Pressing the pause button

Today I started working with an herbalist and homeopath who is incredible.  She has worked with every autoimmune issue imaginable, and has treated Lyme for over 30 years.  She is exactly the doctor I’ve been searching for the past 5+ years.   cropped-butterflies.png

She has instructed me, as part of my healing, to not think AT ALL about anything that sends a message to my brain about my body being sick.  I am not to look up one thing online about ANYthing regarding my health. It is her job to figure out what I need to do to get well.  This is why I hired her, after all.  This is her training and experience, after all.   I am to keep in my mind that I have a few things that need to be balanced.  That’s it. And, instead of researching, writing, thinking or talking about my health, I am to – get this – have fun!  Enjoy life.  Do things I like to do.

You know, be a normal person.

Well, this of course makes perfect sense when you consider the effect the relaxation response has on your healing process.  I’m not alone anymore in this.  I don’t have to figure this out in the dark.  No cobbled-together mishmash of protocols anymore.  I am supported.  Finally!  It’s the best news I’ve had since my initial diagnosis in April 2008.

The thing this means, however, is that I won’t be writing in this blog for a while.  Maybe ever.  Just the name of this site implies I’m not a normal person – that there’s something wrong with me. That I want to be like a normal person because I’m actually not.

I’ll still be blogging, just at a new home.  Maybe www.trustyourbliss.wordpress.com, maybe  http://www.darajones.com.  Will write a post on it here once it becomes clear.

If you do come back here after the beginning of Sept. the url will revert back to www.likeanormalperson.wordpress.com.

Hope you all are enjoying your summer,  Mine is certainly looking brighter!

An update

All quiet on the hot and humid front.  That just about sums up my life, which pretty much revolves around air conditioning at the moment.  Can’t remember a more hot, humid and rainy summer in 25 years of living in the Washington DC area. I can deal with just about any weather except humidity.  I keep telling myself that this is better than a drought and running out of water, which is what my family in Texas is facing.  So, this will be my mantra for the next 6-8 weeks – it could be worse.

Yes, much worse.  But here’s the rundown anyway: Most of my garden is either rotting or molding.  All my cooking momentum went out the window (even though I had a major breakthrough with my eating issues – a topic for a later post). The 60 blog posts in 60 days challenge?  Forget it.  Thought I’d work on a novel idea that came to me while living in the country but it’s like someone hit the pause button on my brain. I keep wanting to exercise, but just the thought makes me tired.  Am contemplating a new gym and/or a T-Tapp video I can do at home.  “Contemplating” being the operative word.  Signed up for some quilting classes which start next week, and there are a couple of novels I may end up reading.  Have been watching lots of TedTalks, Youtube videos, documentaries on Netflix and playing some online video games.

Lethargic doesn’t begin to describe it.  I’ve almost worn a hole in the carpet in front of my sofa.

Did have a fantastic 10 days with my sister last month – The Perigee Moon 2013before the weather turned to mush.  She is the best sister ever. Had a blissful afternoon meeting a dear friend for lunch, also last month – just as the weather was turning.  We hadn’t seen each other for years and we each drove 90 minutes to meet halfway. Can’t wait to do it again.  Start working week after next with a Lyme doctor – which will give me lots of new health stuff to focus on.  Yay.  A few inklings of career interests have bubbled up to consider, which gives me some new things to research. Gotta love a good research project!  Have gotten together with friends on several occasions which is always fun, and spent the evening on our lake with a neighbor and her daughter to see the Perigee moon during the summer Solstice.

Overall, though, it’s as if I’ve been grounded and just have to wait out this period of stopping.

As I’ve learned SO many times in the past, resisting “what is” is a recipe for unnecessary suffering.  As the Buddha taught, life is full of suffering – but most of it is optional. There were a couple of days where a meltdown over boredom was brewing – but a wise and dear friend talked me down and disaster was averted.

Maybe there is something to this “journey” thing after all.

Where am I headed?

Day before last I had a pretty sucky day.  It started out okay, but by mid-afternoon I was in a funk.  Not the deep dark hole I’ve visited in the past, but a clear-headed funk where I was very much aware of the machinations of my mind.  I’m taking that as a sign of progress 🙂

I became aware of how much I live in the past – something I never did until losing my marriage, health and career.  Before that, I always had a vision of where I was aiming and the belief that I could get there one way or another.  Nothing felt impossible.  It was a good feeling and one I don’t always enjoy now.  Now, I often long for what I had – a big beautiful townhome with a backyard where I could garden.  Or the adorable (mold-filled) cottage I rented in the country for 2 years that had a HUGE fenced backyard where my dogs could run races, I could commune with nature and feed the entire neighborhood with all the produce grown in my garden.  Then there was being married and having a companion with whom I shared my life. Although fraught with dysfunction, it was good and solid for many years and I enjoyed the lifestyle.  There were also the days when I could work  hard and make a ton of money if I wanted.  I had a different set of choices than I do now, and 2 days ago I wanted those choices back.

