Sun rise on a calm lake with blues, orange, yellow, and pink. Bare trees in the forefront. White text with title Choose to Make Every Day A New Start

Fibromyalgia Journey: Choose to Make Every Day a New Start

FIRST POSTED ON: DECEMBER 11, 2019 IN: WRITERS ON WELLNESS

REPRODUCED HERE and Updated ON PAINFULLYLIVING.COM 11/1/2020

Calm lake in the background and bare trees in the foreground with a yellow, orange, pink sunrise shining on the lake and in the sky behind clouds.
Good morning from Pettit Lake.
Photo credit to Pat Zammit

After a three-year slide into brain-fog and loss of focus, the inability to function in my daily life, ever-increasing areas of pain for no apparent reason, fatigue so deep that it felt like all the iron had been taken out of my blood, and spiraling anxiety, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Being I was in peri-menopause, I chalked it up to the change in hormones.

I asked my friends (teachers and those around my same age), and many claimed similar issues of being tired, stressed, anxious, and waking up as if by the alarm at two in the morning nearly every night. But when I asked if they had pain on the inside of their knees, none of them had, so thought I may have injured myself.

Or as I would stretch my shoulders and legs during staff meetings (constantly getting up when others could sit), I got a few stares because I was the only one not able to sit still for the hour.

Me, wearing t-shirt and shorts and water shoes.  I'm smiling as I balance a canoe on my shoulders.  Behind me  on the ground is my water-life-vest. Trees are in the background.
I have always prided myself for being physical and active.
I love, especially being in the wilderness.
I managed to port this canoe just for the camera, holding for a few minutes.
Kilarney Provincial Park, 2011

Just a Part of Peri-menopause?

I reported to my OB/GYN that I had a sharp pain under my armpits (a very specific point in each). I was sent to a specialist who told me that I was fine and just needed to stretch that area more. After doing a fair amount of research about the effects of hormones and dealing with stress, I went back to my OB/GYN when I began to experience anxiety that was interfering with my ability to handle the demands of my life.

She said that it was pretty normal to have the anxiety levels I was experiencing at my age. She diagnosed me as peri-menopause. She put me on 5 mg of Lexipro (an antidepressant), which seemed to help me, at first. Then the following start to the school year, things worsened, so I went on a higher dose of 10 mg. Even after this, I found I wasn’t able to teach (which came as naturally to me as breathing); I stumbled on my words, my sense of humor was gone, every lesson and interaction was stilted.

Family of 4: 40ish year old, smiling man  leaning in from the left, a 40ish year old woman with dark hair, smiling next to a young woman of 20, smiling and then a young man of 18 wearing a red t-shirt.  All are giving peace fingers as they ham-it-up for the camera.
My family circa 2010.

My Doctor Thought I was Just a Stressed-Out Mess

I never had an issue with being observed in my classroom; in fact, I always enjoyed hosting classroom learning labs for my district, being observed by 10 or so peers at a time while I taught. So when I couldn’t fill out my evaluation pre-observation form with any sort of coherence, I really knew something was wrong.

My children, diagnosed with ADD during college, said, “Mom, you have ADD. You’re the same as us. You need to be tested for ADD.”

So, I went to my general practitioner, bringing my husband along as a character witness because after we moved to the area, I had changed to this doctor who didn’t really yet know me. He saw that I was already on Lexipro, now 10mg, and offered to up the dose.

When I said I wanted to be tested for ADD (I had researched and thought it feasible that with the hormone changes I was no longer able to use the coping skills I had developed over my past 53 years), he conceded, saying that since you have this on your mind, we’ll have you do the test. I could tell he felt I was just a stressed-out mess.

However, when I did the computer test and 1:1 interview, I was surprised to find that I scored in the medium/high-level for ADD. After taking Vyvanse for a couple of weeks (I could tell I was handling life better), I re-did the test while on the medication and came out as functioning normally.

However, there was one thing about the diagnosis didn’t ring true to me, however; I was never scattered, unmotivated, or irresponsible during all my own schooling years. In fact, I was just the opposite. Any how, I was relieved with that diagnosis and was happy to let the Vyvanse/Lexipro combination help me through the day, functioning fairly well.

Students scattered on the classroom floor, sitting in bean bag chairs and pillows among the shelves and shelves of books, typing on their Chromebooks.
I taught 6th-grade reading and writing workshops; I loved my job.
Giving it up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

The Deep, Gnawing Pain Returned and Got Even Worse

This brought me to the end of a very stressful school year of many challenges and changes, and I thought I had figured out the issue, just a touch of the ADD and menopause. However, as soon as school let out and my husband and I were in our packed car driving from Michigan to California for an extended vacation, a deep, gnawing ache that began in my legs. I had accepted the pain under my arms and the inner part of my knees as something that went along with getting older, but this was a totally different pain that seemed to be gaining in strength.

No matter how I stretched or massaged, it stayed, moving around from upper to lower from left to right. That pain remained the rest of the summer and into the start of the next school year which due to many changes was to rival the last year as far as stress was concerned.

Now, the pain moved into my shoulders, neck, and arms (again switching from left to right). By November, I was barely functioning. The Vyvanse and Lexipro weren’t doing anything to quell the brain fog and utter exhaustion. I’d flop into bed every night upon getting home and spent much of my weekend in bed.

Me, obviously not feeling well, laying in bed with a cold, wet washcloth on my forehead.
This was taken when I wasn’t able to go with my husband and daughter to a MSU basketball game we had been planning on for months. I just was too unwell to go.

A Relief-Finally Diagnosed

Thanksgiving break was when my GP decided to do all sorts of blood work (when I beseechingly said, “Truly, this isn’t who I am. This isn’t my norm at all.” When the blood work came back, he said, that this could possibly Fibromyalgia.

I had never heard of it. Being the teacher and learner I am, I began to educate myself. It was truly depressing all the things I read about how debilitating and life-changing this Fibro thing was. Also, the reviews on the medications like Cymbalta scared me to death.

By December 7th, I was on long-term leave. I had given in by asking for a prescription after really wanting to avoid taking Cymbalta. I started with a 20mg dose, feeling some better, albeit, not liking the side-effects.

I retired from a 32-year teaching career just after I turned 55 in May of 2019. In April of 2019, I went for a two-hour evaluation interview for a Fibromyalgia 10-week, multi-disciplinary program at a local Rehabilitation Hospital (Mary Free Bed). I was officially diagnosed as having Fibromyalgia.

