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Teresa

Emily Van Horn

I met Emily via email a couple of months ago when she sent me a kind email related to a comment I had made on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s blog for CNN in which he reported that there was no healing from traumatic experience.  I disagreed and so did Emily.  She thanked me for my comment on the blog post and so a lovely email communication began.  Emily’s work began in the bodywork realm and through the access to the body in her treatment approaches she began helping her clients express and deal with traumatic material from a bodywork perspective.  I, coming from the opposite origin (learning psychotherapy and the mind realm first) but coming to the same endpoint (learning how much emotional pain is stored in and can be released from the body) am always interested in bodyworkers who have always worked in and explored the rich realm of body-oriented healing.  Emily’s work and her story is lovely to read and I hope you all enjoy learning about her practice as much as I have!

Q:  What is your professional background?  What interested you in holistic therapies and treatment approaches?

A.  I’ve been a practitioner of the healing arts for almost 20 years.  I’ve always been interested in natural healing, preferring plant based medicines to chemicals made in a laboratory.  In 1991, I read Louise Hay’s “You can heal your life”.   That was my first introduction to how our thoughts affect our health.  It made sense.  I became fascinated in working with healing modalities which encompass aspects of body mind and spirit, and which are based on the premise that all of life is energy and that we have everything we need to self heal.

Q:  Can you explain your practice as an Energetic Bodyworker, Somatic Trauma Resolution practitioner, and your use of Polarity therapy and Craniosacral therapy?  Please explain these different treatment approaches for people.

A. My main focus is helping people resolve all types of trauma both shock and  developmental traumas.  To start with I help them find what their resources are.  Whether it’s cooking for friends, walking in nature, or organizing the office Christmas party or riding their bike I help them discover what is working in their life.  We call that resourcing, which is the first step in re regulating the nervous system.   I ask them to become mildly curious about the physical sensations happening while thinking about something that makes one feel joyful or successful or good in the body.  This sensation awareness combined with imagining something you like or used to like doing, becomes a supportive tool when unraveling an experience that has been overwhelming for someone.   I see profound results when we focus first on healing the nervous system first.  When the client is able to track or follow their sensations when thinking of a resource as well as when addressing something traumatic and be able to go back and forth between the two sides, we are on the way. The next step which I consider foundational to the process is to do some simple boundary exercises.  The whole thing is a sort of complex and delicate process which is difficult to explain or imagine being effective, but it works really well.

Polarity Therapy is a whole healing system which involves bodywork, exercises, counseling, and nutritional guidance as away to relate to life force energy.  I help the clients energy field to open up and clear blockages and get things flowing again.  With CranioSacral I’m accessing the tides of the cerebral spinal fluid through subtle hands on palpation which encourages the body into self healing mode.  I use both these methods as compliments to the STR work.

Q:  How are these approaches effective for trauma and issues of mental health? Where did you study and train in these different approaches?

A. In my experience many  mental health issues stem from unresolved trauma.  It is key to help a person out of fight/flight/freeze, and assist them to feel safe in the body before delving into specific issues.  When the client has been able to discharge the shock from the nervous system, it’s much easier for them to talk about difficult experiences.

Most of my training has been through Polarity Healing arts here in the LA area, although I’m constantly updating and learning new skills new modalities to help people heal. 

Q:  Where did your passion for working with survivors of trauma come from? What other ailments and issues do you work on with your clients?

A.  I guess because there is so much of it around!  Every time I read a story or hear about someone who has experienced trauma I  feel compelled to help.  I feel uncomfortable seeing someone suffer needlessly, especially when I know I have skills that could be potentially life changing.

As a foundational part of the trauma work, I work  with boundaries and resourcing.  Until people feel safe in the body and the body knows it’s ok to defend itself,  it’s hard to heal.  There are specific exercises I do with clients to help them reestablish boundary muscles and complete truncated fight flight or frozen defensive responses.

Q:  What have been the effects and results you have seen with clients seeking your help with mental and emotional distress?  What are so examples of how these treatments have impacted client’s lives in positive ways?

