About Me

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With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90  days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.

28 December 2014

Resource -- John Ratey's book about exercise and the brain



"Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain."

By John Ratey, MD.

I'm reading this book on the recommendation of a friend who is, at forty-something, exercising vigorously for the first time in her adult life. She's lost weight and seems lighter, somehow, and freer. A perfect testimonial for the book.

I'm only about half-way through, but find the mix of biology, physiology, and scientific research interesting and accessible to a lay person. Ratey writes about how exercise affects our brains and our thinking, and writes in detail about depression, stress, ADHD, addictions and anxiety.

Photo  by William Marsh
No mention yet of chronic pain specifically, yet a good bit of what he says applies to living with chronic pain, which is stressful and can make us depressed and anxious.

I started working out at the YMCA recently (this post), and find what Ratey says to be true for the benefits of my new exercise regimen. I have made a very slow start as I learn to accommodate migraine pain and allow my stamina to slowly increase, yet the benefits are there. It's helpful reading this book and discovering positive changes I had not been aware of.

In my next post, I'll share a bit about how it is to develop an exercise regimen despite chronic pain and from a very out-of-shape beginning point.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

22 December 2014

Holiday Strategies -- Inner Peace

I'm getting a migraine, so this post will be short and sweet.

The holidays bring with them a certain amount of chaos and confusion. It's easy to get drawn in, to lose one's inner peace struggling to do and be all that is expected: the perfect parent, daughter or family; the most fantastic gift; the best of everything.

Choosing inner peace over outward chaos is counter-cultural. Of all the many expectations and needs loaded onto Christmas, the ability to remain calm, centered and quietly joyful is not one of them.

Choosing inner peace over outward chaos can seem like indifference or ingratitude to those who expect or need us to buy into the 'shoulds' and the 'musts' and the 'it has to be this ways.'

Photo by William Marsh

So take a deep breath or three or ten. Keep up with your prayer and meditation times. Exercise when you can. Eat and drink moderately. Look around to see what is good and wonderful in your life regardless of season and holiday. Let gratitude fill you.

And relinquish your inner peace to nothing and no one.





Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

20 December 2014

Holiday Strategies -- Saying No

I started to write this post on stamina earlier this week. I didn't have the stamina to finish it.

I had the physical stamina -- only one really bad migraine day that kept me from the computer. I've even been to the gym twice, although I've had to modify exercise time and type to accommodate migraines.

What I didn't have was the emotional stamina. I have never just popped off a post without really thinking about it and trying to write well. Writers want to be present to and authentic in their writing and bloggers want to blog honestly and with integrity. So it takes emotional presence and patience to write a good blog post.

I just didn't have that this week.

It's an object lesson for this series on strategies for holidays.

All I can say is that I didn't force myself to post. Even though I thought I should keep up with the series I'd started. Even though I'm trying to create a platform as a writer and for that I should have  regular posts and a widely read blog.

Photo by William Marsh
That's a holiday strategy: I realized I was "should-ing" myself beyond what was right and possible for me. Then I allowed myself not to let the "should" push me.

Parties. Family stuff. Presents to buy and wrap. Baking. When we are unwell, whether in pain or in emotional distress or ill in some way, we cannot do it all.

The holiday strategy for today: it's OK to say no.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

14 December 2014

Holiday Strategies -- All I need

In a previous post, I wrote about Stuffy Santa Claus magic.

I get stuck, sometimes, in wanting the holiday to be 'special,' although I'm not sure I could say exactly what that means. But it makes for a niggling feeling, a recurring sense that something's not quite right. Or I suddenly become aware that I'm upset over something ridiculous. Something that has nothing to do with what is here, now, and ready for me to see:

Photo by William Marsh
That my life is blessed in so many ways.


That I don't need presents or a certain kind of tree or the perfect cookie or a fantastic holiday party because all I need is here, now, in this moment. As is all that brings me inner peace.

I love the memory of my Stuffy Santa Claus moment. I love it that my parents cared so much they went on an all-out search on Christmas Eve. That's how much they loved me, how much they wanted me to be happy.

I guess Stuffy Santa Claus magic isn't about having a Stuffy Santa Claus moment every year, or even ever again. It's about the love that made the magic happen for me when I was three years old.

That's all I need.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

12 December 2014

Resources -- My Essay in the Chronicle of The American Chronic Pain Association

Here's a link to the December 2014 Chronicle of The American Chronic Pain Association:


Click on "December 2014 Chronicle" to download the pdf.

My essay is on page 11, "Pain's Lessons Are Life Lessons."

And there's more:
* A series of articles about communication -- with your Health Care Providers and with your family and friends
* Review of the book, No It Is NOT In My Head by Nicole Hemmenway.

Enjoy!  

Thanks for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


09 December 2014

Holiday Strategies -- Stuffy Santa Claus Magic

(Second in a series of posts about holiday spirit and life itself. For all of us living with chronic pain, mental health issues, grief, less-than-functional families, and other unjoyous realities.)

My mother tells me I wouldn't say what I wanted for Christmas the year I was three. When I finally asked for a gift other than the "canny and ba'gums" that comprised my entire list, they tore through stores in a frantic search. It was late in December and what I wanted was inexplicably hard to find. They kept looking until Dad finally found it on Christmas Eve and brought it triumphantly home.

My"stuffy" Santa Claus.

He sat atop a cardboard chimney, in up to the waist with his fat red arms and black-mittened hands spread wide like he wanted a hug. He said "Ho ho ho," when I turned the handle on his back. I loved everything about him: the red felt suit, white fur lining, plastic black belt with its little gold buckle, hard-rubber head with its wavy white beard and open-mouthed smile. He was magic.



This must be the moment that came to define Christmas and holiday joy for me: a girl of three who really, really wants only one thing and ... there it is.



We go through life wanting to recreate the magic, don't we? Each with our own Stuffy Santa Claus moment. It happened once and will never, can never, happen again yet drives us into hopes and desires for years. That's poignant, isn't it? But it's a simple truth, and this blog is about life and pain and the reality that we must learn to deal with in order for our spirits to be free of our expectations and graspings.

