HUMILITY – The Fall and Rise of the Phoenix

I wonder why I always feel I have to fix everything that is not right. I don’t. I was told by a therapist that I am not that powerful. I am not. But somehow that feeling is so persistent. I wonder when and how I got the job of being God? I am sucking on a Fisherman’s lozenge and tapping out my ire. Did you know that I could suck on a lozenge and do my swimmer’s breathing under water at the same time. I can. That is my one and only unique talent.

The good news is I’m feeling physically better. My cough has abated with the help of an inhaler. My doctor gave me a sampler – Zenhale. It has earned its name. My breathing is much more zen. No more wheezing. The bad news is that the inhaler is not covered by the drug plan and costs about $125 – $140. The sampler has 60 puffs and I’ve used 6. I have 54 puffs left. 4 more puffs tomorrow and I should be good – for the year, I hope.

I do have other good news. I’m getting better at problem solving. After reading so many of Sue Grafton’s novels, I’m learning a few detective tricks on sleuthing and organizing. I’m using Kinsey’s Millhone’s idea of jotting down important notes on index cards. I’m actually getting my life in order that way. Caroline Myss’ teachings are true wisdom. Her putting your head in the toilet for 7 minutes have snapped me out of ‘feeling sorry for myself blues’ over and over. Her blunt, bare bone honesty has enough humour that makes what she says tolerable. She can be harsh but she gives good counsel.

Times that I find myself so distraught, I would have done so many silly and maybe harmful things – had I not heard her voice in my ear. Go ahead, eat that ice cream. You might feel better for the moment. But…she lost that one. I did eat some delicious hot chocolate sundae. Her voice was not harsh enough. I did listen to the haircut one. I could be sorry. Even if I’m not, does that change anything? Buying something expensive and extravagant – hah! What does that fix except a bigger hole in your expense? Go put your head in the toilet for 7 minutes! And so that 7 minutes was walking off my distress. Then I was fine. I looked into all the stores and saw all the junk. I don’t want to buy any of that.

The lesson I’ve learned over and over is I don’t have to fix everything right now or at all. I can’t make all bad feeling go away. They don’t have to go. They can stay where they are. I can walk away from them leave them behind. Who says I have to carry them around?

It is the next afternoon. I’m eating apple pie and drinking tea. I can’t say that I feel on top of the world but I’m aiming for it. My success is probably minimal. Pessimistic, I know. My cold is still hanging on, though not with deep hooks. I find laying down to sleep is still a problem so I will have to do the best I can. But my attitude SUCKS.

My biggest problem is that I accept all the blame for everything that goes wrong. You see it is about my so felt inadequacies, my jealousies, my lack of generosity and kindness, my selfishness and meanness, my obsession with taking things personally. How many times do I have to kick myself in the teeth? Shall I come to you on wounded knees? Shall I beg for forgivenness and redemption? Am I really guilty of all these infractions? Is it really true? Shall I give up ‘all my, though not really mine fault’ so that I can feel happier? So how the hell am I going to do that? I suppose now I have to figure that out.

One thing I have learnt well is to speak in the first person singular – always. It is all about me. It is not about blame. It is all about bringing clarity to mind. It is all about being vulnerable. I do tell – but it is on me. I’m learning about humility – the falling and rising of the Phoenix. What I know for sure if you come upon an obstacle/problem, you can skirt it, jump/fly over it, pretend it is not there, whatever…There are no magic tricks to make it go away. The only solution is to solve it. Don’t ask me how.

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I’m just getting past that God awful feeling again, grateful it was transient. It was the worst I’ve ever felt. I was on the verge of a panic attack but I maintained my cool. I am remembering other times struggling out of the stupors of sleep after a night shift. My mouth and throat are dry and tasting of old dirty socks, my head heavy and thick with wrong- time-of-day sleep. My chest felt tight. It was hard to breathe. Memory helped to put me in a familiar though and less distressing space.

