Tag Archives: care for yourself

I Survived the Thickness

The thick, the sick, the chemicals, and everything else laid to waste. This “mad world” has not taken me under yet, and if I have my say it won’t claim anyone else either.

I have survived chemicals in my drinks: flouride, chlorine, and other trace chemicals in my water, and sodas with sugar, acid and artificial sweeteners. I have survived chemicals in my foods: preservatives, pesticides, and others.

I survived it all.

I have survived Epstein-Barr for probably 27 years or more. I survived the damage it did to my thyroid and my emotions. The damage it caused to my pancreas, and allergies inflicted.

I survived the resulting ripple it caused for pregnancy and birth. I not only survived, I have taken care of myself and found some healing, even if it was slow.

Then I survived Covid and it’s havoc on my body taking everything negative and bringing it directly to my immediate awareness. It flared everything Epstein-Barr started, and took it a step further, driving me nearly insane. It damaged my son’s brain and my husband’s kidneys, but we’re all still alive.

Regardless of western medicines’ lack of ability to solve any of it, I will find a way. See I’m a thriver at heart.

If nastiness like that only takes me down, I survive, and I eventually overcome. Then, once I fully overcome all of it, I will thrive in a massive way. I look forward to that time.

For now I’m giving myself credit.

I deserve the beautiful body to match my beautiful insides, and to do that I have to stay focused on my love for myself.

I found reverse osmosis water and organic produce. I found auto-immune Paleo and Raw diets to enable healing. I found numerous supplements to manage symptoms and enable healing. I found my way out of darkness because of Dr Illardi’s ” Depression Cure”. I revived my love of the sun and found ways to love physical activity. I make an effort to connect with nature, mother Earth, and humanity.

I have taken care of my entire family since July of 2010. I have kept us alive and housed, and clothed and fed.

I helped my father and an acquaintance in the midst of their hard times.

I have donated time, items, and money to charities and individuals.

I help people on my table to feel better and find their own healing every day.

And through all of it I have even found a way to take care of myself. I have given myself space for healing to the best of my ability. I have done everything I could to feel better, as often as I was able.

I am strong and capable. I know how to persevere.

I am smart, nay very intelligent and I choose to use my gifts for good. I do my best to educate everyone I come in contact with.

I may never reach the same enlightened master level such as the likes of AdiYogi Shiva, Buddha, or J├ęsus, but I did mine while caring for others daily. I did mine while birthing and raising children. I did mine while fighting diseases in my own body and caring for a husband with even more complex health concerns. AND I did mine when Western Medicine was bent on doing only the lazy, simplest, send you on your way options.

So, if you ask me, my battles have been more challenging and the fact I’ve made it this far is majorly commendable.

So yes, I am focusing on my victories and accomplishments. I am loving myself so my inner beauty can be seen by everyone. I love me and I deserve the best for myself. I deserve recognition. I deserve to be acknowledged for my healing journey, everything I have gone through and survived, to reach for thriving.

I love me and I hope you love yourself too.

May you see your accomplishments. May you acknowledge your own gifts. May you love yourself and honor others for their tough journies too. Above all may you know that God loves and supports you in all that you do.

Om Shanti

Foam Rolling: My 2 Cents

Many of my long term readers know I’m a massage therapist. Occasionally, I do write about things related to my job. This is one such instance. Today I found myself foam rollering, AGAIN, in my office, and decided it was time to give my 2 cents to help any readers interested. This post is information I regularly share with my clients verbally, and I’m offering to others in need.

First I had to convert my space. My last office had carpeted floors, so I just moved the table over and did my mat work, be it roller or yoga. My current office looks like this:

It’s a concrete floor with lineoleum tiles, and a small area rug for client’s feet. Not exactly kind to knees or elbows. So to adjust, I now do this:

Not only do I move the table over, I put a towel over the rug and a yoga mat over that. It’s much kinder to the joints.

My point here is that before you even begin to attempt foam rollering, you must think of the space you need and the level of comfort your joints want. Considering your own needs first ensures that you not only maximize benefits, but you’re more likely to make it a consistent helpful tool.

2nd is the tool: the foam rollers.

The set I bought for my office came from a store called ‘Five Below’ and both were exactly $5. The set I bought for home was sourced multiple places over time, but none was more than $7. At the office I have the two rolls pictured next. The set for home is 3 rollers: one is very similar to this black one but has mild texture, one is the same size roller with large nubbies that is fairly firm, and the third is another of the turquoise one.

