Category: Health

Anything Is Possible In A “How-To” World

Pretty sure we live in the “How To” era. It’s a virtual world of self-help everywhere we turn. How to feel – sleep – eat better, live longer, save money, fight fat – depression – chronic pain, change our DNA, our life, become happy, aware, creative, organized, joyful…or the biggy –  find peace.

Is it working? Maybe. Maybe not.

My kindred-spirited good friend told me she will never find that zen-like state of peace no matter how hard she tries. Why? Because of what she calls a History of Horribleness.

Yea, I get that. Kind of hard to feel the zen when we’ve endured a lot of crazy and it sometimes still surrounds us. Oh she’s happy, but the undercurrent of inner peace? Forget it.

And it’s not just dealing with whatever is going on inside our own life – family, job, health, finances – all our personal “stuff.” There’s crazy stuff happening in the world right outside our front door. Anybody else notice that the outside world is the same, pretty much every day?

We get so caught up in it – all of it. Why do they do this. What are they thinking. Why are they acting like this. What are they doing. When will they fill in the blank. Doesn’t matter who “they” even is.

Life’s intensity can often define the parameters, and it impacts us. We try to explain, understand, make excuses, deal with whatever is happening – from the world-view all the way down to our bird’s-eye view. But sometimes we can’t figure things out. Or know what is really going on. Or worse, change or fix it.

We can’t always choose the parameters. So, Zen is easily thwarted.

But life itself seems to be paradoxical. It’s the ultimate bliss and torture, beauty and heinousness. And we’re supposed to somehow both manage and accept the paradoxes to obtain a sense of peace. How do we choose the parameters?

From the unlimited supply of “how to’s.” And thank goodness there are plenty to choose from. Key word? Choose.

We can choose to see things differently, feel differently and act accordingly no matter who around us doesn’t. We can choose to flow through it all as if the horribleness is just part of it. We can choose to infuse moments of sucky reality with acceptance. We can stay focused on our personal intentions, hopes and dreams in spite of “them” or “it.”

We can “create” with whatever we “choose.” It takes some serious commitment, especially after a history of horribleness. But it’s true. Choosing changes everything. 

Loving that How To.

There Really Isn’t A Magic Pill That Produces Perfect Health

This may go down for me as the year of getting well. That’s my optimistic way of saying since the flu shot or antibiotics or even Purell doesn’t always work, I must be building up my immunity. I’m now on round four of a plague that seems to cycle around bimonthly. I’m no stranger to the chronic infestation of the moment, or chronic anything really – it’s my middle name.

I shared that a couple years ago with a well-known and well-respected women’s health guru who then “prescribed” me some seriously top-shelf multi-vitamins and supplements that she swore would change my life – and I bought right in.

It only took a couple of years to learn that trying to keep up with the rich and famous is just dumb, because the top-dollar price of this magic “prescription” pretty much broke my bank. When you could buy a car with what you’ve spent on daily vitamins, you know it’s time to quit.

But what if I really need them? And how do I really know? I had a lot more energy and my hair and nails grew fast, so I assumed they truly worked. But a cure-all they are not, no matter who says they are. I still wrestle with the same old chronic health issues and seem to catch the nasty bugs in spite of their expensive claims.

So I headed on over to my local Whole Foods and checked out the alternatives. Even those at half-the-cost of the magical ones were just too much to spend. Why are vitamins so expensive? Is this a marketing craze because people are gobbling up the concept of special daily pills in search of perfect health?

I was. And I’m still on the fence. Some of the wisest people I know swear by a daily handful, but what do you do when you can’t afford what they say will make you well? “If you can’t afford to invest in your own health then you don’t really want to heal,” someone said.  Um, that could not be less true.

Life is just a balancing act. Sure it may be easier for those rolling in the dough, but I don’t knock that abundance isn’t always about dollars in the bank. Although when I saw my checking account balance the other day I flashed right back to college…it gave new meaning to the words “lean years.”

So I’m rethinking my path to perfect health. And I’m pretty sure healing comes from within. That’s not to say that daily vitamins wouldn’t help, but I’m changing how I think about how to feel physically good. Because I don’t think it’s all the ingredients in a vitamin as much as the ingredients in life.

