My Commitment

The National Institute of Health estimates that at least 23.5 million people in the US suffer from an autoimmune disease, and that this number is on the rise. 75% of these people are women. After interviewing dozens of experts in the field of autoimmunity, Amy Meyers M.D. stated that “This is an epidemic.” What is happening? Why are our own immune systems turning against us?

Experts agree that a few factors need to be in place to cause an autoimmune disease. They are: genetic predisposition, a leaky gut, and an additional trigger such as stress or a parasite, like candida. In other words, we may carry the gene for autoimmunity, but a perfect storm must occur in order for the gene to ‘turn on.’

I have lived this statistic, and when something like this actually happens to you, statistics take on a whole new meaning. I feel passionately about getting the word out there that it is possible to heal.

Since sending my disease into remission through lifestyle changes over time, I have studied and researched the available information on autoimmunity. I believe that what is happening is that a combination of factors that are a part of modern life have caused this epidemic. The good news is, we can protect, and heal ourselves.

This is not to say that modern medicine does not have a place, because it does. I still take a thyroid hormone replacement to help supplement this important hormone in my body because over time, my thyroid gland has suffered enough abuse from my own immune system, that it needs the extra boost.

But, there are so many factors to autoimmunity that traditional medicine does not address. To feel truly well, these factors must be looked at, and healed.

We are living in a time unlike any other in the history of humankind. Life is faster, more connected, and more full of information than ever before. While this can be good, it can also take its toll on sensitive individuals. Our systems are in overdrive, and it is impacting our health in serious ways.

Being sensitive does not have to be synonymous with weak. It does however, require one to take extra care of the body, mind and spirit, especially in today’s fast-paced and over-stimulating world. Because if we don’t, we will live with fatigue and apathy, as we hold the door open for more autoimmune diagnoses. Simple, subtle lifestyle changes can have huge benefits in this regard.

Even if you are taking your prescribed medication, how you FEEL is a super important indicator to how well your body is functioning. Tune in and listen to yourself. We only get one body in this life, and it is our vehicle for this experience.

I feel passionate about keeping this conversation going, especially now that I know that this is an actual epidemic, affecting mainly women. Remember, even if you don’t have an autoimmune disorder, the number is on the rise, so preventative measures are important. I hope the articles I post here will offer lifestyle suggestions and recipes that may act as healing salve over this issue.

Let’s do this together, and heal our lives!

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Halting the Inflammation Train

It is my two year anniversary of being hive-free. Yes, a strange event to have an anniversary for, but if you’ve ever had a health issue that took months or longer to resolve, you can relate. I had hive flair-ups all over my body, every single day, for one year, and then one day they went away, never to return.

During the year when I experienced the hives, I felt tired and groggy constantly, even when I first awoke in the morning. Life was an uphill battle – just the little things took extreme amounts of will to accomplish. I remember looking at the clock at 9:30 am and thinking I am way too tired to make it through this day. Even though I was only thirty-eight, I felt very old, like the best part of life was behind me. Not a fun, or productive, way to live.

Today, while still aware of the underlying condition that caused the hives, I feel vibrant and alive. The here and now is fulfilling. Exhaustion doesn’t hit me until 10 p.m. when I happily crawl under the covers feeling that a rest has been well earned. I’m actually excited about life – I know that while I have already lead a full life with many awesome memories and experiences, the best is yet to come.

What I now know is that an autoimmune disease was part of the underlying cause of the chronic hives. But I believe that at the root of my problem was chronic inflammation – the inflammation was a precursor to the auto-immunity. Our bodies use inflammation as a mechanism of defense against unwanted intruders or pathogens, but if the wrong factors are present (like poor diet and excessive stress) and the inflammation train gets going, it can accelerate to destructive levels. Once this train is going out of control, it is not easy to calm it down. Inflammation is only meant to be turned on when the body is in real danger, not chronically.

Two years ago I did what is called an ‘elimination diet’. For thirty-one days, I ate only organic bone broth soups with vegetables, cooked vegetables, simple 3-ingredient, blueberry smoothies, and an Indian dish called Kitcharee. On day seventeen of this month, the hives did not show up, and I have not seen them since (celebrate).

