Finding Your Passion: Nourishing the Soul

Woman resting on a dry bag while writing after backpacking near a lake.
This is going to be a short post.  I just got back from a few days camping with wonderful friends on the shore of Lake Michigan.  This has been planned for a year.  Our group, we fondly call the Wander Woman, started the hiking/camping trips July 2018 when we did a week-long trip to South and North Manitou Islands in Lake Michigan.  My friend, Lisa, reminded me that she noticed my constant massaging during that trip.  It wouldn’t be until November of that year that I fully understood that there was something very wrong with me. 
Related Post: 
I’ve been planning and working towards my goal of spending the week with them.  We were to camp in Canada at Lake Superior Provincial Park. However, the border between Canada and the United States is still closed due to COVID-19. So, instead, we chose a closer state park in that we could drive to.  Not everyone who had originally planned to join us could come: some due to family commitments, one due to the death of her mom (non-virus related), some due to not feeling comfortable in doing so. 
We agreed to be logically safe and trusted that our Wander Woman cohort had been safe prior to camping.  The park was not crowded at all and so we had no issues out on the trails, at the camp, using the restrooms, or on the beach.  We chose to wear masks only inside public places (the restrooms). 
Renewed Passion:
I am so energized after these past few days.  Wonderful conversation with my friends that ignited my imagination and funny bone, as well as a few shared tears, met with empathy and love. The photos will be the rest of my description of the joy that is currently bursting in my heart.
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
I can’t thank my friends enough for helping me get back my courage to stay in a tent after a day of hiking and swimming.  I have gotten my courage back to do this more often with my husband. I even talked my daughter into doing a short trip with me soon.  My soul is nourished and my passion blazing again.
 
Related Posts:
 
Another Passion Ignited:
 
My blog is ONE-year old now.  I have learned a lot from doing it.  I’ve made friends from across the country and the world.  I’ve learned from other bloggers how to live well with a chronic condition as well as how to blog better.  It, too, ignites my imagination and gives me a purpose that makes me happy.
 
So, when I found out that I was nominated for two WEGO HEALTH Awards, I felt that this passion was also recognized by those who have watched my blog grow and those who I have hopefully helped in some way.  It’s such a wonderful, supportive group that I have found through blogging.  
 
If you are interested in endorsing me via the link below (just being nominated is really amazing), I humbly thank you.  In my post for the end of this next week, I will be sharing out those who have most impacted my wellness journey, so that you, too, can learn from them (and endorse their nominations for WEGO AWARDS) if you should feel led.
 

 

 

I appreciate this time in my life that I am able to live my life fully (filling it with purpose and passion) alongside good friends and my family despite living with Fibromyalgia. I hope that I can help you find that for yourself as well as you journey through this life. 

Thank you for visiting my blog today.  I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned.  Thank you for your understanding.

Sharing is caring-as my granddaughter tells me:)

Keep Reading:)

Writing With FIbromyalgia: Choose to Make Every Day a New Start

Pettit Lake Sunrise
Photo credit 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 they had 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.


Doctors Told Me My Anxiety Levels Were Normal


I reported to my OBGYN that I had a sharp pain under my armpits (a very specific point in each). I was sent to a specialist who told me I was fine, I 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 OBGYN.

She said that it was pretty normal to have the anxiety levels I was experiencing. She put me on Lexipro 5mg, which seemed to help at first. Then the following start to the school year, things worsened, so I went on a higher dose. 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.



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.”

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 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 in your head, 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.

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. However, I was relieved with that diagnosis and was happy to let the Vyvanse/Lexipro combination help me through the day, functioning fairly well.


My daughter and I teaching my 
granddaughter how to swim.

The Deep, Gnawing Pain Returned and Got Even Worse

This brought me to the end of a very stressful school year (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, the pain returned—a deep, gnawing ache that began in my legs.

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 looked 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 my brain fog and utter exhaustion. I’d flop into bed every night upon getting home and spent much of my weekend in bed.


