Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Only True Medicine

c/o http://www.davidthompsonart.com/photography.htm
Have you noticed that the flood gates have opened at last, and I can't stop sharing now? It's finally time. I've also been recently shelving a few of my other responsibilities in order to make time to post, but it's time.

From a few of the books I've been reading, I'm seeing how our emotions are often directly connected to whatever physical pain we're experiencing. Yesterday I decided to go deeper and evaluate what emotions I need to be dealing with based on what showed up on Barbara's computer on Wednesday: Epstein Barr Virus (yep, it's back!), circulation, spleen, head and neck pain, and lungs. Sure we could say that rheumatoid arthritis causes poor circulation or that I'm stressed and that causes EBV to flare up as well as headaches and neck pain, but why am I stressed? Why am I allowing myself to feel stress? We could also assume that my lungs are a little clogged from the winter inversion and my daily commute to a big city, but what is really causing these malfunctions in my body? Why is my body weak enough to allow these environmental or genetic problems to effect me?

So I did more research and gathered all of the emotions that could be linked to these physical malfunctions and reflected on what I've most recently been experiencing in life. What I found that matched was the following: fear, resisting love from others, anxiety and pressure, stress from responsibilities, not being sincere with myself and others because of lack of self-love, not allowing myself to feel others' love/feeling rejected, fear, resentment, not feeling approval, hurts from love, feeling life is monotonous, not being able to do things my way, inflexible state of mind, moving under pressure, wanting to let feelings out but don't dare, tension, discouragement, not enjoying my job but I can't quit, putting myself down, and feeling I must prove myself. Yikes. What does that all mean, and can I really admit that all of that gunk is mine? To be honest, it takes a lot of courage to admit we've got a lot of nonsense going on inside our heads. You are all my confidantes now because these are not things I like to admit. But I'm beginning to see that I'm not alone. None of us are immune to negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy, but by becoming more aware of our tendencies we can help alleviate the emotional and physical pain.

So next I did some more reflecting and thought, "What is the positive alternative to all of these negative emotions?" I concluded that it was LOVE and PEACE. I then dug a little deeper to discover that my need for peace actually stems from stress and anxiety to perform because of needing approval. If I felt more LOVE, I wouldn't need to perform and feel like I have to be perfect to get it. Thus, LOVE is the true answer! The Beatles were right—all you need is love. LOVE is the only true medicine.

Last night I finished Guidepost #2, "Cultivating Self-Compassion" in the book The Gifts of Imperfection and that got me thinking about the root of the antithesis of LOVE. For me that root is perfectionism. This basically means 1) needing approval, acceptance and to feel good enough and 2) fear of judgment, blame, and shame. It's that feeling that in order to feel or deserve love you have to earn it.

So since I now know that LOVE is the only true medicine, I decided to list all of the moments people showed me love yesterday—all the hugs, the "I love yous," the smiles, the little acts of kindness, the moments of acceptance, the acknowledgments that I exist and matter. And then I thought back to how I felt in each one of those moments. I realized that in quite a few I was quick to deny the love or discount it or challenge it. Why?? Why do we often feel unworthy of love? That's something we all have to uncover and understand for ourselves.

For me Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of love, so this morning I decided to list the ways He showed love. Teaching, healing, performing acts of kindness, working miracles, seeing and hearing people that others didn't, forgiving, accepting, seeking out "lost sheep," believing in people, inviting people to follow Him, making time for people, empathizing, sharing His gifts, being Himself, being self-compassionate, connecting with people, washing his apostles' feet, mourning with those who were sad, being patient, speaking truth, being courageous, caring for His mother, talking to and playing with the children, chastising when the circumstances required it, and being selfless in everything He did. How was it possible for Christ to give LOVE without limit?

It's one thing to know that LOVE is the true medicine, but without knowing how to allow it into our lives, it means nothing. I decided that Christ's ability to give and receive LOVE came down to three things: 1) He knew who He was; 2) He understood His earthly mission; and 3) He had appropriate expectations. So in order to let LOVE in, we must know who we are and our true worth; we have to understand what great purpose we have in this life; and we need to recognize that everyone is imperfectly human, so we can't have faulty expectations of not only others' abilities but our own abilities as well.