At that point, I knew a lot more. (Thank goodness for those who share their journey like Donna in her blog fedupwithfatigue.com). I was relieved by the diagnosis because it meant that I would be eligible to get into the pain management 10-week program and in my mind, get back to living.

A dirt road covered with golden aspen leaves and big rocks. On either side are the white tree trunks of aspen trees next to green pine.  The road goes off into the distance.
This October, we spent time in Utah’s National Parks.
This photo comes from the Dixie National Forest.

Finding My Way

In the beginning, I created a LONG list of every issue I was having (much longer than the one below) in a note on Google Keep. I had it so I could remember to tell everything at each of my doctor’s visits. I felt like I had to prove that things were not okay and wanted to be taken seriously.

I have now deleted that note. Not that I don’t have most if not all of those things going on, but I’m now in a place that I accept what it is and am not looking for a cure from my doctor (because I don’t feel they have one).

I don’t want a medication if I can survive without one, so this is my plan of action at this point. Not that I won’t go back on Cymbalta or whatever if I must, but right now I prefer to handle the symptoms in my own way.

Issues I have that can go from light to severe and anywhere in between at any given moment:

  • Brain fog / Lack of focus: I was pulled over by a police officer the other day to my shock. He said I was swerving in my lane a bit and wanted to make sure I wasn’t under-the-influence. It could have been due to my losing focus or even to my self-massaging of my neck and jaw that I was doing on my drive.
  • All-over muscle ache: When I went to a chiropractor recently and she wanted me to mark on the body where the hurt was and what type, there wasn’t a spot on the body that wasn’t marked. Even my dang hands hurt.
  • Body drain/fatigue: I will be going fine all day and then, bam! I can’t go forth any longer. Sometimes I wake up that way and have to just rest.
  • Insomnia: About two nights in a row of little sleep; then a couple 2-3 nights of decent sleep and repeat.
  • Deep sadness: I don’t feel it’s depression because it comes and goes.
  • Aversion to strong smells, bright lights: I had always been someone who loved having the lights on and now am one constantly asking for them to be turned off.
  • Big fluctuation in body temperature: Especially in my hands and feet, which causes me to wear layers that I can take on and off-including socks, slip-on shoes or slippers, and even gloves. When in bed, I’m in and out of the covers all night.
  • Hands and feet edema: I have yet to figure out the cause.
  • Gripping of jaw/mouth: I’m constantly opening and stretching my mouth. (I’ve even started to massage the inside of my cheeks/gums with a finger.)
  • Dizziness/nausea/headache: That just makes me feel unwell. This seems to hit in bouts and spurts. There was a time last fall and through spring that I couldn’t make plans or would cancel last minute on those I had made. This has become a lot less regular and I’m starting again to plan. However, mornings and nights are not my best times.
  • Bladder pain: I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis in 2000. This is known as one of the co-morbid issues with fibro which I didn’t learn about until my fibro diagnosis. Urgency.
  • Stomach Pain: I went through a Nissen Procedure 2016 for acid reflux; while I don’t have as much acid reflux, my stomach is upset whenever I eat (no matter the diet) and I have continuous pain at my sternum.
  • Bowel issues: Diarrhea to constipation and back again, never really normal. However, I think this is more due to supplements and what I eat.

Posts that share my current symptom management:

Me, laying back on a water proof bag, sitting on rocks near the shore of a lake.  I'm in a t-shirt and shorts, writing in a journal.
Writing during a break while on a week-long canoe trip at Kilarney Provincial Park.
Summer of 2011.

Why Blog?

I decided to start a blog about my experiences after first discovering what Fibromyalgia was and then that there wasn’t information out there that seemed to fully fit my own situation.

I have become pretty educated about what it is, how it affects me, the whys (as much as there can be), and how to manage it so that I can live my life FULLY, on my terms, even while having pain.

I feel that sharing my journey can give insight to others on their own, much like others have helped me. Also, blogging helps me to understand better how I’m feeling about things; writing helps me process. My posts serve as a bit of a timeline for me to remember where I’ve been in this process of healing and self-discovery.

In addition, I’ve always wanted to write. For me, this is good practice and if others take time to read and are helped in any way from what I’ve written, then, I’ve fulfilled my purpose. If no one reads it, it serves in developing what I love (writing) and helps me to process my journey.

Teal waterlily with the phrase underneath Living FULLY despite pain.
This term painFULLYliving came from my pain-psychologist.
She helped me to understand that I could allow Fibro to define me

or I could accept that it’s only one part of me.
I choose each day with the help of her family and friends to live life FULLY.

Writing and Fibromyalgia Symptoms

I write when I’m inspired. When I have something that is just needed for me to get down. So, my blog has not been regular. I really struggled the last couple of weeks, so I gave myself a break from feeling like I had to. Have-to doesn’t work well for me or the Fibromyalgia it seems. I did ‘have-tos’ for so long that it feels like my body puts on the breaks when I feel that now. However, I’ve been proud of myself this past year. I have aimed to write one post a week (by Friday), and while I haven’t made it each week, I have published a total of 68 articles.

To get out of the should and must mindset, I also work on giving myself care and grace when I don’t follow through with things that I feel I should be getting done. My writing time is a self-care, pleasurable activity. My thinking is the more I do it in this frame of mind, the more my brain will come to love taking the time to write-like Pavlovian’s dog.

I don’t focus on earning money. While I’d love to earn something through my writing, that isn’t a focus currently. So, the pressure is off that way, too. I’m starting a fiction novel that I’ve always said I would write (mostly just to myself; however, a few times I let my students know that’s what I intended to do once I had the time.) However, to be honest, that has stalled for now. Writing poetry tends to be my go-to when I need to let out emotion.

I have my writing area set up. I love to sit looking out at the lake. (I’m so fortunate to live on the shore of a small lake). I have a cup of hot tea or a cold drink nearby. My loved ones know to leave me alone (mostly). I play Pandora (if the words are flowing) on my favorite wordless, acoustic guitar station (Acoustic New Age or William Ackerman). I often would play this in my classroom as my students were writing, too. I do love sitting outside if the weather is cooperating.

