I’m back!

Hi Friends!

Did you forget about me?  It’s OK if you did.  I’ve been MIA for awhile.  We’ll call it an unexpected writing sabbatical.

The itch to write is back and I have LOTS to talk about, but of course I can’t talk about it now.  (I’m at work.  Oopsie.)

Anyway, to engage you at least just a little bit, here’s an article I ran across today on the world wide web that is pretty descriptive of what I’m going through right now. Click Me!

I’ll be back soon!

How an AutoImmune Attack Can Really F You Up

I haven’t been writing  much about my Hashimoto’s disease lately.  (I think ya’ll have noticed that.)  It’s not because I didn’t want to, it’s really because there was nothing new to report.  For awhile there, things were going swimmingly.  I felt good, even great on some days. This is HUGE for me – I can’t really remember the last time I felt good on a consistent basis.  (Isn’t that sad?)

Well, the problem with autoimmune diseases is that you never really know when they’re going to say F YOU! (please say that with a Scottish accent like Charlie’s dad in So I Married an Axe Murderer.  It’s really more fun – and accurate – that way.)  They come out of nowhere.  I’ve been really good.  But what I’ve discovered is that one tiny little slip and it will take a week for it to hit, and then a week to recover.  This is no good.

Without going into specifics, let’s just say that gluten got on something I shouldn’t have been eating in the first place (ummm like cheesecake).  Then I got really stressed out at work.  My body probably could have recovered from the gluten or stress OK on their own, but the combination of the two was just too much.  And now I’ve been in crap-ville for a little over a week.  And it sucks.

I’ve discovered that stress is really the worst thing for Hashimoto’s. And of course, it’s a cycle that is so hard to break.  For example, you get stressed out at work.  Then you can’t sleep (more stress on your body).  Then you’re so tired you can’t even think of working out or even moving (more stress on your body).  Or cooking for yourself (more stress).

The next thing you know you’re in autoimmune attack mode and you can’t do much more than sit on the couch.  I thought I was coming down with something last week until my skin issues popped up again (yay for physical symptoms – I’m actually not being facetious here) and it was a reality check.

I think the hardest part of the autoimmune attack is that it’s so hard to climb back out of it again and not feel either guilty or sorry for yourself. I know the best thing for my body is rest.  I need to be gentle with myself.  But I’ve only made it to yoga once this week, and I haven’t seen my friends at all, and etc etc etc.  You get the idea.  The inner monologue is taking over.

I still find it so hard to give myself a BREAK, even though that’s what I really need to do.

So, I need some tips.  Even if you don’t have an autoimmune disease, what do you do for yourself when you’re feeling crappy?  (Physically, mentally, spiritually, whatever.  It’s all interconnected.)

Lucky for me, I have a really quiet weekend ahead and get to spend some time with good friends.  Even though drinking will be involved, I will take it easy, go to bed early, and sleep in.  I’ll be sure to get some sun, to smile as much as possible, and eat well.  Most importantly, I’ll try and remind myself as much as possible that these things happen – I haven’t fallen back on months of hard work just because of a little slip and a little stress at work.  (That, my friends, will be the hardest part.  If you happen to see me in person, please remind me when I’m being hard on myself!)

All In

This blog has altered so much from what my original intentions were.  I started it because people were curious about my 30 day elimination diet (I know you were all wondering how I did without booze for 30 days) and continued into my story of dealing with Hashimoto’s disease in the best way I can.  I thought I could help someone else make positive, healthy changes in their life and feel better. I know what it’s like to feel like shit and not know why.  I thought perhaps I could reach someone out there.

It’s changed again to my story of finding myself – a process that probably seems long and arduous to many of you.  But it’s changed because I’ve come to understand that my health is intrinsically connected to the way my feelings and thoughts about myself.  Dr. Wayne Dyer posted a great quote on Facebook today from Rumi, who happens to be one of my favorites.  I’m paraphrasing here, but it basically says that if you want to change the world, start with yourself.

