health

Fibro Fridays: Morning Routine for Relief

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m glad that we’ve completed another beautiful week, and I’m hoping that all of you are feeling refreshed and relaxed.

On this fibro journey, one thing that I’d been resistant to was routine. I enjoy doing things at the spur of the moment, and I used to feel that routines kept me from living a fun and spontaneous life. As it turns out, routine has been a saving grace for me. Between getting into the regular habit of taking certain prescription medications, having regularly scheduled visits to physical therapists, and creating better sleep hygiene, I can see where routine is critical to my pain management strategy.

I noticed that I had morning, mid-day, and evening routines that have helped a lot with minimizing my pain and discomfort. So, I took note of my current practices and decided to film my lists. For this week, I filmed my morning routine. You can watch the video here:

The four things I’m currently doing are as follows:

1) Drink 8-16 oz of room temperature water upon waking. I’m always so thirsty when I first wake up, so this is crucial to helping me gently start my day.

2) Complete 5-10 minutes of bed yoga and stretching. Again, starting my day gently is vital: part of keeping my nervous system calm is to avoid overstimulating routines, such as hopping right out of bed and throwing myself directly into the activities of the day. Gentle stretches warm my body up and get me mentally prepared for the day.

3) Moisturize my skin thoroughly. For me, a hyper-sensitive nervous system has meant more sensitive skin. Fabric that was once fine is now uncomfortable against my skin, but I notice that this discomfort is minimized if I’m well moisturized. I use a body butter formulated by one of my friends, but prior to that, I used a light layer of petroleum jelly. It works great and it keeps my skin from getting dry throughout my day.

4) Consume mostly liquid supplements. When I start my day, I’m not usually in the mood for solid or heavy foods. Likewise, I am almost never in the mood for pills or other supplements that cannot be sipped or added into beverages. I try to make most of my morning supplements some sort of liquid: I find these easier to digest and much more effective for me.

This additional point is something that I’d like to try in the upcoming weeks. I have noticed a little more tooth sensitivity than normal, so I’m going to try using a desensitizing toothpaste (like Sensodyne) to help with that. I’ll try it for a few weeks and I’ll follow up to let you all know whether it’s something I’m going to keep in my rotation.

So that’s my morning routine in a nutshell. I find that these steps help me to have a smooth, gentle and effective start to my day.

That’s all for today! Have a great day and a fantastic weekend, and I’ll talk to you all next week. Take care!

health

Fibro Fridays – Things I Wish I Knew (After Diagnosis)

I’m taking a little break from protocols (again) to talk about some other things I discovered on my fibromyalgia journey.

Did you all know that getting a diagnosis is just the beginning of the journey? Fibromyalgia is unique in the fact that diagnosis doesn’t automatically result in a clear-cut recovery path. Most of us that have been diagnosed find that there are many things that we still don’t understand about the condition, and most medical professionals are woefully under-exposed/unknowledgeable about fibro. So even after getting a diagnosis, there are a ton of things that we don’t know, and we have to search just to get close to having some answers.

I made a video of the top five things I wish I knew after my fibromyalgia diagnosis. To sum it up briefly, I wish I knew that:

  • Most medicines are largely ineffective.
  • Lifestyle is the key to managing symptoms.
  • This is a problem within the nervous system, not the musculoskeletal system.
  • It may be more beneficial to work with a neurologist than a rheumatologist.
  • Working with a psychologist as soon as you’re diagnosed can be tremendously helpful.

Here’s the video, where I explain these points more in depth:

Is there anything you all wish you knew when you were first diagnosed with fibro? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you all next week!

health

Fibro Friday – The Lyon Protocol

Happy Friday, friends! We’re back to protocols, after taking a break for the past few Fibro Fridays. As with the other protocol reviews, I’ll be pointing out the philosophy of the healthcare professional/coach/holistic health practitioner, highlights of the protocol, and my thoughts about the protocol.

This week I’m diving into the work of Irene Lyon. Lyon is a nervous system expert that uses somatic neuroplasticity principles to help her clients “rewire” their brains to eliminate the effects of various types of trauma. She has a website with free resources to help people attempting to get to the root of their pain disorders. Also, she has a YouTube channel where she goes into depth with discussing healing principles and techniques. Lyon has degrees in exercise science and biomedical science, as well as 20+ years of practice related to healing the body through somatic experiencing, or how to correct nervous system dysregulation in order to resolve physical and psychological illnesses.

