Self-Sabotage Part II: Life Without A Plan

In our last post, I rattled on about The Art of Self-Sabotage, and how to (perhaps) begin becoming an intentional mom.

I wrote about this because of my personal relationship with living unintentionally.

I’ll start by sharing a bit of my uber-unintentional path, to paint a picture of what that might look like.

Life Without A Plan

When I started my work with mothers several years ago, I truly had no attachment to a greater goal. I just knew – at my very core – that I needed to work with this particular segment of society and our world (more specifically, with you). This path was more than unexpected. Having grown up without the desire for children myself, I never saw this coming. But here I am, a mother madly in love with her motherhood. And here I am sharing God’s Word, His goodness, and what I believe the Universe has in store for each of us on our mothering paths if we can only find the greatest good within. The good He has made.

But it hasn’t been a dreamy, ease-filled process. In fact, it’s been a walk-through-the-trenches-at-midnight sort of ride. I’ve had multiple businesses – from a yoga studio to direct sales distribution – and went into none of it with any sort of plan.

(Opening my coaching practice has been different, and I’m thankful to press pause on unintentional living, indefinitely!)

Are you walking your experience of motherhood, career, fitness, spiritually, personal development, finances – really any significant area of your life – without a plan, too?

Coachable

You might be without a plan, but this doesn’t mean that you’re failing life. I want to ask you a very important question today – and I only ask for your honesty in return. (I know only honesty. It’s big. But do it. You’ll thank me for it later, I promise.)

Even if you are living life without intent, are you still coachable?

Laura Probert, MPT writes in her Huffpost article, “Being coachable is one of life’s most important skills and attitudes, whether or not you’re an athlete. If you’re any kind of person who wishes to grow, learn, improve, excel or peak perform, you should care about whether or not you’re coachable. In other words, being coachable relates to a happy, productive life. It means you’re ready to do what it takes to change, transform, improve or excel, whatever that means for you and your situation.”

Let’s Reflect

Personally, this paragraph brought up some reflection – and led me to ask a few questions of our tribe! Take some time on your own to dig into these, and see what responses you come up with. It might just take your unintentionality and turn it upside down!

  • What does being “coachable” mean to you?
  • What has your experience been (thus far) of growing and developing into the person that God has created you to be? and
  • What would you like your future experience to be like?

A Deeper Dive

For those on a Spirit-led path, grab some time in Jeremiah 29. One of the most reflective verses for those of us fearing the shift from unintentional to intentional (the act of creating a plan and therefore a life we design) is verse 11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Your future isn’t determined just by you. Let these words stay with you, as you gather all the tools and resources necessary to begin your transition to co-creating your path, your plan, and your Universe. Small shifts for your greatest good will create greater good in all. I can promise you that.

Until we meet again, may you be surrounded by So Much Love (Yours, Mine, & His) on this path.

xox

Jennifer

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.

Feeling All The Mama Feels

Can I go Here and come back whole? I ask myself as I put my fingers to the keyboard this morning. It’s so easy to become lost in thought. Especially for a girl who hides from emotion. Or a girl who hid from emotion. A girl who doesn’t hide from feelings anymore… yet doesn’t particularly care for excessive feeling either. Still.

Perhaps, after months of write-free sabatical, and an exploration into integrative wellness from the other side of the table (as a coach-in-training), I can be Here and return into my sweet little world whole.

Let’s give it a try.

Today, I want to talk to you about these emotions I’ve been burying for years and years (and years). Today, I want to be brave enough to tell you that you are not alone if you have had big, scary emotions begin to rise up – and then you completely freaked the freak out (with or without knowing it). Today, I want to be brave enough to share this space with you. Because maybe, just maybe, if we share this space it will be easier to tell you about Jamie. And maybe it will be easier to tell you about growing into an emotional being, too.

Jamie was the first mother that I chose a relationship with shortly after becoming a mother myself. My peers didn’t have kids, especially sick ones, and I was crawling out of my skin most days pretending to be someone I wasn’t… yet. But in those conversations with Jamie – a friend and employee at my day job – I wasn’t pretending. I could tell her about the sleepless nights and the worry. She held a space for me. And in return, I held one for her. Our sons were only two weeks apart in age, and we could connect on so many different experiences. Including this one: Jamie lived with a physical dysfunction that was wreaking havoc on her life. That dysfunction took her from our beautiful world five years ago today.

