Sitting in the Suck

Many dear people I know are currently experiencing overwhelming feelings of sadness, grief, anger, and fear. I thought it might be helpful to provide some tools for what we therapists call- sitting in the suck. Many of my clients have had the “privilege” ( insert sarcasm) of me guiding them through this in session.

Most of us feel that it is counter-intuitive to actively feel our uncomfortable feelings- we use all types of distractions, staying busy, always having a project, binge watching Netflix ( my personal fave!), alcohol, drugs to NOT feel painful feelings. While using the above methods can be effective tools – the AND of it is that it is also wise and healing to honor and experience our painful emotions. This can be quite the daunting task.

Let’s break it down.

Sometimes it’s effective to set a timer for 5 minutes so you know there is a finite end.

First, get in a comfortable position. Start slowing down your breathing and noticing the rise and fall of your tummy, your chest filling up with air and then emptying. Just notice whatever feelings arise and say, “Hello, Sadness ( insert any feeling here)- I see you.” Allow your body to respond however it responds like a casually curious and compassionate observer. Your body may cry, shake, feel numb, scream… whatever happens inside just keep breathing and fully experience it without any judgement. Breathing and acknowledging your distress. Letting it exist. Sometimes it helps to say out loud, “ I am sad. I am afraid. This is uncomfortable and feels weird. I am angry.” AND just keep breathing and sitting with whatever it is – notice the intensity and how it may flare and then settle, or it may feel like the pain is so heavy in different places within your body. Or you may feel absolutely nothing. Just let it be there and notice you are surviving it. You are sitting with yourself and holding the space for whatever it is that feels burdensome.

The more you consistently practice this, the more you may feel like it is a release- it can be a useful method to self-soothe. Or it may continue to feel awkward and not something you really get excited about but know it is still a good idea- kind of like going to the dentist. I actually look forward to my time sitting in the suck because afterwards, I feel a warmth inside- like I am being held by someone who loves me.

So, may we all allow ourselves the interesting and seemingly unlikable gift of sitting in the suck.


So yesterday as I was relaxing into my 2nd acupuncture session since March ( Hallelujah), I noticed all of this “stuff” happening in the right side of my body- my whole right midriff area was just pulsing and making itself known. When my acupuncturist came back in to remove the needles ( I’m always a bit sad and not ready for that part because I love being on that table), I asked her what that was about as I had never really felt that happen in that specific area. She asked if I had been feeling frustrated lately. I laughed and answered her with a resounding YES. So what a lovely experience to have that energy cleared and flowing better again.

AND I know exactly why my fiery frustration is getting stuck internally. It is the lack of AND that I am hearing and witnessing ( and that is with an intentional limiting of social media intake). I am beyond frustrated at the polarization of every single issue that is so loud and apparent right now. What on earth is happening that everything has turned into US/THEM, RIGHT/WRONG, name-calling and shaming our fellow humans? Have people forgotten to include the AND word that brings perspective and empathy and at least a modicum of understanding that we are all experiencing turmoil together and that we come from differing circumstances and lived experiences? Where is the ability to agree to respectfully disagree and to honor our own stories while also allowing space for other people to engage in their own realities? Have we allowed ourselves to become this ridiculous over politics and a virus and mask-wearing? I am ashamed on behalf of humanity. Absolutely Positively Frustrated beyond belief at this lack of boundaries and the disrespect that is infiltrating our society. And frustrated with myself for letting it effect my own sense of peace that I practice so diligently to cultivate.

Please- may we all return to grounding ourselves in the ANDs of life. And may we keep remembering that we are all experiencing suffering and pain and confusion and hardships during this time. Let us practice ADAPTIVE cognitions and behaviors- despite the fact that the conflicts are at an all time high amidst our current confusing reality.

If there is one thing I know for sure (and I say this with a grain of salt because most things I know are not certain and I have more questions than answers), it is that adaptation and resiliency and compassion and gratitude are gifts of strength and love. And I will wait patiently to be back on the acupuncture table next week. And I will breathe out the frustration as soon as I sense it. And I will continue to limit my exposure to the ridiculousness of social media and the news. I only have control over my own boundaries, thoughts and actions.