Because Lyon’s work is designed to treat a multitude of illnesses, she doesn’t have a specific protocol for fibromyalgia. However, she has a video where she shares how one of her viewers was able to utilize resources available through Lyon’s website, as well as her video library, to start and progress on her healing journey.

Some of the healing principles promoted by Lyon are as follows:

  • Healthy emotional expression is central to healing physical pain.
  • Understanding the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and responses are crucial to managing pain.
  • Physical pain is almost invariably rooted in trauma.
  • It’s possible to rewire the brain in order to train it to have a more regulated response to stressors.

I think there are a lot of solid points to Lyon’s protocol, though I feel it would work best when combined with another treatment plan. For anyone that has tried the more traditional healing protocols (with minimal success), this may be a great option to explore.

Are any of you familiar with Irene Lyon’s work? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon.

health · life curation · reading list

Book Review – Delicious Healing

Hey friends! Today’s book review comes courtesy of my research into the health benefits of grape leaves. You see, I have some wild muscadine grape vines choking out my lovely rosebushes. A little research revealed to me that grape leaves confirmed what I already knew, which is that they can be used in savory dishes (dolmades, anyone?). However, I was looking for a recipe that would allow me to easily incorporate the leaves into something else that I would consume regularly. After perusing some videos on YouTube, I found recipes for smoothies that included grape leaves (yay!)

Under one of the videos I viewed, I saw a recommendation for a video posted by the YouTube channel Performing Healing. I was drawn in by the picture used for the recommendation: a sepia-hued woman with sunkissed freeform locs and wide doe eyes looked back at my earnestly. Curious, I checked out her channel, and quickly found myself bingeing on her content. The woman behind this channel, Dr. Tumi Johnson, is a medical doctor that has transitioned out of a conventional medical career into a holistic healing practice that incorporates nutrition, lifestyle management, and creative arts to support overall wellness.

Enter Dr. Tumi’s book, Delicious Healing. I bought the Kindle version of this book so that I could do a deeper dive into Dr. Tumi’s philosophy and approach to wellness. I was not disappointed. The book is brief but packed with pertinent information to help readers craft their own paths to optimum health. As the title suggests, the basis of the program is using food (specifically, a raw vegan diet) to properly nourish the body, while integrating other holistic health practices (such as joyful movement, adequate and restorative rest, creative expression, and meditation, among other things) into a wellness plan that truly heals the reader on multiple levels.

Dr. Tumi’s relays her own experience of poor dieting, a unimaginably stressful career, and a brush with death itself, to assure readers that she has walked her own path to true healing. Her current lifestyle – living in her off-the-grid dream home with her adoring husband and precious little boy – is a testimony to the kind of goodness that can unfold when we do the work of healing ourselves and prioritizing our values. Her journey to happiness started with working through her own poor health and aligning her life with her values and knowledge as a medical professional.

I think what really impressed me most about this book is that the information is “common sense” that most of us fail to implement consistently, written in a way that invites readers onto a healing journey, rather than lecturing them on what they need to change about their lives. Dr. Tumi’s tone is exactly the kind of energy I look for when talking to my own healthcare team. She doesn’t scold: she gently invites and offers unwavering encouragement. I loved how she discusses how poetry supported her healing, and it inspired me to reconnect with the creative arts that feel nourishing to me.

In short, I highly recommend this book! It’s a great reference for anyone that wants to know exactly how to determine the most crucial pillars to improved health, as well as a guideline for how to integrate these pillars more fully into their lives. You can check out Delicious Healing here. Also, you can learn more about Dr. Tumi on her YouTube channel or on her website (DrTumiJohnson.com). Here is one of my favorite videos that she’s shared.

I hope you all have enjoyed this post! If you decide to check out Dr. Tumi’s channel or book, please let me know!

***This post has affiliate links.

goals · life curation · words of wisdom

The Three Hardest Lessons I Had to Learn

There’s nothing quite like reflecting and seeing how much you’ve grown over time. The older I get, the more I recognize the changes that have occurred in me, and how those changes have impacted my overall quality of life. I feel inspired to share some of those lessons that have come to me when I sit in silence and allow the highs – and lows – to show me what I need to master. Here are three of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn, and how I’ve approached and incorporated each of these lessons in my life.

