All We Need is Love

It’s that time of year. After just finishing watching Love Actually with my dear friend of ten years (God we are old) and after blasting Cee Lo Green’s “All I Need is Love,” it sort of clicked what the next theme needed to be. Love. And unlike what the media,music and movie world has decided for us, love is not about being single or not single during the holidays. Love is infinite. Love is what connects us all. And with all the tragedies that have recently happened, the importance of love couldn’t be more understated. Love is healing. When tragedy, the unexplainable, difficult times, sickness and the other difficult waves of life happen, we become overwhelmed with the negative, toxic emotions. We soon become consumed with anger, rage, fear, sorrow and these are natural reactions. We need time to process these emotions and they should be expected, we need time to grieve. But when we become entrenched with these toxic feelings, we only hurt ourselves more, we trap ourselves in a place that becomes harder and harder to get out of. The only way to begin to heal is to realize the power of love. Love is healing. Look at what has happened over the past year, there has been many difficult times and tragedies. It is very easy to become consumed by the negative of “what has the world become?” But when we do this, this very “evil,” has gotten exactly what it wanted. And if you look at everything that has happened, it is amazing to see how “evil” has not succeeded. People have poured in support for one another, they have come together, they have facilitated the healing process. States, towns, communities, individuals have overcome unimaginable things with the power of love and forgiveness. And that brings us to today, Christmas, a time of love. Forget it being about being single vs in a relationship at the holidays, or the amount of people that you are surrounded by at Christmas. Look way beyond that. The holidays is a time to cherish the amount of love we are surrounded by, the one source that connects us all to each other. Love isn’t about having expectations on getting things in return, it isn’t about some ideal romantic dream, it is a true genuine feeling with no requirements on reciprocity. Love comes from within each of us. In fact, as one book I have read explained so well, if you’re living a life of gratitude, you are harmoniously living a life of love. The two seem to couple each other hand in hand. Think of the way you were surrounded by love in some way this Christmas, no matter what way you spent it. Maybe it was that phone call from a family member that brought a smile to your face, the random act of kindness you witnessed or heard about, the people in your living room, your dog’s wagging tail with the excitement in the air, the list could go on and on. As the song so fittingly changed in Love Actually Christmas, “Love is all around me and so the feeling grows.” Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone.

Next…. Love, Health and the Healing Process

Gratitude

gratitude
So this post is rather late. Better late than never? As Thanksgiving just finished up, I figured I would write about the oh so obvious theme of the holiday, thanks and gratitude. Thanksgiving was not completly “ideal” for me this year but I felt a stronger sense of gratitude and joy for the holiday than I probably have my whole life. Persepetives can change. And quickly. Sink or Swim as they say.

On Monday of Thanksgiving week I woke up with an upset stomach. I have so many digestive issues with this whole game of body malfunction, that it is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary for me. So I decided I would take it easy on my system for the next couple of days and stick to a lot of press made juices. (Yes, I have become a juicer, courtesy of my brother who put his Crohn’s and health issues into remission with juicing and major diet changes). Well long story short, Thursday arrived and I am in more pain and still unable to eat. We weren’t eating together until Friday but I knew it looked grim, I was barely able to handle applesauce.

I had planned on this meal for so long. I had been working on the cooking all week, doing it in small batches of time since too much time on my feet and doing something labor intensive can knock me out for days. I had worked so hard on the dishes and was so excited to enjoy this meal with everyone. And to be honest, part of the fun of cooking is being able to eat the meal with everyone after.

So what did I do with this sitaution? I cried to my Mom. I felt sorry for myself. I let it out for a couple of minutes. I needed to. I sort of have forgotten what it is like to cry and that’s not healthy either! I knew it wasn’t a big deal and I have made so many adjustments over the past two years but sometimes I just get fed up with having to do so over and over again, sometimes it would be nice if I could just have a break for a short period of time. I really never ever ask, “why me?” or “can’t I just have a break?” because I know, one, it’s a pretty pointless question and two, it just creates more resistance.
But sometimes you need a minute of self-pity.

Food is my passion. I am ridiculously obsessed with it. When I started to having to make drastic diet changes due to new food intolerances, growing digestive problems and the lovely Interstitial Cystitis, I made it a positive. I complained for a minute and moved forward. I did what I had to do. I learned how to come up with cool new recipes, I learned how to make alternatives taste good, I figured out how to make it taste good for other people to try. And as I continued to have new digestive issues arise, I rolled with the punches and made the adjustments necessary. My passion for food has become one of my only staples throughout all this. I can no longer run or let alone exercise, I can’t ride a horse, go for walks, travel, go out at night, the list goes on. Food has been the one thing I have hung onto and this was Thanksgiving, THE HOLIDAY OF FOOD. All I wanted to do was to be able to prepare and enjoy a meal with everyone.

