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Sitting at my kitchen window again, I’m listening to birds and enjoying blossom-scented air wafting in through screens keeping an army of mosquitos at bay. It’s my favourite time of year despite the insects and I’m hoping that spraying with garlic oil will discourage them enough for us to be able to enjoy the outdoors in peace. I’ll let you know, as it’s a non-toxic product and would be a marvellous solution if it works. If so, I’m even going to take it camping!
For the April blog I wrote about the struggles of my sister Lili with her treatments for brain cancer and how hellish it was to watch her suffer. Since then we almost lost her. And then things turned around. The medications were changed and, miracle of miracles, resulted in an end to her pain and nausea. Our cousin and his partner took over my sister’s care and spirited her away to their home in Pennsylvania where they helped her eat/drink/take meds regularly. She was 103 pounds 1 1/2 weeks ago and now is 118, able to walk and enjoy life again, currently on holiday on Fire Island.
I’ve been relegated to watching from a distance as I have a stubborn infection from my breast reduction surgery that prevents travel. My stress around the situation increased to the point where my whole body tightened, breathing felt like I was in a straight-jacket and sleep became impossible. It took me a while to understand that I am being triggered by a black hole of childhood issues. With everything I have learned, I am still unable to relax. Prayers and meditation don’t penetrate the tension, I can’t make myself do what I need to do and I am just making it through each day doing what is most necessary for Felix. He is starting to act out a bit, bouncing off my tension and preoccupation.
I know I desperately need to rest and face myself most of all and find I can’t do it enough to catch my balance, recover from the infection and regain my energy. I take all kinds of supplements and remedies, make compresses, see my therapist…and it’s all a drop in the bucket if I don’t slow down.
Don’t feel sorry for me please. If you came to my home right now you would not know I was in such a state—except for the chaos everywhere as I finally get to organizing the place! It will not last very much longer. Once I became aware of what this is about, it already started to lose its hold. And most importantly, I do realize that this is how growth happens and am accepting the stress as inevitable. I am hoping that my home will become orderly as my mind does, smile…
Another side of the tension is a positive one: I have finally decided how to move forward with the centre. This creates a rush of ideas and enthusiasm and some normal anxiety. Luckily I know from painful experience that I like to bury my mind in projects to avoid emotional stress. Not this time. I am firmly dedicated to moving ahead slowly and in balance with my personal life so that I can contribute back all that I’ve been given, enjoying the process into my old age!
I look forward to planning out the future of the centre to a point where it can be shared. Then I hope to see some of you again at the exciting programs that will be offered.
Until then, let’s take care, breathe into what really is and trust that our vital energies do everything they can to heal us in this lovely spring weather. And do some rain dancing…
It’s a mild winter Sunday afternoon seen through the kitchen window. Felix and I spent the morning sledding in deep powder snow—do you remember how wonderfully strenuous that is!? Now he’s with his mother and I get an afternoon to myself. My computer plays the soundtrack from the movie Amelia, music for my performance at the ice show this weekend. It gives me shivers of anticipation and great distraction from the intense stress in my life.
I just reread my last blog and laughed at the paragraph about having a “saviour complex”—my whole existence these days is around trying to save people or feeling despair when I can’t. The onslaught of personal tragedies around me is almost unbelievable: cancer, flesh-eating disease, a heart transplant with complications, debilitating pain and mini-strokes.
Needless to say, I lost my balance. Worse, I disintegrated into whining and feeling a victim, resentful that “my life” had been derailed. These thoughts weren’t conscious at first, too embarrassing to admit even to myself. It took unpleasant physical symptoms to show that I am holding deep anger and that I need to change the way I am thinking or become sick myself. Once I realized my negative state, I was able to begin digging out of my hole.
The more positive me is now taking better care of myself and feels cheerful. As I travel with my suffering family members and friends, I am developing a deeper acceptance of whatever life has to offer, including the horrors. From a larger perspective, I can see life moving through me, pushing me to grow beyond my attachment to this body and ego. As I reflect, I also see that my closed heart is cracking open, little by little, allowing me to feel closer to people. And myself. And Life!
So really, I’m being blessed and in these rare hours of quiet, I can see that I’ll be a better person for the honour of walking these paths with people I love. It’s not about saving, it’s about serving.
And despite the cold and snow, spring is around the corner.
ps It may be a while before I can tell you what will happen at the centre in the future, but ideas continue to brew…
After four enjoyable years of writing this column, it’s time for a break. This goes together with a hiatus for the Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre. Both of us are due for a tune-up.
More specifically, I need to apply the principles of German New Medicine (GNM) to myself.
GNM describes symptoms as belonging to one of two phases: shock or resolution. The shock phase is the result of an unexpected event that startles us into survival mode. This may become chronic and is experienced as ongoing stress and tension.
If and when there is a resolution to the stressful event, we graduate into the second phase of GNM, the resolution or healing phase. In this phase we experience fatigue (as in letdown after a burst of activity), inflammation (which acts to repair damage from the stress) and many other symptoms that are misinterpreted as disease.
In my case, I have had several of these healing phase symptoms for years because I have not taken the time to finish recovery. GNM describes this all too common pattern as “hanging healing”.
My hanging symptoms include: a cataract in one eye that renders it virtually blind—except when I am relaxed and rested; Hashimoto’s disease, the most common type of low thyroid, considered “autoimmune” in mainstream medicine but not in GNM; joint pain, labelled as arthritis in our culture; chronic digestive upset; low iron; and an inconvenient tendency to dissociate when overwhelmed.
Each of these symptoms is related to a specific shock and mental belief which locks it in place. Over the years I have made many efforts at fixing them, all short of the most important requirement: rest.
It has been through practicing mindfulness meditation and experiencing the depth of my exhaustion and undergoing EMDR trauma therapy to neutralize some of my anxiety that I became willing to stop and rest without wanting to jump out of my skin or feel utterly worthless.
I closed the naturopathic practice of thirty years that was my emotional lifeline—my patients were actually keeping ME alive—and subsequently shut down the rest of the clinic at the centre as it was not financially feasible to keep it open. The only activities left here are the nature school and spaces to rent.
Since then an interesting thing happened: a close family member went through a health crisis requiring immediate support, information and frequent travel to the States. And there I was with both and available. Also, my younger daughter and her partner moved onto the Carp Ridge property with me, setting in motion a new level of relating with each other and the six year old boy we co-parent.
These events have brought up and magnified issues I’ve been avoiding for decades through excess work. Thankfully I now have the understanding, tools and support that allow me to stop and gain insight instead of complaining, although I admit it’s still hard to slow down, a constant learning process. And even though this inner work is intense, it has a different flavour than the chronic tension of avoidance: moments of sheer bliss and inner connection.
As for the future of the centre, I’m aiming to work from a position of clarity instead of unmet needs and eventually create a better clinic. And I assume that if Tone is still doing its important work (gratitude to Lemmy and company), I will write more articles.
A warm thank you to those who have given me feedback over the years!