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.

20190519_143425

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

 

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

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

Goodbye Hurricane Florence

I have been sitting at my desk just staring.  I am exhausted, but I’m still trying to keep going.  It has been a little over one week since I began preparing for Hurricane Florence to hit us. 

The storm nailed our area.  Went right over us. We are ok, thank God, but so many other lives have been completely devastated.

I cannot imagine the pain that people all around me are in today. I am really sad today even though we have been spared the worst.  I’m sad for what the people with pain are going through trying to survive if they lost their homes, their medicines, or other medical devices. 

I know that BCBSNC has a healthline for it’s members in North Carolina 1-877-477-2424.

There is also free for this area MDs live through Teladoc 1-855-756-8708  & MDLive 1-888-959-9516 .

Also, call Magellen for national crisis line for help in this area 1-800-327-7451

If anyone wants to volunteer, North Carolina Organizations Active in Disaster

Like everyone else, I pushed my body way past the breaking point, and then some, to do what we had to do.  I wanted to keep mom comfortable while power was out. Being 83 years old, I was more concerned about her with the heat than anything else.

IMG_0003

We cooked some really great food on the grill during the storm.  I’m sure I gained 15 pounds. Hot eggs with sausage and english muffins each morning is not bad.  This picture was during the calm after the storm.  We didn’t take the time to take pictures of the other meals but believe me, we ate good. So, thankful.

 

We are so blessed with only water damage from the roof leaking, so that makes me feel guilty for even thinking about feeling bad at this moment while looking out the window at the perfectly Carolina blue sky.

A couple of my friends bailed and can’t get back.  One friend is stuck with only 5 gallons of gas a neighbor graciously gave them because someone siphoned my friend’s gas out of their truck. Another good friend’s daughter lost everything of hers and her three children.

On a happier note, we have some really great neighbors across the street that stood in line for a long time to go in groups of ten at a time into the grocery store to get food for all of us.

At the same time they were there, we were also able to get out on one road to a small town with a small Walmart.  The shelves were empty, but they had water. While the store was extremely packed and busy, everyone was being polite and helpful even though we were all worried about getting back to our homes because of the continuing down pour and the fact that the flood waters were rising fast.

When the worst of the storm was over for us, we were able to help other friends out with gas, water, and food.  I have seen first hand how a disaster brings out the best in people, but I would like to catch the thief that stole gas from my friend!

A note about the support group and advocacy work: 

I sent a proposal to a new church about using their facilities for our meetings.  The storm will likely slow down the progress of it being approved.  I will just need to have patience.

Even before the hurricane, the physical pain put me in bed many times during the day leaving me unable to get things completed. 

It is very hard to get anything started, much less finished because I must stop in the middle of something because my body starts saying “no more!”  My mind won’t stop thinking about all the things I am trying to accomplish while I am laying there staring at the ceiling. 

I ordered a mobile desk that I thought would slide under the bed. I was hoping to continue working on the computer with the tilted desk slid under, but it did not work.  It wasn’t long enough to put the computer right in front of me. I thought I had found a solution to laying flat and working on the computer. I will figure it out, but it is frustrating to lay in bed with ideas of things that need to be accomplished.

Before the hurricane hit, I had an appointment with this area’s director for my Congressman to discuss the future of people with chronic pain.  Of course, Hurricane Florence changed that, too.  It will take time before this can be followed up on because his first priority right now is the victims of Hurricane Florence.

Someone recently told me it’s ALL baby steps. That’s what life is.  It is short-stride baby steps every step of the way. With this storm, the people in North Carolina and South Carolina will become strong again.  We will just do it with baby steps. #NorthCarolinaStrong

Much Love and Many Prayers,

Cindy

You Are Strong

Strong quote

Wow, I really have felt this quote the past few weeks.  Every day I wake up living with chronic pain, I have to find my strength to get back up and do it all over again.  Without a focus, living this way causes depression in me, so I have been putting all my attention on starting the support group and getting my office put back together. This has created less time for the blog.  I may be posting less, but I am still here.

I wanted to post this for those that just keep moving no matter what, keep putting one foot in front of the other, just keep going, regardless of their circumstances.  You are strong fighters working through hard, painful things every day. I know what you are going through every day.  You aren’t alone.  Just keep moving.

Move Lyrics by TobyMac

Another heartbreak day
Feels like you’re miles away
Don’t even need no shade
When your sun don’t shine, shine
Too many passin’ dreams
Roll by like limousines
It’s hard to keep believin’
When they pass you by and by
I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet
Echoin’ inside your head
Are the words that your sweet momma said
“Shoot for the moon, my dear”
So you took aim out of this atmosphere
Between high stakes and pump fakes
You’re feelin’ like you can’t buy a break
I can hold your hand, but I can’t turn your eyes to freedom
I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet
Hold on, hold on
Lord ain’t finished yet
Hold on, hold on
He’ll get you through this
Hold on, hold on
These are the promises
I never will forget
I never will forget, so
Hold on, hold on
The Lord ain’t finished yet
Hold on, hold on
He’ll get you through this
Hold on, hold on
These are the promises
I never will forget
I never will forget
I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
But it ain’t over yet, it ain’t over yet
So get up and move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet
Lift up your head now, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Lift up your head now keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Keep believin’ keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, it ain’t over yet
Songwriters: Bryan Christopher Fowler / Christopher E Stevens / Toby Mc Keehan
Move (Keep Walkin’) lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group
Much Love and Many Prayers,
Cindy

Bouncing Back

I am starting to become discouraged because of my limited abilities lately. I tell myself that I am not a burden, but sometimes I do not believe it. Even though it feels like it will never go away, I must remember that this level of pain is not going to be forever. But sometimes when you are in severe pain, that is all you can see and feel and taste, so it can be hard to change your perspective to a healthy one.

I will have a break in the severe pain eventually. I know this. I have begun to notice the rhythms of my pain. I’m learning to go with it instead of fighting every step. I may not be able to change that I am in pain, but suffering is optional.

After all the hoopla in the last post about the opioid symposium last week, I ended up not going to the event. I admit that I was disappointed that I would not be able to make a connection with my state representative, but my mom had a medical event. She is 83, and I am her caretaker. She is self-sufficient usually, but I did not want to leave her until I was sure that it was only a virus and nothing serious.

As soon as I have the time, I will request a visit with my state government officials to discuss how chronic pain affects every aspect of our lives and how their decisions will impact the chronic pain community.

I am not advocating for opioids around the clock for everyone. I want people to understand the reason there is such a backlash from chronic pain patients about wanting their opioids is because the government agencies are leaving us with no alternatives that actually work to replace the pain relieving medicines they want to take away. I believe every person I have spoken to about this issue has said that they would never take another opioid IF they had something else that actually worked to relieve their pain.

We need more research on pain because everyone experiences it differently. How we perceive pain is a complex interaction between mind and body. There is nothing that happens in the individual that affects only the mind or only the body. This interaction involves the nervous system and other factors, which include: genetic, culture, modeling, thoughts, stress, history of abuse, and trauma.

Right now pain research is lacking, but many people are deep in the trenches working tirelessly on changing the fact that we do not have affordable, effective alternative to the opioid medicines. You can also help by telling your story to your elected officials and make them understand our difficult situation, so more money is allocated for studies about pain.

My mom is feeling much better today, and I am getting back into my regular rhythm which helps me to feel the best I can. I have been in extra pain because of the rainy, hot weeks we have been having. Also, I cannot seem to bounce back from the trip to Chicago for the chronic pain support group training.  I am pushing the first organized meeting in September. I am praying that I will be able to get everything done in that timeframe.

What positive things do you do when you get discouraged by not bouncing back as fast as you would like from a flare? Do you get impatient and push through the pain or do you realize you need to up the self-care?

Much Love and Many Prayers,
Cindy

Help My Mission

Surf’s Up

I started writing an ethical will for my three sons a couple of years ago.

I’ve never finished it because I have so much I want to tell them. I just don’t know where to stop.

An ethical will is a way to tell your loved ones your values, blessings, life lessons, hopes, and dreams for the future. It’s simple really.

It can actually be about anything you feel is valuable information to pass down to the next generation, and you do not have to wait to die to pass it on to your family members.

You can give them a copy at any time for any reason, or no reason at all.

It is not a legal document of any kind.  It’s just thoughts and things you want to share.

Don’t we all have times when we wish we had one more moment in time to tell that special person something that we value deeply?

Here is just a tiny sampling of things I have written in my ethical will of words of wisdom I want to pass on to my children.

Life is hard no matter what path you go down.

The people beside you are hurting in some way just like you. 

That’s just reality.

EVERYTHING depends on how YOU react to it.

You can try to find positive instead of looking for the negative.

It’s harder work, but it pays off with dividends:    Joy.

I guarantee you’ll have joy if you learn to ride the wave instead of drowning in the wave. 

Much Love and Many Prayers,

Cindy

JULY Chronic Pain Support Group Update:
I am waiting on the final go ahead from the community agency that is allowing me to lead a chronic pain support group at their facility locally.
I will now be making the flyers and cards to give out at doctor’s offices locally and to put up around town.
The dream is slowly coming together.  I want to thank everyone that is supporting and encouraging me; specifically, my hubby.  This is probably one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever thrown at him but he has never lost a step right beside me.  Always & Forever.
Help My Mission of helping others live the best life they can with chronic pain.
________________________
Photo Credit (I could not bring myself to crop the photo – the colors were too awesome- so it is too large but beautiful) by Paul Larkin on Unsplash