When it gets physical

I love Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations.  His latest topic is on poetry and the language of metaphor.  This sentence especially popped out at me:

When religion becomes mere philosophy, accurate definitions, moralisms about others, rituals and dogmas in the head–that is the beginning of the end of religion as actual transformation. Now no one knows what to do with their pain except project it onto other people.

Being into my 5th decade, I have seen the truth of this statement unfold as I’ve watched the young become middle-aged and the middle-aged grow into seniors.

Those clinging to their absolutes become more angry and inflexible.  They know on an intuitive level that it’s just not working and they’re pissed.  They’ve played by the rules and they’ve been served a shit sandwich.

But here’s the rub – that anger is so repressed due their Puritanical virtues (read: ego) which value appearance and protocol above transformation and mercy.

The cruelty of our culture always demanding more, more, more – and by golly, you’d better look good while you’re doing it.  It’s a disaster.

Rohr says the pain gets projected onto others.  Oh, yes indeedy!  I would also add that the anger that’s repressed ends up being expressed in chronic pain and other chronic health conditions.

Our minds are not separate from our bodies.  If there is emotional anguish – it will get physical if it’s not dealt with.

Please note, I’m not talking about tissue breakdown and structural issues!  Nor am I’m placing blame on you for your health issues.  What I am saying is this –

If you’re dealing with chronic health issues, slow down and try to listen to the lesson your body is trying to teach you.  (Please note this is different from “battling” your health issues.)

It takes great bravery to take this route but the peace – and improved health-  it brings is far worth the cost.

Posted in Chronic Pain, Tension, TMS/MBS | Tagged , | 2 Comments

You show me yours…

….but I don’t want to show you mine.

I’m talking about vulnerability.   Vulnerability, transparency, authenticity – it’s something we all crave at a very basic level, even if we’re not cognizant of it.

It’s the first thing we look for in another person.  I don’t think we’re conscientiously looking for the weak spots.  But our ego, set on auto pilot to contrast and compare, is hard at work standing guard over it’s weak spot – the fear of not looking good.

We’re afraid of being found out.  Afraid of if you really knew how I was.  Fear of making a mistake.  I had one precious soul confess to me that she was afraid that if she allowed herself to cry, she’d never stop.  (Her body is doing it for her as she faces multiple chronic health issues.)

True story.  I was in Sprouts the other day and I overheard a woman having a conversation with herself.  She was in anguish over the apples – where they good for eating?  Or better for baking?  Her conflict – to buy or not – was evident.  The absurdity of it almost made me laugh.

But upon reflection, that woman reminded me of the trivial nature of the things of which I am frequently afraid.

Can I share my fears with you?  Can I show you my scars, my wounds…and be safe? 

This is the stuff that makes us human.  But someone’s got to go first.  Why not you?

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How’s your windshield looking?

Jay and I did something we haven’t done in a long while – we attended a home show.  You know – the big expo where you stroll past all the vendor booths to see who’s offering what.

There was an assortment of vendors for all things home related. Then there’s the usual hawkers of miracle lotions (I caught one over-enthusiastic woman before she ambushed me with a glob of her cream) and voodoo crystals or cushions.

We figured out within a few minutes that we don’t enjoy those like we used to.  It might be because we’re not home owners right now but probably more so it’s the consumerism.

Consumerism doesn’t ask what do you need.  It tells you that you must have more.  That what you have isn’t enough.  Buy, buy, buy!  It reduces our humanity to a commodity and I find this deeply offensive.

This was exemplified when we approached one table.  There was a line-up of 4 people, all wearing matching company polo shirts.  It was like we hit a motion activated sales pitch – you know, like the sample ladies at Costco will prattle off their spiel when you walk buy.

He gave us a cheesy smile and said, “How ya doing today and how’s your windshield looking?”

How’s my windshield looking?

You have got to be kidding me.

We acknowledged his comment to be polite and got to the other end of the table where #4 drone step in front of us, same cheesy grin.  And same cheesy inquiry.

How’s your windshield looking?

I felt bad for the workers.  I can’t imagine standing there, repeating that vapid line over and over again hoping to hook a sale.  I wondered if the owner was there monitoring his monkeys to make sure they weren’t missing any opportunities.

My only regret is that I didn’t notice the company name so that on the very rare occasion I may need a new windshield, I won’t go to them.

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Vitamins in the crust

According to dad, this was my grandpa.

According to dad, this was my grandpa.

In our blue-collar family of nine, it was a sin to waste food.  But nobody liked the bread crusts (I still don’t like them, too dry!). But dad would tell us, “The most vitamins are in the crust.”  Folklore or a clever way to try to get us to eat that crust, I was never sure.

Early in adulthood, I realized that the likelihood of there being more vitamins in the crust was just as likely as that dude on the Hills Bros. Coffee can being my grandpa.  Yup, dad, with a twinkle in his blue eyes,  would tell us that too.  He had a great sense of humor.

Today, a quick search of “vitamins in the crust” did bring back a few hits on a German study done in 2002 that contends there are a greater concentration of antioxidants in the crust.  Nothing that would persuade me to begin eating crusts though.  So, that vitamins thing is sort of true.

When we are kids, we are told many things.  We adopt our beliefs.   And we take them all as gospel truth.  We develop our ideas and convictions about what we can and can’t do.  We learn that the universe is a generous place – or a hostile one and you’d better get what’s yours before someone else does!