My Mom was great (THANKS MOM!). She let me have the pity party for a minute or two and then told me clearly this year it wasn’t meant to be about food for me. It was just something else I had to rise above. I muttered that I was sick of having to always “rise above” but I knew she was right. And besides, she pointed out, Thanksgiving is about time with family, with or without a meal. I knew she was right. I brushed myself off and went downstairs to finish the cooking.

The next day I was not any better. In fact, I begged the staff at the gastroenterologist’s office to let me be seen because of the pain I was in. After all that, I was told it was probably just viral gastritis on top of my typical digestive malfunctions. AKA we can’t do anything about it. I helped my sister finish cooking that day and took a rest before dinner. I wasn’t able to eat a meal but I had one small bite of almost everything. I happily made myself a Thanksgiving plate that is still in the freezer waiting for me. But regardless of that, I was so incredibly grateful for the experience. I was grateful to even be able to enjoy the couple of bites here and there. I made it through the entire dinner (which for those close to me is big deal, there have been many gatherings and events I have missed due to a crash). I was able to socialize and function. I laughed. I caught up. The meal had great reviews and people got to try out new things. I even made it through half of dessert before I had to retire to my room.

My family was so amazingly supportive. I got to see my sister, her husband and kids. I got to see my Aunt and Uncle who I don’t see much. My 88 year old grandfather celebrated another Thanksgiving with us, still going strong. And of course I got to spend another Thanksgiving with my amazing parents who I have become closer to this year than I have over my entire 21 years prior.

They say gratitude is a being of existence not a temporary passing feeling. This adds to the list of difficult things to figure out and practice. This Thanksgiving, I felt so truly connected to this concept. Sure things have been rough this year and at times gratitude is the last thing I can possibly feel or think or “be.” But Turkey day helped me realize what it means to be living in gratitude. Simply being able to enjoy company with my family left me with a state of calm, happiness and joy regardless of physically feeling terrible.

Fourteen days later I have graduated to eating rice but not much more (I have probably consumed more rice in the past couple of days than half the continent of Asia) and drinking small amounts of a “medical food powder” (Sort of like protein powder but instead has vitamins and specific things to help bring down inflammation-Ultra Inflamx by Metagenics for those of you with health issues) Having my digestive system quit for awhile has made me continue to find out what gratitude really is. Although at first I was so frustrated that food the way i love is not an option right now, I realized there are plenty of other ways to be happy and much to still be grateful for. Nothing defines us even if it is something we feel strongly about. I am much more aware of how much I cherish all my relationships, how I love to hang out with my dogs or spend time with my family. I have some of the most amazing friends in the world, amazing family and I am surrounded by love. I am grateful for my body for doing its best to deal with this and heal. My digestive system is happy to have a break and I am even grateful that I am able to identify and give my body what it needs even if it frustrates the whiny child in me that says “but why!”

There are always things to be grateful for. They are just not always to see especially when our “egos” try to convince us of everything that is wrong. And that happens way too often. I started a journal activity in the summer (which I have even gotten lazy about) of writing 3 things that I was grateful for that day, no matter how small, trivial, or awful the day was. Try it. Reread them when you’re done. Do it day, after day, after day. It will soon no longer be forced but become natural. Before you know it, you will be “living gratitude” every day you are able to wake up.

Try it for the month of December. It takes all of thirty seconds. An extra 2.5 minutes a week. See what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.

The Law of Detachment

I am currently doing an online 21 day meditation challenge through the Chopra Center.  The theme: Harvesting Abundance. Today is Day 13.  The meditations are sent via email every morning and are available for you for ten days after the mediation is released.  They last 15 minutes and are wonderful but it really is amazing how much of a struggle it has become for all of us, myself included, to take 15 minutes out of our day.  There’s always a reason. We can’t get up 15 minutes earlier, replace 15 minutes of TV or the internet or simply make ourselves sit down to do something that seems like extra work.  I know compared to most out there I have all the time in the world right now, working minimal hours, and juggling the rest of the time between rest and some appointments,  yet even I find myself struggling to take the 15 minutes that I know are so good for me.

By the way, I am posting about this four days late because I am a a slow blogger.  Oh well.

The Law of Detachment.  A difficult concept but so crucial for life. One of the messages that I think is the most difficult for all of us, “You reliquinish the desire to manage circumstances and force solutions in order to manifest your desires.” I think we often struggle with this, particularly in the good old USA. It goes against our engrained cultural beliefs.  The American Dream is founded on the idea that you go after your aspirations and don’t stop for anything.  We set our eyes on something, decide we want it and put the blinders on so we don’t get distracted by anything else along the way.  But here we are being told that sometimes hanging onto this dream with a death grip may not be the very best thing for us.