Depending on my mood, I write in a journal (this is usually when I’m more brainstorming or writing poetry) or directly on my computer (usually, my blog is written directly on my computer). I tend not to do a lot of editing/revision as I’m anxious to get what I’ve written off-my-plate, so I often post right after completion. (I’m not too freaked out by others seeing my errors; however, I do reread after being published and tend to do editing and a bit of revision then.)

I’m sure as I get into writing my novel more that this will be one of the biggest changes in my writing process; deeper and deeper revision and editing. I chalk up my one and done method to my 6th-grade students’ influence on my writing (and the ADD-like symptoms I have).

To help with my fibro-brain, I do use technology a lot. I use digital notes (synced on my phone and computer) to jot down an idea I get for a blog or for my novel. So, when the ideas come, I quickly put it down otherwise it would disappear like a wisp of smoke. (I’m using Google Keep now but have used Evernote in the past.)

Me, smiling with my head touching my 5 -year old granddaughter's head as we sit on the couch together.
My goal to be fully present and engaged in every part of my life.
Connecting at the heart-level with others in my life is my purpose.

Connect at a Heart-level

Much of my teaching of writing was getting my students to see the purpose and how it could be important for each of them.

My first lesson was always for them to reflect on what they know about, care about, and are interested in. Through this, I would write alongside them. We would come to know each other on a much deeper level; learning from one another, connecting through our writing in ways we couldn’t through our everyday interactions.

Instead of wanting to impress as the goal of writing, connecting with each other at a heart-level was our focus. This freed us up from that critic who lives in each of our heads that constantly says what we have to say isn’t important or good enough. Then, when we conferred with one another (they conferred my writing as well), it was more about trying to get the meaning across as clearly as possible so that others would get us.

So, my advice is to write like a 6th grader. Write what is important to you. Write from what you know about and care about. If we do that, then we have something to share, no matter what it is; this will intern allows us to feel connected to others-one of the hardest things to do in this life.

I’ve been honored for my work this year by being recognized as a patient advocate:

In a white circle, in teal font, is the quote "Today is a gift, and I am ready to receive you." -Kathryn Starbuck, A Gift
No matter what happened yesterday, I start again. I will not give up.

Choose to Make Every Day a New Start

If you’re diagnosed with Fibromyalgia: get educated on what it is. There are good sources out there. However, make sure that you check any source you use for its reliability. There are so many sources that want to tell you what to do, what to take, how to live. Also, there are many negative voices out there.

I chose not to complain constantly about the issues that come with Fibromyalgia because I find that it just sinks me deeper into symptoms. I don’t propose just ignoring and letting positivity fix your fibro; however, dwelling on the yuck doesn’t breed good outcomes.

Use what you learn with your doctors. Most don’t know much at all about fibromyalgia. I’ve brought a lot of information to my doctors that they’ve found enlightening.

I choose to make every day a new start. There are days I throw in the towel. I try to allow it (and even if it means wallowing a bit) to let it be okay for that time. However, I do work on getting up the next day with an “I’m starting afresh”.

How do you handle the hard stuff in your life? Can you find the hope and push in every new start of the day? How do you push past the pain and difficulties?



teal line drawn waterlily with teal lettering of the title and motto
A smiling man and woman infront of a natural arch in Arches National park.

Smile Power! Emotional and Physical Healing

Smiling man an woman in front of a natural bridge in Arches National Park.

THE MIRACLE OF THE MINDFUL SMILE

This is going to sound very weird. I’m smiling while lying in bed. I’m smiling while typing these words. I’m smiling when no one is around and there’s nothing particularly amusing going on. I’m doing this after reading the book The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist Monk from Vietnam, who played an important role in the 1960s and beyond.

“…begin to follow your breath and to relax all your muscles. Concentrate on keeping your spinal column straight and on following your breath. As for everything else, let it go. Let go of everything. If you want to relax the worry-tightened muscles in your face, let the half-smile come to your face. As the half-smile appears, all the facial muscles begin to relax. The longer the smile is maintained, the better. It is the same smile you see on the face of the Buddha(1).”

Thich Nhat Hanh

When Thich Nhat Hanh talks about meditation, he talks about posture, breath, focus, etc. but one thing he also emphasizes is putting on a half-smile as a part of your practice. Thich Nhat Hanh writes,”Now, begin to follow your breath and to relax all your muscles. Concentrate on keeping your spinal column straight and on following your breath. As for everything else, let it go. Let go of everything. If you want to relax the worry-tightened muscles in your face, let the half-smile come to your face. As the half-smile appears, all the facial muscles begin to relax. The longer the smile is maintained, the better. It is the same smile you see on the face of the Buddha(1).”

My student was worried I was going to be mean and say something like, “You’re the weakest link!”

SMILING DOESN’T COME NATURALLY

This made me curious because it’s brought up a few times in the book- how smiling when meditating, leads to smiling while being mindful, leads to smiling in every moment. I think of my resting face. I’ve not ever liked it. I look mad. I once had a student say that they had been told I looked like the woman who hosted the 2000-2017 TV game show called The Weakest Link. She was worried I was going to be mean and say something like, “You’re the weakest link!” Ugg! That has stuck with me.

However, smiling all day does NOT come naturally for me. When our 6th-grade level moved from a middle school building to a K-6th elementary building, everyone smiled all the time, so I tried, too. I remember joking with my partner teacher that after the first few days my cheeks actually hurt.

I decided to look into this whole smiling thing because according to Thich Naht Hanh, it really has a major impact on our inner perceptions and also for those with whom we interact. So, I decided both to research and start this smiling thing throughout the day as much as I could remember to do it (and not make others think I was losing touch with reality).

THE SCIENCE OF A SMILE

In the article World Smile Day-How Smiling Affects Your Brain, the author explains, “Smiling activates tiny molecules in your brain that are designed to fend off stress. These molecules, called neuropeptides, facilitate communication between neurons in your brain. Also, when you smile, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are associated with lowering your anxiety and increasing feelings of happiness. In fact, serotonin is often the chemical that anti-depressant medications attempt to regulate. This natural, feel-good chemical cocktail that your brain serves up helps you feel happier and more relaxed, and it can even lower your heart rate and blood pressure (2).”

The Hidden Power of Smiling
Ted Talk presented by Ron Goodman

1. Smiling Increases Happiness Hormones

In the article What’s the Science Behind the Smile? the author, Ding Li states, “This is the start of the positive feedback loop of happiness. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins. In short, when our brain feels happy, we smile; when we smile, our brain feels happier (8) .” 

