Sunday, November 22, 2015

Come home to yourself

Taffy colored canoes laid out to dry out by the lake.
This weekend I went to Rasa-Lila Fest... a beautiful yoga festival held outdoors on an old Boy Scout campground in Odessa FL... enjoyed some group meditation with Tibetan singing bowls, explored the grounds and lake, met some interesting folks and enjoyed delicious Indian food! 

Murky, heavy Spanish moss draping trees on the grounds.
 
Breathe and stretch... we practiced yoga while enjoying guided meditation and Tibetan singing bowls.
 
Gorgeous lily pads dappling the nearby lake.

Close up of an old wooden bench. Oh the stories it could tell if it had the voice, or if we had the ears.

Glossy print version of the afternoon sky's reflection.
Adventurous yogis paddle-boarding into the warm evening on the camp ground lake...

It is great to be getting out and living again after six years of staying a captive in my own home. Every blade of grass, smile, taste of new food, each social interaction no matter how slight or subtle... I embrace it all. Life is delicious... there is so much around the corner to look forward to and enjoy.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The spirit is timeless...


 
Sparky says, "The things I put up with for you, Ma!"

I started this blog four years ago when I was 36... and I've now reached a milestone... four whole decades! The funny thing is, ever since my awakening, I've felt increasingly light and youthful in my spirit. As each day goes by, I feel younger inside, more buoyant. I see through physical things as if they are ethereal. I never knew things would turn out like they did so far in my life.

It's pretty cool that right at this turning point between 39 and 40, the age that is usually not eagerly celebrated, I'm pretty much jumping for joy. After 6 years of being very ill, too sick and agoraphobic to leave the house, my physical health has dramatically improved more than it ever has, and emotionally I feel more healed and grounded. This transformation has been slow... it started last year and has accelerated the most since this past spring and summer. I feel like throwing the biggest party ever to celebrate my greatly improved health, my independence, and the doors that are now wide open for me. Yay!
In lieu of birthday cake, this year I made a gluten free brownie with salted cashews... yum!



Sparky says, "Let's skip the hats and get to the brownie, Ma!"

 
M is a dear, and placidly accepts her birthday hat. She is so trusting and gentle.



Two goofballs... the small one I'm holding is one of the
 best thing that ever 'happened' to me. <3


Saturday, November 14, 2015

I moved!

Spied this fellow sunning on a log early one morning... I'm no longer in Pennsylvania!
Yes, it's true. I'm living in sunny Florida now! Moving here has been a life goal for me for some time. It's crazy how different my life is now, compared to a couple months ago. Everything has radically shifted in a positive way. My health is much better, and I've officially left K. His verbal and emotional abuse was making it difficult for me to heal from PTSD. I knew I needed to get away from him in order to recover, and so after many months of planning and manifesting, it all came together.



While K was at work, I left him a note on the kitchen table explaining that I had left. He didn't know I was gone until he came home and read the letter. He would have gone violent verbally if he had known of my intent to leave, so I had to keep my plans secret from him. By the time he read my letter, I was gone. My sister had came in the middle of the day and drove me to the airport. After I checked in, Sparky rode in a little zip up kennel on roller wheels that I pulled him around in through the air port. After we went through security, he merrily pranced around on his leash, full of glee, greeting people and charming the socks off of each person he met. While we flew, he slept quietly in the kennel which fit after much prodding and configuring under the seat in front of me.
 
I've been living in Florida here for about two and half months now. It still feels like such a wonderful shift, that I have to keep pinching myself. I'm living with gentle, peaceful people who are sensitive and thoughtful. Like me, they are health conscious and eat cleanly. We practice yoga and meditation, as well as easeful living. Things are light and easy, joyful. My guard is down and I can breathe freely.
 
Afternoon sun filtering through a neighbor's palm trees.

My agoraphobia of six years is gone. I used to be too shaky and terrified to even go into my own backyard for years, let alone go a walk. I spent years not going to the grocery store, not getting into a car, not talking to people. Now it's different. I flew on my own from my small town in Pennsylvania to Florida twice.... once to visit friends and get a feel for the area, then again to move here.
 
I flew with friends from Florida to California to enjoy a week long music festival. We missed our flight during a layover, but I wasn't anxious at all... it was simply fun and smooth sailing.
 
I went with friends on a camping trip where we stayed in bunks, had a midnight bonfire, and went kayaking and hiking. I can't swim, had never kayaked before, and was running on five hours of sleep the night before, but I was chill and energized, in the moment... it was a magical time floating out in the dappled water... me munching seasoned chickpeas and chocolate chips out of a zip lock, in a happy haze, laughing with my friends who were swapping stories and bumping their kayaks into obstacles in the river accidentally, and laughing.
 

Spanish moss waving lazily in the humid afternoon across the street from me.
 
I also go out shopping now without a second thought. I used to get dizzy if I did venture out to a store... the bright lights and colors were overwhelming, and all the products made me feel like I couldn't focus and was being caved in on... it was really scary. Being a passenger in a car was also scary after not being in a car for years... it felt like being on a roller coaster, with buildings and people whooshing at me really fast... quite dizzy making. Now I'm completely fine. I adore going to the store now and seeing so many choices of food... I've been trying so many new foods now, which makes my inner body smile and come alive with energy.
 
