Becoming the one

I have been single for a very, very long time. In fact, since before I turned 30…and I’m 60-something now.

I’ve had relationships, and I’ve also gone for long periods without being in a relationship. Child raising as a single working mother, graduate school, trauma recovery, helping raise my grandchild — sometimes I just didn’t have the time or the energy, or simply preferred solitude, which I benefit from greatly but never got enough of until recent years.

Got to know myself, appreciate myself, entertain myself, live life my way in peace and contentment.

As an introvert (but since people are sometimes shocked that I test as one, maybe I’m an ambivert, sharing qualities of introverts and extroverts), I actually enjoy my own company. I like making good connections with people. I have a few close friends and lot of friendly acquaintances. And I still prefer to spend part of each day in solitude.

I had a couple of relationships in 2019 with men in their late 40s that were fun at times but didn’t work out. Thank you, next, as the song goes.

COVID upended my sense that I never got enough alone time. When the world pretty much stopped in March 2020, I could not practice my work as a licensed massage therapist.

Remember that back then, we didn’t know how bad it might get. I did my end-of-life paperwork, wondering if COVID was going to take me out.

I felt deeply grateful for the people in my life, especially my family and closest friends.

I was at home with myself 24/7. I wore a mask to visit family members, one of whom worked in a hospital, because of my age. We knew then that COVID was harder on older people, but not why. I didn’t want to die or be hospitalized from COVID.

(Fast forward to now, October 2022. I still haven’t gotten COVID. I take good care of myself, am vaxxed and boosted, and I wonder if I’m immune.)

I had a gentleman friend with whom I spent time during COVID. He is a sweet, funny, heart-centered guy, and I was very grateful for his company, sense of humor, hugs, and stories. We are in a couple of communities together and share some interests.

At times I wondered if our friendship would evolve into something deeper, but it didn’t. There were so many unknowns then. I was pro-vax. He was on the fence. Our personalities were different: we were just not a partnership match. We simply gave each other much-needed support and are still good friends to each other.

Now that COVID seems like it’s mostly over (but who really knows?), I am re-evaluating, exploring whether and how I want to be in a relationship — a long-term, committed, partnership type of relationship.

I’m not in a hurry…there’s a lot to explore. I am learning a lot about myself.

I’m reading a book, Calling in “the one”, by Katherine Woodward Thomas, a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Guess who “the one” is? It me.

This book was recommended by a therapist, and one friend told me she used it and then met the man who became her husband.

The book is actually a workbook, with homework, that, if you do it every day, takes 7 weeks to complete. I’m doing it as I have time because some days are busier than others and I’d rather explore this topic thoroughly.

In a way, it’s about examining the barriers I have built against loving and being loved. It is guiding me through explorations of my wounds, agreements, beliefs, identity, intention, and wisdom that influence relating.

What are my needs in relationship? How can I make more space for love in my life? How can I know, respect, and love myself the way I’d want a partner to? How can I be the one for someone who has also done their work and is a good match? How can I be the one for myself?

I can live and am living a very fulfilling life already, in many ways. I love the work I do and plan to keep doing it as long as circumstances allow, even into my 90s if I am blessed with that much health and longevity.

I have family members nearby who no longer need me to mother them but whose adult company I enjoy tremendously. And I am fortunate enough to have a few really good friends that are interesting and loving people.

I do believe that having a partner who’s able to match me in needs for both intimacy and autonomy, communication skills, with whom I share some key interests, who’s actually available, could add even more fulfillment to the rest of my life.

So…I’m stepping out of my cocoon, dipping into the dating pool.

I’ll keep you posted.

After my first 10-day Vipassana meditation course

On Wednesday, August 9, I got up early, loaded my car, made a home visit to massage one of my regular clients, and drove from Austin to Kaufman, Texas, a 3.5 hour drive.

