Living in the Present

I am having a really hard time living in the present, focused on the now.  With all the planning and preparation to be done before our departure, I am constantly trying to imagine what life will be like in 4 months.   Every day that passes puts us closer to the day when we close the doors to our house for the very last time and walk out into the world with just what we have in the truck.

Will this tent be best for us?  What about this one?
Will we be doing more of this, or more of that?

There’s no way we can know.  No matter how many stories we read or people we ask, the bottom line is only we can know what is best for our trip and only experience will bring that knowledge.

Okay, now that I know and accept that, I need to let it go.

I need to look at it in a different light and stop wishing my time away – I am alive today living my life.  I may be getting ready for something else but my body, my mind, they are all right here living this life today.  I owe myself and Tom my presence.  In 4 months my life will be completely different than what I’ve known for years and I need to enjoy what I have now without wishing I was somewhere else.

I promise myself to relish the now.  I will not wish my time away.  I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, no matter how much I plan – so what sense does it make to waste the moment thinking about something I have no control over?

I am happy to have today and as far as I know, that is all I have.

How to Heal: Part 1b – Body; Acupuncture

In Part 1a, I told you all about
my own personal experiences with chiropractic
adjustments,
now I will tell you how I fared with acupuncture treatments
for the same pinched nerve in my shoulder.

 

My father would see Dr. Han 3 times a week and it seemed like every night he had a funny story about Dr. Han’s bedside manner or his consistent use of the 3rd person.  All I knew was, you didn’t mess with Dr. Han.  So when I wanted to see him for my pinched nerve two years ago, I didn’t because I knew it was a commitment that I was not able to make.  From all the stories I’ve heard about Dr. Han, it was much easier to get out of the Chiropractor’s recommended treatment schedule than his.  So that’s just what I did.  Until one morning I was overcome with pain and I knew I had to try acupuncture.

When I walked into the waiting room I was brought back to my father years ago writing a letter for Dr. Han, to the insurance companies.  After years of working as a steamfitter, my father was left with terrible carpal tunnel in his wrist, his only option was surgery with a 50/50% chance of being able to return to regular work.  That’s when he started seeing Dr. Han, he went for a long time but he never had to have that surgery and he never stopped working.  The out of pocket cost was staggering, even at Dr Han’s low price of $45/visit.  Insurance companies don’t cover acupuncture, just like they didn’t covered chiropractoric in the past.  They would rather you be drugged up and cut into which costs well into the thousands and leaves you missing work and permanently scarred at the very least.  Dr. Han’s office was wallpapered with letters from his patients each telling their miraculous story of how no other Western practice had brought them relief, how they were cured with nothing more than acupuncture.  Hundreds of people pleading with the insurance companies to consider the benefit of non-invasive healing practices.  All fallen on deaf ears.

I knew that acupuncture could help.
I knew Dr. Han was a competent doctor,
despite his lack of manners (cultural differences most likely).
I knew it would take time and so I committed to 2 months.

I didn’t find Dr. Han to be rude, I found him to be a sweet and gentile old man.  What I found he lacked was communication.  My new patient paperwork questioned which medications I was taking, what doctors I was seeing, and what my symptoms were (I included an increasingly alarming pain in my toe for the hell of it) .  When I saw Dr Han he asked me where and how it hurt about a dozen times.  He didn’t check my pulse or tongue like I had read on the internet.

When I could hear him opening the package of needles I shut my eyes and focused on my breathing, I was aiming for 5 counts. 

*OUCH!* 

Dr. Han stuck the first needle right where I said the pain originates, then tapped it a few times.

*Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!*

Now, I may be a baby with Tom or my Mom but I am a very good patient and I keep my mouth shut!  (When I was 12 my dentist thought I’d be able to withstand getting a filling without novocaine; we tried, I couldn’t – but that was probably the only time I told a doctor they were hurting me.)  So I laid there as he stuck needle after needle in all the areas he had rubbed the cool, soft cotton dipped in alcohol just moments before.

“I thought acupuncture didn’t hurt!!” I thought to myself as I breathed only 3 count breaths as any more air inside of me made the needles dig in deeper.  He put the first needle in my foot – HOLY SHIT!!!!  Pain?  Ugh!  As he put the remaining two needles in my foot I had to say something,

“Um, that one in my foot, it really hurts, is that okay?”
“That is a good sign honey.”