That experience that we connected on has absolutely wreaked havoc on my life too. And five years ago, I had just recovered from an autoimmune crash and back injury. I was teaching yoga, contemplating leaving my job in veterinary medicine, and feeling nothing (still). My son was 20 months old, and I was completely disconnected. But on the day that Jamie passed away, I felt something for the first time since becoming a mom. I felt something real and raw and vulnerable. And it wasn’t fear – quite possibly the only thing that I had been feeling for quite some time. What I felt was one of the deepest sadnesses that I have ever known. And, home alone with my little boy when I received the news, I felt one of the deepest loves that I have ever known too. My mild child sat upon my lap as I crumbled that day. He sat upon my lap and he wiped away each and every tear that fell.

The little boy that I didn’t know how to love, loved me. I can’t put this experience into any more words than this. At least not today.

Flash forward through the next year, and slowly but surely more emotions bubbled up to the surface. And of course, one by one, I pushed them back down. When I became pregnant with our second baby, I decided immediately it should be a boy again. I was raised to believe that boys were less emotional. Which would obviously make life much easier for me!

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This little boy might be the most emotional being I’ve ever met. He breaks down gender stereotypes daily. And I love it.

But alas, God’s hand placed me on a healing path – and that second miracle child ended up being a sweet (and wild) little girl. Not only did I begin to learn emotion through her, but I learned that all people have emotion through having her. Emotion isn’t just a girl or woman thing. It’s a people thing. (And it is safe to have them.) I’ve seen the emotion of a little boy learning to grow into a relationship with a lost mama bear; and then watched his emotions expand and contract as he learns to grow into relationship with a special needs sister. I’ve seen the emotion of a man who almost lost his father. I’ve seen the emotion of a child lost in her world. I’ve seen my emotions twist and turn and churn and bubble up through it all.

And while I don’t love the idea of being so hugely vulnerable as to feel all the feels all the time, I do feel a lot of feels a lot of the time now. Feels that don’t pull me down into a deep dark hole, but inspire me to lift someone else out of theirs.

How do you live in your emotional body? Does it feel good and safe to you? I would love to know.

To Jamie – thank you for being on my heart daily. You remind me always that being present means being grateful for all of the gifts that Papa has given me.

xox

Mama J.

 

Acceptance In Motherhood

Dear Mama,

9 hours. Did you know that it takes 9 (interrupted) hours to take a 2 hour defensive driving course online at home on a Sunday afternoon? If this isn’t motherhood in a nutshell, then nothing is! Pretty much everything that we do – once we enter the realm of nurturing other little beings – takes at least double the time to complete. Are you okay with that?

Yesterday, I was not. I was not okay with the distractions and the interruptions and the crying and the screaming and the tattling and the nose-picking arguments. (You know the one. It starts with “please, sweetie get your fingers out of your nose,” and ends up with you raving over the 15 different reasons why you should not stick your fingers in your nose… to a three year old, who at the end of the conversation is still picking their nose. #JesusFixIt) Yes, yesterday acceptance was long gone and I was being hung out to dry by two precious miracles who sucked all of the love words right out of my soul and replaced them with responses like, “really?” and “I can’t even.” Please note, hands were being thrown in the air during both responses. Signs that you really have a frustrated mama bear.

But guess what? I have no guilt. I have no guilt that acceptance wasn’t even slightly on my radar. I have no guilt that I’m human. And that I’m okay with. Are you okay with your humanness?? Are you okay that sometimes your mission field is full of explosive mines and that sometimes, you’ll get struck – you’ll go down, down, down – and then you’ll reappear as Mommy Mary Poppins the next morning? Are you okay with that?

bliss
She’s okay with it. She is more than okay with my humanness. Because interestingly enough, she already recognizes HER humanness.

 

Mama, I want to know if you’re okay with that because our mission field might always be filled with tiny explosive devices – some that might be concealed for weeks or months or years – and then boom. You trip one, and you are no longer the magical mama bear you’ve worked overtime to become. You’re just a bear with limited maternal instinct, but your survival instinct is still on fleek, so you roar and you run… And then Monday morning comes and you gush over how blessed you are and it brings you so much joy to see your kids excited for school – and that bow, did you see that bow my wild is wearing today?

We’re an interesting bunch, aren’t we?

