Freedom from Captivity

Choose to Shine Journal Pic

Story & Photo


Elizabeth Vierra Hall


Speaking your truth will set you free from your captivity.  Your captivity of heart,  mind and your spirit.  The fear will be there, at first, until you exercise stepping out and moving forward,  but once you exercise that choice,  you will then begin to experience a  tremendous freedom.  Once you feel that joy of accomplishment on your journey’s path, you won’t care who agrees, follows or even how small your circle becomes.  Here in lies your decision to that proverbial fork in the road.

Your path, your journey,  is individual and specific to you.  No one can walk it for you, and no one will have your answers .  When you are truly ready to walk it, only you can do the work that it will take.  Don’t use others as your compass on your journey; you will get sidetracked and lost.  Pay attention to what your heart (instinct) is telling you.  If you are unsure at any given moment then you still have some work to do in that particular area, and that’s OK.  Don’t force it just because you think you need to be at a certain place in time.  You will know when you need to move. When it is right for you.

Choose to shine YOUR best, in your time –  no one else’s.

Lady at the Train Station

Jennifer on the train pic

Photo and Story
Elizabeth Vierra Hall

It was the first breezy, chilly 47-degree night of the season, mid-November at a train station in a very small town in California.  Normally 47 degrees isn’t so bad, but when it’s the first of the season after the warm California temperatures, it can take a while for the body to acclimate.  I was there sending off my daughter from her shortened, 23-hour visit. As my daughter was making her way to one of the open train cars, an elderly woman had stepped off with an Amtrak employee.  The woman was crying and clearly hobbling in pain alongside the employee.  Observing, I thought it odd that no help was given in the way of a wheelchair, or other relief assistance.  As my attention was teetering back and forth from the elderly woman clearly needing assistance to watching for my daughter at one of the window seats as I like to see her and wave one last goodbye for the night, the woman, now left alone, was wailing even louder.  I’m thinking that anytime now her ride would be here to pick her up as I’m watching and waving to my daughter.

As the train slowly pulled away out of the station, the woman began to wail in pain even louder; bent over the railing alongside the walkway between the tracks and the parking lot.  I turned around to observe if anyone was coming for the woman. I watched as Amtrak staff went back inside the office, people catch their connecting buses, and families helping to load their loved ones in their vehicles. Still no one came for this woman.  It was only her and I …at 7:50 p.m., dark night, vacant parking lot except for a few overnight parked vehicles.  As I continued to look around for signs of anyone coming for her, I walked up slowly so as not to startle her and ask if there was anything I could do for her. She proceeded to catch her breath just enough to tell me that she didn’t want to bother me and said she called her son to pick her up; he had forgotten. She kept telling me I didn’t have to stay and I told her there was no way I was leaving her alone out here in the dark.  I offered to walk her over to a nearby bench, but she didn’t want to move.  She said it would take too much energy and would hurt, so I rubbed her back as she hunched over the railing and talked to her to see if it would help calm her. All I could think of was how could anyone be so neglectful to allow this woman to be out in the cold, dark night, alone. As she began to calm, she told me that she had just fallen on the knee that she is supposed to have surgery on, and, that she just found out that she is VERY, VERY sick.  “I just don’t need all this right now!” she told me.  “It’s just too much!” and then began to break down again with uncontrollable sobbing.  With each vehicle that past by she’d say, “Here’s my son”…but it wasn’t, and as each car drove by that wasn’t her son, she cried.  Time passed and it was getting more breezy and colder.  Where is this son?

Finally her son drove in.  Did he rush to her aid?  No.  I watched as he 1) parked far away from her, 2) took time to slowly clean out his vehicle, 3) was clearly in no hurry to look around for her.  Really? I just couldn’t take it any longer, so I called out as I walked part way to his vehicle, “Are you here to pick up your mother?”  “Yeah”, he said as if it were a bother.  “She’s over here!”  I had to direct him over. She thanked me over and over for staying with her and said it’ll be okay and that I could go. I cried all the way home.  It was such an emotional experience.  Even though her son was there, I had to wonder if she really would be alright. My heart was tugged with all sorts of emotions.  Clearly, emotion for her well-being, but there seemed to be something else.  What was it? Even a few hours later, I was still crying.

