How I Beat Diabetes II (You Can, Too!)

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After a blood test around 18 months ago, my doctor told me my A1C score: 164, which indicated I was in the diabetic range. I asked my good doctor, “What can I do?”

“Stop eating anything white,” she responded.

I followed her directions. I cut out all bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, flour, and most processed sugar. (I could still have low carb yogurt every few days at 8 carbs). I started eating lots of cheese, meats, more vegetables/ salads, and exercising at the YMCA 2-3 times per week.

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The weight fell off almost magically as soon as I established a low carb diet. I studied carb content at the grocery stores but I did not have to count calories. The rule of thumb I used is anything I eat should be under 5 carbs (now maybe 8-10 after I have achieved the weight loss I was after). I started at 163 lbs and now I weigh in at 118, after 18 months. I lost the first 30 lbs in 3 months on this new diet.

My last A1C reading was 153.  My new doctor has reported to me:

“You had diabetes, and now you do not have diabetes.”

I am not even in the pre-diabetic range! I am still, however, quite careful to maintain my low carb diet and exercise regime.  Sure, now I will have a 7 carb piece of chocolate every 2-3 days. But still I am not eating bread, pasta, rice, flour, most sugar, or potatoes. This is a lifestyle change for me, not a temporary diet.

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It is ironic that around two months ago my dog Sophie was diagnosed to be diabetic. I am hoping my own newfound awareness about the importance of changing to a healthier diet will help Sophie, too.  I now cook for her based on researching a diabetic dog’s dietary needs.  I believe we are doing pretty well so far in stabilizing Sophie’s glucose. Insulin, two meals 12 hrs apart with a small, low carb treat mid-day, and walks after every meal and treat.

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images are from pixabay.com

 

The Art of Healthful Cooking (for Sophie)

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The Life Theme of HEALTH is very appropriate for a January focus. So many of us make our New Years resolutions around our health issues, whether it is about improving our diets for weight and related issues or about eliminating unhealthy habits in our lives.

I’d like to share with regard to the HEALTH Theme about what I have been learning recently as I am now cooking 100% of my dog Sophie’s ‘diabetic diet.’

Dog diabetes is a daunting condition, as any of you know who have dealt with this.  Apparently almost all dogs who are beset by diabetes develop Type 1 such that the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. Many also develop cataracts that leads to blindness. And the first six months are the most dangerous for getting the condition under control and developing a good management program to maintain glucose level stability.

So Sophie and I are dealing with this big time. She is just 6 1/2 years old.  I have shifted her diet almost 100% to home cooked food and we are exercising 3-4 times per day plus I give her insulin–I call it “bacon boosts” because it is developed in pigs–twice a day.  Our excellent vet is a very caring person and we are trying to get the glucose down to a good level, though we have yet to achieve that in a stable way so far as I can tell after about 6 weeks.  We are down to an allowable range but are still working on all the right doses, etc.

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Cooking for Sophie truly is an art as well as a science.  With a good friend helping me at first to develop the right portions and ingredients, we now use about 1/3 three complex carbs per cup that I rotate with more that 1/3 pureed, low glycemic but high protein and/or high fiber veggies, and a little more than 1/4 cup of either chicken with liver, turkey with liver and beef with liver. The carbs are either low carb oatmeal or quinoa in the morning and, so far, pearled barley for dinner. I also give her one mid-afternoon treat usually without the complex carbs in that. We have the insulin after the morning and dinner meals and go for a walk after all three meals, at least.  In addition I give her a multi vitamin the vet gave us, plus taurine, bromelaine, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, turmeric, and Glipizide (to add a bit to the insulin force).

The veggies I use most are broccoli, zucchini, parsley, asparagus, pumpkin, celery, clover sprouts, some garbanzo beans, and green beans, occasionally adding some spinach or kale. I puree the veggies with some meat/ veggie broth and add the apple cider vinegar to the puree, the after warming everything I blend  it all together in the food processor, then add the vitamins.

