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Archive for July, 2009

I’ve been thinking about energy a lot this past week. Mainly because I have none. Or at least very little anyway. I’ve been doing battle with a series of headaches—including some migraines. It’s been frustrating.

For whatever reason migraines have the disconcerting side effect of causing me to feel even worse about myself than I normally do. It sucks. When I’m in the middle of the physical pain my brain is able to recognize that the emotional upheaval is simply a side effect of the migraine, and knows it will pass. Unfortunately that doesn’t help me feel any better. Here’s what my internal conversations sounds like.

Brain: Okay Spudsie. You know this “I’m never gonna make any progress” and “I’m a lousy person” crap is simply a side effect of the migraine pain. You know it will pass eventually and you’ll start to see things more clearly.

Emotions: Yeah. Right. (Side note: My emotions tend to be very sarcastic during migraines. ;-)) I hate this. I’m still one big gooey mess of pent up-ness. This isn’t because of the migraine. This simply is. I’m not any better off than I was a year ago. The migraines still attack and I’m no better at fighting them off. They still slam me to the ground—which is probably where I deserve to be anyway. You’re the logical one—surely you can see that.

Brain: (Deeply sighing) Give it time Spudster. Give it time. The pain will pass and your vision will clear. Just try to focus on drinking water and breathing deeply. Try not to dwell on beating yourself up.

Emotions: Yeah. Right. Try not to dwell on beating myself up. Pffffft. Like that’s gonna happen. What happens to you when someone tells you not to think of an elephant, hmmmmm???? That’s right—all you can think of is an elephant! Let me sulk in my self pity pit for a while. It’s the one thing I’m really good at after all. Oh! And the water thing…..you do realize that drinking THAT much water makes us run to the bathroom every thirty minutes, right? And you know how painful it is to move at all in the middle of a migraine. Can’t we just leave the water alone?

Brain: We’re drinking the water. Period. It helps flush all the lousy stuff out of our system. So just drink it and go take a nap will ya! At least when you are sleeping you can’t beat yourself up.

And so it goes. Yuck. The migraine pain is bad enough, but the emotional toll it takes is far worse. I end up completely drained of any positive energy.

So I’ve been thinking about that positive energy a lot this past week. Wondering where it goes. And what attracts it back my way. And how I’ve become soooooo much more aware of it in the past year. Of sensing it around me. Of feeling it flow through me—or get tied up in knots occasionally. Of feeling it in others.

Last Thanksgiving Mr. Spuds and I vacationed in Las Vegas. Two nights before leaving I slept wrong and knotted up some odd muscles in my neck. I do this occasionally and didn’t think too much of it. Well after a day of not being able to turn my head while on vacation I’d had enough. The Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo (where we stayed) offers a Tension massage that focuses on the head and neck. Perfect! Bright and early the next morning I went down to the spa and made an appointment.

Until then I’d never had a massage in my life. I’m a fairly modest person and blush at the thought of having someone other than my husband see me wearing nothing but a strategically draped sheet. Well evidently pain is a pretty good motivator for me to break out of my comfort zone. While scheduling the massage I was asked if I wanted a male or female therapist. Male, definitely male. No hesitation on my part. These knots are like steel and I need someone with serious upper body strength to work them out. When I mentioned I’d never had a massage before the person scheduling the appointment said, “Oh! I have the perfect therapist for you. Gabriel. He’s wonderful, you’ll love him.” Okay, fine. Whoever. Just fix my neck!

I had no idea.

Gabriel was (and IS) amazing! He made me feel completely at ease. I didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable or self conscious or anything. Wow! (At one point during the massage he joked about advertising in bus stations about offering massages from “the hands of an angel.” Mr. Spuds loved the play on his name and quipped for the rest of the vacation about how I was “touched by an angel.” Groan. I should probably hope these two never meet! LOL!) While he was working on getting rid of the knots (which were so pronounced I was tempted to name them) he kept talking about how I should come back for a full body massage at some point. That the Tension massage was good for working out specific problems, but the full body massage was sooooo much better.