This nostalgia does not imply that I’m not grateful for all my many blessings.  I have a measure of health that many with autoimmune disease and Lyme don’t.  I live in my own condo on a gorgeous lake in a very supportive and friendly community of neighbors.  I share my life with 2 of the most precious Westies ever and am sweetly serenaded on demand day or night.  My physical needs are met and I am supported financially.  These are miracles I am grateful for each and every day. 

And yet.

I have no sense of direction.  Some people are fine with this, and I truly wish I was one of them.  I vacillate between allowing life to reveal it’s plans according to its own timing, and trying to figure out what’s next so I can go make it happen.  There are days when things seem to be happening.  Then days like Wednesday when what little momentum I had comes to a screeching halt.  I’ve learned to ride out these emotions like the weather.  It always changes.

Change it did on Thursday morning.  I realized that I have to actively participate in creating my new life and not wait for it to magically appear at my doorstep nor charge full steam ahead as if it’s all up to me.  I’ve had this realization before, or course.  My head is still hard and it takes me a while to get the obvious.  But when things seem to be moving along then stop, I typically think I don’t know what I want because if I did everything would work out magically exactly when I wanted it to and that I need to stop doing anything until my direction is crystal clear and then I can start again and everything will work out exactly how and when I want it to.  Right.  Like I said, this head is hard and this Soul stubborn.

Here’s the thing, though, about where I am on this journey of creating a new life.  I already know alot about what I do and don’t want.

  • I can’t go back into a high-stress corporate career.
  • I don’t want to do anything where I have to be constantly networking to find new clients.
  • I don’t want my life to be all heavy and serious.  There are lots of problems on the planet to solve, and the only way I’ll participate in fixing any of them is if it’s fun.  This is my karma, dharma, whatever you want to call my Soul’s purpose during this lifetime.
  • I want to have fun and do things I enjoy.  Brené Brown uses the word “wholehearted”.  I add to that lighthearted.
  • I want balance, ease and flow. Creativitysweet sweet sweet, imagination, and joy. Friends, laughter, dancing and lots of time in nature.  And always, without fail, Westies. Many, many Westies.
  • Above all, at the end of my life, I want to know that I lived MY life.

How does this list a life vision make?  I’m following what I love and enjoy.  That’s it.  Is it fun?  Does my energy increase or decrease when I think about it or do it?  Is it creative, lighthearted and make me happy?  Does it fit into a relaxed lifestyle? Am I moved to do it?  Not in a serious way, but does my energy move in that direction?  Do I feel a yes or a no – coming from my body and energy field?  This approach requires me to come down out of my head and into my body.  Yep, there’s that body thing again.  In fact, my whole life is coming down to fully inhabiting my body, listening to my body, and loving my body.  I used to think my heart was the guiding force, but without my body involved, my head takes over.

So there you have it.  I’m not “headed” anywhere.  I just need to be embodied.  This, coming from someone who used to think the body’s purpose was to carry around the head.   Ha!

When the body has a different idea

A few days into Paleo+ last week I hit a wall.  The truth was, I wasn’t getting enough carbs.  Instead of sticking to my plan and not listening to my body, I added a little rice to each meal to help balance things out.  Problem solved.  I’ve had almost no cravings and much more energy.  I’ve even been fantasizing lately about exercising, which some folks say is a sign your metabolism is healing.  I certainly hope so because this body is very out of shape and in serious need of movement.

However, as with all new physical endeavors these days, I am tip toeing into exercise slowly – especially in light of my very tired adrenals and heart issues. My current thinking is to: (1) go to the gym and walk on the treadmill where it’s flat and climate controlled, using my heart rate monitor, (2) try T-Tapp for 10-15 minutes a day and see how I like it, (3) do some resistance training with light hand weights I’ve got here at home, very light weight on a few machines at the gym or perhaps using exercise bands.  I went to the sporting good store and tried kettlebells but those will have to wait.  A while.

Wow.  Can’t believe I’m thinking about exercise.  I used to exercise ALL the time when my life was “normal”  and it will be a key part of living a full life once again.  Running, walking, lifting, dancing, bike riding, hiking, and yoga are among the activities I enjoyed.  It will be a happy day when they are all part of my life again.

Until then, patience and compassion will rule the day.  Instead of punishing myself for carrying extra weight, and whipping my body into shape – I am loving and nurturing myself with movement.  This is a new normal whose time has certainly come.

Sweet sweet adrenals, I am so very sorry

My dear adrenal glands,

How are you doing?  It’s been a long haul, I know.  In fact it’s hard to know where to start apologizing for what I’ve put you through.  There were all the years of non-stop work and stressful travel.  Flying to 7 cities in 5 days for sales presentations was rough.  Then there were all those assholes I used to work with and the insanity of trying to do my job in toxic dysfunctional environments.  Sorry about the 2 start-ups who had alcoholic CEOs.  But my ex used to call me an adrenaline junkie, so it’s not surprising I was drawn to all the crazy-making.

And then there was the marriage.  Living with a spouse with numerous “issues” (which I won’t innumerate out of respect for his privacy) was a fricking nightmare.  It felt normal all those years after growing up with an alcoholic father and abusive stepfather, but then it started killing me.  I’m so sorry I stayed as long as I did.  The awakening process takes as long as it takes.

