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

 

 

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

 

My Temple

Today, I was going through last years datebook and found a prayer that I had shared in a blog last year.  I would like to share it again today.  It’s a great reminder that in all of the mess we can feel gratitude within the stuggles of fighting with a broken earthly body.

Creator God:

Thank you for this body. Thank you for the gift of movement, the gift of touch, the gift of laughter.  When I am at odds with my body, please help me focus my thoughts to what my body can do and the ways it can serve you. Thank you for the nerves and synapses. arterteries, and brain cells, that make me who I am, your creation.  Amen

Enjoy your weekend!

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

Beautiful New Beginnings

I pray that everyone had a blessed Christmas Season. As the holidays close and the year ends, I have been reflecting on the past twelve months.

A roller coaster at times, 2018 has been an interesting year for sure. Stress-wise, it has been a really hard year for many reasons, which contributes to extra pain, but I am still standing just like my tattoo says… Still I rise. I may be battle weary, but I am upright.

In spite of 2018 being stressful, I made some accomplishments that makes me proud.  I think more than anything, I learned to stop fighting the process.  Life is not simple.  In fact, it is pretty messy, but I found some beauty in the mess if I kept my focus on what really matters in life to me.

Some highlights of my year:

  • I wrote for my blog and Survivors Blog Here, and I wrote articles for The Mighty and Sivana East. I have been amazed at how far my words have gone in the world. I am humbled by the many people that have stopped for a moment to leave an encouraging word. 💚
  • I went to Chicago in June with hubby for a chronic pain support group leader training. He went through the training with me. It was an incredible opportunity for both of us. We learned things that will benefit each of us individually and our marriage. We are very thankful that Pain Connection, through the US Pain Foundation, held the training.
  • I met some unbelievably supportive people through my writing and through doing advocacy work. Some have shared their hearts with me. Some have helped me hone my blog with their encouragement and guidance. Others have shared the ropes of advocacy and how to accomplish reaching the politicians with our unique chronic pain perspective.
  • I met with my US House of Representative’s office this year about how the chronic pain community has been affected by the misinterpreted CDC’s opioid prescribing guidelines. Once again, the words came effortlessly to me, and I knew I was on the right path.
  • The Alliance of the Treatment of Intractable Pain (ATIP) asked me to help recruit and manage volunteer advocates for them. It is a wonderful group of people deeply dedicated to fighting for the rights of chronic pain patients. I am honored to be apart of this organization.
  • We lived through historical rain fall amounts when Hurricane Florence came though our area. It’s the worst hurricane I have been through, but thankfully, we had minimal damage. During that week, I had to push through the pain, no matter what, to keep my 84 year old mother comfortable and keep food cold without power, and to cook and clean. I fell into bed exhausted every night, but I learned something about myself. I do have what it takes to survive anything. I can endure much more than I thought.

As I found where my true strength lies this year, in Christ, I learned I am capable of accomplishing many things that I thought I could not. Every moment has been a “learning” crawl but I know I have not been alone.

I have had all of you along during the past year, which I am thankful for every day. I have learned something from each of you. Some blogs I read made me cry. Some, made me giggle, but mostly, the blogs I read encouraged and inspired me.

I have high hopes for 2019.  There are many things coming together in my life which I want to share with you this coming year.

Thank you for walking this journey with me.  Here’s to the year 2019 and beautiful beginnings.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Much Love and Many Prayers,

Cindy

Photo Credit: Steve Halama on Unsplash

Reinventing The Wheel

Sometimes hubby and I go to a motocross track on the weekend. Hubby races a sports quad, and I really enjoy going too because I grew up around fast cars because of my brothers. I am familiar with the noise and the smells. My dad owned a shop for car repairs, so it was something I was always around. The smell of grease and oil actually reminds me of good memories and that has continued with my hubby.

When we first started going to the track, I was in much better health. Traveling to the motocross tracks was easy, and I could run from jump to jump watching them ride. Since my pain level has increased, we’ve had to improvise.

Hubby brings a generator so I can plug in my heating pad. I have sat in 90-degree heat with it against my back. On the sweltering days, he brings a powerful fan that everyone enjoys. We have a pretty good set up. I know how lucky I am that he helps me to be as comfortable as possible.

The obstacles have been worked out so I can enjoy being there even though I have chronic pain. Hubby loads up all my extra bags of needed items for the trip. I will decide when to take medication or apply a patch, so it is all working together for the most extended moments of pain coverage during the trip and watching him race.

Before chronic pain, I made videos of the guys riding which I really enjoyed doing. Now, I video from a stationary position because I cannot run around the track anymore.

Everything in my life had to change to accommodate my illnesses and going to the track was one of them. At first, I fought it. I wanted life to be like it always had been for me, no struggle to do the things I love.

I am a creature of habit, so I am not too fond of change, but I needed to reinvent myself. I was tired of grieving my old life or the life that I thought I should have. I was profoundly depressed and full of anxiety, and I decided I needed to change. I am learning to reinvent the activities I love by finding solutions to each problem I faced. It’s been two years since I started the process of determining what I needed to do to have a fulfilling life even with chronic pain. Bottom line: I have to accept it.

You may cringe when I mention acceptance of pain. Change is hard, and many people think if you accept your pain, you give up, but it does not have to be that way.

Acceptance is only accepting that you need to make changes to your life.  That is all you agree to. You need to look at it differently and get creative.  If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

This is accomplished by learning new ways to do things you love to do.  The activity may not be exactly the same, but the passion will be there.  You just have to look for it.

Life is messy and painful. It is so hard for me to accept that, but that is what we must understand when living with chronic pain. Reinventing yourself or your activities will not make it easier, but it can resemble the life you had before.

I encourage you to take an inventory of what you loved to do in the past that you can no longer do because of your illness. Break down each problem by finding solutions one by one, then you will reinvent your life.

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

Photo credit: Cindy

Words For Healing

I have missed writing, but when I am doing advocacy work, I seem to fall in head first and get lost. It seems like everything is urgent because it takes so long to finally see the results of your hard work.  You can hardly tell that you are making any difference. It really is hard work to go in with credible information.  I applaud anyone that has made the trip to visit their elected officials and given them an education on what the chronic pain community is going through these days.

I have taken to twitter encouraging everyone in the chronic pain community to get their voices heard by reaching out to their legislators.  I had a few people that said they were too scared to speak out because of retribution, ie: they will lose access to the small amount of medicine that they need to be able to function.

I completely understand the fear in speaking out. I feel the same. Knowing that people are afraid to speak out compels me to be the voice for them also.  For someone that has no other legal and affordable options than their current opioid medications, it must be agonizing everyday counting their pills and worrying if this is the last bottle before the pain is unbearable. That breaks my heart.

If you decide to go to your representative, here’s a link to find out who you should contact and how to reach them.  If you want more information about advocating for the chronic pain community, contact me. There is plenty that can be done from home.

I also began a writing group last week.  There are about 8 of us and we are made up of 8 different perspectives, so I’m loving that.  So, far it has been mostly timed free flowing writing. I’m excited to see what the future groups will hold.  We are all looking for different things from the group.

I am thankful for the gift of writing.  Being about to express myself through words is healing.  I know most of you that are reading are writers also.  Do you stick to one style of writing or do you use different mediums – free write, poetry, prose, spiritual, song lyrics, blog post- to convey your feelings?

I believe that what every you write, whether it’s a tweet or a post, you should edify others. Honor them.  I am appauld by the comments I read on twitter and facebook; the unnecessary meanness in the words people type anonymously behind their computer screen. I do not understand why people are so mean.

But let’s be different.  Today, make a positive tweet about your life with your chronic illness.  Publish a uplifting post about another’s triumph over struggle.  Just put some love out there to combat the hate.

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

 

 

 

 

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

A Drop in the Bucket

I met with someone from my House of Representative’s office yesterday afternoon about how chronic pain affects our lives.

I think it went well. I presented the information in four parts: life with chronic pain after the CDC recommendations, addiction, chronic pain, and suicide, and legislative solutions. He seemed to listen and wrote a few things down.

I have done what I can by having this meeting. What this office does with the information is up to them. I don’t know if I made a difference or not, but I hope that they will remember our meeting when any legislation involving pain and pain research comes up.

I think everyone should do this kind of thing at least once even though it’s not easy to do for someone with a chronic illness. It took me many emails and three months to have the time to put together a notebook of information to leave with their office.

I am not naive thinking this one chat with my Congressman’s office will make an immediate difference. We have an unbelievably tangled mess with the opioids, chronic pain, and why people become addicted. To fix these colliding emergencies will not be easy.

I “put my drop in the bucket,” so to speak. Other people need to do the same, or the bucket will never be filled with individual drops that make it overflow showing a need for action by our government to protect people with pain.

We need to be brave by speaking out, especially about the need for expedited pain research. Everyone might as well get comfortable with the turning tide on opioids. It is not going away.

If anyone wants ideas or information about how to speak to your congressman, please message me. I will be glad to help you make a difference in the chronic pain community.

Much Love and Many Prayers,
Cindy

Photo Credit: jomar-271602-unsplash capital hill

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