A Night of Inspiration

Last night, my son and I went and saw his favorite band, Imagine Dragons live.  The tickets were his birthday present this year.  As a bonus, Grace Vanderwaal was opening for them.  I love singer/songwriter-type music and Grace, so I was excited! Little did I know how touched I would be by the entire show.

Grace Vanderwaal

As I wrote about Grace in my Instagram post (you can follow me at peaceful.jellyfish) earlier today, “If you’ve never heard of Grace Vanderwaal, her music career started and blew up when she got the golden buzzer on America’s Got Talent when she sang and played ukulele for a song she had written herself, “I Don’t Know My Name”.  Grace went on to win the competition.  She was 12 years old at that time.  My son introduced Grace to me last year when he showed me her performance of “I Don’t Know My Name”.  I cried.  I’m not sure why, but when I see her perform, I cry.  I cried last night.  Maybe it’s because her soulful voice and lyrics are much beyond her years and strike a chord in me, or maybe it’s because I love the way she followed her bliss to learn the ukulele and sing.  Maybe it’s a combo of both.  I am in awe of Grace.  She’s now 14 years old and she’s opening for bands like Imagine Dragons for two sold out shows in Los Angeles.  She felt a calling to learn the ukulele and sing and she pushed to have her parents get her a ukulele against their judgement.  She did not listen to people who questioned her dreams.  She did not stop at just learning how to play the ukulele, but went even further by competing and winning a national talent competition.  How’s that for determination and bravery?!  And at TWELVE YEARS OLD!!  We can all learn a lot from Grace.  I am so grateful to have seen her live.  She’s a beautiful old soul.”

Imagine Dragons

Next up was Imagine Dragons.  I was moved to tears several times by what the lead singer, Dan Reynolds, had to say.  You could feel the genuine love pour from his heart as he spoke about issues such as equal rights and support of the LGBT+ community, not allowing our minds to be put in a box and instead seeking freedom for ourselves, and also about the problem we have in this country of making depression a taboo subject.  Wow.  To say the least, his compassion was touching, especially given the fact that I, too, hold these issues close to my heart.

Here is a video of what Dan had to say regarding depression: (it comes in between the music). I am so glad that I happened to be recording when he said this, so that I can share his very important message with others who need to hear it.

 

 

If you’ve been reading along on my blogging journey of almost a year, then you know that I’ve spoken about my own history with depression.

What Dan had to say last night reminded me of how far I’ve come. He made me think back to my years of depression with a lighter heart. I realized that while I don’t feel as much of the stigma associated with my history of depression, that there are others out there who do. The people currently struggling with depression need those of us who have been there and gotten through it to speak out. We need to show them that they have nothing to be ashamed of, and that more people close to them than they can even imagine have been affected by severe depression and have come out on the other side, the side with the light at the end of the sometimes very dark tunnel.

Please join me for a Facebook Live July 23, 2018 at 0900 PST USA on my Peaceful Jellyfish Facebook Page.

I am going to share more of my story about how my severe depression, suicidal ideation, and also the depression and suicide within my group of friends and family has impacted my life.

Catch the replay of my FB Live video HERE!

I would love it if you could join me!

As I have said before, though our journeys may look different, we are all human and so we all struggle with the same emotions and baggage. At the heart of it all, we are all the same, none “better” or “worse” than the next.

Tonight, I dug a little deeper into Dan Reynold’s history and found that he has been struggling with the pain of an autoimmune disease for years and has finally gotten his health back. It made sense then that he joyously ran around the stage in just shorts, so grateful to be alive and no longer in pain. Dan and I share the connection of a past filled with severe depression, chronic illness, and pain.

I don’t think an understanding deeper than that can exist between two humans.

Can you also relate? How comforting is it when you hear that others have been through what you are going through?

Please share your own story in the comments below or email me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com, because I’d love to connect with you!

I also discovered that Dan is Mormon which makes it even more impactful that he speaks so strongly of equal rights for the LGBT+ community. Up until quite recently, the Mormon church as a whole completely shunned people who were LGBT+ so that many were forced to leave their families behind after being disowned, or keep their orientation a secret and marry someone of the opposite sex. Many young people have taken their own lives because the stress of losing family and/or living against their heart was too much for them to handle. I was happy to hear Dan speak out. We all deserve equal rights.  We all deserve love.

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it! Also, please pass on to anyone you know who may benefit from hearing mine and Dan’s messages regarding severe depression in our lives. Thank you!

 

My Adventure into Reiki and Joy Coaching

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After experiencing the healing energy of my optometrist, his wife and daughter a few years ago (yes, my optometrist and his family are AMAZING people!), I began to be urged to pursue training in energy healing of some kind, so that I could have that same ability to make people feel better.  As I began to speak of this to friends and family, multiple people mentioned Reiki by name.  Then, throughout 2017, I was getting message after message in various forms to become a Reiki Practitioner, which I took as a sign, so I worked to get my Reiki I and II certifications. Upon working with my life coach, doing some free-form writing, and focusing on my passion for life, the words Joy Coach were born.  And thus I was sent catapulted into a new life, closer and closer to following my soul’s purpose.

I believe that aside from being a way to wake us up, that we experience the challenges that we do, so that we can triumphantly overcome them and use our experience to help other people.  Sometimes helping other people is an active role, and sometimes helping can mean following our bliss to living our best life and showing others what is possible.  It’s why I started this blog.  To connect, and share, and show other people that they CAN heal and get their life back.  In fact, after a big, overwhelming challenge like chronic illness, you have the ability to get an even better life back than you had before you got knocked down, because with newfound health after illness comes immense, newfound joy and gratitude for the things that you used to take for granted.

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a form of energy healing that came into existence in the 1920’s in Japan by Mikao Usui. Broken down, Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is Rei = universal and Ki = Life energy.  So essentially, Reiki is the life force energy that flows through everything.  Everything in our Universe is made of energy, including you and I.  It’s our limited five senses that perceive things as either solid, liquid, or gas.  Reiki is something that is passed down from Reiki Masters that can be traced back to Mikao Usui.  As someone attuned to practice Reiki, I can use a light touch, laying of hands method directly on or hovering just above a person, or as a distance healing to anyone anywhere in the world, to act as a conduit for more life force energy to be passed through me to the person, animal, or thing that I am sending Reiki to.  The idea of distance Reiki can be a tricky thing for people to grasp since most of us have spent our entire lives believing only what we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell.  But there is a lot more to this world that what our five senses can perceive, and that includes the energy.  Various forms of energy healing have been practiced for thousands of years.  Essentially in sending you Reiki energy, I act as a conduit through which energy can be passed, so that your body is able to heal itself.

