Happy To See Light…

I felt it was time to just get vulnerable and communicate how I am doing on my journey to health and wellness while living with chronic pain. I am so happy to just chit chat a little about my progress with each of you.  Thank you for all your continued support through this entire ordeal.

 

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Mixed Feelings In Life

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My head is spinning when I think of all the things I want to write. I have been consumed with the launch of my new business and my writing is long overdue. I am filled with passion and love as I start this new chapter of my life. I still have pain some days but the amount of joy I feel seems to surpass that.

That being said, the other day I volunteered at my daughters dance performance. It was a special moment in my life. Tears of joy streamed down my cheeks as I watched her dance from behind stage. I have truly become the mother I have always dreamed I would be. My mother is amazing and beautiful. Most of my personal characteristics that I love most about myself have come from her. My mother was a single parent and worked hard long hours to provide the life we shared. Because of the work she put in for our family she was rarely available to take me to extracurricular or show up to childhood shows. I have memories of my childhood school choir recitals of me looking into the crowed searching and when I found no one those moments lost the specialness. Perhaps because it felt as though I had no one to share those moments with. The times she made my performances stick out the most. When she could be there it meant so much to me. One year in second or third grade I waved to her out of excitement and was pulled down off the risers and reprimanded for waving. It was worth it! Love you mom.

Ok I am off topic here. I cried because my daughter is growing and thanks to god I am not missing a moment. Not a single moment! I write about my orthopedic struggles so here is the kicker. As we bustled around working for hours helping young girls put in buns and pig tails, taking them potty and changing costumes I started to hurt. I was surrounded by other mothers my age and I had a moment just a moment where I found myself thinking…. I’m only in my thirties and I am in so much pain how will I ever be able to function in ten years? How will I ever be ok? I want to be like these moms. I want to not be thinking of the stiffness that is beginning and the pain that is coming. I let the thought go and distracted myself by the organized chaos around me. I did need to leave before the final cleanup and a slight feeling of guilt washed over me. The guilt was caused because I thought I needed to stay or I should have stayed. My truth was that although I wanted to stay and others were able to stay I had given all I had to give. My body was telling me it was time to go.

I left the school filled with joy, love and gratitude. As we sat in the car to leave I knew I was in trouble. I had over done it. I still believe it was all worth it. That seems to be the way my life is. I just have to decide what is truly worth pushing through the pain for. I drove home sitting stiff and in a hurry. I rushed in grabbed my giant ice bag and laid down with a sigh of relief. My daughter was exhausted mixed with excitement and I was hurting mixed with joy. That’s how life is. I can’t have the bitter without the sweet. Life is a mixture of feelings. Sometimes all good like joy, excitement and gratitude all at once. Sometime pain, grief and despair. Often it is a mixture of positive and negative feelings. Fear and excitement, determination and anxiety. Or in the example of my day, pain and joy. Today I am ok with what life looks like in its entirety. The day passed and I moved forward on my journey to healing. Luckily due to the tools I have acquired with chronic pain, my pain did not carry over to the next day. Oh but the joy sure did.

Thank you for reading my blog!

 

 

Getting Real

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As I began my study exploring trauma and the effect it has on a person’s body in response to chronic pain and/or autoimmune disease, I became very intrigued. I have started to explore my past experiences in order to relate and attempt different healing techniques. I want to be sure that the techniques I offer in my business as a wellness coach are effective and worthwhile. To accomplish that, it has become imperative that I stay in the forefront of my own pain and my voyage through wellness.

This journey into my past has been anything but easy. I am determined, though, because I no longer wish to be held captive by trauma. I understand that even though my mind has learned how to ignore the misfiring of my neurological system, my body has not. Acknowledging my past does not make me weak or whiny. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Acknowledging my life and all its events makes me strong because I have to face myself with courage and endure any painful memories in order to make sense of them. If I continue to deny any struggles, the struggles repeat themselves over and over in my life. That is a form of imprisonment I no longer will endure. So if you find yourself reading this and thinking, Yeah, yeah, we all had struggles growing up, but we just move on, I ask you: Have you really moved on? How do you know you have moved on? Do you have one lesson that keeps repeating itself over and over again that you can make no sense of?

