Weekend Coffee Share, Clearing the Stage for the Next Act

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share and a little slice of my life and dreams, where I am the writer, the producer, the stage hand, and the main character.  It has been quite a week!  Pull up a chair and a brisk coffee or a relaxing tea, whichever works for you.  I am lingering over my V8 and coffee, having slept in and missed the pilates class I was considering taking.  I suppose I needed a relaxing day!

I think I have mentioned before that, after working on and completing physical therapy for my back and shoulder pain (which may or may not have been due to arthritis), I am now going to work on the mind.  Mind you, I’m still keeping up with the body work on my own; today is arm/shoulder day!  Along with my aches and pains,  I need to work on my anxiety and OCD or slight perfectionism, and I have been doing so.  One of the things I’m doing is using an app called Curable that has a lot of writing exercises, meditations, and factual information on the mind/body connection regarding chronic pain. I have particularly benefited from the visualization meditation, while the writing exercises have me digging into my past and things that sparked anxiety for me.  I believe the goal is to identify the stressers you have or had and deal with them, confront them.  So, this week I was talking with my practitioner about my ex-husband.  She asked what the last straw was that broke the proverbial camel’s back.  So, I told the story.  It made me feel so tired to conjure up the setting, the actors, the events, picturing myself back in the house I lived in with my then husband.  I felt sad, scared, and angry as well.  I hadn’t told the story in quite a while.  Still, having done so, I felt more better equipped to deal with my present and future.  I went home tired, though.

I lay down at some point in the evening to relax, and in my mind, I recalled events of the day and the story I had brought up again.  I pictured hands reaching in and moving/removing stage props, my old house, furniture, the garage, the backdrop of trees.  Maybe this was demonstrated on a movie or something, I don’t know, but it popped into my mind and I observed all these things being removed and leaving an empty stage.  It made me feel triumphant!  I had brought up the images, the story, and the actors and processed them, and now they could be put away.  I could move on and create the next act.  Of course, it is never good to dwell on the past, but if you must process it, and if doing so lets you move on, then, eureka!  Something works!  I think we are all different.  But the mind/body work through the app does emphasize acknowledging the stressers from your life/past and that your way of dealing with them may have hurt you, i.e. caused chronic pain, digestive issues, or migraines, etc.  I stuffed so many negative emotions down since childhood that they were bound to hurt me inside.

So, perhaps the stage is my mindset/focus.  I know one should not focus on the past, but it comes up whenever I see the doctor and we discuss what tests I should have done; for instance, I had been tested for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, both negative, thank God!  I was plagued with pain for a while when I was so busy tending to my son in his rough patch of his youth, and now that he is moving along and doing fairly well, it is time to tend to me, to learn and unlearn my anxious reactions to his rough spells, to deal with the physical trauma of having been worried and trapped in hospitals or ERs several times.  Parenting a son on your own is nothing to shake a stick at.  Now, he is choosing a life, an honest, hard-working life and not that of a hitch-hiker (one of my past worries, silly me! :))

So, the stage is cleared and waiting.  What will the next set be?  Who will be the actors there with me? I have some great people and a support network as it is.  Will I explore a meditation group? A writer’s group?  Improv comedy? Will I continue my teaching career until retirement or find another way to approach my ‘golden’ years?  The stage is waiting for me.  The backdrop looks pretty magical, especially when fear and distrust have exited stage left!

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*Am I truly done with fear, distrust, and anxiety?  They are getting better.  I can be brave for others and at times, for myself.  I’ve been working on this.  Being of a certain age, I can get hot flashes and brain fog as well as anxious moments, but they’ve improved with my recent mind/body work which I plan to continue.  We’ll see what comes, but I am much better equipped to deal with it now!

Have a great week, my friends! I have Spring break and no travel plans, so this little fellow will have some play time with me, I’ll be writing/editing, and I’ll be getting some mundane appointments taken care of as well as relaxing and sleeping in some more!

