Tag Archives: Help

Life Rehab Resource: Ask for Help

ringo "helping" me do laundry

ringo blue “helping” me do laundry

“I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands.” ~ Avicii, song lyric from Wake Me Up

It’s hard for me to ask for help. I am the helper. I provide support for others. I fix all the problems, anticipate the needs. When I find myself overwhelmed, confused, unable to handle what is happening, I don’t reach out. I am convinced that I should be able to do everything myself.

Right now my life is difficult. I took on too much at once — a new project at work, a new puppy, a sick dog, and yoga teacher training. At the same time, I am still working with the grief from the loss of Dexter, and even Obi and Kelly before him, as well as deep sadness about other things. I’m also working with a therapist, trying to heal 30+ years of disordered eating, distorted thinking. Because I’m so busy, I haven’t been taking care of my body like it needs. I feel weak and tired, sluggish. I’m convinced I am failing, making a mess of things even though I am trying so hard, doing the best I can.

A few times on Facebook, I requested support. I was asking specifically about raising a puppy, needing to hear from people just how long things would be this hard. I’ve done it three other times, but am suffering from some sort of amnesia about how this works, and keep getting stuck thinking this is how it’s always going to be, that the difficulty will never end. But every time I post about it, ask the question, it seems like people don’t take it seriously and end up either joking with me or offering more general encouragement. This helps, but I am desperate for a timeline. When will this ease up?

So I asked for help directly. Stacy Morrison is an online friend. We’ve never met in person, but follow each others blogs as well as being connected through other social media, and have developed a friendship that way. We have a similar way of seeing the world and are working with similar struggles. She also just so happens to have a six month old puppy, a Lab/Terrier mix, so I knew she would still remember, be able to give me an answer. I reached out.

Her response was immediate, direct and compassionate. What she said didn’t change the specifics of my situation, but I immediately felt better about it. The support she offered made all the difference. And all I’d had to do was ask.

There is no shame in needing help. There is no shame in weakness, illness or sadness or confusion. There is no shame in being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do. We don’t need to hide our broken hearts, our struggle, our suffering. Telling the truth, being vulnerable is how we access the support we need, is how we heal. We can start by admitting we can’t do it all ourselves, that we can’t fix or handle everything that comes our way.

Go ahead, kind and gentle reader. Say it with me: I need help. Can you help me?

Everything Changes

Another Wednesday without a wishcast prompt. And yet, I’m feeling a powerful need to make wishes — big wishes, important wishes, wishes for healing and peace.

I wish good health and healing for Jamie’s mom. I wish for strength, peace, and comfort for Jamie and anyone else loving and supporting her mom right now.

I wish for Dexter not to suffer, (he was at the emergency vet three weeks ago, his nose has been bleeding more that usual — whatever “usual” even means when cancer is involved — and on Saturday, he sprained his leg — a different one, not the one he’s already in physical therapy for). I also continue to wish that he have an easy death, whenever that might come.

I wish good luck, a safe trip and a workable outcome for my friend Ann. Today she’s making another visit to a doctor in Boston who might have a new treatment option for her cancer. No matter what happens, I wish her and her partner ease, comfort, and clarity.

I wish comfort for my friend Susan, my dear friend Kelly‘s mom. This past week had to have been so rough for her, with Mother’s Day and the three year anniversary of Kelly’s passing just days apart — but I also know that the arrival of a new granddaughter is offering so much joy. I wish for comfort for all of us who love Kelly and still feel so sad, miss her so much, who will forever carry that ache.

So many are suffering. It can feel overwhelming sometimes. But just when I start to feel like it’s all too much, someone does or says or makes or shares something so beautiful, that I remember: life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal — keep your heart open.

Today, it was a post on Hopeful World. It included beautiful words from Jen Lemen, who has been the healing balm for my own suffering so many times I’ve stopped counting. The video in the post is one she’d shared with me back in September, at a moment when it was just what I needed, and my response to it was just what she needed, but I was sworn to secrecy. I’ve been waiting patiently for her to share it with the world, so I could share it with you, and today is the day.

