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.

Living On Purpose

There is a difference, I am finding, between living FOR a purpose and living ON purpose. When you are living for a or your purpose, you can miss out on things. You could end up missing out on everything. But, when you are living on purpose… every action has an intention.

This morning I woke up after another night of battling the burning pain that has almost become normal; and I wasn’t mad or sad or even annoyed. There has been many a time that I wonder autoimmune disharmony keeps me from being the mother that I want to be. The mother who says YES to anything and everything, and isn’t explaining away the reasons why she doesn’t do or eat this and that. This morning, I realized that nothing keeps me from the YES other than me.

I recognize my humanness. I love myself in spite and because of it. I want my children to see that humanness too. But I also want them to know that I live with intention. I live on purpose. I am ALIVE. When I choose to get right out of bed to tend to them, when my body aches for quiet, that is living on purpose. When I choose to take a few hours to myself, so that I can recharge and be ready for those springing-from-the-bed moments, that is living on purpose. When I choose to make a meal that satisfies my cellular needs over my emotional ones, that is living on purpose. When I choose to work my business in ways that keep me from exhaustion, that is living on purpose. (I kind of love that I get to work from my bed, on purpose.) Those are my yesses. I like those yesses, and the ones of similar color.

How do you live on purpose?

Thanks In Advance

I’m going to be as brief as I can be today. It’s cold and windy, and my hands have an arthritic stiffness that only springs up with spring itself. March and April are windy, chilled and damp. None of which this achey-breaky body fairs well with. Which is why we’re moving to Arizona. Soon.

Speaking of the exciting journey ahead, I had a lovely conversation this week that has given both my husband and I peace in such a scattered time. A new friend – though I feel we’ve met before – offered that we might give thanks for our home already being sold. Profound, right? Time is a concept that only us humans, in our humanness, attach ourselves to. Since that conversation, I’ve been offering up thanks for everything I aspire to in the days ahead – with a limit of three “thanks in advance” (TIA) each day. Any more than three priorities and you’ve got none – a wise person once said.

Today, I give thanks for our house already being sold, for my business being wholly supportive to my family and all those who cross my path, and for my family’s happiness and health. I also have to add that I am extremely thankful for the 5 weeks that 1 year ago began today – during which I was on bedrest with the baby now resting on my chest. Happy, healthy babies are always worth the wait. Always.

So, here’s your challenge… What are your three TIA’s?

sharing

Jennifer Magnano is the movement & birth coach and mompreneur owner of Mamoga. She believes in happiness, health, and wealth. Her motto’s in life are “acceptance is bliss” and “we best serve others when we serve ourselves first.” Jennifer is growing simple body bliss (perfect happiness) in women, mother’s, and families across the planet, through holistic acts of self-nurture and products, like that crazy wrap thing. If you’d like to connect, email her today! 

Give Thanks and Bend a Little

The more room that we give ourselves to bend, the less likely we are to break.

‘Tis the season to spread your life-joy and gratitude to all beings. With Thanksgiving just a few hours away, your awareness may be focused upon all that you must do. If only for a brief moment, take the time to focus on all that you must be. Being is at the absolute center of this holiday. On Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims and Native Americans stopped to rest. They took the time to be, to unwind and to share their kindness with those who mattered most.

In focusing on all that you must be, you may find that a list begins to form. I must be the perfect hostess, friend, wife, husband, father or mother. I must be intellectually stimulating with just a dash of ingenuity and humor built in to each conversation. Stop. Step away from the ego. All that you must be this holiday season is present. When you are present, the past and the future fade into the background. You are able to give your full love and attention to the beings you choose to connect with. All beings thrive on such presence.

Meditation Mantra

I am loved, accepting, flexible.

Inhale. Be. Exhale. Connected. (Hands on belly and heart) Inhale. Be. Exhale. Present.

