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    In reply to: Resilience

    In 2014 I had to make a big decision. I had planned to retire in several years at the social security retirement age of 66+. But I began struggling with constant fatigue and an intermittent acute lower abdominal pain with an undetermined cause.
     
    I learned that I could use my bank of sick leave to take a partial medical leave from work. I thought that by working fewer hours I would be more rested and revived. When that proved not to be true, I knew I needed a chunk of time without working to try to find the cause of the randomly recurring sharp pain and regain my energy. I came to the conclusion that I would be better off retiring earlier than later.
     
    At the end of six months of part-time medical leave I retired from my employer and moved to another city with a lower cost of living. I figured I would take a month to set up my new household and recover from the stress of the transition, and take another month of rest to fully recuperate and figure out how to earn a living. It sounded like a plan.
     
    I did not recuperate in two months. I stayed close to home, spending most days in the bed or on the bed. Another month went by. And another. After five months I was still struggling to get out of bed each day and the pain had become more frequent. I could see that taking a job to bring in needed income would not be an option.
     
    One day I happened upon the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s website and found that they had an artist’s open studio. I knew that art was a way for me to express myself and tune into both my emotional and physical intuition, and I had dreamed of finding a space where I could create large, messy work. I got myself together and went to see if this place could work for me. While I was there I was asked to submit a proposal for a course on expressive and intuitive art for the fall semester. I submitted the course proposal and it was accepted. I helped the students express themselves through art, and as the weeks went by I could see the impact that having a safe space to make this kind of art was having on them.
     
    But the person who benefited most was me! It gave me “a new lease on life”. I understand now that this is my purpose, this is why I am here. I call myself the “Art Doula”, and I create expressive art experiences for freeing the artist within. I assist people in the gestation and birthing of their artist selves, and in bringing their creative genius into the world.
     
    The expressive artmaking experiences I create just seem like something fun to do; but done over time and on a regular basis, they have helped some of my students in their healing process. Something is happening on a deeper level. Making art gives voice to ideas and emotions that we would otherwise not be able to articulate.
     
    Best of all, when I am sharing the experience of art I am quickened with a spirit that feels like a fire that starts in me and envelops the room. Spontaneously, I dance and sing (and so do the students). At those moments I do not feel the fatigue or the pain. It is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. This is something I can do for the rest of my life! And I love it. :-)
     
    #resilience #stillstanding #freeingtheartistwithin
     


    Gail Moser
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    Have you recovered after a physical, mental, emotional, or social disruption in your life? How are you progressing from surviving, to thriving? Have you experienced personal growth after a misfortune or a major change in your life?
     
    #resilience #fromsurvivingtothriving


    Gail Moser
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    In reply to: Perspective

    Looking Back to Gain Perspective – My Journey from 2011 to 2016
     
    I had been having all-over pain for quite a few years, but never mentioned anything about it because I attributed it to getting older. I was way beyond fatigued – it had become really difficult to get out of bed, go to work, prepare my meals, and even bathe. Every day everything hurt, all the time. I was exhausted and couldn’t get my energy level back up no matter what I tried. When I went to my follow-up appointment after knee surgery, my doctor asked if there were any other health issues I needed to talk to her about. As usual I said, “Nothing but the usual aches and pains.” We said our goodbyes and I was on my way. On the 45-minute drive home I could not stop thinking about how bad my body felt. Why hadn’t I mentioned this to my doctor?
     
    I took me more than a year to finally tell my doctor about the all-over, 24/7 pain. She asked what seemed like a million questions, poked and prodded, and then referred me for some lab tests. She said her preliminary diagnosis was fibromyalgia, but we would wait for the test results to see what they said. A few days later she called me: I had a positive anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) titer, which when coupled with some of my other symptoms and physical traits was an early biomarker for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). I needed further testing and evaluation and she referred me to a neurologist. This was early September, 2012 and unfortunately the first available appointment with the neurologist would be after Thanksgiving. I couldn’t do anything but wait. Or could I?
     
    I googled and tried to absorb everything I could about lupus. I downloaded research papers. I read the blogs of people with the disease. I devoured books about auto-immune disorders and leaky gut syndrome. What I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to be on medication that I had to take daily, for the rest of my life – so I watched YouTube videos about alternative and complementary treatments.
     
    I asked myself what I would do if in three months, I was diagnosed with lupus. I decided I would completely overhaul my diet to better support my immune system; I would employ more mindfulness techniques, more regularly and frequently; I would search and experiment until I found an exercise regimen that would accommodate my pain and lack of energy without derailing me; I would reduce my stress by taking breaks, and by taking a long, mindful walk around our beautiful university campus during every workday; and I would negotiate with other administrators to balance the workload. I thought I would get everything figured out and planned in advance, so that if I got the diagnosis I could “hit the ground” (forget about the running!) with my new diet, work, and lifestyle changes. Then I thought – what is the point of waiting until I get a diagnosis? Why shouldn’t I start implementing these changes now? So I did.
     
    I was not diagnosed with lupus, but the diet, work, and behavioral changes I made brought my life back to me. It wasn’t the same as my old life pre-pain and pre-exhaustion, but it quickly became my “new normal”. I have continued living in this way to this day, and have no intention of reverting. That would mean returning to a diminished existence, and I sure don’t want to go back there again!
     