As a toddler, I eagerly awaited to meet my biological father. There was a lot of hype buzzing in the air about this meeting, and even when I was very young I could feel it. I was supposed to feel excited, or maybe I was excited. I knew I was missing a father, but I never felt a great loss because my grandfather filled that spot. Well, he filled it until years later when I would appoint the job of father to another man who was and still is my father to this day.

There was a knock on the door, and every one tensed up. I stood next to my grandfather and gave my best smile. The door creakily swung open, and there stood a man and a lady who were holding a small baby. We all stood staring at each other for what seemed like forever but probably lasted only seconds. I felt awkward, so I began to act silly in hopes of engaging him in laughter. For years, this move has summed me up in a nutshell. Mandy = acting silly in hopes of engaging you in laughter. Just as I did that, he turned around and walked out of my life. He would never attempt to contact me again. Of course, I did find him when I was nineteen years old, and we would have a distant and strained relationship, if any at all.

These last few months I have been searching my memories and my inner thoughts. I have been focused mostly on different traumas but also on core beliefs. As I explored many different traumas, one core belief kept presenting itself over and over again. This core belief, which was false to begin with, began the moment my father shut the door. The thought I experienced was: “I have done something wrong.” When he left, I thought I had done something wrong. A belief is a thought that I think over and over again.

This thought was the beginning of a faulty belief that would play in my mind time and again, each time reinforcing itself and getting stronger. The worst part of all is that it would serve absolutely no purpose in my well-being or happiness. Later in life, when violence would erupt in my home, I would think: I have done something wrong. When I was taken into state custody and put into foster care twice the thought that I had done something wrong would echo in my mind. When I would be forced to move to a new school every six months, I would think I had done something wrong. Each time any person was angry, I would believe I had done something wrong. This belief had become so imbedded in my day-to-day life I did not even recognize I was having the thought. After each day and each interaction with another person, I would be left thinking the same thought, and each time my shoulders would tense and anxiety would drop into my gut like a little bomb that I could not stop. I could not stop this reaction with any amount of positive self-talk. Only now, in my thirties, have I identified this unpleasant belief.

So how did this one experience install a thought that became a belief that somehow turned into…I am wrong? How do I change years of negative programming? By facing it and uncovering it! Now if my mind begins to even try to think that thought, I catch it and counteract it in my mind. I know this problem will take time to change, because the neural pathways in my brain for it are deep and worn. But today I have begun to heal, and today I know that I am not wrong. I know that sometimes I can be wrong without being wrong as a person. I am allowed to make mistakes, and not everything has to do with me. I don’t have to solely focus on me and my wrongs; I understand sometimes people are just having a bad day. I don’t have to push so hard to always be right, for fear of being wrong. Today my body does not have to tense up and endure extreme stress, because it has begun to settle the score and let it go.

I get that many people have faced adversity and difficulty and have beautiful and productive lives. I am one of them; however, that does not negate or nullify the importance of my experiences. Your experiences, no matter how big or small they may seem, are important. I have learned so much about trauma and how it presents itself in an individual’s life. There are families who are war-torn within them. These people and their families experience pain, loss, fear, insecurities, threats, and trauma. From experience I have witnessed that a strong, perceptive, and intuitive person can be made out of these ashes. A person who is solid and determined to make a difference in our world. A person who will not settle. Most of all, a person who will survive.

Who am I

And why do I blog

Since I was ten, I have kept a journal. It currently includes about eight volumes. Why so few? My creative bursts come randomly, and my need to journal presents itself in waves. In a way, this blog has become my next journal, though I struggle with how real I can be on here. Obviously, I do not wish to embarrass myself or my family, but the bloggers I admire the most put it “all” out there.

