100% of the time) but often there is some emotional, mental or spiritual side to whatever medical situation we are facing. There is more to the picture than meets the eye.
  • #4 We often feel solace and comfort in placing a label on the condition we have. However, the danger in this is that now we live up to that label after we find out all we can about it. We may not realize we do this but often labels we put on ourselves or our conditions hold us back more than they help us.
  • #5 The mind is extremely powerful in healing our body if we allow it to do this. The placebo effect is now being found through research to do as much healing in physical ailments as the actual drugs themselves.
  • #6 As a culture, we have relied on research to provide us with the answers and solutions that we need to either help treat ourselves or our loved ones. Yet, research is a big business with many dollars being thrown around and in order to evaluate the research, we need to follow the money trail. In following the money trail, analysis of the research results can be evaluated more accurately. Research and statistics do not necessarily mean that the conclusions are 100% accurate.
  • #7 Fear is one of the most common culprits for making seeing eyes blind and by that, fear rules this world in so many ways and it blinds us to what is really and truly going on. Fear is valid when you are running from the tiger but fear has no place when you are trying to discover the intricacies of your body, the world around you and the universe.
  • #8 Being with pain is very difficult whether it is your own or someone very close to you. As humans (especially when we have allowed fear to come into our lives), we struggle to be with someone or our self that is in pain. It is a natural part of our biological lives but when it becomes the sole arbitrator of our life or our loved ones, than we have lost site of the possibilities that exist.
  • #9 Supplements and health drinks and potions and snake oil are widely used in the world by people who believe they will work. Often they cost so much money and while there is much science and research to back up the claims, these products fail to live up to the expectations. Remember the placebo effect? Remember to, that even in these so called "alternative health" means, you need to follow the money trail and evaluate them accordingly. Even with expensive price tags and miraculous claims, these things are not always what they seem to be. Look at them and evaluate them through open eyes that do not close.
  • #10 Possibilities are endless! Let me repeat that. Possibilities are endless! Be careful, locking yourself into one paradigm thinking that this holds all the answers for you. For when you are thinking this way, you have given up on the possibilities that exist.
  • #11 The answers we need are within us. In our society we fail to listen to ourselves, our bodies and our thoughts. We fail to connect to that which is within us. Within each one of us is a master healer. When was the last time, you listened to yourself and I mean truly listened to yourself? For when we do not listen to ourselves (to thine own self be true), we give our power up to someone else and we lose so much of the potential that is right within our bodies, our minds and our spirits.
  • #12 Consider what is going on in your life the next time you get an ache or a pain or something seems off. Often what is happening in your life will show up in some physical way within your body. Have you ever heard someone say, "my back is killing me" as they over exert themselves without rest, or maybe my "legs are tired/hurt to move" when they are struggling to make a decision of their path in life? Do I need to say any more or is the picture clear?
Each one of us needs to evaluate what is best for our lives. If we do not take the time each day to listen to our bodies, to go in and clean out the closets of our lives and to give ourselves rest, than how can we expect to be healthy inhabitants of our own bodies?

Health care is not about procedures and taking pills. Health care is about getting to know your body in every way possible and then listening to your inner self in finding the most potential for your life that you can. There is so much more out there than the advertisements show us each and every day. We've become people with eyes that are closed when we so badly need to open our eyes and claim everything we can.

The potential exists and the possibilities are endless. How much will you close your eyes to? How much will you allow yourself to open your eyes and see?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

STOP

I was reminded the other day in the Mind Body Awareness Through Relaxation Workshop that I put on that sometimes in life, one of the best things we can do is just STOP. By stopping, I mean just pausing in life with nothing else on your mind, no agenda being followed in the moment and no tasks that you're doing. Just stopping and pausing to be in the moment with nothing else competing for your time, your energy and your thoughts. Yet, all too often in life, we run from task to task, barely stopping to even allow ourselves to breathe. Then we wonder why life seems out of sync and as if we aren't in control. Here's a radical concept! Why not try and spend 5 or 10 minutes or whatever you think you can spare, and just stop. Be with yourself in quiet stillness, pushing out your worries and stresses of the day. Listen to the birds sing, the wind rustle through the trees or other sounds of nature. Notice your breath rise and fall. Feel your legs, your arms, and all parts of your body. You might just be amazed at how powerful this is for your life. Make it simple. Don't take my word for it though! Prove it to yourself. I dare you!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Will Love You Forever Snuggles


