Thursday, February 13, 2020

Why I Am Struggling With My Sleep......

Hi all,

Thanks for reading this post.  This article is in direct response to my recent post on Facebook about my struggling with insomnia - not being able to sleep.

First, thanks to everyone for your thoughts and suggestions about how I can fall to sleep easier and to find out what is the reason that is keeping me awake.

How much time do you have?  I will endeavour to keep my article brief.  So, Peter (my husband of 17 years in case you are new to following my blog or me on Facebook) and I went on a holiday in January which started in Perth, Western Australia (WA) and then we boarded the Sun Princess cruise ship a couple days later in Freemantle, WA for a four night cruise to Albany, WA and back.  Brilliant cruise but more on that in another post.  We returned to Perth for a couple of days and then flew to Brisbane to spend time visiting family and friends.

Our time in Brisbane started out brilliantly after arriving in the early hours of Tuesday, 14 January and we had our itinerary mapped out; the schedule came together perfectly while we were still in Perth.  On Friday, 17 January we left our friends place in Scarborough (north suburb of Brisbane) and drove to our old camping ground - Western Suburbs of Brisbane and had a lovely bite to eat at Dinmore Cottage Tea House (thanks Lindy) and headed to a friend's place where we were going to have dinner and fellowship and spend the night.

Me on the Motorcycle

This is where our plans changed and no, not intentionally.  Our friend had recently got a new 3-wheel motorcycle and Peter took it for a spin up and down the driveway and then it was my turn.  I was given the safety briefing of where the brake was, how to put it into reverse, worked out the steering and learned how to operate the accelerator on the handle bar grip.  I navigated the driveway two times very safely and slowly and had fun doing so I might add.  It was time to get off the motorcycle so that it could be parked in the garage and get on with our evening activities.  Nah--change of plan much to my disgust.  I had navigated the motorcycle so well, so how hard could getting off be, right?

For a sound minded person getting off the motorcycle should have been a piece of cake, but unfortunately, I am still recovering from symptoms of contextual anxiety (if you are not familiar with my story over the past almost 5 years, please refer to a couple of my YouTube videos - Elephants.....Any In Your Room? and Summary of My Story April 2015 to April 2018) and when I engaged the accelerator on the handle bar grip inadvertently as I was in the process of disembarking, I absolutely panicked and blacked out before I even knew what was going to happen.  The next thing I recall is waking up in the back of an ambulance on the way to a hospital to be thoroughly checked out.

Nope, not the night's activities I was hoping for - a far cry from a night of dinner and fellowship.  So, the motorcycle was stopped when it reached the wall of my friend's house and I landed on the ground and knocked my head around pretty badly which required some stitches and I was treated for a concussion and sustained multiple bruises and lacerations on my right foot but nothing was broken, not even my new prescription eyeglasses.  God had His angels cushion my fall - there is no doubt in my mind.  My fall could have been so much worse.  No, I have not had my memory return from the accident and the rest of our scheduled itinerary did not go according to our original plan, but a very good friend of mine suggested I look for what I could learn from the accident.

Bruising coming up on my face

Lacerations on right foot - still healing
Bruising on right forearm

Now, I am going to be very transparent with my readers for a moment because often we are really good at giving advice to others but I know that I needed to learn a really valuable lesson in the midst of this unfortunate incident which upset our holiday.  I was really upset with my husband Peter (angry in fact) for his letting the accident occur.  Yep, you read that right - I was going down the blame game road, which was not going to take me anywhere good.  When stuff happens to us, and I could probably go so far as to add 'bad stuff', we do not go looking for people to thank, which is what we are taught to do when we receive nice gifts and good things.  There is so much more that I would like to share but I do want to keep the article brief to encourage people to read it.

My sleeps are still not fantastic but I believe they are starting to improve and yes, in the interim, this is partially due to medication and no, there is no shame in that.  We all have a different story and mine has been very topsy turvy for almost 5 years and the motorcycle accident reminded me that I am still healing emotionally, psychologically and even physically because I was not able to respond cognitively well enough or quick enough to what I perceived was a scary situation, so my body did the only thing it knew it could do to cope with what was going to happen -- black out, shut-off, lights out.  The very scary part of this mechanism is my husband Peter and friends were not able to get inside my head at the time to understand all of this and I was very quiet, too quiet for too long which made them worry.

My accident has allowed me to reflect a lot on how much I have to be thankful for.  No, my recovery has not been all good and I have felt very emotional and was very upset that I had to cancel a few get-togethers that we had scheduled and a trip to look at a boat we were considering buying. Then I felt a bit stir crazy after returning to Airlie Beach and suffered from cabin fever (stuck on our small boat) because of feeling sore and not confident on my feet and my balance.

