Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cans - Another One Bites The Dust

Hello Friends:

It's been ages ... again ... since I posted.  This year has been a slow one for the blog, but that's okay.  Maybe I'll just put ten posts up in December.  :)  I've been away from the blog both because of good times and bad.  Usually the down times make me write, but for some reason this year I've been away no matter how I felt.  Weird.

Anyway, what I really wanted to write about today was a continuing triumph.  I have once again triumphed over can.  If you want the gory details about my OCD issues with cans, you can check up on two previous posts, "Cans are Scary" and "Triumph Over Can."  That's the starting point for me tackling yet another can.

Pumpkin seems to be the motivator.  It is pumpkin which calls to me so strongly that I just have to go to it.  I do not eat canned beans.  No, I will go through the trouble of buying them dry and soaking them overnight and then cooking them forever.  I do not eat canned tomatoes.  Again, I will buy them fresh and go through the process of removing the skins and saucing them myself.  Both of these endeavors are time consuming, and although they make for a good end product, they are a enough of a pain that I do not have either beans or tomato dishes nearly as much as I would like.  It really would be so much easier if I just could eat the canned versions.

But I can't.  Yet.  Big emphasis on yet.  There was a time I would have said never.  Absolutely never would I willingly open and eat from a can.  But once again, pumpkin has called to me, and another can has, as they say, bitten the dust.

It is pie that is doing it.  Why doesn't my grocery store consistently carry pumpkin pie?  Even this time of year you can't be certain there will be pumpkin pies in the bakery.  This is madness.  I love pumpkin pie, and will happily eat the stuff year round.  Now, I understand if it is unrealistic of me to want my bakery to produce pumpkin pies all year.  Fine.  But where is my pumpkin pie now?  It is practically Thanksgiving.  And I certainly will have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

So, yes, I bought cans of pumpkin.  I could have gone through the cooking-pumpkin-from-scratch process, but even I find that tedious.  Two cans of pumpkin.  And I even have a can opener from a previous need to crack into a can of pumpkin.  Took a while to find it.

It was all strangely easy.  It sort of had a dreamy feel to it.  I opened a can of pumpkin.  It looked fine.  I used it.  The pie smelled heavenly while it was cooking because I over-spice my pies with my entire spice cabinet.  Especially cloves, allspice, and ginger.  The place really smelled like Thanksgiving.  Wow.  Pie came out and cooled a bit.  And then I ate a piece.  Just like that.  I felt a twinge or two.  Ate it anyway.  Had a twinge or two when I was going to bed, but I always have trouble at bedtime, so I ignored it.

And here I am.  One day post pie.  Not quite.  I just had a tiny sliver with breakfast.  It is pretty @&$% good.  Have I mentioned how much I love pumpkin pie?  And now I can make my own, whenever I want.  Wow, I feel empowered - empowered to make pie, and empowered in another triumph over OCDs.  

Your Hostess With Neuroses
Image credit/info:  Picture taken by me of a pie that certainly won't last long.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Practicing Posture and Other Habits

Hello Friends:

Where to start.  How about with definitions of the word "practice?"  It is such an interesting word.  I first knew it to mean doing something over and over to gain skill or expertise, as in "practicing the piano."  Then I heard people talk about "practicing law" or "practicing medicine."  This wasn't someone trying to become more skilled, this was a skilled person just doing their job.  Then I knew it as trying to follow or observe something, like "I practice such-and-such religion."  Finally I became familiar with the definition that used the word to mean doing something habitually, as in "the practice of meditation."

I love all these interwoven definitions, particularly when it comes to thinking about meditation and yoga.  I was thinking about it in yoga class, actually.  I was certainly "practicing" the yoga poses (called asanas) so I could get better at them.  And doing yoga regularly is also a "practice," a permanent life activity.  A habit (I hope), a mode, a way of being.  Practicing my practice.

The instructor really made me laugh when she noted that the next pose was used to fight bad posture, or our "slouch-asana."  I laughed loud enough to get her attention, and every time she used the "word" after that she looked at me and I laughed all over again.  It was funny to me, thinking of the idea of a slouch as a yoga pose.  "Now everyone - slouch-asana!"  Finally, yoga I can do really well.

