This is an old blog post of mine from March 8, 2014 ~ on a different blog. Little did I know, at that point, that my life would COMPLETELY change in ways that I NEVER anticipated. So much has happened since then. And to my great joy, I am finally closing a very difficult chapter (really many chapters) of my life. Many of you who know me, only know me from the difficult and challenging chapters. I long to let you know the joy in me as well as the strength.
I'm re-posting it here ~ it was titled "Old Beginnings" ~ because I am finally walking into NEW BEGINNINGS. I have seen the devastation that a chronic illness from an invisible toxin does not only to your body, but to your life. It will take more than a blog post to explain it all, but this is a start. I'll dive more into my story in the upcoming weeks and months, but this will do for now. This journey is why I have created my new Take OWNERSHIP Transformation Coaching Program and revised my coaching philosophy and approach.
What ways have you been blindsided by life? How did you recover? Let me know in the comments below......
Sometimes life takes you where you want to go. Sometimes it takes you where you need to go. Anyway, life will take you if you don't take yourself.
So much has happened that I thought would be resolved by now.
But it hasn't.
And now all those "old" new beginnings need to happen.
All at once.
A time for resolution.
So I am closing an old and very lengthy chapter on my life. And opening a new one. Maybe even starting a new book. Writing it this time, listening to the Author of my life even more closely. Or maybe just actually listening to Him.
By that, I mean not just listening, but acting upon that still quiet voice inside of me that knows what to do. I listen most of the time. But often, what is asked of me is different than what is expected by others. And while I surely rock the boat and march to a different drummer, when it comes to really doing what I need to do for myself, I lay down in the ship and hand over my drumsticks.
That is about to change…..
One thing that has slowed me down in moving forward in certain areas of my life has been my own personal healing journey. I was chronically exposed to toxic mold and then had a significant acute exposure on top of that. That has made healing in all areas of my life challenging.
Health and healing are made up of so many different things and they all interact with and affect each other. My journey has had its ups and its downs. As all our journeys do. I thought I’d begin sharing my own journey to demonstrate that we all have challenges and that each of our journeys are so personal and unique.....and that healing always happens. Just not in our own time frame sometimes.
My health has been good overall, according to doctors and the medical profession. The things that plagued me the majority of my life were not definable diagnoses, just inconvenient blips on my radar, according to them. They prevented me from living my life to the fullest, but because I was successful, no one really cared. It was not on the doctor’s radar unless he could tag a diagnosis with it. But it was on my radar and often made me feel less than optimal and function less than I could normally.
So what was wrong with me? Well, as a preteen, I began to have headaches. The kind that interfered with your life and that you had to lie down for. I remember taking Tylenol all the time for them and never really feeling better. In my early teens, I began to have cravings and gained quite a bit of weight my freshman year, which I was able to lose the following summer through self taught yoga and ballet and using art and reading. Part of the weight gain was psychological ~ I was using food to comfort myself ~ and the other part, as I look back on it, was physiological.
As an older teen, I had exhaustion that was overwhelming at times. I always felt tired. I felt cloudy in the head, but no one paid attention because I was at the top of my class. When my mom brought me to the doctor's, he thought I could be pregnant. That in itself was a trauma to my Catholic values and beliefs! I had other bothersome symptoms with brain and my gut, but again, no diagnoses.
In college, I still had exhaustion, but the hustle and bustle of classes, activities and all the new experiences kept me distracted. I frequently had sore throats which led me to the nurse’s office on a regular basis for a strep test, which never came back positive, though my throat was always swollen and red. I still had the fogginess in my head which made it hard to think straight and focus at times. Yet I still performed well and no one, other than me, was concerned.
When I graduated with my nursing degree, I was told I had to receive the new Hepatitis B vaccine. I didn’t seroconvert (develop antibodies) after the first round, so I had to receive a second round. I still never seroconverted, so they gave me one more round and said I’d probably never develop Hepatitis B since I wasn’t developing antibodies to the vaccine. But then I started developing sinus infections. I developed night sweats. I tested negative for all the autoimmune diseases and TB, so no one was concerned. Except me. I developed a period of high blood pressure (average 156/106) and was monitored closely on the unit I worked on. I eliminated salt (I read labels fanatically) and within a period of time, it went back down to normal. Eliminating the salt in my processed food (I took frozen "healthy" meals to work with me for lunches) was enough to make a difference.
