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Oh . . . Da Pain! Da Pain! November 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Health & Wellness, Humor.
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St. Paula (middle), 347-404 A.D.

This Thanksgiving, among other things, I am thankful that I do NOT feel like I did this time LAST year . . . 

I am dedicating this post to St. Paula  with the hope that she will soon feel similar gratitude for pain that is ebbing, rather than flowing: 

11/20/2009:  I’m not dressed this morning, due to unrelenting pain in my left shoulder from Shoulder Impingement Syndrome.

If you’ve never experienced SIS before, count your blessings!   If you have, you know it’s like having someone standing over you with a sledge hammer ~ cheerfully smashing your shoulder blades every time you move a muscle, or take a sharp intake of breath.

Now, before you envision me sitting naked at the keyboard, let me assure you that I’m decent ~ wearing a huge button-down shirt of BFF’s that covers up all the essentials, while doing absolutely nothing to mask the pain.

I’ve tried icing the area, repeatedly ~ resulting in cold pain.  I’ve tried a heating pad, repeatedly ~ resulting in warm pain.  I’ve been popping Advil and Aleve like gummi bears . . . with absolutely no relief.

It feels as if the dentist is drilling through the muscles and tendons and bones in my shoulder, without first numbing the area with Novocaine.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain is about an “8” ~ as long as I keep my left arm glued to my side like a broken chicken wing, and only wiggle my fingers.  If I try to move my shoulder, even a fraction of an inch, the pain shoots excruciatingly down my arm to my finger tips, while simultaneously traveling up my arm, and down my torso, to my stomach, where waves of nausea engulf me.

With a bit of finagling, I’ve managed to get an appointment with an orthopedic specialist for 3:30 this afternoon ~ he’s the doctor for the Cincinnati Reds during Spring Training so I know that he’s worth the wait, but still the minutes are dragging on, each one longer than the last.

The pain started two days ago, with a twinge in my left shoulder that kept growing and growing and growing ~ like watching a plane come in for landing.   It started as a dot on the radar, and rapidly grew in size until it encompassed my entire being with its screaming jet-engine like intensity.

It’s impossible to sleep on my left side, or my stomach, without  Fourth of July fireworks exploding in my shoulder.  Since I generally sleep on my left side, the last two nights of slumber have resulted in intermittent dozing, alternating with debilitating pain.   I’ve spent hours in bed, flat on my back, anxiously awaiting respite from the pain ~ when I fall into fitful sleep for  a few blessed moments at a time.

Getting in and out of bed during the sleepless hours is problematic, but necessary ~ first to get more Advil, and then to get more ice, and then to get a cracker to nibble on so the Advil won’t destroy my digestive tract.  The Advil isn’t doing much for the pain, but it’s doing a swell job of causing turbulence in my nether regions.

So, while I still live on Fantasy Island, Tattoo is not standing on the dock  screaming “Da Plane, Da Plane!”  Instead, my shoulder has drowned him out with its chorus of “Da Pain!  Da Pain!”

Here’s hoping that a cortisone shot this afternoon will bring me some much needed relief.

Footnote:  Last year, after the cortisone shot, my arm improved in short order.  I am extremely grateful to be having a PAIN FREE Thanksgiving this year, and wish the same for St. Paula and all my friends around the world. 

Feel better soon, Paula!  

The Courage to Be Free November 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
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In The Courage to Be Free, Guy Finley echoes the message that I’ve been attempting (with varying degrees of success) to share here on Spirit Lights The Way:

When you realize no one else on this earth can be like you . . . that no other soul may know the beauty, sorrow, light and darkness you alone are given to see . . . then you will, at last, be the fearless individual your Heart of hearts has called you to be. ~ Guy Finley

Every saint, sage, and master ~ East or West, past or present ~ has a special message for you:

You were born to be free.

Free of fear, free of stress, free of the past ~ free to be strong, wise, and perfectly unique.

“The Courage to Be Free is a gift from a master teacher, filled page after page with insights that will help calm your anxieties, allay your fears, and help you live a more present, precious life.”  ~ Daniel G. Amen, MD, New York Times best-selling author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.