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images are from pixabay.com

We see the vet next this coming Saturday: wish us good health! We are also going to an ophthalmologist the next Thursday to get a baseline on her eyes’ condition.

If anyone has advice or suggestions from your own experience, please share your Comments!

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One more note about this photo of Sophie from my previous post. Notice the stuffed animal hedgehog at her front paws. I hadn’t even realized that was there. Hedgehog is a very positive animal symbol that betokens persistence and overcoming obstacles. Go Sophie!

A Te Sante: Running with Sophie

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Happy New Year to all!  This post begins a new year of Better Endings. This year we will be focussing on Life Themes: those recurring kinds of situations in our lives that form the core substance and weave the patterned fiber of our/your Life Stories. Each month we will focus on one of twelve Life Theme topics that are commonly identified in Life Path Mapping (also see menu tab: Monthly Topics):

January –   Health

February – Romance/ Relationships

March –     Vocation

April –        Work

May –         Family

June –         Adventure/ Travel

July –          Friends

August –     Relocation/ Moves   

September–  Education

October –     Spirituality

November – Pets

December – Life Lessons

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To begin this New Year of Better Endings, for this month of January we will focus on the Life Theme of HEALTH. This is particularly appropriate for me at this time, as I am in a process of adjusting to and learning about my dog Sophie’s condition of diabetes. What a daunting diagnosis this is, knowing all the possible complications and wanting to improve her condition in every way possible. (BTW, your helpful suggestions are quite welcome! Please Comment if you have positive suggestions!)

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My Dear Companion, Sophie

Sophie is more than a Friend; she is my Soul companion. We have adventured on six cross-country trips from Colorado to New York already, and she is six and a half years old. We have another BIG move to look forward to this August, after I retire and we and our two beloved cats Loki and Emily relocate to New York state for good.  I discovered around a month ago that my girl Sophie has a diabetic condition. I now am cooking for her and providing supplements, exercise, insulin, and lots of gratitude and love.

Today I will just post about a typical morning walk’s meandering thoughts, from this morning:

I love you so dearly, my Friend. I worry as much about my own attitudes or worries as I do about the therapeutic measures themselves. I do not want to overreact or do things that may harm more than help. Let’s do our best and keep things simple. If cataracts develop, we can remove those. For the liver, kidneys and pancreas, we must be observant and do our preventative best. Most information affirms that as long as we change the diet properly and have the right amounts of protein, fiber, low glycemic veggies and complex carbs and the proper amount of exercise, this can be managed and complications improved.

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This dog looks so much like Sophie in her new coat!

Running With Sophie has become itself a Theme in my current life activity. We have been exercising three times a day, after meals and the mid-afternoon dried liver or small veggie and meat snack. She runs a good 1/4 or so of her walk time, which I am grateful for. It helps her lower the sugar content in her system and gives us both a healthful Time Out.

This theme of Running with Sophie also pertains to an earlier theme seven years ago of “the Running Dog.” This was about my previous dog Ellie, whom I lost and tried to find in greenways of Denver for six or seven months unsuccessfully. People would notify me on Craigs List that they thought they had seen her, often running. So I would go up there to where she was “spotted,” rain or shine, looking for and calling for her, but to no avail. I can only hope someone did take her in, as she did not get picked up at any of the pound or lost dog facilities as far as I could tell. Anyway, that is seven years ago. I wanted then to write a story about “The Running Dog;” now I would add to that story, “Running with Sophie.”

As Soul Companions, Sophie and I (and our additional, feline family members Loki And Emily) mean more to me and each other than can possibly be expressed in words. Love is Love. This morning the thought came to me (while on our morning walk) that :

Since God is (in) Everything

And God is All Good

Then Everything is God;

Life is Good.

