Say One True Thing

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How many days did I sit in silence and say nothing about my sadness until it turned to desperation? How many nights did I lay awake, worrying and running through emergency evacuation plans that I’d never need before I spoke out loud to someone, anyone, that I thought there might be something wrong? I couldn’t tell you, the number is too high.

When your thoughts are lying to you about who you are and how the people around you feel about you, find one true thing. When you don’t know who you are anymore and it feels like it’s been years since you felt like yourself, look for it – just that one true thing about you. Find it. Hold on to it. Write it down. Tell it to someone else. Mutter it over and over to yourself. Who cares? You already feel crazy.

I remember the inside of my body felt like a numb wasteland, an eternity of nothing, because I knew if I felt anything, or just the tiny hint of something, I’d truly and fully lose it. “It” being any hold on any bit of sanity I still laid claim to. Feeling one tiny bit of a feeling, or heaven forfend one whole feeling, meant ALL the feelings would come rushing in on me like a tidal wave and I would die. It was too much. Safety was in the numb part, even if it meant misery for eternity. Misery I knew. Misery I understood. Misery and I had BFF necklaces and did each others hair on a Saturday night.

Days, weeks, months, years. All in varying shades of numb and feelings of depression, anxiety, fear and sadness. And then I found a tiny bit of magic that would get me through the toughest times – just one true thing about myself. It didn’t matter what it was or what else it related to as long as it was my true thing.

In that moment when a person who cares about you, who is saying to you how much they love you, and maybe they’re saying the right things and maybe everything they say is exactly wrong but they mean well, and you can’t find your way over to connect with them or their words because you’re lost in a sea of numbness, and sadness is hanging over you like a thick darkness waiting to descend if you look directly at it – right then you pull out your one true thing and use it like a shield and a lifeline and a light to get to them. It works because truth is truth, even if it’s something unrelated or silly, and it’s perfect.

In that moment where you’re all alone, truly and utterly, and you can’t imagine a world without so much pain and you know for sure you’ll never feel anything resembling something close to joy ever again (in fact, you can’t remember the last time you felt anything like joy in the first place) and your feelings are crushing in on you and it seems like there’s got to be a way out – then. Right exactly then is when you bring out your one true thing and tell it to yourself over and over again because it’s true and even though the rest of the stuff in your brain FEELS like it’s true, it isn’t. Replace it with your one true thing.

And when the time comes that you feel absolutely nothing, Zip, Nada, Zilch, when you feel swallowed up in the vacuous hole and it’s preferable, this feeling nothing, because the pain has stopped and you know you could stay there forever and ever if your kids or your partner didn’t keep bugging you and how sad for them that they have to put up with you, wouldn’t it be better for everyone if they didn’t – grab it. Grab your one true thing and write it down on paper and tape it to the mirror and the tv and the fridge and then tattoo it on your wrist if you need to because it’s true and the lies aren’t.

Here are some of the True Things I’ve collected over the years.

#1 My left foot is slightly larger than my right foot. That’s true. I have the data (and feet) to support that statement. That statement is not subjective to my feelings, my feelings that can lie straight to my face without blinking. Yep. No getting around it, my left foot is slightly bigger than my right one.

#4 I can waggle my nostrils. Rain or shine, you get a kid in front of me and I can waggle my nostrils to beat the band until they crack a smile and it feels like I won the lottery.

#7 I make the best grilled cheese in the world. I used to enjoy a grilled cheese made by someone else, but really, I make the best ones. Come over sometime and I’ll make you one and wistfully watch you eat it because gluten.

#8 I like the color purple-blue that happens in the sky right where the clouds hit the edge of the horizon and go deeper. That color is slashed somewhere deep in my soul and I feel it on an overcast day the most.

#22 I will never like eggplant. It’s ok. I admit it. Let’s just get it over with and out there – eggplant grosses me out. I’d rather eat okra, and well, okra…not my favorite. (But, at least it isn’t eggplant.)