After the elimination diet, I slowly added foods in, one at a time and only one every three days – it can take three days for the body to adversely react to a food. My body was fine with all the foods I added – granted, I have stayed with a whole-food, gluten and dairy free diet this entire two years. As hard as this sometimes is, I feel so much better without the inflammation, I refuse to get that train going again.

A lot of us live with low levels of chronic inflammation. This presents as sluggishness, a little extra weight on the body, aches and pains, low libido, bloating, and a general lack of passion. It is interesting to consider ways to calm the inflammation, to care for ourselves in such a way that illnesses such as autoimmunity and other chronic yuckiness do not develop in the first place, or to keep the symptoms calm and dormant if they already have.

One simple practice is deep breathing. Christopher Bergland, author of The Athletes’ way: The Biology of Bliss, writes about deep breathing in his article, The Neurobiology of Grace Under Pressure. This article is about the Vagus Nerve, a very interesting subject. This nerve wanders from the base of the brain down through the body, touching several key organs along the way – including the heart. He writes, “A higher vagal tone index is linked to physical and psychological well-being. A low vagal tone index is linked to inflammation, negative moods, loneliness, and heart attacks.”

He also discusses how diaphragmatic breathing increases vagal tone.

So, pull up a cushion, silence the cellphone, and treat yourself to some deep breathing. Even five or ten minutes a day will give results. First simply observe the current rhythm of your breath without judgement. Due to the hectic pace of modern life, most of us function on a jagged breathing rhythm. After noticing this for a minute or two, begin guiding the inhales and the exhales to a smooth, even rhythm. Counting the length of the inhales and the exhales and nudging them to even is one method. Sometimes it is nice to have the exhales be slightly longer and to envision stress being expelled from the body with the breath out.

This simple exercise will tone the vagus nerve, signalling to the brain and heart that all is well. Practicing regularly has huge impacts on soothing inflammation and promoting well-being – I know from experience.

This is a picture  our family out hiking in August. I am grateful to feel well again, so that I can live my life in the fullest way possible!

 

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When Springtime throws you a Wintry Day

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Springtime in the Pacific Northwest is never predictable. Last week my five-year old and I met friends at the beach for a sunny day that satisfied my Vitamin D craving, and more; today, the sky is characteristic grey, a cold wind is making the leaves shimmy, and I think it may rain.

When I saw today in the forecast, I was actually happy. A soup day!

I had been a pescatarian for a very long time – almost twenty-five years – when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This means that the only meat I ate was fish, on occasion. But, after the diagnosis, I quit eating gluten completely and after so many years of being mainly vegetarian, I realized that I just may need some animal products. The healing protocol I designed for myself, based on the amalgamation of many experts, included bone broth soup.

This week is my two-year mark of being 100% gluten free, and I feel so much better that it still feels like a miracle. If you’re interested in exactly why I cut the gluten, check out my earlier post entitled “The Gluten Piece.” Here, I will only say that while some are still skeptical whether leaky gut syndrome  exists, I am convinced that it is quite real, and able to be healed.

In essence, leaky gut is when the wall of our small intestine becomes compromised due to food sensitivities. When the intestinal wall is irritated, it can become more porous than it should be. Small particles escape into the bloodstream and alert our immune systems, leading to inflammation, and if left unchecked, autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s. Modern day gluten causes food sensitivity in some people, due to its difficulty to break down by the digestive system. I say ‘modern day’ because the gluten we eat is not the same product that our grandparent’s ate, but that’s another subject altogether.

If you’re not sure if this applies to you, I invite you to cut gluten out of your diet – 100% – there is absolutely no grey area on this one. Give yourself about a week, and then check in with yourself. Have any digestion issues improved, even somewhat? Have you noticed a difference in your energy levels, even subtle? If so, you may want to continue your gluten fast, and work on repairing your gut.

Bone broth is a powerhouse in this respect. Homemade bone broth contains numerous minerals and amino acids that are readily usable by the body to restore damaged tissue in the small intestine, connective tissues, and other organs. It is a truly healing food – I can attest to this firsthand after healing from the state of total exhaustion and inflammation resulting in daily hives – to a state of wellness I have never experienced in my life. The bone broth has been one component in my healing, and an important one. Using organic ingredients whenever possible is important, to minimize chemicals and toxins. I still eat meat rarely, having been vegetarian for so long. But the broth can be amazing in veggie soups too!