He set the timer, shut the light and he was gone.  I thought this was a perfect time to practice being present.  I had no idea how long that timer was set for, I couldn’t’ move and I was in a lot of pain at almost every needle point.

Breath in – One, two, three, fo – ouch.
Out – One, two, three, four…
Listen to the sounds, fill your body with a warm light, breath out the dark, negative pain…

The timer ticked away as I tried not to name sounds, tried not to think of anything, just fill my mind with space (I’m sure my big brother would have something smart to say along the lines of my head having nothing but space in it haha) -{see, there I go again with my mind wondering!}

I wonder when that timer is going to go off.  I bet it scares me and I jump when it does.  Try to focus on the timer, you could probably anticipate when it is about to ding.  I really don’t want to be scared with all these needles in me.  What the heck, my foot hurts like hell!?!

*DING!*

Dr. Han promptly returned and I envisioned the pain being taken away with the needles, no such luck.  He plucked each needle out and I was saddened with the amount of pain I was still feeling at each insertion site.  I gingerly got dressed and lurched up to reception.  “He would like to see you Wednesday and Friday.”  After some back and forth with our schedules I asked if it were possible for me to come Thursday as Wednesday wasn’t good.  “Oh no, he won’t want you to miss.  You must come.”  Hearing my dad say this for 10 years, I already expected that so I didn’t argue, I made an early appointment for Wednesday morning.

As we were walking out Tom asked, “How you feeling?”

“I don’t know.  Weird, like… I don’t know, like I’m on drugs, my body feels … weird.”

We rode the elevator and walked out to the car while I tried to figure out what I was feeling.  Euphoric?  No.  Lethargic?  A little.  Numb? Maybe.   As I went to get into the Jeep, my leg wouldn’t raise up like my brain wanted it to.  Now this was weird!  I tried again to no avail.  “I can’t get in!  My leg won’t go!  WTF?!?”  I laughed but it was really odd to feel my brain telling my body to move and there be no response.  Freaky.  Finally I was able to get myself up and in but very awkwardly.  I remained in this stupor the whole way home, I asked Tom to stop at CVS for me but when we got there I asked him if I could stay in the car.  It was so bizarre!

I went back to Dr Han that Wednesday and felt much better, less pain and less weirdness afterwards, although I did still sit in my car for a good 10 minutes before I felt comfortable enough to drive and even then was wishing I didn’t have to.  Friday’s appointment fell somewhere between the two, a little pain but less than the first time and still a lot of weirdness afterwards.  I guess it would take me about 3-4 hours to get back to normal after those first few visits.

That was April, fast forward 4 months and the pain in my foot was totally gone but I was still skeptical about my shoulder.  It didn’t hurt me anymore but I still experienced  considerable numbness.  And I was spending so much money!  Upwards of $2000 at that point.  At the end of August I told Dr. Han I had to stop coming.  “No, you cannot, you are not healed yet.  Dr. Han heal you.  You don’t stop yet, so close, you don’t stop.”  Ugh, “so close”?  What does that mean?  How close?  I didn’t feel close.  Matter of fact, since I started with a new yoga studio I was feeling my shoulder more than ever lately.  Is it even working??  What if I quit too soon and waste all this money?  But how long am I willing to go?  I decided to continue my treatments.  At the end of September I told him I couldn’t come anymore, “this time I really mean it, I am broke!”  Dr, Han studied my chart and said “Acupuncture take time.  You not cured.  I cure you, you never come back. ”  After asking for some more clarification he said, “a couple more weeks”.  About 5 minutes after he had left the room, he came back and turned the light on, “October 12th, your last day.  You come ’til October 12 you no come after that, you be done then.”  Well, how could I quit now?  I continued to see Dr Han until October 12th when he gave me a big hug and sent me on my way.

$3280 later and my shoulder is, as far as I can tell, healed.  I do still experience some sort of sensation that I can’t quite say is numbness, it’s certainly not pain.  I have no pain.  I also have absolutely no pain in my toe.  Although that was a secondary complaint when I first went to Dr. Han, it had been worrying me for years as it was getting worse and making it imposable for me to bend my toe in either direction without severe pain – I couldn’t so much as even touch the top of my toe without aggravating the pain.  It bears repeating, that pain is completely gone.

