Thankful

There’s a lot of happiness research out there thanks to the new trend in psychology. I’ve read or heard about scientific studies that prove the benefits of practicing gratitude…

  • Promoting a stronger immune system
  • Helping to cope with stress and depression
  • Strengthening relationships
  • Nurturing the heart by reducing negative feelings like anger, bitterness and greed
  • Helping with better sleep

I don’t want to under-emphasize the importance of and the tremendous value I’ve been gifted with from the precious people in my life but I tend to find peace, stress-relief and re-energizing in nature and around animals.  Thank you God, for placing these moments in the path of my life and thanks to the lens of the camera for capturing these brief snippets so they may be enjoyed for time to come.

dog hummer flower tulips flower viola horse sneeze horse grazing flower barn mist barn barn iris fall morning mist fall leaves barn cats landscape sun flower iris landscape

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Opposites Attract

Warm smiles on a wintery day

Yesterday my mom asked me if I still slept with my head under the covers. I laughed and said I did that because I didn’t want any light in my eyes and to drown out sound as best I could. Highly sensitive people don’t “grow out” of their sensitivities but the adaptive ones learn to manage their environment!

So what was the answer to my mom’s question? No! I don’t sleep with the covers over my head because now I have my own house and shut my bedroom door to sound and keep it dark and cool – no nightlight for me. Along with a comfy bed and pillow, I get 9 hours of much needed rejuvenating sleep each night. Sleep is important for everyone but a longer sleep time is especially needed for people with a highly sensitive personality to “recharge their batteries.”

But my husband, that’s a different story. He’s a sensory seeking machine and it takes a lot to overwhelm him. He stays up late, I go to bed early. He likes light, I like dark. He likes to sleep in undies, I like to sleep in full flannel pajamas. He likes background noise, I like it quiet. He likes light sheets, I like a heavy down comforter. He likes … well, you get the picture, we’re opposites on the sensory spectrum and it’s funny how opposites attract.

But even though we’re opposites, we both prefer an amiable relationship without “drama”. However, this week, we had a showdown. We’ve had a spell of cold weather and use a wood burner in the living room to heat the house. Keeping the bedroom door closed means keeping the heat out, not totally out, but possibly it was in the 50’s. I snuggled in my blankets and slept fabulously but he was cold and couldn’t sleep, so he did the unforgivable – he opened the bedroom door and let the heat in.

I woke up at 1am soaked in sweat from the ever present hot flashes and couldn’t get comfortable enough to get back to sleep no matter that I had no covers on and I had shut the door. The next couple of days, he opened the door and I would shut it – over and over this occurred. The dualling door syndrome. Finally we had to talk, because neither of us was giving up on this one.

I explained that I had hot flashes at night and had covers on and off all night but needed it cool or I couldn’t sleep. He explained that he was shivering all night and couldn’t sleep. I offered to get him blankets for his bed but he stubbornly said he didn’t want blankets, he wanted a warm room. Actually, I understand sensory needs, even when they are opposite of mine and I did respect his needs.

We’d just have to sleep in different rooms. Only problem is we live in a small house … a small “3 bedroom” house where 1 bedroom is a TV room (my husbands “man cave”) and another bedroom has my business stuff in it and the last bedroom is where the beds are. There’s no room in the man cave for a bed, unless my husband sleeps on the couch and my office on the north side of the house is drafty, cold and the furthest away from the wood burner. The cold part would be fine for me but it’s drafty because of two large windows that let in a lot of light.

There was no easy answer to our dilemma but I was willing to explore a solution that would make us both comfortable. I’m not sure what happened next, if it was including him in the practical planning part, or his needs being taken seriously part, or my sticking up for changing needs (i.e. teaching him about the reality of hot flashes) as I age part … but my husband said he’d use extra blankets and it ended there. Opposites do attract and it can work. Oh, and on my part, I began to leave the bedroom door open all day so it wouldn’t be quite as cold for him at night when the door was closed.

Aging Gracefully

A year ago in September I had just finished a business course geared towards helping highly sensitive professionals come “out of the closet” so to speak. To allow their gifts to enrich others and their light to shine. That is the month I stepped out of my box and scheduled a professional photo shoot with my animals. I wasn’t exactly comfortable with the picture idea, especially since the prescription pain medication I had been on caused me to gain 20 pounds, but I needed some marketing photos.

BeckyAmosAuthor

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These are a couple of the results and I’m so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and went a head with the plan even though I was feeling “fat”.  I’ve used those pictures for four books I have on Amazon now – the fruit of making myself “visible” to the public in the past year.

Brown Pony Series

This year I turned 50 and decided to schedule another marketing photo shoot on my birthday. But again I felt ambivalent. Over the past year, I’ve helplessly put on an additional 30 pounds.  My metabolism has changed and for me, I feel like I’m wearing a “fat suit”. I can’t even cross my legs comfortably now and because of the off and on pain levels, I haven’t been running like I love to do. But I recalled the way I felt about the previous photo shoot last year (ending up loving the results) and so I kept my appointment.

