Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

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Chakra Meditations and New Blog

I have enjoyed this chakra meditation video very much over the last few months. It has a nice grounding effect and is quite relaxing.

Each day Jeremy and I do some combination of between 2-4 meditations spread throughout the day. It is part of the Gupta Amygdala Retraining Technique we have been doing and it helps immensely. Though the program starts you off with guided meditations of their own and cd’s to help you get started, we’ve taken it beyond those to now encompassing other meditation styles too.

Sometimes we skip the afternoon meditation in favor of a walk in the park or around our semi-rural neighborhood. This also seems just as relaxing and really depends on the day as to which we do.

Over the last several months of this program I have had a lot of time to think. Originally I was unsure as to when I would share with my reading community that I was doing the Gupta program, as it is a bit alternative and honestly, I wasn’t ready to face people judging me or how I choose to heal myself. Sad that even with all I’ve been through from these illnesses, there are those people out there who will harshly judge anyone who dares to break their own boundaries by becoming well.

Unfortunately, I did indeed face some negative criticism and a fair bit of what I felt to be an irrational anger towards me for not sharing on my blog all the intimate and private details of my life. As though somehow by denying this person those details, I am not only standing in the way of their own healing, but outright doing them harm.

Ridiculous.

I hate to admit it, but even despite finding their position to have been in the minority it did take away some of my enthusiasm for sharing this healing journey with you, my readers and friends. At this same time in life, I found myself to be going into a bit of a downturn in health because of our cat, Tashi, waking us multiple times a night and causing enormous difficulties. I love that cat, but she knocked down a considerable part of my health for the better part of four full months. All in all, as you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting very much for sometime now.

But that’s about to change… just not here.

Now I’m bouncing back quickly, more quickly than I had even dared to hope! With this gigantic boost in health is also the same boost in motivation to get a move on life. Jeremy and I are going to see about moving to Colorado, sooner rather than later, and start the process of getting back to school through the work training programs available to us.

CSU – Fort Collins, Colorado

Jeremy and I started a new blog for us to share, A Thousand Miles, where we will detail out more of our adventures while trying to find enough money to make the move. Being on Social Security Disability and food stamps doesn’t leave much money to try and save up for a big expense, and being on an island means big expense if you want to move off it. Plane fare alone starts around $1200! If we actually want to take with us anything besides carry-on luggage, such as shipping our computers to Colorado or blankets, well the costs skyrocket.

Life is full of challenges and as any who’ve read my blog here for very long knows, we take each challenge and overcome them. It’s all just a matter of time.

Crossfit or CFS, which to choose?

It’s been almost two months without Tashi and I still miss that little girl. She was a great cat to have around, lots of personality and love. In this time without her I’ve asked myself if there were something I could have done differently, and while there always will be that question, I know I did my best. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to let the pain go and be happy for her. She is doing well in her new home and I wish them all the best in the world.

Meanwhile, Jeremy and I have started some at home Crossfit workout programs again. If you aren’t familiar with them, google them! They kick your butt and keep kicking. However, at the end you feel pretty good for what you’ve done.

How can two people with CFS do Crossfit? Aren’t they too strenuous and tough? Aren’t we pushing for a crash or setback?

Nope, not a problem. Just determination and a lot work on the Gupta program to get me here. I’ll talk about it more in the future, this is just a quick update before I run off to go soak my very weary muscles in the cool ocean.

Today’s workout:

“Dumbbell Bear Complex”
5 Dumbbell Deadlifts
5 Dumbbell Hang Clean
5 Dumbbell Thrusters

All 3 together = 1 set.
Do 1 set each minute for 20 minutes or as many rounds as you can.

I used 10lb Dumbbells and managed 9 rounds, a new personal best!

New home for Tashi. :(

I’ve been down and out of life for the last couple of months, mostly because Tashi has been waking us up multiple times a night since mid-February. She’s a wonderful cat in all other ways, but sadly she has trouble with being afraid of things in our home environment which we have zero control over.

The main trigger for her nightly wake-ups seems to be our neighbor’s voice coming in through our windows at all hours of the night. I don’t blame the neighbor, she works until midnight and we knew that before moving in. Everything is at a normal speaking volume, she’s just awake much of the night. We’ve worked far too many lousy jobs that require that sort of shift to complain about someone else who’s working that shift and simply unwinding at night by chatting with their boyfriend.

