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.

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are you ready to do a reset
so you can thrive this fall?

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 0 comments

Reset & Thrive Library Logo_MOD-Reset and ThriveIf you’re anything like me, summer is all about relaxation with flexed schedules, vacations with delicious indulgences, and a lighter list of to-do’s and to-don’ts. Don’t you savor every second of summer, and feel startled when autumn approaches? All too soon come the early morning alarms, lunches to pack, heavy project lists in the office, seemingly endless after school activities, and so very much more that seems to snowball so quickly!

I get it, the arrival of fall can feel like a fall into chaos!

This year it doesn’t have to! Perhaps it’s time to do a reset so you can thrive going into this new season?

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Section Graphics, For in the Kitchen, The Cookbooks-Reset and Thrive Fearless Sauerkraut Recipes, Sarah Ramsden

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cheap + easy + relaxing =
Epsom salt baths

Posted by on Mar 5, 2015 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 0 comments

Epsom Salt BathsHolistic pain relief can take many forms. In my years as a massage therapist, I’ve explored a wide variety of alternatives. By explored I mean both tried these methods myself, and recommended them to clients. Lately I find myself recommending Epsom salt baths to friends and clients on a regular basis. There are so many options for pain relief, but taking a warm bath with naturally pain relieving stuff in it is one of the most satisfying options. No side effects, just relief!

What’s the best way to try this? You only need a few ingredients:

  • Epsom salts (2 cups)
  • Baking soda (1 cup)
  • Tub with warm or nearly hot water (to your own temperature preferences)

The following ingredients are optional, but can be wonderful if you’d like to try:

  • Essential oils
  • Bentonite clay
  • Powdered ginger

So what is it about Epsom salt that’s helpful for pain relief? They’re actually magnesium sulfate. As I’ve mentioned before, Americans are woefully deficient in magnesium. While getting enough magnesium from food sources is ideal, that’s not the only way. You can absorb magnesium through your skin, including while soaking in the bath.

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, plus it’s anti-inflammatory—both positives for holistic pain relief.

Simply fill up your tub with water (as hot as you can safely enjoy), adding the two ingredients and soak for 15-20 minutes. There’s no real benefit in a longer soak, plus the water starts to get chilly.

About the optional ingredients—you may find some benefits but it’s up to you whether you add them to the bath. Essential oils like lavender will add to your relaxation and possibly help you sleep. Bentonite clay can up the detoxification effects of the bath. Powdered ginger spice (yes, I got mine at the grocery store) is also anti-inflammatory and detoxifying.

While these are all readily available ingredients and likely to have no side effects, if you’re living with any chronic or acute conditions you should discuss regular use of Epsom salt baths with your health care provider.

Happy soaking and here’s to pain relief!

 

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!

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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!

 

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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!

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