reclaiming health where to start

Welcome! Today is the first installment of a 5 part series entitled "Reclaiming Your Health: Where To Start."  Besides my own journey, I find myself in the path of so many others who are suffering from chronic illness or pain. It is a frustrating road and at times can feel so isolating but there is a wide community of people who are making their way through illness, learning together, supporting each other.  I want to welcome you to that community and encourage you to keep seeking wisdom.  Don't give up, help will find you!

Let's journey on together, shall we?

1deepbreathin

 Reclaiming Your Health: 1- Deep Breath In, Let It Out Slowly

Some of you will find this first step incredibly freeing.  Calming.  Peace in the storm.  Others of you are secretly yelling at me, "I want answers now!"  I've been on both sides of that coin.  I've been on the side that wants to curl up in fetal position with my blankie and have someone tell me that everything is going to be ok.  I've also been on the side that is angry, sick & tired of being sick & tired and just wants the magic pill or magic blood test that will finally fix everything.

Either way, you need to stop and take a deep breath.

If you can I would like you to physically do this, but at the very least, in your imagination I want to you to close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose and then let it out slowly through your mouth.  Do it a few times.  Let your shoulders relax, rest your heart and your mind.  Feel the hope and encouragement sink into your soul like a healing balm.

This journey is not a sprint.  I wouldn't really call it a marathon either, although it can feel that way, for sure.  It's more like a wandering, maze of an adventure that you didn't sign up for but are now trying to find a way out of.  At times it's a walk down a well laid path with lots of water and food along the way to refresh you.  Other times its a hike through the wilderness where water is scarce and you are a little scared you might not make it over the next hill.  At times the way to go will be clear and other times you will feel a little lost.

You've been through so much already, it's ok to recognize that.  It's important to recognize it.  Some of you need to give yourself permission to have a good cry over the unfairness of it all.  You were used to "doing it all" and now you're reduced to doing the bare minimum.  You may have to learn a new "normal."  Your old life is just that, old.  Wave goodbye to it as you set out on this new journey.  Blow it some kisses and say thank you for the years it got you through.  Then embrace the new season that you are in today.  It may not be what you had planned, but I promise it can teach you so many wonderful things and bring so many amazing people your way.

Attention perfectionists and control freaks: let it go. You will not be able to control this journey.  If you could, you would have healed yourself by now.  Your dedicated, persistent nature will serve you well on this long journey, but now you need to adopt patience and the ability to accept the things you cannot change. You might get off course and that's ok.  When you're ready, just get back on the trail. If you find yourself up against a road block, instead of fighting it stop and reflect what you can learn from it.  Take it as a signal to stop and rest.  Refuel.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.

Make a pact with yourself right now that you will pace yourself on this journey.  There will be times of fast and furious learning, researching, testing and seeking.  But there will also be times of rest, healing, listening and community. They are both important but our tendency is to want to push, push, push towards the goal.  That's a shortcut to disaster.  Your body will give you cues when it's time to trudge forward in search of the answers.  It will also alert you to when you need to rest and it will not be put off.  Rest is not weakness.

Rest is not weakness.

Lastly, I want to caution you from going into a deprivation mindset.  You will be making some changes along the way: dietary, medical, relationship-wise, etc.  You may have to stop eating things you enjoy in order to give your body a chance to heal.  Or maybe you will have to limit your social calendar to allow for quiet rest at home.  Instead of focusing on these as deprivations, see them as opportunities to thrive in other ways.  Just because you are sick or in pain does not mean that you can't still have a full life.  A life that is full of joy.  A life that thrives in the wilderness just like an oasis in the desert.

Seek out the things that bring restoration, hope and love into your life.  Open your heart up to new ways to grow.  When you set your mind towards an attitude thriving, you might be amazed at the adventures you can have.  You might still be sick or in pain, but that doesn't mean you can't still find beauty all around you.  That beauty will refresh you.  Drink it in and thrive.

Are you ready?  Deep breath in...


Thanks so much for stopping by and following with me on this series.  Part 2 will be available soon!  Oh, and if you know someone who is suffering with chronic illness that needs some encouragement, please share this series with them.

1deepbreathin

reclaiming health where to startIn the fall of 2013 many of you joined me for a 30 day writing series called "30 Days To Surviving Chronic Illness."  I shared some of my own health struggles from the past 15+ years and some of the tips/tools I've found helpful.  I was also blessed with some guest writing by acquaintances of mine who have been on their own health journeys.  That 30 Day series is still available as a PDF, totally free.  Or you can read the whole series online here. I update it occasionally and also set up a wellness page that you can access above.

