Tips for living with pain…

Oh great.  Here is yet another blog article trying to tell me how to live with pain.  What does this writer know?  This writer lives with 6 invisible diseases…and all of them have caused pain.  Hereditary Hemochromatosis (iron overload), Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (sensitivity to light, skin blisters), Hashimoto’s Thyroid (autoimmune…caused extreme stomach issues), Epstein-Barr Virus (felt entire vertebral column flare-up), Depression from pain, and Fribromyalgia (when anyone touched my skin, it felt like a slap).

Over the last three years, the pain continued to get worse.  I opted not to be on the pharmaceutical drugs due to the fact that HH is a genetic condition and no doctor could tell me for sure if the drugs would make my liver worse.  So pain it was.  But I wasn’t going to stop there.  I continued my search for things to help me cope that were going to work with my body naturally.  What did I find?

  1. Turmeric milk.  Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory properties…due to the active compound curcumin.
  2. Relief.  Building on that, I take this product because it has ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, but even more than that it also includes turmeric root extract, as well as yucca root, which has long been used for osteoarthritis as well as inflammation of the intestine.  Ah-ha.  Hmm.  Remember my stomach pain before?  Better within weeks of getting on this.
  3. Restorative yoga.  Yoga has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol.  Do you think I might have been stressed when I moved if my whole body felt like it was on fire?  Yes.  Just a little.  The difference in restorative though, is that you get to use comfy bolsters, blocks and blankets.  So we made little nests, and sat in that pose for 5-15 minutes depending on what it was.  I had a hard time at first, but learned to let go of my expectations of what my body used to be able to do.  The poses became second nature.
  4. Vinyasa yoga for back pain.  I graduated to Vinyasa…honestly, only because a friend pulled me in the direction my mind was afraid to go.  When she suggested restorative, I gave it a try.  When she said that I could do Vinyasa and possibly teach one day, my mind shut her down due to the pain.  “She has no idea how much moving hurts.”  Said the mind…but the heart wanted to get better.  Thankfully, it’s pretty strong, and said “Let’s do this thing!!!”  And so I did.  Almost 200 hours later…the girl on fire.  Literally.
  5. Meditation-like thoughts.  When I felt myself go into the dark place of pain, I would literally stop and say things to myself like “I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.”  I didn’t come up with this on my own.  I read part of a Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are Here, except at the time, I didn’t want to be there.  ha.  So I never finished it.  But it did teach me to focus my breathing.
  6. Friends checking in on you.  This part became difficult.  Not many people were in this category.  When you are in pain, people slip away.  They do.  It’s not their fault, but it is in the human nature to be uncomfortable when you don’t know what to do.  Most don’t climb down in the hole with you.  Watch this short video to get the full meaning of “The Power of Empathy”.  Rarely can a response make something better, says Dr. Brown, what makes something better is a connection.

So my friends, I leave you with my connection to you.  I am in the hole with you.  I have climbed down there.  I will hug you.  I will give you that love and connection to your pain, but the next step is on you.

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Motivational Monday…

Hello there, it’s me.  Your friendly guide to getting the most out of your Monday.  Today I am going to share a little video a friend of mine put together.  Be warned…I don’t know what I am doing.  But at least maybe it appears I did…not sure as I had the camera in the wrong place, and it was using my phone, etc.  Okay, no more stalling.

Aimee’s interview seemed to go well.  But as I watched it, I judged myself.  Ack, do I sound dumb?  Why does my face look puffy?  It does look puffy.  Am I puffy today?  Wait, none of my thoughts are serving me right now and this was not the point.  I discovered I don’t like being on video…which is why I decided to actually do this video interview.  I know it’s crazy, but I do things I don’t like to get them over with. 

To give you a point of reference, when I was 14 years old, I stepped on a snake…in Florida.  I tried to be calm, but it wrapped around my ankle and bit me.  Number 1, I was not calm.  Number 2, I hate snakes.  Number 3, I could swear it had a diamond-shaped head.  And then I screamed.  Long story, I spent 4 hours in the hospital having tests.  I was at a hotel with an inclosed, but open pool area when this happened.  When I became a volunteer years later at my favorite Living Museum, guess what I did?  GUESS!!  It was amazingly scary.  I had to reach into a pillowcase and pull out a………….SNAKE.  But it was a black rat snake.  Yes, it was the scariest thing perhaps in the universe to me.  I learned all about snakes though.  And how the scales are actually like fingernail material and blah, blah, blah.  But I just wanted to NOT be afraid.  I even held a corn snake.  So now, when I take my daughters to the museum, and she looks at a tiny green snake on a limb and says “Mom isn’t he the cutest?”  I say “Sure baby.  But we are not getting a snake.  Not even a little one.” 

