Posted on 18 Comments

Claustrophobia — Overcome The Crippling Fear!

Mental Health matters
Claustrophobia, some practical ways to cope with the fear and anxiety. Phobia, Claustrophobia, Anxiety, Fear, Feeling of dread, Terror
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
— Louisa May Alcott

Practical ways to cope with the fear and panic

Fear is a predator! If it senses any chink in the armor it will pounce!

Claustrophobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by the fear of and avoidance of confined spaces.

As a person who knows what it feels like to wrestle with this dreaded evil, I utilize some practical ways of subduing this beast without the use of medicine.

In many of my day-to-day activities, I am forced to use the elevator at my place of work. The thought of having to use an elevator causes my heart rate to accelerate and beads of sweat on my brow. If there is someone else in the elevator with me I can handle the anxiety better.

When I find myself alone in that elevator fear begins to unfurl on the inside creating a tornado of anxiety, with the potential to leave nothing but debris in its wake.

It feels like a tomb and I fear the doors will never reopen.

I imagine my co-workers finding me in a whimpering heap on the floor of the elevator. Not a comforting thought in my position.

I will go to any lengths to avoid the triggers unless there is no other recourse.

Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

The manifestation

Phobias generally develop during childhood or our teenage years and manifest by the avoidance of small and confined spaces. Phobias create the belief that ‘something awful’ will happen if you remain in that situation. Your flight or fight response is activated with physical symptoms such as: —

  1. dry mouth
  2. Sweaty palms
  3. Nausea
  4. Wobbly legs
  5. Pressure in the head
  6. Getting hot or cold
  7. Racing heart
  8. The feeling of dread or terror

Your thinking becomes clouded and you are consumed with one thought — ‘I’ve got to get out!’.

Emotionally, the person feels great fear and trepidation and has a sense of dread and doom.

Photo by Melanie Brown on Unsplash

How is it diagnosed?

Claustrophobia is characterized in one of four ways.

Though a definitive cause is not known, many people who experience claustrophobia may find its origins stem from a single incident or trauma. They may experience symptoms from getting trapped in an elevator, locked in a cupboard by a sibling, etc., which triggered their anxiety. Some other etiologies may be:-

  1. A traumatic birth event
  2. A learned behavior
  3. The result of a difficult life situation
  4. A symptom of generalized anxiety disorder

Claustrophobia, Phobias, Fear, Deep breathe, Distraction, Calm

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Ways I cope with the dread:

  1. Always have my charged cell phone with me.
  2. I pray to calm my mind.
  3. I try to ride with others.
  4. Find something interesting to read/listen to on the ride up and down.
  5. Think calming thoughts, (go to your happy place).
  6. I take the stairs if at all possible.
  7. Locate exit doors in a room
  8. Medication is always an available option as well.

Final thoughts

I cannot pinpoint the origins of my phobia. The only causative factor for me could be birth trauma. According to totalhealth.co.uk a traumatic birth could result in a “body memory”. A “body memory” is an innate consciousness in the construction of different short-term body images and provides real-time information about the posture and location of our bodies.

My mom recalls mine was a long and difficult labor. Perhaps being stuck in the birth canal could be a possible cause of the anxiety disorder.

Whatever its origins, one option is to try to recognize the triggers and manage them before they become a full-blown issue. Employ the above strategies and try to calm yourself as much as you can. Have your cellular device with you at all times and try to engage yourself in something interesting.

I feel that having my cell with me enables me to at least call for help and not feel so helpless or alone.

I employ these strategies, pray that the elevator ride goes quickly, and breathe a sigh of relief as the door begins to open.

Please feel free to share any tips you use in coping with fear and panic.

Thank you for reading.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_memory

