Guest Blog Post: “Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t” by Caz


My inner cynic can loom monstrous enough to be laughable. When it skulks, it can be harder to address. Caz, who lives in England, understands that emotions are part of being human. Without being syrupy, without promoting denial, she offers practical help. Her Invisibly Me site deals with living with invisible chronic pain, including living with an ileostomy (not to be confused with a colostomy). Here’s a sample of her best advice…

Graphic: Focus On What You Can Do. Not What You Can't.

Photo of blogger Caz of InvisiblyMe.com
Caz made her first website when she was 13!

I wrote this with chronic illness in mind, but it also applies to other spheres of life, from living arrangements to your financial situation. 

Focussing on what you can’t do. It can become a vicious cycle, leaving us exhausted and disheartened before we even begin. It can happen for various reasons. Looking at how things used to be in the past, such as before chronic illness took hold. It may be from social pressures concerning what we ‘should’ be doing at this point in our lives. It may be from comparing your life to how you thought it would look, or comparing your situation to that of your peers.

For whatever reason, it’s good to work on acknowledging and accepting the situation and what you can’t necessarily change right now. Then, redefine what’s important to you, not what you feel you ‘should’ value or want. Write your own rules. Find new paths to explore and get creative to find ways to get there. Maybe you can’t do certain things, but there will always be options and alternatives. There are always small changes you can make and actions to take to improve your situation or live your best life. You may just have to look a little harder to find them.

It’s also about readjusting expectations and making them more realistic and manageable. Take note of the things you can be grateful for that often get lost in the midst of pain and illness, or stress and worry. It’s about looking at the things you’re good at and the positives you can eek out of your situation and experiences. You’ve become stronger and more resilient. Perhaps you’ve met new people in person or online, such as through blogging or support groups. Maybe you’re more compassionate, empathic, have found a new skill or have become more appreciative of the small joys in life.

When we focus on the negatives, the limitations or the things we can’t change, we give up our power. By honing in on those things you can’t do or have, or the ways in which you feel constrained, it limits your perspective and experiences even more so.

By focusing on the can’t-dos, you’re reducing yourself & your life. You are more than just the things you can’t do. 

Empower yourself by looking at what you can do, no matter how small. Look at the things you can change, the tasks you can accomplish, the things you can choose to do. 

Instead of ‘I can’t do…’, change it to ‘but I can do…’.

You’re doing the best you can, with the cards you’ve been dealt and the situation you find yourself in. A little jiggle of perspective can make a big difference. Don’t close yourself off from possibilities. Instead, think outside the box and take back some control over your life. You may just find that you’re capable of more than you imagined.

– Caz

Visit Caz at her blog and her facebook page and her Instagram.

Blogger Caz of InvisiblyMe.comInvisiblyMe.com logo graphic

How do you deal with invisible pain?…

 

Part 3: What Has Your Pet Taught You? by da-AL


Newborn Black Labrador Dog
Image courtesy of nixxphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Life with dogs…

The twin puppies we adopted ate and ate and ate. And pooed and pooed and pooed. Six months later, they’d grown to 50 and 50 pounds!

Plus, I’d learned nothing about training them.

One day…

As usual, for 10 deafening minutes, they barked at the mailman across the street. Later that day, they destroyed yet another throw rug.

“Bad dogs,” I snapped.

They were too busy chewing to hear me.

“Bad, bad, bad dogs!” I hollered, my voice shrill, my throat raw.

They sat. Four watery eyes gazed up at me.

Then…

Fear made them urinate on the carpet.

My thoughts reeled back. That was me! When I was only four years old!

Back then, I tried ever so hard to be good, yet I didn’t always succeed. My father would yell at me.

One time, he sounded as angry as I had when I’d hollered at my dogs. Same as with my two puppies, the big person’s anger blotted out my ability to think and hear. All I was able to do was to feel — that my father was furious at me — and that I was terrified.

All I knew was that he seemed angry enough to kill me. Out of terror, just like the dogs had, urine streamed down my legs.

Looking into my dogs’ upturned faces…

I saw how they trembled. The little dogs blinked their moist eyes hard.

