Dealing With Buzz Words of The Time…

The word Empath pops up regularly and it is often associated with the highly sensitive person, another buzz word of the late 1990s.

Empath in and of itself never seemed to have a negative connotation for me. After all, we are encouraged early in our lives to be empathetic. Someone who lacks empathy is often considered cold, non-caring, sometimes even labelled as a sociopath.

Reading about and analyzing my behaviour traits over the years has been an on again, off again personal research topic and interest. These days, the highly sensitive person has morphed into the Empath. There are hundreds of personality tests on FaceBook, when using Google and in mindfulness magazines.

And as with everything, there are pros and cons to be considered. Alright, I admit it, according to the “expert” literature, I am an empath. I score high in all areas which of course switches on warning lights pointing toward the importance to balance one’s skills and insights as an Empath.

In her highly informative article from June 15th, 2015 Alex Myles writes “…It is vital that to thrive, the empath personality type needs to work towards learning to trust their own judgment and intuition so that they can be at one with the inherent superpowers they have been born with.

If an Empath does not have a good understanding of themselves and how to work with energy rather than pushing against it or absorbing it all, not only can this be emotionally debilitating, it can also result in physical illness with depression, stress and anxiety taking a toll on the body and a very high chance of suffering from the effects of burnout…”

Thank you, Alex, for this insightful article. While it was easy for me to identify with the traits of the Empath I must also admit that, as the years advance, I find myself more and more often in situations where I go to great lengths to avoid larger groups, speakers who loudly project their voices and work that involves groups. I used to be a teacher…

After years of observing and internalizing the energy of people around me, anticipating a specific group outcome or the way someone receives ideas and acts of them have taken their toll. Years ago I owned a shop where creative individuals congregated and after ten years of managing the establishment, I had nothing left to give. I was able to quickly assess the mood of a person passing through the door, was able to anticipate a disgruntled customer and how they could potentially affect the environment of the retail establishment and I was running out of enthusiasm and patience as a result. I burned out!

It affected me so strongly that I withdrew completely. I closed the store and cocooned myself in my home studio, often trying to avoid all outside contact. I would not answer the telephone or front door, I didn’t even go shopping for groceries. (My husband enabled me in many ways, took care of the shopping and supported my withdrawal from social activity, a self-declared introvert nothing seemed out of the ordinary to him.)

After nine full months of rarely venturing outside I made small steps toward re-integration into a select few social groups, however, my Empath traits by that time were fully exposed. I began to develop coping strategies by mostly pushing the hypersensitive recognition skills aside, trying my utmost to ignore them altogether,  and I was swept up by personal success through exhibiting several bodies of artistic work followed by invitations to share techniques and knowledge. Travel and teaching soon claimed long stretches of being away from home, the studio, my safe place.

And then it hit again, the Empath traits pushed their way to the surface and no matter how much I used the mantra to stay in the moment, to breathe and let go. Tired of this recurring cycle it was time to seek, identify and implement lasting measures on how to push through my antisocial behaviour to protect myself.

I still seek out encounters with nature on a daily basis for the healing and strengthening effects it has on me. It greatly helped during the winter blahs last year. Mind over matter seemed to be my most successful mantra there, even a – 40 C day would not keep me indoors.

The most difficult situations for me continue to be those where I am interacting with a group as one of the crowd. Some may call my reaction narcissistic and here is why: I am ok when I am invited to speak, or when I am facilitating a workshop organized by me. The difficulties arise when I attend a regular meeting of a group. As long as I know what I can expect my emotions are in check and I can integrate seamlessly. My goal is not to “stick out from the group.” I observe people’s reaction toward speakers, friends, my social group, myself and I find it difficult not to internalize facial expressions, the rolling of the eyes, the physical turning away when someone approaches a small conversation group. I am still hyper-empathetic toward everyone around me.

What are the solutions to overcome this? I have observed that I am better able to participate in a group when I have followed a meditation routine. Two 15 minute sessions, morning and night, bring great relief and stamina for venturing outside of my studio. Contemplative writing has aided me in identifying issues I would never have put into words even a year ago. Mindfulness practice once again has helped in gaining insights into general Empath traits and this practice has revealed how I may balance them to avoid depression and physical illness.