This morning, I imagine that Big Papa is rolling over our interestingness. I believe He finds enormous humor in our innocence – and not in a roll-your-eyes-at-that-mom-over-there kind of humor. A genuine, childlike Joe Biden meme kind of humor. Have you seen those meme’s yet? Mama, just x right out of this post right now and google it. Okay, okay, we’re mid-conversation – so check it out later at the very least!

He finds humor in how one moment we’re on cloud nine posting on every social media platform that our miracle child has a wonderful new skill (like peeing on the potty) and the next minute, we’re barricaded in the bathroom with a glass of wine and some chocolate, while Frozen is playing on repeat in the living room. We somehow believe that our “Frozen moment” is a sign of our weakness and our failure – meanwhile, we’ve got a savior that died for our sins so that our failures would be absolutely unrecognizable to our Heavenly Father!

Y’all, Jesus fixed it! Can we be okay now? Can we be okay that while striving for being more, we have a good, good Father that loves us the same even when we’re not? Can we accept that no matter how wobbly we personally feel, that we are always on solid ground with the One who loves us enough to have given us these challenging miracles? I hope so. I hope and pray that we can be okay with what is while working for what can be. Because I promise you, you are worthy of okay. Actually, you’re worthy of a whole lot more than okay.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

Let’s rock more than okay. Catch you soon, sweet friend.

xox

Mama J.

But Not Right Now

Dear Mild & Wild Ones,

I went to bed the other night feeling a bit broken and beat down. What has transpired from that unrest, blows my mild. For so many years, I have been the jack of all trades. It was during the space created on Sunday night that it came into my attention not everyone will understand why I must have my hands in ten different things at once – and that sometimes, I will also forget why I dive into everything that calls my name.

But then I think about who our God is, and I know that when He puts your name on a task – you don’t say no. In the last few years of building our family’s business, I have not said no. What I have said is “but not right now.” And he’s still blessed me. In January, I first wrote down that I should begin writing. And immediately thereafter in my journal, I wrote “but not right now.”I think there is such an interesting web we can weave for our future when we say those four simple words. Sometimes, he’ll respond so that you have no doubt that “not right now” is now. And other times you’ll have a prompt (like I did late one night for a manuscript I just sent off to four different publishing houses). And still other times, you’ll make a guess about when it is “right now.”

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I know how easy it is to spiral into a space of constant busyness. And I am thankful for amazing friends and family and a Father that remind me how important it is to say “not right now.” If no’s are hard for you too, this might be a good place to start!

And through it all, you’ll be offered grace. Through it all, you will carry out his plans. Because you are known, my sweet children. You were knit in my womb by a maker that has predestined you to a greatness that neither you nor I know of… yet. In Jeremiah 1:5 it says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” And in Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

How awesome.

How awesome that we are offered free will each and every day to pick up the staff and move onward, or leave it there and be still. How awesome that God already knows which you’re going to choose – even though you don’t until that moment. I think of David often lately, and the temple project he worked laboriously. A project he didn’t see come to fruition, but his son did. What if everything he’s placed on my heart isn’t meant to flourish in my time? Maybe that’s why I don’t say no. Because I could begin to build the legacy that one or both of you will fulfill.

So many thoughts as I allow myself to dream without limits again (for the first time in maybe a year or so!). So much joy in realizing that my greatest dream is alive and well. I’m home with both of you. Exactly where he’s called me to be for exactly two years this month.

I love you sweet babies. I treasure the good and the rough and the sleepless and everything in between. And I am so hugely, enormously, awesomely glad that I don’t have to say “but not right now” to you.

“I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way.”

-You Make Me Brave, Bethel Music

Love,
Mama J.

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.

Divine Reality

Every so often, you dream and dream and dream… and then that dream becomes your reality. That is what the last two years have looked like. I have prayed over advocating for maternal well-being for quite some time. When my husband officially retired from full time employment in September, I knew that it was time to make that dream a reality. But I had no idea what that would look like! Then I had a flashback to my retirement from yoga studio ownership…

I love that we get to work from home. I love that I get to support an online and on-ground ministry of self-love. And I love that I can love on mama’s in my community now too – I am going to begin leading postpartum pop up yoga + support right in our town!

