Your Body Hears Everything Your Mind Says

Know that “this too shall pass.”

Sounds simple doesn’t it, but when I am in the middle of a bad flare, this is a hard mantra to remember.  You would think that after a lifetime of chronic pain, I would remember this and stay calm, but it isn’t that easy. The first day of a painful flare, it’s annoying to go lay down multiple times during the day.  Then by the third or fourth day of being unable to do basic tasks, I go into catastrophizing.  My mind starts flashing scary questions like flash cards that carry me right into anxiety and worry: like, will I ever be able to leave the house again?, how will I cook for myself?, and then, anxiety bubbles over to panic, will I ever be able to do laundry or shop again, will I be able to drive again?  And they don’t stop there unless I stop them myself.

I have found mantras useful to help me get out of a “mind flare” when I cannot remember that “this too shall pass.” I have post-it notes everywhere, and I mean everywhere, to remind me of the simple thought, this too shall pass and other mantras that motivate me to be positive about my situation.  Because after all these years, I still forget this principal thought.

Have a Day Quote

I do not mean that the pain will pass and I will be all better.  I am only implying that peace will come back, and I will be able to smile and actually feel the joy again amid chronic pain. I will not experience a medical breakthrough, but a mental breakthrough and mantras help this process.

Mantras are a sentence or a group of words that bring you back to the reality you want to have in your life in the middle of struggles.  You can use mantras in any way that works for you.  Speak them aloud or in your head. Write them down or memorize them. Find a sentence, scripture, or a small grouping of words that inspire you to think more positively, and do it BEFORE you have an intense flare.    If you have a mantra memorized or on your fridge so that you see it during a flare; the words can bring you back to a healthier mental state.  We know through research that being in a tense mental state increases physical pain.  If you can reframe the negative situation in a positive light, it can help ease the pain flare from becoming worse.

For me, it doesn’t always work; I will admit.  Sometimes, I see a mantra that I thought might bring me back to lighter thoughts, but when I read it, “yea, right!” comes out of my mouth, and it does nothing for me.  It is difficult to pull myself out of this funk, but I just keep repeating them until I believe it.  Eventually, you will feel it.

My most favorite mantra is

“I will breathe.

I will think of solutions.

I will not let worry control me.

I will not let my stress level break me.

I will simply breathe.

And it will be okay.

Because I don’t quit.”

-Shayne McClendon (this is who it is attributed to on the internet. If anyone knows different, please let me know. I want to give the right person credit.)

Yesterday, I found my first list of mantras, dated in the fall of 2016, that I utilized to change my mind-set, and rereading them made me smile at how far I have come.  I remember how hard I struggled at changing my thoughts.  It was so hard but, I kept reading them every morning while I brushed my teeth and eventually a few of them stuck. After awhile,  I realized my mind was stronger than I thought.

Cindy’s List (from 2016)
Make peace with your past
    so it doesn’t disturb your future.
What other people think of you
    is none of your business.
The only person in charge
    of your happiness is you.
Don’t compare your life to others.
    Comparison is the thief of joy.
Time heals almost everything.
    Give it time.
STOP thinking so much.
     It’s alright not to know all the answers.

SMILE

You don’t own all the problems of the world.

Creating a mind shift in our thoughts from negative to positive helps us to get unstuck. When I’m in a flare, I feel like I have lost all control, but mantras bring me back to the reality of the situation that I do have control over my mind if not my body.  When the mind is a well-tuned instrument, a person can face all the difficult circumstances that living with chronic pain brings.

It is all about how we view things that affect us in our lives. The positive thoughts help me keep perspective of my situation, and that is something we all need in our lives.

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

Featured Photo by Natalya Letunova on Unsplash

 

 

The Robin By the Window

I have an exciting thing going on right outside of my window.  I have a robin’s nest within 3 feet of my bedroom window and only about an arm’s reach above my head.

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It is tucked neatly under a deck on pilings off of the second floor.  I first noticed it about two weeks ago, and I stood there to see if any birds were sitting on the nest.  It wasn’t long before a robin with a robust rust brown belly, and yellow beak flew under the deck and sat down. I got really excited and got on my tippy toes from inside of my bedroom, but I could not see any eggs when she flew away.

