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In a world where the ill often are overlooked or feel invisible, it's so important that we learn to honor our true self. Kat & I are chatting on the podcast about what that looks like for us as we transition from illness to wellness. Click to listen in!

Honoring our True Self & Transitioning from Illness to Wellness

In these last few months of seeing my health begin to improve, I’ve found myself in unfamiliar territory. Much like there’s no road map for how to navigate the life of chronic illness, there’s most definitely not one for how to transition from illness to wellness.

So I’m often testing boundaries as I try and figure out how far this healing body can really take me. And while not every attempt has gone well, I am grateful for the courage it takes to both reach outside of my comfort zone and learn to rest.

But I’m also struggling with all kinds of emotions. Over how good it feels to enjoy more of life outside the home. And the tensions I can feel between embracing newfound healing and hurting for those I love deeply, still waiting for their own healing strides.

I’ve wrestled with the questions of “what next”. What to do with this blog, my creative passion, and my desire to help others on their healing journey. And now that wellness is entering the picture more and more, the more I wonder what the best next thing is.

For now, I’m giving myself plenty of room to process, explore, dream and create. While also making sure I emphasize healing every step of the way. Today’s podcast episode is of me doing that with one of the sweetest souls, Kat Woods.

Kat and I connected on Instagram in the last couple of years and have been healing from the same health challenge (#lyme). This was the first time we’ve spoken with each other off the screen and squares of Insta and we both agreed it was JUST the conversation we both needed.

Kat is a trained chef, an indie-cartoonist, and an all-around vibrant being. She began the blog, Hope Heal Cook, and has been inspiring and encouraging others with her beautiful nourishing meals. The way she has labored in love for her body’s nutrition is absolutely amazing. Just check out her feed and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve learned more about produce from her than anywhere else! Particularly how many fruits and veggies I didn’t know existed. 😉

Pull up a chair (or headphones) as we chat all about our individual journeys through healing. We’re unpacking how we’re learning to transition into a new “normal” and how Kat supports her body through diet.

Listen below or tune in to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Play!

 

Show Notes:

Be sure to check out Kat’s book “The AIP Instant Pot Cookbook“!

Find Kat on her blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Follow along and connect through the Hope Heal Collective Instagram feed!

 

How to support and honor your true self? Leave a note in the comments! I love hearing & learning from you!

 

Catch up on all the episodes of The Wellness Crossing Podcast by clicking here. 🙂

 

Kat Woods on the Wellness Crossing: Honoring our True Self and the unknown territory of transitioning from illness to wellness. Click to listen!

What does it look like to honor our true self while healing? Join Kat Woods and I on the podcast as we chat all about transitioning into wellness, how we are embracing our full selves and more! Click to tune in :)There's not a road map for figuring out how to transition back into wellness when you've been healing from a chronic illness. Today on The Wellness Crossing Podcast Kat Woods and I are chatting about our recent journeys of entering back into a new "norm" and what it looks like to honor our true selves in the process. Click to listen to the episode!

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Tune in to hear Matt's story of how neuroplasticity brought hope into his healing journey from child abuse and anxiety. His authenticity and openness is sure to encourage and inspire you that healing is possible for you, too! Click here to listen now.

Neuroplasticity & Hope For Survivors: A Podcast Episode with Matt Pappas

If there’s one thing that’s been made clear on my healing journey, it’s this: there’s no one way to heal.

Why?

Because healing comes in many different forms, paths, treatment protocols and timelines. Our bodies, emotions, even our brains – they’re all individually ours.

Which is why it’s my aim with this blog and podcast to share real stories and inspiration from a variety of people. From different perspectives, walks of life, and approaches to healing.

Because whether we’re healing from something physical, emotional, neurological or even spiritual – all of us are on our own unique path to healing. And will need a healing plan that caters to our own personal situation.

Which brings me to our guest for today’s episode on The Wellness Crossing: my friend and fellow healing advocate, Matt Pappas from Surviving My Past.

He and I have been cheering each other on ever since we connected last year through the Chronic Illness Bloggers community. One of my favorite thing that has come from starting this blog has been the connections that I’ve made. Especially the ones that feel like real friendships, where you know the other person has got your back. Matt’s one of those friends.