Most people I know this blog exists, and I am ok with that. I also know that a few close friends read it to learn how I’m doing, because our lives have become so busy we rarely get time together. Being wives and mothers of small children takes the majority of our time. Our lives, as beautiful as they are, become so rushed we often forget to find time for ourselves. There are also people who read this just to make fun of me and find fault in my perception. That is ok. I don’t have to hide who I am or pretend to be something I’m not anymore. I feel free in that way. Journaling/blogging is a very healing experience for me. Knowing that my experience or outlook may help someone else is relieving. It makes the parts of my life I don’t understand have a purpose. Writing and speaking help put in words the events in my life that don’t make sense. This helps me process and heal, and for that I am grateful.

I don’t want to care about what others think of me. I was taught that it was none of my business what other people thought or said about me. Of course, there will always be a part of me that wants to feel accepted, for that is the human condition. I know if I approve of and accept myself entirely, then what you think becomes far less important. I tend to yo-yo back and forth between these states as my spiritual condition wavers. When I remember that no matter what you think, I like who I am, I always feel like a weight has been lifted.

All these years, I have had to remind myself that being kind and showing love to others is unconditional, and I do not require their approval to do so. I love because I am passionate about doing so. Because I know what it is like to not feel important. I am kind because, in my family, kindness is an important value. Kindness and love have been passed down generation to generation. If you met my family, you would see that the love and kindness they extend does not even stop with our neighbors but also includes all living creatures. I was raised to love and be kind to family, friends, and every animal. I love because it is who I am.

This all comes to mind because I have been pondering “Who am I?” When what makes me “me” is taken away, what happens next? When something such as my marital status, career, or physical ability defines a majority of who I am, then who am I when it changes? There is a process of healing and changing that occurs after this. Time spent wondering what makes me “me.” What are my strengths, and where will I be most helpful to my family and society as a whole? A large part is grief and the process of letting go. Another part is taking on a new identity. Redefining myself and my purpose. I have seen this occur when a person goes through divorce, medical issues, loss of a loved one, career change, loss of a job, or even when children grow up and move away. Each one of these relationships demands a certain amount of daily time, energy, and effort. When one ends or changes, a window of time opens, and I find that people retreat into themselves to figure out what to do with it. Where do I best invest that effort and energy? How will I define myself in this next chapter of my life? Who do I want to be, and what am I going to do?

I don’t know how many people are out there that are asking themselves right now, who am I?  I do know each one of them is not alone and that it is ok to heal.  It is ok to take the time you need to figure it out.

 

TRAUMA?

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YOUR BODY HEARS EVERYTHING YOUR MIND SAYS

I have been studying trauma and the effects trauma has on a person’s body. The more I understand the neurological functions of a person’s body and the way we respond to trauma, the more fascinated I become. There are many studies that relate emotional trauma to chronic pain or disease in the body. In the moments beyond fear when a person believes they may die, the neurological system kicks in, and our body enters fight-or-flight mode. The system then bottles up the energy and closes that energy off in an attempt to survive. Often times, this process will result in repressed memories. This energy becomes trapped in the body.  Many studies show that the energy will wreak havoc on a person’s body. That is the best way I can describe my understanding of it, so far. I am only scratching the surface of my studies in this area.

According to the American Psychology Association, “Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Long-term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms, like headaches or nausea.” Webster defines it as, “A very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems, usually for a long time” or, “A serious injury to a person’s body.”