During the writing of that 30 day series I got really sick again.  Sicker than I was before; I didn't even think that was possible.  I found myself re-reading my own 30 day series for advise and encouragement.  I had to remind myself of what steps to take, what not to do, and mostly  just hang on tight because although I have lived with chronic illness for a long time, I also believe in healing.  I believe in answers.  I believe in hope.

Am I still sick?  Yep.  But I'm also a little better.  I've also learned a few new things about my body and what it requires.  I've talked to countless others on this chronic illness journey and gained wisdom from them.  And I fight on.

So a few weeks ago I decided it's time for a new series.  Not just for other people to read but because I need to be reminded constantly of how to get on and stay on the path to wellness.

This will not be a 30 day series. Heavens, I cannot put myself through that again!

This new series will be called "Reclaiming Your Health: Where To Start." There will be 5 parts and I will release them as soon as they are completed but since one of my main triggers is stress, I'm not holding myself to any schedule.  The goal is one part per week, we shall see.

I am also toying with the idea of creating an audio version of each week's points that will go into a little more detail and possibly interview some super smart people.  There is A LOT of information to share, but let's face it, attention spans are short these days and that means articles need to be short and to the point.  If you are interested in an audio version of this series please let me know!

Thanks to all of you who have shared your stories with me, cheered me on my journey and passed on the last series with those who desperately needed a shot of hope.  You bless my life every day.

More to come soon!
~Carey

PS:  As luck would have it, this week Melody Ross of Brave Girls Club  has released Part One of her own health journey.  Melody has also dealt with chronic illness in recent years and is sharing the deep wisdom she has learned along the way.  If you are a woman I highly recommend jumping over to Brave Girls Club and catching up on what Melody has to say, your soul will be forever changed.

reclaiming your health where to start

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From my family to yours, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

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If I'm being completely honest, I don't love the Fall. <gasp!!> I know, I know! While everyone else is running around proclaiming their excitement for layered clothing, pumpkin-spice-everything and stew I'm plunging into the abyss of missing the summer sun, flip flops and the perfect excuse to eat popsicles for dinner. Plus, my body just doesn't tolerate the cooler weather.  I will try to have a good attitude this year, but I can't make any promises.

That said, here's a little bit of randomness to start the season off:

  • It's October 1st.  IT'S OCTOBER FIRST!!!! I have no idea where the year went.  And it's only 12 weeks til Christmas! I will not stress out... I will not stress out.... I will not....
  • I am not participating in the 31 Days writing challenge this year.  There is just too much on my plate and my brain is elsewhere BUT I would highly recommend popping over to the website and checking out all the great topics being covered this year.  One that I'm going to be reading is by Corie Clark (fellow #STARTer/D&Ber) entitled Choose Simplicity.  You know how much I love the Simple Things!
  • Been missing the recipes?  Here's one for you: baked sweet potato, pat of butter, sprinkle of chipotle powder and salt, topped with crumbled bacon.  You're welcome.
  • I've been following Modern Mrs. Darcy this year and she gives THE BEST book recommendations.  She recently started a page on her website that highlights current Kindle sales.  I got a $20 gift card to Amazon for my birthday and by watching for the sales I was able to buy at least twice as many books with that gift card.  I don't always love to read electronically, sometimes I want to hold a real book in my hands.  But when you compare the price of a regular book for $9.99 and an ebook on sale for $1.99, sometimes an electronic version will do just fine.
  • I stumbled on this  Free Little Library website and mentioned it to my book-loving-friend Penny.  She is going to set one up at her house! The local school bus stop is by her house so she is going to make hers kids-focused.  I'm so excited to see how it turns out and to contribute some books to little readers.  The website has a map of other "certified" free little libraries so be sure to see if there is one near you!
  • Speaking of books, I finished Rainbow Rowell's Attachments, which was entertaining but not nearly as engrossing as Eleanor & Park was.  I'm in the middle of Beautiful Ruins which so far is living up to the hype and next will be moving on to Ken Follett's Winter of the World, which is a sequel to Fall of Giants about World War I.  So far, I've loved everything I've read by Ken Follett and if you haven't tried any of his work yet, I'd suggest starting with  Pillars of the Earth.  It's been a fiction kind of month, maybe I will tackle some non-fiction next.

I hope your Autumn season is off to a great start!  I going to buy a new coat.

 

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Just a few nibbles to tide you over, until I decide to write a real post.  Whenever that may be.