I have a lot to write yet about alternative therapies that have made my life better since the days when I was very ill from Lyme Disease.  Suffice it to say for now that in my own experience, it has been alternative therapies that have helped me heal the most thoroughly, body, mind, and spirit.  So, I am really excited that I can be a conduit for the healing energy of Reiki for others.

Distance Reiki

I am focusing my efforts on using distance Reiki on the people I work with, because not only is Reiki just as effective if done at a distance as it is in person, but that means that people already working around illness and/or multiple doctor’s appointments can receive Reiki in the comfort in their own home anywhere in the world!  You don’t have to worry about fitting an appointment for Reiki with me in around your busy schedule.  Though it can be beneficial to set up a time when you can relax and really allow yourself to receive the energy.

What can Reiki do for you?

Reiki is a very calming therapy known to help alleviate stress and anxiety, which are things that affect us all.  The energy goes where it is needed by the person, animal, or thing (like plants for example) for their highest good.  It has been shown to help with chronic pain, faster healing after surgeries, to help alleviate symptoms created by chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, cancer, skin problems, broken bones, fatigue, sore throat, flu, insomnia, and impotence, and can help make other therapies more effective.  Reiki has been extensively studied and is showing up in hospitals as the health care industry begins to realize Reiki’s potential for aiding in healing without the side effects that many medications deliver.  (See article about Reiki in Hospitals HERE.)  With my background as a Registered Nurse on an oncology unit, when I first began this journey, I became very interested in how Reiki could be of benefit to those making the transition from this life.  When I began to research, I found countless articles on the subject of using Reiki with hospice patients.  (like the one HERE)  Reiki can also help to raise our vibration during our awakening process.  Reiki energy can remove blocks of energy in our bodies and can clear and strengthen our seven chakras, ie energy centers in our bodies.  Reiki can also clear blocked energy in our auras which can prevent physical ailments before they even occur.

My Experience with Reiki

For myself, I have noticed that as I continue to practice Reiki on myself, I am able to fall asleep faster and sleep better at night.  I also notice stress affecting me less than it used to.  My mind is calmer.  I have used Reiki to effectively relieve my own headaches.  I have also noticed less blocked energy in my heart chakra which has opened me up to feeling more love for myself and others.  My connection with my higher self has gotten a lot stronger, so my intuition and sense of trust in what I receive from it has been heightened.  I find that it has also positively affected my throat chakra as I notice myself speaking up for myself more in situations where I would have remained quiet before.  Recently, I used it prior to being out on a boat in the ocean all day to snorkel with whale sharks, because I am prone to seasickness even with medication, and was surprised to find that I never felt sick!  In many ways, I believe that I was primarily guided to Reiki, so that I could use it to further heal myself.

Reiki energy always helps in some way, and never hurts because it is guided by spiritual consciousness which is always guiding us to our highest good.  As the vessel through which the energy passes, I do not control where the energy goes once I pass it onto you, but can get a lot of information about where the energy is needed during the session.  For instance, I can intuitively pick up on the fact that someone I am treating has a headache, or has had issues with a certain area of their body.  I used distance Reiki to treat someone recently, and was able to pick up on the fact that they possibly had a headache, sinus congestion, and itchy eyes at time of our session.  After the session, the person reported that I had been right, and that their headache, sinus congestion, and itchy eyes had gone away following their session.

Joy Coaching

I am very excited about Joy Coaching!  It’s basically my version of life coaching.  Through my life experiences, I have found that following our joy is what we are here to do.  I know it sounds simple, but in this busy world, it is easy for us to stay so focused on our to-do lists, work life, and family life that we can forget what it is that even causes us joy.  So, along with Reiki, I am also setting the intention to help people along their own journeys to live their lives with more joy.  I encourage you to start thinking about and making a list of  the things that bring you joy in life.  I mean the things that make you feel childlike and most alive in the moment. If we all start doing things daily that bring us joy, we will collectively make the world more joyful!  All we can control in life is our thoughts, our actions, and our response to what shows up for us.  I hope to spread more joy while actively living my joy, and sharing my perspective on life and how to better handle the challenges that many of us face.

The intuitive, joyful guidance I can offer you is much more than just making a list.  I have seen my unique perspective and guidance on a person’s life challenges take weight off of their shoulders and bring new life to their eyes.  I once went to a workshop and in doing the exercises with the person beside me, I shared bits and pieces of my health journey as I offered my perspective on the chronic health issues that his wife was dealing with at the time.  At the end of the workshop he told me that meeting and talking with me had made going to the workshop worth it.  It was an eye-opening experience for me, and it gave me a larger glimpse of my soul’s purpose.  I often experienced the same kind of responses from my patients in the hospital.  Hearing such things as “that’s the best advice anyone has ever given me on this issue.”

I am very intuitive and have a way of knowing what information people need to hear when they need to hear it.  I have been known to send people articles, book recommendations, and links to my blog posts that I just felt urged to share with them, and they have later told me that it was exactly what they needed to read at that time.  Much of the time, after connecting with someone, I begin to say things that really resonate with them that they find helpful, and/or life affirming.  As I have said before, we are all manifestations of the divine in human form.  Often when I write here, I tap more into my higher self and that divine guidance than I do my mind.  I choose to write posts as I am intuitively guided to do so, and I find that the words flow so freely through me that they do not feel like my own.  I write as I go, and edit very little after a post is written.

It is my passion and soul’s purpose to share and use my past challenges to help guide others through theirs.

If you’re feeling the weight of challenges in your own life, or you just feel like you could use some intuitive, joyful guidance and healing…

Reach Out To Me for Distance Reiki Healing and Joy Coaching!  

I love connecting with people, so please reach out at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com and share your story with me!

I referenced definitions of Reiki as well as the ailments Reiki can help heal in part from the book called “Reiki: The Healing Touch First and Second Degree Manual by William Lee Rand in this post.

Thank you for reading!  If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it!  Much love!

The Invisibility of Chronic Illness

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I consider myself healed and healthy now.  These days, I do not think about my days of chronic illness unless I am thinking about ways I can use my experiences to help other people going through something similar.  No doctor has ever deemed me cured from Lyme Disease and the other tick-borne infections I was diagnosed with, but at this point in my life I do not feel that I need anyone else to tell me that I am cured.  After all, it is me who knows the pain and suffering that I endured, and so it is me alone who knows that reality in contrast to how I currently feel.  And I generally feel AMAZING!  Because I have come to know how powerful our minds and our thoughts are, I have come to realize how curing and healing it is for me to think and live my life as if I am cured.

