The Battle With Autoimmune Disease

The Battle With Autoimmune Disease

It was just two years ago, when I decided that I was done having an autoimmune disease. Without digging too deep into history, I had been sick for a long time. A really long time. When I met my husband (at age 21), I had a decade of doctors visits and hospital stays under my belt; I was taking a powerful drug to keep my seizures under control; and I readily shared about my dis-ease. I shared because in order to do life with me, you would have to also do life with it.

Fast forward through learning that I had lumps in both breasts in 2008 and then living through one of the worst autoimmune crash/flares of my adult life in 2011 and, we were absolutely doing life with it. Life was a delicate dance of “living” to the max and then going days and days with an exhaustion so deep that I thought that I might die. Literally. Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it is taxing to feel like a burden. I know this firsthand. And because I didn’t want others to know how much of life felt like a challenge to me, there was a constant chatter in my head of “I can go without this much sleep until…” and “I can have this much sugar today, but…” and “I can go out for at least…” Perhaps, dot dot dot.

By 2015, I had spent more time crawling through motherhood than experiencing it. So, I claimed change. I claimed laying it all at the Lord’s feet thanks to Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I couldn’t quite imagine this easy yoke or less-burdensome existence that Jesus spoke of, but I was willing to search for it. These are my tips from that adventure:

  1. Ditch the label. When I picked up my bible and found Matthew 11:28-30, I wasn’t picking up the cross too. Jesus died to make us whole. Did you hear that? You Are Whole. You are not your disease. You actually aren’t any of the labels society throws at you – but especially this. You do not have a cross to carry (Jesus carried it already), and your disease does not define you. Unless you allow it to. Which brings me to my next tip…
  2. Pick up a micro-habit. Find something attainable and do it every single day. Your habits do define you. They build you up into the person that God wants you to be! You can only become this best version of you in two ways: 1. by slowing moving in the direction of who you want to become and 2. by beginning with the end in mind. Slow movement is easy to make into consistent movement. Goals make movement almost effortless. Example: Every teacher and holistic doctor that I’ve seen over the last two decades has reminded me that while rest is necessary with the disease that I do battle with, I must still exercise in whatever capacity my body allows – even a 2-5 minute walk each day counts. My goal this year? Exercise daily. My micro habit? 10 push ups a day (…keep the doctors away… is my 2017 motto). And guess what? Most days, I throw in some yoga, a plank, or some sit ups. And when I feel really good? I hit the elliptical machine. An object in motion stays in motion. Period. If you know nothing else about our Lord, know that His goal for you is to be blessed by the body that you’re in. For some of us, it’s recognizing that complete healing is an option (and then choosing micro-habits to move toward that). And for others, it’s seeing the good in what we – in our humanness – often want to label as bad or ugly. Whether you’re on either side of that path (healing or thriving with disease), it’s time to hit up my final tip…
  3. Get into gratitude. One of my favorite references to “praising through hardship” is in the bible. While many of us understand the power of a positive mindset, there is nothing that can mend a broken soul more permanently than belief in something or someone greater than yourself. I want you to know that wherever you’re at, Job most likely had it worse. But because of his faith, he was able to go through the agony of scraping itchy sores all over his body with a clay pot, yet still find goodness His perspective took into account that in his lifetime, he had experienced lots and lots of blessings from the hands of the Lord. And guess what – after his hardship, there were also lots and lots of blessings! Even during Dengue Fever (exacerbated by my autoimmune disease), I could praise through. Did I ask God to take me away? Absolutely! I’m human – and the worst pain of my entire life accompanied the mosquito-borne viral infection. But there were moments that I could see Papa’s great hand on my life (like the fact that during the illness, my husband was already a stay at home dad and could take care of our young kids). Back to Job. Read it. For real! I don’t care if you don’t have a believing bone in your body (okay, actually I do – because I love you, but still), grab The Message version of the bible and read this. If you don’t enjoy reading, watch this sermon. Then praise through with me.

My greatest prayer is that in reading this today, these tips will help you. Some of us heal from disease and others of us walk through it for a lifetime. If you’re on the latter end, know that you aren’t walking it alone. I am with you, and far greater than that God is with you. There are ways to go this path without the yoke and the burden. And all of them go back to a relationship with Him. If you’d like to learn more, contact me. I would be happy to partner with you as you grow in your wellness and faith, because truly, they go hand-in-hand.

So Many Blessings,

xox Mama J.