I have not made contact with a therapist. The main reason is that we live in a remote area and connecting with the “right” person is difficult. A good friend I trust has taken on the role of the listener. She provides carefully formulated feedback and encouragement. Ultimately the onus is on me.

I have identified the traits and root causes for my cyclical withdrawal from society. I have adopted several healing measures and it is my hope that I will find balance with continued contemplative practices.

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Breathe and Let Be…

A friend confided in me yesterday that she wakes up each day feeling overwhelmed and with a strong sense of urgency. She is deeply affected by the feeling that she is running out of time, that she cannot accomplish what she set out to do and that she is unable to leave her mark.

I can relate to these feelings. Until a few years ago I often woke up in the middle of the night with an overwhelming feeling of dread. What happened since? And when did it subside, this feeling of being overwhelmed, without a clear map to navigate life and career?

In my life, a traumatic family event a little over five years ago provided me with a chance to step back, gain some perspective and the ability to observe as an outsider. It worked! I also found a way to cope on a daily basis. I decided to explore meditation. It sounds easier than it really was: At first, the only way I was able to stay in the moment was a guided meditation app. Soon my mind responded to the voice of the guide quickly which enabled me to step back and relax after only a few moments. I was able to sleep again!

Eventually I explored a variety of meditation practices and only recently came upon a sitting meditation practice that works for me. Today I am calm within taking three to four deep breaths, my mind opens to receive thoughts and let them go. I am able to breathe and let be. I also feel like I am becoming a whole person. So much of me was fragmented and incomplete on so many levels. Meditation has become my go-to healing practice.

I discovered this path to meditation through Nalanda Miksang, a form of contemplative photography pioneered by Shambhala practitioners. It started out with a one-week workshop. The practice itself felt right, there was no pressure, no critiques that would devastate one’s self-esteem, and no pressure to outwit other participants to secure a place in any particular hirarchy. It was so simple. The principles of Miksang photography made complete sense and my focus shifted to healing myself through contemplative practices. The daily Miksang practice helped me face the prairie winter last year, it guided me in exploring nature throughout the seasons and it lead to Miksang instructor training last spring. I have fully embraced the practice and through it have found balance and a way to embrace the moment at hand.

My focus slowly shifted from Miksang photography as my only way to contemplate and I began to read about meditation. I also downloaded several lectures and gained a better understanding of the benefits of meditation and what it is not. Meditation is not fighting or banishing the thoughts that arise whilst sitting quietly. It is however a way to be in the moment, to acknowledge individual thoughts and letting them pass through the mind, like clouds moving across the sky. Once I had grasped this concept sitting daily meditations became easier. I aim to sit twice a day. I embrace the calm and quiet surrounding the area where I have my cushion set up. Sometimes I ignite some incense, other times just drawing a steady hum from my Tibetan singing bowl is enough to get transported to my peaceful, reflective place.

Embracing meditation and a regular meditation practice did not happen over night. Many months went by wondering if it was actually having an impact. Slowly I noticed little changes, I was able to keep my conversations to the point. I was not using long filler words, I chose solitude over social events, I engaged in more contemplative practices and I became completely comfortable with my own company. I didn’t need music or a TV programme to play in the background. My mind became sharp and my problem solving skills improved.

On another front, I became less emotional. This year I have experienced many losses among family and friends. I am able to pause, reflect on the individual, their health situation and what it means for them to be released of the burden of illness. It’s never about me, it’s about what was best for the person who passed, whether they encountered a struggle or went to sleep peacefully.

There are so many benefits to a daily meditation practice that it is difficult to list them all. As in anything, benefits are individual and a meditation practicioner advances at different levels. My priority these days: I sit twice a day, I breathe and let be…

Anticipation…

Fall is here! And with it, as if on cue, the temperature has dropped. I can easily put on another sweater or jacket when I venture outside but right now it is becoming more difficult to function successfully in my writing studio. The space is separate from the house, boasts large windows and amazing views of the surrounding countryside, but when it comes to keeping heat out in the summer and cold during the cooler seasons it takes a while to acclimatize.

It’s not so bad today, the sun is shining and fluffy white clouds are drifting through the azure blue sky. And I plugged in and switched on the supplementary portable oil radiator. I have decided that it is mind over matter this afternoon. I will focus on the beautiful vistas for now in anticipation of my daily walk and exploration of the neighbourhood. I will change my regular walk path in exchange for exploring the hills behind our house. I have not been up there in nearly 10 months. I avoid the area in the spring to forgo ticks and their nasty bites. In the summer the hills are fully exposed to the relentless sun which makes exploring the area less enjoyable.