Snuggles, my cat who was with me almost 18 years, died this morning. Here's something I wrote about her. She meant so much.

http://www.donshetterly.com/snuggles/In%20Memory%20Of%20Snuggles.pdf

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home Remedies with Essential Oils


Here's something I got in a newsletter recently from the Young Living Essential Oils distributorship that I am part of. These essential oils do wonders as I use them in not only my own health and massage practice, but I also use them in making my own cleaning solutions. If you have questions or want to know how to purchase these, please contact me and I'll be glad to assist you. Young Living has some of the most pure and best essential oils on the market. You can not beat the quality of them.

For Aches & Pains (instead of pain killers, try...)
  • Peppermint - erases headaches like magic due to its analgesic properties. Topically apply 1-2 drops of Peppermint and Lavender to your forehead, temples and back of neck.
  • Peppermint and PanAway ease stressed muscles and joints. Make a custom massage oil by mixing six drops of either essential oil with one or more tablespoons of V-6 Pure Vegetable Oil complex (or other high quality non scented massage oils. Massage onto the affected area or just apply topically and cover with a moist, hot towel. Feel the relief soak in deep.
  • Valor essential oil blend is a favorite of chiropractors and massage therapists because it balances the body's electrical energies. Chiropractors who apply Valor on the spine before an adjustment tell us it makes adjustments easier and helps them last longer.

For Digestive Upsets (instead of the pink stuff, try...)
  • Peppermint essential oil - is a simple way to deliver an age-old remedy for indigestion, gas, bloating. Make a soothing tea with one drop Peppermint in a cup of warm water or apply 2-3 drops topically to the abdomen.
  • Lemon essential oi is one of the best remedies for heartburn. Place several drops in water and sip slowly. By ingesting Lemon essential oil, the stomach stops excreting digestive acids, thereby alleviating heartburn.
For Cold & Flu Symptoms (instead of antihistamines, try...)
  • Thieves is indispensable for minor respiratory conditions. This very versatile oil can be inhaled, applied topically and taken internally. Apply to soles of feet, then inhale deeply (being careful not to get this hot oil near eyes and mucous membranes). One drop mixed well in a 12 ounce glass of cool water, sipped slowly, supports the immune system.
  • Fevers - Dilute one drop of Peppermint essential oil with V-6 Pure Vegetable Oil Complex and apply to soles of feet. workes great with children.
For Itchy, Ouchy Skin (instead of spray-on chemicals, try...)
  • Lavender has been soothing distressed skin for millenia. When applied topically to sunburn, windburn and other minor burns, it helps to hasten healing of damaged tissues. To moisten minor burns and reduce inflammation, use LavaDerm Spray, which combines Lavender essential oil with soothing aloe vera.
  • Insect bites and itchy skin - because of their outstanding antiseptic properties, essential oils are ideal for treating the itchiness and irritation from most kinds of insect bits. Apply Purification, Lavender or Peppermint topically on location 2-4 times daily: 1-2 drops neat or diluted with 1-2 drops V-6 Pure Vegetable Oil Complex.
For Insect Repellent (instead of Deet, try...)
  • Dilute 6-10 drops of Purification, Peppermint or Lavender in 4 ounces of water and spray on exposed skin to repel insects and their bites.
For Sore Gums & Mouth try...
  • Peppermint's natural menthol helps to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Apply with a toothbrush or make a mild gargle with 1-2 drops of Peppermint in 3 ounces of water.
  • Gum Infection - Thieves essential oil blend eliminates the bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Place a small drop on a soft toothbrush and apply gently to gumline. Thieves contains hot spice oils such as cinnamon and clove, so sensitive users may wish to dilute first with 2-3 drops of V-6 Oil.
For Insomnia & Restlessness
  • Peace & Calming and Lavender are great favorites for those who have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. Apply 2-3 drops topically to the temples, back of your neck, then inhale the fragrance from the palms of your hands for a few minutes. Now, enjoy a peaceful night's sleep.
Important Note: When using essential oils internally, it is vitally important to choose therapeutic grade essential oils. Select only those oils which are Generally Regarded As Safe for internal use by the US Food And Drug Administration.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical care or to prescribe treatment for any specific health condition. No responsibility is assumed and no liability assumed for any person or group for any loss, damage or injury resulting from the use or misuse of any information herein.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

With Courage Through Saddness


Some days, things go well and some days, it is a struggle. I'm fighting through some very difficult moments with a pet friend of mine who has been with me for 18 years. She has been through so much with me and sometimes if it wasn't for her, I'm not sure how I would have made it. Shortly after I got out of the hospital from my paralysis, she came into my life and has been there for me no matter what. I'm not sure how much time she has left in this world but even with the positive signs that shine through, I can see her days drawing to a close.