A.  My clients have experienced relief from issues that have been troubling them, from acute to chronic both emotional and physical.  After just one session, one of my clients was able to resolve  3 phobias; not being able to sleep with the light off, fear of public restrooms and fear of heights.  Another felt her chronic neck pain dissolve after renegotiating a childhood trauma.   Things like being able to sleep without medication, feeling safe in situations that had previously been anxiety provoking, or even something like a woman who resolved her “frozen shoulder” issue that had it’s roots in a brutal attack more than 20 years ago.  After just one session one of my clients stopped having flashbacks of a car accident that was plaguing her for 30 years.   It usually takes more than one session, but is meant to be a short term approach with long term effects. In general people end up being more resourced and functioning better in all aspects of life.

Q:  Do you ever work in coordination with or receive referrals from other holistic practitioners, bodyworkers, yoga teachers, or mental health professionals?  Would you work in collaboration with other practitioners, mental health or otherwise, to bring healing and wellness to others?

A.  Yes, dentists, therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and physical therapists have refereed me.  Other types of  treatments work much more quickly and effectively once shock has been discharged out of the body.

Q:  Do you find that there is a community of like-minded professionals you can collaborate with on ideas and work together with on projects?

A. Sometimes but not as much as I would like.  In LA there are so many alternative modalities available that it’s sometimes hard to interest people in yet another healing approach that isn’t well known in the mainstreem.  I think if therapists and health practitioners had more exposure to this method they would be more eager to try it themselves and to refer their patients.

Q:  Do you find that people seeking treatment has diminished with the recession?  Or do you see people coming more readily to treatment due to increased stressors?

A.  I’ve found both.  One thing I’ve noticed is sort of a wave of people who have known they’ve had “issues” for years and suddenly they feel compelled to make changes and begin to heal.  The old ways of managing are no longer acceptable.

Q:  What approaches do you use for your own self care? Yoga, acupuncture, meditation, or other activities or practices for enjoyment or to relieve stress?  DO you feel it is essential to take care of oneself when working in this field?

A.  Hiking and yoga are both great outlets.  Also, I’m a painter so I think I work things out through the paint.  I’m also constantly learning new modalities which keeps me on my toes and keeps me doing my own work.  I never have the attitude that I’m done.  I’m always pushing myself to do my own inner work, resolve old patterns and keep my energy field clean.

Q:  Who and what have been your greatest inspiration(s) in this work?  What book do you feel is essential?  What lecturer would you recommend anyone with an interest in these practices go see?  What training was essential?

A.  Years ago, I had the pleasure of watching Dr. Peter Levine doing some live SE demonstrations.  I was so moved, I knew I had to study the work myself.  I  have had many mentors along the way. The first was Gary Strauss who taught me to palpate an energy field which was an amazing discovery.  I would recommend  Anna and John Chitty in Boulder Co. for the study of BioDynamic CranioSacral.  I learned STR with Sharon Porter who came from a Polarity/Cranial background like myself.  I’m grateful to have the energetic component of her teachings, which makes the work multidimensional.  Having had the opportunity to teacher assist with her has  deepened my understanding of the trauma work.   Joel Hipps facilitated my clairvoyant training which has been invaluable for keeping me grounded an increasing my perceptive abilities.  I’m very kinesthetic so I had to learn to see energy instead of feel everything.  Lastly for anyone who really wants to “think outside the box” I would highly recommend taking a weekend “Matrix energetics” workshop.   Your life will never be the same!

Q:  What are your hopes for the future of complementary medicine and alternative treatments for mental health and wellness?  What are your hopes for the future of your work over the next 1 year, 2 years, 5 years?

A. I hope that I will see the day when we stop labeling trauma as a disorder of the mind and begin to see it as a dis regulation of an overwhelmed nervous system;  a result of our natural healing mechanism being interrupted.

I would hope that every mental health professional, every paramedic, policeman, fireman, physical therapist, and Doctor could be more educated about how the autonomic nervous system works in relationship to trauma.  Minimum that they could all at least read “Waking the Tiger”  and “Crash Course”, and  that we would stop medicating people with developmental trauma, and learn some basic first aid tools that would help shock trauma from setting in in the first place.  I know that sound like a lot,  but some of the principles are so basic. The less traumatized people there are, the less patterns of abuse and violence will continue to repeat.

Q:  What would like people to know about the work you do?  Any words of wisdom, inspiration, or advice to others interested in this field of study or practice?

A. Sometimes people comment when they find out I don’t usually start out working on the table, they might say, “so what,  it’s just talking?”  NO, this work is very different from traditional talk therapy.  It’s a body centered approach and even though I’m not usually touching you, you will feel things physically.  That’s why you have to have an experience to “get” it, because it’s not like anything else that we do.   That it’s a relatively short term approach and that you will learn self healing skills that you can use throughout life.

