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Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Little Secret

As the rest of the world living on Social Security holds their breath that they might not get their check in August I am not worried because I have a secret. I know I am not getting a check next month and it makes me chuckle a little.

Last March and April Social Security erroneously deposited money which amounted to one and 3/4 months benefits into my checking account. Following my intuition and advice from loyal friends I didn't spend it. I opened a savings account and stuck it there for safe keeping until SS figured out what they had done.

I pretty much knew the money wasn't mine, but I decided to play around with them for awhile. They eventually sent me a letter wanting it back. Instead of agreeing I asked for reconsideration, which took a couple of months of their time to comply with. Having survived a battle with them previously I knew what to expect.

Finally in June I received another letter asking for a ton of original documents verifying my income and holdings. In return I sent it all back to them with a message that I was done and they could recover the money from my benefits. I also suggested that the next time they decided to put money in my checking account they had better make sure it was actually mine.

So, this is why I already know I will not receive my Social Security check in August. Unlike other U.S. citizens all I have to do is transfer it from one account to another. Of course, if Congress continues to play their disgusting game of holding its citizens hostage that is an entirely different matter.

Red Flags

The two words that got my attention this morning were RED FLAGS. They were posted on Facebook along with the admonition to take them seriously.

I started thinking about that in relation to my serious blood pressure spike earlier this month. I could have taken that to mean death is coming soon beware. That reminds me of when my doctor announced in 1989- you have uterine cancer. My first thought wasn't death. My first thought was- so what are you going to do about it?

Since my current red flag alert I have put myself first, something I need to do from now on. I have tried everything that came up to reduce stress and relax. I have tried to let go of assuming responsibility for the problems that others have created for themselves. I have made an effort to let go of the people who are adding to my stress. I have tried to rewire my brain on the way I react to negative energy and I am still working on this one because it is a biggie.

Adding to the positive side I have opened my eyes to the glorious gift of friendship from people who showed concern and offered help. Even if I didn't take their suggestion, because it wouldn't work for me, their concern and offer was what was important.

This month has been a struggle to finally put myself first and to accept things as they are, not as I wish them to be. If I had not been given that red flag I would have just coasted along doing the things I have always done. Thank God for RED FLAGS and thank God for my guides who made me pay attention!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Up and Away

It is strange how a couple of words can stick in my brain and lead me to take positive action. In this case the two words were helium balloon. For most people that would probably bring to mind a party of some kind or the act of children inhaling the helium to create an amusing voice.

For me it brought back a memory of watching a dramatic episode of "Desperate Housewives". Gabriel had just lost a baby that she didn't think she even wanted until it was gone. A caring man took her to a park, gave her a helium balloon and told her to imagine it was her pain and when she was ready let it go.

I had been having problems lately letting go of life long blocks that appear to be interfering in my current life. I have on occasion written down issues I no longer wanted to deal with and burnt them, giving them back to the universe. I decided perhaps it was time to try something different with two thoughts that had followed me since I was a child.

One bright morning, which offered a slight bit of wind, I bought two helium balloons. I knew the colors I would purchase before I got to the store. One was green and one was bright pink. They seemed to compliment each other in a strange way, which got my attention.

I labeled the green one unworthy of wealth and the pink one unworthy of love.

I drove to a large grassy field and walked to the center, silently contemplating what I was intending to do next. Looking up at the bright blue sky with its white puffy clouds, I one by one let each balloon go, continuing to watch them as they climbed higher and higher and away from me.

As I drove away I noticed that I felt lighter and more peaceful. Perhaps this positive act of faith will do the trick once and for all and rid my current life of negative thoughts that are no longer needed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stop Fighting

On my journey to find a more peaceful relaxing relationship with myself I have run into some interesting information. From the book The Happiness Trap came the helpful message, when you are dealing with negative thoughts and emotions, don't fight them; accept them and let them be.

Why didn't I think of that? I could have saved myself a lot of grief by following this advice. The more you struggle with anything negative the bigger it becomes. When you just acknowledge its presence it will most likely diminish in one way or the other.

When I think back to all the years I previously spent trying to fight severe anxiety attacks I can clearly see how true this advice is. Too bad I didn't know it at the time. Back then I took the stance that there had to be something wrong with me. Why couldn't I just make the attacks stop? What did I do to deserve this terrible experience? I now think the answer to that was nothing. It was just part of my journey. One diversion that seemed to work at the time was to slowly count backwards from 100.

Lately I have been trying out several techniques to learn to relax more. I checked out a website offering very simple Yoga instructions for beginners. One suggestion that attracted me was the Shava Asano position, so simple anyone can do it. Basically you just lie down face up on a mat or carpet, close your eyes and imagine that your whole body is relaxed.

