living life as a coach with fibromyalgia

February 18, 2013

The winter months have been busy with coaching activities. I am an assistant coach with 3 teams, 2 soccer and 1 basketball. It sounds a bit crazier than it really is. Most days it is helping navigate young female sport players around the field or court. I enjoy the physical activity and interacting with players and coaches in a healthy atmosphere. There are usually several girls who enjoy having a female coach around (most of the other coaches are male), though I tend to be structured and disciplined, I also connect on the emotional level. My favorite thing about being a coach is connecting with the players and building them up. My second favorite is the team dynamic, and strategizing on how to create a stronger team by building on the strengths and working through the challenges of the individuals.

My biggest challenge tends to be dealing with the mental processing and dealing with conflicts that arise. Since I don’t know the game of basketball real well, it takes a lot out of me to learn the fundamentals and think about what I can do to help. Though overall the conflicts with players and coaches are pretty mild, issues still arise. As a coach, I want to make an impact on the individuals, and when I say something I wish I hadn’t said, or missed an opportunity to build a player up, I feel disappointed in myself. With about 15 coaches in the 3 teams, it is a lot of personalities to deal with, especially when I prefer to please. There is some simplicity with men, in they appear to be more direct and move on, I also realize we can be a different species, and find myself longing for a girls’ night out. Any stress (whether real or perceived) or mental challenges can zap my limited energy, and increase my pain level.

I have also been trying to build a health coaching business. I absolutely love coaching people, but don’t care for the networking aspect. I am constantly battling inner conflicts of my own values and insecurities. I believe in the food program/healthy living that is the core of the business I am trying to establish, but also realize it isn’t for everyone trying to lose weight/become healthy. I personally have felt better as I am trying to change my eating habits, and am able to do things like coach 3 teams. I love being fit and healthy. Because I am uncomfortable promoting to people, I feel like a failure because I don’t know where to find people who would be interested in such a program, and don’t want to overemphasize weight loss because it can imply that I am criticizing people. I find myself completely shutting down, and realize this has little to do with my current reality. I will keep attempting to deal with the inner conflicts so I can see more clearly what direction to move here.

I am grateful to be so involved with my family. Did I mention my husband is a coach on two of the teams? It really is a family affair in the coaching world. I think back to 7 years ago when I spent a great deal of time on the couch resting from the daily activities and energizing myself so I can connect with those around me. Though I was still involved with my family, it was much more difficult to engage in the outside world. There is no magical cure, and it takes a great deal of soul-searching each day to determine where to invest my energy. Some days it seems to work, other days, not so sure. I will keep trying, keep searching, keep praying, to find the balance and build those relationships.  In the meantime I will keep making those memories on the field and on the court.

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Surrender my chronic pain to something greater

January 8, 2013

Summer 09 352It can be hard to surrender my chronic pain to a higher power.  It is easier for me to seek answers in others to bring wholeness to fill the void in my life.  I often feel shame because it makes me feel weak and needy, feelings I seek to avoid at much cost. I can see that alone I am lacking, and I long for something greater to fill the voids and bring healing. 

I see that my way of controlling life and finding meaning does not work. It leaves me emptier than I was before, and separates me from the One that can bring my life back. In the moment it has brought me to see the longings that I have tried to deny, and to also see that I really don’t always believe the Spirit can meet these needs in me. I can see myself as bad and being punished by God.  I wonder if the Spirit has abandoned me when I hear nothing, and my symptoms don’t change.  When I take the time to connect, generally I can feel the peace. Often this is done through prayer and music.

When I come to the Spirit in my greatest place of need, and in my weaknesses, struggles and failures, and find love, than I become more trusting. I can become more honest and vulnerable allowing room to reveal the brokenness, and bring healing to my life. I don’t have to fear this part of myself anymore, and am willing to look at it without shame. I find that as I accept my life as it is, that I am much more humble and graceful to others. I can see the heart of the Spirit in a way I never have before. Compassionate, yet willing to guide me out of the traps I set myself in. I have many obstacles to really trusting and believing in a Spirit. Many of which for now, I just have to acknowledge and be open about. I see the distortions in my head, and it will take longer for it to sink in my heart. This is where real transformation takes place.

I believe that I live a spiritual life and in many ways feel deeply connected to the Spirit. I want to follow and surrender to something greater. Yet I still struggle to give up my desire for what I want-complete healing and to rearrange the dreams I had for myself. I still have much to understand about the bad things in life, including my illness/pain, and I know this hinders my ability to trust. I have to remember that religious people, are not the same as the Spirit. And that spiritual leaders may be godly in some areas, while being destructive in others.  I will be open with what I don’t get, and listen to what I am to do with that.