Today is the perfect day to commemorate the arrival of autumn. I will lace up my hiking boots and follow the path less travelled, up the hill, climbing steadily to be rewarded by a full 360 view of the prairies and the lake.

I used to carry my heavy, full frame camera but these days I am toting my smartphone instead. I get mostly great images, both close up and panoramas. It will do! I will be less weighed down, it will make the climb easier and I won’t worry about getting the camera wet or worse, banging up the lenses.

Just typing the last paragraphs makes me perk up, my fingers are itching, my cold toes are slowly warming with increased blood flow from the external heat source as I am going through the process of visualizing my upcoming nature exploration. I can’t wait to pull up the zipper on my jacket and head outdoors.

Fall is here in all its glory, the colours are a little subdued this year due to the extended drought but it doesn’t matter. Great opportunities are ahead and present countless options for photography and writing. I anticipate cool breezes, great vistas and wild life crossing my path as I explore the hills where no car, truck or ATV interrupts my thoughts. The hills are calling: Welcome autumn!

Rainy Day

I cannot predict what will happen when I boot up the computer. Sometimes it is not so easy to find an engaging topic to write about. That’s when I sit in front of the blank screen for at least thirty minutes before the words begin to slowly form and eventually spill out onto the new post window.

Today is such a day… And my mind begins to wander…

Yesterday I woke up to pouring rain. We spent the night at friends in the city and when I looked outside I could hardly believe my eyes! I had not seen so much rain in months. I marvelled at the raindrops forming rivulets on the window panes and the water running in the gutters. Like small rivers, dotted with patches of foam interspersed with yellow leaves, the rain accumulated fast and made the roads reflect and shine. The air felt clean and moist, it was easy to breathe – no trace of dust anywhere! The leaves and blades of grass were sparkling, washed clean and made to look like a new coat of varnish had been applied. Emerald green, ruby red, golden amber – the world glistened with jewel-like colours.

The magic continued: It was a day filled with serendipitous moments! Before I left my friend’s place another friend dropped off a book for me by one of my favourite authors. Later I walked through the relentless rain to meet a friend for lunch when I bumped into another friend on a busy sidewalk, a complete coincidence. After quick wet hugs under her umbrella and a chat with raindrops dripping on my cheeks and nose, plans were made for another day in the near future to connect over coffee.

Who knew that a grey, rainy for some turned out to become a day filled with colour and sunny moments for me?

 

 

 

Creating Peace of Mind

These days we read about it in magazines, listen to interviews on how to be successful at it on the radio, find out more than we ever wanted to about it on social media and are told that bestsellers have been written about the topic: Decluttering is THE buzz word of the decade.

I have fallen victim to the declutter trend myself. The difference is, that I did not read about it, was told about it or decided to go with the trend of the times. My declutter bug emerged when we decided to list our house after ten years of making it our home.

Regular updates and minor renovations throughout our ownership ensure the wall colours are on trend and evoke a sense of peace while presenting an air of neutrality for potential buyers. But, after living in a space for several years it was time to view the house with new eyes.

I started with clearing counters and other horizontal spaces of personal mementoes. I soon moved on to packing boxes for Good Will with kitchen items and dishes I had not used for years but were still serviceable. Several large boxes were filled with clothing items that were gently used or brand new and never worn (…we all have these clothes that were a great bargain and colour at that moment, but when we got home we ask ourselves What was I thinking?). Moving on to seasonal decorations we had not used in a while I decided to also include small appliances, and before I had too much time to contemplate my selections the boxes were delivered to Good Will where, after three visits, we were greeted with big smiles and near applause. Comments like You have such great stuff! made me realize two things: I had been an active consumer and I had spent way too much money on “stuff”.

Six months have passed and due to a slow housing market in our area a strong offer on our house expired, but my resolve is stronger than ever. The house has maintained its clean lines and decluttered spaces. I have completed the declutter and reduction process in each room and estimate that we can vacate this house in two weeks should the need arise for a quick possession by a potential buyer.

On the upside: Personal purchases have nearly stopped and it feels great. I am less fragmented, better able to let go of things and unexpected situations that arise.