Finally, I Was Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia: A Relief


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 meds like Cymbalta scared me to death.

By December 7th, I was on long-term leave and gave in after really wanting to avoid taking Cymbalta. 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).

Officially Diagnosed with 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 for the diagnosis because it meant that I would be eligible to get into the program and in my mind, get back to living.


My 6th-grade students writing in our classroom. 
We have 1:1 Chromebooks 2017.

I Prefer to Handle My Fibromyalgia Symptoms in My Own Way


There was a time that I listed 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.
  • Big fluctuation in body temperature, especially in 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.
  • Hands and feet edema.
  • 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.
  • Acid reflux: I went through a Nissen Procedure 2016, but it really didn’t do much besides make my stomach hurt all the time.
  • Bowel issues: Diarrhea to constipation and back again, never really “normal.” However, I think this is more due to supplements and what I eat.

Why I Now Have a Blog About Fibromyalgia


Why I decided to start a blog about my experiences: I did not know what fibromyalgia was until I was diagnosed this past November 2018. Being the teacher/learner I am, I began to research and found great resources (some really bad).

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 that’s my purpose. If no one reads it, it serves as me doing developing what I love (writing) and helps me to process my journey.


Me writing after a day of paddling 
at Algonquin Provincial Park 2016.

How I Manage Writing with My Fibromyalgia Symptoms


How fibromyalgia affects my writing: As I’m new to taking time for myself to focus on my writing and still seem to be going through some ups and downs with fibromyalgia, I can give you what I’ve done so far.

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. Had-to doesn’t work well for me or the fibromyalgia it seems. I did the had-to for so long.

So, 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.”)

I have my writing area set up. I love to sit looking out at the lake (I’m lucky 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).

I’ve always found inspiration from writers. I love to watch author interviews on YouTube. Currently, I’m taking a fiction class with Neil Gaiman online through MasterClass.com. His insight and talking about the thinking behind his writing ignites me.

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.)


I want to be the “fun” grandma, 
present and active. 

The Goal of Writing: Not to Impress, but to 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, 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.


Writers with Fibromyalgia: 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 a “I’m starting afresh.”

I’ve written and will be writing more blog posts about what is helping me live my life FULLY despite having pain. For me a big one is a wonderful yoga studio that focuses on healing and being well as well as community, breathwork/meditation/EFT to help calm my brain, learning more about brain plasticity and ways doctors/scientists/everyday people are using it to help bring about positive changes in nervous system disorders/diseases.

* * *

Katie Clark recently retired from 32-years of teaching reading and writing at the middle school level, and has decided to write. After her diagnosis with fibromyalgia caused her to take an abrupt and permanent leave from a job she thought she’d have into her 80s, she decided to record her journey in her blog painFULLYliving.com.

This term painFULLYliving came from her pain-psychologist who helped Katie to understand that she can allow fibromyalgia to define her or accept that it’s only one part of her. She chooses each day with the help of her family and friends to live life fully. Through her writing, she reflects and grows and hopes to help others along their own journey. She is well-loved by her family and has always felt that her main purpose in this life is to be fully present for them.



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?

Thank you for visiting my blog today. 

 

I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  

However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes 

I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through 

as planned. 

Thank you for your understanding.

Click link Subscribe to Pain FULLY Living Weekly Posts by Email

Going from PAINfully Living to PainFULLY Living

Due to spending the week in Arizona visiting my mother-in-law, I didn’t get to write a new post.  I’ve decided to repost my first blog entry with a few updates this week.  I have two other posts in the works, so see you again next week Friday.

This is the beginning of
my journey with fibromyalgia. It’s been
one of many ups and downs, turns and twists,
but ever moving forward, living
my life as FULLY as I can.

June (2018), as my husband and I drove across the country from Michigan to California in our Ford Escape, I began to notice a change in me.  It wasn’t quite a new thing, but a new intensity and duration.  My muscles ached deep, deep within me, gnawing from the inside out.


