Anxiety is Real

We all get nervous or feel anxious about something at some point. And when we do, our bodies have a physiological reaction. Our hearts beat faster, pupils constrict, focus narrows, our digestion slows, and chemicals are released in our brains and bodies that allow us to run faster, be stronger, and think quicker. Our survival instinct kicks in.

In some cases, this fight or flight response is so intense, that when we’re in a situation that we can’t escape, the perceived fear response becomes overwhelming, and we believe we’re about to die, when we’re not.

As a child, lots of situations would make me nervous or anxious. But it wasn’t until my last semester of college that I had an honest to goodness panic attack. One day, sitting in class, all of a sudden, it felt like my heart stopped beating. I waited to feel it beat again, and nothing. The longer I didn’t feel it beat, the more I was sure I was about to die. My field of vision narrowed, and before I was about to pass out, I felt my heart pounding in my chest, and came out of it.

It was terrifying. Especially because it happened again and again. I had no clue what was happening, and thought I had something wrong with my brain.

Long story short, after visiting the student health center and having a neuro consult, I was put on an antidepressant. It made my head fuzzy and hard to think. Not what I wanted when I was spending my days trying to learn and pass tests. After about a month or so of a foggy and fuzzy brain, I decided to stop the medication. I honestly don’t think it helped with the panic attacks, but I realized that all I had to do was wait them out, and they’d pass. They finally left after I graduated and made some difficult life choices that I hadn’t want to make.

I didn’t think too much about anxiety and panic until I had a child and he was in elementary school. By the time he was in second grade, he begged me to stay home. He had headaches and stomachaches, and absolutely dreaded the idea of having to go to school.

Note Little Man wrote a few years back when his anxiety was at full tilt. He felt sick and really wanted to stay home.

Detective Mom kicked into gear, trying to figure out what was causing so much distress in my child. I knew he had Sensory Processing Disorder, so I deduced that while he was sedentary in a classroom, he wasn’t getting enough physical movement to help his brain work properly, so I arranged to have him sit on a big exercise ball instead of a chair, and we experimented with having him wear weighted vests.

Riding the school bus became an issue. Over the years I talked with the bus drivers. Some were better than others about making changes or helping out. By the time my son was in the later grades of elementary school, it was just easier for the both of us if I drove him to school.

Every school year, I’d start with great optimism, meeting with my son’s teacher to help her understand him. And every year I’d learn more and more about my son, having him diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD, and anxiety when he was ten. After exhausting other means to address my son’s challenges of being able to focus when he was in school, we decided to give ADHD medication a try, and my son tried medication after medication.

When we reached a therapeutic dose of the first short acting medication, I was helping my son do a worksheet after school one day, and he became frustrated, his brain froze up, and he lost control of his bladder. He was ten. Two days later, I realized the medication wasn’t helping, and in fact, was hurting. After less than a week on a different medication, my son became suicidal. We switched to a different class of medication, and after one pill that scrambled my son’s head so badly that he spent half the day crying because he didn’t feel like himself, he wouldn’t take another pill. And I didn’t force him. None of the medications had a desired effect of helping him be able to focus and pay attention at school. All of them had intolerable side effects.

There were too many days when my son couldn’t handle going to school, and by the time he hit sixth grade, he missed about a quarter of the school year. My demanding he get in the car and walk into his school, created a child who was no only 100% resistant to school, but it tore me up inside. I can’t tell you the number of days I’d have to force him into the car, and after I dropped him off, I’d sit in the parking lot at school, bawling.

In seventh grade, my son hit his breaking point. Going to school became so intolerable that non-existence was preferable. In other words, if I’d kept pushing and pushing him, it very likely would have ended up with him becoming so self-destructive that he probably would have ended his life. Either very intentionally or unintentionally. But it would have ended. When life hurts, people either act out or internalize their pain. My son has always internalized things.

In February of seventh grade, my son complained about not feeling well. It took almost a month, but the truth finally came out that he couldn’t handle one more day in school. He had shut down mentally, having chronic and debilitating panic attacks. His anxiety had grown into a monster that ate him alive.

At that point, I could have put him into a mental hospital, have him medicated, and put him back into school. (The wait to see a pediatric psychiatrist in my area is six months). After the ADHD meds trial, both my son and I wanted to save that option for last.

