health

Fibro Friday – Trying St John’s Wort

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m so excited to end this week discussing one of my favorite herbs to help me treat some of my fibromyalgia symptoms. This post is also well timed, considering that January is National Hot Tea Month (I’ve done posts about this in years prior: see here and here).

Enjoying my Winter Wonder Tea

The herb that I’m speaking of is St. John’s wort. St John’s wort is a powerful herb, known for its pain-fighting ability. It works by inhibiting the “protein kinase Cgamma and epsilon activity” through the chemical hypericin (you can find more about that here). It also has the ability to relieve symptoms of depression. That being said, PLEASE don’t try to treat your depression solely with herbal remedies! Make sure to consult your doctor before trying any new regimens.

I’ve been using it as an ingredient in my Winter Wonder tea. I combine it with pau d’arco, cranberry, tangerine and cinnamon. I noticed an improvement in my pain levels as well as a better mood. I am currently taking prescription medication to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms, but I have not achieved complete pain mitigation. So I was excited to see an improvement in how I was feeling and will continue drinking this tea throughout the cold months. I made a video featuring my tea recipe. You can find the video below:

You can purchase St John’s wort here, and if you’re interested in recreating the herbal tea, you can purchase pau d’arco here, and you can purchase freeze-dried tangerines here.

fitness · health · life curation · luxury · reading list · travel · writing

New Year, New Goals

To commemorate this new year, I want to share some of the intentions that I’ve set for 2021.

Over the past few years, my goals have felt a little lackluster, so I’m excited to share some goals that really light me up! I looked at several areas of my life, and I pinpointed what changes I need to make in order to make those areas of my life feel more balanced and abundant.

So, without further ado, here are my 2021 goals:

  • Publish 5 books
  • Lose 15 lbs
  • Manifest 3 international trips
  • Earn 6 figures from my businesses
  • Read 100+ books
  • Luxury purchases – an item from Hermes, a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, a pair of Sophia Webster shoes, and a pair of Ralph & Russo shoes
  • Cure my fibromyalgia (as I mentioned in my last Fibro Friday post)

I discuss my goals further in this video, along with why I’m not creating a vision board this year (I’ve created one every year since 2014 or 2015). I usually don’t make my videos this long, but I needed this amount of time to discuss all of the things I’m planning for my YouTube channel as well as for this blog. Enjoy, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

health

Fibro Friday – My Hope for the New Year

Happy New Year, and Happy First Fibro Friday! I’m keeping this simple, since it’s my favorite holiday and I’m feeling very hopeful.

My greatest hope for the New Year is to eliminate all of my fibromyalgia symptoms. In essence, I want to cure myself. I’m desiring to create a pain-free body in 2021.

I’m sure that sounds far fetched or even impossible, given the fact that fibromyalgia is generally considered a lifelong chronic illness. I don’t even have any case studies of people that have eliminated their fibromyalgia symptoms: at least if I had one or two examples, then maybe there would be some sort of logical basis for my hope. But that’s the thing – I’m believing in spite of the evidence around me.

So that’s my greatest hope for this year. I’m determined to cure my fibro and live a pain-free life. I’m so excited to share my progress with you all throughout the year. Here’s hoping that my discoveries will create a blueprint for wellness for someone else.

Happy 2021 to you all ❤️

health · life curation · Uncategorized · words of wisdom

A Graceful Ending

I wonder if the world’s population has ever been as ready for a year’s ending as we are right now. 2020 has been a momentous year: devastating at times, solemn at other times, and tremendously unpredictable throughout. There seems to be a collective desire to close this chapter and move cheerfully into the next.

While I am as eager as everyone else to end the year and turn the page, I am cautious to give this year end the graceful closure it deserves. If there is nothing else that can be said about 2020, it should be noted that this year has been highly instructive. I want to share some of the lessons that I learned in 2020.

