Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster!

I’m not afraid to write my feelings in songs. ~ Taylor Swift

Image Source: Wakeuptiger.blogspot.ca

Thanks to adjustments in my seizure meds, I have been riding the emotional lability roller coaster lately (so to speak). Emotional lability – sounds…weird, right?

Here is a dictionary definition:
emotional lability – a condition of excessive emotional reactions and frequent mood changes.

Sounds almost benign, eh? Well here is a description that is a little more apt:
The symptoms of emotional lability might vary among individuals and in frequency of occurrence. Fits of laughter or crying jags are two examples. Some people do evidence this most with explosive tempers, and there can be instances where people will experience all three emotionally excessive expressions at varied times. When these expressions occur, it’s often daunting for the people undergoing them because many people know that their emotional response is in excess to the circumstances. It can even get embarrassing for some individuals or be a condition that makes them withdraw socially. (source: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-emotional-lability.htm)

So what bring this on? It can be a symptom of degenerative brain disorders like multiple sclerosis. It can also be a side effect of some medications.

In my case, it seems to be a bit of both going on – MS-fatigue induced lability, as well as Seizure Med induced labaility! Erg.

In recent weeks I have become more weepy off and on, with the weepiness triggered by …well, sometimes absolutely nothing, …and at other times, triggered by stuff that should either make me furious or make me just go “awe…how sweet”!

In order to sort it out, I have taken a bit of time off work (doc ordered), because the high stress at work from the effects of cutbacks and such has become quite toxic. So, once off work, the stress lessened, especially as my sleep increased significantly…but the crying continued! Ack! This time, the crying was happy crying, from Mother’s day and such. But the waterworks would not turn off! (Very frustrating to me, but highly amusing to my family!)

As I have gotten more sleep with long afternoon naps, I have become much more tear-free. Go figure, eh? It would seem that somewhere along the way, I put my need to seriously manage my MS fatigue level to the bottom of my priority list…and my body responded this time not by dropping me with a serious seizure, but by making my emotions rise to the surface in the form of weepiness! Somewhere along the way I had forgotten the importance of me taking the rest I need when I need it – and, ironically, the privilege of being accommodated for working from home was making me feel guilty for taking that rest. Stupid, eh?

You see, one of my seizure meds has a known side effect of weepiness and crying. While I had managed to keep it under control for a while, the change in meds, combined with the very high stress at work, and my growing deep fatigue, seemed to have led to the teary times being more than I could manage.  And while one doc wants to put me on an anti-depressant to counter the side effect of the other med, another doc on my team wants me to stay off antidepressants, and lower the seizure drug dose, while upping a different seizure drug.

Talk about russian roullette, eh?? But the positive in all of this? I have not had a siezure in over a year now – despite the high stress! Given that high stress (psitive or negative stress) seemed to be a possible trigger for my seizure, this lack of seizures to date hopefully means that the seizure meds are working.

So, in the scheme of things…what’s a few tears here and there, eh??

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ~ Alan Watts



PS – This Bruno Mars’ video says it all…

Overwhelmed: Medication Russian Roulette and More!

“Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” -Walter Anderson

Wow – it’s been longer than I thought since my last blog. I had all the best intentions in the world…but I got overwhelmed. I got overwhelmed by work, by my own work ethic (can you say Over-Achieving Super Mom?), by my body’s inability to keep up with the workload, and by medication choices that were put in front of me due to medication side effects.

Work-wise…well, bottom line is that when the poop hits the fan, the work has to get done. All my years of training have created in me a work ethic that ensures I meet deadlines. Period. This means that when something needs to get done, I get it done where I can (even if it is not “my job”). This ethic conflicts with my energy levels in that my body says “Yeah, whatever. The work will still be there tomorrow – I am taking you down now.” As a person with high expectations of herself, that is a hard pill to swallow. For me – that is a signal that I need to do more gentle yoga and mindful meditation to practice better “non-attachment”. I am on a much needed week-off right now as I pushed myself in recent weeks to the extreme limits in order to meet deadlines and makes sure the workshop my colleague and I were facilitating went well.

Medications-wise…AAAAARRRGGGHHHH! That part is just plain frustrating. The side effects of some medications are often worse that the illness they are treating!!!! And the most frustrating part of it is that every individual reacts differently to medications, so you don’t know what side effects will impact you until you are actually on the medication. Currently, in order to lesson the side effects of my seizure drug (Keppra) and tackle MS Pain and sleep problems, I am starting an additional new seizure drug called Vimpat, with the intent to get to lowest doses of both together so that we minimize side effects and maintain the success rate of seizure control. This one is so new, that little is known other than clinical trials. SO…basically, I had to decide if the risk of trying this new drug is worth the potential side effects. Is it worth it?