In fact, he talked about it enough that he really shouldn’t have been surprised when I was his first appointment the very next morning for a full body Canyon Ranch massage. LOL! Turns out he was right. It was awesome! I left feeling completely relaxed and completely energized at the same time. Totally cool!

When we returned to Vegas in April (yes, yes….I know….it’s an amazing food city though….I simply can’t resist!), I went back to visit Gabriel again. This time I scheduled a massage the first morning we were in town. Ahhhhhh…..heaven. What a great way to start a vacation!

About half-way through the trip I felt lousy. We won’t talk about the reason. (Ahem. Any drink with the word “chocolate” in it really can’t be bad right? Even if you have 6 of them, right??? Groan. I’m old enough to know better!) Physically I was fine—no headaches, no stomach problems, no knots. I just felt off-kilter. I wasn’t hungry. I told Mr. Spuds I was going to see if Gabriel had any open appointments that day. Mr. Spuds though I had lost my mind. How on earth is a massage going to help?? I was convinced. My energy felt off—it wasn’t flowing normally. It felt knotted up somewhere inside. And I knew Gabriel could help.

Yay! I was right. When it came time for my appointment I told him how I was feeling and that I wanted to see if he could get me back to normal. Bingo! He knew exactly what to do. He asked a few questions and worked in a slightly different way than he had the last time. It worked! It was as though he pulled the energy from my head into my core and then kept it flowing (unknotted) through my legs and out my feet. Awesome! I left feeling totally relaxed, totally energized, and totally hungry!! (I’ve never claimed to be anything even approaching normal. LOL!)

The rest of the day felt magical. I turned my $20 gambling budget (last of the big spenders eh?) into $150. I had an amazing dinner at Bouchon with Mr. Spuds—and had the BEST mint ice cream I’ve ever had. (It tasted herbal instead of fake-minty. Loved it!!!) I had an incredible time at the Blue Man Group show—and Mr. Spuds got to participate and have the entire audience applaud him—totally cool!

The difference was night and day. Before, when my energy was tied in knots, I was trying to force enjoyment. “I am determined to enjoy myself. I’m not going to let feeling off-kilter keep me from doing the things I want to do.” I wasn’t wallowing, but I was pushing myself to keep going. Once the energy was flowing again, everything else flowed right along with it. Enjoyment simply happened. Joy was there—I didn’t have to force it or even go looking for it. It lived in me.

All in all it was an experience I hope to never forget. And I hope I can keep the lesson with me. When the energy is flowing, so is everything else. When the energy flows, I’m in flow. I love it when life lessons sneak up on ya!

Anyone who knows me IRL has heard about Gabriel before. I’ve gushed on and on and on and on about what an amazing massage therapist he is. Recently (within the past month) I was given the opportunity to spend two days at a pretty neat spa free of charge. (!!!) I scheduled a couple of different body treatments—a Swedish massage and a Papaya body scrub and treatment. And I found myself wondering how they would compare to what I’d had in Las Vegas. Would they be just as incredible? Would I find myself realizing that while Gabriel was great he wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of massage therapists? Hmmmmmm….this could be interesting. I couldn’t wait to find out.

After the Swedish massage I told Mr. Spuds, “Okay. Now I know. Gabriel is a ROCK STAR/GOD among massage therapists!!!” The Swedish massage was nice. That’s about all I can say. If it had been my first massage ever I probably wouldn’t ever schedule another one. There wasn’t anything “bad” about it—it simply wasn’t worth what it would have cost.

The Papaya body scrub and treatment included another 50 minute massage—with a different therapist. Ahhhhh….much better than the last therapist. Still no Gabriel, but at least this one managed to work out a couple of my knots.

In case I haven’t been crystal clear with my opinion let me say it plainly. If you ever travel to Las Vegas (and want a massage) call the Canyon Ranch Spaclub at the Palazzo/Venetian and book any appointment you can get with Gabriel! Seriously. He’s that good. Cut your gambling budget, see a cheaper show, skip an expensive meal (and you KNOW he’s got to be good if I suggest skipping awesome food!)…..do whatever you have to do. Just make it happen.