Then I thought more, and it became less funny and more enlightening.  Slouching as a pose.  Something we actually practice day in and day out, getting better at it all the time.  We slouch when we walk, sit, stand, and sometimes when we lie down.  We are so good at it that it takes years of dedicated work to un-slouch ourselves.  And we don't just practice slouching to get to be more skilled slouchers, we end up doing it as a lifetime practice.  A habit.  A mode.  A way of being.  From the outside, some alien culture might imagine we have a deep belief in slouching. 

It made me think harder.  What else has moved into the status of an actual practice?  What do I believe in so strongly that I "practice" it the way I do meditation or the way I brush my teeth?  How about my constant stream of self-critical comments?  That could be a practice - yes, self criticism as practice.  Maybe self-hatred as practice.  When did my practice start?  I'm really amazingly good at it.  Is there a love-asana that can be used to work against my excellent hate-asana?  What would that look like?  I don't mean it literally, although if there is a pose for self-esteem I'll practice it.  I mean spiritual asanas.  Poses of the mind and soul.

I think this is an interesting way to consider all the things I do on a daily basis, and how much of a grip they have on me.  What's been glorified, in a way, with the status of practice?  Should it be?  How can that be changed?

What are your practices, good and bad?  How do you set aside an honored practice, even a bad one, and put a new, healthy one in its place?

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: www.photoxpresss.com

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fountain of Too Much Going On

Hello Friends:

So usually when I take a series of long writing breaks, it's because I am too depressed to write.  I'm happy to say that my long absence has been due more to having too much going on, rather than nothing going on (for a change).  The year has been overflowing (like a fountain, see pic :) although there has been both good and bad, it's mostly been good.

Yet, it's always unsettling to go back to the blog and keep trying to blog, no matter what has been blocking the writing.  It's tough.

It's been an anxious year.  I've had a lot of health concerns I've been trying to nail down, as well as lots of travel.  I haven't been able to really get out and see friends, so I've been sort of isolated.  And the kicker is that I've been trying an experiment to see if I can get back into 'real' work, at least part time.  Very anxious.

It isn't as if I don't have oodles of ideas for posts.  Since there has been so much going on, there has been lots and lots of fodder for posts.  I just have to get the stuff down on 'paper' and get it, you know, posted.  And I have a lot of catch-up reading to do on all of your blogs, as I get myself back into the swing of things here.  Or try to, once again.  Which is also an anxious sort of thing.

Up until about December or January I was pretty down, and I think getting out of that can be credited to adding some Abilify to the med mix.  Celexa and my many supplements just weren't cutting it alone.  I'll also give some credit to my light box as a good 'brightness fix' in the winter months.  If you are like me, and feel down in winter, you might want to consider one of these.  Mine is pretty effective.

So to wrap up this rambling post, I'm not going to promise too many more posts too soon, although I'd really like to get some of these ideas down.  I've just been too sporadic over the last year.  But as I try again to get back into other activities that put me into the world, I'm going to keep on trying.  I look forward to reading up on your blogs!

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info:  Picture of a fountain, on Flickr via Creative Commons CC 2.0.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hello Friends:

Wow.  It's been a while since I read a title for a blog post that had me actually nauseous.  Here's the one that got me - "How is your love life related to your Mother?"  Oh.  Ewww.

Zoh, tell me about your muzher.

Remember that "Mom" is a real hot button topic for me in general.  I'm estranged from my parents, mostly because of my mother's unresolved and untreated mental illnesses.  Don't get me wrong - I have a great deal of sympathy for anyone suffers from mental illness; how could I not, given I am in that position myself?  But protecting my boundaries means only interacting with people who want to get better; who want to be treated.  My mother is not in that category.

So the idea that my past (or present) relationship with her reflects in my love life is utterly anathema.  Even though it has to be true, of course.  Our relationships with our parents form the basis for how we relate to almost every other person we meet.  But love life?  I reiterate.  Ewww.

The other blog post says, "If you felt you didn’t get enough from your mother, perhaps you also feel that you don’t get “enough” from your partner."  Fortunately I have a spouse who has been willing to work with me for many years, addressing both my issues and his, and we have a very good marriage.  It takes plenty of effort, but it has really paid off for us.  So I guess my first point is this - past (or present) events may have an influence, but they do not have to rule us.  We can make changes in our current lives, through therapy, meds, meditation, or whatever, as well as through working with others on relationships.  Difficulties are not a forgone conclusion.