Decluttering has done that for me. It is more than a buzz word – it has become a way of life. Every time I pick up something, weigh the pros and cons and whether I need this item I make a conscious decision. If a purchase is made I remove something from the house to avoid the unnecessary accumulation that might ultimately weigh me down.

This attitude has spilt over into my artist practice. An artist is a natural collector. Found objects, another technique or design book, speciality paints, a new sketchbook are easily justified and accumulate without much thought. I had the realization of my life when I began to purge my supply storage area. I was able to sell some art supplies, but mostly I gave them away to fellow artists as gifts and I even gifted boxes of items I had in duplicate and triplicate to a local art centre. I did a rough calculation in my head and realized how much money was tied up in the stuff I gave away.

I still have too much! Today I stay far away from art supply sellers, fabric stores and other temptations. It’s easy, all I have to remember is my recent studio sale and how poorly it was received and supported… and how much is left, packed in boxes for the time we finally sell our property and move. My studio these days is comprised of a couple of tables, my laptop, a few books, a paper journal and fountain pen. Minimalism in the studio is a great way to spark creativity all over again. Best of all: I enjoy and continue to embrace true peace of mind.

Walking the Path…

I am not sure how long ago it was when I realized that finding and walking the path of purpose is a lifelong undertaking. And when that day arrived I found it wasn’t the day I reached the finish line.

It was the day I began to embark on the race in earnest, and I wondered about how I got to this virtual starting line. Finding my purpose sometimes feels like I am trying to solve a physics problem with half the numbers and values not provided. It is often difficult to know what I am looking for.

And then I recall what I learned years ago: Not two people will ever walk exactly the same path. At the same time, finding those answers are on me and only on me. I also know that “the path” is not always straight, or without obstacles like rocks or uneven ground. My favourite artist Friedensreich Hunderwasser was a master of metaphor. As a colourist his canvases and prints were often misunderstood and viewed as simplistic, almost child-like. However, he forged ahead with vision and commitment to become an internationally recognized artist. Late in life he successfully realized his dreams and collaborated with architects to erect buildings based on his designs and objectives.

I have visited the Hunderwasser Haus in Vienna twice and each time I return I discover new hidden messages. One profound discovery took place while walking through the permanent exhibition space, the floor is comprised of dark wooden planks with elevated areas to form small hills and obstacles to watch for while viewing the art on the walls. The reason for such uneven ground? Hundertwasser wanted to convey that life’s path is never even or without little trip hazards like rocks and knolls.

This floor design was aimed at all of us hurrying through life. It was a reminder to step slower, look around, stop, smell the roses along the way and enjoy the vistas! This engineered path on the second floor of the Hundertwasser House is walked by thousands of individulas and not all of us encounter the same obstacles. Each path is unique and provides us with multiple ways to navigate the curves, small obstacles and long stretches of stright road to realize our dreams, reach our goals.

To embark on the path with purpose it is important to identify my goals, my dreams, my ultimate finish line. I have known for a long time that ambling along from resting spot to resting spot, water fountain to snack bar without a clear understanding what I am moving toward is unsatisfactory. There needs to be a reason for my moving forward, and unless I know that reason all efforts are wasted.

My purpose these days has shifted toward a life of contentment. Contentment for me does not come with a pile of money (although it is comforting to know that one has a financial cushion for times in need), contentment is more than that. Some might say, she is looking for happiness. I disagree, without contentment nothing else is satisfactory. Contentment means that my bais needs are met, a roof overhead that does not leak and food on the table so that I don’t go hungry. I also like to express myself creatively, these days I resort to words to meet that goal. Most of all I need a space where I can sit and just be, call it a meditation cushion, a corner on the couch where I can pause and calm my mind. It is simple, really, I am most content when I follow my own path and make contemplation a vital component of my daily routine.

I believe I have identified the missing figures from the physics problem I eluded to earlier… I need to keep it simple, I need to slow down and navigate my path with mindfulness.

Requesting Your Presence…

“We find it easy to bear witness to happy events such as weddings and births. But we also must find it within us to bear witness to the pain and sadness of others. Many fear they don’t know what to say or are afraid they will say something insensitive or inappropriate. But you don’t have to say anything at all. Your presence can speak volumes. It may feel uncomfortable or awkward, but that is OK.”                        – Ilene Ruhoy, M. D., PhD.

