Dreams, Goals, Adaptations and Plan 15M

January 7, 2013

Picture 033I absolutely love making goals and creating plans.  It inspires me to dream and make positive changes to my life.  I can take time to reflect on what in my life is or isn’t working, and look at ways to move in the direction I want for my life.   

I find that making goals in life works best when it starts with listing out my own values.  This gives me a framework for deciding where to invest my time, and when it might be best to change a course.  Because my values are also about relationships, this helps me to include people in my goals, not just concrete goals around accomplishments.  I include values of self improvement and character traits I aspire to.  Though these may not be as measurable, my personal integrity is more important than the accomplishments I make.   

I have a list of seventeen top values that I have revamped over the years.  My overall mission statement is:  I will strive for growth, healing and deeper spirituality, where I can truly love others, giving joy, grace, and peace to those I meet.  Some of my values include building strong relationships with family, friends and neighbors.  Others are about personal traits such as saying I am sorry, being forgiving, having fun and living a life of integrity.  I also include fitness and health, making a difference, being financially secure and helping people in need.   

Next I start with a free write of goals and hopes of what I would like to accomplish.  This might be short term or long term ideas, as well as self improvement type of goals.  I try to avoid thinking too rationally when writing out my dreams, as this is something I will do later.  For some this might be better done by writing in paragraph form visualizing the life they wish to have, others prefer lists.  It can sometimes help to look around at people you admire, and what are the traits and actions that draw you to them.   

Once I have a list of goals and dreams, I begin to group them into categories and time lines for further evaluation.  I will group together health goals, relationship goals, spiritual, personal trait goals, finances, etc.   With each group I will think about what I can do in the next year to make progress in this area.  For relationship goals it might be scheduling dates with my husband, planning some vacations and/or having a game night.  For health goals it could be losing weight, going to a new doctor, trying a new exercise  and/or meditating self compassion.   

One thing to remember with goals is that it is about progress not perfection.  In 2012, I had a list of about 40 goals and I accomplished about 60% of them.  Some of these goals were minor, such as putting pictures in frames and going through donations.  Other goals were more significant like starting my blog and going back to yoga class.  I never did finish doing touch up painting around the house, but I am ok with putting this off another year.  I wish I had found the time to create goals with my children, as this is a worthwhile project.  Even though I didn’t finish everything on my list, I can see that the year 2012 was filled with some new adventures and progress in areas that matter to me.  The other goals I didn’t finish I can evaluate whether this is something I want to reconsider in the next year.  Fortunately, 2013 brings new opportunities.   

I am excited for what 2013 can bring and my personal goal of implementing the 15M plan.  For 2013 I am going to focus more on making life style changes in increments.  The 15M plan allows me to make progress even in the more difficult health days, as I focus on spending 15 minutes on the desired activity each day.  Often when I am tired or feeling a great deal of pain, I lay on the couch a good part of the day and isolate.  If I can focus first on 15 minutes of some type of exercise, it is a goal I should be able to attain most days, resulting in less discouragement and better health.  When I am feeling good, I will most likely do more, but on a bad day this can help me shift gears.   I will add other areas that I want to progress in such as writing, family time, cooking and doing chores.     

Life many of us I have goals for improving my health in 2013.  I plan to do some experiments with the types of food I eat to see if they may be adding to my symptoms.  I also will be doing health coaching for other people who want to improve their health.  I hope to be able to make an impact on people struggling with chronic health problems and to give hope.  I want to strive for more consistency in my life, and learn to work around the tough days.   

Making goals can be a simple process or something you spend weeks processing and planning.  The most important thing is to make some progress.  Taking 15 minutes to write down 10 goals is a great beginning.  For the artist among us, one can draw or clip out pictures from a magazine instead.  You can post the list on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.  Others may prefer to spend some time evaluating last year, writing out values, and creating a detailed plan for 2013 like I have done.  Finding a buddy to share it with might help keep you motivated and encourage a friend at the same time. 

May 2013 bring you some great learning experiences and opportunities.  May you see an impact towards the values you hold dear and be an encouragement to those in your path.   