This is the beginning of a major life change, a journey of sorts that has birthed a new self.  It’s been hard (almost impossible at times) and is ongoing; however, I have come to be thankful for what it’s brought me to.

Why I Have Chosen to Tell My Story Publically

Being a teacher and a lover of learning, I have done a lot of research.  Seeking insight, knowledge, and help from every place I could find it.  This blog is to share my path on this journey.  One:  Just so I can have it recorded somewhere.  Two: Hopefully help others through this sharing.

I have come to witness and understand that Fibromyalgia comes in many forms with a variety of symptoms and a variety of ways that people choose to handle it.  I have learned from others’ stories; however, no one that I’ve encountered has taken the path I’ve been on.  I feel that by sharing what I’ve gone through and am going through might give insight to someone else.  I don’t think anyone will have the same path as you, so gleaning from many, may lead you in the direction you will want to go.

I have chosen to accept the pain by managing it as much as possible. Sounds easy, right?  Just manage it. This blog will go into the details of how my life has been impacted, some of the possible reasons Fibromyalgia developed in me, and how I am managing it.  I have gone from PAINfully Living to painFULLY Living since my diagnosis in November (2018).

I will share as best as I can through my words the raw truths that I’ve been living with.  I don’t want to sugar coat anything.  Fibromyalgia is an all-encompassing, chronic disorder: physical, emotional, and mental.  To share my path will mean sharing it all.   It will be cathartic for me and hopefully helpful to some.

As of today (2/21/20), it’s been a bit over a year since my diagnosis.  I have learned so much about myself in this journey. I have learned a lot about how fibromyalgia affects me and what does and doesn’t help me live FULLY despite its presence.  I continue on the path, open to what it brings me. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.



What journey are you on currently?  Do you find it helpful to reflect and share your story?  Do you find connection learning of others’ paths and choices?  

Thank you for visiting my blog today. 
I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  
However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes 
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned.
Thank you for your understanding.


Click link Subscribe to Pain FULLY Living Weekly Posts by Email




Lessons Learned in Mother Nature: Managing my Fibro Symptoms

This photo was taken at Pictured Rocks at
Lower Hurrican Campground.

My husband and I agreed to be volunteer chaperons for a week of rustic camping at Pictured Rocks sometime last year.  I really had thought I’d have this Fibromyalgia beat by then-Ha! Ha! My daughter ran a program called Parks in Focus that gets 14 teens into the wilderness through the use of photography.  My husband and I have always been outdoorsy, so a free trip to the UP of Michigan sounded like a great deal.

The weekend before the trip had been a really rough one.  I was still dealing with what was to be the last throws of Cymbalta withdrawal: a weird headache and nausea, besides the pain being more intense, insomnia, and at times a deep sadness.  My resolve to stay off of Cymbalta for at least two months past withdrawal was waning fast. The night before, Kelley said that he could go and I could stay home, but I just didn’t want to be left behind.  So, I got up, really out of it, and plopped my bum in the car ready for the six-hour drive to Pictured Rocks National Shoreline, thinking that I wasn’t going to be much help and worrying that I would actually be a burden.

The wonder of nature
brought us all together.

The energy of 14 teens from 11-14 years of age (5 boys and 9 girls) was palpable.  When we stopped for lunch at Mackinaw City, I was beginning to get my legs under me.  One of the campers, an alumni of 14 and lead camper, remembered me from a trip we did with his group to Ludington State park a couple of years before.  He came up and hugged me and called me Abuela.  He named my husband Abuelo.  Our role as adopted grandparents was formed.

We arrived just before the thunderstorm that night. That meant we had to all hustle to get out tents up and the camp secured.  Dinner had to wait.  As I lay in our tent, on our new Coleman Queen-sized camping cot, I felt tentative that I could enjoy this week and be of help to the group.