The large roller that is less firm is always your best starting place. It is a dense foam, but will give some with your body weight. It will produce less ouch and is very beneficial if you are very tight, constricted, or it is your first time using a roller.

The one I have at home (same size but with large nubbies) is a slightly more dense foam. It is a great next step because it still gives a nice broad pressure, but the firmness enables a bit deeper pressure. It is great for really getting deep pressure in broad muscles.

The turquoise one is a truly deep tissue roller, and that is why I have one for home and office. It is smaller so it can effectively work into spaces that the other rollers are too big for. It is also firm enough that it will effectively sink through large layers of muscles to get deeper than the other rollers can. It definitely has it’s place and is very helpful, but will produce ouch moments. I have a well-validated high pain-tolerance level according to several other professionals, and the turquoise roller still causes me to swear on occasion. Be aware, you can injure yourself with this roller if you are too aggressive with the movements or if you place the roller in an unsafe position/location. Just be more cautious when you use a roller like this.

Now for the tips:

First, I need you to understand that foam rollers are a tool that is intended to mimic a deep tissue massage. It mimics the same pressure sensation as an elbow and forearm moving through your muscles. So, the same tips that apply to my job, apply to using these.

1) Broader is better.

Broad pressure helps diffuse the sensations, spreading them out through the muscles, and will disarm both the pain response and the tickle response. There is a window of tightness in muscles that causes them to feel tickelish, broad pressure will help reduce the sensation of tickeling.

2) Slower is better. & 3) Work as many directions as possible.

Foam rollering is a focused deep stretch of a muscle or a few muscles. For instance, instead of stretching your entire leg, you can focus on just your outer hamstring. However, because you are stretching one muscle or a small cluster, you will be activating and engaging the fascia.

Fascia is a thin envelope of connective tissue that helps everything in your body stay in it’s rightful place, but in doing it’s job sometimes it too can get bound up, and massage therapists reference this as adhesions. Adhesions can prevent the muscle from moving properly even if the muscle itself has become more pliable. Additionally, fascia often collects these adhesions directionally, so they need to be addressed in multiple directions. The easiest way to determine which directions are still holding adhesions is to apply circular rubbing motions to the area you are working on. If it is completely stretched free you should be able to rub smooth circles clockwise or counter clockwise. Any remaining adhesions will cause a catch sensation that prevents the smooth circular pattern.

Furthermore, the fascia tends to respond very slowly to external input. I can attest to this. In school, I was trained that any movement less than 10 seconds will not engage the fascia properly. We were instructed to stretch the muscles painfully slowly to ensure that the fascia would engage and drop tension. After having practiced massage for almost 13 years, I often will spend a minute or more on one stretch to ensure I am effectively loosening the fascia as well.

So, even though foam rollering can engage the fascia more readily, it takes focused multi-directional slow movements to truly relax the fascia itself. To fully relax any one area you may have to do several stretches in different directions, and each approximately a minute in duration.

4) More Frequently = Less Work to Do

In an ideal world everyone would get a massage weekly. We don’t live in an ideal world, so it becomes up to you to take care of yourself in-between whatever shedule you can manage for paid massages. However, the more frequently you care for yourself and your muscles, the less work you will have to do on each attempt. You may find that when you start foam rollering it takes you several days to fully work everything out. Start with your worst areas, and each time you roller move on to the next worst. As you build repetition, each round of head to toe, will gradually become less time consuming because you are addressing concerns more frequently. Eventually, you may find that you really can spend 60-90 minutes weekly and solve all your concerns. This will in turn help prevent long-term RSI and joint damage, which is good for everyone.

Tricks:

So, I have covered all the important points to note about foam rollering, now let’s discuss common concerns or things people have trouble with.

YouTube is an excellent resource for finding videos showing ways to foam roller a wide array of ways. Just remember my tips from above, some of the fitness gurus tend to roll far faster than I would recommend based on my knowledge of fascia. Faster rolling will still stretch muscles, but may not give you the full relief you seek.

Moving on, one of the biggest concerns clients of mine have is lower leg, otherwise known in common terms as the calf. Many people find that they have recurring difficulty with calf-cramps. Sometimes this is a key sign of magnesium deficiency, and sometimes it is simply because they are not being stretched fully or frequently enough. I have had many clients express frustrations over attempting to roll them, so I decided to take some pictures to show options for addressing those concerns. Each caption will provide a description of what I’m conveying.

The front of the lower leg tends to be very sensitive because it carries so much tension, so it is best to start there. The best way to roll the front of the lower leg is to place both ankles on the roll and engage your core to put your full body weight into balancing and rolling up to the knee.
To get the front outside angle of the lower leg, essentially you place that stretch of your leg on the roller and sit on your foot. Then balance and roll the foam from knee to ankle and back.

The next area of common concer is quads and hamstrings or upper leg. I have many people that roll out and still deal with knee pain or sciatica. So here are tips from the knee to hips and beyond.

Finally, you know where you are tight. It’s all those aches and pains and stiff spots. If you touch a muscle and it feels like a brick or ball under your skin, then it’s tight. Foam rollering can literally address every tight spot from shoulders to feet. This is just a start, and it has amazing benefits if you utilize it regularly. May you find excitement and all the benefits in loosening your body up.

This was a fairly long post, but I hope it helps anyone interested in caring for themselves better. If you have any questions or concerns you are always welcome to email me.

May you have solid self-care and feel better physically. May you know you are doing everything possible to ensure a healthy body. May you know you are strong and flexible and all of your efforts help you live your best life. May you know that God always loves and supports you in all that you do.

Om Shanti

Ding-Dong KO

Ok, so sometimes my addictions, turn into a Multi-player Mortal Kombat round. I’m just as proud of myself, if the worst one of the ‘enemies’ is the one knocked out, as I would be winning a duel.

Sometimes it really is about picking your battle, and knowing that if only one was knocked out, then at least I didn’t die, and I’ll make it another round.

I am doing a lot better than I used to, but my addictions win more often than I would like. It’s a battle I’ve been practicing at for over 7 years and I still loose occasionally, but the little voice of inspiration said that I make it look too easy, and I need everyone to know it’s not.

The text conversation at the beginning of this post, was from the middle of a 5 hour shift yesterday. I was working front desk and it was a little slower for a change. Usually not a bad thing, so I never complain when it’s slow. The one exception caused my message to Nathan, I didn’t say a word to other staff because of embarrassment.

I was feeling weak, and probably could have used help, but it might as well have been the conversation I had to have over a shotgun which I couldn’t get out of my mind. I simply couldn’t have that conversation, over goodies, and with people that don’t really care about me to begin with. They care that I show up, do my job, and when shit hits the fan that I can handle it. They simply don’t want to have a conversation about, “hey, can you hide the goodies from me, my brain is torturing me already, …please?”

So I didn’t say anything.

An hour in, I had already looked at the box of Ding-Dongs over a dozen times. The brand new unopened box of Godiva chocolates had almost had as many views, but because it was unopened I wasn’t certain it was for staff, and kept telling myself someone would come pick it up any minute.

At one point I got so flustered that I got up abruptly, and quickly walked to the mail room, forgetting there’s a camera in there. As soon as the black globe caught my periphery, I froze in blush. Quick thinking, I gestured like I was looking for something and left. Only problem was, I noticed the box of brittle, I’d forgotten about, on the mailroom counter as I turned to leave.

I stood in the empty hall trying to figure out what I was doing, why, and what I needed to do. On my way back to the desk seat, I grabbed my seaweed pack and consumed it crunchily instead.

I drank a full bottle of water.

I amused myself on my phone for a little bit.

Then I noticed one too many glances in the directions of goodies again. At that point, I was lone staff, because the other person was delivering day-sheets throughout the building.

I got up and paced the floor. I refilled my water bottle and glanced at the brittle again on my way past. I grabbed my celery and sat to eat it, not quite even having gotten to hour two yet. I thought ‘better not eat it all, just in case’.

It was a little limp for not having eaten my sticks for 3 days. I’m burnt out on celery and it’s lost any appeal it ever did have, even the peanut-butter is losing any appeal to my taste buds. I ate about 6 celery sticks, each dipped once in peanut-butter. That was more than enough. I closed lids and left it sitting right in front of me.

Approximately 30 minutes later, my text to Nathan (above) went out as I was losing my resolve. Almost 3 hours into my shift, the Ding-Dongs were looking far too tempting. How was I going to make it another two?

I decided if I couldn’t managed a TKO, then at least the worst option should go down in flames. Instead of: gluten, and red-40, and chocolate, and sugar, and chemicals (all things found in Ding-Dongs that are bad for my system); I chose to go for the least impact, especially since the Godiva box was unopened and questionable. So Brittle won, and Ding-Dongs and chocolate were knocked-out!

Me and brittle. Mmmmm.

When I went to retrieve a piece, I got a big chunk with two smaller ones stuck to it. I decided I’d eat the two small bits and save the big one for later.

As my last two hours ticked by it was: celery stick with pb, pause, brittle, pause, celery stick, pause, brittle, pause, celery stick, pause, brittle and so on. Every few minutes a nibble of something. I also worked on a non-vital computer task to distract myself.

It worked. I ended up eating only brittle beyond my regular celery and seaweed I take everyday.

In the ring we have Valentine Ding-Dongs, Godiva Assortiment, Apple Pie Peanut Brittle, and Treasa with her green shit. And let the fight begin! …. Oh Treasa is taking some hard hits there, but she stays standing every time. Oh, she’s fighting back, 1-2, oh, the right hook…. Now APPB has sided with her, oh my folks, who’s going to win this battle royale! … And the winning team is Treasa with greens and Apple Pie Brittle! …Crowd goes wild!…. Aaaaa!

Sorry for the corney ring-side joke, I grew up on things like that.

Anyway, my point is, I didn’t say anything to anyone except Nathan, and he even only got a couple of texts. But for me it was 5 hours of torture, mostly mental – granted, and a very strategic battle to overcome the worst damages of losing altogether. It’s hard to know what’s going on inside another person’s head, and it’s even harder when they have 20 years of experience hiding it. I’m not perfect at anything, but I highly doubt the other two people that worked via the front office yesterday, had any clue I was even having a mental battle, let alone that the two culprits to trigger it were within reach all day.

They were oblivious to my mental torture, because I’ve spent 20 years either fighting it silently, or withdrawing from the world. When I withdraw, I’ve either lost the battle and given in fully, or I sleep it off and hope I wake to less triggering things. I’m glad to report that these days, my withdrawal periods are few, fairly well distanced from one another, and short lived.

So if you’re struggling with an addiction, even if it is “just food”, know it’s hard. It sucks, and takes everything you’ve got to function as normal as possible, but it’s worth it. On one hand my addiction won’t kill me with one oopse (overdose), but it’s so many places in life that it’s super easy to get and often people readily supply the worst versions for me. I don’t even have to pay anything for mine to be triggered. And those people that say it’s just food… They have no clue the chemical storm that an addiction stirrs in your brain, regardless of what the trigger is. I would also add that known reactions to chemicals used in some foods, are indicative of some of the same known reactions to some recreational drugs. Sugar has been compared to hard drugs like cocaine in numerous studies on brain function. So, it may be just food, but it’s still very much an addiction.

It’s time that everyone get some slack for how hard we’re all working to overcome challenges, especially when many of us are very much addicted to “just food”. An addiction is hard no matter what “it” is. If you’re fighting at all then you deserve a damned medal.

Be kind to yourself and give yourself some love for it.

Also, find people you can confide in. I have my Nathan, but he gets tired of hearing of some the same things repeatedly, we all do. You need enough people to confide in that they don’t get sick of it, but don’t utilize having more options as a reason for complaining more. Keep in mind everything you talk about and focus on brings more of it, so if you focus on the battle too much you’ll just get more battle. So, regardless of my embarrassment, I still do my best to talk about my battles as little as possible, in an attempt to reduce their frequency. It is working, just very slowly.

Those of us fighting the good fight, we rock. Anyone that wants to put you down or belittle your efforts can take a hike or KMA. We are fighting addictions of a wide variety that didn’t exist 100 years ago. We have a bigger challenge than most in older generations would even consider. Appreciate your own efforts and thank your body every single day, that you have a chance to try again. Give your own self some love for all the things you survived, and apologize to every organ sincerely explaining your doing your level best with all the challenges that come your way.

Know it could be worse, there always something that’s worse. But also know that you are winning a tough battle and that makes you amazing.

May you triggers always be conveniently out of reach, literally or metaphorically. May you know you have loving support if you need it, and the ability to discern if it’s better to distract yourself and attempt to attract fewer battles. May you have confidence in your ability to overcome and succeed in all endeavors. May you love yourself for all that you have managed to accomplish. May you know you’re on the right track. May you know you are loved and supported by God in all that you do, and everything you need.

Om Shanti