Everything changes. And when we can remember that during the low times, our hearts can fill with hope. And when we can tell each other this in the good times, our hearts can fill with gratitude. No matter what, we can be gentle, we can be kind. And we can remember, that even in this, we are never, ever alone. ~Jen Lemen

Not Knowing Where to Start

This is one of those posts, kind and gentle reader, that is at this moment as much of a mystery to me as it is to you. All day I have been thinking about what I wanted to tell you, what I had to say, to share, without being sure exactly what I would write. There is a big shift happening in my life right now but it’s not entirely clear to me how this is going to work out so I haven’t formed a neat and tidy way of communicating it. All I know for sure is that I want to tell you the truth.

I finally had an appointment with my new doctor. I have been struggling with fatigue for the past few years, have hypothyroidism and a family history of diabetes, (all kinds, on both sides), am most likely perimenopausal, and don’t get enough rest. I am a highly functioning food addict who has struggled with disordered eating for 30+ years, having gained, lost, and regained the same 20 pounds at least that many times. I want to be free of it, this struggle and dis-ease. I want to be strong, healthy, and whole, with the energy and stamina necessary to do the work I long to do, to live a full life.

Things have to to change. A series of unfortunate incidents with my previous doctors made me realize that I wasn’t being cared for as well as I should be, that I needed to seek out a new perspective, someone who would view me as a whole person (not just a body) and consider all the potential healing modalities available. I chose someone who practices Integrative Medicine, which according to her, “evaluates the patient as a whole. It does not view the patient as a chronic disease, an illness, a list of medications, or a recent hospitalization–but rather as a complex being made up of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual parts all interdependent and woven together. All of these elements are respectfully addressed in developing strategies to treat illness and more aggressively prevent disease.” Sounds great, doesn’t it?

It was good. But, we have some work to do. I have something to teach her about dealing with people who have a history of dis-ordered eating and self-loathing. For starters: don’t call them obese, no matter what the BMI chart says. And for heaven’s sake, don’t call them obese repeatedly. Call them curvy, solid, voluptuous, thick, full, well-rounded, sturdy, slightly heavier than optimal, weighted down–but don’t call them obese.

Brave Belly

I get it. I need to lose some weight. It’s the same weight I’ve been losing and gaining for years. I already knew that. I get it. It’s there, in part, because I am an incredibly sensitive and porous person, without natural thick skin or any other kind of protective barrier between myself and the energy of my environment, the suffering of every person I encounter, the meanness and brutality of life. I am easily hurt, and I eat my feelings. This in turn makes me bigger, more stable and substantial, heavier, harder to knock down, safer, calmer (at least in theory).

What she said hurt me. I’m pretty sure she thought I was confused about my situation, didn’t realize it was serious, and that this “truth” would motivate me to change. In reality, it sent me into a shame spiral. Thank goodness that same afternoon I was leaving for a retreat with Susan Piver, had a safe, supportive space to go in which to process what she’d said. I truly believe that without my practices, the support and wisdom I have access to, she would have only made things worse with that one word. I’m hoping the next time we meet, I can effectively and kindly communicate this to her so that she is better able to help the next person like me, a person who might not have the support, the tools I do to process and cope.

whole

For now, I get back to the work of educating myself. Along with Susan Piver, her support and wisdom and our shared practice, I am so grateful for the work and friendship of Rachel Cole. Both of these amazing women, (along with such writers and healers as Geneen Roth and Tara Brach), remind me to always approach myself, my struggles, with gentleness, to give myself space and compassion. In this way I can face this transition, which is going to be so difficult, with wisdom and lovingkindness–because this is so much more about loving myself than about what I do or don’t eat.

