Flashback Friday – Monkeys and Zoos

Welcome to another Friday Flashback Flashback Friday with Fandango. Here’s an oldie but a goody from June 10, 2020. Originally posted for Linda’s One Liner Wednesday.

Elephants roaming in a fence-free zoo in Guanzhou, China

The first step in getting that monkey off your back
is to quit going to the zoo

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

On a Spring morning

Staring out the window, watching the waning flower moon play peek-a-boo behind a marbled sky. A crane slowly drifts across the lake, the subtle grace of his flight belies the power in his wings.

Above a great blue heron who is a frequent visitor here at Castle Serenity. Til next time, be kind to each other –JP

Reflections on Life and PTSD


Reflection on the lake, taken from my porch

This time of year brings about a tendency to “reflect” on the years past. While reflecting can be helpful and even enjoyable, it’s nasty stepsister “ruminating,” not so much. Like a lot of spoonies, my sometimes overactive mind can jump down that rabbit hole in a New York minute. I start out thinking about something innocuous and pleasant, my mind jumps back to an event that happened 30 years ago. My brain then proceeds to create a massive retaliation response to some incident that is long over. Then I spend time considering how I “woulda, coulda, shoulda” responded to the imagined rebuttal, ad infinitum.

Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted as saying “When you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back at you.” And therein my fellow spoonies lies the danger. Unchecked, ruminating negative thoughts can worsen depression, anxiety and PTSD episodes. Reliving and rehashing traumatic experiences without good cause increases stress. Now, I’m not promoting denial as a coping mechanism but a plethora of research shows that stress, as a physical response to feeling threatened, worsens any number of medical conditions and has been known to cause autoimmune flares. The question is, what the heck to do about it.

I have some personal tricks to stop ruminating or invasive negative thoughts.

Tea: I was definitely British in another life, because my first, and best, response to any crisis is usually a cup of tea. There is no calamity so great, no heartache so wrenching that it cannot be improved upon by a hot cup of tea and perhaps a biscuit.
Quicky banishing: Turn around three times while brushing your body (shoulders and chest) with your hands like you would if you were brushing off dust. I chant “begone, begone, begone,” but you can just visualize all the negative thoughts flicking away from you. Then I clap my hands to end the banishing (some people spit but, ewwwwww). Do this in public with caution. I mean laugh and the world laughs with you, cackle maniacally and they back away slooooowwwwly.
Distraction: Do something … anything. I like to plug in my earbuds, queue up some rousing songs on my phone and clean (or sometimes dance). Gets the old endorphins flowing and seriously, it’s hard to maintain a negative attitude while dancing on a shiny clean floor.
Meditation: If the thoughts start to spiral out of control, I go to my meditation table, light a candle, and ask myself if these thoughts are truly my own, or have I picked up on something that’s outside of myself. As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)/Empath, I find that painful overwhelming emotions are often not mine and it is just a matter of releasing them. If they do stem from my own psyche, I find that a few minutes of mantra chanting usually interrupts the cycle enough for me to regain control.

All right Spoonies, I’ve waxed philosophical/medical long enough. A bit of poetry for you.

Reflections

Fire on the water
reflections of the sky
all the days behind me
vanish as waves roll by

Wind upon the water
ripples flowing everywhere
relieve me of the burdens
that were never mine to bear

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Witchy Wonderings — Holidays and Covid Boosters


Welcome back to the mishmash life of a couple of Spoonies navigating retirement in Bluegrass Suburbia. It’s been a month since we made the “big move” from a South Dakota RV park to a Townhouse in Central Kentucky. Our relatives say things like “well, you had a good long run.” Hey! We’re not DEAD, just retired and homeowners *insert shudder*. I admit it was the end of an era but the next chapter is just beginning.

We’re still dealing with a bit of culture shock. There are STORES and RESTAURANTS and ENTERTAINMENT, oh my. We ate lunch out every day last week. Yikes! And enjoyed every one of them. Double YIKES! OK, OK, my waistline can’t handle much more of this. Time to back off the pizza and apple pie!

I got my COVID booster shot yesterday. Once I actually got it scheduled it all went pretty smoothly. I got both booster and flu at the same time, no cost for either. I was in and out in about 30 minutes (most of which was spent filling out paperwork). My arm is pretty sore and I am slightly fatigued but over all I’m doing OK with it. My KOC (Knight of the Old Code) gets his on Monday. We decided to get them before we head up to the northern part of the state for Christmas holidays with kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. We’ll be spending 3 days 2 nights in order to get ’round to visit the families. I am looking forward to spending a holiday with the kids for the first time in 15 years. But oh my I am exhausted just thinking about it.

With the winter holiday season in full swing, many Spoonies, myself included, suffer from lack. Lack of sunlight, lack of energy, lack of funds, lack of joy. It’s easy to get caught up in all that we can no longer do. To look at the neighbor’s perfectly decorated tree shining through a picture window and feel something less than happy. It’s been hard this year. I’m in serious spoon deficit (exhaustion) from weeks of over-extending myself with the move. I’m easily overwhelmed by the glitz and hubbub that surrounds the season. But, with a few meltdowns, and several reminders that happiness is a choice, I’m content with my evergreen swag on the entryway, my wee lemon cedar “tree,” a tiny poinsettia and cards from prior years strung as a garland. It is enough.

