Monthly Archives: January 2011

>Isn’t life Ironic?

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Hello Everyone!

Last post I addressed the sense of Victimization that some of experience when faced with challenges. For some of us, yes me, the Victim role is like an old comfy piece of clothing. It’s comfortable, but out of style and threadbare; it’s no longer flattering or particularly useful. And yet, you can’t bring yourself to throw it away.
When I got the news yesterday that my end of treatment date is Feb 11th naturally I was relieved. Finally an end to this crazy sick fever dream I’ve been living in for most of the past year. And yet I found myself feeling, well, a little afraid. I realized that when treatment ends that means I have to venture into my proverbial closet and find a new outfit and it can’t be the comfy cloak of Victimhood that I have, quite honestly, donned too often throughout the past year.
After freaking out about that for a while I realized for the 100,00th time that panic has never made any situation more manageable. I don’t have to have all the answers yet. I still need time to recover, to (hopefully) get my thought processes a little more clear and if I keep following my heart I will know what’s right for me.
I also realized that I’ve been feeling a little pressured by others, some well meaning, others critical and judgmental, that there is this expectation that I will return to work and life will be normal. Frankly I don’t see myself working full time, but I may have some opportunities for flexible work. Disability allows recipients a certain number of hour’s employment, and if I could supplement my fixed income a bit, feel useful and still have time for my writing and self care. I think I’d be living a pretty sweet life. It’s an empty page, not empty but filled with notes, scribbles and ideas. I like to think of myself as an explorer, an adventurer seeking to discover my own passage, my own path to the next chapter. When I look at it that way, as opposed to the confused, frightened Victim I realize I can take that little girl by the hand and say “hey kid, it’s gonna be ok, I’m gonna show you the world and you’ll never have to be afraid again.

© 2010 Jennifer Hazard
Image Courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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Getting to know you…(Me)

I hope anyone has had time to look over and consider the practices for familiarizing ourselves with our emotions. It’s not something that can be done in a finite amount of time, and I don’t know if we ever reach the “finish line’. Rather it’s an ongoing process, just like developing any other relationship. I believe it is well worth the effort, essential really, if we are to truly become the best and brightest we can be. In this process, we become an inspiration, source of support and a good friend to others. It’s amazing how once we stop trying to live up to the standards of others and refuse to allow them to dictate how we should feel, think and act, we begin to attract people into our lives who respect and love us for who we are. After all if we don’t know ourselves, if we become social chameleons, how can we expect anyone to get close? It’s ironic that we wear these masks; we take on these roles that don’t fit all because we want other people to like us. Somehow we got the idea, the fear, that if people knew who we really are, they would run screaming in the other direction. And why do we have this idea? Because we are not so sure WE like ourselves, therefore why would anyone else?
After becoming more familiar and hopefully comfortable with our feelings, we can start to take stock of what things elicit certain feelings. Part of that is looking at what makes us happy. It may be the simplest thing, like seeing a snowflake up close, tending to a garden. It may be that we have favorite books, movies or music that speaks to something deep inside in a way no one else can. Sometimes it helps to remember your childhood dreams, fantasies and favorite activities. By rediscovering the things that capture our interest and that bring us joy, we begin to remember who we are.
Anyone who has been through a controlling relationship, drug/alcohol abuse or has endured deep depression knows the loneliness and grief at losing one’s self. It’s like having had a friend once and now she’s gone. 
The good news is, a true friendship always holds a spark that with proper tending can be rekindled to a flame that will guide us out of the darkness.
Rekindle that flame. Indulge yourself in something that brings you joy. You may be surprised at what a good friend you make.
Peace,
Nana

