Hope in Movies without Popcorn

Good morning friends. No smoothie to share today as my husband is still sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him with a roaring blender. I do have a cup of Tazo Earl Grey tea sitting here though. I love the smell of Earl Grey. That hint of lavender is delicisou Do you have a favorite kind of tea you’ve been drinking lately? I’m always looking for new ones to try.

I still don’t think I am recovered from daylight savings. Monday was great, and it all went downhill from there. I’ve missed my morning yoga practice every day. Just can’t quite wake up out of the fog. It could be this weather too. It’s been a winter advisory pretty much all week, grey sky, sleet, snow or ice. Shmarch. 2qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqsw

That was a hello from Jojo the Cat. She’s also been a devil to deal with in the mornings and wakes up about an hour before dawn encouraging everyone else to get up and greet the day with her. Even with a full bowl of food, she is a morning person on steriods and just wants you to wake up, wake up, wake up! I should just start getting out of bed when the animal alarm clock wants me to instead of dozing in and out of dreams for another hour. I’m just so tired. The fatigue never goes away.

When I’m done here, I’ll be working on my grocery list and will try to head up to the market before everyone else and their brother get there. I love going to Horrocks, it’s a local farmers style market that we have here. They sell  delicious varieties of fresh produce and locally sourced meats as well as other items from area bakeries. And they have free coffee. Can’t beat that.

After groceries I’m going to see Beauty and the Beast with my Aunt and cousin. I’m not much of a movie goer these days, but I loved the cartoon and I’m really excited to see the live version. Going to a movie is one of those situations that revolve around food, and I just have a hard time getting excited about those anymore.  Movie theatre popcorn may be the one food item I miss the most post UC that I can’t find a replacement for. The smell, the mouthwatering buttery salty flavor..mmm. My college roommate and I used to go to the movie theatre just to get a bucket of popcorn and then go home to watch our own movies or shows. It was my favorite snack.

Digestive diseases aren’t usually a fan of the little kernels however, and my Ulcerative Colitis is completely against it. So, I’ll probably be smuggling in some coconut chips and maybe I’ll find some corn syrup free gummy bears I can slip into my purse. Living on the edge and smuggling snacks.

It is amazing how many situations in our culture revolve around particular meals or snacks. This has been a huge adjustment for me in coping with this disease, finding other foods or finding other ways to celebrate. I know it can be much harder for those with feeding tubes or other illnesses, and I’m lucky I have foods that I can eat. Change is difficult, and watching others not have to make those changes while you do can lead to a pit of self despair. I try not to go there and just make a decision to find a new way to enjoy it. Like today, for example. I could be jealous of the people with giant buckets of popcorn that surround me, but instead I’ll choose to be grateful for the time spent with my aunt and cousin, and to look at this opportunity as a blessing instead. It helps me to reverse the negative thought process towards gratitude. Do you come into these kinds of situations? Try it out and let me know what you find happens. Or if you have any other tips for those food centered holidays and gatherings.

 

Enjoy your Sunday. 🙂

 

 

Self Care Sunday Chats

I took a break.

I’m not apologizing for it. I needed it and it was enjoyed. Today I decided it was time to come back. I’m refreshed, ready to make some changes, to make some new connections and to offer my story and support for Ulcerative Colitis patients and others.

One of these changes will be Self Care Sunday Chats. While on this break from blogging about my life with Ulcerative Colitis, I’ve been focusing a lot on listening to my body, and acting on what I hear.

Remission is great, but it is tricky. Remission doesn’t mean that my body works exactly like it did before I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. It is still a different form of life that takes adjusting and getting used to. Some days I feel as though I never had this disease in the first place, and then I have to go into an infusion center to get my medication for 4 hours and I am reminded that life really is different. Some days I wake up feeling great, and some days I’m so exhausted I can barely take my eye mask off my eyes when I wake up. Every day is different, but there is good in every day.

I am well aware of how lucky I am to be in remission. This awareness was part of the reason that I needed to take a break from the community in the first place. I needed to enjoy this moment in my life and focus on the blessing of not having active disease instead of complaining about my past with it. I needed to figure out where I fit in this community now that I wasn’t flaring or trying to find a treatment plan or a good doctor. I have those things. It’s amazing, and it’s taking a long time to get there, and I don’t know how long it will last. I wish all Ulcerative Colitis patients could have these things.

When I was hearing stories of my friends in the IBD community suffering, my heart would just break and I would feel like I needed to apologize for being in remission. There are so many others who were struggling to find a doctor who would listen to them, or  who were recovering from surgery without infections or having terrible reactions to medications. I felt like no one wanted to hear about how my medication and lifestyle changes were working or how I had a doctor who actually follows up and takes the time to hear my full story with this disease. I didn’t want to come across as bragging or arrogant. There were articles being tweeted around and polls about how people didn’t want to hear about success stories because it didn’t help them feel better.

Maybe some people don’t benefit from hearing about any positive outcomes from Ulcerative Colitis. I can understand that. And I accept that. We all have different ways of coping or not coping. The reason I’m still sharing my story is because I think about the person who comes out to the blogosphere after receiving a diagnosis. After typing in the disease in the search bar and hitting enter, how many of those articles are going to contain horror stories?  How many are going to talk about how it is STILL POSSIBLE to have a life with Ulcerative Colitis? It might be a different life than you expected or planned for, but it can still be enjoyed.

So, that’s why I’m back. I’m back for the people I’ve connected with, and for the people I haven’t met yet who are looking to find out how life can still be enjoyed with a chronic illness.I’m back to share, to support, to connect and most importantly to share the joy I’ve found with this disease. Yeah, there is still no cure. It still is a beast and a terrible disease. But I’ve managed to find joy through it all, and I’m sharing that.

What I’ve Been Up To

My husband and I have set off on our own adventure this year, and started another blog to share our travels. If you’d like to check it out click on the link here: www.mibreakfastadventure.com

He bought me a nice camera for Christmas and I have fallen in love with photography. I’m actually attending my first photography club meeting this weekend and I’m so excited. You can see some of my photos on Instagram @mibreakfastadventure . We have been traveling to various breakfast joints across the state and just exploring those areas and sharing what we find. It has been a blast so far, and we have seen so many beautiful things. I’m truly happier than I have been, perhaps ever.

I’ve stopped trying to force myself and my body to morph into something that it is not made to be. It was becoming easy for me to rush, rush, rush and stress to make everything perfect. Instead of working with my body I was trying to beat it and push it to be “normal.” I can’t beat my body. And it’s not productive or healthy to keep trying to. I have found it more beneficial to care for it, and that’s how self-care Sunday came about.

Self Care Sunday

For these future Sunday posts, they’ll basically just be chats written in the morning about whatever flows through as I’m typing here. I’ll share what I’m doing to care for my body today, and anything else that comes to mind.

This morning I just drank a matcha green smoothie and a gluten-free donut because I’m all about that balanced life. I plan on going for a quick brisk walk in a bit here, quick and brisk because it is about 8 degrees outside with the windchill and I am not all about that.

This afternoon I plan on running through some practice questions for an interview I have on Monday for a new position in my office. I’ll get the laundry done and the dishes put away, and spend some time sorting mail and then maybe color for a little bit. Eventually I will get the veggies and fruits chopped and prepped for the week ahead, and sip on some mint-infused water throughout the day. I might even curl up with a book if it sounds good. Basically, today is about active rest and getting prepared for the week ahead.

I’ve added to my routine the practice of “what is done is done.” After 8 pm, if there are chores that still need to be completed, they can wait because I am now done for the day. I make a cup of hot tea, sit down in the lazy boy and snuggle up with my pets. I might read a book, I might watch a TV show or just listen to some music. I might call my grandma. I might hop on social media. Whatever I feel like doing at the time. After 8 pm, chores and obligations are done. No work, no laundry, no dishes, just restoration and enjoyment. It’s an hour to get my mind right and end the day on a good, peaceful note before heading to bed. It has been so beneficial, I highly recommend it to anyone.

My challenge to you is to test it out this week. Set aside a time for yourself where work or chores are not allowed. Make it work for you. Maybe nights aren’t good and you need to do mornings. That’s okay. Or maybe it’s in the middle of the day. Just take the time. Turn off your phone. Connect to yourself. Try it, and let me know how it goes!

See you next Sunday 🙂

 

 

 

 

Finding Ease-Yoga Revolution 

Today I started another Yoga with Adriene 31 day yoga challenge.  I’ve participated in these practices for the past 2 years and have always benefited from them so I’m excited to see what this round has in store. 

The theme is Yoga Revolution, and the mantra or focus for Day One is Ease, or Sukha. 

According to Wikipedia, “Sukha (Sanskrit, Pali; Devanagari: सुख) means happiness, pleasure, ease, or bliss, in Sanskrit and Pali.”

Can someone please tell me why you wouldn’t want a little Sukha in your life? I’m making this my word for 2017. Happiness, pleasure, ease, bliss, sign me up!  

Today I was pretty wiped from being up late last night. Even though I didn’t drink, I didn’t sleep my normal amount and didn’t eat as carefully as I should have. Sluggish and a bit nauseated would be an accurate description of my demeanor.  I still woke up early though, and I didn’t want to waste the morning. I grabbed my camera and  sat in the frosty grass on the riverside in front of our house to capture some really awesome sunrise photos and watch the ducks and geese float in. Check out my instagram for more photos! @flareuphope


Then I started my practice. And I carried it with me through the rest of the day. Finding ease. Finding pleasure. Finding bliss. We went exploring on some nature trails, visited a town we had never traveled to and grabbed a burger at a hole in the wall a few towns away, making it home in time for an afternoon nap. 

What will be, must be. The house is a disaster. My insides are mad at me. But I’m sitting in my chair, snuggled up in a blanket with my dog and cat and sipping on some lemon water, and I’m perfectly content. 

Finding the ease seems to lead to bliss. Bliss shouldn’t take effort to be achieved, it just seems to happen with the least amount of effort. 

Can’t wait to see where the rest of this challenge takes me in my healing journey, and with my life in general. If you’d like to join, it’s completely free and I’ve linked the YouTube channel below. 

Happy New YEAR folks!
https://youtu.be/ioO8K653kMA

Reflecting on 2016

What. A. Year. 

Globally and nationally the world has seen a lot of tragedies and set backs, and there are a lot of people who are ready to put this year behind them and move forward with hopes that 2017 has to be better. 

It feels almost awful to say this due to the sadness I’ve seen across the globe, and please don’t view me as someone who doesn’t see these things happen and who isn’t affected by them. My heart has been broken over and over again and I can’t count the amount of times I’ve said I’m losing faith in humanity, or even that I had lost faith. 

The 2016 year that I lived has been so full of love and joy it’s almost bursting at that have seams. 

In January 

We rang in that have helped new year as my last time under my maiden name surrounded by great friends. I had a remicade infusion. My fiance and I found an awesome new restaurant where I blessed out on eating potato nachos and a glass of wine. I didn’t worry about running to the bathroom or curl up in pain.  

In February 

There was lots of wedding planning, folding paper flowers, practicing yoga and waiting for spring.

In March 

An awful MRI experience but confirmation I was cancer free, more remicade and my first bridal shower.  Never have I felt so loved or grateful.

In April 

Another bridal shower where I was embraced and accepted into a new family, bouquet making with my tribe and another infusion. 
In May


I turned 28, celebrated our upcoming marriage with all of our couple friends and truly blessed out at the amazing bachelorette party my lovely friends threw for me. This month was full of all of my favorite things and favorite people. 

In June

I married my best friend and favorite person in the entire world standing in the rain and then danced the night away in a barn that was almost 200 years old. We adventured to California and explored the coast from San Francisco to Eureka. We saw a whale tale and beautiful scenery and got to just be together. It was absolutely perfect. June ended on a low note with some upsetting TB diagnosis but only made me stronger in the end, as hard as it was to accept. 

In July 
We had weekends full of friends and family watching fireworks, going to baseball games, dinners and festivals. 

In August 

We saw Paul McCartney in concert, had another remicade infusion and met a new doctor at an IBD center. So happy to have a good medical team on my side. We also celebrated the pregnancy of one of my oldest and dearest friends and threw her a baby shower. 

In September 

We went canoeing and had cookouts and a Baby Q, pool parties and we finished the TB treatment.  I travelled to my first IBD event as a consultant on a patient panel for Ulcerative Colitis. I got to fly to Miami and meet some of my IBD heroes in real life, and be a part of something bigger that could improve treatment and options available for those diagnosed with UC. 

In October 

We celebrated the marriage of one of my best friends to his perfect match, had another remicade infusion, introduced our dog to his brother and enjoyed some gorgeous fall weather.

In November

 I flew to Atlanta for another UC patient panel. We welcomed a baby boy, Bobby, to our tribe. We saw cranes migrating and adventured to the Upper Peninsula hunting down waterfalls for Thanksgiving weekends after 2 joyous Friends-givings.

In December 

My first IBD Twitter Chat, lots of IBD awareness, simple Christmases and a new feline addition to our household. 


I’m looking to 2017 with lots of self care, optimism and a sense of adventure. I broke my remission streak during my TB treatment but luckily was able to snap back into it quickly and have been feeling great. I will continue to do everything I can to stay here, but I know that often these things are out of my control and I can only do my best. Whatever happens.

I don’t make resolutions but I do make lists and letters of what I want to accomplish and the state of mind I want to obtain. I’m so excited for the plans I have for this year. 

What about you? How was your year? What are you most looking forward to?

Gratitude 

My husband and I are taking off for Thanksgiving weekend and exploring the Upper Peninsula. Our car is loaded up with snacks, snowpants and blankets. The dog is curled up next to me in the passenger seat and I’ve got a thermos of coffee still hot from 6 am. 

I have so much to be thankful for this year, and in the spirt of Thanksgiving I’ve spent the last month trying to make myself more aware of those things. It is so easy to get wrapped up in what isn’t going as I had planned and to forget about what I’ve been blessed with. 

I’m taking this weekend away from social media, away from blogging and away from it all. Disconnecting in order to reconnect with what is truly important. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and that it reminds you to stop for a moment. Stop worrying, rushing, stressing, wasting and just be in the moment. Be with the people you love, in spirit or in person. Look around you. Notice the smells, the sounds, the temperature .  There is good stuff to find, I promise. The holidays can bring out some of the worst in us sometimes, but try not to let the pressure the season brings steal your joy. Stay focused on the good. Enjoy yourself. With chronic illness we don’t always know what’s going to come next, and life sure isn’t easy. Choose to make the most of it. Choose to be grateful. Choose to find hope in those stressful moments. 

Have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for being a part of this community  

Gratitude Challenge-Day 17, 18, 19

Tradition, Friendship, Book.

My best friend from high school had her first baby boy this week! She’s been in the hospital since Monday but I was able to go up there and get in some baby snuggles. It’s nice to go to the hospital for a good reason for once.  It’s crazy to me that I’m at the time of my life where all the people I grew up with are getting married and having kids of their own, I swear we were just kids doing stupid things yesterday. Anyway, I’m really glad I was healthy enough to go visit and congratulate her and her husband. I’m so excited for their new little family.

One of my favorite Traditions on my dad’s side of the family is that we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in November. We do it in February. It takes the stress out of trying to visit every family member without upsetting someone and gives us all a reason to get together again and just enjoy each others company. I’m lucky enough to be close with all of my cousins on my dad’s side, and now they’re having kids that I get to spoil too. I don’t have any brothers or sisters by birth, so these are my nieces and nephews and I just love them. It’s great to have this dedicate February Thanksgiving, and my grandparents just love having the whole family together at these times. It makes me happy to see how happy they are.

Like I said above, I don’t have any birth brothers or sisters. I do have a lot of friends though that I consider family. I don’t believe that family is blood, I find that it’s who you choose and who you have in your inner circle. I’m so blessed to have found some of my greatest friendships at this stage of my life, and to have continued some through high school that have stood the test of time through teenage years and college. Today I’m heading to Friendsgiving to celebrate with some of those people. I couldn’t be more grateful for all of them. They make me a better person.

I grew up reading. Literally. I grew up surrounded by books, and I still could get lost in book stores for hours upon hours until I’m dizzy from tilting my head sideways reading book titles and be a happy girl. I don’t really have a favorite book, but I always keep the ones that give me a book hangover. If you aren’t familiar with a book hangover, it’s when you become so involved with the story that you actually feel a part of it and when you finish the book you’re in this kind of funky state of mind for a while until you come back to reality. I love children’s books too, and I think it is SO IMPORTANT to read to children. There’s so much to benefit from reading, and I’m glad that was instilled in me from pretty much day one of my life on this planet.

 

What are some of your traditions or favorite books? Hope you’re all having a great weekend, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the people you are spending it with.

 

Gratitude Challenge Day 15: Under My Feet

Today I’m thankful for the wood floors in my house that I hear my dogs toes go clicking clack on. I’m thankful for the grass that the flowers bloom in and that it makes everything so green and bright in the spring. I’m thankful for the pavement that let’s me drive to work and home and to be with family and friends. 

I’m thankful for the ground that supports me and let’s me reconnect with my roots. 

Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge- Day 14

Oh boy. Please keep in mind that this is a rant and ramble and if you’re easily offended, just skip this entry.

Diving right into it, the atmosphere on social media, Twitter in particular, has totally bummed me out lately. I don’t know what is about having 140 characters that causes people to just complain and attack and complain some more.

It sucks the life out of me and makes me not want to be a health activist in the first place, and makes me question if I want to keep writing.

There’s a ton of false information out there, and people retweet the click bait headlines without bothering to read the actual article and then are attacked for retweeting it and it just turns into this argument of one chronic illness person who was simply trying to share some good news, or what they thought was good news, to an attack.

Or someone shares their experience and gets shamed for it.

Or someone shares their political views and gets blocked by everyone else.

Or someone complains about the way one disease gets treated over another. Or one persons treatment choice over another. Or gets attacked for not knowing something about their disease.

It’s like we’ve forgotten to be humans. We’ve forgotten how to support one another and can only compare the bad stories.

It gives me all the ill feelings.

When I first came to Twitter, I found a community, a place to relate to people who were experiencing the same disease that I had, and place for support, for laughs, for encouragement.

It’s been a while since I have felt supported out there, truthfully. I’m not saying the advocates themselves aren’t doing a good job. Most of them are and I’ve been lucky to meet some them and feel supported by them in person or on other social media outlets. What is it about twitter that has changed where this is so hard to find? Are the people who are having a good life just not sharing it because they are too busy living it? Or has Twitter just become the place to complain about your life, and it’s not a spot to find support any longer?

This might cause some ripples, and I really am not trying to point anyone out or say that Twitter isn’t helpful. I’ve met some of my favorite health advocates out there. I’m just saying what has come across my feed recently, and it makes me sad. I’ve muted a lot of people lately, and I’ve added accounts that promote positive messages.

I’m certainly not saying that everyone has to be happy all the time. It’s important to share your truth, but that doesn’t mean attacking others for their experiences and it doesn’t mean every post has to be droopy and dreary, or every post has to be sunshine and rainbows. I just miss the rawness and hopefulness of it. Where’s the encouragement and laughter?

I’m ready for Tuesday because I’m not going to get sucked in to the complaining and attacking that occurs on social media, and I’m not going to let determine my outlook anymore. I’m not going to contribute to the divide. I am going to continue to promote my own message of health and positivity, and continue to share my story authentically and offer support and encouragement to anyone who accepts it.

Gratitude Challenge-Days 10-14

Sorry for leaving you hanging for the weekend. The negativity on social media was starting to seep into my brain and I had to take a bit of a hiatus.

Feeling refreshed and back to sharing good things today, so let’s get started.

Day 10- Family

Day 11- Animal

Day 12- Yoga

Day 13- Mornings

Day 14- Evening.

Flip  it and reverse it.

My perfect weekday evening includes coming home to a clean kitchen, eating a delicious dinner, watching the news or a show with my husband, and relaxing with a meditation or a soothing yoga practice. Today I came home to a clean kitchen and dinner already to be eaten and I’m really grateful for that.

Lately I’ve been turning to the TV for my source of entertainment during the evening these days, but I’m working on this. It’s just so easy to sit in front of a show and get sucked in to doing nothing. Sometimes it is exactly what I need, but I don’t think it’s best to do it all the time in the long run. I’m trying to incorporate more self-care rituals into my evening routine in order to get the best nights sleep so that I wake up refreshed in the morning. My favorite way is with a really gentle yoga session, a yummy candle, and a bit of journaling and goal setting. Then crawling into a made bed with an extra blanket and fuzzy socks and my dog curled up at my feet. Perfect.

My best morning includes a workout, followed by a shower with enough time to let my hair air-dry without having to rush it. I love to have a cup of coffee or hot water with lemon while watching the sun rise and catching some early morning puppy snuggles. Best way to start the day.

I’ve already covered yoga a few times here, but it’s really been a healing experience for me once I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. It taught me the importance of the breath, of taking a moment for myself, and of  paying attention and listening to my body. It’s changed my life and allowed me to be more present. I was really good about staying in a routine and doing it every morning but with my work schedule currently I have gotten away from it. This will change again in a few weeks, but I’ve definitely noticed a difference when I don’t practice regularly. I have a lot of anger and frustration that resurface easily when I haven’t been practicing. Yoga just helps me deal.

I’m most grateful for my furbaby Sam as an animal. I was blessed enough to grow up knowing the companionship and loyalty of a dog, but this little guy has been my BFF for the last 8 years. I got him when I moved into an apartment by myself during college, it was a small, small, small, bed came out of the wall don’t walk around outside in the dark type of place. And he kept me company from day one there until now. He and my husband have a good bond now, they are actually snuggled up on the couch together as I write this and Sam even interrupted the father daughter dance at my wedding (lol). He’s my best boy.

Which brings us to family. I’m an only child, but I have a pretty close extended family, and now a group of in-laws to add to the mix. There are so many things I could say here, but I’m just going to say that I’m one of the lucky ones. My family is amazing. Everyone is a bit different, and we’re all a little nuts, but we love to laugh and smile and every single member of my family knows how to live. There isn’t a life wasted, or a moment of regret. There’s truth, love, laughter and always lots of food to go around no matter where we are. I could spend hours going on about them, but I’m just going to say I’m absolutely blessed for the family that I do have and I don’t take that for granted for a second.

 

Thanks for bearing through this ramble of a post! 🙂 I’ll be back at it tomorrow with regular posts for the rest of the month. Have a great evening.