https://www.totalhealth.co.uk/clinical-experts

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article

Posted on 9 Comments

Poem - The House By the Side of the Road

The House by the Side of a Road 

(1890–1911) by Sam Walter Foss

  • There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
  • In the place of their self-content;
  • There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
  • In a fellowless firmament;
  • There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
  • Where highways never ran — 
  • But let me live by the side of the road
  • And be a friend to man.
  • Let me live in a house by the side of the road
  • Where the race of men go by — 
  • The men who are good and the men who are bad,
  • As good and as bad as I.
  • I would not sit in the scorner’s seat
  • Nor hurl the cynic’s ban — 
  • Let me live in a house by the side of the road
  • And be a friend to man.
  • I see from my house by the side of the road
  • By the side of the highway of life,
  • The men who press with the ardor of hope,
  • The men who are faint with the strife,
  • But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
  • Both parts of an infinite plan — 
  • Let me live in a house by the side of the road
  • And be a friend to man.
  • I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
  • And mountains of wearisome height;
  • That the road passes on through the long afternoon
  • And stretches away to the night.
  • And still, I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
  • And weep with the strangers that moan,
  • Nor live in my house by the side of the road
  • Like a man who dwells alone.
  • Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
  • Where the race of men go by — 
  • They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
  • Wise, foolish — so am I.
  • Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
  • Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
  • Let me live in my house by the side of the road
  • And be a friend to man.

My WP friends, I have a deep love of poetry. Many speak to me in deep and enduring ways. I heard the above poem for the first time last week and wanted to share it with the poetry lovers out there.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or other great poems with me.

Thank you!

Posted on 23 Comments

The Braided Bridges of Peru

https://www.google.com/url

How the Incas keep a 500-year tradition of communication and community alive

This year the Q’eswachaka bridge in Peru, a mind-blowing invention of the Inca peoples was rebuilt. This is the work of highly trained and skilled workers that honor their tradition for the greater part of half a century.

The bridge which is traditionally re-braided each year was not repaired last year due to the COVID pandemic. It fell into some disrepair and actually fell down into the river below. This year the urgency to upkeep the traditional was at an all time high.

Once per year, usually in the month of June, the Quechua-speaking peoples gather at the gorge of the Apurimac River located in the Southern Andes.

The Inca people repair the bridge using natural materials they have diligently harvested. Materials such as sticks and some local vegetation usually hemp fibers are used. These hemp fibers are then twisted and woven to form very strong ropes.

The ropes will subsequently be braided into cables which are then raised on each side of the gorge to serve as the ‘bones’ of the bridge.

Dangerous work!

Expert craftsmen will then go to work weaving the many ropes into the new bridge. The craftsmen begin their arduous task by starting from opposite ends and will meet in the middle.

This bridge is a marvel of ingenuity, is made using grass, straw (hemp) and sticks. It spans an impressive expansive 2.3 miles above the river. It is approximately 118 feet long and will be strong enough to support the needs of a bustling community of people and their animals as it had been for greater than 500 years.

Historically the craftspeople will begin learning this craft from an early age. The tradition is passed from generation to generation and embraced with much pride.

Each household from the four surrounding communities will contribute approximately 230 feet of rope to the bridge project. A true labor of love and community spirit.

https://www.andespathperu.com

Although there is a ‘modern’ bridge nearby, the proud Incas continue to use, upkeep and renew their tradition each year.

The Q’eswachaka bridge, the pride of the Incas.

A labor of love, tradition, community, and honor. And in keeping with the spirit of community, this hard and dangerous work concludes with a merry-making.

Posted on 14 Comments

Remembering Zenita

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash
A friend lost to cancer

It was close to midnight on New Year’s eve when my phone rang. Zenita, the name of my good friend flashed across the screen. I excitedly answered and in surprise realized that the voice on the other end was not one I knew.

The caller identified themselves as her sister and stated she was sorry to tell me that my friend had lost her battle with cancer earlier that day.

Just as my phone rang my then six-month-old baby had suddenly cried out very loudly, seemingly for no reason I couth fathom.

I was immediately overcome with sadness … my friend had died. She had lost her battle with cancer.

Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash

I met the woman who would become my friend in college. We were working our way through nursing school. Both of us were adults with families at this time.

I would later find out that she was stricken with cancer and had been going through this process for some time. She had had bilateral mastectomies and breast reconstruction and a few other forms of treatments by the time we met.

If one was not made aware of her illness, she appeared to be the picture of health.

She would start her coursework, become ill, and be forced to hit the pause button. She would then gain some respite, return to school only to have to leave again. Through it all, she remained steadfast.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Zenita was a soft-spoken and beautiful human being. I would often parallel park her car. She was a good driver though parallel parking proved to be her undoing. So each time we had classes together I would park her car.

Our friendship continued through the years. I went on ahead as she took time out for another round with cancer.

Time marched on and we stayed in touch. I graduated nursing school and began working while my friend continued to fight in between bouts of schooling.


Sometime later we met for breakfast and I told her of my plans to move. She put me in contact with her sister’s friend through whom I could make inquiries about employment.