As you give yourself the same love, acceptance, and flexibility that you would your child, or any child for that matter, focus on your present breath. Love that you are human. You are imperfect yet exactly who you are supposed to be at this moment, just the way you are. Accept that no amount of anxiety or forethought will change the outcome of the events that lie ahead. Optimism, purity, bliss, and presence just might. Lastly, be flexible. When a challenge interrupts your joy-ride, embrace the shift. The more room that we give ourselves to bend, the less likely we are to break.

Tip: Share your mantra with your child. State your mantra, and then alter it to include them: You are loved and accepted. Together, we will be flexible.

Reflection: What experience of love, acceptance, and/or flexibility are you thankful for? Who are the beings that you shared this experience with? Share with them your gratitude.  May your bliss be the bliss of all.

Abundant Peace, Happiness, and Many Thanks,

Jennifer

If you are interested in learning more about Yoga or about classes offered by Mamoga Wellness, please visit www.BeKindandUnwind.com.

Pose of the Week: Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall)

If you’re anything like most beings, you are searching for a way to connect. Or reconnect, depending upon your personal path. Part of this process is  ridding your being of the external stressors and alarmist reactions, that can easily cause an endless chain of passivity. A proactive approach to reshaping this cycle is needed. Yoga is such an approach, a beautiful gift that generously shares with us an ever-evolving preparedness.  Instead of forcing our way, we walk in the world with a gentle awareness, an understanding of the unity of every thing and every being. When we are in tune with our bodies and mind, we are strong in the face of challenges that lie ahead.

Some of this strength comes through the asanas, or postures, that Hatha yogins have shared with us. In one particular pose (with many variations), we become grounded, restored, and reconnected, strengthening and stabilizing body and mind. Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall pose) is one of my personal favorites, enlivening my breath and relaxing my body. Even better, is when I am able to share it will my toddler. Take a peek at this wonderful article on YogaJournal describing the pose and how to enjoy it as a beginner.

Tip: If you are practicing with your child, invite them to try it alongside of you. This is a great shared or partnering pose. Younger babies can be placed upon your chest, encouraging their passive participation (babies soak up all of the calm, positive energy). Older babies, toddlers, and young children can rest on your belly, face up and elevate their legs up onto yours. Helen Garabedian, author of Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers (check it out on Amazon.com), speaks of how a play-based modification of this pose can enhance the quieting of a child’s mind. What could be better than sharing the peace? For added benefit (for you and/or your child), try and focus on the out breath, or exhale as you rest in Viparita Karani. Exhaling helps relieve your body of the stresses it endures on a daily basis.

Reflection: What thoughts or emotions come about when you practice this pose? Does it enhance your practice to focus on the out breath?

Abundant Peace,

Jennifer

If you are interested in learning more about Yoga or about classes offered by Mamoga Wellness, please visit www.BeKindandUnwind.com.

My Mommy Needs to Meditate

I’d love to think that one day ten years from now my son will look at me, see that I’m having a tough day, and tell me that I should go meditate. If nothing else, it would be a beautiful validation of him knowing how emotions shape our well-being and the wellness of the ones we love. Just as important as raising an aware child, is being an aware parent. My hope, beyond shaping my sons recognition, would be that ten years from now I will recognize that I need to unwind, breathe, and re-connect to my heart. Some days, it is just plain easy to know what I need as a mother, wife, and individual being. Other days, it’s like looking out a foggy window; you keep trying to see the sunshine, but it’s a bit obscured.

The connection between mind and body is profound. And how easily we disconnect, just as significant. Take a moment to find the mental imagery that would most enhance your sense of peace. You might picture the beach, a flower, a cup of tea and your comfy socks. You might picture you and your child sharing a perfect moment – you’re both smiling, reading together or maybe even baking a cake. For the next few minutes, ground yourself by connecting with this image – be it a place, event, or thing. Take deep breaths as you picture and experience the beauty and bliss.

Tip: If you are with your child, explain to them your emotions and what you are doing (your actions e.g. mental imagery):

Mommy is feeling frustrated right now. I thought that our trip to the grocery store was going to be quick, but there are a lot of people here. We might be late for our playdate.