Patience – I had to learn to be patient when it comes to my travel desires, as well as being patient as everyone around me adjusts to a “new normal”. Funny enough, I have always found it easier to be patient with other people than with myself. So when I occasionally get frustrated with myself (I’ve set multiple deadlines that I ended up having to adjust later), I try to remember to show myself a little bit of the patience that I usually reserve for others.

Love – I had high hopes for meeting a life partner this year. And while I did meet some interesting suitors, I didn’t find the romantic love that I desired. I did, however, experience an abundance of love in my life, in the form of family and friends that have been incredibly supportive and caring this year. I learned to look for authentic love in all its forms, and I wasn’t disappointed with what I found. I did not lack for love in 2020, and that was such a blessing.

Gratitude – As I expressed earlier this week, I am thankful for the fact that most of my family and friends were all healthy and happy this year. I am thankful for platforms like Zoom that made it possible for us to stay in contact while staying safe. I am thankful for having a beautiful home to quarantine in, within a safe and welcoming neighborhood. I honestly have so much to be grateful for, and I try my best to stay in the energy of gratitude.

Slow down – One of my key traits in years prior was to stay in constant motion. I loved to always have a project, or trip, or activity, to keep me occupied. This year has forced me to slow down in unexpected ways. I couldn’t just run to my favorite hangout spots: I actually had to stay home and learn to entertain myself in different ways. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m an introvert, so staying home wasn’t hard. But I was forced to really examine my life, resulting in the decision to slow down and really enjoy the small things.

Rest – I previously had the motto, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. I’m fortunate to have matured from this point of view, and now I value my sleep. What my body has needed this year has been intense self care, with sleep being a centerpiece of my care routine. So much of my health improvements has depended heavily upon my commitment to rest and restoration.

In conclusion, this is my way of blessing 2020 as I move forward to 2021. Thank you, 2020, for the lessons. I’ll never forget them.

health

Fibro Fridays: Aquatic Therapy

Happy Friday! We’ve been enjoying lots of hot, sunny days in central Virginia and, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve loved every minute of it!

Today is Fibro Friday, and I wanted to move away from discussing the pain and frustration of the condition, and move towards talking about ways to reduce pain and improve our quality of life. So I’ll spend a few weeks talking about treatments that work.

Of all of the treatments I’ve employed in my fibromyalgia journey, aquatic therapy was, hands down, one of the most effective. I spent two days per week in a heated pool, where I did careful stretching and conditioning exercises. The exercises were designed to stretch the muscles gently and to begin restoring flexibility and strength to previously stiff and achy body parts.

Water is a healer

After spending time in the pool, I noticed that my range of motion was better, and my pain was decreased. I won’t lie: those aquatic exercises EXHAUSTED me. I slept so well after each visit. But that was a good thing; as someone that experiences awful bouts of insomnia, a good nights’ sleep is a dream come true.

Along with the physical benefits of stretching in a warm pool, there were other unexpected positive side effects. I find that water stokes my creativity, so my mind felt clearer and rejuvenated after each visit. I also found my confidence in my body’s abilities growing with each session. You see, fibro made me quite unsure of what my body can do, since the condition significantly impaired my energy levels and range of motion. But the weightlessness I experienced in the pool reminded me of what I was like before fibro took its toll.

I haven’t gone to aquatic therapy since last year. My pain levels are far more manageable now so I don’t need this particular treatment any more. However, at the time, this worked extremely well for my pain, and I recommend it for anyone that is experiencing muscle discomfort or chronic pain.

That’s it for today! I hope you all continue to remain safe and take care of yourselves. Have a great weekend!

health

Herbalism: My Favorite Tools

As a baby herbalist, I feel fortunate to have so many tools at my disposal. Plant identification apps, online herbalist courses, and countless hours of discussion on YouTube have really opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of the herbalism world.