I do believe this (above).  Everything is God, so Everything is Good.  Live or die, succeed or not so much, EVERY condition, every thought, word and deed, every life experience is an experience in Living, and everything is Divine. We can learn from any experience; experiences do not DEFINE us but they can help us grow spiritually and in wisdom, courage and compassion. Another thought from Running with Sophie this morning:

Gratitude and Love

Go Hand in Glove;

And:

True Love is Reciprocal,

All Ways.

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images (except mine of Sophie above) are from pixabay.com

So “A Te Sante!” To your great Wellness and Good Health in 2018 and forever on YOUR Soul Journey.

Better Endings to You Always!,

Linda

 

 

At the Brink of Descent: LIVE WELL

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Yesterday I lived in a country that felt inclusive and open to all. Religious freedom, racial and gender  and sexuality equality were all moving forward and there was a promise in the air of further growth and security. This morning I appear to live in a different world, a world that has descended to the dregs of petty protectionism, bigotry, and potential autocracy.

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Yes, I AM a liberal democrat and I want to stand up for this because my values embrace diversity and freedom for ALL.

So, I was walking, head bowed, in contemplation this morning of mourning that these values are being endangered. I asked inwardly and received an answer in the form of a waking dream, a poster across a bus:

“What Can We Do?”

LIVE WELL.

That does about say it all: Live Well!

No one can interfere with your values unless you let them. To be inclusive means to also dialogue across the divides.

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pictures are from pixabay.com

In a time of DESCENT, Live Well. Love one another, bless one another. Reach out to embrace those who are in fear and desperation. Hunker down. Go Within to gather Strength.

May You, May We ALL Live Well.

Two Wellness Affirmation Stories, by Illyipstick of Masknolonger, and Brenda Davis Harsham of FriendlyFairyTales

This day we are blessed to share two stories from other bloggers which serve as Wellness Affirmations. I re-blog them here with gratitude for their insight and “centeredness”!

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A 2nd LETTER TO MY THERAPISTby Illy

posted in Detoxifying the PastLife in Recovery

Dear Joan,

When we first started our sessions 14 months ago, I could not imagine having the freedoms that I do today. I surely would have listened to you had you have said that my life today was something that I could achieve then, but I certainly would not have believed you.

Our relationship, which was my first safe and honest relationship planted a seed. Watering this seed was certainly terrifying, but you allowed me just enough time and space to gradually nourish this safety and trust in our sessions. I mentioned in my last letter to you that you had provided me with a treasure box of healthy living and I had no idea just how accurate I was. You truly have. Today, I not only have you as a guiding force which keeps me on track, but I have allowed many others into my life as well. I have shared secrets which I thought would remain in your office forever and I have shared some of these willingly with groups of strangers even because I want to hold my shame up to the light… I did not know that my shame was in fact evaporating through this process until I started taking moments to reflect on just where I was months ago…

I am sober today which is miraculous. The manner in which you encouraged me to go to treatment for my alcohol addiction was absolutely perfect. There was no pressure. You made it clear that in order for you to help me, I had to consider treatment and I did. You were there to assist me in that planning. You were there to listen to me rant from the pay phone while I was in treatment. But, most importantly, you were there when I came home and you helped me to pick up the pieces of my life that had been cast astray while I was active in my addiction. You never left and in my mind you were supposed to because that is what people have always done.

I stopped relying on others because I was always disappointed, I was always hurt and so by relying solely on myself – I thought in my distorted mind, that I was safe… In all of this self-examination and learning about myself, I realized that this method of self-protection did not keep me safe, it actually made it more dangerous to live be with my thoughts alone and without support.

I cannot think of a single moment in 14 months of weekly sessions where I have felt judged or in a state of oppression. Not once.

You have and continue to help me navigate my 12 step recovery and encourage me to seek counsel outside of the rooms as well, which has helped me to establish healthy boundaries in my recovery and in my everyday life. Not everyone has this opportunity and I am grateful that I do.