If we don't recognize long-ago magic for what it is, we go into the holiday season looking for what will not be. And so we're vaguely frustrated, or we crash around trying to make things "perfect," or we try to get others to make the magic happen for us. We miss what's plain old good, the things that make for peace inside us.

What's your Stuffy Santa Claus moment?


Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.



08 December 2014

Holiday Strategies

I've been having a rough time -- migraines have been bad and the occipital neuralgia is back after the final treatment 8 weeks ago -- and several people I love are struggling, too. But it's December. Part of me still believes I'm supposed to be and act happy for the holidays. I know I'm not the only one that can get stuck in that I'm-supposed-to-be-happy-but-I'm-not, yucky feeling.

I thought a series of posts about holiday strategies for people in pain might do us all some good. And if you have thoughts, ideas and strategies of your own, email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com. I'll include them in posts.

It's December, but physical pain still hurts. It's Christmas, or Hanukkah, but being unemployed is still awful. The holiday season approaches, yet depression, mental illness and addiction don't
magically go away. Families don't suddenly become functional. Loved ones that have died don't come back. Disease and illness stick around for the festivities.
 
Photo by William Marsh
Those are facts. I just needed to state them up front. Because this blog is not about pretending everything's fine when it isn't. It's about being honest with ourselves and one another. It's about acknowledging life's difficulties and tragedies as a first step to opening that smallest of breaks in the misery to allow our spirits to soar. If only for a moment.

This is the backdrop for this series of posts: the reality is that, holidays or not, life can be very, very hard.

From here, I'll just ruminate about that reality, offer strategies for cracking open the misery a bit, and welcome your ideas. 

Thank you for reading my blog You can leave a comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

19 November 2014

Little Things Make A Difference

When things are bad -- like last week, when I was in the midst of a series of bad migraines and people dear to me were struggling -- it's usually the little things that make the most difference.

Like having tiny bottles with a few flowers in each, scattered around the condo.
Photo by William Marsh

Like my sweet little dog.




Like a text message from a loved one, a hug we're not sure we deserve, a surprise gift of favorite cookies.

Pain can narrow our perceptions. Depression tells us we have nothing good around us. Chronic conditions of mental and physical health, a recurrence of a life-threatening illness, relapse into addiction, seem to encourage us to give up.

Mostly, we don't. Mostly, we keep going. How do we find the strength? From where does the courage come from to set one foot ahead of the other when things look really bleak?

Sometimes, it's the little things that help keep us going.


Thanks for reading my blog. You can comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

16 November 2014

Resource -- Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Anthletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall

As recent posts have indicated, I've joined the YMCA, signed up with a personal trainer, and established a routine of recumbent-bike workouts.

I'm not running. I'm not sure why this book -- Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall -- attracted me. But it did and I have been listening to it for the past few days.

Photo by William Marsh
There are so many things to love about this book. It's a fantastic story and McDougall tells it well. He has an accessible, descriptive and interesting style that does well with the topics and people he writes about. It's an amazing cast of characters mixed with science, history and evolution, and tales of long-distance running. There's more information here than you ever thought you'd need, especially if you are a non-runner like I am, and it's all fascinating.

Much of what he writes about fits my spiritual life, offers insight into living with chronic pain (not that he meant to do that), and encourages me in my new experiment with getting in better physical shape.

I've got a lot of posts coming. I can feel them in my fingertips.

More later.


Thanks for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


09 November 2014

Strength for the Journey -- The Pain / Benefit Compromise

I wrote a week ago about beginning a new exercise regime with a personal trainer at the nearby YMCA. Two days a week, I have a thirty-minute session with Veronica, during which we work on my goals of (1) back and core strength; (2) upper body strength; and (3) flexibility. And although whatever migraine pain I have that day is one or two degrees worse when the sessions are over, I am really pleased with the results and the way I feel otherwise.

Photo by William Marsh
I think of this as the pain / benefit compromise.

Here's the background: We migraineurs are told to rest and stay quiet -- don't lift, don't bend over, don't get your heart pounding -- when we have a migraine. Activity of almost any kind makes our heads feel worse.

But I spent a few years resting and hoping staying quiet would decrease the severity and number of migraines I had per week. It did not.

Then, two years ago, when I threw my back out for the umpteenth time and finally got the MRI that diagnosed degenerating discs, I had to go to physical therapy or I ran the risk of ending up immobilized one day. And what I noticed about the physical therapy sessions was that, even though they made migraines worse, I felt better in other ways.

That experienced made me willing to try the training at the Y. And, three weeks in, I find it all confirmed. 

I have accepted the fact that I'll be in more pain when I'm finished a workout or training session because I know I will feel physically better, have more stamina, feel emotionally and spiritually better, and will be able to approach pain management both more positively and from a plateau of greater overall health.

The compromise is well worth it. What a relief.


Thanks for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

01 November 2014

Strength For The Journey -- Exercise Regimen

Within the past month, I have joined the YMCA down the street and signed up for eighteen 30-minute personal trainer sessions. I thought I might blog about the process of getting into better shape, how it affects my pain (chronic migraine mostly, but also degenerating discs in my spine) and what it all means for life and spirit and body and me.

I'll blog about the usual things as well, but will post maybe once a week about how the new exercise regimen is going. I hope it's helpful and informative to others. Although the particulars of our lives with chronic pain (physical, mental, spiritual) vary, our responses to it are often rooted in the same things, like grief, vulnerability, frustration, self-esteem, and productivity, among others.

So here are a few random thoughts to begin the new series.

Photo by William Marsh
The Time Is Right

 I notice that I've had to purposefully let go of all the "why did I wait so long to do this" kind of thoughts, which are never productive or helpful, and focus on the "why the time is right" affirmations. For me, the timing has to do with (1) finishing my degree and freeing up time; (2) finishing my degree and freeing up money; (3) a couple years' regular practice with exercises to strengthen my back and core; (4) a YMCA opening up three blocks away; (5) recent treatments for occipital neuralgia pain.


