Faint of Heart Need Not Apply

Human Condition

Faint of heart need not apply 

Varied positions

Picture, emerging head, DCP_8561Been a hard couple of weeks, maybe months, but who’s counting  . . .  won’t go into the gory details . . .  When I complained about aches and pains, my loss of energy and motivation to my Baha’i “guide”, Jim, his response was:

“Being human and/or getting old is not for the faint of heart…….”

It made me think (There she goes again . . . “thinking”): Very few of us get out of this condition called human without pain, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional;  I have to accept (perhaps not like) that my life, all life, is ultimately about loss.

Starting from birth and losing the comfort of our mother’s womb, we are on a continual, unremitting passage of loss.  Some of the loss is welcome and some not.

Perhaps what is important is less about the actual loss and more about how we “work”  it.  

(But right now I’m too exhausted to work anything . . .)



Dear Laurie,

This is a feeble response to your post about your life, love and losing dear Callie.  

In the first century of my life I came to the conclusion that all life is about loss.  Yet without having any meaning for loss I experienced the unspeakable fear of losing my parents, my health, my loved pets.  I was sure I would drown in the pain, be paralized by the grief.  

Now, in the second century of my life I am even more sure that all life is about loss.  And the purpose?  Well, we all have to struggle with that question, each in our own way.

For me, personally, my purpose is to learn to let go gracefully of earthly possessions, people, pets to know that death is a beginning of the journey into eternity with God, not an end.

If I didn’t believe I would drown in the pain, be paralized by the grief.  

Yet as your loss touches me and it’s easier to say than do.


Below is the end of Laurie’s post.  

Read the whole post on Laurie’s Blog, Hibernationnow, The Best Is Yet To Be ( A True Story)
“When my children were little, in third grade and second, I surprised them with a puppy. A sweet ball of fur from the shelter, only six-weeks old. The most well-behaved dog you can imagine, demure and cuddly who wanted nothing more than to sit in my lap and sigh with contentment. Earlier this month I gave her a big tenth birthday party as I have every year, with my daughter and our friends Margaret and Christina; I even bought hats and paper plates. I took photographs of us.

It’s been only two weeks but now she is dead. I brought her in to the veterinarian because she yelped softly twice but otherwise seemed fine. I felt silly bringing her in to the veterinarian but I did anyway. He examined this perfectly looking dog and said “I feel something.” He kept her there all day for an X-ray and blood tests and I called later that afternoon for the results.

He scheduled her for surgery, the following day, she had a mass on her spleen and he would have to take her spleen out but, as he said, “dogs can live a good life without a spleen….if it wasn’t cancer.” Cancer? We brought her in to surgery and I kissed her a lot and put my arms around her and whispered secrets to her. Later that afternoon, the veterinarian called, the cancer had spread to 75 percent of her perfect tan, black and white body. He advised and we agreed that we did not want our dog to suffer. Our dog died that day. I had to tell my children and our friends, between sobs and my grief. This was my dog. I picked her out from the shelter, she was my girl. I still cry, I still think I hear her in the house, I wait for her when I unlock the door….

As you get older in life you will have experienced great joy: college and dating, relationships, marriage, children, jobs, pets. They say “the best is yet to be” but I can’t believe that. I wish I thought that there were better things ahead for me in this world but I can’t possibly imagine what they would be. I’m sure there will be moments of joy here and there, but so too, there will be more sickness and death and grief and getting older. I had the best of times, now, I just have the memories.”

Human Canaries- PLEASE take a few minutes to educate yourself on MCS.

Perfume not harmless

Hits a bullseye in your brain


Mindshaft of your brain

There’s one way in, no way out

Lost in the black maze


Thank you for the Perfect Poets Award!

I nominate Wendy, Create to Heal – http://createtoheal.blogspot.com/  -for the next Award

Thousands of people have sensitivities to smells aromas but  MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITY (MCS) is a debilitating condition.

It looks like a long read but it’s worth understanding this little known condition.

My dear friend Ida sent this NY Times article link (below) to me.  She  knows first hand the isolation, suffering that comes from having Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, this physically and socially debilitating illness.