I can also count on the people in my life who love me to support me, encourage and help me, to make me smile, to laugh. Like my trainer, who after hearing what my doctor had said was extra encouraging to me when we worked out, telling me much more often than normal what a great job I was doing, (seriously, it was adorable). And my husband, who told me “we’ll figure this out, you’ll know what to do, and I’ll help you,” who loves me, is more concerned with the size of my heart and how much I love him back than a set of numbers anyway, who won’t judge me when I eat a cinnamon roll the size of my head. And my courage circle and other friends who reminded me of how much I am loved, of my real value, my truth worth. And my friends who gave me recommendations when I asked them for a kind and gentle therapist who works with dis-ordered eaters.

I can find and accept help, but more importantly I can trust myself.

Gratitude Friday

1. Susan Piver and the Open Heart Project. I haven’t had time to write anything here yet about my retreat last weekend, Open Heart with Susan Piver at Shambhala Mountain Center, but it was amazing. Other than my own will and intention, Susan and her project are the most essential elements of my meditation practice. She and it and everyone involved have given me the necessary support and inspiration to keep practicing.

2. Shambhala Mountain Center. Oh how I love that place–the land, the environment, the space, the food, the stupa, the lodges, the shrine rooms, and the people. I am so lucky that it is so close to me, all the time, so easy to access.

3. Getting help, finding comfort. A new doctor, a recommendation for a therapist from someone I trust and love (the fact that I have people to ask), and that moment when I am uncomfortable in bed, so I shift my position and land in the most comfortable, perfect spot–even better if there is a dog next to me and he sighs when I move.

4. Knowing what to let go. I can’t do everything, really couldn’t this week with Eric gone and me so run down, but I made good, kind choices about what I could do and what I couldn’t, and I didn’t beat myself up for what I didn’t do.

5. The patience of my dogs. When I came home yesterday and they expected a walk and lots of attention, but I needed sleep, they allowed for it, stayed on guard, protecting me, checking in on me and loving on me. And how right now, as I write this, instead of bugging me about the morning walk or wanting attention, they are both asleep in their crates, (maybe they are just getting lazy as they age, but I choose to see it as patience).

samanddexter

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. I am especially grateful for how he’s been asking me to throw him a tennis ball, how happy he is even with a modified version of that activity.

I Surrender.

treeshadowicecrackThe ponds at Lee Martinez are singing as they melt–humming, gurgling, snapping and cracking. The places where the ice is softening around the edges form patterns that look like the shadows of trees, their bare branches stretching out over the surface of the water.

Today feels like it could be spring. The sky over Fort Collins is clear and bright blue, the sun is shining and it’s warm. It seems like the population has suddenly doubled because everyone is outside.

aqua

I feel like my color this year is aqua–sea glass, soft turquoise mixed with deep blue. The color of water, the color of the sometimes sky, the color of the typewriter and the water and the arrows on my 2013 vision board, one of the colors in my eyes. Bridget Pilloud wrote about it on The Intuitive Bridge today, saying of the color:

It’s speaking your truth. It’s hearing the truth of others. It’s synthesizing intuitive information with observed information.

Aqua is especially important to speakers and writers, to singers, to teachers, because in an Aqua year, you grow in your ability to speak and listen, to synthesize information, to integrate your energy.

Aqua also gives the gift of the greatest healing and the strongest connection. And when your heart is healed, you learn that life is much simpler than you’ve thought, that you’re a better person than you ever imagined and that you knew the whole story all along.

myeye

I feel inspired by the students in Mondo Beyondo, allowing themselves to want what they want, to dream big, some of them for the first time in a long time, some of them for the first time ever.

I feel inspired, as well as supported and encouraged by the students in Cultivating Courage, who are practicing bravery, making big and small moves every day, who are pushing against their edges, daring greatly, opening their hearts and telling the truth.

I am inspired by my friends who are learning to ask for help when they need it, who are reaching out for support, asking for assistance.

I am inspired by Andrea Scher, who creates safe spaces for her students to connect, to contemplate, to dare, to take chances. I’m also inspired by her own acts of courage, her willingness to ask for help, her willingness to invest in herself.