I love connecting with the Spirit in nature, and am finding this extremely valuable. Walks with the Spirit have been a source of clarity for me, as I hear a voice in the wind and trees. The majesty of spiritual things reminds me of who is in control, and that a power is greater than any problem I ever have or will face. He also is a Spirit of beauty, and wants to bless me. So much has been given, that I have not received.

I have been given so many people for the journey, lots of support and spiritual guides. I have learned so much from the people who are in my path. People who have shown me grace and love. Not all understand chronic pain or me for that matter, but I do know many love and care for me. I am grateful to have my heart open up more to all kinds of people and situations and to realize that things aren’t always as they seem. Can’t be too quick to make assessments about people and situations I do not understand. I gain much wisdom as I am able to ask with a heart for the person, and a desire to learn about their unique experiences. My life is truly about relationships, and if I didn’t have much time on this earth, this would still be where I would devote my time.

2.       Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could bring us peace and sanity.

3.       Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

 


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)

 


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. 


Letter to my Higher Power – Step 2 chronic pain

November 14, 2012

I have been taught to believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I want to trust in Him as my Higher Power and guide through this life. I want to believe He loves me and that through Christ’s death, that my sins have been forgiven. At times however I have doubts and struggle to understand my own beliefs.  I have had many wonderful spiritual experiences that have impacted my life.  I have also had some traumatic experiences and distorted words that came out of a religious context.  I find that my resistance drops when I focus on the Spirit and the relational aspect that I continue to feel each day.

I believe there is a spirit in all things, that something spiritual is at work in this world and in my own life.  I believe this spirit is relational in nature, that it has the power to change things around me, that it isn’t something I have ultimate control over.   I believe in the purity of this Spirit, that this Spirit has the capacity to bring light, truth and wholeness.  I believe the Spirit is above all loving, that it is filled with compassion and grace for all mankind.

Turning my will over to a spiritual power is something not easy to do.  I like to hold on to what I believe feels concrete, not something that is less physically seen.  At the same time, releasing to a Spirit gives me peace, brings me wisdom, and helps me make better decisions.  When I walk with the spirit in mind, I am more of who I want to be, also filled with more love, compassion and grace.

Surrender is about willingness.  Willingness to let go of what I know and desire and be open to something different.  It is being willing to say both yes and no, and seek love and truth.  It is choosing to look at myself, striving for growth, while accepting what is.

When I try to control my health problems it doesn’t work.  I can’t completely change my course with my mind alone.  I can’t always tell when I am holding on to something, but trust the Spirit will guide me as I keep searching.  I do not need to be perfect or to have all the answers.  I am not the cause of my health problems and I am not being punished.

I do not completely understand the Spirit.  I can’t explain the different religions that have a unique spiritual slant. I see a Spirit at work in a variety of people and places that feels similar to the Spirit I follow.  I have many questions that I long to have answered, yet realize many of them won’t be.  I trust that my Spirit will be with me, and be a guiding force in my life.


writing on pain

October 26, 2012

I recently took part in a writing study on chronic pain.  My understanding of this study was that we were supposed to write about our chronic pain experience from a compassionate perspective.  It seemed that the hope was that by taking the time to reflect kindly on our symptoms, it might reduce our pain and change our thoughts about our pain.

Unfortunately for me, I realized writing directly about my pain can actually make me feel worse.  I prefer to write more indirectly – what things help me, goals I have, and more random thoughts, than writing directly about all the losses associated with my pain.  It is important that when I dive deeply into more of the emotional pain, that I find ways to bring myself out of the emotions.  Perhaps this is why I appreciate reality humor.  It is a way of looking directly at something, yet finding the humor in it, even if the humor seems rather dark.

Writing a blog about pain, has a way of connecting me with others in similar situations. It is more than just writing about my pain.  I love hearing the stories, the thoughts, and emotions of other people.  It brings my own truth to light, in a way I might not normally see it.  I come away from writing on a blog feeling lighter, freer and with more hope.  Perhaps the key is taking the words and using it as a bridge with others.  When I write to myself, it is still valuable, but can leave me feeling more alone.  When I share my words in the cyber world, I find other fellow bloggers who join with me in our cyber community of pain with hope.  Thank you all for making my days a little brighter.


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