Rare Personal Update

Hello everyone,

Way back in my early years of blogging, I wrote a little bit about my life with chronic illness. As a brief catch up, for anyone who wasn’t here then and those who have perhaps forgotten, I’ll say a little about the past and move on. I’ve been dealing with chronic pain, fatigue, and a whole other wide array of symptoms for decades. I almost died of pneumonia at 2 and as a result my immune system was damaged, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, mono and mild scoliosis at around age 13, chronic fatigue syndrome in my early twenties, fibromyalgia in my late twenties, and degenerative disc disease in my thirties. For the past six years, my family doctor has suspected an autoimmune disease but blood work never showed any markers.

Finally about three months ago, I was referred to a rheumatologist, at my request, because I was in the worst flare that I’ve had in at least ten years. This flare was relentless, lasting for almost two months with no sign of letting up. I’d been under great stress, which I’m sure is the catalyst for the flare. Earlier this month, I went back to the rheumatologist for a follow up. I was diagnosed with connective tissue disease, with some features of lupus and concern for developing psoriatic arthritis. The hope is that the doctor can get this contained before it goes full beast mode, as well as to prevent any further damage to my joints and connective tissue.

With high hopes, three weeks ago, I began taking Plaquenil, which is supposed to be the mildest therapy with the least side effects (except for the rare potential for blindness, nothing to be concerned about there). As the past three weeks wore on, I’ve only gotten sicker. More fatigued, more pain, nausea from hell, but I was willing to go through that thinking that it would swing in the other direction eventually. This was until a few days ago, when out of the blue, my knees felt like they were on fire and turned as red as a well cooked lobster. Over the course of a few hours, the redness dissipated but the joint pain was excruciating. Then, other joints in my body began hurting too and other symptoms set in as well. So, I called his office and was told to stop taking it immediately and to drink as much water as I can stand to help get the medication flushed out of my body. Who knows how long this will take, but I’m hoping not too long because frankly, this sucks. A new treatment plan will be coming up at some point in the near future. This makes me a bit nervous as that was the mildest treatment, but then again, something more intense might not be as bad as the reaction I’ve had to Plaquenil. Time will tell.

All I know is that right now, I’m in about month three of increasingly severe illness and feeling more than a little disappointed that the treatment has only made things worse so far. In my typical fashion however, I will not give up, nor will I let this keep me from getting back to the things that I love as soon as I am able to. The pain, fatigue, and brain fog have kept me from engaging in all of my usual creative activities but I’m sure that this won’t last forever. Just wanted to come here and let all of you know why I haven’t been around…and that I will be back…hopefully soon.

I’m grateful for a few people in my life, who have helped me to feel less isolated and have been so compassionate and understanding with my current decreased capacity. This experience is helping me to further clarify what I desire in my life, especially when it comes to my relationships with others. My circle is narrowing, as I move toward creating relationships which are healthy, reciprocal, positive, and fulfilling. Being this ill has taught me the wisdom of loving others, but loving myself more. Gone are the days of one sided relationships, and consistent energy sucking conversations. Most importantly, I’ve made the conscious decision to no longer be a receptacle for the negativity of others. Over the years, these types of relationships have taken their toll both mentally and physically and it has to stop, effective immediately. My health comes first, and that means conserving my energy for healthy relationships and activities which bring joy to my life, and hopefully that of others. It’s past time to bring more positivity back into my life.

This has been a really long post. If you’ve made it this far, thank you! I’ll see you again, hopefully very soon, and hopefully with something creative to share.

Much love,

Tracy

 

Thoughts On Being In The Moment

This morning, I came across a quote which resonated with me, and sparked some thoughts that I wish to share. The quote is below.

“There is only the moment. The now. Only what you are experiencing at this second is real.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

The seeming simplicity of this quote is deceptive. So often, I have had the tendency to take something which is happening in the present and allow my mind to let it take on epic proportions. We all do it, and typically it involves the things which are unpleasant or stressful. When something is going awry, do you find your thoughts diving into the past, or projecting the issue into the future, feeling like the situation is going to become a permanent fixture? I certainly have, and have been learning to work on it.

It’s definitely a process, and a very conscious choice. The actual practice of mindfulness is relatively new to me. I’ve often heard people talking about living in the moment, and just thought that it was one of those nice things to say, but hard or impossible to do. I’m finding that it isn’t all that difficult (most of the time, anyway). It takes a lot of inner reminders, but over time it is becomes easier.