2. Smiling Makes Us Better Looking

In addition to feeling happier, a 2011 study by researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland found that when we smile,  we actually are better looking to others! “A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive, smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that processes sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded (5).”

3. Smiling Is Contagious

Another study of the effects of smiling on the brain conducted in Sweden showed that it was very difficult for subjects not to smile when shown photos of people smiling.  They were told to frown at every photo with a smiling face. Participants’ first natural reaction was to smile.  They had to consciously choose to frown in order to follow the directions (4). 

4. Smiling Gets the Job Done

In the workplace, studies have shown that smiling increases the feel-good aura which in turn increases productivity as well as creativity (6). Researcher and economics professor, Andrew Oswald’s found,  “Happier workers, our research found, were 12% more productive. Unhappier workers were 10% less productive (3).” 

4. Smiling Reduces Stress

Smiling can even help keep our bodies healthier.  Some research says it can add on years to our lives because our cells change their functioning due to our thoughts and emotions.  “When we smile, we reduce the rigidness of our cells, and this physical relaxation can help combat the risk of stress-induced cell mutations that can lead to the development or persistence of various cancers (7).” It is thought that less cellular stress allows for better balance in the body which then leads to health and overall wellness.

MY SMILING CHALLENGE

There are times a grin comes to my face naturally. Do you see the crow’s feet at the sides of my eyes? This is a true smile of happiness according to scientists, called the Duchenne Smile (6). When I’m around this kid, my face lights up to her bright smile. I have noticed a sense of energy and happiness comes nearly every time no matter where I am physically and emotionally before she comes over.

Smiling in Honor of the Man of Many Smiles

While writing this post this morning, I received a phone call from my cousin. My uncle Bill and surrogate dad passed away today. He was someone who never spared a smile for me. I wish right now that I had somehow captured that smile in a photo from the last time he gave it to me when we visited him and my aunt in Arizona. His smiles were always quickly followed by a hand holding or hug. During the last year, when he couldn’t speak his thoughts due to Aphasia and dementia, his smile said so much, “I’m so glad to see you! I love you! You make me happy!” That smile is etched in my memory as are the countless before, but I don’t want them to fade.

My Uncle Bill playing a game (a favorite past-time),
giving his warm and mischievous half-smile.

Did You Know There is WORLD SMILE DAY?

And so, I’m going to follow Thich Nhat Hanh suggests in his book by smiling more. I’ll let you know how my experiment goes on World Smile Day, October 2, 2020. If nothing else, it will strengthen myzygomatic major muscle, which resides in the cheek and tugs the lips upward and my orbicularis oculi muscles, which encircles the eye socket and squeezes the outside corners into the shape of a crow’s foot (6). Or I’ll make everyone wonder what I’m up to! Both are worth the effort!



My article The Danger of Distraction: Turning Toward Pain to Eliminate Suffering speaks to my feelings of trying to ignore difficult emotions and physical sensations. I’ve seen way too much of that growing up and how it has and is damaging those I love.


UPDATE 10/23/2020

I’ve been doing the Smile exercise since August, basically everyday. I use an app called Dailio that tracks my activities. I’m proud of myself that I stuck with it. I was on vacation to Utah National Parks on October 2nd, 2020, which was the actual World Smile Day this year, but I know I smiled quite a bit during our month-long trip. Has it made a huge difference? I’m not sure. I do know that I smiled during times of frustration, sadness, anger, and pain; at times it was very difficult to do. I do think it helped shorten my time of feeling down (but didn’t do anything to stop the pain).

To help lessen pain, I continue to use protocols like meditation focusing on breathing, heating pad, myofascial release, massage, stretching, Breathwork, etc. I think it’s strengthened my smile muscles, too. Not a bad thing at my age;) As long as I don’t use it to cover up or be fake, I do think this is a good practice. One addition I’ve made when I smile during the down times is to focus on acceptance, making that a part of the half-smile.


Do you smile often? Have you ever faked a smile? I challenge you to do the Half-smile Exercises for the next three months. Let’s see if we can bring a bit of goodness to the world.





teal line drawn waterlily with teal lettering of the title and motto
Come So Far! Last Summer to This

Come So Far! Last Summer to This

As you probably have guessed, I am not a trained medical health professional. What I am is a mom, a mimi, a retired teacher, a lover of nature and of music, as well as, someone living with chronic illnesses. I share my journey to provide some insight and hopefully ideas that may be helpful to others dealing with similar issues. Always, consult with your doctor before trying anything new.

Background of teal water and rocks, image of me smiling wearing a blue baseball cap and backpack below it an image of me, obviously in pain, wet teal washcloth covering my forhead. White Font for title: Come So Far Last Summer to This
In the first photo, summer 2020, I was able to go hiking w/camping overnight.
In the below image, summer 2019, I was having withdrawal symptoms from going off of Cymbalta.

July 13, 2019

Me, in bed, wearing my grey comfy hoody and a cool, wet washcloth over my forehead.  I'm in visible pain.
Withdrawal from Cymbalta, after taking it for only 6 months at 20 mg, was three months of H#@!#$.

This was a very low time for me. The year prior had brought me to my bed which then lead to a diagnosis. The only option I was given to have relief from the pain and other devastating symptoms of Fibromyalgia was to start on Cymbalta. While it did help me, it had side effects and long-term addiction that I was not willing to deal with. And so, I stopped taking it.

“I have not felt this bad since I had viral meningitis (I’m not as bad as that time in the emergency room, but man, it’s reminding me of it). Since the purpose of this blog is for me to record my true journey (for healing through the writing and remembering where I’ve been) and to possibly help others who are dealing with Fibromyalgia, I’ve decided to write this (as I can today because doing anything and nothing are both really difficult right now).”

Painfullyliving.com I FEEL LIKE @#$#%

I mostly followed the doctor’s directions for weaning off of Cymbalta. However, I’ve since learned that I’m very affected by any medication (OTC, herbal, or prescription), and so, now I know that what everyone else considers easy will not be for me.

Talking to the doctor mid-withdrawal, he said that I could have taken it every other day at the 10 mg before going completely off. Unfortunately, by then I was more than a month in, so it didn’t make sense to me to start taking it againnto help with the weaning off.

A New Me

Me, smiling, wearing a pink tank top and blue baseball cap.  Behind me, my husband, grinning, wearing a grey t-shirt with his sun glasses hanging down.  This was our first hike in a couple of years.  I finally felt well enough to participate.
First time backpacking since I became sick. It was a wonderful two days.

July 2020

This July has brought me back to myself and to the joys of summer that I had missed so much. Certainly, I’m having to pace more than I used to and be cognizant of what my body is telling me. I now must take care of myself. If I don’t, then I will have a day or more where my body will hold me down to attend to rest, hydration, nutrition, meditation, stretching, myofacial release, sleep, etc.

My family, friends, and myself have come to understand that I will do things in smaller chunks over a longer period of time. And while that was not at all how I had functioned prior to developing Fibromyalgia (non-stop go without eat, sleep, etc. to get something done), we all have come to know I can now plan and participate within my wellness protocol.

Wander Woman Camping Trip

It was wonderful connecting with friends, even during COVID.
We each had quarantined before hand and we didn’t come in contact with others while we camped at a lovely state park on Lake Michigan.
This was my first such trip since developing Fibromyalgia in June of 2018.

During the second week of July, I was able to camp for a few days, adding in a short hike and swim each day, with my friend group we lovingly call Wander Women. I was able to show them myself protocol; they were especially interested in my making a solution with distilled water and LDN pill.

I ended up needing to go home a day earlier than the rest. While I was doing pretty well, I could tell that one more night on the thin sleeping pad was going to be one night too long. My friends readily understood why I had to say goodbye. However, we made plans for them to visit me at my house (outside only and taking the same precautions) later in the summer.

We hiked in 5-miles to find a wonderful spot to set up camp for the night.
We saw no one but three women passing by on the trail during the two days on the river trail.

Two Day Hike and Camp Trip for Two

My husband, who had just gotten back from a week of hiking Pictured Rocks in northern Michigan, was quick to set up an overnight hike/camp trip on the North Country Trail about an hour’s drive north of us for the last week of July. After my camping and hiking experience with the Wander Women, I felt that I might be up to doing it. However, it had been 3-summers ago since I last did such a trip.

While I was useless in helping with the preparation (too worn out after having a wonderful sleepover with our granddaughter), I was excited to see if I would be able to carry a pack, hike, and sleep in a tent with a pretty thin mat between me and Mother Earth.

What a wonderful trip! I felt so grateful and energized by being in the woods. I will admit, however, that I didn’t sleep well. We will be replacing the thin mats for the next time.

We’ve decided that hiking to a spot, setting up camp, and then hiking from that base will be our way of going from now on. That provides enough chance to rest and recuperate, and it isn’t as difficult to hike since we don’t have the pack on all the time. In the past, we would hike to a spot, set up camp, make dinner, etc, and in the morning pack everything up to be on our way to the next camp site on down the trail.

Realizing that the energy it takes to one carry all the equipment necessary for camping on our backs for the entire hike as well as energy necessary for the setting up and tearing down each day, we realized that we needed to adjust our expectations and modify our energy output.

By setting up camp in one spot and doing day hikes from there, we could take small day packs with snacks and essentials only for the hike. Kelley carried the heavier quarts of water, so I really had almost no extra weight to carry. Also, using my walking sticks (see my post on Nordic Walking and how it aids those of us living with chronic pain), I was able to do the nine mile hike the first day.

Hiking and wilderness camping is something that inspires my soul. This first trip since developing Fibromyalgia gave me hope that I can participate in such things again. #hiking #fibromyalgia #fullyliving #pacing #knowinglimits

Knowing My Limits

By the time we headed back on the second day, I was definitely hitting my limit. My legs were aching and I was feeling weak and fatigued. However, after getting back to the car, doing some myofascial release, and eating dinner at a restaurant with an outside patio, I felt much better.

Admittedly, when I got back home, I had several down days. I had to rest up and do almost nothing. But, the experience, greatly outweighed taking these days for rest and repair. Hiking and wilderness camping is something that inspires my soul. This first trip since developing Fibromyalgia gave me hope that I can participate in such things again.

Photo taken from our 2-day hike/camp from the rim overlooking the Manistee River.

Looking Back on the Winding Journey I’ve Been On

The past few years have been one of growth and healing, albeit never a straight one. I’m so grateful for all the help and healing that I’ve received from so many: my family and friends, yoga classes, massage therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, doctors of a few different sorts, meditation courses, fellow chronic pain bloggers, my counselors, those friends I’ve met in Fibro, LDN, and chronic illness Facebook groups, my Wander Women groups (one from work and one from the town I live in), YouTube videos, text and audio books, music, and so much more.

My New Blog

This is my first blog post on my new website format. I have learned a lot about web design over this last year and have much more to go. I’m feeling proud and excited for what I might do with this new love and skill.

With all of this week filled with hiking, family, and building a new blog, this post will be less pulled together than normal. I just wanted to share the progress that I’ve made. I’m including (from My Recommended Resources page of this site) much of what has helped me this year along with links or further information.

I do believe that it’s all of these things/people/resources that have brought me to where I am today. I’m not naive enough to think that I won’t have many twists and turns and ups and downs (just got diagnosed with a rare deformity of my carotid artery called Fibromuscular Dysplasia-not at all related to Fibromyalgia), but I want to relish where I am right now anyhow. If I’ve learned one thing this past few years (and since COVID-19’s arrival), what will be will be; it’s my choice how I react.