Most of us are way ahead of the game because we can afford to eat. We have food and fresh water and even wine – that’s doing pretty well. We have shelter and heat and clothes and jobs – again that’s not too bad. Some of us are even fortunate enough to have unconditional love. No, it doesn’t always pay the bills but it certainly helps the soul. Throw some fun and laughter in and I’m betting that all beats a pill.

I just took my last handful of what I thought would change my life, but real change means making different choices. Then time will tell. Just like recovering from the flu, change takes its own time.

Coping With This Crazy World Takes Courage

I’m trying to ignore the world at large – as if that’s even possible. Sometimes a gal just needs to dive into her inner landscape and find a comfortable spot there, steering clear of external chaos. Honestly, I’m working hard at minding my own business, reaching for happy thoughts, figuring out how to jettison my fibromyalgia so I can get on with the daily task of living and enjoying life, but it’s not happening. Nowhere is safe, and “nowhere” is a pretty big territory.

Until now, chaos and drama lived behind my closed doors and I could escape it “outside.” Growing up it was the breathing life-force in the people around me, and I soaked up that thick air for far too long. It was out of my control as a child, then I stupidly married the very wrong man. When I wised up and corrected that giant error, I tripped into even more chaos with the love of my life’s ex, whose crippling horror was unmatched, until now. Thanks to a few million really naive voting people, the entire world is directly exposed to toxicity beyond measure with America’s new government. It almost feels like a sick, cruel joke-turned-worsening nightmare.

So how do you pay attention to the outside world and maintain your own sense of well-being?

It’s killing my journalist-husband – although he is sort-of out of the field, it’s in his blood because he feels like he’s been personally called-upon to help correct this huge political debacle, like our founding fathers.

But he can’t answer the question, plus he’s got a whopping case of PTSD from the chaos perpetuated by the contemptibles in our life. We’re both pretty tired. I literally just learned (after years of therapy, self-help books and a kick-ass shaman,) how to disengage from their debilitating chaos, and it feels better. Except not anymore, because everywhere we look/see/hear/listen in the real world is  c-r-a-z-y.

So how do you participate in life but disengage from it at the same time?

This is not one of the tools I acquired in my studies along the path to enlightenment. And I’m kind of desperate because we have a long road ahead of us if “we the people” can’t figure out a way to change the powers that be before our one indivisible nation isn’t shattered beyond recognition. Been there done that in my personal life, don’t really want to go through it anymore, and my shaman retired.

So that basically leaves one answer. No, not gratitude, although there’s value in everything and gratitude is key. I think the answer is courage. That’s it. Courage to rise to the occasion of life as one of my favorite gurus says. Courage to speak up, dream big, protect, love, lead, be creative. Do not be detained by the past, or afraid of the future. Courageously get on with the business of your life, despite the odds, and make plans to celebrate. 

Ok.

This Lost And Found Experience Revealed More Than I Thought

dentistNot many people clap and gasp with glee when they are walking by their dentist’s office. But I did. Why? Because I had completely forgotten who my dentist was after leaving town 14 years ago. For the last five months since moving home I have wracked my brain trying to remember and had all but given up. Then there it was. The office door with her name on a big sign, right next to the little neighborhood pub where Sir Husband and I stopped in for a glass of wine last Saturday afternoon.

Stress-induced amnesia will do that – leave gaps in your memory that feel like lost pages in a storybook. My kids say, “Don’t you remember  fill in the blank  Mom?” all the time. <sigh> No. I wish. Clinicians have called it a gift – my lack of memory. Maybe. Finding my dentist did feel like a little miracle. I’ve had a lot of miracle moments since moving home actually – sometimes the Universe does provide, especially when we aren’t looking.

I called the dentist as soon as they opened on Monday morning and lo and behold – they had a cancellation for the next day. It was meant to be. Most days there are so many reasons to be grateful, to see-hear-feel the good, but oddly we usually don’t. How does that happen? It’s there – gratitude – it’s everywhere. Even unexpectedly at the dentist.

life-is-rigged-in-our-favor

“So what happened?” my dentist said to me after giving me a hug and welcoming me back as I got comfortable in the reclining chair.

“Oh,..well…a lot…” I said. “It’s a long story.”