(Inhale) Did you know that Mommy loves it when we play at the beach? Let’s picture the beach.

(Exhale) What is your favorite part of being at the beach? Mommy loves the sun.

(Continue with deep belly breaths, more aware of your presence and connecting to what brings you peace.)

Tip: If you’re at home, practice your imagery in a quiet room allowing your child to play alongside you. Vocalize your actions and intentions to your child.  New mom? Check out Mommy Meditations.

Reflection: Why does this image promote your inner joy and peace? How could you re-create that image into your life on a more regular basis?

Abundant Peace,

Jennifer

If you are interested in learning more about Yoga or about classes offered by Mamoga Wellness, please visit www.BeKindandUnwind.com.


Recipe: Peanut Butter Pumpkin Stew

If you’re looking for a quick and easy meal to fill up hungry stomachs, this stew couldn’t be better. As an added benefit, this is both a delicious and nutritious recipe that your child just might eat!

Peanut Butter Pumpkin StewTODDLER FRIENDLY (GF & VEGAN)

  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 can pumpkin puree*
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes*
  • 1/2 cup seed or nut butter (sunflower butter or peanut butter work best)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

* can be substituted with homemade organic puree

Reflection: What do pumpkins and tomatoes have in common?

Abundant Peace,

Jennifer

If you are interested in learning more about Yoga or about classes offered by Mamoga Wellness, please visit www.BeKindandUnwind.com.

Pose(s) of the Week: Sun Salutation

Looking for a great way to start the day? Try Sun Salutations. Greet the day with this 5-minute body-strengthener and mind-release:

  • Start by standing in Mountain pose (Tadasana), arms by your side, palms facing forward and spine long and tall. Your feet will be parallel to each other and beneath your hips.
  • Bring your hands to prayer at your heart, and set an intention for your practice and your day.
  • Inhale – Raise your arms to the sky, palms still facing forward and move into a standing backbend, hips still over your feet and pushing through your upper back to look up towards the sky. You will feel a gentle stretch in your lumbar, thoracic spine, and up through your neck.
  • Exhale – Swan dive forward to touch your shins (or toes). Releasing your lower back in a gentle forward bend. If your hamstrings are tight or you feel the need to slightly bend your knees, do so.
  • Inhale – Push up from your heart, looking out over the tip of your nose with a flat back. Your torso will be at a ninety degree angle from your lower body. Your hands will rest on your shins, knees, or thighs, arms remaining long and straight.
  • Exhale – Jump your feet back and walk your hands forward into Plank. Your entire body will be active, your navel pushing in and up into the spine, seat tucked. Your palms should be pressing into the earth through your shoulders and the balls of your feet through your legs. Your gaze will be soft, your neck in line with your back.
  • Inhale- Lower your body slowly to the ground (like a pushup, but slower), until your chest, torso, and legs come to rest on the floor. This is Chatturanga.
  • Exhale – With your hands still beneath your shoulders, push your chest up and forward to look at the sky in Cobra.
  • Inhale – Lower into Crocodile posture, placing your arms together above your head, lying flat on your belly. Extend your arms and legs away from your body feeling the stretch.
  • Exhale – Rock your body back into childs pose, arms long away from your body. Then move your arms alongside your body for an opposite stretch.
  • Take a few breaths here – Lower your heels toward the ground and stretch your seat toward the sky into Downward-facing Dog, feeling your belly become soft. Push your tailbone up even higher with arms long and active, pressing your navel in and up into your spine. When you are deep into the pose, your face and jaw will begin to relax and you will feel a much deeper breath into your lungs and belly. To deepen your pose, bend your knees, root back through th thighs and send your seat higher, pressing into your shoulders and aligning your ears between your upper arms.
  • When you are ready, walk your hands and feet in, and slowly roll back up to standing, bringing your palms together at the center of your heart.
  • Repeat 6-12 times.
  • When you have completed your salutations, come to a seated position (Sukhasana) and take a few deep belly breaths.
  • End with your hands in prayer at your heart, bow to yourself and anyone that may be practicing with you. Thank yourself for your practice. Namaste.

Tip: If you are practicing with your child, invite them to breathe with you. Now is a great time for Flower Breathing. At home, we follow our Flower Breathing with Bumble Bee Breath (Instead of OM, repeat HUM together three times – 1) eyes open, 2) eyes closed, 3) eyes closed and ears covered. Talk about where you feel your Bee Breath within your body). Close your practice with hands at your heart. Namaste.

Consider taking a moment or two to spend focused on your child at this point. During Sun Salutations, your child may have enjoyed watching you move through each pose, but was unable to keep up with your pace. You can choose to do Sun Salutations with them (Kira Willey has a phenomenal children’s song: “Dance for the Sun”) or just focus on one pose you practiced today. Most babies and children love practicing Downward-facing Dog with Mama or Dad!

Reflection: What feelings come up after practicing Sun Salutations, Surya Namaskars? How does your body feel after this practice?

Abundant Peace,

Jennifer

If you are interested in learning more about Yoga or about classes offered by Mamoga Wellness, please visit www.BeKindandUnwind.com.

Reach Up & Smell the Roses (or Lavendar)

Have you considered combining Yoga with aromatherapy for your practice? After sharing a beautiful practice this morning with some of my favorite Yoga Mama’s and Little Beings, I started thinking. Over the past many years, I have been very actively involved in all things health-minded. But when some of my mama’s started to talk essential oils, a topic that I formerly had much knowledge on, I realized how much I needed a good refresher on some of the basic oils and their usage in and outside of yoga.

Here is a brief, but informative list of a few Maitri Mama favorites: Scent of a Mom. (And, for even more information, as well as the top ten essiential oils, check out: What is Aromatherapy? via the NAHA website.)

Outside of the box: When practicing pranayama (breathing exercises) with Little Beings, try using smelling as a foundation for healthy yoga breathing (inhaling and exhaling through the nose). Soak an artificial flower head in pot or pan filled with 1″ of water  and 2-3 drops of essential oil (we use lavender). Let sit for 5 minutes, then air dry. Take turns “smelling” the flower. Praise your child each time they inhale the scent. As time goes on, Flower Breathing can be a wonderful tool to reconnect and recenter both parent and child.

Tip: Feeling stressed? Grab that flower and take a deep, belly breath in! Is your child present? Even better. Teaching our children to recognize, accept, and honor our truest emotions is extraordinarily helpful in developing healthy life skills.

Namaste,

Jennifer

Recipe: Who’s Your Mama Smoothie

After reading two brilliant articles on the human relationship with food, I began to start thinking myself. Why is it that many of us – as individuals and as parents – are caught up in a sticky (and tricky) situation? We want to feel well, we want to look well, but we don’t make choices that align with our wants. So, when one of the two articles suggested that we ask our children (and ourselves) “who’s your mama” before consuming a snack, I considered how easy it could be to rearrange an unhealthful relationship. Nine out of ten times, I can say that I make good choices. But, as a creature of habit that has become easy for me. It isn’t so easy with most beings – in particular the little ones targeted by the media.

Below is a quick and easy recipe that will provide great food-for-thought (for you and/or your wee ones). Take a moment and think about where each ingredient comes from – hint: the answer won’t be a factory!

 

Chia Seeds

Who’s Your Mama Smoothie

  • 4 dried figs, prunes, or dates
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 6 oz. raw almond or cashew milk (while this could be made in a factory, it’s just as easy to make it at home!)
  • 1 tbs chia seeds (what are chia seeds?)
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 tbs raw cacao

Blend with ice (optional) until smooth, and enjoy!

Reflection: Do any of these ingredients not come from a tree?

Abundant Peace,

Jennifer

If you are interested in learning more about Yoga or about classes offered by Mamoga Wellness, please visit www.BeKindandUnwind.com.