I keep going back to what my friend has shared with me about looking for the positives from the accident and I believe that I have found many, but no, for the moment, that does not include good sleeps.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

What A Decade It Has Been.....Some good but a whole lot of sad.......

I do not know about you, but I am not a huge fan of New Year's Eve.  It is probably because as I get a wee bit older, I struggle to stay awake that late.  In the past my husband, Peter and I have watched television shows and endeavoured to stay awake for the big count down, but we end up being woken by the local fireworks, wish each other a Happy New Year and then move to our proper bed and that is pretty much it.

Perhaps as I get older (although I am still very young at heart - they are just numbers afterall), I realise the importance of each and every day and they are equally a big deal, not just New Year's.  Sure, with New Year's comes a new month, a brand new year and if we are still here to enjoy it, that is nothing to sneeze at, but yeah, the night itself, no real big deal to me.  Sure, there are special New Year's when we holidayed in Canada and spent New Year's Eve in the freezing cold in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada and watched the yellow bug climb to the top of the Skylon Tower, but they are particularly special - creating a special memory.

This next year 2020 is different because it means that the calendar shows that we have entered a new decade, but apart from a few special highlights, my reflection of the past ten years shows far more sadness than I would wish on anyone:
  • Aug 28 2011 - My Dad, John Robert Tough passed in 77th year
  • Dec 2011 - Planned Christmas Holiday with Mom and Dad
  • May 17 2012 - My Grandma Mason passed - 92 years old
  • Aug 16 2012 - Aidan Jones born (Peter and my Godson)
  • Dec 10 2012 - Our First Santa and Mrs Claus appearance
  • Dec 2013 - Family Holiday in Canada with Mom
  • Jan 2014 - US Holiday Trip
  • Dec 2014 - Christmas with Bethie (Peter's Mum) and trip north to Mackay
  • April 7 2015 - Abigail Jones born (Peter and my Goddaughter)
  • April 11 2015 - Mom passed in her 76th year
  • Nov 2016 - Vacation in Fiji
  • Dec 19 2016 - resigned from work due to unfortunate circumstances
  • Jan 16 2017 - Leo (a good friend of mine's little boy) died suddenly; only 4 years old
  • April 17 2017 - Jessie Grimes (Our faithful puppy) passed - 14 years old
  • July 24 2017 - Beth Grimes (Peter's Mum) passed aged 87 years old
  • Oct 2018 - Bought Lilac Wine, our dream sailing boat
  • Dec 20 2018 - Anneke Wood passed 55 years old (a friend gone too soon) 
  • March 23 2019 - Chasely and Dale’s wedding (My beautiful children's wedding)
  • April 19 2019 - John Mertz (my sister Cathy's husband) passed 61 years of age
  • May 29 2019 - Peter Grimes' (my husband) 60th birthday and a surprise party on May 18 2019 {in the midst of planning Peter's party, my sister Cathy's husband died very unexpectedly and to say that continuing with planning Peter's party was difficult is an understatement}
  • June 1 2019 - Set sail on our adventure north on our dream sailing boat Lilac Wine
  • Aug 5 2019 - Arrived at Whitsundays - Airlie Beach - on what would have been Mom’s 80th birthday
  • Sept 1 2019 - Ruthann Lawrence (a dear cousin) passed - 59 years old
  • Dec 24 2019 - Phil Stoddard (my Aunt Kim’s brother passed away)
In addition to the above losses, Peter and I have numerous friends who have lost parents and loved ones - so many farewells - too many it feels.  We have also witnessed too many broken relationships and families, too and my heart is sad for this as well.  We will continue to do our part to help support those who are hurting.

There are other personal losses that I have not listed here and my healing journey continues.  My losing Mom was complicated by various things, not the least of which was my employer's horrific treatment of me while processing my grief.  The fight for justice that was in me is nearly gone and the insurance company sure knows how to kick you where it hurts.  I fought for disability insurance for remuneration for a job that I had to give up unwillingly and I investigated various avenues which I was not successful.

My prayer for 2020 is that the insurance company will once and for all deal with my case in a manner that is humane and I can continue to look over the horizon at what God has in store for me.  As I said above, I would not wish the amount of sadness that my heart has had to endure on anyone, not even my worst enemy - an apology from people for their wrong treatment of me and repentance for their bad behaviour would have been well received.

Alas, I know that we cannot control our future, but I am so thankful that I know who holds my future and it is in Him that I put my trust.

