Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘mental influence

Two Wolves

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Last week, Cyndie and I squeaked in time after a hard day’s work to watch the Disney movie “Tomorrowland” (2015) that arrived in the mail on our Netflix subscription. We liked it a lot. It includes significant references to the popular teaching legend about two wolves, which highlights the importance of how our thinking influences our lives.

We have been repeating variations of the punchline with noticeable frequency in the days since.

A simple synopsis taken from the movie:

Casey Newton: “There are two wolves” … You told me this story my entire life, and now I’m telling you: There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair, the other is light and hope. Which wolf wins?

Eddie Newton: Whichever one you feed.

This resonates for me, because it reflects my direct experience from my years of chronic depression through the ensuing years following wonderfully successful treatment. I learned to feed the good wolf instead of the bad one.

This recent focus on the two wolves legend has renewed my attention to how often I still automatically default to a negative perspective, despite my desire and intentions to do otherwise.

I stepped in the house at the end of a long, strenuous day of laboring on our property and Cyndie checked in with me, commenting on the vast number of things we accomplished. Without missing a beat, my response grabbed the equally vast number of tasks that remain in need of attention.

Luckily, that default response no longer goes unnoticed by me. I caught myself and admitted I was feeding the wrong wolf.

It’s as if I feel the cheery perspective of the state of things requires a counterbalance to keep it from being a false representation of reality. But, thinking about it, I could see that no matter how I chose to frame it, either mental perspective did not physically change how many projects we did or didn’t complete that day.

The reality of whether the grass needs mowing or downed branches need to be turned into piles of wood chips does not change based on how I assess our achievements of the day.

So why not feed the good wolf?

In life’s ongoing battle between darkness and despair, and the alternative of light and hope, which one should we be feeding? I vote for light, hope, love, peace, compassion, understanding, and even more love.

Thank you, Tomorrowland, for sowing the seeds.

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Sadness

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sadness

Words on Images

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Today I’m

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Today I’m not preparing to evacuate a hurricane zone. In the middle of the country, the biggest threat from hurricanes on the east coast is that they might temporarily stall the usual flow of high or low pressure weather systems that move across our region.

Today I’m purposefully ignoring anything that democrats or republicans want to tell me about how awful and scary the “other” party candidates are. Just not gonna allow them to sully an otherwise promising possibility for goodness and prosperity to spring forth from even horrifically dire situations.

Today I’m remembering how it felt to be chronically depressed and appreciating the grace that allowed me to discover I had power over my thoughts and my body chemistry to navigate my way to better health. Eat well, exercise often, focus thoughts and actions in the direction of optimal health. Repeat.

Today I’m revisiting my realization that I am the only one who sees things exactly the way I do while standing in my shoes, and the view from every other vantage point is not necessarily wrong. Many could even be the exact opposite. Whether you need to turn left or right to pull into our driveway depends completely on whether you are approaching from the north or the south.

Today I’m going to laugh at something, because the universe is filled with comical possibilities. Even our horses have demonstrated the art of prankish shenanigans. It’s all in the timing, and they obviously have a sense of it.

Today I’m publishing this post, because you might stop by to read it and I want there to be something for you that wasn’t here yesterday at this time. A morsel of *this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences that I captured in the moment. A glimpse of the ongoing drama from my world that I hope dances around being relative to something for you every now and again.

Today I’m sending you peace and love from beautiful Wintervale Ranch in Beldenville, WI, USA.

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Yes, Shingles

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For all the personal detail I freely display in my posts on a regular basis, I found myself holding back recently from blathering on about the daily progress of my shingles outbreak. I think part of it was a hope of saving you from frequently repeated lamentations over the pain and suffering I was enduring, but another part of it was my plan to give this affliction as little attention as possible. My intent was to get over this quickly and with a minimum of symptoms.

It all started on the Monday after I had trimmed dead wood from our apple tree and a nearby maple tree, using a pruning saw on an extended pole. It seemed entirely logical that I would feel sore muscles in the area of my torso after the workout I had done the day before. Upon a feeling of even more stiffness the next day, I became more assured my discomfort was a function of delayed onset muscle soreness from the weekend’s exercise.

By Wednesday I was growing normalized to the soreness and stopped thinking about it. After my shower in the evening, I noticed a red spot on my abdomen, but it didn’t mean much to me at the time. However, it seemed odd when the redness was still there the next morning. Without previously having had the slightest inkling that I might be getting sick, when I saw the spot still present in the morning, I reacted by lifting my arm and turning in the mirror.

How did I suddenly know?

DSCN4519eThere were enough splotches in a line around to my back that I instantly thought, “Shingles.” When I got to work I did a little research and checked in with my clinic back in Wisconsin. They directed me to immediately visit an urgent care site near my workplace. The doctor there did little more than listen to my description and look at my torso before confirming my self-diagnosis.

She prescribed an anti-viral to be taken 3-times a day for a week, to minimize and hopefully shorten the duration of my symptoms. She asked what I knew about shingles and began to describe the varying levels of hell that can occur.

I interrupted her to say that I did read that some people may not have severe symptoms. When she nodded in acknowledgement, I proclaimed that I would be one of those people, so she didn’t need to bother describing the worst it could get.

For the most part, I would say I achieved my goal of not having the rash erupt in multiple waves of increasing severity. It got worse for about 3 days and then began to slowly recede. There is still some residual visual evidence left, but my skin is mostly healed. The deep (what felt like muscle) pain was a chronic annoyance for about 2-and-a-half weeks, but seems to be fading now.