Q:  Any advice to persons seeking a variety of paths to healing from trauma, ptsd, and emotional issues?

A. Keep trying things until you find what works for you.  Not the same thing works for everyone.  There are some great modalities like EMDR, EFT, and even dietary changes. Myself for example, I experienced huge benefits for depression using NAET.  The important thing is to make your healing a priority and don’t give up until you find what works for you.

EMILY VAN HORN PRACTICES OUT OF SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA.  TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HER WORK PLEASE VISIT HER WEBSITE AT: http://www.emilyvanhorn.com

I am sick.  I burnt the Candle (not the posture but rather my lifeline) at both ends and ended up pretty burnt out, a day off of work to recoup, and hoping tonight and tomorrow bring enough energy to get what needs to be done with yoga school done–this is no time to get behind now heading into the 1/3 mark of the program!

So how do I stay present, centered, grounded and not curmudgenly when the present is all  headaches and sinus pressure?  No, really, how?  I am sorting through this one and my favorite word of this blog seems to pop back up–perspective.  I need to take what is for what it is without spinning out in frustration.  I have to modify my do-five-things-at-once and collapse motto that I have been living by to get through two jobs and yoga school down to doing what needs to be done and giving myself room to breathe in between. 

MY TOP 5YOGA SCHOOL TIPS (for me &  for anyone else for whom this might apply):

1) Sleep, sleep, sleep.  Whenever you have a free minute give yourself a break and a rest.

2) If you have a low immune system take lots of Airborne!

3)  As my yoga teacher says “Attitude, attitude, attitude.”  It’s all about the attitude.

4) Keep a balance–yoga school, work, home.  And ease up the reins on each one–don’t expect perfection when juggling life tasks (or at any other time).

5) Sleep! Rest! Relaxation!  And so I am going to go lay down again although everything in my brain is saying get more stuff done!

 

I always loved the chewy taste of a rare, juicy, meaty steak and even when I would have “bouts” of vegetarianism for a week or a month I always said it was just for healthful purposes, I wasn’t one of those people who wouldn’t eat meat because it was mean to the animals because it seemed an unrealistic premise–we were born omnivores. Recently I have been having a change of heart and stomach.

The steps on this journey are as follows:

  • Watching the movie “Avatar” of all things and being reminded of the ancient, native traditions of blessing all animals that give us food and killing them in kind ways (reminiscent in the movie of Native American traditions where the animal is given a blessing as and after it is killed).
  • Reading John Robbins (heir to the Baskin Robbins throne) Food Revolution which was by mandate for yoga school but brought me to a new consciously aware place about what I eat, where it comes from, what that food can do to me, and what was done to it before it got to my plate.
  •  The desimation of our Iguana population at work by people poaching them for food.
  • And Max The Duck who wanders in front of our door (at work) with more and more frequency and who I find myself conversing (well briefly) alone with at 730am when I come from meditation to work very early and he is waiting hungrily for the crackers I feed him.

 

My realization that my consciousness about what I am doing and what is being done to others calls me to see that as a real piece in the process before my trip to the supermarket for plastic wrapped limbs. My learnings from yoga school to the amazing lecture by Richard Rohr who was introduced at the beginning of his lecture on his new book The Naked Now as part contemplative mystic and a proponent of eco-spirituality. He spoke about all the same wisdom as my yoga teacher in terms of our relationship and treatment of the world around us and how reflective it is of our inner selves–how neglect of these things are as much spiritual void as nature negligence.

My world and life, as it often works, seems to be circling back to an eco-friendly framework. One that spans beyond just recycling when I can and trying to be sustainable in a small scope. In a world where livestock has become an industry of warehousing and cruelty unless I plan on building a humane farm for one there is no way to really participate in mainstream omnivore lifestyle without being an affront to consciousness and conscience-ness.

This is of course a personal plight and journey and I by no means want to send waves of negativity towards the vibrantly carnivorous among us (ahem, my husband). I have not decided yet how this new attempt at gastronomy is going to go or what I am going to leave on the table–literally or figuratively.

What I do know is that I will have to do whatever I do with awareness and mindfulness of what I know and not be capricious about eating at any level. I think it is, also, no random coincidence, that my dietary suggestions for my chronic illness (endometriosis) include avoiding, if possible, most meat and most dairy altogether. Perhaps I am on a path I was meant to be on–spiritually and corporeally.