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


>A Sense of Purpose, Casting off the Cloak of Victimization

>In my previous post, “When Your Mind has a Mind of it’s Own”, I was swimming in some rather dark emotional waters. Much like my physical state, this status can change frequently and without warning. At times these moods appear out of nowhere like a dark cloud looming over a previously sunny day, but if I sit with those clouds long enough I discover that there is usually a weather front somewhere that formed the clouds in the first place. After spending a week moping around and doing my usual reading and research I’ve come to realize that this whole “after treatment” mystery is probably a little more pressure I had realized; and not just for the reasons you’d think. I mean there are the obvious concerns: “what if go through all this and don’t clear the virus?” and “what if I never really get back to the way I was before treatment?”. Then there are the vocational issues as addressed so candidly by my peer blogger Ian Quill in his recent blog post (see link below). Many of us Hep C survivors (and survivors in general) are exploring and creating our own solutions to the question of vocation. Many of us have been able to appreciate the gift of time and self reflection this disease has provided, enabling us to redefine our values and goals and that is a wonderful gift.
I’ve never been this kind of person in the first place, I chose a career that is extremely underpaid and undervalued because it is what I love to do and because I believe that service to others is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer. No matter what our work history the way we make a living, the fact that we dedicate ourselves to work, to being accountable and receiving a paycheck is a significant part of our sense of self. As with so many other areas of our lives, the bits and pieces that make us “who we are” are often disrupted by this disease. It is one more area where the rug is pulled from underneath our established footing  leaving us wondering how and if we will walk again.
For myself, I am able carry on in a similar role as in the past, only perhaps with less direct service. Writing and organizing is a way for me to continue my role as an Advocate and I can hope that someday, in some way it, will help bring in some money. I have no desire to be rich and famous, or even upper middle class. I prefer a simple life…but I’d like to be able to get through the month without running out of money halfway through. I’d like to know that if my dog eats a garbage bag I can take him to the vet and get it extracted.  Although loss of income may be an inconvenient side effect, it is the need for a sense of purpose is far more essential to one’s well being.
I encourage anyone whose vocation has been limited or lost entirely due to this disease to take the opportunity to find something to dedicate your energy to; a cause, a hobby or maybe a spiritual focus. Think of all the things you wanted to do if you had more time and pick one or two that you are able to work on. We all need to feel productive and useful. One way to accomplish this is by using our experience with Hepatitis to add to the efforts to tame this dragon. It has been my observation that many individuals who are disabled or limited by an illness, injury or other condition find great satisfaction in mentoring others, educating the general public or taking political action. We often feel that our disease has taken control of our lives, robbing us of our power, we feel victimized. However, if we can make the choice to be active in education, support and prevention efforts we find ourselves stepping out from under the cloak of “Victimization” and into  the light of purpose and empowerment.
Not sure where to start?  Here’s a link for suggestions!
http://www.hepatitisactivist.org/
© 2010 Jennifer Hazard
Ian’s blog-http://ianquill.blogspot.com/2010/12/get-job-get-life-hepatitis-c-liver.html#links


Self by Definition

self 

noun, plural selves, adjective, pronoun, plural selves, verb
–noun
1.a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one’s own self.
2.a person’s nature, character, etc.: his better self.
3.personal interest.
4.Philosophy .
a .the ego; that which knows, remembers, desires, suffers, etc., as contrasted with that known, remembered, etc.
b. the uniting principle, as a soul, underlying all subjective experience.