I made the decision to take my son out of school and work with an intuitive naturopathic doctor. Another reason why I didn’t jump at the chance to medicate my son was, I’d thought that after a week or so of being out of school, my son would relax and would be able to do school work at home. But it was not so. He was shut down for a few months. Slowly, over time, I began to get my son back. His body and mind began to heal.

After spending the rest of his seventh grade focusing on healing and unschooling, at the end of the school year in June, I took him across country to a talented healer who’d worked on him when he was little.

The fall of his eight grade, my son started working with a friend of ours who tutors. I had her work on him with math because I knew this was an area of challenge for him. Despite knowing her and being comfortable with her, he lasted four sessions. Anxiety kicked in and took him down.

Since we took our son out of school, every intervention we’ve used has helped somewhat, but this fall, when our homeschooling shifted it’s format to look and feel more like regular school again (because my son is fulfilling more specific educational requirements this year) it became evident that my son is still extremely affected by anxiety.

The good news is, much of the day, he functions much like any other teenager. But when he and I sit down together so I can teach him, his anxiety becomes triggered. When I call him to do school work, he’s triggered. Some days, he can hold it together long enough to plow through a subject or two. On a bad day, he’s completely shut down and can’t do any work with me at all. Sunday nights, his sleep goes to pot in anticipation of having to do school work the next morning.

This past fall, I’ve been dealing with my own stuff (an extreme Kundalini awakening), often exhausted or unable to think clearly, so my ability to do something about my son’s anxiety has been put on hold. Over the past few weeks, my ability to function at the most basic level has improved enough that I see quite clearly that my son’s anxiety when it come to academics isn’t going away. And this is holding him back.

I’ve talked with my son about anxiety, and as much as he doesn’t have the perspective that an adult has on the need to do school work, and doesn’t clearly see the affect anxiety has on his life overall and the implications it might have on his future, he understands it’s really uncomfortable when it hits. And it shows up five days a week.

As much as I understand very clearly that anxiety is a very real thing, and it’s effects range from making a person feel very uncomfortable in certain situations, to completely shutting a person down, I sometimes come across well-meaning people who are clueless. (Like a few of my son’s former teachers).

If I share that my son sometimes can’t do his school work, they think he’s being willful or obstinate, and they throw in their two cents. They’ve never experienced having their brain lie to them to the extent that they feel like they’re going to die, when they’re not. They’ve never been so traumatized by an everyday occurrence that thinking about it makes them want to die, vomit, or loosens their stools, sending them running for a bathroom. They have no clue and it’s really annoying.

Having anxiety is a very real thing. For me, panic attacks were thankfully short-lived, passing after several months and a life change. For my son, unfortunately, the triggers that bring on his panic attacks are things he can’t escape from.

Because of that, I’ve recently given him a few options to create change for himself. One thing I’ve learned in the world of healing is, if I can’t change a situation outside myself that becomes intolerable, the one thing left to change is me. Lucky for my son, there’s an option out there he’s hesitantly willing to explore before medication. Fingers crossed that it goes well this week as he dips his toe in the waters of change.

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Posted in Energy Therapy, Holistic Healing, Mental Health, Sensory Processing Disorder, The Voyage | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas Cards

I just got my first Christmas card of the season. It’s that time again, and I’ve yet to put together our card for the year or even decide what it will be. Usually, our card is a collage of photos from the year, or one photo, often creatively made using Photoshop. Like the year I took a photo of a train ornament hanging on our Christmas tree, and digitally made Little Man the engineer in the cab. That was fun.

Putting together our Christmas card is usually something I enjoy, going through photos from the year, winding down memory lane. But because this past year has been one of the most challenging years in my adult life (and still is), I find myself in a bit of a quandary.

I don’t really feel like sending out a Christmas card this year. I’m not in the mood, not in the spirit, and am chronically exhausted, both mentally and physically. Just thinking about everything it takes to get our cards out, from creating them, to having them printed, driving to pick them up, addressing and stamping the envelopes, and taking them to the post office, leaves me almost wiped out.

So many Christmas cards show off a handsome family, and boast of the kids’ accomplishments. The card I got today included a letter filled with the year’s adventures and accomplishments, with my friend’s college aged son mulling over the possibility of going to law school like his mother.

