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Have you tried what seems like all-the-treatments and there seems to be a missing piece? Check out the 12-week program, Empowered Healing, and learn how to reclaim wellness! Click to read more!

Empowered Healing: Reclaiming Your Health & A GIVEAWAY

This giveaway is sponsored by Innovative Medicine and is open through May 31, 2017 at 11:59 pm PST. Scroll to the bottom and follow the directions to enter!

Over the last few years I’ve done anything but lie in wait for healing. I have made a lot of sacrifices, faced incredibly difficult treatment protocols, and put a huge daily effort into supporting my body’s healing.

My diet has shifted dramatically, and multiple times at that. I relied on an expensive supplement plan just to keep functioning. And up until 3 months ago I spent the majority of my days at home. Not out of choice, but because my unimaginable fatigue and symptoms demanded so much rest.

But in the last three months I’ve seen tremendous healing come from adding in an entirely new treatment program called DNRS. And because of that I’m truly starting to get my life back. DNRS is based on the foundation that we have the ability to heal ourselves by rewiring our brain. You can read more about that here.

Because of this new addition to my healing protocol, I’ve become absolutely fascinated by reading up on neuroplasticity. I’m always intrigued to hear about other treatment programs with similar, yet unique perspectives on healing.

So when Monica from Innovative Medicine reached out to share more about their Empowered Healing program launching on June 1, I was all ears!

Psssst…spoiler alert: they are giving away FIVE of their 12-week programs here on the blog! You can scroll down to the bottom for more info on how to enter.

What is Empowered Healing?

Empowered Healing is a 12 week program designed to put you in the driver’s seat of your health. EH is founded on the idea that we all have the ability to reclaim our natural state of health and functioning. And their program gives you the tools you’ll need to do just that: to activate your journey back to health.

What you’ll learn…

(taken from their website):

  • A holistic understanding of the underlying causes of illness and the critical (yet often overlooked) mechanisms that determine how people truly heal.
  • How to start feeling better instantly and optimize your recovery response by learning and applying the scientific evidence that the body can heal itself.
  • The 7 key fundamentals of health and how to address each of them in a personalized way that starts with your current individual-based priority.
  • The ‘Healing Blueprint’ framework: A five step process for charting your own unique course back to health, starting from right where you are.
  • How to solidify your newfound vitality, step fully into your healthiest self and sustain your new ‘set-point’ for the rest of your life.

The program consists of a 12-week guide, video lessons, interactive exercises, personal accountability calls, email coaching, research, and an online community to foster your healing journey.

I also found it super compelling that the program has been 12 years in the making…12 years! The creators of the program spent that time interviewing doctors from around the globe and learning from them. And now have used what they’ve gathered to create a comprehensive system that offers tangible steps for healing.

One of the creators, Ben Ahrens, suffered years with Lyme disease and has seen tremendous healing through implementing some of the practices presented in the program. You can listen in on his fascinating story he shared on a TED talk here.

“Could the program help me?”

As I was reading some of the info on the website, their description of who the program is for tugged at my heart. Simply put, it’s because I feel like it resonates with so many of us that have been working hard at healing:

“Whether you’re chronically ill and looking for ways to optimize your success outside the doctor’s office, wondering why various treatments don’t always lead to long-term health, or simply curious about what you can do in your personal life to compliment your medical treatment, this 12-week program will show you how to implement all of the discoveries and principles that Innovative Medicine is based on to empower yourself and reclaim health outside the medical office.”

How many of us have tried yet-another-treatment that helped someone else, but our body couldn’t tolerate it? Or it made us worse? And how many doctors have we seen that left us wondering if there was possibly a missing link? Perhaps something they hadn’t thought of that could help.

I know I, for one, could answer so many of those questions with a head nod. Or a blank look while trying to add up the number of times I’d been there.

The Empowered Healing program is a 12-week program that includes one on one accountability, email coaching, video lessons and interactive exercises to help you regain health! If you've been living with chronic illness click to read more about this amazing new approach to healing!

So what do I think?

I have to say that I’m excited about this program! I’ve seen firsthand how powerful neuroplasticity based healing can be. And with that being just one component to Empowered Healing, I’m embracing it with open arms.

I’ve had a chance to look over their beta program and will be diving into the full program in June. And I’m impressed just from my first exposure to the program!  The science behind it, their teaching style, and holistic approach really resonates with me.

And if you’re one of the lucky winners, maybe we can swap our experiences as we go through the program together! 😉

The GIVEAWAY:

Innovative Medicine was kind enough to offer not one, but FIVE lucky readers their brand new 12-week program!

Here are the deets:

  • Giveaway winner must be 18 years or older.
  • You may earn up to EIGHT entries.
  • Submit all entries by 11:59 PM, May 31, 2017
  • Winners will be contacted by email and must respond within 24 hours to claim their prize.

To enter click this link or enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

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Why would you like to win the Empowered Healing program?

Enter to win an Empowered Healing program from Integrative Medicine: the 12-week program that's designed to help you reclaim health and wellness through a holistic approach to healing.

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Did you know that there's healing that can be found by transforming the way we think? Here are 3 practices that are helping me release negative thoughts and reclaim health! Click to read more.

3 Practices That Help Me Release Negative Thoughts & Heal

My original version of this post was first published on ProHealth’s Inspirational Corner.

As I sat outside sipping on my cup of tea this morning, the cool air brought a smile to my face. In the quietness I brought my mind into the moment, took a deep breath and closed my eyes against the rising sun’s bright beams.

And then I did something I’ve been doing more of lately. I silently reminded myself: “I’m strong. I’m happy. And I’m healing.”

You see, I recently started a new treatment that’s brought up a lot of new emotions. Renewed hope for healing, a genuine happiness, and more quiet rest in my mind. And while the quiet and calm have been so welcome in this tired body, I’ve discovered some buried debris:

Some negative thoughts I’ve held onto about my worth, purpose, and talents.

