Freedom Friday: Week One – Mindfulness and Meditation

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Reading the book, “You Are Not Your Pain,” prompted me to begin this 8-week journey of trying to manage my chronic pain condition through Mindfulness and Meditation.  

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Week One

I successfully completed the three required activities for Week One.

1.  Twice Daily 10-Minute Body Scan Meditations 

I had a difficult time staying fully aware of my breath as it flowed through different parts of my body during the meditations.  But after several days, when I experienced emotional or physical pain; I breathed deeply, became aware, and acknowledged the pain with compassion and kindness.  

2.  Spend A Little Time with Nature, Daily

With temperatures in Orlando reaching the high 90s, I wasn’t able to spend time with nature in the way  I had planned —

  • walks through our local botanical garden; and
  • sitting  quietly by the lake in one of our beautiful county parks.

Upon learning that I was,  virtually, housebound because of the summer heat in Florida, imaniking, creator of Freedom Friday, sent me an online portfolio of her beautiful nature photos to view.

3.  SPEND ONE HOUR WITH NATURE ON ONE DAY

I spent two hours with nature everyday last week:

  • Meditating, Conscious Breathing and Being Still, daily, for one hour, before daybreak, while in the presence of nature’s singing birds and rustling tree leaves.
  • Water Exercising, daily, for one hour, periodically, looking upward at the changing colors of the sky and the ever-moving and billowing clouds.

After completing Week One, I now know that my pain:

  • is fluid rather than solid; and
  • should be timely welcomed and accepted with compassion and kindness.

Knowing this has enabled me to better manage and control my pain levels.

I am excited about beginning Week Two and can’t wait to share another new learning experience with you.  Back next Friday.

Writers Quote Wednesday 2015

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Once again, I send a huge thank you to SilverThreading for hosting Writers Quote Wednesday 2015.

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This week in recognition of Black Music Month, I selected the words from a song written by the Father of Gospel Music, Thomas A. Dorsey.  

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In planning my mother’s funeral back in 1967,  I chose to have “Precious Lord Take My Hand”  as one of the musical selections.  I am among many who have made the same choice.

This song was a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and he had requested the beloved and famous gospel singer, Miss Mahalia Jackson, to sing it at his funeral.

Years before Dr. King’s funeral, around 1959, I went to see the movie, “Imitation of Life.”  Even as a 15-year-old, I ended up in tears when Miss Jackson began singing “Precious Lord Take My Hand” during one of the lead characters funeral.

When I hear this song it always brings back memories of sad times.  Yet it is my favorite gospel song; and, I am still trying to process why.

To give you further insight on Mr. Dorsey’ s music and life, I share this YouTube video.  It begins with and oral biography on Mr. Dorsey followed by Miss Yolanda Adams, one of today’s most famous Gospel performers, singing her rendition of “Precious Lord Take My Hand.”

Please click here for further biographical information on Mr. Dorsey.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – June 19, 2015

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Roy G. Biv

Acronym: Made of the first letters of the seven colors of the rainbow:  Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

Challenge:  One or More Images Containing All Seven Colors.  

After checking out the challenge on Friday, I searched through the likely photo albums and  couldn’t find one or any combination of photos to meet this challenge.

Then, late last night, I thought of the photos taken on a visit last year to one of the local shopping malls and I was distracted, in a good way, with the 2014 Christmas Decorations.

I think the photos shared touches on all seven colors.  Do you agree?

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Honoring My Favorite Fathers

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Today is Fathers Day and I use this blog to honor two great fathers. Both have been in my life for more than fifty years. Neither is my father, but the way they father has shown me what a true father is.

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The #1 Father in my life is the father of my three children.  I honor, respect and truly love this man who was only an 18-year-old, high school dropout, when our first child was born.

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Pregnant and 17-years old when we married, I believed and trusted him when he said, “I will do all I can to improve my life to give you and our child a better life.”  He lived up to this commitment by:

  • Enlisting in the Armed Forces to make sure there was income and health services for me and our unborn child;
  • Earning a GED (High School Diploma) to open up better job opportunities after military service; and
  • Returning to school, after working for five years in the private sector, to earn a Bachelors and Masters Degree at a Top Ten University;

He did these things to ensure our three children were financially secure and their lives were open to better opportunities.  But, just as important, he was the hands-on father who:

  • washed diapers,
  • ironed school uniforms,
  • hemmed skirts,
  • sewed on buttons
  • cooked meals,
  • read stories,
  • attended school conferences, concerts, recitals, games, …
  • shared dreams,
  • encouraged goals.