Even though her life was complicated, she still took time out to care about mine and offer her assistance. My friend had been in the fight for her life for years. I never heard her complain about her circumstances.

She fought a good fight.


Photo by Handiwork NYC on Unsplash

Life continued. We spoke regularly and by this time, cancer had given her some reprieve. She had finally graduated from nursing school and was planning to move my way as well.

She flew down for our mutual friend’s wedding and she looked well and healthy.

If you met her and did not know her history, one would never guess at the battle raging beneath.

She remained hopeful.

She looked healthy and beautiful and we had a blast at the wedding reception. We partied and danced the night away. Though for some reason we did not take a picture together. I have never had a picture of her, though I still see her so clearly and hear her voice.

We said our goodbyes and anticipated the promised relocation a few months later.


Photo by Erica Marsland Huynh on Unsplash

Soon it was in November, Thanksgiving Day. I received a call from Zenita, but I was at work. We chatted for a short while, then she told me that her family was visiting and asked me to call her later. I promised I would call her on my way home from work.

I did not make the call!

Soon Christmas came around and life was hectic. I had given birth in June of that year and found myself juggling many balls in the air.

Next came the eve of the New Year and a phone call showing the name Zenita across the screen. At the same time, my baby yelped out loudly for no reason I could identify.

I answered happily and the voice on the line informed me my friend had suddenly taken a turn for the worse earlier that day and had passed away.

I was shocked and saddened and when I hung up the phone I knew an invaluable jewel had been stolen from us.

My friend had succumbed to a final jab from the evil known as cancer.

Cancer — How I hate that word!


Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

My friend epitomized the meanings of grace, determination, beauty, and hope throughout.

No doubt a journey fraught with pain, fear, and at times despair.

I never heard her complain with bitterness or anger, she remained stalwart. I do know that one of her greatest regrets was that she may not be around for her children.

I will forever regret the call I did not make.

I think of her often and if I listen keenly, I can still hear her gentle tone saying my name.

She was truly a lovely person. And I miss her every day.

Posted on 16 Comments

 Rice in Guyana, South America


By Tracey Dos Santos — Tracey Dos Santos, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1036106

Rice

I saw this picture of rice farming in Guyana, South America and I almost cried at its unmistakable beauty and the memories it evoked.

As a girl, I gazed at similar images many times throughout the years.

I could not appreciate its beauty then, I sure can now.

During active rice season, there would be magnificent flocks of redbreast robins (birds) singing and picking at the growing grains. It was beautiful to behold.

*****

Guyana’s relationship with rice

Rice cultivation can be traced back about 10,000 and 14,000 years ago. Some evidence and artifacts found in China point to the Yangtze and Huai rivers as the earliest points of domestication of Oryza sativa (domesticated from a wild grass called Oryza rufipogon). 

The wild grains later be known as rice would soon be cultivated throughout the civilized world and seek to establish its place as a hierarchy staple in many nations. Rice continues to hold steady its place even today.

Rice in Guyana

Rice was introduced by the early Dutch settlers during the early 18th century. In 1738, the Dutch Governor of Essequibo (Laurens Storm van Gravesande) introduced rice as a means of supplementing the diet of slaves working on the sugarcane estates.

East Indians were later imported for labor and some stayed behind and began cultivating their own rice plots. Blacks had earlier broken away from slavery and began farming and rearing their own foods.

This eventually led to an overabundance of rice and initiated its exportation to Trinidad as the first nation to purchase rice from Guyana.

Currently, rice is the second-largest agricultural product of Guyana. The cultivation and product of sugar remain in the top position.

                                                                                                           *****

 

Familial rice history

I was born into a family of rice farmers. My grandfather (mother’s dad) was a farmer. He and two of his brothers invested, bought land, and farmed rice together among other things.

I am a country girl, born and raised in the countryside. My grandpa died when I was almost seven years old. I have many vivid memories of him, what he wore. I can see his face if I concentrate hard enough.

A God’s man, an entrepreneur, a planner, farmer, tailor, and a man who loved his fellow man. He left a wonderful legacy of love and material assets behind.

My mom remembers her dad leaving very early in the morning to walk several miles to the ‘back dam’, where the planting was done. They owned many acres of land for planting rice.

She recalls that her brothers would be awakened early to make the trek to bring the fresh cows’ milk before school, along with vegetables, tubers, and any fish my grandpa caught and preserved.

The family would use some of the milk and the rest was sold.