BTW, my client commented afterwards that it was really a great massage. He even had a waking lucid dream toward the end of the session. I attribute that to his learned ability to relax deeply while staying awake and to me having more presence and being more tuned into him and myself. I knew that for the next 10 days, I’d be stepping out of my everyday life and meditating quite a lot without distractions. I didn’t have my normal everyday thoughts about logistics (travel, meals, timing, errands), which made a huge difference in my ability to really be present. So it started before I even left town.

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I arrived at the Southwest Vipassana Meditation Center near Kaufman mid-afternoon. I registered, was assigned a room in the women’s dorm, and surrendered my wallet and cell phone. I had left books, computer, and writing materials at home.

I unloaded my stuff and set up my room, which was small, furnished with an extra-long twin bed and a plastic chair and small table, with open shelves and a place to hang clothing, and a bathroom with a shower. And a big window looking out on trees and clothesline. Very simple and adequate, and yet this particular Vipassana center is considered one of the more luxurious centers worldwide.There was an orientation, a meal, and our first sitting in the meditation hall. We went into silence after that: no conversations, except that every other day we were brought in groups of about 6 to meet with an assistant teacher, who asked us questions about how our meditation practice was going: “Are you able to focus your attention on the sensations in your nostrils? Can you go one minute without a thought? Can you move your legs only 3 times in an hour?” We were also able to sign up in advance to meet one-on-one with our assistant teacher after lunch, which I did on day 7. These sessions were 5-8 minutes long and are intended for when you are having problems meditating.

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Sacroiliac joint healed!

Way back in late June 2015, I wrote about using a sacroiliac belt for pain in that joint. (See When the healer needs healing: chronic pain in a sacroiliac joint).

I posted a few updates. (See Update on using the sacroiliac beltA cheaper sacroiliac belt, working toward “the new normal”SI belt update, plus insoles for Morton’s foot, and Pelvic rehab update: getting bodywork, exercises, kinesiotaping). I haven’t had much to add since then: getting the belt and wearing it nearly 24/7, using the insoles, continuing to gather information, get bodywork, etc., it just takes time.

It’s now January 2017, and I’m here to give you an update, prompted by a couple of comments I’ve received recently from readers who are suffering from SI joint pain.

I finally stopped wearing the belt last month, in December 2016. That’s right, I wore it most of the time for 18 months, a year and a half. My pelvis feels pretty aligned now. It’s not perfect, but it is strong and tight enough that the joint stays in place. Since I started wearing it, I haven’t had that unstable, painful feeling of my SI joint going out. Continue reading

Fermenting more stuff: I made natto at home!

UPDATE: The post below was written in October 2016. Much has changed since then! I have been making natto in my Instant Pot! I once again got frozen natto as a starter at Asahi Imports — very inexpensive, 3 servings, and you only need about a teaspoon to start a batch. I followed instructions on a YouTube video on Instant Pot natto, and it turned out great — slimy, stringy, sticky, and tasty (well, it may be an acquired taste for some people).

Still need to try the natto breakfast taco. I envision kim chi in place of salsa, some avocado, and sprouts.

You need a glass bowl that fits inside your Instant Pot. I cooked way too many soybeans to fit in that size bowl, so I froze the excess and have since thawed some, added inoculant, and made another batch of natto. 

I’ve been eating a small serving most days with tamari and green onions, or with kim chi (which I’m fixin’ to make a big batch of). Fermentation freak that I am, I also made kvass — two batches, with yellow beets and red beets, and fizzy kombucha flavored with pomegranate juice. Along with sprouting seeds for salad garnish and sprouting a purple sweet potato to plant in my garden, my kitchen is a lively place! 

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A day after attending the Austin Fermentation Festival, where I sampled various kombuchas, krauts, a beet kvass, pickled veggies, mead, cider, raw milk cheese, and more, and thoroughly provided my gut with a wide array of probiotics, I am eating homemade natto for breakfast.

No one was selling or giving away samples of natto at the festival, which is a shame. Maybe that’s because, as one natto fan describes it, it’s like a vegan stinky cheese. I’ve heard some Japanese restaurants in the U.S. even seat natto eaters in a separate section! But I believe this crowd would have loved the opportunity to sample it and make up their own minds about it.