Elissa

 (also posted at fibromodem.wordpress.com/2012/12/ and in December issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA)

 


Memoir Review: Crash by Carolyn Roy-Bornstein, MD

January 2, 2013

Crash was an amazing read. Carolyn is a fabulous writer who was able to draw you into her experience of her son’s serious accident by a drunk driver. Being a doctor she explores her struggle of dealing with her son’s injuries, the tragedy of being hit by a drunk driver, the girl-friends’ death, the medical issues that arise and making sense of her experience from both a doctor and family member perspective. She is honest, thoughtful, and inspiring.

One thing that struck me was the randomness of the accident. Many things in life can seem random, in the sense that everything can change in a moment. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, a simple decision that turns costly. Even those who make poor choices, have a sense of randomness. Many people pay costly for their mistakes, or cause great harm, while others pay less outer consequences. Life isn’t always fair from our reality point. This can be a hard one for me to swallow. I strive for integrity, yet it doesn’t mean my life will be easy or pain-free.

Carolyn’s story was inspiring in the way she was able to grow from her experience and find the gold nuggets in all the losses. She strived to find the balance between doctor and patient, and to use this experience to make her a better doctor. The tragedy of her son’s injuries was brought in perspective by the death of his girlfriend. Her recognition of own lack of understanding of depression and brain injuries is very humbling, as she strives to learn more about a subject so relevant to her son and later becomes an advocate for people with Brain Injuries. She is honest in the struggle, yet looks for the positive, and grows closer to her family in the process. In the heart of the story, is Carolyn’s evidence of grace. “I don’t believe in fate. I believe we deal with the hand we are given. We make our own meaning. We find our own grace. Grace as a kind of acceptance. Grace as thankfulness. Grace as new meaning for a changed life.”

What a way to begin 2013, to move forward in grace. The year 2012 had many challenges and blessings, yet grace is what brings growth, love and humility. Through the health challenges, the healings, the relationships and losses, may grace help me live in the moment in a place of love, acceptance, gratitude and deeper understanding. I don’t know what 2013 will bring me. I can feel fear at the possibilities of financial struggles, health problems, and learning to navigate through relationships. At the same time, I trust that whatever arises, I will walk into it, grow, and becoming a greater person, more aware of the spirit within, around and above, and find the gold nuggets to receive and to give.

Happy New Year everyone. May grace abound to you.


December 24, 2012

The holidays can be very difficult for many people. This is a beautiful blog written about depression and suicide, and ways to seek help. We are not alone and can make it through one minute at a time. Elissa

Cathy's Voice Now

431136_3767625948262_192232921_nI reach out my hands because I have been there.

I haven’t written a blog post since last week.   I started writing several times only to discard it.  No words seemed right after the events of last week.    I will say that my heart breaks for the families, friends, and community of Newtown.    I decided to wait until closer to Christmas and share some of the joys of the season and to share the lessons and treasures of this past year.

However, something happened today that made me change my mind.  This afternoon I saw a facebook message from a friend offering her prayers and condolences to the mother of a 15-year-old young man.  As I read the posts of the past day, I realized the young man was only a couple of weeks older than my grandson.  I didn’t know him but he was part of the group of…

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Adding in foods and feeling sick

December 10, 2012

I have been feeling sick the past few days.  I have slowly been adding in more foods to my current food plan to see how I react and to start adding in more calories.  I started using a food plan through Medifast where I use only gluten-free products and vegetarian (though I am eating fish), and was feeling much better with this food.  (For more information on the plan you can see my health coach page at the top of this blog or go to http://healthcoachelissa.com/).  Because this is also a weight loss plan, it was time for me to transition to more regular foods and add in calories.  I started adding in more vegetables and fruit, and was having more cottage cheese for my protein option.  Something I added has made me feel sick to my stomach.

The good news about having a reaction is that it clarifies that my body is reacting to what I eat.  It appears that I am not breaking down certain substances in my food.  I am guessing it could be related to fructose found in my fruit and some of my vegetables like broccoli.  I have had a little bit of milk in lattes a few weeks ago (not on my plan) and didn’t react to this.  When I started adding two more vegetables a day, I added more cooked vegetables and started feeling sick.  I felt worse when I had some apples.

Today, I have gone back to what worked before – the 5 Medifast meals and 2 cups of lettuce with some tomatoes and fish.  I also picked up a gingerbread latte with my daughters while Christmas shopping and this seemed to be ok.  I am enjoying my teas and lots of water.  I will try to readjust my body, than add in the cottage cheese this time instead of the vegetables/fruit in about three days.  I will then add in some more vegetables/fruit that are lower in fructose 3-5 days later.   I may also pick up some probiotics.