Puppy Dog Eyes
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tears…

Sobbing, I sank to my knees and hugged them. It had taken six long months for me to learn that, all along, they had been trying their best to please me. Despite my ineptitude as a trainer, they had refused to give up on me. They had given me the benefit of the doubt that like them, I was trying my best.

They never gave up hope on me…

They knew I would learn to love them. Through the example of my pets, I’ve learned that the more I gaze upon everyone in my life with the benefit of a doubt, the happier we all are. We’re all doing our best, even when we could do better.

Do dogs forgive?

Here’s part 1 of this and here’s part 2.

Do you have an interesting animal experience?…

Guest Blog Post: Don’t by Born in Providence


When nowhere seems safe, blogger Born in Providence invites us to find shelter on her Island of Sanctuary…

Born in Providence

Don’t show them your drawing

They’ll find the mistakes, compare it to what’s already on the fridge or that Picasso we saw on the field trip last year. Third grade is no excuse; third degree.

Don’t ask them how you look

They’ll find the bump in your pony, the hole in your sock which is already inside your shoe, which are too tight and have a scuff. They’ll see that too. You look tired. Did you even brush your teeth?

Don’t tell them you’re hungry or full

They’ll decide you’re too big, small, selfish, greedy, a bottomless pit, picky. Comparing your plate to everyone with more or less deserving than you, making it impossible to taste or swallow past the lump in your throat.

Don’t offer your opinion even when they ask

They’ll decide their ideas, experiences, thoughts and preferences are superior while simultaneously highlighting why everything that comes out…

View original post 343 more words

3. Ever been told…? by da-AL


Flamenco woman with text over that reads: Ever been told that 'all Middle Eastern women are sexy,' that they have 'hypnotic eyes,' & that 'you know what goes on under those burqas'?

Ever been told that ‘all Middle Eastern women are sexy,’ that they have ‘hypnotic eyes,’ and that ‘you know what goes on under those burqas’ as if they’re an exotic species?

Guest Blog Post: “Empathy – with Mindfulness: Part 1,” in Pete J. Probe’s exact words


Cats as mindfulness and thereby empathy teachers? Yes! says fellow blogger Pete J. Probe…

4alle/4all

What is empathy

Empathy has something to do with feelings. It is the ability to understand or recreate what others just think or feel. Simply put: feel yourself in something, experience something, feel yourself sco. into another person. For example, traditionally at funerals, it is common for the mourners to express our sympathy.

Short excursion into neurobiology

-Feelings and emotions

We all have experienced a lot of feelings in our lives, and this perception is already in the prenatal stage. We have forgotten our emotional world for the most part, but it is still present in a memory that remains closed to our conscious experience. And when we make a decision – of whatever kind – our ‘ stored ´ emotions ‘ play the decisive role´, without realizing that. They are almost part of a second of our thinking upstream, without being consciously perceived. This means that all our decision-making…

View original post 1,353 more words

Guest Blog Post: “You Are Amazing,” in the exact words of Roy Lennic


Thanks for the fab pic, Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

Fellow blogger Roy Lennic describes himself: “I’m just a guy of substance who is limited to a certain place, such that my thoughts are the only thing to express… I write whatever comes to mind, but most importantly what can inspire and help people have good reasoning and make good choices in their lives.”

Roy’s favorite post…

Beautiful Creature

Beauty is not only in the bedazzlement. It’s not only in the flashy colors, and the glowing smile on your face. Beauty is much more than that. It’s not the flourishing glitter that people cant stop to admire or the wonderful natural appearance that strikes people’s eyes.

Beauty is in how you endure having all that on you despite all the flaws.  Beauty is how you fight to keep the fire blazing in you – to be always hot and spicy. Beauty is in the strength that you use to transform yourself with style. Beauty is the natural capability of your wits to become sassy and mesmerize the world with your glow.

Beauty is not just how the sunrise reflects in your eyes. It’s not just how the world seems to rhyme on your face. It’s not only how unique you are with your attributes, but how you out stand the normality and become amazingly special.