Premature Labor & Bliss: How A Healthy Baby Changed My Life

Premature Labor & Bliss: How A Healthy Baby Changed My Life

To my precious Wild,

I love you. Happy fourth anniversary of our first big hurdle together. I know we’ll have many, many more challenges because of the way your precious body works. I also know we’ll have many, many more wins because of the unshakeable faith that I have in our Heavenly Father.

To my friends,

Today I want to share a snippit of our adventure with Bliss. And how it was absolutely wild from the get go!

Four years ago today I was 32 weeks and 1 day pregnant with my second miracle baby. On March 13, 2013 I found myself sitting in a room full of health care providers and experts in maternal well-being. The theme of our time together? Preventing and supporting maternal mental health for those experiencing premature birth (and birth loss). I left that conference with a strange tightness in my chest. It was the same tightness that I felt while carrying my son… but I can only recognize that years later. In that moment, I just didn’t feel “right.”

I returned to my office, and sat down at my desk. After a few minutes, I asked a colleague if she would bring me to the hospital. Was it a heart attack?

I don’t remember much about the 24-48 hours that followed (I think that’s a protective boundary my sweet mind has gifted me), but I do remember two things: 1. the moment that my blood pressure crashed due to a medication meant to stop my contractions (No heart attack here! Just preterm labor. Again.), and 2. when I heard the words BED REST.

Millions and millions of women have no idea what it’s like to be on bedrest twice. But thousands of us do. Is it worth it for a healthy baby? YES. Is it pure torture while you’re on that particular path? Oh, friend. You can’t even imagine.

There I was, a mother with severe perinatal anxiety being put on modified bedrest (at home, Praise Jesus!) for 22 hours a day, every day. A mother still recovering from postpartum depression who now had limited contact with her two-year old son – let alone any other human being for weeks and weeks on end. (The second half was a product of living in the sticks back then.)

I will never, ever complain about those five long, medicated, darkest of dark weeks where I wept every day and pretended to be fine. Those weeks gave me a beautiful child of full health born on (wait for it…) her DUE DATE. We both proved our fight. (Thank you Bliss for teaching me how to be bold and brave then, just as you do now.)

My friend, the story doesn’t end with a healthy baby. It begins there. I’m reflecting on that right now because so very many women don’t experience this gift. Nothing can prepare you for all the feelings you learn about as you hold your first healthy baby. Nothing can prepare you for the joy you’ll experience. And nothing can prepare you for the longing and sadness that might rise up, too. When I gave birth to this baby, I realized how very disconnected I had been from my first…

Regrets? I have none. But I do have so much empathy for the woman I was. The woman who didn’t know what motherhood could be – who had no idea that she could fall madly in love with a child at first sight. Oh, how I fell in love with my Bliss at first sight!

In our short time together, Bliss has taught me gratitude. She has taught me big, scary love. She has taught me patience and kindness and loving-awareness and simplicity and balance. Bliss has taught me connection and reconnection and bravery and that it’s okay to not text back right away (life doesn’t stop) and that you can actually give birth to one of your very best friends… And we’ve only been together 4 years.

It feels simultaneously absurd and authentic to write this… but I can’t wait for the next four and the next four and the next forty. A mother’s job isn’t to raise her young and walk away – but to counsel the next generation in her wisdom as she grows old. This season is just the beginning of something beautiful. Today, I get to walk alongside moms who have experienced chunks of life that have look like my chunks. But there will come a tomorrow when I will get to walk alongside my Bliss, teach her what she has unknowingly taught me.

xox

Mama J.

 

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” -Proverbs 31:26-31

Seek Not – Why I Gave Up Control

Dear Wild,

Seek not control, for it won’t be given.

Seek not, sweet baby girl. It’s one of the only things that I can truly say that I have learned in mothering a sensory child (you). After what felt like (or actually was) over six weeks with few breaks from the wildness, we’ve hit our longest streak of calm in the last two years. (If you consider bite wounds on your brother’s nose calm. And after many of our other adventures, I certainly do.) This calm will potentially be disrupted by the multi-sensory, emotional experience of being reunited with family in a few short days – but alas, we have seen you my wild child. We have seen you. The you that lies far beneath the squirming and anxiety attacks and sensory meltdowns and obsessive compulsive cleaning and tidying tendancies. And you are beautiful, Wild.