The Bikes Have These Cool Videos
I cannot ride the upright bike because the posture exacerbates my back problems, so I'm really glad for the row of six recumbents near the windows up front. But the real excitement comes from the video bike rides through France that are programmed in the monitor. I can't tell you how excited I was when I discovered this feature, but I now have a habit of sending braggy texts to my husband: "Went biking this morning through the Col de la Colombiere."

My Personal Trainer Is Awesome
I've been leery of exercise because activity almost always makes my headache pain worse. But I've also noticed that purposeful exercise, like walking, improves my mood, which  makes the pain easier to take and helps my pain management practice. It's sort of a compromise, one I've become more willing to make. And Veronica makes the compromise so much more do-able. She keeps the pace slow, checks and double-checks my pain level, allows me as much time as I need to get over dizziness or throbbing pain, and tailors every moment of our time together to the realities of my physical capacities. Which are not impressive but which she accepts.


So far so good. More later.


Thanks for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email  me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

28 October 2014

Shame Resilience Final Post

What better way to wrap up a series of posts than to write about a personal experience that illustrates the main points? And even better if one hasn't planned it, if it just happens when one is out of control.

Photo by William Marsh
To recap a bit: I was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia this spring, and began treatments in August. At that time, I understood the doctor to say that the treatments may help or even eliminate the migraines. To my surprise and shame, I realized I was feeling afraid of getting better -- I wrote about it in this post in August.

(It turns out I'd misunderstood; the treatments rarely make a big difference with migraine, though they do well eliminating the neck and back-of-the-head pain.)

That was embarrassing. However, this blog explores and processes the interactions of spirit and chronic pain, so I wrote the post despite embarrassment. And shame. And feeling like there was something wrong with me. That post has turned out to be one of my most-viewed ever. It would seem that others struggle with the chronic-ness of life as I do.

As I reflected on and did some research about shame, I came across Brene Brown and an interview she gave, here in Spirituality and Health Magazine. The bit on shame at the end of the interview became the basis of this series of posts, of which this is the sixth and final.

So here's where the lessons all begin to flow together. Last Friday, I had a treatment for occipital neuralgia. Before the doctor began the injections, we talked about next steps. But I had a migraine, and was still caught up in the original confusion, and so I misunderstood my doctor to say that there was no further treatment and he couldn't give me more of these injections (they're steroids, and will atrophy the muscles). Suddenly I thought I'd be stuck with the pain whose absence the past 12 weeks had been such a relief. And I just about bawled, right there in his office. (I did cry, but later, while lying down until the dizziness caused the the injections passed.) 

While the tears smeared my mascara, I suddenly realized that the fear of healing I'd 'fessed up to in August was gone. I wanted the healing. I'd had it for twelve blessed weeks, had experienced some improvement in quality of life, and was NOT going to give it up. What a turn-around from the original post!

As I lay there I also realized how the blogging illustrates the process of attaining shame resilience.

Writing that August post helped me understand and name something that caused me shame. The process of getting it out, as well as
the comments and interest in the post, helped me practice compassionate awareness when the shame returned. More aware and open, I found the Brene Brown interview and ended up writing about what I was going through.

It's serendipity. Or God's guidance. Or the leading of a spirit guide. Or the will of Allah. However we understand and describe these marvelous comings-together of spirit and mind and experience, they are surely more available to us when we practice the awareness and compassion that come with greater openness and honesty. I have come to see shame resilience as an important part of it all.


Thanks for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


22 October 2014

Shame Resilience -- Part 5

This is part of a short series of posts on 'shame resilience.' The concept is Brene Brown's, and I'm simply making written ruminations on an interview published in Spirituality and Health.

 To recap, I am recasting Brown's theory of shame resilience into a process of sorts. Using her four characteristics of persons who are shame resilient (found at the end of the interview), I proposed a series of steps:

Step One: Learn what triggers our shame (see this post)

Step Two: Practice 'critical' -- I prefer the word 'compassionate' --  self-awareness (see this post)

Step Three: Reach out (see this post)

Step Four: Know what shame is (today's post)

 The phrase, "know what shame is," is Brown's. For the purposes of this series of posts that reframes her theory as a process, I think "stay aware of shame" works better.

Photo by William Marsh



Shame is formed in us when we're very young. We're not going to rid ourselves of it reading a series of blog posts and practicing for a few days. The real work, at least in my experience, is on-going. But not on-going in the sense of endlessly circling. It's on-going in the sense of a spiral that is leading us into the center that holds our truth.



 

I've written a lot about awareness (here and here, for example) and how it has become part of my pain management practice. Awareness generally, and self-awareness specifically, are essential for a mature spiritual life. For shame resilience, awareness means being conscious of feelings of shame as soon as they arise so we can apply what we've learned from Brene Brown: practice compassionate awareness and, as needed, reach out to someone else for talk or counsel or therapy.

Two points, now:

1. Again, this is an on-going practice. Feelings of shame and its corollaries -- guilt, low self-esteem -- are ready to arise at any time, no matter how long we've practiced resilience. That's why awareness is so important. We're not going to be able to stop the feelings altogether, and although they will gradually lose their sting and become less present, our best defense is to be aware.

2. Mature awareness is non-judgmental. Meaning, we're not saying to ourselves, "Oh, what an idiot I am, here are these feelings of shame again and I'll never learn..." Rather, we say to ourselves, "I'm feeling ashamed of this." Nothing more, because that's all we need before we move on to compassionate self-awareness.

In my next post, I'll wrap up this series.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.
 

18 October 2014

Shame Resilience, Part 4

This is part of a short series of posts on 'shame resilience.' The concept is Brene Brown's, and I'm simply making written ruminations on an interview published in Spirituality and Health.

 To recap, I am recasting Brown's theory of shame resilience into a process of sorts. Using her four characteristics of persons who are shame resilient (found at the end of the interview), I proposed a series of steps:

Step One: Learn what triggers our shame (see this post)

Step Two: Practice 'critical' -- I prefer the word 'compassionate' --  self-awareness (see this post)

Step Three: Reach out (today's post)

REACHING OUT
It's a lot easier to talk about shame if we can name, or be encouraged to name, what triggers it and are willing to develop the compassionate self-awareness that helps us face it honestly and with loving forgiveness toward ourselves. 