When I open up to someone about my days with chronic illness where I could not walk to the mailbox, or when I was dealing with severe depression that made life feel so so hard, they are always surprised.  I hear things like “I can’t imagine YOU being depressed!”  Well, there is no one way that chronic illness looks.  There is no one way that depression looks.  Being someone who has come through both chronic illness and depression, the way that I now move through the world is a direct result of knowing first-hand, the stark contrast of what true dark and true light are in this life.  Nothing can be labeled as “good” or “bad” because the Universe (God, Spirit, The Creator) is always giving us what we need to grow and evolve.  For example, in 2009, if asked, I would have labeled my illness as “bad.”  Today, I am telling you that I would label that same illness, and all that went with it, as “good.”  Everything is relative to our perspective.  Sometimes, as we are living through something, we lack the perspective of the bigger picture because we are so focused on the moving parts.  But, as our life shifts, often we can glean lessons learned and life perspective gained.  And it strengthens us as people.

I was speaking with someone in the throes of chronic illness this past Sunday.  As we talked, I was reminded of how misunderstood I felt in the thick of my illness.  While I was about 40 pounds over my usual weight because of the prednisone I was taking daily, and had the classic prednisone “moon face”, and hump on my upper back just below my neck, to everyone else, I appeared “fine.”  After all, I was not riding around in a wheelchair, I was not hobbling around on crutches, I was not carrying around an oxygen tank, and I was trying really hard to live my life normally and just do what I needed to do.  I met a lot of new people during that time in my life, mostly because it is then that I went back to school for Nursing.   I remember feeling the disappointment of having not gotten off of the prednisone in time to lose the extra weight before meeting all of those new people.  It felt odd to me that people would be meeting me for the first time while I was living in a body I didn’t recognize as my own.  I was not able to do so many of the things that I had been accustomed to doing.  I felt nothing like myself, yet only those closest to me even knew the contrast to how I had looked and lived before.  And even they couldn’t REALLY understand what I was going through at the time.  So in a lot of ways, my illness felt invisible, and a lot of the time, also felt invisible.  The real me felt buried under layers of fat and tissue, doctors appointments, and pills. The real me felt stunted by the pain that would come seemingly so randomly that I was afraid to do anything that required any amount of exertion.

So, I heard the pain and saw the tears of this person in the throes of illness recently who expressed how misunderstood she was feeling, and I was transported back to that time in my own life.  When I was dealing with serious gaps in my memory, I’d have people say things to me like, “yeah, I forget things all of the time too.” As if their occasional forgetfulness compared to my level of constant brain fog, so dissimilar to what I had been used to that I spoke it out loud.  Or in times when I was dealing with a chronic fatigue so severe that my body forced me to choose sleep over studying or doing other things that I wanted or needed to do, and people would say “yeah, I get tired too.”  Even my doctors tried to downplay my fatigue by attributing it to having a baby and being in nursing school.  And it made me want to SCREAM!  I felt completely unheard, misunderstood, and alone in my suffering.  I did not want them to “fix” anything for me, I just wanted to feel heard and understood, or at least I wanted my concerns to not be downplayed by others or equated to the normal struggles someone faces in life. It’s like everyone around me had suddenly forgotten that I had just been living a “normal” life without illness, so in fact I did understand the level of forgetfulness and fatigue that was just typical of being human vs what was stemming from the havoc that multiple types of foreign organisms were creating in my body. I had cared for my baby for 6 months prior to getting ill, so I knew the contrasts of varying levels of fatigue.  And prior to going back to school for Nursing, I had been a student who had earned a Bachelor of Science.  I knew how tired being in school full-time made me feel.  Living was not new to me, illness was.

Above all else, I wanted to be seen and heard.  We all want to be seen and heard.

And that is exactly what is lacking for so many people challenged with chronic illness.  Their well-meaning friends and family tend to either want to “fix” things for them and stand by wishing that things were different, or they downplay their experience and just how hard it feels.  Most people are not equipped to handle the emotions of someone walking through the flames of chronic illness.  It makes people uncomfortable.  They don’t know what to say.  They don’t know how to act.  So they pretend that everything is fine. Or they distance themselves from the person. Or they get stuck in the wheel of repetition where they ask how and why this could have happened to the person.  But none of these approaches are actually helpful.  

My time spent dealing with my own chronic illness for all of those years coupled with my years of experience of being a Registered Nurse working in the hospital has given me a unique perspective.  Not only do I understand first-hand what it is like to live with chronic illness, where rather than dreaming up the next travel adventure and plotting miles to hike, I was scheduling doctor appointments and tracking the number of pills I needed to take in a day.  But, as a Nurse, I also understand that my struggles were not dissimilar to the challenges faced by countless others.  As I have written before, we really are all the same.  As a patient, I wanted to be seen and heard.  I did not want people to fix me or my problems.  I did not want to hear about others’ woes of a normal amount of exhaustion, or normal times of forgetfulness.  I wanted to be seen and heard and comforted and loved.  As a Nurse, I have been able to use this knowldge to be there for my patients and to hold space for them without trying to “fix” anything.

I was lucky enough to be put on call for work this past Sunday, and was able to make it to the morning service at the local Center for Spiritual Living where Reverend Barbara Leger was a guest speaker.  The part of her talk that really moved me was when she spoke of a dream that she had where she saw a little baby in a high chair who was screaming and pounding the tray.  When she asked him what he wanted, he said “ice cream,” so she gave him ice cream.  In the day that followed, news was flying all around the TV of the events in the US on September 11, 2001.  At one point, she saw a man’s face on the TV, she asked her friend who it was, and they told her that it was Osama bin Laden.  In that moment, it clicked with her that he had been the baby in her dream.  The point that she made that moved me to tears was this:  we are ALL seeking comfort and love.  ALL of us, regardless of who we are.  Reverend Leger urged us to go into our day finding ways to be love in the world.  To let go and forgive ourselves and others so that we can be the love that we came here to be, because the world needs more love.

From where I am now on my journey, if I had a magic wand that could go back in time and erase the pain and suffering that I experienced because of my chronic illness, I would not use it.  The level of gratitude that I currently live with is far more valuable than the moments of being pain-free that I would be trading it for.  My loss of health is what causes me to want to live so fully.  It’s what causes me to so fully enjoy the people and experiences I have in my now while I have them.  It prevents me from sweating the small stuff in life.  It drove me to become a Nurse, so that I could use my experience to help other people.  And essentially, it is what has driven me back to the knowing within of who I came to this world to be.  

As Abraham Hicks says often, “you can’t get sick enough to help sick people get well, and you can’t be poor enough to help poor people become prosperous.”  

“There’s a tendency to come from a place where you see suffering and then feel unique and maybe unworthy about you being extracted from it and having all these blessings.  And when you feel that way, you are not a perpetrator of more blessings.”  — from Abraham Hicks: Don’t Suffer Anymore, Just Believe!” on Abraham Hicks Pure Joy YouTube Channel HERE

Adjusting ourselves or how we operate in the world with the false notion that it will help others if we dim our light is not helpful.  Nor is it helpful for us to try to make someone else change how they are operating in the world to suit us.  It will never make anyone feel better to live this way.  Trust me, I’ve been blessed with the contrast in my life to try all approaches on both sides.

