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?

Which Essential Oils Blend Worked Best to Fend Off a Panic Attack

Which Essential Oils Blend Worked Best to Fend Off a Panic Attack

Y'all I almost had a panic attack earlier this week! I can't remember the last time this happened, but it was SCARY.

Thankfully, I have an arsenal of tools at my disposal: essential oils, living on a lake and near a forest, breathwork, and speaking scripture when I'm panicky.  The question I often get asked is this, "Which essential oils should I use when I feel this way?" 

I have two blends that are both known for balancing the emotions: Peace & Calming from Young Living and Parasympathetic from Vibrant Blue.  I grabbed them both when I started feeling this coming on and here's what I noticed.

I used the Parasympathetic blend first and waited several minutes to observe what happened to how I felt. After enough time went by (probably 10 minutes or so), my symptoms weren't subsiding. I grabbed my Peace & Calming next and within a couple of minutes, the panicky feelings left me and I was able to get back to what I was doing.

Is this a distinctly scientific experiment? No, it's just my observation. I do believe it's telling that Peace & Calming worked far more quickly than the Parasympathetic blend. It could totally work differently for you, but I've seen this little experiment work nearly the same when put up against many other brands.  

If you're interested in learning more, reach out to me, and let's chat. I'm really good at only sharing with you what actually works with no fluff and real results. I've spent far too much time and money to waste yours. Hope you have a great weekend!

My Biggest Struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and How I Overcame It

My Biggest Struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and How I Overcame It
I remember that day so well. I sat on the couch and I was so tired of being sick, tired, and in pain.  

Sick of watching everyone do what they wanted to when they wanted to.
Tired of telling my husband or friends that I didn't feel well enough to go out.
Pain wracked what seemed like every muscle and joint in my body.

Then it happened, I found something that helped me do more of what I wanted, say yes to more, and live with less pain.  What was this magical, miracle cure?


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. 

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Managing Stress

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Managing Stress
One of THE things that is most likely to stir up a flare for me is stress - not everyday stress, but a spike in stressful situations. This spike could be from perceived or actual stress. It doesn't seem to matter either way. 

How do I handle it? To be honest, I have to remind myself of these things often. Why? I forget how well they work, and in the heat of a stressful moment, they don't come to mind. I've learned to write them out and place them where I can see them now. 

I hope they're as helpful to you as they are to me. I'd love to hear which one(s) were the most helpful and what works for you too.