You see, I’ve worked through a lot of the things that have surfaced in these years of health challenges. Ideas that I’m not enough. Thoughts of comparison with someone else’s talent or ability. Beliefs that what I have to share isn’t of value to anyone else. It’s really quite a messy collection of harsh words and emotional knick-knacks that I just don’t need.

So I’ve started to question, what do I believe about myself? Do I really believe that my diagnoses define me? That my thoughts, experiences, or talents have no place in this world? Are they really “not good enough” or am I just afraid of letting my talents shine?

I don’t want to live buried by a pile of doubts and insecurities so I’ve decided to intentionally shift my thoughts. And in doing so, my aim and hope is to make more room for self-kindness, acceptance, and grace. Let me share a few ways I’m tangibly putting this into practice…

Daily gratitude journal.

Over the years, the people I’ve met with health challenges are some of the most grateful, appreciative bunch I know. We see the beauty in the simple things, soak in the things and moments that matter. So I wanted to be even more purposeful in this. Writing down a list of the things I’m grateful for has created a perfect space to allow the good in my life to shine.

And this list is not just about noticing the good, but also recognizing my efforts for the day. This can look like “I’m grateful I did a great job at sticking to my treatment schedule today” or “I’m thankful I was able to commit to my appointment even though it took a lot of extra effort.” It reminds me of positive truths like: I’m strong, committed to my health, determined. And when does that ever not feel encouraging to hear?!

(I’ve also been doing a Living Gratitude Journal for the month of May in my Instagram stories. Short video clips of something I’m grateful for each day. If you’d like to follow along for inspiration – or join me – come visit my feed and click on my profile pic!)

Speaking kindness to my inner self.

I can be incredibly hard on myself. So learning how to treat myself with the same gentleness I wish to give others has been a process for me. And one way I’m challenging the tide is by silently reminding myself of my worth. Affirming what makes me, me.

The more I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone with this one the more emotional healing I’ve experienced. Why? Because I’m actually starting to believe what I’m saying. That I’m talented. That I’m important. That I have something to offer the world. The beauty in growing in how I self-talk and care about myself is that I believe I’m becoming more equipped for encouraging and supporting others around me, too.

Meditation.

Meditation is something I’ve only recently begun exploring, but it’s such a treasured new experience! I love how calm and relaxed it can make me. So each day I make space for a bit of meditation before bedtime. And I do my best to get in another hour at some point during the day.

It’s something that has taken practice (and I still have room to grow). But I make a great effort to remain focused on healing for that hour. My body sometimes gets restless and distracted, so it’s been important for me to learn to be gentle with any thoughts that arise. Which can look like calmly reminding myself/my mind that it’s time for healing. And in giving myself permission to let go of any harsh thoughts during my meditation I’ve found that the harsh thoughts have lessened as a whole!

Finding My Center.

These three practices, while small and not-so-out-of-the-box, have played an important role in centering me on my quest for healing, fullness and purpose. Because as I’ve approached each one with intention and grace, they’ve helped quiet the thoughts that don’t serve me well. It’s helped me refine my focus on healing, be more gentle with myself, and be more accepting of where I’m at right now.

And it’s given me hope that there can be a full life in this moment – as I embrace the now, hope for tomorrow, and learn to dance in the freedom to dream.

Have you tried any of these practices or have one you’d add to your own list? What inspires you to stay mindful in healing?

If you’re looking for some guided meditations, here are a couple of my faves: Meditation Minis by Chel Hamilton and Tracks to Relax for bedtime. But there are a lot of other great guided meditation podcasts on iTunes if those don’t quite resonate with you! Or you can check out what’s available for beginners on Amazon.

(If you click on one of my affiliate links in this post, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase – at no extra cost to you!)

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After spending years chronically ill I began researching the DNRS program as a natural alternative to healing. I've seen great results and am sharing 3 important questions I've been asked - and answering them! Want to know more? Click here to learn more about how the treatment works!

3 Things You Should Know About DNRS

This is not a sponsored post. These opinions are entirely my own and are in no way endorsed by the Dynamic Neural Retraining System.

If you read my post last week, you know that over the course of the last six weeks I’ve been adding in a brand new treatment. And it’s a program that’s, well…outside of the box.

It doesn’t come in the form of capsules. Or an injection. And it doesn’t involve a device, for that matter.

Because this treatment, interestingly enough, can’t actually be seen.

Sure, the information and instructions for DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) are delivered in the form of a DVD series and a personal workbook. So there’s something tangible you have in hand as you’re learning. But implementing the program involves working on/with your brain.

Which means it’s a lot of internal work.

The techniques presented in this program are based on research surrounding neuroplasticity. Which, in short, refers to the brain’s unique ability to change itself. Wild, right?

So today I thought I’d answer some of the questions that I’ve been asked the most since starting DNRS:

  1. What is DNRS?
  2. How would retraining the brain help current health challenges?
  3. Is it worth the $250+ investment?

These are all questions I’ve asked before starting the program so you’re not alone! Information on healing through neuroplasticity is still relatively new to me, but I’ve been seeing profound shifts begin since starting DNRS.

So how about we just tackle these one by one?

What the heck is DNRS?

As I mentioned before, the program arrives at your door with a set of DVDs and a personal workbook. You’re encouraged to complete the program (which consists of 14+ hours of material) in 4 days in order to get the most benefit, but I’ll be honest: it took me a bit longer. But I gave myself some grace and, as I’ve shared, am still seeing positive shifts in my health.

In a nutshell, the DNRS program aims to first educate you in the science behind neuroplasticity and then equip you with both the tools and techniques to help you repair your limbic system.

I wasn’t familiar with the limbic system prior to this treatment program. So in case you’re like me and your thoughts are starting to drift toward what you’ll be eating for lunch, let’s quickly cover the basics.

The limbic system consists of several parts of the brain including the hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala and cingulate cortex. Together, these structures make up the “feeling and reacting” functions of the brain.