May we all be well and practice kindness and compassion to ourselves and for humanity.

Unpacking the Unpredictability

I’m a woman who has lived most of her life with the false belief that I have an enormous amount of control over myself, and to a lesser extent, others in my family/inner circle.

This narrow/limited way of thinking and existing completely blew up in my face, or more accurately, my spinal cord and brain, when I was 46 years old. I was rudely introduced to Multiple Sclerosis. And all of that locus of perceived control began to unravel at a rather significant pace.

The “What Ifs” ruminated ever so loudly as I navigated painfully and clumsily through the aftermath of this Fuckening. And they still flare up from time to time, especially when I am annoyingly reminded that my body will punish me with symptomatic flares if I use too much energy at a time. Adapting to the energy conservation mode of living is a constant learning experience and I am not really a fan. However, living with the immediate consequences of over doing it is the biggest pain in the ass as well. Just love when my whole left side is weak and heavy and other parts of my body are completely numb and feel dead and pulsating with pricks of pain. Very fun.

And now – Enter the Fuckening of COVID-we are all existing in this physical and mental space of What Iffing and not knowing and trying to control outcomes and having to live with all sorts of uncomfortable unpredictable realities. I’m fortunate I have been practicing this shift in perspective that can offer more peaceful moments – this acceptance of all the hard pills to swallow ( both literally and figuratively).

It has taken me a week to process my neurologist’s decision to forgo my next Ocrevus infusion coming up in May. Ocrevus is a disease modifying treatment for MS- it wipes out all of your lymphocytes and is supposed to be helpful in slowing disease progression. Not a cure. Just a buying of time. But the risk of extra/bad/terrifying complications upon contracting COVID while being immunosuppressed is too great. So it’s the conundrum of Fuckenings.

At least I have some experience in this area….but it has made me think of all the Conundrums we are currently experiencing. So many unknowns, changes, absorption of disturbing news, polarizing and divisive information overload that is typically not helpful in any way shape or form. So many inhalations and exhalations are needed as we all learn to survive in this reality. In the present moment of whichever conundrum we are facing.

So as we enter into whatever day or week this is, let’s all keep coming back to breathing in peace and patience and compassion while we exhale fear.

We can accept that we are afraid (of whatever it is we cannot control) and simultaneously allow ourselves to keep coming back to the present moment we are actually living in. We can look for solutions instead of blaming ourselves and/or others. We can get creative in how we unpack the unpredictable nature of living.

May we all allow ourselves to practice these things in a way that we can notice the small shifts inside that can become beacons of light and guidance we can call upon.


I miss you. Nine years ago today, as you lay dying, we had our last conversation. Even though you had basically been unconscious and uncommunicative with morphine for those last few days, I placed my head next to yours on your hospital bed and I grabbed your hand and I whispered to you these words: I am strong because of you. It’s okay for you to go now. You don’t have to hold on any longer. You have taught me how to love and how to be a mother and even though I am crying and heartbroken, I will be the best mother I can possibly be to your beloved grandchildren that you adore.

And then I felt your hand nudge mine. A gentle yet firm nudge that let me know you heard me. And I just kept saying I love you. I am strong. You can let go. Over and over.

Those last moments with you have become embedded into the very core of my soul. Just like the abundance of moments we shared for 38 years together as mother and daughter and the dearest of friends.

My grief for you has become a part of me. It can be expansive – filling every part of me and then it can flatten down into a smaller part- like a big balloon that is filled with air and then deflates and takes up less space but is still a balloon.

I hope you know how much I have leaned on you these last couple of years. I have a feeling that you do know. Your love and laughter and peacefulness continues to be the soothing balm it always was and I can feel your presence guiding me throughout my most challenging days. A part of me is glad that you don’t have to see me with MS. And other parts of me so wish that you were here. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on the power of your influence and the compassion you effortlessly poured into me and our family.

And guess what? I love you. And I am still strong. And O and J love you and have become these amazing people. I know you already know this. And that you are smiling. And laughing in that boisterous way that is uniquely yours.

The balloon is really full at this time and I need to have a cleansing cry and look at old pictures now. I’m already wearing one of your comfy shirts.