Photo by William Marsh

Even then, we need to be careful who we reach out to. Simply put, this person needs to be someone we can trust with our vulnerability. If they prove unworthy of our trust, we need to find another confidante. And we want to assess the level of our need: is this a deeply held shame that needs the professional attention of a minister, counselor or therapist? Or it may be that we simply reach out in apology to someone, or
go back and re-do a task we're not proud of.
 



Brene Brown says, in the interview I've linked to above, that "shame can't survive being spoken. Talking cuts shame off at its knees."

I am no expert. For the past thirty years, I've felt my way through this tricky terrain with the aide of all the resources I could find: a minister, a pastoral counselor, a spiritual director, good friends, family, my husband. So I don't pretend that this series of posts alone is enough to really help anyone suffering from inner shame.

But I have learned enough to perceive a deep truth in what Brown says. And I hope these posts plant a seed or encourage others to look further in their search for gaining shame resilience.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.
 

16 October 2014

Resources -- Meditation and Prayer

If I were more spiritual, I might have a never-fail meditation and prayer practice every single day. But I'm not, and I imagine there are a few others out there like me, so here are some resources of the sort I've used when getting quiet is difficult and finding spaciousness is beyond the capability of my restless mind.


Photo by William Marsh

A video (with music, spoken words and photos) for morning Christian prayer:


I like this deep prayer video for its simplicity:


This is voice-guided, no music -- a basic, very practical guide for a Buddhist Metta meditation that is very prayerful:




Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.
 

14 October 2014

Shame Resilience, Part 3

This is part of a short series of posts on 'shame resilience.' The concept is Brene Brown's, and I'm simply making written ruminations on an interview published in Spirituality and Health.

At the end of my previous post, I said I'd write a bit about how I imagine shame resilience, meditation and awareness go together. I was using Brown's thoughts on the characteristics of people who are shame resilient, only recasting them as steps in a process.

The first step is to gain an understanding of what triggers our feelings of shame as persons with a chronic illness (mental or physical) and/or chronic pain.

The second step is to use this new understanding to practice critical awareness.This is where I believe meditation or prayer or deep reflection -- whichever suits you -- comes in.

What is critical awareness? The word critical in that phrase does not mean to criticize or to be critical in a judgmental sense. It's a matter of simply being aware -- without judgment or frustration and without rushing to 'fix' ourselves -- of when our feelings of shame are triggered. And my own experience has taught me that regular meditation is a wonderful tool for becoming self-aware without becoming self-judgmental.

There's an article I love about this in a magazine I rarely read: O, The Oprah Magazine. The article is called "Boost Your Self-Esteem With Meditation."

Photo by William Marsh
It begins with some rather generic encouragement and information about meditation and self-esteem, which is helpful mostly for setting up the final section of the piece, about how to meditate for self-esteem. And since I'm trying to get over a migraine right now, I'll just refer you to the article and take up this series when I feel better.

One final thought: meditation is not a magic, one-time fix. I have said before that these kinds of inner and spiritual changes come about only in the context of a life that includes regular practice of meditation or prayerful reflection.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com





06 October 2014

Shame Resilience, Part 2

I have started a short series of posts on 'shame resilience.' The concept is Brene Brown's, and I'm simply making written ruminations on an interview published in Spirituality and Health.

Brown's theory about shame resilience is that we live in a culture that measures success, especially in the younger generations, by how much attention we get and how big our lives seem. A small, quiet life, she fears, looks to be a life that means little because it has none of these hallmarks of how we measure success. She believes this phenomenon induces shame. I agree with her premise, and would add to her concern other markers of success -- how much money we make, how important our job is, what car we drive -- as well as the ways we regard and treat those around us and ourselves when we don't measure up.

Her words struck me as very relevant to the lives of those of us who struggle with chronic mental or physical illness and/or chronic pain. In my previous post I began to discuss Brown's theory of shame resilience, as described in a few paragraphs at the end of the interview, and as I felt it relates to our circumscribed lives.

Here again are what she calls the characteristics of people who are shame resilient (nota bene: in my previous post, I referred to these characteristics as 'steps' toward becoming shame resilient, but that's my interpretation, and not what the few paragraphs say):

People who are shame resilient -- 
     know what shame is
     understand what activates their feelings of shame
     practice critical awareness
     reach out.

Looking at these as steps (again, my idea and not Brown's), I said the first step would be to understand what activates our feelings of shame, and I talked about the ways chronic illness triggers shame.

The second step would be to use that self-understanding to practice critical awareness. It's a matter of simply being aware -- without judgment or frustration and without rushing to 'fix' ourselves -- of when our feelings of shame are triggered. That takes some ability to step back and notice our thoughts and feelings, something I believe can best happen in the context of a life that includes daily practice of meditation or prayer or reflection.


Here is a series I wrote a while ago on meditation:
'Trying to Meditate' is an Oxymoron
Meditation for (Distracted) Dummies (Like Me), Part 1
Meditation for (Distracted) Dummies (Like Me), Part 2

In my next post, I'll write more about how awareness, meditation and shame resilience work together.




Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


03 October 2014

Practicing "Shame Resilience"

I linked to an interview of Brene Brown on a previous post because she talks about vulnerability and shame in a way I've not seen before:

How Vulnerability Holds the Key to Emotional Intimacy

Her thoughts about shame, in notes at the end of the interview, are even more intriguing. I want to explore them in the next few posts, applying her formula to the kinds of shame we may feel with chronic illness or pain, emotional or physical.

"Everyone is going to experience feelings of shame, yet we can become more 'shame resilient.'"

Brown lists four characteristics to shame resilience:
     Know what shame is.
     Understand what activates your feelings of shame.
     Practice critical awareness.
     Reach out.

KNOW WHAT SHAME IS and UNDERSTAND WHAT ACTIVATES IT
Many of us avoid vulnerability because shame can be closely attached to it. We've shared with people who turned out to be untrustworthy and mocked our vulnerability. Or we have learned shame through religion (for example, the concept of original sin) or the way we were taught in school or disciplined by our parents.