Six years in, I am so very sure that it takes a village of support for moms to thrive. Today, because of my non-job, I get to be on the side of “correcting culture” with movement as medicine while erasing the stigma’s attached to dis-ease (mental health). I get to set an example of living life as a successfully healing postpartum wife and mother.

P.S. I will always say healing and not healed. Because this is the journey of a lifetime. One that I know has changed me for the better in ways that I never expected. Cheers to making the most of every challenge we encounter.

Peace & Love, friends!

Jennifer

Who Am I?

I’ve been working on reintroducing myself to the world through my blog, and I thought that this would be a good place to continue along… No recipe today. Just sharing the adventure.

“What we do for ourselves, we do for everyone.” – Carol Adrienne

Five years ago, self care wasn’t even on my radar yet. Career driven, self reliant, chained to the fear of what others might think. And then, I took a fall that began a change in it ALL. At 24 weeks pregnant, I was fighting to keep our son in the safety of my womb… Because I didn’t pause for me, we worried for him.

What I didn’t know at the time, was that we would worry no matter what. I had what doctors called an “irritable uterus.” I contracted early with both babies! But even more challenging was the wild ride in the year following our sons birth. He contracted an unknown virus that ravaged his tiny body at just 11 weeks old. In caring for him, I once again neglected me. Immune challenges I’ve had since childhood brought me to my knees. After missing his first birthday, I wouldn’t walk well unassisted for over 6 months.

I am not a martyr. I am just a mom. And more importantly, I am a child of God. My journey has only just begun. Knowing from many, many conversations that I am not alone, and that there is a message that must be heard, I will shout self care from the rooftops til the day that I return home. You can either hold on, or heal out. It is beyond important – it is a MUST, vital to our ability to serve. 

Living Devotionally

As of late, I have begun sharing recipes again. If you look back over the last five years, you’ll see that I have been vegan, paleo, gluten-free… etc. There has been A LOT of shame and guilt in living with chronic immunological adventures. I am just now getting to the place that I can recognize and heal this – on both a public and private platform. The biggest gift that I’ve found is that in moments of self-acceptance, come peace. I look forward to feeling His peace on a more regular basis.

And I’m really glad that I get to share this with you!

Peace & Love,

Jennifer

Diagnosis Not Unknown

Diagnosis Not Unknown

If you are here, you either know me or you know my mission – my mission being an advocate for women’s health and self-care practices.

Because of my activist-heart, I work daily to be transparent. Sometimes, my husband has to pull me from the depths of my habitual “overdoing” to do so – as I have the pattern of breaking before I remember to bend. I share the story that never ends. It is a story of being a woman and a mother who has fought for her health almost twenty years with more “possible diagnoses” than even I can count.

As I child, I had intense pains in my joints. It was labeled as juvenile arthritis and spondyloarthopy. In college, I caught a virus. Most likely it was mono or the like. I slept for a good month, but certain strange events happened as I healed. The most memorable being that every time I sat up from bed, I would black out. A year or so later, I was having regular bouts of pain, fatigue, nerve changes, dizzy spells – the list went on and on. At various points, I was diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid, lupus, and often told that I had a high likelihood of a muscle or neurological disease like multiple sclerosis.

In January, after a decade crashes (or flares as I’ve called them) and easier times over and over again, I claimed Fearless Health. This would be my year of healing. And, well, I guess it has just recently become that! I was blessed to be one of 4 appointments a year that Mayo Rheumatology would consult on. Additionally, I was given consults with Integrative Medicine, Physical Therapy, and Podiatry.

Round 1. I don’t have any of the markers for a rheumatologic disease. I cry (again) because it sucks not knowing why you feel so awful. I am sent to Physical Therapy as they note I have severe hypermobility which has caused some osteoarthritis in my hands, knees, and ankles.

Round 2. Physical therapy is AMAZING. But more exhausting than I ever thought that it would be. Like crazy exhausting, where the next day I can’t function. Apparently, that’s not normal. I cry some more. I am HUGELY blessed to work from home with an incredibly supportive spouse – but I want a normal life. The normal life a post-postpartum depression and anxiety mama craves. Who doesn’t want a normal life?!

P.S. PT says I should fully recover mobility (like long walks and strength training) once we build enough muscle to support all of my hypermobile joints. That’s pretty cool… but…

Round 3. My world is turned upside down. All of my decade-long symptoms are read. Diagnosis is officially made through Mayo’s specialty departments. I am told that I have SEID or Systemic Exersion Intolerance Disease, formerly known as Chronic Fatigue, and now recognized as a neuroimmune disease. I’m not just tired.

The condition, which can render people housebound or bedridden and unable to work or go to school, is believed to affect between 860,000 and 2.5 million Americans.

The symptoms and signs of systemic exertion intolerance disease are relatively specific:

increased malaise (extreme exhaustion and sickness) following physical activity or mental exertionproblems with sleep, difficulties with memory and concentration, persistent muscle pain, joint pain (without redness or swelling), headaches, tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit, sore throat, brain fog (feeling like you’re in a mental fog), difficulty maintaining an upright position, dizziness, balance problems or fainting, allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, medications, or noise, irritable bowel, chills and night sweats, visual disturbances (sensitivity to light, blurring, eye pain)depression or mood problems (irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)

CDC studies show that CFS can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and similar chronic conditions. For most patients, CFS significantly limits their work, school, and family activities for periods of time.

Welcome to my world.

A decade of symptoms and shame.

Ten + doctors.

Four states.

One diagnosis – NOT unknown.

I am pretty teary today… for so many reasons: I’m TIRED (let’s laugh about that symptom, for real!); I am thankful that I work on my time and not on someone else’s; and for the first time in my adult life… I know why I feel pretty dang awful. I am teary because of all the moment’s that I have been made to feel less than (by others and by myself – let’s give credit where it’s due) for my inability to do as much as they could. I am also teary because I know that God’s got this. He’s known all along how my body works and He asks me to pause time and again – which I childishly ignore. (I think I’m going to listen now – in case you are wondering.)

And finally, I am teary because I know that if God’s got this – I’ve got this. I have work to do. Big work on me and my relationship with life, big work to spread the message that we are ALL worthy of healing, and big work to teach that a “new normal” is OKAY. Actually, I bet it can be downright amazing.

Thank you for listening. I know that this is long. I also know that I couldn’t keep it in… how can you celebrate a moment this big (Diagnosis Not Unknown) if those you love aren’t celebrating it with you?

So, if you feel the spark… celebrate with me today. I’m not the only one out there on this road, and I pray to not be the only one spreading awareness either.

xox

Mama J.

The Summer of Self-Love

Last week, after watching a YouTube video by the inspiring Tony Robbins, I realized two things: 1. The day before might have been the first time in the history of my life that I had prayed specifically for myself; and 2. Everything – your entire world and what you co-create – starts with love. And love, starts with you.

These were pretty powerful realizations for someone who shouts self-love from the rooftops! Just because I offer myself random acts of kindness, which I do, does not mean that I am truly loving and honoring myself and my adventure every single day. In what I have claimed as “The Summer of Self-Love”, it means that YES, I am going to boldly love myself (I just bought myself my FIRST brand new bicycle of adulthood), and I will focus on the number 90. 90% that is. If my well is not at least 90% full when I wake up each morning, I will seek out ways to fill it. We best love others when we love ourselves, first.

So, in putting the 90 rule out there, I am stepping into a gray zone. What does it mean to be 90% full? Does that mean that I stop, drop, and yoga when I’m feeling less than? Do I pause to pray for myself as soon as I feel on the brink of 89? Do I cancel plans last minute, because healing is my priority – and I cannot serve well without being at my best?? I have to honestly say that I don’t know yet. I just know that I will be taking my “temperature” without being sick. I will be focusing on full instead of wallowing on empty. I believe that this summer is going to be absolutely amazing! This summer is going to be the best summer of my life. And next summer will be even better. And all the spaces in between and far beyond are going to look so very different than they have before.

As our pastor said this week, what if we just prayed and obeyed? This definitely applies to The Summer of Self-Love. It also applies to motherhood, entrepreneur life, and healing from autoimmune. Pray and obey. Simple, sweet, and extraordinary. Lives change when we are brought to our knees.

I look forward to sharing The Summer of Self-Love’s perspective with with my team tonight. It’s such a blessing to be on the path of fearless health, and feel completely supported. I have much gratitude for being allowed to support their adventures!

Peace & Love,

Jennifer

Please note that for years I have written “fighting autoimmune,” as I share my journey, but since my body already fights itself (that is what autoimmune IS – the immune system attacks itself), I have decided that it is time to take a different approach. I choose love. Love heals all. Let’s heal together.