In recent days I’ve been making a solid effort to keep myself moving in a positive direction. I had a bad couple of days last weekend and found myself slipping into old attitudes and thought patterns that are no longer comfortable. Like a pair of damn stilettos, sharp, spiky and binding. I needed to put those shoes on, just for a bit, and to be angry, just for a bit. There were valid reasons for my anger, and many of them beyond my direct control.
Anger gets a bad rap in our society. Just as money itself is not the root of all evil, but greed for money that causes all the problems; anger is not a “bad” emotion. It’s what we choose to do with anger that becomes a problem. It’s the belief that we attach to the feeling that gets us all wound up. The biggest troublemaker is the belief that anger is “bad”…”don’t be angry” “stop pouting”, “Be Nice”. The vast majority of us have had those words tossed at us, sometimes gently sometimes harshly, since we first learned to crawl around and assert our will. Is it any wonder that we will do just about anything to avoid it. We will drink ourselves into a stupor, stuff our faces with food, ingest drugs and chemicals and don’t forget sex and rock and roll and compulsive shopping and get on that hamster wheel and keep running. Keep running and it won’t catch you.
But it does. Our emotions always win in the end. They are not going to let us off the hook, no matter how hard we may try. So why does our culture tell us not to feel?
I guess if I knew the answer to that I’d be writing a Doctoral Thesis. I do know a few things about feelings, a few insights I’ve picked up along the way in my endless observations and analysis of Human Behaviour.
First off, we are lazy. We like things to be easy. We like simple answers, solid evidence based solutions, and we want them to work quickly. Personally, I see this as kind of cheating in the game of life. Sitting on the sidelines pretending to have your period. Fact is, feelings are messy and complicated and they get in the way and mess up and complicate our “self directed” lives. And God forbid, sorting out feelings takes TIME!
Another thing it takes is Honesty, and we aren’t so good at that either. Especially not with ourselves. We lie to ourselves more than we lie to anyone else, we’re so good at it most of the time we don’t even know we’re lying! We are amazing creatures!
One last thing we need to do in order to know our emotions is feel Pain. ouch! You don’t have to watch more than an hour of television to know how much we hate pain. The alleviation of pain and worry is a multi-billion dollar industry that sells us happiness in a pill.
But wait, didn’t we learn in school that drugs are BAD? Hmmm this leaves us in quite a conundrum. Apparently drugs are only bad if you buy them from someone who is not authorized and licensed to sell them to you. And by all means don’t even think about growing your own drugs in that back garden.
So let’s summarize…don’t be angry, drugs are bad, anger is bad, take some drugs so you don’t feel angry. Oh and if you do decide to be some whacked out Hippie nut-job who wants to explore your feelings…don’t expect insurance to cover it. It costs far too much money to spend all that time getting messy.
Now I propose that we replace the last set of assumptions with a new one.
Feelings, including anger, are a natural part of being human. They are our bodies way of communicating with us. If we don’t listen to the voice of emotions how do we really know what’s going on? Especially given that we are so good a deceiving ourselves with our brains.
Once we accept that our feelings, even the “bad” ones are really our friends trying to tell us something, we can stop running away with our hands over our ears screaming…”lalalalaaaaa I can’t hear you” when really what were are saying is “Go away! You scare me!”
Once we stop all that nonsense, we can LISTEN without judgement, without defending our Ego, to what those feelings are trying to tell us. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while (remember time is a factor?) Be patient and listen. Do some art work, or write some words, give your feelings a name, a persona a character. Get to know that person and ask her what she needs. Trust me, this CAN be fun, although it probably won’t be painless. You will survive the pain, I promise, you have survived the pain of repressing those feeling, of denying your true self (remember, we lie to ourselves). You wouldn’t want to lie to someone you love, right? And you certainly wouldn’t want someone you love to lie to you…so what are you doing lying to yourself?
Ha, look what’s happening, you are beginning to develop a relationship with your Self! Go slow, don’t worry if it’s awkward at first. Take your time, be honest and get messy!
Next time: Taking your relationship to the next level (no not that, silly!)
Peace,
Nana

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Definition of “self” courtesy of http://www.dictionary.com


