be present and treat yourself tenderly

Posted by on Nov 19, 2015 in Wellness | 2 comments

Barbara and StasjaIt’s been over a month since I’ve been here to write a blog. My life has been turned upside down, and I just haven’t been able to focus on writing this type of content. I’ve missed being here—researching and writing on chronic pain. But life is what it is.

The short version of the story is that our granddaughter, an 18-year old fabulous firecracker of a young woman, died in a automobile accident on October 18. In the last four weeks, our family has cried many tears. We have pulled out old pictures, and told a stream of funny and poignant stories. We’ve come together with her community of friends and family to mourn our collective loss. The grieving and healing process goes in waves, and we have what feels like an eternity of waves to ride.

Cris and I are also dealing with another significant downturn in my mother’s health. That’s a different kind of grieving, but grieving just the same.

The world also joins us in grief and shock after the terrorist bombings and activity of the last few weeks—the Russian airliner, the Beirut and Paris attacks.

There’s just so much sadness in these weeks and days and moments. Sometimes it just feels overwhelming, doesn’t it?

In the midst of a month like this, it’s hard to remember to take care of myself. Here are some of the issues I’ve faced:

  • Should I keep the physical therapy or massage appointments I have scheduled?
  • How can I be sure to get enough sleep?
  • Are there food choices that will keep my relatively pain free, while accommodating my reduced desire to eat?
  • What are the other activities that will feel nourishing to me?

Perhaps you can relate to this list. No matter what the challenges are in our lives, it’s a delicate balance to manage the urgent needs of our family (or business or the world) with the ongoing needs of our own body and soul.

I’ve been reading a book this month by one of my favorite authors, Toni Bernhard. Last year she published a blog called “13 Tips from 13 Years Sick.”

From the seventh tip, this helped me remember to treat myself tenderly during our time of crisis:

“I used to think it would be a “one-time-through-the-stages” of grief process (the stages usually broken down into denial, anger, sadness or even depression, and then…acceptance). I thought that once I passed through a stage, it wouldn’t return. But now I see that acceptance can give way at any moment to a new round of grieving, maybe with just one of those “stages” popping in for a visit, such as anger or sadness. When this happens, I’ve learned not to push the grief away in aversion because that just strengthens it. Instead, I allow it to be present, treating myself as tenderly as I can until it passes.”

So no matter your challenge or crisis, be present and treat yourself tenderly. And I promise to do the same.

Read More

choosing happiness
in the midst of life’s messiness

Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in Ask the Coach, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 2 comments

Choose Happiness

 

I’m excited to be a Happiness Crusader and to be joining over 100 women in spreading the message of #ChoosingHappiness to women around the world. In today’s post I share how I chose happiness in the midst of life’s messiness by answering a few questions from my inspiring friend best-selling Publisher Linda Joy.

Today is the official release of her new book Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness featuring the soul-inspiring stories of 27 amazing women who share their intimate stories of transformation. Choosing Happiness also includes Reflection Questions after each story, which will empower you to integrate the vital lessons of each woman’s journey into your own life.

For a limited time you can get over 40 transformational gifts with your copy of Choosing Happiness. Grab your copy today at  http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book

Q: Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you realized that your happiness was an internal choice that could be made despite your outside circumstances?

When I was 12 years old, my parents divorced and my mother and I moved to another city. That the earliest moment I remember realizing I could either be sad or be happy, despite the momentous changes this meant for my life. However that was a child’s decision in response to some guidance from loving parents who wanted the best for me.

It’s also important to recognize that when an adult chooses to be happy, it’s a more complex and layered decision. My pivotal adult moment was at the time I was diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis. I was experiencing chronic pain, and although it wasn’t my first such experience, it was certainly the scariest. In that moment I fought through the fears and choose to find a positive, solution-oriented, happy approach to the rest of my life.

Q: How do you remind yourself that happiness is always within and catch your footing in those whirlwind moments of life that can throw us off balance?

Just when I think things are settled, life throws me a curve ball and I have to decide how to react. I may duck to try to avoid the worst, or such a move may be impossible. My goal is always to pop back up and stay centered in my life, instead of staying down.

I’ve found that the best way to remind myself of the happiness at the core of my being is to love, hug, and laugh with someone. It can be a friend, my spouse, or even a client. I also take the opportunity to ask someone else what going on in their life. This gets me outside myself, which actually makes it easier to reconnect with my own happy attitude.

Q: What is your personal definition of happiness today?

I recently heard this poem read, and I think it’s the perfect illustration of my definition of happiness.

I Have Found Such Joy

I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.
I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days; a curtain’s blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose fresh-cut and placed within a vase,
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.
Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell every woman who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are:
The elemental things – old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace.

~ Grace Noll Crowell, 1877-1969

Q: Share three things that bring you happiness.

I find the most happiness in simple joys and close relationships. We have a close family, and because we’re also a blended family, it’s a special treasure for me. When my four-year old granddaughter stops to lay her head in my lap before she leaves to go home, I am happy.

When spring comes again and my garden grows with new shoots and blooms, I am happy.

