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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Spirituality, Uncategorized

Feeling Fishy

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I am overwhelmingly filled with gratitude in this moment. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by the most amazing community of friends. As I pondered this, the image of a school of fish popped into my mind (sea life has been a theme for me today).  I think it’s pretty phenomenal to see them swimming in a huge group–stronger as a whole than an individual. From afar, you see them all swimming together, same speed, same direction, same size, same path. If you look more closely, you’ll see that it isn’t as uniform as it appears. The fish are all slightly different of course, but every now and then, one (or a few) will shift direction and swim another way. One of two things happens, either they all shift and swim with it, or it swims a bit and comes back to the group. It occurred to me that we are very much like this group of fish. We swim together, support each other, make one another feel bigger, braver, stronger…and then, when one of us wants to branch off and swim a little bit on her own, we either follow in the wake gathering strength and courage as we go, or we let her know that we’re right here and that she can come back and join us when she’s ready. What a beautiful thing. Friendship. Fish. 🙂

Health, Spirituality

Sunrise Meditation

Let me start by saying that it is not often that I like to rise with the sun. I’m all over a good sunset, primarily because it is at a decent hour, but to rise with the sun is really hard for me. That being said, on my recent trip to Greece this summer, a friend had mentioned how beautiful the sunrise was in our particular location. She planted a seed and while every ounce of my being wanted to resist getting out of bed that early in the morning, I actually set my alarm for 6am so that I could watch the sun rise one time before I left. As it turns out, I didn’t really need the alarm. I was wide awake that morning at 5:30 am! I walked up to my neighbor’s roof (it’s okay, they are also relatives) and waited…

Within 30 minutes, the horizon had completely changed. These pictures don’t do it justice. I’m not sure anything can replace the sheer beauty of watching a sunrise. At one point, I closed my eyes and felt the warmth and light of the sun cover and soothe my entire body. I opened my heart and visualized the warm light entering through my heart and filling up my entire being. One word: Peace. That is what I felt in that moment. True, blissful peace. If you have an opportunity to rise with the sun, I highly recommend doing it. Do it, enjoy those few minutes, and then take a moment to really soak it up. Close your eyes, feel the warmth penetrate your skin and visualize that powerful light coming straight into your heart space and filling your body.  Sunrise meditation complete. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be an emptying of your mind. Just a moment of focus on something that attracts your attention anyway. Simple.

I thought about rising with the sun more often after that, but it didn’t quite work out for me 😉 However, I did get up about an hour or two after the sunrise each day for a walk around the village.

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The colors weren’t quite as striking, but the sun still was. Each day, I took a moment to just stand and soak in the sun. Guess what? Still blissful. I highly recommend it.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Maria

Spirituality, Uncategorized

Happy 2016!

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Honoring the self. Nurturing the self. This is that time of the year when we begin looking at what we are dissatisfied with–parts of our lives and our bodies–and begin making “resolutions” that are intended to change the things that we don’t like.
What if we were to shift our thinking ever so slightly, and instead make a promise to nurture the parts of us that we do like but that often go neglected because of other priorities or obligations.
If you enjoy running, promise yourself to make more time to run. If you enjoy meditating, carve out 10 minutes (something doable but fulfilling) a day to focus on meditation. If you love art, promise yourself to take a class…do better,  seek it out and book it!
I was recently given the message, “action is required”. Show that you are willing to take the steps and open the doors to all the possibilities!
Happy 2016 to all of you!

Spirituality

“Happy Little Accidents”

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“There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.”
― Bob Ross

This morning, after drinking about 1/4 of my cup of coffee, I realized that it was time to take the kids to school. I poured my coffee into a travel mug and was attempting to put on the lid, when I noticed that it wasn’t going on because the rubber stopper in the lid had come out of place. Worse yet, in my attempts to put on the lid, little black pieces of the stopper had fallen into my coffee. Bummer. I dumped it down the drain, figured that I wasn’t meant to have coffee this morning, and took the kids to school.
When I got home, I decided to boil some water to make some tea instead. The plan was to have a cup of tea and meditate, but I got side-tracked (surprise, surprise!), and began to crochet instead. I heard the tea-pot whistle, got up to go pour it into my cup and that’s when I saw it. On the little paper connected to the tea bag was the word “Connect!”. As you can imagine, I had to laugh at myself for that one. I put down my crochet and sat in my chair. Happy little accident indeed. Had my coffee not gotten messed up this morning, I probably wouldn’t have made tea which means that I would have wasted my morning crocheting instead of meditating (not that crochet is a waste, but you get the picture).
So what it comes down to is this: maybe Bob Ross was onto something. Maybe there are truly no mistakes, just happy accidents. And here we are again circling back to a recurring theme in my life. Perspective and Choice. I could have gotten mad about the coffee. It could have “ruined” my morning. Instead, that little mishap ended up making my morning better. So today, I thank God for ruined coffee 🙂