I have, at the suggestion of my chiropractor, scheduled several appointments for massage therapy, which I am looking forward to. It has been years since I gave myself this treat.

In addition to this indulgence, a very generous friend is giving me the gift of an intuitive reading with a skilled healer she has worked with. This will be a first for me and I am both excited and a little bit nervous. I am also very grateful that my friend cared enough about my welfare to offer this gift.

So together with practicing better breathing habits I am well on the road to a more relaxing existence. I am finding it less and less necessary to fight negative energy. I am gradually learning to let it be and focus on positive energy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just Breathe

Breathing should be a natural thing we do the moment we are free of the birth cannel. There is a right and a wrong way to breathe. Somewhere along my path I began taking shallow breaths and at times even holding my breath. I know I am not the only one who has this problem, but now that I am conscious of it I need to take steps to end the habit.

I did a little research on the subject and would like to share what I found. First from the website of Dr. Weil I found a couple of simple techniques that I liked. They can be done anywhere and nobody needs to know you are doing them. Practice makes perfect!

Exercise #1
(4-7-8)
Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper teeth and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth and around your tongue.
Exhale completely through your mouth.
Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a mental count of 4.
Hold your breath for a count of 7.
Exhale through your mouth for a count of 8.
Now repeat the sequence three more times.

Exercise #2 (breath counting)
Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
Breathe naturally, quiet and slow, count one to yourself as you exhale,
The next time you exhale count two and so on to five.
Then begin a new cycle.
Try to do this exercise for 10 minutes.

A fun exercise from a friend was “take three breaths, say something nice about yourself, smile, take another breath”. You can just keep going until you run out of nice things to say about yourself.

Of course, one of the most suggested is deep breathing for several minutes, focusing on your breath and letting other thoughts simply drop away. A little harder to do for those who have difficulty relaxing. Again practice makes perfect.

Another friend shared this wonderful quote from yoga master, Krishnamacharya:
“Inhale and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation and God remains with you. Exhale and you approach God. Hold the exhalation and surrender to God.”

I also found this appropriate piece written by Leo Babauta:
Breathe.

Breathing can transform your life.

If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.

If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.

If you are discouraged and have forgotten your purpose in life, breathe. It will remind you about how precious life is, and that each breath in this life is a gift you need to appreciate. Make the most of this gift.

If you have too many tasks to do, or are scattered during your workday, breathe. It will bring you into focus, to concentrate on the most important task you need to be focusing on right now.

If you are spending time with someone you love, breathe. It will allow you to be present with that person, rather than thinking about work or other things you need to do.

If you are exercising, breathe. It will help you enjoy the exercise, and therefore stick with it longer.

If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down and enjoy life more.

So breathe. And enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste.


Ending this post is a quote from the book The Road, by Cormac Mc Carthy
“The breath of God was his breath, yet though it pass from man to man through all time.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bon Voyage Jeff

My oldest son, Jeff, is leaving soon for a one year civilian job in Kuwait. As a mother I was not thrilled when he first told me about this opportunity. He has since assured me that there has not been a terrorist attack in that country for several years. He no doubt got the idea that I was worried when I sent him a St. Christopher prayer card to put in his wallet. Even though I don’t follow the Catholic path now I do strongly believe in the protection of Saints and angels and I figured it couldn’t hurt.

My son is a Sgt. Major in the Army Reserve and until Obama assumed the office of president he was training troops to go to Iraq. He owned a home and thought his life was going pretty well. Sometimes life is an illusion.

Jeff has spent most of his adult life serving his country. He joined the regular Army right after high school and spent 12 years moving from place to place; Fort Ord, CA, Italy, Fort Sill, Ok, Germany, Ft. McClellan, Al were all his temporary homes before finally serving in the Gulf War, commonly known as Operation Desert Storm. He then joined the Army Reserve and except for a few years has been an active member. He was one year short of retirement when his life suddenly changed.

Since troops were no longer being trained to go to Afghanistan the Army eliminated his job and could not or would not find him a replacement. They literally forced him out as an active member of the Reserve and left him on his own to find a civilian job. For the last couple of years he has applied for every job that came up with no luck. He even volunteered to go to Afghanistan. He was close to extinguishing his savings to survive and pay his bills.

Just when he had almost given up hope, he was offered a civilian job in Kuwait. It has taken several weeks to meet all the requirements which included an abundance of paperwork and a medical and dental checkup to assure the Kuwaiti Embassy that he is fit to work in their country for a year. All that remains is for his Visa to arrive and his flight to be arranged.

He will soon be leaving on a jet plane for another adventure. Kuwait is a long ways away, but with email it is as close as if he were still in the U.S. I know he is going to do a great job with his new assignment of running their driving school and I believe it will lead to something even better.

