Guinness Dying With Dignity and Me

Guinness Dying With Dignity and Me

Guinness (c) Susan Langer

Guinness Dying With Dignity and Me is what I have titled this blog post because I have learned in the last couple of weeks that Guinness has Cancer. It is under his skin in the form of lumps and spreading and growing. The vet offered surgery but didn’t guarantee that more lumps would not occur. He does not appear in pain although he seems to scratch and lick at a few. Dr. Coles, his vet, says it is because of histamine buildup from the mast cell tumors that make them itch and recommended Benadryl twice a day.

I decided not to do surgery because it is not a cure. Guinness is at least 12 years old. He was a rescue so I don’t know his exact age but I have had him for 6 years and he was at least 6 when he was adopted from the rescue. Guinness has taught me so many things and he is my best friend. Now, 30 years later, I still learn daily from Guinness how to live my life. 

Guinness is now in a new stage of life as a senior dog who is dying and our goal is to keep him happy and comfortable for the time he has left whether that is two months or two years. I am observing him as he teaches me new things every day about aging, being sick and dying with dignity and grace. Some of the things I am learning from him are:

Live in the moment

Guinness teaches me daily to live for today. He doesn’t worry about the past or the future but only the moment he is in. When I let him out to go potty in the back yard, sometimes he goes and immediately does his business and comes right back in. Other times, he goes out and explores his surroundings and sniffs the grass, looks for bunnies by the birdfeeder, or just hold his head up toward the breeze blowing toward him. He is enjoying the moment. If I learn to do this depression (from living in the past) and anxiety (from worrying about the future) ceases to be a problem for me.

 

Stay connected

Guinness connects every day and even every minute that he is with me. He needs love and time from me and from the rest of the family. I need to learn to stay connected with others to feed my soul. When I disconnect from those that I love, that is when my depression and anxiety set in.  Innately, Guinness already knows this in his soul.

 

Less fear and more love

Guinness started out a fearful dog as a rescue. When fearful, dogs tend to be either very shy or very aggressive, but they can be changed through love to be happy and well adjusted. I replaced Guinness’s insecurities (evidenced by fear) with love and acceptance and slowly he came out of his shell and became friendlier. He will always be on the shy side but that’s my Guinness.

 

Let go of grudges

Guinness doesn’t hold a grudge because he lives in the “now” not the past. That is very intelligent. I have learned to let go of resentments held about being hurt as a child by living in the “now” too. We are much happier that way.

 

Trust your instincts

Guinness lives by his intuition and instincts. He trusts his gut instinct for safety and for relationships with others. If he meets someone he does not trust, he stays away from them. If Guinness senses that something is unsafe, he will stay away from it. I need to pay more attention to my gut instinct leading me to trust my inner soul or self.

 

Seek balance in life

Guinness loves his daily routine and seeks balance daily in his routine. When he needs to rest, he does. When he wants to play, he does. He expects his meal at a certain time of day within an hour or so. He has taught me that balance and a daily routine is good for. Notice how a dog does best when he knows when he is going to be fed or exercised. Now that Guinness is sick he does much better with routine and knowing what to expect. The same holds true for me as I grow older. The less chaos and focus on the negatives in my life helps me to balance and to decrease my stress.

 

Self-acceptance is essential

Guinness doesn’t want to be something else. He is perfectly happy being who he is even with his illness. Have you ever seen a Pug wish he was a German Shepherd or a Poodle wish she was a Terrier? No. This is because they accept who they are without question. I  need to accept myself rather than trying to change my looks, my features, my size, or who I am. We each are perfectly unique just as we are.

 

Loyalty and unconditional love are vital

Guinness is very loyal and his love is unconditional. He learned  loyalty instinctively by being a pack animal. Unconditional love is evident from my dog by the wag of his tail, the enthusiastic greeting when I come home and the slobbery kisses he gives. Unfortunately, adults usually set conditions to our loving. “If you do this…I will love you.” is a common scenario with humans. I just need to love without setting conditions, period. Guinness is teaching me this.

 

Make each day special

Guinness finds life exciting. He finds excitement in the simplest things such as being fed, going for his walk, seeing me come home and even having visitors. Even on days when he doesn’t feel as well, Guinness still finds something to make each day special. I am learning how to be enthusiastic about the simple things in my life. I am also focusing on gratitude and enjoying life one day at a time.

