Updated: Oct 1, 2020
I’m currently working through a Mindful Certification course. Today’s mindful practice is self-care-one, this is one I have yet to perfect or even somewhat perfectly master! I’m trying to practice some more self-care but of course I can’t find the time! 😂
Self Care Mindful practice is one that I find very challenging. I rarely put myself first. It’s usually my kids, scouting & other community volunteering activities, my crafting business, advocacy and being a confidant for my friends. In addition, I have a list of other community projects, blogs and other articles (that) I wish to write. Trying to find that time for myself has been quite challenging.
Yet, the other day as I stared at the white “ceiling” of an MRI tunnel while trying to control my responses to this excruciatingly painful experience .... I had 90 minutes to (for) myself to think without interruption from children, social media, friends or anything on my very lengthy To-Do list.
First off,(above all? Or first of all) To be undoubtedly clear, I would never recommend using those 90 minutes of an excruciating painful experience as the time for self reflection. It can be and is unquestionably very distracting! That, and well .... very wet from all the crying. (I had tears pouring from my eyes throughout the MRI.)
In all seriousness, my pain was so severe that my best meditation efforts were barely enough to get me through the MRI. I did manage to finish it, though, I will say by the end I was only left numb in so many places in my body. I actually welcomed the numbness in my legs and other extremities even if it meant the inability to move at that very moment. That being said, this too led me down the rabbit hole of “What If’s”.
This very long MRI left me with way too much time to think of so many other things like... if I would ever need a surgery, how will I help my kiddos with school or who will be able to visit me in the hospital, leading to wandering thoughts of how will my pain be managed and moreover is the new pain and physical limitations my “new norm“ or is it reversible.
This was a one way ticket to the derailing train of FRUSTRATION! Frustration for not being listened to when I first started having problems all the way up until six months ago when I demanded to have a first MRI for this particular issue. But, only after my current neurologist saw my reduced motor skills, he realized I needed another MRI. (On a side note, this particular neurologist is pretty amazing. He listens and he evaluates me as a whole. He respects me as a person and as an advocate within the rare disease community. It was INCREDIBLY empowering to be recognized by a doctor as an equal or if not equal at least a peer. Something that often does not occur. In fact I have only seen three doctors over the past 30 years, so, taking that into notice, I can undeniably say that they truly respect me in such a manner. Those doctors are the only ones to try to do all they can to keep me as functioning as humanly possible and one of which tried his best to help me be able to complete my law school program. (Truly a shame that Thomas Jefferson refuses to let me complete the last five units of my law program.). )
Fine, now that I took you off a completely different tangent let me bring you back to what I was originally discussing… Self-care, self-love and meditation!
As I lay there looking at the white tunnel all around me and in agonizing pain, I knew the best method for management of the pain was to reach a meditative state. This of course can be challenging for some and extremely challenging with pain levels in the red zone.
9.5 on the 1-10 scale. Seriously, I never really cry from pain yet this evening tears were just pouring out of me and at one point I was whimpering while trying to minimize movement, to ensure that they do not interfere with the MRI itself.
Nevertheless after all the wandering my brain was doing I was eventually able to get into a meditative state. I tried really hard for a while to think of different things I can imagine to help ease me into the meditative state. My normal go to images were not working for me. Thinking of my kids, especially the joy my younger son still has doing activities with me to the amazing maturity I have been seeing in my older son to the adorable little face and my cute service dog and then of my husband. Though these images did not help me reach a meditative state, it did remind me of how I am loved and blessed by my family and friends. Thinking of them made me realize just how much I am loved.
Eventually, I found my meditative focus. In my mind's eye, I traveled back to Mexico where my husband and I had our belated honeymoon. It was on this trip that we had the most spectacular experience swimming with these large majestic see turtles.
You may be wondering why I mentioned this! Simple, this was one of the most mystical and magical experiences I had ever had. Words cannot truly express the emotion and joy we had floating above please awe inspiring ocean dwellers.
Yet, I almost completely missed out on this experience as I couldn’t figure out how to reach the area in which these turtles were grazing in ocean “grass”. Though it was not too far away from the shore, it was way too far for me and in fact, for me as it seemed like it was an impossible distance to swim. Especially with the current. Not that it stopped me from trying, albeit, not successful.
Being the stubborn and determined person that I am and being my father’s daughter above all (His motto has always been that there is always a way, it may be a different path but there is always a way ) I found a way to reach the area in which the sea turtles were grazing. It happens that during a dolphin experience that I realized that with a lifevest and a kickboard under my abdomen I can move a short distance in the ocean. I realize that the same set up I would be able to reach the rope that marked off the area in which the sea turtles typically grazed.
I spoke with the lifeguards before going out and to ensure they were very aware of what I was doing. They went out on the paddleboard each time I went out just to keep an eye on me to make sure all was good. Much to my amazement I was able to get to the roped area and view the magical creatures in their natural environment.
Better yet this led to the most amazing memory of an extremely special moment during this trip. One afternoon, a gentleman at the resort offered to watch my service dog thereby, allowing my husband and I to go out together. (Apparently, my service dog watched us the entire time!)
This rabbit hole leads to a beautiful memory Of an absolutely perfect afternoon (with the exception of some camera difficulties … My waterproof camera bag was leaking and my husband's camera battery was dead). This however did not in any way impede on our magical moment. We floated hand in hand looking down at the breathtaking scene below us. We watched these extraordinary creatures graze on the “ocean grass”. These amazing creatures were so incredibly close to us yet so calming, reassuring and graceful in their movements.
The moment I was beautiful. We may not have captured the enormously large sea turtle that gracefully maneuvered directly below me but the memory is mine and it is mine forever.
It was this spectacular moment that I totally focused on. Reminding myself that no matter what happens, I always find a way to move forward. Also it was a great moment to remind myself that there is so much beauty around us we just need to take the time out to soak in it and truly enjoy it.
Photography has been a passion for me since my early teen years. This passion has really developed over the past few years with my increased limitations As this is still an activity that I can still do. It may mean needing helicopter rides or special transportation to access places I would otherwise not be able to reach but I can still capture some of the beauty in our amazingly spectacular world.
There is so much joy and beauty around us. It is up to us to choose to look for it, hone in on it and hang onto it with all our might. These are the memories that will help us get through the rough times ahead.