Help or Harm

These two words, opposites of sorts, may apply to many issues and situations in life. As a writer, there are times when I read and reread my words to be sure that they fall on the side of help and not harm. Of course, that is up for interpretation. What may feel helpful to me may come across as harmful to another. It’s a tricky dance. Personally, writing has always landed on the help side from the moment I sat in the woods with my back up against a huge fallen tree to sitting on my porch hiding from a storm writing these words. Writing helps me to revisit times and events as well as giving me a place for dark/scary thoughts and lovely/pleasant ideas. However, when I write to people or address certain situations I have to ask myself, which way will my words fall; help or harm? That was not always the case. In fact, it is a recent practice. I wrote to free myself, my spirit. I didn’t intentionally spew my words on the page with the thought of harm but that did happen. I forgot to ponder were my recipient was in their process or life to receive my words. 

Medically the words, “Do No Harm,” are prominent. Unfortunately, as we “practice” our work there are plenty of people who land at our feet in the harm pile. Continuing to check in with ourselves and to clearly come from our hearts reduces the casualties. Although we can all benefit from the practice of being present, being aware, being kind, being considerate, our actions don’t always come across that way.

I recently attended a class. There was a great deal of love in the room. Most participants had been in practice for several decades. But as we were learning, we were all newbies. Even the instructors were learning something “new” from our group. What I learned was I need to “ask.” To ask for what we need is difficult for all of us but it is helpful to everyone. The rewards are great. 

If you were to look at me, you would never know that paralysis lurked in my past. Although I am proud of that fact, it also causes harm at times. Being “unsure” of what I physically feel

has gotten me into trouble. When I check in with myself on a deeper level, I am very sure. In class, it became very apparent that what was happening, though beneficial, was harmful. It did change old, hard patterns in my body but it also hurt me. The experience flipped an internal switch. Suddenly I related to my paralyzed nineteen-year-old self. Someone was doing something to my body that was unpleasant and there was little I could do to STOP them. However, in class, that was far from the truth. All I had to do was ask and the situation would have changed. Instead, I laid there and wondered, “Is this ok?” There was too much stimulation for me to easily track and absorb. 

Thankfully, I asked questions and my partner asked me to share. It was then the raw feelings came and my story poured forth. 

I continue to learn about my body, mind, emotions, and soul. Of course, my past plays a part, in a way, so does thoughts of my future. But the truth of the matter is in the present moment. In that space and time I need to ask myself, does this help or harm? Then I shall make my move and be true to myself while considering others in my life. Be well… Nancy T

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The Fish Are Jumpin’

Fish are jumpin’ ~ salmon that is. This is a great example of POTENCY.* As the water rushes down river, the salmon fight their way UP current. The tactics that each fish uses vary. Some salmon head straight for the bubbling water. Their tails wag at a rapid pace as they propel their bodies into the air, landing in the water and fighting to get further up stream. A large red belly goes off to the far right. The current is forceful there but the salmon slides along the rock, inching its way through the pounding water. Little ones fly though the air, bodies curved like a U as they hit the water only to be thrown downstream again. Off to the far right, in the quiet water, a school of salmon float, seeming to catch their breath. 

Seagulls swarm and call for their territory. One grabs a crab and tears it apart on the bank. Each bird seems to have its own strategy for fishing.

  Pink fireweed rises from the corner of the pointed edge where a seagull plays sentry ~ barking orders at others as they fly by. 

The sound of the Russian River takes away any manmade sounds. It rushes, it pools, it bubbles, it vibrates the shores. 

Ah, this is ALASKA!!! Be well… Nancy T

Note: This is an unedited vision of what I saw, felt and experienced while watching the event play out. 

* POTENCY: a therapy term: To organically build energy to propel you forward.

Traditions

Happy Holidays! Tis’ the season of sharing, coming together and contemplating the past year as we welcome the new year. Countless traditions embrace this season. Whether they have been shared by family or friends, traditions are unique and cherished by many.

Recently, I was invited to a Polish celebration, a Wigilia. Although this celebration is reserved for Christmas Eve, we did it early to accommodate travel. A “roping contest” ensued. Living out west that usually entails an animal, but this roping was done to close the Pierogi (filled dumplings). 

Debby, our hostess, introduced us to her family tradition, which includes a wish for everyone individually. With nineteen in attendance, we did not follow the rules. Instead, Debby chose a wish for each of us, presenting it in a lovely origami box that she made with her mother. Each personalized message brought us all to tears. I heard one of the men say to Debby, “I’ve lived a long time and I have never experienced anything like I did tonight.” That was true for one and all.