I was thinking about words that I keep coming back to, professionally and personally, that resonate with me at so many levels.  The words that I come to all seem to be connected in a web of healing and I wanted to share them with you and see if any resonate with you in your life now or in your aspirations going into January of this new year.

TOP 10 WORDS of INSPIRATION for 2010:

1 Mindfulness:  A point of weakness for almost everyone, mindfulness reminds us to constantly be aware of what is going on inside us and in the external world in any given moment.  I find that the more I work on this concept with my clients the easier it is for them to manage their daily existence and the more I work on this concept for myself I find the same.  When I am in the moment driving, acknowledging the sun and the color of the sky, thinking only of the bumps on the road and the car in front of me somehow the world beyond that melts away–the past, the future, and all the worries entangled in each melt away when we are in the now and mindful of that experience. 

2  Resilience:  Ah, forever a key concept in emotional wellness or the lack of it, resilience is our capacity to–like the iguana–bounce back from difficulty  and traumatic emotional experience.  Resilience is something that can be widdled away at over time.  Each additional difficult emotional experience weakens  our wall of self-protection, like rocks being thrown at a wooden fence, the stability will become shakier and it has more potential to break and fall down altogether.  Resilience is critical to be able to weather emotional storms and return to a healthy emotional state but there is work to be done to get there….but, see #3, there is hope….

3 Neuroplasticity:  I love this word for what it means…although it sounds overwhelming it brings a hopefulness to healing, resilience, and wellness in every way.  Neuroplasticity, simply stated, is the scientifically tested truism that THE BRAIN CAN CHANGE.  This brings hope to any obstacle and every internal roadblock in our mind because neuroscience has taught us that any dog can learn a new trick–young, old, traumatized, or otherwise.  We can relearn a sense of resilience, find new coping mechanisms, and rebuild our wall of safety so that we can weather anything with the right tools. 

4 Present-Centered:  This words in tandem with mindfulness practices as it symbolizes living in the moment of our daily existence.  Present-centered existence means really being able let go of our hold on  yesterday, our worries about tomorrow and visualize today for what it is.  Mindfulness teaches us the attunement of living in the now while present-centered philosophy embodies the very nature of being in the now.  If we can work just on being in the moment for a brief period every day we might find a richness and truth imbedded in where we are that we never expected.  When I have brief moments of really being present where I am there are rich spiritual and emotinal rewards–but it is a very difficult thing to embody and a practice I am working on….meditation, for me, is a way of training myself to keep in the moment a little longer every day. 

5  Somatics:  The essense of embodiment, somatic means that we feel and experience things in our physical self.  Our body holds, as many people I think have discovered in their practice of yoga, pockets of hidden secrets and rich emotional material.  We can feel our navel and be reminded of pleasures and pains in our psychological and emotional past.  For someone traumatized their body becomes the triggering point for many painful memories and our body responds along with our mind to what we are afraid of, sad about, happy for.  The somatic experience, meaning a body attunement and discovery, can unlock hidden pains that talk alone could have never explored so deeply.  In every way we emBODY our feelings, stories, and aches. 

6 Integrative:  The word integrative, along with complementary, has been linked within the medical and mental health community to symbolize the umbrella of holistic treatment approaches and therapies that are being discovered to be a great help for people in healing from emotional and physical ills.  Such fields as acupuncture, massage, yoga, creative arts, animal-bond, tai chi, and others are being explored and studied in relation to how they can help us heal.  I believe this year is going to continue to be exciting and invigorating for the study and practice of amazing programs incorporating all these wonderful healing practices–I truely cannot wait to see where it all leads, for me personally and within the field of mental health and trauma therapy!

7 Yoga:  Each moment I spend delving deeper into the world and practice of yoga the more I see it as a sincere life path that seems to walk parallel and stand as a great  metaphor for so many of my core beliefs both personally and professionally.  Life, birth, death, and transformation all seem to begin and end with a breath.  In my new book I explore breath as the mark of both my descent into my trauma, PTSD, and my renewal and rebirth of recovery.  For me yoga was a pinnacle point of my changing life perspective, my renewal of resilience, and learning to be strong in myself again.  Yoga begins with breath and from there it can be applied, karmically, physically, emotionally into our practice and methods of living in the world at large.  I look forward to continue my exploration of yoga and learning new ways to stretch myself, literally and metaphorically, through this upcoming teacher training. 