So to change your thoughts, you have to embrace the pain maybe for a minute, then turn away from that by changing the pattern of your thoughts.  I decided I didn’t want to be deathly afraid of stupid snakes because there are LOTS around Virginia.  I wanted to be mildly interested in them as another living creature, but you know, we don’t have to be like BFFs or anything.  So change snakes to pain and you have me taking yoga teacher training even though I was afraid I couldn’t keep up.  You have me challenging my mind to change my thoughts from focusing on pain all the time, to moments where I am NOT in pain.  Aha.  To moments where I am living in pain, but in those moments, I can still create my own happiness.  I can still focus on what is working and less and less on what is NOT working.  I can focus on helping lead others out of their pain and darkness.  I can reach my hand right in that pillowcase and take life out and say “Aha!!!  I got you.  You aren’t as scary as I thought.  Maybe you’ll bite me, but not this time.  Not this time.” 

And that my friends, is how to change your thoughts.

Suffering

Netiquette for sharing on Social Media…

So, for what seems to be the thousandth time, I have just explained again on social media how using the share button is actually different from stealing someone’s work.  I have many artist friends.  Many.  We create, we craft, we spend countless hours thinking of how a certain thing looks and how our audience might react to it.  But more importantly, we do it for ourselves.  Not to make millions of dollars, but because we feel this driving need to express ourselves.  If what we do resonates with you, then by all means share our work.  Please.

You can do that in any number of ways.  Copy the link to our site and message your friend.  Share and re-tweet us on Twitter.  Find us on Instagram and click the little heart.  Re-pin us on Pinterest.  Follow a blog.  Use the sharing tools on the blog.  Do you know why these are acceptable?  Because they link back to our original work.  But for whatever reason, when you are on Facebook, you might think downloading our work is acceptable.  Even though that awesome little share button is right there…it is made to circulate things you like.

Here is why downloading is not okay:  As stated basically by all the legal verbiage you can find on FB, When an image is published on the internet, the owner of that image immediately owns copyright.   If you doubt me, here is a reference link and you need to read Is it legal to download works from peer-to-peer networks and IF NOT what is the PENALTY for doing so?

So now you see why my friends are serious about the warnings they give.  “If you use a copyrighted work without authorization, the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement action against you.”  If you are a fan of many of the popular quote photo pages and you absolutely LOVE a particular quote, ask them if it’s on Pinterest so you can re-pin it.  If it’s not, maybe they will make it available for you.  I know I would if you said, I love this quote so much I want to marry it.  Or whatever you normally say.  I taught preschool (reminder).  I don’t adult correctly.

Moving on, but when you leave this long-winded comment on my page after I have nicely explained why the 50 photos you just downloaded into your albums are not actually yours and that’s like me taking all the photos of you, your kids and putting them in my albums and saying they are mine, and you leave me this negative comment, but you threw a Namaste after it, well then, my gosh, that’s ok.  Because you ended with “respect”.  How about respect me enough to begin with and share correctly.  That speaks volumes to me more than explaining away your actions by trying to cast blame.  And for the record, I meditate and am completing a 200-hour Vinyasa yoga teacher certification, but if I broke into your house and stole your things and you caught me, but said Namaste to you as I was leaving, I hope it would be okay with you.

Namaste

Motivational Monday…for the UNbroken

Hey friends…you know how last week on the Facebook fan page for my blog, I asked you a question?  I asked you to tell me what kind of “invisible disease” you had.  Many times, we feel so alone with these diseases, because they are in fact, not visible to people looking in at our lives.  But this statistic came from the link I posted: 96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with an illness that is invisible. 

I don’t really think we are alone.  So let’s say you didn’t get your disability and you have 5, maybe 6 illnesses on that list.  Guess what?  It happens.  I decided it meant something different.  I decided it meant that I was supposed to find a flexible job working from home and helping others.  Don’t be discouraged.  You have a few options.  You can continue the fight without a lawyer.  I have been told that’s why I never got anywhere.  You can get a lawyer.  Or you can move on.  Moving on is not giving up.  I just want to give you permission in case you needed to hear that.  I know all the excuses in your head.  I know all the what ifs.  But do not stay in that place of despair.  Make a plan.  Work on it.  Move on.

So now I am in yoga teacher training, and it’s hard.  Very, very hard emotionally and physically.  I doubt my path at times.  I do.  But as my friend said yesterday, okay really paraphrasing, if we didn’t have emotions or feelings we’d be like Data from Star Trek.  He was an android who was unable to feel emotion or understand certain human responses.  We don’t want to live like that.  So acknowledge the feelings you are having, and work the plan.  Whatever the plan is.  If you don’t have plan, write something down.  Just a few things.  It can be as simple as get out of bed, and get dressed.  Get to the store today.  Fibro friends, this is an important plan.  You know this.  Get out of your pajamas…says the blogger still in pajamas.  But you know what I’m talking about!!!  You do.