Happy New Year Everyone.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Kicked To The Curb - Good Samaritans

My guess is that we all have experienced being 'kicked to the curb' at least once in our lives.  I know that I have and depending on how serious our falls are will determine how long it takes us before we can get back up again.  Perhaps you have experienced a couple of kicks in a row and it took you a bit longer to get back up again.  Some of you may have even skinned your knee and had some bruising which left a visible reminder of your fall.  Still others may have just been getting up from your first kick when you were kicked again and because you were still trying to catch your bearings before standing back up it caused you to hit the ground real hard and you split your knee open and it was bleeding and required a bandaid, maybe even some stitches and someone to help you up.  Yes, I could keep going and going because we all have different stories and I cannot begin to imagine them all.

I wrote about a girl Rebecca in August 2015 (His Mercies Are New Every Morning) and she had been kicked to the curb a few times and she sure felt like her cuts and scrapes were never going to heal.  Whilst she had applied ointment and bandaids to her bleeding heart and head and other parts of her body, the cuts never had enough time to completely heal before she removed the bandaids when she was kicked again to the curb and her perpetrators expected her to get up on her own and just keep moving despite her bleeding.

Yes, this went on for almost two years and without the help of the many Good Samaritans that were in her life, Rebecca would likely still have gaping wounds.  For those who might not be familiar, the Good Samaritan is a story from the Bible.  You can look it up in Luke, Chapter 10 and Versus 25 to 37.  To summarise, a guy was on a trip and before he got to his destination, he was robbed and attacked and left for dead and two people saw him on their way but went to the other side of the street to avoid him but the Samaritan came by and not only helped him, but took him to a place to recuperate and paid for his bill.

Rebecca was avoided by the people who first knew of her scrapes and then bleeding heart and head but she is so thankful for the Good Samaritans that have been around her to help her and given her a hand when she has fallen back down because she has not been strong enough to stand all by herself.  There are many, too many to name and not only have they been family and friends but some medical professionals.

I know that Rebecca finally had to put her health first because even though she had incredible support around her, the kicks to the curb kept happening so she left the place to where she was employed and in turn has faced more kicks to the curb.  That is why she is so thankful for her Good Samaritans; without them she is pretty sure she would not have had the strength to stay on this road; however, she knows that her strength comes from her faith and that was passed on to her from her Dad and Mom.  She continues to hold her head up high (even on the not so good days of recovery) that she is honouring the memory of her parents by staying true to her convictions.

What I have learned from Rebecca's story in the almost 3 years of her recovery and healing journey, it is understandable why a lot of people give up when battling for what is right because of all the bureaucracy and red tape.  Systems should be in place to help people not discourage them but this has been her experience every step of the way.  It is only because of the supportive and loving people that she has had around her including her Doctors and Psychologist that she can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Rebecca and I cannot help everyone in this world but it is my prayer that we can show mercy to our neighbours as the Good Samaritan did; will you do the same?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I Am Thine, O Lord (Draw Me Nearer)

The melody of this hymn has been rolling around inside of my heart and soul for the past several days.  That's the power of hymns that I have grown up with; that they still resonate deep within my spirit just like God's word.  When we hide God's word or music deep inside our hearts, it comes bubbling up to the surface to remind us of the truth that we might be in need of on a particular day or it may just be Holy Spirit ministering to us.

Life gets so busy sometimes and when we want to take time out to relax we find ourselves in front of the television which I know that I, too, find myself doing at times and then regret that the time has been lost and I could have spent it doing something much more relaxing and more profitable.  But God is so gracious in that He offers His grace to forgive us when we do not spend the time with Him that He longs for.  This hymn, which is entitled "I Am Thine, O Lord", actually has four verses, but this musical group "Commissioned" only sing versus one and two.  In verse three the words are:

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer and with Thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend.

We know that in order to have a healthy relationship, it is necessary to invest time into that person and so it is the same with our Heavenly Father whom I like to refer to as my Abba Daddy.

I miss that hymns are not regularly used in worship like they were back in the day and I had actually forgotten the name of this hymn but thankfully as I remembered the lyrics from the chorus, Google helped me find my way because my hymnal index was not because the hymn is not actually entitled 'Draw Me Nearer'.

The words of the chorus are beautiful but at the same time messy and even confronting because I do not know about you but when I think of Jesus on the cross and bleeding, I do not actually picture that as beautiful but nevertheless, the writer of this song chose the words "Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, To Thy precious bleeding side."  Perhaps to challenge us to create an image in our mind for ourselves; to help us envision how much Jesus really loves us.

I enjoy writing but even as I start to write my mind wanders and thinks of other topics that relate to this one.  For example, it is not unusual to see some form of violence, blood and destruction in the television shows and movies on offer today and perhaps we do not think it is normal, but I believe we have come to expect it as normal.