That was a few days ago. I try to practice good mental hygiene of showing up so I don’t fall through the cracks. I like to be that dandelion, thriving in whatever soil I am in. But as you can see, I had succumbed to my physcial fragility – the dreadful summer cold. It is okay. Now like the Phoenix, I’m rising from my ashes into my new self. I see that this life journey is circular, ever changing from one stage into the next. I hope for seamless transitions and no heartbreaks. But who can guarantee that?

Wanting to be like the Phoenix, I did some research on this mythical creature. What are its characteristics that makes it so desirable?

“A mythical bird that never dies, the phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration.” – The Feng Shui Handbook, feng shui Master Lam Kam Chuen

Since I’m Chinese, I like the Chinese Phoenix (Feng Huang)version.Strange what eating at a new Chinese restaurant will wake up in you. On Sunday we paid our yearly respects to our ancestors at the cemetry. In earlier years my mother would prepare and order food to take there. We would light incense, burn paper money and pour libations. Afterwards we would have a picnic there. It is a nice tradition. But as my mother is aging, she is no longer as strong and able to do all that. She streamlined the customs to make it easier for us later. My mother is very practical. Now we take flowers and do our bows before our grandparents graves. Our picnic is in a restaurant now – The Phoenix House.

I do feel as if I am the Phoenix. I have a sense of flying overhead, scouting the territory, gathering information. Often I have information coming and pinging me in the forehead. I felt and heard the ping. I wonder if that is what is meant by the term pingback. I want to practice the art of silence and watchfulness. I want to be a better Phoenix.

Today I do feel I am finally on the road to feeling better. I know, I’ve said that almost every day and got knocked down again and again. For insurance, I’m checking in with a medical doctor in a couple of hours. It seems that nasty cough can still comes back and whollops me a good one. I want to arm myself for the next time.

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The road to health is a tough one. I’m into my second week of scratchy throat turning into nasty coughing up my guts. How many mornings have I started out thinking, Oh, I think I’m getting better only to find myself feeling God awful in a couple of hours. I did the same this morning. I felt a DEFINITE change. I felt very hopeful. Everything was rattling loose. I have something to blow out of my nose. I only wheeze when I lay down. But sure enough, after breakfast and after doing 2 little paintings, I succumbed to the God awful state. I got out my dynamite tea, my own dug up and dried dandelion roots from last fall. They were the last of my supply.

No need to say that I am not at all cheerful lately. Was I ever? It’s a good time/or not a good time to trash myself. Do I need to wound myself further.? Of course not! I’m giving up wounding altogether. There’s enough pain in the world already. I need not add to it. I need to purge it all from myself since I can’t do anything about anybody else. Oh excuse me, I’m having another fit of coughing. I’m on my last Fisherman’s Lozenges. I had two bags but can’t find the other. Oh, well. I have to resort to the lemon drops. The only thing is they make my teeth feel funny after sucking on them. I have LOTS of them. Funny how that’s always the case.

Back to trashing myself now that I’ve brought it up. I’m thinking my negativity and other shortcomings must be the reason I’m down and still down for the count. It’s really tough for me to let go of anything, even coughing and feeling rotten. It’s not just the clutter I hang on to. There’s comfort in what you know versus what you don’t. I’m sick and tired of feeling sick, tired and hacking. I made the decision to purge that along with other rubbish.

A couple of years ago, Grace was the word I chose for the year. It evolved from a painting exercise I did. The exercise involved painting on the same canvas for 30 days. Though I didn’t quite make it to 30 days, it was pretty close. ‘Grace’ emerged on the canvas on day 22. She looked so happy and smiling. There was a sparkle in her eyes and her face glowed. That was it. She was finished. She hangs on the wall in my recently purged downstairs.

I was looking at her as I laid on the coolness of the leather couch one very hot afternoon. I went, Oh! I think I had painted myself. I am Grace – the desired self I want to be. I thought, In what way am I not that Grace? It’s something that needs more pondering on. I shall leave it on that note for now. It I deserve time to seriously consider why I’m so hard on myself. Maybe at the end of it, I can rid the length of my suffering whenever I get sick. Nurse, heal thyself.