“No really, what happened?” She wheeled her rolling chair back a few inches, put down her arms and looked me square in the eye.

I was trapped. I had to tell her.

My past “story” the one that created the amnesia to begin with is not one I tell anymore. It’s over, and I have spent every, single day trying to heal. Repeating it just makes it come alive again – emotionally and physically – so why tell it? But I had to, she wouldn’t hear otherwise, and she seemed to genuinely care.

see-goodA few sentences in her face and eyes softened into compassion and concern. “I’m so sorry,” she said, wheeling herself back toward my head. “So sorry.”

Never in my life had I been so grateful to be lying there with my mouth open unable to say any more. And while she probed around my teeth, I felt something huge. Relief. At that moment – after I recounted the last horrific several years of my life – I realized I had healed. Okay yea, newly healed, freshly healed, like a delicate pink scar – but I recognized it. It was another miracle.

I had fought so hard for so long that I didn’t even realize that I was fighting my way through something. Truth Bomb guru Danielle LaPorte said this, “….When we’re hauling our psyche up to the next peak of clarity—isn’t healing always really f***ing messy? Do we not become unrecognizable while we are reassembling our identities?” It’s definitely a power moment when we realize chaos has morphed into comfort. “This is what healing looks like.”

That and my teeth apparently are“perfect.”  All in all, not a bad day at the dentist.

miracle-fairy

PS ~ All new blog coming early next year! Change is good! 

Spare Me Your Toxicity, I’ll Take Insight and Kindness Instead

This is the little story that caught my eye on social media the morning after Thanksgiving.

Thinking of the young woman walking in a dress and high heels on the cold Thanksgiving day; the young man that had the nerve to leave her at the gas station when she was in the bathroom; all of the people who passed her by; and my brother and niece who picked her up and went way out of their way to take her home.

Wow. Hmmm.

Until the heartfelt kindness shown by someone’s brother, it’s safe to assume there was no Thanksgiving spirit going on for that woman in the dress and high heels. No feasting on good food, family togetherness or reasons to feel gratitude, seems more like pain and cruelty. There are a good amount of people who don’t enjoy a Normal Rockwell family portrait no matter how much they want it or how hard they wish for it, or even pretend they have it.

shoesThere’s always one, or maybe a few, sitting or standing next to you who make you stop and wonder. You are just trying to live your life happily, peacefully, you know – the way you are entitled to by the simple fact you are alive. But like the noxious smell of gasoline, there are some who make you feel sick.

You ask yourself if it’s you. You look in the mirror again and again, maybe even for years, you have tried to understand why some people don’t see how they come across – or more like won’t see. Because to them it’s you, it’s always you not them. You are the problem no matter what.

But you know deep down in your heart of hearts that just isn’t the case. You’ve worked hard, learned, evolved, grown, and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will likely keep living from their own little closed-up space that prevents them from valuable soul-inspired insight.

It takes work – insight – it’s hard and uncomfortable, it’s so much easier to blame instead of waking up and really seeing who we are and what we are putting out there into the world. It becomes a right-wrong thing. You were wrong so I left you at the gas station. No you were wrong to leave me there.

A few minutes after I saw that little story, I heard a news report that statistics show more and more young people are having heart attacks and strokes. They didn’t say it was due to one particular thing because there are so many thingspeople…situations… that create stress. These physical repercussions, including illnesses like cancer, are sometimes referred to as “wake up calls” to living better – more healthily, more clean, less stress, less toxic whatever it is.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the wake up call came before our life was threatened? How do we feel better in spite of things or people who make us feel sick, who have no interest in addressing their own poison?

We’ll never really know what happened with the woman in the dress and high heels. But when you really think about it, truthfully it’s our journey and ours alone. Thank goodness for kind strangers who stop to lend a hand along the way.

do-what-is-right-for-yourself

 

When Sickness Gets You Down Try Some Flower Power

I’ve done fairly well avoiding the minor plagues my teenager keeps bringing home from school, until last week when I was bed-bound during a wretched sinus infection that took neti-pothold and wouldn’t quit. This one knocked me down. Almost flu-like, I was miserably uncomfortable and losing patience as the days rolled on, cursing the child for rarely washing his hands, or at least not using Purell. I wasn’t alone in this heinous fall bug, it blasted a few I know, and tried to hit Sir Husband too despite his manly-strong immune system and attempts to stave it off.

