“Finding the Flow”

“Finding the Flow”

Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“The sword is like a bird. If you clutch it too tightly, you choke it. Too lightly, and it flies away.”

~ “Scaramouche”, Perigore of Paris

The Foda’s Take: I guess that’s why they call it a “happy” medium. Because in this scenario… well, overcompensate and you’ve got yourself a dead bird.

The year was 1997. I was in junior high, and it was a cold winter night. My father, known in this galaxy by his alias Dobiwan, was standing in front of our ridiculously antiquated microwave, finger hovering over the timer button. We were watching “Scaramouche,” a 1952 film starring Stewart Granger and Janet Leigh. It was toward the end of the movie, right before the protagonist and antagonist were about to engage in an epic fencing duel, the length and intricacy of which made it the longest dueling sequence to date. And we were going to time it. (To my recollection, it clocked in at around 7 minutes.)

This movie was one of my childhood favorites, and I remember well the advice delivered by fencing master Perigore: “The sword is like a bird. If you clutch it too tightly, you choke it. Too lightly, and it flies away.” (It’s actually stolen from 19th century French fencer Louis Justin Lafaugere.) Great advice, right? It applies to pretty much everything. Relationships. Running a business. Holding a spoon.

So then why did it take me so long to realize that “muscling through” a tough time was, how shall I put this…. STUPID??!!

You see, I’ve recently started a new protocol for my chronic Lyme disease. It’s part of a new study combining three drugs, and they were super upfront with me. IT. IS. INTENSE. Like, “people calling in crying because they feel so awful” intense. (It’s a “feel bad to feel better” kind of situation. Like chemo. Or getting your teeth cleaned. Or doing lunges.) So in the days leading up to beginning this treatment, I was in preparation mode. Stock the fridge with easy meals. Load the Netflix queue. Take care of all important business, bills, and paperwork I’ve been avoiding. I’m not going to lie, it was very much a “last supper” kind of mentality I had going on.

Which I may have mentioned to my father Dobiwan the day before beginning the treatment, stating I just had to “muscle through it.”

To which my wise and learned father replied: “Or flow through it….”

<Picture a light bulb popping up over my head and rapping my skull repeatedly, yelling, “Ding-ding-ding!”>

Yes. In this scenario my light bulb is talking. (Shut up. It’s my imagination.) Why was the light bulb blatantly shaming me? Because I’ve worked really hard over the past four years to better myself, my mind, and my spirit while my body deteriorated. And learning how to relinquish what isn’t mine to control and approach each day with a flexible and mindful spirit was one of the first big lessons I learned. But some lessons you need to learn more than once. (Or twice. Or… a lot.)

When life gives you a traumatic situation, most people’s tendency is to try and gain control over it, kind of like a burly bodybuilder at an arm-wrestling match. Problem is, trying to arm-wrestle life is kind of like– how shall I say it– a premature baby trying to drop kick the heavyweight champ. Alternately, we also can’t sit back and throw our hands up, relying on fate or time to do the work for us. That’s called letting your life pass you by.

So as I embark on this new path, I’m reminded once more to channel the strength and intelligence of water: Strong enough to erode any obstacle over time, and yet smart enough to flow around the jutting rock instead of fruitlessly trying to knock it down.

Or as we kids used to say back in the 90’s…

Go with the flow, yo!

<Swwwwiiiiiiishhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!>

The Foda

Once Upon a Lyme: Animated Video

Howdy, folks!

It’s the beginning of May, which is Lyme Disease Awareness month. Last year I created and put out an educative children’s flipbook to help teach kids what to look for and how to stay safe while doing what kids are meant to do… play outside! This year, I took it a step further and created an animated video. Please share this with as many people as you can, and get the message out so hopefully the 300,000 new cases of Lyme reported annually in the U.S. will become far less! Knowledge is power!!!

 

 

Download a PDF of the book for free here.

Check out the links below for more information:

General Information can be found at the link below, including best safety practices, where ticks like to roam, how to remove a tick, protect your property, and even your pets.

www.StopTicks.org/prevention

Think you may have Lyme? This fabulous book by Lyme expert Dr. Richard Horowitz “Why Canʼt I Get Better?” provides all the information and scientific research youʼd ever need.

Get Dr. Horowitz’s book here.

For those already with dealing with Lyme, check out the positive and integrative website “Lyme Less, Live More,”designed to help you overcome chronic illness so you can, as the name suggests, Lyme less, live more!