  • This weekend, I went into the danger zone.  A "stunk" got caught in the raccoon trap, causing all sorts of stinky mayhem.  Country girls can survive, that's all I'm say'in.  On a side note, skunks are a lot prettier up close than I thought they would be.  Also, they smell even worse than I ever imagined.
  • The She Reads Truth app has finally launched and it is great!  They have some free studies, some lightly priced ones, plus free scripture lock screens and more.  It's a great way to get your daily Bible reading in and learn along side a wonderful community of gals.
  • I am fascinated by Tsh's capsule wardrobe for their upcoming world-wide tour.  She and her family are hitting the road for one whole year of travel and she has her very limited wardrobe all ready to go. I don't know if I could pull that off!
  • I desperately need these sticky page flags!   I might need these as well.  And since we're add it, might as well throw these in too.
  • I wish I had never discovered this, because now I want to spread it on everything.
  • I just finished Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Through the first couple pages I was thinking, "I don't know about this...".  Then I got sucked into the vortex and when it ended I was screaming, "Nooooooo!!!!!"  It's that good. (warning: it contains language and some dark (but real) subject matter; parents preview it before letting your teens read it.)
  • Every weekend I intend to rent a movie.  But then I start strolling through my Netflix queue, watch 5 documentaries and never get around to picking a movie!  I need some recommendations!

Seriously, I need your movie suggestions so next weekend I don't end up watching 15 Secrets of the Vatican.

 

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2 Comments

 

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Here are some left-overs from the past few weeks:

  • As you can see from the above photo, the raccoons are back.  Dirty little thieves.
  • I added a board to my Pinterest called Color Love.  A theme is becoming increasingly clear.... I might be mildly obsessed with shades of blue and green.
  • In the summer, all I want for breakfast, lunch and dinner is popsicles.  I think this one sounds dee-vine.
  • Everyone is talking about the tragic loss of Robin Williams.  Some kind words, some not-so-kind words.  Grace people, grace.  Also, we lost Lauren Bacall who is one of my all time favorites.  She was tough & elegant, sultry & smart.  One classy lady.  The world feels a little duller without them both.
  • My sister started a mobile spray tanning business this summer.  All organic, paraben free, etc.  The color is amazing and fades very nicely. You can see her FB page here.
  • Another sister, niece and I went to see the musical Brigadoon at the local round-about theater.  We had so much fun!  It always makes me laugh when people are standing 2 inches from each other's faces and belting out show-tunes.  Try doing that in real life.
  • Although I can only have dairy about once a week, I have a new favorite yogurt.  I'm not sure what "French style" means except yummy.
  • Mandi over at Vintage Revivals is over-hauling a little camper and I can't wait to see how it turns out.  She has added that blue/green penny tile that I love so much.
  • I've been burning through the books this summer!  I'm in the middle of The Rosie Project, but finished Where'd You Go Bernadette, Your Personal Paleo Code, Nom-Nom Paleo and Practical Paleo.   Yes, I am feeling a little better since switching to *mostly* Paleo.  You can find some of my other read and to-read lists over at Good Reads.
  • Can you guess which one I want?  Although, they are all darling.

That's it for this week, I hope you enjoy your weekend.  I'll be out trapping raccoons.

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It's midyear, I just passed another birthday and it seems like as good a time as any to stop and take stock (inspiration from this site), reflect a little, give you a sneak peak into my day.  If you would like to join me you can share your list on the FB Page!

Making : Angel wings. No, that's not a metaphor for anything, it's part of an art course I'm re-taking this summer.  They are about 2 feet long, made of wood joining biscuits (I have no idea what they are really for).

Cooking : Pesto.  Although, I guess that doesn't technically count as "cooking" since it's just a matter of tossing all the ingredients in the food processor but I harvested my basil this week so pesto-making is on the list tonight.  As for real cooking, I plan to make some bone broth in the pressure cooker this weekend.  

Drinking : Coffee, decaf. With a tiny bit of creamer.  I really need to stop using creamer (nothing but chemicals) but its a tough habit to break.
Reading:  Oh boy, this is a tough one to answer because I'm always in the middle of about 7 books at a time.  Today I will finish The Happiness Project, which was a great read!
Wanting: To start working out again, for reals.  Not just physical therapy.  Sigh...
Looking: At the mess of half-finished art projects on my desk.  Focus, Carey, focus!
Playing: 2048 app.  So simple, so addictive.
Wasting: 2 serrano peppers in the crisper.  Let's face it, there's only so many things you can do with hot peppers.
Sewing: Nada. I only sew when I absolutely must.
Wishing: The next season of Nashville was on. I binge-watched the first 2 seasons and now I'm impatiently waiting.
Enjoying: Summer.  Even when it's "too hot", I'm at my best in the summer months.
Waiting: Ina's got a new book coming out this fall!
Liking: Stitcher.  I also use Instacast to listen to podcasts, but Stitcher has some great features as well.
Wondering: Why in the heck I can't get those first two paragraphs single spaced! These are the things that drive me crazy.
Loving: My new, red, 20 oz Klean Kanteen.  Klean Kanteens are the best! #kleankanteen

