Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Time

A few nights ago I was sitting on my couch in my warm, cozy living room, soaking in the still of the moment, and asked myself a question. "What would be your perfect career and how would you feel in it?" So I closed my eyes and let myself imagine. I felt purpose and a natural rhythm of moving and doing—I clearly knew. I had vision and pure intrinsic drive. I was in sync with my true self. I was helping people, coaching people, sharing my health journey. I was speaking and teaching and connecting with people. It felt energizing and exciting and rewarding! I felt fulfilled and creative and so happy. I was relaxed, having fun, and authentic. I was me!

This journey that started out as an experiment with a new way to eat to heal from rheumatoid arthritis quickly became a journey of self-discovery—a road to finding myself. Because of that, much of my time over the past 21 months has been spent quietly processing what I've been learning rather than publicly blogging about it like I'd planned. It's been a solitary journey. But after visualizing my dream career, it all went click-click-click in my brain, and I said aloud, "Is it time? Is it really time?!" Then I felt the freedom and joy of creating come back to me. I instantly knew I needed to blog my "I LOVE U" post that had been waiting for months. And then I flipped to a powerful journal entry I'd written while sitting on the lawn of the capitol, and so I made a separate post. I post-dated both entries so they'd authentically follow my timeline of health. And then I knew it had to be this way—I need to fill in the holes of the journey using my journals so it's as authentic as possible. I want you to feel like you're really on this journey with me, especially if you're seeking healing too. It'll give you a logical perspective of time, pain, foods, improvements, discoveries, and all the highs and lows. This feels good. It's time!

My journey is very personal to me, as I am sure your journey was/is/will be, but if my opening up and sharing can help even one of you, though it may leave me a little exposed and vulnerable, I know it will be worth it. Much of this journey has been to teach me to let go of worrying about what others think, so I guess this is putting that to the test. It's time to be real. It's time to be honest. It's time to let you all know that I'm just as flawed as you think you are, and I'm also just as divinely radiant, infinitely wise, and boldly courageous as you may not yet know you are. Isn't this exciting guys?! You too are on a path to become the person you were always meant to be! (I don't doubt there's a reason you're here on this blog right now, reading this post.) I want to shout all I've learned from the rooftops. I want to shout how grateful and joyful and blessed I am. But I guess for now this blog will suffice. One post at a time I'll share what I've learned.

Though nonconventional and nontraditional in every sense of the words, this journey to healing is undeniably real. I am walking, running, dancing proof that we can be healed if we are open and willing and believing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Leave RA in the Dust

        (Despite having leprosy, these men wore huge toothy grins. They were a huge      inspirations to me when I visited Egypt in November 2008.) 

WARNING: To begin this trek of leaving rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the dust, I must give a disclaimer. This journey is not for the weak at heart. Your endurance is vital because this road follows the pace of nature. RA may overtake you periodically for a mile or two, but with a steady pace and a heart full of hope, you will achieve the victory—not only leaving RA behind forever, but in the process discovering a more fulfilling way of life and a better you.

1.      1. Take a deep breath. Release slowly. Take another deep breath and release. I can only imagine RA is the last thing you want for your life right now and it’s okay to mourn. The sadness is often fierce like a tidal wave. Most likely you have a lot on your plate already, so the RA is just the icing on the cake. Despite all the opposition, I believe in you. All of us who’ve come before are cheering you on.*

2.      2. Look in the mirror and decide that RA is not you. This is not the life you want. This is not the life you choose. You choose health and happiness. Your firm determination to leave RA in the dust despite all the naysayers may be the only thing that gets you through at times, so you must determine now who you are and what your future holds.

3.      3. Imagine yourself healthy. Visualize yourself doing something you love or just going about the normal routine. What does it feel like to move without pain? Do you feel happy and light, or maybe full of energy and gratitude? What would you be doing as a healthy person? Taking a walk through your neighborhood? Playing with your kids? Hiking up to a gorgeous overlook? Re-create these feelings daily and keep visualizing the health you will once again have.

4.      4. Take responsibility for your health. Know that you ultimately are in control. You can undo whatever’s been done. Believe it and own it. You can blame your dead great-grandmother all you want for passing on her RA genes, but it will only create bad energy and make you feel worse. Taking responsibility for your health is empowering and liberating and will fuel you forward in your journey to health.

5.      5. Decide that your health is worth the price. You literally can’t put a price tag on your health. Health most likely is a top priority in your life now that you have RA, even if it wasn’t before, but you must believe that you are worth the cost. If you decide now that you are deserving of health, the money will find it’s way to you. It happened to me time and time again in moving and often baffling ways. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

6.      6. Know that you most definitely are going to get better if you make time for your health. This means proactively helping your body, mind, & spirit heal through diet, exercise, processing & releasing emotions, and other natural means. Learn from the pace of Mother Nature. By healing naturally you will be healing from the inside out in lasting ways, rather than masking outward physical pain with medication and ignoring the inner workings of your mind and spirit. Believe me, a year from now you are going to be saying that RA was the best thing that ever happened to you because it opened your eyes to what was out of balance in your life and forced you to change. I for one admit I probably would’ve have changed if I weren’t in excruciating pain.

7.      7. Release all fear. Journal it out of you, scream it out to the empty air around you, tell your sorrow to a patient, empathetic loved one. Whatever you do, get the fear out through written or verbal words. I remember how scared I felt after talking with doctors and well-meaning people with RA. Most of them counseled me to hit it hard at the beginning or I’d end up with joint damage. I felt like I was literally in bondage to RA and the medications until I decided to put my trust in my higher source—Jesus Christ. Decide what or who your higher source is, put your faith in that source, and then together determine the best course of action for you. Even after deciding to go the natural route and putting my trust in God, I most definitely had wavering moments where I’d stare fearfully at my fingers, wondering if I was already getting joint damage. But once I better understood that I was responsible for creating my RA (maybe a new concept to you, so please don’t throw rocks), my sense of empowerment and control increased, and I knew that there was nothing to be afraid of if I continued to proactively care for my body, mind, & spirit. My goal was total healing, and I knew there was no room for fear of the unknown (i.e., joint damage) in that mix.

8.      8. Keep releasing your negative emotions as they come up. Every emotion you bottle up inside stays inside and contributes to your ill health. If you’re not at all able to identify your emotions let alone feel comfortable expressing them, join the club! Does that make you feel better or what? All I can say is, you will be amazed at how self-aware you will become. I never gave my feelings a second thought, because I’d been trained to pretend they didn’t exist, but now I am instantly aware if a conversation makes me feel like I’m not good enough or left out or angry. I do my best to process those emotions so I know why I felt that way and then clear myself of all negative feelings that are weighing me down.

9.      9. Eat foods that are fresh, whole, and as natural as possible. Start to pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods to know what to eliminate. If it grew out of the ground, you’re probably safe to eat it. If it's been processed and preserved, I'd probably pass. The better the foods you put into your body, the easier it is for your body to heal.

10  10. Do what you love. There may be some things you can’t do right now because of your health, but focus on what you can do and make time for it. For your sanity and for the health of your body, mind, & spirit, set time aside for you to feel joy in the lifestyle you are currently living. I admit this was very hard for me at first because it felt like I couldn’t do anything I loved like yoga and rock climbing and traveling. I loved to write, but some days my fingers hurt too bad to hold a pen, but I did the best I could. I went on walks even if my feet were cursing at me—much slower walks, of course, but I still got outside and found something I loved. I took up gardening for the first time, and it is so symbolic and dear to me now. Find your own new source of joy.

*Future blog posts will dig deeper into each of these 10 ways to leave RA in the dust.