#25 Blowing bubbles through a tiny wand yanked out of a neon-pink plastic bottle with a cartoon of a unicorn badly plastered on it makes me incredibly happy. Blowing bubbles makes me take steadier breaths and calms me down. Watching bubbles float soothes my mind chatter. Seeing them pop is fun.

It’s been a long time since I had to use one of my One True Things to save my sanity, but it doesn’t stop me from using them every now and again anyway. And I keep collecting new ones, because the more I am myself, the more room I have for all the things about me. (If that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, you might not have a depression or anxiety problem.)

If you’re in a place right now where you’re being lied to by depression and crazy-thought-making and numbness, think of one true thing about yourself and remind yourself who you are. If you think you might hurt yourself, please call a hotline like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255. (Here are some other hotline numbers.) You are not alone. People do care. That’s the truth, and that’s coming from someone who collects beer caps and wine corks for a project that may or may not ever happen. (#17 on my list of True Things.)

If you have some true things about yourself you’d be willing to share, I’d love to read them.

Storyteller: Kizz Robinson aka 117 Hudson

Kazz11. Blogging since July 2004. I started out reading Dawson’s Recap by Sara Bunting and Tara Ariano. That led me to some blogging awards (before blog was a word!) which introduced me to blogs and finally in 2004 I couldn’t keep my voice quiet any longer. Also, people had come out with easy-to-use platforms that didn’t require use of html which I still don’t know. I still love it, 10 years on!

2. I tell stories on my blog for a lot of reasons. I love to write and I find writing therapeutic. I’ve been very busy recently training for a new career and producing a Listen To Your Mother show so I haven’t had much time at all to write and it shows in my mental equilibrium. I could write for my health anywhere, I do work on other writing projects, but my blog is a conversation, a regular practice, and an outlet I remain grateful for. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a group of friends around my blog, people I wouldn’t have met offline, and they’re still loyal and interesting readers and contributors. I would miss them if I stopped.

3. I have an office job 4 days a week. I have 2 cats and a small, smart, terrier. I am training to become a force free dog trainer. That means reading for class, taking class, practicing with people and dogs, and logging hours toward accreditation. I love stories so reading blogs and books and other social media and watching TV are a lot of fun for me. I’m also a singer working on my next solo show. My days could probably be filled with a little more singing but I’m doing the best I can right now.

Kazz24. In NYC there’s a scratch off lottery ticket you can buy for $2 that could ultimately win you $1000/week for life. Years ago I had a roommate and when we’d go out shopping for the house our first stop would be two of those tickets. We would leave them, unscratched, on the dashboard while we schlepped all over getting what we needed. To amuse ourselves while we shopped we talked about what we’d do if we won the grand prize. When we got home and put all the groceries away we could scratch our tickets. We don’t live together anymore but we’re still friends and, despite never having won the grand prize, we still buy each other scratch off tickets and go to dinner to talk about what we’d do if we did. Right now if I won $1000/week for life I would see about cutting my office job down to fewer days per week so that I can do more dog training work, more singing, and more writing. I would hire a cleaning person at least once a month. I would give more both to the charities that are important to me and to the people in my life who need it. I would plan a big trip! Oh, and shoes, I would buy shoes.

5. It’s not a secret exactly but it’s something I don’t talk about if I can help it. (And here I could help it but I’m talking about it!) My mother is a hoarder. It makes it hard to communicate with her. It makes it hard to allow myself to live my life without taking everything as a sign that I will grow into her disorder or suspecting that everyone else who knows us both thinks I will.

Read Kizz’s stories at 117 Hudson.

Life Textures

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It would be easy to say as things get older they automatically go towards entropy like moths to a flame in the witching hour.

But the truth is, the easy answer isn’t always the true answer and where entropy is falling a little closer towards chaos and disorder every moment, we actually keep following along the perfect arc towards the inevitable, sure, but it isn’t chaos. It’s exactly what’s supposed to happen next.