I have always enjoyed doing research.  I am trying to look at this as my personal research.  This helps me be less frustrated when I can’t have something that I really want to have.  It can feel complicated when I don’t know exactly what is causing the problems, but at least I have found some foods that work for me.  I will just have to learn how to get around the holidays and all the food I want to have, while I am trying to figure out what is happening in my body.  Eventually I may be able to have some of these foods again, but clearly they aren’t working for me now.  I may just have to add some peppermint to my Medifast brownies and pudding for a festive flavor.


Health changes continue – exercise and home products revisited

December 6, 2012

I am feeling energized as I am eating healthier.  My pain level seems to be slowly decreasing, though it is still there.  My back pain is easier to deal with, though I hope to be able to eventually sleep on my back again.  I notice that I am able to make it through a day much more than in the past.  At times I still have bad days, especially if I feel stress or have a cold, but overall every day is so much better than 6 months ago.

I am trying to reduce some of the chemicals and unhealthy products I use each day.  As I run out of supplies, I am aiming to buy more organic beauty supplies.  I bought some make-up from Pure Minerals that feels great on my skin.  I also am trying some organic shampoo and conditioner.  I have noticed that my hairs feels silkier (even before the shampoo change), and perhaps this is due to the extra nutrients and water I take in each day.

This is the first time in a long time where I lost weight in a healthy weight.  Most of my recent weight loss was due to stress or changes in medications.  I have always been happy when I lose weight, but my body still felt drained even though I weighed less.  I enjoy shopping at the discount store for smaller clothes, and not having my stomach hurt in my tight jeans.  I feel lighter and it helps me stay motivated to make other changes.

Being the goal person I am, I am looking to my next step.  I plan on continuing to add back different food into my diet to see if there is any effect.  I am starting back on a regular weight routine with the P90 book to build up my muscle.  My teenage daughter is interested in doing it with me, so it makes it more fun and keeps me accountable.  I also will continue to build my network of friends and support through blogging, reaching out, and health coaching.  I love having people around me for support.  Thank you all who have shared with me.


pause, one step forward, pause, and a little sideways, one step forward….

December 6, 2012

I am beginning to appreciate the phrase “two steps forward, one step back”.  For me it would be more accurate to say “pause, one step forward, a pause, a little sideways, then start over again”.

The first pause is my time of pondering the vision. I love being in a dream mode and the times of reflection are really valuable.  I often start out thinking and planning what I am going to do.  This can be really productive to think about what steps I want to make, and decide whether previous actions were necessary.  Often I find the passion in this stage, that helps me take the next step forward.

Taking one step forward is crucial for progress.  I need to just do something on my action list to move in the right direction.  Though my favorite place is the vision state and planning, when I move forward, I have more opportunity to plan greater dreams.  As I take the time to write regularly, I can envision myself as an author someday, and my blogging will aide me in this direction.  When I take a step towards my health by beginning new exercises, I can see why I have made such a choice and the results exercise has on my body.  Every step forward leads me closer to being more of who I want to be and what I dream of.

What is with the second pause?  For some reason I am finding that in the middle of my progression towards my goals, there seems to be many pauses that slow me down.  Some times this is circumstances such as illness and/or a crisis.  Other times I am feeling overwhelmed or lose sight of where I am going that I can’t seem to gain ground or get moving.

The sideways’ journeys always seem to happen for me.  I get distracted by other things, or become so focused on one aspect of my goal that I lose sight of the big picture.  I start thinking about new dreams and ideas, get lost in the lives of others, or just move without thinking.  Though it feels like this is taking me away from what I want, often the lessons here can lead me more to who I want to be.  It may seem slower, but if I am going sideways there is a reason for it.  The wisdom gained here may be exactly what I needed to better prepare me for my next step.  I also gain new relationships from the people nearby.

As I continue in my inconsistent cycles, insights are gained, relationships are developed and goals become fulfilled.  At times I wish it was a more linear path for me, yet I imagine this would feel too predictable and boring.  As I learn to accept my personal detours, I will be much happier, and incorporate all my cycles into creating a deeper and more meaningful life.  Perhaps in time the detours will become less, as my vision is more clarified.  However, in the mean time I will continue to absorb all of my reality in this journey of life.


