Letting Go and Finding Joy: Tools to Creating a Life Worth Living

“Letting Go” and ‘Finding Joy” are oh so simple in nature when you add life’s often daily injections of pain, suffering and the financial reality of making a living it can get quite complicated. Lama Surya Das says, “Life pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” I do think that there are millions of Americans embracing many of the eastern world teachings.  For me these ancient methodologies of teachings have become my guidelines or pathway for creating a life worth living.  

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” Lao Tzu

The above quote surmises my journey since losing my husband.  The first two blogs that I have shared with you detail the painful endings that my love and I endured over many years.  All of my future blogs will share with you my journey to new beginnings as it relates to my mind, body and soul, as well as, offer alternative solutions to physical and emotional pain remedies rather than using our traditional Western medicine methodologies. 

First, what my sweetie suffered as to chronic pain is “shared by 100 million Americans more than diabetes, heart disease and cancer (61 Million) combined.  Pain is cited as the most common reason Americans access the health care system. It is a leading cause of disability and it is a major contributor to health care costs” (source: American Academy of Pain Medicine http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx). I know personally the five years of our medical bills could have paid for several of our children’s college educations and a new home.  Yet, I would have done anything to help him alleviate some of the pain that he was in. 

Furthermore, the most common treatment for chronic pain is to mask it with painkillers.  Yet, “nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers—also called opioid pain relievers. The unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the US parallels a 300% increase since 1999 (I hate to think what the new statistics are now) in the sale of these strong painkillers. These drugs were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined” (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/rxbrief).  What happened to my husband was simply a rising trend in Western medicine’s malfunction and I feel a true threat to our society. 

Second, emotional pain is also relentlessly on the rise in the US. As for myself, emotionally surviving my personal loss has been a long hard journey in self survival and I could have not done it without Eastern medicine philosophies, my amazing family and dear friends. 

I used to get severe panic attacks and have debilitating chest and neck pain.  I was a strong woman and I had to keep going on to earn a living so I kept my loss "in" and it was seriously killing me. 

In both cases, treating physical and emotional pain, with Acupuncture is a compellingly viable solution.  I only wish more western doctors prescribed Acupuncture as a treatment. “According to Chinese philosophy, the body contains two opposing forces: yin and yang. When these forces are in balance, the body is healthy. Energy, called "qi" (pronounced "chee"), flows like rivers along pathways, or meridians, throughout the body. This constant flow of energy keeps the yin and yang balanced. However, the flow of energy can sometimes be blocked, like water getting stuck behind a dam. A disruption in the flow of energy can lead to illness.

Approximately 2,000 different acupuncture points lie along the body's meridians. The idea behind acupuncture is that stimulating these points with acupuncture needles or pressure relieves obstructions in the flow of energy, enabling the body to heal” (source: How Stuff Works http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/alternative/acupuncture.htm)

Acupuncture is used as a treatment for addiction, stroke, headaches/migraines, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, infertility, menstrual cramps, pregnancy problems, dental pain, and side effects from cancer treatment.  It also is an ideal treatment for stress, mental health trauma, injuries and promotes overall health of the mind, body and soul.  Often Acupuncture is used in combination to create an overall approach to health and healing, emphasizing diet and prevention and using herbal medicines, massage, exercise, yoga, and meditation to stimulate the body’s natural curative powers.  I will individually speak to each of these techniques in future blogs.

For me personally, working with Laura Metz, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., my acupuncturist and the creator of our line of Earth Apothecary products, has enabled a path to my mind, body and soul’s new beginning (my rebirth). I feel complete again; healthy, stronger, full of love and able to cherish every breath that I take in this beautiful world.  I hope you will thoughtfully consider using Acupuncture for your health care needs. Namaste Jamie Hagen, Partner Alpenol Feel the Relief Store.com   

I leave you with this thought provoking quote from the Dalai Lama

The Many Layers of Emotional Pain Derived From Loss

It has been longer then I intended to write about “emotional pain” derived from a loss. I suffered another soul wrenching blow; my daddy passed away on July 22, 2014 at 89 years old.  He was the best daddy ever and a truly amazing husband to my mom of 64 years.  While it was expected and our family has felt blessed to have had such a long loving life together this loss still cuts deep into ones heart. 

Loss and Immediate Change - “Emotional Pain” is debilitating and can take years or, for some, a lifetime to accept, move through and evolve.  It envelops all of us at some point in our life whether it is caused by losing a loved one to death, divorce, betrayal or indifference.  It also can hit us during times of self esteem crises such as a loss of a job, a career path or one’s planned life purpose.  Loss and its resulting emotional pain brings with it immediate change, a finality that cannot be altered.  It is at that point one is faced with self destruction or the beginning stages of rebirth. 

Unconditional Love - Lao Tzu’s quote below illustrates how I felt about my soul mate husband and my great daddy both of whom I have lost in the last year and a half. “To love someone deeply gives you strength.  Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage."  These great men in my life were my male sources of “unconditional love.” Losing them has turned my mind, body and soul’s core into quick sand.  Yet, with each day, I get stronger, wiser and am filled with new forms of love.  The quick sand is turning into stone and establishing a new foundation for creating a life worth living. Today’s blog will talk about my painful emotional journey and in future blogs I wall share methodologies to come out of the dark and enable rebirth. 