Let me clear the air and tell you mother to daughter that you have always been beautiful. The rolling over within 24 hours of birth? Beautiful. The wide eyed (insane-looking) smiles you gave at just three weeks old? Beautiful. The 24/7 demand to nurse for 10 months? Beautiful. The asphalt-stained face after your first public meltdown? Beautiful. The way you scream with excitement? Beautiful. The confused and dazed look that overcomes your sweet face on a challenging day? Beautiful. You are always beautiful.

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There is nothing like watching your child thrive in a social experience. You absolutely amazing me, Wild. Your fight to be the best version of you continues to push me to be the best version of me!

Do you know what else is beautiful?

Handing over the reigns. Letting go of what you can’t control. I’ve been in awe this past week of who you are and who you are becoming. Yet, these last few days I’ve been waiting in fear – forgetting to breathe – because barring a miracle, this will not last. Oh, but imagine if it did?! I have to remind myself to hope for it, still. That while we treat you and work to prevent challenges, I can still pray for your complete recovery. And I can still know that God is God and that if it’s not his plan, then that’s okay too.

Motherhood is one of the few places where I’ve ever felt so in control, yet so out of it. Wild, I’ve been gifted you and your brother and I have worked so very hard to be a better version of me – for you. A place where I felt in control. Yet, without God’s great hand that lifted me out of a troubled stretch with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders combined with an epic autoimmune crash, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Seek not control, sweet girl, seek not… for it won’t be given. And it’s truly not worth your time. What is worth your time? Enjoying seven mostly-awesome days with a child that you wanted more than anything else in this entire world.

Until my fingers meet these keys again, you are the most precious gift little one.

Love,
Mama J.

 

Turnip Pasta

Dear Mild,

I’m supposed to be working on a new project to be released next month, but felt compelled to rock life The Mild Way – without limitations or time constraints, and with ease. I can’t say that you’re always an easeful child, but your perspective… oh sweet boy, your perspective is often easy and, come to think of it, light.

Praise God that you are resilient, because we both know that living with a sensory spectrum wild child little sister can be a hard experience to praise through. Though baby boy, we prayed through for sure!

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Like turnips, praising through is an acquired taste. Fortunately, we have many, many teachable moments where turnips and praising through can be experimented with – and better yet – experienced. Especially, when you live on the wild side.

My son, I’m pausing today for an ah-ha moment. One I want to share with you, after seeing you praise through it all – the work and the play. The therapy sessions with your wild sister. The incredible gift of raising baby bunnies. So, here’s what I found myself stopping for:

Sweetness, in watching you, I have found is that there is a difference between praising through and praying through. Praising through means you’re eating up those Turnip Spirals and giving thanks for them and their provision and their provider and their nourishment – even if you don’t particularly enjoy the taste or texture. While praying through might mean that you’re asking Big Papa to take the wheel, possibly to avoid an experience or perhaps even to heal it (even if that isn’t in His will).

Praying through is good. Our prayers are important and God surely takes notice, whether or not it’s in His plans to change the course. But our prayers can sometimes miss out on an incredible experience: praising through the storm. I call it the truest healing space. To praise through pain is a battle I didn’t even put on the map recently.

But I am now.

Anyhow, since starting Kindergarten, you are filled to the brim with sheer enthusiasm over pretty much everything again – from coloring for hours to classic television shows (cue I Love Lucy as the highlight for an entire Sunday morning) to playing sports. Your world is how I want mine to be: passionate and sure. Even at the end of a wild day, you find things to give thanks for. Your trust is awe-inspiring.

YOU are awe inspiring. Example: Just the other day, we noticed that our bunny was falling asleep as you pet him. Your response, “Oh, I get it! He must have sensory processing disorder!” It’s funny that I didn’t even think of the impact her therapies have on how you look at the world! This path is making you someone it otherwise would not, sweetheart. And I love the person you’re turning out to be. A place for praise in the storm.

Now, let’s chat those Turnip Spiral’s you loved so much!

All My Love,

Mama J.

Turnip Spirals (Pasta)

  • 2 organic turnips, peeled
  • choice of organic cooking fat
  • garlic
  • basil
  • sea salt

Mama Friends, If you don’t have one, buy a spiralizer (here’s mine on Amazon)! Grab those turnips and turn them into medium or thin noodles in under 5 minutes. While grinding away, add 2-3 tablespoons of your choice fat. I love using duck fat for these! I highly recommend finding a local source so that you can always have some on hand. If you’re an autoimmune-paleo-approach mom, fats are a huge key to your success – and a staple in your house. Veggie mama’s can use coconut oil and produce the same results!