Resources That Have Helped Me:

  • Low Dose Naltrexone (Newest addition-55 days in. Started at 0.25mg and am now up to 2.5mg and still titrating up to find my best dosage amount). Sleeping pretty well without any other help; clear headed most days all day; less pain overall, more energy. My first post: Tentatively Ecstatic: My Experience with LDN Part 1  & my latest post I Did It My Way! One Year of Low Dose Naltrexone
  • CBD/THC 1:1 Oil- This didn’t seem to help with pain, but sure did help me sleep soundly. I was taking .25mg sublingually before bed. I stopped because the LDN seems to be helping with it and my GP expressed issues with it (even though I have a medical marijuana card and it’s now legalized even for recreation in MI). My post: Out of the Rabbit Hole: CBD/THC Oil for Fibromyalgia
  • Meditation: I have continued with meditation after finishing the Palouse Mindfulness 8 week free course online. This is making a big difference for me. My post:The Danger of Distraction: Turning Toward Pain to Eliminate Suffering
  • Yoga and Breathwork: This is an ongoing, continuation practice of 20 years. However, I’m having to learn that my practice looks different now. I had always strived too much to get to that perfect form of a pose often injuring myself in the process. I’m doing much more Restorative, Yin, and slow yoga practices these days. 
  • Supplements: Magnesium Malate/B-12/E/D3
  • OTC: Bayer Back and Body (for headaches and pain) & Low Dose Asprin for FMD
  • Prescription: Vyvanse (I was diagnosed with ADD one year before my FMS diagnosis; I do think that the ADD symptoms, though, are more connected to the FMS issues.) 
  • Hot pad, ice pad, Epsom salt baths, and hot tub.
  • Massage & Myofacial Release: Professional massage & myofascial release, myofacial release @home using foam roller and Yogu Massage Balls, and Rhenpho Massage Gun
  • Gentle cardio: walks, hikes, bike rides, and swimming 
  • 10-week Interdisciplinary Pain Management Program through Mary Free Bed – My Post about this: Just Breath and Other Ways to Rewire the Pain-filled Brain
  • Diet:This is an area where I really hate being deprived. I had given up on dairy, prior to developing Fibromyalgia. However, I finally bit the bullet and have gone Gluten Free (Read my post on how it has greatly helped eliminate my stomach pain: Fibromyalgia: Impact of Going Gluten Free. I don’t eat food with high acidity, very much, mostly because my bladder hurts immediately after. However, I just can’t cut out tomatoes, so I take PRELIEF and OTC for lowering acidity of foods in the bladder. I rarely drink carbonation and don’t drink much caffeine. I tend to lean vegan due to the no-dairy. However, I do eat some poultry, eggs, and fish.

I know that I am so fortunate to be where I am right now in regards to my health. I have friends who live with chronic illnesses that are really struggling right now, especially because of COVID-19. Many who can’t get around due to being very at risk if they were to get the virus. Those who have lost their form of income or don’t have health care. Some are dealing with depression, and others are hurting due to their relationships hitting some very difficult times. You are on my heart. How are you this summer?



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teal line drawn waterlily with teal lettering of the title and motto
What Greater Gift Than Love? Grief and Honoring

What Greater Gift Than Love? Grief and Honoring

Orange tiger cat draped over man's legs (sleeping on a couch). Tape pieces in the corners like a photo album.  Centered: Title Text: What greater Gift Than Love Grief and Honoring

I’m so sad. More than I ever expected. I have never professed to be the animal lover of our family. But I have gotten especially close to Scout, our tiger kitty, in the past several years. He’s been my cuddler and nudger out of bed. Today, we had to have him put down. He was 16 years old and was the best companion our family could have asked for. He was dropped off at the end of our driveway shortly after his birth with a very bad eye infection. We got him healthy and he’s been that up until a couple of years ago. You are going to be so missed, Scouty. Thank you for loving us so much.

A close up of , Scout, a cuddled-up orange tiger cat. Tape in the corners as if a photo album. Under is a quote in black text "What greater gift than the love of a cat?" Charles Dickens

As it’s been the past two blog posts writing responses to the five prompts from A Chronic Voice’s Linkup Party for People with Chronic Illnesses, July 2020 has found me completely changing what I was going to write about because something else is heavy on my heart.

The past couple of weeks have been ones of loss for my family. First, my Uncle Bill who was a surrogate father and now our Scout, our silly tiger kitty for the last 16 years. Today, I write from grief that comes from deep within.

Scout, orange tabby cat, laying belly up nesseled in the corner, legs up the wall. Tape in the corner of then image like a photo album.  Under in off-white frame is quote by Jim Davis, "Way down, we all have the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them."

BOTHERING

Every morning as if he could tell time, Scout would hesitantly (at first) nudge his wet nose into my ear, purring like a little motor. The morning routine was started. I then, rolled over, pulling the covers closer to covering my face, but often leaving one arm out above my head, hand dangling. He’d get a bit more persistent, butting my hand over and over with the top of his head. 

As of late, that isn’t enough to get me fully awake. I roll over again. So now, he knew he had to get tough. Scout would leave my head and walk over to my nightstand, knocking one item off at a time. First, he would paw my little statue of the Eiffel Tower I had actually bought on Kel and my 25th anniversary trip to Paris. I would hear the metal slide, slide, slide until it plunked to the carpeted floor below. He would then come back to my head, purring into my ear to see if I was going to get up. I had begun to ignore this first attempt, so he would go back to bat the next item to the floor. 

Kelley and I feigned being bothered by this morning wake-up, but really it was nice knowing we were needed and not forgotten.

Willow, black longhair cat, lays next to Scout, orange tabby nestled in blankets.  Both have their paws crossed infront of them. Tape in the corner of the image as if in a photo album.  Under in the off-white frame is  a quote by Anon, "A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."
My husband and son brought home Willow,
a black long hair kitty, a few weeks after we
found Scout. The two have been together ever
since. Willow is going to need a lot of extra
loving with his cuddle buddy gone.

DEMANDING

It was my 40th birthday, and the kids were outside playing with the balloons from my party. There was a tiny little orange dot at the end of the driveway. The cars zoomed down our street not even noticing that a kitten lay helpless in the gravel. Andrew and Chelsea, 15 and 13, were outside with the neighbor kids when they heard a tiny mew demanding to be heard. They walked nearer to the end of the drive, with the feeling that there was something that needed their help. When they reached the orange fuzzball, they found Scout, eye glued shut from infection.

He can’t be more than two weeks old, my husband said as Chelsea cuddled the shivering kitten in her arms.

Can we keep him? Andrew asked, the longing in his blue eyes. He knew that we traveled too much to have a dog, but he was hoping that we’d allow them to keep the kitten. Kelley looked over at me with a Well,-what-do-ya-think?-look, and I shrugged. I guess, but you guys are going to have to take care of him.

Orange tabby looking into the camera, lying upside down, paws reaching towards the viewer, wrapped in blankets.

NOURISHING

As Scout grew, he became more and more a person. His wacky personality was a favorite of conversation. He got a bit chubby, loving to eat like he did. However, he was also very energetic and athletic. A few times a day, he’d stampede through the house like an orange streak, zipping up the stairs then back, skidding across the kitchen floor. He’d chase his own wily tail is the snakelike thing eluded his every move.