After dinner that first night, my husband and I did a short walk from our campsite to Lake Superior.  It felt good to listen to the waves slap the sandy shore and the rush of Hurricane River flowing into the lake.  There were no real other sounds.  The air was fresh and the lighting of the sun through the dissipating clouds soft. It was then that I took some much needed deep breaths and did a few half-sun salutations and yoga stretches.  I could feel my mind, my body, and my soul let down.

I should have tried for a better shot,
 but trust me, I was feeling great here:)

The next four days were crammed with meal prep and cleanup, amazing outdoor adventures, beautiful sites, and happy faces. At Seney National Wildlife Preserve, while the kids were doing a pond study session lead by park rangers, Kelley and I went for a stroll through the ponds.  Then, at lunchtime, I pulled off to the side of the pavillon on the grass and did some yoga, meditation, and stretches.  I felt so much better than I had the past several weeks since completely going off of Cymbalta. Even more amazing was the fact that I was using very little in the way of over-the-counter pain reliever for the first time in several months.

The loons were calling and 
monarchs flitting around. 


That night I didn’t feel the greatest.  I’ve been having times of pain that aren’t exactly pain.  It’s a deep electrical-type aching, much like getting your funnybone hit.  It’s mainly been on my left side from under my left arm, up into the armpit, into the shoulder, down the arm to the fingers and up into the neck, causing a nausea-filled headache.  I did take two Zzzquil that night and ended up sleeping fairly well.  (I did have to get up to go pee.  However, with me having Interstitial Cystitis for many years now, we came prepared with our own travel potty: Reliance Fold-and-Go.) The new camping cot really was a perfect bed away from home.


The next day was to be the big hike.  We drove to Chapel Rock parking area.  The campers all had their cameras and were ready for a 6-mile hike.  The weather was threatening to rain in the later afternoon, so we knew we had to get going early that morning.  After the ranger’s presentation about human interaction in nature, we began.  Kelley and I both used a walking stick.  He actually was in more pain than I was because of doing a major brick path laying project at home for the past couple of weeks.  The kids were kind and let us both walk at our own pace.  At about the three-mile mark, I was really feeling good, physically, emotionally, and mentally. 

Abuelo and Abuela-
taken by one of our “grandcampers”.


Chapel Rock- a metaphor for living 
FULLY no matter the obstacles.

At lunchtime, I did get hit with a wave of that weird-electric-nausea headache.  I laid down on the ground and did some stretches and ate a peanut butter and jam tortilla roll-up and drank some water.  (One note: we drank a lot of just water on this trip.  More than I normally do at home.) I revived just in time to head back.  I also took the lead of the line.  My daughter had irritated her ankle and was needing to take a slower pace, so Kelley stayed with her. As the threatening thunderclaps were heard off in the distance, the kids and I began a quick hike back with no stops for photos or nature ogling. I have to admit I felt strong when a camper said, “Abuela, you are faster than the rest of us!” That night, I felt energetic and clear-minded. I went into a sound sleep without aches and pains.

The kids commented that I was 
handling the walk better than they were! 😉


The next day, while the kids went on a canoe trip across Beaver Lake with the Ranger, Kelley and I hiked the groups’ lunches to the beach we’d meet them later that morning.  That morning, I had woken up with my usual stiff-sore legs and arms, but I was able to get the rust out through the early walk. Kelley and I got separated after I realized I had left my walking stick at our resting spot from a while back.  He went on because we were worried that we’d be late meeting the group for lunch.  Our communication for where to meet up was a bit off, leading me to add on an additional mile to my overall walk.  Towards the end of that 5-mile walk, I could feel I was hitting the end of my energy level. I focused on consciously noticing what I saw around me, the smells of pine and lake, the sounds of waves rolling in and tweets of the birds, and the taste of the wintergreen leaf I chewed. I also focused on slowly breathing in and out. Those ways of being present have really helped me appreciate and FULLY take in these precious moments. 


Luckily, we were all ready to go home and take a nap.  Sleeping in the open air really is refreshing.  By dinner time, I was back up and rejuvenated.  That night, sitting on the beach of Lake Superior, watching as the sunset, I really felt like there was hope that I could live my life, on my terms, without the help of pharmaceuticals.