 

Age and Die Gracefully

This is the biggest lesson that Guinness teaches me daily. Both of us are aging in years. He is about 12 and I am 65. Both of us are sick although one of us will leave this earth sooner. There is no guarantee how long we live and how we die. There is only the guarantee that we are passing through this life on a journey to somewhere else. Guinness will likely cross the Rainbow Bridge sooner than I will go to heaven, but I am sure we will meet again. The only way to grow older and to die is with grace…God’s grace and the unconditional love of those you leave behind. 

Guinness (c) Susan Langer

May you share your loyalty and unconditional love,

 

 

Susan and Guinness…

Loving Yourself

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Loving Yourself
Loving yourself is the focus of this blog. The reasons we learn to hate including how we repeat self-hatred daily through our self-talk and our inner critic judges us and reminds us that we fail or we are not “good enough.” At least 100’s of times a day if not 1000’s of times we do this. You don’t just stop negative behavior because it leaves a void. So the objective is to change negative, critical comments to positive, self-affirming ones that build up our self-worth and our confidence.  Learning to love yourself is important to us and our relationships with God and other people in our life.
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Once we realize that we are acting out of self-hatred through our inner critic or dialog, the cure is to change our inner dialog to loving thoughts of acceptance that we are good enough, and refusal to reinforce negative thoughts. The past negative habit is as addictive and takes time, practice and support by others in our lives to overcome. Through time, effort and commitment, we can change how we speak inwardly to ourselves and outwardly how we treat ourselves and let others treat us. Remember perfection is not the goal but “good enough” and self-acceptance is the goal.

 

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There are 10 Days to love yourself. Don’t worry. I am not into perfection but only doing your best. When you get to the end of the 10 Days, it is perfectly okay to repeat them until you feel you master them. I learned them a long time ago in a 12-step group and want to share them with you…

Ten Days To Love Yourself

DAY ONE

*** STOP ALL CRITICISM ***

CRITICISM NEVER CHANGES A THING. 
REFUSE TO CRITICIZE YOURSELF. 
ACCEPT YOURSELF EXACTLY AS YOU ARE.
EVERYBODY CHANGES. 
WHEN YOU CRITICIZE YOURSELF,
YOUR CHANGES ARE NEGATIVE. 
WHEN YOU APPROVE OF YOURSELF, 
YOUR CHANGES ARE POSITIVE.

 

DAY TWO

*** DON’T SCARE YOURSELF ***

DON’T SCARE YOURSELF.
STOP TERRORIZING YOURSELF
WITH YOUR THOUGHTS. 
IT’S A DREADFUL WAY TO LIVE!
FIND A MENTAL IMAGE THAT GIVES YOU PLEASURE
( MINE IS A WATERFALL),
AND IMMEDIATLEY SWITCH YOUR SCARY THOUGHT 
TO A PLEASURABLE THOUGHT.

 

DAY THREE

*** BE GENTLE AND KIND AND PATIENT ***

BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF. 
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF
AS YOU LEARN THE NEW WAYS OF THINKING.
TREAT YOURSELF AS YOU WOULD 
SOMEONE YOU REALLY, REALLY LOVED.

 

DAY FOUR

*** BE KIND TO YOUR MIND ***

SELF HATRED IS ONLY HATING 
YOUR OWN THOUGHTS. 
DON’T HATE YOURSELF 
FOR HAVING BAD THOUGHTS.
GENTLY CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS.

 

DAY FIVE

*** PRAISE YOURSELF ***

CRITICISM BREAKS DOWN THE INNER SPIRIT. 
PRAISE BUILDS IT UP.
PRAISE YOURSELF AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. 
TELL YOURSELF HOW WELL YOU ARE DOING 
WITH EACH AND EVERY LITTLE THING.

 

DAY SIX

*** SUPPORT YOURSELF ***

FIND WAYS TO SUPPORT YOURSELF.
REACH OUT TO FRIENDS AND 
ALLOW THEM TO HELP YOU. 
IT IS BEING STRONG 
TO ASK FOR HELP
WHEN YOU NEED IT.