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And again, I’m really glad I did push forward into visibility. I love this photographers work and I have some wonderful marketing images. I could have allowed emotional negative self-talk and body image to influence this, but something else stronger is emerging in me. I’m certainly not invincible, I do know pain, but maybe the whole pain experience is grounding me too.  Allowing me to sort out what is really important and what is not.

A gift from pain? Maybe that is possible?! Because I am reframing things and I believe my life experience with all it’s beauty and all it’s warts is helping me in aging gracefully.

Metaphor or Simple Reality

My usual pain level is a 2 or 3 out of 10. On the pain scale a 10 out of 10 is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. A year and a half ago I was in the emergency room with a 10. So maybe it’s pessimism caused from pain but this week, it’s been upwards of a level 5, a nauseating dull deep constant ache that I can’t stretch out of … feeling it in my head, shoulder and lower back to hip. Maybe it’s the full moon? Maybe it’s the change in barometer with gray sleet and rain? Maybe it’s the dropping to 20 degrees at night? But whatever it is, I ache and my mood aches.

I notice beauty but then notice fading beauty …

PumpkinGraveyard

Old pumpkins mark the end of the season

BrokenBench

A dilapidated bench was once a place of rest but can barely support itself now

FadingFlowers

Fading flowers – actually fading mums – reminds me that my own ‘mum’ will not be with me forever

Ecclesiastes comes to mind:

Skull

“Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

What profit have we from all the toil
which we toil at under the sun?

One generation departs and another generation comes,
but the world forever stays.”

Hummer

Williams

Animals live in the “here and now” and watch us while we go about our work … I wonder if they see it as toil and vanity?

Working

I had a weird experience that kind of sums up this Sunday’s post … or maybe it became the inspiration for it?  I went to church and the bible readings were on creating a good foundation for your soul’s salvation. And then something ironic happened, the shoes I wore to church began to fall apart in the pew … seriously… I walked into church with solid shoes and this is what they looked like going out of church ….

Shoe Falling Apart

Isn’t that strange? Shoes are the ‘foundation’ you walk with and it was the ‘sole’ of the shoe that literally fell into pieces. I think it might have been the first time I went up to communion in my stocking feet and I pondered that it really is appropriate to take your shoes off on holy ground. Combined with the sermon, was I experiencing a profound spiritual metaphor or a simple reality of Ecclesiastes and things not lasting in this world?

Maybe it’s not an ‘either or or’ question, it just might be a ‘both and’ situation where I’m being gifted with an experience to highlight the temporariness of creation? I’m trying not to be weighed down by resistance or pessimism and to continue on through the pain, being compelled forward by a purpose I am unable to view fully at this time.

Stifled by Belief

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This feels like rocky terrain – a path I’m still trying to navigate and discover a clearer way through. But one thing I know is that I’ve been stifled by certain beliefs in my life.

An early memory is from when I was 3 or 4 years old, running freely and wildly and joyfully barefoot in the soft grass behind my home, then I couldn’t run anymore, I wanted to, I had so much more pent up glee to express but my lungs wouldn’t keep up and I couldn’t breath, so I collapsed on the grass and looked up at the sky. And that’s where the first stifling belief creeped in – somehow I had internalized at that early age that people who lie around are l-a-z-y.  And at that tender age, I judged my breathlessness as laziness and I felt guilty for resting.

Fast forward to grade school. I have, what I now know is a highly sensitive and introverted personality. School was draining and I was lucky to be smart. I ended up learning despite an environment that was not the ideal learning environment for people who are like me. But there was a cost to being smart and applying myself to learn in school – I came home exhausted from holding it together all day, I had nothing more to give, I was emotionally, physically, and mentally spent. I was surly and went into self soothing – a dark cool basement with a cuddly blanket, laying on the couch eating and watching TV and I felt guilty for resting.

I grew up in a blue collar family, where you worked long hours for an income. Work was a necessary evil to provide for the family. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college and I worked in a hospital as an occupational therapist. I actually loved my work and found it fun and I felt guilty for that because I had internalized the belief that work was suppose to be drudgery.

With age, comes wisdom, and I just turned a half a century old, so I’m coming to acceptance for who I am …

Happy Birthday Becky

– Lazy? No. I am a unique person with some physical limitations who needs to rest now and again and that’s ok, I’m ok.

– Surly? No. I have a unique personality that is extra sensitive to the world around me and I allow myself quiet space to revive my energy and that’s ok, I’m ok.

– Work is not work unless it’s drudgery? No. I find peace and joy in living out my passion and purpose by offering others the gifts I have been given, and I graciously accept compensation from those I share my time and talents with and that’s ok, I’m ok.

Yes, I’ve been stifled by certain beliefs in my life but I’m questioning them, reframing them, and finding self-acceptance and peace in the process and that’s ok, because I’m ok.

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