Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Soul Retrieval

With the help of my therapist, I continued my journey to balance and reintegrate those parts of myself that felt disconnected, such as my creative drive, my sense of self-worth and my personal power. My therapist suggested that a part of my soul split off when I had a terrible flare-up of fibro symptoms last fall that left me feeling like I was once again in a deep, black hole. Then I developed blood clots in my lungs on top of all that, and I've been crawling inch by inch out of the black hole ever since. The good news was that my soul had not traveled far and my therapist suggested a shamanic journey to retrieve it and reintegrate it into my body.

To begin the journey I closed my eyes and settled into a comfortable position as she drummed. Soon I saw myself crawl out of the black hole and stand on solid ground. One of my totems, Horse, came to me and offered a ride. I climbed on Horse's back and we traveled over the flat plains until we reached a hill overlooking a valley. Horse stopped and pawed the ground and I knew I had to continue on my own. I got off Horse's back and walked into a woods. I pushed back branches until I came upon a clearing with a pool of water. I recognized it as the same place I had first met my power totem, Jaguar, many years ago. Jaguar represents reclaiming your personal power, which is exactly what I needed to do now. Then I saw Jaguar walk out of the woods on the opposite side of the pool and stop to drink from the clear water. I jumped into Jaguar and the two of us became one. I could feel Jaguar's powerful muscles as he walked back into the woods. Finally we stopped on the top of a hill under the moonlight. Jaguar sat down and licked his paws.  I wondered where we would go next. I thought about the beginning of my journey and crawling out of the black hole. Jaguar told me not to look back to the pit - the past was over.

When Jaguar continued we walked through a white mist. I saw Jaguar from above and now I was riding on Jaguar's back. I could still feel the powerful muscles as Jaguar slunk through the mist. I felt pulled forward and to the left as I listened to the drumming. I remembered that this was the direction that I had shot an arrow in a previous vision. I wasn't ready to follow the arrow at the time, but now I realized that the arrow was the part of my soul that I had sent away to be safe until I was strong enough to retrieve it. I felt the presence of a young woman in white. She drew us to a clearing in the mist filled with light. I stood in the light with my arms open wide, face turned up, eyes closed. The light filled me and surrounded me. I could sense the woman, my soul, rejoin me and become part of me again. I was worried about holding onto this slippery soul but I was told that I couldn't hold onto her. A voice said: don't worry about the future or look back to the past; stand here in the moment, in the light, and if you ever loose your way again, jaguar will always show you the way back. I felt myself rising up. I saw Jaguar from above again. Jaguar got smaller and smaller as I rose higher and higher. I thanked Jaguar for showing up and for showing me the way back to myself again. Then I opened my eyes and returned to the present world.

The next morning I awoke feeling vaguely anxious. I closed my eyes and put myself back into the clearing of light. I felt calm, centered and whole again. I knew that if I ever felt disconnected or lost again, the clearing of light is there to help me recenter and balance myself.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How to Beat the Heat with FM

It's going to be almost 100° today and even higher with the heat index. Newscasters are warning folks to keep a close eye on the elderly and children who are more susceptible to heat. I would add those with fibromyalgia are more susceptible as well. We have a difficult time regulating body temperature, whether hot or cold, and extreme heat can zap our energy, leaving us with debilitating fatigue. When the temperatures rose last week, I tried to stay in the air conditioning as much as possible. I took my laptop to Starbucks to write an article that was due that day and stayed until my laptop ran out of juice. If I had thought ahead, I would have brought my cord to plug it into the outlet. Later, I went to my health club to exercise, just to be in the a/c and take a shower! Afterwards, I visited with friends who have central air conditioning. By that time, things had cooled down enough that I could go home and relax. A friend of mine who used to work as a carhop at a drive-in restaurant in Maine told me her trick - she would get her undies and bra wet with cold water and wear it under her uniform. As her body heat went up, the underwear got dry and kept her cool in the process. While everyone else ended the day wet with sweat, she ended the day dry and cool! I've never tried it, but I'm willing to give it a go this week with all the heat! 