8 Soul:  The soul is “the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life” as I quote e.e. cummings in one of my favorite poems.  Soul is the essence of what we are when we take away flesh and bone and mind and even heart we are soul in the beginning and in the end and at our very core.  Souls can become damaged in this thing called life and the tribulations within….sometimes we just need some soul renewal.  I think mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and just time of reflection can give us some insight into and attention towards the often neglected root of the self–the soul.  I have to remember to care for myself, we all do, as I work at so much of this mind and body “work”.  We cannot neglect the root of the root and the bud of the bud as we wander through our lives.

9 Equine:  I have begun to dream about horses.  They are entering my consciousness at a new level and it is a comforting and inviting experience to find them nestled in the pages of my unconcious stories.  I find my dreams with equines to be much softer and calmer than my other, more restless nighttime machinations.  In dream interpretation it is said that horses represent strength, power, endurance, and a strong physical energy.  I hope to be able to wrangle some of that equine spirit of my dreams into a stronger physical self in 2010–one that can defy the limitations of my endometriosis.  I hope to imbibe some of that overall strength inherently found in horses and breathe it into myself and my life in this upcoming year…and beyond. 

10 Empowerment:  In working with a few more clients heading into this year with severe self-esteem and body image issues (male and female) I find that this word has ever increasing importance in my vocabulary and the way that I think in terms of helping people.  Empowerment is a key element to any human’s will to persevere in their own lives–we must feel strong, proud, compitent, and confident in our own bodies and minds in some way to be motivated to take on the difficulties of life.  I think, perhaps, empowerment of the self can be one of the greatest keys to emotional wellness.  My hope, in 2010, is to start to create some workshop programming helping people with just this piece–finding a sense of empowerment and strength of self.  I believe that horses can be a great co-facilitator in this regard.   With their symbolic linkages to strength and their yogic-like attunement to emotions and the present they seem just the therapists to assist in the challenge.

“In mindful eating we are not comparing or judging.  We are simply witnessing the many sensations, thoughts, and emotions, that come up around eating.  This is done in a straightforward, no-nonsense way, but is warmed with kindness and spiced with curiosity.”                                                    

Jan Chozen Bays

  

Eating.  The holidays have been built up around the joy of sharing meals with loved ones, baking cookies, and filling bellies with merriment and mint.  I have been thinking a lot about eating lately, in part because I have my own issues of food around what I can/can’t, should/shouldn’t eat due to my endometriosis and what I feel, sometimes compulsively, provoked to imbibe and scarf down to include most things NOT on my ok foods list–soda, candy canes, meats, cheese, white flour.  The other issue that has been bringing food to the forefront is issues of eating disorders in my professional practice.  Imagine living in a world in which food was enemy and eating was a dark and sinister process.  Imagine a holiday plagued by these issues. 

In one way or another we all have our issues with food.  Whether it is just a societally imposed ridiculous standard of what is “healthy” in the form of size zero’s on magazines or eating a bag of chips or box of chocolates when we have a bad day or self-imposed ideas about having to work out or work off every last holiday calorie for New Year’s everyone has their thing.  It is hard to feel good about ourselves and everyone measures themselves in some way, at some point in their life, by some invisible and unattainable standard of perfection. 

I think this time of year is the perfect time to consider taking eating and food from a perspective not just of health or general wellness but as pleasure and mindfulness all in one.  What if we could take our yoga practice off of our mats and into not just our mind, body, spirit but directly into our mouths?  The sensory experience of food could be an intensely sensual and joyful experience but most of us hurry through our meals and few linger over the immense savoryness of flavors.  Why not pause, breath, and imbibe the world’s gastronomic pleasures in a fully centered and aware way?  Usually, we just don’t think about doing so…but what better time to start then for the New Year.

I have been given a palpable and painful reminder of how much food can be an unhealthy and sinister factor in people’s lives.  How much a life of pain and aspirations of unattainable perfection can lead to finding an enemy in food and be unable to know how to eat with pleasure.  I find myself joining, as sometimes happens, my client on her journey to rediscover food with a new awareness in my own gastronomy journey.  I want to eat what I should with pleasure and not with a sense of punishment.  I want to crave the sweet and juicy explosion of blueberries popping like savory balloons on my tongue rather than aching for soda that inevitably (as it did last night) will subsequently make me ache. 