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My little scratchy throat seemed to have descended into my chest and upwards toward my head. I guess it’s what’s called a summer cold. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel good. I haven’t been able to sleep lying down for 3 nights now. Every time I tried, I end up bouncing back up in a fit of harrowing cough. Last night was a little better. I took a Tylenol #3 before hand and propped myself up against 2 cushions against the arm of the couch. I was lying down in some way. I was able to sleep in snatches.

I look none the worse for how wretched I felt. I always had trouble getting sympathy when I get one of these episodes, especially at work. I remembered after working a night shift, I approached my manager to see if I should return for another shift. She didn’t give me a resounding no but advised me as did the Health Office, to get some sleep and see. Nobody said I shouldn’t have phoned in sick, but there’s the guilt I felt. When I complained to a fellow coworker/friend that our manager didn’t stick up for me, I got no comfort either. Well, she had her own job to worry about! was what I got.

That was quite a few years ago. Obviously I haven’t learned too much. I’m still not good at taking care of myself. Oh, wait! I mustn’t be harsh with myself. I haven’t been sick like this since the fall of 2014. Four years, that’s pretty good. Good enough. This time I didn’t show up for my shifts. I’m my own boss now. No point trying to be the Wonder Woman that I truly am. I nixed my swimming Monday and Wednesday and will for tomorrow, too. I still puttered in the garden and yard before I got bad.

That’s what I mean about my learning curve. I’ve been outside early in the morning, cleaning and planting the previous week. That was my mistake. The pollen count is the highest in the mornings. I didn’t wear a mask. I’m proned to respiratory ailments due to my sinus anomoly. I knew all that. But I still became a victim to the pollen attacks. I felt pretty smug. I thought I had beaten my condition. I forgot that it can take days to get sick. Now it will take me another week to fully recover – the statistics from past experiences.

When you’re sick, you’re suppose to drink lots of fluids. That is relatively easy to do but rest doesn’t come readily. When I lay down, I start coughing. With all the fluid I’m drinking, I have to bop up to the bathroom frequently. No, there’s no rest or peace feeling this way. The book is too heavy to hold to read for long. A few pages takes hours to read. I’m just sucking it up, doze when I can. But at least the garden is mostly in except for a few kohlrabis and a couple rows of beans. There’s time. They can wait. Most everything can wait.

As you can see, I’m can still bitch. I must be getting better.

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Summer is overrated. That’s what I think. Sometimes I feel mean spirited, like Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. Am I, though? Is it true? Is it really true? That’s the question Byron Katie would ask. Am I mean spirited and wicked or am I just expressing how I am feeling about summer? Am I putting a monkey wrench into others’ summers? Then what about those people who hate winter?

Framed by those questions, I am not Lady Tremaine. I’m not out to spoil another’s summer. I am not feeling super duper cartwheeling happy at the moment. I am experiencing a pollen attack the last few days. My ribs are sore from coughing. My throat, constricted, itching and ready to cough my stomach contents out. My tongue feels burnt from sucking Fisherman’s Lozenges. What are they made of? I cannot blame myself for feeling miserable. I don’t lay my miseries on anyone but I’m guessing I’m not pleasant company.

I’m watching all those winged maple and poplar seeds flying through the air in great gusts. I haven’t seen such  big infestations as this year. They look like swarms of bees or other flying insects. They could be geese flying south but it’s the wrong time of the year. Nothing is the same anymore. Were they ever? I better tell myself to suck it up, buttercup. Better get use to it. The world has never been as it is now. It is truly amazing times we are living in. That is what Caroline Myss keeps saying. She is my guru.

Not to make myself a complete sour puss, I am feeling somewhat better. I started gargling with warm salty water since yesterday. My throat is not so tight. My cough can turn over now. The great saline solution! No wonder salt was such an important commodity in India back in the days when  Ghandi led their independence movement against the British. The saline solution is valuable today, too. As an intraveous solution, I see that it’s cheap to make. According to a 1993 source it fluctuates between 44 cents to a $1. But to buy is another thing. $85 for 500 mls. and $42.00 for a liter. Nothing about medical supplies costs makes sense.

