The Darkness

I have always loved Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: It is better to light one small candle than curse the darkness. I reminded myself of that during the past two weeks when my health took a turn. First I managed to get an ITB injury on my hip, which made it hard to exercise. Then I ended up with an arm impingement which kept me awake for days every time I rolled over on it. Of course I was still learning about my osteoporosis, and ended up getting some tests to see where I should go with that

Ahh, the effects of aging. I found myself slipping into the dark spaces of my mind, wondering if my body would always hurt. If I’d never feel healthy again. Those words: always and never. They rarely prove true, so I quickly shook them off, reminding myself of what I’ve come through before.

Then after physical therapy, more stretching, more weight lifting, and a decision to start meds for the spine issues and I could feel myself lifting out of the weight. I slept well the past two nights and my increased movement is helping me all the way around. Oh, I am also taking 8-12 tablets of psyllium husks each day. Wow, what a miracle for my gut!

I do believe in facing the shadows. For years, I tried to suppress any negative thoughts. A regular Pollyanna, I was. Now I’ve learned to acknowledge them, tell my brain not to fear pain or anxiety, and to breathe. That pattern helps me come back to a light where I can see, make decisions, and more forward.

And lucky me- I am traveling to a warm place in the Caribbean soon. Writing, reading, eating, and walking…

I’ll be thanking Mother Nature for all things turquoise :)

When I feel the need to hide

I can tell when the anxiety creeps up, almost a physical sensation of strings dragging across my back and neck, tightness in my shoulders, and short breaths as I move about my day.

Luckily, I’ve spent the past few years working on this so I recognize it. Like this morning when my eyes popped open at 3:45 and all the breathing techniques I’ve mastered fail me. I tiptoe down the cold stairs, trying not to wake the dog who will then wake my husband. What house am I living in today?

We went out to dinner with friends last night, and three of of us agreed. When the world seems to be falling apart, it’s so hard not to feel empty and dark ourselves. There’s very little I can do to stop worrying about the upcoming election (unless Trump decides to just stop being Trump and the MAGA folks resign), or the impending climate disaster, wars in various countries, and the anger and violence that so many people carry and exhibit.

So I can only work on myself. Hiding might feel good in the moment, but it only makes things worse. I’ve begun limiting my news watching. For the first time in a long time, I am reading a novel.

My yoga twice a week helps my muscle strength, critical for bone density. Yoga settles me, too, even if I’ve had to give up my competitive nature to compete with everyone in the class. Often, the best I can do is breathe and stretch. I won’t be much use to anyone if I’m a puddle of nervous energy, rolled up in the fetal position on my couch.

What I’m reading and listening to these days:

Breath by James Nestor, again

Anchored by Deborah Dana (thanks Donna!)

What do do when you don’t like the way you feel

Emily McDowell, who reminds me I also need to stop analyzing everything.


My Christmas cactus lives alone in a corner.
Once a year, red luscious blooms
spread over spiked green leaves,
shouting, look at me, I am extraordinary.

In winter’s gray I walk, breath coming quickly,
my face wrapped in a scarlet wool scarf,
frozen fingers curled into mittens.
I run, determined to outpace the cold
and my sharp-edged thoughts:
Look at me,  I am flawed.

They say you should call yourself
by name,  hug yourself like a friend,
water yourself with kindness. 
A first wave of warmth envelopes me,
I breathe. Today that is enough.


No, I’m not dying–anymore than anyone else. But I have realized that my subconscious has been telling me a false story.

Somehow I had convinced myself that I was healthier than other people, that I would live a long life without issues, that I would not be affected by my mom’s dementia or my dad’s bad knees and heart. I remember watching my mom, who had spinal stenosis, get her back stretched by a physical therapist. She had knee replacement surgery. At one point she developed such serious back issues she used a wheel chair. Compression fracture, they said. I hated to see her in such pain.

I was going to be a different as I aged. I was going to stay young.

After all, I exercise- both weight-bearing and weight-lifting. I eat well, mostly vegetables, beans, and tofu. I’ve cut my alcohol use (probably not enough), and I try to fast from dinner at 6pm until the next morning (almost 12 hours). I do yoga twice a week, I journal, I meditate.

But yesterday I received the results of my bone density test, and I have a -2.6 score, which means I officially have osteoporosis of the spine. No symptoms yet. But suddenly my world turned upside down.

How could this be, I thought. This diagnose has brought me back to reality. No one escapes dying. And, as I move through my 70’s, I will be facing aging and health issues like most people do. My eyes are bad. My thumb arthritis keeps me from many yoga positions. My gut biome has been disturbed for years. And my gray hair is becoming dry and wiry. I have dark red splotches on my hands. I have not escaped.

But no one has. And I don’t need to be a baby about this. Others deal with this and far worse. Get over it.

Or at least– do all I can to stay healthy and enjoy life. We will all eventually die. I don’t want to spend the last years of life worrying about it.

Shrinking away from death is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose. Carl Jung

Lighting My Way

My friend Donna sent an email with all the things she loves this time of year. I smiled and felt an strong connection to everything she mentioned.

I immediately thought of all the ways I try to bring calm and cozy to my life in December.

  • This was something I didn’t even know I needed. But I’ve turned it on every day, and I can’t imagine winter without it!
  • White lights- everywhere! We have battery-operated table candles outside on the deck, in the bathroom, at the front door, and on every table top. Outside we string white lights on the porch and around the door.
  • Turmeric tea after dinner. I started it for my joints. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think it’s helping me fall asleep :)
  • I never would have bought this for myself. One, it’s not my style. And two, well, it’s not inexpensive. But now that I have it, I can’t live without it, wrapping myself up in it whenever I sit on our sofa. The dog and cat love snuggling on it, too!
  • Warm socks: Donna recommended these, and I’ll have to try them. I’ve found these work great for me, too.

Most holidays are fairly meaningless to me. (I’ll have to deep dive into that sometime.) But Christmas usually makes me feel light and joyful. I have my moments when darker thoughts make their way into my emotions, but I think all the white lights and soft piano Christmas music we ask Alexa to play, keeps me level.

Last night we went to River’s Edge Yoga for a sound bath. White lights reflected off the brick walls, and Lynn, the owner, had put candles everywhere. We lay down under blankets feeling immersed in sound. Some say white lights give us a dopamine kick, but I find I breathe deeper and feel more connected to humanity.

Whatever the reason, I know I feel changed when the lights come on in December.

The Season

There’s something about this season I love. You’ll not find me decorating for easter, halloween, or thanksgiving. But when it’s time for the white lights to come out, I’m in.

Perhaps it’s the cold that has layered itself on us, or maybe I like the light/dark metaphor so evident this time of year. Whatever it is, I find myself jumping in with tiny trees around the house, greenery everywhere, and those white lights. I find it’s easier to take breathing moments (it’s what I call my meditation in short bursts) and relax with a cup of hot anything. And I’ve settled into this mantra: you don’t have to be perfect.

This week several items of note need saving:

  • For those who are tired of self-care, self-help therapy, Elise Loehnen has written a short piece that better describes why knowing yourself IS important:

I think that self-help is a social good. And I think we need to rebrand the concept as “personal responsibility.” Specifically, personal responsibility for collective health and wholeness. It’s akin to managing your own trash so you don’t pollute the whole neighborhood. Plus, once your own trash management is in hand, you might have the capacity to help others with their trash as well. Or at least not add to their burden by dumping your dog poo bags in their yard.

Elise Loehnen
  • About that perfection? Here’s another push to try something new.

Until next time….