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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Harvest on the Harbor Maine Lobster Chef of the Year

Yelp comped me a ticket to attend Maine’s Lobster Chef of the Year, a sold out event, which is a part of Portland’s Harvest on the Harbor. Lucky me! Wayne was also invited but had to work since it was mid-day Friday, so I met up with a fellow Yelp Elite. As judges we were served eight different tastings (one of the nine participating chefs had to cancel) and we then voted for our favorite. Check out these beautiful creations!

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For Christine

Note: I never thought I’d be sharing this publicly, but in light of a recent event, I am called to do so.

Good care, whether physical, medical, psychological or spiritual, is important for maintaining one’s well-being. Long gone are the days of the old New England doctor that knows and forms a relationship with the entire family and makes house calls. Yet medically, while we have made progress in disease recognition (but I call foul on some of those infomercials trying to sell us sickness) and management, it seems like we’re in a futuristic dark age. Between issues with for-profit health insurers, politics and a growing lack of empathy and good communications skills as a society, getting quality medical care can be really hard to find. Compounding that further, my experience has been that it’s not easy to find competent and compassionate medical care for the challenging issues women face later in life.

When I found Christine some years ago I knew I had hit the jackpot! She was the first medical professional to ask me a very important question that, in retrospect, should be asked of every woman during her annual wellness exam.

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Twenty-Four Years Ago

Twenty-four years ago I left Rasputins in Burlington, VT and way of “coping” after a humiliating, frightening, dangerous and FINAL drunk. The next day I opened the door to a church basement to begin a program of recovery that I’m still practicing today. Whatever illusory “liquid courage” I imagined I had back then can’t compare to the badassery of living sober.

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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Wayne: How I Lost Weight and Regained My Health

Averyl asked me if I was willing to share what my daily diet used to look like and how it is today along with my “before” pic on her blog. I cut alcohol out of my diet when I got sober almost six years ago. I admit that I’m shy when it comes to talking about myself like this but she pointed out that it can help inspire others.

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Living in the Moment

This has been such a creepy and shocking news day! Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor…

Today was also an odd weather day, but semi-lovely. It was 59 degrees and sunny for a few hours before the clouds moved in quickly and it began to rain briefly. Once it cleared the winds picked up and the temperature dropped ten degrees in one hour.

Feeding Chipmunks Wishy the Chippie (11)

Wishy was sitting on the deck around 11:00 a.m. as was the squirrel who keeps hoping I’ll feed him, too. I always welcome the opportunity to step away from my desk, out of my thoughts and into the present moment–outdoors.

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Personal Updates

I’ve had some rough days since my last post, but I’ll start with the more upbeat stuff. The photo above is of Wayne looking rather tiny in contrast with the big colorful trees in our woods.

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Maine Episcopal Summer Chapel Tour: My Reflections and Conversation with Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Bishop of Maine

I’m often asked what gave me the idea to do a tour of Maine’s summer Episcopal chapels. The truth is that it just came to me, the same way the idea for my blog Serene New England did during Easter Sunday while sitting in church at St. Mary’s. I love to explore new-to-me places and meet new people. The theme of renewal and strengthening my relationship with God while appreciating unique places of worship in beautiful coastal Maine settings felt like it would be Episcopal Summer Camp. And in many ways, I was right!

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