Brown's first step is 'know what shame is.' She says that people who have a healthy relationship with shame can simply name it without guilt, without applying an emotion like embarrassment to it. I'm not sure why this is first on the list. To me, she has a process in these steps, and I wonder if knowing what shame is might come later in the process, if not at the very end. So I'm going to begin with her second step: understanding what activates our shame.

Being sick, in pain or emotionally distressed most of the time makes us feel very, very vulnerable. And though the vulnerability of having a visible illness is bad, the invisible illnesses -- mental health challenges, chronic pain from a hidden source -- can be as difficult in its hidden-ness. "You look fine." And there you are, self-esteem slipping away on that wave of shame that is often so overpowering.

Applying Brown's formula to living with chronic illness means you discover exactly what about your chronic illness causes you shame. Is it about being visibly different from others? Does it come from being unable to keep up, produce, or work in the way that your peers can? Are you afraid that others are judging you as lazy or unsociable or wimpy? Are you worried that your friends are tired of always having to accommodate your illness? Do you feel guilty because your spouse works hard to support the family while you cannot work at all?

Naming the source and character of our shame sets us on the course to healing, to what Brown calls 'shame resilience.' But even if we're accustomed to doing this kind of self-examination, it can be very painful to reveal to ourselves feelings we've hidden for a long time. It might be a good idea to have a trusted friend or family member, a counselor or a pastor talk this through with us.

Photo by William Marsh
I think this step is the hardest. But it's necessary in order to get to the healing. My brother and I have a saying: "You have to slog through the mud to get to the other side where the healing is." Naming our shame and talking about it sinks us deep into the mud. Don't start it without someone there to throw a rope.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.mmarsh@gmail.com.

Everyone is going to experience feelings of shame, yet we can become more “shame resilient,” says Brown. - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy/page/0/2#sthash.qUaqsvgD.dpuf
Everyone is going to experience feelings of shame, yet we can become more “shame resilient,” says Brown. - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy/page/0/2#sthash.qUaqsvgD.dpuf
Everyone is going to experience feelings of shame, yet we can become more “shame resilient,” says Brown. - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy/page/0/2#sthash.qUaqsvgD.dpuf

30 September 2014

PAIN MANAGEMENT TIPS -- Stretch

I have degenerating discs in my spine. In order to keep my back in as good shape as possible I do a half-hour of back exercises two or three mornings a week. When I have a really bad migraine, I can't do them, but when I have a mild migraine, I'll do a gentle regimen that's mostly stretching. And I usually find that, even though the stretching is for my back, the migraine pain is eased or I simply feel psychologically better afterward.

Photo by William Marsh
Below I provide links to an article from Prevention Magazine about yoga stretches for pain relief. Though the article speaks specifically about osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia, these stretches are similar to those I do for my back and that seem to ease either the migraine pain and/or my mood.

Five Pain-Relieving Yoga Poses

I'm researching the benefits of stretching for chronic pain in general, not for specific physical ills. It's interesting to me that the back exercises help the migraine pain management to a certain degree. I'll post about this later.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.
 

28 September 2014

Painful Poetry

A Semi-original - if Awkward - Attempt to Find Humor in Pain

How Do You Solve a Problem Like a Migraine?
(Sung to the tune of "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?; from The Sound of Music)

How do you solve a problem like a migraine?
How do you stop the vomit and keep it down?
How do you find a word that means a migraine?
A pain in the left lobe, ice pick to the head, a frown?
Many a day you know you're going under.
Many a time you cancel all your plans.
But how do you make it cease,
instead of the sure increase?
How do you get the throbs of pain in hand?
How do you solve a problem like a migraine?
How do you bear it once it has began?

When I have one I'm confused,
out of focus and bemused,
and I never know exactly where I am.
Any light will make me groan,
any movement cause a moan,
I can't stand it -
this pain, damn it -
it's no sham.
I'll spend hours getting rest
blindfold, dark room, no noise; lest
I should move and feel that stabbing pain again.
Don't come near me I might cry,
though I couldn't tell you why.
Nerves aquiver,
in a dither -
Let Me Die!

How do you solve a problem like a migraine?
How can you bear it once it has began?

Photo by William Marsh










26 September 2014

Opportunities Within the Pain

I have a lot in common with my my brother, William Marsh, whose photos you've seen here since last July. Lots of what we share is wonderful -- an understanding of the importance of mission into the world around us, searching for spiritual maturity and wisdom, and my appreciation of his ironic sense of humor.

Some things, like thinning hair, aren't so wonderful. And one, migraines, is downright awful. But yesterday, during a phone conversation, we got to talking about learning to recognize the good that can come out of having a migraine -- about things that happen, thoughts that occur, and wisdom that arises. He mentioned this photo specifically:
Photo by William Marsh

He had taken this strikingly dramatic picture one night when migraine pain awoke him and he walked out into the cool night in an effort to relieve some of his discomfort. He said that if the pain hadn't awakened him, he would have missed this gorgeous sight.

He calls it "finding the opportunities within the pain." He said, about the photo, "Out of the disorientation and pain came this opportunity to get one of the best pictures I've taken. And I sometimes have provocative thoughts, flashes of wisdom, and a unique and oft-times humorous perspective when the migraines are bad."

Although neither of us chooses or wants to have migraines, it's helpful to remind each other that there are these serendipitous moments that comprise the silver lining to the migraine cloud. Both of us would give up the migraines in a flash if we had the chance, but it's nice to be able to find the positive in them, to be aware that opportunity is there even in the pain. Plus, we get to complain with each other. Migraine misery wanting migraine company, as it were.

It's about taking the reality of your life and making the best of it. All of us, regardless of what kind of adversity we face -- physical illness or disability, emotional ill-health, devastating sorrow, loss of job or relationship -- need this skill, the ability to pick out the good amidst the bad. It's hard to talk about it without devolving into truisms and hackneyed phrases. So I'll stop, and we'll just look at Will's photo.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

24 September 2014

Resource -- Health and Spirituality website and magazine

Photo by William Marsh

The website for Health and Spirituality Magazine says this on its About Us page:

We cover a broad range of topics under the umbrella of health and spirituality, which can include faith, Eastern philosophy, meditation, and mainstream religion; nutrition, wellness, yoga, and holistic medicine; creativity, the inner life, social justice, and issues of conscience; and public health, the human body, and the environment.

There's a lot on this website, yet it manages the variety listed above while staying focused. Here is a listing of its main pages and some of the articles on each:

MAGAZINE: This page gives you a few links to articles in the current issue of the magazine (which you can get print or on your tablet). There's an article helping you explore whether your caffeine habit is an addiction or not and another about counting your blessings.

SPIRITUALITY: Articles about praying to a loving God, vedic meditation, and how religion and prayer help mood in the elderly are just a few examples of how far-ranging yet practical is the information on this site.

HEALTH: This section explores ways that spirituality and spiritual and religious practices enhance physical health. There's an article about how meditation helps migraines (making me think I should query this magazine about writing an article!). And you can learn about ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) or, as it is more colloquially known, braingasm. It is being used for insomniacs and persons with PTSD, among others.

LIFESTYLE: There are many good articles on this page, but I want to point out one that I could bet we all need: Practicing Self-Compassion.

A great resource, on the whole, and one I hope you learn from and enjoy as I do.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


21 September 2014

Migraine Moon

I'm in the midst of a series of migraines that don't respond to medication, not even the injection that I save for the worst. So I'm hoping this post makes sense, but if it doesn't you'll know why.

In my last post was a link to an article I found on the website, Spirituality and Health Magazine. The article, an interview with Brene Brown, interests me because it's about vulnerability.

Though the focus of the interview is not on people with chronic illness, I think anyone with a mental health issue that is difficult to resolve, or pain that won't go away, or a disease that turns life upside down, needs to learn to live with vulnerability. And one aspect of vulnerability is shame.

We feel ashamed when we can't perform up to a standard we used to hold ourselves to, or that we imagine others hold us to. We feel ashamed because people our age are out there accomplishing things and it's all we can do to manage our condition. There's shame in being the one that has to renege on a promise to participate in a meeting or outing or group activity. There's shame in trying to participate because maybe this once we'll feel well enough to stay, but having to leave early anyway.

I could go on. But whether we suffer with depression or chronic pain or a disfiguring illness or schizophrenia or addiction or a debilitating condition, we probably deal with shame. Brene Brown's interview, here, talks about shame and how it interferes with relationship. Since the isolation of chronic illness is already a problem, it seems important to understand more about things that keep us from getting close to people.

That can sound intimidating when we're suffering, the idea of connecting to someone else when we barely have the energy to be with ourselves. But here's an example of a way to connect within vulnerability:

My brother, whose photos you see in my posts, gets migraines semi-regularly. He was up and in pain one night recently and wandered out into the cool night seeking relief. He saw this moon, got his camera and took the photo. He calls it "Migraine Moon."

Photo by William Marsh
He told me about the photo in a recent phone conversation. What a neat connection, and it came out of his vulnerability, his pain, which he then thought would fit a post on my blog. It does. And I'm still in pain, thought I couldn't write much today, but am so inspired by the article I read and my brother's example of reaching out, that I've written a much longer post than I thought I could manage today.






Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


15 September 2014

Resource: Brene Brown on Vulnerability, Shame and Intimacy

At the end of my previous post, I wrote that I hoped my sharing some thoughts and feelings that don't ordinarily see the light of day might help others. I know that sharing feelings helps me. As the 12 Steps saying has it, a burden shared is half a burden.

This morning I found a web site (Spirituality and Health Magazine) I've not seen before. I'll study it for a while and then get back here with thoughts and ideas about it, but for today I want to link you the article that caught my eye.

It's an amazing interview with more than enough to reflect upon and learn from to justify its own set of posts. But those will come later. To whet your appetite, here is a quote that comes early in the interview. And it just gets better.

 "There are two things they [those who Brown calls 'wholehearted'] shared in common. The first is a sense of worthiness -- they engage in the world, with the world, from a place of worthiness. Second, they make choices every day in their life, choices that almost feel subversive in our culture. They are mindful about things like rest and play. They cultivate creativity, they practice self-compassion. They have an understanding of the importance of vulnerability and the perception of vulnerability as courage. They show up in their lives in a very open way that I think scares most of us."

Here is the link to the interview:


There are two things they shared in common. The first is a sense of worthiness—they engage in the world, with the world, from a place of worthiness. Second, they make choices every day in their life, choices that almost feel subversive in our culture. They are mindful about things like rest and play. They cultivate creativity, they practice self-compassion. They have an understanding of the importance of vulnerability and the perception of vulnerability as courage. They show up in their lives in a very open way that I think scares most of us. - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy#sthash.pony2ys6.dpuf




Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.







There are two things they shared in common. The first is a sense of worthiness—they engage in the world, with the world, from a place of worthiness. Second, they make choices every day in their life, choices that almost feel subversive in our culture. They are mindful about things like rest and play. They cultivate creativity, they practice self-compassion. They have an understanding of the importance of vulnerability and the perception of vulnerability as courage. They show up in their lives in a very open way that I think scares most of us. - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy#sthash.pony2ys6.dpuf
There are two things they shared in common. The first is a sense of worthiness—they engage in the world, with the world, from a place of worthiness. Second, they make choices every day in their life, choices that almost feel subversive in our culture. They are mindful about things like rest and play. They cultivate creativity, they practice self-compassion. They have an understanding of the importance of vulnerability and the perception of vulnerability as courage. They show up in their lives in a very open way that I think scares most of us. - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy#sthash.pony2ys6.dpuf
There are two things they shared in common. The first is a sense of worthiness—they engage in the world, with the world, from a place of worthiness. Second, they make choices every day in their life, choices that almost feel subversive in our culture. They are mindful about things like rest and play. They cultivate creativity, they practice self-compassion. They have an understanding of the importance of vulnerability and the perception of vulnerability as courage. They show up in their lives in a very open way that I think scares most of us. - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy#sthash.pony2ys6.dpuf
There are two things they shared in common. The first is a sense of worthiness—they engage in the world, with the world, from a place of worthiness. Second, they make choices every day in their life, choices that almost feel subversive in our culture. They are mindful about things like rest and play. They cultivate creativity, they practice self-compassion. They have an understanding of the importance of vulnerability and the perception of vulnerability as courage. They show up in their lives in a very open way that I think scares most of us. - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy#sthash.pony2ys6.dpuf

13 September 2014

25% Improvement

Earlier this summer I posted twice (here and here) about a new treatment that might improve the migraine pain.