Now if the limbic system is impaired due to injury or trauma (whether that’s an infection, chemical exposure, mold toxicity, emotional or physical trauma, etc) it becomes hypersensitive. And in this hypersensitive state it will overreact to even the smallest stimuli that would otherwise be passed over as harmless.

Since our limbic system works intimately with our endocrine, autonomic and immune systems, it inappropriately activates those systems which can end up in a “party” of symptoms we never invited.

The DNRS program gives you a system to implement that will help rewire the limbic system so that it’s once again functioning properly. The treatment you implement includes both daily brain exercises you work on throughout each day and one hour of devoted time of “practice”. Practice each day involves a combination of mild movement, vocal exercises, and mindfulness techniques – all to help restructure the pathways in the brain.

I obviously can’t share exactly what the practice outlines for you to do each day, but something that may be helpful to talk about is the reality that I was very limited before starting this. And even I was able to implement these practices in the beginning. Sometimes I just had to do it in an abbreviated way, such as lying down or sitting during a portion of the daily one-hour of practice.

Want to learn more about the Dynamic Neural Retraining System? After years of treatments, doctors, and way too many years spent home-bound this method is helping me HEAL! Click to read more as I'm responding to my 3 most asked questions about the program.

 

How would retraining my brain help my current health challenges?

Great question! And one I asked over and over again before purchasing the program.

One of my first thoughts upon looking further into the program was that it seemed like everyone was “drinking the Kool-Aid.” But heck, I was desperate. And if  the Kool-Aid actually worked, I couldn’t care less about the modality. I just wanted to be better!

And while I am getting better, this most definitely is not brain washing. (Or sugary Kool-Aid for anyone wondering). There was an important distinction I knew I needed to make early on in the program. As I learned more about the brain and neuroplasticity it became clear I had to treat my brain just like I was treating my body.

My magnesium has been regularly low for years now, which is why my naturopath has been supporting my body’s diet with magnesium supplements. My blood pressure has also been regularly low, so I frequently drank Himalayan salt water to help keep it from dipping too far.

So for me, it was helpful to view my efforts in neuroplasticity retraining as working with the organ of the brain.

As in: utilizing my mind to retrain my brain’s pathways. And while a huge part of this program is working with your thoughts, it’s more specifically working with the thoughts/messages your brain is inappropriately sending.

The aim is to redirect the neurons that are firing incorrectly (i.e. sending symptom and pain signals) so that over time they are no longer wired with the same old pathways. The outcome is rewiring the brain with new, healing pathways so the limbic system can be properly functioning once again. Which results in lessening symptoms!

I’ve heard all sorts of “just think positive” mantras and over these past years of health struggles they’ve felt like a big ball of blame. The message received was “you’re not positive enough, therefore it’s your fault you aren’t getting better.” And I don’t buy that one bit.

Any mindset shifts I’ve experienced (or been able to set in motion) in this program have been a direct result of experiencing tangible healing. Meaning: literally feeling a difference in my brain and body. It’s been like a fog has been slowly lifting. A fog I simply did not invite or entertain. Because believe me, I wanted all of the symptoms and discomfort GONE. 

This program isn’t about just thinking positive, but rather learning how to communicate with your brain to help it reach wholeness. And what I’m finding with each passing week is that I do feel lighter. Even happier, but genuinely so. And it coincides with the healing that’s begun in my brain and body.

How did I decide it was worth the $250+ investment?

First off, I can tell you one thing that didn’t help me decide: a guarantee I would get better. Because there wasn’t one. I knew that just like every other treatment I tried, no one could tell me this would 100% work for me.

But the following things really did help.

    1. A money-back guarantee. This was a first for me. We have shoveled out tens of thousands of dollars, much of which we fundraised, to pay for treatments over the years. Never once have we seen this. If you commit to the program for the full 6 months and don’t see significant improvement, they’ll refund you. That’s quite a statement of belief in their program!
    2. It’s really not that expensive. I probably don’t need to say more after what I just said about “tens of thousands”, right? But in case you need a further statement: $250 doesn’t begin to touch how much my supplements cost us right now each month. If getting me better means being able to go off of those, it’s well worth it.
    3. The research speaks for itself. The more I’ve studied about neuroplasticity through the program (and now after), it JUST MAKES SENSE. Variations of the techniques in this program have been proven effective in so many others. Want to be really amazed? Watch this TED talk given by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor who suffered a stroke and talks about her experience and neuroplastic healing.

The following contains affiliate links which means that if you purchase something through one of these links I may receive a commission – at no extra cost to you. As a reminder, I only promote things I have personally tried or believe are beneficial. Any commissions earned help me keep this blog running. So, thanks! 🙂

You don’t have to take my word for it. Learn more yourself!

Since starting the program I’ve had a craving for learning more about the brain, specifically neuroplasticity. So I have a running list of the books I’d like to read and recently checked out my first one from our local library by Dr. Norman Doidge, called The Brain’s Way of Healing. I’ve just started and already it’s a fascinating and helpful read! I also plan to read his first neuroplasticity book, The Brain that Changes Itself.

Since watching the TED talk video I mentioned earlier I’ve been eyeing Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight, for a future read also. Because after watching her tell her story I just have to know more!

Finally, of course, the Dynamic Neural Retraining System’s website contains more information about both the program and understanding the science behind their approach. And it’s a great way to check it out more before deciding if it makes sense to purchase the program for yourself. Let me know if you do! I’d love to connect.

Have you read any books on Neuroplasticity? Have you done the DNRS program or something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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How the DNRS Program is Helping Me Heal

If you’ve been following me here for awhile, you know that here in this blog-space I share the grit and guts of what I’ve experienced in the realm of the sick life. But if you’d like to catch up on my story to understand how powerful the news I’m about to share is feel free to check out this post. It’ll give you a look at what used to be an average day-in-the-life for me. Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here til you’re done…

Ready? Okay.

So a little over a year ago I met a doctor through a friend and my goodness has she been a godsend to me. Quite frankly, I believe she is one of two doctors that has helped keep me alive. Well, them and a nurse who quite literally gave me back my life in 2015.