So, I am saying bon voyage Jeff, enjoy this unique opportunity to grow! Always remember that I am very proud that you are my son.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Laugh or Cry

This has been one of those days that cause me to either laugh or cry. It started out pretty well and then as the day progressed got interesting!?

I woke up feeling great after a restful night's sleep. I went to Futures and walked and used the exercise room for an hour then kept an appointment with my friendly chiropractor, who had just returned to work after a two week mission trip to Africa. I noted that it had been two months since my last visit and because of the trauma of the last week my body needed attention.

After returning home I decided to give my new blood pressure monitor a try. Remember it was the one the pharmacist said was reliable and worth the money. Well, I didn't like the reading because it seemed much higher than I thought it should have been. I went to the hospital and had a nurse check it. Guess what? The shinny new monitor was wrong. Thank God the nurses at our hospital are so helpful and understanding. I am going to try the same thing tomorrow, only in reverse. Then if there is still a difference I am making a call to OMRON, the makers of this so called "accurate" machine.

Getting back in my car, I noticed a little icon on my dash that told me I had no gas and the gas gage was on the empty mark. Since I had just filled up yesterday afternoon that was not possible. There was a possibility that someone had siphoned the gas, but realizing that I was parked directly in line with the hospital's front door and had only been gone for maybe ten minutes that wasn't very likely.

I drove to a station owned by a long time friend to ask his opinion of this strangeness. He checked the fuses and determined the fuel gage was burnt out. He said I would have to take the car to the dealer. Great, I thought I don't drive to Albuquerque anymore so that is going to be a bit tricky. My question to one of his employees was how am I supposed to know how much gas I have if the gage isn't working? He told me to turn on the trip counter to zero every time I filled up and keep track of the miles. I already knew I get gas about every 12-14 days. It made me feel a little better.

Noticing my engine was absolutely filthy the employee said he would follow me to the car wash a few blocks away and he would clean it for me. When you live in New Mexico all kinds of dirt and sand covers whatever it can find to attach itself to. I had been wanting to have this done for some time. I sat in the car while my engine got clean. Driving home the car acted a little strange and the engine light came on. I was told it was reacting to the forceful water treatment. I held my breath and hoped that was the problem.

Arriving home in one piece, I parked the car and let it sit and dry off. In the meantime I contacted the dealer's service department to find out the cost of getting a new gage installed. I waited all afternoon for someone to call me back, contemplating how I would get my car to Albq. and how I was going to pay the bill. Much later I started the car up to see what little light would get my attention this time. Nothing unusual happened, except the gas gage was where it was supposed to be and everything appeared to be back to normal. I decided to go for a spin to see if the car was still acting strange. All was well. The engine seemed very appreciative of having a much needed bath.

At the end of this strangely interesting day I am sitting at my computer thinking God has a very unique sense of humor. I had a choice of either laughing or crying and I chose to see the humor in everything that happened today.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Great Big Hug

Today I am offering a great big ((((hug)))) to all my friends who saw that I was having a problem and took the time to share solutions that worked for them. They didn't try to control my mind. They just quietly planted seeds and allowed me to see what worked and what didn't.

Those are the kinds of people that I treasure as friends. They don't interfere, but they can always be counted on to throw me a life line when I have walked into water just a bit too deep.

You all know who you are, so I don't need to mention names. Just accept this great big ((((((((HUG)))))))) and know that I love you, even if I don't say it very often.


P.S. Kept my doctor appointment today and discovered my BP monitor was not working properly. I tossed it and bought one the pharmacist recommended. Much of the problems this past week were self inflicted, caused by worry and focusing on the what if's. Now that I have a new monitor and a new attitude I'll see what happens when my doctor checks things out in two weeks.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stress

Even though your life is full of stress it is how you react to it that will cause you problems. Because of blood pressure issues that I have experienced this week I have had to take a look at what is causing stress in my life.

Financial worries are a constant problem when your income rests on Social Security. Owning a house and trying to keep things fixed only adds to the problem. Unless God gives me the winning numbers for the NM Lottery or a rich relative dies that I don't know about I am pretty much stuck with what I have. Since I don't owe anyone anything I guess I must be doing something right. It sure would be nice to have some extras though.

Next there are relationship problems. Now there's a tricky one. It has been a life long pattern for me to take the blame. My soul mind says, "just let it go". My human ego says, "why can't I make that idiot see how wrong she/he is?" I don't wish the person any harm, but it is very hard for me to see that the person is providing a lesson needed for my soul to evolve. A lesson we both agreed to once upon a time. Possibly there was a little insanity in a previous life.

Worrying about other people's problems and letting them affect my life is a past and present cause of much of my stress. Perhaps it is a leftover from my mother role or maybe it is because I am a recovering control freak. Whatever it is I have to stop doing it and focus on me.