How often do we all do this?  We get fixated or attached to an outcome or an idea.  Maybe we decided something has to be a certain way because it was engrained in us from an outside source.  Maybe it came from the influence of society, a religious authority, family or maybe we just derived an idea or goal on our own.  It can seem like a positive aspiration: maybe we feel that we must graduate with a 4.0, become a lawyer, get an important job, work in x field, get married. The list goes on. These are all great things, and even Deepak says in this mediation: we should focus on what we desire and take the neccessary steps to manifest our dreams. But here’s the problem, we tend to become attached dearly to these ideas and  refuse to part from them, leading us far away from the most important step of the process: to find security in the face of uncerainity to let go of any outcomes.  At some point, we must “let the wind go where it goes.”   And that can be the hardest, scariest thing to do in life yet it is the only way to allow for an  “abundance of opportunity.”

Think about all the other ways we struggle to detach in life. How many times have we hung onto old relationships long after they’re over or don’t serve us anymore simply because we had a plan in our head about the future (whether it be a couple of weeks, months, years) with that person or because we are afraid to let them go to see who/what new might come along? How many times have we ended up in a job situation that leaves us with an emptiness because we are too entrenched with the belief that this was the job we everyone wanted us to do, the job we studied for, the job one would dream for?   How many times do we resist the fact that something clearly wasn’t meant to be even though every sign is there in front of us? Better yet, how many hours a day do we spend on anything but the present moment, whether it be the past, future, or some other place your mind takes you because we are determined to control our lives  be a certain way?

All of this because the idea of facing uncertainty is too terrifying.

Take a personal simple example of attachment vs dettachment.  When I first started having things get a little out of hand with my health last fall and there were still no answers,  it was collectively decided that I would spend the first couple months of my last semester trying to sort things out before going abroad for an internship that I had planned since my junior year of college.  My health was competly erratic, my career path was clearly changing (which I was in complete denial of) and so was my life.  But I simply had to keep applyimg for abroad programs.  THIS HAD BEEN MY PLAN. THIS IS WHAT I STUDIED TO DO. THIS IS WHAT I HAD TOLD EVERYONE I WAS DOING FOR THE SPRING.  I was simply fixated with this outcome.  It was probably obvious to everyone else around me it no longer made sense but I was blind sighted.  If I let go of all this, what would my new path be? What would I do with myself? Of course, I lost the $50 deposit and eventually conceded it made no sense to go abroad to another country in the middle of a health crisis.   I learned it was time I had to drop the deadlines and the idea that I could still plan everything out.

So how can we detach from outcomes? Are we supposed to just sit in a chair, make a wish  and then wait for whatever to happen? Of course not.  We get things done in life by setting our intentions but from there it is the art of maintaing the difficult balance between taking actions to manifest these intensions and becoming obsessive over the way it is supposed to pan out.

I know I have to really apply the law of detachment for my “healing journey” as I call it.   But there are plenty of times that I ditch this law and latch onto ideas that I HAVE TO GET BETTER, I HAVE TO DO THIS CAREER ONCE I’M BETTER, I MUST BE ABLE TO DO THIS BY THIS DATE,   etc, etc.  But that’s  not how it works and I guess that’s what these “conditions” have taught me to start doing: detaching. In some ways, I guess it’s a blessing.

I have every intention and desire to get better, I have confidence that I will (though some days my confidence is most definitely tested), I am taking all the necessary steps and more to do so, but from there I can only let “the universe do its job.” Latching onto the idea that I must get better  no matter what will do me no  more good than latching onto  the idea that I won’t get better.  The days I am most centered is when I don’t worry about tomorrow, a year from now or an hour from now. I don’t panic that I am still not better enough to be out in the real world. I don’t think about the past two years. I don’t think about the lovely words of “could, should, need, must.”  I think about the now. I have this inner stillness that everything will be okay and I will continue to control the only part I can, putting one foot in front of another and how I react to the present moment. And then the days come that this is all falls apart. I find myself getting caught up in the worry that things aren’t “fixed yet,” that I am missing out on life, that I should be doing this or that, etc. I am everywhere but the now.  And it’s not a good place to be.

Lastly, there’s always the practice of applying this law to our relationships.  No, we don’t need to isolate from the world but we do to tend to set up expectations of people and situations in life due to our own attachments.  When the outcome doesn’t go as planned whether it be people don’t meet our expectations, our paths change and we no longer need these people in the same way, or any other good old life events, we find ourselves in a state of crisis because we don’t know what to do.  Relationships constantly evolve, come, go, fade, and everything else. I am starting to realize all we can do is be the person we want to be, offer what we can and then trust that we will attract people into our lives who make us that much more complete. It is amazing the positive changes that can happen in relationships when we are able to do this. When you shift, everyone around you shifts or so it seems.