It is often the choices we have to make that can paralyze us. For example, in going through the seizure med options with the doc, I found that my choices boiled down often to the following:

  • drug a – weight gain, hair loss, psychosis
  • drug b – weight loss, hair loss, documented significant drop in IQ (as much as 20 points in some cases!!!)
  • drug c – weight gain, rash, double vision
  • and so on….

So – my choices are: fat and bald, and potentially out of my mind; skinny and bald and “stupider” (pardon the choice of word); fat, itchy, and trouble seeing…and the list goes on.

It was alot easier for me when I decided to stop the MS meds – the only other option afforded me has a side effect of death due to brain issue, so even the docs agreed to keep me of the MS drugs. For the seizures though it is another story – the meds may save my life, no matter the side effects. My seizures are violent and sudden, and each time I have had one i have been significantly injured in some way, so the docs are not eager to see me off them for my own safety.


This is where the overwhelm can hit hard – sometimes I just want the whole thing to stop. Just stop. I get tired of having to choose. I get tired of having to think of what effects my choices will have on me, on my family, on my work and on my ability to work. I don’t want to have to make decisions between Poop Box A, and Crap Box B. I can find myself exhausted and overwhelmed, not just by the meds themselves, but the choices of what we are willing to give up while on that particular med in order to maximize the positive benefits of that same med. And that can also lead to tears of frustration and even anger at being in the situation to begin with – anger at your body, anger at the disease, anger at the situation in general.

This is when I turn to yoga the most – it helps keep me centred, or re-centre me when I have lost my focus. It helps me see the situation from a more non-attached prespective, and see the moment for what it is. There are many different ways to go about dealing with the emotions, but the most important thing is to never give up.

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” -Charles R. Swindoll



Turning Negatives into Positives as a Tool for Managing Chronic Illness

“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” -Gandhi

One thing I adore about cats is that no matter what situation they find themselves in, they usually figure out a way to make it a comfortable one. And they don’t make any apologies for it!

The new year always brings with it shiny new resolutions, new goals, new resolve. The beginning on 2012 has been a bit of a challenge for me, as concussion repercussion vertigo and MS weakness and fatigue have flared up. What it’s meant is that I have been forced into a bit of a downward physical spiral in that the vertigo prevented me from doing my usual cardio (though I managed a couple of aqua fit type classes for movement and falling safety…but the pace is very slow for my fitness level). Yoga has been greatly modified to allow for safety…so when I have been well enough, I have done restorative yoga. But none of the usual “pushes” over the bulk of the holiday.

I admit, I pushed myself to attend a New Year Welcoming 2012 Yoga event, doing 108 Sun Salutations to welcome the year and donate to charity. That was a double pleasure for me, because I also got a chance to lead a segment of the 108 Sun Salutations…a happy surprise! I took breaks as I needed…child’s pose…mmmmm. My darling Mikey got through all 108! WOW! We were both very sweaty and rubbery by the end – but what a great way to get a sweat on! Savasana felt SOOOO good.

This year is one in which I will be challenging my body to make changes. Yoga will continue to be my tool to see me through it all. I will be seeing new specialists regarding concussion damages and how to manage them. One thing that is always a challenge, and makes your body change, is medication changes. For instance, I recently weaned off my anti-depressant, as recommended by my sleep specialist neuro doc…it had the positive effect of improving my sleep, but negatively it may have affected my medication cocktail in such a way as to affect my metabolism…causing weight gain. (Not just the xmas weight gain.) So I will use this as the opportunity to challenge myself to lose the weight…and maybe a few more that crept on over the course of the ups and downs of the recent year. The docs will be changing my seizure meds too – to adapt to the sleep issues. They want me to change to a seizure med that reduces sleep and mood interference, and that is known to help with pain and even with weight gain issues. This could be a good opportunity to learn even more about how my body works and how to manage my health…but it will be another slow road.

“Always concentrate on how far you’ve come, rather than how far you have left to go.” -Unknown



When the Best-Laid Plans Fall…

“Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.” -Unknown

Isn’t it just the way that when you think you have planned for everything, accommodated your health in all forseeable ways, something changes your best-laid plans?

