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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

I am thankful for positive words when I needed them immensely…

You are beautifulI am thankful for having a trusted (handsome) friend to lean on…

darrell & me  07.2013

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26th spiritual birthday coffee mug

26th spiritual birthday coffee mug


So far, I have been sober since 1987. 3 weeks ago, on August 2nd, it was my 26th spiritual birthday. I've made the mistake of believing that I am undeserving of a celebration this year. I admit that it took a while, but, thankfully I remember that the "celebration" of sobriety is in the sobriety itself. My sobriety is not a celebration of my many "accomplishments" this year, or any other year. Sobriety is not a celebration of the ego. And this year has been quite humbling.

I have found myself in survival mode. Some days taking it one hour at a time, not to stay sober, like I did long ago, but to endure this horrific pain that engulfs my body. Today was one of the many days where every hour I asked myself, "Can I live with this pain and debilitating fatigue one more hour?" Magically, the answer is always, "yes".

Because I have a foundation of sobriety – I get to learn that I am my spirit, not my body. I get to learn how blessed I am to have a roof over my head. Yes, it bothers me greatly that I have not received a paycheck for one year and 7 months – however – I am able to see past that and see the important blessings of good neighbors that help me and good friends that check in on me and visit, bring food, and surround me with unconditional love. I am not forgotten as I am held up in my quiet sanctuary. The blessing is that I get the opportunity to receive love that has no boundaries when I secretly feel that I have nothing to offer in return.

I am a willing student as I learn this very well could be one of my most important years for my spiritual growth. I am grateful to see that the celebration here, as quiet as it may be, is for God. The one that keeps me sober while I am finding my way. The one that is showing me that it is time to accept a deeper level of love. A simple life can still be a powerful life with purpose.

It is God that I quietly celebrate. For He has brought me to this 26th year of sobriety. I have faith that God, under any conditions, still has big and fulfilling plans for me.

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to see my cat when she thinks she is hiding

seeing my cat when she thinks she is hiding

taking a healing epsom salt bath with natural oils

taking a healing epsom salt bath with natural oils

watching the colors change during a sunset

watching the colors change during a sunset

seeing I Love You in a new light

receivng I Love You in a new light

receiving bright colored tulips from a visiting friend

bright colored tulips from a visiting friend

 

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Dad's neighborhoodLast night it was my intention to shower before bed. My body begged to rest for a moment, knowing that showers are quite a work out. Not recognizing the heaviness of my daily fatigue and exhaustion, I had fallen asleep…

Early this morning I woke up on top of my bed, cold, in my robe, with the throw blanket over me and Grace sound asleep at the foot of my bed. Knowing she can be my personal feline heating pad, ever so slowly I moved my toes towards her and gently tucked them underneath her warm and cozy catness. She didn’t move or open her eyes as the sound of her distinct loud purr filled my bedroom.

I felt my spirit rise like the morning sun. My body still had not moved – yet my gratitude was overwhelming me. My true joyful spirit snuck out from me and rejoiced the sunlight coming in through my windows. I felt it in such a way as if I was watching my spirit look out of the window as it noticed the wind suddenly appear to greet the trees. A joyful feeling indeed.

Other than my toes under Grace’s black furry warm body – I had not moved. My memory dialed into two nights ago when I took my first dose of a new medicine. With in a few minutes I broke out in hives. Seriously? Hives?! The moment wasn’t about how the hives with their burning red welts felt on my body. The moment was about taking care of this nuisance. This distraction. Take care of it. Get on it. Get into action. Off to the pharmacy I went…

As much as I do get frustrated. As much as I do feel angry that my body can not do the activities that have always been a part of who I am. My spirit greeted the day rejoicing because finally, finally I know in my heart that I do indeed have many choices. More choices than I ever have been able to realise or see. Choices that I feel. Choices that make each day, each moment, the best choice that I can make in that moment.

I choose to sit down and cry. I choose to feel bummed-out knowing that I am missing yet another event. Missing another dinner party. Missing another play. I choose to feel left out or forgotten. But it is also my choice just how long I allow these things in my heart. How long do I allow this dark visit?