One of his most incredible feats is when jump to the highest banister in the house, defying death as he hefted his belly up onto the balance beam. Our three-story home had an open banister from the top bedroom level to the living room. Scout made like a drunken, clown on that high wire beam above. It was amazing that he never fell!

In addition, Scout nourished each of my children’s hearts. He gave love to each of them. Scout made sure to sleep with each kid equally during the night. He’d cuddle one and then leave to cuddle the next. Chelsea and Andrew each felt that he loved them best of all.

Orange tabby cate, standing up, staring into the camera, begging. Under is a quote by William S. Burrough, "Like all pure creatures, cats are practical."

DEMANDING

As Scout grew, he became more and more a person. His wacky personality was a favorite of conversation. He got a bit chubby, loving to eat like he did. However, he was also very energetic and athletic. A few times a day, he’d stampede through the house like an orange streak, zipping up the stairs then back, skidding across the kitchen floor. He’d chase his own wily tale as is the snake-like thing eluded his every move.

One of his most incredible feats is when jump to the highest banister in the house, defying death as he hefted his belly up onto the balance beam. Our three-story home had an open banister from the top bedroom level to the living room. Scout made like a drunken, clown on that highwire beam above. It was amazing that he never fell!

In addition, Scout nourished each of my children’s hearts. He gave love to each of them. Scout made sure to sleep with each kid equally during the night. He’d cuddle one and then leave to cuddle the next. Chelsea and Andrew each felt that he loved them best of all

Scout, orange tabby, curled up on a chair sleeping with Willow, black long hair, lying next to him his head turned as if looking at Scout.  Under is a quote by Rod McKuen, "Cats have it all: admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it."

TOLERATING

I’ve never been a pet person. My little sister loved animals much better than humans, she still does. Me, while I may appreciate them now and again, an animal just isn’t going to win my heart. So, for me, having an extra being to care for was just one more responsibility in this full-time working mom’s life. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Scout, it was more that I saw him as a chore on my to-do list. And so, for many years, I was just tolerating the extra work of scooping out his litter box, cleaning up the hairballs, or filling his food and water dish. I didn’t really consider myself one of his companions or he mine.

The years went by; Andrew and Chelsea got busy with their adult lives. Little Scout wasn’t on their minds as they moved out to college and the lives beyond our home. Kelley and I filled the food and water dishes. Kelley changed the kitty litter. Scout began to lay on Kelley’s legs every night as he sat watching the TV. 

Little by little that lovey fella became my buddy, too. When I was down and out, laying in bed and feeling lonely due to a Fibro Flare, Scout was always nearby. His warmth often eased the pain in my gut as this was a favorite place for him to lay. 

In the past year, as I began to get stronger, pour Scout was getting thinner and thinner. We tried special food and medicine, feeding him both morning and night. But, after we got back from our four-day trip this past week, we knew he couldn’t keep going on as he had been.

My aunt and uncle had just come home to Michigan from quarantining in Arizona, so I made this video for him of me playing Take Me Home, Country Roads.

TELECOMMUTING

The last time I saw my Uncle Bill was two days before he passed. He was lying in a hospital bed in a facility that cares for the elderly. His mind and body were giving away to dementia. He had stopped eating. He kept his eyes closed.

I arranged a Skype call with the activities director. She brought in her iPad. Seeing his drawn features and closed eyes, I knew it would be my last time to see him. I had practiced most of the quarantine on the old wooden ukulele my aunt had given me. It had been his. He told us, kids, the story of when he would go and play the old tunes for his mom and the other residents. Even when his mom didn’t know him anymore, he said she recognized the songs. And so, I played Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver. It was hard for me to make it through without crying. Uncle Bill never looked at me, but he did grab at the iPad and pulled it closer to him. All I can imagine is that he wanted to let me know he heard. I told him I loved him. And then I asked the nurse to make sure to play some upbeat music. He loved music.

Uncle Bill, circa 1967, wearing a white short sleave button dress shirt, tie, and slacks. Smiling as he holds hands with young children, 3-4 years of age, playing ring-around the rosey. Under a quote by A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh, "If there ever comes a day where we can't be together, keep me in your heart. I'll stay there forever."

Grieving and Honoring

And so I grieve. But, I do know that I loved both my uncle and my Scouty well. And, I know that they loved me. This is what it means to live FULLY. So, I will allow myself to feel the pain of losing them both during these last weeks. I honor our connection through my memories. I will continue to practice the ukulele; it sits in the corner of my living room. Uncle Bill, his smile, and music will remain a big piece of my life. I will think of Scout every time I begin to wake, honoring him by living each day with uncompromising love and honesty.

Those of us who live with chronic illness know what it means to mourn loss. Those of us who have dared to love, know what the ache when we lose those we’ve let into our lives.“We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world–the company of those who have known suffering.

Helen Keller
close up of an orange tabby cat licking; tape on the corners of the photo.  Under in the off-white frame is a quote by Lloyd Alexandar, Time Cat, "The only thing a cat worries about is what's happening right ow.  As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time."

Responding

When we face loss, I find it helps to respond by being present in our grief. Stay in what is happening right now. Breathe. Remember. Laugh. Cry. Continue to love fully both those we’ve lost and those who remain. It’s all a part of a FULL life.

The format for this post is thanks to A Chronic Voice linkup. This month the topics were Searching, Hoping, Traumatizing, Honoring, and Responding. Each writer takes the given topics and gives them their own spin. Check out these wonderful writers at July 2020 Linkup (scroll past the prompts to find the linked up posts).

Only Love Can Do This: Healing the Chronic Illness of a Country

Only Love Can Do This: Healing the Chronic Illness of a Country

A black and white head shot of Dr. Martin Luther King, JR with quote text in white bordered by a teal square frame.


I write today filled with sadness at the state of my country. I had in no way planned to write on this topic (albeit, I did plan to write on the Chronic Voice Linkup prompts of Searching, Hoping, Traumatising, Honouring, and Responding this week). But there’s nothing else in my mind and heart at the moment. I ask that you don’t stop reading because it’s not a post focused on chronic illness. I really believe it is. It’s a post about the chronic illness of a country. And just like the warning signs which my body has given me that something is awry at the core of my being and has to be addressed before it fully takes me over, so too are the glaring ominous events of this past week signs that our country is rotting from the inside out. 


