The Button and Identity

“An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.” ~ James Baldwin

Can a chronic illness like MS affect your identity? You betcha! You see, personal identity (our sense of self) tends not to be an unchanging concrete thing. It tends more to be a dynamic concept that  fluctuates with life experience.

Our sense of self includes anything such as life/professional roles, personal attributes, behaviors, and aspects that we consider most important about ourselves. The aspects that contribute to our self identities can be things like occupation, hobbies, athletic ability, family relationships, marital status, disabilities and health…among many others.

My own identity can be shaken at times by the twists and turns of my health due to multiple sclerosis and seizures. And often, the symbol of that comes in the form of a button…a remote button I wear around my neck so that if I fall or drop due to a seizure, emergency personnel will be called and sent directly to me, even if I am unconscious. I have a love/hate relationship with that button. It is because of the button that I can be alone and maintain my independence. It is because of my health condition that I need the button – so when my health is at a lower ebb, and I have to wear and count on that button – it becomes a symbol of my dependence and a perception of freedoms lost.

In the last few weeks, as a result of the overwhelmingly busy schedule I have been keeping with workload, travel, wedding, moving, packing, unpacking, and so on… I have ended up dealing with a deeper MS exacerbation physically than I have in a while. My muscles are weaker than normal, exacerbating my spinal injury, triggering more weakness, and so on. As a result, in order to ensure my safety, it has been important for me to wear my button “just in case”. This “just in case” part is primarily because we don’t know if a seizure will be triggered or not. I end up feeling “less than” because I need to slow down. I know – it is not logical…but it happens sometimes. (That’s where a good support system helps!)

That’s where identity comes in, because when you can’t do what you are normally accustomed to do, it can affect your sense of self. Sometimes we can feel a sense of guilt for being unable to participate at a certain level. Or we can feel isolated. It is imperative to remember, at that time, that we are not just one thing (i.e. wht we do, or how we do it, or…). We need to ensure that we don’t allow what we can’t do in one moment to impact our sense of identity in any moment. And it can be easier said than done, depending on our own personal sense of self.

Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem. ~ Eric Hoffer

Now where did I leave that darned button?

Namaste

Carolyne

Never Say Never…

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”― Ernest Hemingway

Have you ever found yourself saying “I am never going to …something, something …again!” And you really meant it?

I found myself saying that about marriage and pursuing relationships, and that “never” sentiment was reinforced over the last years as my health issues evolved and became more “dramatic”. You know the saying “Once bitten, twice shy”…well, that was definitely me – especially when it came to being able to trust someone to understand or be able to handle life in the chronic illness lane with me. Yet I got married just this month…after almost a decade of saying (and meaning) “Never again!” And I did so with full trust and deep happiness. My husband is the kindest, gentlest, most patient and loving man I have ever known. Trust is instinctual for us together – he’s got my back, and I have his – no matter what comes down the road we are traveling together. I trust him with every fiber of my being.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”― Maya Angelou

Trust. It’s a funny thing – trust. It’s just a small 5 letter word…yet it is such a huge deal. And trusting yourself – that’s huge, too. One thing I have noticed over the years of dealing with chronic illness is that as my illness evolved, my trust in my own abilities became shakier. My ability to trust my own body to “have my back”, so to speak, goes through ups and downs – especially since my seizures have no known trigger and have been so violent. Some days I can’t trust my brain to function the way I need due to fatigue and brain fog. Other days, I am firing on all cylinders and can trust my abilities to take me to the moon, if needed.

Chronic illness can lead to various forms of distrust and mistrust – distrust of our own bodies to carry us through our daily lives; mistrust of our professional circles due to worries of illness stigma or biases; uncertainty about the future of relationships and the ability for family and friends to cope with the fallout of chronic illness over time. This makes it challenging to go about daily life – and some days can be much more challenging than others. But the thing is, we have to find a way to come to terms with changes in our lifestyles and bodies – so we have to trust our bodies and trust ourselves to handle whatever develops. We have to trust our friends and families to be there with us, to be patient with us, to try to understand us and what we are going through. We have to take the risk to trust.