I hope you enjoyed this video! Please don’t forget to share!

Cheers,

The Foda

“This is a Metaphor”

“This is a Metaphor”

It was Saturday afternoon and I was MAD.

As anyone who’s ever suffered from chronic fatigue knows, you have a finite amount of energy. On Saturday, I was blessed with a rare, elusive energy window, and I POUNCED. I decided to attempt a project: a newly acquired skill. I took out my measuring tape, tailor’s chalk, and my newly purchased denim thread and needle, and set out to hem my jeans. I did the math, marked ‘em up, and neatly sliced off a good 4 inches, leaving an inch extra for the hem. (Yes, having pants that are 5 inches too long is a common occurrence. Hence, the need for this skill, lest I want to continue paying $20 to have my pants altered for me. Some tailor has put her kids through college off my diminutive height….)

Anyway, I started with a pair of black skinny jeans. Since the material was thin, I used regular thread and needle in my machine and voila! Perfecto! Then I started in on the white whale: thick, beautiful, premium jeans, ones that needed a specific denim needle and thread. (Or so the how-to instructions I’d found online had said.) Fast forward to two hours later, and I was shaking with fatigue, my compulsive need to leave no project unfinished pushing me way past my window’s end, and all I had to show for it was a broken needle, an entire hem that needed to be ripped out, and a row of stitches that looked perfect on the underside but bumpy and like a squiggly caterpillar on the front. (To which I may have yelled: Go home, hem, you’re drunk!)

Finally, I gave up, frustrated, not knowing how to fix the problem despite reading the manual backwards and forwards, and annoyed that I had pushed myself into a low. Later, I discovered that apparently you’re not supposed to use such thick thread for both the needle AND the bobbin. I rooted through my meager collection… no all-purpose thread in the color I’d need. Oh, how I huffed and puffed! (Picture streams of air coming out my nostrils all Tauntaun style.) “The energy window is so rare, and I have nothing to show for it,” I complained to Mandalf. (Yes, I was conveniently forgetting the successful hemming of the first pair of jeans. I was MAD and needed condolences.)

An hour later, I was routing around through a drawer, when under a scrapbook, I found a green plastic box fastened with duct tape. It had belonged to my grandmother, one of the boxes of her crafting supplies. She had been like me, a creative butterfly, searching for every possible avenue of expression, never quite settling on one for too long. Inside the forgotten box were spools and spools of thread, lovingly arranged by color, with an antique pair of tiny thread scissors and a tin advertising hard candies that actually held pins. My eyes welled as I found the thread I’d need, but what hit me more while I ran my fingers over the tools she’d used was the overwhelming sensation that I was carrying on her legacy, that a piece of her lived on in me. It no longer mattered that I didn’t finish my project. And even though she’s been gone half a decade, holding the box and picturing her routing through it just as I was then made me feel closer to her than ever.

I had been so mad because I’d thought I didn’t have the right tools to fix my problem. Yet it turned out, I had them all along. They just weren’t where I thought they’d be. (Yes, this story is a metaphor for life. Just in case the title didn’t give it away…)

Many times, we come across a roadblock. We don’t know how to get past it, how to fix it, and we don’t think we have the tools. But often times, we do have them, they’re just not in the place we’re looking for them. That’s because we often can’t see what’s right in front of our noses until we step back and get a wider view.

What’s that called? Oh, yeah. Perspective. Must remember to keep that one on retainer…

Off to rip some stitches,

The Foda

“The Face in the Mirror”

Hi, everyone! I’m back! I had a rough several weeks there, and my writing took a hit. Brain fog, am I right? (All my fellow Lymies just nodded in sage solidarity.) I did, however, manage to write this poem on a dusky April night a couple weeks back, and am finally ready to share it. It’s not a lighthearted warm and fuzzy read, but it’s real. I’ve since alighted to a better place, but I felt this was important to share.

Cheers, The Foda

“The Face in the Mirror”

I’m combusting, she said.

Like cellophane squeezed over too much bread.

I’m bursting with nothing but skin to contain me within.

These emotions

Beholden to anyone living and learning while tucked in a body that

Screams in the silence.

Each cell like a prison,

For my cells are violence incarnate.

Cells selling me out so they erect

a cell wall;

Make it tall

so the coup is complete, yet I can’t claim defeat.

Oh, to replete.

To replenish.

My stores are empty;

I’ve used all my wares,

and I’ve still so far to go,

she sighed with a far-away stare.

You’d think, she remarked, I’d get better with coping.