In the midst of this contemplation, this thawing, softening, this cultivation of courage and inspiration, this practice of bravery and dreaming, I am considering the obstacles to my freedom, and what I need to do to dissolve them.

freedomthanksgivingcrow

Last week, I had to make a big deal doctor’s appointment. There was some shame, guilt, anxiety, panic involved in the multistage process, and after it was all taken care of, scheduled, I ate half a bag of chips (popped and organic, but still), two slices of toast with butter (organic bread, but still), and a whole box of Annie’s Organic mac and cheese for “lunch.” I have told you before that I am a highly functioning food addict, and there was something about this particular incident that brought me to a “I give up, I surrender, I’ve had enough” moment.

I feel afraid or stuck when I see myself falling into old and discursive habits, ways of being and thinking. While I’m better than I used to be, more aware, kinder and gentler, healthier, when I get too stressed or tired, overwhelmed, when I start to go off the rails, when I feel my body getting heavy and my thoughts racing and my heart feeling dull, it’s hard to not freak out, hard to not feel trapped, having never truly been without this “thing,” this monster that lives in my belly, this frozen spot in my mind and my heart.

And you know what, kind and gentle reader? I’ve had it. I am over it, done. I need to be free of this. I surrender, and I’m admitting I need help. Just before I started writing this post, I contacted a therapist (whose practice is a mix of Western and Buddhist theories) and requested a meeting.

crow

I surrender. I surrender to radical self-acceptance, to truth, to reality, to this:

There is no love affair, no perfect best friend, no all-mighty parent, no incredible career, no ideal body, no distant and separate God/dess that can make up for the aching want, the hole, the yearning, that exists beneath the surface and at the center of our lives. It can only be healed by cultivating a dangerously authentic, reciprocal love affair with the bare truth of who we are, and allowing ourselves to become infused with a sacred courage that teaches us how to embody and articulate the essence of a truth that we’ve had since before we were born. Holding that truth so close to ourselves that it cuts into our hearts as a real, deep love and moves through our breath as the sound of our truest voice is all that we have ever looked for in anything or anyone else. It is also the only thing the universe has ever looked for from us. ~Grace Emilie

Reverb12: Day Two

reverb12Again, I am answering many prompts, from the various Reverb lists. I might not be able to keep that up, but for now I’m having such a good time, having so much fun with the process–answering all the prompts!

Limits

The full prompt is: “We often learn our limits the hard way. Were there any limits you realized this past year? Alternately, what self-imposed limits were you able to move beyond this year? (Author: Carolyn Rubenstein).”

I definitely felt limited by time and energy. This is an ongoing, lingering issue. I try to be really smart about what I commit to, what I say yes to–it has to be “hell yeah” or I say no. I work to to stay away from energy vampires, time monsters and shadow comforts. I have to keep a close eye on my physical limitations, my energy level and available strength, my body’s capacity for whatever activity it might be.

The self-imposed limits, (besides the ones that are setting reasonable restrictions intended to protect my health and wellbeing), are my beliefs about what is possible, what I’m capable of, my worth and my value. I spent so much time waiting for permission to participate, thinking that the gatekeepers would let me in eventually, that the party planners would send me my invite, that I’d finally earn my certification, my entry into the guild, that the project, my thing, would fall out of the sky fully formed. Then I realized, if I wanted something to happen, I needed to stop waiting and happen.

Help

The full prompt is: Asking for help can be the hardest thing we ever do. When and how did you ask for help? Alternatively, did someone ask you for help, and how did it play out for you?

This year, I realized that one of my superpowers is generosity, I love to help, want nothing more than to ease suffering in the world. With organizations like Kickstarter, Kiva, and Charity:Water (my birthday campaign runs for 28 more days, if you have any interest in helping me raise some money–100% of your donation directly funds clean water projects in developing nations), it was even easier to find ways to help those who needed it. I gave my cousin the $100 I got at the World Domination Summit to help her fund charity work she hopes to do in the near future, I helped John F. Ptak get the cancer surgery he needed, I regularly give to my local dog rescue and meditation center, and I helped save our local independent theater. In return for that last donation, I got to make a slide that is currently playing while people sit and wait for their movie to start.

lyricslidefinal

Writing

The full prompt is: What piece of writing are you most proud of from 2012? How does this piece differ from your other pieces?