Memoir Review of Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu

December 2, 2012

I enjoyed reading the book Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu.  She honestly tells of her story in gymnastics and the struggles she experienced.  She is open and aware of many of her own battles, sharing her challenges in a self reflected way as she seeks to work through them.   It can be a hard book to read at times especially when hearing about the way she was treated by her father and professional coach.  She had some incredible coaches at times, and you can easily see how the positive influences impacted her.  Even the people who weren’t always kind, taught her valuable skills and traits that enhanced her career as she was open to learning from them.  It is encouraging to hear her story and her ability to succeed and find herself in spite of all the challenges.

Watching gymnastics is something I am often inspired by and am amazed at the dedication and heart many athletes have for the sport.  Often I want to give up in the personal and physical challenges, yet athletes learn how to work through these in order to accomplish their goals.  The passion they show for their sport seems to compel them to move forward.  Her story is a great reminder to me in learning to pick your battles, learning the lessons along the way, loving yourself, striving for the goal, and the great relationships that make all the difference.


Relationships and humilty – the darker side of life

November 29, 2012

Recently I have been having an inner battle with exposing the darker sides of life in order to reach out to someone who is struggling.  Much of the time I feel content in dwelling in the blessings of life and portraying an optimistic viewpoint.  I prefer to dream, plan, and encourage others to live in the moment, follow their values and seek meaningful relationships.  Talking about chronic pain, mental issues, dysfunction, crazy thoughts I might have, and addictions are topics I would rather stay in the shadows, or allow a slight exposure for a sense of humanity.  However when someone is hurting, it is hard to look the other way.

Sharing about the darker side can bring panic and fear.  What will people think of me?  Will I lose respect from people I care about?  Will they use the information to harm or threaten me in the future. Integrating these parts of myself can bring shame and fear of abandonment until full acceptance gives grace. I prefer to compartmentalized and move on losing this part of myself verses taking these pieces as the masterpiece they can become.

Opportunities always present themself in life.  Every difficult situation I have encountered has the potential to bring good, especially as I face the truth and find strength to move forward by both digging deeper and taking steps to make necessary changes.  I feel this responsibility to offer my experience, my compassion, possible guidance to resources, and wisdom that has guided me along the way.  I also need to be open to learn, to hear, to challenge my viewpoint, so I can learn what others have to teach me and to see the beauty in their life.  I don’t know if it will make a difference, but I can’t ignore the opportunity.

What I know to be true is that each of us has a unique path – what works for one doesn’t always work for another.  However, my greatest growth and wisdom has come from hearing stories, seeking truth and prayer, and finding resources through people and words of wisdom.  My greatest teachers have all have different opinions and values in some area, yet can still be a guide for enriching my life and growing spiritually.  I have learned to connect more easily with those who come in humility, willingness to listen, gave some hope, cared about me and were able to enter into the darker aspects of both my life and their own.  They had an inner strength , compassion, grace and love, and wisdom from their own experiences, yet were open to learning from the experiences of all they came into contact with.

May each of us keep our hearts open to allowing life to unfold in the most mysterious of ways – seeing the light shine in the darkness.

Step 12:  Having had a spiritual awakening because of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in our lives.


Medication free after years of narcotics for pain

November 26, 2012

I can’t believe that I am finally off my medication.  The pain still lingers in my body from fibromyalgia, but in many ways it seems better than what the narcotics did to my body over time.  The pain is more consistent, not fluctuating around my medication doses, where the intensity would increase as my body became reliant on the drugs for relief.  Though I did experience almost pain-free moments, the overall experience currently isn’t that much different from when I was on medication.  Has my body finally started to heal itself?

The psychological part of taking medication is still active in my brain.  I feel this panic sensation at certain times of the day, thinking I forgot my medication and feel fear at the potential for great pain.  It only takes a split second for me to remember that I don’t need the medication, yet the automatic reaction still lingers.  I no longer have to hide my medication when I am out of the house, or spend time cutting up my medication.  I don’t have to concern myself with the stereotypes of opioid users, though the stereotypes still exist with people who have fibromyalgia (including my own shame around it).  It will probably take some time to get used to this new reality.

