Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chronic Monday: I Scored 42 on the Practicing Gratitude Self-Test. What's Your Score?

They say 42 is in the top 13 percent of the sample. So am I lying to myself or is this accurate? Maybe I'll find out in the next three weeks...

Coming soon: My Sacred Life 30 Day Project.

P.S. Chronic Monday is running late due to my being out of town for the holiday. More on that in My Sacred Life Project.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chronic Monday: My Sacred Life

Everyday life is the prayer.
How we conduct it, cherish it,
celebrate it, consecrate it.
~Sarah Ban Breathnach

Well I have much more planned for this Thanksgiving week post, but I am running behind in preparing to leave for Florida. My family is there and I go every Thanksgiving. So this is but a fraction of what I have planned; in case the laptop doesn't connect when we get to the hotel, or whatever!

I'm finding all kinds of great new sites in my research on the healing power of art. zena musings: Creativity, Wisdom, Guts & Laziness ~ by Carla Blazek is just one of them. And this is where I read about the My Sacred Life 30 Day Project.
"Sacred Life isn't really a challenge -- that sounds too strenuous -- it's really more of a softening ... into a moment, a treasured possession, a companion -- people, parts and places of your everyday life that you cherish. Whatever is sacred to you."

Which is good. I had enough of challenge with my seven days of NaBloPoMo. I'm going to try this, and I will start with the 30 day personal journey, like Zena did.
"Anyone is welcome to join at any time, with any frequency and for however long you'd like to play!"
No pressure! Then maybe I'll graduate to Sacred Life Sundays...

Today what's sacred in my life is the connectivity that the internet brings me. From my discovery of the visionary artist the Reverend Shiloh Sophia McCloud, to my brief but much appreciated MySpace conversation with niece Erin who at the tender young age of nineteen has already moved out on her own, to my connection with new friend-in-chronic-pain Jim Misener aka The Broken Gargoyle.

So now you know what I did all day instead of packing.

The Journey

Leap of Faith

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chronic Monday: The Power of Art to Heal - Intro to Healing Dolls

Traditional Guatemalan Worry Dolls

A healing doll is an alternative form of journal writing that helps to externalize your feelings. It is a doll that can hold your feelings so that you no longer have to, and it can be an active and supportive process for healing that can be used alone or in conjunction with a diary.

Here are some examples of Healing Dolls by Barb Kobe:

This one totally reminds me of when I'm having an IBS episode. When I was first figuring out what was going on with that, my counselor asked me to draw what I was feeling. I couldn't get it on paper and finally got some clay to depict the "wounded feeling in gut (WFIG)" that I had come to know the feelings as.

"Digesting My Life" healing doll by Barb Kobe

This cutie is a Guardian doll by Marla, from Barb Kobe's Medicine Doll Class. Very symbolic. Read about her if you are interested.

Dawning of a New Day, Steve's Healing Doll

Steve is Barb's brother, and she had his permission to make this doll for him. She says it's very important to have the permission of the person you want to make a doll for. You can read more about the process at the link above, if you're interested.

From Barb's web page on her Medicine Doll E-book:

"The essential process of healing yourself with artmaking is one involving creating an image that stands as a symbol of a change or choice you want to make. In creating the art you can become more conscious and restore your connection to your intuition and your soul. Dollmaking can help you to heal (become whole) at a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. When you are physically ill, in pain, dealing with emotional issues, or challenged by a life changing event, you can start to heal yourself with art by opening up to your inner voices, listening to them, and allowing their messages to emerge.

The arts affect every cell in the body to create a healing state that changes:

* the immune system and blood flow to all the organs

* perceptions including attitude, emotional state, and pain perception

* feelings of hope and abilities to cope with difficulties

* the outlook and way of being in the world

Barb says she starts people on the healing doll experience by asking that they answer these Ten Questions:. The answers serve as the inspiration for the doll.