He’s great at making people feel comfortable—and every person at the spa talks about how much they love working with him. He’s great at being able to ask the right questions and move you around in such a way that he can tell what muscles need extra attention—even if you don’t realize it. (He asked if my right hip was bothering me very much. Ummm….no…not really. Then he pressed on one spot. OUCH! Okay…evidently it is bothering me and I hadn’t realized it. LOL!) And he totally gets that energy flows through the body, and that sometimes it gets stuck and needs to be worked out.

I love it when God uses something unexpected and/or unpleasant (like knotted neck muscles that won’t let me move my head) to teach me life lessons and introduce me to really awesome people!! Looking back I am SOOOOOO thankful for sleeping wrong and knotting up those muscles. It’s turned into something awesome!

Now if only there were a way to move Gabriel and his family closer to Ohio…..hmmmmmmm….

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I’ve been a quiet potato for a long time. April was really busy—work stuff, vacation, work stuff, life. I still had lots of thoughts in my head I wanted to get on paper—it just never happened as quickly as I wanted it to. Once May started I recommitted to setting aside more time to put cyber pen to cyber paper.

Clearly that didn’t happen.

May and June were really, REALLY tough coaching months. And since the stuff I work on with Coach Jim typically motivates much of my writing, I turned into a quiet potato.

If you’ve read much of my blog at all you’ll know that I almost ALWAYS write about how hard this coaching stuff is for me. How challenged I am. How rewarding it is while at the same time being one of the most difficult things I’ve done. And through all of that I keep writing about it. ‘Cause writing helps. 🙂

May and June were different. It was tough in a different way.

I didn’t recognize the difference at first. Jim has been coaching me though some self-esteem stuff. And that’s a gi-normous area of struggle for me. So when I first began noticing differences I assumed it was related to the subject matter. As time marched on I began to question that assumption. Just what was going on?

In a “typical” conversation with Jim I’ll laugh, cry (or at least get a little bleary-eyed), roll my eyes at something, and occasionally think “what planet is this guy from?!” I’m used to all of those reactions and understand most of them are some form of defense that I want to move beyond. So I try to see them, acknowledge them (silently), and move on. I found the conversations in May and June were different.

I found myself not looking forward to the calls at all. Maybe that could have been an early clue—previously no matter how difficult the subject matter I’d always looked forward to the calls. I found myself fighting frustrations before the conversations even started. I felt as though I wanted to resist everything Jim said. I wanted to “correct” everything he said. I found myself with really strong desires to swear profusely during the conversations. And not just the “light” words. Typically a “hell” or “d@mn” is as far as I go. In May and June I found myself frequently wanting to drop f bombs.

Whoa! Where the heck were those coming from?

Finally (better late than never!) I realized there was something else going on. Something bigger than the topic at hand was bothering me. So I sat down and thought about it. And looked back through my notes.

Aha! There was something bothering me! Jim had done something a little different in one of our conversations. He’d used a technique that gave him the exact result he was looking for at the time, but really stuck in my craw. (Does anyone use that expression anymore? LOL!) And I hadn’t realized how much it was bothering me.

Hmmmmmm….obviously I needed to clear the air. So I sent Jim an e-mail saying something like, “Hey next time we talk I want to spend some time talking about X. It’s getting in the way of our conversations and I’d like to address it.”
Being the excellent coach that he is, Jim readily agreed. “Sure Spudsie. We’ll make it the first thing on our agenda.”

Cool.

I had some fears and concerns going into this conversation with Jim. I had no idea how he’d react or respond. I had no idea if I’d be able to express myself in a way that made sense to Jim. I didn’t know if I would be able to explain where my frustration was coming from. Or why it was bothering me so much. But even with these fears and concerns I noticed I didn’t have any of that active nervous energy I frequently get before going into new situations. Cool! I impressed myself!

What I had assumed would take only a portion (15 to 20 minutes maybe?) of our time ended up taking longer than we were scheduled to talk. (Apologies for running over the allotted Mrs. Coach Jim!!!) And I ended up feeling more frustrated thinking back on our conversation than I did before we talked.

Uh oh. That’s never good.

