Mojo? What Mojo?
When anyone has had a physical trauma: injury, prolonged illness or surgery, the system loses "Mojo," that lust for life, the twinkle in our eyes.
This is true:
“Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be.” Ron Hall, Denver Moore
Or as Joan Didion put it, “Everything's going along as usual and then all shit breaks loose.”
My reaction when I woke from surgery, and the following month of undiagnosed and growing gut disaster was dramatic.
First: Shock! They only did one knee replacement, not the two I'd prepared for.
Second: My femur broke during the surgery! I couldn't put weight on my left leg for 6 weeks.
That meant I couldn't do PT for my knee.
Third and most disastrous: The ulcerative colitis I had healed from ten years ago rolled over me like a tank. I couldn't sit up. I lost all the strength and flexibility I had worked so hard for.
All that to say that when I refer to losing Mojo, I know what I'm talking about. And yet when my head rises above pain, weakness and despair, I take a breath. Just a breath. If I am breathing, I am alive. If I'm alive, I have choices.
The good news: I have an amazing spouse who goes above and beyond to care for me. Friends, neighbors, people I haven't seen for a while, have fed us; they weeded and kept my baby flower garden alive; they sent sweet imojis, poems and quotes when I couldn't visit; they took me to the doctor just to give my sweetie a break. All that and more. I'm lucky.
And still. This body was not what I had prepared for.
So, how do I be with my life now?
This is where Mojo Recovery begins....
TRUE or FALSE: We're destined to lose muscle strength as we get older.
The answer is FALSE.
A study in 2011 says "NO" to that notion. And they have proof. (You might be blown away by the photos below).
This study contradicts the common assumption that muscle mass and strength decline as a function of aging alone. Instead, these declines may signal the effect of chronic disuse rather than muscle aging. Hopeful, Yes?
And the good news is that it's never too late to start.
Just for instance, after my bike accident and post concussion syndrome, I had a bleak year and a half of little vigorous exercise. Now I'm active biking or at the gym or yoga studio 4 to 6 days a week. Man, it feels good! I feel good: I'm stronger physically and more resilient mentally.
Did you know that for mild depression 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 days a week has been shown to be as effective as taking an anti-depressant?
Instead of spending time worrying about what will happen to our bodies as we age we can use that time to give our muscles and bones and joints the opportunity to do what they're meant to do: support us and move us.
So go for it! We can't control the ups and downs that happen in the world, but we can control our resilience: our ability to respond well to the downs and to enjoy more the ups. That's MOJO!
Congratulations if you've already made the commitment to do what it takes to stay strong and flexible!
If you haven't, what's in your way to make the commitment to live your strongest and most able? What kind of help do you need?
Start where you are and up your time and effort just a little every week. Commit to stay with it till you're feeling fine. Notice the moments that you enjoy it, and you'll start to get hungry for the next day of exercise.
But what about pain or feeling tired? I can help so you can move with more ease and strength.
Here's the study:
Photos: Thanks to TomMeyers AnatomyTrains
"We always are meditating on something. Most people meditate on the problem."
And where our minds go, so we go. It can be a bumpy ride. Would you like it to be smoother?
Practicing compassion with ourselves and others and holding a clear intention of what we want can smooth out the bumps and take us to unexpected good things. The key word, I've learned, is "practice": as in be consistent, which I'm working on. Also keep in mind that what you need may look different than what you imagine.
I'm recovering from post-concussion syndrome plus my knees hurt, and it's been depressing not being able to live my more active life. Plus it's February in Portland, Oregon--dreary, dark, low clouds and cold. So, while I'm doing the work of healing, I'm putting my intention on getting more joy into my life.
Today I went to a class that gives me joy, "Drawing in the Art Museum," only to find no class. I waited a long time by the photo exhibit where we were to meet. It was about the Holocaust. I tried to reach my instructor and the college. Nada. I was forlorn. I wandered around the museum and then sat down to draw. By the time I was finished I felt better.