My heart is of course saddened with this but I know that she gave so much to me. There is so much more to the saga of life we share but for now, it is too difficult to write. And I know that as much as I want her around forever, I realize that I don't have that power or control to do this. All I can do at this moment is continue to love her and be with her till the very end.

In the end, I know that my life is much stronger, much more healthy and much better for having her in my life. That is something I carry with me through each remaining moment as I reach down deep within myself to find the courage to be there with her.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Negative Vs. Positive Thinking

I'm amazed at some of the research studies that are done and the ways they come about creating a conclusion. One such study was written about in an article in Time Magazine, Self Help Through Negative Thinking.

In the article, the researches suggest that thinking positive actually drives you more into the negative patterns. They go further in making the statements that the more you are challenged in your thinking or if someone tries to change your thinking, the more set you get in your ways. Sorry, but I'm summarizing the article into a small nutshell here.

There is a time and place for everything and to view things narrowly through a window of survival where little human growth and awareness takes place, is painting half a picture. At times, positive thoughts help a person hold on when they are in the midst of despair just long enough that they can grab the next rung on the ladder. Sometimes a positive thought can even allow a person to raise their head just enough to look over the peak of the mountain and give themselves the knowledge of just how far they have come. Sometimes a positive thought gives a person the motivation to take the next leap into the unknown. To say that positive thoughts invoke negative reactions and that's the end of the story, is just plain inaccurate in my view.

Of course one of the conclusions they draw towards the very end of the article is that some of the mind body practices which teach people to go into the negative, accept it instead of fighting it can be very effective. In the article however, they fall short in really making a proper connection between the thoughts and the body and mindfulness.

To confront the negative issues and bring it into your awareness through mindfulness while mixed in with positive thoughts can be extremely healing, rewarding and life altering. One of these aspects without the other may not necessarily lead to a break through or a furthering of the person into consciousness. Positive thoughts alone will only lead the body so far down its path but when you combine that with connected mindfulness with the body, it is like strapping on a jet engine and taking off!

It is fine to study things and understand things but let's not draw conclusions without all the facts and in ways that really are not helpful to humankind. That is called fuzzy math in my view and some days it is more hurtful than helpful.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Days Of Rest


And some days, our body, our mind and our thoughts need a rest. - (taken at New Smyrna Beach, Florida)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Compassion Is




Compassion is helping someone take another step in their life with open arms of love, compassion and without judgment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Somatic Component of Healing



Until we address the somatic component of our healing, we may feel like we've climbed the mountain but in all reality, we've not gone the complete distance. Trauma occurs not just in the mind but it resides with a relationship to the body. To treat only the mind or the thoughts and leave out the body, means we are missing the biggest piece of the puzzle.

Virtually most of our society views trauma, stress, and pain as something that needs to be fixed instead of something that needs to be allowed to finish its path and be felt. For trauma locks that energy within us and even though it may seem very silent to the point of us not realizing it is there, the locked energy takes up residence until we actively work on releasing it.

It is a process of discovery, awareness and unfolding. It is a path of going into the dark areas of our life to offer light and consciousness. Let us allow ourselves to continue on our path for we should not be looking for the end points, but the moments of realization to steps that lie ahead.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Pain Within The Body Grows


I'm posting this on here but please be forewarned that it wasn't easy to write and I'm sure it is not easy to read. Please take care of yourself if you decide to read this.
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Last night my body was hurting pretty bad and very tense/tight/stiff. My neck/mid and upper back especially sometimes going into my low back. Breathing was difficult as if it was almost impossible and my chest/lungs hurt. This morning, the pain intensified and was getting to the point I couldn’t take much more of it. My body was feeling exhausted and depressed.