 

DAY SEVEN

*** BE LOVING TO YOUR NEGATIVES ***

ACKNOWLEDGE THAT 
YOU CREATED THEM 
TO FULFILL A NEED.
NOW YOU ARE FINDING NEW,
POSITIVE WAYS 
TO FULFILL THOSE NEEDS.
SO, LOVINGLY RELEASE
THE OLD NEGATIVE PATTERNS.

 

DAY EIGHT

*** TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY ***

LEARN ABOUT NUTRITION. 
WHAT KIND OF FUEL DOES 
YOUR BODY NEED TO HAVE FOR
OPTIMUM ENERGY AND VITALITY?
LEARN ABOUT EXERCISE. 
WHAT KIND OF EXERCISE CAN YOU ENJOY 
AND TOLERATE ACCORDING TO YOUR ILLNESS?
CHERISH AND REVERE THE TEMPLE YOU LIVE IN.

 

DAY NINE

*** MIRROR WORK ***

LOOK INTO YOUR EYES OFTEN. 
EXPRESS THIS GROWING SENSE OF LOVE 
YOU HAVE FOR YOURSELF.
FORGIVE YOURSELF, 
LOOKING INTO THE MIRROR.
TALK TO YOUR PARENTS AND LOVED ONES,
LOOKING INTO THE MIRROR. 
FORGIVE THEM TOO. 
AT LEAST ONCE A DAY SAY:
“I LOVE YOU.
I REALLY LOVE YOU”

 

DAY TEN

*** LOVE YOURSELF ***

DO IT NOW! 
DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU GET WELL,
OR LOSE THE WEIGHT,
OR GET THE NEW JOB,
OR THE NEW RELATIONSHIP.
BEGIN NOW….
AND DO THE BEST YOU CAN!

 

 

What you have been doing for years is destructive to your inner soul. Today, you can change that through  following the above process to the best of your ability. Again, the goal is not perfection but self-acceptance. I have been down this road personally and can tell you how it destroyed my concept of who I was inwardly in my core. But through following the above principles, I was able to change and learn how to love myself. You, also, can learn how to love yourself.
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Susan…

Mental Health Awareness Month-My Story

 Mental Health Awareness Month-My Story

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This month is Mental Health Awareness Month and I share my story. Today, My story Includes a history of mental illness and recovery. My history began when I was a child and was sexually abused from about age 4-12. My father was the perpetrator. He died in 1998 but was still alive when I began counseling in 1986. My doctor’s name was Dr. Jane Stoermer and she was an excellent psychologist. Originally, I started counseling for depression and marital problems. While in counseling, I became aware of memories long buried from my childhood.

I could not remember before the age of 12, but had made up a “history” so that I could cover with my friends from childhood until adulthood. I told the made-up story for so long that I believed it to be true. While seeing Jane, my real memories from my childhood started to return in the form of flashbacks and nightmares. Long story short, Jane and I discovered that I was sexually abused as a child and had DID or Dissociative Identity Disorder. This is often called Multiple Personality Disorder by the lay public and is commonly known by people from the famous 1976 film, “Sybil”, starring Sally Field.

Courtesy of www.ncat.edu

My treatment consisted of medications for depression and anxiety from a psychiatrist and talk or cognitive therapy from Jane. It took three years for me to recover many of my memories from childhood, deal with my splintered personality of 9-13 alters (I will explain this in another blog.), and reintegrate those parts of me back into one person in charge of all of the aspects of my “authentic self” or inner soul. This process is also called reintegration. During this time of recovery, I learned about journaling, keeping a dream journal for memories, and meditation/relaxation techniques. I also learned to reparent the “child within” and learned who I really am today, my authentic self. Through all of this, I continued working and raising a family as well as going to school part-time obtaining my degree in Psychology.

While I was in therapy, medication stabilized my depression and anxiety and I used journaling and writing poetry for expressing memories and feelings, but also to show the healing that was taking place. I went from a victim of child abuse to a survivor. It was not an easy recovery and took a great deal of effort to keep going. I had good days and bad days and was hospitalized twice during this three years of treatment. One hospitalization was for feeling suicidal after Jane and I discovered the DID and different parts of my personality. The second time, I was in the hospital for control of increased doses of my antidepressant medications.