1. What colors are you drawn to? Do you wear often? Are your favorites?

2. What will this doll stand as a symbol for you? What will it remind you to think, feel, and/or do
when you see it?

3. What elements describe you? Earth, air, water, fire?

4. What symbols do you like? You collect these, spend time around them, are drawn to them like a magnet?

5. What part of your body do you feel needs healing?

6. If an animal with special powers were to enter your life to give you power, what would that animal be?

7. When do you feel the most powerful?

8. What astrological sign are you?

9 What does your heart yearn for?

10. What is your favorite fairy tale? Explain how this fairy tale is a metaphor for your Life?

I'm going to be thinking about the answers to these questions so I can get on my way to creating my first healing doll. I'll keep you posted on how it's going...

Friday, November 9, 2007

NaBloPoMo 2007: I Blogged for Seven Days in a Row

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So I won't have that lousy sense of accomplishment from completing the NaBloPoMo challenge. I've gone the way of my predecessor with FM who tried to blog for a month, The Princess of the Business World and Fibromyalgia. I gave it up in favor of my health.

Here are some nuggets from The Princess:

"Blogging more was just that, more. It wasn’t better, it wasn’t really helpful. I pushed myself to the brink."

"This experiment also could’ve been entitled “how to take all of the fun out of blogging & turn it into a very stressful environment”. I burnt out. I started hating blogging."

"I did discover that I’m on the right track with how & why I work. Le sigh."

So she didn't really fail, she discovered she was on the right track before this particular experiment.

I suppose I could say the same. I was on the right track before I discovered that blogging every day won't work for me right now. But I also discovered a few things while I was blogging every day, even though I only did it for seven days. I discovered that maybe doing my regular Chronic Monday post, then some short follow up posts on the same subject during the rest of the week might be a good way for me to go. I'm going to try it sometimes.

I also had several Aha! Moments while I was posting every day; one was on gratitude and chronic illness and the other was on the healing power of art. I think I'll need the rest of the year just to follow up on them. On the one hand I got my old draft posts cleaned out, on the other hand I created so many more with all of the ideas I was having during that week that I probably have twice as many drafts now as I did before.

I don't suppose I carried on with the daily posts for long enough for the stats to really mean anything, but on average I had the same number of readers, new and returning, that I had during the three weeks preceding the NaBloPoMo week.

All in all I'm quite pleased with how things turned out, and I hope to participate in NaBloPoMo again next year and have a little more stamina than I did this year because of all the good habits I'm going to have continued to develop by then.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Power of Art to Heal - Series

photo courtesy of unknown flickr photographer

Arts and Healing Network is probably the best place to start learning about the power of art to heal. There are links to all of the movers and shakers in the art therapy field; there's an excellent newletter; the Projects section has links to ongoing projects all over the world; the Inspiration section has MORE great links; and there's a section for artists to find out about grants and to collect resurces.
Arts and Healing Network is an on-line resource celebrating the connection between art and healing. Our web site serves as an international resource for anyone interested in the healing potential of art, especially environmentalists, social activists, artists, art professionals, health care practitioners, and those challenged by illness. Our hope is that the information presented here will educate and inspire.

This series will attempt to provide a sampling of some of the different kinds of art therapy available, and to explain why art therapy works; why art can heal.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, is National Memory Screening Day

National memory Screening Day

Some of us with brain fog (nicely defined and illustrated for us there and here by Laura Bzowy of CFS Squared) wonder if it could actually be early onset Alzheimer's. Set your mind at ease. Just go in for the free screening on 11/13. Lots of locations available.

Sponsored by

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chronic Monday: I Was Having One

This morning when I got up I still agreed with the conclusion I came to last night, that I can't do this NaBloPoMo post every day thing. It's too much. I got on the computer to make a post to that effect and instead I did the "Clear Your Clutter, Clear Your Mind" post. I thought 'I'm so close to getting the hang of doing a quick, short, quality (QSQ) post.' Do you see the length of that Clutter post??? Anyway, I guess I'm still in the running on NaBloPoMo and still trying to get the hang of the QSQ post.

Clear Your Clutter, Clear Your Mind

Photo courtesy of Healing Environments.

I have been working on figuring out how to clear the clutter from my home, including the garage, for quite awhile now. You've probably heard about it. It's all over - not my clutter problem specifically, but that we as Americans have a clutter problem. A big one. Here are some excellent resources, if you're interested in studying up on it:

From zenhabits blog, Zen Mind: How to Declutter. There are more good links at the end of that post.