Add spices about halfway through. If you’re using fresh garlic you can saute it in the pan before adding the noodles. Saute your noodles in the pan until they become mostly transparent and slightly browned. (You’ll see what I mean.) Remove from heat, and eat!

I hope you enjoy!

 

I’m Not Doing the Dishes and Mama, Neither Should You

Dear Husband,

I keep imagining that one day, I will wake up and be like you. Stable. You can have a “full” day and not have a physical-emotional-intellectual set back that rocks you to the core of your soul. You can look at a pile of dishes and not worry that if you spend extra time cleaning them today, you might not have the energy to exercise later. And really, it’s the exercise that makes you (me) come back to life. The dishes… well, they’re dishes. And perhaps, just maybe, if they had a pattern it might stir my soul a little more than it does today. But as of 0900 on the first day of fall 2016, dishes do not stir my soul. But, hitting the mat does.

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I am thankful for a good, good Father who shows us through his actions that we are all good enough. Even though sometimes my good enough doesn’t feel good enough.

So, I want to apologize in advance – to my rock, and my more stable half – that the dishes can peace out. Just like the laundry did. I’ll get to it when I can get to it. But my mat, honey… I promise you, I will make room for that. Because then I’m a better version of me for you and for our mild and wild babies. I am worthy of self care. I am so worthy of it.

If there’s another mama out there reading this – so are you.

{insert picture of me rolling out my mat with a big, huge, happy smile}

Peace & Love,

Your Wifey

 

The 27 Day Crash

For those of you who are new to my blog, my take is that everything in life is a conversation. Some of those conversations we’ll have face to face, and some will be played out through pen and paper and clicking keys – because it’s just too hard to have this talk any other way.

Dear Mama,

You may be well or unwell or stable or… wait, are any of us really stable? Anyway, we need to be real with each other. I’ll start: There were 9 glorious months of well. And then an epic crash. Epic. As in, I put on my war gear and went into battle for 27 days. You can learn a lot in that amount of time. And by day 25, I was ready to visit my therapist… I needed to talk it out. Fortunate or unfortunate, I forgot that I needed to talk it out and life looked bleak on day 26 and 27. But there would be light (dear friend, there is always light).

After the 27 day crash of 2016 – I’ve found myself back where I started. On my knees. Chronic fatigue is real. And I spend hours of each month (because I usually have 1-2 challenging days each month), researching the why. I feel fortunate to not be Job, yet in these moments I “get” why I feel so compelled to use his story (The Book of Job) for the book I’ve started to write. I might even add some of this to my book. If you are living or have lived in the state of unwell or well, I’m going to remind you that BOTH are impermanent. I heard it ever so clearly as I prayer-walked this morning. Don’t grow roots here. With Chronic Fatigue, with postpartum depression or anxiety, with ANY pain story, you don’t just recover from it. But you aren’t allowed to wade in the mud forever either.

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My sweet mama friend. I encourage you to live your life to the maximum amount of “stable” you can, and then you give yourself grace for being human. You are human. So am I. Praise God for that, my dear. I don’t want that kind of responsibility – and I doubt you do either!

If you haven’t Chronic Fatigued, then I’m going to break this down for you. I wrote this recently on my personal facebook page, where I live out some advocacy on “atypical motherhood” with like hearts…

Most folks assume chronic fatigue means you’re just tired. When reading or responding to a text message from someone you ADORE feels exhausting, there’s something wrong. I’m not just tired. Physiologically, my systems don’t keep up with normal life. Most likely they’re fighting an invisible long gone virus. The worst fights are when a real virus or infection comes along though. It’s all out war. The World Health Organization has considered that CF should be renamed SEID: systemic exertion intolerance disease. Link those words together and you’ll get a glimpse into my world. My systems (all of them) get overused in any way, and I will crash. My body and mind will become uncomfortably slow. Read that again! I’m not slow. I am actually absurdly smart. A geek if you must!! But our conversations probably won’t be remembered or make sense when I’m in a crash. Sometimes I even slur my words. And my emotions? It’s not a good place.

I’ll end here. Sometimes, I’m not in a good place, but STILL God. Is. Good. And so is THIS adventure. It’s one where I get to learn from suffering and pain, and share what I’ve learned. I get to sit with others who have been on the pain path and I still get to experience long time periods of being pain free. I get to move with others who want to work it all out. (So thankful for the gift of movement – especially after 27 days of 5 minutes here and there.)