 This time also included dealing with my dysfunctional alcoholic marriage, learning about alcoholism by attending Al-anon meetings regularly and dealing with stress from teen step-children that were living in our home and acting out, using drugs and drinking alcohol themselves. I also continued to care for my young daughter who was 4 at the time I started counseling. Things were quite chaotic in our home but began to get progressively better as I began to get better and stronger mentally. I eventually divorced my husband and my daughter and I relocated to Florida where we remained until last year when we moved to Nashville, Tennessee.

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I am recovered for the last 20 years. I no longer on anti-anxiety medication and am on a maintenance dose of Paxil for my chronic depression. Would I do this all over again? That’s a good question. My illness was not within my control. Certainly, as a child, I did not ask to be sexually abused. No child is responsible for that. As a child, I only wanted love and safety. I got neither. Once I became aware of the abuse I had two choices. I could either continue to be mentally ill, out of control, and dysfunctional or I could choose the courage to survive and regain my mental health.

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I chose to work toward my mental health and become a survivor. I don’t regret the choice. Now, I can even see the gifts given to me by God, my Higher Power, that helped me deal with the abuse as a child. Many of these gifts, I still use each and every day and love such as writing, poetry, and music. The discovery of who I am, my authentic self, and my inner soul enables me to touch many lives and make a difference in mental health awareness, education and support. This is even the purpose of my blog, Susan’s Blog: The Inner Soul.

Thank you for reading my story and letting me share myself with you. Feel free to comment below or ask questions or share your own story. Contact me privately by messaging me through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google + or privately through my About contact page if you are uncomfortable sharing on the website publicly.

 

 

Susan…

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 I can be reached privately through:

Twitter: @Susan_Langer1

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/susancfl

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/SusanLanger1

Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/109069553949401091044/about or search Susan Langer, Nashville TN

 

 

 

Who Are You Really?

Who Are You Really?

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So who are you really? Are you identified through what you do for others like your children?… your husband?… your family?… your career?… your disability? Or are you identified as yourself, you? Do you know who you really are? Have you ever taken the time alone to think about it? If all else dropped away…children, husband, family, career, disability…would you know the answer to this question? In Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl, Dr. Frankl was faced with that situation when he was sent to Auschwitz during World War II and lost everything but his soul and his will to live. Dr. Frankl even quotes the words of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) a German philosopher, cultural critic, and poet. “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” Dr. Frankl describes that those prisoners who gave up on living and lost all hope for the future were the first to die.

In response to my questions, the Universe or the World is looking for approval or recognition, even awareness. From the ground under your feet to the eyes of animals looking at you, and the farthest galaxies created by God, they all want something from you. The Divine, God is looking through all of these for your acceptance and conscious awareness of Who You Are Really. It is only right to find the answer if you don’t know it.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”Susan_Langer1″ hidden_hashtags=”#identity” remove_hidden_urls=”true”]Our mind has a tendency to search outside of ourselves for answers to “happiness.”[/tweetthis]

Our mind has a tendency to always search outside of ourselves for answers to “happiness.” But on some level, we know that the answers are not out there. They are inside of us. At first, we try to fix every problem and situation ourselves, but the solutions seem to allude us. We get more stressed and fearful because we can’t find the answers or solutions that work. Think of your life as a switch that you turn on and off. The problem is that if you give control to someone or something outside of you to turn the switch on and off, you lose control over the situation. Substitute the word “situation” with “happiness” or “contentment” and you are setting yourself up for a downfall in the future. You are enslaved to the person or thing that control the switch.

For me, personally, I have only found one whom I can fully trust with my truth, my true self, my real identity. He has helped me to identify who I am and to become the person I was meant to be, even with my disabilities. He is God. Despite my Chronic Pain, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Chronic Depression, and Chronic Anxiety I know that I am more than those diseases. I know that I am more than my disabilities. I learned this through finding myself when I focused on God. In Matthew 10:39 (MSG Version) it says, “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.” Jesus said in Luke 12:30 (CEV), “Only people who don’t know God are always worrying”.

I’ve learned that God says the only way you’re ever going to find yourself is by forgetting yourself and focusing on God. Then you’ll not only figure out God; you’ll also figure out you. That’s what it means to live like Jesus. So if you don’t really know who you are, the solution is to change your focus from external things to internal things. Yourself and your relationship with God.

God Bless,

 

Susan…

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