For myself, as someone who has dealt with a great deal of trauma over the course of my life, remembering that what is happening right at this moment is what is real has been an amazing tool to help me keep things in balance. No matter whether a thing is positive or negative, reminding ourselves that in the next moment things shift is beyond helpful. Life is constant change, and while sometimes this is hard, the alternative is to live in a state of stagnation. I should say trying to live in a state of stagnation, because no matter how concentrated the effort may be, we cannot stem the tide of change.

The sentiment I’m writing about doesn’t mean that we squash our feelings. It’s just as unhealthy to try to pretend that it doesn’t exist as it is to let our thoughts project too far into the future. Building too many expectations for the future can be at the very least disappointing at times, and at the worst can color our thoughts so much that we lose opportunities for happiness because we’re convinced that things will stay the same. We can set goals for ourselves without becoming overly attached to the precise details. There are often many paths to a goal, and unexpected ways that our dreams manifest themselves.

By remembering that the present is all that is, it becomes so much easier to savor our moments of joy as they happen. Not only that, it becomes easier to acknowledge that we may be sad, angry, heartbroken, or any other emotion that pops up, and be able to let it just be without falling into the rabbit hole of remembering all of the “bad stuff” that happened in the past, or convincing ourselves that life is always going to follow the same patterns.

Trust me, I know that this is not the easiest practice to adopt. As a relative newbie to it myself, I have seen how ingrained it is to step out of what is happening in our present moments to dwell in the past and obsess over the future. This whole year for me is dedicated to a continuation of my mindfulness practice. So far, it has been the most helpful method inner work I’ve tried to date. If you find yourself in a place of reliving traumas or being caught up in the type of thought patterns which I wrote about above, I encourage you to look into all of this a bit, and if you feel you need help with it, please reach out and find it. I openly admit that I have.

 

 

Settling Into Just Being

Okay, so my best friend wrote a post yesterday that so inspired my post today that the very title was something that she said in what she wrote. She and I both have had a pretty difficult time of it in the last year or so. To say that there has been a lot of learning going on would be an understatement. Please do head on over and read her post if you wish. Now, I’ll get on with it.

So, the past year and a half for me was a breaking point. This is something which needed to happen because I’ve literally spent most of my life living old patterns and it became impossible to keep doing so and stay sane, and I mean that almost literally. It truly was a breaking point in my life. These are patterns which were created long, long ago. In childhood in fact. The hell of it has been that they were set so early that the real me has not really had much time to come out and play. The real me had been almost completely buried.

Sure, there have been glimpses of me here and there, but for the most part I’ve slid back into those ways of being and interacting in the world which were drilled into me as a means to stay safe. While that was never okay, it was at one time necessary for survival. After that necessary time had passed though, I was simply reacting to things which evoked those old responses and instead of standing tall in my own being, I would either put another person first to my own detriment, or I would have a fear trigger and simply squash myself into what I thought would keep the waters smooth. Well let me tell you, this never works.

Maybe for a while things felt calmer, but in the long run it wasn’t sustainable. Sometimes when we feel like we’re playing it safe, we are only prolonging the inevitable, and putting ourselves through unnecessary stress and pain. There is a lot of history which I could go into, but I won’t. Not because I’m not okay talking about it, but because this post is about the present and moving forward.

I have forgiven the past. I have forgiven the people who have caused me harm. I have made great progress in forgiving myself for the role which I played in letting some of those situations play out. Granted, my heart was always in the right place, but there have been many times in which it was very misguided. I’m at a place in which I no longer feel the need or desire to think or talk about the past, unless it’s necessary for some reason. I’ve come to terms with what the past was, and have reached the point of breaking the patterns.

This isn’t to say that my work is done. In some respects I’m only getting truly started, but it feels so good. This is where the words settling into just being come into play. I’ve realized that I truly like who I am at my core, and I really like who I am becoming. A large part of doing this work has been simply allowing myself to settle into being. Learning to live in the present, not in the past and not in the future, is strangely liberating.

Sure, I’ve read about being in the present and it sounded good but I had never really tried to put it into practice before. I had some mistaken ideas about what it meant exactly. It doesn’t mean that the past is erased, it is more of a reminding myself that when parts of the past rear their ugly heads that I am not longer in that place, and that those feelings and memories have no power over me. It doesn’t mean that I can’t make plans for the future. It is simply a loosening of the expectations of how things will work and not trying to plan all of the minute details.

