Tag Archives: mindfulness

When it’s difficult

Sometimes life can be really difficult and uncooperative.   Demands on our time and energy come, even when we don’t have any of those things to spare.  And such is my life right now.

I’m in some pretty serious adrenal distress and I’m having trouble keeping my anxiety in check.  But that doesn’t seem to stop life from asking the impossible.

My parents have sold their home in California and are getting ready to move to Idaho.  My father has been ill for over a year and my mom is drowning in this down-sizing project.  She needs me.

J asks me what I need and I don’t really know.  I feel like I need a pause button in my life so I can catch up and feel better before these things come up.  She doesn’t want me to make the trip as she’s afraid it won’t be good for me.  But how do you say “Sorry, mom.  You’re on your own”?  I can’t bring myself to do it.

My logical mind tells me that I should be able to just keep an eye on my stress and health and if I grit my teeth and keep leaning forward, I should be able to do all of it.  But I’m starting to see that attitude is part of why I’m so ill all the time.  I push forward when I should be stepping back and taking a break.

This kind of difficult situation comes up a lot.  Times when I “should” be taking care of myself, but the needs of others feels more pressing and important.  It seems like there’s always going to be time to take care of myself later, but that time never seems to appear.

When there are difficult demands, I always just find a way to push through and make it happen.  Am I doing myself a disservice?  Should I be taking care of myself first and others later?  But what if later is too late?  What if they need me now, regardless of how much gas I’ve got in my tanks?

I never seem to know what the right thing to do is when I have difficult decisions to make.  Any tips?

When Nothing Makes Sense

I struggle a lot when nothing makes sense to me.  I consider myself pretty logical and smart, but when I can’t make sense of something, I immediately want to toss it out and forget about it.  That isn’t always the best solution.

I took a food allergy test with my naturopath a little over a week ago.  We have had some suspicious about certain foods being less than ideal for my body and I was curious.  So we took a blood draw for the “E95 Common Food  Panel.”

For about the last year I’ve been avoiding gluten, sugars, high glycemic index fruits and the like.  I’ve been focused on proteins, especially eggs, yogurts, kefir, etc.

So imagine my surprise when the test came back and all the wheats are fine, but the big reactions were from egg whites, egg yolks, whey, garlic and sunflower seeds.  I wasn’t too surprised to see bananas on there as I’ve never really liked them and they seriously spike my blood sugars.

But let’s talk about that Whey result.  Okay, I can accept that dairy  might be a problem for me and I’m more than willing to experiment with my nutritionist to see if it makes a difference to remove it from my diet.  But as I read the test further, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that none of the other “dairy category” foods had a high response.  All the other milks and cheeses are in the low category.  How is that possible?  Isn’t whey in milk?  Shouldn’t they be “avoid” foods too? I find myself getting frustrated and screaming into the ether, “Nothing Makes Sense Anymore!”

I am seeing my nutritionist today and she promised to work through this with me, but I’m finding myself having a bad attitude about the whole test.  If I can’t make that whey result make sense to me, then maybe I should just throw the whole thing out and forget about food sensitivities altogether.

Or is that throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath-water?  Do I just need to look at the information in this test as a starting point and road-map to explore with my nutritionist and see if cutting back on dairy and eggs helps me to feel better.  My rash decisions are not always the best ones, so I’m trying to take a deep breath, be patient and let E help me figure it out over time.

When Your Troubles Didn’t Happen

troubles

 

“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, most of which never happened.”

If you’re anything like me, thinking about this quote may hit a little close to home.  We often make mountains out of those troubling little molehills.  Or we can take a simple little annoyance and decide that our whole lives are over because the local grocery store stopped carrying your favorite coffee creamer.  (Not that the coffee creamer thing actually happened to me. Okay, it did and I freaked out about it and now drive 30 miles round trip to buy it elsewhere. )

The other day I was at a new medical specialist for my initial consultation.  We talked about my symptoms and the tests I’d like done and he ran a few simple tests in the office.  That’s when he said my three new least favorite words – “Everything Looks Normal.”  I actually felt my body physically tense up and that hot feeling when you’re resisting tears.

Now, a “normal person” would be happy and grateful to hear that everything looks normal from a doctor, except I don’t FEEL normal.  I feel like something is seriously wrong and nobody can find anything or give me something I can do to make it feel better.  My frustration at the medical industry and my own long journey to health surged up and I was sure it was all a waste of time and money and effort and…..

Oh, the doctor is still talking?  Oh, you want me to do some other tests and some scans to narrow down some possibilities?  Oh, okay.  If I listened to my immediate reaction, I would have grabbed my coat and fled out of that office.  But taking a breath, noticing that all is not truly lost and realizing that there are still plenty of options, kept me sitting in my chair and got me tuned into listening again.

We really have to watch the stories that we tell ourselves about doom and gloom.  Those things that may seem like The Worst Thing Ever may actually be the door opening to something more in line with the life you actually want to be living.  For example, losing your job is never fun.  Nobody likes to get fired or laid off, but it happens all the time.  Often, looking back on it later, the timing worked out well and you ended up somewhere with better money, better benefits or just a better work environment.  That trouble you thought you had, turned out to be just the thing you needed at that moment.

So, as I work my way from doctor to doctor, trying to find a solution to what ails me, I’m going to try to remember that “Everything looks normal” doesn’t mean the doctor is writing me off as some crazy hypochondriac and that maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of this particular tunnel.  Hopefully it’s not an oncoming train. 🙂

When You Are Told You’re not One Crazy, But Two

After a few months of working with my wonderful nutritionist, M, she asked me how I felt about adding other members to the team.  She said that we were pretty limited to food related issues on our sessions, but maybe I could use some help with mindfulness in the other areas of my life.

I looked at her and asked, “Are you saying I’m not One Crazy, but Two Crazy?”  She looked confused and I said that I had some feelings of judgement about her suggesting I’m so nutty that I need two therapists.  She laughed.

But it’s true.  I needed some help with some mom-stuff and some more help with getting my monkey-mind under control.  She referred me to a mindfulness coach/therapist here locally.  I’ll call her J.

J is a beautiful person, but wow do I find myself saying awful things about her sometimes. It’s not about her, but about me and my feelings about the work that we do.  It’s HARD!!!  It seems simple.  You breathe, you focus your mind, you set intentions and you don’t beat yourself up through the day to get things done.  But it’s not easy at all.  It’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever done to break those old mental patterns.

And J has this way of finding those dark and painful places and then suggesting I shine a flashlight in there and look around at all those scary thoughts and beliefs.  Not my favorite activity as it stirs up all kinds of feelings I thought were long buried.

She also has this way of suggesting things, letting me fiercely resist them and then pointing me back to them again and again.  For instance, before Thanksgiving, she said, “You seem kind of spun out about all these things going on.”  I was super sure that she was way off base.

“I’ve got this, J.  I’ve got this to plan and this to prepare and this to get ready for that and then this other thing and I’m just busy.”

Boy was I wrong.  Three weeks later I wasn’t able to make it to our appointment because I was sick.  Talked to my doctors and they don’t think it’s part of the protocol I’m on, but my adrenal issues flaring up again.

What!?! But I’m so on top of it!  Look at my To Do list! Look how many things I’m crossing off.  I’m busy and I’m doing things and oh…

I forgot about just being.  I got all lost in all the things that were coming up.  Holidays, work, health labs, protocols, family, work, etc.  It all just sort of crept up  on me and without even realizing it, I was back being “mindless” and stressing myself out by running ferociously on that treadmill of life.

For me, that space brings up all my bad habits.  I get focused on doing things and crossing them off my list and forget all about just being and taking care of myself.  My inner diaglogue goes from being mindful and calm to saying things like, ‘What’s the matter with you!?! Why aren’t you getting more done!? Faster! Faster! Faster!”

So, here I am again.  I’m back to watching that internal dialog and dismissing all that negative self-talk.  I’m practicing self-care and getting the important things done.  Is that enough?  It has to be for now.

When You Are Suffering

When you are suffering, you feel like you will try anything to get some relief.  I often start to lose perspective on things and I suddenly can’t remember ever feeling good before and lose hope for feeling good ever again. (I acknowledge this is more than a tad dramatic.)

I am in it right now. I’m coming to the end of a 10 week protocol with my naturopath to combat these biofilms and candida to get my gut healthy again. I liken this process to chemotherapy and my husband rolls his eyes a bit.  I understand, but as a care-giver to someone who went through chemo, a lot of this was familiar.  Lack of appetite, tiredness, constant nausea, muscle aches, joint pain, excessive vomiting, hot/cold flashes, headaches, vision changes, migraines and I even had significant hair loss at one point that was starting to really freak me out.  However you describe it, this has not been a fun year for me.

And here I am at another potential break-through spot in my life with enthusiastic team members cheering me on, but all I can see is darkness, suffering and more suffering.

I’m tired of this restricted diet and eating food that’s “good for me”. Because I’ve been feeling so ill, I’ve completely socially isolated myself.  It has been months since seeing anyone other than the occasional cashier, my husband or a team member.

Even my dog isn’t able to make me smile like she usually can. I find myself annoyed when she wants to play and enthusiastically brings me toys.  I think, “Not now, I’m suffering.”

My mental attitude is also in the toilet. I have lost focus on my intention for doing this whole process in the first place.  I have somehow convinced myself that this is a punishment the people supporting me are subjecting me to.  Of course, this is an illusion I create to distract me from reality and my responsibility in this.

I’m having a difficult time and that is an indisputable fact. There is quite a bit of suffering going on, both mental and physical. That’s real.  But I really did choose to be here.  I knew this was going to be a rough road.  I had hope that I would be through the worst of it by now, but I’m not and I need to acknowledge and respect that.

Five weeks ago, I was making huge portions of our dinners to stock some away in the freezer for nights I’m not able to cook. I cleared my calendar of all things not health team related or absolutely necessary things.  I even let my co-workers know that I’d be scarce for the duration and to do their best without me.

But here I am, wishing it wasn’t happening instead of appreciating the fact that I’m here and this is exactly what I wanted.  I want to be well. And getting there isn’t easy.  But if I keep my eye on the prize and keep my head straight, I will get there.  Eventually.

Meet The Team: Nutrition

Last week I told you about how much I loathe the idea of diabetes nutrition classes.  I just would roll my eyes when my doctor would suggest this place called Passionate Nutrition to help with what I should be eating.  My doctor would swear it wasn’t that kind of place, but I was deeply resistant.

What finally tipped me into booking an appointment was that I was tired of taking pills.  If “normal people” could get fuel and maintain health through nutrition, I wanted to also.  There had to be a way to sort through all the insanity surrounding food for me.  And getting off all these pills was going to be my first step.

After an intake appointment with the founder of the company, I agreed to schedule with another nutritionist who had more free time in her schedule.  That was “M”.  She has a name, but I’m going to say things about her, so… better to just call her M.

I love M with all my heart.  I didn’t always, but after two years of working together, we sort of developed a relationship.

The thing I appreciate most about M’s feedback was how she was always able to find one positive thing I could hold onto and look at when I was feeling like a failure or feeling weak.  She always believed that I could make this change in my life, even when I wasn’t able to believe it myself.  (That is a powerful gift, right there!)

She also helped me by normalizing so many things I thought were just crazy old me.  I was so ashamed to admit finding myself walking to the kitchen for a 3rd handful of cookies and having a dialog in my head that said, “Stop walking!  Where are you going? Don’t you eat more cookies! I know you hear me. STOP!” followed by nom nom nom… mmmmmm… cookies. 🙂  Apparently, I’m not the only person who has ever done that.

She focused our sessions on learning about the benefits of eating whole foods, as close to grandma used to eat as possible.  She also introduced me to mindfulness and the idea of mindful eating.  I had no idea how often I ate on auto-pilot before this.

She introduced me to the book: Slow Down Diet, by Marc David. I highly recommend it to help you take a look at how you eat.  Each week, you can take on a new chapter and work on a new skill for mindful eating.  Just paying attention to how food tastes to you and how it makes your body feel, is the first step on the road to recovery.

Breathe, Don’t Do. Let it go.

Breathe, Don't DoBreathe.  Just inhale, fill your lungs and feel all that air going into your body.  As you let it go, release all that stress and intensity that tells you that your To Do List is the single most important thing in the world.

I think we all struggle with the idea that it’s more important to be doing something than it is to listen to what our bodies need.  I know I’m guilty of this over and over again.  I’m trying to work breaks into my day for my health, but the long To Do List is usually right there to tell me why I don’t have time for a walk outside with the dog.  It almost never says there is time for a nap when I’m tired.

The truth is that very few things are as important as we tell our selves they are.  Sure, dusting needs to happen, but not above all other things.  Sometimes you just need to stop, take a breath and let go of those expectations and demands on your time.

I just heard you saying that you have to go to the grocery store because how will the family eat if you don’t have bread in the house? But how true is that really?  Is your life really hinging on whether or not you have bread?  There aren’t other options?  You can’t just have a picnic on the living room floor for a change?

Often, the stories we tell ourselves is so much more than what is happening in reality.  So just breathe.  And let it go.

Choose Your Food Wisely

quality food
Choose food wisely

The small changes you make to your diet make a huge difference. Just look at the difference between the bay leaves from the traditional store shelf brand and the ones I got from the bulk food department at my natural grocery store.

And surprise! I paid less for the ones from the bulk food department per ounce then I do the ones in the prepackaged container. Just add your own mason jar and a label and you’re all set for cooking healthy meals.

Cooking with quality ingredients is an easy step we all can take to better our diet and our health .

Choose To Be Happy

Be Happy

Choose to be happy. It’s that simple! I’m serious. Why would I lie to you?

Being happy comes down to the thoughts you dwell on in your brain. Do you tend to spend time ruminating about the things that aren’t working for you? Or do you focus on that bright spot in your day that makes you happy?

Look, I know how difficult it can be to break out of that cycle. I was very invested in my misery and all the things that weren’t working in my life. I started trying to find something to be happy about by always having the same item on my list – “My dog loves me.” Some days I’d get lucky and be able to add “The sun came out” or some other desperate grasp for something to be happy about.

But it gets easier. Getting happy is like getting your body in shape. At first you can barely walk to the end of the block without your shins screaming at you, but it gets a little easier if you just keep doing it. Some days it will be harder than others, but just keep trying.

Many popular programs will suggest a gratitude journal to get you focused on the positive aspects of your life. I’m sure that will work for many people, but I struggled with the writing part of it. It was enough for me to just take a few minutes at the end of the day for quiet contemplation and reflection. There I would replay my day and look for clues that might indicate some happiness in there somewhere.

After a few weeks I started to notice I was happy more often than I thought I was. I would be sweating my brains out, pulling weeds from the garden and I’d stop to watch a goofy bug crawling out of the way and I’d smile. Something in my brain would trigger a thought to “remember this for my happy moments tonight”. But just noticing the happy moments, instead of noticing the sweat and labor and the WORK in the yard, I’ll carry the smile over that goofy bug. Even if my back starts aching, I can just smile about that shiny little bug and I’m happy again.

It doesn’t seem like it should be that simple, but it is. Just try it.

All Is Perfect

All Is Perfect

The truth is that, although you may not feel like it at the moment, all is perfect right now.

That feeling that things are “wrong” or “imperfect” is just your brain telling you stories about the things you lack and the things that aren’t ideal. Getting too wrapped up in these stories will convince you time and again that life is a struggle and a fight to get the bare minimum you need to get by.

If you can stop and see the perfect parts of this very moment, you develop a sense of gratitude and grace for what is.

Pema Chodron talks a lot in her book, “When Things Fall Apart” about accepting what is. This was an extremely difficult concept for me at first.

It seemed like I was being told that I had to like something that I didn’t want to like. I have pain. I experience sickness. I have challenges and things I wish were different. What is there to accept about that? Well, is it happening? Is it true? Well, then accept it and embrace what is.

That doesn’t mean you can’t work to change the things that are less than desirable. You just have to accept that this is what is happening right now and once you can learn to accept that and stop the constant struggle against what is, you will find that feeling of Perfect. Embrace that. It’s a much better place to spend your time than in focusing on what is wrong and needs to be controlled or changed or adapted.

Life doesn’t have to be as much of a struggle as we make it. Perfect can be elusive until you realize what it really means. It isn’t an ideal existence where there is no pain, no struggle, no difficulty. It’s just things running along as planned by something much larger than yourself. Once you let go of trying to control the outcome of all things, you will be able to unclench and move through these challenges in life with a bit more ease.