This December, I did my best to make sure my life was as balanced as possible as I wanted to maximize my ability to enjoy the season and keep active. I kept my workload (while high) manageable by setting boundaries and “rules” regarding my cellphone, email, and travel. I planned very carefully around a late December business trip to Ottawa-Gatineau, fully determined to ensure maximum health accommodation so that there would be minimal health fall-out. I used my cane in the airports as docs suggested, exercised at the hotel every evening (cardio then yoga) and took the mornings a bit slower before my meetings, ensuring maximum stress management. I made sure my holiday prep and shopping was done slowly over the course of December. I ensured minimal commitment to functions in order to give my health the play it might need. But even so, by Boxing Day, I found myself pretty well bed-ridden, dealing with some of the worst days of “brain bursts of sensation and light” and spinning vertigo in a long time.

So – what happened? Well, for one thing, turbulence happened. Turbulence in the air, specifically. I am rapidly discovering that flying during winter months can throw a significant wrench into things for me. I don’t really know if it is as a result of the severe concussion damage I still have from my first seizure episode a few years age, or from the temporal lobe (same one) lesion/tumour which triggers my seizures, or if it simply a matter of medication and/or menopause that just does not function well in a pressurized cabin with turbulence. Or – was it a case of seizures trying to happen, but meds not letting it? I dunno…No matter what the cause – it blind-sided me and changed my plans.

My plans to come home from my business in Ottawa and write a personal pre-holiday season blog were blown away – replaced by a foggy and slightly woozy brain. My plans to do yoga and get some extra cardio in so I could indulge were blown away – replaced by the need to ensure my own personal safety by not jumping on a moving treadmill nor moving my body into yoga positions that put my balance and spinal safety at risk. (Even simply moving forward at a rate faster than a tortoise sends my brain spinning!)

After a sufficient period of self-pity, where I whined and bemoaned my plight of being, for all intents and purposes, physically immobilized by my brain, I flipped into my usually optimism and looked at it for what it was – another learning opportunity.

I learned that winter air travel can really sucker-punch my brain by making things a bit woozy and “squishy” in there. I learned that sometimes it can be a blessing to lie in bed with a TV remote and watch Discovery Channel marathons, or Ancient Aliens, or other fun things. I learned that deadlines can be missed and the world keeps on trucking. And I learned that I really hate being foggy and dizzy! (Well, I already knew that one.)

I learned that the best laid plans can go awry, no matter how well laid out, but that the world continues to move forward, and it usually all turns out just fine.

Happy Holidays!

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.  ~Peg Bracken



Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel: Builiding your Resilience

“Continuous effort—not strength or intelligence—is the key to unlocking our potential.” ~Winston Churchill

http://www.babaloud.com/2011/05/amazing-inspirational-quotes/amazing-inspirational-quotes-16/(Photo Credit: http://www.babaloud.com)

Sometimes it can be tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s where personal resilience comes in. Resilience can help you know that even if you can’t see the light right now, you are confident that you will at some point.

If you google resilience, a Wiki definition comes up for resilience as:

Resilience in psychology refers to the idea of an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity. This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or using the experience of exposure to adversity to produce a “steeling effect” and function better than expected (much like an inoculation gives one the capacity to cope well with future exposure to disease).[1] Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual.[2]

Resilience is different for every person. When dealing with a chronic illness, resilience can mean the difference between life and death sometimes, or so it would seem when you feel like you have hit rock bottom. Resilience is what helps you find the strength to get back up one more time, try again once more, reach for the rope that you know is somewhere just out of sight.

Sometimes, people surprise me by saying to me: “How do you cope with it all? Shouldn’t you be a basket case by now? Why do you keep pushing forward? How do you do it?”

Honestly – I could not tell you the details of how I bounce back all the time, for the most part. Statistics often can say that a person who has dealt with multiple childhood traumas and multiple health issues should be having a really tough times surviving and living a good life. I just know that I do bounce back – to me there is no other logical choice but to keep trying, no matter what life throws at me. When you are down, rest, but look for the silver lining somewhere – no matter how small. Baby steps at times; sometimes, big leaps of faith.

My youngest son noticed this “bounce back” ability and surprised me one day by saying “Mom, no matter what happens, you are always happy and positive. Most people aren’t happy – but you always are. You are a very positive person. That’s interesting.” He noted it because he found it interesting that he does not think the same way as me, but that his older brother does more so, in terms of positivity and jumping in with both feet. (Both of my sons are absolutely brilliant, but my youngest is particularly deep, and often sees things in life in a very unique and clear way. He fascinates me!)