I did not miss out on everything!

I didn’t miss the first day my parents taught me how to swim. I didn’t miss my first boy-girl party. I didn’t miss my first kiss. I didn’t miss cheerleader tryouts. I didn’t miss my first prom. I didn’t miss being in my best friend’s wedding. I didn’t miss watching my son take his first steps. I didn’t miss any of my son’s soccer games. I didn’t miss the plane when I flew to Costa Rica to surf for 10 days. I didn’t miss my son’s high school graduation or his college graduation.

It’s endless.

The choices? Endless.

Today I’m getting a chance to find new best choices for myself as I am finding my way. Learning my capabilities. No matter what, I still can make the best choices in any situation and not miss out on any event that is my best choice. Then, and only then, will I continue to not only be joyful, but I can be victorious as well.

I will always have an opportunity directly in front of me to make my best choice. And then my reward is a heart full of gratitude and a joyful spirit that will rise to meet the sunshine of each and every morning.

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Mind, body and spirit . . .

During the time that I had to stop drinking was when I started noticing the importance of the balance with my mind-body-spirit.  Then, the “body” part was obvious and easy. I loved to hop on my bike and ride down to the beach.  Cruising the strand on a cloudy weekday morning was my absolute fave because it was sure to be crowd free.  I let the feeling of the cool damp air cover my body.  Slowing down, but not yet stopping, I’d look out to the ocean, “aah my ocean, there you are, I see you now.”  No matter what level my spirit was resting on – as if it was on auto pilot – it would take off and suddenly be lifted to a higher brighter place.  There it was, the connection to the universe that I spent so much time longing for.

Ah, but the mind. Not so easy. Think. Think. Think. Where’s the answer?  How do I calm my sober mind?! I never knew what anxiety was till I quit drinking! And so many resentments! I allowed them to hang on to me like a sucker-fish hitching a free ride on the side of a whale. Thank God for a little time – a little sober time is helpful as I seek the fine balance in my life.

Alas, things are a little different for me today.  No longer living at the beach. No more bike riding. Unemployment.  Standing by for disability. A city that does not yet quite feel like home. Chronic pain. Fatigue. It is what it is. . .

This morning I wake up after a long painful restless un-sleep. I see the early sun peering in through my east facing windows – my tummy makes sounds like a squeaky door in a haunted house.  Geeze.  That can’t be good.  My mind has started the morning from a place of empty darkness.

Disconnected.  Disappointed.

Here we go again – pain tightening its grip on me with each slow step of the body.  I let out a big sigh full of extreme sadness.  The sudden ringing of my cell phone interrupts my focus on my rusty joints.  Not being fit mentally to put two sentences together – I have no choice but to let it go to voice mail.  I can not think logically.  I can not move gracefully.  My spirit needs to answer the phone.  My brain is full of fog, like a spider web hanging inches above a swamp.

As I stand at the top of my stairs I am still – and as if I’m watching an old home movie – I look down and see all of the things I need to do:

Time to get a move on with my day!  Carefully, painfully I move my arms to hold on to the railing on either side, my hands, stiff, swollen and hurting, looking like they belong on a mannequin in a store window on Main Street.  Perhaps it is too soon to try to go downstairs – however – old habits are hard to break.  I am a manager who needs to grab a cup of coffee, shower, and go open the shop…  One step down. Step together.

I am a single mom who needs to drop her son off at school on the way to work… Two steps down. Step together.

I am a surfer girl who needs to paddle out and play in the ocean… Three steps down. Step together.

Agony pulsating through my body in such a way that it feels I might break. I wait for my body to follow the directions of my brain.  Agonizing endless stabbing pains run down my right arm ending with stabs so real that I look at my hand expecting to see blood.  The pain debilitating from the stabbing.  Seems so odd to me that there is no blood.

I force myself to focus on what is in front of me.  Ever so carefully – one more step together.

With another slight move forward, silently my foot slips out from under me – I land on my ass and my lower back hits the stairs as I awkwardly slide and bump down to the bottom.  I am alone yet I feel embarrassed, mortified, stunned, defeated.