Through her care I’ve seen some beginning signs of improvement as well as experiencing a much lower # of ER visits (1). But I’ve still been largely home bound. Weak. Frail. Experiencing way too many symptoms to be normal. She was feeling hopeful that by the year’s end I’d see some marked change. And I tried my best to hope with her.

But then I was sent a message from an Instagram friend that told me I needed to check out the DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) program. She said it had completely changed her life and since our stories were so similar I thought I should at least look into it.

So I clicked over to the website and began to read. My first response was honestly, an eye roll. “‘Retrain the brain’? Do they think this is all in my head? This sounds like another load of positivity B.S. So…I’m outta here.” I replied to the friend with a thanks, but this just isn’t for me. And I thought that was it.

But it KEPT. POPPING. UP.

A few weeks after I said ‘no thanks’ it popped up again. Then a couple days later a friend messaged me about it, asking if I’d heard of it. Call it what you will: a sign from the universe, or God, or my own body/brain trying to send me a message, but I just couldn’t get away from it.

So I looked at the website again. I watched tons of the testimonial videos as well as a presentation by the creator of the program, Annie Hopper. Her story, though different than my own, also held so many similarities. And she confirmed what I knew to be true: this illness is NOT all in our heads. So I softened.

I felt like her heart was compassionate toward others who had gone through what she had. And her incredible story was this: I learned to retrain my brain and I healed myself.

That’s quite a bold statement, no? So I looked at the price of the program and I talked it over with Trevin. A couple weeks later I had the DVD program in hand. It came right after I’d finished running my very first workshop with some of the readers here at Living Grace. The timing felt perfect.

Have you heard of the DNRS program based on the research of neuroplasticity? It's a fascinating program that is helping me heal from years of chronic illness. To read more of my one month update, click here!

I entered the DNRS program with a lot of skepticism.

I just feel like you should know that. It definitely wasn’t as if I bought into this deal right off the bat. But there were some aspects of the research I found online surrounding the brain’s ability to change itself (neuroplasticity) that I couldn’t ignore. And seeing how it had helped so many others similar to me gave me enough hope to give it a shot.

The program is designed to help you rewire your limbic system so that it builds more functional neural pathways. As I learned more about the brain and limbic system in this program, the cause and effect of why I continued to grow sicker or only experience small amounts of relief started to make more sense.

In the DVDs Annie explains that when the brain experiences various forms of trauma, whether that’s viral, physical, emotional or otherwise,  a maladapted stress response can be triggered. Essentially that means that our brain’s instincts to protect us get kicked into overdrive, leading our limbic system into a constant state of fight or flight mode.

And how on earth could I get better if my brain constantly thinks it’s under attack?!

This video documentary on neuroplasticity is quite fascinating if you’re interested in understanding more. (Just feel free to ignore the creepy music.) Variations of these concepts have been proven effective in the treatment of physical injuries, such as stroke patients or those who have suffered brain damage. And it’s also helped those who have suffered psychological PTSD or have OCD. 

Next week I’ll be unpacking a bit more about neuroplasticity and the design of the program, but until then you can also check out the website to watch some tutorials and read up on the science behind it. (<—that’s my affiliate link, which means I may earn a small commission if you click on it and purchase the program. As a reminder, I only share things I’ve either tried or believe in the value of. In this case: I’ve tried it and it’s helping me heal!)

My one-month improvements:

I’ve been on the program for just 4 weeks now and the changes in that short period of time have been quite amazing. Especially when Trev and I compare it to the life I’ve been living the last few years. And while I have more healing to work towards, I’m truly grateful for these beginning signs of healing.

As a pre-cursor to my improvements here’s a list of most of my diagnoses: Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, Mold Illness, Heavy Metal Toxicity, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MTHFR genetic mutation and POTS).

  • I’ve gone from barely being able to walk a couple blocks on a very good day to walking almost daily the last week+.
  • My fatigue levels used to be at an average of 7-9 every day (on a scale of 10 being “I can’t move”) and now my levels are averaging below 5 consistently.
  • The inflammation and joint pain I’ve consistently lived with hasn’t been this low in over 4 years.
  • My strength is slowly growing and my litmus test is being able to do the dishes almost daily. They used to sit an average or 2 days before I could get through another round.
  • Dizziness used to be one of my most debilitating symptoms. Now? It’s at an all time low also.

The healing process continues…

There continue to be new things that pop up and surprise me as I continue to commit myself to the program and work toward further healing. And in my commitment to the program, this post will be one of my last to mention diagnoses or symptoms for awhile. It’s a necessary part of retraining my brain in this critical stage of early healing.

Guys, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you: this treatment is not easy. But then again none of what I’d done for healing has been. Seeing improvements and feeling genuine hope is most certainly worth sticking with it.

With all that said, I feel so happy to share that I believe I’m in the process of healing. And while I believe in God, I’m going to keep my feelings on this experience ultra-real for you: this is not something that I’ve seen sprinkled down magically into my life. 

I’ve fought for this. For years.

I’ve committed myself to countless supportive supplements, doctor’s appointments, injections, blood draws, detox, nourishing myself, gripping onto my pebbles of hope, so-much-waiting and now I continue to reach for healing with this program. (And I continue to maintain my supplement protocol under my current doctor’s care while on the program).

So I’ll leave you with this one-month update and hope that this program may also help some of you sweet struggling ones on your own healing path. To reclaim your own health. To heal your brain’s limbic system. And begin to see yourself able to dream again… of living a healthy life, of travel, and of pursuing the things you’ve been waiting for.

Have you heard of DNRS before? Or tried it? Have questions you want me to answer in another post? Drop your thoughts below in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

As a heads up: I’ll be largely taking a break from my Facebook page indefinitely, so if you want to stay in touch be sure to sign up for my email list. Or connect with me on Instagram!

 

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Thanks for supporting this blog and my health!

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This episode of the podcast is dedicated to all you brave mamas who are fighting chronic illness while raising their family. Tanya Fierro is joining me on the podcast to talk about the challenges she's faced and how she's learned to navigate them. Click here to tune in!