Today, I’ll be sharing a few tools that I’ve found invaluable in my growing herbal practice. If you’re interested in taking your wellness back into your own hands, I implore you to research safe and effective plants that you can incorporate into your wellness plan, and then venture out into preparing those plants in different ways: as infusions (teas), tonics, tinctures, poultices, and more. The more that you experiment, the more that your knowledge grows. I hope this little list of tools helps you. Enjoy!

One of my first major investments into my herbal practice is my drying rack. I love using this when preparing herbs that I harvested myself, or when I purchase a bundle of fresh herbs at the store. This one by Adwaita is large, and can accommodate a lot of plant material. I use this almost every day, as I frequently find myself eager to preserve my fresh herbs.

After trying to crumble herbs by hand a few times, I knew that I needed a mortar and pestle. This one has a really nice weight and ergonomic design. I love that it doesn’t shift around when I use it: the weighted base keeps the bowl firmly in place. It also has a sleek look that I enjoy.

I regularly prep my herbs on this cutting board. It’s a large and attractive workspace: using it is always a pleasure. I sometimes use it to take photos of some of my herbs as I’m trying different blends. I love this work surface!

Eventually, I’ll be standardizing some of my preparations, so an inexpensive digital scale was a must. I purchased this last week but I haven’t used it yet: I’m looking forward to eventually offering my herbal mixtures and I fully intend to be consistent in my formulations.

These are my favorite herbal tools at this point, and I’m slowing growing my collection to include all of the tools that I need to create the herbal products that I enjoy using. That’s all for today: let me know if you use anything like the items that I mentioned above!

beauty · health · life curation

June Empties

Hi friends! I was feeling a little unwell, so I skipped yesterday’s post, but I’m making up for it by posting a HUGE June empties post! I am amazed at how much product I emptied last month. In a future post, I’ll explain why I’m focusing on empties and the overall goal of this little project. For now, here are my thoughts on my June empties. Enjoy!

So I have a LOT of perfume samplers/minis. I adore scent so I like to purchase trial sizes so I can try a fragrance without having to make a huge commitment. I had a trial set from Commodity which I had planned to review but I ended up disliking most of the scents so I didn’t bother to write about it. However, there were three fragrances I really enjoyed, and I ended up using the last of those this past month. Magnolia, Mimosa and Tea were lovely fragrances that I look forward to wearing again. On a side note, I saw that Commodity closed unexpectedly on March 31st, but the brand was saved by an investor and is experiencing a reboot, so the fragrances can still be purchased at this time.

Magnolia by Commodity
Mimosa by Commodity
Tea by Commodity

Onward to skin care . . . I really love The Ordinary, and I’ve discussed it multiple times so I’ll spare you my profuse praise. However, I used up my Argireline Solution this past month. I love to use it on my smile lines and forehead creases. I’ll purchase more after I use up some of my other products for facial lines (like The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin).

Argireline Solution 10%

As far as body care goes, I finished using my mini L’Occitane Amande Shower Oil. I got this as part of a L’Occitane gift set earlier this year. This product smells incredible: floral yet slightly musky at the same time. The scent doesn’t linger, but the moisturizing effects remain after scent dissipates. Once I use up some of my other body washes, I’ll repurchase this.

L’Occitane Amande Shower Oil

Now onto hair care. The funny part of my hair care is that it’s minimal at best: I don’t spend a lot of time on my hair, though I anticipate that will change in the upcoming months. I use these very inexpensive conditioners to detangle my hair prior to shampooing. My hair is kinky/curly so I use a lot of product to detangle and moisturize. VO5 and Pantene are low-priced so I don’t mind being a little “heavy-handed” when applying. When I’m running low on deep conditioner, I will use the Pantene to help “stretch” the product.

VO5 Passion Fruit Smoothie conditioner; Pantene Curl Perfection conditioner

After shampooing, I apply a deep conditioner to help moisturize my hair and restore the protein balance. I recently finished this jar of Aphogee Curlific Texture Treatment and I must say that I’m VERY impressed with this product. I noticed that my hair retained a “stretched” state once dried, and my post-shampoo detangle session was a breeze. If you want a product that can help elongate the hair in preparation for stretched or straightened styles, this is a great product to try.