The next few days, I watched with curiosity trying to stay far enough away as not to spook her. I could not see anything. I just had to believe the eggs were there and wait. I knew the babies had hard work ahead of them to break through the shells, but there was something good coming.

I also enjoyed watching mommy robin hop along all over the back yard looking for worms in the lush green grass deep in the soggy ground.  When she was full, she would fly back and wiggle herself down onto the nest.  I just knew there had to be eggs.

After a few days of watching her, I began to see another robin helping her sit on the nest.  I decided it must have been daddy robin.  From Google, I found out that they both watch over the eggs and that the whole process only lasted two weeks.  I was scrambling trying to figure out how many days it had been since I first saw the nest.  I was not sure, but I continued watching every day and noticed how this bird just lived.  No concerns, no worries.  Everything is provided. A new life is being created.

A few more days passed, and I was looking for signs of babies when one of the adult robins flew back with a wiggly worm in its beak.  I did a quiet mini jump up and down session!  I had babies!  Well, the robin technically had the babies, but I was witnessing this event.  I was so excited. I’m sorry that I don’t have a high-speed camera to capture it, but I still wanted to share the pictures.

 

Oh, my gosh! They were hungry! At first, I could only see the pointy little beaks above the top of the nest.  But each day their scrawny featherless necks reached higher and demanded more food. I read that the male and female robins would fly back and forth as many as 100 times feeding the newly hatched babies every day. That was dedication along with fortitude; something that we also need to have when living with chronic pain.

So the baby birds grew each day, and I could tell their feathers were beginning to fluff up.  I am amazed at how fast and how much they change each day.  Two days ago, one of the two babies was very wobbly in the nest while trying to spread out his wings.  He just wasn’t sure exactly how to do it, but he keeps trying. Then today, both the birds were spreading out, taking up most of the nest so mom, or it could have been dad, sat on the 2×4 beside the nest.  They were obviously in the teenager stage, pushing the limits with their parents!  HA HA!

I checked on them a few times today, and they have not left the nest yet, but it will happen within a few days. I hope I don’t miss it.

I also found out that a robin is a sign of new beginnings or rebirth, and I thought that was so very appropriate to my life where it is right now. Maybe you can relate.

I started school to help me to be better equipped to help others that are living with chronic pain. I moved to a new state and to a town where I do not know anyone. That was big. I’ve had a lot of firsts in the past three months, causing me to need to reinvent myself again. It seems like that is precisely what life is about: constant change.

I am going through new beginnings in my life, and God has provided everything and every person that I need, and He will continue to do that for me. He will help you too.

On my hardest days, He provided a verse, a friend, or a robin to encourage me and guide me on this journey. I’ve found that we can accept the new beginnings that chronic pain brings. We don’t have to focus on the endings that pain brings to our lives. Don’t get stuck there.

I know you had a full life before chronic pain and you feel cheated. It is debilitating, and it can just stop you dead in your tracks. You think it’s all over, but it’s not just an ending of life as you knew it.

It is also the beginning of something new in your life.  It’s the beginning of the challenge of redefining yourself in a new way.

Is it easy to bring about this new birth?  No, think of the babies breaking through the shell and the work of feeding their new life.  It was a lot of work to fly back and forth to feed their babies 100 times a day.  There will be a lot of struggling to experience getting out of your comfort zone. It’s hard work to change your mindset.  It may be trial and error before you figure it out, but you will eventually find a new purpose in life while learning to accept the closing doors.

Just like the robins by the window, I see a new birth coming to fruition in life amid my chronic pain. You have a new story in you also.   This week I encourage you to look for that newness that you can bring to your life.

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

Lead Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Rest of Photos by Cindy

 

Blessed Are The Cracks

“You have a story—

a very important story that rests at the core of your being, a story to tell.

It is a story that has torn your heart into pieces, and it is a story of beauty, because your heart couldn’t have been torn without first having loved and somehow lost something you loved.

Now is the time to begin honoring your story…blessed are the cracked, for they shall let the light in.”

–Susan Zimmerman

 

Just wanted to share this with everyone.  I pray that everyone can cope well enough to have a good day.

