health

Fibro Fridays – Pain Management Tools

Happy Fibro Friday! We made it through another week: let’s celebrate!

I’ve been trying some new pain management tools over the past few weeks. These have helped me with some of the chronic pain symptoms that come along with having fibromyalgia. I really liked these items that I’m sharing today, so if you have fibromyalgia, or if you experience chronic pain, these may be worth a try.

First, I have the Nayoya Acupressure Mat and Neck Pillow set. At just under $40 USD, it’s a great item to try for some pain relief. I was going to review it, but Deena of Adventures with Fibro on YouTube (YT) beat me to it! Her review was great, so I’m going to link it here, but I’m also going to embed it in this post.

Now, there’s another tool that I’ve enjoyed using, and not only is it effective, but it’s reasonably priced, too. This tool is less than $20 USD currently, and I’ve loved using it to relieve some of the nerve pain I experience. It’s the La Vie Lactation Massage Roller.

Before you get any ideas . . . No, I’m not lactating! This massager is gentler than many other massage devices, which is crucial when your chronic pain is intense. Here’s the review of the lactation massage roller that I posted on my YT channel:

If you’re curious about the variety of tools that may be needed for those that live wtih fibromyalgia or chronic pain, you should check out Olga Chronics on YT. She is so thorough, and she’s charming to boot. I really liked her video on mobility aids (which I’m embedding below). I don’t use mobility aids, but it’s good information for anyone that has impacted mobility due to chronic pain or fibromyalgia.

Do you have any tools that you can recommend for pain management? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

*Post contains affiliate links.

life curation · relaxation

How to Do a Tea Meditation

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you all are enjoying a comfortable and happy day wherever you are.

In light of the recent events in the United States, I thought about how I could contribute to the collective energy of peace and kindness. It may sound a little simplistic, but I truly believe that good intentions, prayer, and self-mastery are foundational to creating a more peaceful world. Indeed, if I can create peace within my personal world, I can radiate this out to others, and eventually this energy can start to encourage a peaceful attitude around the world.

I looked around my home to see if I had anything that would create an immediate mood lift. I reached for what has always worked for me: a cup of hot tea. But, instead of simply drinking the tea, I decided to do something a little different. I created a tea meditation around my ritual of enjoying hot tea. After I finished my cup, I felt so much more relaxed and grounded. I figure, if this process can have that effect on me, perhaps it will be of use to you, too.

So here are the steps involved in my tea meditation. If you prefer to watch a video on it, you can see a video demonstration below. Also, if you’re interested in reading more about the rich history of tea and the culture behind the tea ceremony, you should check out The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. I found the book unexpectedly enlightening and thoroughly inspiring.

  • Pay close attention to every step that you take in preparing your tea: select your tea carefully, listen to the sound of the water as it goes from simmering to boiling, feel the weight of the cup in your hand before and after adding water.
  • Select your sweetener carefully (if you choose to indulge). If you’re inclined. do a taste test of the different sweeteners available and see which one makes your taste buds dance.
  • Gently, slowly and intentionally pour the hot water over your tea. Look intently as the water changes from clear to colored. Look closely to see if the herbs or tea leaves make swirls in the water as it infuses. Get lost in the slow transformation from clear liquid to flavorful beverage.
  • Add your sweetener a little at a time. Taste the difference between levels of sweetness. Connect those levels of sweetness to emotions or actions (perhaps you can compare lightly sweetened to a mild happiness, and the perfect level of sweetness to bliss [maybe like a passionate kiss]).
  • Stir the tea gently with a spoon, to ensure that the flavors are evenly distributed. Immerse all of your senses into the process.
  • Allow the tea to cool a bit before drinking. Take deep, cleansing breaths while you wait, and concentrate on what you want to experience as a result of drinking your tea (happiness, peace, satisfaction, etc.,).
  • Bring the cup up to your lips but, before sipping, deeply inhale the aroma. Try to identify each of the components of the tea by smell.
  • Take a sip, noting the feel of the cup against your lip, the weight of the cup in your hand, and the smell of the tea.
  • Allow the tea to gently swish in your mouth, coming into contact with all of your taste buds. Try to pick up notes of sweetness, bitterness, sourness, or saltiness (an exquisite tea can have elements of each). As you swallow, concentrate once more on what you want to experience.
  • With every sip, engage all of your senses and focus on what you desire.
  • Upon finishing your tea, speak a few words of gratitude, and complete a few more deep, cleansing breaths.

That’s it for today. I hope that this meditation blesses you and helps you tap into a feeling of peace and relaxation, as it has done for me. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

*This post contains affiliate links.

life curation

Vibe Lifters – A Key Part of Self Care

Hello friends. I hope this post finds you in peace and living well.