With Polish blood running through my veins, I was surprised that I never heard of a Wigilia. Lor, my mom, explained that she followed the tradition in her youth, but her mother didn’t maintain it. What a shame! A Wigilia is a beautiful tradition. 

For the winter solstice, I followed a Buddhist tradition: to write something that I wanted to release from 2018 as well as something I desired in 2019. I shared my thoughts with Beth and she with me. Then we burned them. Another new tradition that I fancy. 

Today a Croation tradition of making Pogacha, a sweet bread, is at hand. I used to get a loaf in the mail. When I opened the package, I sat and just smelled it for the longest time. My childhood would come flooding back; the smell of Pogacha filling every nook and cranny of the house. My paternal grandmother would measure every ingredient. Lily would roll and punch the dough. She’d laugh after slapping our hands when we would pull a small chunk of raw dough from the mound she just kneaded and pop it into our mouths. Cinnamon & sugar, plain or cream cheese filling, it is something I still enjoy and remember with such love. Lor continued the tradition; she became a Croation through osmosis. It’s a long process to make such wonderful, traditional bread, but I’m willing to put forth the effort to bring Lily, Lor, and all of my ancestors to my doorstep. 

From the Wigilia tradition, I will close with my wish. “I wish you a time of wonder as you honor your traditions, new and old. In the spirit of your ancestors, may you enjoy it all.” Be well… Nancy T

The Face of Gratitude

In recent years, I have written about gratitude many times. One article I wrote was called “The Greatest Gift,” which was dedicated to gratitude. In my youth, my old friend Ozzie told me, “You have a bad attitude,” many times. Throughout the years, I have learned that when I live in gratitude my “attitude” is deleted.

Ozzie was right, in my teens, I carried a large chip on my shoulders. Anger fueled my existence, frustration was my guide, and my BAD attitude ruled my life. There was no one thing that frustrated me, it was a combination of things. Mostly, it was simply the unknown; all of life’s questions scurrying around in my head.

These days, as gratitude fills my cells, I know deep down that it is the best place to live.  Carrying gratitude in my heart for the simplest of things stimulates joy. Gratitude at a soul level is truly the greatest gift.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I recognize how overlooked gratitude can be on a daily basis. We go about our business and forget how much we have. As a traveler, I’ve witnessed people in other parts of the world with so much less, yet their spirits are high with so much more. It always amazes me how much more we want, how much more we need, how much we feel we lack! 

The picture included here is “The Face of Gratitude.” As I sit listening to the creek meander along the rocks and drop into pools of water, I’m so grateful for my ears to hear the cacophony of nature. As I look at the tall pines, birds flying, clouds moving through the sky, I’m so grateful for my eyes that paint gorgeous pictures for me. As I weave my way along the path, jumping rocks and skirting huge boulders, I am ever so grateful for the ability to walk and move through this world. Sitting amongst the boulders and breathing clean fresh mountain air brings joy to my nostrils and fills my lungs with Pure Love. The simple things create “The Face of Gratitude” that I share with you today.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  May the gratitude you share today be carried with you always. For you and so much more, I am grateful.  Be well… Nancy T

Yes Baby!

Assuming we have all had some experience with a baby, we recognize that when a baby cries it is in need. If the baby is not recognized, its cries become more insistent. Still left alone, the cry increases in volume and vigor. Ignored, the baby may throw a tantrum trying to get its need met.

I often use this analogy to helps clients to understand what is happening in the body. The body is our baby and how we treat it causes reactions large and small. Similar to the above scenario, when the body is hurting it cries. This may appear as a slight pain or discomfort. If we override this whimper, the body resorts to an adjustment in volume, perhaps increasing the pain level. Still no response, the body finds a deep pain or it reacts with bowel issues or anxiety. If we continue to ignore its plea for help, it becomes insistent with persistent headaches, back spasms, or incapacitation. All of this in an attempt to get us to STOP, LISTEN, and RESPOND to its cries. 

Why do we do that, ignore all of these signs and let our baby wail? We all have our reasons but mostly, we have trained ourselves to overrun our internal wisdom. Some people even look upon this act as being strong. Beating ourselves up, ignoring our body, mind, and emotions, that is one of our greatest weaknesses. 