Periodically, I’d get tension migraine headaches and eventually they got to the severity that caused me to miss work periodically. The fogginess, forgetfulness and lack of focus continued to worsen. The exhaustion was intense at times. Increasing my sleep caused me to be more tired, so I began to think I didn't need more sleep. I didn't understand about adrenal fatigue and that when my adrenals finally turned off (when I got more rest) No one really had an answer for this and since I was able to work and be productive and successful, it wasn’t a concern for anyone but me.
Then I became pregnant with my sweet son. I developed new symptoms. The exhaustion was unbelievable since I had a sweet boy who was extremely sensitive to every sound and situation. I eliminated wheat (gluten), corn and dairy when he was 6 months old to help with this. It did help him, but what was more remarkable was that when I finally got off of gluten (the Italian in me had a real hard time with the pasta and bread, let alone the hidden sources of gluten), my stomach issues mysteriously went away. I realized that gas was not a normal part of life. My stomach flattened ~ the bloating went away. And what was most amazing was that one morning weeks or months later, I woke up and went to the pantry and realized a clarity in my head that I couldn’t remember since I was a young child. The brain fog was gone.
When my boy was 2, my mom asked me to read The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin. I thought it was a hokey title to lure you in and catch you, but after scanning the table of contents and perusing the beginnings of a few chapters, I realized that this was no ordinary book and I wanted to read it. I devoured it in a day. The chapter titled “Life and Death in the Long Hollow Tube” was about the gut and it sealed the deal for me. I had taught pathophysiology and pharmacology at the undergraduate level and everything I had questions about was answered in that chapter.
I change the way I ate. I had been making my son’s food since he was an infant, but I added fermented foods that I now made. I made raw milk kefir and bought grass fed meat. I eliminated all sugar. I felt great! My son was thriving, though still not sleeping as well as he could have, but there were other factors playing into that as well.
Then, when he was around 4, he began to get sick often. So did I. Mostly respiratory issues with high fevers. I had chills and at times couldn’t get warm enough. I began to develop the night sweats again. I even had a 105.5 fever at one point (probably higher since I took the thermometer out of my mouth because I was terrified). Later on, I had weight gain no matter what I ate or didn’t eat. My skin was rough and blotchy. I discovered mold on the window sills and no one paid attention to me. I tried to convince the builder and others that this was not normal. Finally, the wood began to turn black. Spots weeped. A few sills began to rot. Mold was killing us.
Long story short, we are out of there and are now in our own place and it is time to heal. I am starting with rebalancing my gut. I’ve not been able to make my kombucha or my kefir or other fermented foods. Now I can. I need to remove the metal from my mouth and heal from the mold. I need to heal my liver ~ I have serious abdominal discomfort in my right upper abdomen. I need to heal my son. He’s a strong boy and my challenge is to make him understand that he really CAN feel and perform even better.
More layers of the story will come out. But I want to encourage you. Be strong. Continue despite setbacks. When you don’t heal as you expected, it just means there is some other piece to the puzzle that is missing. And remember, your mind and your body and your heart are all connected. They all affect one another. In the near future, I’ll discuss the effects that your mind and your spirit have on your entire well being. It can be significant.
Best wishes on your healing journeys and join me in the next 14-Day Take OWNERSHIP Real Food and Wellness Coaching and Cleanse program. There are several coming up to help you make real and sustainable lifestyle changes and not just live with broken resolutions. Hope to see you there!!
In Health and Healing!
Recipe time! The photo does not do this justice, but we are dishing up Stewed Italian Chicken. Yum! I do my best to eliminate simple starches and grains overall, but this pairs nicely with mashed potatoes or rice. Moving into summer, pairing it with rice is the lighter option. For a paleo version or a healing diet version, serve alone or with a side of additional veggies or salad. If you choose rice or potatoes, serve the finished dish right on top of them. Yum! Oh wait, I already said that…..