Ask me anything. You shouldn’t go this alone. We don’t have to go this alone. Bend; breathe; and let your soul be restored.

“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Job 36:15 NIV

Love,
Mama J.

How To Get Everything Done

Dear Wild,

Someday, you might just have a business of your own. Or maybe for reasons other than changing lives or paying the bills,  you will crave “getting all the things done,” but there will come a day or many days that it seems impossible. Let me advise you today, that business ownership is for everyone (especially the attention-shy wild one and the mama who feels so very hopeless about her world) and that you can get all the things done.

But not all in the same day.

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This is a picture of my wild, naked, knife-wielding sensory processing miracles and self care all in one. Sometimes on really incredible days, I can actually combine two of my priorities – and everybody wins. Refuse to go to bed feeling like a failure. Because you aren’t.

 

Just a few weeks ago, I was blessed to sit in a room full of business leaders and pastors. Me. A stay at home, work at home, leggings-as-pants-wearing mama bear. And, while I missed you every single moment my sweet and exhausting child, I was given fruits for my labors times ten. The fruit for working hard these last two years – with you – was listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes talk about balance.

Wild, we’ve been fooling ourselves! We can get all the things done. Just not all in the same day. Something is going to slide each day, as Jakes put it. “Just don’t let it be the same thing two days in a row.” Boom. That was GOLD. So, let me think out loud for a moment here. This means that…

  • if today we only read one book, mama can make it up and read you five tomorrow
  • you watch an extra show today so that I can pay the bills (aka work next to you) we can go television-free tomorrow
  • we eat organic, vegan, gluten free ice cream for dinner tonight – I can make a fabulous paleoish, green-filled dish for us all to enjoy on Saturday night

and I can do all the things and do it guilt-free. (If you’re a mama reading this right now, I beg of you to do life guilt-free with me!)

What Bishop Jakes did not touch upon is the essential foundation for BAU, or business as usual, is… (wait for it) priorities. There are priorities and necessities and wants that make you the best version of yourself. Today, I want you to ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. What is a daily priority? For me, It’s God, my family, and my well-being. The first one is always first; the second two are interchangeable in order depending upon the day.
  2. What helps me focus on my priorities first? I call this my oxygen tank. What is filling me up so that I can focus? I am the mother of a sensory processing child; a seeker; a child that has anxiety and OCD – and quite honestly, I’ve never been quite so great at focusing either. My go-to’s include: a good cup of tea; great jams (usually worship music), comfy and cute clothes (I really, really hope to go the sustainable route super soon… I’ll share when it comes); patience; presence; and an easily accessible source of dark chocolate. For real, the chocolate needs to be like Right. There.
  3. What do I feel guilty about? Can I let it go, and sing “There’s always tomorrow” with Ms. Annie herself? If not, should this be added to my daily Top Three priority list? I (somehow) am walking around with so little guilt right now, I don’t have an example for this one. But one that I did have guilt over was having a nanny four years ago when I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t walk because I didn’t take care of myself. And that was all on me. So, I changed it. My well-being is a Top Three priority. And it will stay that way.

I’m going to end here, sweet wild baby – and friends who will someday have names attached to likes – with a verse to reflect on. Trust that you’re choosing right, because of who you are trusting in. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

Love,
Mama J.

Impact, Part II

So what’s next? How do I teach you the simplicity of choice versus chance in a world driven by a wait-and-see-approach? Our thoughts, become our actions, become our world. And this world is a place that we have the opportunity to make an impact in. Unless there are excuses. But we aren’t making excuses. Not us. Not the resilient child who fought a virus that wreaked havoc on his tiny body, bearing unfathomable pain at only 11 weeks old. And not the strong mother who has fought physical, emotional, and generational pain from her own childhood two plus decades ago. We are made for impact…

Dear Mild,

But I’m not making it. I have been hovering in the raw, emotional pain of being a burden for seven long days (again). When my immune system takes over (and attacks herself) sweet boy – it’s like you lose your mama. Actually, you do lose her. I have been a ghost around our house – tidying up here and there – and then retreating to the couch; folding some laundry and then taking a rest; laying down upon my yoga mat and then serving another meal. A ghost without a smile.

