Monday, September 24, 2012

Learning Reiki - September 24, 2012

I walk the line between believer and skeptic a lot of the time. I want to believe, then my rational side yells at me, then my spiritual side overrides it...back and forth, back and forth. Mostly I have to see/feel/experience something for myself to fully believe in it. This can hold true for anything from a medical treatment to a psychic experience to whether the latest smartphone really is teh awesome.

As for my feelings on spiritual/non-medical healing/treatments, chiropractic was my gateway drug, I think. In the early days of her life, my daughter not only didn't sleep through the night, she would wake up screaming for hours at a time. I absolutely honestly don't have any idea what was going on beyond that it might or might not have been related to her (hypotonic) CP. I'd nurse her and rock her and my husband would carry her around and eventually she'd go back to sleep. Her pediatrician didn't really see anything specific going on. I ran into someone on the playground one day who suggested a specific chiropractic office locally that worked with children - it was something I'd considered already, I just hadn't had time to fully explore my options (isn't that always the way when you have a special needs kid? "This sounds good - I'll add it to the list...") so I took her up on her suggestion. It did help, and after a few sessions just for my kid I stepped in and started getting adjusted as well. Long story short (another entry for another day perhaps?) we eventually stopped taking my daughter for a variety of reasons, and I took a break, but I'm back to getting adjusted when I can - and I see and feel the results.

From there, I started getting interested in Reiki. My dear friend Dana has her own Reiki (and reflexology and life coaching) practice and so I experienced a few Reiki treatments from her and also took my daughter for a few. I absolutely saw results with my daughter and felt results for myself despite not fully understanding how I could when all Dana was doing was placing her hands lightly on me - or not touching me at all. Yet I felt hot, I felt cold, and I felt relief from various ailments.

Two specific stories of how Reiki helped me and my daughter:
  • My daughter was having a playdate with Dana's daughter and freaked out completely into a tantrum of epic proportions. I held my daughter in my arms and tried in vain to calm her - and then suddenly, as if a switch had flipped, she stopped crying. I looked over and Dana had rested her hand lightly on the small of my daughter's back. That's all it took.
  • My undereye muscle was spasming for two weeks. Dana suggested a Reiki treatment and I thought, well, I'm not sure what a medical doctor could really do for me at this stage and this can't hurt, why not. Well after a single 30-40 minute Reiki treatment, my eye stopped twitching. Just like that. 
As I learned a bit more, superficially, about Reiki, I discovered that it was something I could learn to do myself for me - and for my daughter and my husband and our cats and our friends and family - with just a (relatively) short class that Dana taught. (As in, not months or weeks, but days. Hours even.) Teach a man to fish...right? So I saved up every dollar I made from my button/jewelry business for several months and eventually I had enough to take the class with Dana. (Note: It's actually a very reasonably priced course, but I had to shove it into an already bursting budget so that's why I took it slowly with the saving up.)

The class was split into two parts - three hours on a Friday night, eight hours on a Saturday. And it was simply incredible. Every time during the 11 hours that my skeptic voice would start to whisper, the experience I was having would roar loudly back at it. I received four Reiju and with each I felt...something indescribable happening to my body, mind, and soul. I learned the full history of Reiki and of Komyo Reiki Kai (the style I was taught). I was able to practice on myself and on my classmates - seated and on a table. By the end of the course I felt confident that I could share this new gift with the world.

When I give or receive Reiki, I almost always start off by thinking "nothing is happening..." and then moments later I feel it. My hands and arms feel hot or cold or just buzzing with energy. I usually get hot flashes throughout my body and I almost always end with a sweep of cold. And then, whether I've given or received, I feel better. I feel more peaceful. Aches and pains fade to the background or sometimes disappear completely. When my daughter is the subject, she calms. I tried it on both of my cats - the cuddly, snuggly cat purred and licked my arm (he never licks me), while the standoffish yet loving cat sat still and let me place my hands on him for longer than usual (he has a bad back leg from an injury as a kitten and I'm really hoping I can give him some comfort). My classmates say my hands felt cold or hot depending on where and how I was placing them - yet my hands don't change temperature at all. I love it. 

This post is me trying to make sense of this mystical Japanese energy healing art that still, sometimes, appears to me as nothing more than one person putting hands on another. Yet don't most people crave more touch in their lives? If the simple act of the touch is all that comforts someone, that's fine and logical to me. But it definitely feels to me like more. Like energy is moving and helping and reaching out for healing.

Dana explains Reiki better than I ever could. She's an incredible teacher and if you are in the Atlanta area and you're either seeking a Reiki treatment or you want to learn to do it yourself, I would not hesitate to recommend her services.