The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is the art of being gentle with myself. I often behave as if I have inexhaustible energy (despite having fibromyalgia for the past several years), so when I fall short of the goals that I’ve set for myself, I tend to beat myself up over it. My fibromyalgia diagnosis was a turning point for me, since I found myself physically unable to complete activities that I once enjoyed. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt over the fact that I had to rest more and stop feeling bad for it. For me, resting and being gentle with myself felt like laziness.

,This is something that I still struggle with, though mindfully practicing gentleness every day (slowing down and grounding myself daily, yoga, and gratitude practices help) has made it a little easier to accept that this is the path I have to walk, and there is no shame in it. I continue to indulge these practices, as well as listen to YouTube videos of people advocating for gentleness with ourselves, like Alina Alive, Sarah Armide and Ella Ringrose.

Another difficult lesson I am still working on is setting boundaries based on love, not anger. I think it’s normal to react to a hurtful or angering incident with the immediate establishment of a boundary. But I’ve been playing around with proactively setting boundaries based on loving myself and having love for others. This sounds a little contradictory, because in American culture, we’re taught that love is supposed to be without boundaries, all-absorbing and unconditional. However, I’ve found that the most loving that that we can do is have boundaries that maintain our dignity and sense of self.

Again, I struggle with this because I was previously more reactionary as a default. But, with time, I realized I feel more relieved by setting boundaries before offenses happen, as well as standing resolutely with my boundaries when others – even well-intended loved ones – attempt to encroach them. I have to practice this daily as part of my self care, since I have a few of my family members living with me. Some powerful tools that I’ve utilized on my journey have been the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, as well as YouTube videos published by Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Dr. Tracey Marks, and Irene Lyon.

The third hardest lesson for me to learn was learning to play, particularly, how to do so without guilt. Going back to the art of being gentle with myself, I had to learn ways to care for myself that would help me to heal my body and mind. For me, that involved recreating periods of joy in my life, and that meant I had to reflect back on the times when I was unabashedly, overwhelmingly happy. I found most of those times occurred during my childhood, so I had to start indulging myself and doing the things that made me happy again, which, for me, was playing games and creative expression.

The same guilt behind being gentle with myself crops up when I’m indulging in play. I have to continually remind myself that playing *is* productive, and more play = more creativity, which I can channel into other, more “adult” tasks. It has become easier for me to participate in play, because I have several younger children in my circle of family and friends, but I also have to indulge in play by myself, usually in the form of painting, making jewelry, working on a puzzle, or playing in makeup. I also find it helpful to connect with personalities that are light and playful, which is why I often go to YouTube for inspiration. I really enjoy play and fun from various perspectives, so I love videos by Mintfaery, Darling Desi and The Unexpected Gypsy.

Are there any difficult lessons that you’ve had to learn? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Also, if there’s any way that I can support you all, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. This journey through life isn’t an easy one: the most important thing we can do is share resources with each other, so that we can make our journeys a little smoother.

Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

health · life curation

Amping Up The Self Love

I’m feeling so much more rested today: I’m thankful for good sleep, good friends, and good food LOL! Having a little bit of each of these seems to have really done the trick for me. I’m still a little tired, but such is life when you’re living with fibromyalgia. Some days are much better than others, and when you have good days, you learn to relish them!

I’ve been resting more because I’m feeling affected by a lot of things. Yes, fibromyalgia plays a starring role in my exhaustion, but there was another thing that was bothering me. I noticed that I was starting to feel less than stellar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was causing it. After spending a little time exploring my feelings, I figured out that my tiredness was due to uneasiness.

Upon further reflection, I learned that my uneasiness was rooted in my lacking self love. It’s funny, because I didn’t think about it before, as I usually don’t feel uneasy or unsettled within myself. But I’ve been experiencing these feelings because I’ve occasionally felt frustrated with my progress on my goals, my health, and my changing family dynamics. I didn’t make the connection before, but it’s clear that my frustration with outside circumstances is starting to feel very personal and it started to affect me physically.

My goal recently has been to amp up my self love. This goes beyond manicures and massages: aside from self care, I thought long and hard about how I can affirm my worth and self love. I’ve been doing positive affirmations daily, sleeping with rhodochrosite under my pillow, and asking myself regularly, “How can I make this experience more suitable for me?”, and “What would make my happiest right now?” After asking myself those questions, I take an action that feels better in the moment. Those simple decisions went a long way in affirming that I am an embodiment of love, I radiate peace and love, and I’m deserving of love and all the good things that life has to offer.