As the Mother of two kids – my little girl is eight and my son is five – and the wife of a big, hungry man, my soups have come in handy. Tonight, my family will enjoy a beef soup that has been simmering in the crock pot all day.

Here is the recipe. If you get handed a Wintry day this Spring, give it a try.

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Bone Broth

4 or 5 Grass-fed beef marrow or neck bones (organic if possible)

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

12 cups filtered water

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 pinches black pepper

To prepare:

Bake the bones in an oven heated to 350 for 30 minutes to improve flavor. Place bones in a large stock pot along with the water and vinegar. Allow to soak for 20 minutes to extract minerals. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Boil for three or four minutes and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 12 to 24 hours. Pour broth through a strainer so that only the liquid remains.

 

Wintry Day Beef Soup

2 large red onions

8 peeled cloves garlic

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves

Lots of fresh thyme

One pound steak cut grass-fed beef chunks

4 large yams

4 large zucchini

2 cups baby carrots

Coconut oil

To prepare:

Cut sweet potatoes and zucchini into large, bit-sized chunks. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in skillet. Add carrots and fry on medium heat for fifteen minutes. Pour bone broth into crock pot. Add vegetables, including garlic and and basil. Turn crock pot on high.

Cut onion into long pieces. Warm onions on low in 2 tablespoons coconut oil in skillet. When onions become translucent, add beef and sprigs of thyme, and fry until beef is cooked on the outside, adding a couple pinches of salt. Place meat and onions into soup. Add 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves and stir well.

Cook soup on high heat for six hours. Serve to someone you love, and let the healing begin!

 

Root Vegetable Delight

I am always looking for ways to make beets taste delightful – they are so  packed with health benefiting properties!

Beets support the liver. We all know how much the modern-day liver must deal with in terms of environmental toxins, medications and food additives. Giving this important organ support offers a big boost in how we feel, and beets are one of the very best foods for this purpose.

If we are living with any type of autoimmune disorder it is important to remember that all of the organs and systems in the body are interconnected. When we eat foods to heal the liver, we are helping our entire body heal, since the liver is such a key player in the overall function of the body.

This dish makes an excellent mid-winter lunch or dinner, and also works as a tasty side dish.

 

Recipe:

Ingredients

3 or 4 organic beets

3 large, organic yams

1 organic sweet onion

Ghee

1 Tablespoon Curry powder (can be straight ground curry, or if you have a mixture you like, that works)

3 Tablespoons Turmeric (the SUPER spice)

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 cup organic basmati rice, soaked (soak rice for 24 hours, rinsing and changing water halfway through)

1 can organic Coconut Milk

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel beets and yams and cut them into cubes. Cut onion into strips.

Place beets, yams and onions on large glass baking dish and drizzle generously with melted ghee. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place in oven and roast, stirring occasionally, for an hour.

Forty minutes later, place drained rice and coconut milk, along with two cups of water, into a sauce pan or rice cooker to cook. If using sauce pan, bring mixture to a boil, then cover and turn to low heart.

When veggies are done roasting, melt 2 tablespoons ghee slowly in large cast iron pan on low heat, stirring in turmeric and curry powder. Stir constantly until a nice paste is formed.

Place roasted veggies into the pan, and turn heat to medium. Stir veggies to coat with paste.

Place almost all the way cooked coconut rice into cast iron mixture. It is good if it still has a moistness, even a little wet still.

Stir in well and fry together with veggies for seven to ten minutes, continuing to stir.

YUM!

Your liver will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reset Your Digestion and Assimilate Your Life

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December is here! There is something unique about this month. Another year, wrapping up. Tis the season to take stock of all that has occurred, to allow it to sink in. Wait – most of us barely have time to breathe this time of year, let alone reflect!

But, every experience must be digested. The obvious association with the word ‘digest’ is food and the digestive tract. However, everything we go through – all that we read, the conversations we engage in, the experiences we have –  must be processed. The physical system of digestion is but one mechanism used for this type of purpose; there are also the spiritual and mental levels. These levels are equally important, if not more so, to our health and well-being.