And just so you don’t think I’m a sedentary old lady, it makes me happy to work up a good sweat exercising. There’s a chemical reason for that (endorphins), but it’s also my way of connecting to and nurturing my one and only body.

Thanks to my friend, Publisher Linda Joy, for these inspiring questions! I invite you to share how you choosing happiness moment in the comments below.

Be sure to check out Linda’s new book, Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness and grab your copy today at http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book to receive the bonus gift bundle worth thousands!

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

Read More

I’m not going to “unlove” you

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Ask the Coach, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 2 comments

I'm Not Going to "Unloved" YouLast year at this time, I was struggling with my health. It was hard to feel like myself at work, at home, and there was no “at play” in my life then. Physically, I was dealing with unexplained vertigo, hearing loss, and disequilibrium. While not actually painful, it made me nauseous, irritable, and was accompanied by deep feelings of fear and depression. (If you’ve read my book, you may remember some of this story.)

One day, I was trying to explain to my husband Cris how sorry I was that I couldn’t be the wife he married and the wife who had enjoyed nearly two decades of togetherness. Of course, I was crying and it both hurt and made me mad to be in this situation.

And my best friend, companion, and husband just looked at me and said, “I’m not going to ‘unlove’ you because you’re sick.” His words still brings tears to my eyes as I write this. I can’t tell you if he thought about those words much before he said them. I can tell you that his words lifted my soul in that moment and chased some of the fear away.

Now imagine you’re a person with chronic illness or chronic pain. You might not really have to imagine – this could be you already since over 100 million people in the U.S. have experienced chronic pain. And according to one study in 2013, nearly half of all Americans have at least one chronic illness. This means many of you have felt what I was feeling that day last winter.

Has my health improved since then? Well, yes and no. Have I cried more tears? Definitely. Have I had some priceless moments of joy and happiness? Absolutely. And every SINGLE day I think of that one precious phrase, “I’m not going to unlove you.”

I realize this is a unique and amazing gift from my spouse. And so are all those nights when he’s not only cooked dinner but also done the dishes – all because I needed to get off my feet and rest. It’s not uncommon for a spouse to feel burdened by the challenge of their partner’s chronic pain. Many relationships and marriages struggle and even fail because of it.

Do Cris and I have the secret to a happy marriage despite chronic pain or illness? Well that bin of magic fairy dust was empty at the store this month, so I have no fail-safe secret. I will however, give you my top three strategies for enriching your loving relationship even when you have chronic pain or illness.

  1. Choose to be happy and find happiness in all the little ways you can. Each of those little choices add up to a big difference in how you approach each day. And research shows that optimism and a sense of hope (which go hand-in-hand with happiness), play a big part in improving your health. What makes you happy will be completely individual­—maybe it’s a child’s laughter, a bright sunny day, or some yellow roses. It could be the comfort of a warm meal shared with someone. Or bubbles in the bathtub. You choose!
  2. Let them know how much it means to you! Don’t forget the “thank you” moments, even if you think you’ve already said it a few times today or this week. Do what you can when you can. When you have a good day, use some of your energy to do something nice for your partner even if it’s just emptying the dishwasher. But most of all thank them more than you think necessary.
  3. Hug your partner every single day—more than once! Being heart-to-heart in a hug is healing for you both. It improves blood pressure, lifts your mood, and generates pain-relieving endorphins too. It reminds you both that you’re the most important people in each other’s lives, no matter what pain and health challenges your family is dealing with.

Love them because they love you. Face the challenges together, hand in hand, heart to heart.

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

 

Read More

why I’m choosing antibiotic-free meats

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Kick Pain in the Kitchen, Why Organic? | 0 comments

Antibiotic-Free Hormone-Free Grass-Fed CattleIn my quest for concrete, scientific answers regarding some ongoing symptoms, I recently embarked on a pretty intense food testing protocol.  There are many food testing options available, and this is what the functional medicine practice I’m working with recommended as “top-of-the-line.”

I won’t bore you with the complete test results, although don’t be surprised if I continue to share the things I’ve learned. However, I do think you’d be interested in one particular part of my results and what I’ve learned because of it.

Turns out my body is making a LOT of antibodies to an antibiotic called streptomycin. In simpler terms, I’m allergic to this drug. When I saw this on the list of severe reactions, I also realized that I’ve NEVER taken this antibiotic for medical treatment.

So how is it that I’d be making antibodies for something that’s never been prescribed for me? Thank goodness for Google and the documents available online! Here’s what I found:

Streptomycin is a commonly used antibiotic for large animals including cattle, sheep, and pigs. It’s used all the time in the process of producing the meat and dairy we buy at the grocery store.

Streptomycin is also used to control disease in vegetable and fruit crops, INCLUDING organic apples and pears.  On the upside, the exemption that allowed organic growers to use streptomycin expired in October of 2014. Just be aware that those chemically treated organic apples will probably still be on shelves for most of 2015 as well.

You probably realize by now that I’m not vegetarian, but we’ve been eating with mindfulness (within our budget) for decades. So this was a big blow to my sense of comfort with our choices! And let me tell you, our budget just shifted around so that I can get some relief from this allergic reaction.