My “greatest” fear (or as I told Mr. Spuds my most “rational” fear lol) was not being able to explain myself. Not being able to articulate what I was feeling in a way that would make sense to Jim. I had talked about it with Mr. Spuds and he understood what I meant and why I was upset. So I thought explaining it to Jim would be doable—not easy, but at least possible. ‘Cause Mr. Spuds often looks at me as tho I’m speaking a foreign language when I talk about coaching stuff. If he understood me, Jim would surely understand me. Right?

Yeah…….ummmm……maybe not.

At the end of the call I felt I hadn’t been able to explain myself at all. (Bang head here.) How the heck did that happen???? Grrrrrr…… Jim made a suggestion of something else to try—another way of trying to put the pieces together. I agreed to try. That was Monday evening.

All day Tuesday I would think about it if I had a minute or two free. I’d roll it over in my mind and see what resonated. See how I felt. See what thoughts and feelings came pouring out of me. And I got wave after wave after wave after wave of frustration. And not much else.

Well….that’s not entirely true. I also got a headache.

I tried everything I could to get rid of the headache. Used all of the tools in my toolbelt. Breathe deeply. Tons and tons of water. Correct posture. Correct foods. Nothing worked. And I got hit with the worst migraine I’ve had in a year Tuesday night around 11 PM. I gotta tell ya…..I can’t think of many things worse than being curled up on the bathroom floor, crying uncontrollably—even though you know crying makes the head pain even worse—and having wave after wave of feeling like a failure hit you. Migraines are awful. Especially when they are completely stress induced.

Mr. Spuds helped me through it. He handed me Kleenex and listened. And even offered, “Do you want me to talk to Jim? “ Awwwww…how sweet. 🙂 He finally bundled me into bed and I managed to pass out more than fall asleep. Either way—I managed to get a few hours of rest.

On Wednesday I e-mailed Jim. “I’m a mess. This isn’t working. Let me try to say this one more time.”

A-ha! Evidently whatever words I used in the “I’m a mess” e-mail made sense. Yay! 🙂 Jim called me and said, “I think I understand. Is this what you are saying…..”

High fives all around! Yep—that’s it!

Truth be told, that follow-up conversation is pretty fuzzy in my memory. I was still in huge amounts of migraine pain. What I do remember is thinking, “Yes! You’ve got it!” And working to set some new ground-rules or expectations on both sides. Phew! That was more like what I had expected our Monday conversation to be like.

And now I’m back to looking forward to coaching conversations. I’m looking forward to crying, laughing, rolling my eyes, and somehow through it all making progress with someone who I know is on my side, someone who has my best interest in mind. Yay!! The good stuff!!!

So why write this since it all turned out so well? Good question.
Jim absolutely ROCKS as a coach!! (He also totally rocks as a Summer Reading List putter-togatherer…but that’s an entirely different blog post. ;-)) Working with him is one of the best things I’ve ever done—hands down. He constantly amazes me with his suggestions, with his patience, with his listening skills, with his creativity in working with me. The mind boggles! I hope some of that comes through in my blog stuff.

All of those things are knowns. They are givens. I don’t question them at all.

Maybe that’s why it was so difficult for me to recognize that something he had done wasn’t working for me. I’d never considered that I might know me better than Jim knows me. Well…duh! Stopping to think about it that makes perfect sense. I’m the one living in my skin, in my head, in my heart, in my spirit. Who else besides me is going to know when something doesn’t work??

I wanted to write about this as a reminder to myself that I have the right and the responsibility to speak up when I’m upset. When something has hurt me. When something isn’t working. Just like I did this time. No game playing. No pouting. No waiting to see if someone else notices I’m not the same. Just like I did this time—speak up as soon as I can articulate what’s bugging me. Kudos to me for doing that this time. And kudos to me for becoming aware of what to look out for in the future.

I also wanted to write about this for anyone who wonders what it’s like working with a coach. Conflict (on some level) is inevitable. (Migraines are optional. ;-)) If you have the right coach (and it’s abundantly clear I have the right coach for me!) working through the conflict may take several tries, but in the end it’s totally worth it.

Totally.

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