I don't know about you, but I feel exhausted now! Excited to be getting more answers but drained. I think I need to do some more internalizing and processing and planning to know how to put this all into action. These roots stretch deep, and this post is only the tips of the branches.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Dog Days Are Over

A lot has happened in a year—my life wouldn't sparkle like it does now if I hadn't known the pain and fear that often accompanies illness. This thorn in my side called rheumatoid arthritis has been my guide to better understanding who I am (past, present, and future) and has motivated me to change for the better. But it's time to say good-bye to RA—you are not me. The dog days are over!

This morning I paid Barbara a cheery visit—I was actually ecstatic, smiling at the walls all week long because I couldn't wait to see what she'd find . . . or not find. Barbara takes care of me holistically, and as of today happily reported that my RA pain was coming in on the computer at a 4. Not an 800 like it did in May, not a 15 like it did in October, but a 4!! She also has a high-tech computer that does light and sound treatment, so she flooded my hands and feet with light until they felt as good as new. Thank you, thank you!

Some of you may be wondering how my RA pain could've dropped so drastically without ever going on medication. When I started on this journey a year ago—and started this blog—my focus was to heal through "an experiment with a new way to eat" instead of getting on any medications. My external resources at that time also included holistic remedies, prayer, religious texts, and priesthood blessings. I studied intensely to know what God could tell me about healing, learning primarily from Christ's power to heal, and how light, faith, and forgiveness play a role in healing. Then starting in August my diet path started to widen little by little to also include meditation, fasting (which I hadn't done in 7 years because of the hypoglycemia!), reflexology, massage (craniosacral and water drop), chiropractic, physical therapy, visualization, and positive thinking. I've never studied, prayed, or fasted so fervently. Every ounce of healing I've experienced has been because of my Savior. I could write volumes about the power Christ has to heal each and every one of us. I now know clearer than ever how the power is in us to choose to be healed and that once we choose to be healed, it is only through Christ we can be made whole. Some of you have other higher powers that you call on, but it all comes from the same source.

A year ago tomorrow I went in search of answers to all the mysterious pain that was taking over my body. The doctors took X-rays and ran my first round of blood work that determined I had RA. Since this has been the journey of a lifetime—the most profound thing I have yet to experience—I want to share with you how it all began:

February 24, 2010—Wednesday
          You know how sometimes you inspect your life, and it's nothing like what you thought it'd be? When I woke up this morning with bursitis in my right wrist, I went on a 30-minute walking adventure and thought that thought—that this is not how I expected my life to be. And then I thought more specifically how the Lord had prepared me to know that I would become acquainted with sickness. I thought about it tonight while I was splashing water on my face, and it made me laugh out loud. Then I thought about it again after I got a text from Aunt Lavon, and it made me cry.
          Bursitis hurts like strained, frozen muscles being tugged and even yanked. Like there's an impossibly heavy weight attached to every nerve and every tendon in your shoulder or hand or jaw. It's deep. Stiff. Eee-err-eee-err . . . almost squeaky. Tense and achy. It's torture. I felt better tonight when Aunt Gail emailed a second time to say she'd had bursitis before, and she said it hurts way worse than than RA.
          I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow morning at my doctor appointment. I just want to know how to keep this pain from happening so often and from spreading. I've been super blessed so far not to have two parts of my body with bursitis at the same time—this week did come close though with my left shoulder freezing up from Saturday to Monday and then my right wrist taking over today. Will I eventually need hospice? I'd prefer a husband.


February 25, 2010—Thursday
          I hope that if I have a new, unknown disease that they call it Mildred Syndrome. Or Unhappy Joints Disease. Something catchy.
          After lots of tubes of my O+ blood were drawn and about 10 X-rays were taken, I was left to wait the results. (Dang, I'm realizing how tense I am all the time. How do I loosen up more?) Dr. Martin told me she'd call me with the blood work results tomorrow. The X-rays showed no joint damage, but they did reveal a mysterious stress fracture in my right foot. (Yep, I've been feeling that for two weeks now, but I did nothing to get it—just woke up one morning and couldn't walk on my right foot.) Dr. Martin says that bursitis doesn't cause rheumatoid arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis can cause bursitis. What the doctor doesn't think sounds right is that my bursitis is spreading. That doesn't generally happen. Hmm. Prodigy?:) I'd like to think so. Like Roald Dahl's Matilda—I'm reading it right now and love the diversion.