The rundown of my experiences with acupuncture treatment
and my personal conclusions:

[list type=”arrow”]

  • Feeling as though chiropractic wasn’t going to help me and with the success my Dad had with acupuncture, I committed to acupuncture despite the cost.
  • I received way more treatments than I ever thought.  Although relief was quick to come, complete relief of symptoms took the entire length of treatment.
  • Even after treatments were stopped, I think I continued to heal.  I felt even better after another week.
  • I recommend acupuncture to anyone suffering from chronic pain.
    A true practitioner, my doctor held the 1st RI state license for Acupuncture – he says he brought acupuncture to the States and vowed to work until insurance companies agreed to cover treatments.  I know he was traditionally trained and not just an American trained by other Americans; I feel better being treated by a person who grew up in a holistic environment and is committed to non-invasive healing practices, and unfortunately, many Americans are not.
  • I consider myself healed.
    If in the future my pain returns or I have new pain, I will seek acupuncture.
    (Or rolfing just to ease my curiosity of the practice and to tell you all about it!)[/list]

 

[button color=”#eeeddc” background=”#315e62″ size=”large” src=” http://lifebyyourownrules.com/how-to-heal-part-2-mind/”%5DComing Soon: Part 2: Heal Your Mind[/button]

 

Ego

I’ve wanted to write about ego for a while now for once I  identified
and understood ego I experienced such a peacefulness within myself;
all of a sudden ‘awakening’ made sense
(I admit to not quite grasping the concept at first).
Questions I didn’t even know I had were answered –  I guess that means I wondered ‘why’ but without a specific question in mind.
All of a sudden my feelings and thoughts were explained and I couldn’t deny my own ego, but I could recognize it and in doing so, I could weaken it.

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]Ego – The self especially as contrasted with another self or the world.[/quote]
Merriam-Webster defines Ego as; The self especially as contrasted with another self or the world.  Before I read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, I thought ego was a person’s self-worth, a person with a big ego would be boisterous, arrogant, or cocky.  I wasn’t exactly wrong, but the true definition is much more accurate.  Your ego is the part of you that is constantly comparing you to everyone else.  Albert Einstein referred to ego, the illusionary sense of identity, as an optical illusion of consciousness.

The ego loves identity, most easily recognized through content, “my car”, “my life”, “my space”.  This is how we get so caught up in consumerism, when the ego identifies with things we create an attachment to things and thus we want more things, better things.  Then we become possessive over our things, getting angry, anxious, or sad when something happens to our things.  We may become so attached to our things that we experience a great sense of loss when those things are gone, we react as if we experienced a death.  We base who we are on what we have, and even what we don’t have.  “I own [this] therefore I am [important]”, “If only I had [this] I would be [happy]”.  This is the illusion of self identity, but our stuff is not who we are.  Matter of fact, the ego wants to live so badly it will thrive on whatever it has.  If you read up to this point and decided to give away all your possessions thinking you would free yourself of ego, chances are your new thought process, anti-consumerism, would be the ego’s new identity.  It’s identity with things would be replaced with an identity of a more enlightened person, this new thought process would then be identified as the ‘right’ way – the ego loves to be right and will make it so by making others wrong; the self as contrasted with another…”

[quote align=”left” color=”#999999″]What you react to in another, you strengthen in yourself. ~ Eckhart Tolle[/quote] The ego also identifies with thought.  Have you ever thought something and quickly scolded yourself for it?  Sometimes I have thoughts that I don’t even believe.  I think, “I must be a bad person for having such a thought”, for certainly my thoughts are what make me Me, right?
Wrong!  Your thoughts are usually created by the ego in an attempt to make itself right.  You know how they say people criticize others in order to make them selves feel better?  That’s your ego, it is always comparing itself to others and it needs to be better than them, so when it finds inferiority within it will try to turn that around by criticizing the behavior or appearance of the ‘better’ person.

Ever notice how much people complain?  Complaining is soothing to the ego, it serves the same purpose as judging.  When you complain about a person, situation, or practice your ego is saying, “I am better than this”.  As Tolle says, “what you react to in another, you strengthen in yourself”.  In my case, when I started working my last job, there was a woman there who was extremely mean, not just to me but to almost everyone who sought her help!  I had never experienced someone being that mean to me before and it really upset me.  When I spoke about her to my friends and family (constantly!) I could point out each of her faults very easily.  After years of hating her to the core, it occurred to me that those horrible traits could also be found within myself, that the things I hated so much about her were the things I hated so much about myself!  I still think she is an awful meanie but I also recognize her struggles and excuse her behavior for she does not realize her impact nor does she mean any harm; she is defensive of her own shortcomings and her ego covers them up by making others out to be inferior in some way.  I am also thankful she came into my life long enough for me to learn a valuable lesson about the way I act and why.

Becoming conscious and breaking free of the ego is so important to being happy with yourself and your life.  I urge you to read Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth as there is so much more to unlocking that consciousness and Tolle explains it in such detail, understanding it is certain to change your life!

Life is so much happier when you are happy, and being happy is as easy as flipping a switch, once you find the switch of course!

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Oprah’s Book Club, Selection 61)

How to Heal: Part 1a – Body; Chiropractic

I will start this by saying I completely understand how money works.
I understand living paycheck to paycheck, I know it may not seem like I do, but before my shift in mentality I had no savings and more bills than cash.
Please do not dismiss any of these options based on lack of money,
creativity can stretch a budget immensely!

In my case, I was paying $62/week for health insurance.  My deductible was $250.  I was healthy and not on any medications.  My only issues were excessive sweating and a pinched nerve in my shoulder.  I needed a few blood tests to figure out what the sweating issue was and I wanted to try acupuncture for my shoulder.  I found out acupuncture was not covered under my (and many) insurance plans.  I got the blood tests and paid the deductible out of pocket.  When my results came back my Doctor suggested I get more blood tests to further investigate the cause.  Unfortunately, this all took place at the end of the year so I was responsible for the deductible once again.  I decided to wait and try to save that money before scheduling the tests.  Before I was able to save the money my deductible was raised to $1000!

I felt so helpless!  I was paying a minimum of 10% of my paycheck on health insurance but wasn’t able to use it for what I wanted (acupuncture) or needed (blood tests).  After much deliberation and number crunching I canceled my health insurance.  It was the scariest thing I’d done in a while; I still had 6 months until open enrollment, 6 months to stay safe and healthy.

I’m happy to say that I have been living without insurance for just about 2 years and I couldn’t be happier!  I got my blood tests done again, however because now I was an “indigent patient” I was given a form from my Doctor saying I was entitled to a 50% discount making my tests cost $120 this time around.  (Even better, the results came back perfect now that I had been off a certain medication for 12 months!)  As for the pain in my shoulder, I tried a couple of routes which I will explain over these next couple of articles.

I’ll start with Chiropractic because
most insurance companies now cover the treatments.

In each of my experiences (once when I was 16, again at 23 and once more at the age of 30) the first visit consisted of basic range-of-motion tests and x-rays followed by a consultation describing the course of treatment.  Each time it was requested that I return 3 times a week over the course of many months (upwards of 4).  The treatments I received from the first two doctors were different from the last one so I will describe them both.

The first two chiropractors would lay me on my stomach on a flat table (similar to a massage table), they’d ask me to take a deep breath in and then as I exhaled they would press down on my spine, which would crack each vertebra in the area – this would be repeated for my lower and upper back.  Then, laying on my side with my knees tucked, they would rotate my body slightly, breath in, pressure on the exhale causing the cracking along the length of my spine – repeated on both sides.  Lastly I would sit up and while cradling my head in their hands, breath in, and on the exhale they would twist my neck in a manner similar to what you see people doing in the movies to break someone’s neck – CRACK!  And again on the other side.

None of this would hurt, it actually felt rather nice, imagine cracking your tight knuckles.  After the adjustment I would be taken in to another room where I would lay face down with my shirt pulled up exposing my bare flesh.  Electrodes were attached and small waves of electricity were sent to correct my muscles’ problematic movement compensation.  You can read more about ARP treatments here.

During my visit to the 3rd doctor, I did not receive the ARP treatments, nor did I ask why.  It had been almost 10 years since the last time I was in a chiropractor’s office and I noted how things changed.  Other than the lack of ARP, the table had been replaced with what is called a “drop table”, basically the Dr. positions a part of the table up a little higher and going through the same breath in and pressure on the exhale, the table would drop back down to it’s original position and he’d start over with another area.  He didn’t lay me on my side and he took about 3 visits before he cracked my neck.  (But I was there for different pain than in my younger years.)

All in all, chiropractic therapy helped with my immediate pain but I never completed the entire course of treatments so I cannot comment on it’s effectiveness.