Next on your list, make a new friend.  Okay, this one is hard.  Why is this hard?  It is hard for people who feel alone, because opening ourselves up and getting vulnerable with new people is like going to a new doctor for us.  We hate having to start at the beginning and tell our story.  I know this.  You know this.  Stop ignoring this one.  So here’s how you can go about doing this.  Re-evaluate who is in your life right now.  Who checks in on you…who checked out on you.  Those people who checked out of your life during your hardest times, they have left you space for new people.  I know it sucks, believe me I do.  But it’s time to be honest.  Those people didn’t understand anyway.

So start a new practice.  Get your list out.  What did you like to do before all the bumps?  For me, I already liked yoga, so I looked into restorative, which was low-key.  I researched other types of exercises for fibromyalgia, and decided I didn’t feel like going to water aerobics, but if you like that, put that down.  if you liked gardening put it down.  Don’t think about the pain, I know you automatically went to “I can’t get down there and bend.” Stop.  So here’s a neat idea, look up community free classes or workshops in your area.  You can also container garden and not have to bend.  See how I did that?  Put it at eye level.  Flower arranging?  Do it.  Whatever it is that old you did, write it down.

So guess what’s going to happen during this process of thinking about other things that you now have room for in your life…you are going to make new friends.  You are going to feel better, and you are going to feel less alone.  Anytime you have a negative thought, push it away and back to the things you are doing that are positive.  That are a step in the right direction.  So when you get that letter in the mail from social security…don’t be afraid to open it.  Make a plan.

broken

Choices…

changeLook at that.  Right there, I made a choice to change the way my blog looks just by adding this quote at the top.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if all choices were that easy?  When Deepak Chopra writes about Applying the Law of “Karma” or Cause and Effect, he has this to say:  Whenever I make a choice, I will ask myself two questions: “What are the consequences of this choice that I’m making?  and “Will this choice bring fulfillment and happiness to me and also to those who are affected by this choice?”

How often do we genuinely pause and ponder these two questions?  You see the problem is, I think we don’t stop to think about it at all.  If you are about to do something, but you have not given much thought as to what happens next, it is best to actually pause and consider this.  The last year I was teaching, I made a plan to begin changing my career and go after what I really wanted.  I wanted to write, and I found that I had a knack for social media.  I knew that the consequences were going to include struggle as I continued to build up a writing portfolio.

The first time I was contacted by an editor who wanted me to submit an even longer piece for publication, I felt the excitement and happiness of my choice.  The first time I got a rejection letter in the mail, smeared with some sort of greasy substance, I felt the doubt of my choice.  All in all, I knew that my well-being was better off for having made the choice to take a chance.  I knew that without a doubt, my life would not change working all the time and coming home too exhausted to write.  I am happy with change.  Hopefully, my life is about to change again as I am ready for something new. 

Motivational Monday…

Do you find yourself second guessing everything in your life?  Is it difficult to make a decision and stick to it?  Do you think everything is about you?  Well, then this post is for you…not about you.  I recently read that our minds can think up to 50,000 thoughts per day.  Half of them are things we have thought before.  I added that part, but you know it’s true.  So today, I read this post by someone who was sad about something.  And while I get the idea of being sad about something someone did…what you must remember at all times is that their actions are really about them.  This is the number one hardest thing to get through your 50,000 thoughts.

First, you start to think about yourself and what you did to the person.  Next you get mad.  You start to blame the person.  Then you ponder if you should message them.  Something like, hey girl, I saw your post.  I hope I didn’t do or say anything to upset you.  Now unless you just got off the phone with them and said something like an old fashioned “Your Momma” joke that didn’t go over how you planned, well, you know this isn’t about you.  It’s really about them.  What you have to decide, right now, at this very moment, is do you want this to be about you?  Do you feel guilty for something you did?  If the answer is you were just talking about them behind their backs to someone, well I can see how you think it’s about you.

Nine times out of ten, this is not about you.  But let’s say it is.  Who cares?  I mean really.  Make a decision to be happy…not to let it get under your skin, and move on to the next thought.  Like, what am I going to eat for dinner?  Because in the end, you can control that.  You can’t really control what this other person is doing or saying.  How they act is up to them.  How you react is up to you.

thoughts

Soul searching…

Choices.  Decisions.  The things that can change your life.  If you know in your soul what you have to do, just do it.  Don’t drag it out my friends as you are setting yourself up for failure…or worse.  Stress.  Stress is the stuff that blocks your path both figuratively and literally.  It makes your head ache, your neck tense and your back hurt.  If you had to stop and give a friend advice about your situation, what would you say?  I know it doesn’t seem that easy, but it can be.  Are you over-analyzing the situation just a wee bit?  Chances are…yes.  Yes you are.  So trust your gut.  That’s right.  That little thing called intuition…well it’s there for a reason.  Now go forth and do that thing you don’t want to do.  Be weightless.

 

weight