in which there is a little reframing and a short list

It’s beautiful outside today. I have the windows cracked, and somewhere in the distance I can hear a marching band practicing— or at least, I can hear their drum corps. It’s both nostalgic and vaguely military, muddling together two distinct segments of my life in the strangest ways. Yeah, I was that nerd, before the combat boots, before the languages, before the fiber and the paint. I’ve been a lot of different things.

Today, I’m mostly coming out of a bit of recovery. MDSW was a little much, but I also dropped another med this month, and that’s always an adjustment- Requip this time. I’ll feel a little crap for a few weeks, but it passes. The entire exercise has been a solid reminder that I am not invincible, merely doing much better, and it has also allowed me to spend some time in my body while it has felt less than optimal again, and that’s always been informative. I’ve been thinking about pain recently: all forms of pain, physical and emotional, how they tie into fear. I’ve thought some about that very human urge to avoid both pain and fear, and how it isn’t possible to live a life free of either; it’s in the avoidance that we run into so many of our problems. So what do you do, if pain is (or has become) inevitable?

No, really: I’m genuinely asking. If you thought I had the answer, you’re on the wrong blog, friend.

I’m working, lately, on reframing my relationship with pain. This brief period has been helpful, manifesting a little discomfort for me just when I needed to work with it. Pain is information: my body, mute, communicates with me in many ways; through hunger, desire, anxiety, euphoria, nausea, exhaustion, restlessness, satiety, comfort, and through pain, too. It’s information, my body’s way of letting me know there is a need; just as I don’t like shouting, I’m no fan of pain, but that doesn’t mean that the data contained isn’t sound or important. I’m learning to attend in this space. I’d prefer a nicely written card- I’m such a fan of personal mail, it’s just so civil– but seeing as my body and I were barely on speaking terms seven years ago, listening to my pain seems a vast improvement.

More of that “dinner before dessert” stuff: going through, rather than around.

By way of distraction, allow me to share with you a collection of wonderful things I’ve found this week.

First and foremost: a fundraiser my friend Lilie is doing for the folks affected by the fires in Fort McMurray. You can see the fundraiser here on Ravelry, but here is how it works: Lilie has put up a skein of her prize- winning handspun yarn to be won! You make a donation to the Canadian Red Cross ($10 minimum), then post in thread stating your donation has been made and that you’d like to enter the drawing. Forward your donation receipt to Lilie (her email is in the original post, up top) and she will select a winner using the Random Number Generator on 10 June!

If you’re wondering how much this matters: it matters a lot, folks. If you didn’t know that those fires were still burning, you aren’t alone- but it just keeps going. Dealing with a fire isn’t just about providing emergency shelter, either; it’s food, medical supplies, displaced people, missing pets, lost wages, destroyed documents, and so much more. This is a subject close to our hearts. If you have a little extra this month, please, consider giving.

(Just in case: I know Lilie, we’ve met several times IRL, and this is something she’s done before. It’s real and legit. And she’s terrific, gives great hugs, and even better knitwear!)

Moving away from wonderful people doing good things and onto the strange and surreal: I stumbled onto the Berenst#in Conspiracy this week, and I don’t recommend it if you’re feeling a little untethered because you’re coming off of a dopamine agonist, but otherwise, it’s an interesting run down memory lane for folks who grew up in the 80s and a great example of how flawed memory can be. It’s not just us- a whole slew of folks mis- remember those books as the “Berenstein” Bears! I’m chalking it up to there just not being very many names spelled ” —-stain”, vs “—-stein”, but you can get caught up in a web of Philip K. Dick- level science fiction conspiracy theories if you wander too far with this one. It’s a delightful and silly rabbit hole to fall down, if you have twenty minutes to spare.

Finally, allow me to give you Awaken With JP, my personal guru. (I don’t guru, actually, but from a pop culture perspective and all, etc.) One of my favorite things about the wellness community is that, in its healthier iterations, it can poke fun at itself. Ego is bullshit, after all! This is where JP comes in.

JP Sears is a yogi and wellness coach whose YouTube channel is among the happiest spots on the internet. As an insider, he knows all of the bullshit that goes on in the industry and isn’t at all shy about calling it out, which he does with wit, vigor, and grace. His serious work is beautiful and direct without being sappy and he never, ever uses the words “juicy” or “delicious” to describe a stretch, or your breath. Well done, friend.

Your turn: show me the best thing you’ve found online all week, please. I’ve got this wicked low- grade headache thing happening all week and I need some distractions— show everyone what’s turning your week up, if anything is.





  One thought on “in which there is a little reframing and a short list

  1. May 18, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks so much for the shout out Sarah!!

    • May 25, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks for doing this!!

  2. CJ
    May 18, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve been loving the @abandonedearth Instagram lately. The pictures are so beautiful. It’s a nice way to spend 20 minutes or so. 💗

    • May 25, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Oh man, that is an awesome account. Thanks for pointing me in that direction!

  3. sophiashinies
    May 18, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    So I don’t know much about relationships with inevitable pain, but I know a lot about a relationship with inevitable fear? Fear, like pain, is information: “This is dangerous, or could be.” Fear, like pain, can get stuck in “on” mode, shouting after I’ve already listened and attended to it. And avoidance of fear is a really bad idea that tends to make fear worse: phobias, PTSD, panic disorder all have a component of “fear = bad = avoid” that just gives the fear more strength. Moving into the fear tends to work kind of like stretching and moving with aching muscles, allowing my brain to loosen up and grow in strength.