Well, I'll close there for now. I think I've shared enough of my juicy journal writings for one day. 

I still have a ways to go with my health, but these dog days are definitely over. I am full of only gratitude and anticipation of what I will learn tomorrow.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Self-Love

When I say "self-love," I don't mean narcissism. And I also don't mean that "yeah, sure I love myself" kind of love where it's more like you put up with yourself. This is a higher love where you listen to your own hopes and dreams and encourage yourself. The kind of acceptance and admiration you may give others but shy away from when talking about yourself. Self-love is when you are kind to yourself even when you screw up or say something stupid—when you accept yourself for who you are at this very moment.

I've been onto this idea of self-love since the end of January and have been doing a little experiment of my own. I decided that I wanted to be more self-nurturing, so I've been taking care of myself and talking to myself as if I were someone else, meaning, being as nice to myself as I am to other people. (I tend to give everyone but me the benefit of the doubt, which I know goes for a lot of you too.) So to get the self-nurturing ball rolling, I'd say stuff like, "I'm taking a nice relaxing bath because I am self-nurturing" to hold my hand through the awkwardness of serving myself. I'd also stop and think, "Okay, if I were self-nurturing, what would I do? . . . I would take a quick nap instead pushing through the mental fog." I suddenly felt a new acceptance of myself. For the first time I was considering my own needs and wants just like I'd always considered everyone else's. It's slowly sinking in that I have nothing to prove to anyone, and I don't need such unreasonable expectations for myself.

Even though I've been telling myself that I am self-nurturing for a month now, the breakthrough didn't happen until Tuesday (two days ago). By breakthrough I mean, my mind and my heart connected—my thoughts and feelings were united. The words I'd been saying (e.g., "I am good enough," "I am important," "I am magnificent," "I am self-nurturing," etc.) had mostly just been words that then led to actions (e.g., letting myself curl up on the couch with cookies, ice cream, a huge blanket, and a good book with candles lit even though I still had more studying to do). These were positive actions that helped me go through the motions of noticing my needs and being thoughtful to myself, BUT these words had no't yet registered in my heart. Until Tuesday.

Tuesday was a busy day, like most of our days are, right? I had projects and papers and errands to do before I left for a meeting. Everything on my to-do list had to do with school, work, or household tasks. As I was hurrying home from errands, I was about to pass my chiropractor's office. I have a package deal going on where I can work out in their exercise room as much as I want. That usually ends up being a meager one to two times a week. Well, I was about to pass the building when I made a split-second decision to stop. I was a little annoyed at myself because I knew I'd be more stressed later when I had less time to finish my paper, but I did it anyway.

I worked out for 20 minutes and then did laser treatment on my joints for another 20, and then headed home. Everything worked out fine, and I finished my paper just in time to head to my meeting. As I was driving up my street, my mind started thinking through the morning's events. My brain slowed down as I thought about me going to the chiropractor, and the thought came, "I made time to work out because I am important." Then I realized what I'd just done without any prodding—I'd acknowledged that I am important. Bam! I literally was hit with a wave of love and gratitude and genuine acceptance of myself. I've never, ever felt such approval of myself and genuine joy for being counted as a top priority in my life.

Just a minute ago I was reading an article in the February 2011 Yoga Journal called "Nurturing the New You." The title jumped out at me because of this journey of self-nurturing I've been on. The most effective way to change something in ourselves is through compassion, not self-criticism, impatience, or anger. I recently read in Feelings Buried Alive Never Die that it is not humanly possible to be without flaw, but we are all fundamentally perfect when we are in a state of change. (Which is basically the case for every one of us!) The only way to be changing in a positive direction is to accept and love yourself for your weaknesses and be forgiving of yourself when you don't change as quickly as you'd like. You are worthy of your own love.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back from Lunch

(Out To Lunch by Tammis Keefe)
I've been out to lunch from this blog for a really, really long time. I've thought about you guys a lot, I promise, but I've had such a mixture of thoughts and epiphanies and ahh-hhas running through my head that I was hoping to trod a little deeper before I published my findings.