Beauty is in the scars that prove how you have had a conclusive victory in overcoming a bout of monstrous life’s adventure. Its how you walk through a tornado without losing a smile on your face. Beauty is how you exult even when times seem heartbreaking.

Beauty is how you thrive magnificently to impose a glow, bright enough and absolutely indispensable.

Beauty is not just how exclusively beautiful you are, but how people feel and look beautiful too when they are with you.

You are beautiful.

Bah! Humbug! is Perfectly Fine by da-AL


burnt gingermen cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s quite alright to say, “No!” to a holiday. It’s ok to write off an entire season. Sometimes holidays are worthy of looking forward to. Sometimes they’re not.

tray of burnt cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s perfectly fine to ignore the myriad external messages elbowing each other to influence us. People, companies, cultures, they all would love for us to spend, do, and feel exactly as they think we should.

Never mind them. Really. Sometimes some holidays (and/or seasons) are best ignored.

tray of burnt cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Do whatever works for you. Mark time, survive, thrive. Before you know it, it’ll be holiday-free January.

Photo courtesy Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

Whatever any one of us does, we’re never alone. We’re all unique yet all human. Be good to each other. Take good care of yourself!

Photo courtesy Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

What do you do when you want to ignore a holiday?

Let’s All Drop Labels by da-AL


Video Still from Drop Labels dot org websiteFirst impressions. It’s hard to restrain myself from making snap judgments about people when I first meet them.

Worse is when I settle for my shallow analysis and end up labeling folks.

We’re all complex, all of us alike yet different from each other, so I doubt anyone appreciates my boxing them into a label. Moreover, embracing knee-jerk categorizing limits me from enjoying all the marvelous aspects of the people I meet as well as learning the really good stuff from them.

Alas, training myself to stop being an automaton seems impossible.

Not so! There’s hope, thanks to this consciousness-raising site founded by a wise new friend. Drop Labels features videos of people discussing how being labeled has hurt them. The site goes above and beyond threadbare definitions of types of labels. For instance, this man has found that he hates being labeled as ‘the man with cancer’ …

Do you label? Have you been labeled?

Guest Blog Post: “Molly the unofficial Therapy dog,” in Darren Sleep’s exact words


Don’t care for dogs? Scared of them? No matter. Give one enough time and they’ll will make you fall in love with them. If you take a look first here, and secondly here, and then lastly here, you’ll understand how I’m my own best example of this!

Darren Sleep of Northern England, who’s blog I recommend everyone visit, tells how Molly dog converted him…

Molly the spaniel
Could you resist Molly?

I was truly honoured to be asked to write this, my first guest post!

I would like to introduce you to Molly, also known as ‘Mollymop’, ‘Fuzzbutt’, or several other less repeatable names depending on her current level of mischievousness. Molly is our little buddy.

Molly sprawled on floor.
Mollymop or Fuzzbutt?

A confession: Molly is not our dog. She belongs to our friends Abi & Tom who run the flower nursery where my wife Susan works. Molly has the run of the site all day and is utterly devoted to Susan, at least partly because Susan often has a pocketful of doggy treats.

Molly loves tummy rubs.
Molly loves tummy rubs.

Molly is a Liver and White English Springer Spaniel, bred from working stock (very different from show stock Springers which almost look like a different breed). She is quite elderly now, at 11, and spends a lot of time snoozing. When awake her age does not seem to slow her down!

Molly dog with a toy
Still playful at 11.

My own relationship with dogs has been a complicated one. Like Susan, we had a black Labrador as a family dog when I was a teenager. I did not really trust dogs then, even our Labrador was a bit grumpy (rare for the breed). I also did a newspaper delivery round and worked as a postman/mailman for a time – these also taught me to be wary of dogs. We have never had our own dog in 30+ years together because of career and other commitments.

Molly among plants
Admiring nature.

Then in 2011 Susan started working for Abi & Tom and regaled me with tales of how lovely they (and their dog, Molly ) were. So she took me to visit one weekend and I met Molly. I was smitten by this friendly, curious but slightly feral and very mischievous looking beastie. When out of sight her favourite hobbies are raiding rubbish bins and eating and/or rolling in carrion, so she is frequently a bit ‘fragrant’ but we love her anyway.