I’m not saying that everyone with chronic pain, auto immune or medical issues has had childhood trauma. I am saying there is a possibility of a link between the two.   I have noticed a pattern with some people that directly correlates between medical issues and major trauma. This observation is what intrigued me, and I related it to myself and my experiences in life. As a child and a few short years as an adult I endured many traumatic experiences.  This was directly related to the lifestyle I grew up in.  I was fortunate to have had those experiences because it is through difficulty that I was made strong. Many of my greatest gifts “personality wise” have come from my childhood experiences.  There were many terrifying nights and days but I felt very fortunate to have a mother who was hardworking, kind and loved me. I actually knew other children who had less so I never want to sound like I am complaining.   I have learned how to overcome and succeed despite my past.  I have dedicated years of my life trying to help others achieve the same results. I believe no one should be left feeling as afraid, desperate and hopeless as I felt at that time in my life.   It saddens me to think that a person could make it through the fires only to have the remaining scars still causing them harm…

I am dedicating a portion of my time to researching the best way to resolve these types of issues. I have more to learn in this area. So, what do you think…can trapped trauma tear a body apart from the inside? Is there a way to resolve inner conflict, such as past traumas? Some of the solutions that have presented themselves are EFT, tapping, intense psychotherapy and cognitive therapy. There are also some visualizations and neurological work a person can do to put past experiences behind them. My personal favorite is of course prayer, because I know God answers prayers. This solution can be tricky because often I am looking to see if god actually healed me when in truth god has sent someone to guide or teach me in healing.  I usually have a fair amount of work to do on my part as well. For example my part may be listening to my physical therapist, eating right, thinking positively, and making time for relaxation. Another way to participate in my wellness is by being open minded to a suggestion made from someone in a similar situation. Even if this suggestion makes no sense at all. This has been my experience with God and prayer.

My next question is, can a person heal these parts of themselves without another person guiding them? I ask this because often people with PTSD choose isolation.  It would seem like such a contradiction if a hurt person who avoids social interactions actually needs people in order to heal the hurt. One thing is for sure…I will definitely be exploring this further.

 

V IS FOR VICTORY

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A story of my most recent adventure and the lessons I learned

A short while ago, I went on a retreat with a few ladies whom I adore and found myself venturing all the way to the northern city of Fairbanks, Alaska. Little did I know at the time, this trip would fill me with spiritual inspirations and many lessons.

On this retreat, there was a tradition wherein the women hiked what seemed to be a mountain to me. I believe the name was Angel Rock. “Only three-and-a-half miles,” they reassured me, attaching “at a very steep angle” to the end.

Because I ran a body scan to determine where I was physically, I thought that I could definitely pull the hike off. I knew it would hurt, but three-and-a-half miles did not seem like too much. I decided I could handle the adventure, so we pressed on.

The day was sunny but had a cloudy forecast. I brought my camera and a bottle of water. As a group of seven, we headed out. The weather was gorgeous, the air smelled fresh and crisp, and we often passed other people happily smiling on the trail.

When we came to a little wooden bridge at the base of our incline, we waited for the rest of the group to catch up. We could see they were slowing down and somewhat struggling to match our pace. With a little more conversation, we uncovered that one of the ladies  hiking with us had overcome brain cancer eleven years before. The doctors had done everything they could to remove the tumor. We learned that her balance was severely impaired, but she was hell-bent on making it to the very top of the mountain. We were amazed by her confidence and determination. She had a peaceful demeanor, and we all wanted to help her achieve her goal. I myself had never been on this trail before, so I was unaware of what lay ahead.

For this story’s purpose, I will refer to this beautiful lady as Mrs. R. After the first stretch of our hike, she spent a moment resting on the bench, and from there on out, she was always careful. Mrs. R carried two small bottles of water (one in each hand) during most of the hike in order to help keep herself balanced. If she took a sip from one bottle, she would then quickly uncap the second and drink from it in order to keep both equal in weight

After we all decided that we were rested enough, we set out again. Unsure of what Mrs. R would need from us in terms of assistance, we worked with trial and error. One of our ladies stood behind her with a hand on her back in case she became unstable and started to fall backwards. I think this was an exploration of her capabilities for all of us. I could see that she was really studying what she could and could not do as much as we were. The trail was becoming more treacherous as we continued.