As I prepare to celebrate Yule, the coming of the light, the return of the sun, I remember the words of that Zen Master of Magic – Albus Dumbledore “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

The sky wears a shroud
as the Sun hides his face
beneath a cloak of grey
Where is the blue
to brighten my day
A squirrel runs along a branch
outside my kitchen window
I watch as he scurries,
his long tail twitching
and quivvering with excitement
and I smile, I laugh
today I choose happiness

Til next time ~Choose to be happy ~JP

Farewell Wide-Eyed Wanderer

Fall in Rapid City SD

It’s been a tough couple of years filled with surgeries, strokes, pandemics, wild fires, floods, disastrous vacations and catastrophic hail storms. It was past time for a change. If you haven’t read about the hail storm that altered the course of our lives, you can read a little more about it here. It’s funny in a way but a friend, while discussing the damage from the storm, fired off that tried and true line “well at least no one was hurt.” Really? Define “hurt.” Because if you think no one was hurt you obviously have never encountered a PTSD episode. It’s tantamount to the well-meaning friend who when told you have an autoimmune disease replies “well at least it’s not cancer.” Make no mistake, an autoimmune disease will alter your life just as much as cancer and broken bones heal faster than psychological wounds.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD isn’t a mental illness so much as a psychological injury. The brain overloads on “fight of flight” hormones and coping mechanisms begin to break down under the constant onslaught. Healing is possible to varying degrees but there’s always a psychological scar and like any other wound, it can flare up leaving the patient hyper-vigilant, panic stricken and heartbroken. So it was for me.

There’s a fair amount of guilt and shame that goes along with PTSD, shame for the hours spent in gut-wrenching sobs for NO REASON AT ALL. Guilt that your loving partner has to bear witness to them. More shame because your eyes look like two boiled onions and your face resembles a tomato left in the sun too long. Yeah, it’s ugly. Anyway …

We gave up full-time (and even part-time) RVing, sold the rig, bought a townhouse and relocated halfway across the country in the matter of about 5 weeks. It’s been over three months since the Holy Handgrenade of Hailstones bashed through my roof and my life. I’m finally off the sedatives and pretty much back to functional norm (for a Spoonie).

I stroked the entry of Optimus Lite, our 5th wheel, with a silent blessing and a good spritz of peppermint spray. After 15 years on the road as full-time RVers, the time had come. I watched as the blue skies and vast umber grasslands of South Dakota faded in my rearview mirror.

Thus the story ends.

And another begins.

Deep in the heart of Bluegrass Suburbia, in a little house alongside a tiny lake, there lived a Witch and a Knight of the Old Code…

An Ochre October – Sunday Stills

For Terri’s Sunday Stills: October’s color is ochre, a brownish yellow, as shown above, but can range from yellow to deep orange. Perfect for showcasing your Fall colors!

Leaves begin their fall color change in October Shugakuin, Kyoto, Japan
Standing tall in October Zion National Park, Utah, USA
The ochre sunrise in October, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii, USA

The wind blows scattering dry leaves
and sending the trees dancing
leaves make their annual wardrobe change
from vibrant gold to somber ochre
dry grass prickles my feet
breathe in the musty smells of old oak
listen as the earth sighs her contentment
cloaked in the wonder of the season
I pause in anticipation … Autumn

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Blanket Weather – a quadrille

The quadrille over at dVerse Poets Pub this week is hosted by merrildsmith who asks us to use “blanket” in our poem of 44 words.

Bland tans and shades of faded ocher
blanket the hills, setting the scene
with splashes of brilliant canary and saffron
Autumn comes to lay her cloak
of colored leaves upon the fertile soil,
shielding tender seeds
from Winter’s chill
rich beauty, gone too soon

California Dreaming — The Mamas and The Papas

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

A Dry Spell — Pun Intended

It’s been one of those summers. The ones that leave you panting for breath, so fatigued you can’t breathe, suffering from “pin cushion syndrome.” Add to that lockdowns, rampant fear, a part time job in the hospitality industry and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. So it was for me this year. That’s all over now, well, some of it’s over, OK, the JOB is over! Yes, I finally, totally retired.

RETIREMENT
that time when you STOP
living at work
and begin working
at living

So, to start us back off on the right foot, a few pics for Terri’s Sunday Stills challenge where our prompt is “dry” and the FOTD from Cee.


Frost bitten rose from an early frost in the very dry lands of Pahrump, NV
Very dry, very huge cactus — near Death Valley, California
“The Badlands” of South Dakota
Cool, Clear Water 😉

Til next time ~Peace ~JPP

Sunday Stills – The Wild and Weird Ones

For Sunday Stills our prompt is Wild and Weird

What a wildly appropriate prompt for this week. You see, I am one of those weird people. You know the ones who always know the moon phase. The ones who talk about the demise of betelgeuse, use coconut oil for everything, have an herb or an essential oil suggestion for any complaint. We talk about Woodstock, and the day John Lennon died, listen to music by Janis Joplin, Cage the Elephant, Omnia and George Strait with equal abandon. We’re the ones with the wild sparkle in our eyes, the messy hair, and perpetually dirty feet. We are the Star Seeds and Indigos, the lovers and the dancers. The ones who see all the pain and horror of this world, but love it anyway. Long live the wild and the weird! 🙂

7.20.20 Wild

Painted Bull at Taoyuan airport,Taiwan

7.20.20 Wild 2

And just to prove that art is truly international
A painted bull buffalo from Custer, South Dakota

7.20.20 weird

courtesy of Mother Nature, a dew drenched caterpillar tent on a juniper shrub

Wild Child — Enya

Til next time ~Stay wild, moon child ~JP