Health, Spirituality, Uncategorized

An Anniversary Post

The end of this month marks my 17th anniversary of being free of the the pain and medications associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis. At this point 17 years ago, I was still on a daily regimen of anti-inflammatories (Lodine, Naproxen, Prednisone, and Methotrexate…while often still resorting to Advil to help with the pain), but something had changed. I was “treating my symptoms” while actively working on healing from within. You see, up until July of 2000, I had been struggling as a victim to a disease that I had coped with since I was 3 years old. Years of medications, a couple of short-lived remissions, and a resignation to this being the pattern of my life had taken my health out of my hands. That July, I reluctantly (and doubtfully) went to see an energy worker for the first time. I felt a change. I felt an ease and a calm that I hadn’t felt…ever. It was after that visit, that I thought, I need to do something different. I am ready to do something different. I couldn’t afford to keep going to this person while still paying out of pocket for all my doctor visits, so I thought, I need to learn how to do this for myself. By September, I had read some books (the first of which was Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life), I had taken some classes to learn how to give myself energy, I began to meditate (or attempt to), and I had found a group of others that were learning to do the same. This was the start of my journey and I slowly was feeling an improvement in my health, but I had some solid challenges to face that had nothing to do with the pain or swelling. What I found was that I had two primary challenges that I had to consistently work on overcoming. Others looking in told me that it should be smooth sailing  once I got over the physical symptoms that I had been dealing with. What they didn’t understand was that the emotional aspect was actually the most difficult piece to shift and release. Nobody wants to be in pain. Getting the body to physically cooperate was actually easier than getting my mind on board.

First, as much as this seems contrary to what I would want for myself, JRA had become a very real part of my identity. I was 3 when I was diagnosed. That means that for (at the time) 22 out of 25 years of my life, I struggled with and I identified with a person that had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was a very real and tangible part of my identity. It was as much a part of how I defined myself as being from Ohio or coming from a Greek family. It was woven into the fabric of my identity and removing those threads of “who I was” was…work. A constant awareness and work.

Second, and I’m going to get very vulnerable and honest here, probably equally as challenging as having to shift the way I viewed myself, was having to become aware of and then finding the courage and motivation to get rid of my victim mentality. For so many years, I was a victim to my disease. It defined who I was, what I was able to do, how others viewed me, and how I viewed myself. It put limits on my physical ability, but then again, so did I. It pains me to say that I often used it as an excuse to not face challenges, to get out of doing things that were hard, and I willingly accepted any sympathy that others offered me due to my disease. Taking my power back was HARD. Taking ownership of my “limitations” and of my limiting beliefs was HARD…but it was worth it. I mean, it was REALLY worth it.

This week, while I am not quite at the anniversary point of where I had finally weaned myself off of all of my medications, I am grateful. During this rainy, humid, wet week, I don’t feel a thing and for that I am beyond feeling mere gratitude. It is a sign of the immense healing that I have had the honor of experiencing, but it is also a sign of my strength. Today, I am celebrating my growth, challenges, and healing.

Writing with gratitude and love–Maria

new-think

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Health, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Body Maintenance…keeping your engine running at its optimal level

check_engine_lights2

A common theme in our house this past week has been one of “taking care of your body”. I believe society as a whole can agree that food fuels your body. After all, the old saying “you are what you eat” definitely derived from a known truth. However, what many still don’t realize is that your body is also an energetic vessel. One that requires similar attention and maintenance as say, a car. Go with me here. Just as we use gas to fill up our car and keep it running at its peak level, we use energy to keep our bodies and organs running at their peak level. Yoga, acupuncture, energy work (such as reiki) keep your body from blockages and build up. They keep the gas moving through the engine, so that your vehicle can continue to run at its optimal level. But what happens when you have run yourself ragged and have not found ways to “refuel”? We all know that no matter how hard we try, we cannot keep going if that gas light is on for too long. Eventually, your car will stop…hopefully near a gas station. But here’s another thing. I’m not a mechanic, but I have heard that if you drive your car and don’t keep up with maintainance–running out of gas on a regular basis, not changing the oil, rotating tires, etc–then you will most certainly have some bigger, more expensive, problems on your hands. At the very least, the life of your car will be greatly diminished. Do you see the parallel here? If you don’t do things to regularly maintain this “vehicle” that we’ve been given, then you yourself are responsible for diminishing the life of this vehicle! That’s a big responsibility. But the truth is, it’s not that hard to maintain. Feed it well…every now and again, fill it with a higher octane. Rest. Get to know your own body. Listen to it. When your body gives you signs that you need a break, take it! After all, you don’t go from full to empty that quickly. Pay attention. Learn to recognize when your body is giving you signs. For example, last night my son said, “I feel weird. I feel almost…empty.” I complimented him on recognizing that feeling and asked if he would like an energy treatment. He said yes because, if nothing else, my kids recognize the value of refilling when they are feeling low. When I was giving him energy, I saw that he was completely in balance (that will have to be a future post), but that he was very depleted throughout. In other words, his gas tank was on empty. I filled him back up and this morning he came downstairs feeling back to normal/full.

