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Fibro Festivities: Keeping Family Traditions

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I have always been devoted to family and all things that make us a unit.  As a kid, I ate up my grandmother's stories of her childhood.  I relished in her tradition of baking Christmas cookies (20 or so varieties), giving each of her six children's families a box full.  I cherished, even then, the gathering of all my aunts and uncles and 30 cousins at my grandparents' home to enjoy a wonderful meal full of loud banter, the grown-ups at the "big" table and we kids next to them,  at the long row of lined up card tables. We would wait patiently for the adults to finish eating, my Uncle Dave and Uncle Fred purposefully torturing us by getting a FOURTH plate full of food. I can still play the 4-D movie of all us kids sitting on the floor as one present was passed out at a time for us to anticipate opening.
These were very special moments when the worries of the daily grind vanished into laughter, peppermint, and wonder. 

I hold the memories my grandmother stitching …

Giving Thanks: One year Ago

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Disclaimer: This not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a professional physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

One year ago, I was really a mess.  I had just been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after my general practitioner had exhausted all the tests to see if there was any other explanation for the ongoing, roving pain, extreme exhaustion, and mud-thick, brain fog that had taken my ability to function anywhere close to my normal.

I have been reading through my blogs, taking the time to really relish in where I am now.  I am now off of Cymbalta and many of the frantic supplements I started right away and have slowly worked on weaning to find out if indeed an improvement came from them.  I feel that I'm honing my personal daily protocols that work for me.  

In the past few months, I am seeing more of my "normal" show up again for longer and longer periods.  Most days, …

It's Harder Alone; We Need Community to Thrive

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Belonging to a community has been a driving part of my entire life.  As a child, I went to nearly every summer church program (partially because my mom couldn't afford daycare) because I just loved that week of being a part of a special group: knowing the special song's words and hand motions, sharing in stories, munching on little sugar cookies and red punch around a small table with this temporary community. Working as a camp counselor, not only did I find a temporary community to live with, but I met my best friend and my future husband. In college, I connected to a small group of friends (most I still have today) and sought out others from my classes that shared similar goals. I studied to become a teacher; my schools had been major sources of community for me growing up and I longed to continue to be a part of it. When my husband and I chose the home we'd live in for our retirement years, I fell in love with a new development that was built on a former site of a summ…

Am I Strong Enough?

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Two weeks ago, I was pulled over.  I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee at a Panera Bread about an hour from my house.  I had noticed a black SUV behind me a couple of times as I drove down the four-lane artery that leads from my small town to the big city.  I was just approaching the strip mall area anchored by a Best Buy when I saw red and blue lights swirling on the black vehicle behind me.

Immediately, my heart began to race.  It was obvious that the lights were for me, but I couldn't figure out why.  At the light, I went into the left lane and turned on cue, pulling into the back lot behind Best Buy.  As I turned off the motor, I noticed a lone car that was parked contained a man who was now staring at me.  The police car pulled behind me. I sat massaging my left shoulder- waiting, feeling pretty confused and anxious.
The officer strolled to my window bending down to peer in at me.  "Hello, mam.  I pulled you over because you were swerving in your lane a bit.  It…

Knock on Wood!

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*Word/Phrases of blue and underlined are links to further information on the topic.
I don't view myself as superstitious. But, I've been known to say, "Knock on wood," now and then when I want to stave off something bad after declaring something good.  As I've explained, my mom who had bipolar drilled into me at an early age that just as things are going well, life/fate will slam you with something equally not good. When I was a child, and actually now and then still now, I felt that there was someone watching over me, guiding me.  That inner voice of mine always letting me know the choices I should make. Writing this blog comes from that inner voice, and I feel it's there that my resilence through hope began.

Last Saturday, as my husband and I sat and ate our dinner out on the deck in unusual peace, he brought up that he noticed I had been doing really well the past few weeks (not pleading for massages or whimpering in bed).  I agreed.  As written about in m…

Times They Are a Changin'

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Bob Dylan was right. The times are continually changing whether small or major.  Change is a part of life.  However, change, whether good or bad, brings a certain amount of stress, and that stress can bring on a flair for those of us with chronic conditions such as Fibromyalgia.

Since November of last year, it's felt like one pretty big change after another in my family: changes in health, changes in jobs, changes in homes.  My first reaction tends to be a pulling back, in my mind and body.  I stiffen, literally, as if to strengthen or to push back on the change. This can lead then to tension in my shoulders and chest which triggers in me a sense of anxiousness.

What I'm purposefully working on is leaning in.  Leaning into the change like a trust fall.  Breathing and being present in this moment, reminding myself that I'm safe, secure, and supported.  That my family, we are in this together, and we'll all be all right as long as we stick together.  This means that we …

Just Breath and Other Ways to Rewire the Pain-filled Brain

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Blue and underlined words are live links to further info on the topic.
I believe my form of Fibromyalgia stems from a nervous system that has been chronically in overdrive (fight or flight) mode for all of my life. At 54, that living on adrenalin came to a screeching halt when I could no longer function, forcing me to leave my teaching job and to spend the next few months largely in bed.

As a firstborn to a single mom who suffered from undiagnosed Bipolar and Schizophrenia, I know life was tense and unsure right from the get-go.  After living with my single-mom and her parents for the first 6 months of my life, my mom got married to a well-meaning man who had lost his first wife to cancer.  He had a 13-year old daughter at the time of their marriage.  My mom's emotions were intense.  During one fight, my mom punched her fist through a plate-glass window, cutting several long cuts, needing stitches.  (My mom told me the story when I asked her about the long, smooth scars she had on…