Let’s ask What instead of Why

Ok y’all. Just a bit embarrassed to live in SC at the moment. Since our governor has not issued a stay the fuck at home order- let’s take some personal responsibility and do it ourselves. We actually can use our own critical thinking skills and listening to health care experts who understand SCIENCE to practice staying at home and physically distancing our own selves. Washing our hands, cleaning doorknobs and surfaces frequently, using Clorox wipes immediately upon inserting a debit/credit card into any type of machine at the gas station, pharmacy, grocery store, whatever. This is not rocket science. This is common sense and taking some extra steps when you do have to go out for necessary things and/or to work. And please do not touch anyone else’s screen to sign something. I have been practicing that for years – even before MS happened because- GERMS.

We are all experiencing an unprecedented shift in our systems and within our families and ourselves. Be kind and mindful about how you engage with others and within yourselves. Please stop comparing this to the flu. In no possible way is that helpful at this moment. And can we please stop polarizing the economic concerns against public health? This is an example of the power of the AND word because it is not a one or the other issue- it is a both issue. And we are all trying to figure it out and we will not all agree- solutions are found when we can see all sides of something- they are typically not found when we are rigid in our thinking and refuse to consider alternatives. One thing I believe we can all agree on at this moment is that there exists such a thing as science. This is a priority currently because science informs how we can survive this Fuckery we are all experiencing. Be solution focused- ask what instead of why.

What can I do to manage my anxiety about this?

What can I do to help do my part?

What can I do to help other people?

What are some effective strategies I need to put in place to manage this situation?

What can I get curious about instead of being judgmental about?

What am I feeling about this?

What? What? What? Insert your own questions that are meaningful to you.

One of the beautiful things about asking what instead of why is that you can practice it at home away from other people. It can create a sense of empowerment instead of helplessness. Let’s empower ourselves to flatten the curve for those that are on the front lines working their asses off. Let’s empower ourselves to take some personal responsibility here.

May we all stay the fuck home for now.

May we all get more comfortable asking What.

May we all practice perspective shifting and understanding science and doing the best we can in this particular moment in time. And May we all send out compassion upon compassion for all of us.

Just a Few Musings

So 2020 is rocking our collective world. As my dear son said, “ After all of this is over, maybe some positives will come out of this crisis.”

One can only hope so. Maybe this collective fear and anxiety and concern for health and humanity can provide a sense of unity and empathy that has been lacking. Maybe we can become more comfortable accepting other’s viewpoints and also focus more on things that matter. Maybe we can all remember to wash our hands more thoroughly and to practice better hygiene. I will tell you that in a weird way, as someone who is immune-compromised, a part of me feels safer going out in the world now because everyone ( hopefully…) is taking extra measures to contain their germs. This doesn’t mean I am hugging people or doing anything ridiculous, just that it is kind of nice- other than the fact that if this particular virus gets me…. well, we all know the scary realities. And I would rather not relapse, but that is a fear I live with every single day- just a part of regular life now- no big deal…. insert eyes rolling.

My heart is aching for all of the victims and all of the health care workers. And all of the teachers. And all of the parents. And basically every one. The small businesses and the people out of work. The stories I have heard personally- overwhelming sadness and fear. The outrageousness of what is happening takes some time to fully process and absorb.

And we are consistently having to reset and adjust as new issues keep arising. What a practice in patience and acceptance this is….

Our family dynamics ( as well as tons of yours) just completely shifted with college kids moving ( understandably unhappily) back home to finish the semester online and high schoolers doing e-learning and husbands working from home. I almost walked in on a live web-conference call yesterday- Oy-my poor husband!Every one is HOME. At the same time. For many hours at a time. I honestly cannot imagine having young kids at this time. Those of you who do, please know it is ok just to be on survival mode and that screen time lots of the time will not be the end of the world. Seriously. Just do the best you can each hour. Maybe all of the parent shaming and comparison bullshit can begin to END- that would certainly be a positive to come out of this.