We are overwhelmed with news right now. Information is coming at us so fast, there is no time to assimilate it on top of our already busy lives. And so,our systems are becoming backed-up at alarming rates. This is impacting the state of our collective unconscious. We are collectively clogged up.

How can we remedy this? The benefits of meditation are gaining solid, scientific backing. Slowing down, even for a few minutes a day, and simply breathing deeply can help immensely.

Another way we can give our overloaded body/mind/spirits a chance to properly assimilate everything, is to give our physical digestive systems a rest. Between parties and festivities this month, consider eating only an easily digested food for a couple of days. As the digestive system rests, the other areas have a chance catch up – to deal with all that we are being forced to deal with.

Here is a recipe for Kitcharee – the perfect food for this type of reset. I make up a big pot and save some in a glass container in the fridge to be warmed up throughout the day. The idea is to eat nothing but this food. Water and tea can be consumed, but this reset only works if we truly give our bodies a break from sorting out myriad foods and additives.

Give yourself a rest, on the level that you can affect, while still engaging in your busy life.

 

Simple Kitcharee

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked organic basmati rice – soaked (Soak your rice in water for around 8 hours to make it easier to digest. Drain the water you soaked it in, leaving only the rice)

1 cup  green mung dahl – soaked (Same process as with the rice, but dahl can soak for 24 hours) This legume can be found in the bulk section of a good health food store.

5 tablespoons organic ghee

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

3 tablespoons organic turmeric

1 teaspoon sea salt

7 cups pure water

To prepare:

In a big stockpot, melt the ghee over low heat. Add the coriander seeds and cumin seeds, stirring continually. When you hear the coriander seeds begin to pop, add the turmeric and salt, as you stir. When the paste is mixed together, add the mung beans and stir them in well. Now add the rice, stirring well. Add the water and turn the heat up to high. Allow the mixture to boil for about three minutes, then cover and turn the heat down. Simmer for around forty-five minutes, until the water is gone and you have a soft porridge. You may add steamed veggies of any kind, except for white potatoes, to add variety.

 

 

To Live Joyfully

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When we feel joyous, we feel connected. Being engulfed in joy is like swimming in a crystal clear ocean on a sunny day – we are supported, uplifted, weightless. Remember a moment when you were truly joyful; it may be a simple memory, like dancing to good music, or having a meaningful conversation with a friend; or it may be a big life moment, like kissing your husband for the first time, holding your little baby, or attaining a hard to reach goal.

Sometimes joy seems elusive, slippery and hard to grasp. Day to day life can lose its luster, and joy feels distant, attached to a memory or a future plan.  Joy and health are interrelated; the more joyous we feel, the less stressed, inflamed, depressed and heavy. Daily joy leads to better health. How can we bring more joy into our lives, attaining it regularly?

I have found many nuggets that have helped me move into a state of joy more often, in the ancient science of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a body of knowledge that can be applied in our lives in conjunction with our current medical plan, religion, or system of belief. If one chooses to apply aspects of Ayurveda, one does not need to forsake modern medicine. It is not an invitation to throw all your medicines or doctor’s advice out the window. Rather, it is an extremely useful treasure trove of wisdom that can complement your current beliefs, while deepening your health.

Ayurveda was born in India thousands of years ago. It is the ‘Science of Life’ derived by sages who devoted their lives to discovering this way of viewing the natural world and our relationship to it. It is timeless wisdom, as the basic human needs, such as nutrition and rest, are the same as they were five thousand years ago.

Maya Tiwari, a contemporary author and practitioner of Ayurveda, was able to heal herself from cancer utilizing a combination of western medicine and Ayurveda. She writes, “Our vital tissues are created from the same five elements that created the seasons and their rhythms; we share a symbiotic nature with the earth, created as we are from the same cosmic blueprint of memory, energy and rhythm.”

And so, we as human beings have been created from the same elements that we see all around us in the natural world. 75% of our body is water. Our enzymes are like fire, metabolizing matter into usable ash. Our lungs draw in air, and the motion of air circulates throughout us. Much of our body is simply empty space; in each atom is a bit of matter, and a lot of space. Our flesh and bones are like the rocky earth of the body. The five elements in nature are earth, water, fire, air and space; according to Ayurveda, we are made of these same elements, and they comprise our bodies in unique combinations.

How does all of this relate to joy? In future posts, I will refer back to this concept as I offer practices and foods that contribute to well-being and the capacity to live joyfully.

For now, if we allow the concept  of the five elements to sink in, we realize that we are totally connected to the environment around us. When we live life from this connected place, the world begins to open up in a new and exciting way. The change of the seasons is a wonder to witness, especially when we understand that our bodies also morph and change seasonally. As we harness the natural rhythms, we access greater health and joy.

Like the energetic pull of the moon affecting the ocean tides,  the rhythms of nature affect the elements within our own bodies. As we learn to live in balance, we attain a state of wholeness. When we are whole, we see the world clearly and joy is right at our fingertips.

Although there is much suffering in this world, there is also much beauty. When our vantage point shifts into one of true health, we not only see this beauty, we add to it.

Autumn: The Season of Soup and Spice

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I love this time of year in the Northern hemisphere: as the wind grows cooler and the leaves become tinged with the colors of warmth, the Crock pot reappears on my counter, diffusing the scent of spice and delight into the air.

One year ago I was in the middle of my elimination cleanse. After a lifetime of eating a gluten and sugar-rich diet, I constructed my cleanse over the course of a year. Gentle makes sense to me, when dealing with an issue as sensitive as what we eat. Everything we ingest goes through the process by which our cells are built – they regenerate, on average, every seven years. This regeneration process is constant, and the very fabric of our bodies – the cells- are fed by the nutrients extracted from what we eat.

And so, changing our diet, means we are changing ourselves. This metamorphosis requires much support.

In September of 2014 I eliminated practically everything from my diet, including: gluten, sugar, processed foods of any kind- only whole foods were allowed, meaning only ingredient lists of one ingredient.  Recipes such as the one offered here, were allowed, because they were homemade using whole ingredients -no store bought sauces or spice blends.

Soups felt like life-savers.  The healing properties in this soup fortified my weakened small intestine and made me stronger than I have been in many, many years. Allergies, autoimmune conditions, fatigue and thyroid disorders will all be pacified when the gut is strong. Thus, this soup is a powerhouse of healing.

Using homemade bone broth for the stock is where you get the deepest healing value. Slow cooking animal bones extracts minerals that are rejuvenating for our digestive system, cells, and connective tissue. The collagen in the broth literally heals us, from the inside out.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Cooking it on low heat with the ghee releases the healing properties of this amazing spice. Cinnamon, while adding flavor perfect for this season, also has the power to bust through candida, and kill it. (Candida is out-of-control sugar in the gut- a problem many of us in today’s world face.)

So, put your music on, light your scented candle and savor the Autumn season with this healing soup.

Bone Broth

Ingredients:

4 or 5 beef neck bones – make sure the beef is grass fed

9 cups filtered water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350. Place bones on a glass baking dish and bake them for 30 minutes to extract flavor. Place roasted bones into a large soup pot. Pour water over the bones. Add the apple cider vinegar – this helps extract the minerals from the bones. Bring pot to a boil. After five minutes of boiling, turn the heat to low and add salt. Allow the bones to cook on low for around 20 hours. You can also use a Crock pot for this process.

Autumn Healing Soup

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash

2 organic sweet onions

3 tablespoons organic ghee

1 tablespoon organic turmeric

2 cups homemade beef broth

1 can organic coconut milk

2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon organic cinammon

1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions:

Peel and cube the squash. Steam the squash until easily pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, cut onions into long slices. Warm ghee in a frying pan (cast iron is the best) and add the turmeric. Warm the ghee and turmeric over a low heat, stirring. When they are blended into a paste, add the onions. Cook onions on low until they are translucent and soft. Place the softened squash, the onions and the broth into a food processor or high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Place this puree into a Crock pot. Add coconut milk, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Simmer the soup on low for three or four hours.

Enjoy, and be healed!

To Calm Inflammation and Relieve Stress

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I just listened to a talk by Dr. Datis Kharrazian. Have you heard of him? He is a genius, and he seems to genuinely care about helping people with autoimmune disorders. He researches extensively, as well as maintaining a private practice.