 

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

 

Longing for Answers

This morning I woke up with a thousand things to do that were urgent. My brain jumped to screaming everything I needed to do, but my soul said, stop…breathe….go to the light for peace, then proceed.

When I got out of bed, I decided to spend time praising God for rewriting my story with the love of Jesus. I spent about 30 mins listening to Laren Daigle lastest album and only praising God. This is no quick fix, but the peace it brings is amazing.

Today was a productive day because I put my trust in God. I believe that is the reason why it went well and I accomplished so much even with a horrible cold and physical pain.

Now last year, my buzz word was “believe.” I saw that word pop up everywhere, and I had a very specific prayer answered surrounding the word believe. The verse, help me with my unbelief, changed my life, but it took 10 years for my prayer of “help me with my unbelief” to be answered.

Sometimes God doesn’t give an immediate answer. I had to wait for my answers. The wait was hard and sometimes, I felt like giving up. But the realization of seeing my prayer answered, even 10 years later, is a very powerful feeling of complete trust in God.

So, that’s why my buzz word for 2019 has been TRUST. I am seeing it everywhere in scripture and even in conversations with people that are giving me good advice…just wait, and trust that God has this. He knows what is going on and in his time, he will answer. I believe that to be true.

I’ve seen the power of prayer so many times that I cannot remember them all. I wish I had kept a journal of God’s blessings and provisions, but my memory will have to serve as my testimony. Sometimes my memory isn’t so great so it will take habits of spending time in the Bible and in prayer to constantly remind me.

Spending time in the Bible has always been hard for me because I am so ADHD. I have a hard time reading and even studying, so it takes extra effort. I have read the Bible through multiple times, but I always skipped Revelation.😃

Lots of people try to read the Bible through in a year, I think that’s a bit much. I always did it in two years and it went well without the extra pressure, but it’s ok if it takes you three or four years. Make the commitment to read 10 mins a day and you will get through reading the Bible in YOUR time and that’s ok.

Prayer can be in any form: music, writing, and the spoken word. I’m sure you can come up with more ways to pray. Everyone is different.

I believe it is just like talking to a beloved friend or confidant. Just talk. There is no special formula to get the job done. Just speak to Him and He will hear you, but His answer may be, wait, like it was for me. My answer developed over 10 years, but the answers came. In the meantime, I cultivated a relationship with Him. That makes it worth the wait and the pain journey easier.

So, if you are waiting on an answer that you desperately need, maybe about your chronic pain, just wait and while you wait, cultivate a relationship with God with prayer with praise and reading God’s word. Doing these things will not fail you. Trust in Him to bring your dreams to fruition. He’s that powerful.

I hope everyone is safe and that you feel the best you can in whatever situation you are in.

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

Music is My Shorthand

Tonight, I am doing fairly well but there are some out there that are feeling like they just cannot keep going.

If that is you tonight, this video is for you.

If you are doing good, please stop one minute to pray for the people that cannot see their way at this moment.

Chronic pain often forces us to remain isolated and feeling alone. We have all had those moments that makes us fearful of our future.

So tonight, remember that you are not alone.

Much Love & Many Prayers,
Cindy

International Association for Suicide Prevention

Photo by Krystal Ng on Unsplash

Music is the shorthand of emotion.” – Leo Tolstoy quote from BrainyQuote.com

He Cares For You

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

I memorized this verse a very long time ago when I was teaching a Sunday school class for 1st graders. It’s a simple verse that even the kids could memorize.

How can a Bible verse help you in today’s world? If your hope is in Him, you know there will be a glorious day when all the pain ends. That’s literally what keeps me going every morning when I wake up.

I do not believe meditating on a Bible verse relieves chronic pain.

Every morning I’m usually in the same amount of pain when I wake up. It’s not easy to keep going, but my hope is not from this world. Knowing there will be an end to the pain gives me the hope I need to continue my life.

It is like a birth. You know at the end of the pain there will be a reward of a baby when it is over.

I choose to look at my salvation in that way also. Life is hard with physical and emotional pain. This world is not our world. We will feel pain of all kinds, but there is a reward much greater than we can imagine.

This verse helps me trust in God giving me peace so that I can focus on what is important, helping others, instead of worrying.

Do you have a Bible verse that carries you through hard times? Please share. It could encourage someone else. You never know the impact you can make by reaching out to help others.

Much Love and Many Prayers,

Cindy

Beautiful People

“The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have still found their way out of the depths.  These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen.”      ——Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

We cannot control the things that happen to us, but we can grow through the pain when bad things happen.  There is a purpose, but you cannot see it yet.  He will bring good out of the most difficult situations.

The struggle up the mountain is difficult and challenging, but at the top is a view that is unimaginable.  Keep fighting the fight and win the race.

Overcoming struggles is what make us strong. We weren’t born brave. We develop it through trials, and sometimes those trials seem so unfair.  I always try to remember this is not the world that God intended for us.

Rest in knowing you are being transformed. Every defeat that brought you down, the suffering that made you feel weak, the struggles to get through each day, and every loss that broke your heart will be used for good.

Who can you reach out to today with compassion and help them on their journey and bring beauty from your pain by helping others with your own experiences?

I hope you will do that this week because everyone needs to hear the encouraging, “You got this.”

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
—-Bob Marley

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

The Perspective of Chronic Illness

I wanted to share this quote I found today that might help someone with their daily struggles with chronic illness.

“I choose joy… I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.” ——Max Lucado, Upwords

Circumstance.

Perspective.

Two significant words in this world today for everyone, not just people with chronic pain.

We cannot be ruled by our circumstances. Our lives are easier to live when we look for the beauty in our broken parts and in the world and when we accept where we are at in that point in time.

However, our perspectives do rule our lives, and it is something we can work on changing.

Some people get angry when the talk is about “controlling pain with your mind.” No, I do not believe you can control your pain with your mind. But I do believe the journey can be lighter with a change in our mindset.

Today, find one thing that is good in your life and praise Him for it.

Much Love and Many Prayers,

Cindy

The To Do List

Through tears after dinner last night, I told my hubby that I finished everything on my to-do list. I was so happy that I had finally done that one more time.

It had been years since I crossed off everything on my daily list of things to get done. Chronic pain had changed every aspect of my life.

Once upon a time, completing daily tasks was something I was proud of doing every day. They were always long lists, and I believed that meant I was having a successful day, that I was a successful person who was not lazy or unorganized.

Whether it was at work or home, it suggested the day had gone smoothly, and I could be proud. The checked boxes indicated I had been prepared for every snag or dealt with them efficiently.

But tonight, I am in severe pain. I was so excited that I placed an “X” in every box, but I was crying because of the physical pain I was enduring from being so “successful.”

Then I realized what I was doing to myself. I was judging myself by the number of checked off boxes on my notepad.

I have worked very hard to change my perspective about living with chronic pain and to live as positively as I can regardless of my situation. I have been diligent in finding what isn’t working and changing it, but this one snuck in on me.

Why do we push ourselves so hard mentally or physically past the breaking point when while living with chronic pain?

So many dreams die one by one when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness. Yesterday was almost as if I was trying to prove to myself I could still do it. Well, I did do it, and it isn’t pretty. I don’t think it was worth it.

Don’t do this to yourself either. You only have one body. That family member that thinks you are lazy or the friend that just thinks you are unorganized isn’t going to donate you their body when yours gives out because you were judging yourself by what they thought of you.

I need to stop comparing myself to others and realize this is my life, not theirs and I’m the only one that needs to be happy about it. I need to decide on new ways to consider myself successful, and I need to nurture those ideas.

Today, I have put aside “the to do list.” I’m going to rest and recharge my batteries. Hopefully, I can start again tomorrow.

Be kind to your bodies out there.

Much Love and Many Prayers

Cindy

Help Support My Misson

Update on the new chronic pain support group I am starting:  I have spoken to a local mental health agency in my county about using their space for our meetings.  They seem to be very interested in the idea of a place they can send their patients who are seeing them for depression and anxiety from either chronic illness or chronic pain.  I think they were just as excited as I am. I am hoping this community agency will be a perfect match for our support group. Keep your fingers crossed.  

 

Do You Feel Stuck in Your Situation?

This morning I was thinking about my thoughts and beliefs that kept me “stuck” for so many years with deep and dark depression and anxiety from chronic pain.

I felt stuck because…

I did not have belief in myself.

I allowed others to do everything for me.

I always thought my body had to be completely healed to have a better life again.

I thought I must be weak because I can’t push through the pain, and that made me feel shame.

I became angry when doctors told me I must learn to live with it so I “dug in my heels in” that a cure must be found.

I didn’t take responsibility for my treatment. I trusted in doctors to have complete control over my treatment without question.

I believed that going to a psychologist meant the pain was only in my head.

I had untreated severe depression and anxiety due to pain.

I relied only on medication and not lifestyle changes to get through my pain.

I was grieving my “old” life and who I was before chronic pain.

I kept myself isolated at home.

I compared my life to everyone else’s “perfect” life on Facebook.

It is in my personality to resist change and to be inflexible mentally.

This is just a few reasons I could not move forward with my life.

So, how am I turning things around?I realized over time that I was the only one that can change my situation. It is a long slow process. I had given away my power a long time ago, so I had to find the strength to make the changes. I struggle so hard with making changes. I just cling to whatever I am doing, even if it isn’t the best thing for me. Change is scary.

In fighting to change for the better, I felt like I was in a cocoon pushing out an arm and a leg, occasionally punching through only to have it close back up quickly. There are days I still struggle with breaking through the difficult stuff and being consistent.

When I hit 250 lbs from being sedentary, I woke up and realized my weight issue was completely out of control. I sought out a surgeon for weight loss surgery. Part of the process is seeing a nutritionist and psychologist. Both have helped me change my life.

This was the first step in lasting change although I didn’t know it at the time.

I had to take a very long multiple choice quiz about my behaviors and beliefs. The results are used to determine if you are a good candidate for the surgery mentally and if you will commit to making the lasting changes. Needless to say, my results showed I “got issues.”

That was the beginning of my journey to healing. It was not the cure I was hoping for. I was looking for that miracle that would make my life go back to normal.

I would love to tell you I have it all figured out but I am moving very slow with the changes. We are talking tiny baby steps. Creeping ever so slowly over the past two years.

With every a-ha moment of understanding how my brain processes thoughts, I began making small changes in how I thought about myself through therapy.

For me, going over the old me and keeping what works but throwing out the no longer usable tools in my mental health toolbox has been helpful.

Has it been easy? No. It has been excruciatingly painful emotionally at times, but I have learned so much about myself and the people around me.

Becoming aware of who I really am and accepting that person even though I am different than the beliefs I was given as a child has been key to making changes.

It is just the starting point sitting across from a mental health professional. You have to get over the hump of using your brain to control your thoughts.

Most everyone has heard the buzz word “mindful.” It is having control of your immediate thoughts and changing your negative belief pattern while living in the moment, not in the past or future but right in the present.

Feeling stuck, lonely, and depressed is no way to go through life. Some people do not win the battle, and that makes me very sad.  I hope I reach someone today that feels defeated and they seek out professional help.

You can choose to take control of your thoughts. There is no shame in seeking out help. The medical doctors are not taught how to handle emotions and mental health issues that chronic pain causes.

Medical doctors have very little training in treating a patient’s emotional pain from chronic pain. Mental health services should be offered when you are diagnosed with chronic pain and not at the end when they do not know what to do with you anymore. They leave you emotionally damaged by chasing miracles and expensive alternative treatments they offer when they cannot do anything else for you.

A psychologist or other mental health professional should be a part of the chronic pain treatment plan in the beginning, and it should be covered entirely by insurance.

Don’t stay stuck.You really can feel happiness in the midst of chronic pain.

I promise it is worth the hard work. The first step is believing in yourself and that you are worth the work. I believe in you.

Join me in taking my own advice today. Stop the negative thoughts by challenging each one. People say “get out of your head,” but I think we need to “get in our head” to have a happy life no matter the situation or surroundings.

One thing no one can take away from you is your attitude.

Much Love and Many Prayers,
Cindy

Help Support My Mission