My other favorite is Organizational guru Peter Walsh, host of TLC's hit show Clean Sweep (ladies, why is it that my favorites are MEN? All the men in my life have just wanted me to clean up after them) who I saw on Oprah:

High Speed, Low Level Clutter Purge

Conquering Clutter One Room at a Time

On top of the general problem, people with chronic illness have an even harder time keeping their clutter clear, simply because we don't feel well enough to do much of anything. Some resources just for us:

Healing Environments Lord knows I wish I could afford to have them come in and create a healing environment for me. They do have lots of pictures and sources to give us some ideas so we can create our own healing space.

Getting the Most From Limited Engergy and Illness and Housekeeping are full of excellent ideas.

The FlyLady works for some, and there are excellent groups for people with fibro who want to fly, like Flying With Fibro.

So I've been trying to get my house mate to declutter the garage with me, ever since I saw the Peter Walsh Way on Oprah. So far we haven't done it, but I'm still trying.

The Garage Before

The Garage After

I've been thinking that when we DO get it done, we will probably still has a lot of stuff that we want to keep, that it would be nice to have some shelving units or something for it. So today I was looking at the PayPerPost (PPP) opportunities that I qualify for, and I saw what looks like dream cabinet and storage units for the garage at garage cabinets.

Aside: This is my first attempt at a PPP blog post. I'm not going to try and sneak it into my post like you, my extremely intelligent readers, wouldn't notice. And I promise you I'll never do that. What I am going to do is tell you that I'm going to come right out and say that I'm trying this out, that I have not tried the products themselves or actually even seen any more of them than the pictures. I'm just thinking (dreaming?) and blogging that some of these things would make our garage really cool... and it would be nice to just order it all up and not have to worry about what "other parts" are needed to make it functional i.e. not to have to wander all over Home Depot trying to figure out what else I need and where it is... and I'll also note that Car Guy Garage order form has a neat thingee where you can find out the shipping cost just by putting in the item(s) and your zip code.

These items would make my dream garage come true:

Diamond Plate Helmet Shelving for all of my nephew's boots and shoes, etc.

Ball Storage for aforementioned nephew's soccer balls.

Garden Tool Storage for those rakes that constantly attack me as I'm getting out of the car...

Diamond Plate Garage Shelving for all my boxes of clothes that I have to save because I change sizes so often (thank you, prescription meds).

Metal Pegboards

Tool Rack

Can Storage

Wall Basket

Wall Tool Bins

All items can be found under the same titles I used, at Car Guy Garage, Inc.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Evolution of Dance

This is good! Dance is my favorite form of exercise. I'll be posting more on how we can get our bodies moving in a healthy way.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Gratitude and Chronic Illness

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It seems to me that this is one of those situations where the more you need the benefits of the practice, the harder it is to do. Like meditation. It's been my observation that the more unsettled my mind (life) is, the harder it is to just sit down and be quite for fifteen or twenty minutes. And the more we need the benefits that gratitude can bring like human growth, joy, creativity, vitality, delight, hope and connection, the harder it is to be grateful. I offer this post as a way to possibly evoke a sense of gratitude, in spite of the fact that we live with chronic illness.

From Seasons of Grace: The Life Giving Practice of Gratitude (emphaisis added by me)
"Gratitude — as conviction, practice, and discipline — is an essential nutrient, a kind of spiritual amino acid for human growth, joy, and creativity. Take away the daily experience and expression of gratitude, and life is quickly diminished. Like a weakened immune system, the spirit is left vulnerable to the diseases of cynicism, anger, low-grade depression, or at least an edgy sense of dissatisfaction. Gratitude-deprived, we suffer a relentless loss of vitality and delight."

Seems kind of obvious that what we DON'T need is lack of gratitude in our lives, on top of everything else!

But how can we feel gratitude when through no apparent choice or fault of our own, our lives have been swept out from under us? Some people seem to be able to come to it sooner than others. It has taken me literally years. I look at people like Jenni P. of ChronicBabe.com and am amazed at how quickly they seem to have come to acceptance of their situation and moved on to dealing with it effectively. For me, acceptance has been a long time coming. But that's a different post. Or three. I think that acceptance of my situation has been key in allowing me to come here, to the threshold of a regular gratitude practice. I'll keep ya'll "posted" on how it goes.

