Brief …

I’ll keep this brief … I’ve given myself a “staycation” this week. A week to play and rest. I get to nap every day. I get to read fantasy novels as long as I want. I get to watch the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings extended editions through from start to finish. I may play with my horses or in my garden if the whim strikes me. But what I can’t do is spend loads of time sitting with work. No marketing, no studying, no writing, no tweaking.

It took only a few hours into the first day of Staycation to feel guilty, to feel nudged to get back into the routine, to rationalize that it’s really enjoyable and after all “you’re following your passion.” Yes, true. But … I’ve lost something called “play” … I’m so learning and business focused. I give myself permission to ignore the guilty nudges and walk with my dog. I needed to move to get that out of my system.

Day two of Staycation, I congratulate myself on having a simply fun day and then the inner voice tells me “it’s time to get back to work.” I’m very tempted but then I remind myself that this is like a work addiction and that I’m more than my work. Most weeks I put in 60 to 70 hours of my life into work. But this week, it’s down to the bare essentials … I’m determined to keep it to 20 hours (or less). I sit down with a book for a few hours and then pop some popcorn for a movie. Wonderful.

Day three, something happened in that in-between state this morning … that time between dreaming and waking. I had a vision of myself lying or rather floating in supine position in a type of underground world. This world went on in all directions and was not pleasant nor was it painful, it just was and it was shades of gray. And as it was for a long period of space, it seemed to be that way for time as well. It may have been a type of purgatory or limbo? But it was very clear in my mind as I rested there that mundane work tasks did not add to any joy in that place. BUT, the little kindnesses I have offered others and the small ways I brought good into the world did matter … they brought little bits of color and warmth and happiness in that space.

What a profound break through. The nagging feelings that I was being lazy and that taking time off work was a waste simply crumpled away as spirit began to shine through with the real truth. The truth of the value of the little things that matter in life. It took a brief “time out” to let that shine through.

I still have a few days left in Staycation. A brief counterpoint to the everyday busy-ness that fills life. This is a perfect ending to summer and a perfect approach to understanding our upcoming Labor Day holiday. Are you crazy busy? Do you allow yourself much downtime? How do you deal with the nagging feelings that you “should” be doing something else if you take a break? Do you even get those accusing feelings like I do?

Time to wrap this up and curl up with coffee and a book. I can feel my body begin to sigh and relax. It wasn’t easy at first, but it’s getting easier to “let go.”

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No Panic

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The greatest fear people identify is the fear of public speaking. It probably has to do with the fear of failure, the fear of looking or sounding stupid, the fear of being boring, or the fear of other people’s judgement.

I had a chance to stare fear in the face on Saturday. I offered a clinic teaching horse people how to evaluate their own saddle fit. I’ve taught classes before but I’ve always felt panic … dry mouth, sweaty armpits, gut clenched. And I’ve always had to have the entire talk scripted because I would experience a loss of words. Sometimes I’d stutter over just saying my own name and where I was from.

But not this time. This Saturday I only had an outline of what I wanted to cover, I knew what I wanted people to learn. I didn’t sweat, I did have butterflies in my stomach but no dry mouth. I had everything organized a head of time. No technology was used, so there was nothing to worry about “malfunctioning.” The week before the event I went through a Chakra balancing exercise and the day of the event I used the Balance Blend Essential Oil.

Eight people came to the class and it was a perfectly sized group for having hands-on time to practice the concepts I taught. I wished more people would have been interested in coming to learn about evaluating their own saddle fit but I had great testimonials from those who did attend.

I did a type of pre-test by having the participants measure a saddle before the training and then a post-test by having them measure a saddle after the training. Average saddles measure between 5.5″ to 8″ in the gullet area and that 2 1/2 inches represents the difference between a narrow horse to an extra wide horse. Before the training the participants were across the board spanning 3 1/2 inches of different gullet measurements on the same saddle. But after 5 minutes of training they were within 3/4 of an inch of each other. That is amazing. Most were beginners or first timers in learning about saddle fit. I was so proud of them.

Some comments were: “I knew generally where to measure but not precisely where. I found out that I was a bit off.” “I have not used any of these techniques in the past and can see how important they are in getting a proper, comfortable fit.” “I really learned basically everything I need to know on how to benefit my horse.” “Covered everything I have already heard but with more detail.” “Great info for buying a new saddle.”

What a successful day for everyone. In the past, I have allowed fear and panic to overwhelm me to the point where I wouldn’t even offer this type of public event. I would only work with people one on one. But offering group talks is less expensive for participants and allows me to reach more people. So I’ve been working on overcoming fear and panic. I believe I have something to offer that can benefit other people and their horses, so why shouldn’t I take the leap and share it. And I learned something this weekend … I learned I could do this with no panic.

 

Straw and Stress

Straw

I’ve been doing a lot of exchanges the past few years. You can reduce the toxic load in your body by removing toxins that are already there and you can also remove future occurrences  of toxins i.e. exchanges.