A Change of Path

On the drive home yesterday, I found an article about Rewiring the Brain (brain plasticity).  Dr. Norman Doidge, the author of The Brain’s Way of Healing and The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, talks about how walking, specifically, can help to rewire the brain and fix what is broken.  Through the Fibromyalgia Chronic Pain program at Mary Free Bed, I had already bought into the idea that I was dealing with a broken brain that is overprotectively sending out pain messages.  I certainly have made progress through their guidance.  However, going off of Cymbalta definitely challenged my coping skills.  I feel that walking (especially in nature) is a healing thing for me.  I could feel the change. I am now going to do further research in this area.  I highly recommend listening to this talk: The Brain’s Way of Healing and reading these articles: Walk Your Way to Better Brain Health and  How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain.
5 days, no shower or bath, 
yet really feeling good.

What brings you peace? What brings you joy? What renews your body and soul?



I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  
However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes 
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through 
as planned. 
Thank you for your understanding.



Following My Heart…Tentatively

My husband, Kelley,  and my cousin 
enjoying the river, the lazy way.

I haven’t written for the past five days (in this blog at least).  However, it’s been on my mind.  Mostly because there are times that I am feeling defeated and times when I’m so very optimistic that it feels like I’m not telling a coherent story.

So, this 4th of July, Kelley (my husband) and I went to rustic camp at my cousin’s forested land on the Chippewa River in Shepard, MI. We set up what we lovingly call our “luxury tent”.  Actually, Kelley did most of the setup.  By the time we got to the river at 1:00pm, I was really tired out. The day before, I was whining about setting up our two-roomed, canvas tent.  “It takes too long and it’s too heavy.”  This is not my normal camping attitude, but I’m finding I want the light-weight easy setup tents.  I’m game for roughing it but want to make it as easy as possible.

It really is a great tent, just heavy!

After a couple of great days (however sweltering) hanging out with my cousins, I could tell I was beginning to feel the effects of not stretching like normal, eating and drinking celebration fare, as well as the stifling heat (subdued by swims in the river and dinner at restaurants).  After dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, MI, I knew I had to go lay down.  Our double high blow-up mattress was low on air, so I uncomfortably laid there for a couple of hours.  The pain began to throb, louder and louder in my shoulders, arms, and neck.  I began to feel nauseous.  I dragged myself up (Kelley and the others were a good two city blocks away, near the river) to sit in the running car with the airconditioning, hoping that this would help.  It didn’t.  That’s when I resorted to texting Kelley, asking him to come back to help me.

He got me my go-to pain med: two Bayer Back and Body and water.  I cried as he caressed my head and back, helping me to calm down.  I worked on breathing, slowly in for 4 counts and out 4 counts.  Kelley suggested that he drive me home and come back to get our things the next morning.  That sounded like good option, but I just didn’t want to give in.  I want to go backpacking for Christ’s sake!  If I went back, I felt that I would be giving up on that.  So, by calming down, the pain subsided a bit, and with the air mattress at back at full support, I went back to bed and slept all night.  The next day was cooler, and I was back to my normal level of manageable pain. 

Kelley got a $500 gift card to Amazon
 from Delta Airlines due to agreeing to
 changes in his recent work travel.
So, I  bought these items for 
an upcoming backpack trip-
to be named at a later time:)

So, Kel and I are planning a backpacking trip for next summer. However, we’re probably going to do it locally and for one night, possibly two, to see how it goes.  I’m going to do what I love.  I just may have to be a little tentative. 

Do you have things that you love to do that are pushing your capabilities?  Do you have goals that you’re striving for?  Are you able to find ways to do the things you love with modifications? I’d love to hear ways you’re finding to live your life FULLY doing the things you love.

Thank you for visiting my blog today. 
I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  
However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes 
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through 
as planned. 
Thank you for your understanding.


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