That’s the thing, I work exceptionally hard to keep illness at bay often without success, unlike my husband who doesn’t give it a thought and rarely gets sick. I’m a Germ Warrior. Un-closeted germaphobe, incessant hand washer, hand-sanitizer user and baby wipe Goddess, I also use all kinds of natural immune-boosting supplements and teas while silently chanting my way through each day with Louise Hay’s Heal Your Life mantras designed for whatever sensation ails me at the moment. I am a big believer in the metaphysical – the relationship between mind and matter. I get sick because I’m “thinking wrong.”

alisonI have friends who rarely, or never get sick. Besides what seems like extraordinary luck, their secret must be “thinking good.” The’ve got that happiness quotient – always optimistic, filled with gratitude, barely any stress – nothing seems to knock them off their game. I’ve tried to be like this but I’m not sure it’s completely in my nature.

So while I was bemoaning my viral misery to a friend, she came to my rescue with what she believes will not only cure sickness, but will cure the underlying root causes. She just returned from a long trip Down Under where she went to do some soul searching of her own and came across an Australian Bush person who believes flowers have powers and wisdom to share.

flower-power“…Each flower in creation must solve the specific problems it confronts in its ecosystem….The solutions flowers develop in response to the problems they face become part of the flower’s architecture…as well as its energetic vibration.”

So essentially – and I never thought of this simplistically complex situation of nature before – in spite of all the challenges of climate, seasons, soils, temperature changes and precipitation, flowers adapt. And that adaptation technique becomes their vibe. And that vibe keeps them healthy…blooming…alive.

Fascinating!  My friend learned other things, like the way these flowers adapt is a teaching mechanism for humans, and used in Oz as flower essence healing remedies. Nature is more than a powerful healer, it’s a teacher too.

jade-plantIn my feverish state I fell asleep reading the links she sent, and had a dream about a Jade plant – the plant that symbolizes prosperity and good luck. It was tiny in my dream, and I held it in the palm of my hand in a heart-shaped pot. It didn’t have any small, pink flowers like it does when it blooms, but I knew in my dream that it would bloom soon.

I’m thinking that’s a really good start.

 

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The Big Reveal: Love Yourself More

What do I miss besides my youthful glow, my grown-up children, and that phrase “you have your whole life ahead of you”? A lot of things actually. Like writing a blog every day. Or being able to eat spicy food. Sometimes I even miss little things about owning a house – mostly the ability to do what I want with the outside decor each season or on holidays, pumpkinswreaths, pumpkins, flowers, even answering the door to trick-or-treaters. Don’t get me wrong, the freedom of condo-living is awesome and I may never again want another piece of the American Pie.

It’s only recently that I’ve come to embrace a lot of things about midlife, and not just dwell on things I miss. All that stuff you hear about getting older is true, including gaining wisdom. But instead of sharing the to-do list of successful aging, or what to put on a bucket list, I’m just going to share the one piece of essential information I now have. It doesn’t cost anything, take any time, it even doesn’t require special skills, knowledge or training. It’s actually something everyone can do.

Love yourself more.

That’s right. That’s it. Love yourself more.

For many of us by the time we get to this midlife turning point we are tired – we feel bogged or beaten down, by life, by others, even by ourselves. We think we haven’t achieved enough, aren’t successful enough, don’t have enough money or the car we hoped for by now, the paid-off mortgage, the retirement fund, many of our dreams are starting to seem like vaporous clouds floating out of reach. Not to mention our body just isn’t what it used to be.

dont-worry-if-someone-doenst-like-youBut I’m here to tell you, nothing will change our past circumstances, and while there is always hope for the future, the most powerful thing we can do is love ourselves as we are in this very moment today, right now. Our health and well being depends on it. By the way, not loving ourselves proves what point and to whom?