With time to spend, I let my car meander back across town and stopped at a coffee shop I rarely go to. It's a cheerful place. My phone was almost dead, so I couldn't distract myself with Facebook. As I left, I realized I'd parked near a resale clothing store. I love finding treasures to wear that others are done with--unique pieces of clothing that resonate with my vibrance.
Now, in this particular store I never find yummy clothing, but I wasn't ready to go home yet, so I wandered for a while. I saw a shirt. Rich, deep olive green suede-like, shot through with lime green creases. It was woven in strips and some strips had streaks of soft pink and others of baby blue. So much texture! Such a fun play of color! It cost more than my usual, but I wouldn't leave without it.
When I got home there was a voice message on my land line from the day before that I hadn't listened to. It was someone from the college saying the class had been cancelled and an email sent (which I never received--I'd been having trouble with my address dropping emails).
I'm so thankful that I hadn't heard that message!
If I had, I wouldn't have heard the amazing story of the photo exhibit we were to draw on its very last day here. I wouldn't have practiced drawing in the beauty of the Art Museum. I wouldn't have stopped at just this place to have a cuppa and enjoy the atmosphere. I wouldn't have been feeling this physical lightness and joy in my heart that wearing this shirt has brought. The funny thing is that I can't see myself in it. And yet, there it is: that lightness!
So consider what you want. Write it down. Look at it often. Practice compassion and see your want getting clearer. Then open yourself to the unexpected. Who knows how far you can go!
How do we remember each other?
By sight? When the light is just so? By the sound of rain?
By a touch, or maybe by a way that we move?
Or does some scent--our strongest and most immediate route--lead us to memory?
I remember my clients most easily through these senses: I sense visually and energetically the way they carry themselves, and I sense though touch.
....Ahh, yes this beloved being has moved from that way of living to this way.
How do we remember our own "best selves"?
Face-to-face contact super-reinforces our memories, which is why it's so good to surround ourselves with people who uplift us, who bring out "our best selves" as Judith Aston says.
Some of the ways we are reminded of our best selves, while not pleasant, are still good for us.
For instance, I've committed to wearing "unloading" braces for 10 weeks to help correct the muscle imbalances in my legs and relieve arthritis pain in my knees.
And let me tell you, it hurts my vanity. But, wow! my legs are stronger and my knees are happier!
But even more impressive to me. Once I stopped to pay attention (thanks in part to Peppermint essential oil!): After one week of image-battering, brace-wearing I'm discovering not only am I in less pain, but the extra support that my lower body, especially my joints, can give me, the more focused my mind is....here I am, writing a blog that I could not focus on before!
I simply didn't have the grounding in my physical body to propel my mind toward the work of putting a newsletter together, even though I missed you very much!
So what in your life would it be good to be reminded of?
Who can help you get there?
Maybe I can help, because....
I want your body (and the whole of you)...to feel fine!
Want more? Try a couple tips from my ebook "16 Tips for Increasing Your Mojo"
"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
I've been thinking.....
It's harvest time, but what if there's something in you now that's waiting to bloom?
It's never too late to re-evaluate what's working and what's not.
For example: I thought that after my bike accident and resulting TBI last August I'd never ride again. Since my knees are funky, and my stamina irregular, eBike riding was a way I could be outside and get just the exercise that was right for me.
So I spent this year healing, grieving my loss and finding ways to reconnect with my "mojo" that didn't include a bike.
Fortunately, I was working with someone familiar with TBI recovery, and she said offhandedly mid-way through the year, "Oh sure! You'll be able to ride again! Give it a year and try it."
In September, I timidly got on a 2-wheeler and was stunned by how much better my brain immediately functioned when my whole body was involved in traveling. I felt more confident on the bike than I was driving my car.
Now I've traded my too-big-for-me eBike for my "little pony" eBike.
I feel stable, safe and happy riding to work and generally peddling my-self around town; and my brain is happier and healthier for it.
Warning: This is not everyone's experience, so don't go hopping into an activity that you miss just because! Ask your knowledgeable practitioner what's right for you.
So what limitation have you settled for? Is it time for re-evaluating?