All of this said, I was never excited about life. But, I am sometimes nowadays and I am learning to appreciate and be with those moments more and more often. I can’t believe that there was a time when being with my emotions was so unbearable that I wanted to die all of the time. These feelings will undoubtedly re-surface at some point, but I am willing to live today knowing that bad emotions may one day lead me astray for awhile and that is okay.

Has my life changed? Have I changed? Most definitely. Everything has changed!

And, the beauty in this is that so much more will continue to change as we delve deeper and deeper into the trauma of my past…

I recently came across the “Miracle Day!” exercise that we completed at one point during my first 4 months of therapy. I was to describe what a day would look like for me if I could do anything and everything I wanted for that day without anything holding me back… On the photocopied version of your notes, it reads: not to drink/to stay sober, to be honest with everyone I meet, to open-up to another person other than Joan (most probably, my sister) about my alcohol problem, to treat myself to lunch on a patio and not feel guilty about eating, to be able to sleep without having nightmares, to spend time in a park writing, to feel alive. This miracle day, minus the eating portion – has happened to me on many days since I have gotten sober… Even the eating portion has happened, not as often as I would like, but I am getting there slowly, but surely…

Thank you for helping me be with myself in such a fashion which has allowed me to realize that I am not always to blame…

“We may define therapy

as a search for value.”

-Abraham Maslow

http://masknolonger.com/

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Centered Haibun, by Brenda Davis Harsham

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I learned to pray as a small child by placing my hands flat together, closing my eyes and bowing my head. That ritual helped me focus, set aside distractions and center myself. In yoga, I took quickly to prayer pose, which also uses hands placed together, head bowed and attention focused.

In prayer pose, I hear my breathing, like the waves of the ocean, calming me. I observe the movement of my rib cage, expanding, contracting, and I consciously deepen my breathing, holding it after taking a breath in, for a few seconds of stillness. I learned to focus my intention for that class: to set aside worries, to lay down burdens, and to think only of the needs of my body for those moments.

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thoughts echo and grow still
breathe out worries

I haven’t been to a yoga class in years, but I had inspiring teachers, who were generous enough to help me design a home practice. I still practice yoga, and I am so grateful for it.

Prayer pose lets me feel close to the divine, for in the stillness and focusing of my mind I achieve calm. I hear the voice of the universe only in quiet moments, external and internal quiet.

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branches lifted to the sky
blessed by rain

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham ( http://friendlyfairytales.com/ )

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Wellness Affirmations

Mayan Mystery Pyramid

A principle of Better Endings that can facilitate this week’s topic of Health & Wellness is Affirmation or setting positive postulates. Most of us are familiar with the use of affirmations to frame our goals according to a positive mindset. One approach to using positive affirmations is called the “fifteen times” technique. You write a very positive statement that expresses the successful realization of a goal, writing that statement fifteen times daily. In relation to health and healing, for example, I might write 15x:

I am exercising weekly and eating fewer processed foods. (a behavioral affirmation)

Or perhaps:

I am mindful of all that I permit into my mind and body. (an awareness raising affirmation)

You can use this method to orient yourself to establishing values or behaviors you desire to integrate more fully into your consciousness.

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As a cultural anthropologist I have learned about many fascinating cultural approaches to manifesting health and wellness, many of which employ practices that are similar to setting positive affirmations. The Hopi, for instance, attribute any mental or physical manifestation of illness or disorder as an indication that one is holding self-limiting or negative thoughts.  A medicine person might ask a person then to change their thoughts about themselves to positive, more healthy images or postulates. The individual must learn to “manifest” a positive state of health rather than a negative one. According to Don Talayesva as cited in Sun Chief , this is a capacity and a responsibility of the individual, to express hopi (harmonious) rather than kahopi (inharmonious) thought patterns and behaviors. While the medicine man might also practice ritual means of reinforcing positive postulates to help the individual to reorient to a healthy pattern, it is within the capacity of the individual to accomplish their own improvement of outlook.