So you might ask, what if I don’t know someone who can give me energy? My answer? Well, it’s kind of mixed. I do believe that you can do things to fill yourself back up. Rest, spend time out in nature, find time to do the things that you love…that fill your heart, meditate (or deep, focused prayer), listen to your favorite music, have a good meal that has plenty of “live foods” (this is fruits and vegetables…things that grow from the earth). Slowly, these things will help fill you back up. If you are already full, then these are the things that will keep you full! These are your natural ways to maintain your vehicle. If you feel so low that you don’t feel much relief from trying the above, then seek out someone who can give you energy. Get a massage, acupuncture, yoga…do something to get things unblocked and moving again. There are many avenues and methods to attain your optimal level. Try some out and then go with what feels best and works for you personally.

And remember, if energy work interests you, but you don’t know where to start, you can always come back here and set up a distance appointment with me (if you aren’t local). I would love to help!

As for me, tonight I am trying something new. I just signed up for a Sound Healing Meditation class and I am excited to experience something that I haven’t done before. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Health, Spirituality

Healing with Flowers?

Healing with Flowers?

Disease is solely and purely corrective; it is neither vindictive nor cruel, but it is the means adopted by our own souls to point out to us our faults, to prevent our making greater errors, to hinder us from doing more harm, and to bring us back to the path of Truth and Light from which we should never have strayed.

-Edward Back in his Collected Writings

Recently I have begun to dive into the world of Bach Flower Remedies with a passion. If I could buy all 38 of them and try them out on my own at different times (or with volunteers), I would. Wait, I suppose I could do that but don’t currently have the extra money falling out of my pockets…some day.

Anyway, after reading Vinton McCabe’s The Healing Bouquet: Exploring Bach Flower Remedies, I identified a few remedies that I myself might benefit from taking. Here’s the thing about healing your life (whether from disease or old thought patterns, whatever), it can be really hard! I will be the first to admit that it’s ridiculously difficult to look at yourself and focus on your shortcomings or character “flaws”, but over the last several years I have also become very aware that if you want to move forward with health and joy, this is exactly what you need to do! Uhg to exploring and dissecting yourself. So much easier to do with others 😉

So there’s a part in this book–I will paraphrase as I have no idea where to find it off the top of my head–where it talks about how difficult it can be to see these negative characteristics in ourselves. He says that our answers often lie in our biggest pet peeves. Nooooooo!!!! Yes. So what drives me crazy? When people that I love don’t see themselves for the amazing, beautiful, capable beings that they are. When they lack self-confidence in everyday life and especially regarding things that I (and probably everyone else around them) can see that they are amazing at doing. It really bothers me. Hmmmm.

larch

Sooooo…that being said, I started taking Larch (pictured above–follow the link to see other beautiful photos of flowers and pottery creations). Dr. Bach says that this remedy is “for those who do not consider themselves as good or capable as those around them, who expect failure, who feel that they will never be a success, and so do not venture or make a strong enough attempt to succeed.”

Eek. Could that be me? Yes. Sadly, it could. I will spare you the uneventful, very simple reason that I have had self-confidence issues all my life and just admit it. This is true. This is me. This book helped me realize it and about the same time that I was reading this book, I was looking online one day and found some really great energy workers who were offering meditation classes, etc. As I looked at the bio page, I saw that they had been doing this for 3 years. 3 years! And already they started a website offering energy and meditation workshops, etc. And it hit me. I have been doing energy and meditating for nearly 13 years and have been off medicines for my RA and have had no problems with it since…never once did it occur to me that I was capable or qualified to teach. Crazy right?!