I got interested in making natto, a Japanese dish made of fermented soybeans, after learning it’s the highest known food source of Vitamin K2.You can also get K2 from Gouda and Brie cheeses, liver, egg yolks, butter/milk/meat from livestock eating green grass grown on good soil, fish eggs, and other sources.

Natto is apparently the only plant source. You can Google ”health benefits natto“ for more recent information than the links below.

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Quick sweet dessert with raw cacao

Having given up sugar (well, almost), there are those times when I need to satisfy a craving for something powerfully tasty and sweet. Usually it’s post-dinner that I get that feeling that a little something sweet would be satisfying. And my favorite sweets are those that contain chocolate.

So once every couple of weeks when that craving hits, I add these ingredients (all organic if available):

  • raw cacao
  • coconut oil
  • maple syrup

into a small bowl, stirring to mix. Continue reading

A tale of recovery: my path from traumatized to healer

I had lunch a few weeks ago with John, someone I’ve known for about 12 years but haven’t seen much in recent years. He commented that I am a very different person now from when he met me, and that would not be apparent to people who hadn’t known me that long.

When we met in 2004 (I think), I seemed troubled to him, and I was. John said that now, I appear to be happy and “like a fountain” (which I love), and he was curious about that.

Other people have said I’ve changed more than anyone they know. Well, that’s probably because I was starting from a more troubled place than most.

So I’m reviewing my path in search of insights to share. This is for you, John, and I know that some of you are interested in recovery from trauma, and some of you are interested in personal growth, so this is for you too.

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Homemade ginger-ade, a refreshing healthy summer drink

I love ginger! I love lemonade! I love limeade! And I love love love the combination of ginger and lemon or lime, sweetened to taste, a yummy and healthy way to stay hydrated during the summer.

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Here’s the easy way I make it: Continue reading

He said, “Why aren’t you a craniosacral therapist?”

Years before I went to massage school, I received monthly craniosacral therapy sessions from Nina Davis for 2-3 years. I didn’t know what craniosacral therapy was, exactly, but I figured that between trauma, head injuries, sacrum injuries, and scoliosis in my spine, that any kind of bodywork that focused on the cranium, sacrum, and points in between was going to be good for me. I asked who was good. Nina was recommended.

And it was good for me! Continue reading

How to live a more satisfying life

The best first step towards changing the way things are is to fully accept the way things are.

Michael Giles has written a book called Action of Mind: Essential Steps Toward a Satisfying Life. Neatly divided into three sections — Open Mind, Focused Mind, and Big Mind — the book offers chapters on topics like intent, stillness, setting and achieving satisfying goals, the unknown, and your purpose.

He acknowledges that reading the middle section (Focused Mind) will help readers understand better how to achieve specific goals they’ve set for themselves, yet he recommends reading the first section (Open Mind) first to get better results by being grounded in the present moment. The third section asks hard questions and deals with some of life’s difficult-to-accept realities.

I’ve known Michael for the past several years. I met him through NLP. Michael is a master practitioner of NLP and a hypnotist (a term he prefers over hypnotherapist) and coach for the last 13 years. Now he’s a working graduate student in the field of social work, an active member of the Texas National Guard, and father of Reyna, with another child on the way. He’s worked hard on creating his own satisfying life, and in this book, he shares his wisdom.

I’ve known Michael also as a long-time practitioner of martial arts. Michael started studying karate at age 12 and holds multiple black belts. Familiar with the Taoism and Buddhism, he  practices and teaches tai chi. These practices, and meditation, have greatly influenced Michael’s perceptiveness, intelligence, and response-ability, which show up in his book.

Michael draws on NLP, hypnosis, martial arts, his own personal history, and story-telling to share his insights and exercises for living a more satisfying life. Here are some excerpts from his book, little nuggets that hint at the wisdom that follows, written in a style that suggests a coach talking directly to a client:

Nothing will guide you as wisely and creatively as your shadow. Your deepest feelings of hurt, fear, or doubt can serve you when you sit with them.