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If I had to narrow down and categorize all the things I’ve done in the past three years that have made a huge difference in my life and just pick one to share with you, one thing that literally shifted my life into healing, it would be this: Positive Energy.

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Part of that is accepting life as it comes, in all its myriad layers and textures and believing that on some level, this too is for my good, whatever it is. Embracing the next thing that comes, choosing to see it as an exciting challenge instead of an attack on the fabric of my soul.

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It can be scary at first and it’s still hard from time to time, but I take that opportunity to look at myself in the mirror, smile, and say, “I love you! You are doing so great!” even if it’s a smile through tears, because that weeping smile is no less real and valid than a smile done in pure joy. I really and truly am doing great, the very best I can do at any given moment. And so are you.

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I’m getting older, no question. New wrinkles. Thighs of cellulite. Gray hairs to beat the band. And along with that a whole new way of perceiving my life. Maybe a little bit of wisdom? Do I dare call it that? I tread lightly here because the past has shown me that on the occasion I think I know something, I might not really know that something and soon may fall flat on my face in a sea of faulty expectations.

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But on this particular day, yes, I am so bold. Living in a more positive light, choosing to see life as trying to provide me with the very best it has to offer me, looking for the good, allowing others in my life to make mistakes and knowing they are doing their very best as well – this has made my life sweeter and more satisfying than any other change.

Next time you’re in front of a mirror, pause and smile. Tell you that you love you. 15 seconds of fake smiling triggers the same endorphins of a real smile, and a real smile hits your pleasure center the same as thousands in cash or bars and bars of chocolate. Pretty valuable smiles.

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Marci and Delaney

I had the good fortune to spend the afternoon with Marci and her two lovely daughters plus a group of the nicest women you’ve ever met a few weeks back. (Fun fact – I actually realized I knew some of them from years ago and it was so nice to see them again!)

Marci’s friends threw her a Girl Shower, all about how great it is to be a girl. Everything was pink and floral and the weather was perfect. It was such a lovely day.

This is my favorite shot from all 600+ shots I took. (I know! So many! But little girls are pretty and fun and everything was, as I think I mentioned earlier, lovely. I couldn’t stop taking photos.)

Just look at that joy.

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You can hire me for a photo shoot here.

Storyteller: Charity Cole aka Giggles & Grimaces

Charity Cole I have been blogging since February 2010. I started my blog as a way to force me to capture life with, at the time, 2 little girls, and to give me an outlet to share who I was. It became a way to share about my third pregnancy, subsequent postpartum depression and now bipolar 2 depression. Then we added in homeschooling to make life even more interesting. I love telling about things my girls do, or we do as a family and in homeschooling, but the biggest message for me is letting others know the real ins and outs of parenting/living with mental illness.

I fill my days with kids. Kids, kids, kids. I stopped working outside the home about a year and a half ago. So, I thought, hey, let’s home-school. We decided the day before school started, at 10 pm, to home educate. It has been great. I love it, but it means I am ALWAYS with kids. I will admit, I wondered about homeschooling with bipolar. It does affect it some. When I am hypo-manic (heightened mood), learning is a lot more interactive, a lot more hands on. When things head south, depression, it’s a little quieter, more worksheets and book work, but it’s good. It forces me to have a rhythm to my day, to put one foot in front of the other no matter what my mind says.

If I had a million dollars…well the house would be bigger and have more than one bathroom and a school room, so my kitchen could be a kitchen! Then I would go a little crazy buying homeschooling curriculum and hands on learning materials. Finally, I would give money…to Postpartum Progress, an online foundation that helps families living with a postpartum mood disorder, to my friends getting ready to go on the mission field, and to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Tell you a secret…I don’t really have any, I spill just about everything on my blog, but I guess, it would be to have my writing noticed, to have people say, “You know, her writing and her blog matter.Having a voice is my biggest wish. I want to be heard. I want others to acknowledge the words I string together.

Storytellers

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You guys. I’m just going to go ahead and apologize ahead of time because I’m going to be using phrases like, “I remember when,” and “Back in the old days,” and I’m very aware of how tedious and eye-rolly that can be. BUT.

Back in the old days (See? I wasn’t kidding.) when I first started online journaling in the late 90s, it was a brand new world where I could share a story on my computer with my family who lived miles and miles away. I’d post pictures and write what was essentially a monthly update about the kids and it was fun and it meant something personal.

And then in 2002 when Joe moved me to WordPress, my mind was blown with how easy it was to add posts and update more often and easily put in images and add headers and and and…

But it was the day he introduced me to Dooce.com and said, “Look. Here’s someone else writing about their life and sharing it with the others,” that I realized there was the possibility of a real community out there in the innernets.

Soon after that I started my sidebar blogroll and kept people listed there that I felt a connection to and I started my interview series to highlight interesting writers and photographers and “internet people.”

We had a smaller group then. It was 2004 by that time and more and more people were beginning to write their stories but it still felt like we could keep track of each other. It still felt small even as it was growing. I kept seeking out new bloggers so other people could find them and I loved it! And then at some point the world of blogging wasn’t about storytelling anymore. It was all about “Brands” and “Cultivating an Audience” and sidebar ads, which I tried out in various forms myself and have nothing against in the abstract.

But things changed over the next few years, didn’t they? We started having fewer and fewer storytellers and leaving comments on blogs became a way for people to make money. Traffic was king and everyone was being judged on their numbers. We could look up each others stats and decide if that person was worth knowing on or offline at a conference. If they were worth our time. If what they were saying mattered because other people said it mattered. Oh, popularity. Just like High School.

That was when I didn’t want to do interviews anymore and I shut my series with bloggers down. It wasn’t fun to get emails from people saying they should be interviewed by me because “they were getting 10,000 uniques a month and wasn’t that enough? Why wouldn’t I interview them? What was wrong with them?”

I stuck to Google Reader. I went in and read the websites I loved every single day and left comments when it struck me to do so based on their stories and not on their brands. I still felt a part of a community of friends.

When Google Reader went away, I really felt like I was being abandoned. (I’m still kinda upset about it.) The other options of feed readers were all lacking (for my needs) so I just dropped out. And I’ve missed out and I’ve missed you!

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I miss the real stories. They are still out there. I see some of my old friends are still blogging and talking like real humans without all the freshly pressed look of a fine magazine going on. Not that I’m dissing fine magazines. I like them. But I’m much less likely to leave a comment on a post that isn’t a personal story. That’s where the heart is.

I recently noticed that Angela has an old-fashioned sidebar blogroll (You don’t mind if I call it old-fashioned, do you Angela? Not you, it!) and it got me thinking. I should stop complaining about missing Google Reader and woe-is-me-ing and do something about it.

So here it is, finally, the request I have for you. If you know of a writer/blogger who is telling personal stories and not “crafting their brand for an audience,” would you let me know? I’d like to add them to my Storytellers page. I’d like to read them and connect with them. I’d like to cultivate a community again. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed you! I know there have to be thousands out there that I’ve missed out on while my head’s been in the sand.

Personal story telling and this community is what’s helped me through some really tough times. Really feeling other people’s stories is what it’s all about for me. Help me find you.

When the Water Calls

When my kids were young, when we first came back from Germany, when my marriage to the other guy was being held together with tape and googly eyes, when I couldn’t breathe, when I couldn’t think, when I wasn’t on meds and needed them badly, when I was dissociating, I took the kids to the beach.

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My feet, which had walked way too far and way too long to get there, were suddenly surrounded by rushing water and the Space of Nothing I needed. The water was cold and fast and then pulled at my soul before it receded, taking my fears, confusion, disappointments and grief with it on its way back out to sea.

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This was “Our Beach” and the kids knew how far they could walk and still yell into the surf and find me. There were huge boulders and small crabs and hot sand for miles. There was my daughter wearing her suit with the rainbow, ruffled rumba-butt, worried what might be lurking in the water that she couldn’t see. And my oldest refusing to have fun because he was just-that-much-too-cool and pulling a towel over his body, taking a nap nestled in the grains of sand while the sun kissed a slice over his leg when the make-due-blanket slid down.

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And there were my other two boys, unashamed to have hard, wild and loud fun, running into the waves, grabbing boogie boards and refusing to let me swipe sunscreen on them because they just can’t stop running right now, Mommy. Can’t stop right now, but soon.

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I sat. I watched. I stood at the edge of the world where the packed, wet sand meets eternity, with my feet sinking lower and lower with every pull of water and wondered who I was, where I went, and how I could find me.

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In the summer more people came. More and more each year. Parking got harder. Walking was further. The jugs of water, towels, sunbathers and canopies that dotted the sand got closer and closer together. The water began to burst with more and more surfers and swimmers but we didn’t stop going to Our Beach because, well, it was ours. No matter what else it was, it was ours.

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The world ended one spring, just as we had started going back to Our Beach that year, and I had a vacation in a mental hospital with strangers that knew me better than anyone else. Within minutes the kids had moved with their dad to what might as well have been another country and I had no passport. The gates closed on Our Beach and we never went back.

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I spent the next ten years or forever driving past Our Beach every other weekend and sometimes in the middle of the week on a Thursday to see them play sports or be in a play, using any excuse to get to watch their faces talk about everything, anything, please talk about something, to me.

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I looked out the window at that water and wondered what it did with all my secrets. But I never went back to Our Beach because it wasn’t ours anymore. It was just a regular beach now, like a hundred other beaches, one that belonged to everyone else in the world more than me or us.

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I’m finding new beaches now with my guy, the guy that stands by me when the tide is high or low. I don’t claim these wild beaches or try to make them my own. I understand better that the magic when the water races to the shore and dances around your feet, pulling out the grief and sadness, belongs to everyone. You can’t own a wild thing, anyway. It’s just pretending to think you can and I don’t need to pretend anymore.

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I sit. I breathe. I stand in the surf on the edge of the world and watch my guy swim out into the magic and feel so much joy it hurts in a delicious and comforting way, now that I’m healing, now that I’m happy in my soul where it’s quiet, now that I can breathe, now that I can think, now that I’ve found myself.

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Heal Something Good is available for Pre-Order here.

Grain-Free Cooking: Brussels Chips Exclamation Point

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If you like Brussels Sprouts, and even if you don’t care for them so much because you’ve only had them water-soggy or over-cooked, this recipe is for you. For you!

When I stopped eating grains, vegetables became a bigger part of my intake and Brussels Sprouts is a weekly contender. I ate them before I even knew how to cook them correctly. And NOW. Well.

Here’s the thing – soggy Brussels sprouts are the pits. But if you roast them with some olive oil? Hoo-boy. And when you peel of a bunch of outer layers so they get crispy while you’re roasting the inner brain-looking nubbins? Delectable.

Here. Let me show you.

Roasted Brussels Chips

  • A Buncha Brussels Sprouts
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper

1. First things first: soak those sprouts for about 5 minutes, pushing them under the water a few times.

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2. Next, shake off the water and cut the ends off each sprout high enough up from the bottom that the damaged outer layers are discarded. Then (AND THIS IS THE BEST PART) keep peeling off a few more layers until the little brain part is too tight to keep peeling. When you get to the core, but it in half or thirds. Put all the layers plus the brain nuggets on a cookie sheet.

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3. Pour some olive oil over the whole messagoodness and mix well with your hands. Maybe 2-3 tablespoons? Well, fine. I guess you could put them in a bowl and then use a spoon and carefully do this part so you don’t get oily, but that just makes more dishes. Plus olive oil is good for your skin. But the choice is yours!

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4. Grind some real salt (check the ingredients of your sea salt for non-caking agents and trade up if you see it listed) and fresh cracked pepper on the leaves. Do it real good, friend.

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5. Bake at 425F for ten minutes, taking out every 3-4 minutes to mix with a wooden spoon or spatula. You know it’s done when the little brains are nicely browned on at least one side and soft when pierced with a fork. The chips should be crispy and brown (AND DELICIOUS).

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You’ll never go back to steamed or boiled sprouts again. (Fun addition! Add some super crispy real bacon bits to the top after baking and before inhaling.)

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This recipe is included in Heal Something Good.

This Thursday’s Meetup Class – Managing Mental Health

Birds in FlightThis week’s class is super close to my heart. With all the “getting-well” I’ve been doing these past three years, managing how my brain is responding to the changes I’m making has been sometimes challenging but mostly exciting.

I’m really looking forward to this week’s group and going in more depth about the process I’ve used and what might work for others. Getting your head on straight goes hand-in-hand with healing the other parts of your body, especially your gut.

See you there?

PS. The photo above reminds me of what it feels like when I’m trying to find the direction I want to go with my life. This way? Or that way?

FBA Tshirts – Book Tour 2014!

Oh, look! It’s new Flawed but Authentic Tshirts, available for a limited time only, just in time for Heal Something Good‘s debut.

Look how cute and how many varieties there are! You can buy them directly from RedBubble.

Pre-Orders will get a Tshirt for *FREE!* (Choice of Floral or Plain design. See Details below.)

Flawed But Authentic Tshirts

We purchased some of Joe‘s design of the surfing bear California flag last Christmas and I can tell you that the Tshirts from RedBubble are well made and the screen-printing is stellar.

Details: The free Tshirts will be done in one bulk order, most likely in May/June. They will be grey Tshirts in either Male w/Plain design or Female w/Floral design sizes S to 2X. Pre-Order a copy of Heal Something Good here.

Pre-Order Heal Something Good

Heal Something Good BookYou guys. I’m oh-so-close to being done with Heal Something Good, the book I’ve been working on for the past three years.

This has been a labor of love. My last book, Not Otherwise Specified, was such a deep journey of mental discovery that I would never call it “Light” or “Nurturing.” I mean, the subject matter includes suicide attempts and graphic material. It’s an important book for what it is and I continue to get letters of appreciation from people who have found it helpful on their own journeys, which is why I leave it up and available.

But. But! Heal Something Good is light and nurturing and full of joy. It’s educational and fun. I’ve enjoyed every moment of writing and putting it together. Who knew learning about supporting our whole body in healing could be so fun?!

I was asked the other day if my new book was *just* for someone healing from chronic illness or *just* someone healing from mental illness and the answer is an emphatic no.

Show me someone who doesn’t have some physical, emotional or mental healing to attend to and I’ll show you someone who is an imaginary person. Life happens and during that “happens” we encounter all kinds of things that damage us. And surprise! It’s all connected inside us. Our emotions are connected to our body systems are connected to our mental well-being is connected to our emotions. (See what I did there?)

Heal Something Good hits on all that and more. If you have experienced life, I dare say you’ll find it helpful.

Pre-Orders get 25% off the book price plus a free hour of mentoring PLUS a book mark inked & water-colored by yours truly. Today is a great day to pre-order!

The image below was taken just the other day when the sun was out and tapping me on the shoulder and whispering in my ear and I was thinking about you, how happy I feel and how I want to tell you all about it.

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What I Am

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“But, what do you have? What are you?”

Oh, right. This is the part where I’m supposed to list all the illnesses and diseases and disorders I’ve collected over my lifetime and use their proper medical terms. This is how we measure each other up, to find out where we fall in the Diagnosis Scale. Are we the same? Are we different? If I told you, would you have an immediate recognition of how I feel right now because you’ve got “IT,” too?

Using this shorthand is not meant to be insulting or belittling. It’s meant to cut to the chase and find out where your battle scars are. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get to know someone else sitting in the waiting room to see the doctor or in line at the grocery store reading a magazine about health. It’s the quickest way to find out if you want to keep having a conversation with this person. And if you’ve been struggling for months, years, maybe they know of a good support group or a treatment you haven’t yet tried.

It’s Dating for Sick People.

After years and years, I’ve collected quite a pile. My suitcase is full. Disorder-this and Ailment-that. And when I open up the case and take a look I realize – hey. I don’t really want those.

How validating is it to have a medical professional tell you that what you’ve been feeling, what you’ve been struggling with for so long, what you’ve been trying to tell people about and make them believe is happening to you, that THING that is making you feel like the pits – is real? And it has a name. And here is that name. Blessings, my child, now we know what to call you.

You feel like you’re going crazy, what with all the symptoms that don’t add up and the tests you’ve been taking that come back negative and the unexplained pain and trips to Urgent Care on the weekend. Can’t someone just please tell me what is wrong with me? And if one more doctor pats you on the head and tells you to just go home and get some rest, maybe consider an anti-depressant, you’re going to go crazy. Maybe you are crazy. You’re tired of being “ish.”

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And then they do. They do finally tell you what’s wrong with you and they give it a name, a diagnosis, and then that’s that. You have IT. Are IT.

And it’s such a relief, right, that it has a name? And you can tell people like Judgy McJudgerson that have doubted you all this time that Name and that you have IT, and it feels better, just a little bit, that they know a doctor told you what it was. That the tests were positive. And sometimes it even has a treatment plan, along with drugs meant to help stop whatever is happening that’s causing you such distress. And sometimes those drugs *do* help and sometimes they only have *a few* side effects and dangit, that’s awesome and you’re thankful.

When you get woken up with pain or you can’t get out of bed or you miss your kids school event or have to go home because the mall was too crowded and too loud or you get tired just walking down the driveway to get the mail – you remind yourself that it’s ok, because you have IT. People have to understand and you can be easier on yourself, let go of the shame and guilt. You know IT’s name.

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So. There I am looking in my suitcase and whoa. There’s a lot in there and they are varied and some are “worse” than others and I don’t want them anymore. I don’t want to use it as a shorthand to allow someone to get to know me faster and easier. I don’t want to own them at all.

I’m going to dis-own them. Maybe one-by-one like petals from a flower. Maybe all at once and watch them swirl down the drain like foamy residue from shampooing.

I don’t want to be called “mentally ill” or “physically ill” ever again. I’m not those things. And neither are you.

And there’s something so freeing in banning “fibromyalgia” and “lupus” and “bipolar” and and and….. I’m not a diagnosis or a disease. I’m no one and nothing that can be categorized and typecast with such simple terms.

What I am is healing and getting better and better every day. What I am is a human with some bodily systems that need support. What I am is in love with my body that continues to try and try and has kept me alive for 43 years. What I am is ecstatic that I keep getting new days and new mornings where the sun comes out and I can tell my Self in the mirror that it’s going to be a great day. And mean it. And every step I take away from the name of a disease that has been hanging on me for years I feel more joy and happiness than I can express. We aren’t meant to be burdened with illness.

Heart

What you are is strong and brilliant. You wouldn’t be alive right now if you weren’t. Your body is trying and coping in the best way it can to help you survive. You, too, could try calling yourself by, and talking about yourself in, more-than-illness terms. Don’t let IT own you. Let go of the validating feeling you get from reminding yourself you have IT and instead validate your body in new ways. The guilt and shame you carry for “failing” at doing the things you want to do in your life due to your “Illnesses” isn’t needed. It never was. Being kind and gentle with your body that is STILL ALIVE and working on your behalf? That’s enough. That’s perfect.

Thank you, stomach, for trying your best to digest the food I eat. Thank you, ribs, for holding together for me every day. Thank you, knees, for hanging in there all these years. And thanks, circulatory system and hypothalamus, for heating up and letting me know I need to slow it down a little.