Losing a Loved One - I always thought losing a loved one would be unimaginable and it is.  What I did not quite expect is how raw and unnerving my loss has been to my deep inner soul.  I have felt so inferior; my “strength and courage” sources are gone.  In many ways, the grief process is like peeling away layers of an onion of which the onion has a million plus layers. 

Denial - In the beginning of my losses denial took over. Thank goodness for denial, I know I could not have lived through the first year if not for it.  Over this past 1 ½ years besides losing my lover/soul mate (which again was unimaginable), I had financial strain (immediate business expenses/previous commitments, medical expenses, and loss of income), inner family strife that resulted in part of the family disowning the other part, the perceived need to try to keep our business going and proceeding failure to do so, a separation of my daughters 16 year marriage with impending divorce and now need to co-parent my two wonderful grandchildren.  In each of these emotional pain events, I have embraced denial as a survival coping mechanism.  While denial is a brilliant way to get through the unplanned emotional pain in one’s life; if you want to live again you have to “let it go” and face the reality of the life altering situation(s). 

Guilt - After my husband’s death, I had such guilt that I could not save him. I went over and over in my mind the “what if’s.” I was completely engulfed in this mind boggling state.  I was the matriarch of our family and always tried to fix any hurtful or financial situations. I would save our combined family at all costs. Now, I could not fix his death and its aftermath (emotional, financial and family). Furthermore, I participated in it and I was guilty.  How could I have been so blind, so stupid, so vulnerable, so unable to fix anything, so unable to cope?  My guilt was endless and cut deeply into my self esteem, self worth and self love.   

Pain, Fear and Loneliness - Gosh-oh-moody, when denial starts wearing off the pain, fear and loneliness cut in and make it darn difficult to get through the days and nights. Breathing was such a challenge, it still is at times. What I did not quite expect is just how many layers of denial there are. Just when you think denial is over and you tackle controlling the pain, fear and loneliness as best you can; then another layer of denial falls off and wham you are hit with a huge new dose of pain, fear and loneliness. And like when cutting a real onion the tears flow freely; they flow in the loss, they flow in the fear, they flow in the loneliness and they even flow when you remember true wonderful endearing loving thoughts. I think for many widows and widowers there is also the loss of financial security and this reality cultivates fear.  For me, becoming a widow at 52 emphasized the number of years I would probably live alone – how scary is that.  All are another blow to one’s self esteem, self worth and self love. 

Anger – I never wanted to be angry at my husband; I know that he did the best he could.  I also know that I did the best I could right back.  However, I was plenty pissed off that I was put in this situation.  All that we planned in our life together was gone, growing old together, our joint children, enjoying the existing and upcoming grandchildren, our joint career path, our ding dang huge house that I could not afford anymore, our retirement plans, our true love, our joint family commitments; it was all gone in an instant.  Then there was the betrayal of a few family members, the inability to run our joint business alone, those people taking advantage of a woman who needs to sell her stuff to survive.  I felt so compromised and violated.  It seemed to go on and on and it really pissed me off.  Anger blinds a person and the more anger you hold in, the more it destroys the true essence of the person you are and really bad things just keep coming your way.  Anger is a vicious circle and if you cannot let it go it will destroy you. 

Depression – Oh boy, this one emotional pain can take the best of us out of this world.  Much love is sent to the late, great Robin Williams and his family.  For many folks this is a daily battle and I have nothing but complete compassion to those who fight against their demons.  I have been fighting my own demons on this grief journey.  My life and soul was so entwined with my husband’s that I did not know who I was anymore or what worth I could possibly offer to myself or anyone else.  For me, the hardest part is finding a new way; a way to let go, a way to start anew, a way to live life to its fullest, a way to love unconditionally again.

Acceptance, Transformation and LOVE - The life altering stages of grief bring on so many versions of emotional pain it is devastating.  Each of us experiences these pains differently and each of us has to learn how to accept our losses individually. As for me, I have been blessed with unconditional love of family and friends and I have found comfort in those who have shared their life experiences on how to first cope, then embrace and finally to become transformed due to ones losses.  I like the idea, when someone helps you that you pay it forward.  It is my intention, in future blogs, to share the many methodologies to overcome and embrace emotional pain and to enable transformation and rebirth.  With every loss there is an opportunity for self acceptance, growth, transformation and peace; by embracing love, grace, hope and wisdom and therefore learning one’s own true inner strength. 

Wholeheartedly, Jamie Hagen, Partner, Alpenl Feel the Relief Store.com

There Are Two Kinds of Debilitating Pain - Physical Pain and Emotional Pain.

Physical and emotional pain can kill you and unfortunately for many years, I have had huge doses of both in my life experiences.  In this blog, I will share my story about physical pain.  Next week, I will share my story on emotional pain and finally in the proceeding blogs I will share the many alternative treatments available to address physical and emotional debilitating pain in healthy ways.