The first post, on July 27, shared some startling feelings I had when contemplating the possibility that a new treatment (occipital nerve block) might give me a more normal life. The other, a few weeks later, shared a strong desire to be cured forever because the pain was sometimes just too much. It wasn't easy admitting, in the first post, that I had these strange feelings. I felt more than a bit ashamed of myself. And then, a few weeks later, I'm writing about feelings just as strong, though opposite.

What a roller coaster.

The update is that the nerve block has improved my quality of life by, I figure, about 25%. It might not seem like much, but it actually feels like a lot. I can hold my head up for longer and with a lot less fatigue and pain. Although the migraines themselves have not improved, eliminating the pain at the back of my head has made me more comfortable in general and resulted in better stamina as well as better ability to manage the migraine pain. What a relief. I am grateful.

I have no worries or fears like those I shared in the July 27 post linked above. I'm excited that maybe I can be more social. I'm ambitious to do more writing than I've been able to do. I have plans to begin talking to others about some sort of freelance work. Now, I know some of this may be premature, so I'm trying not to get too excited and I'm going to take it slowly. But it feels good to have some hope of a freer life.

Photo by  William Marsh

 We often have thoughts and feelings that we'd rather not bring into the light for others to see. We feel ashamed of ourselves and hide who we are. Yet the human experience is such that all of us have darker sides we're not proud of and that we think set us apart from other, nicer, better people.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to be honest about life and who I am in the midst of it. I dare to hope that others will relate to some things I say and may even feel comforted to know they're not alone.




Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


07 September 2014

Ferreting Out Those Hidden Blessings

Four or five times a year I have a period of many days with a particularly bad migraine that just won't go away. Wednesday through Saturday of this week made one such period.

People with chronic illness of any sort -- fibromyalgia, depression, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia -- experiences these particularly difficult times as part of having the disease. And we know how difficult it is to get through them. Having been through one, I'd like to write today about finding the (admittedly really hard to see) blessings or positive things present in the awful.

Part of the inspiration for this post came from here, a blog I read often: Migrainista. She is blogging about chronic migraine and fibromyalgia, both "invisible" illnesses, but I think all of us can relate to her list about what it's like to handle the realities of a chronic illness.

If we want to not just survive but learn from and grow within our chronic illness, it helps to remember that there are good things about our lives. I'm not saying we sit up and smile and hop out of bed, ignoring the pain we're in. This is not one of those stiff-upper-lip things, nor is it about what we hear all too often, that we're letting the illness get us down, or if we just [fill in the blank] we will feel better.

This is about having the courage or sheer doggedness to remember the good. Here's my list of blessings from the past four days:

1. My husband kept me well supplies with watermelon chunks and sympathy and humor.

2. I got a letter from a friend, who stays on the look-out for new info on migraines, with an article that told about a possible new treatment.


3. My little dog was especially cuddly and quiet.

4. I developed a new passion: a British television show called, "Sherlock." I don't watch TV or video when I'm in pain, I listen to shows like Seinfeld and The Office because they're verbal and funny. Sherlock, not funny but suspenseful, has great story lines, inventive plots, intelligent writing and, best of all, really good music and sound editing. 



 Today I'm blogging, doing wash, baking biscotti, and making myself rest between activities. I'm glad the pain is over, and I'm grateful for small blessings.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

31 August 2014

Thoughts on Ferguson -- What a Suburban Kid Learns About Police

I grew up in upper-middle class suburbia. I learned to read in the sixties, from books created precisely for kids like me: relatively well-off, white, well-fed and economically secure. I never thought that this life, the one I lived and that I saw reflected faithfully in books as soon as I began to read, was anything other than representative of all of America.

Sometimes the kids in the books had trouble. Their puppy was missing or their kitten caught up a tree, or they got lost in a neighborhood they didn't know well. They always found a policeman who, kindly and helpful, would rescue the pet or help the kid find her way home.

Every once in a while a policeman (they were always men, back then) would come to our classroom and tell us about never getting into a car with a stranger and how to call them on our phone in an emergency. We suburban kids were taught that the police were our friends, adults we could always turn to when we were in trouble. We knew them to be kind, to have our best interest at heart, and -- maybe most important -- to be just like us.

When I moved to Washington DC in 1990, at the age of thirty-five and having lived the same sheltered (though I didn't know it was) suburban life all my years, I worked at a residence for homeless pregnant women, all of them black, poor, and hungry for most of what I had forever taken for granted as simply there for me. For all of us.

The culture shock I experienced warrants a long essay of its own. But right now I'm thinking about how shocked I was to find out that these women distrusted and disliked police. As much as anything else that turned upside down my complacent, blinkered view of life in this country, the realization that these women did not and could not trust those I'd learned to count on implicitly shook me to my core.

Now I watch and hear people who grew up a lot like I did talk about Michael Brown and the policeman who shot him. And though I deplore their lack of understanding of the realities of being black and poor in America, though my frustration just about explodes when I hear them reflexively defend the officer while casting all the doubt they can on Mr. Brown, I know where they're coming from. I have been there.

The difference for me is that I got to leave there for the discomfort of others' reality and do the most radical thing in my life: listen and allow myself to be taught.

I'm no saint. It took me years to stop fighting and resisting while my ivory tower was demolished. Then it took me years to learn how to actually listen. These years during which the patient ones and the not-so-patient ones were willing to teach me despite my angry denial were painful in the extreme. But today they seem a quiet and achingly slow miracle of acceptance, good faith and welcome.

The kind of acceptance and welcome so frequently not offered to the very ones extending it to me.

The kind of acceptance and welcome now being withheld from the parents, family, friends and race of Michael Brown.