I started taking the Larch about 2 weeks ago. Since then, I have offered and hosted/taught my first beginning meditation class out of my house. It was only a handful of people that I feel comfortable with, but it went really well! Surprisingly well I would say. And the best part about it is that they asked for more. So we are continuing this class every other week and I look forward to watching as each of my friends begins to find more peace in their everyday lives. More quiet to reflect. And hopefully the calm to begin to hear that inner voice, that whisper, that we so often miss.

Healing with flowers Dr. Bach? I’m starting to think he might have been onto something…

Health, Spirituality

How I Really Look

howireallylook

Soooo, I saw this on facebook yesterday and just couldn’t help myself (for several reasons)! So funny! But really, does anyone else ever feel like this? What’s really funny is that just after re-sharing this on FB, I turned to wordpress to read and be inspired and what do I find? This little beauty http://goss-coaching.com/2012/12/06/love-your-body-to-get-the-body-you-love/

So, this morning I am going to put my ET feelings aside and reread (probably several times) the post by Goss Coaching and do a little soul-searching. Cheers!

Health, Spirituality

Pushing the Pull Door

Over the past month, I have taken a brief hiatus from writing my blog. I have been concentrating on my other job(s) and have been continuing to do distance energy sessions.

While working with several people, there is one message that continues to come up. Changing your life, healing your life, is absolutely doable but it takes work. 12 years ago as I was beginning my journey toward healing, I often complained that this journey was “really hard!” At the time, my friend would look at me and tell me that it’s not hard…you just have to make up your mind and do it. Easy. I would then beat myself up for making the process so unnecessarily difficult.

Here’s what I have since realized. It was hard. At the time, I had spent the majority of my life (20+ years) living with arthritis. There is so much mentally and emotionally weaved into having a chronic disease. Add to this the fact that, as I was diagnosed when I was 3, this was all I had ever known! It had become a part of my identity. So yes, it was hard. It was hard to unravel this strand from within the bundle that had become “me”.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know that I was on the path to healing this part of me, but that I had to constantly remind myself. I had to dig deep into the why of my pains, etc. and work through them both physically and emotionally each time I felt them…and in the beginning, I won’t lie, that was a lot. But eventually, it became easier. I realized that my spirit was trying to get me to notice things (thoughts or “misthoughts”) by sending me messages. Pains, stiffness, or swelling were ways to get my attention. The beauty of it was that once I got the “message” and made a shift in my thoughts or actions, the pain would go away.

This is where the hard work was. It is not enough to hear the message and to get it, intellectually. The only way to change your life is by starting to do or think things differently. I was watching “New Girl” last night (love this show!) and I was laughing at a part where the one “grumpy old man” kind of roommate, Nick, was trying push open a door that said “PULL” on it. He was getting angrier and angrier, but refused to PULL the door! It was extremely humorous to watch, but how many of you have experienced this in your life? Not necessarily with a door (hopefully), but with something that wasn’t going well for you? My good friend and mentor, Teri, used to say “how’s that working for you?” I heard that a lot, but eventually, I was able to recognize when something that I was doing was not producing the result that I desired. The shift comes in recognizing this and not beating yourself up for spending 3 months pushing on a door that said pull, but in trying something different. Changing your action. Changing your thought. If it’s still not bringing about the desired outcome, change again.

So yes, it’s work. Sometimes you have to retrain your brain and that takes time. The beauty of it is that it’s doable AND it gets easier. I promise.

Health, Spirituality

Mountains Out of Molehills

  As most of you know, when I was 3 years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In my mid-20’s, I experienced the worst relapse that I can recall. The pain was excruciating and got to the point where I could barely walk. I was embarrassed; I was in pain; I was facing a mountain that I saw no way to get over. It was at that point that a friend of mine introduced me to energy work. She was still learning, but the improvement was immediate (literally 20 minutes passed and the swelling in my wrist disappeared!). I was sold. That was the summer of 2000. Since then, I have also had several energy attunements and have continued on a path of health and spirituality beyond what I had ever dreamed possible.

I am not saying that this path was always easy. I am not saying that I haven’t had moments where I questioned everything. Don’t we all? What I’m saying is that, by the grace of God, I have been given this awesome gift. One where I can connect with my spirit and gain perspective at times when I need it most. Back in 2006, when I was pregnant with my 2nd child, I began getting some physical symptoms. Small pains, a little swelling, etc. My initial response was to go back to that place of fear…what if this was just a really long remission? My mind started swirling and I allowed fear to gain control as the symptoms continued. It was at that point that I began to pray for the fear to be lifted. I began sitting in meditation again (something that I had allowed to move to the back-burner as I focused my attention and energy on my family) until one day while I was sitting in meditation, I started picturing myself walking down this beautiful forest path. The plants and trees around me were a rich shade of green and as I looked up I saw the sunlight shimmering through the top of the trees. It was amazing…truly God’s work. As I walked down this soft dirt path, I came across a stone. I looked at the stone and soon all I could see was this annoying rock (now growing) in my path. I no longer was able to see all the beauty that was around me. My anger (which is just a result of fear) clouded all beauty and light. At that point,  I got this message:

If you hit a rock in the road, you don’t become the rock. You step over it or sometimes even stumble, but you never become it. In this sense, your troubles/ailments/experiences are not you, but rather a part of the journey that you are on.

Now if you ever have experienced one of those true “ah-ha” moments in life, you will understand what happened next. It was as if the clouds had been lifted! I realized that I had begun to put so much energy toward this small pain (which turned out to be just a little reminder about trying to hold on to control over situations that I had no business trying to control), that I had given it a power all of its own. I had focused so much on that pain (and as a result let fear creep back in), that it was starting to block out the light! It wasn’t until I received that message that I was able to gain clarity. I watched as the boulder started to shrink back down into the pebble that it began as and once again I returned to the beautiful path. The pain began to subside. By morning, it was gone. What a beautiful reminder! I hate that I had to get to that point to receive this message, but I am continuously grateful for it. Over the years, I have been reminded of this message many times. Sometimes for myself, sometimes for others. But the truth of it is universal. Don’t make mountains out of molehills 🙂 Let love light your way and see the rock for what it really is: just a rock.

Health, Spirituality

Day 3: Physical Healing

There is a lot to be said for waking up at the crack of dawn. For me, it’s mostly that I don’t want to do it. But apparently these days, that’s not up to me. Let go and let God. For the most part I do that fairly graciously (I think). So today, when I woke at 5:30am and tried rather unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, I decided to get up and take advantage of this quiet time in our house. I came downstairs, made some coffee and walked straight into my “zen den” (what my 5 year old daughter calls it) to raise my energy, meditate, and possibly free write. As I began to do this, all I could see was the face of the son of one of my friends. Yesterday, I finally opened up to an old friend about my journey to healing…specifically in regards to energy work. I have known her for years and really like her, but until this past week, I have had trouble publicly owning this part of who I am. I’m not saying that I am now shouting from the mountain tops “I’m an energy healer!!”, but I am paying attention to those cues and opening up when the opportunity arises. Baby steps. So, with her permission, I began to work on her son (long-distance of course…I didn’t wake him up to come over). As I was working on him, I heard something that I had prior knowledge of, but for some reason it was such an eye opener this morning. Since writing my first post and laying out my timeline for physical healing, I have had this thought in the back of my head. Why was my physical healing so rapid? I have met so many that suffer, that are on the path, do energy work, but still don’t experience the same level of healing that I have. What I came to is this (and I believe that I needed to do this energy session on this boy before I was able to write about it): our cells renew themselves. They are doing this constantly. The beauty of this is that it offers us opportunities for complete healing on a regular basis. Some cells take longer to renew. Some diseases (for some reason cancer seems to throw a wrench in so many things) make this process a little more difficult. For the most part, however, this healing is physically possible. Here’s where the tricky part comes in. A friend of mine recently told me that “if the symptoms go untreated for too long, they become a part of your personality.” She was specifically referring to bi-polar disorder, but what she said certainly went deeper than that. Isn’t this the case with so many diseases? If you live with chronic pain long enough, you begin to identify with it so strongly that it nearly becomes who you are. How you identify yourself. I believe that the reason my physical healing was so rapid was because, on some level (though I will admit that that level was very buried at times), I always knew that it was possible to be free of this disease. It hadn’t swallowed me whole despite the fact that I had lived with it daily for 22 years. It was never who I was–though it threatened to become that at times–but rather a part of who I was. For this, I am thankful.

So here’s the challenge. If you are suffering from an illness, a disease, or chronic pain, make a conscious effort today to really and truly feel healthy again. Remember that this is not who you are, but merely a part. If it helps you to think about the fact that our cells are constantly renewing, then do that…often. And here’s the kicker. If you slip back into your old pattern of thinking, forgive yourself and then start over again. This is just the beginning. The emotional work is what takes the longest because we insist on letting our heads get in the way. So for today, for the next week, or month, work on the physical. I promise it will get easier.

Wishing you health, joy and complete healing.