After playing the night’s events over and over in my mind, it hit me, and it was two-fold.  The first was that fact that in today’s society people are so unaware of the needs of others even when it’s crying out right in front of you!  How robotic is our society? She was crying loud enough that everyone heard, yet she was ignored.  No one even approached her. My heart felt cruelty for mankind. I mean, just imagine if that woman were you or worse, your mother?  Can you imagine how much pain and hopelessness she was feeling on that cold, dark night?  Alone.  It’s just so upsetting.

And second, what I still can’t seem to put down into words, must be the heart’s emotion to helping someone in such distraught,  especially when no one else would; making a difference in someone else’s life.  Even now, almost two months later and tears in my eyes, I still can’t put it into words that would make you feel what the heart feels. And you know what?  I think, no, I believe, that there is a reason and a purpose for that.  It is an emotion that is best felt; only felt, with the heart. It’s a gift.  A gift that I was given to show love, faith in humanity; a purpose for our life on earth and that feeling that comes with it all wrapped up in one overpowering emotion never to be fully explained in simple words.

Let’s be thankful for our good health and for our families and friends that care enough to make sure we are safe to and from our destinations; for not everyone is as fortunate. Pray for the less fortunate. 💔


Bell’s Palsy – What Stress Can Do To You

by Elizabeth Vierra Hall


Sunday, May 24, 2015, was a weekend I’ll never forget.  It was Memorial Day weekend.  As I got up to begin my normal morning routine, I was puzzled as to why I couldn’t hold the water in my mouth to rinse while brushing my teeth.  Why was my eye not blinking, and why was my lip drooping.  I suddenly realized that I couldn’t feel the right side of my face.  I was paralyzed!   I think the shock of what I saw in the mirror prevented me from truly believing this was happening.  I kept staring into the mirror and asking myself what the heck was going on.   I’m too young and in good health to have this happen.  Was it a stroke?  Worried beyond measure, I called my cousin who is an RN and described to her my symptoms.  She said that she was 99.9% sure I had Bell’s palsy.

Bell’s palsy?   What is that?  She told me that there is no known cause, and that it would eventually go away.  She recommended I go to the doctor.  Well, as luck would have it, all the doctors’ offices and urgent care facilities around were closed for the holiday. Well great.  You know what that means; an ER visit.  Not to put down the ER rooms,  but it immediately conjures up a huge expense that, even with insurance, will take me a year just to pay off my portion, not to mention the long wait that I am never really thrilled about.  However, I was more scared NOT to go.  So as I drove myself to the ER, I was praying this would not be something serious.  After the exam and CT scan results, the doctor confirmed that it was Bell’s palsy.  He said there is no known cause, but is believed to be one of two things; viral or stress-related.  Thinking back on the past week, I did have one of the most stressful weeks ever at work.  The doctor asked if I had any pain or odd feeling around my ear.  You know, I did!

It was the Friday before.   I remember because I was having a “discussion” with another department’s employee about an ongoing issue that still had not been resolved, and I remember that suddenly I felt like I was getting an ear ache.  My ear felt like it was plugged and I could hear myself talking.  Kind of like when you have an ear infection, only there was nothing wrong with my ear.  That’s where Bell’s palsy starts, and then radiates down the 3 main muscles of the face.  That was it!  Stress.

I was thanking God that it wasn’t a stroke.  How long this would last would remain to be seen.  It could last anywhere from 2 months to 6 months.  The ones that last longer are usually the cases where you don’t regain all your muscle strength.  Oh boy.  Now we wait and see.  The risk of losing my eyesight was very high due to the fact that my eye lid would not blink.  You see, blinking helps to keep the eye moist, and if it dried out, well, I’m sure you get the picture.  Who knew blinking was so important.  I had to keep my eye taped up and wore an eye patch.   During the day, I had to use moisture eye drops several times.  I couldn’t wear my contacts and had to wear an old pair of glasses which did nothing for my vision.  This made going to work very uncomfortable and hard to concentrate at the tasks at hand.  Eating and drinking was next to impossible.  I could only drink through a straw on the opposite side so that I wouldn’t have a mess all down the front of me.  Have you ever tried to suck down hot coffee through a straw?  Exactly!  Coffee was no longer an option.  Same with eating; I had to wear a dish towel like a bib, and eat small bites on the opposite side of my mouth.  Only half my mouth worked.  If food were to travel to the paralyzed side, my tongue would not work to shift the food back over, so I had to use my finger to sweep back what was on the paralyzed side back over.  This was an experience like no other.  It’s the little, everyday body functions that we take for granted.