 

My rundown of my experiences with chiropractic treatment
and my personal conclusions:

[list type=”arrow”]

  • As a child I was excited for a non-traditional route however I quickly came to regard it as a money-making scheme due to the excessive amount of recommended treatments and the lack of immediate results.
  • As a young adult I was receiving treatments for free (I was working as the nanny for the Doctor’s children), even still, after lack of expected results I stopped receiving treatment within the first 10.
  • As an adult I went for 5 adjustments before I ran out of money and stopped once again.
  • Although my immediate pain had subsided, I didn’t trust that chiropractic was the cure I was seeking.
  • I know it was my responsibility to remain to the end if I wanted to see results, but I was not convinced it was worth the money. I went on to research other holistic remedies for chronic pain which lead me to acupuncture.[/list]

 

[button color=”#eeeddc” background=”#315e62″ size=”large” src=” http://lifebyyourownrules.com/acupuncture/”%5DComing Soon: Acupuncture[/button]

 

New Series: How To Heal – Mind, Body, and Spirit

I get upset when I hear people talk about debating surgery, or being anxious or depressed, I often find people’s energy to be negative and draining.

I am passionate about finding alternative ways to deal with our pain and stresses and I want to share it with the world!  Unfortunately, I seem to have trouble finding compassionate words when face to face with someone who is telling me their woes.  Because I am so strongly opposed to how medicine has become a business and I truly believe that “finding a cure” is far from anyone’s goal, I have been turning my back on our modern medicinal world.  Due to me having such a strong opinion on the matter, I tend to come across as unsympathetic and that turns people off.  I don’t mean to be rude or sound as if I know everything, but I am excited and admittedly, I have a hard time understanding why someone wouldn’t want to try the natural route first.

That’s the beauty of this blog, I can tell you everything I have to say and if you don’t want to listen anymore, you can stop reading – but you shouldn’t because I have some wonderful things to share with you!

Over the next few articles I will share with you holistic ways to heal yourself.  These are ancient forms of healing and many would argue that they have much more success than traditional medicine.  It is important that you keep in mind, holistic healing is a way of life; unlike how a Doctor would give you a prescription for your pain, anxiety, or sadness, the holistic approach to healing is much more encompassing, considering the whole body, and it takes a little more effort than swallowing a pill.

 

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Holistic:
Characterized by the view that a whole system of beliefs must be analyzed rather than simply its individual components. Taking into account all of somebody’s physical, mental, and social conditions in the treatment of illness[/quote]

 

[button color=”#eeeddc” background=”#315e62″ size=”medium” src=”http://lifebyyourownrules.com/chiropractic/ ‎”]Coming Soon: Part 1: Body; Chiropractic[/button]

 

 *Disclaimer:
I am just a human being taking responsibility for my health by listening to my body and questioning my Doctor – I encourage you to do the same. 

Free-for-Me Friday: Budgeting Software

Ever since I took Home Economics my Junior year in high school I’ve been obsessed with managing my finances.  “Managing my finances”, that sounds so formal, like I have this great grasp on my finances.  I have always lived paycheck to paycheck, matter of fact, I didn’t stop until I decided to travel.  Once I had the plan to leave, all of a sudden I had all this money!  Now I didn’t win the lottery or anything, I didn’t even get a second job – I just stopped consuming.  Once I realized my truth, the $10 mascara or $25 face cream no longer gave me a rush of happiness, matter of fact it was opposite – every time I didn’t buy something and added the money to my Freedom Fund, I had a much stronger and longer lasting rush of happiness; I knew I was working towards my life’s truth.

Anyway, it really helps to see where your money is going.  Using this website I have been able to totally regain control of my money, even before I decided to travel.  When I switched to organic food I was able to pull up proof that it didn’t cost any more than conventional eating (you’re just redirecting your money, instead of on fast food and restaurants you’re spending that money at the grocery store or farmer’s markets, or even better – free from your own garden!)

On the home page you get to see your net worth; cash, debts, property, investments.  Scary for some.  I’ve been using this for a full 3 years now and I never thought that I’d see my net worth come to a respectable number.                                                                                (Amazingly it has grown $18k in those 3 years!)

You also can set up budgets to give you a visual of where your money should be going.  I always hated this because I’d always have a negative number after I put in my income and expenses – but I still did it and it really helped.

My favorite is the Trends option where you can really see, in a nice pie chart, where you spent money.  This week, month or year, even compare it with last week, month, whatever!  I love it!

So it takes some work to get your accounts set up and to enter all your cash purchases – but it is so totally worth it in the end when you realize you control your money and not the other way around.  Then you can get on living your life!

 

[button color=”#eeeddc” background=”#7d7d7d” size=”large” src=”http://www.mint.com”%5DMint.com%5B/button%5D