I found this paragraph recently in one of the articles on a newsfeed I subscribe to. It truly resonated with me and had me relive the last two years, confirming everything I believe in. True friends are those that stand by you in joyful and difficult times. What kind of friendship is the one where we only get together, eat, drink, dance and exclaim happiness.

I have always thought of myself as someone who stands by no matter what situation presents itself. Imagine how surprised I was when my husband was suddenly hospitalized, needed help with rides to and from a couple of doctor appointments (we live in a rural area without taxi service) while I was away on contract work. I noticed suddenly that people turned away, made up excuses

I noticed, over a matter of three weeks, that people turned away, made up excuses, or plain did not follow through on their promises. There were no phone calls, no emails, no text messages. I was puzzled, then I entered the clinical cycle of grieving with full blown anger and resentment toward my so-called friends, myself for not breaking the contract for the work I was hired to do, my husband for neglecting the early warning signs. It was a vicious cycle!

Acceptance was a long way off as I found it difficult to grasp the lack of caring from neighbours and a group of people I had considered close friends. Family was not much different, but family is spread across the country with nobody closer than a nine-hour drive.

An acquaintance, a woman I had known for years but never really considered a close friend helped me in ways I could not describe until I read Dr Ruhoy’s article.  My friend just sat with me, listened to what I had to say, or sat with me in silence while I waited for test results and reports from specialists. She reminded me to eat, to get outside and walk to reduce my stress level. Sitting and being there in silence is all it takes to make the other person feel supported.

“Hon, I know nothin’ about your husband’s condition. Sorry to say, you are on your own!” was the hardest comment to take when this so-called friend had assured me days earlier to call anytime if I needed to talk. She was busy preparing supper for her retired husband and wanted to catch a programme on TV. Yes, I was angry and I subsequently withdrew from that friend and neighbour. The relationship has not healed but I am not disappointed.

In times of hardship, one does recognize their true friends and those who care. Six months ago I was able to reciprocate. My friend who sat and listened cared enough to stay in touch by phone and text message went through a similar trauma with her partner. He was on life support far from home during a business trip. My friend had to drop everything and hurry to his bedside. He pulled through and she was remarkable! She is one of the strongest people I know.

Across the miles, I was in touch with her several times a day. If she needed to talk, or just release frustration in the form of a verbal rant, I listened. I had been there not too long ago. In times of trauma, we need support! The best support a friend, a doctor, an acquaintance and family member can provide is to listen, to lend a shoulder to lean on, cry on and sometimes even a comforting hug.

Be there, be in the moment, don’t speak, sit next to your friends or honour them across the miles during a quiet moment, just let your presence do the communication and emotional healing!

 

 

Changing Seasons

It was raining today – not much, just enough for the raindrops to join together on the wood decking making the surface slick to walk on. How long has it been since we have had a cool day with rain?  I can’t count the days, it has been too long. There has been no moisture for nearly four months and I was beginning to wonder when autumn would finally arrive.

Usually, by Sept. 15th, we have to flick the switch on the furnace but not this year. For weeks I have been observing seasonal changes on the environment. Trees and bushes are so dry this year that leaves started to turn brown and curl up by mid-July making for visually captivating close-up images with my camera.

The flip side of such a hot and dry summer is found closer to home: Living on a dirt road does not make life pleasant. Each time a car or truck passes it stirs up a large dust cloud that spreads out slowly and settles on our property, finding the slightest crack between windows and doors to form a sandy film on furniture and floors. I gave up dusting weeks ago.

The cooler weather is here to stay and for once I am not complaining. I am tempted to start dusting the house but there are more creative ways to celebrate the imminent arrival of fall. Charging the batteries for my camera, cleaning the sensor and lenses and taking it out to explore the landscape is much more appropriate and inspirational for me.

The next rain event will see me outside witnessing raindrops dripping from leaves, capturing wet surfaces and rain bouncing off the lake. And then there is the golden light that illuminates the hills across the lake. There is nothing like autumnal light during the Golden Hour and a grey-blue sky!

Can’t wait for the rain to continue to wash the world clean and bring out the bright colours of fall…

Overcoming resentment

As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you. – Elizabeth Gilbert

Resentment, it’s like cancer, an invisible force that eats its way into a person’s mind. It often appears overwhelmingly powerful and impossible to stop. Just when I think I am in balance an unexpected situation unleashes resentment.