And so we’ve found Tashi a new home. It’s a good home and she will be moving there at the end of this week. There are 3 other cats and a dog, along with some nice folks. A much bigger home, more windows for her, and most importantly – neighbors who’s windows are much further than 5 feet away.

I’ll be very sorry to see her go. I haven’t posted much about her here, but she’s been a real highlight in our lives these last 6 months. Were it not for this constant lack of sleep and what it’s done to our health (a full stop on our healing progress for CFS and some regression), it would be a great joy to keep her with us.

However it seems to have come down to staying tired and feeling useless in life or keeping a wonderful cat – oddly it was a hard choice. But then being tired and feeling useless is actually what most of life felt like since becoming ill in 2001 – it’s only recently begun to change at the end of last year so I’m not as familiar with what that feels like anymore.

What I do remember of December (2012) and January (2013) was a great deal of delight in feeling my energy coming up, actually being able to see and feel life returning to a more normal picture, and being happy that my existence isn’t dictated solely by feelings of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitives. Thankfully, I’m still seeing MCS improvements, even just yesterday going into a store (Costco) that we had to avoid in the past like the plague due to all the odors and such. Now it was just as I remembered it from when I went as a kid with my mom on shopping day – everything smelled just the same, not overwhelming or frightening. Life with MCS really is coming to a close and it’s both a brilliant and wonderful thing.

I know this can happen with CFS too and unfortunately its all too clear that right now that means as best of sleep as we can manage so our nervous systems can calm down instead of being jarred awake several times a night. Truly, Tashi is going to a great home with one of the worker’s at the cat sanctuary we adopted her from – actually the woman who helped us pick her out. The woman had always wanted Tashi, seemed a little sad to see her go, but had not wanted to make the commitment before. She’s had a change of mind now that she’s seen just how wonderful and loving Tashi is as a house cat – they’ll do well together I think.

Hopefully in a few weeks time Jeremy and I will be seeing more energy again. Neither of us can hardly wait for the adventures on our horizon and have lots of motivation to make them happen. Brighter days should be coming our way, even if they are a little more lonely without my dear Tashi.

Nude Beach

Have you ever been to a nude beach? I went to my first one today!

Little Beach, Maui – Hawaii

Little Beach is part of the Makena State Park and known for being clothing optional, as well as it’s Sunday night drum parties. It’s a very nice little cove at the end of a quarter mile hike. The snorkeling wasn’t spectacular, however we saw some fish we’ve never seen before – including a small school of fish probably each the size of a large dog. As well, several sea turtles made the whole trip very worthwhile.

Yet, we didn’t go to Little Beach for the snorkeling – we went for the whales. Humpback whales migrate here each winter from December through April. According to my research, Little Beach would be just about the best place from shore to watch them passing by. Shortly after we arrived we were greeted with an amazing site. Two adult humpback whales only a few hundred feet off the shore, swimming along and doing their own thing. Though we didn’t see much more than their back spines each time they came to the surface, it was a fantastic site that brought tears to my eyes.

I mean, how fantastic is it to have seen something like that so close in the wild?

I wasn’t on a boat with dozens of other tourists or some other modern means to be out on the water with them. No, I was just standing on the shore of a beach I’d hiked out to and seeing them as I am, a human on land, and as they are, majestic beauty in the ocean. Absolutely one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen whales, not even here on Maui – just something about them being so close I felt like I could nearly touch them… wonderful.

Have you ever wondered what whale songs are like in the wild?

Sometimes when you snorkel here during the winter you can hear them signing to each other underwater. This is the second time I’ve been lucky to hear them. Today they were loud enough to be easily heard, even over the white noise of the choppy waves we were snorkeling in. It was very magical, especially the times when we’d find a turtle to swim with. Whales whistling and calling to one another, following a sea turtle as it wandered the reef, scores of brightly colored fish swimming below us – I’ll always remember this.

I found myself at one point being struck by how diametrically different my life is now compared to March in Washington while living in a tent. Almost every year the last snow of the season would be sometime in the next two weeks. We’d be completely and totally exhausted from surviving another freezing and snowy winter only to look forward to a ridiculous amount of rain for the next two months, praying this summer would be warm and sunny. Often times it would be a wet summer too with nary a good, hot day to burn off winter’s chill before turning into Autumn and starting the cycle all over.

Instead, here I was snorkeling nude in the ocean, warm sunshine on my backside, while swimming with whales and turtles!