Mrs. R became unstable and started to fall sideways a couple times. I stepped up and held out my arm, she hooked her arm over mine, and together we made a wider and more stable base. This was one of my big spiritual lessons. As we walked, she would propel herself forward with great strength. When she did this, she was incredibly precise with her steps. She had enough energy to propel herself five or six steps forward at a time, but she would then need to stand straight and try to catch herself. This was always when she would start to lose her balance.

I began to consider balance and what it means to me. I had recently heard a friend say that she did not believe in balance, and I had been entertaining this theory for a while. As I watched the inspiration of a lady ascend the mountain, I realized that, just like when using a motorcycle or bike, the trick to balance is in the forward momentum. I started to relate this to my life experience. When I am spiritually stagnant and trying to exert control of over my journey by using sheer willpower to stay balanced, I struggle. On the other hand, when I have a purpose or a destination, I tend to remain harmonious with life. This really put balance into perspective for me. The trick is to keep moving forward and remember to value the journey.

During the hike, I walked slightly hunched over, which caused a lot of discomfort in my back. The trail became scarier as we climbed. The ladies and I took turns standing on either side of Mrs, R. Some places on the trail were only wide enough for one person, making the climb more challenging.

This was also not easy for Mrs. R. I don’t think anyone particularly wants to need that much help to complete a goal. I know how scary it is to feel like I am losing my independence. Depending on a group of people can be very humbling humbling.

As we climbed higher, many of us began to get tired. There were clouds in the distance with showering rain, roaring thunder, and flashing lightning. I found myself becoming very worried, and all kinds of fear creeped in. I could see that the pain in my body was intensifying and that I was not going to be able to help Mrs. R for much longer. We had not even completed half of the trip; we still had the entire incline. I was concerned that if we let go of Mrs. R, she would fall—not just to the ground, but off the mountain. Besides the fear of her getting hurt, I could see that we were all in danger of injury ourselves. I was afraid that the rain would come and make the trail treacherous and slippery. None of us were geared properly for a thunderstorm. I voiced my fears a couple times in hopes that she would change her mind.

I had been letting my fears discourage me from life for way too long. Here I was trying to do the same to her. She was not having any of it. So, we climbed. At each beautiful outlook, we would rest and catch our breath. We could see how far we had climbed, and it was amazing.

We reached the peak three hours after we started our climb. Mrs. R asked, “Are you sure this is the top?” We all laughed as she stood by the sign in her victory pose, her feet were hip width apart and arms in a big V in the air.  we all snapped photos in order to capture this spectacular moment. We had not brought much food because no one had planned on being up there that long. It was just a short hike anyway. What little food people did have, they shared.

Speaking for myself, I was tired and in immense pain. My back was in excruciating pain, and my hips ached and felt stiff. I could tell that Mrs. R was also becoming stiff and pained with each step. After much debate over what trail we would walk down, we started our descent. There were places where the trail was so vertical that it felt like a cliff. There were also loose rocks that we all slipped on many times. It was becoming more dangerous, and we were all tired, worn out, and pained.

Halfway down, the rain hit us. Now, it was not just any rain; it was Alaskan rain. The weather changed from hot Alaskan sun to frigid Alaskan rain. We were tense and shivering. We sent two ladies ahead to start the trucks and turn on the heat. The trail was covered in roots that became deathly slippery in the rain. Attitudes began to plummet. It was getting harder to feel positive and excited. We took turns standing on either side of Mrs. R. A couple of us took fell on the hard, cold trail. After I knew that I could no longer hold anyone up because I could barely do so for myself, one girl and I took off for the trail head. We left behind Mrs. R and the two ladies at her sides. When we got to the trail head, we sent for more women who were at our camp and had not come on the hike. I sat in my friend’s car, shivering and eating chips. A group of ladies rushed down from the camp, blankets and positive energy in hand. We sent them down the trail for the rest of our tribe.

