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

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

Health, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Body Maintenance…keeping your engine running at its optimal level

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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 🙂

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!

Health, Spirituality

The Elusive Art of Meditation

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing an energy session with a new client when meditating came up. I meant to post about it at the time, but summer life and our family “staycation” gave me the excuses that I needed to just be lazy. However today during a session, the same topic came up again! Funny how that happens.So here’s the thing. I am finding that many people are too afraid to begin meditating because of the fear of doing it “wrong”. What we discovered during that last session was that this particular client (not unlike my own mother) loved to work in her garden. This was her meditation! Her goal for that week was to just sit and be in her garden. To close her eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on her head and to visualize this warmth going down and through her entire body. This could last 30 seconds or 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of meditation. There is no right or wrong way to do it really. There is just what works for you. Finding those moments during your day when you can sit and breathe and feel that sense of peace throughout your body. It’s less about how long you meditate and more about just learning to carve out moments throughout your days/weeks for you to reconnect and find that peace. 

How do you integrate meditation into your daily life? What does it look like for 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.