Motherhood & Chronic Illness: A Podcast Episode with Tanya Fierro

Every time I connect with one of you fellow spoonies who’s also a momma, I am so inspired by your strength. On top of the layers of struggle that sickness brings, somehow you wonder-moms are raising your kids with so much heart and care.

You’re tackling what you can in the home. You’re showing up whenever you can for the big moments, and embracing the small ones on the daily. You are patient. You are giving. And you are rockstars.

Since I don’t have personal experience in this area, I wanted to chat with someone who could share their experience and encouragement with other parents who chronically ill. Someone who understands the unique challenges of balancing a life of pain and mothering (or fathering).

A chat with Tanya Fierro

So today, I’ve brought on Tanya Fierro to chat about her own experiences with motherhood while living with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. She writes over at My Fruitful Home, sharing inspiration and helpful tools for living life fully with chronic illness.

Tanya’s had her share of heartache and struggle. Her understanding of loss has been an encouragement and comfort to me as I continue to live with the memory of my own. And I know that her story will inspire and connect with so many of you, too.

So whether you’re a mom, chronically ill, or hoping for motherhood someday, or just want to listen, you are welcome to join us on our virtual couch today. I’m telling you guys: her honesty and kind heart are such a light.

You can tune in below to hear us talk about the challenges she’s faced and what she’s learned through more than 20 years of motherhood and illness.

What is one thing that helps you navigate motherhood while living with chronic illness? 

Want to connect with Tanya? You can find her on her blog and on Facebook. 🙂

 

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For those struggling with depression, healing from abuse, anxiety, or living with a chronic illness - the idea of hope can sometimes feel disconnected from our reality. Matt Pappas joins me in this episode to discuss his own journey with hope. What's helped him tangibly engage and define his personal sense of hope and encouragement for listeners who may WANT to hope, but don't know where to start. Click here to give it a listen!

Thoughts on Hope: A Podcast Interview with Matt Pappas

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means when you purchase an item through one of my links I may receive a small commission. Thanks for helping keep this blog going!

It’s been a few months since I launched with my first podcast episode for my channel, Grit & Grace and I loved hearing your feedback and connecting with you all. After that episode I went radio silent as it’s been a difficult few months of juggling treatment and work from home…But I’m finally back with our next episode!

Today’s Guest: Matt Pappas

I recently chatted with Matt from Surviving My Past about the reality and challenges of the word “hope”.  He is active in the online community, striving to bring encouragement to others who share his past of childhood abuse as well as those who battle anxiety, PTSD, and illness.

It can spark a variety of emotions in us when we hear or talk about the idea of hope, can’t it? Engaging hope when you feel hopeless can bring pain or discouragement. We may feel “less than” for not being able to grasp it in way others want us to or how we think it should manifest. All the while, others seem to keep the flame of hope burning inside, despite the struggle of pain, depression, or loss.

But wherever you’re sitting on this topic, you’re welcome here.

In this episode, Matt shares honestly on the ways he views hope, as well as the real challenges that both abuse survivors and the chronically ill face. It’s an insightful conversation, not a head-in-the-clouds message on hope. This is all about grassroots hope, real experiences, and encouragement for the struggling heart.

How do you engage hope? Let us know in the comments!

To connect with Matt more visit his blog at survivingmypast.net and be sure to download your FREE copy of his new book: Surviving Grief.

You can find Matt on the following social media channels:
Twitter: twitter.com/survivingmypast
Facebook: www.facebook.com/survivingmypast
Instagram: www.instagram.com/survivingmypast/

And be sure to subscribe to his podcast!

Want to listen to the episode on Marriage in Chronic Illness? Click here!


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Chronic Illness has a way of turning every day tasks upside down. I've set out on a mission to find items that will help make my life, and even pain management, at least a bit easier. Click to read more about my top 5 favorite gadgets for making the day to day of illness more manageable.

5 Useful Gadgets That Actually Make A Difference For Me

 

*This post contains affiliate links. Your purchases through these links help keep this blog running, so thank you!*

Chronic illness has single-handedly turned my health and day-to-day into a jigsaw puzzle. From navigating all my symptoms to pain management, life looks much different for me these last few years.

Normal things that I used to never think twice about, I have to plan for (or around) in order to make them possible. A myriad of other adjustments have had to happen.

I subconsciously (and sometimes vocally…color me weird) ask myself questions that I never did before. “Can I load the dishwasher today?” “How much will my body have to pay for taking a shower right now…can I still make dinner after?”

Some symptoms are harder to manage than others. Managing pain can often feel like playing hide and seek with a ghost. Fatigue is another beast that’s really hard to wrangle.

But for some of my symptoms, I’ve found tools – aids, if you will – that make my life just a bit easier. And that little bit means a whole lot to this girl! From saving me effort to supporting me (literally), these have become my must-haves for navigating my day-to-day. All while living with a list of diagnoses I’m working hard to heal.

Slim-Fit Earplugs

Do you suffer from sound sensitivity? These slim fit earplugs have been a godsend for me! Super soft and comfortable on sensitive skin, too. Click to read more about these and other handy gadgets I use to help me navigate chronic pain and symptoms!

One of my top 5 most debilitating symptoms might surprise the healthy, but for those who live with sensitivities YOU FEEL ME. I’m not talking about emotional sensitivities, but sensory. I’m highly sensitive to noises, some triggering me more than others.

The simple sound of plastic crumpling, glasses tinking, or the faucet running, for instance feels like someone is taking a bristled bottle brush, adding electricity and shoving it through both ears. Yeah, it’s fun. With continued healing I’m confident this symptom will get better, but for now: earplugs are a must!

These slim-fit earplugs by Mack were recommended to me by a dear friend who uses them for the same purpose. And boy are they a godsend! They’re smaller than regular earplugs which makes them more comfortable for me. The set of 10 even comes with a travel tube so I can always have them on hand and easy to find in my bag!