This blog, for sure, is the writing I am most proud of from this past year. The fact that I kept at it, that I have continued to show up, have been open and authentic in my posts, that there are kind and gentle souls reading, sharing and connecting with me. I have loved everything about it. The other writing I’ve done that I feel especially good about has the same quality, of being wild and real and on purpose, not fake, not trying to get you to like me, but telling the truth–beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible.

Two Final prompts so related, they had to be combined for one single answer

Part one: What was your most significant expenditure in 2012? It doesn’t have to be necessarily the biggest expenditure, just the one with the most impact. What difference has it made to your life?

Part two: What was the most memorable gathering you attended (or held) in 2012?

Answer for both: World Domination Summit. It cost me a lot of money–plane ticket, summit admission, car and hotel room rental, food. It was expensive, more than I would normally spend on myself, but it was so worth it. I met so many amazing people, some I already knew but had never met in person, some I didn’t even know existed until I met them there. I was inspired, overwhelmed, gobsmacked. I have stayed connected with many of them. Just this morning on Skype, I had the most heartwarming, encouraging, spontaneous, fun conversation with someone I met at WDS, felt an instant connection to (seriously, it was one of those moments where you meet a complete stranger and think “there you are, I’ve been looking for you”). I continue to do good work, to plan great work, to make a difference because of the spark of that event, that experience.

Wishcasting Wednesday

Who do you wish to give (or send) a hug?

All the vets, techs, office staff, lab technicians, etc. who helped care for Dexter, and also for Obi and Sam. May they continue to have patience and practice kindness. May their skill continue to grow and manifest.

Susan Piver, for the support she provides, to my practice and to my tender, sad heart, when she is aware of it and even when she’s not. May she continue to be confident and brave, an open-hearted warrior, a kind-hearted and wise teacher.

All the people who’ve offered their good wishes and support as we navigate whatever is going on with Dexter. My they continue to keep their hearts open and to offer help where needed.

My mom, dad, brother, and nieces, my family far away, because living 1200 miles away means I can never do this as much as I’d like to. May they be happy and safe.

The people who first rescued my dogs and cared for them until they could come home to me. May they be rescued, cared for and loved in equal measure.

The women who have helped me believe I can write, who helped me to claim my life as a writer: Cynthia Morris, Anne Lamott, Laurie Wagner, Andrea Scher, Susannah Conway, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Cheryl Strayed, Susan Piver (yes, her again), Geneen Roth, Patti Digh, Jennifer Louden, Jamie Ridler, Cheri Huber, Tara Brach, my WILD writing group, my Artist’s Way group (with an extra big hug for Joyce, our facilitator), and so many more. May these women continue to tell the truth, to shine their light so I can see my way through the dark.

Anyone waiting for biopsy results, or other news that has the potential to change their life, break their hearts. May they be well.

Anyone who thinks they aren’t enough, who believes they have to earn love, who is smashing themselves to bits. May they know love, be filled with it, flooded, overwhelmed, and may they know that they are basically, fundamentally good, wise, kind, and powerful, and nothing can change that.

Anyone trapped in the confusion of their own thoughts and feelings, caught in a sense of being a victim of their life, feeling powerless, helpless, or cheated, feeling angry and hurt. May they wake up, become aware of their ability to choose, to let go of judgement, blame, and suffering. May whatever trauma is weighing them down quickly and easily dissolve.

Anyone suffering from addiction, stuck in habitual patterns and discursive, obsessive thinking that is poisoning them, their mind/heart and their body, their environment and those others in it. May they be released, set free, and may the poison turn to medicine.

Anyone who is convinced of complete despair, who is trapped, stuck, caught in darkness and depression. May they see the light and know joy.