Category Archives: self-care

Our Future, Still Being Written

6/20/18

Listening to Amelia Curran
After Hours of Reading

If this is all there is
and you have forgotten the rest
and if you cannot keep from
the seduction of despair
I understand
and
hold out a hand.
Rest a while
in the shade of favorite music
or vacation in a favorite book.
No shame in resting,
I understand
and
give permission
as for you
as for me.
And if in the barrage of news
every bit worse than the last
and tears well up and head hangs
still, I would urge you to remember
what is real,
who you are, have always been,
the long perspective.
A marathon requires pacing
replenishment, an eye on the far-off goal
as you put one foot in front of the other
as your heart beats and muscles ache
as you breathe
and breathe
and
remember.
You have trained for this:
Every challenge, hard time, tragedy, trauma
you found strength to heal and endure
and now you are called on for more.
Those faltering for now
are aided by others
who will in turn
need help.
Like geese in a “V”
stronger together, each leader in turn
falls back, resumes.
Yes, this is not what you sought
but this is what was sown,
the past playing out
but not necessarily
our future, still being written.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2018

Note: Amelia Curran is a Canadian singer-songwriter I heard of from Peter Mulvey (an incredible American singer-songwriter). Listening to music and reading is how I have been getting through some personally dark days and high anxiety.

I found this recent poem while looking for something else. Although written this past June, it was as if I had written it to encourage and support myself — and others– right now, the week of the midterm election. A reminder to breathe, to rest when needed, to help each other, to take the long view, to vote. I offer this to you in kindness, as my way of holding out a hand. Hang in there, dear ones.

November Sunset, M D Mikus, Copyright 2017

Antidote to Anxiety

8/13/15

Antidote to Anxiety

Breathe
Easy to say, but to do?
guided imagery
therapy
Star of Bethlehem
Songs for the Inner Child
notice/practice

Breathe
count in and out and breathe
affirm and breathe
I am Peace (in)
I am Calm (out)
I am Safe (in)
I am Protected (out)
Seal Lullaby

Breathe
Balance energy
head hug
Cook’s Hook-ups
Stress relief remedies, but
not too much
imagine the scarves being pulled
out like from a magic top hat

Breathe…and count
1…2…3…in and 1…2…3… out
Drug a little, not like it
but necessary boat to get by for a while
Dig to the root cause
not everything has to be
solved at once

Breathe
manage pain
notice/practice
count
listen to Hildegard von Bingen chant
water outside plants

Breathe
stand face to the sun
call for help
receive
massage
acupuncture
healing energy

Breathe
kindness
rest
imagine restoration of optimism
Let belly rise and fall
like a baby breathes
open in the moment
Right here. Right now.
Distraction
Reading
2 bunnies in the yard
2 birdbaths and birds come
to drink and bathe
movies
Facebook

Breathe
hydrate
Breathe
eat good food
breathe
rest

wait

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2015

This poem is from a collection I assembled for my youngest sister, who is struggling with stage 4 breast cancer. I wrote it as a reminder to myself of what I did to reduce anxiety the summer I had a series of medical crises including kidney stones, etc.

62–“Express, Process, Assess” from “Resist the Slide into Darkness”

Chicago Trains, Coming and Going, by M D Mikus, Copyright 2012

4/26/16

Express, Process, Assess

After Mike Latza and Oriah Mountian Dreamer

Fear and I are well-acquainted
but any love lost is unrequited
Fear is not my friend though
sometimes I pretzel-bend in its wind

It is a choice, this distance
a choosing and re-choosing in the face of challenge
Not what has happened that might
suck me down and in and under but
who am I in relation to this
potential grand piano falling from the sky
Why ask why when there is no answer
Why contract into fetal-ball position
as if that guarantees protection

Beaten egg whites gently folded in
add humor as leavening to lighten
the batter I am making from a recipe
handed down or found or made up on the spot
Trust…just enough

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016

From my upcoming book, Resist the Slide into Darkness. Listen here: https://youtu.be/DRxcVnP0uVo

Mike Latza is the editor of the journal, Willow Review. (I was the Illinois Featured Author in 2013.) I wrote this poem after the annual Willow Review launch and reading at College of Lake County, which is always inspiring for me. Oriah Mountain Dreamer is the author of The Invitation–based on her poem–and other books. We are connected on Facebook where she often writes beautiful, insightful short essays. Inspiration can come from anywhere and threads begin to weave together into something that speaks to me, that whispers “write this down.”

Randolph and State Streets, by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2012

For more poem videos in the series

56–“Changes Everything” from “Frazzle”

Bridge Over The Fox River at Night by M D Mikus, Copyright 2012

11/2/13

Changes Everything

It is possible
to forget good exists…

and niceness
or to discount their existence

as if life is a video game
full of unwarranted violence,

inevitable, not even remarkable
anymore, but then remembering

at some point starving for
a little kindness

and receiving without
thought of return

as if we all were neighbors
sometimes in need of a cup of sugar

and that momentary easy connection
changes everything…

back.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013

From Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen to the poem here: https://youtu.be/6zpAiDBydGc

This poem is not about going backwards, rather to remember and focus on what we have in common, how everyone needs help or a kind word sometimes. How do we get to there from here?

For now, I decided to keep doing the deeps breaths and “head hug” at the beginning since it helps me and may help others too. Less stressed means better able to focus and affects body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Why not spend a few minutes daily for such a benefit?

For more poem videos

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

55–Experiment and “Stronger than You Think” from “Frazzle”

Moon Over Water, Egg Harbor by M D Mikus, Copyright 2010

“…In the dark
the seed of light

a path to follow out….”

From “Stronger than You Think,” in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here: https://youtu.be/riXeccP3MMA

For today’s video I am doing an experiment: Before my poetry readings and healing workshops I used to do some easy exercises levels with the group to reduce stress, including for me. Why not try it here?

Begin with three deep “letting go” breaths—in through the nose, out through the mouth, noticing how we felt before and after. Such a simple thing, easy to forget: conscious breathing.

Then let’s do one of the exercises from the sheet, Energetic Life Balancing Waker’s Dozen. These are 13 gentle movements to balance energy levels as a daily practice. They were devised in 1989 (drawn from many disciplines) by Robert Waldon, Ph.D., N.D. and Betty Lou Lieber, Ph.D., M.F.C.C. and used with their permission.

On the video I demonstrate #7, called “Emotional Stress Release.” (My family calls it the “head hug.”) It’s the first one I learned and I’ve been doing it twice a day for 20 years. At that time I still had multiple sclerosis and I was working with several complementary medical practitioners to cope better. Doing this was a homework assignment to do for 15 minutes twice a day. MS is a very stressful disease and episodes can also be triggered by stress, so this was a good skill to focus on.

Lay one hand gently on the forehead and one on the back of the neck (in contact with the skin). You can do this standing, sitting, or lying down. You can visualize it. You can switch hands. You can do it for someone else (ask first, please). (Mothers intuitively know that it is calming for stressed out children to put your hand on their forehead.) You can do it for however long you have—less than a minute or 15 minutes or more. You can add some affirmations to say while you do the “head hug,” or hum a single tone (not singing). I do it in the morning before getting out of bed and last thing at night. If needed I also do it in the middle of the day as a recharge or power nap (even without sleeping). If I forget, I can feel the difference.

When we are less stressed we have more energy to do what we need to do. And that is very important in these chaotic times. We also have more functional immune systems and are nicer to be around, which benefits everyone.

And that brings us full circle back to our poem: “You Are Stronger than You Think.” Listen here: https://youtu.be/riXeccP3MMA

Seagulls, Door County by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2010

For more poem videos in the series

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing