Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Its been almost 6 months since my last blog, and I've spent some time away from Spark people in that time. Yet, when I read that last blog -- Experiencing Gratitude -- I am so happy to say that I am still experiencing many of the positive changes in my life that I recount there.
Over the past few weeks of becoming active on Spark people again, I have been most grateful for the warm and gracious "welcome backs!" No judgement from my spark friends, no explanations required. I've received only warm wishes and expressions of desire to help out. I am so grateful for this! I am so grateful to have a place where I can be me -- successes, failures, lapses, victories -- and still be welcomed and cared for. This is what home is, isn't it?
I am also grateful that my thyroid condition is now in full remission! It has taken a little over three years, but the fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, and swelling have all receded. I am working out four times a week without unaccounted for pain or exhaustion. There are so many of us living with immediate and direct challenges to our health, and I am so grateful to have found proper treatment for mine. I am grateful for the opportunity to feel peace and health in my body. These are truly blessings, and I am grateful to my body for hanging in there and fighting back to health!
(we need a self-hug icon!)
I am also really grateful today for forgiveness. I stopped tracking my food and exercising regularly this summer. And, I have forgiven myself. I am back on spark people, back at the gym, back weighing and tracking my food. I am back learning to love myself a little more every day. And, I am so grateful that I am letting myself do this! Self-punishment has kept me from too many days of happiness and progress. How lucky I am to be able to forgive and love myself through this.
I know that this journey to health is a struggle for so many of us. I am so grateful to share this struggle! And, to remember the journey is the most precious part!
(from Rae Lewis-Thornton)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Its been exactly a month since I last blogged. I prefer to blog more often in order to remain connected and to hold myself accountable to my goals.
Over the past 30 days I have not been on spark regularly. I have taken up to a week away, without planning and without accountability. I am slowly working my way back to daily check-ins with spark, particularly because of all the support I find here through the teams I am a part of. I can't thank my spark friends enough for their compassion and encouragement. Despite my absences I have experienced a lot of growth during this time.
Over the past 30 days, I have had a major change in my thyroid condition. I have found a doctor and treatment that are working for me. I am so grateful! I have no more joint pain, no more brain fog, no more extreme fatigue, no more memory loss, no more swollen limbs. And . . . .with the help of my nutrition plan I have lost 15 pounds since late April! I am now half way to my goal weight.
Most importantly, I am SO SO SO grateful that my body is returning to a healthy state. I am amazed by this body's capacity to recover, heal and renew itself. I am so proud of it.
The change initiated by the thyroid medication inspired me to change my nutrition plan. I have moved to a whole food plants-based plan. I just decided to help my body out by eating the most nutrient rich foods available to me. And, these are whole plant-based foods. I can't believe how easy its been and how excited I am to eat! Everything has more flavor now. Fruit has never tasted sweeter, I had no idea I loved dates, and who knew black beans with quinoa over spinach with guacamole was so delicious? It hasn't felt like deprivation at all; in fact, its a great new adventure into how I can eat more vegetables and fruits in more ways. I am really enjoying this nutrition plan and I feel great eating this way! (Almond and soy milk are great, by the way!!!)
So, all this wonderful change has been going on biologically. I am so grateful for that. And, there has been a lot of change psychologically, too. As I move toward a healthier body, I need to move toward a healthier soul. For me, this means bringing more mindfulness and attention to my every feeling, thought, and act. I have discovered a lot of pain that I was ignoring either by eating or shopping. Since I am not eating to cover up the pain anymore and I cannot shop my way through it (oh my god that would be horrible!), I have been living with the pain. I have been looking into it more deeply to try to understand it. I have been gentle with myself. I have allowed myself to be not at my best. I have called on friends -- Spark friends included -- to help me. I have given myself permission to feel this pain and live with the limits it temporarily sets for me. And, I am okay. It has not defeated me. It has not overwhelmed me. It has not brought me down. I am still standing (or walking or sitting or sleeping). I am still me, but I am holding a very tender part of me as I go about being me. I know I am healing, and by healing I will experience more freedom and more joy.
I am so grateful for these changes in my life. I am so grateful to my friends on the Healing from Abuse team who have inspired and supported me with their stories, their jokes, their blogs, their posts. What an amazing group of people! I want to be just like you!
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Over the past few months, I've made a lot of changes in my lifestyle. I wanted to see how they were working out before I blogged about them, but since they are working out I want to share them with you.
As some of you know I had been feeling very frustrated with a medical condition that brought on a lot of fatigue, weight gain, and depression. I am happy to say that the specialist I have been seeing for the past 6 weeks has been really helpful. I am on a different medication now and have so much more energy, no joint pain, less brain fog, and no depression. My symptoms have abated by 75%. This has been such a relief.
To help the medicine along, I have also decided to eat in the most nutrient-rich way possible. I don't want to stand in the way of my own recovery! So, I've switched to a plant-based, whole food nutrition plan. This means I'm eating primarily fruit, vegetables and grains in their natural states. I am not eating dairy or meat. We were never big meat eaters, but giving up greek yogurt was going to be a challenge, or so I thought. It has been amazing how seamlessly I've made this change. My husband is completely on board (the only health related thing he has been on board with -- totally confusing!). We're exploring new recipes, new snacks, and cooking together every day. It is a total joy. (Plus the food is fantastic! It tastes so good and I am totally satisfied at and between meals).