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**The Weekend Coffee Share is currently hosted by Allison at Eclectic Alli. Give her site a visit and say hello!

Weekend Coffee Share, 1/25. Moving along…

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Antoinette!  Today consisted of a drive to Southern Georgia with my boyfriend to see his dad, and now I am relaxing, looking at the papers I brought home to grade.  Tomorrow will have to do.

My shoulder has been feeling better.  The back is better too, but last night, for some reason I had sciatica return to the left side.  I did, however, get 7 hours of sleep, and I’ll take that any time over what I’ve been getting lately!

I’ve been taking an online course in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  I mentioned, last week, that at times I feel my thoughts over-thinking and/or telling myself I didn’t do something right, checking and re-checking, tending towards OCD.  The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy course is for anxiety and depression, which can be related and sometimes even come together.  At any rate, it also identifies OCD as a type of anxiety disorder.  Makes sense.  One suggestion was to wear a rubber band and snap or ping it whenever you recognize these thoughts occurring.  So, I started doing this.  Let me give it some time before I tell you what I think of this strategy.  However, I did wear it to school Friday, and my day went well, maybe just for knowing it was there?  Time will tell.

I watched a little Netflix last night, and tonight I’ll meet my boyfriend for a good dinner somewhere.  I have decided that, on Valentine’s Day weekend, I’ll let him give me a ride on his motorcycle again; it has been three years since I’ve done that.  I stopped after I got sideswiped and pushed over to the curb three years ago, then having a panic attack.  It was scary, I’ll admit.  It may have activated the back and shoulder trouble.  I tensed up horribly and felt myself doing so for months afterward whenever I drove at high traffic times and especially on bridges.  It’s likely just one exacerbating factor.  At any rate, I told him we could take a short ride on the motorcycle.  It is a big hobby of his, and he does read my books, so I think I should do this with him every now and then!  Plus, doing so will make me feel so brave and like I have overcome a lot of the pain and  negative self-talk that got me up to where I was when my doctor referred me for physical therapy.  It would be a sign of progress!

This week, I worked on my Gifted Endorsement class a lot and the only writing I did was  for a blog challenge called Fandango One Word Challenge.  (I love these)! I wrote a poem in response to the word: Profile.  Have a look:  https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2020/01/24/fortune-cookie-psych-profile-fowc/

At times, it reminds me of myself.

That’s all I’ve got for today.  How was your week?

Weekend Coffee Share, Befriending my Brain

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Antoinette Truglio Martin.  If we were having coffee today, I would tell you that I am on a journey of learning.  Of course, I’ve mentioned my participation in physical therapy, as I am working on some pain areas that I have due to arthritis, or stress, or one of the car accidents from my past, or maybe from one of my falls when I was younger and stupid.  I believe it is progressing well, and the sciatica is at a minimum, though it comes back when I wear the wrong shoes at work and have a stressful day.  At any rate, I am so glad I finally took this step rather than telling myself I did not have time.  I feel great about this decision.

82147550_10216558383061057_159610369222901760_n Working on health of body, spirit, and mind.

Stressful days have been a norm lately.  The teaching schedule has been a little off due to five days of testing students in the mornings.  Students don’t respond well to the change in routine, and as a matter of fact, I don’t think I do either.  I take extra long to get papers or test materials in order, to the point that one kid asked if I have OCD.  I said, “Yeah, probably.  Oh, well.”  It is a type of anxiety, and I tend to get that.