Molly sleeping
Demonstrating how to relax.

My own fondness for dogs has grown a lot since meeting Molly – I frequently go and make a fuss of friendly looking dogs that I see. For several years Molly was joined by a beautiful Golden Retriever pup, Ella, but Ella had to be rehomed with Abi’s sister in late 2016, leaving Molly alone again. Susan and I both adored Ella too!

Earlier this summer (2017), my struggle with depression came to a crisis point and I had a meltdown at work one morning. I was a shaking, weeping mess and went straight to my doctor. When Susan picked me up from the doctor my only request was that we go and visit Molly as I knew some dog therapy was the only way I was going to calm down that day. I spent the afternoon at the nursery with Molly and knew that even if I never have a dog of my own, I was now a devoted fan of dogs.

Molly in bed
Now Molly has beds at two homes!

A few weeks later, when I was back on an even keel, a family emergency meant that Abi & Tom had to go away and were faced with the possibility of putting Molly in boarding kennels alone for the first time in years, and they knew she hated being in kennels. It was a no-brainer for us and we offered to have her for a few days. We loved having her and have since had Molly for two more weekends, with another planned this month. She now settles instantly and is completely at home.

We have attached a bolt to the food cupboard and bought a set of bowls, a leash and a dog bed to keep at our house. Basically all the paraphernalia except the actual dog!

I fully acknowledge my place in the pecking order is several rungs below my wife in Molly’s eyes. She really is devoted to Susan but that is OK. I obviously kind of like Susan myself – so fully understand. But it doesn’t matter. When Molly sees me she gives me the kind of enthusiastic greeting I have never experienced from a human being and makes me feel that there is a corner of my world where everything is OK.

Visit Darren at his wonderful blog!

Has a dog helped you?

Guest Blog Post: “Nature Cure by Richard Mabey: Overcoming depression through a love of nature,” a book review in Denzil Walton’s exact words


"Nature Cure," by Richard MabeyThe healing properties and potential of nature have always been known, but are finding a “comeback” these days, with hip terms like forest bathing now being recommended from psychiatrists’ couches. The book “Nature Cure” presents a personal re-discovery of the benefits of nature.

Richard Mabey is one of the UK’s finest nature writers. The first of his 32 books was Food for Free (1972), and his latest is The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination (2016).

Unfortunately, between 2000 and 2002, Mabey suffered a severe depression. We find him at the start of the book in bed, blankly gazing at the wall. But encouraged by friends and realizing the need for a change of air, he uproots himself from the family house in the Chilterns where he and his sister have lived for 110 years between them, and heads off to East Anglia to live in a room in a farmhouse. His room is “like a small forest” with “more oak inside it than out.” And here he strings up a series of low-energy lamps and makes his nest, amazingly not with a computer but two manual typewriters.

Throughout, Mabey describes his breakdown and steady recovery with his characteristic laid-back style, like your favourite uncle relating exploits from a distant past. We get a glimpse of what may have caused his freefall into depression when he describes what it takes to be a full-time writer: “doggedness to be alone in a room for a very long time.”

His honesty is admirable. Owning up to depression is never easy, even these days, perhaps especially for a successful writer at the pinnacle of his career (he had just completed the epic and lauded Flora Britannica). Even more difficult was when depression robbed him of his desire to write: “it made me lose that reflex, it was like losing the instinct to put one foot in front of the other.” But obviously Mabey regained that reflex, and how he did is very touching – and through writing he began to unlock “pieces of me that had been dormant for years.”

His style is warmly conversational, making the book easy and pleasurable to read, despite the subject matter. He gently leads you from subject to subject, so that you forget where the conversation started. One moment he is describing wild horses on Redgrove Fen, and his musings about their origins leads to cave paintings in France and then to local Stone Age flint mines in Norfolk, and somehow to Virginia Woolf and moats. Is this what he refers to later as “free-range reading?”

Nature Cure is definitely a recommended read, for anyone interested in good writing about nature, and the cure he describes might well be of benefit to others suffering from depression too.

Denzil Walton writes two blogs: Discovering Belgium and Life Sentences.