With overriding this ornery statue of limitations on hoping.

My world is a pinwheel;

It spins in shades of blue

and what more can I do

and will I ever be normal like you?

So give me your prayers, she asked quite plain,

and I’ll show you my heart.

It’s brittle and beaten,

But just like a gem, you won’t know its strength until it’s been

Dropped.

Do you see me now, she asked, and I nodded with her in perfect align.

And our eyes filled with dreams

long spilled

and sorted to grace a shelf of some other time.

The face in the mirror.

The face that is mine.

Thirty

“Thirty”

Thirty.

Thiiiirrrttttyyyyyyyy.

Rhymes with “dirty”, “flirty”… and if you’re a Texas ranger, “purdy.” As in, that’s one right purdy filly there.

Why my interest, you ask? Well, today, my friends, just happens to be my last day in my twenties. That’s right. As of tomorrow, I shall be thirty.

And until a week and a half ago, I was completely sure I wouldn’t be one of those people who freak out because of some societally trumped-up milestone.

Until my family asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate.

<Picture a camera rushing in on my face, exposing a close up view of me instantly panicking.> Kind of like…. this.

 

My cat Yoda!
My cat Yoda!

I know. How cute is he??? But I digress.

All of a sudden, thirty DID seem like a big milestone. And the panic? Was because for the latter half of my twenties, I haven’t been able to do any of the things I wanted, because this illness has essentially turned me into a hermit. Which, of course, left me feeling the way so many twenty nine year olds feel: that judgement day has arrived, and I’m about to cross some metaphysical line… and I’m not prepared.

So here I am, feeling like someone’s about to hand me a church steeple when I haven’t even laid the foundation yet (odd metaphor, I know, but it’s the first one that came to me, and I’m going with it) and I’m a little excited, but mostly, I feel like I’m not ready.

Which, again, is totally odd, because due to my vastly unique experience of living like an eighty year old for the past four years, I have no problem with aging. When you’re old, you can be crotchety and opinionated and stubborn, and no one will call you out on it. But here’s the rub. I’m not old. And all those societal cliches? Don’t apply to me.

So once again, I have to redefine thirty to fit with my set of circumstances.

Thirty, for me, is not going to be anything other than “adios” to half a decade of illness. It’s going to hopefully be the start of the decade where I finally get my health back. And it’s going to have absolutely no bearing on how I feel about myself, how I measure my self worth, or how I compare myself to what other thirty years olds are doing.

So fare thee well, twenty nine. With the exception of your involvement in finishing my first novel, starting two more, and having a wonderful family, I shall not miss thy reign.

Oh, and thirty? Just in case you’re planning on being as ornery as twenty nine? BRING IT.

Cheers,

The Foda

It Is Easy Being Green: Kate’s Magik Review

It Is Easy Being Green: Kate’s Magik Review

 Oh, my back. Oh, my head. My eyeballs have a pulse. My hair hurts. I can feel my blood. (One should not feel their blood whilst inside one’s veins.) I’m walking like an arthritic ostrich. GRAVITY, WHY DO YOU PLAGUE ME??!!! WHHHHYYYYYYYY???!!!!!!!!!

 Welcome to the interior dialogue of anyone who lives with a chronic illness. Okay, fine, welcome to my interior dialogue. So it should go without saying that finding some kind of relief from said woes is rather remarkable. Well, what if I told you that not only did I find it: the ever elusive ohmigosh-this-is-amazing product that will relieve what ails ‘ya… but that will also make you look and smell <hair flip> très, très chic?

Two words: Kate’s Magik. (Click here to peruse her website.) Some items are also available on Amazon.

IMG_0278

My obsession started small. A bottle of reiki-infused lotion, labeled “Water,” designed with all natural scents meant to be most pleasing to a Pisces like me. I found it right after I started writing my book, Elements, which has to do with– you guessed it– a secret group of people who embody and manipulate the earth’s elements. I saw the bottle, and it was like it was made for me! That, and it smelled delicious. And it did what no other lotion or oil could do this winter– heal my chapped, cracking hands. (And I tried a LOT.) Sidebar: It also may have caused Mandalf to exclaim upon touching my arm: “How is your skin so soft??!!” To which I said: “Magik.” (Heh. Heh.)

Then I was curious. I had to know more. Was there more? What else did this Kate make? Days later, I had a shipment of goodies. Different products specifically selected to (hopefully) help manage my chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, and, well, the general side effects of being debilitatingly sick for four years. (Her website offers a resource of which products she recommends for whatever your intent: health, peace, abundance, etc.)