Today he said that “Stress is a powerful immune triggering event.” This is an extremely important statement. He talked about environment, relationships and thoughts, as potential stress inducers. And he kept reiterating how real the stress/autoimmune connection is, and that it is now proven scientifically. That’s right, it is proven that stress causes a chemical reaction in the body that turns on, and turns up, autoimmunity. When we consider how much stress people are under in today’s world, that becomes a big wow statement.

I believe that lifestyle choices are the most important aspect in treating inflammatory issues, including autoimmunity.

And so, even though I still take my thyroid hormone prescribed by my doctor, because my thyroid gland is sluggish and I need that extra boost, I feel 100% better now than I did one year ago, even though I had been on this prescription for nine months at that time. This is because the factor that makes us feel the worst is the actual autoimmune mechanism itself, which is in no way affected by the hormone replacement. We can take that little pill, and get a boost in our thyroid hormone, which will definitely help us to feel better – provided we are converting and absorbing said pill, which is a subject for another post. However, it is impossible to achieve true healing and wellness unless we calm the autoimmune reaction and the inflammation.

This is where lifestyle comes in. The human body is so amazing; it is delicate, yet strong and resilient. When we are sick, we feel it; we are tired, in pain, irritable, joyless. And when we are well, the good feeling extends into every layer of our being. Our cells seem to dance with life, we have passion. We are more aware, more conscious, and even more spiritual. Taking care of our bodies is paramount – we only get one. I love the saying by Mae West, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” In order to ‘do it right’, we must be well!

Dr. K. talked about how when there is inflammation in the body, the most vulnerable tissue is that of the brain. Let that sink in for a moment, and then ask yourself, “is it important to calm the inflammation in my body?”

When asked for tips to keep our brains healthy, he again referred to stress management. He talked about ‘facing the problems in your head.’ That is also a subject for another post, as Ayurveda has excellent remedies for anxiety. Exercise, Dr. K. recommended. But, If you are really tired and worn out, this can be easier said than done.

One key vitamin that people with autoimmunity consistently lack enough of, is Vitamin D. Supplementing with a good vitamin D3 is very helpful. But, the best source of vitamin D comes to us in the form of sunlight. On the next sunny day, I invite you to go outside, and take a walk. Just walk right out your door and go around the block or down the road. Feel the light on your face, and know that the full spectrum of light is reaching into your very cells and healing them. Walk far enough that your heart gets pumping a little. This simple activity can change our lives!

If you are already a walker, hiker, biker or runner, that is fabulous. If you have autoimmunity, though, be careful not to over do it, as too much exercise can tax the adrenals, which in turn affects the thyroid. Allow your exercise to be nurturing.

A good walk or hike in the sun is some of the best medicine out there! If we can walk in nature, all the better, as the fresh air is wonderful for us. It is the simple things that bring about deep and lasting healing.

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When the Light Shines

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After I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, I went through a dark time. It was depressing to try to accept that the lack of energy and brain fog I had been experiencing for almost a year would never go away. Not to mention the horrible hives that covered my skin every morning and evening that had not abated, even after being treated for this condition.

As a person who loves yoga, and understands the value of accepting things as they are, I was frustrated because something within my spirit refused to allow me to accept THIS.

I was so tired. I remember looking at the clock to see that it was 9 am, after getting my little girl off to school, and being totally overwhelmed. 9 am? But, I’m ready for bedtime NOW. You mean I have to make it through at least twelve more hours? The thought was daunting.

It was impossible to explain this to the people in my life. As they had nothing to relate it to in their own experience, I held my tongue, not interested in coming off as lazy on top of everything else. I knew I wasn’t lazy – just TIRED. There is a profound difference.

When I decided that I was not going to accept this state of being – NO WAY – I began researching and learning. As I empowered myself with understanding, it became clear what I had to do. I developed a year-long program to heal myself, because the more I learned about autoimmunity, the more I realized that it would take a year to heal. That the layers of complexity involved would take time to unravel, was clear. The body is remarkable and intricate, a puzzle to solve.

