Am I going mad?

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That thought came to me a lot in the past eight weeks while looking after my mum overseas, who is suffering dementia. Needless to say it was a stressful period with little time to myself. I managed to occasionally get out for an early morning walk, as you could read in my previous post, which felt great and enabled me to focus on my own needs briefly. I focussed on my posture and breath while walking and came home feeling ready to face the day ahead. On the wetter days I resorted to some morning yoga on my mat, that always comes along for any trip.

I bought some yarn and crocheted a vest in a few weeks, while mum was pretending to read the newspaper in front of the tv and drank lots of rooibos tea. This all comforted me and kept me sane and patient in dealing with her varying moods, worries, repetitive stories and questions. Still, I felt tired a lot and in need of an extra boost.

I was not specifically looking for anything, but a visit to a sauna did cross my mind a few times. While mum was resting after lunch, I spend time watching some interviews about longevity, a subject I am always trying to learn more about. In one of the episodes of this American based series, a dutch guy explained how he learned to cope better with stress and affected his immune system, by following some simple breathing techniques, as well as creating an extraordinary resilience in extreme environmental conditions such as heat and cold. To prove his claims he proceeded to set 20+ world records, like running marathons in the arctic circle and Kalahari desert in shorts only, as well as climbing the Kilimanjaro in record time, also just wearing shorts and sneakers. He swam under the polar icecap without a wetsuit! He was able to control his autonomic nervous and immune system, which was previously thought to be outside of our conscious power and his claims were backed up by extensive professional medical research in various universities in the Netherlands and United States. He also proved with medical tests that anyone can learn to do this with a group of volunteers in 4 days. He got my attention!

This was the second time his name cropped up. While I was visiting mum a year and a half earlier, I watched a documentary about the dutch astronaut legend Wubbo Ockels, who was fighting a losing battle with cancer. He was using Wim Hof’s breathing and cold exposure method to alleviate his suffering successfully, likely extending his prognosis. This documentary did not expand into the method nor Wim Hof much, but it did stay in my mind as fascinating.

It took a third stumble on his method, before it dawned on me that this might be just what I needed to research more thoroughly. I looked up the website http://www.wimhofmethod.com , watched a few video’s and warmed (pun intended) more and more to the idea of trying this, especially after watching the video of Laird Hamilton, a well know legend of big wave surfing endorsing the ‘Wim Hof Method’, or WHM for short. I checked out the events calender and found that Anne Eijssink http://www.eijscoach.nl , one of the qualified instructors was holding a workshop not too far from where I was staying. I signed up…

Her workshop was divided in two sessions 2 weeks apart. The second one was sceduled later than my flight back home and after an email exchange she offered me a private session for the second part at her home in Zutphen a few days before my departure.

The 2 1/2 hour group session was held at an interesting location in Wichmond, in her sister’s farm office/fitness studio, build inside the stable, high above the mozying cows, which surprizingly had a calming effect watching them going about their business underneath. After a coffee and introduction we learned how the way we breathe affects our emotions and energy levels, how it all works in the body and how to have more control over our emotions using our breath. We did some relaxation breathing, pushups and slowly proceeded to the WHM of breathing to feel the differences. Our homework was to use the breathing method daily for the next 30 days and aim to at least finish in the shower with cold water to improve circulation. This benefits the effects from the breathing, by ensuring the energising oxygen gets into every nook and cranny of our body.

In the second private session in Zutphen I learned more about mindset, focus, motivation and the effect on our reality and quality of life, followed by another breathing session. She made me practice a horse stance punching air and breathing, which was to be done before and after the bath in cold water topped up with a few buckets of ice…

Slowly I stepped into the icy bath and made sure to keep going steadily deeper into the water untill I sat in it submerged up to my chest. My body was protesting by painfully constricting the smaller bloodvessels, in my legs especially. Not unlike the opposite effect, when your hands and feet get really cold and you warm them under the warm water tap or in front of a fire. I hung in there untill my breath became slow and steady. The pain eased. I am unsure how long I sat there, but probably not much more than a couple of minutes before I felt the need to get out. My legs were a bit numb now and I looked down to see if they were still attached and holding me up.