The post goes on with a few other phrases that naturally get me going, but also get me thinking.  Here's one: "Rejecting our parents only brings us suffering."  I'll mention that rejecting them has brought me a lot of peace, and was the only way I was able to carve enough of a safe space to truly being healing.  But that isn't really what the poster means - they mean a deep sense of rejecting them on all levels, not just not being in their physical presence.  And I agree with that to some extent.  Not being able to accept our parents for what they are is very painful. 

The post goes on to say, "Even our bodies will feel some degree of unrest until our parents are experienced inside us in a loving way."  This is tough for me.  I will not actually be able to experience my 'real' parents inside me in a loving way.  That attachment was not made.  I can wish for loving parents, caring parents, real parents, outside of myself, but that is not a wish that will come true.  Instead, the parent I have is myself.  I am now responsible for being what I didn't have, and what I need, then and now.  So perhaps this idea of 'experiencing parents inside myself in a loving way' is something I can do with my own inner parent.  I can stop wishing for something that does not exist, stop wanting them to be what they are not, and instead look to myself for what I didn't have.

How do you relate to your parents?  Are you a parent to yourself?  How do you think that reflects in your primary relationships?

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: photoxpress.com woman hides face 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Learning How to Say Goodbye

Hello Friends:

There on my sidebar of blogs is "Toddler Planet."  It has not been updated for year because the author passed away one year ago today on Feb 6, 2012.  I haven't yet been able to bring myself to remove the link, but I think the next few days will finally see that happen.

I've been watching it slowly fall lower and lower on the list, wondering why I couldn't remove it.  Wondering if this was me in denial, or some kind of weird homage, or what.  Grief is a strange thing.

Sue died of inflammatory breast cancer, and left behind a husband and two children, as well as a legacy of friends, coworkers, her blog, and much more.  It is so cliche to say 'inspiring' but if you take a look at just the last few posts on her blog, you'll see what I mean.

She had a very realistic view of chronic illness that I'm sure a lot of us understand all too well.  She didn't candy coat the difficulties, the pain, the sense of loss.  But she was able to maintain a sense of healing and hope that resonated with me.  We know how tough it is to be sick, but the truth is that healing is always there, even up to the very last minute of the very last day.  There is healing that happens.

I am daunted by the incredible flood of responses she received both towards the end of her life and after she passed.  It brings the pain and loneliness of illness into stark relief.  Mental illnesses (say depression in particular) drive us into isolation, away from friends, and into our homes and sometimes bedrooms, not to emerge for who knows how long.  We desperately desire to know that there are others out there who still know we exist, and still care, but we lack the ability to reach out.  Sue's life poses a challenge to keep trying even when the pain is severe - it is inspiring, but the challenge remains daunting.

It is my only real homage to be able to say to her that I still think of her, and that how she lived, and died, makes me want to keep on trying.  I do think she'd be honored by that.  I would be honored should anyone ever be able to say that of me.

Your Hostess With Neuroses
Image credit/info: Susan's avatar picture, taken from her blog "Toddler Planet"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

So What is My Civic Duty When Sick, Anyway?

Woman pretending to
contemplate mask.
Hello Friends:

So okay, after my last post I kinda feel like the universe is having a bit of a joke with me.  I am now the sicky.  And I'm back on the train.  Yep.  No, I'm not wearing a mask, but I swear I know how to use a tissue, and I also use handiwipes constantly.  Still, I would not be offended at all if you chose to sit next to someone else.

In fact, I sort of wish the woman who would not get off her cell phone had done just that, instead of smiling, sitting next to me in the quiet car, and then proceeding to chatter away.

Anyway, in my last post I was talking about how everyone on the train was sick but me, and now there is some turn around for that.  I am sick, and feeling guilty that I am out in the world.  But for the moment, it seems to be a mild cold, and I can't justify not getting on the train and getting back home, as scheduled.  Nobody wants to sit around hundreds of miles from home in a different city.  That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.