I can help. It's what I do.
I love these easy tactics from Sheevaun Moran's newsletter so much that I had to share them with you:
"What a beautiful Saturday for creating and simply being,
Has this week left you with a bit of wobbly insight?
Are you feeling raw, but are ready for magic to happen?
Today I want to empower you to embrace the fun….
And I have some forgotten tactics, to take you from raw, to invigorated and ready to conquer the world.
3 Forgotten Tactics to Energize Your Body & Mind!
1: Shake Shake Shake… Shake Your Body
Shake. Jump. Run. Walk. Stretch. Dance. It doesn’t have to take an hour. It doesn’t even have to cause you to break a sweat. Just move your body. I challenge you to turn on your favorite song, this is one of mine, and dance your socks off.
It’s amazing how moving your body can boost both your mood and your energy level."
(In fact, you can get down to "Freedom" by Pharrell Williams right now!)
2: Become a Water Baby
"If you don’t have salt for a bath at home, the next time you are at the store, grab some. Detox from your week, from a long day, or even a stressful phone call with a soak in a salt bath. With just 20 min in the tub, tension, negative energy, and even stress wash from you into the water.
Don’t have a bathtub, that’s okay, you can sprinkle salt into the bottom of your shower and rub your feet into it. You can also add salt to your body wash / bath gel and then massage it into your skin while in the shower.
3: Give the Gift of Yourself
Do one thing today for someones else. No matter how big or small when you act in service to others, it up levels your happiness and energetics.
Hold the door for someone whose hands are full.
Bring home a new chew toy for Fiddo.
Read an extra chapter to your kiddo at story-time.
Make silly faces at the baby sitting in the cart in front of you at the store.
Pick up trash floating around the park while on your walk.
Text a friend, coworker, family member and tell them how amazing they are.
By taking time to help or share happiness with those around you, you are serving yourself in the process. So share the love, share the laughs, share you.
Make this weekend awesome. Make it full of laughter and some fun."
Check out more yum from SheevaunMoran.com and get the download 5essentialenergies.com.
What wild and crazy thing does Spring make you want to do?
After the rains and the cold; after the dark, low clouds, what is it that creeps into the corner or leaps into the front of your mind?
In the Chinese calendar the equinox and solstices occur in the middle of the four seasons. We are almost half way through Spring and on to Summer, says my acupuncturist friend, Kelly Shaw. So let's get on with it!!
My wildness plays out in a garden. Any garden will do. But now, mine specifically. Last year we had one of our ancient Hawthorne trees cut down to save our roof and this winter the other Hawthorne suddenly dropped a huge branch that had reached toward its buddy. Now another smaller branch hangs precariously.
So lately I've been stroking this old tree's several twined trunks carefully (it's not called a Haw-thorn for no reason!) And I tell it how sorry I am that it's lost its friend and how glad I am to live with it.
We are each of us part of this tiny planet, no matter how we've been conditioned. We're connected to everything and everyone in ways science seems to whisper about.
But why wait for more evidence??
Today, for instance, how might you dance with nature, or your car, or people, or...you name it "like nobody's watching?"
Need a little help? Give me a call.
How is your loving going these days? How do you practice growing it? Here's one way.
Lately this winter I have been waking early. I come downstairs to sit in my sunroom looking north across the bare trees in my little yard and watch the morning begin. I hold a cup of tea against my chest and let my slowly healing concussed brain wake at its own pace.
If I'm lucky, I'm early enough to watch the birds wake up.
The crows are first.
There is a winter roost to my west where hundreds of crows settle together for the night sharing stories and loving in their noisy, alien way. I have happened upon 3 winter roosts of an evening in Portland. One downtown. One on a steep slope by Johns Landing and the one near me on 19th and SE Oak.
In the morning just as dark turns to gray, but before colors are bright, the crow parade begins.
A group of 10 or 20 race high above my yard from west to east. If I'm lucky I'll be gifted to catch the friskier ones play tag along the way. Then empty sky. Then five, or three, or seven. Then two. Then one. And one. And one.