I was astounded. The Peace and Purification anointing oil when applied to my temples, throat, heart, and behind the ears helped alleviate my constant headache, and I felt immediately calmer, in a peaceful (non-drowsy) sort of way. (A week later, and it’s now officially on my stranded-on-a-desert-island list.) Next, I slathered on her Moonlight oil twenty minutes before bed, not really expecting much. (My insomnia is legendary. And I don’t do well with strong scents.) But I could actually feel it bringing me down into a sleep-conducive state with each inhale. Now, I attribute it as my most effective sleep aid. (Take that, insomnia!)  I also got a bar of Monsoon Rain soap, because it was described as having anti-depressive qualities, and hey, let’s be real, being “all sick, all the time” is a real joy-sucker sometimes. I loved it and would love to make it a staple, but fancy soap is a luxury in my book, so it will remain a special occasion purchase. The same goes for her Blue Morpho perfumed body oil. Amazing, absorbs well, a great subtle scent, (and named after my favorite butterfly for its transformative intent) but for me, more in the luxury category as apposed to the I-NEED-THIS because it seriously improves my quality of life category.

I also purchased the Muscle Works massage oil to help with my wayward nerve endings that, if unchecked, lead to some rather wicked migraines. Only I can’t review that, because I haven’t had to use it yet. Possibly because the anointing oil is also said to help relieve headaches, and since using it, I magically haven’t gotten any… Fascinating, yesssss… <Strokes imaginary beard quizzically.>

So for all my readers who are chronically ill like me, or who are working towards an intention, whether it’s peace, mindfulness, or whatever your pleasure, I know a lady who just might be able to help. Her name is Kate. And her stuff is wand-erful. (Get it? Magik?)

So check it out. Now where did I put that anointing oil…

Snnnniiiiiiiffffffffffff. Ahhhhhhhh. That’s the stuff.

The Foda

P.S. For people like me with scent sensitivities, I’ve had no issues with any of the products I’ve tried.

P.P.S. I have not been paid, coerced, or hoodwinked into saying any of this.

Long Live the Misfits

Long Live the Misfits

 I didn’t want to tell this story. This story is sad and unjust. It’s teeming with discrimination and humiliation and I’ve tried for the past week to find the words. I wanted them to be poignant, yet light. Personal, yet above it all. Victorious. Poetic. I failed. 

The truth is, last week I paid $100 dollars to go to a mandated workshop on how to prevent bullying and discrimination in NY schools. It was the last requirement I needed to obtain my masters– something I’d had to fight to finish once I became too ill to travel to campus. I called ahead, letting the instructor know that I was ill and that walking or moving around was very difficult for me. “Being a teacher myself,” I explained, “I know that many ice-breaker activities involve movement. So I wanted to give you a head’s up.” My assurance? “No one’s going to make you stand up if you don’t want to,” the woman laughed. I was led to believe it wouldn’t be an issue.

A week later, I was sitting in a conference room with forty other people, listening to this woman speaking about the perils of discrimination and bullying: about the eleven protected classes, one of which is people with disabilities. Then she asked everyone to stand up. I hobbled over and discretely reminded her of my limitations. She told me to sit back down, and announced over the microphone that people should come talk to me. Humiliated at being singled out, I sat, breathing a sigh of relief when it was over and everyone returned to their seats.

…Until twenty minutes later when she instructed everyone to stand and move to the open space on the other side of the room. I locked eyes with her, and she waved me off, as if to say, “you just sit.” That’s when I realized that even though I called ahead, even though any good teacher would have taken this information and tweaked their presentation so that everyone could be included, her version of “accommodating” me was to have me just watch everyone else. She drew a line in the sand: able-bodied, and not. And I was the only one on the other side. Ostracized. Humiliated. Marginalized.

Forty pairs of healthy eyes drilled into me, wondering, “why is she sitting? What’s going on?” A curious woman asked, “Oh, are you not with us?” I mumbled something, mortified. After several exercises, the instructor had them do an activity where they all made a long line. Which they made. Facing me. Staring at me. Cementing every fear, every piece of personal shame I’d ever had to quell since getting sick: that in a world of normal, healthy people, they were on one side. And I was the freak on the other.

I stared at my pen, too humiliated and too furious to do anything else. The irony that I was paying to have this woman teach me how not to marginalize people with disabilities was not lost on me. I got my certificate and waited until I was in the car with my husband to cry.