Neck pillow

A couple of years ago I noticed that my head and neck pain would consistently rise in the car. Once I realized how much having neck support would help, Trev picked up a basic neck pillow for me. I was amazed at the difference it made!

As with anything I’ve purchased to help me manage my day-to-day, this doesn’t remove my pain, but it makes riding in the car more manageable. Even short rides used to spike my pain more than they do now that I have that bit of support.

I actually attach my neck pillow to our headrest in the passenger seat by turning it backwards and “hugging” the top portion. Not all seats will allow this, but thankfully the design of ours does. It feels more comfortable to me that way.

Walking Cane

Healing with a chronic illness looks different for every person and every illness. But through the process of healing and treating, we can find ways to offer support and relief to our overwhelmed bodies. Click here to check out my top 5 tools that have made a difference for me!

 

If you follow me here or on social media you may already know this, but I like to name things. My oxygen concentrator is formally known as O2D2 (I grew up watching Star Wars with my siblings, can you tell?). So I couldn’t help myself to name my cane Hugo. It was easy since his tag said so.

My husband suggested I get one that had more than one pod on the bottom for extra stability since my balance varies from day to day. And, as he would smile and tell you – I wasn’t thrilled with that idea. Oh vanity. As if four prongs somehow makes my cane more noticeable. 😉

I found this one and thought it was a perfect fit. And after using it for over six months now I can say I’m so happy I went for the quadpod version. It gets a good grip on the surface and the handle has enough traction that your hand is not likely to slip. I even used it in a snow-packed icy parking lot recently, while also being supported by Trev on the other side and it worked really well supporting my weak side.

Pill Organizer

This is, by far, the BEST pill organizer out there. Each day's doses are in individual containers which makes it easy to grab and go to doctor's appointments, meals out, and a day or two of travel. Soft silicone lids make for easy opening on arthritic hands. Click to read more about this and 4 other handy gadgets that have actually helped me LIVE, even if in small ways, in spite of chronic illness.

Okay, I’ve been raving about this since I bought it so I HAD to include it here. I saw someone share the link for it in one of my Lyme support groups and I loved it at first sight. I’m a romantic, after all.

Why was I willing to drop $35 for a pill organizer, you ask? Because I was confident it would make my pill routine easier. From accidental missed doses, to opening pill bottles every day with sensitive hands, to packing meds for travel – I saw this as a huge help. And it has been just that.

Its soft silicone lids make it ultra easy for opening and the ‘x’ opening easy for sliding in each day’s supplements. My hands are so much happier! Not to mention individual containers make for easy access when you have a meal you’re eating out or a day or two of travel. Since I’ve already sorted out the week’s doses, it’s just grab and go! This had made for less occurrences of late or missed doses which is always a positive.

Motion Sickness Bands

For a year and a half, nausea was a frequent – if not constant – companion to me on this healing road. I’ve always had motion sickness, but this was different. And it grew worse when coupled with driving.

I always ride in the front seat and I’m pretty cautious about anyone else driving besides Trev because of how sensitive my bod is. He’s the only one who knows just how fast things can turn for me. 

Motion sickness bands like these made by Sea Band have actually helped this for me. It took me a bit to figure out the right spot for the pressure point, but once I did I noticed a difference. You do need to put them on at the start of the car ride, I’ve learned – and adjust them if you’re not feeling the benefit.

Be gentle with yourself.

In the chronic life there are many things we can’t change immediately. Healing that doesn’t come overnight. But if we can take even a bit of the burden off by making a few aspects lighter, why not?!

You’ve just heard my top 5 current faves for navigating my day-to-day symptoms so now I want to hear yours! What is your favorite(s) pain/symptom/make life easier gadget?? Let me know in the comments!

Have you snagged your copy of the FIVE gifts to give yourself when going through a hard time? Be sure to download yours here.

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Are you struggling with chronic illness and disconnected from the idea of New Year's resolutions? I feel ya. This year I'm embracing a word for the year and the word that came to mind first threw me for a loop!

My Word for 2017: From Surprise to Embrace

 

New Year’s resolutions used to be a stress inducer for me. Each year I’d come up with some grand goal of doing xyz and come January 12th I’d be so far off track it felt like there was no point.

In sickness I’ve tried a resolution or two. One year it was to hand-write a letter each month to send to a friend. I think I made it two months? And then, YOU GUESSED IT. No more letters. Last year my goal was to focus more on the blog…and that I DID do. So all is not lost.

But you know the hardest thing about the idea of New Year’s resolutions in sickness? We never know what to expect from one day to the next. I may be able to put in a total of three hours of blog/business work one day and be in bed unable to move for the next three.

So resolutions either have to be highly qualified and realistic for me or they have to be ditched altogether.

As I began to think about 2017 I decided I wanted to land on a word for the year. I thought it could either be an intention or something I wanted to embrace, or even just a word that resonates deeply.

The word that came to mind almost immediately stunned me. And that word was HOPE.

Why the stun, you ask? Well, it’s because I have a hard time using that word if I’m honest.

It’s a hard word to wrestle with when you feel as if you’ve been beaten down year after year by disease for the last 3.5. When it seems there’s no end in sight. Or in the moments when you’re literally just trying to breathe. (Thank you, Lyme & mold illness).

Hope can feel elusive when you’re held under the heavy weight of suffering. And when it’s portrayed by others as a feel-good-feeling or that it’s something you “just” have to choose? It can feel like an even more distant idea.

But hope is more than a choice.

And it’s very essence stretches beyond a happy dose of the feel-goods.

It’s more than a choice because sometimes we can know we want something, need it even, and reach for it…but not be able to grab hold of it.

On any day of the week I could need a heavy item pulled out of my cabinet. But in my current state of health I couldn’t safely make it happen. Between my POTS symptoms and lack of strength I wouldn’t be able to lift the item, let alone bring it down (or up) to my level.

So Trevin gets it for me. He carries the weight so I have access to what I need for the day.