Anne was really supportive, talking me through the experience. As soon as I stood there punching air in the late Autumn Sun that peeked out from behind the clouds smiling down on me, I felt a warm wave pulsing through my body. It felt invigorating! After the airpunches she suggested I try get back in the bath again, which I did. After all she spend a fair bit of time and effort preparing this bath, hacking the bucketsize iceblocks into smaller bits with an axe, which I did not want to go to waste. The pain was a lot less this time around and I even managed to smile for the pictures she offered to take for proof.

Driving home I still felt the ‘high’ it had had given me, despite the occasional shiver of my body slowly getting back to its usual state. I am so GLAD I gave into the urge to do something beneficial for myself too while there, listening to the suble messages and going with my urge to satisfy my curiosity, despite it being a tat crazy.

I still do the breathing method every day with the help of the WHM app and finish my shower with cold water. I love the feeling of peace, of giving my body complete rest for a minute or so while doing the breath hold. I even had a shower outside under the hose after I mowed the lawns and got covered in dust a day after I returned. Even though the weather here in Australia is heading into Summer and a far cry from chilly ‘Holland’ at the end of Autumn, it still invigorates me and gives me a lot more energy throughout the day. The more subtle effects are that my lungs and sinuses clear out more muck. It does seem to affect my motivation to take action on my thoughts and ideas and decrease my normally present procrastination on decisions. Also am I able to walk around barefoot more now without getting them cold all the time.

At one point, not long before the workshop, I went to bed with a heavy head and woke with an increasingly unpleasant headache. After my early morning breathing session and recommended inversion exercise on the app, it cleared up completely! I am curious to find out where this can take me and what the long term benefits will be, but even if it is only to be more resilient in the cold, it is already worth it!

What do you think?

Am I going mad?

Autumn Leaves are falling down

Autumn Sunrise with low fog
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My alarm goes off around 7.30 am, regardless of what day it is at the moment. I know mum does not get up for at least another hour, so this is MY time, time to reflect and time to enjoy the splendour of nature at my own pace.

 

It has been a hectic, sometimes stressful and confusing year for me so far. Hence why you have not seen much action here either. After a fairly uneventful Summer I travelled from Australia, into Spring in the Netherlands mid March, where my cousin was waiting for me to help her get organised, in case a bad situation would eventuate with my elderly mum, to be prepared for everything. We found a fitting nursing home with a large garden and arranged as much as I could fit in the 4 weeks I stayed, like meal deliveries, meetings with care staff, doctors etc., to keep her living independently as long as possible, along with spending time with mum as well.

Upon returning home in Australia late April I got a phone call the next day, still groggy from jet lag, after which I found myself working an extra 5 nights a week, while trying to catch up in my garden at home and get that ready for my absence during Winter and work in the nursery part time! Well, no rest over Winter either, with record snowfalls, more lodge guests than ever, and keeping my promise from last year to my manager then, of attending more ski training this season! I had to leave a week before closing of the lifts, to fly back to the Netherlands for mum, who had deteriorated badly over their unusually hot Summer.

So here I am, finding myself utterly confused after Summer followed by Spring, followed by Winter and now in Autumn, but thankfully healthy and well. Something I unfortunately cannot say about my mum, who is physically doing very well, but mentally in need of full time support.

 

I swiftly throw on my ‘trackies’, hoodie and sneakers, over my pyjamas to keep the chill of the early morning out and quietly sneak out of the door. I am so glad mum chose to live at the edge of a small town in the Netherlands, from where it only takes me a few minutes to walk the street that brings me to the paddocks showing the Sunrise in full glory. I savour the wide open space, still in peace and quiet this early in the morning, especially during the weekends when work traffic is absent.

When I walk I focus on my surrounds, nature waking up along with myself and my body. It is easy to get sidetracked during the day and fall into bad habits in regards to posture, but during the stillness of the morning it is easier to focus on walking with a straighter back and shoulders relaxed in the right spot, arms swinging loosely in harmony with my stride. It feels so good to take a deep breath full of life’s most important energy that somehow feels more rejuvenating at this hour than the rest of the day.

 

I take many deep breaths during the day as well, but most are for the purpose of keeping my sanity and composure while mum asks me the same question for the 30th time in an hour and still fails to understand my calm explanation. She easily gets upset when this happens and I find myself repeating to her many times that it is ok and that all is organised and will work out just fine.

I know she just hasn’t got the synapses to connect the dots any more as dementia is slowly stealing her mental abilities. I also know that giving her an answer calmly with love is important, despite the seeming pointlessness, because she will ask me again in a few minutes. Important, for it gives her a feeling of being heard, loved and respected. I am sure she feels that I care for her as she still treats me like her daughter, even though she gets confused and thinks I am still in Australia, and much younger than in reality, lol, if only… Occasionally she believes me, mostly she puts her ‘stubborn hat’ on and is convinced I am telling her fibs. Reality does not make the same sense to her as it used to.

The way I mentally deal with the current situation is reminding myself of the old quote a Buddhist monk told me, that if I CAN do something about it there is no need to worry and if I CANNOT, why worry? Another one that helps me mentally is from Wayne Dyer, that it is NOT the situation or circumstances that stress people out, but the thoughts created about it. I take one step at a time and file my upcoming responsibilities in my phone, which gives me a beep when something pops up that needs attention.

 

The one thing that still cheers her up and takes her away from her worries and suspicions that everyone is out to deceive her is Nature. She really calms down and comes home a different person. I am so glad about this, as it is so good to see her marvel at it’s beauty too when we go for an afternoon stroll in the nearby forests on the milder days. It is ‘nature therapy’ for both of us! We stop and look at the many mushrooms showing themselves and we walk the leaf covered paths surrounded by old deciduous trees in beautiful Autumn colours. Something I have not seen much of in the last 15 years when I have always visited around her birthday in Spring.

Autumn Trees

Autumn Trees

We pick up a few treasures to take home and arrange in a shallow pottery dish on the table, acorns, pine cones, a few leaves and a tiny feather she found with the most vibrant blues. I take photo’s of the mushrooms, better left in peace where they are. Besides, my knowledge of them is insufficient to know which ones are safe to pick, let alone any names.

She still walks unaided and really well for her 87 years, but I am carefully monitoring her gait to see whether we should keep going, or returning to the car soon. Surprisingly she generally knows her way around quite well, despite being bad in many other ways. It is a blessing now that she moved back to the area where she grew up when dad was still with us, because she retained a lot of her older memories so far.

Mushroom coming up among Autumn leaves

Mushroom coming up among Autumn leaves

I am always fascinated with these little surprises of nature, here one day, gone the next. Perhaps it is the shortening days and decay all around that makes me feel melancholic. For a moment I think about the issues at hand and cannot help but see the fleetingness of all we take for granted. A hint to make the most of, and be grateful for each day we are blessed to experience.

Mushroom covered tree trunk

Mushroom covered tree trunk, found off the beaten track

Red and white mushrooms

Spotted these red and white ones only on passing a second time, surprisingly, as they are quite striking

I ponder about memories, which are not much different. As we walk along our lives we collect and grow them, we treasure and share them, but when decay sets in with old age, they are like the falling leaves of Autumn, we drop them slowly one by one on still days, or many at once when a storm hits….

I am so GLAD that my own ‘tree’ still has many leaves that, for now, are securely attached.

Leaf covered road

Leaf covered road

Feel free to comment ūüėČ

With Gratitude,

PollyEsther

What would you do?

Passion flower
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A dilemma cropped up and the best answer has so far eluded me. Oh, sorry, I have been so busy that I forgot to fill you in on whats been happening behind the scenes on my laptop!

First, I felt inspired again to write more, but differently this time, with even more passion, hence the flower picture ūüėČ I like to write about things that bug my mind a lot, important more educational and informational stuff that may also be of help to some others looking for answers to their issues.

Because I felt it was too far off from what this blog is about, my personal experiences with gratitude and everyday ‘magic’, I decided to open my options and start a second blog with possible room to expand. The idea was to create options to get some rewards for all the time l spend looking and researching to get this stuff out for everyone to benefit. Maybe sell a course or link to other sites that might give me some affiliate rewards. Maybe it will never happen, but I want to try as my usual part time casual job is sending me into poverty at the moment and my life is too busy with other priorities, like going overseas again shortly to look after my mum, to be adding another job now.

After a lot of research into Internet marketing style info, it was clear that I needed a ‘list’. After learning a lot more more about different ‘list’ companies, I set up and email list subscription with Aweber and had to pay annually for that.