The deeper I go into this space, the less I find myself wishing for anything else. This very moment is a pretty good place to be. More and more, I actually remember to stop and ask myself if there’s anything that I can do about any given thing in this moment, and if there isn’t, it becomes easier to release it and just be. If though, there is something that I can do about something, I find myself being able to break it down even further into what I can do about it right now and to be okay with leaving the rest for when it’s appropriate.

While the deep trauma work which I’ve chosen to undertake isn’t for the faint of heart, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. To finally be saying goodbye to the triggers, fears, and anxiety is the most awesome feeling. Lots of things have fallen away, and some of those losses have been harder than others. I have to admit though, that every last one of them has needed to happen. I’m looking forward to what is to come, more so than ever. This feels a little bit odd to say because everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING in me has shifted, so my exact direction is not exactly clear. In the past, this would have scared the hell out of me. Now though it feels perfect, because I am starting with a clean slate and I’m not following someone else’s map…I’m drawing my own.

 

Love Letter ~ Keep Holding On

Dear Beautiful People,

It has been a little while since I’ve sat down to write something from my heart to yours. Today feels like a good day to do that. We are living in interesting times, and sometimes it seems as though things are spinning out of control. Even though I rarely read news headlines, let alone watch any news, it is impossible not to notice the things that are going on around us. We are in a period of rapid changes, not only in my part of the world…but in all of it. Yes, sometimes it feels scary or as though there is little hope.

I’m here to ask all of you not to give in to the fear and darkness mentality which seems to be in charge right now. Now more than ever, we must remember that no one can control our mentality but ourselves. Of course we see the worst and most frightening things portrayed in the media. First of all, that’s what sells. Secondly, it has been true for a few thousand years on this Earth and perhaps longer, that those in power, or wishing to be in power often create and maintain those positions by scaring the pants off of the rest of us. Don’t buy into it.

While it is true that we live in tumultuous times, it is also true that old systems and ways of being or thinking have to go through upheaval before things get better. Those who have read some of my older work know that I am not going to try to tell you that you need to smile your way through this. Now is the time to look at the dark and the light in both the world and in ourselves so that we can understand that duality is a part of the very nature of things.

When we learn to look at and accept our duality and all of our feelings as part of ourselves, that’s when the magic of real self love can begin. There’s a difference between acceptance and allowing something to take over. It’s a matter of being able to look at and see the un-shiny parts of ourselves with a spirit of kindness and understanding. When we repress those parts of ourselves with a fake smile plastered on our faces, we aren’t fully loving ourselves and therefore nothing can change.The pattern keeps repeating. How do I know this?  Because that was me, for a very long time.

Many of us are taught by our families, our religions, our teachers, etc. that expressing or even acknowledging feelings like fear, anger, or disappointment is akin to dimming the light which shines in all of us. The opposite is true. When we feel ourselves sliding into fear or anger, the best thing that we can do is to basically look at it and say, “I see you. I feel you”…acknowledge that it is part of our nature to feel those things and accept that just because we feel certain feelings we are not “bad” people.

As for what is going on in the world around us, the same can be said. We can see it, we can acknowledge that it is happening, and then we can understand deep in our very core that those things do not define us. Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to see how much power we have when it comes to creating our own realities. Sometimes, all we can do is stop…and simply be…riding the waves to the best of our abilities until the tide changes.

There is only so much digging and self excavation that we can do. While I highly encourage self examination, I believe that there is a fine line between examination and perpetuating a sense that there is something wrong with us. If something doesn’t feel right, instead of pointing a finger at yourself or someone else in blame…look for what you can do to either release it or change it. When thinking about the duality of our world and ourselves I always think of the parable of the two wolves. In case you haven’t heard of it, you can go here for a snippet.

So, all of you lovelies…be kind to yourselves. Love yourselves. Love each other. Love the beautiful world that we live on. Remember this~ Love is the fuel of great change.

Thank you for being here!

Much love to all of you,

Tracy

 

 

Sometimes There Is No Point

The typical Monday here usually consists of a post in which I write about a particular issue with the aim of making a point or to attempt to induce a positive way of thought about whatever the topic is. Well, sometimes there simply is no point to make. Most of the time, when I force a point into existence it feels…well…forced.

So for today, I’m going to let the notion of making a point go and just talk about my life a little. Lately, much to my pleasure, I can honestly say that things have been really good. For the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with some lifestyle changes in order to get my health on a better track. While I’m still working some kinks out, I feel as though I’m getting closer to finding the right balance with nutrition and exercise.