So now I am certified in the Shoden level of Komyo Reiki Kai. (I plan to take Chuden sometime in 2013.) I hope it can help my family to heal however we need healing. I personally believe - ME and NOBODY ELSE saying this and based on NOTHING BUT my own individual experience - that if you have a special needs child, you might want to look into Reiki and, if you have the time and money, you might even want to learn to do it yourself both for you as a caregiver (it helps with anxiety and stress...two things I have more than enough of...) and for your child. There are no known contraindications or negative side effects to Reiki that I've heard of/seen/been told about, and it can be shared with someone in a wheelchair or on a bed - the receiver doesn't have to concentrate or even actively participate (though s/he *can* push the giver's hands away or move away if necessary - my kid does both - she likes to put my hands on her head), the giver doesn't have to go into a meditative state or do anything particularly special or have any special equipment (I may or may not yammer through both giving and receiving Reiki, ahem - it still works). Worst case, it does nothing, right? But best case, it can calm and help the body to heal (although it isn't going to, say, magically cure my daughter's CP - nothing is ever ever ever going to do that, I truly believe it can help her body work to its full potential). Maybe just add it to your list of "Hey, worth a try!" things - my own personal list is a mile long. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Virginia Beach Thrifting - September 13, 2012

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Virginia Beach where I got to watch dolphins and stick my feet in sand. I also got to spend time with a dear friend and her family, and said friend and I snuck out to have some girl time and hit a thrift store. Then the next day my patient husband took me to two other thrift stores in the area. I didn't get to spend as much time in any of the three as I personally wanted to (um...hours....) but I still had fun.

I have said it before and I will continue to say it - Virginia Beach has some AMAZING thrifting going on. The prices are good but the stock is great. I suspect it's because so many military families move through and need to dump things quickly, but it could just be random luck.

Store number one was Goodwill - with a similar pricing structure as back home in Atlanta. So I wasn't particularly impressed with the deals on adult clothes but the kid clothes were priced better than at home PLUS I found a bunch of things left in the half-price color (here usually that color is picked over very quickly), so that was good. Everything below is for the kid and I am going on memory for prices... Not shown, 50 cent board book illustrating Polly Put the Kettle On.

Gymboree and way cute. I think this was a dollar.

I vaguely remember that this was full price and so...$2? 

I think this was also $2.

And these might've been a dollar. Maybe 2?
First store with the husband was the Disabled American Veterans store. It was chaotic with cramped racks - and I loved it. It seemed that clothes were a flat price within a category but that the store then occasionally would mark things down based on color/time in the store. Plus there were 99 cent racks within each category - sweet! I had far too little time in this store but I made the most of it. Not shown: husband bought the kid a basketball for 99 cents, and I bought her a hardback picture book by Lois Ehlert for about 50 cents (that she ripped during a tantrum, oy).

99 cents! NY and Co. This is very similar to another denim skort that I thrifted that I wear all the time, but it is a size smaller. I took a risk for a dollar. (No fitting rooms at the DAV.)

Cute owl shirt. 99 cents.

H&M top that I hope fits. $1.98.

For the kid (too big for her, too small for me, but it will fit her eventually). 99 cents.
And finally I went to one of the CHKD stores in the area. I had read mixed reviews of the specific store  we hit but I thought it was fine with a great selection and pretty good prices. Not shown: Frank Bruni bio for me for 99 cents and a copy of Z is for Zamboni to replace the one that the kid destroyed (perfect condition! I think it was $1.99 or something).

Favorite find of the day - Hanna Andersson skirt/skort in perfect condition. $3. Way too big for the kid but it will eventually fit her. Yesssss.

Talbots skirt was $3, marked down from $6. H&M top was $3. I think they go together and I hope they fit!
69 cent silly shirt for husband.
Someday I'll go to VA Beach and spend tons of time at thrift stores but I think I did pretty well for a quick dash...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

World Cerebral Palsy Day - September 4, 2012

Today, World Cerebral Palsy Day, I simply want to say thank you to the amazing people in my life who have been supportive, who have cheered the inchstones and the milestones, and who have been there for me and for my daughter and my (amazing) husband as well. I send you love, love, and more LOVE!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Thrifting - My love and my not-so-love of the game - September 3, 2012

A while back I took you on a tour of the thrift stores in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. I gave you my thoughts on the pros and cons of the major chains. Now I want to talk to you about why I thrift and my thoughts about that.