Next I found out that WordPress.com does not cater for Aweber plugins, so the already set up ‘.com blog’ was useless now. I had to jump over to WordPress.org to create this so called sales funnel. OK…..sigh…
Now before I could do that I had to get a domain name, which was not included in the deal with ‘.org’! After some more study I decided on Bluehost which was recommended by several experts on line, which also costs me an annual fee…

Hang on guys! I am not selling anything here yet! What happened to building a reputation and following first? http://happypollyesther.org

So I dropped my Aweber subscription after a year not signing up a single soul, nor working on my project much besides slowly getting more inspiration. I like being prepared mentally and physically ūüėČ

Now that I have 4 Posts up I am getting second thoughts about my choice of going with WordPress.org and paying my ongoing Bluehost fees…

I cannot get a profile picture up despite already having it linked to my WordPress.com and ‘About Me’ profile. To get my statistics, I had to sign up for ‘Jetpack’, which thankfully did allow me a free trial for now… I cannot work out how to get widgets on the blog or a ‘follow’ button and feel like a total blog noob again.

Why can I not just add a link to the end of each post referring to my Paypal account instead of a button for donations and go back to my originally set up new WordPress.com page?

But then I will lose my perfect domain name for ‘.org’ in case l need it when things do take off…

What would you do? Stay and pay or lose the domain and go back to the comfort of WordPress.com? Perhaps you have some other clever suggestions that could help?

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this!
Thanks!

With Gratitude,
PollyEsther

Feel better through meditation

High Country Sunset
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It took a sad post by a fellow blogger this evening  https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/depression-my-lifelong-companion/?c=7853#comment-7853 for me to gather the courage to tell you about my latest project.

A few years back I was attending regular evening yoga classes¬†in which¬†there was quite a strong emphasis on meditation. This was perfect for me having done physical labor all day in the nursery. Stretching my tight limbs with gentle poses, followed by some internal work through guided meditations for at least half an hour. I loved it!¬†I’d drive home feeling like I was buzzing with energy, but still relaxed enough to sleep easily not long after. I loved the mental journeys the teacher would take us on and remember even mentioning to her that one day I might write some like that myself.

Recently a demand for guided meditations came to my attention and I got inspired, started writing,¬† learned how to use Audacity and Sound Cloud and somewhat overcame my nervousness of actually speaking with my voice to an unknown number of public…Hence the hesitation of telling everyone.

What are some of the positive effects of meditation?

If you are carrying worries, unresolved issues, anger, hatred or other negative, low vibration emotions, the result will be stress.

Stress creates chemicals in your body that are useful to respond to stressful situations in a natural environment, designed to react physically. The immune system is turned off momentarily to allow more blood flow to muscles and other parts of the body needed to run or defend ourselves.

In our modern day lifestyle, this is not always a desirable response and many people do not utilize the chemicals released. The result is that the stress keeps on lingering, eventually turning into discomfort and disease.

The guided meditation is designed to release stress and create feelings of higher vibrating emotions such as appreciation, relaxation, gratitude and love.

The subconscious mind is unable to discern between reality and imagination, this is a specialty of the conscious mind. Therefore it perceives these positive feelings as real and will change your mood to a happy and relaxed mindset.

Happiness and relaxation have a positive effect on the immune system and therefore enhance our body’s healing ability.

I wish to present to you¬†my first two recorded tracks on Sound Cloud, written and spoken by me. “The Magic Cave” was edited by a dear friend sound technician, to whom I am so grateful for his time, effort and generosity, doing this all for free and making it sound so much more professional, despite¬†my average equipment used recording. I think he enjoys them while he checks the final result ūüėČ

Enjoy!

Namaste

 

Free e-book for 2 days only

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Dear Friends, Fellow Bloggers and Followers,

 

First I would like to thank everyone that helped me out, downloaded the $0.99 preview version of my very first e-book “Looking @ Life”¬†and wrote a review for me¬†today!

The official release is now starting with it being available for FREE for TWO DAYS only, after which the price will go up!

I want all my friends, fellow bloggers and followers to take advantage of this, so grab a copy now if you have not yet!

http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B0184CLSOW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I would really appreciate it if you would leave a review on Amazon after reading.