I get out of the house pretty much every day, or every other day now, going shopping, to appointments, to music festivals, meeting new friends as I go. The other weekend I went to a yoga festival, and today perhaps I'll go to the local dog park with both my puppies. Sparky has a new puppy friend here where I live... I'll call her H to protect her anonymity, lol. Sparky didn't have a fenced in yard back in PA, and so he always had to be on a leash in the yard or while walking on trails. Now he and H run like ponies in the back yard, sometimes with soft thundering puppy 'gallops' as they whip around the corner of the house. H is 105 years old in human years now, but she has sass and spunk. When she is chasing Sparky and can't quite catch him, she does a low, throaty growl to show her displeasure.... as Sparky zips past her.

Late day sun through the palms.
It's hilarious to see them chase each other with complete abandon, with Sparky's fur rippling in the wind and his ears flapping.  I run barefoot in the warm grass with them sometimes, and it does my heart so much good to enjoy the freedom of running in nature with my silly companions. All I need to say is "Go, go, go!" which is Sparky's cue to run up to H, leap up with both paws on her back as if to say, "Come on!" She whips around and chases him, and off we all go, circling round the yard in the morning sun with the wind blowing our hair and their fur.
 
I credit my improved health, both physical health and anxiety... to a combination of efforts. First of all, nothing just fell out of the sky or simply improved with time. I had to make a focused efforts to make changes. I had been having fierce daily migraines for a year and a half straight, and had been seeing a neurologist who prescribed various medications. Some of the meds he prescribed to ameliorate the migraines also had an anxiety reducing effect. I kept experiencing a significant, sometimes complete decrease in other physical symptoms, such as nausea, IBS, fatigue, brain fog, and muscle pain. After seeing this trend with various meds, a light bulb went of. My biggest issue after all this time has been anxiety and trauma. Now that I have a handle on this, I can have my life back. One medication in particular seems to have the best calming effect on me. It has changed my life, and because of it, I no longer have agoraphobia. I went on and off of it three times just to make sure it was or wasn't helping me, and the last time I experimented with going off of it, then back on, it was very clear that it helped me. However, yoga, meditation, deep belly breathing, and living in this new, relaxed atmosphere without K stressing me out has made a world of difference as well.

My life has begun all over again, after six years of waiting in a quiet cocoon. The door has opened, and I've walked through. I'm living again.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Selfies

 
To take or not to take, to post or not to post? There are many happy souls who glibly take selfies without a second thought, and then there are the goofballs like me, the former wound-tights who agonize over the whole process... before tapping into their inner truths and embracing what is right for them. Selfies are as unique as the amazing individual taking them, and the beauty of the whole thing is, only you can decide what feels right for you.
 
Personally, selfies have historically been quite a tricky concept for me to wrap a named emotion around. I am inexplicably drawn to taking photos since it helps me feel like I actually exist. Growing up as a middle child in a family of 6, I developed middle child syndrome and often felt invisible. Being naturally introverted and non pushy made it that much easier for me to be overlooked. While my siblings had several overstuffed albums of baby photos each to themselves, I had maybe three baby photos slid hastily into a manila folder. I used to think I was adopted.  What else could have explained the whole missing photo mystery? 
 
After feeling like I didn't quite exist as a real human as a kid, I unwittingly fell back into a similar phase as an adult. After 2009, I got agoraphobia and dropped out of society, spending the last six years in a surreal like cocoon punctuated only by a visit from the postman or trip to the doctor. It was then that I felt like I was living in a dream, that I was someone else outside my body, looking down at this character who was "me." I started taking photos of myself to prove that I was indeed real.

I guess we take photos for many reasons. To feel real, to actually exist. To relive events. I actually also love taking photos because it feels healthy. It's a way for me to balance out the extreme religious teachings I grew up with, where taking a photo of yourself was considered to be a selfish past time, a taboo activity.

Le'me tell you, there was a lot of preaching in my home growing up about selfishness and pride. I decided to be super humble, but it got to the point of where I was not looking in mirrors or allowing myself to care about what I looked like at all. I didn't let myself even think about taking a photo of myself. I became so colorless and afraid to glow, that it became detrimental.

So there are extremes in both directions, but after my overly modest, unselfish and hyper humble youth, I'm ready to balance it all out and indulge in a huge smile while sharing with you all that I absolutely love selfies. 

I love taking them, and I love when you all take them and post them for your friends to see.

A selfie is life, joy, attitude, self expression.

I just love your selfies. I love when you rock an outfit that you want to share with everyone, and I love that selfie you took when you felt extra radiant. I feel empathy for you when you look down or pensive in your selfie, and I can't help but grin at the selfies of you when you're being goofy. I totally dig the selfies of you and your cross eyed cat, and the ones you take of you with your indignant pet bunny whose face is smashed up against your grinning cheeks. I love your driver's seat selfies, and your almost drunk selfies where you're having a blast out with your friends. The joy just radiates from you.

I love the dressing room selfies where you're totally glamming it up in outfits you never dream of buying, but that look in your eyes says it all. You're having the time of your life... and you shared it with all of us. I love the bathroom mirror selfies that capture the subtle look in your expression that tells a story more than words could say... you're sharing a piece of your day with us with just this simple photo, and it's your way of saying hi to your friends in a creative, cool way.

All these selfies... they are a window into your beautiful, sometimes crazy and chaotic, amazing life, and you willingly share them with all of us... and for that I say thank you, and Namaste.
 




This summer while I was still in Pennsylvania,
holding Sparky who hopped out of the photo, LOL.



While at a week long music festival
in California this September!



Wearing my new rudraksha, which I love.




Goofy selfie, LOL



Right before I moved to Florida... so happy
to be changing my life!


Namaste, and keep taking selfies!