Awesome things about thrifting

+ The bottom line is that I can get an entire wardrobe for about $50. And by entire wardrobe I mean multiple jeans, pants, skirts, and tops. You know those commercials for that discount clothing chain that say you should totally brag about how little you spend? (I love those ads.) Yeah, I think the end result in those ads is WAY overpriced. Ha.
+ Within spending that $50 (or sometimes more ahem ahem), I can get high-quality clothing for myself. Name brands and even designer brands. Yes, I've gotten brand new clothing at thrift store prices, but it's usually clearanced/heavily couponed/sale-caught Target or Old Navy or the like. And I wear that all quite happily. But through thrifting I've found nicer, higher-end, better-made clothing for the same price or less. And sometimes it even has the tags still on it - or a dry cleaner's tag, which means at least it's recently been cleaned! (Usually if I am wiling to buy a dry clean only piece, it means it's amazing and/or that I'll just use an at-home kit on it. Usually.)
+ I find very unique items when I'm thrifting. Perhaps at one time the shirt or pants I buy from a Goodwill or Value Village was in fact hanging on a rack with 100 other similar items in all the sizes and colors one could create. But that's not the case anymore. And often I've found things that clearly were limited runs. And perhaps this isn't as great, but I find things that were brand new 10+ years ago and either are still in style, are about to come back in style, are timeless, or...are cute on me so I don't actually give a fuck. Not many people will be wearing what I'm wearing.
+ I have the chance to find stuff that fits me that was from a certain time period. For example, I know that a certain specific year/make/model of Old Navy jeans fits me very well and that perhaps the jeans that are in the store right now aren't the same. I can look for that specific year/make/model and scoop the jeans up when I find them - for $7 or less!
+ The thrill of the hunt. I just love digging through books, housewares, and - this is more recent - clothing to find treasures. The clothing love is really relatively recent. For most of my life I've felt awkward and, quite frankly, ugly. So I've been afraid to accentuate any of that and as a result I'd paw at the clothing briefly and then wander off to look at books or dishes or clothes for my kid. I feel like in the past year or two (yes, the weight loss helped, but that wasn't everything) I've figured out more of what I like and what I want to wear (skirts, in particular). So now that's fun too. Even if I walk out of a store with no purchases at all, I usually have had a good time with the process.
+ Kid clothes! Sure, I occasionally find grown-up clothing in high-end brands. But I find fancy kid clothes ALL THE TIME. Hanna! Mini Boden! Tea! Boutique brands! (And then a lot of Target/Old Navy/Gap/Children's Place/Carters - I buy that all too as long as it's not pilly or faded.) My kid is very well dressed - and I'm quite proud of that!

Not-so-awesome things

- I can't rely on thrifting for everything I wear. I personally don't thrift undergarments. I look at the shoes but unless they're OMG amazing (that hasn't happened yet but I haven't given up hope!), I don't buy thrifted shoes because my feet fit things funny. On the other hand, thrifting does free up my clothing budget so I can spend more on these things.
- Two words: Vanity Sizing. I am intimately familiar with that now. The range of sizes in which I fit is wide and I can no longer trust labels, just use them as a guide. I have to try pretty much everything on - even in clothing that I know fits me in a similar style/make/model. While this is true with all clothing, if you're buying new you can start to figure out how a brand's sizing runs - harder to do with older styles, random brands I've never heard of, and so on. I recently had two almost identical skirts from an identical brand in an identical size in the fitting room with me - the only thing different was the color. One color fit beautifully. The other was too small, tight, and short. So when a store doesn't have fitting rooms, I have to take big risks - sometimes that pays off, sometimes it doesn't, and long ago I used to wear black tights under long skirts and pull things on in the aisles...
- If I find that one perfect item that fits like a dream in the perfect color, well, that's pretty much it. I can't buy five of that thing in case I stain or rip it - and, er, I do both things ALL THE TIME. That whole one-of-a-kind thing isn't always ideal.
- So I have this whole....issue with driving. I plan to blog about that in depth very soon. But in any case, I have limited my ability to go shopping, which is both great (I could be VERY DANGEROUS if I went thrifting as often as I'd like to) and also really shitty (I can't go most of the time unless someone goes with me). On the other hand, I LOVE shopping with friends and HATE going alone - when I go alone into a store I usually leave it again very quickly - so it's not all bad, but it does mean that I've relinquished control.

One thing I'm neutral on is the desire to have new things. Having a brand new item of clothing is nice and fun but it's not something I crave or need or feel sad about when I don't have it. I usually find much more of a selection of Things I'd Actually Wear at a thrift store than a mall store anyway. Plus I'm being all green and stuff, saving clothes from the landfill, reusing, recycling, all that jazz. SEE MY HALO?

Oh and I do periodically clear out my closet/drawers and re-donate (or occasionally re-sell, depending on the situation). When I lost all the weight, I had a lot of fun doing both things. I am not a hoarder, I promise. I swear! I'm not! For realsies! And so on.

I think the pros far outweigh the cons. Do you thrift? What do you think? What are your personal pros and cons? And do you want to go shopping with me sometime?