“Mistrust makes life difficult. Trust makes it risky.” ~Mason Cooley

From where I am sitting right now – I gotta say: Never is a really long time – and trust is always worth the risk.

Namaste

Carolyne

Illness Stigma: A Funny Thing Happened to me on the Way Home…

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost. ~ Chauncey Depew

You know, it still shocks me when I run into bias or stigma against illness. It shouldn’t – but it does.

Having MS, there is a stigma – a stigma regarding chronic illness and personal capacity. People assume you will quit work immediately, or that you will never  be able to participate in activities, or that life is generally over for you and your family. (Seriously – I have run into that.) But much of that can be mitigated to some extent by personal health management. Admittedly, many people who are hard hit my MS have visible limitations, but a large part of people with MS lead quiet lives managing their symptoms, and doing everything in their power to lead as normal a life as possible. And typically, the first reaction a person shows to hearing you have a chronic illness like MS is compassion and sympathy.

Not so with a seizure disorder.

I was dumbstruck the other day when I was traveling home from a business trip. I was travelling home alone from Calgary, and I did as I had been advised by my neurologist for such cases: I informed the flight boarding staff that I had a seizure disorder, and gave them pertinent information. (Note – I have travelled many times alone on business and done this very thing before.)

Much to my surprise, instead of being met with compassion and gratitude for my disclosure (as this helps them do their jobs proactively), I was met with fear and put on notice that I may be refused boarding. WTF????

I was shocked – then livid. Thoughts ran through my head simultaneously, such as: “ExCUSE me?” “Why did I say anything?!?!” “I have survived childhood & domestic abuse, MS and multiple seizures – and you think your fear is gonna stop me from getting home on this plane??? HAH! ” “How DARE you try to keep me from my family through your ignorance!” “What’s next? Are you going to refuse diabetics boarding privileges – they could have an urgent situation. What about people with high blood pressure? Past heart attack patients?””This person has no clue about seizures – I should take the opportunity to educate her now…seriously!” Of course, all this ran through my head in split seconds – and I did not say any of this out loud.

I didn’t go all “corporate dragon lady” on them (as my sister likes to say), but I definitely stood taller, and my voice got much firmer as I dealt with them. I became seriously resolved, and solid as hell.  In the end, the issue was resolved, and I boarded the plane.

But it got me thinking about the stigma – and one’s ability to deal with it. Seizures, as I have discovered, seem to evoke a fear and stigma quite different than that of MS. MS seems to be “socially acceptable”, for lack of better words. But seizures…well, seizures are scary. Seizures can be messy. Seizures means knowing what to do in an emergency. Seizures mean…well, for someone not educated in what seizures are…seizures mean that the person is often perceived as a walking time-bomb, and you don’t want to be around a bomb!!

I consider myself lucky – lucky to be the person I am, as educated as I am, and as strong as I am. Yes – I have random tonic-clonic seizures. Yes, they are scary, and yes, I lose consciousness which means I need help. But I also have a brain that works. I am very well educated and I have the ability to manage my health to mitigate health issues. And I have the self-esteem and self-confidence that comes from age and experience to stand up to yahoos who express un-informed fears and stigma. I am not afraid to stand up for my rights, and when faced with such bias, I have the ability to make myself be heard.

But what about those people out there that DON’T have that life experience, or that self-confidence, or whose self-esteem is already hard-hit due the their seizure disorder? Those people who have been rejected, turn away, left by friends or family, as a result of life and/or illness? Running into that kind of bias and stigma that I experienced from an airline attendant can be absolutely devastating. Self-esteem can be seriously damaged. This in turn affects how that person copes.

Bias and stigma like that make people hide themselves. And no one should have to hide themselves – seizure disorder, chronic illness, or other.

I believe I now need to look deeper into this cause and see where I can help make a difference…no matter how small.

“One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world, making
the most of one’s best.”
- Harry Emerson Fosdick

Namaste

Carolyne

Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster!

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

Image Source: Wakeuptiger.blogspot.ca
http://wakeuptiger.blogspot.ca/2012/03/feelings.html

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

Namaste

Carolyne

PS – This Bruno Mars’ video says it all…

Life and Trust and the Ability to Fly

“I’m flying, Jack! ” ~ Rose De Witt Bukater

This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Living in Halifax for this anniversary has been very interesting…larger than life in someways, and weirdly revealing in other ways. Revealing in that while something as epic as the Titanic exists, what it all really boils down to is trusting the decisions you make every day: Trusting yourself to fly in the face of what seems insurmountable.

One of my all time favorite movies has been and is James Cameron’s Titanic movie. The picture I have above is, to me, one of the most inspiring pictures – because it depicts the first step in someone’s ability to trust themselves and eventually fly free. Why? Because the character of Rose opened her heart just a bit to the possibilities and positive energies of the world just by placing trust in her own abilities, fledgling though they may be, to really fly in the world – recognizing the support around her for the first time. Her eyes were opened to a whole new world and her trust in herself was sparked, to be fueled into a roaring fire.

Confidence and self-trust basically come from the emotional state. Confidence is your ability to cope and depend upon yourself to create a reality that is dependable. When you are dealing with tough situations in life, like a crisis or a chronic illness that must be managed, having self-trust is a critical key to that coping. It allows you to assess the situation, and make decisions – and trust your own decisions. Is it scary? It can be. It can also be the easiest thing in the world.

For me – my self-self trust is something I value greatly. (And somehow, as I have aged, I have noticed it becomes much stronger! All that life experience and wisdom gets packed in the brain nice and tight…or maybe too tight, eh? :) I trust that every day, using all the knowledge I have learned over the years, I can make decisions to keep moving me forward on my own path, unique as it is – no matter what my health throws at me or otherwise.  (And yoga’s teaching & benefits have definitely helped me along that path.)

What I have learned is that there is no such thing as a mistake in life – every experience is something that can be learned from. This I trust – because I trust myself to see the experience for what it is (whether a seizure or an MS exacerbation or something else in life), to find a way to turn negatives into positives, and to generally find the right path forward, even if I may have stumbled off it. My very training as a meteorologist taught me a good part of that – by making self-trust a huge part of the job. You have to trust your information in a smart way, assess and analyse it, discard what has little value, make a decision and trust in your decision. Don’t second guess yourself – as that undermines your own self-trust. Even if that decision turns out to be the wrong one, don’t distrust yourself – you made the best decision with the information you had. You do better when you know better. So, amend. That’s part of the life journey.

“Life is like forecasting. You make a decision based on your best analysis, and if you’re wrong, you change it.” ~ Jim Abraham, Environment Canada Meteorologist

No matter what you are going through in life, there will come a time for  you to fly. Trust in your own ability to do just that!

Namaste

Carolyne

Seeing Through the Loneliness

Remember we’re all in this alone. ~ Lily Tomlin

Recently, someone asked me to write more about the loneliness that can come with living with a chronic illness. Whew – that’s a tough subject, eh?

Loneliness is more of an emotional state consisting of a hollow emptiness and profound unhappiness. It is not a voluntary condition like solitude might be. Loneliness can affect us all at different times, in different ways – whether it’s a fleeting feeling or a constant state of disconnection or isolation. For people with chronic illness, this can sometimes play a significant role in managing their lives.

Unfortunately, the reality of managing a chronic illness is that sometimes you have to make decisions about what you can handle physically at times – decisions that sometimes conflict with family functions (such as Easter Celebrations), or social functions, or physical challenges. Sometimes this can be a really bitter pill to swallow – especially if you have prepared ahead of time the best way you could, and your health takes a different turn, forcing you to cancel plans. At times like that, loneliness can hit like a sledge hammer, especially if you are possibly bed-ridden or otherwise hampered from your usual activities,

It is difficult to experience loneliness, and all the emotions it comes with. At times like that, it is very important to be kind to yourself; be gentle with yourself. Do things that get you to feel more “connected”, such as social media like Facebook or Twitter – it make all the difference in the world when it comes to dealing with loneliness.

Sometimes, no matter how much a person tries to cope, there is the need to speak with a professional. A counselor can help you manage negative emotions that seem to be a part and parcel of loneliness.

Personally – I find I crave solitude at times, but sometimes even the solitude can trigger bouts of loneliness. I find though that those bouts of loneliness are usually triggered by periods of forced solitude (such as an empty nest scenario) combined with deep fatigue or pain caused by my illness. As long as I keep my non-attachment perspective and can see the loneliness for what it really is, I am able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear, and confusion, we are being called upon to reach in and touch our hearts. Then, we will know what to do, what to say, how to be. What is right is always in our deepest heart of hearts. It is from the deepest part of our hearts that we are capable of reaching out and touching another human being. It is, after all, one heart touching another heart. ~ Roberta Sage Hamilton

Remember – you are never truly alone. Just reach out. Reach out to family, friends, bloggers. Find the courage within yourself – it could be the biggest, most courageous step you will ever make. Reach out and touch another heart. They may be just as lonely as you – and suddenly, two feels less lonely, three feels even less lonely…

Namaste.

Carolyne

Recognising your Own Inner Strength through the Fear

“The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  ~ Lao Tzu

Image Source: theinnerstrengthclub.com

I often get alot of people asking and commenting to me “How? How do you find the strength to keep going? To keep fighting? I couldn’t do it…I just don’t have that kind of strength.”

I am going to let you  in on a little secret – we ALL have that inner strength. The problem is, not all of us have the faith in ourselves or the willingness to accept or see that spark of inner strength and help fan the spark into a roaring fire.

You see, once you feel the fear of whatever it is that is stopping you in any way (such as facing the fear of living with a chronic illness), you then have 2 choices: to deal with the fear and move forward, or to let the fear control you and stop you from moving forward.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Remember the old  saying “Feel the fear and do it anyway”? Or, the old Nike slogan “Just do it”? Basically, these are all telling us to recognize our own inner strength; to not allow fear to make or keep us in a victim mentality. But saying and doing are entirely different things. It takes hard consistent work our our parts to keep moving forward, despite the fear, despite the drama, despite the fatigue…

I remember in my younger days, as a teen and young adult, how fear controlled me – fear of what people thought of me; fear of violence; fear of judgement; fear of non-approval; fear…yuck. Then after my kids were born, some of that personal fear was replaced by other fears: fears for my kids safety, fears for their health; fears for what they might witness or experience as they grew up. When I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, those fears changed yet again to fears for my quality of life; fears for how my health would impact my kids; fears for how I could cope with it all.

I can look back now at everything I have gone through, and everything I will go through, and I am confident that I have the strength to tackle anything. Does that mean I am sure that I will always succeed? Heck no! It means that I am confident that I have the strength, succeed or fail, to move forward and deal with anything that comes my way. Does it mean there will be no wavering? No tears? No anxiety at times? Heck no! It means that I am confident that I have it in me to always be able to re-group and grow, and figure out the best way forward for me.

And what are the key ingredients to this confidence and inner strength?

  1. Honesty – Always be honest with yourself. The worst thing you can do is lie to yourself. It’s okay to be afraid, tired, frustrated, sad, angry…
  2. Acceptance – Accept where you are in your life right now. Recognize that everyone learns and grows at their own pace, so you are exactly where you need to be right now.
  3. Persistence – Never, never, never give up. There will be setbacks. There will be days when you feel your life sucks. There will be days days where you wonder if it’s worth it all. Persist anyway! Feel the fear, and keep moving forward, even if it is only a millimetre at a time, or if it feels like you are taking 2 steps back for every one step forward. Remember it’s a journey – one tiny step at a time.

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.   ~Anais Nin

Feel the fear – and do it anyway!

namaste

Carolyne

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

Namaste

Carolyne

Overwhelmed by Stress: How to Re-establish your Balance

“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.” ~Astrid Alauda

Have you ever felt an incredible weight of the world on your shoulders, spinning out of hand? Or a nagging feeling that you just can’t get anything done to your own satisfaction, and you just don’t know why? Have you ever found yourself feeling like you just have to get away from everything before you say something you’ll regret? Or over-reacted to simple things that would normally never bother you? That behind the calm facade there are monsters are lurking?

I sure have. As a recognizable type-A go-getter, it is something that I have battled for years, with various levels of success. Most recently, I have been feeling more and more overwhelmed, at times literally paralyzed by decisions I must make at work (What is our strategic plan?); choices I must make at home (Mom – what’s for dinner?); or even trying to get out and socialize (Hey – you up for a girls’ night or some yoga?). The past couple of weeks, I have been dealing with difficult technical breakdowns that have delayed significantly my ability to work efficiently. I also was told that I have abnormal sleep test results and was scheduled for the soonest possible appointment at the hospital’s sleep disorder clinic because I have a “severe category” sleep disorder. I had a wicked MS exacerbation, complete with pain and fatigue to the level of stupid. My darling Mike had personal crisis of his own. And I have had to travel for work. All while trying to figure out WHY I cannot beat this exhaustion.

By evening, I am so wiped, it hurts to have to talk, or put sentences together, or make any dicisions – even as simple as what to make for dinner. All this drama culminated this weekend as, after two solid days of remote systems repair efforts with work that didn’t work out, I broke down in tears by Friday afternoon because I could not get my Kobo reader to work either. Mike hugged me, and I sheepishly blamed my fatigue and tried to shrug it all off. Then Saturday, wanting a low effort comfort food dinner, I made my (usually) wonderful seafood corn chowder. My son was looking especially forward to it, and picked up crusty bread. Well – at the appointed dinner time, we were all starving, and my chowder just had not cooked in the crock pot. The potatoes were still raw!

Now normally, I would just shrug and say “ok – pizza tonite”. Not this night. This night, the chowder proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I was frustrated to the point of throwing my bowl of uncooked chowder in the toilet. My son said “Wow – you are really pissed! C’mere Mom – let me give you a hug.” At that point I burst into tears and ran into my office to cry my heart out. I felt like an absolute idiot, literally crying over raw potatoes!

At that point, I recognized that I had reached my own personal critical breakdown point, and that I needed to regroup and re-balance myself before I set a health crisis in motion.

On the bright side, the sleep disorder thing explains some of the reason behind my overwhelming fatigue, brain fog, and inability to concentrate on anything for more than 5 minutes. Also – I am at a peak level of stress and fatigue, and by now, I probably would have seized – but no seizure so far…so that may mean my meds are actually working!

When the mind is on overload, it can grind to a halt and temporarily shut down, which mine had done. Once I recognized just how badly overwhelmed I had become, I could begin to make the changes necessary to regain my balance.

Tips to Re-Establish your Balance when your are Overwhelmed:

  1. Cry it out. Crying can be a great release – like the valve in a pressure cooker. Allow your tears to lessen the weight of the burdens you’ve been carrying. Accept that part of life as what it is and move past the tears to a new step.
  2. Laugh as much as you can! Seek out funny situations, happy people, or anything that makes you laugh. Watch comedy TV, or something that is light or mindlessly absorbing. Avoid any TV that could be potentially depressing or stressful. This is self-preservation and helping you to regulate your mood. (I avoid violent slasher movies!!)
  3. Give the mind a rest from the stress of everyday life for awhile. Take a “me” day, if you can. Shut off the phones, cell phones, computers. Tell your family & friends that you need some quiet time to reconnect with your inner peace. Light candles. Meditate. Do yoga. Sip your favorite tea or coffee wrapped in a blankie and read a trashy novel. Disconnect from the world. Turn your energy inward to help yourself.
  4. Surround yourself with positivity, especially when you don’t feel at all positive nor cheerful. Go to the mall and walk around, watching people enjoy themselves. Moods can be catchy!
  5. Exercise! Go after that endorphin release. Find an activity you like – swimming, running, walking, yoga, biking, dancing… the choice is yours. Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is turn on your favorite tunes and boogie your way to a smile!
  6. Above all, be gentle with yourself! Focus on one thing at a time. Try not to to multitask. Simplify and stop for a moment. Just breathe. Be in the moment where you are, and know that this too shall pass.

If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that even personal balance has its ebbs and flows. Kinda like everything in nature, eh?

“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Namaste y’all!

Carolyne