Sometimes it’s the same with hope. We may barely have the strength to say the word out loud, let alone FEEL hopeful. And there are times our spirit is so weak that we need someone else to hold onto hope for us. To stand in the wet and cold with us, to support us as we stand, or sit, or crawl through the brokenness.

To hold onto the light of hope for us in the moments that we can’t.

So this year, just as years past, I will hold onto whatever fragments of hope I can manage. I will endeavor to give myself grace when I feel doubt or fear and I’ll continue to pursue healing in all its forms.

I’ll make an effort to regularly define what hope means to me. And let go – as many times as I need to – of impossible standards of what hope should look like in struggle.

I also want to hold hope for you.

That this year will be one that brings comfort for your weary soul. I want to hope for you that the thing you’re waiting for will begin to realize.

Through my writing, sharing, listening, living – I want to be a hope holder. A shoulder to lean on. To shed light in the dark corners of heartache, suffering and pain.

I’ll be here in your corner. Reminding you that someone out there is holding hope for you. For healing. Restoration. A source of income. Community. Family. Fulfilled dreams.

And the beauty of holding hope for others? It teaches us. Stretches us. And it means something deep, both to us and to the person we’re hoping for.

It reminds us we’re not alone. And that we’re in this thing called life together.

And that truth, in itself, is full of hope.

Want to join me with your own word for 2017? Comment below or join the discussion over on Facebook today! I’d love to hear from you.

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There is so much beauty in giving gifts that are handmade by small business. This network of shoppers is near and dear to my heart as each shop owner lives with a chronic illness. So inspiring!

Christmas With Conscious Crafties

 

There are several camps of Christmas shoppers, I’ve decided. There’s the uber planner who is done before Thanksgiving. The last minute, week of Christmas shopper. The gradual/early December shopper. And probably more.

I feel like I gravitate toward the gradual/early December category, but honestly? I can be as last minute as they come. (face palm) But for the ones still working on their shopping, I thought I’d share some opportunities for us to support other chronically ill business owners this season!

Today’s feature is this month’s installment of the Behind the Maker series on the blog: Conscious Crafties. You may have noticed their banner off to the side if you read my blog from a computer/laptop. 🙂

Proud Supporter of Conscious Crafties - banner

Conscious Crafties is an online marketplace where the chronically ill can sell their handmade goods and have the support of other chronic creatives. It’s a worldwide platform with many shops based out of the United Kingdom, but more shops popping up in the U.S. and beyond as they grow!

You’ll find a wide variety of items available, from jewelry and handmade clothing accessories to home decor and so much more. It’s a beautiful collision of all things creative!

It was started by the lovely Karen Thomas, who herself has been battling illness since 2011. She created this space in an effort to bring purpose to the lives of the chronically ill and I dare say she’s doing a stand up job of that!

I connected with her this year through the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network and knew I wanted to spread the word of what she and this fabulous marketplace are doing. And I had an inkling my readers would welcome it with open arms, because, well – you’re amazing!

So I thought I’d highlight a few things that caught my eye!

Gutsy Goodness

A look inside the shops at Conscious Crafties: An online marketplace for chronically ill creatives!

These necklaces are from the shop Gutsy Goodness and are handmade by Lisa Copen. When I saw her shop I realized I was familiar with her face! I somehow stumbled upon her Facebook page a couple years ago and that was one of my first connections with other chronically ill women. I was so grateful for it!

A look behind a shop of Conscious Crafties, a marketplace for the chronically ill handmade shops!

Here’s a little snippet of Lisa’s story from her shop:

“I have always been drawn to creating something with my hands and writing. Ironically my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis set the stage for narrowing my focus. I was diagnosed at the age of 24 in 1993, and out of that came my organization, Rest Ministries, a faith-based support 501(c)3 nonprofit. This gave me the chance to become an author, speaker, and I also began a national outreach through Invisible Illness Awareness Week in 2002.”

Mandi Moo Logos

Aren't these towels from Mandi Moo Logos adorable? See more items from the online marketplace, Conscious Crafties!

Follow Amanda’s shop on Facebook.

Amanda Bardgett’s shop focuses on embroidery and her pieces are amazing. Are these towels not the absolute cutest little things ever?! The embroidery on these towels is just beautiful. I’ve decided those robins can visit me anything they want! 😉

And these baby gingerbread men get all the heart eyes from me – SO CUTE!

Beautiful embroidery work by Amanda Bardgett's shop Mandi Moo Logos are so beautiful!

A little bit of Amanda’s story:

“For a long time I had thought about running my own business, but just didn’t know what to do. One day Mum saw and advert for a embroidery machine, ‘you could do that!’ she said. So, along came this huge machine which initially I was terrified of! Eventually after several months I braved it and in January of this year (2016) I jumped in.”

So glad you did, Amanda!

Everybody Should Feel Beautiful By Lea

This gorgeous Aquamarine and Sterling Silver necklace is handmade with care by a Conscious Crafty! Visit Lea's shop to find more beautiful items!

Who wouldn’t be able to get on board with Lea’s shop name?! Everyone should feel beautiful. I love the choice of aquamarine in this gorgeous sterling silver necklace. It’s somehow both bold and delicate, all at the same time.

Looking for a gift for the daring dreamer in your life? This unicorn pendant handmade by Lea's shop Everyone Should Feel Beautiful is a gorgeous idea!

Her shop carries gorgeous rings, earrings and necklaces that fit a variety of styles that are sure to brighten someone’s Christmas morning. Like this unicorn pendant and chain! Pretty sure my unicorn leggings would approve.

Spoon Lady Smile Shop


Christine Miserandino spoon-theory-lady-needs-us

This shop is one I wanted to highlight. Are you familiar with the Spoon Theory? If not you can read more about it here. The author of the Spoon Theory, Christine Miserandino has been dealt an incredibly hard hand this year and this shop was set up by the Conscious Crafties to contribute to her fundraiser. Each item listed in the shop has been donated and the proceeds will go toward her surgery and treatment fund.