Repeating positive Affirmations, whether 15x or in some other manner, is a matter of establishing a habit of thought or behavior that might replace other thought or behavior habits that no longer serve you.

It is important, however, to be kind to yourself. Practice acts of kindness with yourself, always. Fill your heart with unconditional love for yourself as well as allowing that love and consideration to flow through you to others and to your environment.

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If you hold yourself in high esteem and give humbly of yourself to all of life, how can you be other than in harmony with life affirming, healthful realities? Illnesses or conditions need not impair your Wellness, and positive wellness affirmations—though they may not of themselves accomplish immediate or sufficient “healing” of such conditions—certainly will do “no harm” and may help you to manifest qualities and achieve relationships you might otherwise overlook by remaining ‘caught’ in the lair of negative postulates.

You deserve to SHINE, to Manifest Better Endings, Now and Always!

 

Your Wellness LifeMap

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I invite you to look back over your life focussing on when you have felt higher or lower on a “wellness scale” of 1-10, with +10 being extreme wellness and +1 being extremely low. (Use your own definition of wellness. To me it is more than just physical health.) You can draw a horizontal line across a page, treating this as an Age line from left (your birth) to right (now). Place 10-year or 5-year marks across the Age line, then you can simply chart your subjective sense of wellness factors, up or down (highest = +10; age line  = +5/neutral; +1 = lowest). After a basic mapping of your sense of relative wellness values in this manner, you can write words or phrases or insert clip art images (as below) to represent what was going on at high or low points, or in between, that contributed to the wellness levels you have charted.

Mapping my own relative wellness values, I found I could first place high and low events along the Age line, then I could connect these to show general trends. Here’s my map using clipart icons as  an example:

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Now then, what factors turn up in your wellness mapping as “lifting” factors or as more ‘descending’ factors instead? For me, the sport of fencing that I practiced through undergraduate college years, and returning to fencing once during graduate school right before graduating, were very positive factors. Discovering my lifelong approach to spirituality was also a major positive factor. Illnesses (shown by the needle icon) were ‘descent’ factors. Relationships were a lifting factor for several years, then briefly a negative factor with divorce. Career has been a slightly higher than neutral factor for much of the ‘building’ process, and it has become a lifting factor  recently as writing and teaching have both been more productive.

What can you learn from your wellness mapping that can help you to maintain or improve your own wellness ‘quotient’ now? For me I see the value of physical exercise in my life, as a major means for enhancing wellness. I’m thinking of returning in some measure to fencing (as faculty advisor to a fencing club I could participate). Or at least I commit to work out once or twice a week in addition to walking my dog.

So, try it if you like. Use whatever design format you like. What shows up for you? Is there ONE THING you can do in your life to enhance or maintain your level of wellness?

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I welcome your comments, insights, and stories.

Better Endings to You!

“To me, good health is more than just exercise and diet.

It’s really a point of view and a mental attitude you have about yourself.”

-Albert Schweitzer

Wellness Tips, by findingmyinnercourage, and The Positive Flavor of Words, by DancingDolphins (Re-Blogs)

Stress Is The Enemy Of My Health

Posted by findingmyinnercourage 01SaturdayMar 2014

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It has become imperative that I avoid stress in my life and make a conscious effort to maintain and achieve a healthy mind. Eliminating stress will leave me calm yet energized, focused yet relaxed. This I know after just one instance of eliminating stress in my life.

Here’s how it’s going to work! I’m going to push the boundaries of science and belief; digging deep into my spirituality and learn ways to improve my life, eliminate stress and find the happiness I crave.

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  08SaturdayMar 2014

Posted by findingmyinnercourage i

To My #1 Grandson –

It’s important for me, as your Grammy, to pass on to you the pearls of wisdom I have learned throughout my life from the kindness of others.

As you grow and learn my wish is that some of the following thoughts will guide you as you begin your life’s journey to be the best you can be while experiencing a rich and happy life filled with family, friends and those you interact with in the years to come.