The greatest pleasure I’ve had in recent weeks has been the amazing people that I’m fortunate enough to consider friends and family. Many of my close friends live too far away to visit in person, but I get so much joy out of my chats with them on the phone or on Skype. Some of us do not get many opportunities to talk real often because we’re all busy, but when the relationship is deep and true, I’ve found that two people can go for extended periods of time without speaking and just pick right up with no awkwardness at all.

Not long ago, I went through another round of releasing what (and who) no longer fits and it has felt amazing. To be able to just let go, with no resentment, and especially for me, no guilt, is such a great experience. I’ve noticed that since I’ve set myself free from feelings of obligation to others who do not resonate with me that the way has been cleared for much richer relationship experiences. It has been liberating to surround myself with the people who I can just be myself with…people who I can talk about all kinds of stuff with, no matter how off the wall or geeky.

I’ve been allowing my inner nerd to come out and play a lot more in recent weeks and as weird as it might sound, I had no idea how big a part of myself I had been suppressing until I had the opportunity to indulge in the kind of geekiness which I hadn’t fully indulged in for more years than I care to admit. It has been akin to releasing the kraken. It’s like stepping back in time to an era which makes me feel very much at ease, and honestly enthusiastic. I’ll invite you to step into my personal wayback machine to get an idea of the brand of dorky which I’m fondly recapturing.

I’m talking about stuff I used to do with friends back in the day, like discussing advances in science or about the natural world, seeing who could come up with the coolest program in BASIC to make the most elaborate moving images (told you it was way back), watching sci-fi, staying up late into the night theorizing ways of solving practical issues, or bouncing back and forth with plot lines for stories or stanzas of poetry. Yeah…that kind of nerdy. Honestly, I’m in heaven.

This part of me, which many hadn’t really known about before (with the exception of a few people who’ve known me for a long time) is one which I had pushed into the recesses of myself in order to fit in better with the people I’d been surrounded with for many years, with those few exceptions who were my saving grace. Silly I know, but something which most of us have done at some point or another. Now that the beast has been unleashed, she won’t be going back into her cage anytime in the near future.

For someone with nothing to say, I seem to have done a good job at rambling on. In closing, I just want to send out a big thank you to the people who make my world a better place. You definitely know who you are, because I’ve either talked to you on the phone, emailed you, Skype chatted with you, or hung out with you in person in the past week. I’m a lucky girl indeed to have such amazing people in my life.

 

 

Blissfully Imperfect

This post is a little different from the typical Monday posts in that I usually write about topics which are meant to inspire all of us to do our best. Today I wish to talk about all of the things about myself which aren’t exactly my finer traits, but that I’ve learned to accept. Why? Because sometimes we get so caught up in our quest to be as close to perfect as we can get, or seeming to have our shit somewhat together, that we forget about or gloss over the things that make us human.

So, I’m going to list some of the things about me that I do not usually talk about. The things which sometimes embarrass me, sometimes make me laugh, and even some which while not the best traits make me feel better at times. These are all parts of me that I am unapologetic for, even though some of them are things I work on improving. The only time that apologies are called for, in my opinion, is when we lash out in anger in such a way that it truly hurts another. Alright, the dirt on me…

Here goes!

  • I can be very stubborn
  • At times, my temper runs pretty hot
  • When I decide I’m well and truly done with something or someone, it’s over (and when that happens, I rarely change my mind)
  • Sometimes my sense of humor is on the inappropriate side
  • I’ve been known to change my mind more often than some people change their socks (It was said to me using those exact words once)
  • I’ve also been known to have really awful taste in romantic partners in the past
  • Patience is not one of my strongest suits
  • My language is far from rated G (thanks mom)
  • I’m protective of those I love, and will not hesitate to defend them
  • When my heart gets broken, it takes a long time for me to trust again
  • I do not handle confrontation well
  • I definitely do not handle illnesses and deaths of people I love well
  • While I’m pretty forgiving, heaven help you if you lie to me

As you can see, some of my less shiny attributes are pretty tarnished indeed. At the same time many of them have served me well, especially once I learned to channel them properly. We’re all works in progress, and sometimes it feels good to admit it. The entire point of this exercise was to remind both myself and hopefully all of you that while striving for betterment is a great thing that we are all human and sometimes it is in these human moments that we find our strength-or at least laughter.