If I had known the details of how this trip was going to unfold, I’m not sure I would have showed up. I’m glad the future is unknown, because I know I would opt out of events and miss those that are deeply profound and wonderful by accident. As I waited for us all to reunite, I realized some more powerful observations. When we work together, we can get through any storm of life, regardless of our physical condition. Not everything needs to feel good to be beneficial to life—my life, someone else’s life, or that of the world. I remembered not to let fear make my decisions. I was reminded that not everything was about me. I felt inspired by Mrs. R’s dedication, strength, inner peace, and enthusiasm.

Cold, tired, hungry, pained, and slightly irritable, we all returned to the camp. Even though I could barely move my body and would physically pay for the trip for a couple days, a real sense of satisfaction came over me. We had done it! We had all done it. Mrs. R could then cross Angel Rock off her bucket list. What an accomplishment. I can only hope that one day I will be as strong as Mrs. R.

I Show Up

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At times, I have thought my stress was being caused either by my medical diagnosis or my physical pain. However, I have come to realize that any stress I feel is caused solely by how I am choosing to think about a certain situation. Therefore, the stress is not caused by circumstances or by the fact that I am in pain, but it comes from how I think about my pain. What do I make my pain mean? This has been a powerful epiphany in my awareness. I have been able to closely monitor my mind and carefully separate facts from opinions concerning my medical issues. The relief has been, without a doubt, invaluable. I have definitely found this easier to do while working one-on-one with someone. Having an outside perspective has been a real game changer.

From all of this, I have found a new calling. I have gained a new level of knowledge and empathy concerning people and the world we live in.  Knowing how pain or a medical diagnosis can make a person crazy has given me new purpose. I say all of this because I have decided to start working one-on-one with people, and I am very excited to do so. I have spent many years working in this type of calling, and I have spent the last couple of years becoming certified and credentialed in wellness coaching. I have also been studying psychology as a college student, and I am excited to one day complete this degree as it lines up nicely with my coaching experiences. I am enthusiastic and equally frightened to move forward to the next level.

When I first started entertaining this idea, an old memory of me trying to run for class office in high school kept popping into my mind. This memory arises when I am scared and effectively reinforces a feeling of fear. At the time, I was feeling scared to put myself “out there.”  Let me explain…

When I was in high school, I ran for class office. I was nowhere ready for a service commitment of this magnitude. I did not have the skill set it required, and I would not have this for many years to come. Nevertheless, I presented myself as an option in front of hundreds of peers at a school assembly. After leaving the stage, I knew I had completely humiliated myself. Fast forward to just a few months ago when I recalled this memory, and the feeling of embarrassment, humility, and shame washed over me.

Here is the kicker; as I examined this memory more and related it to my knowledge today, I found something interesting. I took this memory and instead of myself, I put my daughter in my place. The circumstances stayed the same, but instead of me, it was this beautiful girl I love unconditionally doing the presenting and walking embarrassed from the stage. A completely different feeling washed over me. This new feeling was one of pride. In the new scenario, I was so proud that my daughter had showed up and tried. To fail when trying something new is not a bad thing but a show of courage. See, the universe was never going to let me have something I was not ready for, and that is a good thing. I never would have known, however, if I had not tried. That day, I learned I had more to work on: more inspiration and direction and more truth and knowledge of where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be. That one event helped shape who I am today.

It is interesting how much, unconditional self-love is necessary for success and a healthy mind. All these years, I have interpreted that experience as one of shame instead of courage, gratitude, direction, and pride. Now, when I recall that very same memory, I relate a completely different set of feelings to it. I am finding my courage to move forward in my new endeavors while drawing from that experience. Today, I remember to love myself unconditionally and without regard.

I will never know if I do not try. If my new business is not meant to be, then it will not be. I know it is time to make a difference in this world. I have designed an eight-week program that will help people facing a medical diagnosis or living with pain to increase their quality of life, reduce their pain levels, and rediscover their joy and purpose. This is my calling. Scared or not, I will show up.