Visualization can be a very helpful element of hypnosis, self-development, or just getting over that threshold into the success that you want. In my experience, it is good to see yourself doing what you want to do and being what you want to be. I have found that affirmations are most helpful for receiving and achieving while visualization is most helpful in the doing and the being.

Whenever a problem is solved, it is because we have received a gift from the unknown. A more prosaic way of stating this is that solutions are pieces of information that we were ignorant of until we found them. If we know the solution to a problem already, then the problem is not really a problem. It is only a problem while we do not know the solution. It travels from the category of “unknown” to the category of “known.” Therefore, the unknown is the source of all our problem solving, positive change, and personal evolution.

Michael has done a great job of communicating his insights and teaching readers about something that really matters to all of us, living a life that is satisfying.

Brainwave optimization follow-up, two years later

I received a phone call yesterday from someone who had read my original post about receiving brainwave optimization. Barbara in Houston was considering it. She’d read this blog and wanted to hear some follow-up. We had a nice long conversation, and I felt inspired by her courage.

This month marks two years since I underwent brainwave optimization — five days of twice-daily sessions designed to help my brain function better using biofeedback.

I have no regrets about doing it. I’m glad I took that leap of faith.

Of course it’s impossible to say how I might be different had I not received it. It’s also impossible to separate the BWO from the meditation, diet, yoga, and other work I’ve done. (I still think BWO is probably the equivalent of five years of daily meditation.)

What I can say is that when I compare how I experience myself now and how I experienced myself then, now is better. I feel more myself — I occupy my body and my life more fully and with more pleasure and serenity and depth and wholeness than I did before. I make better decisions. I am happier.

One of my reasons for doing it was that I had experienced trauma in my childhood that plagued me with ill effects for decades. Facing the trauma, healing and integrating it were turning points toward health in my life. I wanted to see if brainwave optimization could relieve me from any more dysfunctional patterns that might remain.

Last year, a year after undergoing BWO, I did get triggered by someone who didn’t recognize the extent of his own traumatic experiences and was unable to communicate responsibly about it. I experienced the flood of stress hormones and adrenal exhaustion that went along with being triggered.

The useful part of that experience was being able to witness how those stress hormones affected my thinking. I got a clear sense of what I’m like unaffected by trauma and what I’m like after being triggered. Day and night. Equanimity vs. fear and anger. Sunshine and butterflies vs. creepy shadows with hidden monsters.

The unpleasant part was that it took months to completely clear the effects of the cascade of stress hormones and return to robust, excellent well-being. During this time, I forgot that I could have gotten follow-up sessions of brainwave optimization, which are much less expensive than the initial assessment and 10 sessions.

In hindsight, it would have been really smart of me to experience just enough of being triggered to learn its lessons and then to shorten my suffering by going in for some follow-up work. I don’t know if it would have worked, but I believe that it would have made a difference, because when you make an effort on behalf of your own well-being, that commitment to action makes a big difference and amplifies the measures you choose to take. 

I regret now that it did not occur to me to do that.

It’s clear to me now that undergoing BWO does not give someone who’s experienced trauma a bulletproof vest against being further traumatized or being triggered. It does give you more resilience, because experiencing wholeness is so desirable. The brain is aware of its own well-being and likes it and will return to it as soon as it can. That’s a big part of how BWO works, in my understanding.

If you’re not sure your brain has experienced well-being because of past trauma, or if it’s been so long it’s hard to remember what well-being was like, I recommend getting brainwave optimization. It can’t hurt, and if it doesn’t help in the way you think it might, then at the least you’ve ruled something out on your path to recovery. You have not left that stone unturned.

And it might help in ways you haven’t thought of, so please be open to that. It’s hard to describe well-being if you’ve never experienced it. It’s hard to know what to expect before you do it.

Also, the brainwave changes keep happening for a long time after you finish the treatments. Hold your story lightly and keep a journal. I have been told by people who’ve known me for awhile that I’ve changed for the better more than anyone they know.

I also take the Buddha’s Brain supplements to support my post-BWO brain health, and I recommend that.