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I have had a unique relationship with Anxiety my whole life. Anxiety affects just about every facet of life, especially sleeping. For as long as I could remember, I had trouble falling asleep. I would lie awake for hours worrying, and replays of my past experiences and decisions taunted me. In 2005, it got even worse; I would wake up in the middle of night and could not fall back to sleep. I complained that it was my stressful job and my partner watching TV at bed time. I desperately needed to sleep and wanted my job and my partner to change.  Anxiety continued to sabotage my sleep.

Step 1: I had to accept that my job is stressful and that I cannot control other people’s reactions/behaviors.

Step 2: I had to take responsibility for getting my own needs met.

I finally dragged myself back into therapy and my therapist recommended listening to an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing; cick here to learn more: http://www.emdr.com/briefdes.htm) CD which plays soothing sounds that alternate playing in each ear to mimic REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Guess what I told her? … “I tried that, it didn’t work.” I did try it two times about a year before. I had put my boom box on my bed (very uncomfortable) and then the CD started skipping at song 4. She said she’d make me a new copy of the CD and I could go buy a portable CD player.

Easy solution right?

Step 3: TRUST

Well, I am a frugal person so I mulled over buying a portable CD player for a couple weeks. My husband didn’t think it was necessary purchase. I thought of all the things he buys that seem frivolous to me and decided to trust my therapist’s suggestion to buy one. Suffering from anxiety of course, I stood in front of the CD players for 20 minutes and still couldn’t decide. I even had to call my sister for advice on which player to get (I am 30 year woman at this point).

Step 4: Put my words into action and implement plans.

I finally bought one for $30, which of course I felt guilty about. I put in the batteries and new EMDR CD to go to bed only to find out that the CD is not working properly; the music was not alternating between ears. I complained to my husband and he suggested maybe the headphones are not in stereo. So he finds me another pair from around the house. It worked!!! I had to listen to the CD twice but I did fall asleep peacefully. When I woke up in the middle of the night and listened to it, and it soothed me again but then I ran into another hurdle…because I was using batteries, the player ran out of power right as I was falling asleep. A few days later, I had no more batteries to replace with. I kept buying more and more batteries but they ran out so quickly. I was so irritated and ready to give up…

Step 5: Love myself through trial and error!!! Give myself permission to feel exasperated and believe in success.

So I told myself: That I can work through this. I know this will work. I have to keep trying.

For a couple weeks I kept trying different power adaptors around the house. On my 4th attempt about 2 weeks later, I found a working adaptor. Eureka!!! I was able to fall asleep …except the bulkiness of the headphones limited my sleeping positions. I complained again. My husband found me a pair ear buds.

Finally, after 20 years I was able to fall asleep with no problems and sleep through the night. The progress was gradual and rocky. I needed to listen to the entire CD a couple times to fall asleep and would still awake in the middle of the night. Then I got to fall asleep after one time through the CD and didn’t wake up in the middle of the night. Eventually, it got to where I’d fall asleep during the first song. After about 3 weeks of listening to the CD every night, I could fall asleep with out it. I changed a problematic behavior and situation in two months with no drugs. Now, I only use it once in a while. It took a heavy dose of: acceptance, taking responsibility, trust; commitment to act with perseverance, unconditional love, and support from people who genuinely care about my needs.

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I spent 15 minutes rescuing a honey bee from a glass. Well, actually I felt a bit responsible as its wing was stuck in dried wine at the bottom of a glass. I am the one who drank the wine and left the glass in front of an open window.  I am acutely aware that honey bees are endangered which would be a detriment to our ecosystem.  Ironically, I am highly allergic to bees.

I desperately wanted to save the bee yet was afraid of getting stung. At first I asked my partner to do it.  Gratefully he said “no” and offered a suggestion of gently putting water down side of glass. The bee was still stuck after many attempts. I worried the weight of gravity will force him out too quickly and break his body away from its wing. As I saw its leg flailing in distress, I thought what would calm the bee. What does it do best that would make it feel at ease? A flower! I hung the glass over a flower as the bee went to work and it seconds it was free to be.

Symbolically, my name means “bee” and as I mentioned, I am highly allergic to bees. I was stung on my finger hanging from my monkey bars when I was seven. When the pain stopped, my mom saw my arm swelling up to my neck. I don’t remember anything else in that moment. I know I had to get a shot and my arm was still swollen the next day as I put on my school uniform. From then on, I was terrified of bees running, screaming and flailing away from them.

It wasn’t till I went on a rock climbing trip with a group of strangers that I encountered a bee and I could not risk my usual fearful reaction. I was on top of a 30ft boulder as I’d fall off a cliff. I heard it buzzing and saw it heading toward me. My body wanted to jerk and scream yet being in this precarious situation, I told my self to stay still and calm. Everything would be fine and the bee will fly away. I took many deep breaths. What felt like an eternity, it did fly away. That fateful day happened in 1996 and has been an awesome lesson I have worked hard to apply to every fear I am conscious of.

Taking 15 minutes of my day to save the bee felt so empowering to me just like the day on the boulder.  It reminded me how patient and mindful one shall be in any given moment. I am glad my partner refused because it gave me this opportunity.  Some may think I’m bit crazy for saving something that could kill me, yet to me, this is one of life’s many paradoxes. I am learning to love mosquitoes next:-)

Link to the benefits of bees and honey: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/28/bees-death-destroy-food-supply.aspx?e_cid=20120128_DNL_art_1

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