(in slide show: click on the far middle right  to advance the first slide)

I asked this question: If your house was burning, what would you take with you?  

Here’s my original post: https://judithwesterfield.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/do-you-really-know-what-matters-to-you/

Here’s Ida’s comment:

“Well….I to respond to this. I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I have lost everything I own five times and partially 3 more times, in the last 12 years because of mold sensitivity. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

I don’t think I’m materialistic, but I carefully and lovingly collected interesting and beautiful things all my life. Not many but enough. I’m not talking about expensive things, but things I treasured that were Artistic and had good lines, good design. A few things I had from my parents. I never went for the Bling, or the Trend. A lot of those things were part of me.

I keep ‘things’ for a very long time….one watch, one hair brush, same tea kettle…..all those years. I can say, oh materials things don’t matter, but it’s what is behind those things. It’s my history. I know some people’s history doesn’t matter. They don’t even read History. I do. It’s really different when it’s not voluntary. I don’t know anyone that walks away from what they own. I also know people who don’t own or collect beautiful things, or good books.

I’ve never bought a coffee maker or microwave, a TV, electric kitchen gadgets. Thank God. Everything I’ve ever owned is carefully selected. I’ve come to the conclusion, that’s it for me. I don’t know anyone, that does that to the extent that I do, but I do, so when I lose everything, suddenly, not by choice it’s devastating and it’s not because I’m materialistic. It’s because I care about me and I value me and everything that was part of me.

Maybe this doesn’t make sense to someone else. I”m now afraid to buy
anything and when I do, I again, do so carefully, with good design, lines. I get that small tea cup from the thrift store that says, “made in Occupied Japan”, or that Vintage Melita porcelain coffee carafe, or those water glasses from France. There I go again. Yes, if I lose them, I will miss them.”

The possible list of symptoms of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is almost endless – varies from one patient to the next. Also worthy of mention here is the fact that there is no sharp demarcation between the symptoms of MCS and those of ME/CFS/CFIDS/PVFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis – chronic fatigue), but that most sufferers of MCS complain of at least several of the following:

  • burning, stinging eyes
  • wheezing, breathlessness nausea
  • extreme fatigue/lethargy
  • headache/migraine/vertigo/dizziness
  • poor memory & concentration
  • runny nose (rhinitis)
  • sore throat, cough
  • sinus problems
  • skin rashes and/or itching skin
  • sensitivity to light & noise
  • sleeping problems
  • digestive upset
  • muscle & joint pain.

The idiopathic or “not understood” nature of MCS means that doctors & others are often highly sceptical about the reality of – and nature of – the MCS condition.

Many features of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and it’s effects and the way it’s effects are described by the sufferer seem altogether unrealistic, impossible or implausible to a conventional & scientifically trained consultant or GP.

The population at large are often equally sceptical, because the described symptoms (say, headache, joint pains, etc. ) and the externally observable effects ( say, runny nose, watering eyes, etc ), are blamed by the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sufferer on an invisible chemical or toxin that the average person cannot even detect, much less be affected by !

How can a person really be affected by such a miniscule dose of a toxicant even if such a toxicant IS present? Surprisingly, perhaps, this is one aspect of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity that is very well understood in conventional medicine and it is called Sensitization.

Sensitization is a true allergic reaction to one chemical or irritant and is caused by involvement within the body of mast cells and IgE antibodies. Once sensitized to a particular irritant, a subsequent exposure to even a tiny amount of the same irritant ( even parts per million – ppm – or parts per billion – ppb) can cause an extreme allergic reaction.

Note: one ppm = 0.0001 percent.

These very low levels of irritant will often be totally undetectable to the average person and to them will be totally harmless.

Meanwhile, the main aspect of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity that is NOT fully understood – and that is regarded with such great scepticism – is that the MSC sufferer reacts similarly and in an allergic fashion . . .