“Guy Finley, in his gentle but powerful way, reminds you of your original self ~ the you that is free from fear, worry and pain ~ the person you were meant to be.  Finley teaches you to have the courage to be your authentic self. It’s not about being right, but instead living as a friend of truth.  Finley gently points a finger at my heart, reminding me to seek myself within.”  ~ Vicky Thompson, New Connexion Journal [Full comment:  Courage to Be Free]

To give you a flavor for the book, I’m going to share part of an excerpt that a reader (thanks, LL!) sent me from the book this morning:

6.  You are well on your way to reclaiming your original fearless Self when you find your source of peace and contentment in just being alive.

8.  The main reason it’s wise to listen to one’s own heart ~ when we remember to do so ~ is because there’s much more to be learned from the parts of us that don’t “speak” in words . . . than those that do.

9.  The most important thing to remember whenever you find yourself in a mad rush is that what you are really trying to get to is a quiet mind . . . a peaceable state of self reached only by realizing there is no place more empowering for you to be than in the present moment.

To read the rest of the excerpt from pages 92-95:

Slow Down and Get In Step with Real Success

Related posts:   Actors on the Stage of Life *  Fly High, Freebird *  Live Your Life * Free To Be . . . MeBut I Might Die Tonight  * Year of the Cat

Are You Okay Right Now? November 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery, Mindfulness.
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To be the hero of your life means to be who YOU are.  That requires honesty, both with yourself and with others.  It takes courage to share “your truth” with the world, knowing that it will not always be well received.

But “your truth” is what you are here to share.

Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart. ~ Rumi

We do not become heroes by tip-toeing around the tough issues.  We do not become heroes by telling “nice white lies” to protect the perceived fragility of others.

Telling victims of domestic violence what they want to hear does not assist them in the long run.  The cycle of violence in their lives has eroded their self-esteem.  Their Egos are in a “fragile state” indeed.

But underneath the layers of bruised and battered Ego the pearl of their ageless Eternal Spirit holds out hope, peace, love, and joy . . . as long as they are brave enough to Dive Deep and search out its wisdom.

One day, a young woman and her grandmother appeared in my office to talk about the violence that had filled the young woman’s life.  We’ll call her Jan.

Jan tearfully recounted the physical and psychological abuse that she had sustained at the hands of her “loving” boyfriend.

Although he was now in jail, she remained paralyzed by fear and anxiety (at the level of Ego).

Her mind wandered to the past and revisited the pain.  Her mind wandered to the future and worried about what would happen when he was released.

She could not eat.  She could not sleep.

She could not move through her daily life without feeling that he would jump out at her from around the next corner.

I suspect she had PTSD ~ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ~ stress from PAST EVENTS permeated her being and robbed her of the joy she could be feeling in the Present Moment.

As tears rolled down her cheeks, as she wailed that she did not know what to do, as she sobbed in hopelessness, words rolled unbidden from my mouth ~ out before I could call them back.

Honest words.  Brutally honest words.  True words.

“Stop.”  She blinked.

“Look around.”  She complied.

“Are you okay right now?”  She nodded.  Her grandmother nodded in time.

“Then you are okay.”

Harsh words indeed to deliver to someone who had already gone through so much.

After she and her grandmother left, I went home and kept thinking about those BRUTALLY honest words I had shared with her.

While they might have been what she needed to hear (and in that sense were kind and compassionate), they were not NICE words designed to protect her fragile state of being.  They were a call to arms.

Wake up.  Look around.  The only one here that’s hurting you is YOU! 

I worried as I lay in bed that night that my HONEST appraisal of her situation might hurt and hinder her, rather than help.  That thought kept me awake for hours.

Finally, desperate for sleep, I asked the Universe, God, the Collective Conscience to let me know if I had done the “right” thing by being BRUTALLY HONEST.

The next morning, my office mate, who ran a different program, looked up at me as I entered the office, and asked, “Did you meet with a young woman named Jan and her grandmother yesterday?”

I nodded, holding my breath.

Jill looked at me with an odd expression on her face, “I don’t know if this will make any sense to you, it doesn’t to me, but Jan called about some mental health programs I’m running and asked me to relay a message to you.”