Health, Spirituality

The Task Tornado

It’s a scary image in and of itself, but imagine this happening within you. I call it (as of this morning) the “task tornado”. We’ve all felt it. We have “a million things” that we have to do and the more we think about it, the bigger the list feels, the tighter our chest gets, and the more overwhelmed we get until…du du du…our list has gone from storm warning to full on tornado! Uhg. How did that happen?

I was given an image this morning as I was talking to a friend. I saw 4 or 5 little dots, aka tasks, spotted around her. Then I was shown how frustration, anger, impatience, feed into and grow these “dots” until they start spinning out of control and become this whirlwind that feels larger than life. It happens to all of us. I currently have a full-page list of “to-do’s” for my day ranging from calling doctors to set up appointments to a whole sublist under the “get ready for my daughter’s birthday party” task. Sadly write blog post was not even on my list! So how do we get out from under the rubble after the tornado has hit?

First, close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Ahhh, better already. Then, begin to pull those tasks apart. Organize them by what must be done today to what can be done this week. I think that it’s very important to recognize the role that impatience plays in all of this. What is impatience really? For me, it’s when I have a timeline that I have placed on those around me. I get frustrated and angry when they don’t finish their task on my schedule. The unfortunate part is twofold: 1- either I have failed to tell them about my timeline OR have failed to tell them about the task (no, thinking it in your head doesn’t count); and 2-sometimes the tornado itself has created the timeline. In other words, sometimes the urgency that you feel in completing the task was actually created in the chaos and not necessarily as urgent as it may have felt. Does that make sense?

Awareness of your tornado is the first step to slowing it down to a manageable level. That being said, I am putting “close eyes and breathe” at the top and adding “write blog post” to my list so that I can cross off 2 tasks already for today 🙂 There’s nothing like seeing a check on my list to give me momentum!

Have a wonderful Monday everyone! Here’s to keeping the tornado warnings to a minimum this week.

Health, Spirituality

Ask and You Shall Receive…

Okay, so that’s just funny. I just typed the title of this post into Google Images, and this was one of the pictures that came up 🙂 Not quite where I was about to go with this post, but okay. Pretty funny.

Now that I’ve got your attention, time to get down to what I really wanted to post about. The stomach bug (sorry Bradley Cooper). That thing has been going through our schools and unfortunately, over the last week, through our children with a vengeance. Today, my friend/neighbor/carpool buddy called to tell me that one of her sons woke up this morning looking grey and saying that his stomach was hurting. Uh-oh. Naturally, I offered to give him an energy treatment to see if we could keep this thing from really sinking in over in  her house. Two kids at our house was bad enough, I can only imagine the war zone it would be if it took hold of her four…I would have to crochet some Lysol holsters for her to strap on…but I digress.

So as I was giving her son energy, I noticed that he was very depleted. I would fill, check and see that he was getting better, but still depleted. I started thinking about how when we are depleted, we are more susceptible to picking up all the yuckies that are floating around us and hanging out on doorknobs, etc and started wondering. Yes, I have this knowledge and yes, I have the ability to keep us all “filled”, but do I really have the time to devote to giving my entire family (and my friends and their families) energy treatments every morning? The answer is no. I really don’t. I would love to, but I can’t. So how do we protect our families from unnecessary illnesses? It was at that point that I asked God to fill all of his energy points. No sooner were the “thought words” out, than I heard, “okay, done.” Really?!?! Ahh, yes. Really. Ask and you shall receive, right? And quickly. I checked him again, and sure enough. Completely full and in balance. Just. Like. That.

I called my friend about 15 minutes later to tell her about what had happened and she said that her son had– the moment before the phone rang–just come down and said he was hungry. Amazing.

I think that sometimes we forget. We forget that we are not in this thing all alone. We forget that it’s not actually all in our control, and thank goodness, not all in our hands. That would be a lot to hold!

So instead of taking a few hours every morning to do energy work on all my family and friends, how about asking for God to take care of them? Keep them healthy and safe and know and trust that it is not such a huge task when I just ask.