The Gift of Pain

The Gift of Pain
If you would’ve told me four years ago, or even a year ago, that pain would be a gift, I would’ve said you were crazy. Pain is painful, right? So how on Earth could it ever be a gift?

Pain is a signal, a cry for help from a body that’s suffering. It’s a way to tell you that it needs something. The confusing part, usually, is what. What does it want?

Does it want more kale, more sleep, more fresh air, more exercise, or more rest?

Does it need more of a certain vitamin or supplement? Maybe it needs a certain nutrient from food?

Maybe it’s less stress or more contemplation. Maybe it needs medicine and less winging it naturally.

Chronic pain and its signals can be equally frustrating and helpful, but it’s often painful.

You can’t go to sleep because you can’t get comfortable, or you wake up early in pain.

You make plans only to have to cancel because you’re too tired or in too much pain. Or you never make plans because you’re never sure how you’re going to feel, and you’re tired of disappointing people.

You take time off work or decide that you’re not well enough to work altogether.

It’s all these things and so much more. But is there anything to learn from pain? I believe it can be our greatest teacher if we let it. Here’s what it’s taught me:
  1. That I need to rest or that I did too much the previous day
  2. I need to drink more water or pay attention to what I’m eating
  3. I can be equally reliant on lifestyle modification as I can on medication
  4. To be more empathetic towards others who are suffering
  5. To control what I can and let the Lord do the rest
  6. Asking for help isn’t weakness; it’s the greatest strength
  7. Not to stress over minutiae, but allow room for growth
  8. To change my perspective of success
  9. To advocate for myself when I need something that my care team isn’t willing to provide
  10. The best time to help others with their struggles is when I’m in the midst of mine
These are a few of the deeply meaningful lessons that my pain gives me. What has it taught you?

What is Oola and how you can be a part of a movement that is shaking things up

What is Oola and how you can be a part of a movement that is shaking things up
What is Oola? Oola is a life that is balanced and growing in 7 key areas of life: faith, family, field (career/purpose), finance, fitness, friends, and fun.  Based on a framework created by the OolaGuys, Troy Amdahl, and Dave Braun, it is the only framework that combines eLearning with in person support that also encourages authentic community and accountability. It is designed for people who want actual results in pursuit of balance, growth, and purpose during these unbalanced times.

Here’s a short video that explains this more in depth.

I’ve known Dave and Troy for nearly a decade, so when the opportunity to partner with them to help others apply the Oola principles to their own lives became available, I jumped at the chance to be a part of the movement they’re creating. They want to positively impact the lives of 1 Billion (with a b!) people over the next 7 years. How cool is that?!? These guys are passionate, they’re focused, and they have the experience and knowledge to make it happen.

Who’s this for? There are several reasons to be part of this movement. Here are just a few:
  1. Those who appreciate the opportunity in being first
  2. People passionate about helping others
  3. Aspiring and proven pros looking for something different
  4. Those who see value in personal development
  5. People looking to work from anywhere
  6. Individuals who want to create multiple streams of income
That last one is so important – especially in today’s uncertain world. Having a side hustle or a part time income is great but having one that doesn’t require that you physically show up somewhere is better.

Who’s this NOT for? This list is a bit shorter because I believe that most anyone benefits from the Oola framework. Here is that list:
  1. People looking for a “get rich quick” scheme
  2. Anyone unwilling to learn and grow – personally and professionally
  3. People who don’t take responsibility for their own results
  4. People who judge, compare and see themselves as superior to others
I love that last one because I want to be in a truly positive and supportive environment with people who understand that when one of us wins, we all win.

I am extremely excited to see what the next seven years hold. While the product itself won’t be launched until 7/7/2021, as an Ambassador of Oola, I can get you in early if you like. Feel free to comment below if you’re interested if you want to attend a Zoom call,  or send me an email. I’d love to chat with you to see if it’s a good fit!