If life can change so dramatically for me in such a short period of time, just think of what else I can do. I am getting healthy again, there is no doubt about that, and sometimes like today I can really feel just how possible it is to change my situation for the better. It has taken an enormous amount of hard work and tenacity, but just look at where I am now!

I used to feel like I could inspire others to follow their dreams, grow as individuals, and reach places they thought were too distant – but sadly, I couldn’t do that for myself. Now I look at how life has changed me…I can be my own inspiration and reach my own dreams.

If I were to be able to speak to the illness that has stolen so many years of my life, I would have to quote one of my favorite movies – “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the (life) that you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me.”

Tashi! :D

Life sure does move fast sometimes! It’s been another long while since I posted and much has gone on. I think it’s time I share what it is that I’ve been up to which has been keeping me away from more frequent updates.

Gupta Amygdala Retraining Program is a process by which many can heal from chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, and a few things they don’t list on the website. For example, I’ve also been using it to heal my PTSD.

Jeremy and I began the program mid-September this year. After three months following it diligently, the results are quite amazing. On the other hand, it can be a lot of work and you really need to commit yourself to doing it every day. Is it worth it? Heck yeah! :)

Coming back from a long-term illness can be very challenging. Especially considering how far from normal our lives had taken us – living in a tent for nearly 10 years, extreme social isolation from being fully housebound, extreme physical degradation from being mostly bedbound. It all adds up to situations that need healing in their own way.

We’ve been living indoors for sometime now and enjoy our current apartment. Swimming 1-4 times a week, occasional hikes, weight lifting, and frequent evening walks are taking care of the physical reconditioning. I’ve begun volunteering for a dog rescue at their adoption events and will be helping a cat shelter next month during their spay/neuter clinic which is all healing the social aspect. Life is beginning to be on the move again!

Speaking of the cat shelter… we adopted a 2 year old cat three weeks ago! Yay!!! Through an odd sequence of events I found out I don’t have a cat allergy as I thought I did, within a week we had adopted Tashi. Here she is a few days after coming home with us: Tashi a few days after being adopted from the shelter.

I am loving having a cat around the house. She has been a shelter cat for a lot of her life, though she did have one home at some point. Her first home had a 4 year old and she spent a month hiding under the bed from it, so they decided to take her back. I’m happy to have her here with us instead.

Tashi playing with paper ball.

She suffered from at least one nightmare a day for the first two weeks, but then someone gave us some amazing stress reducing drops that are basically water with minerals and an electric charge to combat stress. I add one drop to her water each day and she hasn’t had a nightmare in a week! We are really enjoying seeing her personality come out as she grows more comfortable and confident in life with us.

Tashi is a Tibetan name meaning good fortune and auspiciousness. She is a talker with many different chirps, meows, mews, and just plain odd noises. I’m hoping she will learn to be more of a lap cat as right now she is uncomfortable being in a lap even though you can tell she wants to climb onto it. When in a loving mood she’ll gaze at it and shift her weight forwards then change her mind, but for now it is too much for her. She loves lasers, catnip, and playing with various homemade toys. We also have a homemade cat scratcher made from cardboard boxes we had lying around… aka free!

Having Tashi come into our lives is just one of many examples of how much healing we have seen since starting the Gupta Retraining Program. Our improvements really are incredible and tremendous.

UNTAMED Photography

It seems I have finally accomplished another dream today. For the last year I have wanted to open my own etsy store just as Jeremy had done for his steampunk jewelry business. I’ve seen him excitedly checking his email and finding that he’s sold something, it looked like a lot of fun! Problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to sell…

Then last March I bought a nice DSLR camera and started taking pictures. It seemed pretty obvious what type of etsy store I would be opening up, it was now just a matter of time. In less than a week we found out had to move out of our apartment and the rental search began. As mentioned in previous posts, life with moderate MCS can be difficult – having to find safe housing that didn’t make us ill only made this more so.

As the months went by and we still were unsuccessful at our rental search, my ability for photography greatly declined as every bit of energy went into finding us a safe place to live. I would take my camera out for a trip perhaps once or twice a month, but anything more was beyond my physical abilities.

Then we moved! This is a wonderful apartment we have lived in these past 3 months and I often find myself thinking about how much I love it here. My energy came up a bit and again I began my day dreams of an etsy store of my own.