I do not cry.  In fact, I hear nothing. The morning is quite still. The sun, bright.  Grace, my cat, is squinting her sleepy eyes as she starts to do her graceful stretches, like she thinks she is a yoga teacher this morning. As she walks past me she softly rubs along my pain ridden legs as she heads towards the kitchen – where her food and water bowls are.

By this time I’ve pulled myself up as I continue my incredible journey.  I try my best to put the weight of my steps on the out side of my feet where the pains are not quite as horrific.  Once more I forgot to put my thick socks and tennies on. (Now there’s a nice look, jammies and tennies.)  Finally, I lean to the right and make my way to the cozy kitchen.  This time I land my rear-end safely on the cushy bar stool that I had put there in case I need to sit while I’m in the kitchen.

I look down and I’m surprised to see Grace sitting next to her empty bowl.  She is silent.  Big round green eyes looking sweetly and patiently at me.  With a slight tilt of her head, the chubby furry cat waits for me.  She does not impatiently beg for her morning food.  She doesn’t mind.  Is she waiting?  Does she have faith in me?  A cat that does not scream a “meow!” or two at me?  She is in the present moment. Slowly, carefully, I feed her as the sound of her beautiful and extremely loud purr fills the silent morning. The cool cat is fed. My first victory of the day.

Wanting, longing, to sit on my couch, I made my way to the living room.   Carefully, I stretched out on the couch. A much better landing this time. Heaven.  A piece of the mind and body starting to move towards their connection. . .

And what was waiting for me? The beautiful flowers that my dear childhood friend gave me the day before. The aura of the love behind this gift engulfed my defeated spirit.  An overwhelming sence of acceptance covered me in an instant.  I felt my spirit now moving towards the mind and body. . . Somehow, everything was just the way it was supposed to be.  I was brought back to the moment.  My moment. My connection of mind, body, and spirit.

Perhaps I’ll just take my very own special “sick day” today.  My job today, just as it has been for the past couple years, is to regain my health.  Yep, I’m calling in sick today. I give myself permission to move slow, rest on the couch and focus on the beautiful flowers with the cute black and purple vase that sit in my cozy little home.  The flowers that were given to me by my dear childhood friend.  They were given with the beloved intention of love and hope.  And without love and hope, I have nothing.

dd flowers

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“Fibromyalgia is a pain disorder that causes widely distributed pain throughout the body. Without defining medical tests, fibromyalgia is diagnosed by evaluating symptoms, such as multiple tender points in certain muscle areas, sleep disorders and even digestive problems.  The disorder can be debilitating and treatment often consists of finding the right combination of medications, physical therapy and coping skills…”  quote found in eHow health.

Time is passing me by. I’ve found myself in survival-mode-over-kill. Did I miss out on the entire month of February?  But I’ve been quite busy!   I must remember to be grateful for what I accomplish.  I mean, who says one errand a week is not good enough?  Pusing myself to the limit:  Doctor – bed rest.  Warm bath – bed rest.  One errand – bedrest.  Shampoo hair in kitchen sink – bed rest.  Nap.  Eat.  Sleep. Nightmares.  Bed rest . . .  I take responsibility for myself more than I ever have in my life.  What I am saying is – sick girl or grateful girl – my life is my fault.

I can ask the proper questions – I feel it is ok, safe.  What can a short conversation or a short dinner with an old friend hurt?  I am finding my way as I learn to cope with different physical challenges.  Another life lesson in my new life:  a short dinner with an old friend is still allowing someone back in my life.  Not ok for the new julie.  (Damn, I miss the old julie!)  But today?  Today, some old friends do not fit into my new life.  . .  I quickly work to regain my balance.  Just like a package stamped “fragile” as it is being sent out in the world,  I too must be mindful of what I have surrounding me.