How One Word Changed My Life

How One Word Changed My Life
In the summer of 2014, I was at a health and wellness conference. I noticed the keynote speakers were two guys I'd never heard of - they called themselves The Oola Guys.  I considered walking out and doing something else, but I felt strongly that I needed to hear what they were about to say.

So I settled in my chair and waited for their speech. Halfway into their intro video, I was hooked. Who WERE these guys and what in the world is Oola?

They began by sharing their stories - at one time they both had it all - loving marriages, financial independence, doing work they loved, having fun, and growing loving families and lasting friendships. Then through a series of unfortunate choices, one of them, a man named Dave who called himself the OolaSeeker, lost everything.

He was broke, living in a hotel in a seedy part of town, his marriage failing. Keeping it from the kids by tucking them into bed at night.  He knew he'd hit rock bottom when he was awoken by a police raid in the hotel room next to him.

He called his best friend and mentor, Troy aka the OolaGuru, the next day. He also promised God that if this process of Oola worked, he would spread its message all over the world. Well, it worked and that was why they were there.

They began talking about the process and principles of Oola and how they helped them achieve success in 7 key areas of life: Faith, Family, Field, Finance, Fitness, Friends, and Fun. At the time, many of those areas were unbalanced for me.

When they mentioned an upcoming intensive called Oolapalooza was THE process that Troy took Dave through to get his life back on track, I knew I needed to go. But how? I didn't have the money. So, I prayed. I prayed that if I was meant to go, He would provide a way. Soon after, the OolaGuys mentioned a scholarship opportunity. 

I applied immediately and shared why I felt I needed to be at Oolapalooza, but not expecting to win. I just knew that thousands of others were more worthy than me and if I didn't get a spot, I'd try again next year.  I forgot I'd applied when I opened my email one morning and saw an email from Oola saying I was awarded one of the scholarships!

I got the email while I was at work and it was all I could do not to jump up and down and scream. I was going to Vegas, baby! I took the time off and set off to find balance in my very unbalanced life.

The minute I walked into the room on my first day I knew I was where I belonged. Not only because it had a super cool, chill vibe but because I ended up sitting with the other girl who was awarded a scholarship! I learned so much and processed through so much the first day, I didn't think I had much more in me. But I quickly realized that I'd just gotten started.

By the end of Oolapalooza, I had a rock solid plan to get my life back. I was so excited to get home and share everything I learned. I'm pretty sure I talked my husband's ears off the entire way home because I talked the entire 45 minutes about what I'd experienced.  It didn't matter to me because I had a plan to take me from where I was to where I wanted to be.

Within a few months of attending Oolapalooza, I was working on my marriage, having more fun, and a good financial plan to save for the future and pay down debt. And THAT is how one word, Oola, changed my life.  It can change yours too - I'd love to tell you more about it! 

How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit

How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit

I remember early on hearing from people further down the road than me telling me, "you didn't get sick overnight and you won't heal overnight. No matter what, KEEP GOING." I don't know if I didn't take them seriously or wasn't truly ready to hear that, but it's 100% true. 

When you're at the point of having an autoimmune condition or chronic pain, you're going to have to put in some work, and there is no magic pill. I hope that's not too much of a downer to start with, but I don't want to BS you. I want you to know right off the bat that you will be challenged, you will want to quit, and you may stop and start a few times. This journey is HARD and, at times, can be the most confusing and frustrating process you'll ever go through.

The most important thing to remember is to never give up. 

So how do you do it? Is there a system to follow, a checklist, or a roadmap? Well, yes and no. Because we're all so individual and things can manifest in our bodies in different ways, there are some things that anyone can do. Some pieces require more attention. Clear as mud? Let me explain.

I always begin this conversation by talking about habits. I prefer habits over goals because once you establish a routine, it's still with you. A goal can be moved and changed in a way that may not bring about the change you need to feel better. 

How to start a new habit? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, says that habits that stick start by identifying what's in your individual 'habit loop'.  The Habit Loop consists of 4 parts in this order: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward. I'll let him explain this in more detail here.

