What We Know

My dad’s flannel shirt hangs in the shed
these ten years later. A musty smell
of turpentine and wood oil
has settled in the work space.

Mom’s handwritten cookbooks
clutter the cabinet, sticky
with her fingerprints, flour still seeping
from the pages years after her death.

Yet, here in this house, it’s the unfinished,
unsaid words I yearn for in the silence.
A complicated family maze of lightness
and dark lingers here .

Now, I need to ask:

Did I say enough to you?
When I am gone, will you know?
Have I filled your world with a clarity of being enough?
When you find my sweater hanging in the closet,
will you touch it with sweet memories of how much you were loved?


I love the word.

So when I saw that Susan Cain had written a new book called Bittersweet I had to read it. Rather, I decided to listen to it.

Oh my. I love it. I find myself saying, “yes, uh huh, of course.” I haven’t quite finished, but you’ll get a sense of it from this TED video. Of course, the book delves into her research and personal anecdotes. However, watching this for the music alone is wonderful. Enjoy!

And now that I have, I will say it is one of the more fascinating books on mental health/psychology I’ve read. She once called herself an optimistic melancholic. I think that describes me, too. I kept seeing myself throughout the book– talk about validation.

Highly recommended!!

Healing, with help from my brain

Sometimes the chronic pain or anxiety is caused by, well, something not physical. And how you think about your pain makes a huge difference. I was a people-pleaser from way back(many of us are). But in my old age, I’ve been amazed to learn how much my need to please is really a way to avoid fear (long story from my childhood). What I’ve discovered is that avoiding fear or trying to tamp it down, often creates physical ailments that accompany that fear. Headaches, nausea, anxiety, vertigo, acid reflux).

Far too often I pushed the fear away and resorted to other ways of trying to deal with it. This podcast captures what I’ve learned about my brain! I purchased the Curable app last year, listened to almost all of the podcasts, and worked through the app elements. I also read The Way Out, by Alan Gordon and Alon Ziv, which was a huge help. Now I have a basket of skills to call on when I sense the fear and pain (or anxiety) is on its way.

I’m not a doctor. I know people in pain might think this is just one more person saying it’s all in your head. But there is too much evidence that for some people this works.

I’m not fully healed. After all, I’ve been reacting to situations for nearly 70 years, and brain pathways are difficult to change after that long. But I’m so much better. Frankly, I don’t have any expectation to fully heal. However, knowing where this is coming from helps keep the fear and pain at a minimum.

When a Routine Isn’t

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

I discovered how insidious anxiety is when I took myself to the ER last summer, complaining of acid reflux, vertigo, leg pain, and headaches.

“All of these?” the ER doctor asked.

An EKG showed I wasn’t having a heart attack, and after much blood work, a kind nurse patted my hand and said it sounded like anxiety.

I’m no stranger to this heart palpitating, nervous stomach disorder. I’ve had bouts for ten years now. So I wasn’t surprised when I realized I’d been tricked again. The brain had moved into its fight/flight/freeze syndrome and my body reacted with various aches and pains.

Last fall, I tackled it head on. I read everything I could. I started meditating. I bought a Pilates reformer so I can stretch.I’ve learned to breathe deeply when it hits. And I journal whatever is on my mind. In short, I created a morning routine to start the day.

I hadn’t realized how important the routine was until last week when we traveled, and I found each day different. By the end of the week, my old friend anxiety was back. Now that I’m home, I am in the “flow.” And I can feel a difference already. Who knew how important a routine would be to this old lady (who used to pride herself on NEVER having a schedule!)

I’m going to stick to this one.