I am on a search and exploration of gastronomical joy.  I want to explore Mindful Eating to its fullest.  I want to see the Zen in mealtime and find breath in every bite.  I challenge anyone who wishes to try to do the same.  The Center for Mindful Eating is a great resource to begin and the book quoted above entitled Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food

 

 
 
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
 
T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
 
 
I find that I am particularly bipolar in my mood when heading into a new year–I am filled with both gratitude for what was and anticipation for what could be while at the same time feeling sullenly sub-par considering the ‘could haves, would haves’, and worrying if I can live up to my projected goals for what is to come.  My husband is particularly fond of this newly discovered layer of my inner self–really, overjoyed even.  He wants me to “explain” the hows and whys of my feelings.  As an ex-philosophy major he makes my head hurt with his logic equations, in which most of my emotional meanderings have no place.   
 
 
Last night I was surrounded in a particularly prickly and heavy quilt of my own melancholy as all the yesterdays and tomorrows swam in my head.  Besides all of the cerebral churning my belly was also preoccupied with aches and pains that were endometriosis in origin.  So, preoccupied as I was, I found myself grumpy and ill at 9:00pm stumbling towards the bathroom.  In the dark I clumsily flicked the light switch and simultaneously saw and felt a giant waterbug (cuddly term for a roach on steroids) scurry over my foot and towards the opposite wall, searching for darkness.  I screamed something in the four-letter word department and my husband came running with concern, until he found out why, and then he was less than impressed by the trauma of it all. 
 
 
So it got me thinking, much as it seems most of God’s Floridian creatures have done these last few months, inspiring posts and metaphors galore.  I lay, minutes after my experience, covered with blankets, a beagle-pug sentry named Gaia who had willingly been roped into the comfy king-sized bed to watch over me, ready to pounce on anything roachy that might have decided to follow me back to my “safe place”.  I started thinking that it doesn’t matter too much how good things are, how safe we feel, how much we have planned for the way things will be or should be because into every life a few roaches must crawl.  
 
 
I can kick myself over what was and wish for a better what will be but in total this year has been amazing and how dare I diminish my life, myself, and my experiences by focusing on the roaches in the mix.  So I am going to take the path of the lovely post today “Gratitude” over at Ms. Nona’s blog and consider the positive and list it out…because I love a chance for a list!
 
 
This Year I am Grateful For:
 
 
1.  Marrying my wonderful, roach killing, husband not once but twice!
 
2.  The honor of recieving NYU’s Outstanding Recent Alumna Award for my Complementary Therapies with Trauma Survivors (thank you alma mater).
 
3.  Moving to a beautiful place in which the most wonderful new adventures have begun and people met (and where there is no ugly cold winters!).
 
4.  My work and how it metamorphasizes and expands at every new step into even more wonderful ideas and creative approaches.
 
5.  Finally deciding to write the book that has been a long time in procrastination and topic determination.
 
6.  Following my passions wherever they lead me–in love, in work, in relationship, in spirituality, and every other crevice of my life.
 
7.  Being able to start therapeutic groups in Yoga, Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, and Creative Arts (multimedia) & being given wonderful opportunities to speak about my belief in the value of these approaches.
 
8.  Finding space to breathe in my body, mind, heart, and soul and finally putting old ghosts to rest.
 
 
Namaste and Happy Holidays to All!  Explore your own gratitude and don’t let your “woulds and shoulds” hold you back or metaphoric/literal roaches keep you down!
 

some day i'll bring you flowers, frozen flowers of death by e3000 on flickr

“Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality”
Emily Dickinson

 

 

This past week I have been exhausted by things as simple as walking, sitting, and just plain healing.  It has been a frustrating process segwaying back into work only to come home every night too tired to even think let alone write.   I find myself daily contemplating my own fragility, the tender care I have to give to this soft human soul casing.  I have been eating as healthfully as I ever have, trying to give my body the rest it requests from me, and becoming a regular acupuncture patient at a local Doctor of Oriental Medicine’s office who specializes in endometriosis.  With each day I feel more solid, more complete, more functionally human by all those standards we judge ourselves–mobility, brain function ability, and functionality in the workplace. 