I’m so close to being done with it that I want to claim victory. There is just one small problem. Even though I succeeded in willing myself to the easy end of the shingles spectrum, it appears that I am getting a good dose of a common complication: post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

The most common complication of shingles is a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). People with PHN have severe pain in the areas where they had the shingles rash, even after the rash clears up.

The pain from PHN may be severe and debilitating, but it usually resolves in a few weeks or months in most patients. Some people can have pain from PHN for many years.             ——–cdc.gov/shingles/about/complications

I wouldn’t exactly call what I am feeling as pain. It is more a hyper-sensitivity. At times, it feels like a sunburn on my skin. Other times it feels “crawly” like having a fever. I get frequent shivers, and the act of shivering is uncomfortable. I want to avoid it, but I can’t.

So it’s that kind of pain. Not so much a “hurt,” as a very uncomfortable nuisance.

Yes, that’s my version of shingles.

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Good Thing

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Activity in our kitchen is back to normal, now that Cyndie is home. When I walked in the door from a day at work yesterday, my nose was greeted by a simmering ham roast in the slow cooker, two side dishes baking in the oven, and a fresh loaf of home-baked cranberry/orange/walnut bread and  plum crumble dessert cooling on the counter.

George was coming over for dinner. I went to start a fire in the fireplace, but noticed we needed to bring in more firewood. That meant I would need to shovel a path to the firewood rack on the deck.

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The food Cyndie prepared was fit for serving a royal feast. To heck with counting sugar grams or total calories. I ate it all, and then some.

We enjoyed dessert in front of the fire, where we lingered long while pondering the fragility of mental health in a wandering trail of tales, eventually feeling as if we had gone full-circle and discovered connections in otherwise seemingly dissimilar situations.

There is always hope possible in times that seem hopeless. If it is not easily available for the grasping, it can be cultivated, when the essential willingness is on hand.

It remains to be seen whether the hopes and remote support seeds we planted will produce desired results in the long run. In the mean time, the fine food and fellowship we shared and enjoyed was a heck of a good thing for the three of us.

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Written by johnwhays

February 5, 2016 at 7:00 am

Get Up

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You get up and face another day. It looks just like most other days. To some, it may be a day of dramatic significance, but for the rest of the world, it is normal to the point of being unremarkable. It hardly matters that it is the 15th day of January today.

DSCN4332eHow did we get here, to the middle of the first month of 2016 already?

I deal with the date a lot at work. Often, it is days far into the future that I am committing to as goals. As a result, I find myself growing numb about what the actual day’s date really is.

If you had long ago set today’s date as important and pondered over it at length throughout the ensuing time, achieving this day would understandably hold particular worth.

I don’t know how to pull that off for every single day.

When I was home all day, every day, managing all the ranch chores, I tended to lose track of what day it was. Now that I am in the completely different situation of driving to work to spend the days dealing with future dates on the calendar, I find it funny that I still lose track of what day it is.

Throughout my life, I’ve not been very good about waking up everyday with a feeling of awe over the gift of the day. Maybe that leads to my tendency to feel shock over the times that I do pay attention to the date. I don’t know.

Lately, I have been enjoying periods of intense pleasure over an immediate moment. The color of the sky, just after sunset. The look in someone’s eye. The sigh of our resting dog.

It doesn’t matter what day it is, when a fleeting moment catches your attention and feeds your soul.

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2016 at 7:00 am

Not Static

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Nothing is as static as my mind tends to imagine it to be. The constant changes and endless activity I have witnessed on our property in the past 3 years are convincing me that my general impression of the world has been a gross oversimplification of reality.

I think I’ve already written about my amazement over how relatively fluid the “solid ground” actually is. I know that farmers who need to pick rocks out of their tilled fields year after year are well aware of this ‘fluidity.’

DSCN4325eYesterday, a day that was about as plain as an uneventful winter day can be, I was trudging up one of my shortcut paths through the trees between our barn and the house when I suddenly became aware of all the debris collecting on the snow covering the ground.

It is a blaring announcement about how much activity is actually occurring in the seemingly static days that have followed last week’s snow storm. I’m guessing that squirrels are responsible for much of the shrapnel that has fallen from the trees, but I expect there are plenty of other less visible actors in the constant change taking place.

I need only look to the manure pile to witness evidence of the microscopic players at work in a feat of perpetual transition. Even though growing things all appear to be in a winter state of dead or dormant, the manure pile continues to cook at 140° F. There is an amazing amount of activity going on in the center of that pile.

I used to think there were two states of a mouse trap: tripped, or not. Now I know there is a third one. It is called, gone. I have lost too many mouse traps to count. Before we went out of town last Thursday, I added new peanut butter bait to the two traps in the garage. It had been too many days in a row without any evidence of activity, and I knew better. The mice had definitely lost interest in the traps.

The tally upon our return was, one trap with a mouse in it, and one trap gone. I don’t know if a mouse got caught in the trap and something else hauled it off somewhere, or the trap snapped on a mouse that could still run away, dragging the trap with it.

My response to all this is that I am not going to devise any single solution to situations that arise. I will endeavor to change the way I deal with things just as often as the challenges morph in new and different ways.

It’s not any spectacular new innovation. I’d say it’s pretty much how things have been throughout time. I’m just coming to a realization that I can choose to frame my perspective differently.

You could say I am planning to observe and respond to situations with more fluidity.

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2016 at 7:00 am