Simple, Old-Fashioned Help for PTSD Nightmares

My experience from both sides of the “couch” has taught me that there’s nothing simple about PTSD nightmares. The things I tried in my teens and twenties–using food and alcohol to try and bury and drown them, sometimes to the point of blacking out, created new real-life nightmare scenarios. In my late twenties through my forties I was afraid to go to sleep; I averaged about five broken hours a night. When I did sleep, and the nightmares struck, I woke up extremely exhausted.

I wish I could say that I am now completely free of nightmares and experience restful sleep. The good news is that I have made incredible progress over the past couple of years. I have fewer nightmares, am not terrified of going to sleep and am making my peace with them.

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November’s Fading Light

One of our wedding gifts was a pair of brass candlesticks that we decided to place in Wayne’s office. When I saw how nice they looked I wanted to keep an eye out for others knowing they add a romantic touch to winter. It’s always a difficult mental and emotional transition in November when the sun sets before 4:30 p.m. so natural light is a gift. Then, a few weeks ago at an estate sale I saw vintage brass and hand blown glass candlesticks on the floor and mantle of the home’s fireplace! I made a beeline and bought all of them for only $40.  (It was also Wayne’s first ever estate sale with me since he used to work Saturdays until recently which makes them extra special.) As a wedding gift to ourselves we completed them by ordering a beautiful selection of beeswax candles made in the U.S.A. to replace the cheap and toxic paraffin tapers in use.

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A New England Victorian Family Bible

I purchased this beautiful 19th century leather-bound family bible at the flea market this summer. I love the vision of a Christian family sitting together around it, reading and praying together. It’s very heavy, weighing about fifteen pounds!

Every weekday morning Wayne reads an excerpt to me from one of my smaller-sized vintage bibles and then we reflect on it together. We started from Genesis and have made our way to the New Testament this past year. I truly cherish this time we spend together and the opportunity to speak from our hearts, free of judgement, about what we’ve read. 

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The Haunting Beauty of an Old New England Cemetery in Autumn

I shot these photos two years ago when Wayne and I took a morning walk in Calvary Cemetery, South Portland. We spoke of life, death, and the mystery of what’s to come. The sunlight, crisp air and golden descent of decaying leaves back to earth where they will cover and nourish the ground was stunning. When I looked into the “eyes” of the old moss covered statues they seemed to be possessed with the spirits of people we’ve never met.

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Our Wedding

Wayne and I had an intimate wedding ceremony at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport followed by a steak and lobster luncheon at The Colony Hotel. We want to share some of our special day with you. (New pics added 9/25!)

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The Brutality of Nature

Last week I noticed what appeared to be a large bird in my woods. I walked closer and saw that it was a hawk. Hawks eat chipmunks and are not welcome on my property, especially when they are dangerously close to Buster’s burrow at the edge of the woods. In animated NYC fashion I told it to get lost. Perched on a branch up high it watched my little performance, and when I was finished it flew away. There! I showed him!

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Centering Prayer by the Sea

At our summer church in Kennebunkport a small group meets once a week in the rectory for Centering Prayer, a meditative practice founded in Massachusetts by three Trappist monks in the 1970s.  We meditate for twenty minutes by focusing on a sacred word of our own choosing, then watch a short teaching by Thomas Keating on DVD.

The first time I went last summer I was very intimidated by the prospect of a twenty minute meditation! Sitting in a quiet room alone listening to the “noise” in my head is old hat to me and I often mistake it for being productive. Making mental to-do lists, planning, lamenting the past, worrying about the future can happen in the most bucolic of settings. Sitting with a quiet mind? It’s a challenge, but meditation gives me moments of inner silence, the benefits of which are deep and lasting.

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What will save you?

I have a genetic predisposition to being at higher risk for skin cancer, so I see a dermatologist for an annual skin exam. I had a mole on my arm that looked different from all of the others and my dermatologist had said we should keep an eye on it. About two weeks ago I noticed that it was changing: it was darker and starting to have uneven borders. What really frightened me was when I happened to notice in a photo of me from 2013 that it wasn’t even on my arm! It’s not normal to grow new moles when you’re over forty.  I called her office to be seen and she agreed that it should be biopsied. 

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