Never leave the house without your sense of humor.

You can grow up and become anything you want.

Respect and learn from your teachers. They are heroes.

Work on developing an appreciation for music, art, literature and other forms of expression. It will nurture your soul.

Work to help those less fortunate and also work to ease the burden of others by treating them with respect, praise, kindness and good manners.

Embrace the differences in others and learn from them. And always love and respect your parents. You are the greatest gift they will ever receive.

Each day, show people you love how much you care. They won’t be around forever.

Practice forgiveness. Not for the person you believe harmed you, but for yourself. Anger, pain and resentment are a heavy burden to carry throughout your life.

If someone treats you with kindness, a warm smile and a quiet thank you speak volumes.

Please learn to accept people for who they are, not who you think they should be.

Learn from the past, live in the present and plan for the future.

Limit your use of sarcasm. It is often used as a disguise to hurt others.

Believe in yourself. Others may question your integrity, honesty, optimism and faith. Always remember that you are special, unique and the only you that will ever exist. Make friends with that as soon as possible.

Don’t put yourself down. There will be enough people in the world who will want to do that for you.

Embrace changes that enrich your life. Learn to tolerate and make the best of those that don’t.

Your Dad is a brainiac. Absorb every fiber of his being.

Know your Creator. By knowing your Creator, and following His guidance, you will fulfill achievement in the pursuit of your dreams. Always, always say your prayers!

At the age of 3 you have already learned how to create happiness by receiving and giving unconditional love to everyone you come in contact with. My heartfelt wish for you is that it continues every day of your life.

Love, Grammy Dawn (a/k/a Meechie)

 

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The Positive Flavor of Words (by DancingDolphins)

Words such as “rise,” “flourish,” “grow,” “shoot up,” “spring forth” have such a positive ring around them that anyone can imagine the action rather than the mere inflexion of the word. Some of the words in the English lexicon are such positively-flavored words that using them really helps one feel the positive vibe or positive feel of such words.

Some other words are “pristine,” “clear,” – these reek of such pure vibes that one feels their pull and can have a visual picture before their eyes when these words are uttered.

Do you agree?

http://dancingdollfins.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/the-positive-flavor-of-words/

Contemplation Seeds

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http://Dawn-abraham

For our Tuesday “prompts day” about the weekly topic of Health and Healing Better Endings, I’d like to offer you some “contemplation seeds,” beginning with life coach Dawn Abraham’‘s thoughtful affirmation above.

Writers, journallers, artists, poets, meditators and contemplators, photographers, life coaches and health care professionals—I invite you to plant a seed or more from the pod below.  From applying the nourishment of your careful attention, what insights will emerge?

  • A time when you learned  valuable life lessons from an ailment related situation
  • The most “Well” time of your life (past, present or envisioned future)
  • What you have experienced from a chronic health condition and tips for enduring or improving upon your condition
  • Best Practices: Wellness or healing tips (e.g. a Top 10 List)
  • Body-Emotion-Mind-Body Wellness interconnections
  • Healthy Thinking/ Healthy Habits/ Living Well
  • Wellness is a state of consciousness (regardless of ‘health’ matters)

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If one or more of these contemplation seeds resonates with your own experience or memories, I invite you to write about, actively contemplate, discuss, or artistically express your insights. I sincerely hope that some of these prompts might serve as useful seedlings for your own emergent awareness. I welcome any insights you might choose to share with us here, through your comments, guest blogs, references to good reading material or other tips that have helped you or that you use in your own caring practice, or stories!