When my body is this tired, sweetheart, I don’t know how to live with the wildness and joy and abandon that always emanates from my soul. It’s like my soul is starved – so very weak. In these times, I sink back into that deep dark hole of a time just one year ago… a time during which unwell had lasted for over 12 months, and from which a tattoo sprung forth – my arm artfully inscribed with “run with your burdens” (plus a semicolon). I don’t know how to feel alive during these spaces (insert sharp in-breath taken from sudden realization here) because I don’t pray in these places.

Ouch. I don’t pray for myself. Somewhere deep, underneath it all, I don’t find my needs worthy of prayer. And, what has been rattling me is that I truly don’t know why. (Yes, I’ll figure that out.) I also don’t know if I can get much more vulnerable than this, my mild child. (Pssst, if you haven’t noticed – my letters to you are public. Yup. I guess that I must imagine someone else might benefit from watching us grow. I hope it’s true.)

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Our first professional family photo shoot last fall. I had Dengue at the time, and didn’t know it. A few weeks later, I would get the tattoo I mentioned. The tattoo that meant I wouldn’t give up. Let’s not give up. Miracles come from madness.

 

Anyhow, I went to the Global Leadership Summit last week. (Honey, I am bringing you there when you are old enough to see and hear it all!) During it, I was reminded of Impact. I was reminded that I put out a call-to-action that together, we would own life. Again, here I am not owning it… barely able to recall the last few days and falling into the enemy’s trap of doubt and distraction from what is at stake.

Impact.

We are made for impact.

Tonight, I answer the question I posed last month (how will we make it?) with this: WE will make it. We will make it together, not just as human being hand-in-hand, which is already how we roll… but with a bigger Togetherness, in which God is at the center. We can’t go this alone. And after the last few days, I finally get why we don’t want to.

Impact.

We will make it, son. God’s not holding out on us, so we can’t be holding out on him.

I’m interested to see how this all evolves. This praying for ourselves “too”. This balancing of humility. I bet that there are miracles just waiting to spring forth when we value ourselves the way that our Maker does. I love you, Mild. And better than that? He loves you. As you are, and as you transform into exactly who He has created you to be.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:13-16

Love,
Mama J.

Priorities

Dear Mama,

Today, I’m writing to the mother who cares for everyone else. I know you. I know you well, because I’ve been you. And in case you’re in the midst of scrubbing endless dishes, and floors, and bottoms… and no one has said this yet to you today, let it be said: You matter. Your wellness matters. And as you’ll hear me say thousands of times going forward on this blog, Well Women Rule The World. Period. You can’t be unwell and live the life that you are meant to live. It’s just not possible! But what is possible is listening to your body, your mind, and your spirit so that you can become the best version of yourself.

Yes, it is possible.

I know this because I lived it and I presently still live it. And to be honest, for the first time in my short and long 31 years, if assessing my personal wellness was a job… y’all, I might just get a raise this year! After countless hours and days – and a counted 10 + weeks – in physical therapy learning everything possible about my 47 percent-able body in 2015, I identify my wellness as a Top Three priority every single day. If you know me just a little bit by now, you know some of this… I have chronic autoimmune disharmonies; I have a special child (my sensory processing disorder miracle) with therapies; I have a second miracle a few years older than Ms. Bliss with sports; I am married; I am a sole income provider and a work-at-home mother; I am beginning to write; I travel often; and I advocate for women in motherhood. And still, I put my being well as a priority. Why? Because none of that gets the attention that it needs, if I don’t get the attention that need.

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My number one priority is my being well, because she needs the best version of her mother – not just some days, but on as many as I can wrangle! It feels good to break the generational chain of self-imposed guilt and lack.

If you have read this far into my post, you are either thinking that 1) I am the master of all trades and have it all figured out, or 2) you have realized that I have nothing figured out – except for Top Three. About a two years ago, I read an article that quoted Jim Collins in saying, “If you have any more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” And it was like a lightening bolt went through my body as those words made their impact, and suddenly, I got it! I have zero priorities when I’m focusing on everything: (cue drum roll… wait for it… wait for it) nothing – yes I said nothing – gets done as intended or as well.

Being a sensory mom, I’m going to now bring us face-to-face, mama. I’m going to put one hand on either cheek, with your permission. And I am going to ask you to look at me. You are in the midst of a battleground, friend. But the battle has truly already been won. You are worthy and you are loved and you are whole. You need to be your number one priority, because you value yourself. You know that others depend on you, and without being the best version of you, you can’t be there for them. Not fully.