Honestly, when I read about my friends’ kids going to college or graduating from college, getting married or having a baby, I’m jealous. And I know I shouldn’t be, because as much as I’m still in the trenches of the teen years and most of my peers started their families about ten years before me, I’m glad (most days) that I waited until I was ready. I also get jealous because my friends’ kids are able to go to school, whereas I had to pull my son out of school. Homeschooling a teenager who has learning issues, attention issues, and anxiety that is set off by academia, is not an easy road.

I’m definitely not writing a Christmas note or letter this year.

Perhaps this year’s card will be a few of Little Man’s aerial photos. He’s got some stunners.

Accompanied by a short and sweet sentiment.

Wishing you peace and prosperity in 2018.

Posted in Mental Health, Sensory Processing Disorder, The Voyage | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Strength

I never knew how strong I was until I had to be.

I never knew I could function when utterly exhausted, until I had to.

I never knew I could keep going when in a lot of physical pain.

I never knew I’d die for someone until I made the decision to do so.

I never knew that I could drop my life in a moment’s notice to do for another, until I did.

I never knew life would include having so many expectations dashed on the rocks,
until they were.

I never knew that my heart could break and heal, until it did. Many times.

I never knew I could keep getting up, keep going, no matter how much of a mess I was.

Thank you to my family and especially to my son, for giving me opportunities to learn just how strong I am.

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Gratitude

Gratitude is the feeling of connection with our heart. With the Source of Energy and Love that created us, from which we are made.

Gratitude is a feeling that everything’s ok. There’s no stress or strife or difficulty.

There’s no pushing against what is.

Gratitude is aligning with our true selves. With that sparkling, divine part of ourselves that holds infinite wisdom and understanding.

Gratitude brings us closer to our God-selves. The part of ourselves that knows we can make it through anything.

That part of ourselves that unconditionally loves and supports us. No matter what.

Taking time to focus on things we’re grateful for, even if it’s the ability to breathe, opens us up to more gratitude.

It opens us up to new and different possibilities in life.

Give it a try. You might like it.

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First Snow

The early morning light shone blue, the wind tossing the frozen branches like sleepy dancers, to and fro. The last leaves of autumn, that yesterday were bare, are heavy with snow. Initially wet and sticky, now frozen in place, clinging to what was once the green hope of spring. Strawberry plant vines hang lifeless, while a stray snowflake or two fall, twisting in the gusty breeze. As the minutes pass, the light morphs from blue to gray, daring to illuminate the paint job brought overnight by mother nature. The season’s first snow.

The boy has been excited for weeks at the prospect of a wintry wonderland scene, wanting to capture the perspective that was once available only to birds. Low clouds clinging to the tops of trees skirt the mountain, creating drama, but gusting winds will make for a challenging flight.

As the vista becomes even more illuminated, thumps emanate from the boy’s bedroom, evidence that he’s voluntarily up and about, earlier than he’s been in weeks. The snowy scenery beckons.

Buoyed at the thought of grabbing the photo-op that is rare, the mom, already up and tending the wood stove, gets her own aircraft out, powering it up to check that everything is up to date and ready to fly.

After a few updates, and digging out snow boots, warm jackets, and knit caps, the pair ventures out to the snowy yard and captures the first snow of the season, from a bird’s-eye view.

snow on treetops

Snow on cedars (and firs).

snowy river from above

Aerial view of our small river.

looking north toward the mountains

Looking upriver, towards the river valley.

Enjoy a few of my drone photos! I used a Phantom 3 Professional.

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Life In Balance

Doesn’t life feel better when things are in balance?

When there isn’t too much of any one thing; enough productivity to feel good, and enough down time to relax and recharge.

Yessireebob!

Then why is so much of life so NOT in balance? WTF?? Seriously?

This word, balance. This concept of something that seems elusive at times. Where does it go? I looked under my sofa the other day and all I came up with were dust bunnies and stray Lego pieces. And a stale cracker. And a pen. Ok. There was a lot of dusty, dirty stuff under there, but no balance.

I think balance is one of those things that likes to laugh at us while it’s jumping through an open window, bounding down the back yard into freedom and oblivion.

It’s something I’ve glimpsed from time to time, like that perfect sunset or moment of clarity. That thing that distracts me long enough that I relax and unwind, until the moment passes.

Over the past several months, any sort of balance in my life has been as gone as my teenage figure. So gone.

