Being stressed and overwhelmed is a hallmark of pride in our culture. Being pushed to the edge and constantly busy signifies importance and success.
As mothers, students, employees, and family members, this is all normal and we must keep up in our life’s rhythms.
How can we tackle that mountainous to-do list?
Better yet, how can we make mornings better so that we CAN tackle that nasty thing?
1. Use a planner, day-timer, or a whiteboard to see your day spread out first.
You can also write out your to do list with an hour by hour block schedule on paper to plug in which tasks belong where.
Prioritize the most immediate issues first. Such as bills due, balancing the checkbook, buying food, and assignments due etc.
2. Wake up in a correct headspace.
When my alarm wakes up I pull up my daily devotional on my phone. My favorites are the Love God Greatly app or the First 5 app. They’re great short devotional with study tools! No matter how tired I am I make this and morning prayers a priority and don’t beat myself up if I fall back asleep after. I try to be gentle with myself in the morning since that’s often when I feel the worst. If baby C sleeps in, that’s extra time for me to get me more energy to get through my tasks. Find what makes you tick, if it’s waking up with Jesus or doing yoga, and do the dang thing.
3. I don’t push myself into exercising right away.
Some people like to jump right in and that’s great! If that’s not you, don’t feel forced! If you dread mornings that will hit hard on your overall productivity which won’t help anyone. Do something small physically, whether it’s a full workout, or a few stretches/poses, to get the blood flow going.
4. Fuel carefully!
Food matters in the morning. With the keto fiends and the cereal geeks out there it’s hard to find a happy medium – especially if you’re like me and don’t want to cook! It’s a constant struggle to remind myself to take part in the smaller acts of self care like this.
- If you have health problems or deficiencies you need to fix, fuel up according to what your doctor recommends. For those with hypothyroidism this may mean more eggs and carefully selected fruits with supplements. For others, it may mean a green smoothie and gluten free toast. I never will ever recommend keto diet or any other extreme diet, as it can throw your body completely off (article coming soon on why this is a potentially harmful way of eating!)
My favorite is two eggs to aid in my thyroid issues and a piece of gluten free toast with sunflower seed butter. Way less inflammatory than peanut butter toast but still tasty!
5. One bite at a time.
I work multiple jobs, am currently a college student, and am a full time mom. I am learning actively to multitask crazy things with one hand and half a brain, with the baby on my hip or on the mat!
Mornings with a baby will never, ever look like those carefully crafted Youtube *Morning Routine/Get Ready With Me* videos. And I’ve come to bring my type-A self to accept that! Even if it doesn’t look beautiful and you only get one thing done – high five!
6. Grace upon grace upon grace
Always remember that it’s OKAY to not have gotten every single thing done. Nothing is beyond repair. There is always tomorrow. The best is all we can give and we must rest or else we will have nothing left to give. Give yourself some forgiveness! That’s a hard one I’m still trying to remember, haha.
What are some of your favorite ways to get things done? Do you have a favorite part of your morning?
I think you know, by now, my fondness for pictures and colors. You know, the ones I beg you to take as you wrinkle your nose and make a face only your mother could love (and you encourage our son to do the same)…
And, if I’m honest with myself, I love making things beautiful. Neat. Organized. Everything in a box. Toned in cool gray and blue hues.
But what I don’t tell you enough is how much I appreciate your ruggedness and the vibrant paints that you splash into my predictable minimalist piece.
I see everywhere the boxes upon boxes of roses, donut bouquets, and 5-Karat rings in those neat little squares. With a sepia filter, of course. But I don’t want this kind of perfectly posed, color-toned love.
We have what we have because of what we don’t have.
You have always been a man of few words. But because of the lack of long, drawn-out Instagram captions, the letters you leave for me and cards you always so carefully write for me are all the more cherished.
You are my reckless abandonment that I chase life with. You pull me out of the truck and into the woods barefoot, onto our next adventure with a single tent and some wet firewood.
You don’t come through my door with roses, but you come through my door with open arms and a shoulder to lay on as I chatter about how fast and slow time is passing simultaneously and the baby bounces on your knee. And I get a break, for however long, as I get to enjoy you babble with our son on the carpet.
You simply don’t fit. You were never made for a box. You are absolutely beyond that silly little box and it’s addicting to watch you blossom into the man and leader of the family you’ve become.
The romance you meet me with is unmatched. You harness my passions and push me toward my aspirations. You have built this family with me and always make sure I know how much I’m loved, even when I’m lost, confused, or simply overwhelmed.
And that, my love, is completely and exquisitely beyond a little gray box.
Thank you for helping me look beyond the surface and into your depths.
Lately, I’ve been feeling lonely! I’ll just come out and say it.
It’s no secret that I’ve been having the hardest time in my 8 years of chronic illness, ever. Everything is coming to a head and it is overwhelming and all I have to hold on to is the firm hope that this is me leaning into the tape. I am near the end, I hope.
This has been a season of less friends then I have ever had before. I have lost a great deal from being too sick or too serious or just not in the same life phase that I’m in.
I struggled with that and it climaxed today. After a day of contemplating and feeling sorrowful for what I thought I had and lost, I am choosing to feel thankful every moment I feel sad.
The lack of popularity and friends has brought me to become more reliant on my family and husband in a wonderful way. There are less distractions and social obligations to fulfill, and I can truly focus on deepening the bond with my spiritual other half (shout out to you, J!)
I can choose to rest, which my overachieving and constantly moving self never does without force.
I can get to know God and stop fighting the process so damn hard because I’m running from the process and chasing every single distraction down.
I get to process things I’ve avoided and manage my stress in a healthy way.
I get to practice being thankful, even in making this list.
What are some things you’re learning in your own hardships?
Banana muffins are a staple year-round in our house! The gentle flavors of cinnamon and sweet notes of banana go perfectly with everyone’s favorite food group: chocolate!
For those of us with allergy issues baked goods can be a potentially risky, as allergens can be especially prevalent and hidden in unsuspecting ingredients. This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, low-calorie, and delicious as a quick breakfast or an afternoon treat.
1/2 C “EnjoyLife” chocolate chips
3 very ripe bananas (unfrozen or fully thawed preferred)
1/3 heaping C melted coconut oil
1.5 T vanilla
1 t baking soda
0.5 t salt
2/3 C sugar
1 1/2 C GF All-Purpose 1-to-1 flour
Pinch of cinnamon to taste
-Preheat oven to 350*. Grease your muffin tins with cooking spray (yields average of 12)
-Peel bananas. Place in bowl with melted coconut oil & mash until well-incorporated.
-Add in salt, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir.
-Add in egg and beat until well-mixed.
-Add flour gradually and chocolate chips. Stir. *Do not overstir.*
-Fill tins and bake for 25 minutes or until the toothpick test comes back clean.
Being healthy or dealing with allergens does not have to inhibit your ability to enjoy baked items! With simple substitutions and ratio differences, you can enjoy the same taste and consistancy with treats that are safe to eat.
Comment below how it turns out! I’m enjoying one as I write this post.
Over these past few months I have been taking a break from blogging and posting for several different reasons – not the least of which is being insanely busy and trying to juggle the new normal of school, working, and a baby.
Besides the obvious, I’ve been purposeful about stepping down from the writing because I haven’t felt worthy of trying to help right now. I’ve been absolutely drowning in severe anxiety and bouts of postpartum among the reality of living with a post Lyme body that’s very mad and confused.
I think that the imposter syndrome hit me hard around September for whichever reason. How could I be reaching out, trying to help people, if I was drowning in the ocean right next to them? I didn’t even know how to make it to the next day without completely losing it, let alone doing so with songs of praise on my lips.
I became emotionally constipated with bouts of emotional diarrhea. I’m sorry for the language, but I don’t know how else to say it. One week I would be completely numb, unable to feel any emotion besides the usual annoyance or panic – then, the next week I would be a sobbing mess, raging at the smallest of inconveniences and crying at every opportunity I got because my soul was/is sad and hurting. But I cannot for the life of me pin down why.
This continued, along with the roulette of physical manifestations of actual symptoms mixed with anxiety from being sick for so long, in a breakneck cycle. I was driving myself and my family insane. But, it did give me the opportunity to be a bit introspective as to why this could be causing it, beyond the obvious postpartum hormone shifts.
I believe that as chronically ill individuals, we cope as best we can. That can mean cancelling all plans on the weekends, or that can mean dragging ourselves through our regularly scheduled social calendar and chanting that “it’s just not that bad, others have it worse, at least I’m not in a wheelchair this week,” or any other mantra that fits for that particular day.
I think this helps, in the day to day.
I think this is harmful, long term.
Because when we are always saying what we hear other people or doctors say and own that for ourselves – that it truly isn’t that bad, we just need to get over it, etc etc….
We stuff it in. We choke it down. We consume and consume all of the pent up frustration and confusion until it’s all quiet.
In the quiet lies the chaos and anxiety.
So we busy ourselves. We run all over the ends of the earth with this coffee meet-up and this work event and this playdate…
Until we can’t…
Until the fears that live in our brains take over and chain our wrists and spines to our beds, and our pain is so severe we cry ourselves to sleep every other night.
This is the vicious mental health cycle the health community fails to address, as it is barely capable of addressing our physical needs.
It is on us to stop the behaviour. It is on us to encourage eachother to rest, and to live in the moment – no matter how dreadful it is. We cannot allow our emotional spigot to become clogged in the monotonous chant of “pick up, and soldier on.”
We need to feel.
We need to fall.
And we need to overcome.
But, we cannot overcome what we constantly deny.
Fight your battles and lean on your support system. For those that feel they have no support system, you have this blog. A voice in the crowd that understands and feels for you and is happy to pray for you.
Please, own what hand you’ve been dealt. Let’s make the best of it together.
These meatballs have become a staple in our home – especially on gluten free pasta night! Even if you have no diet restrictions, these are delicious and so easy to throw together after work.
1 lb. ground turkey (yields 8-9 big balls or 12-14 smaller balls) (easily doubled)
6 basil leaves or 1.5T dried basil
1t 21 Herb Salute Spice from Trader Joes (see reviews here)
1/2 C Cornflake Crumbs
1/2 T Pepper
Pinch of Thyme to taste
1/2T onion salt
3T Olive or Coconut Oil (for frying)
Combine wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls. Gradually stirring, incorporate dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Roll into balls of your size choice, small-to-medium recommended for thorough cooking and quicker cooking. Pan fry in a pan of oil as directed above for 10 minutes, allowing each side to brown and cook through. Midway through cooking, add a half a cup of water to the pan and place lid on the pan for thorough cooking.
Enjoy with your favorite pasta and sauce combination.
Struggling with any form of disease, especially for an extended period of time, can severely undermine your understanding of yourself and even your comprehension of your sanity. After countless white rooms and specialist opinions and side effect upon side effect from your long list of medications, there’s little care or attention given to your mental health and self-awareness after the fact.
So, how do we pull ourselves from the rut? How do we allow ourselves to find ourselves again? Our passions, new and old, that we may or may not have energy to care about anymore… or even just a motivation to get out of bed to use the restroom that day?
I struggled with this in the wake of nearly a decade of chronic illness, a traumatic pregnancy, and ppd/ppa. I literally forgot who I was as a person… it hurt.
I’m not going to lie. I am still finding that person.
But keeping all that hurt and confusion and rage inside hurt me. It made me sick. It confused me further. I felt like I fell down the rabbit-hole, not even sure of what day of the week it was.
In this post, I’ll be listing basic strategies I used to get out of the worst of it for any stage of life you may be in – bedridden, mobile, parent, single, coupled, etc.
We can always say “it is too hard,” or “we are too sick” to do something. But, that is simply not the way out. You reach rock bottom. The end of yourself. You are dark, perhaps. You are at your limits. So you give. You climb like hell until you see a speck of hope or light. This post is to help you find those specks.
Whether you’re bedridden, running around, busy with children, or simply by yourself, take sixty seconds in the morning to pray. Prayer can be meditation if you aren’t there with God yet. And that’s OKAY. TELL Him that. TELL Him of your trust issues. He is big enough. Get your brain in the proper headspace to take on your day. One of acceptance and peace with the fact that you can’t really manage to move for the day. One of forgiveness as you stumble through a busy day of appointments, work, school, kids… and exhaustion. It’s okay.
Try out hobbies like you would try new foods. Go into it knowing you may fall in love. Or you may be unable to do it/finish. Push yourself slightly and throw a party if you manage to get out the door and GO to the yoga/ceramics/painting/dance class or WHATEVER it is that sets your soul on fire. For me, that thing was yoga. I panicked the whole class because I actually let myself let go and relax – my brain wasn’t used to that. But it was easier as time went on.
Explore. See what your city or online services have to offer to keep your brain busy if your body isn’t in the space to do that much.
Remind yourself that your physical limits, temporary or otherwise, are a part of you. Make peace with that. Remind yourself that it is OKAY to feel sick. But it is even better to live as vibrantly and as active as you can! Self talk is MASSIVE in this.
Research what can HELP you. I don’t mean boards where people are chatting about how hopeless and miserable they are. I mean credible sources and topics to discuss with your practitioner.
Talk to a therapist, if you can afford it. Be sure to hire a therapist that has worked with chronic illness patients before.
Channel your pain into writing or art, if you can. This helped me immensely when I didn’t feel like talking.
Alternative modalities and therapies CAN help. I have lots of information on this that I am happy to share. A lot of them are proven and science-based methods of therapy such as aromatherapy or acupuncture.
Try to get some sunshine every day. If you can’t walk, open a window. Let the light in. If you can, take a small walk every day. Breathe. Take the time to deep breathe.
Listen to gentle acoustic or piano music – something wordless. This keeps your brain active as it studies the musical components as you just rest or do another activity. This can help brain agility and has potential to aid in calming you down if you struggle with anxiety.
Remember that this life is temporary. It is our duty to live to the fullest we can.
Remember thankfulness and happiness is a state of mind. I know it’s hard to swallow.
Remember that not all hope is lost, not ever. Just hold on and ground yourself in the NOW. Not the future.
These are just a few tips that helped me when I was in a similar place. I hope I was able to help you. x
Are you ready for the absolute best potato and leek soup you’ve ever had?
This recipe is great for cold-busting for the upcoming cold and flu season and just overall tastes DELICIOUS!
This is gluten free and dairy free, and for the most part is anti-inflammatory unless you have an oxalate issue (where the breakdown occurs inefficiently)…this recipe is considered to be anti-inflammatory, modifiable to be low histamine, but high oxalate.
6-8 Russet Potatoes (medium sized. The more potatoes you have, the thicker it will be!)
8 C Chicken Broth (can be made to be low histamine with quick-cooked or Instant-pot-cooked chicken broth)
3 medium leeks
1 onion (sweet onions work best)
1 pinch of allspice
2T PerfectPinch Spice Blend (can find in any grocery store)
3T Salt (+ more to taste depending on preference)
2T Gluten Free Flour (I love this one, found at Sprouts)
2T Coconut Oil
2T Pepper (omit if you have HIT)
Roughly chop leeks and peeled Russet potatoes. Mince your onion.
In a large soup pot, melt the coconut oil and stir in your flour. Cook until the flour mixture bubbles slightly, over medium heat. Add in vegetables you have prepared and your onion, and then add in the broth.
Put the lid on the pot and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Put contents in a blender and blend until smooth (if you don’t have a hand blender. If you do have a hand blender, simply blend it in the pot.)
After mixture is completely blended, begin seasoning. Add in the spices, tasting as you go. Salt and pepper additionally to your taste preferences.
**This serves plenty of food for 4 adults. My family LOVES this and this is a new Fall staple in our house. It would also be delicious served with nitrate-free no-casing sausages or even with cheese and bacon on top for those cheat nights! Let me know how you like it.
I’ve been doing tons of research and work now that I’m a third year integrative medicine student. As someone who has gone through the ‘good fight’ myself and have been declared remissed after 8 years of fighting, I wanted to share important dietary tips that have been clinically proven to assist in the process.
Before we start, I think it’s important to note that in managing a chronic disease with something flexible such as diet, a viewpoint is key to maintain: the food is not the fighter. It can be (i.e. fighting a cold with extra Vitamin C) but it is not the main goal of our diet to fight our disease. It’s important to see diet as a vehicle of healing the whole body in a holistic sense – aiding our broken and damaged cells, helping our methyl pathways do their thing and detox, and support myelination that may have been disrupted over the course of years of sickness. Those are great first goals for anyone’s diet!
It’s also important to know that diet changes are mind over matter. It will not be easy to stop cold turkey overnight if you’re addicted to conventional American ways of eating – and that’s okay!
It’s also important to not rationalize. “Oh, one snack doesn’t hurt, Oh, I don’t like salad, so I’ll just ignore these 50 vegetables…” I was there at one point too – and I have since learned to love salad, health ‘shots,’ and smoothies. I can’t even tolerate fake sweetener in my coffee anymore! (and I’d have three a day before I committed to my dietary health…)
Change IS possible. But, it’s up to US to make it effective.
Why might you want to change? Besides Lyme Disease, you may be fighting methylation issues, genetic disorders, or other chronic illnesses that thrive off of inflammation (fibromyalgia, mycoplasma, gastritis…etc etc…)
What these foods do to the body is sickening, and will likely make you lose appetite for them when you think of the long-run consequences.
Your body is already on inflammation overload if you are fighting a chronic infection. Inflammation is simply irritation in your body from fighting/cell damage and apoptosis (cell death)… when the cells die or are damaged or if your body has been fighting an infection cytokines can be released, triggering a higher inflammatory response as it fights. Some cytokines are anti-inflammatory, but many are associated with higher rates of pain and can be secreted throughout your body. (Zhang & An, 2007).
We have enough pain being sick, why make it harder on ourselves with something we have complete control over? Inflammation can aid in symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, rage, anxiety, depression, joint and musculoskeletal pain, migraines, hormonal dysregulation, and allergic responses.
That being said, let’s start where it hurts but also where it is the easiest to begin – foods and groups of foods to avoid.
In most literature, it is known that big sources of inflammation are commonplace in the American diet: gluten, corn, sugar, and dairy.
That seems like a lot at once to cut out, because, well, it’s everywhere. I took it a step at a time to slowly cut down on the inflammatory processes racking my body. I started with less gluten and no dairy, since I wasn’t that attached to cheese anyway. I then whittled down sugar and switched to gluten free. (I think home-made is best because I control what is in it and avoid sugars, but if I can’t then I allow myself room to get the store-brand. I love the Rudi’s brand personally (link here to purchase) – while it does have evaporated cane syrup and yeast, I prefer taking the hit for one or two slices of bread if I’m feeling extra edgy that day as opposed to consuming a bunch of mold inhibitors and higher levels of soy proteins/sugars. And again, that’s only if I am not in a life position schedule-wise to make my own. I’ll link my recipe soon.
I eventually (by making nearly everything I consumed myself) cut out all of these foods and am limiting my intake of soy and preservatives. Some easy things to start cutting down on are:
Corn Tortillas/Corn Products (i.e. fake “maple syrups,” sodas, “juices” or “juice drinks” processed breads or wraps, granola or cereal bars, jams, jellies… check your labels! Corn hides everywhere by different names like: maltodextrin, baking ‘powder,’ malic acid, high fructose corn syrup, vanilla (or other flavoring) extract, xylitol, distilled vinegar (in pastries) etc….) [so save yourself some time – eventually we want to cut out all processed things.]
Bottled Flavored Beverages (including flavored “waters”)
Yogurt (there are non-dairy and non-soy alternatives that are great, or you can make your own.)
That’s just the short list.
I promise it is doable and it does get better! This is coming from a carbohydrate addict who loved her sugary Starbucks seasonal drinks (say that 10 times fast!)
Zhang, J.-M., & An, J. (2007). Cytokines, Inflammation and Pain. International Anesthesiology Clinics, 45(2), 27–37. http://doi.org/10.1097/AIA.0b013e318034194e
I know that I just haven’t been the same since the baby came.
I knew that my moods would swing crazier than the monkey’s on the bed book I read about 11 times a day. I knew I might feel sad at times when I folded his onesies that he outgrew. I was ready. I had my essential oils and my motivational Pinterest board.
I had prepared my third trimester. Oh, that turbulent trimester. We were so busy getting ready and choosing a hospital and drafting birth plans. I was the commander and you were the general, waging a war on pre-birth anxiety by picking out a calming playlist on Spotify and indulging in the occasional massage and coffee date night – savoring our last times together as a couple.
The birth happened. It was a hard time and the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. Looking at that little face, I felt so invincible. I felt that I had climbed Mt. Everest and God himself handed me this miracle as a reward. But, I couldn’t remember the pregnancy. I couldn’t feel much else besides exhilerated and exhausted.
The first weeks flew by. We didn’t sleep. We laid on the floor, calming the baby at 3 in the morning feedings and holding eachother, desparately trying to get a moment of rest. You would light the candle I loved and hold me through my anxious moments. I got so anxious when he cried.
The doctor saw me at my four week appointment. I was doing great recovering. Did I feel sad? No, I felt so tired. I felt so tired and numb. But that was just the exhaustion.
I changed doctors because the smell of the lobby made me want to dry heave.
I stayed at home a lot. It was safer that way. Loud noises would jarr me. I couldn’t believe he was almost two months old. Two months old and still spitting up all the time. I worried. I googled. I would worry some more. You would hold me through my panic attacks and help me keep breathing.
I got sad. I was so sad all the time. Sad at being anxious. Sad that motherhood was slipping through my fingers. Sad because how could he even be here after that traumatic pregnancy? How did I learn to feel so numb and how could I feel normal again? My hormones had leveled but my mental state had not. Everything hurt. Nighttime was the worst. Everything stung. You would pace the floor with me and call doctors with me that whole month. You would tuck in the baby, I would be busy panicking. You would talk to me until everything started to make sense again. Thank you for putting me back together.
At month five, the sun is starting to come out. I still cry a lot. I still rely on your warmth, comfort, and patience. But what I can tell you is I feel the jagged edges healing. It is painful because the scabs break off. It is anxiety-provoking because it’s not on my schedule. But I can tell you that you and God got me through it.
Through the horrific postpartum haze, I got to see in a whole new light how wonderful of a man you are – why God brought you to me – and your strength in your softness. You took the time to study me throughout our marriage and our pregnancy. You helped me to savor the new life we made and to climb over the mountains of depression and anxiety and emotional isolation. Thank you for holding my hand and putting what love is into action.
You are my rock, my partner, and my soulmate. I couldn’t love you any more after all of this.
If you mention mycoplasma in any doctor’s office, you’ll likely get the same response –
“Everyone has mycoplasma. It’s not a big deal. It couldn’t have anything to do with your case.”
If you hear this, run far and fast. Especially if you’ve been fighting chronic illness for years, it’s like you’re throwing open the door and inviting the mycoplasma in for a tea party.
According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of mycoplasma infection in children and adults are:
- Sore throat
- Fatigue (being tired)
- Slowly worsening cough that can last for weeks or months
HOWEVER – these are not the only symptoms! You can have neurological, gastrointestinal, and hormonal issues from these infections. If these symptoms linger or if your chronic disease (such as Lyme/fibro/other inflammatory processes) is not going away/lessening/showing any sort of variation in flares or herxes, I encourage you to get tested. Here’s why:
It’s well known that there are over 200 types of mycoplasma infections – these can disrupt your flora, attack your body, and enter your cells, disrupting your immune system function. These microbes do not have a cell wall, and are therefore not easily killed with an antibiotic regimen. A more holistic approach to the attack may be needed if your infection lingers.
According to Dr. Rawls, “Mycoplasma are spread by biting insects (ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, biting flies), sexual contact, contaminated food, and airborne droplets…To gain access to needed resources, mycoplasma generate inflammation in the body by manipulating the signaling mechanisms of the immune system (called cytokines). Inflammation breaks down tissues and allows the bacteria to gain access to the host’s resources. Mitochondria are prime targets for energy; fatigue is always a factor in mycoplasma infections.” (Rawls, 2016).
So, the next time your doctor brings up chronic fatigue syndrome, IBS, or fibromyalgia – it may be worth asking to have the test run for this. DO’s and PA’s are more likely to be attune to what mycoplasma can do and can assist you in ordering the proper tests. Yes, everyone has some levels of this in their body – but to those of us who are already sick, this can be the determining factor in whether or not we are healthy after years of being ill.
CDC – Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/atypical/mycoplasma/about/signs-symptoms.html
Rawls, B. (2016). Mycoplasma, the most common Lyme co-infection. Rawls M.D. Retrieved from https://rawlsmd.com/health-articles/mycoplasma-the-most-common-lyme-coinfection