Here are ten tips for beating the heat:
  1. As I said, stay in the air conditioning as much as possible. Go to the mall or the movies if you don't have a/c at home.
  2. Make your own air conditioning by putting a bowl of ice in front of your fan.
  3. Drink, drink, drink! Don't wait until you're thirsty because you may already be too low on water. Water is best. Avoid coffee and tea which has caffeine and alcohol which interferes with your body's ability to fight heat stress.
  4. Pull the shades down on the sunny side of the house.
  5. Take a cool bath or shower - it provides amazing relief from the heat 25 times faster than cool air. 
  6.  Avoid hot, heavy meals which add heat to your body. Eat smaller meals more often and avoid cooking on the stove during the hottest part of the day. My dad said cold watermelon was the food of choice when he was young (before air conditioning!).
  7. Wear light weight, light colored, comfortable clothing made of natural fabrics.
  8. Spritz yourself: keep a spray bottle in the refrigerator and give yourself a spray. You'll cool off as the water evaporates.
  9. Stay inside as much as you can. If you have to be outside, save strenuous activities for the cooler parts of the day and take breaks in a cool, shaded area.
  10. Use a buddy system to check in with neighbors or friends to make sure everyone is all right. Recognize the syptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:  heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headaches, nausea and fainting. The best ways to treat heat exhaustion is by drinking fluids, resting, or taking a cool shower. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can evolve into heat stroke, which is considered a medical emergency.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

28-Day Cleanse Recap

So, I finished the cleanse several weeks ago but I never reported on how it went. At first I didn't feel any differently, and I didn't lose any weight either, which was depressing. But Dr. Arora at The Rothfeld Center had me fill out a symptom questionnaire at the beginning and the end of the cleanse. My total score went down from 70-something to 50-something, so I guess it made some difference.

I've continued on an anti-inflammatory diet which means no wheat or root vegetables, no dairy and very low sugar. It also includes two protein shakes a day made with Ultra Meal Rice by Metagenics. At least I don't have to gag down those berry flavored shakes anymore. One of the shake flavors is chocolate, which actually tastes pretty good, and the other is vanilla. I add different kinds of fruit to the vanilla flavor - mango was actually very tasty. I eat six small meals/snacks a day spaced out every three hours and always have protein with each meal or snack. That means almonds are a common snack. I wouldn't say the pounds are melting away, but I've seen a small decrease on the scale.

I've read several articles claiming that a low-carb diet is the healthiest way for humans to eat since our ancestors ate mostly fruit, veggies and protein. Refined carbs and baked goods are relatively recent in our evolutionary development, and we just don't digest them or metabolize them very well. A low-carb diet lowers blood sugar and has been linked to a lower rate of cancer, too. Cancer cells feed on glucose which is sugar which is what carbs turn into in our blood stream. Here's what had to say:
A low-carb diet forces the normal cells in your body to use fat for fuel, instead of carbs. Cancer cells can't do this. They need glucose to grow. So when you limit carbs, you cut off the glucose. This limits the fuel supply to the tumors.
Plus, by limiting carbs, you reduce your body's insulin levels. This too is a good thing. Insulin is a hormone that promotes tumor growth in both humans and mice. Numerous independent studies confirm this.
So, I carry on with my low-carb, high quality protein (kinda boring) diet in the hopes that it will result in a healthier me - on the inside and out. I'll keep you posted.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just Breathe for Balance

I've been out-of-sorts lately, still healing from the turmoil of the past year. I'm out of balance and out of touch with parts of myself, such as my creative drive, my personal power and my sense of self-worth. I knew that I needed to bring all these disparate parts of myself back into balance, but I didn't know how to go about doing that. I asked my Higher Self for direction and I received a very powerful waking vision:

I'm standing in a white room wearing a long, flowing white gown. There are four doors in front of me. Although I'm not close enough to physically open them, I open the doors with my mind, my energy. I start with the door farthest on the left. As it begins to open I wonder who I will see on the other side. But it's not a person. I see a blue sky with puffy, white clouds. I open the next door and see a pale, purple light. The next door reveals a night sky with stars and the behind the last door is black darkness. I raise my arms to shoulder height and face my palms toward the doors. The light energy from the two doors on the left go to my left hand and the dark energy from the doors on the right go to my right hand. Neither energy is good or bad, but like Yin and Yang, they are two halves of one whole. I close my palms together in a prayer position over my heart chakra to integrate the light and darkness.