But unlike my teenage figure, I know that one day, balance will return. Like the prodigal son, it will re-enter my life.

What’s funny is, from the outside, not too many people can tell. Because, like so much of life, it’s an inside job.

From the outside, not too many people can see that my life over the past several months has been a time of extreme pressure and extreme change. It’s been a time of emotionality and exhaustion. And a time of watching my perspective of life change from the inside out, bit by bit.

It’s been a surreal time, a beyond challenging time, an indescribable time, and most assuredly, a time of little to no balance.

But the coolest thing of all is, in time (don’t ask me when), my mind and body will settle into a new normal, and balance will probably be my new best friend.

Have you ever thought about what a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly? The fact that their entire bodies completely change structure, and they end up being able to fly? This Kundalini awakening process I’ve been going through over the past several months is similar.

But instead of my entire life shutting down, body being wrapped in a cocoon, and completely structurally changing, most of my life has continued on, with my cocoon being my home, immediate family and closest friends. And instead of my structure completely changing, what’s changing the most is my consciousness: my perspective of how I see the world and how I feel about life in general and each interaction throughout my day.

One thing’s for sure, when Kundalini energy is working its magic full-on, it’s the energy healing of all energy healings. It’s energy healing to the max and beyond. Extreme to the extreme. No balance or ease for months on end.

One thing I know for sure, is that as much as my life has felt anything but in balance for a long time, it will return.

Balance always returns. It comes back, slinking through the side door, whimpering. Or it throws the front door open, bunch of colorful balloons in hand. At some point, we welcome balance again, and life feels a bit more like a party.

 

Posted in Holistic Healing, inspiration, Kundalini, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Beautiful Weather Day

Yesterday was a beautiful weather day. It was pleasantly warm, with clear, sunny skies, and a light breeze. Perfect. This time of year here in the Pacific Northwest, days like that are becoming rare.

With Little Man educated at home these days, I thought it would be a great day for a field trip; to get some drone footage and visit some of our beautiful Northwest Washington woods. We’re about 90 minutes from one of the jewels of our national forestry lands: Mount Shuksan, and there’s a scenic drive that terminates at two tiny lakes with a killer view of the mountain.

Unfortunately, Little Man wasn’t feeling very well, and wasn’t up for the drive, and with my current state of going through a Kundalini awakening making everyday life extra challenging to nearly impossible, I waffled and wavered about going alone. With Little Man’s encouragement, I pushed myself and went.

Along the way, I scoped out a trail that leads to some massive old growth trees, and found the road that leads to a scenic waterfall on the Nooksack River. Those spots will be for another day’s exploration.

Arriving at the lake in the early afternoon, I found myself in good company. Grabbing my gear, I found a small, winding path that led to the water’s edge, and a few view spots. There’s a trail that circumnavigates the lake, where a handful of people and a few dogs were enjoying their walk. I chatted with a number of photographers who were set up here and there.

We talked cameras, lenses, filters, perspectives and composition of our shot, and admired the beautiful day. As I was chatting away, I noticed that I felt like I had something in common with just about everyone there. Usually we notice differences in people, but with my brain wiring changing, I felt at one with each person I chatted with, even if it was just a few sentences.

We photographers waited for pedestrians to walk by, waited for an inconveniently parked car to leave our shot, and for the wind to die down, giving us clear reflection of the mountain on the lake. The car finally left. The wind calmed a few times for a brief while. And the sun kept moving, creating different shadows on the mountain.

I picked up a photo tip, shared a view idea, and snapped away with my big gun (Canon 70D), cell phone, and point and shoot (Canon Powershot SX710hs). Enjoy some of my favorite shots of the afternoon of Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake.

Here’s a video Little Man shot last year at the mountain.

 

 

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Family Vacation

A week ago, we came home from a family vacation on the coast of Maine, where we’d spent a few weeks enjoying the water, the view, and time away.

Unlike years previous, this trip wasn’t quite the relaxing respite or fun times that it usually is. At least it wasn’t for me. Going through a very intense sort of spiritual awaking called a Kundalini awakening, my body, mind and sensory system are not normal right now. Far from it. And because of it, I am chronically tired to exhausted, I’m often very emotional, and my body is going through all sorts of changes that can bring on aches and pains that mimic the flu or other muscle aches.