Offer your love to someone going through a tough time.  Be there for them.  Listen to them.  Offer them a hug.  That’s all they need from you.  And isn’t that refreshing?  That you don’t need to find solutions for them?  Or empty promises for a better tomorrow?  Just be there, being you, and allow them to be there, being them.  No more, no less.  

I was able to do this for my friend on Sunday.  I knew that they were having a rough day before we spoke, because they had texted me earlier.  But I approached them with my full energy, because I was having a wonderful day.  And I knew that I could not make them feel better if I brought myself down to their energy level.  I listened.  I offered suggestions when asked for them.  I held space for this person to feel the way they were feeling.  I commiserated with them on how difficult it is to live with an invisible illness.  I offered them my current perspective.  They got inspired.  They felt heard and seen.  And THAT’S where the magic happens. I saw some of the heaviness in them lift.

I feel called to use the experiences that life has given me to help others on their own paths to healing.  I do not believe in coincidences.  I believe that everything has happened in my life to get me to this very moment with my perspective and my skills, so that I can be the love and light in the world that I came here to be.

If you or someone you love is struggling with illness, and you are ready to take full responsibility for the health of your body, mind, and spirit, I am here to support you on your journey.  Luckily, with technology, we have computers and phones that will help us connect regardless of where you are in the world.  My intention is to support you as you learn to view your dis-ease as a valuable teacher and precursor to living your life with more joy and gratitude than you have ever known before.  Reach me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com.  I’d love to hear from you! 

From the other side, I can tell you that you can heal.  You cannot get your old life back, but you can get one back that offers you more gratitude and appreciation for all that you have and all that you are.  Be well. 

If you liked this post, please like and share it!  

Listen to Michael Franti’s “Everyone Deserves Music” HERE

Following my Joy All the Way to Australia!

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Ever since I was a teenager, I have been drawn to Australia!  I have been dreaming of traveling there for my entire adult life.  For many years, I dreamt of traveling to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef.  In college, I remember watching documentaries about Australia and the Aboriginal People there in the library some evenings.  I even tried to scheme ways to study abroad and take marine biology classes at James Cook University.  Unfortunately, the college that I attended was not open to creating a study abroad program with James Cook, so I graduated college having never studied abroad.  Life happened, I graduated college and jumped into a really cool internship with the US Fish and Wildlife Service where I lived in a remote spot in the Alaskan backcountry for a summer studying seabirds amongst the brown bears.  After that, I jumped into piecing together my life and work along the way.  You know how that goes.  I had an amazing time traveling the United States as a nomad living from my car and camping, hiking, and backpacking for my various Wildlife and Fisheries field biologist jobs, so I am definitely not complaining in the slightest with how I have chosen to live my life.  But, there has always been a part of me longing to see Australia.  And this June, I am making my dream come true and will be traveling to Western Australia (from Perth to Broome) to experience the wild places there for myself!

Maybe you have read along during this blogging journey of mine and have come to know a bit about my health journey.  But in case you’re new to my blog (Welcome!), I’ll sum it up by saying that shortly after having my son, my life was completely disrupted when I abruptly lost my health (read Lost: Part 1 HERE and Looking for the Map: Part 2 HERE) to an unknown cause.  For a number of years, my life was turned upside down as I sought answers and healing from many different practitioners and specialists with no success.  I could still taste the freedom of the very active lifestyle that I had been so graciously blessed to live, yet I had a hard time doing the basic tasks of living in my day-to-day life.  It seemed surreal, and I felt beaten and broken many times as I was going through it.

What I have learned along my journey is that our health is our number one asset.  And we need to be grateful when we have good health, and appreciate all that our bodies afford us to do.  Because not having our health usually means that we don’t have the ability to use our bodies to do the things that we enjoy the most, or we don’t have the energy we need to do the things we love.  We need to do our best to treat our bodies well, so that they’re better able to function and serve us on our journeys.  But, our souls know that sometimes the best things in life come to us, and from us, when we have experienced a complete loss of health and/or a near death experience.  It is from this place that I have gained a sense of gratitude for all that I have and experience in this life.  I see the world through a completely different lens now.  And for this perspective, I will be forever grateful.

I have also come to realize that the whole purpose of life is to experience JOY!  It’s not about all of the material things. It’s not about achieving some status or ranking.  We are meant to follow our bliss.  In THIS moment.  We are not supposed to wait to live our joy.  We are not supposed to put it off for another day, or save it for retirement.  We have to fill our lives with joy now while we’re able, because tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us.  If you are doing what you love, you are living your purpose.

But, going to Australia isn’t the only way we can experience joy.  Each one of us has different things that bring us joy.  For me, I have learned that my joy comes from simple pleasures like spending quality time with my son, hot baths with coconut oil and bath salts, a morning routine of yoga, affirmations, and positive videos, hiking in beautiful places, and reading on a boulder next to the river.  My joy also comes from getting to know new people, sleeping under the stars, jumping off rocks into lakes and rivers, traveling to new places, and boogie boarding in the ocean to name a few.  It is important that if you want to live life with more joy, that you start consistently doing things that bring you joy.  What can you do today to live more joyfully?

It could seem sad that it’s taken me 20 years to make my way to Australia and fulfill a long-time dream.  But, just like everything else in my life, I see how this experience is showing up for me in divine timing.  I am going to appreciate every minute of the experience in a way that I would not have when I was 18.  I am choosing to leave my nursing job that has been causing so much stress that it has led to health problems, and I am taking a leap into the unknown while I put my health and my joy FIRST.  It is empowering and liberating!!  It feels amazing to put my health first, especially since I have usually been one to put everyone else’s needs before my own.  Can you relate?  I feel like I am finally making the most important stand for myself in this life.  Not to mention how exhilarating it is to know that I will be in Australia in less than 20 days where I will be on an adventure tour hiking, sleeping under the stars every night, getting to know new people, jumping into swimming holes, snorkeling with whale sharks, abseiling into red rock canyons, seeing and exploring new places, and seeing all kinds of new plants and animals!!!!  Excitement doesn’t even touch what I am feeling!  What brings you joy?  How often do you do things that bring you joy?

If you’d like guidance on how to follow your intuition to more joy in your own life, contact me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com!

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it!  Thank you!

Watch Xavier Rudd’s video for “Follow the Sun” HERE.  Xavier Rudd is an AMAZING musician!  If you ever have the chance to see him live, take it!  Xavier is aptly from Australia and doesn’t make it to the US very often.