Here's an excerpt on Attention from "Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude" by Alan Jones and John O'Neil with Diana Landau, from the Spirituality & Practice site (emphasis added by me again):

Alan Jones, Episcopal priest and Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and John O'Neil, President of the Center for Leadership Renewal and an advisor to leadership teams and a director of numerous company and foundation boards, salute gratitude as a sign of spiritual maturity. Here is an excerpt on "going live" as a way of keeping alert to what is happening inside and around us.

"Every day the world offers itself to be seen. Seeing things with a grateful eye requires attentiveness and engages our imagination; imagination is a way we take part in the world, not escape from it. We can train ourselves to see the immensity of the commonplace, the world offering itself to our imagination every moment. A poem, a piece of music, a particular smell: if we pay attention, these can open up new worlds.

"Such ordinary experiences not only affect the present moment but also shape our sense of the future. In other words, they give substance to hope. Sometimes it's as if a piece of music or a painting or a book takes possession of us, and we feel amazed and honored to have such guests inside us. We become the host of the undreamed and unexpected. The genuinely new becomes possible. Springtime returns.

"Going live involves deciding where to focus our attention. Human beings, suggests the poet and translator John Ciardi, 'are what we do with our attention.' Or as the mystics would say, we are what we contemplate. If we give our best attention to things that ultimately fail to satisfy us, we get into trouble. Going live, then, may be the act of attending to what's really going on inside and around us. This can be unnerving, because it sharpens our awareness of life's fragility and difficulty. But it also awakens us to life as a gift and starts the wheels of gratitude turning. The positive feedback that gratitude produces is what allows us to stay live, to not shut down."

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

First Visit to HealthInfo Island in Second Life Very Educational - And Fun Too!

HealthInfo Island on Second Life

Yesterday I visited HealthInfo Island in Second Life for the first time. I teleported down close to the beginning of the Path of Support, then I meandered down the path, which is a line of billboards of the over 60 different support groups found in Second Life so far.

A couple I found memorable are the board for the Online Schizophrenic Hallucination Demo (I'm going to have to try that) and of course the Fibromyalgia Support, but there is also a Neurological Disorders Research and Support Committee founded by Maria Mouroutsos.

This is the first, and only SL group for neurological disorders, for those who have them, and for friends and family that want to learn. This group shares research information, tips on how to cope with some of the strange, and rheumotological effects, like fibromyalgia, and also to just share funny things, to help ease a little bit of the frustration.
This is also the first time I've actually felt like fibromyalgia might be in the right classification. I joined this group.

All I did was wander around outside. Never even made to any of the buildings. The Alzheimer's group had a wonderful display. I'll blog that one another day. Let me just close by saying that this is a new medium that just might be able to help people even more than the internet has, to take control of their own health care. Words like responsibility and empowerment are flying around in the sky out there on HealthInfo Island, and I think there might actually be something to them...

The language of health care IS different from what we know. Don't be afraid to ask for a translation.

Here's my avatar Vera Jewell wearing the freebie forget-me-not pin that I got on HealthInfo Island.

And here I am with my freebie medical stick that I could have worn as a pin but I chose to carry as a sword. You never know.

Health Info Island on Second Life

Well, here it is November 1, the beginning of NaBloPoMo. And here I go making an attempt to post every day this month. Should be interesting, especially considering the holiday and the fact that I'll be in Florida for a week. We'll see how it goes.

I found this slide show on the Second Life Health Info Island page, which is a part of the Second Life Library 2.0 site.

Consumer Health Information Gets a Second LIfe

From: CarolPerryman, 6 months ago

"Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual world that has received enormous amounts of press over the last year. In a grant-funded project, a consumer health library has been created in Second Life to provide reference and consumer health support to Second Life residents. Carol Perryman is the virtual world`s first consumer health librarian. This presentation will provide an overview of the grant-funded initiative, including challenges encountered in creating a consumer health library. Comparisons between RL (Real Life) and SL (Second Life) consumer health collection development, reference services and collaborative partnerships are made, accompanied by an overview of the project plans and progress to date."

SlideShare Link

Being a great afficianado of real life libraries, I think I'd better get on into SL and check this out! I'll report back anything worth reporting - TaTa for now!


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