My grandmother would also make the trek to help my grandpa if she was not pregnant or had a newborn child.

Back then you cut rice by hand with a scythe. Resembling the image below. Those were still around when I was a girl.

It was back-breaking work. 

Image credit:https://www.dreamstime.com/malaha3_info 

Not surprisingly, my grandpa died in his 59 th year of life (more on his life another time).

Though my family cultivated other crops, tubers for example. Yuca, eddoes, plantains, bananas, and many others.  We grew vegetables, reared chickens, sheep, pigs, cows, and a fish pond in the backyard. My grandpa thought of everything. He was also a tailor.

I never developed a love for tubers, my preference has always been rice. To this day I eat rice almost daily.

It has been a struggle, as I love rice but must cut back as I am getting older.

Rice is anecdotally known as ‘swamp seed’ in that part of the world. 

Image credit: paddy, Guyana Chronicle

This is called paddy, where the rice is harvested and dried, then milled to remove the outer shell or husk, exposing the white finished product seen below.

Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

                                                                                                 *****

My mother is the third child and the first girl, so she learned to cook and do household chores very early on. By the time she was nine years old, she would care for her siblings, clean the house, and cook.

She became a sort of pseudo mother to her younger siblings and they share an exceptional closeness to this day. An inherited closeness we, my mother’s children also share with our aunts and uncles.

Open spaces in Guyana, the dams lined with coconut trees.
Image credit: Stabroek News Guyana

The above image represents familiar sights from my childhood. Kids roamed freely and safely, playing, picking fruits, and climbing trees.

Though I did some ‘roaming’, I always had a love for reading and while my younger sister ran about playing and socializing, I indulged in my first love — reading.

                                                                                                      *****

Back then, it really took a village to raise kids and each other. Those were great times of sharing and love. I have wonderful memories of growing up in a community of people who took care of each other. We were safe, there were no locked doors. I felt like everyone was my family and indeed many are.

It was really a great place to grow up in.

I recall my childhood with great affection and, even if I could, I would change nothing! It was such fun and life was sooo good.

Now when I visit, I know I am in for a good time. I will settle in and be ready for the visits and the laughs. I will be gifted with fruits and foods and regaled with the tales I missed since my last visit.

I am always sad to leave and cannot wait for the next trip back.

Posted on 13 Comments

Hearts

A heart shaped rock
Image credit: author
This post is inspired by Ms. Renee of Heart tokens. She loves hearts and sees them in various places and circumstances.

Because of her blog, I have begun taking notice of hearts as well.

This past Monday, Memorial Day, on my morning walk I saw this beauty. A rock in the shape of a heart. Normally I do not pick things off the street, but this was in the middle of the walkway. This path is fairly well-traveled, but I was the only traveler present this morning.

So I bent over and picked this one up happy to have found it.

Thank you Ms. Renee for my newly-opened eyes, I choose to see my new heart as a hello from God.

The significance that I found it on a day we remember those lost fighting for others.

Thank you, Lord, for the many tokens of appreciation in our lives.

Posted on 12 Comments

Age Really Is Just A Number


A friend sent this video to me yesterday, and all I can say is WOW!!!!

Age really is just a number, at least for some of us. Check out the nimble dexterity here all while carrying a very dangerous-looking machete. I just had to share it with you.

I cannot and never have been able to do anything like that. 

Enjoy!!

Posted on 14 Comments

Glimpses Of Heaven In Our Periphery

Photo by Ali Maah on Unsplash
My friend’s story of love, loss, hope, and faith.

About three days ago I was speaking with a friend of mine. Sadly I had not spoken with her for several months. I think of calling her sometimes, but life always seems to intervene.

So finally she called me, I was at work, but decided to return her call her on the way home.

This is her story.

My friend is 69-years old, she was my boss at one time then we transitioned to a great friendship.

My friend tells me she was ill with pancreatitis for the past two months. Her 25-year-old grandson was ill with pancreatitis at the same time as well.

Pancreatitis is characterized as an inflammation of the pancreas. Our pancreas sits behind the stomach, near the small intestine. It releases enzymes that aids in digestion with a secondary function of regulating how our bodies manage glucose.

My friend (a nurse of over 40+ years), states she was suddenly struck with this dreadful illness and denies any alcohol consumption. Generally, sufferers of pancreatitis often are chronic over-indulgers in alcohol.