When I first began to experiment with various medications prescribed by my doctors, I was in a great deal of pain. I couldn’t imagine living my life in this type of pain every day with no end in sight.  I am grateful that my doctors were able to believe me, and give me some relief from the pain.  I have no doubt that I needed something, but can’t understand why today, my pain is less.  Perhaps my body was better able to adapt with less stress, and better eating habits.  Over the years, I have tried many things to relieve my pain, and understand that a magic cure is probably not out there that works for everyone.  If this were the case, we wouldn’t have disease.  I imagine that the process of disease and healing is a complicated one, though there are many things we know help most, there are many things we don’t know.

The beauty of my own ignorance is that I can’t make claims for other people, nor give a clear path to follow.  This makes the process a personal one, each discovering what works best for them.  As much as I would like to help others have greater healing, I am not a healer.  The blessings of a story, is that we can listen intently, and take the pieces that resonate with us.  My story is in a sense interwoven from the stories of others.  Constantly experimenting for greater health, both physically and spiritually.  I hope that as I continue to make changes to my life, that I will continue to have less pain, and perhaps be cured from what ails my body.  However, of greater importance to me is that regardless of my pain level that I will continue to grow in a way that brings me spiritual peace and hope, as well as deeper relationships with those around me.

Blessings to each of you on your own journey….


Now I am a Health Coach

November 19, 2012

I am excited about my own journey towards greater health and being part of this journey with you.  When I began a new food plan in October of 2012, I had three hopes for myself.  1.  To become a health coach as I love coaching other people.  2. To lose 10-15 pounds, as I carry all excess weight in the middle increasing my rate for heart problems (which run in our family).  3.  To reduce my symptoms from Fibromyalgia – lesser pain and greater energy. 

My particular plan consisted of both vegetarian and gluten-free options.  I have always wondered if certain food items could contribute to my health problems.  Though I am not yet sure whether it is the change in the food choices and/or the nutrition in the products, I am certain that it is changing my life.  My energy has increased drastically, and I am on my way to being drug free because of the reduction in pain.  I can’t wait to edit this section with “I am not on medication”.  I have found hope after years of struggles.  I also have lost 8 pounds so far and have about 5 pounds more to go .

I love the simplicity of this program.  I can take things step by step – making changes and learning as I go.  I have never cared for cooking, so the easy meals work.  I have learned how to cook fish for the first time, and prefer this over chicken any day.  My favorite meal is the cappuccino drink once I learned to use the blender to stir the mix with boiling water.  I also enjoy the puddings, the shakes and the brownies.  I eat the cereal for my “to go” food or emergency food, since the bars have gluten in them.  I always liked cereal. 

I have spent the last month trying to incorporate the program into my life.  I strive for a life of integrity, and desire to live out the words I say in my personal actions.  I have read through the book and utilized the study guide to learn some nutrition fundamentals I thought I knew.  I have also enjoyed listening to numerous support calls to understand some of the challenges we face and ways to work with them. I was surprised how the simple things could make a difference, and how much there is to learn.  Fortunately I can take all these lessons step by step, which is the best way for me to make changes.  Much of my hesitation regarding a program switched to amazement at how much wisdom and support was offered to aid me in becoming healthy. 

My biggest struggle is social situations.  I am still learning how to deal with eating around people and managing the peer pressure I feel, or think I feel.  I miss my skim milk and still crave breads and pizza.  Fortunately, these situations are limited, and most of the time I am grateful for my new health, less pain, more energy, and that my jeans aren’t tight. 

More about the program can be found at http://healthcoachelissa.tsfl.com/.  You can also send me an e-mail at bugzy@aol.com with any questions or if you want me to send information your way.  The idea of this program is to achieve greater health through changing your habits.  This could include losing weight, reducing health problems and medications, being more fit, understanding healthier living, learning about nutrition and more.  I have been greatly impressed by what I have learned so far, and am excited to share it with you. 

On a personal note – I have been married almost 20 years and have 2 middle school daughters.  I have a degree in sociology with a minor in psychology.  I love reading memoirs, blogging, learning, planning and researching.  I enjoy traveling – whether camping, visiting relatives or going to Hawaii.  My favorite fitness activities are coaching soccer, racquetball, weight lifting, yoga, and running. 


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