 

And then the other day I find my thoughts meandering, after a particularly vivid and grotesque depiction by a client of experiencing the death of a loved one, how I have never seen death.  I have heard it in the therapy room in story after vivid story but I had never seen it, watched life leaving another human being and staring that moment of mortality in the eye. Figuratively that is what I do all day, stare life and death and morbid recollections of others in the eye, but literally, palpably, I had never had to experience it.  I wondered what that was like and how I would react given that confrontation.

 

Last night I was given my chance to see–morbidly, grotesquely, painfully, and in a shock inducing way by the side of a road in a small town on a quiet Saturday night. 

 

I saw life leave a human being in a haze of squealing tires, smoking brakes, mangled bicycle, limbs flying, life leaving, wife screaming.  I will not talk any further about the incident itself,  but I will say it was more than I ever could have imagined in death and more than I would ever have wanted to be a part of. 

 

I found myself last night unable to sleep, unable to process, unable to eat, unable to both think about it and think about anything else.  The shrill screams of a soon to be grieving widow echoing in my ear and the sight of ground pooled with blood and brokeness repeating in my mind. 

 

I found myself waking today with those same thoughts reverberating through my conciousness and aching in my soul in mourning for so many lives that were touched by one moment in time and one small blip on the timeline of human existence that I will never forget.  In a minute a woman lost her husband, a man lost his life, another faced with charges of vehicular homicide in front of them, and a crowd of people–“witnesses” both in legal and philosophical senses–who will carry the memory and fragmented moments with them forever of the sight and sound and brutality of watching such a death occur.

 

I also found myself reevaluating my own reality.  Life, such a fleeting and fragile experience, that gives us no promise of tomorrow or no foresight to know how many tomorrows we have to live.  Living for today, loving like now is forever, and making choices as if they really matter has really become alive in me in a way like never before.  That woman who lost her husband was my age, could have been me, and that thought makes me rethink my whole world view in a way I never could have imagined–reframing what is important and what is urgent in my own life. 

 

All the clients and the years of hearing about the carnage of life and death in an instant of pain and screaming and blood is something I have heard often, heard daily, and my empathy was something I thought covered the weight and circumference of such an experience.  Now knowing what it means to be witness to that moment when a life goes out in this world in such a graphic fury of motion and gruesomeness I find myself knowing my client’s experience in a new and personal way.  It is something I never wished for but an element of human experience I now share with them.

 

I feel life today in a different way–both tainted with pain and sadness and simultaneously made furiously bright and real and scorching with urgency like never before.  I love my husband more profoundly.  I feel the sunlight on my face with more appreciation.  I want to do the things I feared for no valid reason at all because I should–because it’s time and there is no guarantee of time to come.  I want to care for my body in the ways I know how because all we can control is our actions in this world and try to have reverence and preservation of the life we live, the body we have, the good things we do in the world, and the things that we can do for others today. 

 

Live in the now.  Love the ones you love as much as you can.  Be sincere in your endeavors and only endeavor in those things that are sincere.  Be your best you today and be grateful for every today that you have. 

 

cemetary angel 002 by AdamSelwood on flickr

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

James Dean

kissed by the setting sun by lepiafgeo on flickr

 

Nona over at Insight Health Coaching gave me the greatest compliment ever in her post today.  She mentioned how my post “A Dose of Patience: Remembering Self-Care” had impacted her own mindset as she prepares for her own impending surgical procedure and recovery process.  In her own way she showed me how, in slowing down, in thinking about my own self-care, and verbalizing it on my blog in fact effected more change and was far more “productive” than any manufactured list of “To Do’s” ever could have accomplished.  She gave me a great gift today with her sentiments about my post and in turn gave me the inspiration to pay homage myself to those that have been kind enough to mention my blog on theirs as well as send out a bit of blog love to some new blogs I have been lucky enough to discover during my bedridden recovery period. 