As I say time and time again, always use the best quality meat you can find. If you know a farmer you trust, get your meat there. If you are in the process of choosing a farmer, meet your farmer whenever you can. Face to face. It is really nice to look the person who produces your food directly in the eye. If you don’t have a farmer, choose pastured animals whenever you can. Free range next (the definition of free range is not what you may think) and do your best to avoid conventionally raised animals whenever you can. These animals are rarely raised humanely and are not fed a proper chicken’s diet. This negatively affects the quality and nutritional profile of their meat. Not to mention it negatively affects the world in general and the environment when animals are treated that way.
Another important point is to choose organic over conventional produce and groceries whenever you can. This decreases your toxin burden and often increases the nutritional profile of the food. When foods are raised organically, the soil is often better nourished (though not always ~ it depends on how the land is cared for and what it was used for prior to farming it) and therefore provides greater nutrients to the plant. Farming will deplete the soil of nutrition as the plant takes nutrients up for the fruit it produces. When the plant is harvested, the fruit or vegetable has greater nutrition also.
So, enough with the lecture. Here is the recipe:
Stewed Italian Chicken
Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, and additional salt and pepper. Mix carefully since the chicken legs are in the way.
Add the zucchini and push them below the tomatoes.
Heat to a boil. Cover and lower heat. Simmer 45-50 minutes until zucchini is tender and chicken is cooked through.
Serve over mashed potatoes, rice or on its own.
This dish is one of the recipes in my Take OWNERSHIP Challenge, a 14-Day Wellness and REAL Food Coaching and Cleanse program. On the program, you would not serve this dish over any starches or grains, but alone or with a nourishing side of vegetables, if desired. This dish on its own will sustain and nourish you. If you would like some help getting your health jump started and to get yourself ready for summer, join my 14-Day Take OWNERSHIP Challenge. There are many program start times to choose from. Rebalance and restart.
If you need additional or more personal help, check out my individual coaching by the hour or an 8-week coaching package. You’ll get more intensive and personal coaching to survive and thrive during the rest of the year.
Whatever you choose to do, eat right, get proper sleep and move your body. Enjoy each and every day and be well!
As many of you know, I have had health challenges due to chronic exposure to mold, topped with an acute exposure 2 years ago. Last year, I found an adequate place to stay (once you've been exposed and gotten ill, your immune system is much more sensitive to things you normally wouldn't react to) and decided to take my own challenge. Let's just say that I had challenges with the first week of my Challenge.
I thought I had done enough healing since I was no longer being exposed to mold and had control over my environment. But I was forgetting that mold doesn't just go away. It hides out and, if you have no current environmental exposure, you may think everything is OK. Since mold lies dormant in your body, it causes a chronic inflammation which your immune system reacts to on a continuous, low level. It is typically referred to as CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome).
My story started when my son and I began to have mysterious and frequent respiratory illnesses with fevers which seemed to come out of nowhere. Some lasted and had a typical pattern of a viral infection (and some probably were viral infections since your body's defense is weaker when it is constantly at alert on another front) and others were high fevers with no other symptoms that disappeared just as quickly as they came. Needless to say, coupled with the neurologic disturbances in concentration and thinking, this derailed my life and made it difficult to move forward in many ways.
Several years after the mysterious illnesses began, I saw visible mold (like the fungi you see in the woods on rotting tree trunks) on the sills of the home that I had built with my estranged husband. The builder and window installation company thought nothing of this. I was overwhelmed. My husband was unsupportive and emotionally abusive (thankfully he was out of state 90% of the time making it more tolerable) and didn't think it was an issue. Another year later, I noticed dark brown/black spots on all the windows, with one awful window spot that would actually "weep" when there was a storm that drove from the south. Every window was affected. Every. Single. Window.
To heal, I needed to get into a mold free place, but I was trying to make a losing situation work ~ holding onto a home that had mold; navigating a difficult personal situation where my partner in the home stepped out of his financial obligation, leaving me to hold the bag (trying to force my hand) while he started over; and continually getting sick along with my son. To make matters worse, as he forced my hand, I realized we couldn't sell with mold and I continued to get sick as I navigated the legal system trying to hold onto the house, modify and refinance the loan, and eventually fix the mold. Needless to say, this overwhelmed me.