Empaths and Energy

It has been several years since I first read about empaths and what it means to be one, but it was like a huge, bright light got turned on for me, and it helped me understand why I move through life the way that I do.  I won’t reinvent the wheel here, because you can do a google search right now and find a million articles telling you what being an empath means and how to know if you are one.

For me, one of my traits is that I am very sensitive to the energy around me.  I’ve always been this way, but I didn’t always realize it.  I have always absorbed the energy from other people, but didn’t know I was doing it.  So at times, I would internalize someone else’s feelings and take them on as my own.  This worked to my detriment as a child growing up in a house with a lot of fighting.  I was absorbing that negative energy and internalizing it as my own burden to carry without realizing what was going on.  Looking back, it was exhausting and was at least the partial cause of my depression as a teen.

In recent years as I realized just how powerfully other people’s energy affected me, I would still feel drained and negative after having an interaction where someone was giving off a very strong, negative energy.  I’ve done a lot of work to learn how to separate someone else’s energy from my own. Recently a teacher of mine channeled for me and found that I am able to differentiate my energy from someone else’s about 70% of the time.  So, about 70% of the time, when I interact with people, I can tell what energy they are emitting and I am absorbing from them.  And recognizing this has been very important for me, because the more I can separate my energy from someone else’s, the less I am going to unknowingly take their energy on for myself.  I use this a lot in my day-to-day life.  For instance, I use people’s energy to make decisions about whether or not I want to spend time with them. I have very strong intuition and I have been learning to trust it, and the more that I do, the stronger my intuitive sense becomes.  If someone has a really good energy about them, I don’t need to know a whole lot else about them before I find myself wanting to hang out with them.  I pay attention to the energy I receive from potential baby sitters, friends, healers etc.  A person’s energy tells me a lot about them. And I take it more seriously than the words that someone tells me, because people can lie, but energy doesn’t.

Last year, I had an experience where I was hanging out with a friend just after one of their parents died.  I enjoyed my time with them and felt good while we were hanging out.  But when I went home, I felt drained for no apparent reason.  Based on what was going on with me, I felt like I should have had more energy.  And I was excited about an upcoming concert that night too.  Then I realized what was going on.  I had taken on some of my friend’s energy during our interactions.  I took on some of the heaviness of the situation, and some of the sadness.  I actually had to take a nap before the concert. It was a really cool experience for me to be able to recognize that what I was feeling was not a direct reflection of something going on in my own life.  I think that sometimes, part of my purpose here in this lifetime is to take on some of the heavier energy around me and transmute it to positive.  I think that’s part of what I was doing in this case without even realizing it.  I took on some of the heaviness so that my friend would not bear all of that weight alone.  But what I am also realizing is that it is not my responsibility to take on energy that does not belong to me.  And that in fact, as Abraham Hicks says often, I cannot become poor enough so that others are not poor, I cannot become sad enough to keep others from being sad, and I cannot be negative enough to keep others from being negative.  It’s just not the way the Universe works.  In becoming happy and prosperous, I am not taking away from anyone else.  There is always enough to go around.  We live in an abundant Universe, not one that is lacking.  It is much more useful and important that I remain in my vibration of positivity and attracting prosperity, so that I can be an example that others can follow to help them find ways to raise their own vibration.  We don’t do anyone any good by lowering our vibration thinking that if we bring ourselves down into a state of sadness, lack, negativity, that we will somehow help those around us feel better, or at least not feel so bad.  I have spent my life working this way.  Feeling bad to be happy when I was surrounded by sadness.  Feeling bad to be healthy when I have been surrounded by those with illness.  But the important thing that I have been learning and figuring out and working to internalize is that this method never works.  Plus, I end up feeling terrible.  I listened to a great audio clip on YouTube today of Abraham Hicks, and it ends with this quote that is my take-away on this subject and that is “I’m going to be who I know I can be, so that I can show you who I know YOU can be.”  You can listen to it HERE.  It is often said that misery loves company.  When we are down, we get comfort when others join us in that vibration.  But, when was the last time that someone joining you in misery really helped you dig yourself out of the hole that you had found yourself in?  I know that I have been uplifted by others who are uplifting.

For those of you in a health care profession, or experiencing illness second-hand via a loved one, I want you to know this:  at no point in my healing journey have I needed anyone to lower themselves to my level of despair in thinking that it would make me feel better.  I did not want anyone to “fix” my problems for me or take away my illness.  I simply wanted support and love from those around me.  I had to go through all that I went through to get to the level of high vibrational functioning that I now get to experience.  My experiences not only make me a better nurse, but they make me a better human.  My experiences give me much more compassion than I could have developed any other way.  Like I have written many times here, losing my health completely has made me appreciate my health and body more than I would have otherwise.  I live my life in a state of gratitude for all that I have because I almost died, not in spite of it!  Therefore, losing my health is one of the best things that has ever happened for me, second only to the birth of my son.  Let me repeat that:  LOSING MY HEALTH IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED FOR ME!  Granted, I did not feel this way as I was going through it.  But I can tell you from where I am currently, if I could go back in time and change things, I would NOT do it.  I would experience everything I have gone through again knowing that it would lead me to my current level of gratitude for this precious life that I have been given.

Everything is made of energy.  We have limited senses to perceive the energy around us, but it runs through everything around us, and through all of us.  That cannot be denied.  Are you aware of the energy you are putting into the world?  Is it positive?  Does it uplift those around you?  Are you an empath, like me, who has a difficult time differentiating your energy from those around you?  Does knowing that you’re an empath make you feel better too that you have some clarity about why you move through the world like you do, and why you feel SO MUCH all the time?  I know it helped me a lot to realize my gifts as an empath.  Sometimes, those gifts have felt like a curse, because I can feel the hurt around me as if it’s my own.  The first step for me was connecting the dots, the next steps have been creating energetic boundaries for myself.  If I can do it, so can you.

I have more difficulty differentiating the more at large energy field of the world from my own than I do the energy of other people.  It’s much more common that I take global energy on as my own before realizing it. It becomes most apparent once a friend who is also highly sensitive mentions the way they have been feeling and the energy that they have been picking up on.  Then we all share a collective sigh of relief to have some understanding that the energy affecting us is outside of us and our lives.  My brain likes to connect what I am feeling to something happening in my own life, yet it doesn’t always realize that the energy I am sensing isn’t always originating with me.

As our collective consciousness continues to shift and more people begin to awaken, it is imperative that we do the inner work that each of us needs to do so that we can keep our vibration high, even when we can feel the energy of the collective dip down.  Those of us functioning at a higher vibration will be the best help to others if we stay where we are, so that they can rise up to meet us, versus lowering our energetic vibration to meet theirs.  This is the work that I am currently doing within myself.  I am working to do things that make my energy vibrate higher, so that I can live my best life and in turn, affect others positively.