I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings about this subject. Thank you so much for all of your continued love and support.

Resistance is Futile.

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I have been thinking a lot about change and resistance to change. When I look at where I am in my life right now, I can’t believe how content I am.  I’m living with and managing chronic pain and I am having more fun than I have in years.  When I found out what all was going on with my body, I was somewhat in shock. Then, the fear that consumed me took over from there.  All I could think about was everything I was losing-like running, for example. People with hip dysplasia are not encouraged to run if we want our hips to last. In my mind, everything I knew was being taken from me.  I felt my career slipping away from me when standing on a ladder for hours became impossible.  I learned about the surgeries and parts of my body that would never be the same.  Things like loss of mobility and scars would permanently change my body and then I would need to grieve those, as well.  Income, independence, relationship dynamics, volunteer work and hobbies, and what had always been, were all slipping away from me.

I failed to accept that some good may come from this transitional time in my life. See, god can bring good from a seemingly bad situation any day.  I really underestimated the power of my god. Now, I am not going to lie, changing all the things I listed above has not been easy.  There has, however, been so much good to come from it.  I am more in tune with my body and have learned how to listen to it.  I don’t feel guilty when I say I can’t attend or won’t make it or if I need to leave early.  I am comfortable being still and lost in thought.  I am comfortable and at peace when I am alone.

Since quitting my career, I have been able to excel in areas of my life that desperately needed attention.  I have focused on learning to cook and provide my family with healthy meals. I also have taken control over our finances and monthly budgeting is now occurring.  I get to be involved in my daughter’s school and extracurricular activities.  Life goes much slower and my stress is much lower.

I find myself with more time to spend in prayers for others. Being less busy means I get to know what is going on with family, friends and loved ones.  I feel like I was not present in my own life. I feel hopeful and excited for the future.  I am willing to try new things today.  I get to have all of this, even with my pain.  I feel so blessed when at the end of a long day I relax on bags of ice, finally grateful because I see what is in my life and not what is missing.

If only I would have had more faith, I think the mental anguish I had put myself in could have been avoided.  There was a time where I felt helpless, hopeless and broken.  I felt like I was losing everything.  That was not the case.  Yes, my life was changing, and there was nothing I could do about it.  No, I don’t like all of the changes that have had to occur.  Now, I know that god did not drop me.  I can see that god was carrying me. I do grasp the silver lining of this whole experience.  I am in a new beginning, not an end.

 

Acceptance is Where Healing Begins

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I have been reflecting on acceptance and how it relates to my body.  I listened to a wise lady who works with people who are overweight.  She shared that people who are overweight never want to accept their body as it is, because they are afraid they will be stuck in that state forever. Like so many other things in life, this works in reverse.  People need to accept their body and its weight the way it is before they can make the changes they want.  I have to accept myself and my body at point A, so I can then get to point B, who I want to become.  I have been pondering what this means to me with my medical issues and pain. I did not want to accept my body with all the pain and problems. I was sure that some surgeon was going to wave his magic doctor wand over me and fix me. I just refused to accept that this was my body.

In my career, I worked with so many people who suffered from their bodies deteriorating.  When I struggled, they offered up many little solutions I could implement that would help. Like stretching, icing, relaxing, diet, yoga, pressure points and hot showers.  There are actually too many to list. I was unwilling to try their ideas, because they seemed too small to help the severity of my problem.  I was just going to fix it, not learn how to live with it.  Well, two back surgeries down the road, and at least two more major surgeries to go, I have begun to accept my situation and body the way it is.  I’m not saying that doctors or surgeries are not a solution. I am not a medical professional. I am saying that I may always have some level of pain and that is ok.