As people with chronic illnesses, our surroundings greatly affect us whether it be the weather, the physical structures’ amenities or lack thereof, or the emotional atmosphere. I know that emotional stress is my biggest symptom contributor to physical overexertion a close second. Reading and viewing the events of these last couple of weeks puts my system on high alert status. As a mom, grandma, and retired teacher, my heart aches for the loss of a young dad, father, brother, and a son. As a middle-class white woman, I feel shame that I am a part of the ongoing problem, anger at the utter heinousness of the crime committed by those sworn to protect our citizens-all of them, and despair that this is still such a deep-seated issue in my country that touts its inclusiveness.

SEARCHING

Anyone with a chronic illness is searching: for a cure, for relief, for a way to have a purpose, for meaning. A big part of my search has been to find ways to accept my life as is pain and all. When I went through a 10-week pain therapy boot camp last summer (see post), I went through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy counseling. My counselor recommended a few books: Wherever You Go, There You Are by John Kabat Zinn (see post), The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, and The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams written about the week of discussion he had with the Dali Lama and Desmonde Tuti.

Photo of The Book of JOy marked with pink sticky notes surrounded by a teal square frame.

I picked it up, finally, after purchasing it last year. I’ve struggled to read print in a book and have been mostly listening to books via Audible or Libby. I’m really enjoying the book, but these past few days the words are speaking to me in a different way. The weight of the murder of George Floyd on May 25th and the recent protests has come to bear on everything I’m doing and thinking.

While lunching with the Dalai Lama, Tutu begins to talk about the basest human longing, to be happy. He says, “Everyone wants a happy life-and our individual happy life depends on a happy humanity. So we have to think about humanity, discover a sense of oneness of all seven billion human beings.”

Again and again, the question I wrestle with is why do we draw these lines of hurtful division? What can one individual do against a systemic racism and prejudice that the great minds of our times and history have not been able to dismantle?

HOPING

I have to have hope; the alternative is too unthinkable. However, the fatigue of discouragement comes from knowing this narrative hasn’t changed and since just before the presidential election of 2016, has become more jagged and divisive than ever with the encouragement of our current governmental administration. It is palpable, like weights pulling me down. And while I feel like this, I also feel guilty for this because who am I to feel down? I am not having to worry about my son returning home in a coffin after a simple trip to the store. 

One of my friends posted this about white privilege: “You may have had a very difficult life story, but white privilege is when those difficulties are not because of your skin color.” I would go on to add that the color of my skin has actually pulled me out of many of my difficult circumstances (see related post) allowing me to have a life that, yes, I have worked for, but my work was celebrated and strengthened because of my race.

The hope I have is found is in the heart I see in my own children and my granddaughter. Listening to President Obama talk yesterday along with other intelligent, young, black activists who have already been working towards bringing about change, he says, “…I see what is happening with young people across the country. With talent, voice, and sophistication that they are displaying. It makes me feel optimistic. It makes me feel as if this country is going to get better.”

TRAUMATIZING

By now most US citizens, if not the world, have seen the traumatizing video of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer while other officers looked on without intervening. As for me, I couldn’t bear to watch it. What impacted me was the public talk by his brother and then another by his wife with his six-year-old daughter lovingly caressing her mom’s long hair as his she spoke through her tears.

This little girl, so so innocent, had to be told that her daddy died because he “couldn’t breathe”. I can’t imagine this mama having to tell her daughter this. I can’t imagine this little one’s life going forward as she becomes more and more aware of what actually happened.

Van Jones shares the impact of seeing people cry out for change after the world witnessed the murder of George Floyd.

HONORING

This past winter, I visited a health facility in Chicago (my daughter was attending a conference there), so I was allowed a guest pass to hang out for the day. Besides walking the track and swimming, I wanted to use my time to write. I went into the “senior” room because it had a place I could sit and had electrical outlets for my laptop. Besides not being one-of-the-gang that obviously had been gathering there daily, I was the only white person in the room. I sat at an empty table and plugged in to begin writing. I noticed some quite talking and glances my way. I realized later that I had taken a table that a certain group of women used after their Zumba class.

I couldn’t connect to the WiFi, so I approached one of the women talking at the next table who had her laptop up and working, leaving my things taking up a chair and spot at the Zumba group’s table. I asked the tech-savvy, older black woman if she could help me log on. As she, proceeded to welcome me and then helped me to find out the problem I was having, she indicated that the women were wanting their usual table. I could tell she wasn’t a part of the group and that she thought their predicament was a bit funny. Immediately, turning a bit red, I went and gathered my things and headed towards the door. But this tech-savvy woman invited me to sit with her and her friend. Soon into our conversation, we discovered that we were both retired teachers and spent the next hour or so talking. We had so much in common! And the little group of Zumba friends, checking with me that I didn’t still claim the table, went on to have their daily talk over coffee and bottles of water.

Later that night, I began to think about the uncomfortable feeling I had had in a place where the only thing that was different about me was the color of my skin. I also thought about how that “fish out of water” feeling left me as I totally connected with a kindred spirit despite our difference of melatonin.

To honor that special meeting, I decided to write the poem below. I understand that staying to those who are similar to us is comforting. It’s part of our biology that we do so. While it’s needed when we’re infants (to attach us to our protective parents), it is not as we grow older. Yet, this segregation that we choose continues. This seclusion leads us then to develop fear. If that fear is not checked, it will lead to anger and hate.

While stepping out to connect with those who are different from what we see in the mirror is a bit scary and uncomfortable, it brings about an understanding that will heal our society. And if we do this, we will be blessed with a richness and vitality that only that type of connection can give. We lose so much by staying in our own ponds.

Poem font in white over a teal filter of waterlillies.

 

RESPONDING

So, what can I do from my little dot on the global map? There have been many wonderful resources posted this past week, so I will only include a few. But I encourage anyone who has read this all the way through, to really do a self-check to see, as one friend wrote, “where you are in your anti-racism work”  and then, go forth and do something to heal this nation.

The format for this post is thanks to A Chronic Voice link-up. This month, the topics were searching, hoping, traumatizing, honoring, and responding. Each writer takes the given topics and gives them their own spin. Check out these wonderful writers at June 2020 Linkup (scroll past the prompts to find the linked up posts).




teal line drawn waterlily with teal lettering of the title and motto