I've also changed my exercise regime. I learned that the three years my hypothyroidism was wrongly treated, my body lost a lot of muscle strength and cardio vascular stamina. I went to see my trainer and after 20 minutes of our old 60 minute routine, I had to stop. HAD to stop. So, now I am on a regime that is designed for people returning from chronic illness. It was shocking when she and my doctor told me this is what I needed to do, but since I've started doing it I'm feeling much better. I am not wearing myself out with workouts, I'm building myself up. Its a slow process, but I remember what it feels like to be strong and fit. I want that feeling again -- especially the strong part! I love seeing my own muscles just flex out.
So, this past month has been really extraordinary for me in very quiet ways. I'm consistently making good choices in my nutrients, in my exercise, and in my relationship. I am so proud of myself and so grateful for all the support and help. I am on my way to healthy!
OH! And I completely forgot (had to come back and use edit to add this). I've lost 7 lbs at a consistent rate. I'm thrilled (when I remember)!
Friday, May 17, 2013
My last blog was written and posted a month ago, marking my experiences of the Boston Marathon Bombings. So many of you reached out to me to share your own experiences, feelings, and thoughts. I truly felt joined in community. Since then a month has passed and I am in a different place with this important event.
I am a university teacher in Boston. Because our college is located ON Boylston street and our dorms are just a block from where the bombs exploded, our students were deeply affected by what happened. For finals in one class, rather than give a presentation on a previously assigned topic, each student gave a multi-media presentation that addressed one aspect (psychological, social, historical, political, religious, role of the media) of the bombings and subsequent manhunt.
I was blown away by the amount of compassion these students showed toward people who do harm. It truly humbled and inspired me.
The students, without exception, presented with compassion and hope. One student presented on the heroism demonstrated by specific individuals during the bombings. Another presented on the negative effects of the media reporting moment by moment a crisis that is still unfolding. Yet another offered ways to care for yourself in the midst of and following a trauma. Some shared the power of music and religion in healing using personal and historical examples as evidence. In general, the students were trying to help each other understand and heal from their experiences.
I feel so inspired and such hope for our future. If these 18 year-olds can respond with compassion and care at so young an age, then so can we (regardless of age). They are bringing more peace, more beauty, and more love into our world. I am so grateful to them.
Peace to all beings everywhere.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Almost 75% of Boston marathon runners are running to raise money for charities. The Dana Farber team raises money for cancer research, the Horizons for Homeless Children team raises money to support their programs, the Children's Hospital team raises money for research on illness that are ending the lives of young people. 75% of the runners are there to raise money for these and so many other organizations.
Then there are the Hoyts, a father and son team. They have run over 30 Boston marathons together. What is remarkable about the Hoyt's is that Dick Hoyt pushes his grown son, Rick, on a special wheelchair through every race. Rick was born a quadraplegic with cerebral palsy. And, every year this family runs 26.2 miles together.
For many of us who live in Boston, they ARE Boston. They are the spirit and grit of our city: hard work, perseverance, and belief in ourselves and one another. They inspire us every year to be better than we have been the year before.
Four years ago I joined them and ran the Boston Marathon as part of a fund-raising team for people living with AIDS. It was my first and so far, only, marathon. Running alongside thousands of other people, through streets lined with people calling my name and cheering me on, watching the miles tick away much more quickly than I imagined; this is one of the most memorable events in my life. I often tell people it completely made up for those 3 years in middle school when everyone was making fun of me. Thousands of people yelling: "Go Janet! Looking good Janet! You can do it!" I literally have never had so much affirmation in my life. I felt fantastic and amazing as I ran.
I trained for 9 months here in Boston to run that race. That means I trained in winter: running through ice, snow, dark dark mornings or dark dark nights. I ran for hours on a treadmill, spending at least two hours running every 4 days. Can you imagine? Two hours out of four days a week for nine months. People say the marathon is hard, but frankly, the training is much harder.
I have lived alongside the marathon route at mile 22 for 6 years now. We gather friends, host BBQ's and spend the day outside cheering the runners and walkers. We offer orange slices, water, and our belief that each runner can finish this race. In a city known for its chill, strangers come out of our thick winter shells and celebrate with one another. We express our belief in one another, in our city, and in spring.
I feel so sad about the explosions yesterday. I still cannot imagine that it occured. Tomorrow I go into my university classes, located 2 blocks from where the bombs exploded, and will try to offer comfort and support to my students. I want my students to see that in the midst of great sorrow and pain, we have the capacity to respond to one another with gentleness, understanding, and love. I want that beautiful spirit of the marathon, people helping other people, to continue to permeate the streets of Boston. I want us to rise up and to be our best in this moment.
So, to all the runners, walkers, marathon workers, fireman, policeman, and people of Boston, may we come together in compassion and love to heal ourselves and our city.
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