Our children are now middle-aged and have their own families, but they know Dad is there for them, today, as he has been throughout their lives.

The #2 Father in my life is our only son.  A middle-child, the only boy, born on Halloween; I, jokingly, said for many years, “I am not sure if he is my trick or treat.”  Today, I say without hesitation, “He is my treat,” and “I shout from the highest height that I am proud to call him my son.”

This Father Day, and everyday, I honor this man who is 53-years-old and the single-parent to my 6-year-old granddaughter.  By the way, brag time, she graduated from Kindergarten this month:

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Parenting is challenging even when there are two people sharing the responsibility.  And, I had concerns whether my son could handle single-parenting. Especially, given he had lived most of his life as a bachelor.

I recall the saying, “He’s a chip of the old block” and, like his father he has stepped into the parenting role with ease and confidence.

Teachers, family, friends, professional colleagues, as well as his parents, comment on his hands-on fathering skills.  How could we have expected anything else? After all, he has seen hands-on fathering, by his father, throughout  his life.

Happy Fathers Day to My Hubby and Son!!!

Freedom Friday: Mindfulness and Meditation

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Eight-Week Mindfulness and Meditation Journey

Today, my space opens up to a new venture; and, I want to thank imaniking for her blogging platform, Freedom Friday, to launch this 8-week journey to control and manage my chronic pain condition through mindfulness and meditation.

After reading both the paperback and listening to the audio of the book, “You Are Not Your Pain,” by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penma, I made a personal commitment to give their 8-week program a try; and, to hold myself accountable I pledge to journal about this experience weekly on Freedom Friday.

Prescribed medications and physician care will always be a part of my chronic pain treatment plan; but, I am anxious to find out if adding these new mindfulness and meditation practices will make a difference..

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Mindfulness

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Meditation

My Chronic Pain History

Diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1993, the severe pain I experienced forced me to leave my career of twenty years.  In 1996, I returned to the workforce; and, until 2008, with the exception of rare flare-ups, I managed my pain levels with prescribed medications and an exercise routine.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, I was told it was likely related to side-effects of the prescribed medication which had managed my Rheumatoid Arthritis for many years.  The medication was discontinued, but the oncologist assured me that the RA pain would be managed with chemotherapy treatment.

While I no longer experienced RA pain, I did have a side-effect to the chemotherapy and ended up with a new pain diagnosis, Peripheral Neuropathy.

After I completed breast cancer treatment, my oncologist and rheumatologist conferred, searched, identified and agreed on a new drug to treat my RA pain.  Within days after the first infusion of this drug, I was:

  • diagnosed with epiglottis;
  • hospitalized for weeks;
  • intubated for five days;
  • released from hospital; and,
  • diagnosed with a new condition of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

With COPD, nebulizers and inhalers entered my space but they never adequately controlled the coughing and breathing problems.  Following two hospitalizations (2012 and 2013) because of severe bronchitis, it was determined that another RA medication I had taken for more than twenty years was attacking my lungs and the drug was discontinued.

My track record with medication hasn’t been great.  While I will continue my current medications, I am not open to new ones.  And, my rheumatologist hasn’t suggested or prescribed anything new since the epiglottis diagnosis.

Let the Journey Begin

Over the next week, I will complete:

  • Two 10-minute program meditations, daily;
  • Spend a little time with nature, daily; and
  • Spend 1 Hour with nature, on one day.

To better control pain levels as well as improve the quality of my life, I am committed to:

  • strengthening my current mindfulness and meditation practices through this 8-week program;
  • continuing my current prescribed medications and health care regime; and,
  • following my own Chronic Pain Self-Management Program
    • Nutrition and Diet
    • Healthy Sleep Habits
    • Exercise
    • Spiritual Uplifting
    • Laughter/Humor
    • Relaxation/Rest
    • Music