Now back to the hymn and verse three I referenced earlier.  The verse speaks about having quality time, communing with a friend; that friend being Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.  Then the chorus has us see Jesus on the cross.  Jesus had been beaten, verbally abused, scarred, bleeding and the Bible says unrecognisable to those that knew Him.   A wee bit different than what most crucifix's I have seen either hanging around someone's neck or on a church or hospital wall.  I believe that it makes us uncomfortable to think of Jesus on the cross and picturing in our mind what that actually looked like.  I remember when Mel Gibson released the movie "The Passion Of The Christ" that showed the final twelve hours of Jesus's life, on the day of His crucifixion.  I personally wanted to go and see the film in the theatre when I had the opportunity to take a public stand for my faith even if it made me uncomfortable.

It is at times when I am going through a trial or a challenge that I believe remembering Jesus Christ on the cross and the horrific pain that He endured on my behalf because of His amazing love for me that helps me to take heart, have courage and depend on Him because I know that Jesus has overcome the world.

Going back to the YouTube clip of this group Commissioned of the song "I Am Thine, O Lord", I am a big fan of harmonies  and these guys do an outstanding job with the chorus.  The group adds their own signature to the melody of the verses which fits for their style.  I had tinkered a bit with this hymn at the piano and found this group's arrangement and closed my eyes and let the beauty of the harmonies wash over me like a blanket that warms me when I feel cold.

The next time you are feeling weary, where will you go to receive strength and comfort?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Learned A New Word, No Two Actually

Hold Space.  A friend of mine shared an article recently which talked about 'hold space' and I had never heard the term until then.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself as the author, Heather Plett explains it really well.  No point reinventing the wheel, right?

I have both been on the receiving end and the giving end of "hold space" and it is a real privilege to both receive and give.

Heather Plett addresses what my siblings and I did for our Mom a couple of years ago; although some days it feels like it was just yesterday.  It was a honour to provide care for my Mom as cancer was robbing her of energy and she sometimes did not have the strength to do even the simplest of tasks or when she did and she wanted to just remain independent a little while longer, she was wiped out for a long while after.

These are Heather's words from her post - I believe she articulates what it means really well:

What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

On the surface it may sound easy, but far from it because the tendency is you want to fix it and take all the hard stuff away from the person so you can save the person from the trouble they may otherwise have to go through.

To 'hold space' for me means being there to support the person, being sensitive to the person's dignity and having open conversations so you understand as best as you can when you need to offer help despite what the person may think they want or need at the time.  Yeah, it was hard sometimes letting my Mom do some things when I knew she would be really tired after but Mom chose life even in her dying days.  She was an incredible woman, my Mom.  It was even scary sometimes when I felt out of my depth and that is why I am incredibly thankful for those who were there to 'hold space' for me during this time.

Those special people have continued to 'hold space' for me since that time, too.  I would be lost without them, too.  They are my 'Jesus with skin on' people.  There are far too many to list them all, but in the days, weeks, months and now two years since Mom's death, I have been supported by many who continue to 'hold space' for me.

Which leads me to how I went to bed last night - with a heart full of gratitude.  Yep, that's right.  Despite all that the last couple of years has brought - grief and loss, and more grief and loss and yet more grief and loss and then my own scare with possible breast cancer (but I will save that for another blog post) and more grief and loss and a few falls and one a bit more scary which required a hospital visit (check out the link here if you perhaps are not on Facebook or just missed it) and then more recently being there to 'hold space' for my sick and dying fur baby Jessie who was my baby because I am childless not by choice and all of this in the midst of bureaucracy and weeks of insomnia, I am grateful for so many things.

I could start a list and I will name a few - my loving and incredibly supportive husband Peter, a wonderful step-daughter Chase and her thoughtful boyfriend Dale, Jessie's surviving fur brother Jake who displays unconditional love (I think it is interesting that dog spelled backwards is God - a wonderful analogy of my Heavenly Father's love), my wonderful parents Bev and John Tough and I could go on and on and on.

There are a couple of blogs that I follow and Rory Feek's blog This Life I Live is one of them.  I have referred to Joey and Rory in my previous blogs and their family Heidi, Hopie and Indy.  Their story is a sad one, but Rory stated in his most recent post called Three Mothers 'I try to mostly write stories that are positive and filled with hope.'  Rory acknowledges that there is sadness and pain in our lives and it hurts and he openly shares his feelings and cries, too; but he wants to share that there is a message of hope, too.  This so resonates with me and that is exactly what I shared with my counsellor - yeah, life has been hard, but because of that, my testimony shines perhaps a little brighter.  I feel it.  Some days are still hard; I am still engaged in battle on a couple of fronts; but I have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which are those who 'hold space' for me.

Let me finish with this question for you all......what are you thankful for, this Mothers Day, Sunday, 14th of May in the year of 2017?