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I’m a crusader.  I find things that I’m passionate about and I want to fight for them.  I fight daily for my students’ lives as an educator for underserved urban high school students.  I fight nearly daily for my second cause, food justice and literacy.  Both of these causes are important to me – both I feel are necessary to a healthy culture, both literally and metaphorically.

But first, I must start with myself.  And I guess that’s what I’m doing here, although I didn’t realize it until I read that quote.  Thank you for reading, for supporting me on this journey.

You’ve probably noticed or figured out by now that I’m a self-help addict.  I think this has a lot to do with wanting to continue the path I started on with my life coach a little over a year ago.  I don’t want to stop learning about myself, and I don’t think I’m to the point where I can stop thinking about how I treat myself better and live the life I want to live. (And why would I want to?)

Anyway, I get sent a lot of stuff.  I read a lot of stuff.  For those of you who are actual real life Facebook friends with me you know I post a lot of it.  Two things hit my inbox this morning and I’ve been thinking about them all day.

The first was an email from TUT-The Universe.  I’m not sure how I found this thing, but “The Universe” emails you daily with little reminders.  It’s awesome.  It’s always a thought or a question that really makes you think.  So, here’s mine for today:

“Some of the coolest dreams that ever came true, Carmen, weren’t dreams at all, but standards that simply weren’t compromised. 

Oh yeah, we takin’ over… 
    The Universe”

Um, what?  So you’re telling me that my standards were too low all along?  Is that what’s going on?

And then there’s always a kicker after the little sign off:

“Carmen, always being your best, shining your brightest, and standing as tall as you can, pays far more dividends than one might ever imagine.”

WHAT??

I was having a tough time with this one today.  WTF does that mean?  At first, I was a little pissed (which generally means it stuck a chord).

It really made me think about what my “standards” are.  Do I even know?

And then I get this from Your Kick Ass Life:

“So what is something that is bugging the crap out of you, that you can simply ask for help in changing?”

So, you’re telling me that all I had to do all along was ask for it?

Shine your brightest, keep up your standards for yourself and then just ask for what I want to change?

Jesus, is it that simple?

And then I proceeded to freak out.

See, this is why I need self-help.

Here’s the thing.  I honestly believe that if I do these things, I will get what I want out of life.  This is an incredibly powerful thought.  It’s like a genie in a bottle.  It’s incredibly empowering, and incredibly fucking scary.

There’s no alternative though.  I have to do it.  Because if I don’t, I’ll always wonder.  So I’m going to take my chances, and jump.  I’m all in.

7 Ways to Make Your Dreams Come True – from Andrea Owen

I’ll be back for more later, but in the meantime read this post.  It DIRECTLY relates to my thoughts after the Saturday incident:

http://yourkickasslife.com/featured/7-things-ive-done-to-make-my-dreams-come-true

I’m a huge fan of Andrea Owen’s Your Kick Ass Life.  And not just because she says “ass” (although I do love that she doesn’t care what people will say about it and uses it).  She has great things to say, and one of the most important is not settle for less.  I struggle with this.  What am I worth?

A lot.

More later.

So, I was sitting at a bar…

A weird thing happened to me last night.  I was sitting at a bar, watching a band.  I was with a group of friends, but I lost them and just decided to chill and hang out.  I started talking to this girl, and I have no idea what we were talking about, but out of no where she says something to the effect of, “You know, you’d get a lot more guys if you had a different purse.  That purse scares a lot of guys off.”

(I’m not sure it’s necessary to know what kind of purse I have, but it’s handmade bag from Thailand.  This purse has a story.  I love this purse.  It’s me.)

There are lots of things wrong with what she said.  The worst is that she continued – apparently I don’t dress right and don’t wear enough makeup.

For those of you who know me in real life, you know how I dress.  You know I don’t wear much makeup.  I’m not critisizing anyone who wears more makeup than me or dresses differently than me, it’s just not me.

Anyway, she pretty much said that I had a nice personality and I’d attract more attention if I changed everything about my outside appearance.

I was offended.  I pretended like I wasn’t.  I laughed and asked her how old she was.  She was in her mid-20’s.  Right, I thought (maybe said).  When I was your age that’s all that mattered to me too.

This conversation has been weighing on me since.  I’m trying to figure out why this happened to me last night.  There aren’t any coincidences, something that I was thinking brought about this experience.  Was I feeling vulnerable?  Ugly?  Belittled?

Or maybe, I just needed her to say that so I could see how far I’ve come.

It was only a few years ago that her words would have really, really hurt me.  I’m not saying that they didn’t sting a bit, but then I realized that I don’t care at all what she thinks of me.  Or anyone else in that bar, for that matter.  I am who I am.  It’s taken me a long time to figure out that I don’t need makeup or expensive uncomfortable clothes to make people like me.  The people that really matter don’t care what I look like.  They appreciate the fact that I have a purse that I care about.  They like that I’m not the kind of girl who needs makeup or fancy clothes or whatever to prove my worth to the world.

I guess that’s it – I’ve learned that my true worth is what’s inside.  And as long as I like me, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Because the people who matter, who will stick around, care about what’s inside.

That girl didn’t get to learn how smart I am, or funny, or caring, or that’s I’ve traveled to exotic places and met amazing people and seen wonderful things.  That I’m a writer and a music lover  and I hate to do dishes and I’m a great friend.  But I know these things, and that’s all that matters.

So thank you, my friends, to the old ones and the new ones, and the friends I’ve made through blogging (which is proof that it really doesn’t matter what I look like to be my friend).  Thank you for helping me realize how great I am.

Sometimes things just hit you smack in the face

Perhaps that’s the longest blog title ever.  Perhaps not.  I’ll be on the look-out.

Anyway, remember when I said “Bring it” at the end of my last post?  This was a response from my good friend, former boss, and in general mentor to me:

Goethe says that when we make a decision – a real decision, not just a “want to” – that all the doors of the universe open to make it happen. You just said “bring it”; I just heard doors slapping open across the cosmos. :)

Whoa.  I mean really.  I believed her, I mean “kinda” believed her – in that “yeah, sure, whatever you say” kind of way.

But you know what?  As usual, she was right.

My inbox has been flooded with emails about all kinds of things that have been on my mind to make these things happen, from travel to writing to making your dreams come true and creating your own reality.  Facebook has articles and quotes popping up all over the place.  I guess they could have been there all the time, but now I’m finally ready to listen.  Not just listen, but DO.

I think we get so stuck in whatever our “reality” is at the moment (and that reality is always self-created) that it’s hard to see beyond our own noses.  I was stuck in this “my work sucks I’m sick I can’t do it I don’t want to fail I don’t want to look stupid I’m afraid” thought process that it was hard to see just how fucking easy it is to say YES.

I have lots of ideas, one of which I’m ready to talk about, and one that’s still forming in my mind.  One is a recent dream, the other I’ve had my entire life.  Guess which one I’m ready to talk about?  Yeah, the new one.  Weird how that works.  The thing that I’ve always wanted to do, that my heart has always lead me to, is the one things that scares me the most.  Not just scares, but shakes me to the core.  Because if I lose this, then I lose everything.

But you know what I’ve realized?  I’ll never lose it, because it is me.

 

I’d love to share a few of the blog posts that I’ve come across, and I will as I find them.  In the meantime, here’s one of them.  If you’re a fan of travel stories, I highly recommend that you follow this blog.

http://nomadgrad.com/2012/04/01/the-ask-all-tell-alls-of-nomadic-life-financing-your-fun/ 

 

The World is Your Oyster

Shuck it, shuck it, and shuck it some more.

Deutsch: Auster aus Marennes-Oléron Français :...

The World. Also quite tasty. Oyster from Marennes-Oléron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A very wise friend said that to me last year as I was freaking out deciding whether to go to Thailand by myself or not.  I won a tour of Northern Thailand through Intrepid tours and I didn’t know if I should go or not.

That’s the funny thing about winning things.  You question about whether it’s a gift or a curse.  Isn’t that a weird thing about our society?  That we teach people to question things that the universe gives to us?

I’m so glad I went.  I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I didn’t go.  And it turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I can’t even explain to you how influential that trip has been to me.  It came at a pivotal moment in my life – I can look back on it now and see how much I have changed since then.  It’s only been a year, but it feels like a lifetime.

I’m not going to go into all of it now, but let’s just say that a year ago I wouldn’t have been able to talk about what I talk about here.  I just treated myself like shit.  Now, I hope that when I talk about my struggles with self-love, happiness, and healthy living, you’ll understand that I’m coming from a place where these ideas weren’t a part of my living.  I actually would say that I wasn’t truly living.  I was just floating through my days, wishing for a change. The change came, because I knew I needed it.  A few really important people came into my life, and some were there all along.  I realized my passions, and understood that the only I have the power to change my life.  Sitting around and waiting wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I’m not perfect.  Every day I have to make a concious choice about my attitude towards life.  I am not a victim of my circumstances.  I choose my life and my reaction towards what happens to me. My trip to Thailand last year really helped cement all of these ideas for me.  I traveled by myself before joining the tour, which allows for lots of time for recollection and thinking, and you really start to understand how “you” fit into the world when you’re with people who are nothing like you.  All those things that you thought were important just fade away.

I had been saving up money for a big trip, and used very little of it last year. So this year I am going on a trip again – this time to Bali, Indonesia.  I leave Tuesday night.  Like my trip to Thailand, I am looking forward to experiences a culture very different from my own.  Unlike my trip last year, I am traveling with 4 other amazing ladies, 3 of whom are my closest friends.  We’re going to have lots of fun.  I’m looking forward to so much – and am so excited to spend some time in such a spiritual place.

I’ll do my best to check in while I’m gone, but if I don’t (you never know about those overseas internet cafes, and I refuse to bring my laptop) know that I’ll update you when I return.

Until then, I leave you with one piece of advice.  “Live your dream.  Don’t dream your life.”

Oh- and the world is your oyster.  Shuck it, shuck it, and shuck it some more.

(And someday soon I’ll tell you about my friend Reid, who gave these wonderful pieces of advice.  And some others, that maybe aren’t so wonderful, but still useful.)

Authentic

Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to send you a message?

Not a little message like “It’s cold, you should wear a coat!” but a big-ass HUGE message – screaming, blinking lights, the whole bit?

Yeah, I think it’s happened to all of us.  And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, don’t you worry my friend.  It will.  That is something that I’ve learned in my 32.5 years of living.

Sometimes it’s a bad thing – you’re being told to avoid something, that something is bad.  Those are usually the things that I ignore.  I’ve also found it’s easier to ignore these things when I’ve had a few drinks.  Or it has to do with a man.  Both alcohol and men can make a girl think stupid.

But sometimes, if you really pay attention, the universe tells you something wonderful.

Lately, I’ve been trying to pay attention.  And even though I’ve been slackin’ on the yoga and meditation this week, there are blinking lights everywhere.

“Just be you.”

Last time I wrote about trying too hard – this concept is totally related.  When you stop trying so hard to be something or somebody you aren’t you really free yourself to just be yourself.  There aren’t any other options.

This message has come to me in so many ways the past few weeks that I can’t even tell you all of them.  But I did just tell a coworker who was complaining about something that somebody else said about us to just stop – we have no control over what someone else says about us. They were being authentic.

Isn’t that a great word?  Authentic.  I love it.

I’m not saying this is easy or that I’m perfect at this.  But I’d rather be imperfect at being me than perfect at being somebody else.

Ding Ding Ding! Light bulb going on!

Have a lovely weekend, my friends.  I’ll tell you all about the amazing authentic thing I’m doing next week.

In the meantime, read this:

http://www.daniellelaporte.com/creativity-art-design-articles/its-not-too-late-to-be-you-and-why-i-changed-my-site-name/

and this (from my lovely and amazing friend Genna) – http://totallyperfectme.blogspot.com/2012/03/one-smile.html

And maybe listen to this, not because it’s related but because it’s absolutely beautiful – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ8gjtMYEA4

Trying too Hard

I was doing a seated twist in yoga the other night.  I’m really not good at these.  I like the laying down twists so much better – and not just because I’m laying down (although that’s a bonus) but because gravity does so much of the work for you.  This is helpful when you have not only a terribly inflexible spine, but also boobs that have a tendency to get in the way.  Anyway, I was pushing myself into the twist, trying to keep my left hip on the ground (really, this pose is so much harder than it looks) when I heard a little voice say:

“Stop. Trying. So. Hard.”

No, it wasn’t God.  And I don’t think it was my right kidney, although it was probably screaming something similar at this point.  It was that little part of me (ok BIG part of me) that is just tired.  Tired of me pushing so hard for everything ALL THE TIME.

I read all kinds of yoga blogs where the people writing them say how they learn all kinds things about themselves during yoga or because of yoga or whatever.  I never thought I’d be one of those people.  I love yoga, I love what it does for all of me, but I’m not one of those people who has revelations during yoga either.

I wouldn’t really call this a revelation.  My body was just tired.  I’m not one of those who goes crazy pushing myself in fitness, but I had been hitting the power yoga pretty hard lately.  And I was trying really hard to keep up with the people next to me who did inversions in between vinyasas.  (Nope, I didn’t get that far.)  I had to pull back, to let my body do the work.

I’ve been thinking about that ever since.  Stop trying so hard.  Where else do I push to hard in my life?  Right.  Everywhere.  I pretty much go all or nothing on most things I do.  Sometimes this makes me really good at things – like my diet right now.  It also makes me a hard worker, a dedicated student, and a good friend.  It also means that I burn out.  Fast.

I’ve dealt with a lot of burn out in my life.  When I was in my early twenties, after working one too many 60 hour work weeks, I quit my job and moved back to Sacramento.  I was burnt out.  I was so burnt out that before I quit, I got strep throat so badly that I was out for nearly 2 weeks.  Back then I didn’t believe that my health was a reflection of what was going on in inside.

Now I know that it’s true, and as I deal with a different layer of burn out – not necessarily job related (although that’s part of it) – but health and life related I think about this a lot.  Stop trying so hard, Carmen.  Your body knows what’s best.

Try this – it’s really good with pork chops.  And while you peel the layers of artichoke you can take your mind off trying so hard.  These are pretty hard to screw up.

Sauteed Baby Artichokes with Garlic

1 lb. of baby artichokes (the fresh kind from the farmer’s market)

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 swig of olive oil

1 swig of chicken stock

Lemon (optional)

 

Have you ever prepared baby artichokes?  They’re really easy.  Peel off the bottom couple of layers of leaves until you get to a light green color.  Trip the bottom a bit, and chop off the top 1/2 inch or so with a sharp knife.  Cut in half.  Put cut artichoke halves in a bowl with water and a bit of lemon juice or vinegar.  This sounds labor intensive but really goes pretty fast.

Heat up a heavy bottom frying pan and add a swig of olive oil.  When the oil heats up add the garlic and pepper flake, and fry until it starts to smell good.  Add the artichoke halves and try to get them all cut side down.  Let them hang out for about 5 minutes or so, stirring a few times.  Add a swig of chicken stock (or white wine), stir a few times, and put on a lid.  Let them steam for a few minutes.  They’re ready when you can poke the bottom easily with a knife.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon, if you want, or a really big glass of white wine.  Or both.