She recalls a rough time but eventually made a full recovery.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Her 25-year-old grandson however did not fare as well. While they were both hospitalized, he developed sepsis. He quickly progressed to organ failure and was placed in a medically-induced coma.

At some point, the doctors decided to wean him off the ventilator and he later had a story to tell.

While intubated, he was in the company of three very close deceased members of his family. He was reoriented to the present but kept asking the date. They told him, June 12th and that’s when he told his family that his dead relatives said they would return for him on June 15th.

The conversation was quickly averted and no one wanted to really delve into what that could really mean.

His recovery continued and though he slept a lot, he remained alert and oriented. My friend, (a nurse), said he would call and speak to her and his grandfather daily and always made perfect sense. He even had her speak to the doctor on his behalf due to her medical knowledge.

The family relaxed thinking all would be well.

Promises kept

On Friday, June 15th my friend received a telephone call from her daughter stating her son had taken a turn for the worse. He had coded, with no blood pressure, a lethal heart rhythm, and no pulse.

They were able to resuscitate him and placed him on a ventilator. It was later determined that he was brain dead. His family then made the heartbreaking decision to remove him from the ventilator.

My friend is currently mourning the loss of her dear grandchild.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Final thoughts and questions

I comforted my dear friend with the idea that I think God gives all of us what we need to hear, see, feel, and know individually. The many glimpses of God in the periphery of my life have convinced me of his love for us.

The many recounts of life beyond the grave a testimony to our hope in Jesus.

I remain steadfast.

Though she mourns, she feels comforted in the fact that she has lived a long time and has seen many flashes of God’s miracles, she will continue to trust Him.

So my friends, what are your thoughts?

  1. Her grandson recounted an exact return date, what are your thoughts?
  2. What are your thoughts on life after death?
  3. What do you believe about encounters and reports of this type?
Posted on 17 Comments

Thundering Tuesday

Rainy day pic by author

Image credit: author
Image credit: Author

Hebrews 6:7
For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God;

Recently the south has been getting many showers of blessings. It has been raining now for several weeks. Saturday we had tornado warnings and were keeping watch in the event we needed to move our patients to safety. Thankfully we did not have to do that. There were however many reports of high winds and flooding in several areas.

My trees that were once laden with young fruits were relieved of their burden precipitously, to my eternal dismay. Each time I see the bulk of my future-ripened fruits on the ground rotting, I groan deep in my soul!

The consolation is that they will return to the soil as food.

Photo by Max Harlynking on Unsplash

Today, I am off work and it is pouring.

I’m sitting with the windows open wide and just basking in the sounds, smells and the texture of the rain.

I love rain, especially when I am not compelled to be out in it. Growing up in South America with a tin roof, the sound of raindrops were magnified as they fell on the metal roof creating a euphony of sounds broken only by the occasional bellow of thunder. I learned to associate that sound with a comforting melody that often lulled me into a siesta.

Though today I will not indulge in sleep as I watch the rain from my window. I prefer to see it as a cleansing of our earth from the past several months.

Per the CDC those fully vaccinated may shed their masks. Many have already done so.

I am honor bound to have mine while at work and I will wear mine outside of work for the foreseeable future until the vaccination percentage becomes higher.

What are your thoughts on the new mask-less directive?

I hope you all are keeping well.

Posted on 27 Comments

The Unmistakable Beauty Of Nature

Beautiful Flower
Image by author

In response to Cee’s Flower of the day challenge

I love photography. I cannot resist a beautiful flower. I am especially enamored with the natural beauty of God’s world.

I hope you enjoy it!

*************

So I am currently fully vaccinated. With the first dose, I felt like I had a watered-down version of COVID that lasted about three days. During that time I took some ibuprofen and that helped. The second dose, which just about 5 days ago I had a sore arm.

I will admit I was a tad scared as I still had antibodies from my bout with COVID last July. A few of my co-workers had more dramatic reactions to the vaccine. But all in all, I would say it was not as bad as I feared.

*************

The constant wearing of masks is making me have so many break-outs. I have so much hyperpigmentation from acne, but there is no other recourse at this time. We must wear the mask.

I have begun using Retin-A again to help with accelerated skin turnover. I used it about 8 years ago for a while then forgot about it until now. Will construct a post about it especially when I have pictures to show you the improvement.

How are you all keeping out there? Is everyone fully vaccinated? Are you having skin issues from wearing masks? Let me know how you are dealing with them.

Stay safe and be blessed.