I’ve been reading up on the brain and its relation to anxiety and pain.  Facebook has targeted me, showing me ads on the Curable app.  So guess what? I downloaded it for free.  Better to be informed than to be surprised, as I was the first time I had an anxiety attack four years ago.  I was convinced someone had broken into our house in the middle of the night. My heart felt like it would jump out of my chest.  I went and got the dog out of his crate; he sensed nothing.  Before this, all I had ever sensed in myself was being nervous or stressed: sweaty palms, red face, that sort of thing.  This time, I wasn’t sure if I could slow my heart down; it was horrible.  I don’t know if it just all piled up.  I’m working on it.  I’ve read that pain and anxiety are part of the brain’s response to protect us; for that we should be thankful, but we should recognize when it is irrational and learn some tools to calm it (instead of feeling betrayed by our minds when they take energy away from our focus or memory to direct it to our danger alert system).  One website I have searched is https://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms/brain-fog.shtml      I would cite other sources here, except that I’ve read so many and have committed these things to memory to use in my toolbox for surviving and thriving in a high stress job and a family that deals with a mentally ill family member with support, encouragement, and understanding. I won’t go on to list all of my stressers, but these are ongoing.  Another possibility is that going through ‘the change’ is affecting my responses and causing irritability.  Still, I am building a toolbox!

HendrixBook.82497427_10216553268053185_1263644820899889152_oIn my toolbox….

I must acknowledge that I have some really good friends at work that I can talk to about my stressers, and a boyfriend whom I have been dating for ten years.  He has seen me through my son’s teen years, a major surgery, and many of my family traumas.  I suppose I have seen him through some things as well, and he is patient when I am almost always late to social or family events. He jokes with me about it.  We are both getting older, and he has some health issues as well as a family issue that are both on his mind lately.  And I will be there for him.  I am thankful for his presence in my life.

Another part of this toolbox is the education I received in college and the encouragement my loved ones provided me when young to keep writing.  I write about a lot of concerns and anxieties, mostly in fiction form.  That way, I can write the resolution; I can create a hero, not a victim, and I can create characters who are there to help and prove that some people can be trusted.  I’ll be honest, I am not writing much fiction lately, but I am writing about my process with re-training my brain to deal with pain and change it into growth, starting with the process of physical therapy that is making me stronger every day.  I am still dealing with sleep issues, but I see the doctor in about ten days.  I know that all has something to do with the brain as well.  Let’s not forget imagination.  Being a writer of fiction, I have learned to work things out and write stories with heroes and lessons about those less fortunate than us.  It gives me hope. I have written some stressful, tense situations into my fiction, which I feel creates conflict, as there certainly is in day to day life.  I am 20% of the way into my next novel, and will return to it after I finish my current Teaching Gifted Endorsement class.  But for now, imagining has helped me to identify music and songs that relax me and take me away when I have to let the tension go, and some of Jimi Hendrix’s music does just that.  So I bought this beautiful book about him, so that I can know all I can of him, instead of obsessing over my health.

Next, I will need to start planning some real getaways, which has been on hold while I work on the pain and try to de-stress.  I cannot drive anywhere stressed and anxious; I’ve tried it, and it’s not a good idea.  The Endorsement class I have is a good escape for my brain, because I love learning, but at the same time it does produce some stress with deadlines and a lot of required reading.  I can do this.  I’ll read to learn more about Hendrix when I need a break.  And those trips I wanted last year to D.C. or New Orleans are still in my plans.  I CAN do this.

I hope all is well in your world, or that you are at least on the way there.  Have a great week!

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share, Being Understood. 12/20

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Antoinette at https://antoinettetrugliomartin.com/category/weekend-coffee-share/   I am having a half-calf, which seems to fuel me just fine these days.  However, I must admit, I am waking up, on a good night, somewhere between 4:30 and 5 a.m.  It doesn’t bother me as much as it did at first.  I don’t know if it’s the time change or the new exercises I have added daily as a result of PT, but I am getting used to it.  I wonder if this will change once the clocks move forward in the Spring?  I know I have a busy mind and wonder if it will ever slow down.   It’s okay if it doesn’t. 🙂

As far as the physical therapy, it seems to be going well.  My lower back is not as locked up as it used to be.  I do still suffer from sciatic issues, but I’m learning some exercises for that and realizing I need to have more hot baths and less time in the computer chair.  Maybe I’ll just record my writer’s thoughts and stories straight to audio? I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.  I am not worried!  While editing/revising the Malachi manuscript, I found a wonderful modification that works for me.  I e-mailed the rough draft to myself and I’ve been opening it on my phone for a read-through.  This read-through can be done laying on the couch, exercising on the Gazelle (small, elliptical type exerciser), or even in bed.  I can be on my side or back, etc. according to my comfort needs. When I find an error, I write it down for when I will edit it on my laptop.  Then, I am going to send it to the professional editor.  There is no way I will stop writing, so I just need to change my process.

As far as the busy mind goes, I had an interesting talk with a student yesterday who rarely talks in class.  Yes, it was the day before Winter Break, I was casual, friendly, and joking a lot, a relaxed atmosphere for sure.  I presented them with our reading theme for next quarter: “Fear, is it a hindrance or a help?”  The first time this student started talking to me was when I had a lesson on conflict and explained internal conflict and how the struggle is strong for someone who suffers from depression or anxiety.  I told them of my anxiety when driving over a bridge.  I recently have added hospitals to my list.  (I have too many thoughts of experimentation when I see a whole floor taken up by only one office, and construction does not help either).  Recently, I’ve also realized that the holidays are a little triggering.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that she actually wanted to have a conversation with me.  I also was pleasantly surprised by the Christmas holiday kindness shared by the students yesterday, and one student’s note in her card almost had me in tears of joy:

Dear Ms. Canepa, Thank you for your hard-working ethics and passion for teaching. I love how you have the inspiration to get up and drive to work every day, not knowing will the day go by good or bad. You made a great impact on my life so far and I’m looking forward for you to continue.

It was a hard week with lots of grading, a Code Red drill, a fire drill, a handful of parent meetings, some holiday events, and amped up kids. But seeing such empathy, appreciation, and the right choice of words warmed my heart. Someone noticed how hard I work and took the time to verbalize that to me.  Maybe they are taking it to heart.  That is the best gift ever!

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May you all enjoy the spirit of Christmas and the holiday season, and may you reach calm when you seek it!  I am definitely planning on some relaxation myself.

Peace!

Pamela

Happy WordPress Blogger Anniversary to Me!

wordpress-com-anniversary-2xThursday, 1/26/17, is my one year anniversary with WordPress!

I was just reminded that today is my 1 year anniversary with WordPress! Not a paying job, but a hobby, a compulsion, and a social act, blogging has been one of the tools of my self-care. They say to make writing a habit, do it every day. I’m close to it. As I’ve gone from crisis to crisis at home, blogging has been my go to for a quick smile when I write a cryptic flash fiction piece, or when I pour out my heart about the things I don’t understand in my life and my family and putting it into words relieves me. You know I’m not the type to sit on the phone for an hour moping. I don’t want to be the rain cloud in someone’s day. I’ll write it, and if you don’t like it, look away. Someone else will like it or at least identify.
Using the keyboard for expression, imagination, or simply venting has strengthened me as mental health issues have struck one family member, and anxiety wracks my nerves. There are times I cannot talk to anyone at home, as my mom is there sometimes but also has her own life. We all have some sort of issues. Swallowing them constantly makes a person ill. I am going to deal with the crap that has been thrown at me, and hopefully be an example to my son who is also dealing with it, my students who need healthy ways to vent, and anyone else who will listen. I’m so grateful for the chain of events that led me to discover that I could blog on WordPress as it led me to other writing avenues, too. I am encouraged and buoyed up by this blogging community where members express faith, humor, world facts, ideas of horror or fantastic visualization. I just love the way WordPress works.  It suggests reading to me and suggests my blog posts to others.  Never did I figure that out on the prior blogging site I used.  Now I’m a member of a blogging faith community, sci-fi community, writer’s community, poets, dog lovers, readers. It’s all here, and my year has been brightened because of it!

Anxiety, The Phantom #poetry

One of my early WordPress posts…

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By Pamela Schloesser Canepa
Anxiety, The Phantom copyright, 1.05.16
A windy night brings it. Bam!
The back porch door slams
And I’m left to wonder what is there
What glowing eyes in the night will glare?
I am like a child, four years old again,
My fear and imagination bends.
What hoodlum or phantom lurks here?
I sense something evil crouching near.
Gone is all hope of sleep.
I must be ready in case he leaps.

“He” is my fear of things unseen,
Politicians and terrorists threatening me,
Bills, undone tasks, that won’t let me free,
Narrow minded people judging me
Worry for my son, in his melancholy
TV news feeding branches of my anxiety.
Things that make me think I have no weapon,
Realities that happen, with or without mention.
My canine detects no offending thief,
And only morning daybreak brings relief.

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Yoga, Stream of Consciousness, My Exercise Evolution, Pt 4

I like the pained look on this woman’s face in the photograph.  Not because the yoga hurt me, but because my stressed out body was not ready to let go of the stress and relax this time.  I want to be honest, and this photo totally represents my attitude tonight.  I didn’t feel too evolved, but in actuality, I guess I’ve evolved to be able to not push myself too far.

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I hate Triangle.  This is what I was thinking when the instructor told us to set up for our triangle pose.  Then, I immediately felt guilty for my negative thinking.  Sadly, I’ve fallen a little out of tune with my exercise routine, but perhaps for good reasons.  I obviously don’t have the attitude I had built myself up to, and I really need to work to get it back.

I am , however, going to give myself a free pass and just thank myself for showing up to the class tonight.  I knew it would help me, and it did, despite my almost losing my balance and falling once or twice, needing to modify my lunges.  So I modified.  I went easy on myself; it’s been a rough few weeks, with a hurricane passing through, a family friend dying, and the ex-husband in town for a few days.  My emotions have been pulled, and I had cause for anxiety with the ex-husband based on his last visit.  Now it’s all over.  The ex went back home, the funeral has happened, the hurricane dispelled.  Yet I am still at the bottom of the well.  I need to work on coming back up.  I was very mindful to remind myself of that all through class.

On a brighter note, here’s more on the topic of wandering minds during yoga: why do so many instructors use phrasing such as, isn’t that a yummy stretch?  That is mostly used by female instructors, I’ve noticed.  While I haven’t had that many male instructors, there is one most memorable instructor who would say, “Feel that stretch, isn’t that delicious?”  This was said in his beautiful Calypso or Caribbean accent.

“No,” I said, honestly.  It wasn’t delicious as his hand holding my leg steady was, or as his honey dripping accent, or as, let’s say, chocolate.  That’s the part I didn’t say. 🙂 He just chuckled when I said that and let up a little.  I wasn’t being mean, I half smiled when I said it so that he knew, it wasn’t him.  It was me.  I loved having him as an instructor.  But alas, he was just a sub that night, as he normally would teach the early morning class, one I could never make.  At least he wasn’t pushing us to empty our minds.  He must have known the delicious comment was pretty suggestive.  Hey, it made me think of chocolate, or his awesome accent, all things I find very relaxing.  Unfortunately, I no longer attend the studio where this man with the wonderful accent instructs; it is just part of life changes.  I had to choose somewhere closer and I do truly love the new studio I currently attend.

I am not complaining about the wording used by instructors; I love the yoga community.  But calling any of these stretches “yummy” just accentuates the fact that I am not at home eating the goods I am trying to stay away from.  If you are an instructor who wants us to empty our minds, please don’t use the word “yummy!”  I do have to add, though, it always makes my busy mind chuckle while I’m in a resting tree, downward dog, or even pigeon pose and I hear such comments.  Thank you, dear yoga instructor, for giving me that inward chuckle, for coming by with your relaxing scents, and for playing that wonderful music.  I really needed it tonight.