    When I look back to September 2012, I almost cannot believe the transformation. It has been quite a process, but the 3.5 years would have passed whether I had made these efforts or not. Yes, I still have some pain, but ever since the sixth day on my elimination diet it is no longer the 24/7, all-over kind. After extinguishing that constant all-over pain, I was able to begin the slow process of identifying each muscle and joint that had its own issues and receive physical therapy and alternative pain management techniques to eliminate or manage them. Using mind-body and subtle energy modalities I have experienced healing, and received illuminating insights into my life’s issues and my life’s purpose. I have also learned or developed coping skills for both physical and emotional pain. Important relationships in my life have been strengthened and deepened as I have progressed in my own personal development.
     
    In September, 2012 I didn’t know how long I would be able to continue tolerating the quality of life I had. It was difficult to see the point of pushing myself to get through every day. My life since then hasn’t been a cakewalk – along the way there have been some very large hills, and some really deep valleys. This is life, after all. But looking back now I can attest that today I have greater wellness, resilience, self-knowledge, peace of mind, and the feeling of freedom that comes from living my life authentically. It has definitely been worth all of the work.
     
    #eliminationdiet #mindfulness #subtleenergy #stressbreak #balancedworkload #whatalongstrangetripitsbeen
     


    Gail Moser

    Hello Everyone,
     
    The final week of the Body Listening Project is all about how this can be a springboard for personal growth. We will explore various components:
     

    • Monday: Perspective – Can you see your growth when you look back over your journey?
    • Tuesday: Re-framing – Are you seeing your body’s experiences in another light?
    • Wednesday: Resilience – Are you recovering and thriving after physical, mental, emotional, and/or social disruption?
    • Thursday: Transformation – Have you experienced physical and/or emotional change through flashes of intuition, insight, or vision?
    • Friday: Acceptance – What does acceptance mean to you, and how has it affected your health and life?
    • Saturday: Gratitude – How has being thankful improved your sense of well-being?

     
    If listening to your body has fueled your quest for personal growth, or if your self-development efforts have had an impact on your ability to listen to your body, come and join in the discussion this week. We are looking forward to sharing this part of our body listening journey!
     


    Gail Moser
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    In reply to: Managing Expectations

    I think it’s been a chicken and egg kind of situation for me too, AppleStrudel! I really credit the attitude shift for feeding my emotional AND physical resilience. Instead of feeling empowered with control over my situation, I realized that I need to accept that I’m not in total control, but I can choose how I react to my situation.
    #choosepositivity #attitudeiseverything #resilience


    Rachel Carriere
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    In reply to: Emotional resilience

    I have found that emotional resilience has shown up in my life in all three of these ways, waxing and waning, which makes me think of emotional resilience as very similar to phases that we pass through.  It has been a positive motivator–“the bounce back”, but in times of extreme duress it has also functioned as conduit of self-compassion with me nurturing myself through it with kindness and love to get through that.  I am certain that without that, I may have not made it.


    QnVz
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    In reply to: Emotional resilience

    “Adjust to misfortune or change” implies an event or occurrence. What challenges me is the constant pile-up of new conditions and discomforts which never go away, at best I can medicate to diminish them. For me emotional resilience relies on my ability to, once, again choose not to listen to those voices. My participation so far with The Body Listening Project seems to be about ignoring the cacophony… be it choosing a chorus of smaller voices to ignore, or sometimes ignoring the screams (which always exacts a toll). Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of being in tune with one’s self and pursuing a harmony of mind and body. All of us endeavor to ignore  insidious advertising, dismissing bad traffic while driving, etc. This seems to be Body Listening thus far for me. I haven’t seen the Inside Out movie which depicts internal emotions as the reside and interact in the body. But I feel like I have a similar internal situation, I’m the manager of all these competing voices and have to coddle them, suppress them, have a talk with them when they get cantankerous, give them attitude adjustments and rewards. I never wanted to be a manager, no wonder they are burned out all the time!


    Zepplin
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    In reply to: Emotional resilience

    Years ago I came across Dr. Kristen Neff via the documentary Horse Boy. Her work centers on the Buddhist concept of self-compassion, which she suggests is more beneficial than self-esteem in cultivating resilience. Her findings started in her doctoral work (I think) among young girls pushed into arranged marriages and learning how they reconciled themselves to their fates.

    From her website (http://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/), what self-compassion is:

    Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?

    #selfcompassion #resilientlymyself


    Samantha Kaplan
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    According to Merriam­-Webster, emotional resilience is an “ability to recover from or adjust

    easily to misfortune or change.” Other terms ascribed to resilience are buoyancy and elasticity.

    Some have linked positivity to resiliency (Kalisch, et al., 2015), yet others have found resilience is

    tied more to flexibility than positivity (Koole, Schwager & Rothermund, 2015). Which do you

    think has a greater effect on resilience, flexibility, positivity or something else? Do you use tools

    to enhance your emotional resilience (e.g. meditation, mantras, yoga)?   #emotionalresilience


    marygrace
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    This week we’ll be exploring the relationship between our bodies and our moods,

    starting with emotions and emotional resilience, how we use physical manifestations to

    understand moods, and the effects of laughter, music, and dance on mood.

     

    Emotions constantly give signals to our bodies, in fact, they cause physiological changes

    which underpin our feelings. For example, cardiovascular arousal can increase or intensify fear

    and anxiety (Garfinkel & Critchley, 2016). Are there tools you use to help with control of your

    emotions, (i.e. meditation, physical activity, a cup of tea, pet therapy)? Do these tools then have

    an effect on your mood? #toolsformood


    marygrace
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