Pain is Not a Coincidence

Fear in the Face of Pain, Acrylic on Canvas Board by judy

“On a serious note – YES, I can be serious, seriously!
I believe that life isn’t random and there are no coincidences. Everything that happens is to help us learn to let go of what is not needed and hold onto what is. The trick is learning the lessons before we are towed under. It’s hard when the lessons involve pain. But then again I believe the most important lessons always involve pain of some kind. It’s still hard”

I wrote that in response to a blog post on another blog.  The reply I got back was,  Weird how I believe there are no coincidences with good stuff and interesting stuff. I never thought of it for this [pain, catastrophe, etc] but I do now.”

I was surprised. I had never considered that there might be people I work with in my practice who believe pain, physical or mental, was a coincidence, a random happening when they collided with fate.

I know that all the most important learning experiences I’ve had come from pain or fear.  Even the most basic of things.

I lose weight because I fear what others will think of me in a bathing suit.  I eat healthy because I have gastric pain.  I rethink my life when in the throes of betrayal.  I could go on and on and on and on – which is my tendency, as my good friends know.

Here’s an exercise I’ve taught: Reflect – How many significant changes, how many important life altering lessons did you learn when you were happy, pleased, content, complacent, oblivious . . .?

Draw a line through your life and find the common thread of what you’ve lost, what you’ve had to let go of, what you feared losing,  losing a dream of what should be, could have been.  Almost always there is something difficult, painful, trying that recurs in different forms, different times, different ways throughout our lives.  Most often it is about loss, letting go.

If you follow the thread and how it weaves into your life you will probably find the lesson(s) you are here to learn.

My big lesson I have had to learn over and over in different times and ways is that I am not my pain, I am not what I do or what I have.  And I am here – as I believe we are all here – to serve with love and help each other grow with wisdom.

 My pain is still here. I’m still learning.

No One Skates Through Life Without a Tumble or Two

I heard Scott Hamilton being interviewed this morning.  What Scott said resonated with me:

Scott Hamilton

“It’s not about falling.

It’s about getting up.”

Scott Hamilton, 1984 Olympic Skating Gold Medalist

I’ve been having more and more conversations with clients about really painful things that continually happen their lives.  The perennial questions and thoughts:  “Why me?”,  “Am I being punished?”,  “What is the reason for this?”,  “It’s not fair.”  I’ll never recover from the impact on my life.”  I must be guilty and deserve this.” . . .  “How do I release the pain?”

After over 2  1/2 decades now working with people in emotional and physical pain (and having had a small sampling myself) I have arrived at these conclusions:

Michelle Kwan, Olympic & World Champion
  1. “Life is about loss, changing, growing, and making the right choice(s)”.
  2. Pain is the signal that loss has occurred. It’s our body and mind’s signal something needs to change.
  3. The motivation to change, grow and make the right choice are PAIN and FEAR.   As I always say: NO one has ever come into my office and said “My life is great.  Here’s money.  Let’s talk about changes I can make”
  4. When we ask  questions “Why me.  It’s not fair etc.  I view it as  a spiritual crisis.  Whatever religion or persuasion (and yes, atheism is a belief system)  when we ask these kind of questions, we are asking for answers about belief. We are asking the questions because we search for meaning or “positive reasons” for what befalls us – regardless of whether we know why it has happened.
  5. Faith in God is based on the rightness of life, not the “wrongness”.
  6. Fairness does not always mean pleasure. Somehow some of us have erroneously developed the idea that when things are FAIR it’s because “I like the outcome”.  Life is fair whether the outcome is pain or pleasure, whether we like it or not.
  7. Our work is to embrace what happens and learn, change, grow and make the right choice(s).  Which brings me full circle back to #1.

That’s my belief.  I wonder what yours is?

Scott Hamilton doing Back Flip


Skating, walking – sounds a like LIFE to me:

The difference between walking on a floor and skating on ice is the lack of friction –– the force that occurs when two objects slide against each other dissipating their energy of motion. The rougher the surfaces, the greater the force of friction they will exert. The smooth surface of the ice allows the skater to glide across without friction stopping her as soon as she has begun.

Friction does play an important role in figure skating. Without it, skating would not be possible. Remember Newton’s first law of motion? An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by a force. It is the force of friction between the skate and the ice that allows the skater to come to a stop.”