This difficult and long chapter of my life is now almost 2 years behind me and we have a new place; though I now need a new, mold free vehicle. I was left an old work pickup truck which has been contaminated from transporting far too many moldy belongings from 2 separate moldy houses to even think about being able to use it. It is a gas guzzling truck with a cracked windshield, 245,000 miles and needs so many repairs that it is not worth keeping, even if it didn't have mold. So many things that need to be started over again, but new beginnings are exciting.
All of this still makes life challenging, but nevertheless, it is time to get my health in order. And to do that, the gut comes first. I knew my wellness coaching and cleanse program was the perfect place to start, but because I had the mold issues and was (and am) very certain that my cells are in need of detoxification, I was not expecting it to be fun. I designed it to be gentle and that is my saving grace. Gentle it is, yet I still had bothersome symptoms during the cleanse portion. During the 3 day cleanse, I was very off base. I was dizzy and foggy. My face was bright red. I looked like a stop light on the second day. I couldn't even complete the mini cleanse without eating (which is OK, it just gives me more information on what level of healing is needed). At the end, I was reminded that the rules of healing apply to all of us, including myself.
So even though I generally feel better and don't look sick, I know that I have a lot more work to do than a 2-week program can address, but this was a great beginning. I am putting a plan together for myself (mirroring my 8-week coaching program) that addresses my unique needs and I hope you join me on my journey. I'm in the process of picking out a healing partner/coach since it is always good to be accountable to someone other than yourself. This also gives you a perspective that you can't possibly give yourself. I'm doing this. I'm moving forward with my health. I trust that the power within my body is sufficient to heal my body.
During one of the programs I've given, one participant felt her anxiety begin to melt away and improve significantly within 4 days. Your mind and your body are interconnected, so this was was no surprise to me. This story greatly illustrates how your gut truly is your second brain. I am grateful to be able to help people in this fashion and am excited to see how my own health improves now that I can fully move toward healing.
Since I’ve been limited in how far I could push my health forward until certain circumstances changed (though one still needs to be changed), I anticipate great changes this year. I have a newfound peace since I can finally move faster than circumstances have allowed me to in the past. I’ve also gone deeper into letting things go that do not serve me. Focusing on my faith and truly releasing the fear has been liberating. It is interesting that food was the catalyst for all this.
If you’d like to join in on the next Take OWNERSHIP 14-Day Challenge to get your health bumped up a notch, reclaim it or just get into summer shape, check it out here. Or if you’d like to go deeper, consider personal coaching or my 8-week focused coaching package to get you into summer and jumpstart the rest of your life. I can help you find your blocks, identify your road map to navigate them and move your life and your health forward. Check it out here and stay tuned for more progress!
All Disease Begins in the Gut ~ Hippocrates
This statement was made over 2,000 years ago by the Father of Medicine and as we study the gut microbiota, we are finding that this is truer than ever.
So what does the gut have to do with disease and health? The short answer is ~ a lot. The long answer quite intricate, but it boils down to the fact that we have trillions of bacteria that reside in our bodies. In fact, there are 10 times more bacteria in our bodies than we have cells in our bodies. So the balance and types of bacteria we host in our bodies is extremely important.
When you look at the numbers, we have over 10 trillion cells in our bodies, so that means that we have over 100 trillion bacteria in our bodies. That’s astounding! What’s more astounding is the fact that the majority of them reside in our guts – so many that they actually contribute 3-5 pounds of our body weight. Think about that. That’s a lot of bacteria!
So what’s so significant about that? Scientists are finding out that bacteria can influence the ways our cells express themselves and how they communicate with each other. Different strains of bacteria in varying quantities affect your body differently. Bacteria are more intelligent that we realize. They have the ability to sense how many of their kind are around them and what other kinds of bacteria are present. Once they reach a “quorum” of their own kind, they can mount their own defenses against threats and function in specifics way that are in their innate programming. When you get a bacterial infection, you often feel very sick very quickly because once the bacteria have a certain quorum, they rapidly kick into action.
Then what does this have to do with health? And what are the implications of this? Again, the answer is ~ a lot. Since we are finding out that the bacteria in your gut have the ability to alter the way certain genes are expressed, we can alter that expression by altering the microbiota in the gut. What we once thought was a genetic roulette, may now be a factor we can change with the foods we eat, the supplements we take and the lifestyle choices we make. We can change the way our genes get activated. What was once thought to be risk factor may now be simply seen as genetic predispositions that we may be able to control. The rising field of epigenetics deals with these very issues.
This all makes sense. If we look back far enough (for some that may be one generation and others it may be many) to where our ancestors lived more simply and ate real food without sugar and with much less flour than we consume now, we find that the causes of death were much different. People weren’t dropping dead of the “diseases of modern civilization”, such as heart disease or cancer, especially in rural areas. They succumbed to old age, accidents or infections related to sanitation issues, such as lack of running water or sanitary toilets. Those who had easy access to processed foods had higher rates of the “diseases of modern civilization”. This may simply be access to sugar and refined flour.
Therefore, taking care of the gut is extremely important. Building up the good bacteria and limiting the bad bacteria is critical. There are several ways we can do this. First and foremost is to pay attention what we put in our mouths. Less refined foods, especially flours and sugars, and more good quality fats, proteins and vegetables promote health gut bacteria. Consuming fermented foods and beverages will also add to the health of the gut by increasing beneficial bacteria. Cutting out sugar, even natural sugars, also allows the good bacteria and yeasts to flourish which will naturally control the balance of your gut flora.
An overlooked aspect of gut health is stress ~ physical, emotional and mental. Therefore, slowing down and managing our stress, as well as minimizing physical stress through energizing activity and adequate restoration (rest and relaxation), maximizes our body’s balance.
Making the proper lifestyle choices can be challenging. It is easy to think that your actions won’t matter. Sometimes, we all need support in making positive changes, even when we know they are right.
In order to help you, I have a 14-Day Take OWNERSHIP Challenge, a REAL food and wellness coaching and cleanse program. It gently guides you back into balance with food, fermented beverages and lifestyle changes through intense email support and conference calls. I am offering complimentary coaching sessions to follow-up the program through the New Year......ALL the way through 2016. The next session begins on January 25 to help you lead off your New Year well after reassessing your resolutions. I plan to offer this every month and if you register in January, you will receive the year long coaching bonus also! I encourage you to join me in Taking OWNERSHIP of your health and your life. Find out more about the program HERE and if you’d prefer one-on-one work, consider my coaching or consulting services. Either way, make the right changes for yourself, get your gut into balance and live your life abundantly!
To Your Health and Wealth!
How is your New Year going? Have you made resolutions? Are you keeping them? How do you feel about them?
I hope that you are moving with grace and ease through the New Year. New beginnings are exciting, so look forward to this coming year. It is going to be awesome! I can't wait to see how it unfolds and all the wonderful things that are going to happen in my life and in yours.
Before walking through the New Year, it is a good idea to unpack the old year. Take a look back and examine how things went ~ did you have unmet expectations, did it wildly exceed your expectations, was it fine but nothing like your expectations? What were the highs? What were the lows? How did your most important relationships fare ~ especially those with yourself and with God? And did are you one of those people that pick a word for your year? If so, what was your word? How did your year live up to it? How did it fall short?
Load 2016 ~ Pick a Word
In years past, I've tried to pick a word of the year. It has always been very hard up to this point. Being chronically exposed to mold, and then acutely exposed to mold, has strained my physical resources and, therefore, hampered my inner life and my inner resources. Chronic sickness has a way of doing that. This year, though, over a year out from the major exposures and in a brand new apartment, my word came easily and extremely quickly. I sat down to be still and pray and the word just popped in my head.
RESTORATION. That was it. It just came. No prayers. No stillness. Just an open and receptive heart (though isn't that the essence of prayer and meditation?). In years past, I I've wanted a word that I would mold my life around rather than finding my word and letting it transform me. And this is my transformation year. So much has been lost and now it is time to regain. So, RESTORATION. That is my word for 2016. What's yours? Have you thought about it? Are you open to it? It's not too late to discover yours.
And with the New Year, as the topic of resolutions comes up, it is evident that there is a love-hate relationship with them. They are often made with great intentions and enthusiasm, but, more often than not, they somehow they leave us disheartened as we slowly slip back into old patterns of behavior.
Sometimes, we don't have the resources (not just financial, but physical, mental, emotional and social) to make the changes we need to make. Sometimes, we make the changes too big and monstrous and they overcome us. And sometimes, when we look at the big picture and want the end result, we neglect the other, smaller things that need to change first for the end result to be different.
Nonetheless, as we get farther and farther from the beginning of the New Year, we can see our enthusiasm wane as we slip into the routine of what has come to be the usual for us. And each year, that rut of usual gets dug deeper and deeper. And it gets harder and harder to steer out of it.
Well, this can be the year that doesn't have to be this way. Let this be the year of transformation for you. Let the process unfold gently and slowly. What one small thing can you change that can yield big results for you? Think of simple things. Those things can transform your life in ways you don't expect.
Do you want your health better? How much water do you drink? Do you drink soda? How much sleep do you get? What are you eating? How much are you eating? When are you eating?
Do you want more happiness and ease? Do you take a few minutes every day to plan and review your day? Do you do the hardest thing on your to do list first? Are you taking care of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of yourself?
Small changes can yield BIG results when you do them consistently. So, think small in what you need to do differently each day and you just may reap BIG on the results end. Make it your resolution to do one small change every day and watch how the benefits unfold during the year.
If you want to see the changes and need support, join my 14-Day Take OWNERSHIP Challenge (Real Food Coaching and Cleanse Program) in January. You have this week to register for a start date of January 25. There are also programs in February and March ~ and if you register by this Friday, you'll receive the same YEAR LONG BONUSES that the January participants are receiving. We can all use the extra support of a coach and to be a part of a vibrant, like-minded community is invaluable. You can also reap the YEAR LONG BONUSES if you decide to become a coaching client of mine. I offer many different ways to get services. Or take my post-holiday New Year 8~week coaching package. It is the best value and includes all the bonuses of the Take OWNERSHIP Challenge participants.
Join me now as I start to document my own healing journey from the chronic exposures and major life changes I am experiencing. I hope some of my own story may inspire you to believe you can make the changes you need to make so you can make your difference in the world that you are called to make.
So go and register for one of my programs and leave a comment below on your take on resolutions, your word for 2016 if you have one or what one small change you intend to make to reap big results.
Welcome to this space. A healing space. A space dedicated to health. For discovering what it is. For claiming it, reclaiming it or rejoicing in it.
A space where we can journey together……with each other.
On the road to true health.
You see, health is greater than the absence of identifiable dis~ease. It is more than just not feeling bad. It is more than just “not breaking down”.
It is living optimally…..to our highest God-given potential.
It is not just surviving…….it is thriving!
Many of us have been so disconnected with how we can really feel
that we no longer know what health is.
Or what it feels like.
Many of us have been so far removed from real food that our bodies crave the processed, food-like substances that are so prevalent at the supermarket.
Many of us are just happy to get through the day without any aches and pains. Or embarrassing gastrointestinal issues. Or embarrassing, inconvenient or dangerous forgetfulness. Or a host of other inconvenient and uncomfortable things that can happen to us or to our bodies.
Many of us just hit the pillow at night exhausted, not just tired. Only to have trouble falling asleep. Or to awaken in the middle of the night. Or to sleep fitfully. Or to awaken much too early.
Many of us are so busy that we can’t seem to take the time to figure out what is really wrong or how to change any of this.
So, we leave it up to the “professionals” to tell us what is wrong.
And what we should do about it.
Well, there aren’t any professionals that are experts on my life.
Other than me. Or you in your life.
We are the ones who should make the decisions about our own health and our own lives.
And take responsibility for those decisions, as well as their outcomes.
This life is a gift.
A beautiful gift.
Given to us to use wisely.
Not to suffer needlessly.
How will we ever live up to our mission in life if we are not living up to our full potential??
I hope you will take this journey with me. A journey to discovering what true health is.
What creates health…..
and what takes it away……
What it is for each of us.
And what it is for our families.
Because what ultimately creates optimal health for me
may be somewhat different
than what creates optimal health for you.
We are all born and gifted with inherent strengths and limitations.
Unique to only us.
Areas in our lives that only we can discover.
Join me on this journey and discover what influences YOUR inner landscape.
My passion is to help others to live their lives to their fullest. Taking OWNERSHIP of your health and your life by knowing what creates health and wellness will allow you to make truly informed choices that will add to your wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of your family, your community, society and ultimately the world..