Category Archives: self-care

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

48–“Speaking Kidney” from “Frazzle”

Newark Hotel, Rainy Night by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2014

“…What would kidney language be like?
Like the earth speaking
in ebb and flow of tides,

crying softly in drought or deluge,
flowing currents coming and going,
pushing and pulling….”

From poem 48, in my book, “Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing.” Listen here: https://youtu.be/KdJ_MTDq5HE

What does it mean to listen to the body, to notice when things are off balance and take steps to be healthier—even before illness sets in? Each organ seems to have its own language (“symptoms”). If you are like me, you may not be aware of a problem until the situation is serious. This poem asks for a gentler approach, to act as if the mind (intellect) and the body are on the same team, and vitality—without pain—is the common goal.

San Diego in the Distance, across Mission Bay by M D Mikus, Copyright 2013

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

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

47–“Ask and Response” from “Frazzle”

Heading Back Home by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2015

“…Who has not given up

in the dark-pit times,
the apparent endlessness

of the drop down,
the fall from grace

it seems like it…”

From poem 47, “Ask and Response,” from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here: https://youtu.be/0bVzeIUO6es

These times we are in…perfect time for a poem about grace.

I need to have more real contact with people, talk on the phone, meet in person. It is lovely and good to be connected online, but not sufficient to sustain. I have a list of people in front of me to meet for dinner or tea or a long phone conversation. Slowly I am reconnecting with friends I had lost track of and it feels good.

Sunday I went to the Evanston Writers Resist gathering (one of a number of Writers Resist events in the Chicago area) to hear amazing inspiring speakers, but also to be with people who are all trying to navigate these chaotic days and create positive change. It was most uplifting. I am grateful. And thank you to my husband, Stephen for coming with me. It was truly an evening of grace.

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

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

45–“Selective Memory” from “Frazzle”

Walking to the Pond by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2016

“…I am only aware of
where I am and what is
now going on,
what healing is yet undone.
I forget where I came from…”

From poem 45, “Selective Memory,” in my book, “Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine” Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing.” Listen here: https://youtu.be/VdRt7-CbkSg

One day at a time, this project is teaching me to be where I am, not to jump ahead even one day. It is guiding me to take care of myself, be more balanced, less anxious. If I want to deliver the poems—and I do—I have to be focused and healthy, as rested as I can.

On the good days I take a lovely walk to the pond down the road, perhaps a poem begins in my head as I go. If it’s not a good day and my only two smiles are at the beginning and end of that day’s video, at least I remember I can smile. And I feel a certain sense of accomplishment at getting another poem recorded.

My intention is still to sequentially read all the poems from “Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine.” At one per day, it will take over a year. You and me, sitting at the table, maybe we have cups of herbal tea with honey. Thanks for listening. See you tomorrow.

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

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

42–“Soave” from “Frazzle”

Walking Toward the Light, by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2016

“Speak to yourself in a soft voice…”

From poem 42, “Soave,” in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here: https://youtu.be/6yKwXesXy4o

Llubav is a lovely woman, originally from Peru, who would say to her young toddler to settle him down, “soave.” Or at least that’s how it sounded to me. It turns out I picked the Italian spelling and I liked the layers of meaning: gentle (voice, manner); delicate, sweet (face, nature); soft, sweet (music); delicate (perfume). (Reverso Dictionary)

Time to remember to be gentle with ourselves, as part of our commitment to self-care. “Take good care.”

For more poem videos from the “Frazzle” series

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