And, if any of you know me at all, you have to be expecting a musing about food shaming and body shaming and all of the things that go along with that soapbox of mine. Please, just don’t even go there. Maybe this will be a lovely time for detoxing from certain social media accounts that create this ridiculousness. We are all just trying to avoid this virus and deal with quarantines and finding toilet paper and surviving our family dynamics- so, for once and for all, enough with diet culture. Food is not medicine either and will not cure the Coronavirus- ( nor will essential oils) how crazy that I just even wrote this sentence? But some “Wellness Gurus” are actually promoting this idea. Y’all. Just no. Dr. Joshua Wolrich and FoodSCIENCEBabe are great resources for scientific facts. There is such a thing as science. And I am a believer in and user of complementary health modalities AND SCIENCE.

Also, a note on letting go of the incessant need to be productive and busy. As someone who can no longer engage in life with that perspective ( and the struggle is persistent and real), please consider using this time to give yourself permission to untether yourself from this way of rigid thinking. Some days it really is acceptable to stay in your pajamas all day and read books, watch tv, write, create art, play games, watch silly videos on your phone or sleep. And you can do it without calling yourself lazy. We are actually being mandated to slow down for the greater good. So if you need to view it that way- feel free!

So may we all give ourselves and our fellow humans the gifts of hand washing and social distancing and and noticing the little things to be grateful for and the compassion for how challenging this time is for all of us collectively. And may we send consistent healing vibes to all the suffering people.

Deep Breaths. Drop Inside Yourself.

So many things. A sensory overload of information- conflicting, divisive, political ridiculousness in excess, opinions upon opinions. Enough.

The judgment of others is disheartening. And there is just entirely too much of it- on every level whether it is among people in my own profession, politics (which I mentally refer to as polifucks), on how institutions are choosing to either proactively or reactively respond to this virus that we are all keenly aware of at this point, parenting, the list goes on and on.

I am practicing social distancing from what I am bombarded with every time I turn around. I am distancing myself mentally and emotionally ( I already practice it physically because I am naturally introverted and need to rest entirely too much because of my uninvited partner who takes up way too much energy- thanks MS).

I am over sorting and sifting through the bullshit. The hypocrisy. Why can’t we all have our own viewpoints without getting name-called by people within our own circles- and I am talking about professional and political here. As a clinical social worker/psychotherapist or whatever label you choose to use- why can’t we see how damaging it is to shame others in our field who practice from their own authentic perspectives- who ever said we had to all be the same type of therapist and believe the same things politically? Isn’t that a tad bit hypocritical? I can choose to have my own informed thoughts that can be fluid and open based on my own lived experiences, critical thinking skills and innate sense of knowing and intuition- we do not actually all have to be on the same exact page about every single issue- so if there are differences in beliefs and practices ( which there obviously will be because we are all DIFFERENT) let us withhold from judgment of one another. Isn’t that what we teach others? Aren’t we humans as well?

Can we all just take a collective deep breath ( in our own homes) and come back to ourselves- please?

It is possible to respectfully disagree about certain things without shaming and blaming and name-calling. The world does not need more of this. Everyone is stressed out enough. Whether you are privileged or not. Stress can be different and we can all experience it. It may manifest itself differently and that is actually Human. Because we are all humans.

Just look at the parent’s pages of your student’s educational Facebook pages, or listen to your kids, your colleagues, your friends. And if you are “fortunate” enough to belong to a chronic illness club and/or be medically compromised from cancer or other traumatic diseases, do I even have to continue this sentence here…

So I am exhaling out all of the hypocrisy and judgment and stress. And inhaling in the permission to be my own self with my own perspectives and intuition. And I am breathing for all of us as humans to be able to do the same- regardless of whether you agree with 100 per cent of my opinions and beliefs. I don’t expect any other person to actually agree or understand with my own self- because that would kind of be impossible as there is no one else exactly like me. And this goes for all of us- and that is absolutely and amazingly OK.

Inhale. Exhale. Permission. Inhale. Exhale. Respect. Inhale. Exhale. Compassion. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

Let It Be

So today on the way home from a lovely trip visiting our daughter at college, my son suggested we listen to the Beatles.

I have always loved the song Let It Be. It has always served as a reminder to let go of what I cannot control( which is basically most things…) The tears started leaking while the song played. Today is the 18 month anniversary of the Multiple Fuckenings. March is also MS Awareness month- how timely.