I am sure when I keep my appointment with my family doctor on Monday one of the first things she is going to ask is, "What is causing stress in your life?" I have three days to work on my answer.

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can and
Wisdom to know the difference.
~Reinhold Niebuhr

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Little Fish

When I was about six I had major surgery due to a mastoid growth. The experience began with a severe earache, which was ignored until my grandmother insisted that I be taken to a doctor. Thank God for grandmothers. The doctor informed my mother that if she had waited one more day I would probably not have lived. That night my father, who was a cook, told me I could have anything I wanted for dinner. I chose smelt. It is a little fish he fried and was my favorite.

I didn't realize until this morning that by giving me this power of choice he was also expressing his love and concern for me in the only way he knew how.I am sorry I didn't realize that at the time.

The next step was to be admitted to the hospital, I believe around midnight. I have no memory of either of my parents or my grandparents staying in the hospital with me nor do I have any memory of anyone explaining what was going to happen to me. I do know that the nurses did not expect me to survive the surgery. When I mentioned this to my mother many years later, she said I had probably heard them talking.

My next memory was of laying on a gurney in a hallway just outside the operating room- alone. Thinking back to what a 6 year old would be feeling having had no preparation, I imagine I was petrified. Then I remember being in the operating room and the doctor yelling at the attendants because I was not asleep yet. then the gas mask and counting. For many years I had the sensation that I was was being smothered, but it was only the memory of the mask, realized through a hypnosis session.

I did survive the surgery and know that I lived because penicillin had just become available. I do remember the shots, a lot of them. I only remember my parents visiting once bringing my younger brother. He sat on the end of my bed and it made me angry. I no doubt thought,this was my time for attention go away. He was 13 months younger than I was and literally cheated me out of having a childhood of my own. I even missed going to kindergarten because he didn't want me to go.

Today I believe this experience sparked a life time fear of abandonment which led to many negative choices as an adult. When you are afraid to be alone you accept abusive behavior from others because something is better than nothing. I believe it is the exact reason women stay with physically abusive partners.

Sometimes experiences happen so that we can realize what is really going on in our life and remove the block. This happened to me Tuesday when my blood pressure rose to 200/98. It had been a bit erratic for a week or so and my intuition said you better see what it is doing. When I saw it was that high I panicked and it of course, made the situation worse. Following my logical mind I took some medication I had to try to bring it down.

Then my illogical mind took over and it said, "You have nobody in your life that you can depend on, what if you have a stroke or heart attack and there is nobody to even know you died?" I ended up going to the emergency room, which I was trying to avoid because I have no insurance. I was afraid I would be admitted. I survived, but the experience caused me to realize that I do have a fear of abandonment and now that I know where it came from I can take steps to deal with it.

I can depend on myself and my strong connection with my soul and my Creator, which is all I ever needed to face any challenge. I can stop taking crap from the people in my life who are dishing it out. I can focus on the people in my life who truly care about my welfare. Maybe I'll even take a trip to the pacific northwest and find someone who can offer me a plate of freshly fried smelt.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Detachment/Attachment

When you don’t like the way your life is going you can detach from all the energies that are causing you to be unhappy. That includes people, places and things. You can just dump everything and start over with a blank canvas, taking with you the lessons you have learned. You can detach from everything human, but you can never detach from your attachment with your soul.

Most people rarely give much thought to their souls. I guess they think they were just plopped here on this planet, with the assistance of a male and a female just doing their thing. I used to think that too, until I consciously connected to the essence of who I really am and will always be. The soul is what connects me to the oneness of eternity. It is the reason that whatever happens I am always attached.

Holidays are very hard for me because I spend them alone. Sure, I have friends who care, but they are not physically present. Yesterday I began feeling sorry for myself wondering why circumstances have placed me in this lonely position. I know I’m not a terrible person who deserves to be punished. That’s just plain silly.

The lesson is for me to realize that even though it seems so, complete detachment is simply not possible. I am always attached, even when I temporarily forget that fact.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Freedom to Be

I've been thinking about what freedom means to me on this Independence Day weekend.

What has taken me the longest to see is that I am most thankful for the freedom to be me.

Although I am no longer responsible for the care of breathing beings, except for my two cats, it doesn't have anything to do with the freedom I now feel. (BTW my furry friends will celebrate their birthdays this month, Ebony will be 7 and her son, Smokey will be 6.)

The freedom I feel is the ability to take whatever comes my way and make it mine, however I choose to do that. Most of my life I tried hard to fit in and do things the way THEY said they should be done. That isn't me and it never was.

So from this day forward I am going to simply appreciate the gift of freedom to be me that I have worked very hard to earn.

Happy 4th everyone!