I did almost post on October 21, 2010 when my holistic doctor showed me on her computer screen how the rheumatoid arthritis pain in my body had dropped from an 800 to a 15 on the scale. WOW is right.

And I almost wrote to tell you guys that since being on this new diet—gluten-free vegan—I no longer take medicine for EBV. After 7 years, it is gone and has been gone since August.

Miraculously, I also no longer needed to take hyperthyroid herbal drops as of July, because my energy levels had stabilized and my thyroid was happy once again. Should've shared that with you guys too.

In September I almost told you how I was starting to read a book called Anatomy of the Spirit and then was gifted You Can Heal Your Life, which led me to even more books and a new way of thinking. I'll most definitely get to talking about that. I stayed quiet through November, December, and January because I was processing.

And I did almost write about those many, many days of pain and utter frustration scattered over the past half a year to show that you're not alone and that I still haven't completely said good-bye to illness. Those blessed days when I can't cut my toast (yes, some of us do cut our toast, at least when there's a fried egg on top) or dress myself or walk without wincing are still familiar to me. Every day is full of surprise moments of gratitude (e.g., Like two weeks ago when I couldn't swallow or even lick my lips because the muscles around the hinge of my jaw were so tight and inflamed and then a few days later when I could eat again—I was suddenly beyond grateful for those muscles I never paid attention to before!). I thank God for those inconvenient days because they're days and not weeks anymore, and because without them I wouldn't be as conscious of what my body is trying to tell me. It's been talking to me for years, but I ignored it. That's why it's screaming now.

Being conscious, being aware is where my journey has led me the past few months. I've been asking myself, "What's really going on up there in that mind of yours, Katie? And what are you feeling?" And then once I became conscious enough to recognize my thoughts and when I was feelings something, I next asked myself, "Why are you feeling that way?" Peeling back layer after layer is no easy job. I'd say this part of the healing process has been ten times harder than giving up Oreo cookies. I wasn't prepared for that. So the majority of my next posts will most likely be about this more spiritual, inner journey I started on when I felt like the healthy food was no longer enough. Body, Mind, and Spirit. We must heal all three.

What's your secret to being more aware of your body's needs?

Know Your Greens: Kale

Why eat kale?

Because it's off the charts in Vitamin A, C, and K.
Because it's the prettiest green you'll ever see.
Because it's also got moderate amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, copper, vitamin B6, and manganese.
Because it's got mad ruffles, but it's not all girlie.
Because 1 cup raw, chopped kale contains 121mg Omega-3 fatty acids and 92mg Omega-6 fatty acids.
Because it can put the green in your green drink or green smoothie.
Because it even has a little protein in there—1 cup raw contains 4% of the daily protein requirement.
Because it's got dietary fiber, and you know you need some of that.
Because it comes fresh out of the ground, and thus it can be called food (read In Defense of Food for more information on the difference between nutrients and food.)

For full nutritional details on kale go here.

Here's a chart that lays it all out for us, care of The World's Healthiest Foods.

Eureka!

Believe it or not, today I discovered a gluten-free noodle that DID NOT taste like a gluten-free noodle. Imagine that! I was blown away. I've become accustomed to noodles that are either thick & pasty or prone to dissolve while boiling. None of the above here. The pasta salad I made today was a small piece of heaven in my mouth. I never knew how happy it could make me to feel like I was eating "normal" pasta again!

Mrs. Leeper's
Organic Rice Vegetable Twists
Ingredients: Organic brown rice flour, spinach powder, beet powder.
A Wheat, Gluten, and Casein Free Food.

www.worldfiner.com

Please share your gluten-free pasta discoveries too. We'd love to hear what's your favorite.