I always leave a conversation with Matt feeling encouraged and am so happy to have him on the podcast today!

Today we’re talking about his experience with neuroplasticity and the profound ways it’s brought hope to his healing journey. He’ll be sharing what it looks like to incorporate neuroplasticity techniques into his everyday and several resources he’s found helpful.

Since I’ve been exploring the land of retraining neural pathways, what Matt had to share was really exciting. Because while his healing journey may look different then mine, we’ve both seen the powerful effects that neuroplasticity can have on healing.

So tune in to be inspired and encouraged that you, too, can find hope. And that healing is possible.

 

Books on Neuroplasticity & Healing From Trauma:

(If you click on the images below they’ll take you over to Amazon so you can check them out. These are affiliate links.)

 

        

 

Other resources mentioned in today’s episode:

Rachel Grant Coaching – http://rachelgrantcoaching.com/

Connect with Matt:

Blog | Podcast | Twitter

Did something Matt shared resonate with you? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Tune in to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Play!

 

Matt Pappas is unpacking how neuroplasticity has been a game changer for him in his recovery from child abuse, bringing hope and healing to what can otherwise feel like a hopeless situation. His story is sure to inspire! Click to tune in to the episode.Neuroplasticity has been shown to help those recovering from emotional trauma. Matt Pappas is sharing his story in this episode of The Wellness Crossing and it's sure to inspire you! Click to listen.

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Learn how my new approach to the gratitude journal has reshaped the way I look at living the grateful life! Click to read more.

Living Gratitudes: A New Approach to the Gratitude Journal

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting this blog!

Growing up I always had a journal running. Sometimes it would sit for weeks without a single word hitting the page. Other times I’d write novels each night, processing all of the feels and every single tiny detail of my elementary school, junior high, and high school life.

You know, the important details. Like what I ate, who said what, what my wedding would look like and just how many dreams I had about how my life would unfold.

A few years ago the idea of a gratitude journal was brought up in a conversation after a friend had read the book, One Thousand Gifts. She mentioned how she had taken the idea and started her own journal, each day writing down a few things she was grateful for.

I would periodically follow suite in the years that followed. Purposing to write down a few things here and there throughout the week that brought a smile to my face. That made my heart sing. Things that were just plain pretty, funny, or enjoyable.

But last month I decided to take this idea of a gratitude journal and put a spin on it. Instead of merely writing things down each day, I would take a short Instagram story (a video of just a few seconds) and I would verbally share something I was grateful for that day.

So every day (okay, okay so I forgot one, but doubled up the next day) I would log in to my account and record my gratitude. And thus my #livinggratitudejournal was born.

It was an interesting experience because not only did I do it every day, but there were a few people who joined me! And I absolutely loved reading or hearing their entries. It inspired me to look differently at my own world, uncovering new things that I found I could find gratitude for.

So why spoken gratitude instead of writing?

Really, as I’ve been learning more about the art science of neuroplasticity techniques, I’ve seen how powerful engaging as many senses as possible can be for helping along positive change.

For example, writing down something I’m grateful for is great in and of itself. But what can it look like to take that even further? Our brains respond to patterns, emotion, neurochemicals – they’re constantly looking to us for reasons to establish truths. And they also are affected by words.

So if I want to establish a state of gratitude as an outlet for bringing my mind and body to a state of calm and healing, if even for a moment, engaging more than one of my senses in this practice of keeping a gratitude journal is like icing on the cake. AND sprinkles.

Of course, now I want cake. Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate for me in this dreamland, please.

But back to this learning business.

Where were we at? Ah, yes engaging more senses. So writing a list of things I’m thankful for essentially covers two senses.

First, it covers thought because if I’m writing it, I’m also thinking of it. At least for a brief few seconds. Second, it covers sight. Because obviously: ink on paper.

So adding in another layer, like speaking it out loud, brings even more depth to this act. And even more so when I stop and actually meditate on each gratitude.

 

Learn how to keep a LIVING gratitude journal: what it is and WHY it can make an even greater impact on your mood and mindset! Click to read more :)

A little practice exercise.

Allow me to put this idea into practice. I’ll start with this one for an example:

“I’m grateful I could walk around my neighborhood today.”

To be intentional with this I first have to have thought of the question “what am I grateful for today?” And then, naturally, I find myself searching for at least one answer.

Once I land on an answer, I can be intentional with my response. More than just stopping at the one sentence, I can pause before writing it down and think about why that particular thing came to mind. Did it bring up any good feelings? Did I see something beautiful on my walk? Or did I feel more connected to nature and less “stuck” inside?

Pulling out every little detail in my thoughts, really painting a picture of this thing I’m grateful for in my mind can help send my brain all those positive, good neurochemicals like dopamine or oxytocin.

Now, I can either scribble down a few words or I can spend a few extra seconds and write down all those good details in a journal. There’s no pressure to over-perform, this is about finding what works best for you. Do you need to write more than a few words to feel like you’ve connected to that gratitude? Or are you already feeling it after spending that short time meditating on all the deets? You do you, boo.

Finally, the speaking part. What I learned through having a commitment of doing it daily was that it challenged me to step a little outside of my comfort zone. But in a really good way. Because it shifted my focus each day for those few seconds onto something positive. Away from any negative lists or self-pity and toward cultivating a calm and appreciative state.

Living grateful

My Living Gratitude Journal was an exercise in learning to LIVE grateful. From noticing tiny buds on a walk to seeing improvements in my health. Improvements that I was challenged to focus on instead of the symptoms that were left unchanged.

And you know what? It felt dang good. It wasn’t always easy, but it always felt more hopeful to spend even a few seconds embracing a light-filled perspective.

Would you like to learn a few neuroplasticity tools to incorporate into your day that will help you support your brain as you heal? Then this free resource is for you, my friend!

This year I tried something new with the gratitude journal idea: I kept a LIVING journal! Click to find out more and learn how YOU keeping a living gratitude journal can help reshape your mindset and support your overall health.

 

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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.

Empowered Healing is a program designed to help you reclaim your body's natural state of health. And if you're tired of a one-size-fits all healing plan, this program may be just the thing you need! Click to read more!

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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Resting takes intention. Beyond the hours, days, weeks on the couch often required by chronic illness, we must intentionally carve out space and time for healing rest. For our body, soul, and mind.

The Importance of Pausing for Rest

I originally wrote this piece two years ago and stumbled upon it recently. It was a message I needed to hear again. Though my struggle with connecting with God lately is real and raw – the reminder to find a deeper state of resting is ringing true in my heart. So today I share again for us all.

What do you find yourself doing in the pauses of life?

The moments where there’s nothing on the calendar, a cancelled meeting, or perhaps a quiet hour alone…do you rest? Read? Cross off a few things on your to-do list? Turn on the tv?

Not long ago, I had a couple days that were more full than usual with conversations and time with friends. My spirit was feeling lifted and thankful for those sweet moments. It was a cherished respite from the alone time that normally fills my days – something that often is a necessity due to how miserable this disease can make me feel.

I purposefully left the rest of the week open, knowing my body would need the rest and recovery time.  Back when I was working, on-the-go and we were having company most weeks, I think I would have embraced the moments as time slots. Space to fill with a few things I just “had to get done.”

I carried so much stress then and it was a struggle listening to my body (and my husband) telling me I needed to rest. It was easy to feel like my tendency to stay busy was justified. But I remember the consequences well.

Instead of filling that extra slot of time in your calendar with yet another errand or meeting, maybe it's time to carve in a time for rest. For Reflection. For calm.

In the many moments of resting and alone time I have, there are many areas of my life and character that feel strained by my physical limitations.

And this whole idea of “resting well” has been heavily on my mind and heart.

I can be forced to rest on the couch due to my health most days, but there’s an even deeper state of resting I think God may want to cultivate in my soul.

Our hearts and minds can be just as on-the-go as our bodies, if not more so. I can find my heart dwelling for too long on the things I can’t change and want to. The people I care for, and all of the things I think I need to do, but physically can’t.

I can busily occupy my thought space with worry, frustration and what ifs. But I know there is freedom when I can find rest and let go of the things I struggle so hard to hold on to.

While I do believe there is good found in being productive and having a schedule (major planner here), there is also so much good in unplugging and carving out quiet time for our soul, mind and bodies to rest.

To refocus on those things we value most. Those that truly are the most important. Quality time with loved ones, quiet time connecting with God, loving others well, rest for the soul, and taking care of my health need to be at the top of my list.

Above the rest of the noise that can constantly invade my thoughts, my dreams, my state of being.

Embracing rest in the midst of chronic illness | Living Grace

So today, in the busy hum of whatever our day holds, I pray we can carve out even a moment’s pause of rest. An opportunity to recognize a piece of beauty in the day and breathe a sigh of relief as we let go of whatever it is we’re holding onto so tightly.

This day is precious. We are here for a purpose. We’re loved.

May we consciously choose to live in the comforting, peace-giving shadow of our Father, for however long we can muscle our restless hearts into sitting still in that place.

Psalm 91:1 – those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

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carrying our burden

Some Things Can Only Be Carried

“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”
– Megan Divine

That quote. So much wisdom in so few words.

When I first read it, I breathed it in like ocean air. I read it over and over again, allowing each word to be soaked up like water to a sponge.

Some things can only be carried.

I want to be well. As long as I’m sick and fighting this disease, I will crave wellness and pursue healing. I will continue to try new treatments as needed, listen to messages my body sends, and care for my soul.

But I cannot fix my disease in the same way that I can unclog a drain.

I miss the ability to be more active, to explore more freely, to eat the foods my body now reacts to. I grieve the loss of freedom and the limitations my illness has set.

Yet I cannot take away the sense of loss the same way I can pull weeds from the soil.

So many of the harder things in life involve complicated healing timelines. There’s no road map to grief. There’s also no single cure that will eradicate every sick person. We can’t wish away the scars, the bruises, the tender parts of our wounds.

Going into fix-it mode seems to be our go-to when we are faced with hardship. Somewhere along the way we learned to believe the answer was to fix our situation or even the circumstance of someone else. We label the emotions that often feel all-consuming as “stuff we need to get rid of.”

Maybe the desire to get it together comes in the form of a new cure we just have to try. Or maybe it comes out that we aren’t grieving the right way and someone wants to change us. Someone else thinks we aren’t embracing enough hope or wanting to be healed and that’s why we aren’t better.

In response to so many remedy motives, I’ve endured many bouts of shame along this fight with illness. Some sparked by well-meaning, but unhelpful words from others. But many others that I’ve put on myself or learned somewhere along the way.

The root of the shame I feel? This subconscious belief I battle that I need to be fixed.

I’m bruised from the trauma. I’m still sick. I have scars from loss, tenderness from dismissive doctors. My dreams can be scattered with nightmarish memories of ER visits.

Each of these, and many others, have become a part of my story.

I can spin my wheels trying to find a way to fix the broken pieces I’m left with, but what if I am missing the bigger picture?

What if some things were meant to be carried?

changing how we view burdens

These sums of a greater part of my story, are just that: they are pieces of my reality, not flaws.

They are writings of where I’ve been, stories of my present struggle. They spark a flame of hope for my future, for healing of all kinds.

Together, they have contributed to who I am today.

The pain has shown me a strength I never knew I had. The scars of loss have increased my compassion and empathy.

My sickness has spurred me to seek out what I most value in this life. It’s also given me time and space to pursue a dream I’d buried for years.

The less I struggle to fix my emotions and circumstances, the more free I am to embrace where I’m at. I learn to carry the things I cannot fix and let go of the things that hold me down as I walk, even crawl toward the future.

Carrying my sickness doesn’t mean I have given up on healing. It means that I’ve accepted it’s a part of my life for now. I can shoulder it’s weight as I connect with others who are suffering and allow what it’s taught me to share compassion and understanding with them.

Carrying my grief doesn’t mean I don’t have room to also embrace joy, laughter, and goodness in my days. But it does give me permission to feel and process my grief as I need to. Instead of shame for my tears, I can give myself grace and acknowledge that my losses are all as real as my joys.

So maybe some things in life can’t be fixed…at least not yet.

Perhaps by throwing them over our shoulder and bringing them with us, they become a part of what makes our souls more real and our hearts more relatable.

And for the burdens that are too heavy to bear alone, we can remember that we have each other.

 

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5 Things I’ve Learned About Miscarriage

My husband and I clenched hands as the doctor pulled back the curtain to my small corner of the emergency room. Every word that spilled out of his mouth I so desperately wanted to shove back in. He was confirming our worst fear: we were losing our baby.

As we drove home, silence and tears filled our car. It was the kind of silence that feels deafening. The sort of tears you can’t hold back.

That bright August day felt like such a stark contrast to our hearts. In the midst of fighting Lyme disease, this surprise pregnancy had felt like a beacon of hope. So when we lost baby Ricki, it was as if all the lights were turned off.

The added layers that this grief has brought to my already challenging days goes beyond words. Trevin has been of great comfort to me as I’ve waded through the tears, the anger, the hurt, the painful comments – newsflash, there is no “silver lining” in losing a child – and the big questions that go unanswered. He has given me the gift of freedom to process any and all feelings that have come with this loss. That freedom has allowed me to wrestle honestly with all the emotions and grief, without reservation and without fear of judgment. To my Trevs: you and your grace are such a sweet gift in my life.

My sister, Chelsea, and I found out early on in our pregnancies that our due dates were only a few days apart. We were thrilled at the thought of having little cousins the same age. Sharing our pregnancy symptoms, memes on motherhood and adorable phrases on onesies were our jam for those first few weeks. It was so special and something I treasured.

Her little babe, Madeline, will now be entering the world very soon and already is so loved. Chelsea has known the awful pain of miscarriage herself, losing three sweet little ones over the past few years. I can imagine what a gift and joy this baby has already been to her and my brother-in-law, Brent, after such heartache.

I’d be lying if I said my emotions weren’t all twisted up in a tangle of joy and deep grief this month. I can say with sincerity that I am grateful and delighted for my dear sister and brother-in-law. If anyone deserves this happiness, they surely do.

Yet, I have also quietly struggled through every milestone in her pregnancy as it’s been a natural reminder of what I can’t share in. Of the one I lost and already loved so deeply.

Every big moment that my sweet niece celebrates in the coming years, my heart will think of Ricki. The first time she smiles, says her first word, takes her first steps. Her first birthday. First day of preschool. School plays and weekend soccer games. Her sweet sixteen. The moment her name is called on high school graduation day.

There will always be sadness, yes. I swear my heart grew during the short time I carried our little one and now that extra space feels achey, lost. Yet, I have found some comfort in thinking of her as the very real part of our family that she was and is. We may not have met her face-to-face, but she is every bit our daughter (or son).

I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned or that I found helpful as I’ve been walking through this heartache of miscarriage. I will preface this with the truth that we are all different in how we process and experience our grief. What was helpful to me, I realize may not be for you. I in no way believe there is one “formula” for navigating this heaviness, but believe that in hearing each other’s stories we can experience the validation and community we need.

Coping With Miscarriage

 

Grief Doesn’t Have a Road Map

I really, really wish this weren’t true. I would have loved to know exactly how long it would last, when it would hurt less, and how on earth I could get there. The reality is that while having the same vein of miscarriage, our individual stories of loss will affect us all differently.

It takes some of us longer than others to get past the daily crying (hand raised) and I chose to accept that it’s okay. I eventually cried less and there were even moments where I could have a good laugh about something. I needed those glimmers of joy. It didn’t mean I wasn’t still hurting, and it didn’t mean I wouldn’t shed tears minutes later, but it did give me a dose of relief. Other times I wasn’t in the mood for funny and I (as well as Trevin) gave myself the space I needed.

It’s Healthy to Ask for Help

After I lost the baby I invited some close friends into the pain with me. I wasn’t up for being around most people, but them letting me know they were in it with me through text and email was comforting. It reminded me they were thinking of me, acknowledged my loss and were feeling some of the pain with me.

I knew I also wanted to bring my counselor into the struggle with me, as my heart was already heavy from the battle with disease well before this loss. She provided a safe place to unpack the harder conversations of grief, raw emotions, frustrations, and my struggle with where faith fits into this. I needed that. A friend had encouraged me that if I needed help processing the grief or if it became too heavy, to ask for help like she had during miscarriage. Such wise advice and I pass it on to you, friend.

A Token in Memory Can be Good for the Soul

A few days after the miscarriage, I also ordered a personalized ring. It is monogrammed with an “R” and I wear it constantly. It has given me a way to feel connected and close to the memory of my babe, always holding her close (this mama’s hunch on gender).

After miscarrying I struggled with the fact that I had very few things to tangibly remind me of my baby. I had a sonogram picture and empty cloth diapers. I didn’t share this with many people at the time, but I slept with one of the cotton diapers under my pillow for a couple weeks and would pull it out periodically to hold in my hands or close to my chest in my tear-filled moments. I felt embarrassed sharing it at the time, but it honestly became key in helping me cope and it brought me comfort.

Never being able to hold your baby is hard to process and having something tangible to hold helped me in some way. Maybe having something to hold will help you, too or maybe you would find comfort in writing a letter to your unborn child. Perhaps making a memory box of your sonogram pictures and any other mementos you have could help in your grieving. You’ll always have it to remember the very real person you once held inside.

Sometimes I Need to Talk About It

This one has been hard for me, but I have to remind myself that it’s awkward and difficult to navigate from the outside. Several people have told me they stopped asking how I was doing with my loss because they were afraid they’d be “bringing up the pain” for me. The reality is, the pain is always there. I think about my baby everyday and sometimes I need to talk about it. I know that it can be uncomfortable for those of you who care for us to see us in tears or pain, but it’s such a gift to the grieving when you listen and sympathize with our ache.

As time went on and hardly anyone asked me anymore, I kept my grief mostly hidden within the walls of my home and I treaded lightly with who I spoke to about it. I hid a lot of the “baby” from my social media feeds for awhile. I took a break from accepting most visitors, especially if they’d never acknowledged my loss. While it may have been hard for some to understand, I have surrounded myself with the space and support I’ve needed in this healing process. I’m thankful for my sister and other dear ones who became a safe place to share this with.

A note if you’re caring for someone who’s miscarried: we don’t need to talk about it every time we meet. We just need to know you’re in it with us, be reminded from time to time that you haven’t forgotten and that our baby mattered.

It’s Okay To Set Boundaries

After the miscarriage my margin for rehearsed phrases and insensitive comments became nearly obsolete. There were only so many times I had the emotional allowance to remind myself that most people meant well. While I have the responsibility for my responses and actions, I was also reminded that I have the freedom to set healthy boundaries for myself, especially in the midst of navigating grief.

If someone is insensitive to your pain, twists things to make it about them or critiques how you handle your grief, you have the right to care for yourself and even ask for the behavior to change. I so struggle with this because I’d rather suffer silently and never enter into conflict with anyone, ever, period. Yet, as my husband reminds me, if we don’t ever say something, the situation will never change. And if they love us, they’ll want to learn how to support us well.


Comfort for those grieving after miscarriage: your story matters. | Living Grace Blog

If you’re grieving your own loss, I hope that somewhere in this post you’ve found even an ounce of comfort or validation. That you’re reminded: you’re not alone. From the core of my being, I ache that you’ve had to know this unimaginable pain. It is heavy and so deeply unfair. Wherever you’re at in your grieving process, I hope you know your story matters. Your baby is important and loved. Within the memory you keep alive of your sweet babe there is a message of sweet, all-consuming love.

If you’re someone on the outside of a grieving mother’s story, I hope this gives you some understanding of our struggle and pain. That it would inspire you with ways you can offer the kindness and support we so desperately need. May you love your friend, sister, daughter, co-worker or anyone else in your life in the midst of her grief and not leave her to navigate it alone in silence.

For all the unborn babes who never made it into their mother’s arms…you will never be forgotten. I impatiently await hugging each of your faces and playing chase with you through fields of wildflowers when I finally reach heaven. <3 <3 <3

 

XO

Kam

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