Some of those childish beliefs are easy to dismiss as an adult…like that coffee can grandpa thing.  Others, especially when it comes to limiting beliefs that do not serve us well, can be a little harder to suss out and dismiss.

We imprison ourselves with these beliefs and too many folks will go to the grave not living the life they had dreamed of having.

Some things are easy to fact check.  But it’s those beliefs held near and dear to your heart that are toughest to evaluate.

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The power of negative thinking

The chief repressed emotion that fuels Tension Myositis Sydrome (TMS), says Dr. Sarno, is rage.  Yes, rage.

Most of us having a boiling cauldron deep within and we don’t realize it. It’s because as a child, most of us adopted personas to help us cope with what’s dealt to us.  That exceedingly kind and helpful co-worker may have learned her ways in order to cope with her alcoholic home.  Inwardly she’s seething with resentment with how her own needs are unmet.  So her body expresses the anger via the backache from hell or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or a host of other maladies.

These are not bad people.  And they find it especially horrifying that deep down inside, they’re spitting mad.  They’re mad at how life’s turned out.  Mad over the aging process.  Mad, mad, mad.

Once in awhile you/we get a glimpse of it when that anger spurts up like a Yellowstone Park geyser when that asshole cuts them off in traffic.

Anymore though, when I see an angry/mad person – I see a scared person.

What fuels this, I think, is our lack of transparency with ourselves and with each other.  We have been so well trained in Group Think 101 that we are unable to be honest.  Fear of being shamed dictates our responses.

We do this via platitudes like, “Look on the bright side!” or “At least….blah, blah, blah,”  “Don’t cry!” We minimize and dismiss someone’s bravery in an attempt be authentic.  And we mostly do it because it makes US uncomfortable.

Negative thinking has been given a bad rap.  I think there is POWER in negative thinking because it allows us to address the difficulties.  It gives voice to the hurt instead of burying it and allowing it to fuel rage.

Negative thinking isn’t negative living.  Negative thinking considers the scary elephant in the room – and then is able to take action and disarm the fear.

On the other hand, positive thinking can be detrimental.  I’ve seen in myself and in others that it is nothing more than a smokescreen for fear.

Sorting through all this, I think the key isn’t to think positively…it’s to live positively.  And we can do this by realizing the power of negative thinking.

Posted in Fear, TMS/MBS | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Why I prefer buying used

I always chuckle when I see an article on these daring experiments people will do to not buy anything new for a month. Or other forays into thriftiness. Oh, I’m not criticizing, I think it’s great and I wish more people would challenge their consumer spending habits.

But for me, thrift and shopping secondhand are, well, second nature. Raising our family on one income made this imperative. And trust me, some days it wasn’t fun trying to figure out how to clothe and furnish a home on a shoe string. But for the most part, it was an enjoyable adventure.

And it was all part of my training to become a Craigslist Ninja.

Today, my reasons for garage saleing or thrifting are different. 27 years into marriage, there’s nothing I need household wise. The kids are young adults who tend to their own expenses. And of course, I am a minimalist.

So why do I persist in my tightwad ways?

  • It’s fun. I enjoy the sense of community found in a fun garage sale. I get to meet neighbors and hear a little of their stories.I find treasures.
  • Today, I snagged a telephone cord purse for a buck. They sell on eBay for any where between $70 -120. Need I say more?
  • When I am looking for something – like sheets for our camper – a little patience saves me big time. I found a brand new set of sheets – $3. That’s even less than a Kohls or Ross clearance sale. Bonus – no sales tax!
  • It keeps stuff out of the landfill. Why buy new when I can find a perfectly usable older one? A can of paint works wonders for needed facelifts.
  • It puts money directly into the hands of the person selling. I especially like this. I feel like it’s a win-win. They’re decluttering their house and getting paid for it! I find a needed item for a fraction of retail.
  • I love supporting worthy causes. Here where I live, my favorite thrift store benefits battered women. And it’s all LOCAL. (Unlike some of the larger national thrift stores that follow business models I find objectionable.)

While I suspect I’ll always subscribe to the Less-is-More way of life, secondhand shopping is the way to go when I do need something.

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This is even worse than stress

Financial worries, the kid’s sick, and…is that a pink slip coming your way from Human Resources?

These are stresses all too common.  But according to the book I am listening to (once again!), there is something even worse than stress or stressful environments.

Dr. Gabor Mate, MD and author of When the Body Says No, says learned helplessness is even more detrimental than the external stress.

What’s that?  That’s what happens when a child or a person under extreme stress has no way of escape.  Or perceives things as such.

When this happens to a child, internalizing stress becomes a way of life.  And as they enter adulthood, they’re not even aware of it.  It’s just how it is.

Until an autoimmune disease or other chronic health issue knocks at their door.

I was thinking about this stuff as it applies to my own life.  Growing up in a tumultuous, alcoholic home I could see firsthand what Dr. Gabor writes about and it helped me identify some of the triggers that can send me into a downward spiral.

Example – The bills are piling up.  There’s a medical bill that must be paid out of pocket.  The car is making an odd noise and oh shit, we’re out of milk again.

The positive Theresa will respond – Bills are a way of life.  Our track record so far is 100% for getting through tight financial times.  What can I throw on Craigslist to cover that surprise expense?

The learned helplessness script goes a little differently –  “Here we go again.  Why can’t we get a break?  I get so sick of this.”  Sound familiar?

Same situation – two different takes on it.  With two very different mental outcomes.

We create so much difficulty by how we frame things.  This is powerful stuff.

BTW – I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Mate’s book.

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