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People always talk about finding positive coping mechanisms, and I always find they’re hardest to remember when you’re not feeling well. It’s helpful to have some sort of plan, as discussed in one of Health Skills’ blog entries on coping strategies.

Perhaps you could say this post is more for my own reference, but here are a few “healthy” coping mechnanisms that I try to keep in my knapsack:

  • Going for a walk
  • Go swimming
  • Creating something – a physical craft, a work of writing, a batch of vegan cookies…you name it
  • Petting my dog. He can always use more belly rubs.
  • Sitting in the garden or some other place outside
  • Light gardening
  • Reading one of my “comfort books” (Pride and Prejudice springs to mind)
  • Meditating
  • Stretching/doing yoga
  • Making a point of eating breakfast and other healthy foods
  • Buying a bouquet of cut flowers, especially if it’s winter and there are none in the garden
  • Planning potential vacations for when I feel better (even if I never actually go, the thought of going to the Caribbean always perks up my mood)
  • Bird-watching
  • Listening to music or a stand-up comedy tape
  • Lighting a candle
  • Talking to friends and others in my support system

Recently life was difficult because life circumstances made it very difficult to utilize a lot of my coping mechanisms. (It’s hard to go for a walk when your foot hurts if you put any weight on it.) That’s when it’s hardest to use those healthy skills, rather than fall back on things like eating lots and lots of chocolate. It’s still a work in progress for me. I’m hoping having a record of this will help with future flare-ups.

I recently re-watched Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, a Japanese animation (anime) film about a girl who is transported to a world of spirits. A sorceress tries to steal her name, she helps a river god, and undertakes a journey to help a friend. Not to mention saving her parents from their own stupidity. It’s a “heroic journey,” a la Joseph Campbell. It’s a really great film – beautifully animated, great score…I could go on and on.

The real point of this is that the closing credits have a wonderful song, which definitely made me cry the last time I watched it. The English translation is:

Somewhere, a voice calls, in the depths of my heart
May I always be dreaming, the dreams that move my heart

So many tears of sadness, uncountable through and through
I know on the other side of them I’ll find you

Everytime we fall down to the ground we look up to the blue sky above
We wake to it’s blueness, as for the first time

Though the road is long and lonely and the end far away, out of sight
I can with these two arms embrace the light

As I bid farewell my heart stops, in tenderness I feel
My silent empty body begins to listen to what is real

The wonder of living, the wonder of dying
The wind, town, and flowers, we all dance one unity

Somewhere a voice calls in the depths of my heart
keep dreaming your dreams, don’t ever let them part

Why speak of all your sadness or of life’s painful woes
Instead let the same lips sing a gentle song for you

The whispering voice, we never want to forget,
in each passing memory always there to guide you

When a mirror has been broken, shattered pieces scattered on the ground
Glimpses of new life, reflected all around

Window of beginning, stillness, new light of the dawn
Let my silent, empty body be filled and reborn

No need to search outside, nor sail across the sea
Cause here shining inside me, it’s right here inside me

I’ve found a brightness, it’s always with me

I’m guessing you can probably tell why someone on a healing journey might tear up at that song. I thought you might enjoy it, too.

Here’s a youtube video of the closing credits, complete with a decent audio version. To truly appreciate it, you really need to see the film yourself.

This is one of my favorite poems, and it’s fitting whether I’m in a good space or a not-so-good space. Today I’m in a good space, so I’ll share it a little earlier than Monday’s scheduled time.

It’s by Mary Oliver.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver.

Periodically, I go through phases of wondering what life would be like if I didn’t have a mental illness, if I didn’t have fibromyalgia, if I fit into some preconceived box of “normal” and “able.” These trains of thought are usually exercises in futility. There is no good answer. At best, thinking this way leads my mind in fruitless circles. At worst, these thoughts torture me with images of what “might have been.”

I am a big fan of speculative fiction (also known as sci-fi/fantasy), which is essentially the genre of “all that might be.” It’s entertaining, creative, and often has a useful perspective on “real life” that might be hard to write about in other genres. One of my favorite authors is Terry Pratchett (although he’s recently been knighted for services to literature, so I guess I should call him “Sir Terry Pratchett”). His books are usually set in “Discworld,” but he recently wrote one set in something very much like the South Pacific. (He is emphatic that it is not the South Pacific, though – perhaps more like an alternate universe version of it.)

The book is called Nation. One of the main characters is a boy named Mau, who was canoeing back from an initiation on the Boys’ Island when a tidal wave sweeps through the entire region. When he returns home, he finds his entire home altered. His family and community have been killed by the tidal wave, and the only other living person on the island is a “ghost girl” (read: white girl) who was shipwrecked on the island. Gradually, other survivors begin to trickle into the island. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but Mau does a lot of growing up. There’s a really excellent section of the book that addresses some of my own questions regarding what would have happened if I hadn’t gotten a disability. In Mau’s case, someone asks Mau if he would rather go back to the way things were before the tidal wave.

“How can I answer you? There is no language. There was a boy called Mau. I see him in my memory, so proud of himself because he was going to be a man. He cried for his family and turned the tears into rage. And if he could, he would say, ‘Did not happen!’ and the wave would roll backward and never have been. But there is another boy, and he is called Mau, too, and his head is on fire with new things. What does he say? He was born in the wave, and he knows the world is round, and he met a ghost girl who is sorry she shot at him. He also called himself the little blue hermit crab, scuttling about the sand in search of a new shell, but now he looks at the sky and knows that no shell will ever be big enough, ever. Will you ask him not to be? Any answer will be the wrong one. All I can be is who I am. But sometimes I hear the boy inside crying for his family.”

If I hadn’t been diagnosed with any disabilities, I would probably have graduated “on time,” have gone to graduate school already, have some sort of career. And yeah, having a disability sucks sometimes. Pain, fatigue, times when I’ve been so down I thought I could never get up again. But those are the kinds of experiences that make you grow. In my general experience, life lessons can be excruciating when you’re learning them – and amazing once you begin to learn from them. I feel more empowered to take my own path in my life, not following the dictates of what other people expect.

And there are times when another tidal wave comes, and knocks you off that course, and destroys things that you hold dear. Those things are unavoidable. If it had not been a disability, something else would have happened to shake my world and my preconceptions apart. And I know that there will be more tidal waves, because that’s part of life.

I am who I am because of the events of my life: the way they have shaped me and the way I shape them. I cannot take them back without taking back parts of myself – and I like myself.

So perhaps asking “what if’s” is the wrong type of question. Though I think that the asking provides an opportunity for compassion to myself. A time to grieve for what I have lost, and to be thankful for what I’ve gained.

My Etsy Store

A fibro-friendly item from my Etsy store

I've been working on making fibro-friendly jewelry. I'd love it if you checked them out by clicking the image above, or going to www.etsy.com/people/RogueCrafter

About Me

This blog is intended as a place for me to reflect on my own healing journey, in the hopes that others may also gain insight from my experiences. I've "borrowed" a line from Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken:

'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.'

I think the most important thing for me now is that I feel empowered to be a force for positive change in my life. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

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