A Brief Pause for Optimism

I have been sick as a dog and I haven’t seen the sun in weeks, so it wouldn’t surprise me if my blog posts have tended more toward the dark side of late. I wouldn’t be surprised, but I can’t work up the energy to look, so I’ll just cover my bases and extend my apologies. Rest assured that I will snap out of it eventually.

In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to check out my blog post entitled, “Congratulations, You’re Alive!” I think it’s one of my most optimistic and upbeat posts, and it’s one I revisit quite often to remind myself how lucky I am. It also happens to be included in my first book, which is all about gratitude, and is guaranteed to put a little extra spring in your step, just in case you’ve noticed that your steps haven’t been quite as springy of late.

I’ll just end on that note, while I desperately cast about for an unused tissue. Oh, and here’s a bit of sunshine to brighten your day. Tra la!

Sunshine

Losing Sunlight

At this time of year in Seattle, the sun sets around 4:30 pm. I never thought I’d experience that. In Florida, there’s only two hours difference in the day length from summer to winter. So this radical change feels really, really weird to me.

I never realized how much sunlight affects me on so many levels. I seem to go into a low energy mode the minute darkness sets in. I’m less productive, less upbeat. The sky seems closer to the ground somehow. The air feels more dense and harder to pass through. Everything takes more strength.

I also feel as though I’m running late all the time. Usually I have my daily blog written each day before dark. Now… not so much. Even though I haven’t changed my routine, this feeling makes me anxious.

If I could figure out how the bills would get paid, I swear I’d hibernate like a bear from November through February. Burrow into a mound of blankets and just sleep. If it weren’t for my SAD light, I’d probably cease to function entirely.

But then I’d miss cuddling in front of the fire, and decorating the Christmas tree, and wearing fuzzy boots and diving into a nice hot bowl of Pho. So I guess I’ll just have to make the effort. Life does go on, and the sun is shining somewhere, after all.

http _theartmad.com_wp-content_uploads_2015_04_Dark-Winter-Forest-3

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Migraine Awareness

June is Migraine Awareness Month. As a lifelong sufferer myself, I know what it’s like to deal with people’s many misconceptions about this malady. The lack of understanding and the crazy ideas about migraines can be nearly as painful as the headache.

The first, most frustrating fallacy about migraines is that “It’s all in your head.” If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me, I’d be a millionaire right now. Just because a migraine can’t be seen does not mean it doesn’t exist. Why would anyone make up this level of agony?

Here’s a description that my cousin posted on her Facebook page today:

What is it like having a migraine? You lay down to sleep because sleep is the only real thing that is pain free. Only, you can’t sleep. Noise is making the pain worse. Every position you lay in is excruciating. With a pillow. Without a pillow. Side, back, face jammed into the mattress. Doesn’t matter. The throbbing won’t stop. Too hot. Too cold. Shut up, gecko! Don’t you know I’m dying here and your seemingly adorable chirp is like a shrill screwdriver scraping down a blackboard?! Shoulders are so tight from the stress of the pain. Jaw is so tight from grinding my teeth in pain. Every time I close my eyes I think the aura might go away but it’s still there. Twinkling away. Just one spot though. Enough to be annoying. 6am. Still awake. 8am still awake. I just want some rest. 9am finally found a comfortable way to lay however I have ruined my entire day. Migraine, you are not the life partner I imagined. I’ve broken up with you so many times. I just don’t want to see you ever again. We’re through! Sleep. So lovely and pain free. Only to awake and feel migraine waiting for me. I hate you. Don’t you know that you ruin my relationship with others? I wish you’d never come back. You make my life hell.

Clearly this is not a figment of her imagination. Nor are all the pictures of me from childhood with dark circles under my eyes from days of vomiting and lack of sleep a mere mirage. Unlike my cousin, I don’t have the sensitivity to sound, and for that I thank God. But my sensitivity to light means that even the smallest amount of illumination feels like a dagger in my eyeball. When I was too little to have the vocabulary to describe it, I used to say I had a bullet in my eye. We called them “eye aches” back then.

Another mistaken belief about migraines is the implication that since it is “all in your head” it must be some form of mental illness. Yes, people do think that. Don’t believe me? Rent the movie “Dark Water” sometime. At the very least people assume that you “do this” to get attention. That always makes me laugh, because when you have a migraine, the very last thing you want is attention. You want to be left alone in a dark, quiet room. If anything, it takes you away from the people you love, and you miss out on a lot.

I’ve also been accused of conjuring up a migraine to get out of work or to avoid eating certain foods that I “must not like.” Like what? Chocolate? Oh yeah. I hate chocolate. Not. I’d kill to be able to eat chocolate without the accompanying pain.

If you don’t get migraines you are very fortunate. A great thing to do with that good fortune would be to have a little tolerance and compassion for those of us who do suffer. Or, at the very least, you could keep your erroneous beliefs to yourself.

[Image credit: migraine.com]
[Image credit: migraine.com]
Start a gratitude practice today. Read my book. http://amzn.to/2cCHgUu

Let There Be Light. Not.

I love the dark. I think that started because I was a chronic migraine sufferer from an early age. Even though I rarely get migraines anymore, somewhere in my brain light will always equal pain.

I almost never turn lights on unless I have to read something or am unfamiliar with my environment. I think of darkness as a blanket that comforts me rather than an unknown that scares me. In the dark my imagination can run wild. Fortunately it usually runs to positive places.

My brother-in-law is just the opposite. He has night lights in every single room in his house. Even when you turn out the lights there’s light. I can’t imagine what his electric bill must be like. If I visit, I always have to remember to pack something to use as a blindfold or I get no sleep at all.

To me, the night holds mystery, potential and possibility. Nights are usually less predictable, and I love that. While I admit that life requires a certain level of balance and moderation, and I understand that everything is a matter of perspective, I’ll pick the moon and stars over the great scareball in the sky any day.

love-the-stars

[Image credit:  gagthat.com]