I’m still working regularly on my self love, but I’m already seeing a change in my energy levels. Yes, I’m still tired a lot, but the uneasiness has shifted, and I’m feeling more grounded. Things are starting to look up, and I’m thankful for it.

health · life curation · luxury · relaxation

Luxury Is Your Birthright

After spending some time listening to those amazing audiobooks last month (you can see my June book list here), I felt like I was buzzing. It’s been quite some time since I felt limitless and excited about the possibilities that lay before me. Perhaps it’s the thrill of the pandemic easing up and life getting back to some semblance of normal. Or, maybe it’s because my fibromyalgia hasn’t been giving me any major issues recently (yay for being flare-free!). On the other hand, it could be the fact that it’s starting to consistently feel like summertime here in Virginia, and the sunny days and warm temps do wonders for my mood.

Whatever the reason, I was already feeling pretty good. But these books absolutely upleveled my mood from good to great. In addition to general mood-lifting, the audiobooks I enjoyed reminded me of the power of my conscious and subconscious mind, as well as the fact that I am entitled to live a beautiful life, and that can include luxuries that enhance my experience here on earth.

However, listening to these books also made me think about an incident that occurred earlier this year, which I will regale you with in a moment. To preface, a few months ago, I was thinking about living luxuriously and how to create a more opulent home environment, but I was plagued with a lot of guilt. I love nice things, but in the middle of a global health crisis, it felt silly to desire my normal luxury purchases. And, when I did shop, my purchased amounted to nothing more than retail therapy, because I was under a lot of stress and needed pretty, shiny distractions.

The source of my stress was directly connected to my home environment. Two of my elderly relatives started living in my home during the pandemic, and, despite having adequate space, an abundance of food, and all of the electronics needed to keep us occupied, the environment still felt tense and unhappy. The spirit of discontent was heavy in my home, and it was weighing on me.

My relatives were ready to go back to their home. And they were being unpleasant in my home, in order to communicate their desire to leave. However, their home needed several repairs, as well as fumigation and deep cleaning, before they could moved. I was unsure how long it would take until all of those tasks could be accomplished, so I couldn’t provide them with a definite return date. That uncertainty stressed me out even more than the unpleasant behavior that I was witnessing daily.

Now, on to the incident that the books brought to mind: in the midst of this extremely stressful home situation, my good friend Kalifia mentioned to me that I should get away for a couple of days. But, on short notice, I figured that I couldn’t go very far. This part was true – going far wasn’t really an option – but it was only one side of what she proposed. She emphasized to me that, even if I couldn’t go very far away from home, I could still take a few days to get away.

I couldn’t argue with her logic. I needed a break, and it was within my budget. But I felt bad about taking a mini-break: I could have used the money for something else, I could have stayed at home in order to help take care of my elderly family members, I could have used the time to clean up a bit more and catch up on chores, etc.,. The reasons to say “no” were numerous. But there was only one reason to say “yes”, and, fortunately for me, it was louder than all of the “no”s combined. The “yes” simply said,

You need this.

Despite my guilt and hesitance, I decided to book a room at a lovely hotel about 20 minutes from my home. I checked in a few days later, and I laid around in the room and enjoyed the silence. The following day, I shopped at an upscale mall near the hotel, then I returned back to my room. I ordered food delivery each day, and I ate whatever I wanted. It felt ridiculous, self-indulgent, and positively unnecessary. Except, I needed every moment of it. Those days away from home restored me. It was a luxury, but it was crucial to helping me feel like myself again.

Do you ever feel that you don’t deserve the best that life has to offer? Does it ever feel like you need to EARN the luxurious parts of life? Do you feel foolish whenever you reach out for luxury? If you have, then let me assure you: luxury is your right. Actually, it’s your birthright: when you were born, you came entitled to the best that life has to offer. You are entitled to live a life that feels good to you, leaving you with beautiful, satisfying memories to comfort you as you age and eventually expire.

It took me reaching the end of my rope before I reconnected to my entitlement to happiness, peace, joy, and, yes, luxury. The beautiful thing about luxury is that we get to define it for ourselves. My definition doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s, and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is forgetting that I’m always entitled to feeling luxurious based on my definition.

I’m thankful for remembering who I am and what I deserve. I’m even more thankful that I can use my birthright to inform the decisions that I make, and I am determined to consistently make choices that honor this.

How do you define luxury? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!