    In dialectical behavioral therapy, there is an emotional regulation exercise called “opposite action.” It suggests that sometimes doing the opposite of what your emotional brain is telling you to do may help to change the emotion or at least to explore whether your instincts are being helpful or merely avoidant.

    These are just thoughts that your post sparked in me. Now the best thing I’ve found online this week…two things. 1: there is a women’s hockey jersey that I love ( because apparently there are enough people that call Amanda Kessel “#BestKessel” despite both of her brothers playing much better paid men’s professional hockey that they made a shirt for it. Amanda Kessel is pretty awesome. 2: I discovered Chart Minder yesterday when I was translating a cuff-down sock pattern to toe-up, and I discovered that by recharting the pattern, I began to understand what the creator was doing conceptually. I actually understood and memorized the pattern just by charting it, and have only had to reference it once or twice since. It felt like a very intimate way to experience someone else’s creation.

    • May 25, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      That’s an excellent point about avoidance and reinforcement. I’m not a fan of the old- fashioned “exposure therapies” but there are self- guided (and/ or self- boundary- ed) exercises/ experiences that have really helped with my PTSD. There is research showing that “venting” our anger works almost like rehearsing, reinforcing our rapid- rage responses, so it seems to follow that fear- avoidance might work the same— and avoidance does seem to be a very automatic response. I dig the DBT “opposite action” exercise; I like the “let’s get messy and explore this though” feel to it. Feelings are information.

      I COMPLETELY know what you mean about understanding a pattern better via translation! Sometimes when pattern editing I’ll just get lost in something due to my own ignorance, or a missing word, just a failure to comprehend, etc. I’ll need to do something similar- backtrack, try to work it out- and when I’m done, I’ve followed the designer through their process. It’s really fun, right?

      And hey, hooray for Amanda Kessel! She’s ridiculously underpaid (female athletes, damn) but that recognition has got to feel so damned good. Hockey is the business.

  4. Tan
    May 18, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    JP is hilarious. I just watched “If Meat-Eaters Acted Like Vegetarians.”

    Re pain, I have a whole list of things I do when migraine pain won’t go away. 1) ice packs; 2) take a couple of benadryl and a muscle relaxant and try to sleep it off; 3) listen to guided meditations–I don’t care what they are as long as there is a voice to focus on; 4) get in the shower and soak my head with the hottest water I can stand and the shower head set on power massage (I have a ledge to sit on and a hand-held shower head); 5) eat crunchy food. I can take a triptan 2x per week but I save them for when I need to be functional. Items 1-5 are helpful any time but you won’t get much done.

    • May 25, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Oh, I was so behind that Meat- Eaters video. Our daughter is a life- long vegetarian, not of the preachy- awful kind, thank goodness, but we watched that and laughed our faces off. He makes me happy.

      I really wish there were migraine meds that didn’t render folks into jello. It’s frustrating when the options boil down to “useless with pain” vs “useless without pain”. Hey, I’ll take “without pain” every day, but it’s not too much to desire functionality, too. I’m envious of your seated shower, Tan. That sounds heavenly.

  5. May 19, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I love this post and am still digesting it. In dealing with some physical and emotional pain lately, I’ve been trying to learn to be ok with being completely uncomfortable most of the time. Thank you for your wonderful words and for sharing so generously.

    As far as very silly internet distractions, here’s a vine I can’t stop watching this week:

    • May 25, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Okay, I’m VERY into that Vine, but also quite sad to hear you’re in pain. Discomfort is crap; yeah, we can learn a lot in that space, but we can learn a lot in any space, you know? I’m sorry you’re hurting. Here’s hoping you’re feeling a little better today.

      • May 25, 2016 at 6:50 pm

        Thank you, Sarah! It’s a time of endings and new beginnings, which is scary and hard, but exciting. ❤

  6. May 19, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    I’m due to have a baby next month and have been thinking a lot about pain and fear as it relates to childbirth. The books I’ve read have discussed how pain+fear = suffering, but pain + acceptance = not nearly as bad as you’d expect. I don’t know how this would relate to ‘non-productive’ pain caused by disease, but it struck me.

    My favorite thing on the internet this week is this meme that I would absolutely love to hear the backstory for:

    • May 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      I don’t know if I want that meme explained to me, or if I prefer to keep making up stories about what happened immediately before (and after) that photo was taken. 🙂

      Wishing you all the luck in the world next month, Alicia. I’ve been there- it’s a different sort of pain, a productive, good, “doing things” sort of pain. Like sports, if you’re athletic, just on a very, very grand scale. 🙂 I remember spending a lot of time focused on how wonderful it was that I was FINALLY going to see my baby, which was really helpful. And yes, I do feel there’s a lot of hyperbole out there about the pain, but hey, every body (and everybody’s birth, and each individual birth!) is totally different! I did find it very interesting to witness my body doing that one particular function- birth- without minimal input, really, from me. There’s an unstoppability to it that is both magnificent and a little humbling to experience. Once it gets started, your body needs to get to where it’s going, and you’re just hanging on for the ride. I found that fascinating. It was a really good exercise in surrender and anticipation. All the best- looking forward to seeing pictures of your little one!!

  7. May 20, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Thank you so much for that video. It was a much-needed giggle first thing this morning! 😀

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