So the ride is this strange combination of good and bad.  On one hand, I don't feel that same fear of all the other sick passengers, because, well, now I am one of them.  I caught a bug and now it is sort of like there is nothing to fear.  But on the other hand, I'm feeling guilty that I'm here at all, and not in fact wearing a mask.  I guarantee I'm not coughing or sneezing all over, really, but is that an excuse?

This obsessive thinking about this ... well, I know it is just another aspect of the OCD and anxiety disorders.  I ended last week saying I needed to learn to be more compassionate.  I know I need to learn that compassion for myself.  It seems to be the hardest person to feel compassionate towards.

Okay, except for the ladies on the cell phones in the quiet car.  I'm having serious trouble with compassion for that.  But I'm even making a go at it, because, well, people are people and we are all in this together.  (I mean, who isn't doing their civic duty, here, me or them?  What is the more anti-social thing, no mask or constant chatter in a quiet space?  Why sit in the quiet car if ... wait, I'm ranting again.)

So I'm not sure what the point of this post was.  First, I guess, to express that strange feeling of being sick, and so not having to be afraid of getting sick anymore.  And then to talk about that guilty feeling and sense of social duty.  Am I making the people around me as anxious as they were making me last week?  I'd feel rotten about that.  And where is the line of civic responsibility, anyway?  Masks aren't common in the US, but aren't a bad idea.  Of course OCD wants a definitive answer.  A final ruling about exactly how I should act when I'm sick.  There is no such thing.

How about I just keep up with the good use of tissues and handiwipes?  And maybe try some more compassion for myself, and for the others on the train.  Even ... ahem ... cell phone users in the freaking quiet car.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Woman with Mask, Photoxpress.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Please Use Tissues, Thank You

Stock photo of perfectly well
person pretending to be sick.
Note proper use of tissue.
Hello Friends:

So everyone on my train is sick but me.  Okay, that's not literally true.  This is just that OCD feeling one gets when one travels.  Every sniffle, sneeze, and cough is a sign of impending plague.  I don't want the plague.

To back up a little - I'm on a train because I hate flying.  I still fly, as you know, but when traveling up and down the east coast corridor, I make use of the much less terrifying train system.  I also make use of trains if my ears are being finicky, since if they are the least bit stuffed they will not pop on flights.  I imagine that a lot of people feel that way, and so they will take the train not just because they don't want to fly, but because they are congested and can't fly.

Thus we have the present situation.  Constant coughing, sneezing, hacking, etc.  People who need to travel but can't fly.  People who shouldn't be traveling but think the train is easier so it will be okay.  Plus the usual random people who have non-flu related coughs from smoking or asthma or whatever.


It not only brings on feelings of fear, but also of another OCD kind of guilt.

Since I have needle trauma from the past, as well as contamination fears, I have yet to be able to make myself get a flu shot, ever.  This is one of those OCD quandries we are all too familiar with.  Do the scary thing to avoid the scary thing, maybe?  Or just deal with that first scary thing head on?  Neither sounds good.  Sometimes we choose to do the one, sometimes the other.

I look on vaccination, for example, as a civic duty, and so feel somewhat similarly about the flu shot.  Which means I feel like my OCDs are keeping me from doing my social duty.  I hate that.  But as you know, OCD is a powerful beast.  No matter how hard I try, I can't make myself get that flu shot.

So here on am on the train, feeling scared and wondering why people who are that sick are on this train after all.  I am a firm believer that sick people should not work or travel.  They should rest and get better.  But I'm also a realist, so I understand that this isn't always, or even often, possible.  Real life is what it is, and sometimes that means not being able to take a break even when we are ill.

Given my lack of flu shot I sort of feel like I don't have a right to gripe about sick travelers, anyway.  Then I feel the other way about it, and figure that is a whole 'nuther animal.  Maybe they could at least wear those mask things so they don't cough their germs all over amtrak?

Perhaps I just need to learn more compassion and acceptance, for them and for myself.  We are all doing the best we can, and my (possibly) getting sick or not is not a comment on them or me, and/or if we are following our civic duty.  Sometimes sick just happens.

It would be nice if it happened later ... much later.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info:  Girl Health Frame, Photoexpress.

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