My last post told of winning a prize in a photography contest, it was the first step I took towards my store. Before preparing that photo for the contest, I still hadn’t readied a single photograph for printing. Many show how much I have left to learn about controlling my camera and setting up the shot – which means most photos need a lot of post processing work in Lightroom. However I didn’t let this deter me from my goal of starting up a store, just means I have opened it with less photographs than I had originally planned.

Which brings me to my grand opening of UNTAMED Photography! :D

I hope to add to my store over the next few weeks and am very happy to have finally gotten through the steep learning curve to finish opening today. I hope you all enjoy the couple of pictures I have put up there already and I will be writing about new ones as they are listed.

yay! :D

A Photo Contest Adventure!

Yesterday was a small, but enjoyable adventure at the Maui County Fair. When I saw the tents and rides last year I remember thinking – hmm, maybe next year… turns out it was! While not a very big fair, nor a very interesting one, it did hold one thing no other fair had for me in the past – a photo contest I had entered.

I found out about the contest four weeks before the deadline for entry. After our arduous rental search, my photography had found itself pushed to the wayside these last few months and so I was unsure I even had a photo to submit to the contest. Luckily I had a couple promising shots taken earlier this year and so starting editing from scratch with learning how to use Adobe Lightroom, I began my journey.

There were many problems which cropped up over the next few weeks, some no doubt due to my inexperience with photo editing and matting, but many due to the printshop themselves – leading me to resolve never to use them again. In the end, I had two submissions ready for the contest and entered them on in the ‘open’ division on the last possible day; one for the color category and one in the black and white. All along I kept telling myself and others that I was only entering them so I could see them hanging finished on the wall at the fair – not to win. No, that would be silly to enter to win a prize since I’d only just picked up photography again, it’s my first contest, heck – it’s even the first 2 pictures I have finished printed and matted in over 15 years!

Still… there was this small hope whispering to me that it would like to win a place in the winners circle.

It was a small local fair and I was a bit disappointed they didn’t even have an animal display since there is a lot of ranching and farming on the island. There were the usual rides and greasy fried foods, we walked right past these. Next there was a large tent with a cheerleading exhibition of the high school and younger girls. Past this was two more large tents which held many commercial vendors selling everything from car insurance to coffee. Looking around, there didn’t seem to be much else to the fair… but where was the photo competition?

Finally we spotted where they had set up the exhibits which received judging and headed to the only solid building in the area. Inside we found vegetables, bonsai trees, various handi-crafts, orchids, and finally I noticed the photos lining the far wall. Apparently we started at the end of the display and I wasn’t too surprised to see my color photo tucked in with all the others. Under the florescent lights, high heat and humidity for the orchids, and the matting/printing troubles I’d had – frankly it only looked ok, nothing special.

We kept looking along the wall and got to the section where they had hung the winners for the expert level entries. It was about this time I began wondering if I’d missed seeing my black and white picture in with all the others – I had actually missed the color one at first so it was a good possibility. Still… maybe I would wait and see if it was hung up elsewhere, there did seem to be another group of photos on display without prize ribbons past all the winners.

Then my eyes drifted along the wall of their own accord and caught sight of a familiar looking photo – with a ribbon by it. I quickly grabbed Jeremy’s sleeve, tugging him to come with me past the expert color winners, straight to the ‘open’ division black and white winners where my photo now hung with a 3rd place ribbon!

There was an older Asian couple who were walking past just as I arrived at my photo. Looking at the gentleman, I happily exclaimed that it was my photo, right there, which won 3rd place!! He nodded and hesitantly smiled at me, so I kept up my happy exclamations until his wife caught up with us, nodded at me and said congratulations, then hurried him past us to the safer expert winner’s area. With nobody else around to brag to, I had Jeremy take my picture to remember the moment. It took a couple tries before I lost yet another goofy grin, but here is me and my 3rd place winner – “Windswept Dryad.”

After viewing the other exhibits, like the monstera and dragon fruit, we decided to be done with the fair and instead go on a small road adventure up Ioa Valley for the first time. We walked around a little at the first park we came to, opting to save the state park for another trip. All in all, it was a fun day out.

**Update! I’ve just gotten home from picking up my contest entries. Imagine my surprise when unwrapping them and finding an envelope with them that says, “Maui Camera Club congratulates you! 3rd place” and $30 tucked inside. Woo! Amazing! Even better for having had zero clue there was prize money. Definitely doing a happy dance today! :D

Monstera fruit and leaves:
Monstera Fruit

Dragon fruit still on cactus branch:

“Windswept Dryad” and ribbon:

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