Then I see a trap door in the floor in front of me. I open it and it is filled with white light. I hear a voice say, "Jump!" I hesitate on the threshold, too scared to jump through. But I gather my courage and leap into the opening. I land in a crouched position on a stone walkway, which cracks with the impact. I feel powerful and strong. I hear, "Like a cat, I always land on my feet." I stand up and there is a quiver of arrows on my back and a bow in my hand. I load an arrow, take aim and shoot. The bow turns into a bird and flies away. I'm not sure which direction to go - perhaps I will follow the arrow but perhaps not. I decide not to decide just yet. I can come back to this place when I'm ready. I hear a voice sing to me, "Breathe, just breathe..."

I shared my vision with my Dream Circle. Their advice was to follow what my vision told me and just breathe. Honestly, after fighting through a cold for the last few days, it feels great to be able to breathe freely again. Breath is life. We can go for days without food and water but only a few minutes without taking a breath. Focusing on my breath is focusing on my life. And that is the first step in truly living!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Travel Tips from the Fibro Fog

My husband and I on a helicopter tour of Kauai
Travel can be fun and exciting - but it can also be stressful. Driving to the airport, getting through security, jet lag, and getting around in unfamiliar territory can be difficult for anyone, but for someone with fibromyalgia it can be a veritable minefield of flare-ups. Any portion of the trip, even fun things like snorkeling, can deplete our energy or cause uncomfortable joint and muscle pain. My husband and I had two 5 1/2 hour plane rides on our way back home from Hawaii with a time difference of six hours. Those close encounters with all types of humanity plus the disorientation of jet lag suppressed my immune system, and I came home with a wicked cold. A few days later, I went to the Rothfeld Center and had a Vitamin C IV transfusion to boost my immune response and hopefully nip it in the bud.

Tip #1: boost your immune system while traveling with extra Vitamin C. Here's some advice on dosage from Orthomolecular:
The best way to prevent a cold is to take plenty of vitamin C. Avoiding dietary refined sugar is
Ambersweet oranges, a new cold-resistant orang...Image via Wikipedia
also helpful. One popular preventive method is to take 1,000 mg of vitamin C every eight hours. If you feel a cold coming on, take 2,000 mg of vitamin C every waking hour and continue this dosage until the cold is gone. Many people successfully use even more frequent doses. If you arrive at bowel intolerance with vitamin C (loose stool), reduce the dosage by 50 percent. Taking large quantities of vitamin C lessens the duration of the cold and its symptoms. The higher the total daily dose, the better the result. 
My doctor recommended two other supplements: Thymactiv (with bovine thymus which helps to fight any acute illness by stimulating the bodies natural defenses); Transfer Factor Basics (with colostrum, a pre-breast milk substance with antibodies to protect newborns against disease, and other prime immune supporting nutrients).

Tip #2: Educate your travel companions in how to respond to flare-ups ahead of time. My husband is an engineer-type, left-brained person who likes to know what to expect before encountering a situation. We spent a good deal of time (two sessions with our couples therapist and one with my individual therapist) in strategizing how to handle flare-ups while trying to have fun in Hawaii. One important distinction for my husband was to realize the difference between trying to "manage" my condition and supporting my condition. If I want to hike to a waterfall, even though it might cause a flare-up, that is my decision to make. I can't stop living just because I have fibromyalgia! His job is to stay supportive if that activity causes me to be overtired or achy. How does he know what to do to be supportive? We decided that it is both my responsibility to tell him what I need and it's his responsibility to ask me what I need. Communication is key!

My shaky shot of a mountain goat in Kauai
Tip #3: Decide on a code word to communicate instantly when the situation becomes overwhelming. When the plane is five hours late or your luggage is lost and the situation becomes tense, you don't always have the time or energy to explain how you are feeling in that moment. A code word or phrase tells your travel companions in an instant that the situation is becoming too stressful and you need their help to cope. We decided to use "Remember the Smirking Goat" (from The Devil tarot card) as a reminder to find the humor in any unpleasant situation. But it had to be said with a big grin. I actually invoked the smirking goat after driving around in circles trying to find our helicopter tour and it helped us both to calm down and enjoy the ride - literally! Then the coolest thing happened - while swooping through a valley in the helicopter, our pilot spied some mountain goats and hovered over them for a closer look. I snapped a quick, blurry photo, but I knew that the smirking goat had showed up to remind us to have fun, no matter what flare-ups, fights or problems arose.
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Aloha! Highlights from Hawaii