So I am currently reflecting on how far I have come since waking up in that Nashville hotel on 9/1/18 and realizing my left arm was “gone”- wasn’t it just a pinched nerve?!

Thanks to the endless patience of my OTs and PTs, I learned how to write with my right hand, put my contacts in with my right hand( SO MANY CUSSWORDS), get dressed an entirely different way( who knew that was even a thing?!), wash my right side and shave my right armpit with my right hand, use pumps for stuff like shampoo and conditioner because I couldn’t grip or make anything squeeze out. Sleeping an entirely different way ( only on my back) with my left arm supported at all times and NEVER EVER sleeping curled up on my left side – my favorite way for 46 years…Then once my left arm and hand FINALLY started “waking up”- this is when all the re-learning of how to use it began. And I had to make it work while always being extremely cautious to not tear my rotator cuff and learning how to maneuver it while it easily subluxated out and/or dislocated itself. So that was fun- still is- it provides endless opportunities for cussing. Thousands and Thousands of dollars went into the partial recovery of this part of my body. For so long, I actually could not Let It Be because so much vital energy went in to recovering and making it work again despite the limitations- PT 3 times a week, PT at home, practicing activities of daily living- always being mindful and intentional of not doing further damage. This is just a part of my normal life now.

Each milestone continues to bring such excitement and relief. Like the first time I was able to shave my right armpit with my left hand- Y’all- this was AMAZING and I was ecstatic in that shower- I still have to do this with intentionality and making sure when I am crossing it over that my scapula is engaged in a down and back position but I can do it! Washing my hair with both hands! Using my left hand to put lotion on my right side- another win! The first time I was able to make pasta for my family- you have to be able to use 2 hands to carry a large boiling pot of water to the colander. The first time I could use the oven with heavier dishes that required 2 hands and not just one to take it out of the heat. The first time I could practice yoga on my mat- modifications are a learning curve but it is still yoga! I could go on and on about ALL of the little things I had taken for granted my whole life.

The last major milestone was just last month- Being able to use my left arm to pay the cashier at a drive-through- at my bank, at my pharmacy, at a fast food restaurant- this is a MAJOR TRIUMPH!! I have dislocated it a couple of times but I know how to get it reset now and I always know my massage therapist can do it when I am fortunate enough to be on her table. And, let’s be real- I am used to pain now- I am a badass sometimes with handling it- not all the time- I have many moments of self-pity and despair and anger AND I am still a warrior. Warriors cry and are exhausted and feel all the things emotionally and physically and are badasses.

So now I am in a place where I am gradually able to Let It Be. My whole left side is always weak and uncomfortable by the end of the day- no matter what I do or don’t do that day. My first OT explained that this would likely be the case for the rest of my life. Its just a normal part of MS symptoms from a huge initial attack.

And sleeping on my back in a supported position is just the way it is now. Thank you to medicine that helps me sleep!

I still struggle with letting this be but I am making peace with it now. What other choice is there, really?

So as I continue to Let It Be, May we all practice Letting Whatever It Is Be.

May we Thank the Beatles for creating such a powerful piece of art to remind us. May we sing it with tears of sadness and joy and peace.

And a grateful thank you to my sweet son who wanted to listen to The Beatles today.


I am learning how to be more clear with myself. This is harder than it sounds. Especially when you are currently extremely hypothyroid after having your thyroid removed. The brain fog is beyond anything I have experienced up to this point. I know my TSH number will go down to an acceptable level of functioning at some point with all the meds adjustments. Just have to be patient.

Anyway, back to clarity. After a session with a dear client, in which we were discussing her own need for internal and external clarity, I realized this is a very powerful tool to use. To consistently practice and come back to. Questions such as- What is my WHY right now? What do I need TODAY? In advocating for myself, whether with my multiple healthcare providers or my insurance company, what do I need to be very clear about and how do I communicate this efficiently and effectively? How can I express myself in a way that conveys my experience transparently?