If you have read my other posts, you know that I got into nursing after I, myself, became gravely ill.  Even as I was struggling with my own health issues, I was in nursing school, learning how to help others.  I feel like my journey with nursing has come full circle.  In nursing school, I was able to witness some of the people who were present during my heart surgery, perform an open heart surgery.  A few of them even remembered me.  I was able to thank them for saving my life and told them that I was using my experience to go into nursing so that I could help others.  In nursing school, I met with a few of the nurses who had been there after my surgery and had come to check on me as I recovered in the hospital, and I thanked them.  As a new nurse, I eventually ran into the nurse who had taken care of me on 3 West, the step-down ICU, and I realized that her name wasn’t “Angel” as I had remembered from the scary night that she took care of me prior to my heart surgery, and was able to thank her for being there with me and getting me the help that I needed.  I’ve had the honor of taking care of some of the sickest patients in the hospital who were wrought with pain and fear, and I overcame my fear of death, as I helped alleviate their fears.  In taking care of new Mothers, I have been able to heal my wounds related to not having the natural birth that I had hoped for, because I see now that the healthy Mom and baby ARE truly all that matter.  And I have been a part of the process of c-sections to show me why I did not get to hold my son right away, which has been healing.  I have helped Moms struggling with breastfeeding which helped heal the parts of me who placed so much responsibility on my shoulders to feed my baby the best milk I had available, even when it wasn’t going so well.  Working as a Nurse has given me such a wide variety of people and energies to work with, which I believe has led to me being so good at recognizing my own energy vs others’ energy, a skill that is highly valuable to me for so many reasons.

Early in my nursing career, I often felt pulled down into the despair that my patients were feeling.  Over time, I have learned to separate my energy from those I care for in a way that makes it much more healthy for me and for them.  But even still, working in the hospital as a Registered Nurse lends itself to a level of stress that only other Nurses can relate to.  Adding to that stress the fact that I am so sensitive to the energies that surround me, the hospital is not a good working environment for me.  Luckily, I have been through enough in my life to recognize when something is affecting my health negatively, and so I am moving on.  This is not the first time that I have witnessed a direct correlation with the stress that I experience and the health problems that it creates.  So, I am choosing to not wait until the health problems become debilitating before I change my course.  I am proactively choosing to put my health first, above EVERYTHING else, including my job.  I will continue to help people in other ways, and if you want to know a bit more, you can check out my “About Me” page above (I will be writing more about it here shortly).  My purpose in this life is to heal myself, body, mind, and spirit, so that I may help others navigate through their own healing journeys.

Life really is always working FOR us.  Everything that happens for us in this life is meant to grow us so that we can become the people we came into this life to be.  How have you benefited from your challenges, and in turn, how have your challenges benefited the world around you?  Have you discovered a way to use your empathy to help yourself and others?  Are you able to see the blessings in your extremely empathic nature?

It’s never too late to start the day over.  It’s never too late to choose to put yourself, your happiness, and your health FIRST.  Life is too short to live it any other way!

Listen to Michael Franti and Spearhead’s song “Never Too Late” HERE

Thanks so much for reading.  I’d love to hear from you!  If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it.

 

5 Years, 1,825 Days of Being a Nurse

Today, 3/11/18 marks 5 years since I started my work in the hospital as a Registered Nurse. A low-mid estimate puts the number of patients that I have taken care of during that time to over 4,000! I feel honored that I have been part of so many people’s story. And I hope that I have positively touched their lives in some way. Their stories are now interwoven with mine, and all the time they give me the priceless first-hand experience that we are all connected. That all of our challenges despite how seemingly different, all turn us into humans with similar baggage and triggers to overcome in this life.

No matter the person looking back at me from the hospital bed or crib, I have seen the beauty of their souls. We are not our experiences or our stories. We are not what we have been through. But at the same time, our experiences work to shape us into the people we came here to be. So rather than getting lost in our personal stories of tragedies and triumphs, we are meant to use those times to move us to help make the world around us a better place. When I decided to go into nursing, I was a patient in the hospital recovering from a heart surgery. I asked the nurses taking care of me what their experience had been in nursing school and if they were happy with their decision to become a nurse.  I asked them about their work schedule and about how they manage with having kids while being a nurse.  I chose to use my experience to become a Nurse in hopes that I could alleviate some of the fears that I knew my patients would be feeling in the hospital. I am so grateful that even in the midst of going through my own health crisis, that I was given the strength and perseverance to get through school and these last 5 years as a Nurse.
I know that my main purpose in this life is to help people on their healing journeys in whatever way I can.  For 5 years, it has solely been as a nurse in the hospital.  I started out in reverse, taking care of adults, some of which died during my shifts, and then moved on to my current position where I sometimes care for brand new babies just entering the world.  I am grateful that I have been an intimate part of the full circle of life.  The birth to the death, each are sacred as they are the entering of the soul into the body, and then the exiting of the soul from the body.  But the soul never dies.  It is born, it grows and transforms, and then moves onto its next journey.  After all, everything is made up of energy, the divine life-force energy that moves through everything, and energy is never destroyed.
When I hit my 3 year mark, I wrote this on my Facebook page, which is a beautiful way to share my experience: “I’ve witnessed the strength of the human spirit and body. I’ve been a witness to pain with perseverance, death as a natural part of life, people holding onto hope, and people staying positive regardless of circumstance. I’ve supported families as their loved one took their last breath, and also as their baby took their first. It has been amazing. It has been stressful. And it has helped put everything that happens in my own life into perspective.”
What are some ways that you have used your own, personal challenges in life to do good for other people, or for the world around you?  How has your life been positively influenced by a nurse in your own story?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

What is Your Illness Doing for You?

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So, I have been hanging out at home all week, sick.  Today I jokingly referred to it as black lung disease, and my son called it the black plague.  I got him laughing when I sang with my raspy voice to an Imagine Dragon’s tune before school, “don’t get too close, its red inside, it’s where the black plague lies, it’s where the black plague lies…”  We thought I was pretty funny.  I don’t know what it is exactly, but I feel like crap.  My throat hurts.  I wake up with loads of congestion in my chest that I end up hacking up all day long.  I sound a bit like Darth Vader.  I wake up and use cough drops in the middle of the night, because my throat hurts so bad.

During the weekend, the black plague was just a feeling of overall malaise and the subtle warning of impending illness.  I upped my essential oils, I upped my homeopathic remedy, I started taking about 4-5,000 mg of vitamin C per day, and I was drinking green smoothies by the quart.  But in the end, after making it through the weekend, the plague hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was thinking today and had a HUGE Aha!  moment!  For as long as I can remember now, I have associated illness with a sort of free pass to focus on taking care of myself.  I see it also as a reminder from my body that I need to slow down and listen to it and take care of it in the ways that it is telling me to.  This past weekend, I was so excited!  I was lucky to attend Jake Ducey’s (check him out on YouTube and Facebook) workshop titled, “Genius Within.”  When I had seen that Jake was going to have a workshop in San Diego, it sounded perfect. It was one of those times where every line that I read to explain what the workshop was about spoke to me.  I was especially excited to shed light on more of my self-limiting patterns and beliefs, because I am really feeling the need to just let go of all of my old shit, once and for all.  The price was right, the location was close enough to drive there in a day, I really like Jake’s message and positivity, and above all of that, my intuition was very strongly urging me to go.  And then, as the weekend got closer, Matisyahu released his Fall tour dates, and one of them landed in San Diego on the Friday that I would be in San Diego!  So, I was going into the weekend thrilled, but I also had some major Mom-guilt creep in.  For starters, I had only seen Matisyahu with my son, and I knew that he really liked that fact.  Also, because the workshop was all day on Sunday, there was no way that I was going to be able to make it back in time to get my son at the normal time on Sunday night, so I had to make arrangements with his Dad to keep him that night.  I think that Moms reading this will maybe get where I was coming from the most, because I think that in general, it is the Moms who are usually more comfortable putting everyone else before themselves.  I am no different.  So I began to have some major Mom-guilt, to the point that I didn’t even tell my son about seeing Matisyahu until after the fact.  It was a 21 and over show, so he wouldn’t have even been able to go if he was with me for the weekend. Yet, I still felt bad about it.

I knew before last weekend, before today, that I am my own worst critic.  I have always been so hard on myself.  And while I have done a lot of the work to move past that way of being, it obviously still sneaks up on me sometimes.  I ended up having a fantastic weekend!  I got to explore a new beach my first day in town, which was really beautiful.  I find that the ocean is so grounding for me.  I stayed with an old friend/coworker who I hadn’t seen in 13 YEARS! Yikes!  It was so great to spend time with her and reconnect.  Her 5 year-old and 2 year-old daughters treated me like their long-lost Aunt who they adored, which was a lot of fun!  I went out on my own in downtown San Diego (which is GINORMOUS by the way!) to dance for hours to Orphan, Zion I, and Matisyahu!  And I basked in Jake’s positivity for two whole days and connected with some wonderful people who also attended.  I also unraveled some more of my long-held beliefs, and was given some new ways to look at things, as well as new ways to create the life that I want for myself.  I was baby-ing myself the whole time with a cold that was brewing just under the surface.  Today, I realized that in always being so hard on myself when putting myself first, especially since the birth of my son, I generally only give myself a completely guilt-free pass to take it easy in all ways when I am sick.  That was my Aha! moment today.  My thoughts brought on this illness.  My body was wanting me to slow down and take care of me, and my thoughts put it into the Universe that the only way I would do that would be if I was sick.  And boom!  I have been sick all week.  I went to the grocery store for a short trip early in the week and got enough stuff to get us by for the week, but otherwise, I have done nothing but rest and take care of myself while my son has been in school.  I’ve napped.  I’ve taken extra vitamins.  And I’m still chugging the smoothies, because my body is seriously craving greens SO much right now!

I watched “The Secret” last night, which really further reinforced the things about the Law of Attraction that Jake shared with us at the workshop.  The fact that our thoughts create our reality.  So consider what my thoughts just did in my life.  I was feeling guilty for self-care, but that went away once I was sick.  When I am sick, I give myself permission to put myself first, and I don’t feel guilty about it.  But why do I feel that I must be suffering with a black plague before I can feel OK with putting myself first?  Can you relate?  I can look back on my past and see a similar pattern.  In college is when I first started to think of illness this way.  I would see it as my body’s way of telling me to slow down and be extra caring towards myself.  I would notice that about once a month, I would feel a bit under the weather, and would shift into self-care mode during that time.  Later, when I lost my health, it kind of gave me a pass to allow some of the cards that I was constantly keeping in the air to drop.  I felt completely responsible for the care of my son, the care of the two dogs, and the overall upkeep of the household.  I did the majority of the household chores, and I did the majority of the grocery shopping.  I was exhausted and stressed.  At the time, I was in nursing school, and not working outside of the home, so I felt immense pressure to basically do everything else.  I’ve always been independent and I preferred to feel like I was pulling my own weight.  I kept it up until my illness struck.  And then, over time, I stopped being so stressed about the things I was not able to get done around the house.  And as I have written before, I was forced to take care of myself because of my illness.  I had been so used to just going and going all of the time that I rarely focused on what I needed.  That stretches back for as far as I can see.  I think a lot of us get wrapped up in the go-go-go mentality of this fast-paced society that we’re living in that we rarely stop to just BE.  But for me, those moments where I just stop and soak in my life in the moment are the ones that I treasure the most.

So, the Universe in all of its preciseness of divine timing, told me that 30 was going to be the year where I would finally start to focus on myself and my own well-being for a change.  It gave me a very clear picture, that I lived through, of what life was like without good health.  I was shown that without my health, I essentially had nothing, because I couldn’t even function without it to enjoy my son, to take care of him at times, to walk, to do the chores that needed to be done, or to do things that brought me joy.  When you lose your health, you realize very quickly that everything else in life is secondary.  You can have every other thing going for you, but if you don’t have your health, it’s very difficult to appreciate the other things in your life.  Since January 2016, I have found that having a daily gratitude practice has led to a lot more joy in my life and a lot more things to be grateful for.  I would say that writing out the things that I am grateful for every night before I go to bed has been one of the simplest yet profoundly life-changing things that I have done for myself.  Try it.  I promise that only good will come from it.  And it is especially important to take note of the good things in your life when you’re struggling with illness or some other challenge.

I love when beliefs that have been held in my subconscious mind become conscious!  Once it becomes a conscious thought, I am able to examine it, look at how it’s been affecting my life, and release it if it no longer serves me.  In this case, the belief that I have to be sick in order to feel OK about fully taking care of myself is definitely NOT serving me well.  Can you see that?  It would be much more pleasant to stay healthy and take care of myself, than to spend a week knocked on my ass to force me to do it.

In the movie, “The Secret,” they talk about the fact that illness has no place in a body that is at ease.  I know that I have mentioned in other posts on this blog that I feel like my illness (or dis-ease) stemmed from my utter disregard for myself.  I stopped holding myself as a priority in my own life, I stopped listening to my intuition regarding situations in my life that were no longer serving me.  My body became a breeding ground for dis-ease.  I sometimes have friends who will tell me about friends or family members of theirs who are struggling with ongoing, chronic health problems, and they will ask if they can pass my contact info to the person.  I have always been happy to use my experience to help other people.  I know that the pain has had a purpose in my own life, but I enjoy using my pain to serve as a purpose in others’ lives as well.  It makes my struggles doubly worth it.  So at this point, when I talk to these people who are often also struggling with Lyme Disease, I ask them to really look at their life to see what is going on.  I ask them to look to see if there is something in their life that is causing them stress.  I would ask them to look for the lessons in their illness.  Have they been neglecting themselves?  Are there situations in their life that are toxic for them?  Have they been ignoring their intuition about things in their life?

Now, I would add for those reading this post, is there a way that your illness is serving you?  Is there a comfort in being ill?  Do people take care of you when you are ill?  Do you have less responsibilities when you are ill?  Do you receive more love from people when you are ill?  An even better question would be, do you receive more love from yourself when you are ill?  And I don’t ask these questions to make you feel bad or worse than you already do, but instead I ask you them to break your attention away from the illness you have and direct it to the thoughts that you hold about your illness.  I would say that I definitely give myself more love, more freely, when I am sick.  This week has been a perfect example.  But why can’t I do that for myself all of the time?  Why can’t I always feed myself well and give myself important vitamins?  And make sure that I get enough sleep?  The answer is that I CAN.  Now that I see what I have been doing, I can choose to change it.  And believe me, I don’t need another illness to come along like this one before I make that change!  Just as I have written before, sometimes, we have to get to a point where we’ve suffered enough before we are willing to make the changes that we need to make for a better life for ourselves.

I have a lot more to my health journey than I have written on this blog so far.  I will write about it as I feel guided to do so.  But at one point towards the end of my time on antibiotics, a woman was placed on my path who served as a sort of counselor for me.  I remember that during our first phone call, she asked me about my life.  After I had told her about my life which invariably included a lot of information about my health struggles, she said to me, “boy, you’re really holding onto your illness aren’t you?”  I remember being kind of stunned, and a little bit pissed off at her response to what I had just told her.  I said something like “well, yeah, I take handfuls of medications and supplements several times a day and pay out-of-pocket for a specialist that I have to go see at least every 12 weeks.  My illness is part of my life.”  Well, in that moment, I didn’t really “get” what she was saying to me.  It took me some time to understand.  But eventually, I did come to understand.  You see, when I got ill, I began to identify myself as sick.  The people around me began to identify me as sick too.  Once I had the diagnosis of Lyme Disease among others, the Lyme became part of my identity.  I identified myself as someone with Lyme Disease.  But you see, I am no more Lyme Disease than you are cancer, or MS, or Lupus, or depression.  I am NOT my illness, just as you are NOT yours.  I was able to flip that switch in my mind after several weeks of being off of my antibiotics, so that I could do a few rounds of medications for the yeast that was becoming more of an issue in my body.  I had been so used to having a flare whenever I came off the medications, but this time was different. (I believe a big factor for me was that I had been on a homeopathic remedy for about 7 months by this time.)  I wasn’t having a flare, and so it gave me space to ask myself some questions.  Like, what makes me sick?  Am I sick because I have had lab work come back positive for several different infections?  Or am I sick based on how I feel?  I decided that because I was managing to work full-time while taking care of my son on my days off, and I was feeling good, that I was not sick.  I had intended to go back on my antibiotics, but I decided that I was going to let how I felt be my barometer for how I was doing rather than some labs.  It was at that time that I stopped telling people that I had Lyme Disease in the present tense.  I started to talk about it only in past tense, if I even brought it up at all.  I began to think of myself as healthy, and I started just being grateful for how I felt in the moment.  I stopped identifying with my illness.  I stopped identifying myself as a sick person.  And my life changed for the better.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have lingering symptoms.  No one has ever told me that I am cured and in fact, this week, my PCP went over labs with me from September and she concluded that I am still “not well.”  Strangely, that felt more warm and cozy and familiar to me than if she had said I was cured.  I easily took on that illness cloak again.  I even told a few people what she had said.  But since then, I have decided that me not being well is no longer part of my belief system (nod to Jake Ducey).  I am not going to allow numbers on paper or cells in my body to determine my health.  I am going to judge my health based on how I feel.  When my body asks for something, I am going to aim to give it what it needs on a consistent basis.  I have been asked if I worry that I will get Lyme again.  (Yes, you can get MORE Lyme, or re-infected with Lyme following treatment!!)  But I am not worried.  I choose to no longer live my life from a place of fear.  I believe that I have gleaned the lessons that I was meant to learn from my illness, so I do not believe that I will have a repeat of Lyme.  I believe that I will continue to be as healthy as my thoughts, which I am always working to improve.  Our thoughts really do create our reality.  What kind of reality have you been creating for yourself?  What feels comfortable to you even though it causes you strife?

Jake reminded us all this weekend that every 7 years, every cell in our body gets replaced.  So every 7 years, we essentially become new people made up of brand new cells!  I’m almost at the 8 year anniversary (November 27th) of passing out at home and losing my health.  None of the cells that were present in my body on that day in 2009 even exist anymore!  How cool is that??!  For me, it was a great reminder, because I have come to see and experience the power of my mind.  Our minds have the power to keep us feeling ill long after every cell in our body has been replaced by a new, healthy cell.  And our minds have the power to free us from our dis-ease.

I invite you to consider that sometimes using our mind to free us from dis-ease isn’t necessarily about getting cured from that which ails us.  Sometimes, it’s about shifting the way that we think about the illness that makes all the difference.  I see my illness as a blessing because of the level of gratitude that I now live with every day.  I could not have gotten that any other way.  So I would not wish it away or go back in time and change things so that I wouldn’t lose my health.  Life is not happening to us, it’s happening for us.  We are not victims, we are students. It is OK to grieve for the loss of your health.  It is OK to feel angry and sad.  It is OK to feel like it is unfair, and to throw shit.  Just try not to live there forever.  Your illness is not a torture device, but rather a teacher.  In the thick of my illness, I would have told you that you were crazy if you told me that in 8 years, I would be writing about how grateful I am that I lost my health.  But here I am.  And I am no different from you.  Our illness may have the same name, or a different name, but that’s meaningless in the grand scheme of things.  We all have the ability to choose peace in every situation, peace with what is.  Because, I have found that it’s usually the way that I am thinking about something that causes me the most suffering.

When I look at a situation and say OK, this is how it is, I can decide how I want to show up.  I am in control of my thoughts, feelings, and actions.  That’s it.  I encourage you to think, feel, and do things that make you feel good as often as possible.  Work to shift yourself into a place of ease, so that dis-ease no longer lays claim to your body.  You are not your body.  You are not your illness.  You are much more expansive than either of those.

Listen to Michael Franti’s “Hey Hey Hey” HERE

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