Visit Conscious Crafties to support chronically ill Handmade shops!

Isn’t this embroidered snowman cosmetic bag donated by Julie Vale’s shop so adorable?!  You can snatch this cutie up for yourself or a friend here. Julie’s shop carries cosmetic bags and adorably embroidered water bottle cozies.

Support handmade by purchasing from Paprika Jewelry at Conscious Crafties!

 

Laura McKee donated this vintage style butterfly box for the Smile Shop which has been lined with felt for safekeeping of your jewelry or trinkets. Her shop, Paprika Jewelry & Accessories, carries hand crafted jewelry, brooches, cards and more!

The Spoon Lady Smile Shop is a great place to start if you’re wanting to purchase some gifts for Christmas! Not only will you feel great supporting handmade work, but you’ll be directly helping another illness warrior in their fight.

There are TONS of other shops on Conscious Crafties and they’re loaded to the brim with items to browse and purchase for your Christmas gifts this year! If you find something in the marketplace that we just NEED to know about, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Looking to open your own shop on Conscious Crafties? You can read up on the process here.

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How to Survive the Holidays When You're Chronically Ill | Three Bloggers Share Their Insight

How to Survive the Holidays with Chronic Illness

 

One of the hardest aspects of surviving the holidays when you’re chronically ill can be the simple task of

FIGURING OUT HOW TO DO IT.

How does one care for their sick self while still enjoying and engaging in the holiday season? How do we manage expectations, both our own and those of family/friends? Where do set our boundaries?

I’m sure we can all agree on this one point: this is going to be different for each of us. We all have our own unique limitations, abilities, personal expectations and individual family dynamics and traditions that will all play a part in how we best navigate this time of year.

But to get the wheels turning, I invited three lovely ladies to share their perspective, tips and any advice they have to share. And, my friend: their words are TRUTH.

Are you overwhelmed by the holiday season due to chronic illness? Check out these 3 bloggers' tips and advice for navigating this holiday season and still enjoying it!

Ivy Cirillo

Perfectly Ambitious
Find Ivy on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Navigating regular day to day tasks can be difficult on anyone with a chronic illness, but managing your symptoms during the holidays can be much worse. There are just so many unspoken requirements and expectations that it can be hard both physically and emotionally.

For me, this is the first holiday season after receiving a majority of my diagnoses. So, not only am I going to have to deal with my conditions, but I’m going to have to talk about them too. And since I’ll be expected to attend back to back holiday soirees and remain joyful during the process, I’ve picked up a few tips over the course of the last year.

1. Prepare
Prepare, prepare, prepare! Before any appointment or outing, I always try to make sure that I’ve gotten enough sleep, I’ve eaten, and I’ve kept up with my medicine schedule.

2. Listen
Listen to your body! No matter how much you prepare, there will still be moments when you’re just not feeling like yourself. Our bodies are unpredictable and no one knows your body better than you. So, if it’s telling you to go home early or cancel your plans all together, listen to it!

3. Enjoy
Enjoy each moment that you’re given! Truly joyful moments can be few and far between when dealing with chronic pain and illness, so if you get one, enjoy it! Drink it up!

4. Relax
Make time to relax! Going out can be exhausting and your body is already fighting a tough battle. So, you need to remember to schedule in a little you time! Plan to read a book, get a massage, or binge watch your favorite show while you relax and recoup.

In the spirit of solidarity this holiday season I invited three bloggers to share their tips for navigating this holiday season!

Marya Mesa

Chronic Mom Life
Find Marya on: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

My first Christmas after getting diagnosed with cervical dystonia in 2010 was devastating. I couldn’t really do anything and had to watch my family do everything from the couch, where I lay in excruciating pain.

Things have improved for me since then and I’m able to participate more fully in holiday celebrations. However, I really have to pace myself according to how I’m feeling that particular day.

For one thing, we don’t have the most elaborate Christmas decorations. I put the tree up in the living room, decorate the mantel and dining room. That’s it.

I’ve had to let go of traditions I did with ease when my kids were younger. One of them was rolling out cookies. I just don’t do it any more. If I’m going to bake, drop cookies are perfectly acceptable and if I can’t do that, store bought items will have to do. It’s really okay.

Planning a schedule with margin is also important. I can’t handle back-to-back commitments without becoming completely exhausted. Not only that, I can always count on getting sick (or someone else in the house will!)

I’ve also stopped wrapping presents unless absolutely necessary and have really come to appreciate the convenience of gift bags.

My past few Christmases have been spent this way and I’m perfectly okay with it as long as I don’t compare myself with other mothers and accept the blessings that are in front of me for today.

How does one survive the holidays while chronically ill? Read how three bloggers approach this time of year in the midst of illness.

Stacey Philpot

Chronically Whole
Find Stacey on: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I am a celebrator of all things, big and small. Did you get the job of your dreams? Let’s celebrate. Did you pass the big exam? It’s party time. Did you get through the day without losing your shine? Worthy of celebration in my book.

Yes, I am one of those annoying people with a box of decorations for every holiday, real or imagined. Buying presents, making presents, giving presents- these things are my jam. Or more correctly said, were my jam, before chronic illness took over.

The holidays were once the pinnacle of my celebration loving existence. They now feel like stress. To combat this, I’ve learned to reset my expectations. It’s taken a tremendous amount of time and trial and error. While I once approached the holiday season expecting magical holiday bliss, I now approach the season with the full knowledge my season will look much differently than others. I will not attend every party I would like to. In fact, I will not attend most parties or school plays or special holiday gatherings. Instead of beating myself up over this, I’ve learned to celebrate the “wins.”

When I do make it? I live fully in the holiday moment. I shake off any guilt about the present I didn’t have time to wrap (or buy) and I simply enjoy the moment. I am here, and that is lovely. There are many reasons the holidays may not look or feel the way we’d hoped but I think one way we can prevent disappointment is a simple realignment of expectations. The holidays will not be perfect, but they can be beautiful.

How about you? Do you have any tools that help you navigate the holidays while ill?

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