I love November. Halloween is over. There is optimism in the air that we will have a short winter :), and it is a season where appreciation, gratitude, and blessings are emphasized. So cozy too with anticipation of family coming, a nice warm fireplace and a cute puppy.
One of the journals that I am using in November that I will be sharing on my blog is: Gratitude - A Journal by Catherine Price. She's real. She starts by sharing a technique learned from meditation teacher, James Baraz: Take a few deep breaths and try to identify how your mind and body are actually feeling. Are you stressed? Angry? Frightened? Anxious? Without putting a story on it, try to just allow yourself to experience the actual sensations in your body and to give the feeling itself a name. (Research validates how just this piece of work can help us immensely). Then, spend five minutes or so writing about how this emotion resonates in your body. Allow yourself to experience whatever emotions have surfaced.
Halloween. It is my least favorite holiday. I have embraced it through the years by making sugar cookies - doing fun things with our kids (hoping not to pass on my feelings about the holiday on to them). I had a great childhood. When I reflect back on memories that were difficult they are often associated with Halloween and nighttime experiences prior to the understanding and diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Back in the day, my parents weren't getting clear answers on my vision despite their incredible persistence. Forty years ago it wasn't understood or easily diagnosed. (Retinitis Pigmentosa begins with night blindness and often as was my case, I had excellent acuity 20/20. Many don't understand what they are NOT seeing. How do you tell someone you don't see something when you don't even really know that you are supposed to be seeing it?) Once I could name it and claim it and have the tools to help me and help those around me understand ... so much easier. For some reason last night the memories of being the pre-teen girl trick or treating and the worry of getting to the next house without running into something or tripping; the girl at the high school football game when it became dark; the girl on the date at the haunted house, the little girl performing her dance recital and being worried about that time between getting off the stage and to where my mom was waiting. You know that time of the lights going dim. Super tricky time for someone with Retinitis Pigmentosa that may have some useable vision in the day often becomes blind without the skills to manage in the dusk or dark. So, last night our Halloween was quiet and cozy and the dark house on the street. (When we are in the back of our house - it can look like no one is home). We laughed as I said, it never crossed my mind not to go to the event that I may have felt a little overwhelmed about ... somethings don't change - now, I go but have the ease of the tools and support that are available to me. I happily go in the dark. This changed really when I walked the night route with my first guide dog, Pantera. I remember calling Steve and my parents very excited telling them I walked several blocks independently in the dark. How do you articulate the gift of a guide dog in giving a young mom the gift of freedom, confidence, and yes even willingness to enjoy a dark Halloween evening with her kids!
So, last night I went to bed early. I felt tired after processing my emotions! Gosh, this is heavy duty. I practiced self-compassion like I teach my clients. No wonder they are exhausted at times! And as I was telling one of my colleagues today, this self-compassion therapy really works! I got in my favorite sweats and enjoyed laughter with my sweetheart.
Today is a new day. I indeed feel such gratitude for my life and all the joy in each day. In reflecting for an upcoming opportunity to share about what a guide dog has meant in my life, I appreciate the feelings that arose last night - they will help in writing the introduction of my talk :).