Justice continued

Since I published my last post only a couple of days ago, I have spent hours reading through various reactions to the event in Arizona and reactions to the reactions to the event. You may be asking yourself “what does this have to do with being a survivor?” These news events, political analyses, contradictory opinions and attempts to assign or deny responsibility, are events that affect us all as citizens. The voices and opinions we hear are those of Politicians, media pundits, political journalists and, occasionally from a survivor or a relative of one of the victims. It is in complex scenarios such as this that the truth and honest assessment gets lost in rhetoric and convenient hackneyed sound bites. And that is why those of us with real life experience, who have experienced losses, who have felt the pain of discrimination deserve to have our say in these very public issues. If we continue to leave the editorializing to the same old sources, we get the same old story, usually very black and white, narrowly focused and worst of all, divisive.
Last week on my website, I posted a bit about social responsibility, as an example of one of the facets of the Whole Person. That post was before the tragedy in Arizona, but I gave an example of a cause that has struck a chord with me recently and while I do not expect for anyone to jump on MY bandwagon, or anyone else’s for that matter, I do think it is important for those of us who have been excluded from the mainstream, who have known the despair of powerlessness and whose opinions and ideas have been dismissed to take an opportunity to reexamine our values. Many of us have been told by others for most of our lives what to believe; or worse we’ve been sheltered from the news and events of the outside world and denied the opportunity to form our own conclusions. I think that gaining access to information and taking the time to examine our own reactions is an essential part of rediscovering and reconstructing the women we want to be as we create our future. Not everyone will agree in their final conclusions, and that’s a good thing. Not everyone will find themselves passionately dedicated to a cause or a social agenda and that’s ok too. I am suggesting, however, that we take some time to learn about world events, especially those that may be foreign to us, as one of the many exercises in empowering ourselves and establishing our rightful place in society as Women of Wisdom, Strength and Resiliency.
Knowledge, as they say IS power.
If you haven’t visited my future/developing business website http://www.whitewaveconsulting.org.I have begun a series addressing “the Whole Person” and the importance of recognizing our roles within different areas of our lives, social, spiritual, health and body, family, career and financial and community. It is still a work in progress but I always welcome support and feedback as I construct my dream piece by piece. It’s not a one woman job and my ultimate goal is to create a Community of survivors because we all have something that is unique to us that will create our own link the Chain of Wisdom that strengthens the Community.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


>When Your Mind Has a Mind of it’s Own

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Looking back at my last post stirs the kettle of emotion for me right now. Part of me feels almost embarrassed at the dark self indulgence and misery. And  yet, I know that is part of the process. I know myself well enough to know that Hep C or no Hep C, if I find an emotion is becoming an annoying presence, like a pimple forming, that I need to indulge that feeling, to give it it’s due attention.
There have been  so may times in life that I have held back my feelings, pushed them aside and pulled myself up by the bootstraps to carry on as the Brave Little Soldier. Some of us learn to do that at a very young age. There were things going on in my family, growing up that as the oldest I felt it was my duty to “pull it together” and carry on in order to protect my siblings. And besides, focusing on them was easier than experiencing my own fear and confusion. That response may serve it’s purpose in the short term, but it comes with a high price tag in the long run. Fortunately I’ve learned a few things along the way and one of them is that those buried feelings have to come out and be acknowledged somehow.  Ironically, being on treatment, sitting at home most days, I am immersed in the “opportunity” to experience my emotions, whether I like it or not.
To quote my fellow Hep C blogger Eva, 


Yet the mostly painful and disturbing thoughts or distorted fixations continued regardless of whether I wished to turn attention to more healing or cheerful possibilities” http://evaday.blogspot.com/


This is so accurate, our minds have a mind of their own, so to speak. There are thoughts and emotions we really have little, if any, control over. It frightens me to remember that some people become delusional and /or suicidal on this treatment. It’s one more reason that we really need each other, and our friends and families, our medical providers, anyone close to us to try to understand that we need support, we need understanding and feedback.

I am so incredibly grateful for the people I’ve met along this crazy timeless path through the mist.  I’m grateful for the others who write and blog and share their stories with courage and honesty. We’ve got a pretty good community going here. I guess we could say “it takes a village to raise a Hep survivor” I hope that new readers will find welcome and comfort in our little “village”.
Peace,
Jenny

© 2011 Jennifer Hazard
Image courtesy of the Graphics Fairy


Can we get a little Justice around here?

Remember this?
..you know if a citizen was to post a hit list of politicians and one came up dead or close to, the FBI would be all up in their ass. hmmmm let’s all think about that for a moment shall we? as we also consider that Bradley Manning is being held in solitary confinement indefinitely for allegedly revealing a rather similar scenario involving US troops and Iraqi citizens….please I really want people to think about this!!!
I’ve just about had it with this country, the hypocracy, the hatred, the paranoia the lack of empathy for Human Life.
Maybe we can’t stop the fanatics, but lets support those who have made grave sacrifices to reveal the truth out of a sense of duty that goes beyond military orders, beyond false patriotism and rhetoric.
Thank You,
Nana

http://www.bradleymanning.org/
© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard