I Can See Your Soul

Do you see souls too? I have a way of falling in love with people’s souls and their potential in this life. Sometimes this means that I ignore their human-ness that isn’t always lined up with their soul. Personally, while I’ve begun to pay more attention to the full package of a person, I’ve decided that I love seeing the radiance of a person’s soul. I would not trade this ability for anything in the world. I have grown so much and can handle it when a person lets me down, so I love them anyway. Because loving people never hurts us. It only hurts when we aren’t giving ourselves love first. Or lose ourselves in the relationship and our expectations of it. It doesn’t hurt to love. We can love to love without needing anything beyond it.

The chance that exactly you would be born is about 1 in 400 trillion or more (thank you google😂)!! If you weren’t meant to be here exactly now as exactly you, you wouldn’t have made the cut in the first place. You are here because you have something to offer this world that NO ONE else can offer! We need YOU and we need you to show up as 100% your authentic and vulnerable self so that we can reap the full benefit of your existence on this planet. YOU CANNOT BE REPLACED. So, if you’re reading this and you’re struggling and you don’t know if you can face another day alone, then please reach out to one of the 7 billion of us who love you and let us be there for you as you navigate this difficult time. There’s a reason why so many of us exist, we are meant to help each other along on our journeys. Many of us have known dark times, I know I have, so we understand how bleak life can look at times. Keep going, and allow us to carry you when you need us to. You are never a burden to your tribe. We need you to be here. We need you to stay here. We see your beautiful soul and it is absolutely RADIANT! We love you!

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

Navigating Through New Lands: Part 3 of my Health Journey

Photo: A glimpse of my planner for September 2012

It has been a while since I shared parts of my healing journey, so if you need a recap, you can read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.  I had a pretty nasty herx during that visit to Colorado, and wasn’t expecting that severity of chest pain again, along with vomiting and diarrhea.  So I got scared, and went to the local clinic and asked for a prednisone prescription, because it was the only thing that I knew would take the chest pain away. The chest pain was severe, and medications would not touch it.  At the time, I didn’t really put two and two together that I was having a reaction because of the injection of antibiotics I had gotten from the doctor in LA. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that antibiotics would cause my symptoms to worsen before they got better. So I wasn’t prepared to handle the 10/10 chest pain that I was experiencing. I was far from home which meant I was far away from my primary doctor or my cardiologist who could prescribe pain medication for me.

So, I did what I could to get through that time.  I took the supplements that the specialist had given me, and followed the guidelines of things I could do to lessen the herx reaction.  I was forced to lay low, and missed a lot of the fun activities with family during that trip.

I had been instructed by the specialist to have my prescriptions for antibiotics filled when I got home from Colorado and to start taking them at that point.  I started treatment on July 12, 2012, and my world was again turned upside down.  The chest pain, high fevers (up to 103 I believe), and general malaise were unbearable at times, and I really felt like I would die.  I was doing so terribly that my husband at the time arranged it so that he could work from home, afraid that something might happen to me while he was gone.  Aside from the initial instance of illness where I passed out repeatedly from near heart failure, this time in July and August 2012 was the scariest time of my life to date.  I did little more than lie on the couch in pain, sleep, and get up to use the bathroom.  Walking to the mailbox that was about 30 feet (10 meters) from our house was unbearable, because of the severity of my chest pain.  All physical activity aggravated my pain.  I was essentially on body-enforced bed rest with a 3 year old who needed me and didn’t understand why I wasn’t the one mostly taking care of him anymore.  That was really difficult for me.

I ended up getting hooked on the show “The Walking Dead”.  I learned pretty quickly that laughing at comedies, and crying during dramas made me hurt worse.  At that time, zombies created very little emotional response from me, because I viewed it as completely fake and unrealistic.  The summer of 2012 was a bit of a blur.  My severe herx lasted for about a month.  Pain medications prescribed to me by my cardiologist began working, though I was having very strange arrhythmias that I could feel.  For my friends in healthcare, on July 20th, I found out that my CRP was 491 (normal is 0-3) and my sedrate was 103 (normal is about 0-29)!  I ended up having a 24 hour heart monitor placed at one point, but then it the weird heart beats stopped and nothing was revealed.  I remember going to my primary care NP during this time, and speaking to her about how awful I was feeling and how scared I was.  She encouraged me to keep track of the kinds of days I was having by drawing a smiley face, neutral face, or sad face on each calendar day of my planner.  I encourage you to try this method for yourself if you’re experiencing a lot of ups and downs with your health right now as you move towards healing.  It can be a good way to realize that you DO have good days.

I was nervous about heading into my last semester of nursing school with the way my summer had stacked up.  I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to complete the program.  I emailed my teachers to let them know that I wasn’t sure that I’d be finishing with the rest of my class.  I knew that if the chest pain and fevers persisted that there was no way that I could focus on school and physically be able to walk to all of my classes.  But luckily, as the days went on and I continued to take all of my medications and supplements to help with my herx reaction, I started having more smiley face days, than frowns.  On August 4th, I actually got to leave the house and went to a local baseball game with my family.  It felt so good to be outside again.  Aside from doctor’s appointments, I had not left my house in nearly a month!  By August 15th, I was back in my first lecture of my last semester of nursing school.  My planner from that semester is loaded with classes, assignments, clinical shifts, doctor appointments, and events and sports related to my son.  Remembering back to how i felt during that time, and seeing the fluctuation in smiley faces and frowns (that persisted into October), I am amazed that I pulled it all off!!  I completed the semester with my class and went to my Pinning Ceremony on 12/13/12.

By the end of that year, I was feeling a lot better.  In fact, I only kept track of my good and bad days into the beginning of November.  I was feeling more back to myself, and because I had been off of the prednisone since July, I was losing the extra weight gradually.  I don’t think I was prepared for my emotions that released following my Pinning.  The whole thing had been emotional, listening to students and our professors speak, one of which was undergoing treatment for brain cancer that eventually took her life.  She had been the one who fostered my love of working with the babies.  After the ceremony, some of us went outside.  It was just us students.  And I started bawling my eyes out.  I was excited, sure, after all I had worked so hard for this day and had overcome so many obstacles to get there.  But more than that, it was like this thing that I had been focusing on for so long was no longer my focus.  I realized in that moment how much school had been keeping me going.  It redirected my focus and allowed me to focus on something bigger than myself, bigger than all of my problems at the time.  It felt like all of my accumulated stress and sadness of the last 3 years began flowing out of me through my tears.

This portion of my story culminated with me taking and passing the NCLEX exam in January, flying home with my son to see our family, and then landing my first full-time Registered Nurse position in the local hopsital on the oncology unit that I started in March of 2013.  As this was happening, my marriage was coming to a close.  By May of 2013, I was living on my own, working full-time as a Registered Nurse, and taking care of my son on my days off.  I continued traveling to LA (and then to one in San Francisco) regularly to see my Lyme Disease specialist and was having my labs closely monitored.  I continued taking oral antibiotics daily, as well as other medications, and many handfuls of supplements.  I was tired after my 12 hour shifts in the hospital, but my heart felt full, because I was using my experiences to help other people.  I used what I had been through to draw in even more empathy and compassion for all of the patients who crossed my path.

I began to feel a lot better, because I was no longer hiding my truth behind the busyness of nursing school and I was following my intuition to a new life for me and my son.  It took moving through a lot of fear.  I had to let go of a lot of ideals I was holding in my mind’s eye.  I had, after all, really wanted to create an intact and happy family for my son that I did not feel I had as a child.  I had to let go of something I had comitted to, because I had to start fully putting my happiness and health first.  For so many years of my life, I had always put myself last, not feeling worthy of love, not loving myself.  My illness forced me to put myself first for a change, and it was a very uncomfortable process.  But I can tell you that from where I am now, it was a very necessary process.

You see, I have now worked intimately with thousands of people as a Registered Nurse, and I also have people reach out to me now with serious, mystery health issues of their own.  We all seem to have a common thread, an underlying lack of self-love.  It can take years to recognize it.  Maybe you’re reading this and can relate, or maybe it will open your eyes to it for the first time ever.  Think about it:  do you take good care of yourself in all ways? Do you love and accept yourself (and show it) fully? Are you always putting other people’s needs or the seemingly endless needs of the world before your own?  Do you supress your emotions to make other people feel more comfortable?  Are you a people pleaser and/or a peace keeper?  We’ve all got to dig down deep to get to the cause of our dis-ease, or lack of enthusiasm about our lives.  I have found self-love to be paramount to my healing in all ways body, mind, and spirit.

If you’re struggling with chronic illness, I encourage you to really look at your relationship with yourself first and foremost.  Loving myself and taking good care of myself has been my biggest, foundation-building lesson from my dis-ease.  Even at Part 3, my healing journey did not stop here…to be continued.

Work With Me

If you’re on a healing journey of your own, and are feeling overwhelmed reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com.  I would love to work with you to create some healing and transformational magic in your life!

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

Why is it so Difficult to Let Go?

Letting go.  The energy right now is stirring up feelings in all of us that we need to purge the things in our lives that are no longer serving us.  It’s happening with everyone I talk to.  It’s happening in my life.

Thoughts and Patterns

For me, it’s shown up as old feelings, thoughts, beliefs rising up to the surface to be dealt with and healed once and for all.  When I started having these old beliefs and patterns show up again, I got anxious.  I was sure that I had already moved past all of my worries of lack.  I thought I had gotten right with all of it.  Well, this energy swirled up and there it all was again.  My five senses didn’t help either.  My sight told me that my bank account was lower than I felt comfortable.  I was in Hawaii when all of this surfaced and still had to pay for food and activities for the duration.  Luckily for me, I am connected to an amazing community of empaths who were also sharing what they had been feeling, so I knew I wasn’t alone.  And I realized too, that all of this was for a higher purpose, to free me from my mind-created limits so that I can have peace regardless of anything outside of myself.  So, I went within.  I felt my anxiety and I coped with it by meditating daily.  I had stopped for part of my vacation, and clearly, that did not help me.  I sunk into the feelings and realized the truth:  that I am always being taken care of and that I have everything I needed in that moment.  It’s sometimes the moment by moment examination of my life that brings me the most peace.  I stop what I am doing and realize I am OK right NOW.  I have the money I need NOW. I have the roof over my head NOW. I have the amazing family around me NOW.  I began to feel better.

Once I moved through those feelings, I looked at the beliefs surrounding my abundance or lack of abundance and I shot them down one by one.  I knew I had enough resources to take care of us on our trip.  Enough to pay rent and our bills.  I also realized that a late payment here or there because I am on a unique journey of creating a new life for myself is OK.  It won’t kill me.  I won’t be thrown in jail.  I trust.  I trust that I will always have more than I need.  I trust my journey.  I trust that I am always being taken care of.  I know the limitless nature of the Universe and of my life.  I have experienced amazing things that have shown me what we are capable of doing in this life.

Isn’t it interesting though that letting go and releasing is what we’re being taught all of the time, but that it’s one of the most difficult things for us to do?  I know I am not alone in this.  We are always being asked to surrender and release things, people, situations that are no longer serving our highest good.  Sometimes it is so obvious that it feels like the Universe just smacked you on the side of the head to let you know when to let go.  But still, often times we continue to hold on.

Jobs

It got me thinking about where that sense of holding on comes from, especially if we know that something is no longer for our highest good.  Is it habit? I have found thoughts, beliefs, and behavioral patterns the most difficult things to let go of, to change, to replace.  I am sure that’s due to how our brains are wired and how synapses between neurons are created with repetition.  When we’ve been hearing the same things around money all of our life…like money is hard to come by…there’s never enough money…you have to work hard for money…our brains get wired for lack.  So it takes time and a lot of conscious effort and reprogramming to change those thoughts that became beliefs.  If it took years, sometimes hundreds and thousands back through our ancestry, to create those beliefs, then it’s normal for it to take a while to change them.  And that’s OK.  That’s actually a good reminder for me too.  I have been working to change my beliefs around abundance for a few years, and have just started to really make headway with it this year.  BUT how amazing that I have now seen changes?!?!?!  I got discouraged by my reaction to my bank account, but really, I have come SO far.  I’m one to not always recognize and celebrate my victories along the way.  To me, this is victory!  Living in the flow, at complete peace, as my whole life transitions in ways I can’t even fully see yet, is a gigantic victory.  I think I am going to relish in that truth today.

Thoughts and beliefs aren’t the only things that we are being asked to release.  Everything in our lives is fleeting, there is no constant but change.  We are being asked to let go of jobs that no longer serve us, friendships that no longer serve us, living arrangements that no longer serve us, romantic relationships that no longer serve us, and material items that no longer serve us.  But, much of the time, it is easier said than done.  For me, I notice that in times when I am having trouble letting go, I get a sense that I will never have a job like x, that pays x or I will never have a connection like I had with x again, or what if in the future I need x item, if I get rid of it I won’t have it.  We get ourselves so attached to things outside of us that we start to believe the lies that our minds tell us about them.  Think of how many of us stay in jobs we don’t enjoy because we feel that we HAVE to.  Have you ever experienced that?  Where you feel like if you let that job go, there won’t be another to take its place fast enough…or that the next one won’t pay enough?  I have.  And I know that I am not alone.  We never are in any of our struggles.  We are wrong.  There is always another job.  In fact, if we are miserable, then there’s always a BETTER job out there for us!

I’ll tell you a story that really sheds light on this.  After college, I went away for the summer to study seabirds in Alaska.  When that job ended, I moved with my boyfriend back to my college’s town.  I mostly just wanted to be in that place with the good friends that I had made there who were also staying.  My job wasn’t my focal point, I just needed one to pay the bills.  Of course, I am one that prefers that my work have some kind of positive impact or meaning.  I took a job with a local daycare in their preschool classroom.  I think because of my degree, I *might* have made about $8 per hour.  I have always loved kids and had done some teaching in third-grade classrooms as part of the work program at my college.  I was content with this job.  I was grateful to get this job.  Aside from the fact that I was sick for almost the entire 3 or 4 months I worked at this daycare, I had very little support.  As it turned out, it rated low on the scale used to score daycare centers in that area, and I could see why.  Moral among teachers was low.  The student to teacher ratios were higher than they were supposed to be.  When I started, I was the second teacher in the class with mostly 4 year olds, but a few 3 and 5 year olds as well.  The other teacher had more of a primary lead in the classroom as she had been there for a while.  I got my bearings and learned the children’s routine and tried to be a positive influence on the kids’ lives.  (Wow! I just remembered that there was another teacher who would join us here and there and we would have the kids sit quietly and chant ohm! I had forgotten that!)  We were doing our best.  I did a good job.  Parents often commented about the smile that I always had on my face.  Then, sweeping changes were moving through and teachers got uncomfortable.  The lead teacher in my classroom quit one day out of the blue.  I was bumped to lead teacher.  My roster of kids suddenly became overwhelming.  I was on my own.  Still, I did my best.  Mostly, I was a referee in those days saying things like stop punching Tommy and you cannot use the scissors to cut kids’ hair.  Please stop running.  You get it.  I was still making play dough at home and bringing it in.  I was buying workbooks with my own money to teach the kids how to write the letters and their names.  I would go home and cry.  I was stressed. And the owner of the daycare would often tell me that she would relieve me by a certain time in the afternoon so that I could leave the kids with her and start cleaning the classroom, but often, she wouldn’t show up.  I had no other job possibilities on the horizon, so I felt stuck.  I didn’t see a way out, but I was miserable.  With so many kids and so little support, my plans for classroom were difficult to carry out.

Then it happened.  The owner told me she’d come and relieve me from the playground at a certain time, but failed to show up for 1.5 to 2 hours past that time.  It was the last straw.  So, without warning to me or her, I made sure the kids were under supervision and took her aside and quit.  I quit on the spot.  I had never done that before, nor have I done it since.  When my boyfriend got home from work, I told him.  I was nervous about not having funds to pay for my share of the expenses.  I was worried that it would take a long time to find a new job.  But, you know what happened?  I was taken care of, completely.  As it turns out, one of my best friends had just applied for, interviewed for, and gotten a job at a local veterinary clinic, but she had decided that she wasn’t going to take the position and she urged me to call them.  Within a week, I had called them and had an interview, and by 2 weeks, I was in a new job!  That’s how the Universe works!  When we take care of ourselves and we allow ourselves to release a job that no longer serves us, a new job comes our way!

Relationships

How many times have you known that you needed to end a relationship, but you kept it going anyway?  I think we are all familiar with the thoughts that we’re never going to love someone as much as x, or we’re never going to have the connection that we had with x, or we’re never going to find someone like x.  Is that usually the way it works out?  You break up with someone and you NEVER love again?  No!  Not at all. But boy, when we’re in the thick of it, we sure do believe all of the things that our minds tell us. We believe in the lack of life.  What we need to ask when out minds say those things and attempt to play those kinds of tricks on us is, is this true?  Is this really true?  Am I never going to love anyone again?  Is no one going to love me ever again?  Are the answers to these questions obvious when you ask them while you aren’t in the thick of a break up? The trick is to remember the truth vs what your brain is telling you when shit hits the fan.  The trick is also to trust your intuition over your brain, because your intuition will never steer you wrong, but your brain will try.

As I write this, I get a notification with these timely words:

“Stop returning to people and things that don’t feel good.  There’ll be no need for healing when you learn to cut off the source of your struggles.”

— @sourcemessages on Instagram

Yesterday, I went to one of my happy places in the river to take a dip and cool off.  While floating in the middle of the stream, I asked that all that I am meant to release, be released.  I set the intention that the water would work with the already powerful, swirling energy of the day, and wash away all that I need to let go of at this time.

With the energy of the full moon, and the longest lunar eclipse that just happened yesterday, we are all being asked to examine our lives and step into all that we have been working to manifest.  It is impossible to receive when we aren’t willing to let go of what we have that is no longer serving us.  We need to tell ourselves the truth.  We need to stop glossing over things and settling for less than we want on account of feeling like we’ll never be able to get what we actually want.  What we want is always available to us, we just have to get out of our own way.  We have to stop looking at life from a place of lack with limited money, limited lovers, limited friends, limited jobs, limited material items, and limited experiences.  The only limits that exist in the world are the ones created by our minds.  From experience, when you stop worrying about lack and start seeing all of the abundance in your life, you realize that you’re being completely guided and supported at all times.  It really is true that when one door closes, another opens.

I encourage you to purge all that feels heavy and stifling, and stressful while you feel motivated.  I am once again being urged to purge and declutter my house.  We can all do it knowing that it will clear out the old to make way for the new.  We live in an abundant Universe.

How are you feeling this week?  Have you been sorting through stuff and making trips to Goodwill?  Have you been emotional about all of the old thoughts and patterns resurfacing?  You are not alone.

Thanks so much for reading!  If you liked this post, please like and share it!  Much love!

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!

 

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

I Am You

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Happy New Year everyone! 2018!  Wow, just like that, another year has come and gone! For me, 2017 held a lot of change:  endings, beginnings, including the start of this blog. As 2017 wrapped up, I felt a heaviness in me.  Maybe due in part to the changing seasons and lessening of outside time and sunshine in December, but also likely due to the purging of old patterns, belief systems, and emotions of 2017.  Do you ever feel like you move about not always fully feeling your emotions when things happen?  I know I do.  I kind of push on through, and at the end of the year, I felt that catching up with me.  I think it’s a defense mechanism that I have developed over the course of my life.  Keep going and maybe then I won’t be swallowed whole by my emotions.  Maybe then, I will be protected from spiraling down into depression that I have had a lot of experience with in my life.  But, I have come to see that I handle things differently now.  Even when sad things happen or life doesn’t go as planned, I have a way of seeing the divine-ness of everything.  And I have learned to allow myself to feel more in the moment.  I have also learned to pause during difficult conversations, so that I allow myself a moment to feel and to put those feelings into words before speaking them. In so many ways, 2017 was a year of tremendous growth for me.  I am looking forward to seeing how the new seeds of growth that I planted throughout 2017 blossom into being in 2018.  I can feel that 2018 is going to be an amazing year of manifestation.

“I am you

You are me

No more leaders

We must lead if we want to see God in the enemy”

Matisyahu’s song “Mist Rising”

If you know me, or follow this blog at all, you know that I listen to Matisyahu all. the. time.  Sometimes, even after I’ve heard a song a million times, certain lyrics will jump out at me as little messages from the Universe.  The above lyrics really stood out to me one morning as I was driving to pick my friend up to go for a hike.  I had a moment after hearing them where I thought, yes, we’ve got to stop looking to other people to make the changes that we want to see in this world.  We’ve got to stop looking to our appointed leaders for the answers.  If we want to live the truth that we are all really one, and not separate from each other like we are made to feel, then we have to start leading by example in our own lives.  We are all made of the same, divine energy.  We are just the Divine, Universe, God, consciousness (or whatever else you like to call it) having an experience in human form.  That’s it.  We are here to grow and evolve in consciousness.  We are here to face obstacles and transcend them, so that we wake up.  We are here to find our soul’s purpose and then use it to make the world a better place.  We have to lead if we want to be able to see divine/Universe/God in our enemies.

We are not separate.  We think we are.  We walk around feeling alone.  We pit ourselves against others, people in other groups, in other countries, of other religions, but the reality is that we are all one in the same.  We all have our specific journey that we are supposed to be on in the time and place where we find ourselves.  We are brain-washed to think that we are not enough as we are, so that we’ll buy the new latest and greatest gadgets.  We’re made to feel small and inconsequential so that we keep our heads down and work hard to keep a few rich and in power.  But friends, we are so much more than we have been led to believe, and we can have so much more in our lives than we even believe is possible.  We are all on different paths to the same destination, our awakening, our rising of consciousness.  The us vs. them mentality is merely a distraction.  It’s one way to keep us all feeling alone.  It prevents us from really connecting with each other in a deep way, because we’re always afraid that our problems are worse than the next person, or our insecurities are bigger than everyone else’s, or that our dark sides are darker than everyone else’s.  But that’s simply not true.  Like I have said before, in the times when I have opened up and gotten vulnerable with others, and have really listened to others share their stories, I have found that while on different journeys, we all fundamentally end up with the same baggage and the same feelings about ourselves.  Keeping this idea that I am better than (fill in the blank) or that I have my shit figured out more than (fill in the blank) is just a judgment that my human mind, my ego, is placing on the situation.  It is no more true than the stories I have carried about myself.  And it keeps me feeling separate.  Likewise, when I place others on a pedestal and see them as better than me, I also keep myself feeling separate from others.  But, it’s when you can see everyone as equal in this game of the divine having a human experience, that you really feel like you can connect with everyone on some level.  Even if my beliefs are hugely different from yours, I am sure that we can connect in some way.  Maybe you’re also a Mom, or a Nurse, or maybe you grew up feeling like you had to prove yourself to feel worthy, to get the love you so desperately wanted.  Maybe you can relate to my stories of chronic illness that I have lived through.  Or maybe you connect with me because you too have struggled with severe depression.  Whatever it is, it’s there and it connects us, and it makes you see part of yourself that you like, or that you hate, in me.  The people around us are always reflecting back to us the things that we need to learn about ourselves so that we can grow and evolve to become the best versions of ourselves.

I think that this can be a difficult subject to grasp.  I will use an example from my own life on both sides of the coin.  I am attracted to creative people.  I love it when people produce something with their creative talent and then release it into the world for others to see, irregardless of how it might be viewed or judged by others.  I am creative, but I usually recognize it in others more than in myself.  But it really has to do more with what I perceive about an artist who puts their work in the public eye vs. me who has usually just made things for friends and family, or for my home.  I love being around people who are adventurous.  Creativity and an adventurous spirit are qualities that I carry.  When I see these qualities reflected back to me in others, I enjoy it.  I see our commonalities and I love them in me and the other person.  This also has a flip side, because the things that really anger us or upset us about other people are also merely reflections of things that can also be found in us.  We all hold a balance of light and dark.  None of us are completely light nor completely dark in nature.  It’s interesting to me that sometimes in relationships, when we see things that we like about ourselves in another person, we really like them and want to spend more time with them.  But when we catch a glimpse of something in the other person that we have not yet learned to like or accept about ourselves, we tend to push them away and not want to spend time with them.  Have you experienced this in your relationships?

I have talked about this before in previous posts that at square one of stepping into our power here as humans is learning to love ourselves.  For myself, I have found that I am usually MUCH more compassionate with other people regarding qualities that we would label as bad or dark, because generally, I have been more empathetic to others than to myself.  If someone graces me with their truth in all of its wholeness, light and dark included, I find that I can connect the dots to see how they came to be all that they are, and I am always grateful for the way that they openly share themselves.  None of us can ever truly understand what another person has gone through, no matter how well it is explained to us.  And really, it’s not our job to understand, just as it is not someone else’s job to understand us.  But we can still be understanding, and we can show others kindness and compassion for their journey.  And we can love them, in all of their messy human-ness, baggage, triggers, and all.  In doing so, in loving others for all that they are, not for their potential to change or only for the things that we like about them, we can come to love all parts of ourselves.  Because really, if another is worthy of my unconditional love, then I am worthy of my own unconditional love.  Do you see how the two go hand in hand?  That kind of love. That kind of acceptance and unconditional love is what we all want for ourselves. Right?  But how can you receive it if you do not feel worthy of it from yourself?  How can you give it if you still think that you’re better than, or worse than other people?

In one of Eckhart Tolle’s books, he says that the purpose of relationships is not to make us happy, but to wake us up.  I think that’s brilliant.  The us vs. them mentality keeps our attention on things outside of ourselves, rather than on the things that really matter like unconditional self-love.  If society is always telling me that I’m not enough so that I’ll buy more things, or give my power away to other people (by making them responsible for my happiness for example), then I won’t be focused on building my best life.  I won’t be realizing my limitless potential in this life.   Instead, I’ll live small, and be more apt to follow than to lead.  But like I have said, we are meant to transcend the obstacles that are placed on our path.  Like the lotus flower, we are meant to rise out of the mud and bloom, not get stuck in it comparing our mud to the mud surrounding the other flowers.  It’s not about our challenges, it’s about how we handle them.  It’s how we carry ourselves and respond when the shit hits the fan that really counts.  Realizing this has come from a lot of reflection and work on myself.  I did not always accept my reality gracefully.  The more that I can see how every experience and meaningful relationship shapes and grows me, the more confident I have become in the fact that the Universe is always supporting and guiding me in ways that are for my highest good, even when it appears that “bad” things are happening.  I know that I have always made it through my challenges so far and that they have made me a better person and have given me my current perspective on life. So when things happen, I assume that it’s all for the best for everyone involved.

In my own life, I have had the experience where the person that I was dating wanted to start seeing someone else.  (I have also ended relationships for this reason)  It happens for various reasons.  We’re human.  Situations change.  People change.  In the past, I have taken their decision personally.  I felt deeply hurt by it and became angry and resentful.  I felt like a victim.  I can imagine that many of you can relate to that reaction.  Since becoming more conscious, I have had the completely opposite experience as well.  The person told me that they wanted to see someone else.  I admit that there was still a level of sadness in saying goodbye, but I saw the whole situation in a completely new light.  I understood that this person who I loved felt compelled to follow his heart, and I respected that.  On one hand, I would not want someone to continue to hang out with me when they really want to date someone else, and also, who am I to keep anyone from following their heart?  I personally try to not live with regrets, so I appreciate when others live from that same space.  And so, rather than having a heated discussion that involved my hurt feelings and blaming this person for them, I simply let him go.  Honestly, I did not feel hurt and angry about his decision, because I trusted that it was best for both of us in the end.  I told him that I had really loved our time together and that I had so much fun on my adventures with him and that I hoped that he and this other person would share a lot of joy together.  I told him that I was really grateful that I had met him.  And it was beautiful.  So beautiful in fact that I write about it here.  Now, I will not take all of the credit here, because we had developed the ability to have open conversations with each other, and that took two.  Our sweet connection took two.  But do you see how one person can make such a difference?  Do you see how my response painted the kind of ending that we shared?  Had I come at him angrily, it may have completely dissolved our connection and prevented us from remaining friends.  But I chose to accept the reality with gratitude for what this person’s presence had meant to my life rather than to leave on a bad note simply because I was not the one deciding to end things.  We each have that kind of power!  It was not his job to stay and make me happy.  It was his job to follow his heart on his journey as he saw fit.  It was my job to accept reality without taking any of it personally.  It was my job to take care of myself.  I did not leave the situation thinking that there was something wrong with me, or that I had done something wrong.  And I did not leave angry.  I left with a lot of peace about it all, and a lot of love in my heart for this person.  I sincerely wanted nothing but love and happiness for both of us.  When you realize that we all have our own journeys to live our joy and to find our purpose, you also realize that the only journey that we each need to focus on is our own.

It is really none of my business what someone else wants to do in their free time, or who they want to spend their time with.  All I can do is stay as present as possible when I am spending time with the people in my life, so that I can fully experience and enjoy their presence in my life while they’re in it.  Life is short.  Nothing is guaranteed.  I have found that when I am able to stay present in the moments in my relationships, and I treat my relationships with gratitude and take to heart the fact that we are all only here for a short time, I have little to no regrets when the relationship ends or the person dies.  When I say that I stay present, I mean that I do not let my mind wander all over the place to the past and future.  I am not thinking about my to-do list.  I shut my brain off and I just am.  It gives me the space to be free in the moment.  To feel the sun on my face.  To feel the cold water hit my skin.  To look at a person and see a beautiful soul smiling and laughing.  To me, being present means allowing myself to enjoy a moment, activated by my five senses, without bombarding it with a bunch of thoughts.  And if I do think, I think things like, this is amazing, I am so glad to be here, this is so fun, and I am so grateful to have this time with them.

Try it. Set your mind aside.  Stop the whir of thoughts telling you what you “should” be doing.  Be present with the people in your life while you can.  Turn off your phone and focus on where you are in the moment.  And then move from there and work to put yourself in other people’s shoes more often.  Attempt to see the world from their vantage point for a change.  Stop judging yourself and others so harshly.  Can you see that we all have light and dark inside of us?  Can you see the beauty in it?  Can you see the beauty in the dark depression that I experienced in my life?  I can.  Knowing that level of pain is what allows me to really enjoy all that I now have in my life.  I’m not sure that a really happy, joyous heart gets that way without experiencing some form of depression or shadows in life.  The pleasure of life is much more profound when you can still remember how much life can hurt.

Our differences are meant to be.  Our journeys are supposed to be unique.  We are each supposed to be unique.  We’re supposed to have differing opinions.  But, we’re not meant to walk alone on our journeys feeling separate from the other humans around us.  We aren’t meant to fight each other and attempt to hold each other down.  We are not meant to be hardened by our pasts.  Regardless of how hurt I have been by things that have happened in my past, I still feel as though the connections that I create with people who cross my path are the important part of my journey.  I crave deep connections with people.  Part of the process to get to that level of connection is realizing that I am you, you are me.  The world I am living in is full of people who are out living their passion, connecting with other people, getting inspired by each other, and lifting each other up to live our best lives.  We are meant to lift each other up.  We perceive the world through a veil of our own thoughts.  If you want to see the incredible world that I see, make that choice, and join me.  Our lives are only as good as our thoughts allow them to be.  Change your thoughts, change your life!

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it!  And please feel free to comment down below.  I would love to hear from you!

Much love.

Listen to Matisyahu’s “Mist Rising” HERE

 

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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