This leads me to re-read the words that I have given myself and my son – both chronic quitters when the going gets tough: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7. You are fighting the good fight. You are finishing the race. And the foundation of it all rests on your faith – because you have already taken action.

I’m ending today with a reflection: What action – beyond reading this – do you need to do to make yourself a priority – a Top Three? Is is a support system? Is it quiet time alone?? There have been many tools in my tool box throughout the years: from self-help books to humor; from church to therapists; from journaling to community… yoga classes to personal practice… painting, drawing, retreats… each has played a significant role. Stripped down bare, what will it takes for you to draw out the perfect child within that is hugely, wholly, and unconditionally loved? Find her. Find her because she will make a far greater impact than you ever could.

Coming from someone who has found her, and knows her… whatever lengths it takes, it is worth it.

Love,
still a child, always His child, an imperfectly perfect Mama J.

We’re better together.

 

Beyond the Pain Story

Beyond the Pain Story

Dear Mama,

I am not the controversial type, but please hear me out. Too many mommy blogs and facebook page and twitter account owners out there chatter on and on about their pain, not realizing that 1) what you focus on is what you become, and 2) anything that you share from a space other than love fails to spread love. In my heart, I feel like these posts and articles and tweets and rants aren’t helpful. Not only are vulnerable and possibly broken beautiful souls not claiming greater wellness from reading the content, but additionally they are being dragged into the depths of a sorrow that they aren’t prepared to handle. Is it possible to have PTSD from carrying another’s hurt? I’m no psychologist, but it just might be. Follow pain story “content providers” for long enough, and get captured in the pain story.

I was captured in the pain story. Whether the pain is body, mind, or spirit – the journey feels so very isolating, and talking about it feels inclusive. You’re suddenly a part of something. Does it feel like a village? A tribe of support?? In some ways, it might be. Maybe. But maybe not.

I remember the first time that I typed #spoonie into my instagram search bar, hoping to find others like me who wanted more. Like, really, really, really wanted more. (Because we all know or have been the person that says that they want more but the actions prove otherwise.) My hashtag search results produced thousands of horrific pictures, with commentary below them that truly boggled my mind. Here and there, I would find a woman who had not claimed the pain story and had instead chosen to rewrite it. But there were far too few. And it crushed my soul to read those posts, or scroll through those galleries. So, I stopped.

Then I tried to volunteer for a few different organizations dedicated to a change-movement in women’s wellness. And it was like… ARGH! (Picture woman mentally running in the other direction.) Not only was it like diving into insta-spoonie-land all over again, but so much of their pain stories resonated with me. I have a history of abuse, addiction, poverty, an eating disorder, complicated pregnancy, autoimmune disharmony, and postpartum mood disorders. I’ve been a mess! And every time another pain story popped into my feed, I felt myself reliving history instead of searching for His story in it all. His story is so much more important than mine, than ours.

Chances are, you have experienced a pain or two and that’s why you follow my posts. But let me own something right here and now: I am not going to allow, nor will I ever allow, you to wear my pain. I am sharing from a space of having been healed and of daily re-healing. I stopped looking outside for support, and crept inside – into my relationship with myself and into the most important relationship of all: the relationship that I had (and have grown) with Jesus.

If you’re not a Christian, I hope that you won’t stop reading here.

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I am the girl in pink. I was released from 10 weeks of intensive physical therapy just two weeks before this hi-flying adventure in Cozumel last December.

And this is why… My soul felt weak. I was easily entrapped in pain. Living with a special child as an autoimmune mom… I had tapped out any resources left of my own. I needed fuel and nurture and security and most of all peace. After losing it (“it” being my mind), for what is hopefully the last time on my poor unsuspecting husband, I was one hundred percent sure I could absolutely not do mothering alone spiritually. Don’t do your mothering alone, please. The next best things to Jesus, are a good therapist (I’ve had three), chocolate (try raw and organic because you’ll feel less guilt – because really, do you need more?), and finding a community of vulnerable mom’s that refuse to be pain. Please.

The last few days, I’ve been putting together the blueprint for such a community. And if you pray, y’all – will you do me a favor and lift up the intention and the cause? Raw motherhood doesn’t mean we must always weep together. It means that sometimes we rise to the occasion in the discomfort and practice living through the discomfort, until it either becomes comfortable or joyful – or best yet, an experience to grow others from.

Claim what you want.

Rise.

Own where you are.

Rise.

Empower others to do the same.

Rise.

Please?

All My Love,
Mama J.