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The Importance of Sharing Our Stories, by Illy

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I am choosing to create a better ending for myself each and every day by participating in my emotional recovery. It took me many years to let others help support the weight that I had been carrying and accumulating since childhood. My addictions, both with alcohol and eating were symptoms of my inability to manage my emotions. I struggled with the trauma that I had endured as a child most of my life, my addictions masked my fears, yet my fears gradually became my reality. When I entered into treatment, I had no anticipation of a life afterwards. I thought that my misery would manifest itself tenfold. The counselors helped to support the weight that I had been carrying just long enough for me to be able to start managing on my own. I was taught valuable lessons of which I will never forget. Instead of employing tactics to distract myself from the recovery process, I was taught to use all resources at my disposal to outsmart my addictive mind instead. They showed me through their own experiences that life and happiness could coexist.

When I graduated from my treatment program, I was absolutely terrified. I was out of excuses and I had to be my own rescuer once and for all. I could no longer seek rescue in relationships or new cities, I had to start creating home for myself on the inside. I knew that I had all of the tools that I needed, I just had to use them. I had no more energy to escape and I had to start believing that I was worthy of a better ending… My recovery is paramount to me now and with each day, my positive conception of self-worth strengthens. The broken little girl inside of me is finally being listened to and I am becoming more in tune with the woman that is me. I am creating a better ending for myself and am gradually arriving at where my life should be.

My Story:

It was only in junior high school when I began contemplating unleashing the truths about the abuse I had endured. During this time the abuse had ended for me, my abuser was still living with us though, I just felt different from everyone else and thought that talking would help…

Sharing our stories connects us to one another. It enables us to communicate how we want to be treated, what we value, but most importantly, to communicate what is possible. I am so grateful for the people who have communicated to me through their stories that change is in fact a possibility. I have learned that there is always hope if I take the time to listen… To share is to heal yourself, but also to inspire change in someone else.

The Importance of Sharing Our Stories

That year, we got computers in my school. It was 1999 and I remember googling for outside help, yet I had no idea on what it was I was looking for exactly… Susan Kesegich came up in one of my Google searches for she had published a book that same year recounting her story of being abused during childhood. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote to her, but I did write and I did share my truth. It was my first disclosure of the abuse, other than when I had told my mom years before. I couldn’t believe that there was someone else who had been through something similar and had survived to write about it. I thought my life was over, doomed to be the victim for always, but Susan made me realize that I was not alone. She sent me a copy of her book, Twisted Roots of Evil. I read her story again and again… and again. I did some real crying for the first time about my abuse because there was so much that I could identify with in her story. I had bottled up my truths because I thought nobody would understand. Susan’s story gave me hope. It encouraged me to take action. If she could tell and survive, then maybe I could too? Her story made me believe that I could be a survivor too. With Susan’s guidance, support and countless e-mail exchanges in between Montreal and Florida – I eventually managed to share my truth with a counsellor at school.

Sharing my emotions today, let alone the struggles that I have faced throughout my life has never been an action which has come easily for me. I am ridden with fear that in my honest disclosures, I will be misunderstood, judged, made to feel sorry for, rejected, and thought of as broken. Hitting “Publish” on my blog scares me each time, but I do so anyways because my shame tells me not to. Sharing is pivotal for me right now as I re-learn how to live and with each honest disclosure, I am exposing the real me in spite of my fears. If I am not sharing, I am living in the midst of that shame that lurks inside of me and that can be detrimental to the maintenance of my sobriety. Susan’s story reminds me of the importance of sharing. For me, sharing removes the power from that shame allowing me to redirect my fearful energies into healing.

I am eternally grateful to the universal force that brought Susan into my life. Her story changed my story on such a profound level, her story was my story’s catalyst of hope. I truly believe that someone, somewhere needs to hear your story to effect change in their life. Isak Dineson once said, “to be a person is to have a story to tell”. She has seen me through many changes over the years, and vice-versa and that is beautiful for our stories continue to unfold. I am glad to say, that 14 years later, Susan remains a huge support in my life.

Only now, I call her Mum.

Illy is the author of Mask No More, www.masknolonger.com, a blog about personal recovery and sharing our stories. We are grateful for her Better Endings Story of the Week!