 And that's what breaks my heart.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

28 August 2014

The Courage of Acceptance

Life inevitably brings us pain -- physical and mental illnesses,  accidents, the "acts of God" noted in our insurance policies -- that we have neither chosen nor wanted. We have no control over the fact of these kinds of events and realities in our lives.

But we're not out of control over how we react to, how we handle life's inevitable pain. Here is where choice begins: when we have gone through and can get beyond our very natural inclination to deny or be angry or give up. Elizabeth Kubler Ross's  On Death and Dying made way for revolutionary and still fresh understanding of how humans handle grief. Her writings have been instrumental in teaching me how to understand, accept and deal with the emotions that come with having chronic migraine pain. (You can read my posts about this, here, here, and here.)

Compassionate understanding and acceptance of our own initial, grieving reaction help get us to a point of energy from which we can make constructive choices about how we deal with the situation.

A person dear to me who suffers from depression recently told me that mornings are his worst times. He'd spent hours after awakening, unable to move under the great weight holding him down. He was
Photo by William Marsh
regularly late to work and losing motivation. One morning he realized if he decided to do one thing -- like feeding the cat or vacuuming the floor -- and made himself get up to do it without planning for or looking beyond that one activity, he could get out of the bed. Getting the one thing done encouraged him to decide on the next thing. One thing at a time, one step at a time, he has chosen a way to combat the depression that could be crippling him.

I imagine his inner monologue on that morning he made a change might have gone something like this: Ok, I'm depressed again. Yet another morning of pain and paralysis. Am I going to lie here feeling sorry for myself? I gotta do something.

And he gets up to vacuum the floor. Seems small, doesn't it? Insignificant, the mundane stuff of an uninteresting life. Yet I believe the creative and constructive actions we take in the face of great pain are the essence of courage, of hope, of believing in the light even while enveloped in the dark.

And it starts with something simple like, ok, I'm depressed again. Acceptance.


Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

26 August 2014

Acceptance Opens the Way for Creativity

In a post a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Khalil Gibran verse that has meant so much to me over the years.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was
oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.


Gibran accepts that sorrow will carve into our being. He wastes no time reasoning or divining why. Before I go on about creativity and acceptance, I want to clarify one thing. I think Gibran is speaking about the inevitable pain -- death, physical illness, mental illness -- things we have no control over. But there are things we do have control over. We make bad choices, we say mean things, we hurt others, we indulge our addictions to the detriment of relationship and health. 

In other words, the sorrows and pain of life come inevitably and by our own choice. I think it's important to make the distinction, to understand that there are some painful matters we cause. It's essential to our mental and spiritual maturity to take responsibility in these cases.

Photo by William Marsh
So where is the creativity in acceptance? For the inevitable hurt of life, acceptance opens the door to creativity by not allowing us to wallow in anger and self-pity and denial -- those things that can either paralyze us or drive us into unthinking action. The peace of acceptance makes more possible the constructive action that arises from reflection.

More about this in my next post.




Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmailcom.


22 August 2014

Painful Poetry

PAINFUL POETRY
Original if Awkward Attempts to Find Humor in Pain

This is a reprise of a feature from my first summer with this blog, in which I take popular songs and poetry forms and wrench them into relevancy to a life of chronic pain.


I Have a Migraine (sung to the tune of “I Did It My Way”)

And now, the pain is near,
It’s coming on, of this I’m certain.
My friends, I’ll say it clear;
(Although that’s hard, through all the hurtin’.)
I’ve tried to fake it out,
but comfort I cannot at all feign,
And so, without a doubt,
I have a Migraine!

Regrets, there are a few.
And then again, lots more to mention
I did what I had to do
but here’s the pain, there’s no prevention!
I plan, and then I pout,
you’ll think I’m acting not at all sane.
And, so, without a doubt,
I have a Migraine!

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
when rabid words from my mouth flew.
But through it all, I never meant
a word I said, ‘twas just a vent.
I am the same, it’s just my brain -
I have a Migraine!

Shut up, don’t say a word!
Or else I’ll snap your foolish head off.
That’s right, that’s what you heard,
So at my mood, you mustn’t dare scoff!
To think I said all that,
And goodness knows, not in a shy way.
Oh no, it’s tit for tat;
I have a Migraine!

For what else is Pain? What can it do?
I feel its pangs, and this day rue
that I will deal with how it feels:
The head that reels, the thrown-up meals.
I see it shows, that’s how it goes,
I have a Migraine!


Thanks for reading my blog. You can leave comments below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

20 August 2014

Resource -- Article on Spirituality, Religion and Pain


If you're feeling sorta nerdy one day, this article might interest you. And I encourage you to read it in the context of spiritual/emotional pain as well as physical pain.

Spirituality, Religion and Chronic Pain: Making a Difference in Non-traditional Ways.

The article is a bit in the researched report vein, but relatively easy to read. And it makes a point about meditation I have made before, based on personal experience. This article confirms personal experience with study data.

Photo by William Marsh



Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com


18 August 2014

Gibran's Sorrow and Acceptance

Earlier this summer I wrote two posts (here and here) that took inspiration from a verse written by Khalil Gibran:


Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was
oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.


Photo by William Marsh
Since those posts, I've been reflecting about how it can be, that sorrow and pain carve into us a space which can also be filled with joy. I know for myself it doesn't happen automatically. And looking at the final sentence of the verse above, neither did Gibran consider the joy part automatic.

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being...
It happens, sorrow does. Disappointment, fear, physical pain, illness, depression and all sorrowful emotions come to us simply because we are alive. Anyone reading this post has intimate knowledge of life's hurts, and religions have spilled lots of ink and blood to try to prove reasons for them -- Christianity's original sin, Buddhism's maya, come to mind. Gibran acknowledges we share this human condition but attempts no reasoning or story, no intellectual device to explain it. What he does is accept it. This is a truth of life, that we will sorrow.

I have found no more realistic and practical reason for discarding old habits that keep me kicking against inevitabilities in life. (For more on my thoughts about life's pain and acceptance, read this post.) It is energy spent in futility and expended at the expense of the constructive emotions and actions that grow out of simple acceptance. Because acceptance like this is not passive, it's creative.

And that will be the topic of my next post.


Thank you for reading this post. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.