I have accepted my body in its entirety and that has given me the power to accommodate it and make small adjustments without leaving myself in emotional anguish. When I looked at myself as broken or flawed, I felt burdensome and guilty for how I was being forced to live. When I accept myself and god’s plan for me, I find peace in honoring my body.  I don’t feel guilty if my body needs to rest.  I am implementing all of those small suggestions and each one brings my pain level down a little bit. A multitude of small reductions of pain over time adds up to a big difference. Due to lack of acceptance, I was unwilling to hear, let alone try different suggestions. By the way, thank you to everyone who has offered up ideas and suggestions!

If I want to live a pain-free life and I want my loved ones to understand. I want to get back to work. I want to be able to do the things I did before this. If want to be less tired and irritable, I am going to have to accept my body the way it is right now. Accept it and be willing to accommodate my situation. Try ideas and suggestions that seem silly. This will not mean I will be stuck like this forever. This is actually the first step of change.  If I’m miserable and I desire change, I must accept myself as I am. Then, adjust my sails accordingly.

Which Comes First?

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Which comes first?

The last few days have passed in a blur. I put myself into a rut. I spent the days curled up in my bed only to leave when I absolutely had to. My entire spine radiated pain, while my wrists and knees burned and ached. The longer I laid, the worse my pain felt. Yes, it could have just been that my awareness of pain was increased. I did have more time to really “touch base “with my body.

Here is one fact that I know contributed to my experience this past week: I messed up the isolation diet and am starting over. Diet has such an influence over a person’s mind and body that it can simply not be disregarded. Although I only executed the diet for a month, I was feeling much better when I put clean fuel in my body.   Due to the fact that I did not complete the process, I can’t pinpoint the exact culprit that may be contributing to my pain sensations.

During  this last down experience I paid close attention to my mind. Of course, I felt tired and irritable like most people do when they are in pain. I also felt sad to be in this place again. The sadness was prompted from thoughts of guilt-concerning, not adhering to the isolation diet. So, sad because I felt I put myself in this situation, or at least caused more pain than was initially required by my body.

Yesterday, I mustered up all the extra energy I had and forced myself to attend Adapts fitness class. I tried to be as cheerful as I could (which was not much), as I chatted with a lady before class started. I had read about the “facial feedback hypothesis, “which states that smiling when a person is sad can result in higher rates of happiness. It has been proven that this can occur with any part of the body. So, summarized, my emotions affect my body and my body can affect my emotions.  It works as a sort of feedback loop within our body. When this lady asked how I was doing, I groaned quietly under my breath and looked at the floor as I let out a big sigh.

When I looked up and saw her eyes, I asked her, “How do you know if your negative thoughts and emotions have caused pain in your body, or if your body is causing negative thoughts and emotions?”

That is the real question that I have been concerned with these last few days. If I could ascertain which one came first, I would feel more confident in deciding how to mediate the problem. I was so impressed with her answer that I decided to share this with you all.

She said to me, “I work out and if the pain is gone, then I know it was mental.”

This is absolutely true and so deeply profound. If I am feel in pain during or after I exercise, then I know it is just my body acting up. However, if exercise resolves the issue, then I can rest assured that my mind needs to be attended to. If it is my body, then I can implement rest, relaxation techniques, a hot bath, massage and/ or topical treatments.

If my mind needs attention, I will identify negative emotions and the thoughts driving them. I will list my fears and logically analyze which ones are fact and which ones are not. Deciding what thoughts I can change is an important part of this process, so I don’t spend all of my energy trying to force things that I have no power over? I objectively look at which thoughts I have that serve me, and which ones need to go. While I may have a certain thought at times, I do get to choose if I agree with it or not. As I mentioned previously, getting my body moving via walking, yoga or any exercise is essential to mental clarity. I also love the practice of clearing my mind and relaxing my body daily. I feel this helps me regulate my emotions.

Finally, when it comes to mental health, I love to be of service somewhere in the community. Thinking of and helping another person when I feel in peril is very freeing. This act helps put my life and difficulties into perspective.

So, how can you tell which one comes first?