Last week, less than 150 miles from my home, the US Capitol Building, was raided by rioters that disagreed with election results and the overall management of the United States. This terrifying act has put many Americans on high alert, but it has also served as a source of great stress. In the midst of a global pandemic and considerable financial unpredictability, this act of terrorism exacerbates an already tense situation.

While I was disheartened by what happened at the Capitol, I knew that I didn’t have to allow it to cause me stress. I reached for a few of my reliable vibe lifting activities, and I instantly felt my body shift from tense to relaxed. I’m thankful that I had these activities in my self-care kit, so I could utilize them as soon as I found myself feeling anxious over the events happening not too far from my home.

What are vibe lifting activities? These are things that you can do whenever you’re feeling stressed or depressed. These aren’t a substitution for therapy or prescription medication, but these can offer a bit of relief when you need it most.

The key to a good list of vibe lifters is to make sure that the activities you include are things that can be done for free or inexpensively. The last thing you want is to rely on costly activities to lift your vibration: emotion should never been attached exclusively to financial ability. The best vibe lifters can be deployed instantly and connect you to your core values or favorite things.

Here is a portion of my list of vibe lifters, just to give you an idea of what this list can look like:

  • Drinking hot tea (tea is a favorite thing, and this can be done inexpensively and quickly)
  • Taking deep cleansing breaths (connects to one of my values: relaxation)
  • Yoga (another favorite thing, that can be done for free by follow YouTube yogi videos; also relates to one of my values [relaxation])
  • Read a mystery novel (can be done for free, so long as I have the book nearby, and is a favorite thing of mine)
  • Burn incense or light a candle (can be done inexpensively, and has aromatherapeutic benefits)
  • Take a nap (FREE! And connects to one of my values [relaxation])
  • Throw away something broken/unnecessary (free and speaks to one of my values [streamlining my lifestyle])

As you can see, there are a multitude of things that can be done to lift your vibration. Think of what makes you feel better and list those things. Having a list can really help when you need to quickly refer to an activity to lift your vibe.

What we saw last week isn’t the first or last example of stressful political incidences. However, having a handy list of activities to calm you down and improve your mood can help you to handle these stressors with grace and ease. Make your list, and let me know what things you can rely on to improve your vibration!

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

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!

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!

fitness · health

Fibro Fridays: My Fibromyalgia Library

Happy Friday! This week has been pretty good overall, even though the weather here in central Virginia has been gloomy and rainy. I suppose I should be thankful for the rain that keep my flowers growing, but can we get a little sunshine, too? I know the sunnier days will return soon: I just have to be patient.

This week’s Fibro Friday will be all about the books in my “fibro library”. While the Internet has been a fantastic resource for learning more about this complex condition, I still enjoy reading books that can give me some insight into fibro. I have several books that I’ve used in learning about fibro as well as ways to give myself some relief from the symptoms. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with this condition, perhaps these books will be helpful to you.

My first recommendation is Career or Fibromyalgia, Do I Have to Choose? by Karen R. Brinklow. This book was one of the firsts that I read on my fibro journey. It’s actually what inspired me to hire a fibro coach last year, to help me manage this transition into a new lifestyle. My coach, Julie, was fantastic and instrumental in helping me to see that fibro can be managed and my life can still be full of fun and meaning.

This next book, 12 Healing Herbal Recipes: Herbal Medicine The Delicious Way by Mary Thibodeau, is a light read that I enjoyed tremendously. The book has little facts sprinkled through it, and has information about foods and spices that can help heal the body. I love the emphasis on the fact that we can use food as medicine, and, by giving our bodies the nutrients that they need, we can alleviate some of the symptoms that we experience.

Next, Beyond Powerful: Your Chronic Illness is Not Your Kryptonite by Lala Jackson is an inspiring read about the many “superpowers” that come to the fore when you’re faced with a chronic illness. Jackson doesn’t have fibromyalgia, but her examples and advice easily apply to any chronic condition.

Finally, Taking Back My Health and Happiness: Hope and Healing from Chronic Pain, Fatigue, and Invisible Illness by Marie Anne June L. Tagorda is an inspirational book that also outlines a step-by-step wellness plan that can be used to improve your health. This book does a good job of addressing the physical and metaphysical aspects of illness. I’ll admit: I’ve read the book but haven’t committed to completing the steps yet. But when I do, I’ll be sure to share my results on this blog!

That’s all for my fibro library! I hope this information helps you to forge a path to wellness, or, if you don’t have fibro, I hope that these books will give you additional insight into this condition so that you can better understand the symptoms.

Have a great weekend, and take care!