Yes, as the quote from eHealth says, “medication, physical therapy, and coping skills. . . ” they are the delicate balance needed for survival with Fibromyalgia.  The new julie.  Yes, I do indeed experience debilitating aspects of the disorder.  I also experience beautiful endless heart-felt gratitude for every life lesson.  I may indeed be a fragile package. (for now!)  But if I surround myself with protective gentle people, I will arrive to my destination whole, complete and comfortable.  I am me living my life to the best of my ability.  Being alive is what brings the gifts of soul-changing life lessons.  Being in this world brings me opportunities to help others, no matter what. It doesn’t matter how small my act of kindness may seem to me – when I am authentic – in return I become the grateful girl once more.

frag box

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The clock is ticking towards the new year.  As I sit quietly at my desk the only sound I hear is the soothing hum of my small heater as it warms my toes.  It’s 34 degrees here in Southern California.  Brrr!  I’m wearing both jammies and sleeping clothes – a few layers are a good thing tonight.  The sounds of the fireworks in the distance are coming from Magic Mountain.   So, it’s official. It’s midnight. Time to say sweet dreams to 2012 – I’ve learned a lot from you – but your work here is done now.

Welcome to my life 2013 . . .

Right now I imagine that the volunteers in Pasadena, California, are quite bundled up as they painstakingly place flower after flower and blossom after blossom on their individual floats for the famous Rose Parade.  Many will be both excited and weary as they will be working nonstop until sunrise on New Year’s morning.  (Bring on the hot coffee!)

bleachersLast month I visited my dear friends since childhood who live on Orange Grove Blvd.  As I was exiting the Pasadena fwy, directly in front of me I could see that the bleachers were already set up for the parade. Fwy Sign

Every year they majestically sit on the corner of Orange Grove Blvd.  and Colorado Blvd.  This is where most of the T.V. cameras are and professional crews take pictures of the exquisite and larger than life floats, horses and marching bands.  (I gotta thing for marching bands!)  I grew up going to the Rose Parade every year with my childhood friends and my next door neighbors.  It was the late 60’s and 70’s and it was quite safe back then – every one was joyous and thrilled as they camped out on the sidewalks and lawns and watched the mini-pre-parade of pedestrians blowing noisemakers mixed with the sound of genuine laughter and joy.  I am especially fond of the year my father took my brother and me to the parade and magically, my father found a spot on the curb for the 3 of us to sit as we snuggled close to each other to keep warm in the early morning. Many of my childhood friends will be at this special parade tomorrow.

The "Wrigley Mansion" on Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena

The “Wrigley Mansion” on Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena

And once again, my beautiful friend Barbara has invited me to spend the night at her childhood home and go to the parade with her.  And once again, like last year and the year before, I must graciously decline her offer.  My heart silently breaks.  I long to join her on the walk down memory lane.   My instincts tell me my body is not yet ready for such an adventure. In the same moment I can feel my emotions find a balance  –  I have surrendered to a healthy level – I have accepted the fact that, physically, I will not be up to joining her this year.  Yes, acceptance is one of my most powerful prescriptions for the many layers of health challenges with Fibromyalgia.  I will be just fine at home watching the parade on T.V. as I am sipping my hot coffee while I feel warm and cozy as I cover up with my soft and thick blanket.  I call it my “hugging blanket”.

It’s time for me to drift off to sleep now.  But first, I am compelled to give thanks and say out loud to the universe how much I appreciate the loving help that I’ve received from my dear friends this year.  Having friends can make being under the weather for a very long time more bearable.   Health challenges have not been fun.  I know I am blessed, for my friends have carried me far when I’ve been at the breaking point.  My friends have seen clearly when I was too frail and exhausted to see for myself.  Yes, I am blessed.  In a soft whisper, I say to myself many times a day as I do right now, “Because I have loving, kind and helpful friends, I am truly blessed.  Thank you God.”   And I am blessed to know that my friend Barbara will ask me to go to the Rose Parade with her again next year – because that’s what friends do – they don’t give up on you.

2012 is over and gone now, but my authentic friends are here to stay.  I needed to learn that lesson this year.

Welcome to the family 2013, you’ve finally arrived!

Good health, comforting sounds and loving words my friends,

jules xo

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