As I gained momentum in my year to heal, the darkness parted and the light shined through. It is amazing how when the light shines into a dark place in our lives, it is more beautiful than we have ever seen it: the brightness in such contrast to the denseness that it pierces, its triumph is invigorating.

As I emerged from the cloud of fatigue I was transformed. As I embraced a year to heal – even though it was hard work – my entire being was renewed. And so, the sickness becomes the catalyst for the greatest growth. If you are tired or sick or sorrowful, know this:

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls.

The most massive characters are seared with scars.”

   ~Khalil Gabrin

Once I was well past the overwhelming fatigue, the hives and the despair, and the light had shined into my life, I began to realize: this light has come from a place beyond the ordinary. There is more to it than can be understood with the intellect, or comprehended with the brain. This beautiful mystery is captivating, and gives life a feeling of underlying excitement. To discover the nature of this light is motivating, and engages us beyond our usual senses, carrying us into a state of wonder and aliveness.

“Sunlight fell upon the wall; the wall received a borrowed splendor.

Why set your heart on a piece of earth, O simple one?

Seek out the Source which shines forever.”

    ~Rumi

Swimming toward the light

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The past couple of years have been transformational.

In January of 2014 I was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This diagnosis came as quite a shock.

The frustrating part was that, even after following my doctor’s advice perfectly, by August of 2014, I was still dealing with the daily hives that had plagued my life for over a year. These red welts appeared all over my skin in the morning – every single day. This picture of my shoulder gives you an idea of what they looked like. They would pop up on different places on my skin. The worst was when they covered my neck, those grew the most inflamed and the feeling was most uncomfortable.

The hives would slowly subside after I took a Benadryl, only to make a comeback in the afternoon or evening. And no one had any answers aside from ‘take more Benadryl’. It was like an unsolvable mystery.

This was a very challenging experience. I felt like I had no understanding of my own body, like it was betraying me. Normally in life, if someone betrays us, we leave them. But how do you leave your own body? You don’t.

Prior to all this, I had been a very healthy and happy person. But, red welts all over your skin every day are a sure road to lack of energy (I’m positive the Benadryl was not helping in this department) and depression.

I refused to accept this life. Empowering myself with knowledge about how my body actually works has been a fascinating journey. I had to reach deep into myself to find the energy to continue learning, and believing that I could affect my own health. Even though I was exhausted from the hives, Benadryl and autoimmunity, and at times I felt like I was drowning, I just kept swimming up, toward the light. As I learned how the body works and how it can break down, I added layers of healing into my daily practice. After a year and a half of this swimming upward, I feel as though I have plunged through the surface and the sun shines on my face – finally.

I am not drowning. I am stronger than ever.

And the journey continues – my passion for learning about the body has only grown. Implementing my new knowledge has lead me to a place of true health and vitality. I feel better today, at forty-years old, than I have since I was in my mid-twenties.

It is amazing how life unfolds. I never expected that this would happen to me. This experience has deepened me, and I am grateful for it.

However, for the first eight months after the diagnosis, I did NOT feel grateful! During those months I felt lost and betrayed by my own body. Depression settled over me as I considered the fact that I may be declining into worse and worse health, since doctors say that one autoimmune disorder often leads to others.

But then, in September 2014, a miracle occurred. The culmination of the work I had been doing since I had been diagnosed was reached. I had been sugar and processed food-free for nine months, gluten-free for four, and dairy-free for three. I did a 30 day hiatus from red wine (something I typically drink a couple of times a week). I ate whole, organic foods and drank my bone broth (see previous post for recipe and description). I practiced meditation and positive affirmations.

Halfway through September, my hives disappeared. One morning I woke up with a feeling of freedom. No red welts. Over the next few weeks the feeling of freedom blossomed. The hives were totally gone. I felt healthy – for the first time in over a year.

With all the books and articles I have read, and online seminars on autoimmunity I have attended, I now have a clear understanding of how my healing occurred. The picture has grown clearer and clearer. I will continue to explain this phenomena, and others related to health, on this blog.

I am a pretty private person, and it is somewhat difficult for me to share all of this. It’s just that lately, I have been feeling that through sharing what I went through, I may somehow serve. In a world where many people are suffering, it is time to lift one another up in encouragement. It is time to share our stories and together, move toward healing.

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