This is so important because once a habit is established, it becomes part of your routine.  And once it becomes a part of your daily life, you no longer have to rely on willpower or motivation, which removes a HUGE weight off your back that you don't need when you're healing. 

Something else that helps emotionally more than anything else is reading my Bible and praying. While that may not be for everyone, it is THE thing that keeps my mind focused and priorities straight. And on those awful pain days, I can cry out to the Lord, and He comforts me.  

My growing community of fellow spoonies is the best on those days too. They encourage me that today is today, and tomorrow can be better. If you don't have support at home, I encourage you to seek others who are on the same journey. I have a fantastic community that I'd love to plug you into, and it's totally FREE. 

If you are struggling to keep going, feel free to reach out to me, and let's chat. I know how lonely chronic pain can be and how it can feel like no one cares or understands. Please don't let that be you. I'm here if you need to talk. 

Here's a Quick Way to Solve Feeling Isolated

Here's a Quick Way to Solve Feeling Isolated
One of the things I hear most often when I message friends living with chronic pain is, "Thanks for listening and reaching out. I was really (lonely, sad, feeling alone, etc.) today. Many of them want to go out and be social, but physical limitations (and now COVID mandates) are keeping them from hanging out with friends and loved ones.

Winter is the worst time for this because the cold and pressure changes often disables those with chronic pain. This increase in pain generally leads to a decrease in social activity or availability even though the desire for connection is there. 

Loneliness is defined as, "a state of sadness due specifically to the emotional experience of being disconnected from others, of feeling and/or being, in reality, all alone". The interesting thing here is that you don't have to be alone to feel alone, but generally speaking it is due to social isolation. 

If this is you, what can you do to feel more connected to the outside world?

1. Create/Join a Virtual Walking Group - I belong to an exercise membership group called Autoimmune Strong and we have daily emails, a private FB page and regular Zoom meetings. It's really nice to gather and share our experiences. We have a shared interest in getting stronger and more flexible and can help each other when we're struggling. I would honestly pay double for what I get from Andrea and this awesome group.

2. Have your friends or family over  - You could host a book club, spa night, game night, even get together with others with chronic pain to meal prep. The options here are endless! It doesn't have to be a big deal, just invite your friends and host for how ever long you're comfortable.

3. Follow people with chronic pain on social media - I know, I know, social media's kind of a mess right now, but stay with me. I've connected virtually with so many who are struggling through the things I'm dealing with or have dealt with and even though we've never met, I count them as some of my deepest, dearest friends. They cry with me, pray for me, and encourage me when I'm not sure I can handle another day. 

Some of my favorites are:
Phoenix Helix - weekly recipe roundups, podcast, and resources
Autoimmune Sisters - support, recipes, real life stories, and stories from others with chronic pain
Hashimoto's Hope - coaching and support for people with Hashimoto's
Crystal Burchfield - wellness warrior who shares her struggles and what natural things she's using to heal
The Tim Frie - education and advocacy

4. Create a 'chronic pain' playlist - I love music and it brings me peace and great comfort when I'm not feeling well. This is my favorite playlist of songs from the worship team at my church on those days when I need encouragement or a good cry. If you prefer a playlist with popular music, I love this one too. Both are equally important and can provide as much support as a trusted friend when you need it. It's at your fingertips whenever you need it!

5. Meditate, pray and practice mindfulness - While it isn't a social activity, it can help you feel more centered and calm in a similar way that socializing does. I get up a little bit before anyone else, read my Bible, pray and meditate. It helps me start my day in gratitude and increase endorphins that can help ease my pain. I've had meditation and prayer sessions where I've gone in with a lot of pain and came out with nearly zero pain. It's pretty wild when that happens!

6. Adopt a pet - now, this isn't something to be taken on lightly. A pet is still a big responsibility, but can bring you so much joy. Even our old obstinate cat will come snuggle with me, purring gently when I'm hurting. It's like she knows I'm not feeling well and just need a cuddle.

I'd love to know what things you're doing to combat loneliness. I can always use some more tips. 

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