I know the changes we’ve made are really the important part of this learning experience for us – and for you! So here’s what we decided to do.

First, I’m going to give organic apples a break. It’s been my go-to fruit for the last few years because it’s inexpensive, easy to find and travels well. I’ll just choose different organic options for the next several months or more.

We are completely switching our beef and poultry buying habits to only antibiotic-free, hormone-free producers. This is NOT easy on our budget, since the costs are about twice what we’ve paid in the past. It really comes down to the “pay me now or pay me later” philosophy. Since the antibiotics are likely playing a part in my health challenges, then continuing to eat food containing them will only make me sicker later. Investing in better quality products now will hopefully lead to better health in the long run for our whole family.

I’m grateful to live in a part of the U.S. (central Pennsylvania) where we can source these products direct from the farm. The web site Local Harvest has been a big help in identifying these folks. Plus, Cris already shops regularly at a local farmer’s market where he’s been able to find a few more sources.

A few Saturdays ago we decided to go straight to a farm store near us. I’m not sure if this would happen everywhere, but after a quick check in to see if we had questions, the family left us on the honor system. We literally picked out our foods, listed them on a steno pad, and left a check in the cash box. And there were two other families right behind us in line. You can’t get much closer to the producers than that!

Taste and texture of these meats is definitely different, especially their leaner and less fatty nature. But it’s not unpleasant at all. And once we decide on the meat we prefer, we’re expecting to buy in quantity to reduce our overall cost per pound.

It’s too soon to tell you whether these changes will make a difference in my health, but I believe they will be positive in the long term. I hope you’ll take the information I’ve shared and consider how it might relate to your own health. I’d love to hear what you find!

Amish Farm Store Sign

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

Read More

what’s an elimination diet really like?

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Ask the Coach, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Holistic Pain Relief | 0 comments

Broiled Salmon

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly

As you’ve heard me say before, I went gluten-free a few years ago to help holistically manage my chronic arthritis pain. It was a big decision, and a big adjustment at the time. We re-vamped a lot of the things we do in the kitchen, and also changed the way we eat out.

But that was a tiny change compared to the migraine trigger elimination diet I’ve followed since March 1st—almost 70 days. An elimination diet is recommended many times by health coaches, nutritionists and even physicians. There are lots of different types of elimination diets, and just as many reasons why someone might embark on one.

In my case, a physician recommended the changes because I was having severe, chronic atypical migraine activity. Severe meaning it was massively impacting my quality of life and ability to work, play and simply function. Chronic meaning the migraine activity had lasted at this extreme level for several months prior the physician appointment. Atypical meaning there was very little headache activity involved but many other symptoms that health care practitioners and patients often don’t associate with migraine. More on my story is here.

The elimination diet that was recommended to me means that I have had to eliminate around 50 foods from my diet. It means that no foods (and even some personal care products) can be purchased without reading their ingredient list. It also means that eating out is practically impossible.

On the UP side, the elimination diet almost completely reversed my migraine activity within about 30 days. Some symptoms were eliminated in the first week!

But how do you take the dietary recommendations from paper to practice?

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly

STEP ONE: Get a bound blank book to use as food log or diary. Since I am specifically trying to connect foods with migraine symptoms, I wanted to have something I could flip around in to see those connections. The same thing would apply if you want to connect pain-related symptoms to food.

STEP TWO: Make copies of the list of do’s and don’ts. One is attached to my refrigerator. The other is inside my food log/diary book. I’m working on making one virtual or “in the cloud” to access from my smart phone (helpful while shopping).

STEP THREE: On the list of do’s and don’ts, highlight those foods you use most in your food and cooking choices. For us, it was things like avocados, nuts, onions, and soy sauce!

STEP FOUR: Start reading labels in the kitchen to see what was “safe.” For example, the list said tuna was okay. But the list of ingredients on our tuna cans had vegetable broth in them, which is often “code” for MSG. So now when we shop, we look for brands of tuna without added broth in them.

STEP FIVE: Begin researching possible substitutions for your favorite foods on the “don’t” list. For example, switching shallots for onions. While it’s not the same exact taste, it works. And we’re also serving sauces on the side to accommodate my needs and all the other diners. With some regular experimenting and brainstorming, Cris and I have been able to enjoy a lot of fantastic “whole food” dinners together—all gluten-free and migraine-friendly.

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly Broiled Salmon

Gluten Free and Migraine Friendly

The time I’ve spent in this elimination diet “phase” is a time when I have to give a LOT of thought to every bite. In our world of convenience foods and overscheduled lives, this isn’t easy. But trust me, living with pain or illness is harder than making extremely conscious food choices. For me it’s all about my mindset. I can either focus on the 50 foods I can’t have, or recognize the 1000 other options I do have. I also try to stay focused on the results that these changes have made in my health and my life. And like many challenges, elimination diets aren’t designed to last forever. So I often say to myself: “this too shall pass.”

Hopefully in just a few weeks, I’ll be able to start testing each trigger food and creating my own personal “trigger list.” Once I have that list (which may take a few months to solidify), I hope to be adding some of these eliminated foods back into my diet.

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

Read More
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On LinkedinVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On Youtube