I have tried to write this story many times. To share with people that just because someone looks normal doesn’t mean you know their story. That disabilities don’t just come in the form of wheelchairs and visible impediments. That just because someone is an adult doesn’t mean that ostracizing them based on physical ability won’t be just as scarring.

This happened a week ago. I’m not going to pretend it won’t bother me for a long time to come. But one day soon, I will wake up, and realize I’m still here. Still breathing, still living; I survived this humiliation. And I’ll give up the shame, toss it aside like a tissue. For I know in my heart just how much I have to give. Just how much I am worth. After all, most anyone can walk about on their healthy two legs. But I know a truth they do not: of the value that’s found on the other side of “have-not.” Of “surmount-this.” Of freak. Of misfit. And a smile will steal my lips as I realize my strength; a strength that surpasses having two workable legs, and will live on long after that instructor’s body withers with age until it’s crippled like mine. She will have none of the tools. And I will be fine.

So to the woman who did this: I see your humiliation and I raise you fifty years. Until then, I declare: Here’s to all the freaks breaking the mold. Long live the misfits. 

Freak out,

The Foda

*For all my readers with Lyme Disease, I welcome you to join my Google + community: “Lyme Disease: A New Hope.”

On Purpose

“On Purpose”

Purpose found me on a dare
I was sitting there all unaware
Blissful
Wistful
Dreaming of dreams so easily attainable I forgot to
Leap
Just a pebble’s throw and off I’d go
Into the fray
The hopscotch of wishes
Throw a stone, see the potholes, and hope that it misses
Hope you land on two feet
Hope your turn isn’t lost
Then this illness reared up and I found out the cost
The cost of living and giving your future to fate
To always being a stone’s throw away from
Purpose
Or chance
And my gamble was strong
I fell through the cracks with nowhere to belong
And now as I hobble through one-two-three-STOP
I don’t cast a stone to determine my lot
It took years of illness to teach me this truth:
The chalk may be drawn
But the jump is all you.

Four Benefits of Having Chronic Lyme

Four Benefits of Having Chronic Lyme

 It’s so easy to talk about the horrors of having chronic late-stage Lyme, especially since so many people don’t know what it is, or how devastating it can be to your life. This paltry level of awareness makes sufferers want to shout from the rooftops: See me! Understand my pain! Recognize my awesomeness for carrying on throughout this horribly devastating disease!!  

It’s easy to go there. After all, life with a chronic illness IS hard and SHOULD be recognized. But like all things in life, there is yin and yang. And as much as there are days when all I can do is mutter “why, God, why” from the confines of my couch, I have to admit there have been some significant upgrades to, well, moi, that I didn’t have before. And chances are, you have them too.

Discipline. Sure, I was always a hard worker. But now I have an insane amount of focus, because having a chronic illness and committing to doing everything in your power to overcome it takes incredible discipline. It also goes hand in hand with the second trait I’ve had to develop to combat chronic Lyme.

Tenacity. Mandalf often shakes his head and tells me how well I’m handling this, or how patient I am. Well, it’s not that I’m patient, and it’s not that I’m magically handling this well, it’s that I believe I have only two choices here: cultivate a tenacious spirt that keeps me going, or give up and becoming a colossal waste of space. I choose option #1.

Empathy. I have greater empathy now for the troubles of others, and I’ve learned not to make judgements or assumptions based off appearances. After all, I probably look completely healthy when you meet me sitting down, perhaps just a bit tired, and you would never know that my nervous system is as fried as the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive.

Purpose. I have had to redefine myself, and learn how I can matter while living in a body that is disabled. It’s forced me to get creative, work around problems; it drives my ambition and self-worth. Without a clear purpose, I’d be lost… and the funny thing is, before I got sick, I was running around so crazily that I never would have noticed if I was living with purpose or not. I was just going from A-B.

(Searching for greater purpose in your life? Click here to check out this awesome guide: “Your Life On Purpose” by Mark W. Guay.)

It’s easy to go negative when you’ve been sick for weeks, months, or in my case, years. And don’t get me wrong, this is not a commercial for how great it is to be chronically ill. I wake up each day knowing I have a fight ahead of me, and I do everything in my power to get well again. This experience has defined my life. But like all things in life…

It ain’t all bad. 

Okay, that may not apply to all things…. hard to see the upside to puppy kicking…

So in closing, I ask you: What has your chronic illness given you?

Cheers,

The Foda

A New Hope