I nodded again, still holding my breath.

“She said . . . Tell her she told me exactly what I needed to hear.”

I smiled and breathed.

Jill continued, “I asked her to be more specific, but she said you’d know what she meant.  Do you?”

I nodded and offered silent thanks to the Universe for answering my request so quickly . . . telling me exactly what I needed to hear.

Sometimes the words that flow from our mouths are authored by another, a higher power, a power filled with love and compassion for mankind, a power that understands that harsh words often bring about the most lasting and beneficial change to those facing challenges in their lives here on Earth.  I suspect that that is what happened that day.

The Universe whispered those seemingly harsh words to me, so that I would tell Jan exactly what she needed to hear.

If I had been guided solely by Jan’s apparent sensibilities and the fragile state of her Ego (filled as it was with paralyzing fear), I might have gathered her in my arms and let her cry.  I might have agreed with her when she said there was no way that she could overcome the anxiety that filled her days and nights.  I might have commiserated, sympathized, or empathized with her plight, highlighting and exacerbating her role as not only a victim of domestic violence, but a victim of life as well.

Instead, the Universe reminded her, through me, that if she is okay right now, then she is okay.

Those harsh-sounding words were exactly what she needed to hear.

My willingness to throw open the blinds that obscured her vision allowed light into her world for the first time in months.

Brutal honesty washed away her fear and reminded her to let go of the past and stop worrying about the future.  It reminded her that we can only live right here, right now.  And, if we are okay right now, then we are okay.

We do not know what others need.  We do not have sufficient perspective on their lives.  But that need not stop up from sharing “our truth” with them.

Maybe our honesty, even our brutal honesty, is the Universe reaching out to them, through us, telling them . . . exactly what they need to hear.

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  The Gift of Synchronicity * Synchronicity & MysteryA Beacon in the DarkWay of the Peaceful Warrior * Access Your Inner Wisdom * Winks Whispers & NudgesDivine Inspiration in Unlikely Places

Kindly Be Honest November 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People.
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In To Thine Own Self Be True, I gave you an example of subtle dishonesty as it relates to the practice of law.  Here’s another, more personal, example.  

After college, a friend started dating a graduate student.  When she asked me what I thought of him, I responded, “Do you want my honest opinion?” 

She assured me that she did.

“Well, from what I’ve seen, he’s pretty sold on himself.  I expect that he will never put your interests above his own.” 

Despite having asked for my honest opinion, my answer displeased her. 

She wanted me to say what she wanted to hear ~ that she was in love with a great guy and they would live happily ever after.  

Shortly after our conversation, her relationship with the graduate student ended ~ at his request, not hers.  At that point, everyone who had told her, “He’s wonderful,” admitted  that they had not cared for him at all due to his arrogance, and assured her that she was “better off without him.” 

While the relationship was on-going, her friends and family had engaged in subtle deception.  They were “nice,” and told her what she wanted to hear, rather than being fully honest when asked for their opinion.

Years later, my friend told me what had happened when the relationship ended, and how her other friends had quickly “changed their tune.”  

She added that, while she appreciated my honesty on an intellectual level, she found that she was still angry at me for seeing something that she had not seen when “blinded by love.” 

Her anger didn’t surprise me. 

Even though she had requested my honest opinion, that’s not what she wanted ~ her Ego wanted me to  approve of her taste in men. 

If we give an honest opinion when asked for it, our response is not always going to be well received.  Some people will be angered by our honesty, and our approval rating may take a nose dive.  

But, if we are more focused on acceptance within (at the level of Spirit), than on external approval (at the level of Ego), our approval rating with others  becomes relatively unimportant:  

* We refuse to engage in subtle deception solely to gain approval from those around us.

* We set and meet our own guidelines and expectations for daily conduct. 

* We care more about our spiritual integrity, and less about what others think of us.

* We are not concerned if our view is the minority view, nor are we swayed by the ever-shifting opinions of others. 

* We use an internal compass to govern our actions.

* We gravitate towards people who value our honesty and integrity, and accept us as we are. 

And, as an added bonus, when we look in the mirror at the end of the day, we are not embarrassed by our reflection.

Quote:  Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi