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  

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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.

 

Gratitude Challenge Day 9- Quote

R.M. McNeil (my grandma)

My grandma said this to me a few months ago and it has stuck with me as a mantra for my life. With everything that’s going on in the world, giving back and giving an hand up or a hand out is important, and it’s a value I hold dear. These words remind me to be kind and generous and helpful, whether that be with my time, words or dollars. My grandmother has taught me a lot over the years, and I’m so grateful for her heart and the influence she has had on mine. 

Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge-Day 8

Little Engine Post

Write a list post with 10-15 lines that each start with “I think I can…” Write 5 lines at the end that start with “I know I can.” They can be big goals or something that’s been on your to-do list for the last few weeks-it’s all up to you.

I think I can start photography as a hobby.

I think I can travel Michigan with my husband and share our adventures. 

I think I can attend hot yoga classes, or any yoga classes really, regularly and take my practice outside of my home. 

I think I can wake up early again to enjoy mornings. 

I think I can continue to practice healthy habits to keep my disease in remission.

I think I can complete this 30 day challenge.

I think I can put my wedding and honeymoon pictures in frames and albums this year. 

I think I can get through this election night. 

I think I can remember what my values and beliefs are no matter what happens in this country.

I think I can surround myself with people who make me want to be better, who inspire  and bring more light to the world. 

I know I can finish this blog post. 

I know I can continue to raise awareness for Ulcerative Colitis patients. 

I know I can practice presence and give thanks for the opportunities I’ve been given.

Gratitude Challenge: Day 8- Hero

I don’t think I could write a post that named everyone I felt was my hero.  I am constantly inspired to be a better person by my family, my inner circle of friends and my husband. For this purpose though, I’d like to take a little bit of time to talk about the people I have met the last few months.

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I’m honored and humbled to have been surrounded by these amazing and strong people at patient panels recently. At each panel, there were about 3 out of the 16-17 of us that had not had any surgery. Almost everyone else had had their colon removed and now had a jpouch or were in the process of having the surgeries. Everyone had their own ulcerative colitis story to tell, but more importantly, everyone was there because they wanted to make changes and improvements for other patients.  There were laughs, tears, hugs, debates, and a passion for improving the quality of care and treatments for this disease. There were friendships built, connections made, ideas sparked, and mostly…hope resurfaced. There are people missing from these pictures, some that weren’t at the conference and some I couldn’t get a selfie with but you all know who you are, and I’m so grateful for all of you.

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There’s only one colon in this picture, but a whole lot of love. 
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My favorite ninja, and my first IBD friend. 
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This girl is so sweet. 

Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge: Day 7

Was starting your advocacy journey a hard decision? Were you anxious and hesitant or were you excited and ready to share your story? Tell us how you chose to start advocating your condition. 

I started this blog as an outlet for dealing with my condition after initial diagnosis. I was struggling with trying to find what works me for me and coming out here to find support and to share my frustrations. As my journey evolved, I started sharing more resources and sharing stories of people who inspired me. It helped me stay hopeful to connect with others who were going through similar battles, and I hoped it would help others too. I began sharing Hope Warrior stories and focusing more on the mental health aspect of how having a chronic illness changes you.

I do not claim to be an expert in IBD. I don’t provide medical or treatment advice. I just share my story and share what helps me, and hope it helps others too. It was hard at first and I was worried about people in my real life finding me out here and judging me, but after a while I stopped thinking about that. This is my life now. The more awareness I can raise about what dealing with an incurable disease is like in real life, the better. And, honestly, I’m proud to share my story, particularly when I know there’s a purpose for doing so.