The sky lightens and little songbirds that my neighbor feeds flit between my small, budding magnolia and the asian pear tree. They hang out for awhile, then the squirrels bound their giant selves through the branches.
If I'm really lucky, a little later a group of 20-30 crows will have their coffee break in the bare branches of a tree 2 blocks over.
Once last summer: The crows have moved out of their winter roosts and into their own nests, I make friends with a young crow in my back yard. He caws and I say, "Good morning." We have quite a conversation for several days. He swoops above me, not too near. His mother keeps watch.
Then it rains and I think I've lost him.
The first sunny day after that long rain, I ride my bike down my driveway and turn up the street. A crow swoops low across the front of my bike and lands forward to my right, cocking his head, looking at me. "Good morning!" and I feel lucky.
Four hours and 2 stops later, I'm leaving a friend's house several miles away to head home. He swoops and lands exactly as he had earlier. We greet each other. If crows could smile, his smile would be amused.
I love crows. I love their mischievous, raucous, cautious, sleek selves. I've always wanted more than they give.
But lately I've come to this:
from a lesson that Kisma Orbavich posted from her teacher.
Love + Attachment = Selfishness
Attachment - Selfishness = Love
And I feel lucky.
We change all the time. We grow fluid and flexible and we become more rigid. It's happening even now as you read this.
I was at what can only be called a performance art piece on fascia a few weeks ago by Gil Hedley.
He reminded us that there are four primary things that influence the fine "fuzz"; that is the tissue between the tissues of our bodies. And this effects our whole being: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual.
When we suffer from these lacks, our resilience is diminished:
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE... AND IT'S GOOD NEWS!
We can nourish ourselves and fill our reservoir with these:
So when you get up, move! Put on some music and dance like no one's watching. Get on the floor and roll around. Kick up your heels, even one at a time.
We are an electromagnetic system. We need to ground all the positive ions we produce back into the earth.
Just like it's safe to be in your car in a lightning strike, because the current won't travel through your rubber tires, it's the same with the shoes we wear--no place for those +ions to go.
Take off your shoes. Let your bare feet touch the ground or the floor....It's ok to wear socks, by the way....
Just smiling first thing in the morning, no matter what mood you wake in will slingshot you toward joy. Cultivate it. Grow it with your intention. Find things in your past, your present and in your imagined future that spark joy.
A few weeks ago, when I sat up groggily and burst into tears, I was inspired!
Actually, I had been driving myself for months. We sold the building I'd worked in for 26 years and I'd relocated 5 times in a year. So it had taken a sledge hammer of pain to get my attention.
I grew up with the chronic pain of degenerative hip disease, so I have had a lifelong pattern of ignoring discomfort in order to live the life I wanted....until I simply couldn't move.
The bugaboo for me is rest.
Am I resting or am I defeated? And by golly, I will not be defeated.
There's a difference between good hard work and going over the line. One message our society in the US encourages us to do is work till we drop. And there's another which says that because we do this, we "deserve" something good. We aren't encouraged to think about how we affect others. Comfort becomes the goal.
But there are other ways to be.
I also spent 20 years suffering with ulcerative colitis. During this time, a friend wrote me a note which I kept taped to a drawer near my treatment room. It said:
"If I don't want to talk to my client,
If I watch the clock during a session,
If I think my client is annoying,
This means I'm sick and I need to lie down RIGHT NOW!"
Then I would, and a miracle would happen: I'd feel better and my clients returned to being charming!!
This week I'm at the Oregon Coast where I'm not distracted by the pulls I feel at home. It's been glorious! I've had little hilarious adventures in healing and I've been drawing every day. And I'm having many, many hours of rest....and fun. And at the end of the week, I will come back refreshed, with new thoughts on connecting and caring--both for myself and for others.
And so what about you? How do you "push yourself around"? And how do you counter the messages that encourage you to?
Is it time for a little (maybe hilarious) help healing?
Do you want a kick-start to feel better fast? Click here to get my free booklet.
I'm Valerie Lyon, the Mojo Recovery Therapist.