That, as they say, is par for the course. Nothing much is making sense to me now. I’ll have to wait till my head clears. Maybe by then my throat would have lost its grip. I can talk then instead of croak. I better get some rest. My sleep has been interrupted by intermittent coughing fits in the night. Grrrr!

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It’s that tapping hour in my afternoon. I had a very good sleep last night. Having gone to bed at 9:30, I was awake by 5 am. and out of bed before 6. Having sleep and quiet time to myself in the morning makes a huge difference to my well-being and equanimity. The rains and clouds have gone. The sun has emerged with its warmth. I am sipping Orange Pekoe tea, my comfort drink. It’s difficult to change my likes and dislikes. It’s not that I dislike Moringa tea. I like Orange Pekoe more. I will ease into the Moringa tea ceremony slowly. Tomorrow I will give it another go.

My throat is still scratchy. The cough was maddening last night. I decided to use my Nasonex spray for a few days. It’s helping some. The Weather Network confirms that pollen count is high. It seems I’m a fairly accurate weather and pollen barometer. I should learn to doubt less and trust myself more on so many fronts.

The beat and art goes on. I haven’t had much time to do any sewing on my Mrs. Bernina other than cleaning and lubricating her. Once in awhile I run some random stitches just to feel how smooth she purrs. It calms and gives me a bit of a high at the same time. I’m weird, know. I like the sound of the scissors cutting the thread when I push the icon button. It’s my first luxury item. I’m just learning to drive in the self-love lane.

It feels and is a busy summer but I’m going to join Daisy Yellow’s Index-Card-A-Day Challenge, June 1- July 31, 2018 as well as keeping up with 365 Somethings 2018. These challenges are so helpful in the creative process AND so much fun. It’s not a do or die thing. It’s at my own pace. When I push myself, surprising and exciting things happen. I’m aiming to explore different mediums and themes. I like to see if I can break out of habits of being myself.  I want to explode into a different un-me of expressing. I could learn to be a little daring like Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo.

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I used to take pride in how little sleep I need. I thought I did fabulous on 4-5 hours sleep a day/night. I used to be an idiot, a crabby one at that. I was deluding myself on many fronts. Now that I’ve recovered from my sleeplessness mostly, I know I don’t do well when I have a sleepless night. I had one last night for whatever reason. I like to blame the weather for many of my miseries. I am sure it is warranted.

I’m muddling through my day the best I can. I’m happy that the bread and rhubarb crisp got made yesterday. The good habits that I’ve developed are carrying me over. I can probably bake bread in my sleep. After a few years, using the same recipe I know all the measurements of all the ingredients. Mishaps do happen sometimes. It’s not a disaster. I still get bread of a sort. It happened only once. Then the bread became biscuits for Sheba. It made excellent flatbread and probably pizza dough if I had been thus inclined.

I probably had only 2-3 hours of sleep last night. I’m feeling slightly proud that I’ve been up since 5 am. I planted most of my raised beds this morning before it got too hot. Now it’s all clouded over. I can hear the wind and we’ve had a splash of rain. Turbulent weather and me don’t go well together. I probably felt the storm brewing during the night. Well, it’s good for the garden. There’s always a positive side.

I’m not really sleepy. I could take a nap if I was. Instead, I’m just strung out. I have an ache in the furrow between my eyes. My throat is scratchy and sore. I hope I don’t get sick. Perhaps I shall brew a pot of Moringa tea. I’ll see if it’s as good as they say. It’ll probably take more than one cup and more than one day’s drinking. Do I have the patience? Will I like it enough or will I revert back to my Orange Pekoe? I’m like a child not wanting to try new tastes. I will practice savouring. Perhaps I could develop a ceremony with it every afternoon while I am in my tapping mode.

I’ve finished one cup of tea. I’m less edgy. The furl between my eyes more relaxed. Whoa! I better go and get another cup. Oh, the sun has popped out again. O happy day after all.

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