Resentment is often rooted in childhood experiences, and identifying the root cause is vital. I have worked so had on overcoming my upbringing which led to a competitive nature. Some time ago I consciously turned to mindfulness practice and with that I experience periods of calm, peace of mind and a sense of equilibrium restored.

I treasure that calmness, the times when I feel that nothing can uproot my newfound sensibilities. The recognition that competitiveness brings stress and the strong urge to push forward to succeed and reach the proverbial finish line first, the strong sense of commitment to do my utmost best to support a common goal ultimately brings me mental and physical exhaustion. It feels as if a heavy, dark cloak drapes itself around my shoulders the more I insert myself in a competitive challenge. I recognize too late that I let myself get pulled in once more against my better judgement.

And that is when resentment surfaces. I resent not only the situation, the challenge itself or the people associated with the project, most of all I resent myself. I don’t like the way I react, how I engage and try to gain control over my emotions. I am the one to blame but I have a tendency to push the blame on others.

Sometimes it is good to put into words what I know deep down, This is what happened just now. I have never verbalized before how I react and how I select a scapegoat to deflect responsibility. I will allow myself the thought that there is a way to heal from being resentful!

I reflect on a realization: Wholeness means accepting myself, pain and resentment, all of it. If physical and emotional hurts and resentments are coming to the surface, I must look at that as a good sign and that I am ready to accept and heal. I have heard it countless times and deep down I know that there is no reason to feel guilty when these emotions arise. It is a good time, however, to use discernment so I don’t act in ways that are harmful to myself or someone else. Yes, lashing out and making someone a scapegoat can be harmful…

I still find it difficult to discern between projections and what needs to be rightly said. But I know that by acknowledging today, here, in the written word I am moving toward on my personal journey to learning to make the distinction through trial and error.

From past experiences, I know that, once I reach clarity, I usually look at how to gracefully exit the unhealthy situation without a complicated exchange. I am slowly learning to recognize when a person and their methods are not a good fit for me, but that doesn’t mean they’re not perfect for someone else. Even in my case, maybe they presented the ideal obstacle on my path to greater self-understanding. I realize now that I don’t need to convince, change, or fix the other person. I recognize that I am ready to move on. My goal is to stay calm, assess the situation and not begin to speak until I have control over my emotions.

When I pledge to be aware of my resentments and work with them in ways I know work for me, I feel light, happy, and free. I believe a time will come when I no longer get involved in unhealthy interactions. I will see them moving toward me instead of becoming aware after the unhealthy situation is already upon me.

Just taking the time today to put into words what I could not verbalize yesterday is proof that I am on my way to healing resentment in me. Recognition, identification, acceptance and a resolve to become more aware and assess situations carefully as they arise will be my personal tools for gaining a better understanding of my emotions. I look forward to a future of calm and joyful thoughts…

Pain, again!

Just when I thought I was in a  great writing routine the obstacle arrived. For me, THE obstacle is a migraine. The first time I encountered a migraine I was twelve years old and at the time I didn’t realize that they accompany me for so many years. Predictions that migraines ease later in life never materialized and I have given up fighting their irregular “visits.”

Three months ago I experienced my first Cluster Migraine. I would not wish that pain on anyone, not even my worst enemy – not that I have many enemies. Since then I have lived with this monkey on my back, the anticipation that the Cluster Migraines might return at any time and in any situation. After three months I became a little relaxed, and BAM! it came back this week.

At first, I didn’t realize what it was. Migraines last for two to three days for me, I usually spend time in a dark room and eventually emerge feeling weak and in need of physical and mental stimulation. Cluster Migraines are different but I am beginning to figure out the pattern: I get a migraine which goes away mid-afternoon on the second day. Feeling stronger and ready to catch up with life the first Cluster pain occurs during the early evening, lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours and then eases for about three to four hours, only to return full force for three hours. This goes on indefinitely, or at least for a couple of days before I give in…

The only solution, a trip to the emergency room, shots for pain and inflammation, and the released without much advice other than “Come back if it continues.” Disheartening, that is the only word I can think of. I am not sure how long these episodes will last or how often they recur. I try not to whine in my writing practice but I am also committed to posting daily and to stay authentic.

I apologize for the whine! Tomorrow is another day – and hopefully one that is not governed by sharp pain in my right temple.