So I went and jumped in the pool and started just pushing the water around with my arms trying to let the anger and emotions flow through that were coming up. I was taking a lot of frustrations out on the water and then I got to the point of just screaming underneath the water and hitting my arms in the water as hard as I could. It didn’t take long to get to a point of exhaustion and then I laid in one of the recliner pool chairs that we have. As I moved my arms, I could feel my body release in many ways and shake and tremble. Knowing what that’s about, I just let it happen and kept focusing on moving and breathing. Finally my breath did like the polar bear video and just went deep and then let go.

By that time, I was exhausted and I just let my body lay there for some time (until the rain storm came up). But my mind began to be flooded with so many words. I think of it as John Boy Walton used to say, that sometimes I get so much in my head going around, I just have to put it down on paper. This was one of those times. I just had to write. I couldn’t keep it in any longer. When I was done writing (through all the tears and emotions that were coming up), my body gave a big sigh of relief. Much of the pain and stiffness in my body had left, although some residual pain/stiffness was still around. I let the words of what I wrote, sink in and let myself cry as hard as my body wanted to.

When Jeff got home, I told him I wanted to go to the beach because I wanted to read what I wrote to the Ocean. So off we went. It was hard reading the words but I really wanted to have the sounds of them go out from me. It was a release and I knew the ocean was big enough to take them. When I finished through the crying and emotions that came up as a result, my body felt a sense of peacefulness and resolve. We spent the next hour just walking along side the ocean right next to the surface taking in the ocean sounds.

There’s a little residual pain/stiffness I notice in myself but it is a far different feel than just a few hours earlier. I’m feeling more like I can do this instead of feeling overwhelmed. I’ll probably get in the pool and do some more movement stuff tomorrow to keep it flowing through. This one was a rough one and it sure hit me pretty hard. The good thing is, I found a way through it.

Here's what I wrote:

The pain within my body grows as fast as a weed drenched by buckets of water. It has no end. The pain continues. Every nook and cranny of my body hurts and screams out as if a giant club is whacking it over and over. Every muscle fiber and cell dreams of a day when the pain ends, the back no longer hurts and the body moves with ease. It hurts and I want to scream. It hurts and I want to cry. It hurts but alas this is just another day.

I cry out looking for someone to fix this, someone to take this away, someone to just bring an end to it. I search for the path through it hoping to escape the pain my body endures. I long to listen to the answers for all the questions that I have and that hound me every day and night I take a breath. I beg for an end to this nightmare called life. Some days when I feel I have the strength to go on, a thief comes and robs me of all energy I can muster up.

My wonderings travel into the amusement of some sick entity that is enjoying all the pain I suffer through. My heart feels a burden of a million knives that were jammed through it. My eyes have seen so many things they wish to forget and my arms have been held back as a prisoner wanting to escape its captors.

Everything around me seems to trigger an episode of epic proportions with no logical analysis to grasp. The facts don’t add up. The observations fall short. The sounds, the smells, the touches all seem as one army united against me that my eyes cannot see. Yet, I know it exists. Its surprise awaits me with each glimpse of a night time sky or sun filled day. The triggers they come and go, almost as if they are the thief I run from. They rob me of everything. They steal me blind. How can I go on?

It is almost paralyzing when the pain begins to grown. The anger sits on the sideline as it becomes my world. The anger within me grows pushing the pains that I feel to the breaking point of no return. I so long, to notice the flowers, not the storms. I long to feel the soft gentle waves of the ocean, not the rocks hidden below the surface. I so long to feel normal, safe and secure. I so long to feel my body instead of trying to outrun it.

Yet the images, the sounds, the smells and the touches that flood my conscious mind are enough to create one of the scariest movies ever known. From the starring role of my father as the snake, to the smells of his breath masquerading as onions, garlic, and seafood as he forcefully tells a little boy to shut up and take it like a man. If such a movie was made, no one would believe it. No one would even dream this up for no rational mind could create such a scene. My mind though knows this is more than a movie.

As you bring in the supporting characters of my mom and two brothers, you begin to see the story unfold. There I am crouched down behind a chair hoping to not get what I had coming to me for whatever it was that I did. No one was home at the time of course so he had his free way with me. There was no one to stop him. And as his breath flooded the smells around me, my eyes wanted to cry out in tears. As the tears began to well up with me, I felt his big hand slap me so hard, that it was all I could do to keep track of where I was. It was as if I had been knocked into another dimension waiting for some spaceship to come rescue me. There was nothing of course that I could do. It was my cross to bear and my existence to obey him for that was what God wanted me to do. God was love after all. God was in control. God was my heavenly father as seen through my eyes of my real father.