Of course, the law of detachment is a continuous practice, not something that we can just check off as either done or not done.  I tend to forget this often.  I guess we are all a bunch of “westerners” when we want to be able to learn something, check it off the list and just know how to do it from here on out. If only!  I have seen it first hand through this experience. If you ever told me two years ago, I would be where I am today, I would have laughed at you.  I could have never planned for this. I do know that if I was still hanging onto my old vision of my life, I would be in a much worse place and probably wouldn’t be writing this blog or even half the chunk of health that I have now.  But it’s difficult to break old habits.

So this Thanksgiving week, take a step back and decide for yourself. Are they any outcomes or ideas that you’re attached to?  Are they serving you any good?  Are they helping you move forward to more opportunities?  You decide.

Chopra’s Centering Thought of the Day:

“As I let go of the need to arrange my life, the universe brings abundant good to me.”

All is well.

Check out the mediation for yourself! It may just change your week or maybe your life 🙂

http://www.chopracentermeditation.com/bestsellers/ProgramPage.aspx?id=7428&bookId=172 —

side note:   All of this info can be obtained from this mediation. ….I learned way too much about copyright in Business Law during college…I think I have become slightly paranoid.

CFS

I have hated the word disease for a long time.  What I don’t really know is if that became a new phenomena once I entered the illness world or if I really always felt that way and just had no personal attachment or reason to think about it. I had a long discussion with a friend about this in the summer. I just never liked the sound of the word disease.  It sounds so gloom, doom and permanent.   What kind of image do you think of when you hear the word disease?  Hope, Inspiration, Light?  I don’t.

I prefer to use the word condition.  Now, I know this word does not necessarily sound all joyous and full of sunshine either.  But conditions are transitory.  They change.  I don’t own a condition.   Why should I get any better if I am convinced that I am plagued with a disease?  Think about the word disease in context of our language. We typically talk about it in terms of very grave and grim situations. We talk about diseases wiping out populations.  Diseases we have to get under CONTROL before they are a pandemic.  A plague that’s going to take over.  CDC= Center for Disease Control.  Diseases in our language are either a) curable or b) not curable. Black and white.  You fit it in one box or another.  But this is another topic for another time.  The importance of wording and beliefs.

Anyways.  I don’t want to spend tons of posts writing about “dis-eases” but on the same token, I do feel responsible in sharing and promoting awareness of conditions not well known because I am not the only one out there.   The current MAIN condition I am dealing with is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Also known as…ready for this?

1) Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome

2) Post Viral Syndrome

3) Myalgic Encephalitis (Europe)

4) Chronic Mono/Chronic EBV

5) Low Natural Killer Syndrome

6) Yuppie Flu (those poor people who dealt with this stigma in the 80s)

Never heard of it? No surprise.  Most people haven’t.   When they do, it seems pretty self explanatory and something any person could easily suffer from.  The classic lines:  “I think I have the same thing.” “I’m tired a lot too.” “Yeah people get depressed sometimes.” “You should drink coffee.” Silence or Change of Subject.

A lot of the medical community still hasn’t acknowledged it’s real, claiming it to be a wastebasket diagnosis.  I thought the same thing for quite some time until I began to really understand it further than the b.s. name of being chronically tired. Ha. If that’s all it was.

Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to get thrown into this label if doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with them hence the perpetual cycle of the waste basket diagnosis/lack of respect.   And then after all that you get a diagnoses and then what? Most doctors don’t know what to do with it besides offering an anti-depressant and wishing you luck on pacing yourself. Well that’s really useful.

There are only a couple of doctors that deal with it throughout the country.  They stay on top of all the research, think outside the box and use “out of the box treatments.”  I am lucky to be working with some AMAZING people.  I would be glad to give referrals for people who are in the process of trying to find their “right doctor.”  My “team” consists of all different practitioners, MDs, DOs, NDs, PTs and more.  I will devote another section to that for those that are interested.  The best thing you can do: find people you trust, get a team together, make sure they are all on the same wavelength and make sure they communicate.  It is probably beneficial to work with someone that specializes in the area.   It takes time.  I have seen 32 doctors over the past two years and I think there are only a couple of specialities I haven’t seen, one being geriatrics.  But with this condition I can promise you one thing:   your path to wellness won’t be in any hospital and the average doctor’s office probably isn’t the place either.  But don’t give up hope. Please Please Please always remember you are never at a dead end.

To Be Continued……