Aphogee Curlific Texture Treatment

After shampooing and deep conditioning, I moisturize using the LOC method – Liquid, Oil, and Cream products, applied in that order. My liquid product of choice is Infusium 23 Leave In Treatment. This bottle was large, so it took a while to use it up. I occasionally tried other liquid leave-ins, but I always end up coming back to Infusium 23. I only wish that the product was in a different bottle (with a spray top). I ended up transferring the liquid to a spray bottle for easier application.

Finally, I finished a tube of an eco-friendly toothpaste that I purchased. Hello Epic Whitening Toothpaste has activated charcoal and acai berry, along with mint for freshness. The product is black but it brightens the teeth as you use it. I love the flavor and I enjoyed the results. I’ll certainly use it again, but I have a TON of toothpaste that was gifted to me (long story LOL) so it will be a while before I do a repurchase.

Those are my empties for June! I love that I have so many items that I’m using up completely before repurchasing. It feels good to know that I’m being smart with my money and purchasing from an empowered, instead of desperate, emotional space. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

***Post contains affiliate links

health

Fibro Fridays: My Difficult Diagnosis Journey

As promised, I’m back to share with you my journey to diagnosis. I’ve discussed some aspects of this journey before, but I really wanted to share additional details of what was involved with getting diagnosed. It’s really easy for me to focus on the immediate months leading up to my diagnosis, but, in all honesty, my diagnosis was a nearly 5-year journey of doctors’ visits and frustrating experiences before I confirmed what was happening with my body.

I had two primary care doctors throughout the time that I’ve suffered from fibro symptoms. My first doctor didn’t see anything concerning on my bloodwork, but she believed me when I said that I felt unwell. She referred me to a rheumatologist for clarity (an appropriate response), because some autoimmune conditions cannot be determined from basic blood testing. I visited the rheumatologist, who seemed to understand that I was experiencing extraordinary stress along with physical discomfort. However, after completing one round of blood tests, she ended up dismissing my concerns (as you all may know, fibromyalgia cannot be determined by blood testing, which is why some medical professionals deny its existence). I was discouraged by my pain but also relieved that I was not suffering from an autoimmune condition.

I continued to battle my symptoms and found myself vacillating between less pain and more pain, but never experiencing a complete absence of pain. After the first doctor decided to retire from medicine, I started working with a second doctor, who repeated the blood work 3 years after my last round of testing. This doctor also didn’t see anything concerning on my blood testing, but she attributed my symptoms to stress and a demanding daily routine. She didn’t seem to believe that my physical symptoms were real and not easily remedied by minor lifestyle changes.

After having a horrible symptom flare, I knew that I had to take my health into my own hands. I directly contacted a rheumatology office that had good reviews and scheduled my appointment sans referral (I have a PPO for this reason: waiting for referrals can be frustrating). I had already been discussing my symptoms with friends, and more than one of them mentioned fibro as a possibility. I did a little research and was able to clearly communicate my concerns with the rheumatologist. Less than one month later, I had a diagnosis confirming that I was indeed suffering from fibromyalgia.

I “fired” my primary care doc and got a new doctor that was far better for me and my condition. I worked with several specialists and finally started to feel better for the first time in years. The journey wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I’m just glad that it only took me a few months from the time that I took control of my healthcare to get a diagnosis: for that, I’m fortunate. I know intimately how this process can take many years and many tears, and anyone suffering from this condition has my sympathy and empathy. This path isn’t for the weak, which is why some have labeled themselves “fibro warriors”.

If you have a fibro warrior in your life, please send them a little loving energy: this isn’t an easy experience, and many are doing the best that they can.