 

EIGHT BLOGGERS WHO HAVE KINDLY REFERENCED MY BLOG IN THEIRS:

 

1 Blisschick in the post “What Has Yoga Done For You Lately”

2 it’s all yoga, baby in the post “7 Things about Yoga and Me”

3 yoga addicted in the post “Kreativ Blogger”

4 insight health coaching in the post “A Gratitude Mish-Mash”

5 svasti: a journey from assault to wholeness  in the post “The PTSD Fog”

6 Yogic Muse in the post “Going on Vacation”

7  Heal My PTSD in the post “To Speak Or Not To Speak About Trauma”

8 Nadine Fawell’s Blog in the posts “Link Love” and “Working it Out”

 

 3 puppies all in a row

  

TEN BLOGS I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT I HAVE TOUCHED ME (emotionally, spiritually, creatively, soulfully) AND I WANT TO PAY HOMAGE TO:

 

1 Artful Happiness: News and Notes From the Happy Shack & her post “Dream Takes Shape: Part I”

2 Wish Studio: an inspiring community for creative women & the post (all great) “blowing bubbles in a concrete jungle: a joy rebel’s take on real creativity”

3 Mama-Om: hitting every bump on the path to peace & the post “You Can Dance”

4 Expressive Hart : Creative Expression for the Soul & the post “Joyful Living Workshop”

5 My Autoimmune Life: my journey as I deal with multiple autoimmune issues & the post “I didn’t expect this to be so rough”

6 Tears Behind The Smile-A Journey Through Therapy and the post “What I don’t know about Anorexia”

7 Ecoyogini and the post “Bonne Fette a Moi” (Not a new favorite but a great supporter of my blog and frequent lovely comment poster)

Life Unfolds and the post “To Create is To Destroy”

9 Ink On My Fingers and the post “Allowing Dreams”

10 Creative Therapy and the post “Catalyst Eighty-Six”

 

Beach study, shapes and textures by lepiafgeo on flickr

 only whispering around here by lepiafgeo on flickr “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”
St. Augustine

 

My ability to be patient with myself is minimal. My awareness of this becomes maximized during certain circumstances that require patience with self, with situations, with life–circumstances over which I have little control. Surgery and the aftermath is one of those infuriating type of circumstances.

 

My irrational and grandiose plans to work on a book, make PowerPoint outlines, and write lengthy posts daily with all this “spare” time post-surgery was really deluded. Of course my delusion only becomes clear at points like now where I sway from medication induced delirium, ache inside to out with sharp pangs and deep cramps of stitches and bruising, and find my ability to focus on this sentence so difficult the idea of writing grand tomes to complementary medicine (ie working on my guidebook “Beyond Talk”) is so far out of my capacity it is pretty hilarious.

 

I write this moment of self-deprecating critique down on virtual paper for two reasons: 1) To remind myself, should future bouts of overzealous insanity occur, that these unrealistic stretches of self are not possible. 2) To be a reminder for everyone else who might have such proclivities that sometimes we just have to be patient with ourselves and kind to ourselves when we need it.

 

We have to be patient with our inner patient. Whether recovering from surgery, mending from an emotionally difficult week, dealing with unexpected trauma, or just finding ourselves in circumstances that we didn’t expect we all have to learn to manage self-care and know when to give ourselves a break.

 

We live in a world that tells us to do more, produce more, be more than we are and do it faster and faster than ever before. Well, sometimes not giving ourselves a moment to breathe, heal, and reboot is the greatest damage and disservice we can do to ourselves.

 

I am the worst perpetrator of a lack of self-care and, as I wrote in my last post, also someone most in need of being attuned to taking care of this body and mind I have been given. Only because of a medication induced stupor at present am I able to sit long enough to write this brief sentiment, but I thought now, while I am a bit foggy with logic and confronted with my own truth, I should take the time to tell everyone what I need to remember myself–take care of yourself.

 

Give yourself a day just to read in the sun, even if you had 10 things on your “to-do” list. Find the time to get a massage or do a relaxation exercise or ride your bike. Give yourself a moment to breathe in today, heal from anything lingering from yesterday, and rejuvenate for tomorrow. Right now I have ten things still swirling in my head that I must do, but maybe I MUST wait to do them tomorrow. Because, as my husband has been shouting at me all weekend, “You just had surgery!”

 

So, maybe it is not the time to write my book, or make my outlines, or get things done. And maybe, just maybe, this isn’t “spare time” to do my to-dos, but it is time that is meant to be dedicated to healing and repairing and preparing for when I do need to do all those things again.

 

So I urge you all, as I continue to  urge myself today, take care of yourself. Give yourself moments to breathe. Remember to take care of yourself. I will continue to remind my inner zealot to do the same.

 

Check out my guest post (don’t worry, written pre-surgery) over at Nadine Fawell’s lovely blog!

http://nadinefawell.net/2009/11/01/working-it-out/

 

Imperfection, I by lepiafgeo on flickr

 

 

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