I want to give my hormonal system and my immune system a fighting chance for health, so I’ve exchanged synthetics for naturals – i.e. cheap shampoos filled with endocrine disruptors (parabens) for natural shampoos, heavy-metal aluminum laced anti-perspirants for deodorants with healing essential oils, fluoride toothpaste with non-fluoride toothpaste, artificial room fresheners and perfumes (linked to asthma and cancer) with natural scents.  I’m using Norwex silver embedded cloths to clean with water vs. chemicals.

The hidden toxins around us are much more than cigarette smoke and they build up and add stress to our immune system until the proverbial straw breaks your back and you become “suddenly” ill. All the straws are to blame, not just one of them.

If you haven’t heard of epigenetics, it’s the new way of looking at DNA. Our genetics, the physical DNA we inherited includes our eye color, skin tone, and so much more. You’ve heard of cancer genes, how cancer can be inherited? Cancer isn’t like your eye color, which expresses itself at your birth. The cancer gene is based in epigenetics i.e. it takes an external factor to make the gene activate.

Gate

Epigenetics is the study of how a gene turns on and turns off. It’s like a gate – the gate is on the gene and can be open or closed. For cancer, it can keep the cancer enclosed and not let it out or the gene gate can open and let the cancer out.

What opens the gene gate? Stress. Physical, social, emotional, environmental, and mental stress can open and close the gene gates and impact your health on a DNA level. That’s a pretty strong reason to want to detox. Like building up straw upon straw until there is an overburdening load, a little toxin here and a little toxin there will build up and add unneeded stress to your body.

Sometimes, even when we’re supporting our body, epigenetics happens, kind of like “sh.t happens.” It happened to me. I have the genetics for high blood pressure. My dad has it and his sister died from a brain aneurysm from untreated high blood pressure. My blood pressure had been fine for most of my life until the time around my diagnosis with Trigeminal Neuralgia … the pain caused my blood pressure to skyrocket. As the pain became under control, my blood pressure remained high, the epigenetic gate was opened.

I’ve been managing my blood pressure with a herb … I highly value natural health and being medication free. I was on Rauwolfia the past 3 years and it helped until more unavoidable stress piled up. My father’s memory is failing and it’s so sad to watch, in the past year I retired from work that for over 20 years defined my life, and I entered menopause.

Those straws were just too much. My blood pressure rose no matter how much I managed stress and used positive self-talk. I finally had to go on a prescription blood pressure medication. I can’t change the genes I inherited but I’m hoping one day I’ll find the key to closing the epigenetic gate and lower my blood pressure naturally again. I want to heal my body on that most basic DNA level and not simply treat a symptom. But for now, I’ll have to do both.

The straw that broke the camels back. The camels back has to have time to heal and the straws need to be removed one by one.

Suffering

Tulip

On Monday UPS delivered the order. A new Broyhill mattress topper. Waking Tuesday morning, I glanced at the clock expecting it to read 2am, the usual time pain starts to creep in and interrupt dreams. But it was 6am and I stretched with little pain. Wow. A little thing, 4″ of foam, well maybe not so little, it did feel like sleeping on a cloud. I can’t remember the last time I slept completely through the night.

New Sleep Topper

But little things DO seem to make a difference. In the summer I volunteer for a therapeutic riding program. The program is in it’s 22nd year. I was the founder and instructor for 10 years until I passed on the baton. It’s now in the 3rd generation of instructors and going strong. It makes me proud to watch it succeed. I was talking with a fellow volunteer during the awards banquet on Saturday and we were both happy to help make good memories and put smiles on the faces of the children with disabilities we had served the past two months.

Our conversation turned philosophical and personal. I shared my own journey in chronic pain and how my work focus is now to help others overcome pain. I shared Col. 1:24 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” and explained how there is a mystery associated with pain and suffering. Most of the children we served in the riding program were born with their disability and I feel their journey on earth is a redemptive spiritual journey.

Suffering can be “offered up” and applied to helping others get to heaven and some of those kids in the therapeutic riding program have known a lot of suffering. I honor the mystical work that those who have unavoidable suffering through disability or injury or a loss of some type. I honor their spirit and work to lift them up. And I also work to help to alleviate pain. Even though suffering can be offered up for a greater good, pain itself is an evil to eradicate. It’s a mystery revealed through the cross of Christ … taking something that would be considered meaningless and detestable (suffering) and elevating it to God.

Becky Cook. Becky. B-e-c-k-y. Oh, my name was called out. I won one of the volunteer prizes from the drawing. Cool. I walk up and  the conversation ends with my fellow volunteer. I happily accept the little gift and reach for a brownie before walking back to my chair. I sit and another volunteer and I begin chatting about horses and the saddle fit course I will be teaching next month. I explain my goal to relieve stress and pain for both horse and rider.

I believe it’s the little things that do make a difference … kids smiles, comfortable beds, happy horses. In little ways I try to relieve suffering. Mine and others. And when it can’t be relieved I bless it and offer it up, putting it in God’s hands.