 

With Gratitude,

Pollyesther

 

I entered a Dutch writing competition…

What keeps me awake at night
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It was the end of 1995 when I stopped writing¬†Dutch after immigrating to Australia. The only time I did, was an occasional letter to mum, but we preferred talking on the phone. Recently I met another Dutch writer on Word Press (https://peterbouchier.wordpress.com/)¬†and stumbled via his links on the Dutch on-line writing scene. It felt good to think back¬†and reminisce about my old homeland even though I’d become convinced that living¬†in Australia was the preferred choice for me.

There was one competition that stood out for me among a long list of fiction story ones. The story had to be between 750 to 1000 words and be relevant to the theme “What keeps¬†me awake at night”. http://www.schrijverspunt.nl/overzicht-schrijfactiviteiten/waar-ik-wakker-van-lig I decided to have a¬†go at it and enter¬†to see how my style of writing would be received there.

After writing so many English blog posts it took quite a bit of effort to find the right words to convey my thoughts, but with a little proofreading help from some family and friends back “home”, I am happy with the end result.

Please do me a favor and check it out if you happen to be able to read Dutch (this was one of the prerequisites) or pass this link to someone you know that can. http://www.schrijverspunt.nl/overzicht-schrijfactiviteiten/waar-ik-wakker-van-lig/4875-duisternis-en-stress

If you enjoyed it, leave a rating please ;).

 

With Thanks and Gratitude,

Pollyesther

 

P.S. Feel free to leave some feedback in the comments below, thanks again!

Mother’s Day and Forgiveness

Bunch of Tulips
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While most people¬†are celebrating Mother’s Day today, remembering all the good things mothers do and have done in their unconditional love for their children, I saw a post on Face Book by someone who did not share this experience. It was obvious that the mother in question had caused a great deal of pain and Mother’s Day reminded her of all this past¬†hurt, rubbing salt in her wounds.

I felt for her as I saw some connections with her previous posts and looked for quite some time on google for the right article expressing the thoughts going through my mind to make her feel better. From years of research to find answers and solutions for my own (different) issues, I felt I may have some insights of interest to her, but failed to locate an article able to express everything I wanted to tell her.

Many years ago a Tibetan Buddhist Monk told me that they believe that stress creates poison arrows in the body. At that time I was going through a stressful period and did not understand the mechanics of this, however could see the negative results it had on my own health. In my quest for answers I read many articles based on scientific research and learned that the body produces very different chemicals in a state of stress than when feeling happy and in harmony. These chemicals cause indeed a lot of havoc from digestive problems to psychological disorders and can eventually even lead to terminal illness, if not corrected in time.

In my case most of my stress was caused by habits absorbed into my subconscious during my early childhood. How this exactly works is very well explained by Dr. Bruce Lipton, (https://www.brucelipton.com/about and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pJwYcK08iQ) for anyone wanting to understand the mechanics better. I absorbed these habits by observing my mother and yes I did blame her a bit for raising me into a stress filled person, until I looked at our family history in more detail.

She had been through a very stressful period in her own life not long before I came along. She was the sole caretaker of 3 elderly men, including my quadriplegic grandfather, after her mother passed away from a stroke at the age of 53. My grandmother also had been through a lot of difficulties during her short life.

Most people react from their subconscious the majority of time (research suggests 95%) and are unaware of the origins of most of their responses, because they relate to a part of their life that has very few conscious memories left! This is¬†due to the fact that the¬†mind works in a different state¬†after the age of 6,¬†compared to when a lot of these memories were made and “recorded” into the subconscious before that.

Understanding this, it becomes clear that my stress response habit¬†was subconsciously “inherited” from at least 2 generations before me, if not more. Thankfully I also absorbed a lot of good habits, that show to me that subconscious habits are extremely important for functioning well overall.

I am grateful that nowadays access to this sort of information is so easy using the internet and that I found an understanding that there was really no one to blame for my predicament because the people that had passed it to me were in reality victims themselves! The good news is, I was able to break this chain by educating myself and work on changing my subconscious patterns.

Going back to the start, how can this post help the situation of the person suffering pain from the childhood memories? The understanding that this mother inadvertently may have been a victim herself, reacting unconsciously out of subconscious habits, can possibly transform her pain and grudge into compassion and forgiveness.

Pain and grudges cause stress resulting in disease, whereas compassion and forgiveness lead to health and happiness! Education, understanding and awareness are the key to healing the past! Maybe today is a good day to break the chain of past suffering and start healing?

Happy Mothers Day!