Moment after moment, it hurt. He didn’t stop. I can remember it as if it is happening right in this moment. No, I didn’t forget it. Sorry Mr. Snake, I didn’t forget it. You wanted me to and you begged me to. In fact, you commanded me to. But my body remembered, my mind remembered and my heart shielded it for an eternity. I wanted to beg you, plead with you to stop but those silent murmurs would be met with a heavy hand of God’s discipline and love.

I want right now just to beat the shit out of you. I’d like to see hurt just like you hurt me. I have absolutely no use for you. The world has no use for you. You horrible excuse of a human; if you can be called that much.

And then the movie continued on taking in its role for the supporting actors. Little did they know what to expect when they arrived home that day. They thought it was just a shopping trip into town not expecting a thing. The gasp of screams they let out when they walked in the door. The horrors only known to the worst of criminals were unfolding before them. They couldn’t look away quick enough. They couldn’t run away quick enough. For it was right there in plain sight whether they wanted to see it or not. The horror they must have felt if they felt anything, would be very difficult but of course I’ll never for sure.

I remember my mom screaming, what in the hell are you doing as my dad stopped for a moment. The weight of his body on mine was crushing in defeat and silencing to my breath. For a moment, the pain subsided but it didn’t go away. All I remember hearing is for my mom to tell my brothers to go to their room and my father telling her to leave him the fuck alone. She wasn’t about to listen though and that was such a dumb thing for her to do. For I knew what was coming and there was no sense in the both of us suffering through the pain. But finally for a moment, the pain stopped and the weight of his fuckin body eased. I caught my breath and laid there exposed to the world not wanting to move an inch, not being able to move an inch.

As he got up, I saw him in all his ugliness as he tried to pull his pants up. In the process, I saw him remove his belt and take a swing. One swing, two swings, I lost count. She went down to the floor covering her face from the blows. She screamed out in pain. She gasped for a breath. But he didn’t stop. He continued yelling and telling her that she had no business trying to stop him. She would learn not to ever do this again. She just cried and cried and cried in between the screams and the gasps for breath. He did not stop until he was exhausted.

I wanted to stop him. I couldn’t stand to see her in this way. I couldn’t stand to see him hitting her and it was all because of me. If she wouldn’t have walked in on him doing what he was doing to me, this would not have happened. She’d be home scott free with no pain. What did I do wrong to cause this? What did I do to deserve this?

To this day, I can never apologize enough to my mom for the hurts and pains she endured. I cannot take it back and make it stop, nor could I then. But yet, she was trying to stand up for me and look where it got her. He was in the starring role of the movie as the snake. The snake that was so cunning is stupid. The snake that would startle your world at a second’s notice not knowing what God was going to do to you at that moment.

My eyes have cried many silent tears during my life but as I write this, my eyes are so filled with tears that the screen is difficult to see. And yet there are not enough tears to soothe my aching soul or my painful body. There aren’t enough screams to fill the void this has left in my life or the absence of my mom. I’m left with an emptiness of what should be in life and a longing for what I so badly needed then and now.

Is there any way to make sense of this? Most likely there is not! Is there any way to justify what this horrible excuse of a human did to me? Most likely there is not! Somehow, I’ve got to pick up the pieces of my life if I can find them, and piece them together into who I really am but do not know. I long for the design of my life but yet, the instructions are in some unreadable language – the language of pain.

The journey I’ve walked down has led me to a better moment but the pains, the fears, the unknowns still lurk beside my path. I’d love to be able to say, that all of this no longer impacts me and I can just let it go but when the pains rear their ugly head within my body, I’m once again reminded of something I’d rather forget. Can I forgive him? I want to speak words saying yes, I can because I need to but somehow in my heart, the pains I endured fuel a vengeance of disbelief and confusion towards him in what he did. The mind of a little boy is still confused and the heart remembers just as the body does.

Now as my writing closes, so does the pain ease that has been flooding my body each moment.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Universe


What if you did have the power, the reach, and the glory?

What if you were given dominion over all things?