Hoping:
 This next 6 months brings some clarity as to why my body keeps shutting down.
Marveling: At how much food I have grown over the past year.  It has it's ups and downs but overall, my garden rocks!
Needing: To remember to take all my supplements.  I always forget something!
Smelling:  The coffee I'm drinking.
Wearing: Skinny jeans, black peasant-ish top, black flats. Pretty standard uniform for me during the week.
Following: Wellness Mama, Chris Kresser & Liz Wolfe.
Noticing: I need to give my fingernails some attention this weekend. Maybe a coat or two of bright blue polish?
Knowing: It will all work out somehow.
Thinking: How I won the Family & Friends Lottery.  They really are the best.
Feeling: I haven't felt well all year.  My body needs a serious reset.
Bookmarking: A bunch of Paleo recipes.  I'm not really a 'Paleo" zealot, but I need to avoid the high-inflammatory foods for a while and since there are so many great recipes floating around these days that just happened to also be Paleo, it will make meals easier.
Opening: My order from Sephora came in! I ran out of concealer weeks ago but I waited to re-order so I could cash in on my birthday month freebies.
Giggling:  I'm not much of a giggler.

3 Comments

skeleton2

I have dealt with chronic illness for about 15 years now and after all this time, I have come to understand this truth...

The problem with chronic illness is that you get sick.

Profound, right? Ok, let me narrow it down a little more:

  • symptoms you thought you conquered ten years ago suddenly come back with a vengeance.
  • just when you think you have experienced every symptom in the book, a new one pops up.
  • one day you feel great, the next day you wake up feeling like you were run over by a rice harvester.  For you city-folk, a rice harvester looks like this:
  • even "fun" events can trigger illness.
  • your previous diagnosis suddenly doesn't fit anymore.
  • your best laid plans are pointless because you have no idea how your body is going to feel next Tuesday.
  • medicines or treatments that used to work suddenly do not work any more.
  • you want to go out and do fun things with fun people BUT INSTEAD your body will only allow you enough energy to drive home from work, plop down on the couch and cry.
  • your. brain. is. dead.

Last fall I was feeling better than I had felt in a long time.  Not perfect, but much better.  Then right in the middle of my 31 Day series, it all slammed back at me again.  I knew this might happen, after all, pushing myself physically or mentally wears me out and always makes me "flare up."  But this was more than a few days of tired.  It was a complete resurgence of every bad symptom that started 15 years ago.

I thought I could just take a few weeks and rest then things would settle down.  They didn't.  So more tests, more meds, more protocols.  More research, lots more reading.  Lots more rest.  And I re-read my own advice from the 31 Days.  It was such a great reminder of what I needed to do, or not do, to survive the storm.

Today I'm a little better than I was over the winter.  I think the warmer weather and longer days help. I'm also figuring out which foods cause which symptoms so I've been playing with my diet a lot (If you were wondering what happened to the Friday Recipes, I'm not doing much cooking right now).  Although I'm still not able to work out much, I have a new physical therapist and saw significant improvements in my knee from the very first week.

basil pots

And my garden... my beloved garden.  The garden is so therapeutic for me, perhaps because my mother and I spent a lot of time in it, but I do so much love puttering around out there, watching things grow. BTW: you can catch the play-by-play garden fun over on Instagram.

I did manage to get the 31 Day guide edited (mostly) and set up a whole page just for Wellness resources.  You can download the guide for free or scroll through the ever growing resource list here.

Happy weekend everyone, do something that makes you happy!

1 Comment

molasses crinkles

 

I'm sharing a family recipe over at my friend Becky's blog "The Last Jar"!  Don't miss out on this recipe, it is one of my favorites, especially around the holidays.

molasses crinkles

This recipe comes together quickly and has a small list of ingredients that pack a spicy punch.

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I hope you'll hop on over to The Last Jar and grab this recipe and take a look around at the other terrific recipes on Becky's site.

cookies on porch for p

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 I guess I forgot to tell you... I'm on a short sabbatical.  Just for a little bit, I needed a rest.

You realize, of course, that when you decide to write a 31 day survival guide on surviving chronic illness your own body is going to revolt.  At the very beginning of the series my hormones went south, which made writing for 31 days straight a lot harder than it should have been; then my back started acting up which lead to last weekend's total dependence on Vicodin.  It's all a blur.

So the past couple weeks and for the next few days I am in the middle of editing the 31 Day series and formatting it into a PDF so everyone will be able to download it, print it, share it, add it to their favorite e-reader, etc.  I'm also designing a special page on the site just for Chronic Illness.  I want you to be able to find the resources, whenever you need them.

I'm also writing a guest post for one of my foodie-friends that will be posted later this month.  I'll let you know when that happens.  Oooh, and another friend is releasing his e-book any day and yours-truly contributed a couple sentences to that.

So while it may seem there's not much going on here, there's a lot going on behind the scenes.  Check back soon, we're just getting started!