My next thought was to figure out what I could do to help speed up the recovery process.   The not knowing how long this was going to continue was scary.  Was there any therapy recommended?  The doctor didn’t give any advice; just a wait and see.  Yeah, right.  If you know me, you know I don’t do “wait and see” very well.  I shared my story on Facebook.  To my surprise I received many comments, messages, texts and phone calls.  Apparently Bell’s palsy is not that uncommon.  Of all the advice I received, I chose acupuncture.  Since I’m not a fan of needles, this was always something I said I would NEVER do.  I hate needles; but like the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

On recommendation of another cousin of mine, I went to an acupuncturist, and within 2 visits saw remarkable improvement!  After the third visit, I was close to normal.  This took about 3 weeks.  My doctor who had teased me that I was going to a “witch doctor” was absolutely amazed at my progress. The look on his face was a “Kodak moment”.  Gotta love it when you can push past the normal; the expected, and prove something.  So, aside from a little pain deep down in my cheek muscle – and only when I push on it – I am back to normal! So where does this all lead?  No matter our age.  No matter how fit we are, or intelligent, or how well we’ve always been able to handle our stresses and multi-task…you can still be so over stressed that your body says ENOUGH!  STOP IT!

​It’s time to make some life changes.  Your body needs you to.  That doesn’t mean you are weak; not at all.  It means you are being brave in changing your life around to take care of you; something we’ve been taught is selfish, and that is so very wrong.  You must take care of YOU, without feeling guilty. Yes you can!  It doesn’t have to take hours out of your day, and it doesn’t have to cost you anything but your time.  Our world is becoming such a crazy, unhealthy, whirlwind of white noise and garbage and “have to’s” that we are like robots being sucked into it all thinking if we don’t comply we’ll be left behind.  Baloney!  Don’t buy into that.

The most important thing in your life is YOU!  YOU matter!  YOU are important.  I am not a doctor, a clinician of any kind, nor do I have walls of certificates that say I can change your life or that I do this for a living.   I’m just your average working woman, mother, friend, neighbor just like the ones in your community.  The only difference may be that I may have had a few more experiences like no other that could be a catalyst in helping others who are struggling with everyday life and who are seeking some peace, solace, and heck…maybe a laugh or too.  Won’t you join me?  I think we’d be good together.

Here’s to the new you!


Photo by Elizabeth Vierra Hall

When People Drive You Crazy


by Elizabeth Vierra Hall

Birds on Beach

Photo by Elizabeth Vierra Hall

A thought to ponder: Is there someone that is absolutely driving you crazy? Annoying you to no end? Feels like it gets worse day after day? You just want to rip your hair out? So what are you doing about it? Have you taken them aside like a good friend (or family member) and talked to them about it? It’s kind of difficult to do, isn’t it? So what’s the alternative? Think about that for a moment or two. If you think about it, most people who annoy you are not doing it on purpose. Chances are they have no idea something they’re doing bothers you. I mean really…who would want to alienate themselves from society?  We’re all so different in our thoughts and actions. It would be nice if we could all read each other’s minds (well, to a point maybe) so that we could correct whatever we’re doing “wrong” in that person’s eyes. If it continues to be a problem and you’d like to correct it, maybe set aside a little time and say, in love and friendship, what it is that is driving you so crazy. It will certainly make you feel a lot better and, the other person could certainly learn and grow from it – not to mention they will quit doing whatever it is that frustrates you; at least they will be aware and try THEIR best. Sometimes it’s just their personality or learned habits. If that’s the case, it could be very difficult for them to change no matter how hard they try. Think how they would feel.  If not taken care of in an up front and caring way, you could explode and chances are, you could hurt that person beyond a certain point. No, it’s never easy to have those conversations and you probably think you’re saving everyone a lot of hurt by just holding it in, but chances are if you are becoming more frustrated and less patient as time goes on, then it is inevitable that it will not end well. Take a deep breath. Heck, take several deep breaths, think on it a bit, but make that move. Your health will thank you, and in time, so will that other person for helping them grow.

Have a great day!