View of Lanai Island from our lanai.
Rainbow at no extra charge!
I promised an update after our trip to Hawaii, so I'll give you the highlights. My husband asked me to name my top five experiences, so here goes:
  1. Helicopter tour of Kauai with a landing at the "Jurassic Park" Falls
  2. Sunset drum circle and fire dancers at "clothing-optional" Little Beach at Makena State Park in Maui
  3. The view during the day from our condo on Maui perched right on top of the Pacific ocean looking toward Lanai and Molokai and then falling asleep to the sound of the surf at night
  4. Vacation sex
  5. Mother Nature's displays of majesty - rainbows, orchids, birds, sea turtles, mountain goats, waterfalls, canyons, sunsets, oceans, islands, mountains, valleys. A virtual paradise!
Fire Dancer at Little Beach Drum Circle
We started out in LA to visit Scott's sister, Marcia, who has a great ocean view apartment in a high-rise on Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica. We could watch the Ferris wheel on the boardwalk turn colors from her deck. The second day we took a bicycle ride on the bike path to Venice Beach, a funky spot with lots of street vendors and medical marijuana shops. The next day we headed to Hawaii and had a great condo with an amazing view on Kaanapali Beach on the West Shore of Maui, which makes for amazing sunset views over the ocean! Marcia told us about the drum circle every Sunday night at sunset at Makena beach. We found Makena State Park (literally the end of the road in South Maui), walked across Big Beach and then climbed up a cliff to the clothing-optional, gay-friendly, hippy inhabited Little Beach. As the sunset, the drummers drummed and kept drumming for several hours. When the sun went down, an archway was lit on fire and we all ran through to cleanse our auras. Then the fire dancers came out as the drum circled drummed. It was quite a sight. I even saw the actress who plays "Angela" on The Office taking pictures of the sunset at the drum circle! We met some interesting characters and Scott was even asked to do the lighting for the flag dancer. The perfect nerdy job for the former AV guy! Also, the cookie lady was selling homemade gluten-free cookies with quite a kick, if you know what I mean. It was all fun and games until we had to navigate that cliff in the dark! Luckily Scott's cellphone has a flashlight setting.

We started our first full day on Kauai with a 90-minute helicopter tour with the only company with the rights to land at the waterfall used in the Jurassic Park movies. What an amazing experience! Our pilot, Jody, a Vietnam vet with lots of flying experience, was born and raised in Hawaii. He knew how to swoop into the canyons and ride the winds up over the edge of the cliffs while reciting chants in Hawaiian. The Jurassic Park waterfall was stunning as was Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the Na Pali coast, rugged green cliffs running down into turquoise waters, secluded beaches and blue grottoes, and all the other majesty of the Garden Island. Totally worth the money!
Na Pali Coast, Kauai

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    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Tell Me Your Tale

    I ran into an old friend the other day who said that she had been enjoying my blog. She hadn't known that I have fibromyalgia until she read it. That opened up the conversation to her own struggles with a chronic condition that had landed her in the hospital for three weeks. Through a Naturopath she had discovered a plethora of food sensitivities and had a very limitied diet. Since I had just finished a cleanse, we exchanged ideas for protein shakes that were tasty but avoided all the "forbidden" foods. She told me that just being able to talk about her experiences with someone who really "got it" made her feel better.

    Which made me think about the power of sharing our stories and the accessibility of blogs like mine out on the world wide web. So...I invite all of you to tell me your tale. Whether it be a tale of woe or a tale of triumph. You can post a comment below or if you'd like to keep it just between us, you can email me at You can sign your name or leave it anonymous. Sharing your story will not only make you feel better by being heard, it can also help someone else who might be going through something similar. I guess that's the reason why I started this blog in the first place and gathered up the courage to put myself "out there." I know it can be scary, but we will keep this a safe and sacred place to connect and share with one another.

    Na Pali Coast, Kauai
    My husband and I are taking a vacation to Hawaii and I don't plan on being wired in during our trip. So, I'll look forward to reconnecting with all of you and your stories when we return. And of course I'll share my stories of Hawaii in my next post.

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