It’s not easy. We are a society that focuses on youth, wealth, power, money and looks, and aging gracefully seems impossible. While we can’t fight that reality, we can learn to accept and appreciate ourselves just as we are, no matter what. That perception changes everything.

zuesSir Husband and I are paying attention to the midlife people around us who appear to have this “I Love Me” thing down. They seem happy, well-adjusted, and comfortable inside their own skin. We listen to what they say and watch how they move through life. Sometimes we even ask them what their secret is. Do they look in the mirror every day and say “You are awesome” in a Stuart Smalley affirmation way? Do they imagine themselves as the Greek god Zeus?

stuart-smalley

It’s easy to feel powerless when we’ve got a lot dragging at our feet, and isn’t always easy to shake off. I know a lot of miserable people, I used to be one of them. But what we noticed is that happy people keep their focus away from life’s sludge. They don’t let it invade their personal space, or their minds. Even if their situations are not the way they want them to be, they are ok with a different “different.” We have to see ourselves, and what we want, differently.

What do I really miss? Not realizing I’m worthy and deserving of my own love long before now. It’s truly the undercurrent of happiness.

 

deserve-love

Who Decides Whose Choice It Is? I Do!

good-dayIt’s a good thing I opted to blog weekly instead of daily – some days can certainly prove challenging. We get up, we go about our business, we’re thinking good or not so good depending on our point of reference, then boom. Something happens and our day can totally change.

While I was reveling in an all-good zone last week, I got an emergency call that my mother experienced a life-threatening blip with her serious health issues. Naturally our world came to a roaring halt. From the doctors and nurses on the ICU team, to her family and friends, the seriousness of her situation left a lot of people perplexed. Each person had their own choices to make about how to address her care, and there were plenty of opinions going on.

chill-its-only-chaosDealing with all that entailed wasn’t a choice, but it highlighted the concept of choice itself. I started to wonder if everything in life is a choice. Everything – from choosing how to save a life, to who we vote for in this election, to whether we get cable TV, to where we live, what we wear, drive, eat, focus on, do, work, go, watch, use, think…is everything a choice? Do we really have control over our choices?

Although at different ages we think differently about our ability to choose, I recently realized that I grew up believing my choices were dictated by the world around me, and were out of some kind of obligation to others before self. For my millennial kids of course the reverse is true. Historically, choices were not always a matter of choice, but in each generation the concept of choice seems to subtly shift.

The trend now is toward each of us having authority over our own life, taking care of ourselves. The “put your oxygen mask on first” rule on airplanes now also applies on the take-care-of-yourselfground. We have to help ourselves before we can help anyone else. But I have always been so selfless, I usually run out of air.

Self-care first was a foreign concept to me until this recent universal shift – memes popping up, wisdom gurus all over the Internet and TV, books, conventions, society opening the door for transformation on the concept of choices. From the food we put in our mouths to the way we think – apparently we can make decisions that impact all aspects of our life.

The problem is the emotions that go with choices are complicated and the choice isn’t always clear. We can make any decision we want but then decisions can be laden with guilt or frustration, worry, wonder or fear. Not to mention consequences. If we can learn to manage the emotions, we may be better able to choose.

Interestingly my mother either in spite of or because of her health issues, has nailed the ability to confidently make choices that are best for her. And she miraculously did it again last week when she pulled through her latest blip.

I still haven’t learned where to draw the line when it comes to who comes first. But maybe I’m overthinking it, because the choice I’ve learned is mine.

 

choices

 

Toxic People Feel A Lot Like Getting A Nasty Flu

flu-seasonHere we are at flu season again, when all of those toxic germs decide to invade. It comes on strong some years, jumping in before we’ve even gotten our flu shot. This happened to both a friend and my son – the flu virus before fall rolls around sounds pretty toxic to me.

I am quite familiar with toxicity. Not just from years of my own health’s invasions, but from being around emotional toxicity too. That’s the worst form because it can latch on and never quit. Not like a sickness that eventually goes away, emotionally toxicity when it’s in our airspace can cause some serious harm.

toxic

Nobody can really identify what causes a toxic personality – whether it’s short lived from some temporary circumstance or if it’s truly inborn – but it’s identifiable and real because it’s something when we’re around it we feel. It’s as draining and debilitating as a virus or the flu. And like that, everybody encounters it at some point in their lives.

its-about-themSir Husband and I were recently exposed to an invasion of emotional toxicity from someone, and for years during each interaction with her we got sucked into a dark place.