Every time my Kundalini energy and body creates “healing”, how my DNA is expressed and as such, the very physical structure of my body and brain changes. With most forms of energy healing, these changes are subtle and small enough that a person can easily handle them with nothing more than some extra sleep for a few days, and a little TLC. But I left “subtle” and “small” behind months ago. There is nothing subtle about the healing action with Kundalini energy. It is extreme.

The most difficult part of this process is caused by my brain being very literally rewired.

When old neural pathways die off in mass, the chemical dumps that I’ve been dealing with mimic things like mental illness and brain damage: fear raining down in my head for no reason, forgetting things like crazy, losing vocabulary words, feeling weak and losing coordination, feeling spaced out and not feeling like myself. There have even been times when I’ve barely felt human. Fortunately, I know these are temporary, but it takes time for my body to process all of these physical changes.

Along with a host of physical, mental and emotional effects, Kundalini energy cranks my heart open. My heart opens to those in pain around me, and when their pain resonates in me, it creates healing in my body without my having to “do” anything other than just be with that person. In the long run, I’m letting go of my own life pains, like fear, jealousy, sadness, and anger, and becoming amazingly compassionate and understanding of people’s pain (what I think of as their disconnect from their soul). But short-term, I’m experiencing days and weeks of a living hell.

I understand that a huge part of my Kundalini awakening is helping me to heal childhood hurts at a level that is unheard of. No form of therapy or medication can create the healing that’s happening in me. And that alone, will make these hard times worth it. One day…

Despite my being a tired, mental, emotional mess during a good part of our vacation, it didn’t keep me from my love of photography. My camera was a constant source of welcome distraction, capturing scenes to revisit and share. Enjoy the fruits of my passion.

Just a quick note that I took all these photos with my point and shoot Canon Powershot SX 710HS (unless noted otherwise), and used minimal editing.

I have a weakness for sunrises and sunsets. Typical of New England, we had all sorts of weather while we were there, from a few clear and calm days, to clear windy days, to overcast, rainy and stormy days. Made for a variety of photo ops.

We love to get out to our favorite local lighthouses.

There are lots of working boats during the summer season. Tourism and fishing, including lobstering, are two major sources of income to the area.

And here is one final gallery.

There is nothing like the smell of salt air and spending time by the ocean.

 

Posted in Kundalini, Photography | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Solar Eclipse 2017

Today was a rare solar eclipse that passed across the width of the continental United States. Being in Washington State, I wasn’t in the path of totality, but the majority of the sun was covered at its maximum. It was very exciting to see how dark it became.

Here are a few photos from the day.

eclipse photo

 

eclipse collage m2m

 

collage 2 m2m

Enjoy!

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More Storm Surge and Whitecaps

The respite between storms didn’t last as long as I’d hoped. Going through a Kundalini Awakening process has been, quite frankly, kicking my ass. It’s been the most mentally and physically challenging marathon I’ve ever experienced. I’d rather take on the Boston Marathon and Heartbreak Hill right about now. At least that would be over in a matter of hours.

Storm surge after storm surge, topped with whitecaps.

At this point, my butt is dragging so far behind me, I think it’s in another state. Or planet.

Been trying to keep the engines running, but sometimes there is no power and I have to go to all stop.

Exhaustion ends in sleep, yet sleep is not restorative. I remember my dreams and they all suck. They are all worries and fears being acted out.

I wake up almost as tired as I fell asleep.

Green seas crashing over the deck means batten down the hatches and dog the doors tight.

Some days I have no choice but to retreat to my bed, trying to remain unconscious if possible, waiting for my brain to change its wiring. Old neurology dying, firing off chemicals of fear. Sleep coming in 90 minute chunks.

Soaking in salt water helps on so many levels. The brine is magic.

Trying to do simple, everyday tasks when the brain isn’t well, doesn’t fly. So they don’t happen. Thank goodness teenagers can suddenly become very capable when they want things, like food and clean clothes.

I’m learning to strike while the iron is hot. Move when my brain and body are in sync, between the surges. And not sweat the small stuff. And believe you me, so much of what we deem imperative, really isn’t.

These days my priorities are simple. Stay alive. Keep the kid alive and the pets alive. The husband can keep himself alive, so no worries there. And the rest is gravy.

Fair winds and following seas.

Posted in Kundalini, Mental Health, Spirituality, The Voyage | Tagged , | 4 Comments