I employ you to tune in and start saying, Yes Baby! When the slightest plea arises, take a moment to check-in with yourself. STOP whatever you are doing for a moment and take a breath. That simple act can save you from causing an internal avalanche. LISTEN, so that you can hear what your baby needs; perhaps a sip of water, a bathroom break, a moment to look outside. Given the situation, RESPOND as best as you are able. If you need to put off a response, make a deal with yourself and do it later. Whatever you do, honor the agreement you have made or you will have an uncontrollable baby on your hands.

Paying attention and giving our baby what it needs, not only settles the baby, it makes the entire family HAPPY and HEALTHY. Yes Baby! Be well…. Nancy T

Honor Yourself

Photo on 8-18-18 at 9.32 AM“Honor Yourself.” Over the past week, I have spoken those words a half dozen times. After class, two people were talking about shoulder injuries. One, an older gentleman, just underwent surgery; the other, a young woman, was warned that if she didn’t stop much of her physical activity she would be facing serious injury. The young woman looked crushed when she spoke of NOT doing what she loved to do. The gentleman, standing before her in a sling, described the severity of his pain before and after surgery. I added to the conversation by saying, “Honor Yourself. If you don’t do it now, you will pay later.” The young woman looked at me as if I was mad, “How can I go without rock climbing, mountain biking….” I understood that she felt her world was crumbling; to her not being active was the end of the world.

To Honor Yourself  may be difficult. Personally, I have overridden my system, especially in my youth. However, my body was more forgiving then, or at least the recovery time was less.

As the words, Honor Yourself, continued to pour from my lips I had to ask myself, “Are you honoring yourself?” That afternoon I desperately wanted to take a swim, but when I listened to what my body needed I landed in my hammock and proceeded to drift away. I honored myself with rest.

To Honor Yourself is a terrific practice. It keeps you on track. It keeps you healthy. It keeps you in the moment. It keeps you safe. It keeps you going in life. Take a little time to practice and you will find that to Honor Yourself is the gift that keeps on giving. Be well… Nancy T

I’ve Done My Job

Thirty plus years and here I am, arriving at the realization that I have done my job as a therapist, a teacher, a person who cares. Recently, clients have been sharing unsolicited comments that have touched me deeply.

Several clients, who recently sustained physical trauma, have come to me within days of injury seeking therapy. For all these years, I have spoken of trauma. How we can help ourselves immensely by addressing the trauma as quickly as possible. Physical trauma does not stand alone, all trauma is included here. I even urged my mother to go to a male therapist in Chicago to release a fall she had recently sustained. After the first session, she did what she always does, downplay it. “It was fine. I’m fine.” When I persisted and spoke of how so many people come for therapy and then walk away before they have fully released the injury, she caved and agreed to a follow-up visit. My words, “Why would you want to carry this with you when you don’t have to lug it around? He, the therapist, now knows your body and he can help you to finish this release.” “OK, make the appointment,” my mother replied. (Inside my head; YES, Yes, YES!!!)

This YES feeling has continued with my clientele. One gentleman who has often arrived at my door with numerous issues said, “You know, I went places and felt things that I haven’t felt before with this session. That was wild to experience a treatment without a major problem.” YES! I followed up his statement with a personal testament. “When I have done therapy sessions without a complaint taking precedence I have gone further than I ever have before. I have reached places in my body, my soul that was sleeping. It is really amazing.” With a look of awe, he shook his head and replied, “Yeah….”

Another client who is working out of town contacted me with trepidation. He didn’t want to offend me but he conjured up the nerve, the courage to step out of his comfort zone and ask, “Can you recommend a therapist in_________ area?” A smile crossed my lips.YES! I told him in no uncertain terms how HAPPY he made me that he was taking care of himself. It’s not about me and my work, it’s about people getting what they need. That has always been my goal. To teach people to ask for what they need, to show people the power of therapy, to be there when called upon to the best of my ability. YES!

I share these stories, not for the praise of what I do or what I have done for people. Therapy has changed my life time and time again. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it SAVED my life; it helped me reclaim my life on several occasions, and it has kept me relatively sane for all these years.

When people ask who does what you do, the answer is simple, “No one.” But, there are countless therapists who do therapy their way and it is valuable. In this high-speed world, to be touched in a loving, non-sexual way is a gift most of us need.

I’ll end with words from my mother. “I’m just not as comfortable with him as I am with you.” Therein is a gift as well. My 87-year-old mother stepped out of her comfort zone to help herself. That speaks volumes to the power of therapy. All these years, thousands of bodies, copious stories and I now recognize, I’ve Done My Job. Be well… Nancy T