That feeling of being pulled into a pit that makes us feel sick, that’s what is referred to as toxic. We don’t need a Merriam-Webster definition, what defines toxic is strictly personal. We know it when we feel it, like getting an unwelcome shot.

It doesn’t matter the reasons or the rationale, realistically dealing with a toxic personality is hard, ugly, it’s stressful and it hurts. But how do we get away from it when an unhealthy entanglement runs deep? It’s not so easy to do. Or is it?

drive-us-crazy

We go through life with our belief system of what is or isn’t right, what should or shouldn’t be, we feel good or bad based on our situations, we work to balance our external world with our internal one – it’s a ongoing process at best. But when someone tries to manipulate or force their beliefs on us, or tries to make us be someone we’re not, demand we comply with them, judge us for being ourselves, and our lives conflict to the point we feel sick, something has to change.

When they won’t shift their perception – and usually they won’t – we have to. I might add that to them it’s us who won’t shift ours, and that’s perfectly fine. So how do we deal with people who feel toxic? We change the way we think.

We can’t reverse time or the relationships we’ve had, but we can change the story that reels through our head about whatever doesn’t feel right. We don’t have to keep reading old pages and chapters that don’t feel good, instead we can close the book. They may keep the old story going, but we don’t have to engage.

freedom

When it comes to people in our lives, it’s up to us how we proceed, and when necessary, even opt out. There is no antidote, no shot, no medicine that will remove someone who feels emotionally toxic to us, we have to do it ourselves. We always choose to fight the flu, but toxic people? That’s up to you.

 

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Being Extreme Can Feel Uncomfortable Until We Balance Out

bathroom-wisdomDon’t you hate when you are hanging out with your husband, having a glass of wine and relaxing because your kid is on a sleepover and you finally get some alone time…then you get a text from your kid that he hasn’t pooped in seven days and now he’s suddenly freaking out?

Don’t be grossed out, everybody poops. And sometimes of course, they don’t. He has been on a ketosis diet, an all-protein plan for several weeks now, without my confident support. It’s not that I didn’t think he could do it – it’s that cutting out all carbs and only eating protein seems a bit extreme and potentially unsafe. Not to mention he didn’t tell me his dilemma before he was emergency room bound.

teaSo I told him to immediately drink some warm laxative tea. I’m not into chemical anything – food, beverages, medicine, toiletries – I prefer the more natural stuff. But I’m not a barefoot hippie either, I think there’s a middle ground. Eventually we had to level up with a chemical brand so the poor kid could go. But the whole thing reminded me that extremity is not the best idea.

I can speak to this, because around his same age I was pretty extreme too. I tried so many radical diets I ended up with a whopping case of bulimia that changed extrememy digestive tract forever. It took years for my body to readjust, and it’s still not right, so I take extreme things pretty seriously. Of course he thinks he’s smarter than I, and that may very well be the case. He’s not alone, we all try extreme things, that’s just a part of life.

All-nighters, speed driving, alcohol binging, crazy exercise, shopping sprees, the list goes on and on. We even do extreme things that are “healthy,” like high mileage marathon running or that hot/cold plunge technique where we go from a sauna to an icy cold shower. Liquid cleanses…colonoscopy preps…how can these be good?

What do we really get out of extreming it besides some hard-earned lessons? Isn’t life supposed to be about balance and walking a neutral fine line? This goes for emotions too – extreme anger, extreme fear, I suppose even extreme happiness can’t be all that good. What happens to our body’s cellular state when we are swinging on the edge? What happens to our mind? It’s connected too.

balanced

My kid has lost weight on this un-balanced diet, but he has also thrown off his colon and even his emotions a bit. He’s fairly irritable and jumpy – of course – he needs a few healthy carbs.

When we spend too much time focused on one particular way of doing things, one concept or idea, one path – even when it’s good it might lead to something bad. Sure we can redirect our course, but some damage may already be done.

Although my son’s situation resolved, he’s back on his all-protein kick. At this point there’s not much I can do except stay neutral while he figures it out. Sometimes it takes something extreme to see that we’re being extreme, like a belly of piled up poop. Life has a way of showing us how to find our balance too.

fairy-meditation

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