These are affiliate links featured in the post, but rest assured, I purchased each of these books with my own money and I’m only sharing what has worked for me 🙂

health

Fibro Fridays: Why It’s Difficult to Treat Fibromyalgia

Happy Friday, friends! Today’s post is one that I’ve been eager to write, because I feel that explaining this (from the perspective of someone living with fibromyalgia) may give a little clarity to others that are struggling with their diagnosis, or may help people that are unfamiliar with the condition to better understand why there is no easy “fix” for fibro.

Whenever you try to learn about fibromyalgia online or directly from a medical professional, there is generally a lack of consensus on the causes of the condition. The condition is treated as a bit of a “catch-all” category for a set of uncomfortable (to the point of painful) symptoms. This “catch-all” designation is one reason why there are still some medical professionals that continue to deny the existence of fibro (I already wrote a post touching on this topic).

In any case, the overall lack of understanding behind the WHY of fibro leaves a lot of questions regarding the HOW of treatment. Different root causes call for different treatment protocol. However, fibromyalgia can be linked to muscular, nervous and even digestive malfunctions, so most treatment is, at best, akin to a game of darts. Medical professionals will try to hit the “bullseye”, and many treatments can offer a level of relief, but it seems that no one has hit the “bullseye” of fibromyalgia – YET.

Prescription medication is one treatment option for fibromyalgia

There are many researchers that are getting closer to an agreed-upon definition of fibromyalgia, including its root causes. However, until consensus is achieved, we have an assortment of treatments that can be explored and that may have varying levels of effectiveness. Many of the most popular treatments include physical therapy, aquatic therapy, acupuncture, prescribed medication, nutritional supplements, lifestyle overhaul and lots of intentional self care (which is, by far, usually the most effective treatment [maybe I’ll write more about this in the future]), chiropractic care, etc.,. The trick to managing the symptoms is finding the perfect cocktail of treatments, along with having an excellent support system and medical team in your corner.

Well friends, that’s it for this Fibro Friday! I hope you all have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you on Monday. Take care!

life curation · Uncategorized

Wonderful Weeds

Since becoming a homeowner last year, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know my home and yard. I enjoy the flowers that the previous owner planted, and I find so much pleasure in sitting in my morning room and looking at the woods beyond my backyard, where I can catch glimpses of rabbits, various beautiful birds, and occasionally deer.

Prior to moving here, I assumed that weeds were the bane of most homeowners. After all, weeds were usually unsightly, absorbed nutrients that could have been utilized by prettier plants, and attracted pests. However, my herbalist studies have given me a different perspective on weeds, and I’ve gotten to a point that I love to explore my yard and see if the weeds can be used for medicinal or culinary purposes.

I’m delighted to share that I’ve discovered several weeds that I can use in my herbalist practice! I also have some photos of the weeds that I’m excited to use in the upcoming months.

This weed is mullein. Isn’t it stunning? It can be used to create teas and tinctures that remove mucus from the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. I actually just love the look of it. It is wind-pollinated, so here’s hoping that it’ll bloom and those seeds will create some more plants nearby.

A young mullein plant

This is dog fennel, a weed that closely resembles dill. This weed should only be used externally (it can treat sunburn and can also be used as a mosquito repellent) because it has compounds that are toxic to the liver. Some people hate the smell, while others find it earthy (like pine). I actually enjoy the fragrance. I’m still researching the best way to extract the oils for a liquid repellent, but so far, I haven’t seen anything. I may just experiment a bit and see if I can come up with a good repellent recipe using dog fennel.

A cluster of dog fennel

This very common plant is pokeweed (poke salad/poke sallet). It can be prepared as a cooked green, and, if done well, it’s delicious. My mother gave me a great recipe, and cautioned me that the weed should not be consumed once it starts bearing seeds (when the little berries appear). We had a chance to pick the pokeweed behind my home, and we filled a large garbage bag with the leaves, and there are still so many more plants left. However, we’re done gathering pokeweed for this season: we have plenty!

Pokeweed growing next to my back porch

Finally, you may see a cute little berry looks like a strawberry, but it’s smaller, a bit rounder, and the seeds look a little strange. That is actually a mock strawberry. It’s nontoxic, but it doesn’t have nearly the same level of flavor or sweetness as real strawberries. However, it’s lovely ground cover and is a pretty harmless plant overall, other than the fact that it can take over a yard quickly. I learned that the berries can be eaten (some people enjoy the flavor), and the leaves can be dried and turned into a tea. So I collected a TON of the leaves and started drying them. I’m excited to let you know how the tea turns out.

Closeup of the mock strawberry leaves

So when you start seeing your grass get a little taller than you’d like, perhaps you can take some time to explore and figure out if any of the “weeds” could be useful to you! You may be pleased with what you find.

That’s all for this Tuesday. Have a great day everyone!