So how does one build resilience, if it is not instictive? Here are some tips…(reference source: Mayo Clinic)

  • Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships and support networks. Do volunteer work, get involved in your community, or join a spiritual community.
  • Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
  • Learn from past experience. Think back on how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through rough times.
  • Stay hopeful. You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
  • Take care of yourself. Exercise daily. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing or prayer.
  • Take personal control – Be proactive!  Don’t ignore your problems or try to wish them away. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you actively work at it. This is one of the biggest keys to building your resilience, because perceived control is critical.

Once of the biggest helps to build your resilience is your perception of control in your own life. That’s where changing your perception to be proactive, and take control of the things you can, can make all the difference in the world. There are many things in life that are totally out of control – but take control where ever you can to help improve your situation in some small way. Many small steps eventually get you down the road, too.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” -William James

namaste y’all!


Related Posts: “The Value of taking Time for Laughter and Rest”

To Sleep or Not to Sleep – that is the Question!

“A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” -Kahlil Gibran

Sleep. Such a simple thing. Or so one would think, eh?

I recently did a sleep study, and my results proved to be somewhat of a surprise. Apparently, I don’t sleep well at all. I move an average of 55 times per hour, and wake up and average of 3-4 times per hour. Apparently – that is not good. Huh. (And more astonishing, the night I did the sleep study, I thought I’d had a really good night’s sleep!)

On the positive side, it helps me understand why I wake up every morning feeling utterly exhausted.

So – what am I going to do about it? I don’t know yet. That remains to be seen once I see another specialist. (Yumpin’ Yiminee – I have a lot of specialists!) What does it mean for me? Well – it means naps are a big time tool for me to manage my fatigue levels…so I will continue napping! (Mike and I love a good nap – nothing better than snuggling together and drifting off for an afternoon nap whenever we can grab one! Added bonus: regular snuggling keeps us close and deeply connected!)

On the curious side, I wonder – why? Why do I not sleep? Why am I not aware that I am not sleeping? Is it because of the brain lesion? MS? Medications? Perimenopause? Stress? Childhood trauma? Brain damage from concussions or seizures? All or none of the above? Would increasing my yoga to ensure some YIN Yoga just before bed make a difference in actual sleep? Does diet affect it? (Caffeine, yes – for me.) Time to start tracking my sleep patterns more closely, and seeing if I can discover more about myself. Oh goodie – I can be my own science project again!

Curiouser and curiouser, as they say. (Well, after all I am considered “utterly fascinating and complicated” by my diverse medical team!)

“Open minds lead to open doors.” -Unknown



Medications Side-Effects : Finding your Medication Zen Point

“Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” -Buddha

Nothing like a little Downward Dog on the river to make you feel alive, eh? Find your solid grounding and take a moment to feel strong and rest at the same time. A mini journey of sorts, if you would.

Dealing with medication side effects can be much the same – a journey into finding your ground, and seeking the Zen point of Balance between feeling good due to medication and feeling not so good. It’s not as easy as it seems to determine whether symptoms you are experiencing are drug side effects, MS symptoms, regular old flu/cold symptoms, or symptoms as a result of stress or anything else. Add the complications of aging, and sometimes you don’t know if your body is MS’ing, PMS’ing, or Menopausing!

I like to call it the Rule of PMS³! (PMS to the Power of Three – yes, I really am a physics nerd at heart!) When you have no idea what’s happening – it’s probably one of those. Works for men too – but we’d have to rename it MS³, because men have andropause…)

When living with a chronic illness such as MS, medications are often a big part of your life. Medications for the illness. Medications for the pain. Medications for the intolerable side effects of the priority medication. Then there are the cross side effects when one drug affects how the other drug affects you. It can be a daunting and confusing road sometimes, figuring out how to best navigate medications and side effects. It starts to feel like you are playing a round of Abbot & Costello’s “Who’s on First…

The beauty of how yoga has helped me learn to manage my medications and their side effects and understand them better is through allowing me to develop and hone my self-awareness skills. Self-awareness is not only psychological – it is also physical. I find that I am now MUCH more aware of what is going on in my body, when and why, as a direct result of practicing mindfulness, non-attachment, and being fully present in each moment as much as I possibly can. I understand more why my body is moving in a certain way; what may be causing a certain pain in one area I now recognize as possibly due to a condition in a completely opposite area. I have learned that the toe bone really is connected to the shoulder bone, in a manner of speaking! The human body really is an amazing piece of work!

For example – last week while on a fall house purging spree, I ended up feeling a sharp pain in my right jaw area suddenly by the end of the day, when I was most fatigued. Because I had been moving things around a bit, I figured that I had somehow clenched my jaw and pulled a muscle somehow, irritating my TMJ in my jaw. But I knew something was not quite right with that theory because I have learned that when you have pain due to muscles or bone alignments, it is usually reflected in some way somewhere else in the body. This wasn’t. A few days later, the pain was spreading and the headaches were worse…but I could still turn my neck. At that point, I started fitting the puzzle pieces together – my right side of the head hurt…and it was an ear infection, not TMJ nor a pulled muscle. I saw my GP, and she confirmed my thoughts. I was put on an antibiotic -again.

Turns out, my seizure meds, which have a known side effect of suppressing the immune system, especially of the respiratory system, has weakened my immune system further. My immune system is already weak due to MS. The doc said I need to be carefull about exposure now, as my body is not able to handle the infections like before. I am starting to understand that, since in the past 8 weeks I have had a serious and sudden bout of bronchitis, and now a painful and sudden ear infection (which I have never had before in my life). But – heck…if it is a choice between full-on Grand Mals with no warning, or the odd sinus infection…well, for now the odds fall better in the infection camp. That may change down the road…but for now, my Medication Zen Point is the point between tolerable side effects and intolerable consequences if I don’t take the drug! I’ll take the ear infection over the grand mal seizure, please!

“It is necessary to combine knowledge born from study with sincere practice in our daily lives. These two must go together.” -Dalai Lama

My advice to anyone dealing with the Medications Side Effects russion roulette: develop your sense of self-awareness. It will never steer you wrong!



The Trials and Tribulations of Getting Diagnosed!

“Worry never robs tomorrow of it’s sorrow. It only saps today of it’s joy.” -Leo Buscaglia

Navigating the medical system while getting diagnosed with anything can be an interesting journey into the trials and tribulations of worry, anxiety, fear, confusion, and uncertainty. Even when you get a diagnosis, you sometimes get un-diagnosed then re-diagnosed when you see new specialists! For some wild examples, see my previous blogs about being undiagnosed by a different neurologist then re-diagnosed…then again this year…my MS diagnosis was questioned by a new specialist, and re-confirmed by my regular neurologist.

You see…I have MS – no, now it’s a brain tumour. No, wait – Now it’s MS. No, wait – now it’s possibly MS and more, maybe still a brain tumour, maybe a genetic tumour disorder. No, wait – Now it’s MS and a seizure disorder…but it’s complicated.

Frankly, I feel blessed that I have a scientific side to me that allows me to question doctors and medical specialists with no fear, no apprehension, and all the confidence of a know-it-all science geek. Geeks rock, eh! A lot of that confidence I have learned through some pretty hard knocks over time, and some very real frustrations, but that is part of this journey we call life.

Recently, I had the dubious pleasure of undergoing a sleep study to determine if I am having nocturnal seizures. Quite the experience to be hooked up to electrodes and straps and clips, then “tucked” into bed as you are plugged into the wall. Then a quick “nighty-night” and the door is closed, leaving you staring in the dark at a little red light – the camera that is watching you. (I swear, if anything weird turns up on You Tube…)

Will that help further my diagnosis? Well…maybe. Maybe not. Right now, my epilepsy neurologists think I might not have MS due to my atypical brain scan, but that I do have a seizure disorder and maybe something else that looks like MS. Meanwhile, my MS neurologists say “P-ffft” to that…that I do indeed have MS as confirmed by the spinal tap results, symptoms, and brain scan. (A possibly quick way to let the docs settle the academic question of MS or not MS would be to let them biopsy my lesion…but, I think a needle in the brain is a bit of overkill for academic reasons, don’t you?)

I don’t care whatcha call it – just let me get on with my life, eh? I’m busy living here!

You see – that is often the hardest part of waiting for a diagnosis: getting on with your life. I have learned over the years to just let the medical teams battle it out on their own while I get on with the business of living my life. Whether you are awaiting a diagnosis for something small or big – the wait can be very difficult.

How to get through the long Diagnosis:

1. Know that no one is better qualified to know about you than you.

2. Gather your own information. Read. Surf the ‘Net. Knowledge gives us a sense of personal control – if nothing else that helps you manage your reactions.

3. Practice patience. There will be set backs, successes, frustrations, little glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes – doctors know alot of stuff. But doctors are only human – and they are just as prone to human foibles as the rest of us, including making mistakes or incorrect assumptions.  Nobody knows you better than you do. Keep that always at the top of your mind. Be willing to ask the uncomfortable questions, both of your medical team and yourself. The answers may surprise you.

“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” ~Unknown



How to Seek Clarity to calm the Confusion

“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” ~Unknown

When was is managing a chronic illness, sometimes the confusion is overwhelming. The antidote is clarity.

I love this picture of my old pup, Nickster. When I look at it, I see my doggy companion of over 12 years, reveling in the calm and clarity open before him. In his wake, the ripples and chaos of churning water are left behind as he continues to move forward through clear waters.

I absolutely love clear calm waters. Most people would agree that calm clear waters can translate to calm, clear minds as we sit and absorb the peace surrounding them.

Turbulent waters have a beauty all their own – but sometimes it is harder to appreciate the beauty. Sometimes fear can spike, if waters are too turbulent, and you are not sure about what may be coming at you, or if you can withstand the strength of the turbulence. If you focus on the fear, you will only be able to see the churning waters…but if you step back, and focus on one aspect at a time…the waters become clear again in areas – despite the strong forces that may be churning them.

Whew – I seem to be on a water metaphorical streak, eh? I wonder where the heck it is taking us?

How to Find Clarity when you feel lost in Confusion:

1. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes.

Clarity comes in many forms – but one of the most powerful methods of gaining clarity when managing a chronic illness is through knowledge. The internet can be an amazing reference source for gaining new insights, new coping tools, a-ha moments…all with the goal to bring some clarity to a state of confusion or chaos.

2. Practice Non-Attachment in the confusion.

Sometimes we can be too wrapped up in something, and not see the forest for the trees. At times like that, it is often best to take a step back, breathe, rub your eyes (figuratively or in reality) and then take a fresh look. Coming at something from a different angle might help you see things you missed before. Observe without judgement.

3. When in doubt, ask. Don’t assume.

It always amazes me when I am talking to people how many times I hear “Oh – I was too nervous to ask about that. I did not want to bother Mr. X about it” or “I didn’t want to look stupid, so I didn’t ask” or some such thing. Ask, people, ask!!! If you have questions or concerns – you are the only person who can voice them. Ask! Seek the clarification directly. (Remember that other old saying – Don’t assume. It makes an ASS out of U and ME.)

Clear as mud yet?

“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” -Pema Chodron



Life is what we make of it…

“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” – Jack London

So – who are you when nobody is watching? Are you the same person? Are you authentic? Are you living your life, or just existing?

Recently, I was walking to yoga, and I walked briskly past the local Walmart on my way to the studio, listening to my music, and simply enjoying the feel of the muscles in my legs working, the breeze ruffling through my hair, and the simplicity of just being alive. I found myself smiling genuinely and feeling completely content, comfortable, sure about who I am and knowing that despite my health problems life is pretty good. I found myself thinking back to a year ago, when I could not even walk past that same Walmart to get to the yoga studio, because I was so bent over in pain, hanging on for dear life to my cane – with a painful smile plastered to my face, existing.

I can definitely say that I feel that I am living my life now – not just existing. And it feels good, free, authentic.

One year – two very different end points, from existing to living, thanks to the life transforming power of adopting a yoga practice and accompanying lifestyle. (I know, I know – obnoxious yogi on the loose again, you’re thinking, eh?) Yoga was, and is, my tool to living my life fully, deeply. It has brought me a sense of personal control and a regained sense of independence and deep self-awareness (among so many other benefits). I recently discovered Iyengar Yoga as a therapeutic tool, and it is teaching me gobs about body alignment and how to break out of bad alignment habits we have that we are not even aware of. More information and a tool to use as I manage my health and live my life to the fullest that I can.

Life is what we make of it – from the struggles to the successes; from finding the courage inside to face a fear, to dealing with it; from closing yourself off from people and possibilities, to opening your heart to new possibilities, new passions, new opportunities. Sometimes we get there on our own, sometimes we have help along the way. Life may be long or short,  intense or tragic, sad or happy, or a mix-mash of everything at various times.

No matter what – life is what WE make of it. The key is finding the tools to help you live, rather than simply exist.

“The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them …” – Michel de Montaigne