And what if eternity lay before you, brimming with love, friends, and laughter?

Yet still, one day, in all your radiance, bubbling over with giddy excitement, you tripped, fell, and got hurt - really hurt.

Would you give up on all of your dreams? Would you hate yourself? Would you forget life's magic and promise?

Or would you shrug it off, look ahead, and exclaim that it's "just a flesh wound"?

-- The Universe

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Worst Drive Thru Meal In America


Running short on time during your lunch hour and want to grab a quick bite?

BEWARE! THE WORST DRIVE-THRU MEAL IN AMERICA:


Carl's Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger with Medium Natural cut Fries and 32 oz Coke
  • 2,618 Calories
  • 144 grams fat (51.5 grams saturated fat)
  • 2892 mg of sodium

Of all the gut-growing, heart-stopping, life-threatening burgers in the fast food world, there is none whose damage to your general well-being is as catastrophic as this.

Consider these heart-stopping comparisons:
  • This meal has the caloric equivalent of 13 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donuts;
  • the saturated fat equivalent of 52 strips of bacon;
  • and the salt equivalent of seven and a half large orders of McDonald's French fries!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

One of my favorite songs by Martina McBride is "Independence Day". It seems only fitting to post this on our day of Independence for the United States.

Here's the lyrics:
Independence Day
Martina McBride - Greatest Hits - Independence Day

Well she seemed all right by dawn’s early light though she looked a little worried and weak she tried to pretend he wasn’t drinkin’ again but daddy left the proof on her cheek and I was only eight years old that summer and I always seemed to be in the way so I took myself down to the fair in town on Independence day

Well word gets a round in a small, small town they said he was a dangerous man but mama was proud and she stood her ground she knew she was on the losin’ end some folks whispered some folks talked but everybody looked the other way and when time ran out there was no one about on independence day

Chorus: let freedom ring, let the white dove sing let the whole world know that today is a day of reckoning let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong roll the stone away, let the guilty pay, it’s independence day

Well she lit up the sky that fourth of July by the time the firemen come they just put out the flames and took down some names and send me to the county home now I ain’t sayin’ it’s right or it’s wrong but maybe it’s the only way talk about your revolution it’s independence day

Repeat chorus

Roll the stone away it’s independence day

A video by Martina McBride for this song on Youtube - click here

Friday, July 3, 2009

Healthy Release

Here's a video of a dog shaking and releasing. Some mistake this for dreaming only or feel that the dog is in a terrible situation. However, this is a normal and healthy thing for animals. They know how to take care of themselves. Actually, it is a very healthy and normal things for humans as well but very few of us realize that.

The shaking and movement you see is the body releasing built up stress and tension. It is dissipation of energy. If a body (whether it is an animal or a human) is allowed to remain with the energy trapped inside, all types of health conditions can result in the future because of it. In addition, for humans, if we allow ourselves to connect our consciousness and our body together, this type of dissipation helps to further our intimate awareness of who we really are and what it truly means to be human.

For further reading on this, check out Peter Levine's book, "Waking The Tiger"



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Trager Workshop: Vessel Of Consciousness


VESSEL OF CONSCIOUSNESS:
The Body as a Landscape of Perception

October 16 - 18, 2009
Canterbury Retreat Center -Oviedo, FL


$375.00 (24 CEUs:)
The TRAGER Approach Provider # 50-2061; Course #20-81249


“A cutting edge lecture and hands-on workshop rooted in mind-body medicine” Instructor: Deane Juhan Deane is the renowned author of Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork.


Sponsored by TragerSoutheast.org

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Through Deeper Layers


Have you ever looked through a microscope at something? I remember in high school and college during science classes looking at all kinds of things from little bacteria to all kinds of objects. Through the naked eye, we were able to see something much different than through the microscope. Even with the various power adjustments of the microscope, we could see many layers of whatever it was we were looking at. More powerful microscopes allowed us to look even deeper into an object.

Just like looking deep into an object through a microscope, the same could be said that this is exactly what healing is all about. It is going through the layers and then when you think you've seen everything, you adjust the power and go deeper yet. As you go deeper, you see things that you were not even aware of or realize existed. Yet, they are there.

So go deeper than you have gone so far! See what all there is to see in your life and find that which you do not know exists. Than see just how far down the rabbit hole you can go.