That’s all for this week. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend. Take care!

health

Fibro Fridays: My Five Favorite Spoonie Essentials

Happy Friday! I hope you all had an amazing week and an amazing weekend ahead! It’s Fibro Friday, so I’m sharing some more tidbits from my fibromyalgia journey. One of the things I’ve noticed is that there are a few items that I keep nearby (especially during flares) to make my life a little easier and more pleasant. Here are five of my favorite “spoonie” essentials (if you want to know more about “spoonies” and Spoon Theory, you can read my post here). If you have some essentials that you think should be on my list, please share in the comments!

If I had to toss my spoonie essentials into a backpack, these are the ones I would include.

Knee pillow – Sometimes, my trigger points can be especially sensitive, to the point where it hurts for the insides of my knees to touch one another. When this happens, I love using a knee pillow for relief. There are knee pillow designed for side, back, and stomach sleepers. I have two knee pillows, but this one is my favorite.

Magnesium cream – I’ve written about this before, so if you want more information, you can check out this previous Fibro Friday post.

Ginger candy – This is one that I suspect a lot of spoonies keep nearby, because they are so handy and effective. Sometimes, even if you don’t have a digestive condition (such as IBS or chronic nausea symptoms), you will still find yourself feeling a bit nauseous. Fibro is a condition of nerve dysfunction and improper nervous perception, so there’s an element of unpredictability with the symptoms. In any case, nausea can flare up unexpectedly, and ginger candy can be great for soothing upset stomachs. I’m including the link to my current preferred ginger candy (you can probably find it for a much better price in stores, but if you can’t find it, this Amazon link may help). I prefer a stronger ginger flavor, so ginger mints are my favorite. However, I’m also including the link to a milder version that I used years ago, which are also effective.

Kindle E-reader – When I’m spending a lot more time in bed, I like having my Kindle e-reader nearby. My Kindle is OLD (LOL!) but it still works well. The most economical Kindle available right now is less than $100 USD but it is a great item to have, especially if you’re a bibliophile like me. I love that Kindle e-readers retain their charge much longer than my cellphone, and it’s far more portable than my laptop. Here is the basic black Kindle e-reader.

Easy-to-prepare foods – Some days are more exhausting than others. When I simply don’t have the energy to prepare an elaborate meal, I enjoy having a few easy-to-prepare foods around the house. I love instant soups, noodles, and even protein shakes that take less than five minutes to prepare. The local international grocers have a lot of healthier quick meals than typical grocers, so I generally prefer to shop there. However, one of my favorite meals is by Tsubi Soups (I’ve written about it here) and I can only order it online.

That’s all for this week! I hope your weekend is spectacular, and I’ll be back on Monday. Take care and be safe!

*This post contains affiliate links.

health · life curation

Preparing for Mid-Summer Gardening!

I have still been enjoying time out in my yard, and I’m considering what plants I can start in July (since I was SO behind the ball this season). For the record, I didn’t know that I was going to be so fascinated with gardening, flowers, and nature in general this spring. My fascination blindsided me, so I’m very LATE in garden planning. But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost! There are quite a few plants that can be started in midsummer and still thrive with ease.

Dreaming of summer gardening . . .

Burpee’s website outlines all of the crops that can be started in July. I wasn’t interested in growing vegetables per se, but if I change my mind, I may try to grow squash. My preference is smaller herbs and maybe some flowers. I found this guide published on The Spruce to be the best one for planning the kind of plants I would like to grow.

The only thing currently blooming in my yard: my gorgeous gardenias!

I’ve very interested in growing cilantro, garlic, basil and (perhaps) arugula or looseleaf lettuce. I want to start small and then expand into bigger plants. I really enjoyed seeing my overall growing options over on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website. There are a lot of plants that can grow in my zone (zone 7) so I’m excited to see if I can squeeze in one more herb or maybe even a fruit (perhaps blackberries or raspberries).

I watched this fantastic video that also gave me some ideas for what I may grow in my zone in July. I like that this guide can be used for multiple zones, not just zone 7. Rare Seeds’s YouTube channel is a wealth of information.

Will any of you be trying some midsummer gardening? Let me know about it in the comments!