As someone who has always used lots and lots of words and descriptions and has a challenging time getting to the point( because words and feelings are so fun, and sometimes little details matter, y’all!), practicing clarity can be quite difficult. Just ask my family -they are quite easily annoyed by my story-telling and attempts to communicate ( AND maybe they need to practice patience)…

It has most recently become clear to me that I can no longer pretend that I am “fine” just to make other people more comfortable. I have gained clarity that I detest the word fine – so many of us humans say it and it is meaningless at this point. And it can mean different things for different people. It has become clear to me that I am not available emotionally or physically or mentally to lie about or to sugarcoat what I am experiencing. It takes too much energy and right now I don’t have any to spare. And that its awkward for me to tell the truth. When someone says, “Well, you look good,” I might just say , “Well, I’m sick not ugly.” Or when people ask how I am feeling, I might just say “like shit” and then just carry on with the conversation. Because that is truly the reality and I am actually more accepting of it after almost 18 months of this new normal. Since the day to day symptoms of all the Fuckenings can be unpredictable and in flux, each day can present itself differently- so it also takes extra energy to fully allow myself to listen to what my body is saying and needing each day. This is not annoying AT ALL. Which means I just cannot waste energy pretending or worrying about how my communication regarding my lived experience might effect someone else. Wouldn’t it be kind of cool and freeing if we all allowed more of this authentic transparency to exist?

I felt so sad and disappointed that I had to cancel a fun morning with my Mahjong Ladies today – AND it was clear that my body and mind were saying NO NO NO. I am proud of myself for gaining clarity by really listening to myself instead of pushing through. Pushing through is sometimes necessary and empowering and awesome – other times, pushing through is a disservice and waste of limited energy that creates more harm than good. So here’s to being more intentional about practicing clarity multiple times a day. And here’s to having an ongoing permission slip to be more clear (truthful) with myself and others. No more bullshit.

So may we all extend ourselves the gifts of clarity. And the patience and grace to practice it as much as we need to. And the shedding of guilt that might arise when we are honest and it makes other people uncomfortable.

An Invitation.

Recently, I have become increasingly aware, both through my own lovely vexations as a human and through listening to my fellow MS Warriors (we are a circle of infinite support and badassery who will one day have the pleasure of meeting in real life) and through having real life relationships with friends and family and seeing what plays out on social media…. that there are some humans who take other’s issues and offer “support” by trying to introduce them to some product they are now selling that could be life-changing and ever so helpful.

Ummmm- NO. Just NO.

This type of “support” is different from the offerings of actual kind humans who mention healing products and modalities that they have found vital in their own experiences with whatever fuckery they are traversing through in their own lives. And sometimes even these well-intentioned suggestions can feel overwhelming and/or defeating because there is no one size fits all product or treatment for any of us. And many of us have tried all sorts of things already and/or have researched the hell out of tons and tons of alternative treatments.

And, as my dear mother used to say, unless someone specifically asks you for your opinion or advice, do not offer anything other than compassion. And as a therapist, I can wholeheartedly affirm this concept.

So back to the sellers and pushers of products guised in the “So sorry for…. various and sundry issues”- this is my invitation to y’all ( not just my own but also on behalf of all of us already dealing with enough and spending copious amounts of time, energy, and money on all types of health care and healing/pain/stress management tools)- I cordially invite you to cease all fake kindness in your quest to sell me a product that will cure me or remarkably impact the quality of my life. I encourage you either to stand in your truth of what you are selling and wanting my money for without all of the unnecessary bullshit of extra words (especially if I have not seen you for 35 years and you recently friended me on social media…true stories for many of us) OR just don’t even get involved. Stay in your own lane. I am not your woman to try to take advantage of- especially at this specific time when I am still recovering from all of the intrusive things that have been done- for good reasons- to my already vulnerable body.

No need to RSVP to my invitation to stop the bullshit.

So may all of us who are dealing with all the different things that life challenges us with go forth collectively and with compassion and real-ness and with the understanding that we are all beautifully unique. And with the wisdom that we can say NO to all of the “invitations” that come our way and we can say yes if we choose to do so and that is ok, too. We get to choose. We will find the tools we need and search them out based on our own grit and research and internal knowledge.

Sending extra compassion and support to all the people who need it today. Not because I am trying to sell you anything. Just Because.