Intuition: Listening to my body

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Sometimes in life, we have to stop listening to what other people say and listen to ourselves. In most cases, our intuition leads us in the right direction. But sometimes, society or even our own sense of adventure tells us otherwise, leading to internal conflicts.

I’ve noticed messages from my body in two main ways lately and am trying to take heed of their warnings: pain and food allergies/intolerance (digestive issues leading to eczema, hives, and other physical issues).

This is not the first time I’ve written about chronic pain. I never experienced daily pain until my NOLS Semester in the Rockies (1989), and I’ve never gone a day without pain ssince then. Perhaps I strained muscles and other soft tissues on my 95 day exploration and adventures in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. CT scans show some arthritis and bulging discs in the neck and low back, a hemangioma on T5, and signs of old compression fractures on T8 and T9, but they say nothing that should cause daily pain. In 1997, I had an osteochondroma removed from underneath my right scapula, and the doctors thought that would relieve most if not all of my thorascic pain. After five abdominal surgeries (two ovarian cysts and a dermoid tumor, appendix, and two umbilical hernia repairs) and seven surgeries on my right leg (five on the knee for torn meniscus, and two on the ankle for torn ATFL and tendons on both sides in the back) my body is not quite what it used to be. I’ve become accustomed to feeling stiff, sore, and achy and have changed my exercise regimen to include more physical therapy, yoga, biking, swimming, and other low-impact activities. Yet, I still have pain day to day. I seek the fine line between strengthening and conditioning and injury.

Yet, my spirit longs for more, so occasionally I get tempted to push my limits and challenge myself. The most recent example of this is back in May when I decided to join in the #handstand365 challenge. While I knew I couldn’t do a handstand every single day for a year, I thought I’d try doing them when I felt I could and still try to get to 365 of them. I made it to 29 so far. And now my neck hurts more than it used to, so I’ve been taking a break from it for a couple of weeks. I remember doctors and physical therapists telling me that becaues I have three bulging discs in my neck (C3/4, 4/5, and 5/6) that I should avoid lifting weights over my head. In fact, my physical therapist also told me to stop doing shoulder shrugs with weights and to start pulling resistance bands DOWN toward the floor to encourage those muscles (the levator scapulae?) to lengthen. I thought doing handstands would be ok since they are considered “yoga” moves and ignored earlier warnings not to do inversion exercises like headstands, handstands, and shoulder stands because of neck issues.

I learned how to do handstands as a child when I was a gymnast. I didn’t realize that doing them “yoga” style was different, but I finally figured that out when one of the #handstand365 teacher posted a video of her handstand instead of just a still picture. I noticed she went into it from downward-facing dog. I was going into them from a standing position. I noticed the yoga handstand was more fluid, slow, and easy on the body. When I tried to do them that way, it was much harder for me. I wasn’t even doing them right, duh! And I wasn’t always doing them as part of a yoga practice. handstands here and there in cool places and sometimes after having drinks with friends (not very yoga-like). I started noticing from the pictures that in almost every one, my body leaned to the left (my left leg is shorter than my right, maybe that’s why? I don’t know but check out the pictures). And what the pictures don’t show is that I land on my right leg every time (and that’s the one that’s had seven surgeries). My leg is getting more sore, and my neck is hurting more these days, so I hate to say it but I must listen to what my body is telling me and put my #handstand365 challenge on the back burner for a while. Maybe one day I will get stronger and be able to do them better, but I’m worried that putting my body weight on my hands like that is just as bad if not worse than lifting weights over my head. After so many surgeries in my past, I know that the consequences of getting hurt again are serious!

Since May, I’ve removed gluten from my diet again. A couple weeks ago, I also started eating a paleo diet. That means no grains, dairy, refined sugars and oils, and legumes (including peanut). I wrote another entry about getting diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. My dietician told me to go ahead and experiment with gluten-free products that include corn, hoping to open up more options for me. Based on past results, corn and sugar (they are in the same family) do not agree with me. I react and get sick every time I have them. I tried to tell her that, but she urged me to try it and see. So I did. And I got really sick; I call it ‘corn poisoning’ because that’s how it feels. After following up with my chiropractor at a natural wellness center, I took his advice to completely eliminate grains from my diet for a month and also try the paleo diet to give my digestive system a break. Apparently, my small intestine was spasming, and my stomach was irritated. For weeks, I’ve had a bad stomach and back ache, so I can tell something is very wrong. Having a diagnosis helps me keep a strict gluten-free diet, and hearing that my guts are as bad as they feel is enough to give me the self-discipline it takes to eat a paleo diet. I need to listen to my gut, literally, and eat the foods that make me feel healthy not sick. Apparently, the proteins in grains are difficult to digest, and dairy products are also inflammatory. Although it’s very difficult to eat paleo, after a month I will reassess and hopefully be able to introduce some brown rice and cheese at the very minimum. I really miss those two things! I’m definitely not going to reintroduce corn again. This is the second time I’ve eliminated it from my diet, and the cause/effect relationship is clear, so I am going to trust my instinct and away from it altogether. I don’t really feel the need to get a corn allergy test because I definitely react when I eat it.

Over the next months and years, I look forward to feeling healthier with less pain, and will focus on taking one day at a time.

Bike ride

These are some pictures I took along a bike ride the other day. I haven’t been able to ride my bike on the paved trails that wind through our city for a few months due to a sprained knee in March. The other day was the first time I got back on it and started pedaling down the path with the intent of seeing if I could go all the way across town and back. I kept it in a low gear and coasted as much as I could, and good news is that I made it! I stopped to take a few pictures along the way because I think it’s such a pretty ride. Although I saw lots of wildlife like herons, ducks, loons, many birds, squirrels, and turtles, I only snapped a few shots. I also took panoramic shots of the three main stops along thew way. Living in suburbia isn’t all that bad when a trail like this one is so close to home. 20130607-105715.jpg

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Can you really tell wildflowers where to grow? Doesn’t that go against their wild nature?

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The other end of the trail. I made it to the end! It loops back to where I started.20130607-105843.jpg

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A picture of my handlbars and front tire. I need a new bike, but this one still gets the job done!20130607-105909.jpg

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Lovely isn’t it? This area is kept up by our homeowner’s association. The dead snake is just an extra touch. Yuck! Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!20130607-110222.jpg

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Self Care Sunday: Balance

20130414-221855.jpg Life is all about balance. To be healthy people, we have to learn to balance the many aspects of our lives. I found these three graphic organizers that display different facets of our overall health. It’s so hard to balance just the five things in the circle graph above. We need enough sleep, yet we also need to exercise and relax. We need to feed ourselves well and exist within a social support network of some sort. Whether that’s family or friends, time together is just as important as time alone. If you are a mom like I am, you are also in charge of making sure you meet and balance these needs for your children too. No pressure!

Last week, I worked on the sleep section of the pie, staying home two days in a row to take naps instead of running around during the day. This week, I’ve been exercising more; physical therapy twice this week for my knee and two days in a row of swimming laps at the pool this weekend. Our pool is at our gym, and the aquatic area includes both indoor and outdoor pools with lap lanes and fountains and water slides for the kids. There is also a sauna and two jacuzzis and steam rooms. The weather was super nice this weekend, so I also took advantage of the opportunity to relax in the sun both yesterday and today.

Nutrition is always a challenge for me because I’m allergic to/intolerant of wheat, corn, sugar, and eggs. I know how to eat clean but it is very hard to sustain it meal after meal, day after day. I’ve focused hard this week on eating foods that agree with me instead of foods that make my inflamed and reactive. It’s really hard though. I mean really hard.

 

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This Venn diagram is interesting because it shows that different parts of our lives are interrelated. It’s helpful to see that there is overlap between varying aspects of our well-being. I spend a lot of time in the mind and emotions sections and am learning to spend more time in the spirit section. Working some, but not too much. Taking care of my body and working on nurturing relationships.

 

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This thinking map identifies specific ways to work on different parts of our lives. This graph suggests that by working on these individual components of ourselves, we can achieve balance and feel happy and healthy, free from depression and anxiety.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Daybook 2/13/13

simple-woman-daybook
For Today: Wednesday February 13, 2013
Outside my window…it’s a sunny day. The sky is clear and my neighborhood is quiet. Not a cloud in the sky. It’s in the 60s today, nice and pleasant for this time of year. I don’t miss the frigid winters on the east coast. It rained yesterday, so the ground is still moist and the daffodils have started pushing leaves out of the ground.
I am thinking…about all the things that need doing. So far today, I’ve been catching up on chores, bills, and phone calls. Taking a break now to write since I haven’t posted a blog entry since Fiction Friday #6:Facebook Envy.
I am thankful…I have quiet time during the day to balance out the demands of family life. Thankful I have a family to make life demanding and that our kids have such fortunate lives. Thankful for another year of life, another lap around the sun (turned 45 a few days ago). Thankful for a new car. Thankful I can do what I love for a job.

In the kitchen…not much going on yet today. Breakfast was blueberries, blackberries, and walnuts. Lunch was leftover chicken, red pepper, broccoli stir fry. Not sure what is for dinner yet.

I am wearing…orange GAP sweatshirt and navy sweatpants.

I am creating…this week’s fiction post is due Friday morning at 10 CST. It’s a picture prompt this time. Still working on how I am going to weave that into my ongoing story and how to tie it to romance. I also have a few songs to practice on guitar. I’ve been learning some ACDC just to try something new.

I am going…to mom’s weekend for my daughter’s college sorority next weekend. I haven’t been out there since fall 2011 when we moved her into her freshman dorm. I’m really looking forward to seeing her, her apartment, her sorority, and meeting her friends and sisters. She said we will be having brunch and doing painting with a twist together. We haven’t had mom-daughter time alone in a long time.

I am wondering…why people give things up for lent. How exactly does that bring them closer to Jesus? It reminds me of new year’s resolutions when we all try to give up something bad just because we feel like we have to. I prefer to try to find balance day-to-day than to swing back and forth to extremes. The fact is that every day we have to make choices about vices and luxuries. We are constantly surrounded by extremes of dark and light, too much and too little. I told a friend yesterday that I’m not Christian enough to give up anything for lent, and she told me I could borrow some Jesus from her. That’s hilarious. I get celebrating traditions and holidays, but I guess if I don’t fully subscribe to the story that it just doesn’t resonate with me. I wonder how to find balance every day.

I am reading…primarily news articles and other people’s blogs. I started Catching Fire a while ago, but my progress has stalled. I spent some time this morning looking at a book my great-grandmother wrote and my mom sent to me for my birthday. It’s called Denny Genealogy part 1, and it chronicles ten generations of descendents of Frederick Denny. It dates back to the seventeenth century. I think I will write a separate post about it with pictures.

I am hoping…to keep getting some pain relief from acupuncture, meditation and exercise. I’ve exhausted my resources with western medicine and have an open mind toward eastern medicine.

I am looking forward to…celebrating Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Even though it’s a Hallmark holiday, it’s a good excuse to celebrate love and romance, two of my favorite things.

I am learning…to leave tequila alone. A friend recently told me ‘you have to make friends with tequila.’ Well, I’ve tried, but I don’t think tequila likes me. I first met tequila in college and remember liking “Prairie Fires” (tequila with a few drops of tobasco). I know, yuck right? I no longer eat tobasco because of my food allergies/intolerances, including wheat, corn, sugar, and eggs. Beer has wheat, and most liquors have wheat or corn. Tequila is made from agave and is not distilled through a grain, so it is the one shot I will take if I am at a bar or otherwise celebrating something. It doesn’t happen very often. I have a fiery personality, and I’ve been called “the furnace” because I run so hot physically. A massage therapist, an acupuncturist, and a chiropractor told me I have too much heat/inflammation (yang). Tequila is a hot and spicy drink, and I don’t think I need to add more heat. It brings out a different side of me that most of the time I shake my head about the next day.

Around the house…the dryer and refigerator are getting fixed this afternoon. The dryer keeps turning itself off, and the refrigerator has a leak in the water line. Cleaned off the patio and folded several loads of laundry. Lots of little things to do, but not lots of motivation to do them 🙂

I am pondering…the effects of social media on people. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I do each of them for different reasons. My followers on Twitter are mostly strangers, and I only got on it to keep up with my oldest daughters. I like being able to follow celebrities, and I use it as a platform to distribute my blog posts. On the other hand, I’m on Facebook because it connects me with people from all walks of my life. There are only a handful of people I’m ‘friends’ with that I’ve never met; they are there because for some reason we have connected (usually through a mutual friend), and they inspire me. Otherwise, my Facebook friends are my real friends from my real life. I have friends all over the US and around the world in Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, South America, and England. Family, friends from grade school, middle school, high school, all three colleges I attended, my NOLS course, when I worked at Greenpeace, when I took of time from school to live in Colorado, former students and their parents, former colleagues at schools, and local friends. I am an extroverted person and enjoy debates and discussions. I like keeping up with everybody, seeing their pictures, and hearing about their lives. I like walking down memory lane. To me, it truly makes the world a smaller place. But there is a flip side. Facebook now plays a role in divorces and causes problems in relationships. Its effects are significant enough to coin the term “Facebook Envy.” It can suck up time, and people can become too obsessed with likes and comments. People can let numbers define their sense of self-worth. People can get so caught up in the virtual world that they lose sight of the real world. People also use the anonymous interface to say things to others they would never say in person. They compare their lives to the perceived better lives of others. People post what they want others to see, not a true representation of all the ups and downs of life. I see both sides. I feel strongly both ways. Instagram and Pinterest are fun, but I’m on them less often. I love pictures, and both Instagram is popular with the kids, so again I participate to keep my finger on the pulse. Pinterest is visual expression and a resource for creative ideas. I’m not on it very often, but I do find interesting ideas and funny pictures there.

A favorite quote for today…”Be careful what you set your heart upon-for it will surely be yours.” James A. Baldwin

One of my favorite things…my new car!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Valentine’s day tomorrow, guitar lesson and lunch with friends on Friday.

A peek into my day…

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Acupuncture

“Mommy what’s acupuncture?” My son asked me the other day before my appointment.

“It’s Chinese medicine. They put little needles in specific places on your body to help improve your energy (chi) flow.”

Although it might sound painful, it isn’t. It doesn’t even hurt as much as an allergy shot (trust me I get two allergy shots every week). The first time I ever tried acupuncture was in 1988 when I was having pelvic pain. It didn’t work. And after I saw an ob/gyn I realized it was because I had a large dermoid tumor. It needed to be surgically removed.

I tried it again last year on the advice of my ankle surgeon since there was a lot of scar tissue around the incisions and I was still having pain. It sort of helped, but since I have so many medical issues, and it got expensive, I didn’t stick with it very long. I went the other day because my low back pain has become unbearable. I have a hard time sitting due to A broken tailbone, and I have trouble standing and walking because of low back, knee, and ankle pain.

After one session, the pain is better and I feel much calmer. She said three of my chakras were blocked, the crown, the throat, and the solar plexus. So she put the needles in specific places to unlock them.

I did feel some pain relief and felt very calm afterwards. I’m going back weekly for the next few weeks and looking forward to more progress.

Acupuncture is helpful with many conditions including:image

  • Pain
  • allergies
  • stress
  • headaches
  • PMS
  • depression
  • insomnia

My Son for President

 

My son made this thinking map at school outlining his ideas if elected for President of the United States. I love that they had a chance to think about what they would do if they won the election and had presidential power. When he first told me about it (before I saw the paper) he said, “I would hide my phone number.” Pretty clever guy. I’m not sure what made him think of that, but it’s true, presidents can’t be giving out their phone numbers to just anyone.

Then, there is the demand for free pancakes and donuts. What a socialist. Doesn’t anybody feed that kid? I eat gluten-free, so I admit I am not the first person to think of eating pancakes and/or donuts. But I do my best to remember to buy junk food and processed white flour products to meet my kids’ desires. Before seeing this assignment, I had no idea pancakes and donuts were so important to him.

I absolutely LOVE the idea of extending the weekend by one day. Americans work too much and stress out too hard. It would be wonderful to have three day weekends. He said he misses being home with me during the day like when he was little. So sweet.

Surprisingly, he gets down to some serious issues with the idea of not letting anybody cut down the rainforest. That’s my boy, a chip off the old block. He’s inherited my love for the earth and my passion for protecting the environment. He is smart enough to understand some of the science and seems to genuinely care about nature.

Lowering prices and making more jobs to build the economy…I think he must overhear the news quite a bit at our house, and obviously he is picking up on some of the key vocabulary and hearing people discussing jobs and the economy. My husband and I frequently discuss politics, and the news was constantly on during election season. I’m impressed these were areas he would address if he was elected.

Maybe he will be President of the United States one day. I would vote for him!

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Feel The Emotion In The President

 

Fired up and ready to go!
Today is election day in America.  It’s the day we celebrate democracy by using our votes to select the candidate we believe is best for the job. Let’s finish what we started and keep moving forward.
 I support President Obama.

Growing up in a Washington DC suburb, I remember hearing about presidential politics from a young age.  I met President Carter when I played Suzuki violin with his daughter, Amy.  I went to President Reagan‘s inauguration.  I went to a pre-inaugural ball for President Clinton‘s reelection.  I’ve toured the white house and the capitol building (and many other monuments and museums downtown).  I voted in every election since I turned eighteen.  I’m interested in news and politics, and I’m excited about the election.  I hope we know the results tonight.

My nineteen year old daughter doesn’t want to vote because she doesn’t know enough about the issues to decide.  She says she doesn’t want to vote for President Obama just because her parents vote for him, and she doesn’t want to vote for Governer Romney just because her friends vote for him.  This is the first presidential election she’s been old enough to vote, so I can understand that, but I encouraged her to get informed on the issues so she can pick one.  I sent her a link to a quiz to help her.  I took it too.  We live in Texas, and while Dallas County will go to the President Obama, overall it’s a republican state.  So, I can see why it’s hard for her to decide.  But, I hope she does decide, and I hope uses her vote today.

The same goes for my twenty year old stepson.  He said he registered to vote, but last time we talked about it, he said he was still undecided also.

Just remember a few reasons why it’s important to get out and VOTE…

  • Someone is going to win the election and be president for the next four years.
  • People fought for the rights of black and female voters.
  • Some countries do not live in a democracy.
  • Each voice has an opportunity to be heard.
  • Voting is a civic duty.

30 Days of Truth: Day 18-Your Views on Gay Marriage

I wrote about this topic in August when Chik-fil-a was in the news about their donations to anti-gay groups.   I think gay people should be able to get married. I just think it should be called something different.  Click here to read the whole blog entry.

30 Days of Truth: Day 15 — Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

I couldn’t live without my husband.  I was engaged to someone else when I met him at the gym one day in June 1998.  We became best friends and started running together several times a week.  Then we went out on a double date on New Year’s Eve 1998.  At midnight, we kissed, and nothing has been the same since then.

I’d been having problems with my fiance over religion and the fact he never spent any time with me.
My fiance was Jewish, and I was Unitarian Universalist, although I was raised Christian and celebrating Christian holidays.  I thought I wanted to convert to Judaism to marry him, but our first Christmas/Hannukah season I wanted to celebrate both holidays, and he only wanted to do Hannukah. It was a major problem.  He also didn’t spend enough time with me. He worked as a physical therapist Mondays through Fridays then worked at a bike shop on Saturdays and took on a job doing ski patrol on Sundays and otherwise would train for triathlons all weekend.

I realized that I spent all my spare time with my best friend but was engaged to someone else.

I tried for a few months to talk myself into going ahead with the marriage and hoping it would work out.  I tried living a lie, but ultimately I listened to my intuition and broke up with my fiance and cancelled the wedding.  It was liberating.

Deep down, I knew whom I truly loved and wanted to spend all my time with.  We dated, got married, and had two babies together, a girl and a boy.  We are celebrating our thirteenth wedding anniversary in a few days.  I couldn’t be happier, and I have no regrets!