I’m glad it didn’t take any longer because the trauma from leaving the marriage and working non-stop to avoid the grief almost killed me too.  By this time you were done and had been fueling our precious immune system to fend off the Lyme infection for 2 years.  Again, I am so sorry I didn’t know I had those nasty buggers swimming around.  When I got all the symptoms from it I brushed it off like I always did when my body was screaming for help,, and of course I didn’t go to the doctor.  This time I was too busy renovating the condo and dealing with head to toe hives from working at a company run by a bipolar maniac.

I understand completely why you quit working 5 1/2 years ago.  I’m just starting to appreciate all that you do and the role you play in my healing process.  I am committing to you right here right now that I am now focusing like a laser beam on your health and well-being.  We are in this together and I’ve been so focused on cleaning up my diet that you haven’t gotten the love and attention you deserve.

Thank you for hanging in there with me.  You are stronger than strong.  It’s time to rest and regenerate.  I’ve finally got your back.  I love you dearly and will do everything in my power to nourish and heal you.

In gratitude and awe,

Dara

Cooking for Life

In order to eat real food – not “food like substances” designed in a lab, as Michael Pollan writes so eloquently about – one must spend time in the kitchen preparing said food.  Almost everything that comes out of a box, drive-thru, can, or plastic has been processed, polluted, altered or otherwise deranged to such an extent as to render it harmful instead of healthful.  Industrialized vegetable oils, genetically modified soy and corn and their derivatives, preservatives, dyes, artificial flavorings, refined and genetically modified sugar, refined grains – the list goes on and on – lead to illness not health.

Since I am all about healing and staying healthy afterward, cooking has become an absolute requirement.  Too bad I don’t like to cook, never have and know very little about it.  I had SO rather be doing about 100 other things besides stand in the kitchen combining and assembling ingredients.

And yet, there’s no way around it. There’s no budget for a full-time personal chef and you can’t find prepared foods made 100% from real ingredients.  Sorry, soybean and canola oil don’t qualify. If only Whole Foods would figure this out.  This leads to one conclusion.  

I. Must. Cook.

Okay.  I give up. There’s no fighting it and I can stop thinking that I’ll get to the point one day when I don’t have spend time in the kitchen.  Cooking is here for life, and is the most important thing I do for myself each day.

That is exactly how I’ve been looking at cooking too – as an act of self-care and love.  With each roasted chicken and steamed head of cauliflower, I’m creating a new body, a new life and a new level of energy and vitality.

I’ll be writing quite a bit about food and cooking in the coming weeks since this is the toughest change to make and sustain.  It’s now easy to take my supplements on time, get labwork done, and say yes and no to the things that either lift or drain my energy (I wrote about this yes/no learning process in a previous blog).  In addition to cooking, the things that are not easy right now are (1) doing relaxation practices and going to bed early to heal my worn out adrenals and calm my erratic heartbeat, (2) having fun, and (3) restarting my career.  No doubt I’ll be writing about these too.

Now it’s time to go make dinner. Hope you’re having a good one.

Paleo+ Defined

Even though this blog isn’t only about food, food is the heart and soul of my healing strategy.  We literally are what we eat, so in my book, true healing and health starts with food.  Some health issues can be cleared up entirely by a change of diet and others require additional interventions.  For me, the Hashimoto’s responds dramatically to shifts in my diet, whereas the Graves doesn’t budge.  Regardless, my quality of life is enhanced by leaps and bounds when I eat Paleo.

Plus foods from other dietary approaches.  After much experimentation and research, this now includes:

  • The “minding your mitochondria” protocol developed by Dr. Terry Wahls, one of my healing heroes, who reversed her Multiple Sclerosis symptoms.   If you want to be inspired, read her story and listen to her on YouTube.  She is absolutely amazing.
  • Raw vegan foods such as green smoothies, green juice, sprouts, dehydrated veggie chips and other enzyme and micronutrient rich fare.  As I wrote about last year, my cells do a happy dance when I drink green juice – which is a big green light to keep drinking it.
  • Foods from the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) protocol including fermented food and drinks prepared using Pickl-it jars to control the strains of yeast and bacteria grown, mega doses of probiotics, bone broth and treats made with grass-fed based gelatin.
  • Of course when it comes to nutrient-dense eating, the Weston A. Price Foundation principles must be included.  Unfortunately, my body doesn’t allow me to partake in raw milk and traditionally prepared grains as promoted by Sally Fallon & Friends.  The jury is still out on legumes, but since I never crave them it’s not a big deal at the moment.

I’m writing about this like it’s been no big deal to discover the right combo of foods my body responds positively to and that compliance with Paleo+ is a breeze.  Do not be fooled.  This has been a struggle of monumental proportions and I’ve fallen off the wagon more times than I can count.  All my food neuroses and body hate issues have had to be addressed in a profoundly deep way to get to this point – and there’s still lots more work to do.  Thanks to the work of Amber Rogers and many others in the blogosphere who are rejecting society’s messages about the way women’s bodies should look in order to be considered beautiful, being at peace with how I look and what I eat is now possible.

And so the journey continues…….